On Spontaneity and Improvisation
June 13, 2008, 7:37 am
Filed under: family, friends, innovation, the purple door

I have a young friend, a student that lives at The Purple Door.  This person, by admission, dislikes the unplanned life.  As little spontaneity as possible is the rule.  Instead, there are lists – lists about everything.  Lists of schedules, meals, books to read, graduate schools to consider, everything.  This student once told me about the process of selecting which college to go to – it involved something like 200 schools, and an extremely intricate matrix of decision making, which ultimately narrowed the decision down to one.  As it turns out, for all that planning and listing, the school selected was the wrong one for this person, and after one year, the student made the choice to transfer to UW . . . which actually wasn’t even on the original list of 200!

Now, I’m not Mr. Spontaneous or anything, but I do like to mix it up once in a while, just to keep things in life fresh.  Living a totally unplanned life would be chaotic, both for me, and all the people around me.  I know I already create stress for some people that have to live and work with me by my “make it up as I go along” mentality.  But I actually do intentionally live into that rhythm.  It’s that hard to define space between spontaneity and improvisation. 

I think you can plan to be spontaneous, but improvisation is just a part of life.  You can plan with a friend ahead of time to go out for dinner, without deciding where to eat until you’re together, and then just pick what sounds good to you in the moment – that hints at spontaneity.  You can cook dinner for some friends, but run out of a key ingredient, and have to either change the recipe or change the dish altogether – that hints at improvisation.  Like I said, improv is part of life . . . but it’s only part of life.  If it’s too large a part of life, you get true chaos.  It’s that whole biblical thing – “where there is no vision, the people perish.”

The past 48 hours have included some very frustrating time for me, because I hadn’t planned for as much improvisation as my circumstances have called for.  It’s already extremely busy around here, and I really didn’t need to deal with added stress – especially of the relatively petty kind I’ve gotten.  But that’s improv for ya – you don’t always get to choose when you’ll be improvising.

I don’t actually know the defined differences between spontaneity and improvisation.  I’m not gonna go look it up in a dictionary.  I’ve just been musing here.  In order to illustrate, I’ve seen the following video floating around the internet for the past several weeks.  What do you think – is this spontaneous, improvisational, neither, or both? 


You know you’re not blogging enough when . . .
June 12, 2008, 7:30 am
Filed under: blogroll, family, horses, San Diego

I guess it’s a nice sign that a certain someone actually reads my blog.  Michelle – the one everyone keeps congratulating me for marrying up with – noticed my lack of posting here lately.

So this one’s for her:

Ling Really, it is.  That horse is for Michelle.  Just put a check in the mail yesterday.  Our latest addition is a 2 year old, named Darjeeling, or “Ling,” as Michelle likes to call her.  This is an exciting first step for us to get Michelle moving toward her hopeful career as a full time horse trainer.  It’ll be close to another full year before Michelle can put any serious training in, but the plan is to get Ling into shape as a high quality dressage horse.  For now, we just have to figure out how to move a horse from Florida, where she lives now, to Michelle’s folks’ place in SoCal, where Ling will call home for the time being.  I’m definitely stoked for Michelle.  She’s worked very hard for a long, long time to make some real money so I can take lower pay in ministry positions, and go to school.  Now we get to move toward having her chase her dreams for a while.  Good stuff.

Signs your tenant is a con man
June 7, 2008, 9:29 pm
Filed under: home improvement, humor, money, San Diego

1. Claims to have been a missionary in Latin America with a faith healer ministry.

2. Pays rent via Swiss bank account wire transfer.

3. Can’t pay rent on time, but drives new BMW, and children each have plasma TVs.

4. Pleads guilty to investment fraud after stealing 6 million dollars, and faces up to 20 years in federal prison.


All of these and more are signs that you made the right call on not renewing the lease when it came to term.  Oh, and by “you,” I do mean “we.”

Todd Hunter blogs
June 6, 2008, 8:03 am
Filed under: blogging, friends

Looks like I lost a blog post in WordPress, so this is attempt #2.

I was very happy to get the e-mail notification that Todd Hunter is blogging once again, after a disastrously long hiatus.  I have learned so much from this guy over the past several years, it’s crazy.  I’ve gotten to know him a little bit, through a variety of means – a little church planter coaching here, some common friendships there, a lot of his teaching everywhere.  Most recently, I got to sit next to him while gawking at the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  I admire Todd on many levels.

Whether you know who Todd is or not, trust me, you’ll want to bookmark/subscribe to this blog.  Oh, and be on the lookout for the book he’ll publish soon with IVP.  Good stuff awaits us all.

inter::mission v1, almost in the books
June 6, 2008, 7:07 am
Filed under: friends, inter::mission, Seattle, the purple door

While we do still have a week to go with the UW school year, last night was slated to be our final teach-in for the year, and in a sense, the closing of inter::mission.  Our culture project in India is definitely a part of the inter::mission process, but it’s also a somewhat separate thing.

As it turns out, multiple schedules were colliding in multiple ways.  At our community meal last night, we had three “new” people with us, and we were missing five of our regulars.  So while we had great conversation well into the evening, it was a bit of a different vibe for us. 

I had scheduled myself in as the teach-in guide for the evening, and had prepared a year end wrap-up session.  A little on the sentimental side, a little on the fun side, a little on the reflective side.  But with so many regulars missing, and new folks in their place, I didn’t the context was quite right for it.  So, I just talked for a few minutes, asked people to pay attention to the people and experiences they’ve valued over the last several months, and keep an eye out of the sappy, sentimental letter I’d be sending everyone in the next day or two.

So there we have it – year one of the inter::mission dream is mostly in the books.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve collaborated with staff, students, myself, Michelle, and hopefully God, over what version 2 of this thing will look like come fall.  Lots of adjustments are ahead for us.  We’re excited about the opportunity to increasingly integrate our core values, and become even more of a family.

I, like many others, am looking forward to the end of the school year, and the slower pace of summer (at least it’ll be slower around The Purple Door).  But I do want to pause and express gratitude to God and the people around me that have made this year a reality.  We’ve had so many encouraging words of support from friends and family, so many prayers offered on our behalf, unexpected gifts of service and love (and cash), a group of trusting and experimental students, wonderful staff people to live the dream with, a guest speaker list that I’m really stoked about.  It’s been good.  Far from perfect, but a gift from God.