Tuesday, April 15, 2014

There's Actually a Name for it?!?

Traffic in large cities has always puzzled me.  How in the world can traffic be going 70 MPH on one end, and 70 MPH on the other end, and with no accidents or other problem, the traffic in between the two is just inching along, if not stopped altogether.   Why?

It has a name.

Matt Perman in his book - What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, discusses this on page 223.

Researchers have found that whenever most systems — such as airports, freeways, and other such things — exceed about 90 percent capacity, efficiency drops massively. Not just slightly, but massively. This is called the “ringing effect.” The reason is that as a system nears its capacity, the effect of relatively small disturbances is magnified exponentially. This is why traffic slows down at rush hour almost inexplicably. When you think about it, unless there is an accident, there’s almost no reason that traffic should be going slow. And, here’s the thing: you’re right. Or, in other words, there is a reason, but it’s not what you’d expect. The reason traffic is slow is because of the relatively small and otherwise insignificant braking that some guy four miles ahead did — and the person a quarter mile behind him, and half a mile behind him. It’s not that they are slamming on their brakes; under ordinary circumstances, what they are doing would have almost no effect on the f low of traffic. The problem is that once capacity is past about 90 percent, small disturbances have a huge effect. And so traffic slows down, sometimes to a crawl. That’s the ringing effect.

You see the ringing effect, for example, when you are trying to schedule a meeting for ten people, and they all have to be there. It’s almost impossible to find a time that works for everyone, resulting in an untold number of emails going back and forth. And then, once everything is figured out, something unexpected comes up for someone and you need to reschedule the meeting again (and then reschedule the other stuff on your plate that is now interfering with the new time). That “rearranging” is the ringing effect. And it takes time away from the productive stuff that you have to do (in this case, times ten). And the effects continue cascading, for as you keep rescheduling, other people involved need to reschedule as well (even if they aren’t part of the group for the original meeting). And on it goes.

I don't know if it helps you, but I feel better now. :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Core Values

I'm reading Matt Perman's book, "What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done"   It is like "GTD on steroids!" :)

One point he has made several times is regarding "core values" or "core principles."  He says that one way to know whether something is a core value is to ask, "Would I still hold to this even if I was punished for it?"   It really makes me think, "How may of my values would I still retain if holding it would cost something or result in punishment?"

I heartily recommend this book.  I will be reading it again and again I'm sure.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

From Tim Keller’s 2007 Christmas sermon:
The world embraces Christmas in a way it has never embraced Good Friday and Easter. I think the world sees Christmas as being rather affirming — it’s all about peace and goodwill. Isn’t that nice? Actually, the message of Christmas is incredibly confrontational. It says the reason for Christmas is the world’s wisdom has failed.
One of the (many) sermons my dad preached which has stuck with me over the  years had to do with how comfortable we are with Jesus as a baby.   As long as Jesus is the babe of Christmas, in a manger, we don't feel so challenged.  We don't really want to contend with the Jesus of Easter or the Jesus who makes demands on our lives.  We'd rather keep him in a stable - domesticated and safe.
I've been challenged this Advent season to consider a life worthy of the gospel - worthy of our calling (Philippians 1:27).  A life that cannot be understood or explained apart from the gospel.
May we all encounter Christ this Christmas and see the confrontation in terms that far exceed the confrontation of whether a clerk says "Merry Christmas" or not.  May the confrontational message of Christmas engage our hearts and minds this year like never before.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

John Piper's Poem - "The Calvinist"

Very much worth listening to.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


I noticed that this is what I wrote almost exactly one year ago today.   It has been a fast year.

My life is made up of a succession of days that constitute my opportunity to glorify God.  It will do no good to begrudge the character or nature of these days; rather, I need/want to revel in the unique opportunity those days afford to me in order that I can deliberately and intensely glorify and enjoy God.  This is the moment in all of history which God has entrusted to my stewardship.  Now what will I do with it?

Contemplating the past year as well as the approaching new year.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Parenting Is Hard for a Reason 

(read original, by Christina Fox, here)

It had been a long and trying day where nothing went the way it should. I must have corrected the kids every five minutes. After refereeing fights and cleaning up messes all day, I was exhausted, irritated, and impatient.
Sitting at the dinner table that evening, it was my oldest son's turn to give thanks. When I heard him say, "And God, could you please help mommy to be patient with us?" I realized I wasn't the only one affected by our difficult day. I was part of the problem.

Before I had children, I considered myself a patient person. Having worked with children professionally, I felt confident in my ability to interact with them. I assumed that working with troubled children would automatically qualify me for parenting. It was soon after I had my first child that I realized just how wrong I was.

When my kids were small, I couldn't understand why things weren't going as they should. I read all the books. I followed each method and step listed on the pages. I did everything I was told to do. But my children didn't always sleep the way the experts said they would. They didn't potty train in a day. I'm not convinced they've learned their manners. And they didn't (and still don't) do what I say the first time.

I couldn't wrap my mind around it all. When parents seek to raise their children in a godly way, how can parenting still be so hard? But If I believe that God is sovereign, then I must believe he is sovereign even over all the challenges I have with my children. If they have a rough day, whine, complain, and don't get along, it is not outside his control.

Refine and Transform

While I used to despair over my children's imperfect sleep patterns, rambunctious behavior, and failure to say please and thank you, I now realize there is a greater purpose---my refinement. Each struggle, each exhausting day, each behavioral problem, is an opportunity for me to grow in my faith. God uses my children as mirrors to reflect to me the sin I didn't realize resides in my heart. He is in fact using my own kids to refine and transform me.

Parenthood is tilling the soil in my heart, weeding out the sins that keep me from growing in faith. Some of the roots run deep and have entangled themselves around my heart. Before having children, I didn't realize how deeply rooted sins like impatience, selfishness, and irritability grew in the sin-fertilized soil of my heart. It took the challenges of raising children to reveal them to me.

This weeding is sometimes a painful process. Like the tough layers of leathery dragon skin that Aslan pulled from Eustice to restore him back to a boy, the process of seeing my sin and having it rooted out of my heart is painful. Yet it is so necessary.

But even as God reveals my sins of impatience, irritability, and selfishness, he also reveals his grace. When my children are easily distracted and I respond with impatience, not only does the Spirit reveal that sin to me, he also points out to me all the ways God is patient with my own distracted heart. When struggles in parenting reveal my sin of irritability, it also shows me God's endless forbearance. When the weeds of selfishness become apparent in my heart, I also see how selfless Christ was for me at the cross.

Time and again, the gospel of grace covers my sin, bringing me back to the cross of Christ. Jesus knew I could never be a perfect mom. He knew I couldn't respond to my children with love and grace at every moment. He knew I'd have days where I would fail. And that's why he came. At the cross he suffered for every time I am impatient, for every time I fail to teach and train my children, and for every time I don't love them as he loves them.

Hard for a Reason

Parenting is hard. But as I've learned, it is hard for a reason. God is in the process of making all things new, including our hearts. He is pruning, weeding, and tilling the soil in our hearts to make us increasingly like Christ. One day, his work will be complete, and we'll see the breathtaking result of his refining work in us. The weeds will be gone, and our sin will be no more.

That day when I came face to face with my sins at the dinner table, I count it as grace. For it is God's gracious love that desires to rid me of the sins that keep me from him. And after my son prayed, I asked him for grace and forgiveness for my impatience that day. Reminding him that I am sinner just as he is, I used the opportunity to point him to the grace of Christ who bore all our sins on the cross.

May we all embrace the challenges of parenting, knowing that each frustrating moment is an opportunity for growth---one pulled weed at a time.

Christina Fox is a licensed mental health counselor, coffee drinker, writer, and homeschooling mom, not necessarily in that order. She lives with her husband of 16 years and two boys in sunny South Florida. You can find her sharing her journey in faith atwww.toshowthemjesus.com and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ToShowThemJesus.