Musubi Maker

Musubi Maker

I grew up thinking everyone loved SPAM. As a kid I loved SPAM and eggs for breakfast. In Hawaii, you can even get SPAM at McDonald’s. SPAM chopped up and put into fried rice can be served at any meal. When I was in college I would chop up SPAM, fry it and mix it in with Mac ‘n Cheese. Delicious, right??

As I got older I learned not everyone liked SPAM. In fact, I discovered that most people on the mainland thought it was downright disgusting! A friend just shared about a game they would play in their youth group where they had to pass SPAM the the next person with their necks! What a waste of SPAM!!

When I was in seminary we had an event where students would represent their countries with food. We students from he “country” of Hawaii were invited to have a table. What better to pass out than SPAM musubi!  A block of rice, a fried piece of marinaded SPAM, all wrapped in a piece of seasoned seaweed. People looked at it and cringed. “SPAM!?!?!” Then they took one…many came back and asked for another. SPAM musubi was a hit and we sold out quick.

Since being back in Hawaii I have been noticing that many that would normally not eat SPAM, will eat SPAM musubi. Even Emily has developed cravings for it.

Amazing that you can take something that is undesirable and transform it into something people crave. It’s all about that transformation. A balance of ingredients, the way it’s presented and an open mind.

In a similar way there are things in life that are undesirable. Chores, criticism, work, and many more things, these are just not usually desirable. So how do you transform it? Perhaps making a game out of chores, make it a competition. Criticism can be better received and effective if partnered with a plan for improvement. Building around a persons strengths as opposed to focusing on weaknesses can make a healthier team.

Be a musubi maker. Find ways to make things that may seem undesirable, something that people will enjoy. Also, eat more SPAM. -jason

 

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Puzzled

Puzzled

As we waited in suspense for Hurricane Lane to arrive, Emily thought it would be a good idea to work on a puzzle. Our activities would be limited.

After an initial wave of excitement from the family, everyone was over it. I think 1,000 pieces was just a little too overwhelming. The best next step would probably have been to pack it up and put it in the closet. It was just too hard for me to leave it unfinished.

Over the next week I sat at that puzzle during the evenings and plugged away at it. Every day I wondered why I was wasting my time doing this and contemplated just putting it away. No, I have to finish.

The thing about puzzles is, the more you put the pieces together, the clearer the picture. The clearer the picture the more you want to work on it. It’s as if the puzzle itself inspires you to keep going when you focus on the larger picture. As you get closer and closer to the end and the picture comes into focus, others are more excited to get involved. Part of the excitement comes when the remaining pieces are much easier to put into place. In the end the final picture is beautiful and celebrated.

There may be things in life that are puzzling. It’s discouraging and overwhelming to work on. Everything inside you wants to give up. When there are pieces everywhere it is overwhelming. You just can’t see how this picture will ever work out.

Take it one piece at a time. As you fit them into place you will begin to see the picture. As the picture comes into focus you will find encouragement to move forward. It might be you that will help others see the bigger picture. When they see it, they will be excited to jump in, maybe even finish the puzzle for you.

In many ways I feel like that even in my relationship with Jesus. There are pieces of Jesus in my life. I know what the picture is supposed to look like (the picture on the box is like the Bible). Sometimes I get so distracted and want to give up. Then I piece just fits and the picture becomes clearer. I’m motivated to see the bigger picture. Then I get discouraged again. If it was up to my own effort, I’d have given up a long time ago. It’s as if the puzzle gives me motivation to keep going. When I can see the bigger picture coming into focus I want to put more of the pieces together. I can’t wait to see the final product. I can’t wait to celebrate the beauty of the whole picture.

What ever you are puzzled by, keep pushing forward. See the bigger picture and move forward one piece at a time. In the end you’ll be glad you did as you celebrate the final product. -jason

 

 

 

 

Learning to Receive

It has been two months now at my new job and I am excited about my work here.

When I applied for this job I figured it was a shot in the dark. We applied our son to Kindergarten and I went online to apply for financial aid. I saw the EMPLOYMENT link and a counselor position and thought, “Why not?”

Later I told Emily that I applied and assured her I would not get hired. An institution like `Iolani will certainly pursue someone with more experience and education. To my surprise, I was offered the job. Over the last two months I have been still in disbelief that I was hired here.

A couple weeks ago during Sunday worship we sang the hymn, “I Stand Amazed in the Presence”, written by Charles Gabriel. When we got to the chorus, “how marvelous, how wonderful is my Saviors love for me”, I began to reflect on just how marvelous it is. The thought was overwhelming. Then I realized through that moment of epiphany, I struggle to receive that. The reality of how undeserving I am to receive God’s love overshadows the fact that despite what is deserved, God’s grace and mercy pours out His love on me. It’s a gift from the Lord, gifts are not earned. In that revelation I felt absolutely free. I felt vulnerable, but a necessary vulnerability to allow God’s love to flow through me.

God revealed a broader understanding to me that morning. I struggle to receive love from others. I’m a skeptic. In my mind there is always an angle, there is always an agenda. This keeps me on my guard and when my guard is up, I am unable to receive love that is given. When I cannot receive, it’s difficult to freely give.

When the Bible talks about a faith like a child, I think of how my kids freely receive our love. There is no condition and no questioning the love that is given. You grow older and the people that take advantage of innocence sow seeds of mistrust in us. We can’t help but put up our guards. We narrow the input of love in our lives.

If we are able to accept love and kindness from others, not because we deserve it, but because it is truly a gift, we free ourselves up to give. In my job I see how I have been very limited because I’m trapped in my thinking that, “I don’t belong here.” In my marriage I see how I can shutdown because I can question the motives of my spouse. In my parenting I can get frustrated easily because I can look past the simple innocence of love that is given. In my friendships I can see how I can shut people out because I don’t believe they would really want to be my friend. Most critically I am unable to really be transformed and shine the light of Jesus to the world because I feel like I need to earn it from God.

When we can learn to receive from others freely and without judgment, we can give to others freely and without judgment. -jason

 

Hurricane Warning

Hurricane Lane came barreling toward the island state of Hawaii. An intense Category 5 Major Hurricane presented potentially catastrophic outcomes.

If you have lived in Hawaii for any significant amount of time, you likely have been around during some natural disaster warnings. Tsunami threats and hurricane/storm warnings are not uncommon. When these things happen, people start to prepare.

When I went to Costco there was a pallet of about 20 cases of water left. An employee was standing there loading the water into carts for customers limiting everyone to two cases. I stopped to get gas and there was only diesel and regular grade left, the lines were long. Everyone was preparing, and that is a good thing. Always be prepared.

There is a parable in the Bible that Jesus tells regarding the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven upon the earth. In this parable of the ten virgins, they are waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. They have lamps so that they will be able to participate in the celebration of the wedding feast between the bride (the Church) and the Bridegroom (Jesus Christ). Five of those virgins did not bring extra oil and therefore were unable to participate when the bridegroom arrived. (Matthew 25)

In the chapter preceding this one, Jesus gives the background to the need for this parable. Enraged with the Pharisees, He tells his disciples whats to come: 

“Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

This is just a sample of the signs of what is to come, the return of the Lord.

The Christian understanding is that we are all prone to turn from God. That’s just our nature. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was the redeeming of many who He has called back to Him. In the end a storm is coming. There will be destruction, but those who are prepared will live.

Like a natural disaster, we should always be prepared, not just at the last minute. With the return of Jesus, we are already seeing the effects of the storm and we already have heralds proclaiming the coming storm. Will you be prepared?

Hurricane Lane has not passed us yet. We are not yet in the clear. The damage from heavy rains are already being broadcast on the news. Pray that it might move on with minimal further damage. This storm will eventually pass, but consider the spiritual storm that is brewing in our world. Be prepared, there is only one shelter available for this storm. -jason

 

ICONIC

ICONIC

Marketing is so powerful. There are certain companies that have marketed themselves to be household names. Easily recognizable and so well integrated into our culture, these names become a part of our regular conversation. Consider how certain brands have become icons that shaped our society in the paragraph below.

What’s better than lounging in your Jacuzzi® while dinner cooks in the Crock Pot®. Please, if you have a cut, put a Band-Aid® on it before you get in. There are Q-Tips® if water gets into your ear and if the night gets chilly and you get a runny nose a box of Kleenex® is available. Go ahead and take some leftover dinner in a Tupperware® when you are done. You can use the Sharpie® to write your name on a piece of Scotch Tape® to label your food.

The list goes on…

These brand name’s have become iconic due to the fact that their names are tied to the general product, whether or not it is from their company. Hot tubs, slow cookers, bandages, cotton swabs, facial tissues, containers, markers and tape. A larger group of products in a saturated market is identified by one brand.

Sometimes icons are people. We have entertainment icons, sports icons, political icons, and we even have icons within our private institutions. We hear that “[so-and-so] is the face of football” or “[this person] IS Rock-n-Roll”. During my new employee orientation we learned about some of those icons at`Iolani School. These people were incredibly influential to the foundation of the school. Eddie Hamada, Harold Keables, Father Bray, and Reverend Coon are just a couple of those. Incredible people that were loved dearly and left their mark here.

At `Iolani School they push the philosophy of “One Team”. This was developed and lived out by the people mentioned above. With One Team there is a sense of humility as we strive for excellence together, unified. While certain people stand out in the foundation and history of the school, `Iolani is not represented by a few people, it’s everyone associated with the school. From past to present, from student to parent, from faculty to staff. We must carry out the values we pick up and learn from those who have come before. The icon of the school is the collective whole.

Honoring the memory of iconic people is very important and very valuable. May we never forget those who have gone before, paved the way and laid the foundation on which the many facets of our community are built. Let us also be sure that the values that they have exemplified live on through us. We cannot let the values and character they have shown us and taught us stay attached to a memory. When we carry on the work they have begun, we too become iconic as one with them. In everything you represent, be iconic. For your family, for your school, for your job, for your friends and for your beliefs, be iconic.

-jason

Good Intentions

This past weekend I spent a lot of time working around the house. There is sense of accomplishment when something is broken and I can fix it. I’m no handyman, but I am a cheapskate so I like to do things myself.

This past Saturday, the freezer handle broke off. I figured out the problem, got the part I needed, and fixed it. The toilet was difficult to flush. I Googled the problem and discovered a seal that needed to be replaced. I got the gasket, replaced it and it works. A faucet was leaking so I thought it was the stem. Upon further review it was not the stem, but the rubber plug under the stem. Repair pending. Our pet vac was broken so I opened it up and discovered a piece of broken plastic that was stuck in one of the drive belts. Fixed. My sister bought a flood light and the screws were not in it. I found some screws and got it mounted.

Very fulfilling, and satisfying that I got things done and saved some money the process. I wish I could say my efforts always paid off.

I’ve always considered myself pretty decent with computers. Of course as technology advances it gets a little more complicated. This was true last week at work.

Our IT department has been super busy putting out fires and getting people ready for the new year. Since they are so busy I knew it might take some time for my printer to show up. There’s a Xerox WorkCentre in the counseling office so I figured I would just go ahead and set my computer up through the network. I’ve done it before, shouldn’t be that hard. I’m not going to bother the IT department, I’ll just do it myself.

Change the IP here, adjust that setting there and…nothing.

Spent some time on YouTube and TADA!!!

Nothing.

Oh well, I’ll try again later. Unless…”How come my document won’t print?” Inquired a voice from another office. Dang it, I broke the printer. Thankful for our IT hero, Scott, who came right over and fixed the issue. I reluctantly told him about the one in the other building that I messed with… OOPS!

Sometimes we have the best intentions to help, but then we make things worse. There are certain things we can just wing it on, there are others that might be best we leave alone. Home repairs, car maintenance, medical advice and even dynamics of relationships. Sometimes times it’s best to say, “I don’t know”, and leave it to someone who does know. With our best intentions, we should also operate within our scope of understanding, otherwise we may be creating a bigger problem.

“The road to creating more work for others is paved with good intentions.” I think that’s how the saying goes… -jason

The More You Know…

There’s a series on Netflix that I stumbled upon, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”. It is sort of a mobile talk show where Jerry Seinfeld picks up other comedians in a unique car to grab a coffee and sometimes a meal. The humor suits me and I also think I like it because it seems more genuine than a traditional talk show. Jerry says to one of his guests, “Do you know why I like doing this show? Because I get to have people on that I like.” This seems to be true. The interaction feels genuine and personable. You have a sense that Jerry is really getting to know the person, not just getting to know about them.

There is a developing concern that I have for the Christian community. More and more people are becoming fascinated with the scholarship of Christian theology. Academia has become an idol in our churches and for many of our church leaders. We are intrigued by how intellectual our leaders are. Church members are drawn to how much they know about God and less concerned whether or not they know God. This has produced a culture of church leaders that are arrogant and independent from the Spirit of God.

Paul tells the church in Corinth in 1 Cor 2:12,13:

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

Later in chapter 8 he addresses eating food offered to idols but applies a broader teaching:

“Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”

Like the 90’s PSA, “The More You Know, The More You Grow”, but grow in what?

To really know someone or something, it often requires us to “grow” before we “know”.

The same is true with our relationships. With the popularity of social media, we are able to know so much about a person, but not really know them at all.

With the internet, we can know so much about a place or a particular topic, but not know it at all.

In our modern world knowledge is praised and exalted. To really know someone or something, it takes time and energy. It’s intentional, it’s intimate and it requires us to step aside from our arrogance and pride in developing our knowledge about it.

Step back from pursuing knowledge about something or someone and press into KNOWING: your spouse, your child, your family, your friends, you neighbors, your job, your community, and most importantly, your God. -jason

 

 

Counting the Seconds

“Hey Google, how many more minutes on the timer?”

“You have 15 minutes and 53 seconds.”

“Hey Google, how many more minutes on the timer?”

“You have 15 minutes and 26 seconds.”

This was the scene of Jonah’s first solo baking adventure. He wanted to make brownies for his sister’s birthday party. I suggested he go and play while it was baking and I would let him know when it was ready. He refused to leave the area and for the entire 25 minute bake time, he continued his frequent dialogue with Google.

Somethings are just too exciting to take your mind off of. The world around us stops and all we can think about is this one thing. Sadly, some things that are completely difficult to fixate on are tragic and dreadful.

My father is aging and he was reflecting on it in a recent conversation we had. With his usual blunt way of speaking he said, “Yeah, I guess I’m going to die soon.” In response I drew into perspective the stories of fatality in the media of many young people. Diseases, acts of violence, unfortunate accidents, there are many things claiming lives of all ages. We just have to live no matter how old we are. We just don’t really know. I said, “You may very well live past 100!”

Perhaps there is a different view when you know there is something greater after this life. If this life is all you have, I can see how fixating on the seconds might be even more difficult to avoid. When we do that, we can miss out on life. 25 minutes waiting for brownies to cook isn’t that long, but certainly is time that could have been used on other things. A lifetime, well, we already determined it is an unspecified amount of time, but however long it might be, we should not waste it counting the seconds. -jason

Play It Safe

A couple weeks ago I attended an active shooter training at work. The Honolulu Police Department did an excellent job in educating and encouraging us to consider strategies and tools to help make the school a safer place in the event of an active shooter. While it was a very good and relevant training, I thought to myself how unfortunate it is that we even have to think about these things.

Later that week Emily and I watched one of our favorite shows, Alone, on the History channel. Ten people are dropped off all alone in the wilderness, this time in Mongolia. The participants run their own cameras and a couple of them are filming in the middle of the night with night vision. They are in their sleeping bags while rumblings and calls of what sounds like large animals are right outside their make shift shelters. In seasons past that fear for personal safety has push contestants to “tap out”.

The idea of safety is interesting. It really is a construct of society. In some ways an illusion. A social psychologist named Azim Shariff developed a theory that religion, and specifically God, was the creation of man to enforce accountability on people as communities began to grow too large to oversee. His study on the effects of a belief in God and cheating show that belief often curbs the temptation to cheat. In effect, the creation of a God creates with it a sense of safety. I must add, while this may be  accurate and astounding data, it falls short to disprove the existence of God.

With recent and growing concern over gun control, I have been so torn by both sides. When you look at it, they are promoting two views of safety.

On one hand you have George Young Jr. of Hilo, HI. He sued the State of Hawaii because he was denied an open carry license. By the laws in Hawaii he is technically able to obtain a license should he prove the need. As an older man who has years of fire arms training in the military and law enforcement, he feels the need for protection. Having a weapon makes him feel he can keep himself safe.

On the other hand you have others that say laws that allow the government to control the individuals ability to own a firearm will minimize danger. In this perspective people are trusting that the government will keep them safe.

In any event, safety is a matter of perspective. We think about the past and wonder why things aren’t like they used to be. It was much safer then, or was it? It’s what you believe is keeping you safe. This is true with kids. Jonah talks about lava and robbers. Are this real threats? Well, in some regard, yes. Our job as parents is to help Jonah and our girls feel safe.

Do you feel safe? It’s all a matter of perspective. Safety is in many ways a construct of the mind. Even in Christianity people may feel safe in their belief in God. With a true understanding of Biblical teaching, safety is assured for the believer in eternity, not in the flesh. Does that mean that God doesn’t protect our physical bodies? No, He can, but it’s not an assurance.

Perhaps we sometimes need to set aside certain realities and just “play” it safe. -jason

The Guilty Party

Have you ever heard the name  Margit Hamosh? It’s probably unlikely. Dr. Hamosh was a scientist who discovered the digestive enzyme, lingual lipase, in her study of human milk and neonatal digestion. Margit Hamosh may also a name heard along with other colleagues like, Mika Popovic, Robert Gallo and Rameshwar Sharma. All were on trial by the Office of Research Integrity organized by the National Institutes of Health in the late ’80’s.

In a piece done by Malcolm Gladwell in the Washington Post, and more recently revisited in his podcast, Revisionist History, he highlights the absurdity of the attack on the scientific community in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Many scientists, like the ones listed above, were found guilty of scientific fraud because of a typo or the deviation in the definition of a word like, “use”.

Gladwell expresses remorse over being a part of the journalistic frenzy over scientific fraud. He points out that he and others were proclaiming scientist “GUITLY!” and yet never really understood the crime.

I appreciate the sentiment of regret, but I also empathize. There are many times I have joined in the “GUILTY! Party” without much understanding. Without even knowing the crime, I quickly jump into the party that has told me someone is guilty of a crime. It’s human nature after all.

When Jesus was sent to Pilate for a trial, Pilate couldn’t find the basis for criminal punishment. He address the Jewish crowd in Luke 23:22-23 “And he said to them the third time, ‘Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.’ But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail.”

Incited by the religious leaders, the crowds collectively proclaimed Jesus’ guilt, and requested the freedom of another prisoner. My guess is that many in the crowd didn’t even understand what they were proclaiming Him guilty of. It was the collective agreement of the “GUILT Party”.

Whether in a casual conversation with friends or as an opinion from a media article, we must try our best to understand the situation before we reach our verdict. Tweets and social media outlets are so instantaneously spread throughout the globe. Like wild fire an opinion becomes fact and then the consensus of the masses. Let’s do our part to avoid being a default member of the “GUILTY Party”. -jason