Sunshine Blogger Award

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to “bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. Or so I’m told. The awesome, amazing, astounding, and always adorable “Authentically Aurora” nominated me for this award a few days ago, and I am pleased to accept. Thank you, Aurora, from the bottom of my heart.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Answer the questions from the person who has nominated you
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for this award
  4. Write the same number of questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  5. Notify the bloggers you nominated


Having already thanked AA, I will now comply with rule number two. The final three steps will have to wait until the end of the week, but I am working on it, I promise.

And, by the way, this happens to be post number 300 on Salvageable.

What is your biggest dream?

My biggest dream is to be a successful writer. By successful, I do not mean rich and famous. I want the things I write to be meaningful and helpful to readers. I would like to believe that at least one thing I have written will have enduring value—that it will be meaningful and helpful even after I have long shuffled off this mortal coil.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

My first inclination is to say that I would like to return to my childhood home. Readers of last week’s posts will know that such a visit is no longer possible. I have no burning desire to visit any one place, but I would like some day to see the major sites of Europe, west Asia, and Egypt. On the other hand, China and Japan also interest me. And India….

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

Undoubtedly an introvert. On a scale of one to ten, where one is totally introverted, ten is totally extraverted, and five is purely ambiverted, I would probably score a two. Maybe one and three quarters.

Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?

“Always” is a big word. As a boy, I dreamed of being an astronaut, a preacher, a police officer, a professional baseball player, and an author. As I grew older, author became the main dream. Then I realized that, whatever I did, I wanted to do for Christ and the Church. I received a proper education and began full-time work in the church. After two moves, I realized that what I was doing was not what I really wanted to do. Mid-life crisis? Near nervous breakdown? I’m not entirely sure. I found a different full-time job in the secular world, one that sometimes involves writing but is not focused on writing. I also have two part-time jobs, which keeps me busy. Having the opportunity to write, to teach, and to share the Word of God, I think I am doing what I was meant to do, and that’s good enough for me.

Do you usually follow your heart or your head?

My head. I am Mr. Spock in human flesh. Even my career change, mentioned above, was carefully calculated, not an impulse or a whim.

What are you most thankful for? 

I am most thankful for redemption through Jesus Christ. Without his saving work, nothing I have and nothing I do would have any value.

What’s on your bucket list this year?

I am not a bucket-list kind of person. I tend to live more I the moment, one day at a time. That said, I will have the chance next summer to see something I have always wanted to see—a total eclipse of the sun. Missing that would be an enormous disappointment, so I hope the sky is clear that day.

What’s your favorite food ever?

That depends upon a great many things. At this moment, I am going to say a traditional German dinner of sauerbraten and several sides. The best German food I’ve ever eaten was in the Amana Colonies in Iowa, not far from Iowa City. Over the years, I have learned how to make a respectable sauerbraten in my slow-cooker. In fact, I made some last Sunday.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

When I was preparing to go to college, heading towards a career in the Church, my father said, “J., don’t go to a Christian college. Go to a school where you will learn about the world and about how people think in the world outside the Church.” I took his advice. In religion classes I learned about the historical-critical method of studying the Bible, and in other classes I was exposed to a wide variety of thoughts and attitudes. I also learned how to defend the Christian faith in a hostile environment. As a result, when I began graduate school, I knew what the professors were talking about when they warned us against those things. And I have known how to discuss these things with more light and less heat than happens among many Christian apologists.

Which of the places you’ve traveled to inspired you the most, and why?

When I was in high school, my grandparents gave money at Christmas to my parents so the three of us could have a nice vacation in the summer. We went twice to the Grand Tetons near Yellowstone National Park and twice to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, staying on guest ranches each vacation. Being up in those mountains was truly inspiring, and I have enduring memories of those trips.


My job is not complete until I have nominated other bloggers for this award, but I am done writing for today. More will come later in the week. J.


When I overanalyze, I’m sorry

This bothers me: when people describe to me a problem they are having, I try either to analyze why the problem exists or to help them find a solution. Then I overhear someone else say the kind, compassionate things I should have said, and I kick myself up and down the stairs the rest of the day.

Really, I want to be kind and compassionate. I hunt for the right words to say and apologize when I don’t find them. No doubt part of my problem is a Mastermind (INT-J) personality which is automatically analytical and problem-solving even when other people do not want that kind of response. I want to be classy like John Steed, but always I end up as Mr. Spock instead.

The reason this bothers me is that, when I am being the analytical Mr. Spock, other people get the impression that I don’t care. Nothing could be further from the truth! I would not be analyzing their problem if I did not care. To me it seems like I am reaching out with a helping hand, but to them it feels as if I am building a wall between us.

Whenever this has happened, I feel disappointed in myself. Understand that, in my household when I was growing up, “disappointed” was a code word for strong disapproval. In some ways, hearing Mom or Dad say, “I’m disappointed with you” was a worse punishment than being spanked or sent to my room. So when I say that I am disappointed with myself, I really mean that I am very angry at myself.

At the same time, I am very sensitive to the people around me. If someone is having a bad day, my first reaction is to blame myself. The other person might be fighting off a cold, or getting over a morning argument with a spouse, or focusing attention on a project, but part of my brain is asking the rest of my brain, “What did I do that was wrong?” I’ve been like this as long as I can remember. As a result, I have learned to ignore that feeling, the same way I ignore the feeling that I’ve forgotten something important each and every time I leave the house.

This probably means that at times I miss a chance to apologize when I should apologize. Or I miss a chance to say a kind word to someone who needs a kind word, apart from the fact that their problem is not my fault. Failing to say the right thing, though, bothers me less than saying the wrong thing. I cannot seem to remember that generally people want sympathy and support more than they want solutions.

Some people say that this is a male/female divide in western culture. They say that women talk about their problems to receive emotional support, while men talk about their problems to find solutions. Therefore, when a man hears a problem described, he looks for a solution; when a woman hears a problem described, she offers emotional support. That description is simplistic, of course, although it may contain some elements of truth. In the end, though, it seems more like a stereotype than a helpful explanation.

But, there I go again. Even dealing with my own feelings, I am looking for explanations and solutions. I am asking how I can change myself so I can offer support and sympathy and not be the analytical Spock who doesn’t help at all. At this point, I am who I am, analytical mind and all.