Showing posts from January, 2009

The Plans of Man and the Plans of God

Oftentimes as human beings we think that we all in charge our of lives, and that in order for anything to happen we need to make it so. While hard work is definitely appropriate, we shouldn't underestimate the role of our great God. As I look forward to developing my career I lean on these texts to give me confidence and hope. In doing so I live out the axiom I've adapted from the sayings of a couple pastors I respect.
"Work like it depends on you, and rest like it depends on God."As I think about all that God has done, and is doing in my life, some verses from Proverbs stand out. I hope these texts can fill you with the same encouragement and hope as they have given me.

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. (16:1)

Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established. (16:3)

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. (16:9)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of …

My Leadership Profile

Below is a list of conclusions I drew about myself after taking some leadership/work assessments today. Taking tests like these makes me realize how much I desire the talents and abilities of others, rather than maximizing my own. It is not always enjoyable to stare at yourself in a mirror and admit the truth about certain areas of your leadership personality. However, to be the best leader possible I need to identify and admit EXACTLY who I am, and then leverage those strengths INSTEAD of trying to be someone I am not.

If you know me personally I'd love to hear your take. Do you agree, or disagree with anything?

As a leader I am...

- not dependent on the company of others - a follower of rules and traditional methods - not extremely innovative or creative - kind and caring of others, but not reliant upon them - not overly trusting of others - a much more short term planner than a long term one
- a rules and procedures guy - an honest person about my feelings - uninterested in selling or…

Mark Driscoll on Nightline

Mark Driscoll was on Nightline a few days ago. I think its a solid piece without a bunch of liberal media slant. Read Mark's reflections here.

11 Step Parenting Program

Stephanie emailed this to be a while ago and I finally got around to putting it on the blog. It is a tad lengthy, but a funny read if you have kids.

Lesson 1
1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2
Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5.Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.

Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3
A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1.Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pou…

Life on 1/28/09

Outline of my day:

Games and playtime while Daddy reads a little
Drive to Ikea and play there
Stop at Burnsville Super Target
Lunch and play land at Lakeville McDonald's
Games and playtime
A little Chicken Little
Books and bedtime

Majority of my day:

Talking back
Hitting and fighting
Kids aimlessly wandering around
Flailing bodies


Long days away from home (no matter how fun), combined with adjustments to Daddy's new work schedule, plus lack of naps, and throw in a child with poor hearing = chaos, exhaustion for all parties, extra amounts of anger and impatience, a side of guilty parent feelings, and not as much fun as there should have been.

Book Review: Ultra Marathon Man

If you are interested in running, or if the thought of someone running two hundred continuous miles blows your mind, then you should check out Dean Karnazes book Ultra Marathon Man. What I read in this book is nearly incomprehensible. Some of the running achievements and stories that Karnazes retells in the book include a marathon at the South Pole, running 199 miles straight over 48 hours, and running 100 miles through mountains terrain.

In the book Karnazes writes about the physical, mental and emotional battles an ultra-endurance athlete must face as they run. He shares about cramps, vomiting, night blindness, frostbite, dehydration, hallucinations, and peeing on the run. It was an awe-inspiring book that I zipped through in only a couple days, and it has left me wanting to start running again (although I am surely no ultra-endurance athlete). You can also check out Dean's website for more info on him and his expeditions.

One Man's Admirable Life Goal

Preach the gospel, die and be forgotten. –Count Zinzendorf


Abraham Lincoln said, “I will get ready and then, perhaps my chance will come.”

I'm Bugged

Haven't been able to find me phone since Saturday and it is really starting to bother me!

Winning Leaders Build Winning Teams

Jack Welch once told Esquire magazine, "When you were small, you were always the last one picked for the team and put out in right field, The years passed, and then you were putting guys out in right field. You learned one thing as you got older. You picked the best players and you won."

(HT: What Got You Here..., p.180)

Man v. Food

Man v. Food (on the Travel Channel) is one of my favorite shows right now. The host is a dude named Adam Richmond. He goes around the country trying to break food eating records at local restaurants. Every time I watch the show I get hungry and I wonder, "How does he get paid to do something so sweet!"

The Village Church new website

Matt Chandler's church called The Village Church recently redid their website. The new site has a lot more content, but I don't like the look of it all that much. See it for yourself.

Light Blogging

Blogging will probably be pretty sparse as I try and figure out how to manage life with my new overnight role at work. I'd recommend you subscribe to my blog via Bloglines or Google reader so that you don't need to come back checking for updates. I'll try and twitter mini life updates when possible.

Peace out. And good night.

Leadership Reflections

In the 16 months I've been working as a manager for Target I have learned much about leadership. Here are a few things I want to carry with me as I move on into my new role.

1. Pick your battles wisely
2. Get your hands dirty w/ your team
3. You can almost never over-communicate something
4. Win over your people and they will carry you, hack them off and you fly alone
5. Have concern for your team beyond simply the issues of work
6. Always ask your people, "What can I do for you?"
7. You are not smarter than everyone else
8. Always convey a positive, can-do attitude
9. Be a leader others will want to come to for anything
10. Take a partner...every time

Last Day Reflections

Today was my last day at my first Target store in Apple Valley. Tomorrow night I will begin training for my new position. I can't believe how quickly time has flown by since I started w/ Target in Sept. 07. I can honestly say that I enjoyed my previous position and I will always remember fondly the people that I worked with at Apple.

As I was saying goodbye this afternoon I had multiple people tell me how much they will miss my positive attitude and the way I make them laugh and have fun at work. Those were very nice compliments. In the heat of battle day after day, you don't really see the kind of impact you have on the people around you. I guess that is the benefit of leaving, it clarifies how people feel about you and the impact you have on your environment. My store made it easy to enjoy coming to work because of all the people who worked so hard and took so much pride in their jobs. I learned a lot in 14 months, and I'm sure I will learn a whole lot more in the…

The Big News Is...

Ok, here's the big news: starting Monday I will be changing positions with Target from ETL-Food to ETL-Logistics. I will also be switching stores to the new Apple Valley South store. As ETL-Logistics I will be working overnights managing the replenishment process in the store. This is a great opportunity for me and I am excited about learning new things and building relationships with a new team. We aren't sure yet how this will affect childcare and other parts of our livs, but Stephanie and I are confident that God has brought about this change at this time for a reason, and he will be there as we sort through the details.


If you don't follow me on Twitter then you might have missed the announcement that there are going to be some big changes for our family in the next few weeks. More details to come tomorrow.

PS - Who reads this blog and twitters? Let me know so I can give you a follow.

Top 10 Reasons to Rethink Your Involvement in Social Media

Fun post by my friend Ben on the Top 10 Reasons to Rethink Your Involvement in Social MediaYour spouse discovers new things about you on your blog.You have separation anxiety with your iPhone.You have a Vimeo AND a YouTube account for the SAME videos.You get mad at people who call you when they could've twittered.You think people who "friend you" are really your friends.Your most frequented website is a visitor stats page.Half of your web searches involve your own name.You don't read "the Bible" anymore; you clarify "YouVersion."You see it as a way to vindicate social trauma in high school.If they made a statue of you, it would be you hunkered over a computer.

Bible Memorization 2009 wk. 3

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:8-10

Past verses
Proverbs 3:5-6
Psalms 16:11

Superstitious Spirituality

Been reading"What Got You Here, Won't Get You There" over the weekend. Great read with lots of stuff for me to think about and try and implement into my leadership; I'll review it more when finish.

One thing I read early in the book hit me from a spiritual perspective. In the book, Marshall Goldsmith discusses how successful people tend to fall into the trap of superstitious beliefs about their success. He defines superstition as,
the belief that a specific activity, followed by a positive reinforcement, is actually the cause of that positive reinforcement
I had a few crazy superstitions while I was playing hockey, and they are developed as the result of doing an activity and having success in the game, and then redoing that activity before the next game hoping for the same success. Some of my superstitions where: putting on equipment for my left side before my right, eating McDonald's on the way to the rink, listening to the same songs during warm-ups, tapin…

4 Roles of the Creative Process

Talked a lot in in my meeting yesterday w/ my pastor about creativity and how to implement creative ideas in our church. He showed me an article in Outreach Magazine that discussed 4 roles in the creative process. At times a single person must place all four roles. In what I think is the ideal situation, a team is comprised of four different people uniquely talented in each role. The roles are:

1. Explorer
2. Artist
3. Judge
4. Warrior

The explorer is a gatherer and generator of creative ideas. This person is always looking, seeking, thinking and probing to find resources and inspiration. An explorer uses all the outlets available to them such as blogging, twitter, websites, podcasts, facebook, magazines, TV, books, and billboards to find ideas.

An artist takes the content from the explorer and begins shaping it and bringing it to life. This may mean drawing pictures, forming org charts, editing things out, pushing ideas together, etc. The artists helps people to see wh…

Encouragment from 2 Corinthians

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer selfis wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. - 4:16-18


Been thinking about a tattoo for the last couple days; also been thinking about our family and the values that I want to define us as a unit. I think it would be cool to design a Balvin Family Crest and have that tattooed on me somewhere. Then, in about 16 years, Jacob and Andrew could get matching tattoos and pass on those values to their kids.

No matter what, I think I'll have something tattooed on me by the end of 2009!

Stupid New Law

Have you heard about the new law going into effect in February that all children's items must be tested for lead? This means that stores who sell used children's clothing and toys must either pay to have items tested or stop selling them. Effectively this means that you will no longer be able to buy used children's clothes at reasonable prices. You can read more about this nonsense here.

This is a terrible law. It is another example of the government overreacting and going overboard to rule the lives of people. If you can please write you senators and take action against this ASAP!

Family Date Night pt. 2

We had another family date night tonight.

We met up with some friends from church for some bowling here in Northfield. It was the first time the kids had been bowling and it was really fun! Jacob enjoyed it quite a bit. As we were leaving he asked if we could come back again, and when we do, we should, "Bring a lot of money!"

The kids used bumpers on their lane and had a blast. Jacob even got a strike. Stephanie took the bumpers off and rolled a couple strikes of her own. I had the best game I've had in quite awhile and bowled a 170! I think our friends thought I was a regular bowler.

Family Date Night

We took the kids to see The Tale of Despereaux tonight (watch the trailer here). It was a good movie. A couple scary scenes for the kids eyes (Ratworld has many creepy skeletons and a few ugly rats) but the overall plot of the movie was great. Some strong themes of forgiveness, courage, honor, and chivalry.

After the movie we went to a Balvin family favorite for dinner - Chipotle. I'm a bit frightened at the thought of Jacob needing his own adult size order pretty soon. On nights like tonight, when he wants to eat, the kid can pack it away; He was literally shoveling rice and balck beans into his mouth.

The Rewards of Small and Big Risk

I talked with someone on Monday about a pretty significant change in my future. My first reaction to the news was apprehension. Could I do it? How would my family handle it? Would the odds be higher that I would succeed or fail?

Lots of questions raced through my mind as I talked with Stephanie and pondered the possibility. On Tuesday, after a night of thinking, talking, and praying, I decided it was 'in' to give it a shot. I won't know for a couple weeks if any change will happen, but I feel like I already am over the hump just by making the decision to take a risk.

I am not much of a risk taker when it comes to big change. Sure I will try new food, go to a new place, or jump off a moderately high structure, but when it comes to the 'this-could-alter-your-life' category, I'm a little more cautious. I like to feel confident in what I do. I want to be sure I will succeed.

However, I am learning that small risk guarantees you nothing but small reward. Big ri…

Our Choices Shape Us

Each day is made up of thousands of choices. The accumulation of certain choices over an undefined, extended period of time, make us the kind of person we are. Another way of saying it: we become what we repeatedly choose.


go to church or sleep in
take a lingering/second glance or keep walking
give it away or hold on tightly
eat the burger or the banana
yell and accuse or give grace and listen
jump to conclusions or hear someone out
be lazy or work hard
quit or keep trying
never try or risk failure
watch the TV show or change the channel
watch TV or read a book
second plate or contentment
sweat the small stuff or go with the flow
I need it NOW or I can wait
pride or humility
surf the web or read my Bible
leave it for someone else or help out even when no one is looking
complain or be part of the solution

What kind of person will 2009's choices make you?

Comfortable Christians

In church last week the preacher said something that stuck with me. He said, "kingdom work will almost always encounter spiritual resistance, and if we are not feeling any resistance, we may not really be advancing the kingdom at all." Good point.

The Devil doesn't need to spend much time opposing those who aren't doing anything for God. They don't pose much of a threat to the desires of darkness.

The idea that resistance will come upon those who truly seek to advance God's kingdom is something I think many Christians intuitively know, and it is the fear of this resistance which stops many followers of Jesus from ever living bold lives of witness.

I know that is true in my life. I'm too often guilty of being a "comfortable Christian" who loves Jesus and enjoys being blessed by him, but who doesn't want to go so far that I might have to encounter real spiritual opposition. My minds, in those times, rationalizes that the benefits of stepping…

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones on Resolutions

Found this great quote from Martyn Lloyd-Jones' classic Spiritual Depression at the Desiring God blog. Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression? The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past. Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ. Never look back at your sins again. Say: ‘It is finished, it is covered by the Blood of Christ'. That is your first step. Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you. What you need is not to make resolutions to live a better life, to start fasting and sweating and praying. No! You just begin to say: I rest my faith on Him alone
Who died for my transgressions to atone. (35)

Intentional Bedtime

We're trying out a new routine at the Balvin household in 2009. Earlier bedtime for the kids.

In the past we started bedtime between 8 and 8:30, which meant the kids weren't fully tucked in, sung to, prayed over, hydrated, and hollered at, until at least 9. That left Stephanie and I only about an hour to try and do all the things we wanted to do before bed.

This year I want to be more intentional with my time at home with the kids. I want to be intentional about playing with them, disciplining them, listening to them, and just being with them. So, we're going to try and start the bedtime routine at 7:30 now. The goal is to spend a half an hour getting on pj's, brushing teeth, reading stories, learning Bible verses, singing, praying and hugging before it is bedtime.

My hope is once the kids get into this routine they will fall asleep quickly, giving Stephanie and I an extra hour of time to do the things we want to do.

Believing In The Promise

Lately I've been feeling stuck and wondering what was supposed to happen in my future. It has seemed like the good options have been swallowed up and I'm left with a pile of questions, doubts and fears. My perspective is starting to shift though.

Yesterday I was listening to a sermon and heard the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho mentioned. It got me thinking. God had promised the land to Joshua and the Israelites long ago, but because of the people's fear and doubt an entire generation missed out on experiencing God's provision.

Then God rises up Joshua and tells him to lead the people into the promise. And Joshua follows. It must have been an exciting time. Anticipation and hope, joy and celebration. Renewed faith in God and the wonders of his goodness. And then comes Jericho. The first test. A large city that was heavily fortified with insurmountable walls.

I've hit some insurmountable walls in my life. Obstacles that I didn't think there …

It is about the Heart, not the Hemline

What then do we make of the instruction from Paul to Timothy when he wrote that women should dress “not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.” Was Paul advocating that women completely abstain from wearing nice clothes, doing their hair and wearing jewelry? Man, I hope not. I deeply enjoy seeing my wife wearing a pretty dress and heels, complimented by some eye shadow and fancy jewelry. Read more of my latest article, "It is about the Heart, not the Hemline"

Bible Memorization 2009

One of my goals for 2009 is to more fully incorporate God's Word into my life. Putting a verse deep into my mind each week will help me do that. I found this chart for Bible memorization online a while back (can't remember where) and it is a nice tool to help you memorize Scripture. The chart is set up so that you only focus and memorize one or two verses a week. You can print your own chart and check off each week as you complete it.

Week 1:
Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

2008 Rememberances

Wanted to try and put down some of the things from 2008 that I'd like to remember.

Officiated Steve Eastman's wedding
Preached at Rejoice Church
Preached at 1st Congregational of Waseca
Spoke to boys at a youth retreat for 1st Baptist Church
Preached to youth at Constance Free Church
Took kids to my parents cabin and drove home in a HUGE storm, stopped at Applebee's and waited out the rain with chips and salsa, and onion rings
The Whiteboard Sessions
Toured Washington DC with my bride
Meeting the Ben and Ainsley Arment and vacationing with Stephanie in Reston, VA
Multiple trips w/ family to Emma Krumbee's Orchard
Trips to watch my brother Jeff play hockey at Gustavus, St. Olaf, St. Mary's, St. Thomas, and Blaine
Twins home opener v. LA Angels w/ family and Target friends
Taking the light rail w/ family to watch Twins play White Sox
Sitting right above the Twins dugout watching them play Baltimore w/ Target buddy
Twins v. Red Sox w/ Jon Towey
Twins v. Yankess w/ father-in-law and b…