Habits, Streaks, and Resolutions

I don't really do New Year's resolutions. I never really have. They have always just seemed a little too vague to me. According to a recent study1 the top three resolutions for 2014 (and I would bet most recent years) are lose weight, get organized, spend less and save more. We see all too often just how many people can't keep their resolution. Only 75% of New Year's resolutions even make it to January 7th. Even though there are far too many ways to fail a resolution there is rarely a clear win. Lose weight, how much? Get organized, how do you measure that?

I don't do resolutions but I do have habits. We all have habits, some we know about and others that we don't even realize affect us. Along with my habits I have streaks. They really aren't all that different; streaks are just habits that can be quantified. Habit: I listen to Adventures in Odyssey when I go to bed. Streak: I have listened to Adventures in Odyssey more than 2,700 nights in a row. Habit: I go to the Nook for the Burger-of-the-Month. Streak: I have had the BotM every month for the last 71 months.

The thing about streaks and habits is that they are much harder to break than a resolution. Streak: an uninterrupted series2. Habit: a thing done often and hence, usually, done easily; a pattern of action that is acquired and has become so automatic that it is difficult to break3. By definition they are either so ingrained that they are second nature or so important that is you can't miss even once. Jerry Seinfeld had a productivity tip. First decide what you want your streak to be, for Seinfeld it was writing jokes. Then everyday that you work on your streak you put a giant red X through that day on the calendar. "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."4

This is what you do for intentional streaks, productive habits, and positive traits. You protect them, you nurture them, you look after them. But what do you do with the habits you have that aren't so helpful? Our default is not positive, our traits are nefarious, our nature is evil. There are some streaks that rather than protecting you have to work at crushing. Bad habits aren't simply bad because of their own negative consequences but because they crowd out good habits. We need to exchange our bad habits for good. We have to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles"5 and "put on the new self."

I know I said I don't really do resolutions but if you are looking to start a streak January 1 is a great time for it. (It sure makes keeping track a lot easier.)

What streaks are things that I need to start today?
What are the habits I have that need to be crushed?
What chains do I need to break?
What chains do I need to forge?


"I knew whose you were." - Some thoughts on Identity

My parents moved to Breezy Point, MN five years ago. This means when my brothers and I go "home" for holidays we don't go to the town we grew up in and see old friends but rather a new place that is inhabited by strangers. (Don't worry, they are no longer strangers to my parents, just to us kids.) Normally it isn't that big of a deal as we spend most of the time doing family things, but it is most apparent is when we go to their church. It was again true this week after the Christmas Eve service. On our way out all of these unfamiliar faces wishing our parents "Merry Christmas." Of course Mom replies with "Merry Christmas. Have you met my boys?" and then we are introduced to people whose names we forget before we get to the car and who we will likely never interact with again.

One of these introductions stuck out to me this year. "Have you met my boys?" my mother asked a lady who sings on the worship team. Her response was "I haven't met you but I have seen you and I knew whose you were." She was talking about knowing I was a Kvamme, knowing I was my parents' son. It got me thinking about identity. How apparent is it to people that haven't met me that I am a Christian? How obvious is it that I am a child of God?

How are people supposed to know who I am without knowing me? It's simple. Jesus tells us how people will identify us. "This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” Love isn't just a suggestion, it is a command "Let me give you a new command:" he says earlier in the verse, "Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another."1 In fact love is not just a command, but it is the greatest commandment. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." and "Love your neighbor as yourself."2 It is easy to trick myself into thinking that I am loving when really I am falling into the same trap as Martha. It is simple to put priority on getting things done and to become "anxious and troubled about many things."The greatest commandment has nothing to do with work or tasks but with love, and that is something that is too easily forgotten.

How often am I truly loving?
Is my identity too wrapped up in what I do, rather than who I love?
How can I reflect God's love?


Text In Worship

Normally when you think of worship in a church service you think of singing. This weekend at Grace Church Roseville we did something we have done a few times now, Text In Worship. 
After his sermon on Ephesians 3, Pastor Jason encouraged to congregation to text in their response to phrase, "My God is..." During the final worship set the responses were shown on the center screen. It was an amazing time of worship, singing songs together and sharing the ways we have seen God personally in our lives. 

My God is faithful even when I am not.

Here are the responses we got:
(If you don't understand all the ice cream references you can watch or listen to the sermon here and it should all make more sense.)

My God is good.
My God is Agape.
My God is perfect in His timing.
My God is everlasting love.
My God is here.
My God is a fierce warrior.
My God is The One I turn to. 
My God is Everything...which makes Him ENOUGH no matter what.
My God is the control of my life. The Holy Spirit brings this to me through Christ who is God. 
My God is who gives me hope.
My God is the one who won't give up on me. 
My God is patient and always forgiving!
My God is present and powerful in difficulty. 
My God is Limitless.
My God is the ONE who provides in ALL situations and keeps me confident in tomorrow.
My God is my Everything.
My God is my joy & my strength.
My God is power, perfection, worthy of all praise, ever present healer, and consoler.
My God is perfect so others don't have to be.
My God is patient & loving while I learn how to let him in. 
My God is the creator.
My God is the source of perfect peace! 
My God is there even when I am silent. 
My God is loving and merciful!
My God is constant.
My God is the one who accepts and loves me just as I am.
My God is the one to help me get through the grief of my own father's death. 
My God is my friend who never leaves.
My God is Ever Faithful through times of financial stress. 
My God is all I need, want, and desire!
My God is the one who was, and is, and is to come... 
My God is The one true God. 
My God is the healer of all. 
My God is the One who gives me peace.
My God is able to make me an example of a Godly father to my kids. 
My God is gracious. 
My God is victory over my worries.
My God is the one who continued to love me when I decided to pursue my own selfish pursuits for years.
My God is the one that will guide me to a successful and living marriage. 
My God is my home remodeler.
My God is the foundation of my long distance relationship! 
My God is faithful when I am distant and unfaithful. 
My God is my strength!
My God is The One to whom I bend my knee.
My God is loving me no matter what my past is.
My God is personal. 
My God is the One who twice healed my son. 
My God is the strength I cling to when I am weary. 
My God is El Roi, the God who sees me. 
My God is my Almighty Savior. Alleluia! 
My God is the only stable force in my life. My only Rock.
My God is the father who ran to meet me when I decided to come home. 
My God is one who brought me out depression. 
My God is inspiration. 
My God is The one who took my fears away. 
My God is The One who's love's me unconditionally. Even though I make mistakes and sin against Him, He still loves me.
My God is the one who keeps forgiving me.
My God is the reason my heart is full and capable of loving others.
My God is with me where ever I go. 
My God is the One who takes away my fear. 
My God is perfect peace in the midst of the storm. 
My God is the God who made birch bark and ice cream! 
My God is Sunday through Saturday. 
My God is my gracious, loving, and caring Father. 
My God is my banana ice cream! 
My God is my rock and in changeable in this ever changing world.
My God is my future not my past. 
My God is my only hope. 
My God is the one who sees me, knows me, and loves me just as I am. 
My God is unlimited. 
My God is my sustainer 
My God is always waiting with open arms!
My God is the God who continually knows what's best for me. 
My God is the one who helps me through every day. 
My God is a sure foundation!
My God is my father. 
My God is my lord - lord of all! 
My God is relentless, unfailing restoration. 
My God is strong enough to help me leap over walls and bend bows of bronze. (Ps. 18) 
My God is my strength and peace.
My God is my great redeemer.
My God is AMAZING. 
My God is  An AWESOME God!!!! 
My God is overwhelming me with his love. 
My God is hope.
My God is the one who brought me back from hopeless desperation. 
My God is the one who saved my life when I was lost.
My God is Faithful. 
My God is the one who gets me through each day. 
My God is the one who provides everything. 
My God is my righteousness when I fail.
My God is my provider. 
My God is my healer.
My God is all I need. 
My God is the dad I never had. 
My God is my rescuer and my strength. 
My God is great!
My God is my hope for the future. 
My God is  the one who never gives up on me.
My God is my strength. 
My God is endless joy and peace, constantly giving me life to the full.
My God is my inspiration for living. 
My God is the Almighty Creator. 
My God is my steadfast rock. 
My God is faithful, even when I am not. 
My God is my guide and beloved. 
My God is in love with me. 
My God is faithful and always with me.

Custom Labels for Roland M-48

I posted a photo of some custom labels I made for our Roland M-48s some people asked how I made them so here is a quick overview of how I did it.

First here are the details most people have been asking:

The label dimensions are .5" tall and .9" wide.
(I didn't measure the radius of the rounded corner. I just eyeballed it so it looked right)

I printed them on Avery Printable Magnet Sheets.
They cost $7 for a 5 pack of 8.5" x 11" magnet sheets.
These magnet sheets are great, just print and cut.

Here is how I made them:

I designed my labels in Silhouette Studio so I could cut them on my Cameo. I used the Cameo for two reasons. 1) It meant that I could make the labels with a rounded corner to match what each space looks like on the Roland. 2) Way less work for me. No cutting, no lining things up, no redoing it after I accidentally cut right through the middle of a label.
Using the Cameo did mean that I would have to forfeit a little bit of space on the page for registration marks and safe cutting zones. (The Cameo is just a cutter so you have to print something then put it in the Cameo to be cut. It uses the registration marks to make sure everything is lined up correctly.) But I still had more than enough space.
Page layout in Silhouette Studio
I started with the labels for the standard setup that most of the musicians have on their M-48 every week. (seen below) After I had all of our normal labels I tried to think of every label we would probably need in the future. I wanted to get this done and not have to make more labels every week for a new instrument. We currently have two M-48s so once I had my set of labels I duplicated it.
I color coded everything the same way that we do on our Roland M-400 soundboard. Red for vocals, blue for band, green for drums, purple for orchestra, orange for choir, light blue for things in the booth.
Just in case there are labels I didn't think of (I am sure there will be something) I included some blank labels, 4 blank labels of each color and then I filled up the page with white labels.
Labels on M-48
I took all of the extra labels that aren't currently on either of the M-48s and put them on a music stand. We always have plenty of extra music stands (except for Christmas and Easter. I will have to transfer them somewhere then). This keeps them nice and organized and allows me to bring the music stand over to the M-48 I am labeling and swap out labels as needed.
Labels on Music Stand
This weekend was the first time we used the labels and they worked great. Hopefully they continue to work perfectly and we use them for years to come. If that isn't the case I am totally open to these being version 1.0 and having to upgrade to 2.0, whatever that may be.

If you have any questions about the labels or suggestions for version 2.0 let me know in the comments below.