How much?

How much can one learn? How many things can a person master? Are there over-arching skills that one can focus on to improve one’s facility with many different skills? I’d really like to be a great photographer, a cutting-edge designer, a good businessperson, a trusted counselor, a good advisor, a knowledgeable historian, an effective teacher, a compelling writer, and a decent human being.  Not necessarily in that order.  Is it reasonable to think that I can become all those things?  Is it possible to be well-rounded in an age that requires such depth in every field?  Or should I give up some of my dreams? Try to develop in stages?

P.S. –  Be sure to watch the Shinn Photo blog tomorrow morning around 8 am.  I created an art piece earlier today that I’m excited to share!

Initial Thoughts on Behavioral Finance

As part of my course of studies at Fresno State, I’ve been exposed to a (seemingly) newer academic area: Behavioral Finance (BF).

I’m finding this whole area of Behavioral Finance a lot more interesting than I expected. It seems to represent a much more sophisticated, wilder look at the world of corporate finance than the previously accepted norm. My perception is that the previously-held convention was largely based on the idea of homo economicus, the completely rational decsion-maker who always interpreted data correctly and used formulas and models to make the mathematically optimal decision every time. It seems like BF looks at the business world much more through the lens of psychology, seeking to explain why people act as they do instead of as formulas tell them they should.

I wonder how accepted behavioral finance is as an academic area? Is it a small corner, or is it widely accepted as being on the cutting edge? I guess people have been discussing investor behavior for a long time, but this seems to take area of exploration to the next level.

I expect that the emergence of behavioral finance as a discipline (or sub-discipline) makes room for all kinds of new and interesting academic research. Is it proper to say that there are emerging markets within academia? If so, I think I just found one.

P.S. – I started writing a novel this afternoon.  Is anyone interested?

The Night Jesus Saved Liam

March 20, 2011

After reading Jesus’s words about hell in Mark 9 before bed, Liam told me, “I don’t want to go to hell. ” I told him that there’s only one way to know for sure that you’re going to heaven. I explained our separation from God because of sin, and Jesus’s provision. We prayed the prayer of salvation together, then asked for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I explained to Liam that he had become a Christian, and told him that he should tell everyone he knows about it.  He thought it might be fun to have everyone come over to our house for a party.

Liam also had some interesting questions. He wanted to know why I’m not perfect, even though I’m a Christian. I told him that my sinful nature still wars against the Spirit of God in me, and that I won’t be perfect until I die and go to heaven.  I told him that I’m not perfect, but I am forgiven.  And God’s now forgiven him because of what Jesus did.  Liam told me that when we go to heaven, we’ll have perfect bodies, just like Jesus.  Apparently he’s been listening and putting some of these things together. I feel like he has a very real understanding of what he prayed, and I’m so happy that he’s chosen to follow Jesus!

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Guess who’s back?

Just when you thought you I’d quit writing altogether – just when you’re sure that this trip to our blog will be fruitless – as you’re making one last visit for old time’s sake – the unthinkable happens.  You actually find a new blog post.  Whether it’s worth your time to read, I won’t try to pre-judge.  Maybe your comments (or lack thereof) will be all the feedback I need.  Or maybe, just maybe, fate isn’t sealed and the end isn’t written yet. Maybe the end can’t be known from the beginning.  Maybe you’ll leave a comment and stir my faintest hopes.  Or maybe not.

Anyway, we’ve had a lot going on in the past week, months, year little while.  We now have a second child (who, I’m sad to say, still isn’t reflected in our blog’s header graphic.  We could at least do as well as the Team Shinn blog and put up a picture that includes all of us (and our pet unicorn).  Clara is growing into a mostly delightful young girl.  She is funny, sincere, and likes to order her world in her own way.  She can be a little strong-willed at times, too. My favorite Clara-ism is her saying ‘Yipee!’

Liam’s a tender young lad who also happens to make a lot of noise.  His favorite mode of play seems to involve car crashes and other catastrophes.  That sounds bad on (blog) paper, but in reality it’s not at all disturbing.  He became a Christian last night when he accepted Jesus into his heart.  I’ll have to write an entire post on that – it’s pretty interesting.

Here’s a gratuitous picture (I know some of you are only here for the cute kid pictures):
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Speaking of cute, Lisa is doing well. She’s really developing a pretty fantastic skill as a photographer.  Though she and I differ pretty drastically in style, she’s bringing back some material that really earns my respect.  She and I are tossing around the idea of creating a book-length product of some of her work from the simple.life.art series.  It would be very worth doing.  Lisa has also been running lately, which is relatively new for her.  She’s actually in bed early tonight because she’s planning to run first thing in the morning.

I guess that just leaves me (for now).  My biggest life news is that I decided to blog again.  Okay, I think I had you there for a second.  Though I care about andrewandlisa.org almost as much as you do, it’s not actually the most important thing that I have going.  My big news is that I’m pregnant.  (Did I get you that time? I was sure you wouldn’t expect a second cheap gag so quickly on the heels of the first.)

No, my real news is that I’ve returned to school.  If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time, you’ll remember that I took a few courses at Fresno State several years ago.  Well, I’ve resumed that course of study and am again working on my Master’s Degree in Business Administration.  I have two courses this semester, and I LOVE being back in school.  The role’s been a weird adjustment for a fully independent adult, but the reading and mental stimulation are well worth it.  Not to mention that I have some interesting classmates.

Speaking of reading, I’ve been doing so much reading in so many areas that I should probably plan a few blog posts just to catch you up on my reading list.  I know that sounds boring, but perhaps I can come up with an interesting way to share.  Limerick, maybe? Or Iambic Pentameter?  I know it sounds goofy to write a sonnet about one’s reading list, but I really do love it about that much.  Tell me now if that sounds grindingly boring, and I’ll go suck my (gin-covered) thumb in a corner for comfort.

Well, this silliness has gone on for far too long.  I can’t give you the last few minutes of your life back, but I CAN beg you to come back for more of the salacious details and gratuitously cute kid pictures that you’re sure to find in future posts here on andrewandlisa.org.  Good night.

Your Kingdom Come: The 4th of July

This 4th of July, I’m (as ever) torn between faith and patriotism. A friend said that freedom can never be won or maintained by any soldier or government, and that our true freedom only comes from Christ.  I have to agree, but I’m left questioning, “Then why government? And why our government?”

The answer, I believe, is that we were given stewardship of this world in the garden of Eden.  When God told us to multiply and fill the earth, to care for it and govern all that it contains, I believe that political government is part of that mandate.

The United States Government is not the answer to all things, nor the answer to ultimate freedom.  All things we have, freedom in its several types included, are ours because God has willed it so.  In the specific case of freedom, God sent his son, Jesus, to secure that freedom and redeem us for Himself.

But if we’re living out the redeemed lives we’ve been given, we can’t ignore the several mandates that political governance can  fulfill.  Far from ignoring the structures that order our communal lives, we’re to pay attention to those structures; to provide for justice and care for the oppressed.  If we call ourselves Christians, then our government should not be ignored, but attended to carefully.  We need to enter into dialogue with others, to seek optimal ordering of our communal life, to provide justice and order.  Even political freedom should be on our list of priorities if follow carefully God’s mandate to govern the earth.

You probably won’t hear me saying that our government is optimal, or that our nation is the only nation on earth with the truth.  For truth doesn’t reside in our political structures, but those structures should reflect truth if we’re obedient to the governance mandate.  You won’t hear me say that it’s the American Way to put a boot in anyone’s fundament, though that brand of overblown patriotic pride fascinates me in the same way that a car accident slows down traffic.

But you will hear me say that it’s our responsibility to craft and mold a government that reflects the character of God.  A nation with such an orientation wisely seeks justice on a national and global scale, and reflects the very good values of freedom and equanimity that we learn from our creator’s nature.  I seek to join in the crafting of such a government.  And to the extent that our government reflects this orientation, I will celebrate.  Indeed, we encourage what we celebrate, so I celebrate the political freedom that so many have worked and died to craft.  Though it’s only a reflection of true freedom from the tyranny of sin and death, it’s still a worthy reflection.

And as I pray that God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven, I will work in the space and time I occupy to make that prayer a reality.  Not that I seek to create a theistic government, but a government that reflects the goodness of God.

New pictures of Liam and Clara!

They’re both growing so fast! Here are some pictures of our little walking girl and our little playful boy.

Liam is so playful these days, and is starting to see play as a worthy activity in itself, instead of something you do out of curiosity.  That’s really fun, until play time is over.

Clara is getting more fun all the time!  She loves to eat, and she really likes clothes.  She loves to put on shoes, hats and jackets.  Here are a few pictures from our most recent studio session with them!

Enjoy,

Daddy (Andrew)

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Sarah: A picture of grace

In slowly reading through the Bible again, I’ve come across the story of Abraham and Sarah (or Abram and Sarai, as they started).  I’ve always pictured Sarah as a graceful figure, since she’s both the wife of the great Abraham and the mother of a nation.  But a different picture of her has emerged as I’ve been reading.

Almost every mention of Sarah’s name is coupled with an example of bad judgement.  First, there’s the Egyptian deception in Genesis 12 (admittedly not her idea, but she was definitely involved).  Next, in Genesis 16, she brings her servant, Hagar, to Abraham for use as a sex-slave.  Hagar’s desires are never mentioned or considered.  Then, when her plan works and Hagar’s expecting a baby, Sarah’s jealousy drives her to cruelty.  This cruelty is so extreme that pregnant Hagar leaves the community and flees into the desert in an act of near-suicide.

Yet in Genesis 17:15-16, God give Abraham great promises for Sarah.  He changes her name from Sarai, which means something like ‘my princess’ or possibly ‘quarrelsome’, to Sarah, which means ‘princess’.  God promises to bless her and give her a son. She also receives the female version of Abraham’s blessing: that she’ll be the mother of many nations.  God goes even further than he had with Abraham, and promises that kings will descend from her line.  Noticeably absent from the text is the reason God is blessing her.  In Abraham’s case, his faith has already been credited to him as righteousness.  In Sarah’s case, her account was surely overdrawn.  God is clearly not blessing her because she’s great, but because God is great.  He’s showing her unmerited favor, blessings she clearly doesn’t deserve.

So Sarah emerges for me not as an illustration of gracefulness, but as an illustration of grace.  If God looks at people like Sarah and decides to bless them, how can I not wish blessings for the undeserving?  Am I to place myself above God and wish ill of anyone? In the end, God’s blessings, when they’re seen in the light of their undeserved-ness, serve to glorify Him, not Sarah.  The blessings may have been for her, but they’re still God’s blessings.

Clara’s Christmas



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Here’s Clara and Papa Brad at Christmas. She LOVES both of her Grandpas. I haven’t been able to get her to say, ‘Dada’ yet, but she sure likes to say, ‘Papa’!