December 29, 2011

"December 1941" by Craig Shirley (Review)

I'm a revolutionary era history buff. I don't have a ton of facts that I rattle off in conversation, but the time period in American history is the most exciting to me. You have a host of smaller events that collectively set the tone for the entire nation. While it was less than 250 years ago, a relatively tiny stretch in history, it's amazing how many holes we still need to try and find pieces for to better know and understand life during that period.

World War II was a defining moment in American history sixty years ago. Because of the relative historical proximity and the technological advances that were made since the revolution, we have access to information from so many sources the difference is like night and day. Craig Shirley capitalizes on this in his solid, historical volume "December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World."

There are more than 550 pages in this thoroughly researched book. He provides a day by day account of that month of not only the advances in the war efforts, but also a sense of what life was like for everyday people. He provides an American daily life context and intermingles it with what was happening politically and militarily. This provides a unique balance for someone interested in history but isn't necessarily looking for military history.

The biggest strength of the book is the presentation of the thoroughly performed research using every day language. A high school student should be able to well-grasp all the material that Shirley has written. However, it does not have the polish of the Pulitzer Prize worthy book, and becomes unreadable at several points - not because of a "sit and let it marinate" sort of reader pondering, but because of the author's inability to provide clear transitions from the various topics covered.

I feel that this book had plenty of potential but it wasn't realized. Shirley should have let the book sit for six months in its current state and then turned it into a grade A masterpiece. Instead, it's like that college term paper that has a bunch of good research done but is cobbled together at the last minute. I wanted to like the book, but it ended up being sort of bleh.

Three stars (out of five.)

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson.

December 23, 2011


In the past two weeks, I have started a new hobby - fish tanking! Fish keeping! Aquarium-izing! I don't know what the proper term might be, but I think fish tanking is a winner!

It all started supposed to be a gift for Leilani for Christmas. But then I realized that a good fish tank requires a lot of effort, I got carried away, so I sort of claimed it. Not that she wouldn't be enjoying it just the same as if it was for her, but it became more than "OK, let's getta a Betta fish and put it in a large jar with a plant on top."

I wanted to do a planted tank (one with a bunch of live plants). I was inspired by a bunch of stuff I found online. I learned that "aquascaping" is a thing - they have competitions. There are some amazing looking tanks out there.

I was looking to strike a balance between zero-effort and time consuming. I found what I was looking for: "a low-tech planted tank."

The legit pros would never do this, but so far I have purchased everything from the big box pet stores. I might reform depending on how things go, but the convenience of walking into a store, tracking down a store employee so they can assist you, and asking them for detailed information about aquatic life which they "have received no training on" is easier for me. For now.

Anyway, I bought some awesome, muddy substrate (Seachem Flourite) (which I apparently didn't rinse well) which led to some cloudy water early on, but it has since settled. I threw in my mystery aquatic plants (syngonium, dracaena, wisteria are known... I have three I have no clue about) and let the tank run for a week.

There is a nitrogen cycle that a new tank needs to have in place before a tank can be considered "cycled" or "established." If this hasn't happened, you get a bunch of dead fish.  There are many ways to do it, and many schools of thought on each (the "traditional" mode involves using live fish which many consider inhumane since it kills or severely damages the fish).

Since I had a bunch of plants in my tank, they actually help with the process, reducing the toxicity that might otherwise appear. After a week, the plants were doing well so I was ready to add a few, hearty small fish.

I found some cherry barbs at the store which fit the bill perfectly. They are really finely detailed and beautiful. The orange-red ones are male, and the yellow-brown ones are female. I didn't realize that the genders had such different coloration until after I brought the five males home.

I've had the fish for about 4 days now and they seem to be doing well. Swimming about energetically, happily eating their food when fed. The plants are doing well also, and get snacked on by my omnivorous fish. Cherry barbs like cucumbers and zucchini so I'll give mine some later today to see if they eat them.

If I make it to the two week mark with all of my guys alive, I will add some females to the mix and see what happens.

Here's a picture of the tank at week 1. I hope the plants grow out and I anticipate adding some shorter plants sometime in the next few weeks to add some variety. The barbs totally love the plants, swimming through stalks and leaves.

$100 Room Transformation Challenge

In the past few months, we've been working on making our condo market-ready. One corner of our home has been the most neglected. It was the last one that was furnished with non-bachelor pad gear (the table and chairs were passed down from my wife's late great aunt.)

After putting in the dining set about two years ago, the space sort of just sat. Used regularly, but was just an extension of the kitchen. While we added pillows, pictures, chairs, and books everywhere else, it perpetually lived on the "we'll do something to it someday" list.

However, that all changed this very week. I was tired of it simply being, and decided to embark upon the $100 Room Makeover Challenge (sounds like it's real, doesn't it?). For a relatively small cost, I hoped to transform the room so that it wasn't the "oh, yeah... that" section of the unit.

Here's a before picture of the nook:

Please note, however, the flash in the previous shot makes it deceptively bright looking. The ceiling light was (I'm quite sure) was the original fixture when it was built in the 1980's. The glass had yellowed through the years casting a dingy, gloomy light when the light was turned on. When other lights were turned on, it sort of offset it so we never kept it on by itself. (The cord on the left side of the wall connects to Christmas lights that currently circle the ceiling.)

Here's a shot of the light fixture in all it's glory. I replaced a smaller one just like it in the kitchen when we were re-doing that. That replacement dramatically changed the feel from gloomy to fresh and bright. I knew that at some point I'd replace it, and yesterday was the day. 

Here I am, with the lighting power off, removing the relic of a bygone era.

And what remained. The wiring in of the new light fixture was an adventure (at one point, the light worked but was controlled by a switch in the kitchen... true story), but was completed otherwise problem free.

For my $100 budget, I decided to start my journey at Pier 1. My goal was to buy a light fixture and a mirror and thought they might have a fun mirror on clearance. They didn't have anything that fit my budget or fit the space, but they did have an oil painting/print on sale. It's called "Two Hoots" (awww..) and set me back $19.99. It was regularly priced at $29.95. I liked it because it incorporated the yellow, green and brown we have happening in the kitchen, but brought in the red accents we have in the living room. If you look closely, the paint is over a canvas with printed text as a background. Printed text (from a dictionary) also serves as decoration elsewhere in the condo. 

After I blew 1/5 of the funds on an originally, non-priority item, I realized that I'd have to cut back elsewhere. Large framed mirrors tend to cost more than I think they should, so I wasn't sure what random piece I might find to stay within budget. There was a Big Lots near the Pier 1, so I thought I'd check to see if they had anything that would work. They had exactly one great, dark brown mirror that was $25.00. Adding it to the wall instantly helped make the tiny nook feel more spacious which which was exactly the goal.

And for the light fixture, I found a handmade bamboo lampshade created by a designer named Maria Vinka. She did her research in Vietnam in creating it. It ties in well with the bamboo floors we have throughout the condo. I got it in a marketplace, called Ikea, for $59.99. You should check them out. Help keep them in business.

For those of you keeping track, my $100 goal was exceeded. My total came to $104.98. Close enough, I say. Close enough. Here's the after picture. It has changed the feel of the room from "kitchen overflow" to its own, unique, intimate space. The light can stay on without any worries for any supplementation. The light is white and fresh, and has replaced the gloom with cheer.

October 25, 2011

This Week

There are exactly two (I believe) paths that my current state of existence can lead to. Both places dramatically different from where I am, but both dramatically different from one another.

If one path is taken, it results in a journey directly to a particular destination. If the other, there will be a festival period (as it were) for a time before that destination is reached.

Either situation will be extremely excellent and amazing in its own way. But each different. Both in experience and preparation.

Figuring out which of these two paths my family will be walking on will be determined this very week. As we wait. And wait. Still waiting. Nothing left for me to do. Simply waiting for that proverbial green light to appear above the road. On one road and not the other.

One week certainly isn't a long time to need to wait. But the magnitude of actually knowing what the path will be trekked upon for the next year is making the wait seem long. Really long.

October 13, 2011

Three Weeks Ago

After graduating from college, I've had exactly one job. Well, one full-time permanent sort of job. A job that gave me health insurance, dental coverage, and five paid weeks off per year (plus 10 federal holidays). The office was located right on the America's front yard, the National Mall in Washington, DC. I started my time there in August of 2004 as a temporary employee, but after several months, I was offered the opportunity to join the staff full time, which I accepted. Seven years went by, and things went well. I received promotions and job title changes. However, three weeks ago, the time had come for me to go. I didn't have to go. But I had to go.

It's sometimes strange how life works. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, something happens to redirect you. To refocus you. To take you a place that you really need to go. The blank pages for the next chapter have arrived, and the current section of the story is now leading up to it.

My tenure at the job ended for one reason - God told me the time had come. During previous low periods on the job it wasn't. But on the 22nd of September, it had.

I resigned.

No idea what I'll be doing next. I just knew one thing, however. It was time to say goodbye.

September 10, 2011

"With" by Skye Jethani (Review)

I read most books through just once, but every now and then I run into one that I plan on reading again just as soon as I can. Why? There might be something personally challenging, something truly unique in the topic the author is covering, or simply that the writing style is engaging. Whatever it is, it simply goes beyond what I consider to be a good book. Having already read With twice,  I can certainly say that this is one of them.

Skye Jethani challenges his readers to evaluate their relationship with God. Is God someone they live over? Under? From? For? He says that living in primarily any one of these positions is incorrect because our focus is placed on something other than what it should be - life with God.  He defines each of these categories and invites you think about how you relate to God, while admitting he himself has viewed God incorrectly at various times in his own life.

Jethani directly confronts many false teachings that exist within the church, specifically those that are the result of the fusion of American culture and biblical truth. Because of this, I believe this is essential reading for anyone who is in, connected to, or should be connected to the church in our country. It is simply the message of the gospel preached in book form.

There are simple drawings used to help illustrate the points being made to help you, as well as to allow you to share them with others. Additionally, there are discussion questions at the end of the book and specific ideas as to how you can implement the concepts put forth in the book into your life so this book is far from theoretical. It is practical as well.

Do you find Christianity lacking? What you see on TV, hear from those around you, or even from the pulpit at church might be missing the point.  With invites you to check out what it's really about. Not about things, stuff you do, or items you focus on. Rather it is simply about living life, not the way you might be used to, even if filled with Christian things. Instead its all about living life with God.

Five stars (out of 5).

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson.

August 29, 2011

Planting a church?

The thought of planting a church has been on my mind before. I can't get into all of it right now, but today it resurfaced and when I got home from work, I mentioned it to my wife.

I am subscribed to various blogs in Google Reader, and utilize their really cool "Next" button which you can drop onto your menu bar in your browser. When you hit the button, the next blog page in your Google Reader queue pops up.

I was sitting on the couch with her when I told her, and I just happened to hit the "Next" button on the laptop.

The very next page in my queue was this: 13 Things I Would Tell Church Planters

Yes, it could of been a strange coincidence.

Maybe, not.

July 23, 2011

The Rich's Fair Share

Our nation faces many challenges, but the one that we stand at the cusp of truly is a significant one.  The most predictable possible disaster involves our looming budget crisis that currently is being played in the political arena and not the problem solving one. It is much easier to ridicule someone who thinks differently than you do than it is to work with them to create a working solution.

One idea that some have is to increase taxes on the rich among us. The argument is that since they have more money than the rest of us, they have an obligation to be willing to pay a higher percentage of their income than the rest of us do. Because to them, a couple thousand here and a couple thousand there are what quarters and nickels are to you and me.  The principle is: you have more so you have to give more.

Most people like this argument because it involves people who are not them. Other people have money so they have to pay. We, on the other hand, will take care of what we need to take care of since we have our own struggles to deal with.

According to the World Bank, there are about 6.7 billion people in the world. Out of them, 1.4 billion live on less than $1.25 per day.  Let's say at your job, you make exactly minimum wage. Right now that is $7.25. Let's say you work a standard 8 hour day which means you earn $58.00 per day. So you, minimum wage earning American make more than 48 times than those who live below the poverty line. (This is not even getting started with the other groups of the world population that you are living a life of luxury compared to).

A person working minimum wage's annual salary would be around $15,080, and 48 times that would be $723,840. Someone who earns that salary would definitely be a part of the "rich" who "need" to pay their fair share compared to us.  Wealth is relative, and by using the rationale that we say the rich have an obligation to help those who are not as well off, it makes you obligated those who live below the poverty line.  Odds are, you make more than minimum wage.

How can you help? Compassion International seeks to "Release children from poverty in Jesus' name." Anything you can provide can help. They have a whole host of programs that are literally saving and transforming lives. You can donate here.

You, actually, relative to the world are "the rich." Now stop talking about yourself and do what you say the rich should be doing.

July 21, 2011

Blinking Light

I am at work watching the blinking light on my phone. It is trying to let me know that I have an unheard voicemail. I know who it is from, but I don't want to listen to it.

I don't know what the message says, but I simply do not want to hear it.

We had been meeting with various vendors who could possibly provide our organization with a particular service. I had been in communication with this gentleman over the past couple months over the phone and via email. However, after a recent meeting, it became evident that the service that his company could provide would not be a good fit for our needs.

I emailed him earlier today to confirm this news with him.

So he called back. There is no way that his company can be in the running, and we already have selected our final three. I imagine his message involves attempts at clarification, that I have it wrong, and that they deserve another chance. However, the issue is too large to ignore.

I have that awkward, nauseated feeling in talking to him now. Like "It's not you, it's me... but actually, it's really you." Must I tell him again that it's not going to work? Can't we all just move on with our lives? I feel like the dumper in a break-up (speaking of which, This American Life had an excellent podcast on the issue this week). However, I am in the role in which a pathetic song is sung to me.

I wish I could simply delete the voicemail. Move forward with our process. Not have to have any more contact with him after delivering the bad news. But I can't. I will listen to the message. I have to. I sort of have a heart.

But until I do, the light will blink.

July 19, 2011

The Blessing (Review)

I received a copy of The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley to review, I didn't realize it was an updated version of a book that was originally released more than twenty years ago. When I saw that it was a successful release previously, my expectations were a bit higher going into it than they normally are. That said, I was disappointed in what I read. Not because the parenting/adult blesser material was bad, but because the connection from "the blessing" to the five elements that the authors describe seem to be slightly disconnected from scripture.  This is not to say that the principles they advocate are unbiblical, but rather that "the blessing" is not a unique biblical idea. There are biblical examples that the authors cite to illustrate their five principles - meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, and an active commitment - however, not in the way that seems to be described in the book's premise.
I thought that by reading the book, I would learn that in biblical history there was a clear concept known as "the blessing" that simply was lost through time. That this book was essentially a reclamation of something we have forgotten. What this book actually is, however, is as a result of much research done by counselors as to what issues people develop because of a lack of something from their childhood. These things are commonly rooted in the five areas the authors describe, and they also provide assorted stories from scripture that include one or several of them.
A prime example they share is the story of Issac and "the blessing" that was given to Jacob and not given to Esau. Both sons wanted to receive it from their father, but only one could. After describing the blessing and how valuable it then must be for us to similarly give it to our own children, they continue by explaining how the blessing in that case actually isn't a parallel situation to us in modern day. Clearly, the father could only give it to one of them and we should give it to all of our kids.
This book definitely does include good material. I plan on ensuring that the types of ways that we can "bless" our children or show them our love are things that I do to my own. However, conceptually it is no different than me writing a book called "Jesus' Five Step Plan to Evangelize." Could each and every step be derived from scripture and be valuable ideas? Sure. But did Jesus actually create a five step plan? No. That's my issue with this book.
Three stars (out of five).

July 14, 2011

A Moment

I recently had a moment. A single instance in which all the preceding moments led up to and each and every future moment will be affected by. Yes, every moment is that such a moment. It can be. Rather, it should be.

Our problem (yours and mine, separately) is that we both don't view moments in this manner. Our moments are simply things that exist. They happen to be. But, they shouldn't be.

In viewing preceding moments, those that shape us, you realize they usually require a call to action. They beckon us to do things that we know we ought to do; things we know we really should do. But we do not.

After months, and maybe years, of not answering this fundamental call, I have decided I will. I actually had been answering it previously, but not with a "yes." Hemming and hawing, with justifications galore, I have lived. But no more.

I do not know what exactly the future moments will actually look like, but I know what they will feel like.

July 1, 2011

Getting Played

Rob Bell recently wrote a very controversial book about hell. It was marketed brilliantly. Conservative Christians got worked up about it. Buzz was generated. The book sold.  Here is an interesting article by a guy who perfectly put his finger on it.

June 8, 2011

Huntsman: A serious candidate

Michael Gerson was George W. Bush's main speech writer from 2001 to 2006. He wrote a great article about Jon Huntsman in the Washington Post this week.

Good paragraph, but read the whole article:
The media have often covered Huntsman as a liberal Republican — a Rockefeller reincarnation. After all, he supports civil unions. He made it easier to get a drink at a bar in Utah. This easy press narrative gives Huntsman an odd advantage in a Republican primary: He is more conservative than his image. For many Republicans, he will improve upon closer inspection.

Jon Huntsman is probably the first politician in a while that I really like. Other times, candidates I have supported were sort of the last ones standing, or chosen by the process of elimination.  This time I actually like the guy and hope he finds success. The more I hear about him, the more I like him. I do wish, however, he'd choose to compete in the Iowa caucuses instead of skipping them, ethanol or not.

May 30, 2011


To my throngs of blog readers (1 "view" means 1000 readers, right?), I just wanted to offer clarification regarding my last post. It was not a serious post. The goal was to make people think I am writing about the traditional "glass ceiling" but surprise them with the fact I'm only talking about the glass panel that separates a junk-food-aholic from their stash. A switch-a-roo or something to that effect. Nothing more, nothing less.

Anyway, due to classic temperament differences, I have come to understand that the post could be read into turning it to something which it totally is not. In fact, my wife was able to read into it and discover its hidden meanings, apparently.

So not to worry, though I really could use a Kit Kat. If you could help me out in that regard, I'd be quite thankful.

May 26, 2011

The Glass Wall

Every day at work, I see it.

I walk by and peer into a world that I can never reach.

I truly want what lies behind the wall of glass.

However I am not one who can get through it.

No, I must stand happily on the other side.

Others all around me can find what they want when they look through the glass.

What is it about me that prevents this for me?

Every day I walk passed it.

An invisible wall that separates employees from their dreams.

I wish I could put a crack in it, maybe more. Maybe nine million.

What do others have that I do not?

I want what lies behind the glass wall.

Oh how much it would make my life better.

But alas, it can only remain a dream.

Nevermind. I do have a dollar in my wallet! Time for a Kit Kat!

May 24, 2011


On Easter Sunday, my laptop computer of five years went into a tomb. The screen looked like a staticy covered television screen while I was watching Donald Trump prepare to fire someone on Celebrity Apprentice. It was as though my computer was quite confused at that moment and chose that moment to arrive at the point from which it could not return, for it is only a computer after all.

Well, it could be fixed for three hundred some odd dollars. Considering the age of my computer, however, I decided not to invest it back into an old system. On to new and more exciting things, I say. Just prior to my "Huntsman" Google binge, I was doing a ton of searching on "Chromebook."

When my computer went down, I began to see the value of having all my data stored on the "cloud." That basically means you riskily house all your data online.  The plus side is whenever your hardware collapses, you lose your computer, or simply are at somebody else's computer, you have the ability to fully function with all the information that you'd ordinarily have on your system. The downside, privacy for sure, but also relying on other people's servers to keep you afloat.

It was odd because when my computer went down, I began thinking of how I wanted to move to a more cloud-based operation. I had been meaning to do it before the computer crash, mainly to house all my pictures of my daughter online to avoid the danger of a broken computer. Shortly thereafter, I randomly learned about Chromebooks. Seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. We'll see.

But anyway, the point is now I have the opportunity to reevaluate how I can most effectively create and manage information. I don't think my purely laptop computer based approach was the most ideal for me. However, that's what most people do so I sort of went with it. 

What I will be doing over the course of the next several months is cycling back to old school information creation and management - pen and paper. I will be getting a journal-type book to put things into. However, this will be paired with modern-day technology through Evernote

Hardware will then be evaluated based upon what my information process turns out to be. We shall see.

I will keep you posted.

May 22, 2011

Team Huntsman? (Update 2)

Overnight, Mitch Daniels announced that he was not going to run for president.  This certainly is big news for those observing the GOP field this year. In fact, in my personal choices, I was debating between both Daniels and Jon Huntsman as my "choice" among the Republican candidates and with the news of the day, I seem to have officially fallen into Team Huntsman.

Granted, he still has to formally announce that he is running. But in the meantime, his lighthearted jab yesterday at Mitt Romney involving hunting while meeting voters in New Hampshire was certainly welcome. I am not a Romney fan at all. At all. If it comes down to a Romney versus President Obama race, I can already say that I'd most likely vote for Obama.

While some will say that Huntsman serving as the ambassador to China during the Obama administration is a problem, it is interesting to note that he might end up being the "BushWorld" candidate. In fact, Jeb Bush's former staffer will run his operation in Florida should he decide to run. This news angle is for those of you who care about this sort of thing.

So, yeah. I'm now on Team Huntsman. Officially. He just has to officially announce.

May 20, 2011

Team Huntsman?

I'm liking Jon Huntsman more and more. Great interview with ABC news. Also, of his seven kids, he adopted two of them - one from India and one from China.

May 16, 2011

Time with God for Fathers (Review)

Jack Countryman has written a solid devotional book for fathers. It covers topics that most fathers likely face, and is written virtually all about a man's role as father. Out of the ninety devotions in the book, only one mentions his role has a husband so this is not a book to husbands masquerading as one to fathers. Both roles are different, so this book could be a fine gift to single fathers as well.

This book is certainly in the gift book genre of books. There is a "Presented To" page that one can fill with lines for the giver and the receiver and  the pages are thick and glossy. Both the red hardcover and the pages within are printed in such a way to give them an aged feel. There is also an elastic bookmark built into the book.

There are ninety devotionals in the book, each tackling the expected topics a Christian book for fathers might face - thoughts on strength, trust, providing comfort, living with integrity, and finding peace in difficult times. Each devotional has its title, about 1-3 verses from Scripture on the topic, and about 5-8 sentences of devotional. Apart from the devotions, there are reference pages for fathers regarding prayer, promises God makes and blessings He provides, the responsibilities of fathers, Biblical examples of fathers, and a crisis scripture guide.

The length of the devotions can either be its strength or its weakness depending on what is sought. This is in no way an in-depth study of anything scriptural. They are simply 30-second nuggets that fathers can use to find inspiration. Everything you might expect from a gift-book devotional, you find here. It doesn't go above and beyond, but it might not need to.

This probably isn't a standalone gift - you'd want to include it as part of something larger. If it is for Father's Day, you might want to include a pair of tickets to a football game, or perhaps throw it in the glove box of the new car you have purchased for dad - covered in that giant red bow.

Four stars (out of five).

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson.

May 13, 2011

Our next president?

Maybe? Hopefully? Don't know.

Fast facts:

Past job: Twice elected governor of Utah (very popular)
Latest job: Ambassador to China for President Obama
Languages known: English, Mandarin Chinese
Fan of: Progressive rock (dropped out of high school to play in a band, did return to graduate (correction: got his GED)
Kids: 7

Wikipedia him.

It's off to work I go

I spend the vast majority of my awake hours at a job that I didn't formally train for, nor is it in an area of personal interest. It really is quite disconnected from "life" in the sense that I show up to work, try to excel at it, and bring home a paycheck. This paycheck allows actual life and interest to be fueled.

I certainly know I am not the exception or a rare case here. The vast majority of people who have jobs live for the weekend, for 5:00, and for any time they are not actually at work. If this weren't the case, books such as this one (which came out this week) wouldn't really have a market.

Yet, despite these facts, spending the majority of your time in an area that is utterly disconnected from your real life can certainly take it's toll. I've been working as a grown-up, full-time'r with benefits for nearly seven years now and I'm already looking forward to retirement. I can't imagine having to do this for forty more years.

The standard Christian response to work is that whatever we do, we are to do it as though we are doing it unto God and not just man. This certainly is an important, amazing context to put your work into. This alone is and should be enough to provide you solid motivation to handle all the things you need to do at work (or wherever). However, like many Christian words and concepts, you can get desensitized to them when you hear them over and over, and this certainly has happened to me with that one.

This week I read a blog post that truly renewed my understanding of what we are to do as Christians, not only at work but in all of our daily activities.

Using a statement from the Starbucks CEO where he says, "Pouring espresso is an art, one that requires the barista to care about the quality of the beverage. If the barista only goes through the motions, if he or she does not care and produces an inferior espresso that is too weak or too bitter, then Starbucks has lost the essence of what we set out to do 40 years ago: inspire the human spirit.

I realize this is a lofty mission for a cup of coffee, but this is what merchants do. We take the ordinary—a shoe, a knife—and give it new life, believing that what we create has the potential to touch others’ lives because it touched ours."

The author goes on to say, "Here’s the point: the ordinary is not ordinary. Rather, it is in the ordinary that we are able to build people up and, yes, inspire the human spirit.

When you clean house for your family, or pour a cup of coffee, or take your car to the wash, you aren’t just doing small, mundane things. You are building building people up. You are making things better, and making a statement that people matter. Or, that’s how you ought to see it."

If Christians at work, school, home, the mall, at the grocery store, church and wherever else we go actively looked beyond what the actual action were are doing, and realize that it could actually be something the builds a person up, we obviously should do it. Many people may continually have to deal with others continually bringing them down, bashing them unfairly in many arenas of life.

Our individual actions - essentially the products which we ourselves manufacture and provide - can let people know that at minimum, at least you and I care enough about them to give them something good. And if somehow we could fan out and spread across various industries, venues, and circumstances and make these sort of changes in a diverse set of environments, imagine the amount of change we can introduce into the lives of so many. Wouldn't that be great? How can we make it happen?

Oh, that's right. We can.

Don't go to work just to work. Go to work to build people up.

May 11, 2011

Barbie girl?

Here is a great post from Resurgence today, which talks about how you can protect your daughter from buying into the societal view of women.

Here is their list:

  1. Dads, don’t underestimate your influence on your daughters. Tell them they are beautiful before the culture convinces them otherwise.
  2. Moms, be aware of any distorted body image struggles, because your daughter learns lots about how to think about her body from you.
  3. Protect them as much as possible from exposure to content that is harmful.
  4. Learn about the media and pop-culture in your child’s life.
  5. Get beyond the “Just Say No” approach to culture.
  6. Make age-appropriate conversations an essential part of your relationship with your child.
  7. Encourage children to use art, play, and writing to process the images and other media messages they see.
  8. Counter the narrow stereotype of both boys and girls that are prevalent in media and commercial culture.
  9. Help them learn how to interpret and engage what they see and read in culture.
  10. Love them unconditionally. See them as a gift.
Ahhh! I have to think about things like this now!



Ok, I'm back.

What's in a name?

Yesterday, in my blog reading I came across a post that featured interviews with worship pastors in the context of what is known as "reformed theology."

Since that is not the point of this post, I will not delve into its actual subject matter. I didn't even listen to the interview. The thing that jumped out at me were the names of the churches that these pastors work at - Mars Hill, Vintage 21, The Journey, The Village, and SOMA.

How hipster.

Well, that's all. I still had that post up in a browser window today and figured I had to do something with it.

So here. You're welcome.

April 20, 2011

True tales of government efficiency

So I work for a certain association in Washington, DC. We share a building with a certain (major) department of the US federal government in the executive branch. Arguably, the most major. Well, second most. I will accept a 2nd place rating in this regard.

Anyway, because of this any guests to our building need to be pre-screened so we have to provide a listing of these people several days in advance, including many of their vital stats, before they are permitted to park or enter the building.  We provide these details to our administrative office who forwards them to this certain (major) department of the US federal government in the executive branch.

I've been scheduling meetings with some folks to come in to our office and last week we had a bit of confusion because the guest we were to meet with got held up by security because his name wasn't passed along to them as being our guest. After about 45 minutes of confusion, he was eventually permitted in for our meeting just a bit frazzled.

I have another meeting scheduled for this afternoon so to avoid the chaos of last week, decided to check with security if they had the three guys who are coming in this afternoon on their list.  I learned that none of them were on the list for the day's visitors. Or any, in fact.

I contacted our administrative office to find out what we could do to ensure we wouldn't have any problems this afternoon and learned what the problem last week was, and what the problem today was.

Turns out, the guy who works at this certain (major) department of the US federal government in the executive branch who handles these requests is on vacation for a month. Regardless of this fact, the people who also work in this office have simply have been placing guest lists on his desk. I guess since it is his job, he can deal with it when he gets back. In a month.

So to resolve today's issue, someone from our administrative office is physically going to go to the office in this certain (major) department of the US federal government in the executive branch to get the guest list and ensure it gets passed on to the security guards of the building so they can be let in - today.

In any company or organization, when a person takes time off, if there are certain on-going tasks that need to be completed, common sense dictates that those things would continue to happen even if the person who normally handles them is away.  I do realize this is the government we're dealing with, but still.

But then after the problems arose last week, why weren't provisions made for any subsequent guest list this week and for the duration of this guy's vacation? Other visitors to the building have also had problems getting in because of this very issue. And it still continues. WHY?

True story.

April 6, 2011

Meredith leaving?

So yesterday, as I am watching my Today Show podcast for the day before (yes, it's all very confusing), I noticed that for many days, Meredith Viera had been away and there was not the usual "she's on vacation," or "she's on assignment" when she is in either of those situations.

Then, in between segments on the podcast, the Today Show ad they normally play was changed from the one with Matt, Meredith, Ann, Al and the rest all laughing the entire time in the context of everything they do on the show (to let you know they are a fun group!) to one that seemed they were characterizing the show as one with hard news - Matt seriously interviewing somebody about some major political issue.. and then Ann interviewing someone regarding the tragedy in Japan.. yes, Ann.

They did a group studio pan shot that included both Meredith and Al, but Ann was at the anchor desk.  "Weird," I thought to myself. I looked for clues online as to what might be happening, but found nothing.

Then, yesterday in my Google Reader, I see this article.  Meredith Vieira expected to leave NBC's Today this year

Then things made sense.  I only post this because of my amazing intuition and ability to see something was up on the show without actually knowing something was.

Also, please Today Show producers, please don't give us Ann Curry as co-anchor. I like her as a person, just not as a co-anchor. Unless Katie Couric takes over Ann's job at the news desk. Now that would certainly be an entertaining morning "news" show.

March 30, 2011

Late start for President?

I enjoy elections. People listening to issues, democracy in action, politicians pandering, all sorts of ads being run, scandals, gotcha moments, the inability to understand sarcasm, people taking words entirely out of context... never mind.

I enjoy elections.

One thing I've noticed about the 2012 presidential election cycle is that many commentators (such as this one) note that this year, candidates are off to a late start. In fact, today it was announced that the first republican debate was moved from May to September because so few candidates had formally announced.

The problem is that people's expectations are based upon the 2008 presidential election.  It certainly is true that by this point in that election cycle, there were far more announced candidates.  However, that year both democrats and republicans had to select a nominee, as a president was not running for reelection nor was a vice president in the race for the top job.

It's an entirely a different ballgame when candidates are lining up to face a sitting president.

In 2004, we had a situation similar to this election cycle.  A president running for reelection (Bush) with it being up to the democrats to find a nominee.

Here is the announcement timeline for the major candidates in the 2004 cycle.

January 13, 2003 - Joe Lieberman

February 19, 2003 - Richard Gephardt

June 23, 2003 - Howard Dean

September 2, 2003 - John Kerry

September 16, 2003 - John Edwards

September 17, 2003 - Wesley Clark

September 22, 2003 - Carol Mosely Braun 

October 13, 2003 - Dennis Kucinich

The majority of candidates announced after Labor Day. Not before Memorial Day.

Lieberman's relatively early announcement would have been because he was Al Gore's running mate so he already had the media baggage of the questioning if he'd run for the White House.  He stated he would not run if Gore was running.  On December 16, 2002 Gore announced he wasn't going to try again so about a month later, Lieberman made his announcement. He had to make it early.

As this point, Tim Pawlenty is the one declared republican candidate who if he had one ounce of charisma, wouldn't need to use a movie trailer as an introduction. (It certainly is an excellent piece and does manage to hit every possible segment of the republican base. Every. Single. One.)

People simply need to exercise some patience. The vast majority of Americans probably don't even realize next year is a presidential election year. Candidates this time know that. Candidates in 2004 knew that.

Please stop comparing 2012 to 2008. Thanks.

March 19, 2011

One year ago (Part 1)

It is hard to believe that is has been a full year since I was sitting in a hospital room waiting for the birth of my daughter. Actually, it sometimes feels like it could have been more than a year. But what makes it feel like time has flown is seeing babies who are smaller than Leilani and remembering that she actually was that size (or smaller). It feels like she is "the" baby, but as time moves on, there are babies younger than her! Crazy, I say.

But let me take you back, nearly one year to the day. As I posted here and here last year, I was extremely ready for her to arrive. However, she seemed to be happy just swimming around inside her mother. What could we do.

Starting about March 1, about two weeks before her due date, I went to work every day not knowing whether my paternity leave vacation days would start ticking down that day or the next. I tried to wind down several projects I had going on, and for those that I didn't, I sent regular emails to the rest of the office with detailed descriptions of what and how tasks needed to be completed in the event I was going to be out of the office for an extended period. (I had worked out 2 full weeks of vacation, and then 4 weeks where I worked Tuesday through Thursday giving me 4-day weekends.)

As the days slowly progressed, and informational emails became irrelevant as I was in the office to finish out tasks anyway, it became a little tiring. I was ready to get the show on the road!

So her due date was March 13/14, and Monday, March 15, after a hope-filled weekend, I was back at work.  In fact, we attended a friend's birthday party on her due date since there were no signs of her imminent arrival.  I had already had two weeks of "no baby yet.." replies at work so another week had arrived, where we could only wait. Monday turned into Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. By this point, my wife and I were oh so ready to have the baby. Her, especially, since she did have the more difficult role to play in this God-ordained human reproduction process.

The weather forecast for the weekend was going to be sunny in the mid-70's, the first bit of nice weather we had as the DC area emerged from the bondage of winter so we figured I take Friday off. We had to go to the doctor's office for a stress test in the afternoon to confirm everything was ok, but figured have a fun, restful weekend.

I left work Thursday hoping that Leilani would arrive before work on Monday, but having been there and done that for the past several weekends, I wasn't too hopeful.  So we embarked on a restful weekend in preparation for parenthood.

Early Friday (the 19th) morning, before 6 a.m., I was awakened by my wife because she was having contractions. She was having them every 15 minutes or so. This was uncharted territory so I began recording on a spreadsheet the times and lengths of these contractions. Oh yes I did. We then called the midwife on call who told us to show up at their office when they opened at 8 a.m.

We were excited! Contractions had finally commenced so we picked up the ready-for-several-weeks Go Bag with stuff we'd need for the hospital and headed over to the doctor's office.  "What will being in a hospital be like?" I wondered. I have been only on the visiting end on countless occasions. We did a (unofficial) tour of the Labor and Delivery department a couple weeks prior, but this was it.  Finally.

Funny thing happened on the way, however. When we made it in, the contractions had stopped, and the midwife gave us a look of, "Oh, you new parents... are you sure you felt something happening? I don't see anything happening here..." 

Feeling somewhat deflated, she said that we should go back home, and Ruth should get some rest as he hadn't been sleeping well, especially in recent days. She advised her to take some Tylenol PM, which we picked up when we went to the grocery store, and bought food to have a nice breakfast.. at home. Because the stress test was to take place at 1 p.m., we had it done in the morning, and after confirmation that Leilani was just fine, we bought the stuff from Giant and headed home.

After a nice breakfast of eggs, turkey sausage, and pancakes, Ruth took some Tylenol PM and headed to the bedroom to get some rest. I stayed back in the kitchen to put dishes away. The sun was shining through the curtains and the warmth of the day was just beginning. The warm, relaxing weekend that seemed to have been taken away from us, was back. Disappointingly back.

However, just a minute or two after she went back to our bedroom, I heard a cry echoing down the hall and inside my head. "Ryan! I think my water just broke!" 

I had to do a double take because I had continually joked about water breaking, even before the 36-week mark. I always asked if she was sure it hadn't. I previously learned that in many cases, a woman's water doesn't naturally break, and during our morning trip to the doctor's office, I was slightly disappointed that I didn't get to have that broken water experience.

After initially thinking she was joking (very momentarily, as I ran to her aid), I saw her, now with broken water.  She came out to the living room and I immediately placed a call to the doctor's office. Now was the time! Not a minute to lose.  After spending more than 15 minutes on hold, I hung up and called again. In the meanwhile, I did hear all sorts of news about their facility instead of music, which might have made the experience a bit more dramatic. When I called back, I mentioned that Ruth's water had broken and needed to know what to do. They asked for us to return to the doctor's office.

At this point, it was around 10:30 a.m.  Our Go Bag was still in the car, and now we were off for some labor and delivery! We got back to the doctor's office and went back and met again with the very same midwife.  By this time, however, the steady stream of broken water had stopped, and after review by the midwife, she asked, "Are you sure you're water broke? I don't see anything that makes it seem like it did."...... you young parents...

We were confident that it had, and the midwife said she would look at some liquid under a microscope and that it, if it were what it needed to be, would crate a fan shape on the slide. She left, and Ruth and I waited to see what sort of amazing medical expertise was yet to unfold. Upon her return, she sheepishly said, "Looks like your water did break!"  In reply, Ruth placed her fist in the air and exlaimed, "Praise God!"

However, she said that because there were no contractions, that we should probably go back home. She said they would pick up in the very near future, but to stay home and be ready to return to the hospital when they did.  Home. Again? The thought itself was rather discouraging.

Upon further review of the chart, however, the midwife instructed us to go straight to the hospital. So finally! We were truly headed to the hospital to finally meet Leilani!

March 16, 2011

Ways to Help

The devastation in Japan is quite painful to watch.

Here are three organizations who are raising funds to help.

American Red Cross

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10

The Japanese Red Cross is a highly experienced disaster relief organization with two million volunteers nationwide. Many local volunteers took immediate action following the disaster by distributing relief items, offering hot meals, clearing debris and providing medical transportation.

As concerns mount about damage to nuclear power plants in the north, the Japanese Red Cross is also focused on supporting the 200,000 people who have been evacuated from the exclusion zone. Many of the Japanese Red Cross branch offices have trained nuclear decontamination teams and equipment, including special tents for decontamination which can be used to support a government response. A specialist medical team at the Nagasaki Red Cross hospital is on standby, ready to receive patients if people become ill as a result of radiation poisoning. Other hospitals in the area are monitoring radiation levels to protect the patients they are currently treating.

At public shelters and throughout the country, local volunteers are handing out relief items, including more than 65,000 blankets which are of great comfort to the displaced, many of whom had been sleeping outdoors, in their vehicles and wherever else they can find space since the earthquake.

“There is a real concern for the elderly, who are extremely vulnerable to hypothermia,” said Meltzer. “Japan is a country with a high proportion of seniors, and the Red Cross will be doing all it can to support them through this dreadful experience.”

More than 100 medical teams, made up of more than 700 people, including doctors and nurses have been providing assistance in the most affected areas through mobile medical clinics. Trained nurses with the Japanese Red Cross are also offering psychosocial support to traumatized survivors. 

Donate online.

Adventist Development and Relief Agency

Working together with local authorities, ADRA Japan provided hot meals in an evacuation center in the Miyagino Ward of Sendai City where approximately 300 displaced people are living and 1,300 spend the night.

ADRA Japan continues coordinating with the Japanese Department of Social Services (DSS) and anticipates involvement in managing and coordinating evacuation centers in the affected area. ADRA is preparing to accommodate 1,000 evacuees, coordinating the procurement of food, non-food items and equipment, and transportation.

Do Something Now

Our partner is already on the ground, joining with local churches/believers to provide emergency relief and aid to people affected by the deadly quake and massive wave by distributing food, water, blankets, hygiene supplies and other aid to those who have lost so much. And for many, everything.

Initial goal: $10,000. Currently at $11,239

March 10, 2011

No Weather, No Time

When I was but a boy, I desired to know the weather and the time. The weather so that I could dress appropriately for school. (Oh, the days when wearing shorts on weekdays was a normal occurrence). The time, whenever I wanted to set the clock on the microwave, VCR, or my watch I never wore down to the exact second of the correct time.

There was no internet option. "So what must one do?," I ask to a possibly dumbfounded reader. If you had already missed the local news weather report or your father had placed the day's copy of the Washington Post somewhere around the house nowhere to be found, what could one do?

Luckily Bell Atlantic offered a service - just call their weather line or their time line and you can hear the latest weather report OR the exact time in 10 second increments. I called the lines ALL THE TIME. When Bell Atlantic turned into Verizon I was worried that they'd do away with both of them but was relieved to know they survived. But then, when information became readily available at the click of a mouse in the broadband always connected era (as dialing up to the internet to find out the weather was far more effort than calling the weather line), I no longer called.

I had a weather app on my BlackBerry which helped getting ready for work in the morning easier. However, several months ago after I retired said BlackBerry and downgraded to a regular cell phone, I began calling the weather line again.  There were some new fun weathermen who provided fun historical facts about the day and weather. It was like a nice walk down memory lane.

This morning, however, I have been saddened to learn that this service will be discontinued in June. Why, Why? I ask you. Why. Why.

March 8, 2011

Pools Without Water

Many, many years ago, there was a group of people who made swimming pools. They made great pools. Many people flocked to these swimming pools they built and found refreshment from the blistering sun and relief from the toil of their lives with a simple dip.

The swimming pools were designed in all sorts of ways- some rustic, some modern, some square, some circle. But they all, at the end of the day, provided a structured foundation where water could be filled (and stay) for the benefit of all who wanted to partake.

The pool builders, as the years went by, wanted to make sure their pools were even better, so they made all sorts of new shapes and styles. They worked extremely hard on making sure the foundation was strong and beautiful. And they accomplished it. As the years went by, new generations of pool builders came and went, and many pools were scattered throughout the land.  Over time, however, the pools were still structurally sound, but the pool builders just put in a little less water. Their kids used just a little less, and theirs still a little less.

One day, a pool builder noted that for many, many years, the pools that they had been building had no water in them. They built structurally sound, beautiful pools, but there was no water in them.  He went to his fellow pool builders and said, "Hey, did you know these things are supposed to have water in them?"

The other pool builders said in reply, "Oh we know. It rains sometimes and the rain gathers. And the water stays, for several days sometimes."

March 6, 2011

Crazy organization

I spend a lot of time on a computer. At work, at home. Much time online. I mean, what else is there to do on a computer except surf the internet, right?

Because of this browsing, I was thrilled when I discovered programs that would sync your bookmarks on your web browsers no matter what computer you are on. So I could save something I found online at work and when I got home, have it readily available.

I prefer to have all files on my computer organized insanely well so that I can easily access any file I'd ever actually need or possibly need creating a folders and subfolders and subsubfolders for ease of access. I mock and/or judge anyone who chooses not to do the same.

I have utilized this same system to organize my web bookmarks. Over the years.  Years. Forgetting about the vast majority of them, and simply using Google to obtain information that I had previously obtained and saved for future reference.

Today I have been deleting folders and subfolders in their entirety.  Organizations whose websites I wanted to save because I liked them (who I've since "Liked" on Facebook and am connected to anyway), or news articles that were important at the time, but are no longer.

Many of the websites are no longer active, or links are no longer valid.   Saving links seems to be less valuable than they once did with the significant development of internet search capabilities.

I currently have several hundred random web pages saved and over the course of the day, or next few days, or weeks or something, I will lose the vast vast majority of them.  I am currently figuring out what type of bookmarks to actually save. When I do, they will still be organized in folders, subfolders, and subsubfolders. Not to worry.

March 5, 2011

In the midst of revolution

In times of such commotion as the present, while the passions of men are worked up to an uncommon pitch, there is a great danger of fatal extremes. The same state of the passions which fits the multitude, who have not a sufficient stock of reason and knowledge to guide them, for opposition to tyranny and oppression, very naturally leads them to a contempt and disrespect of all authority. The due medium is hardly to be found among the more intelligent. It is almost impossible among the unthinking populace. When the minds of these are loosened from their attachment to ancient establishments and courses, they seem to grow giddy and are apt more or less to run into anarchy.

- Alexander Hamilton
in a letter to John Jay, November 26, 1775

March 4, 2011

Slave by John MacArthur (Review)

Some of the best discoveries in life are the things that have been staring you directly in the face but you just never realized it. As a reader of scripture, it is easy when one comes across passages talking about how people are God’s possession, or that someone is a slave of Christ and come away with it with a very, “Ok, so I am God’s property… what else” understanding of what is being said. John McArthur, in his phenomenal book, Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ, tells us this concept is huge in understanding who we are in our relationship to God. In fact, this is the most commonly used image used in all of scripture, but you just didn’t know it. Don’t worry. McArthur explains it and explains it well.

I could describe this book with three words: scripture, history, and research. This is not a devotional book, nor is it filled with personal anecdotes of entertaining life stories to help the author convey a message. Rather, it simply is a footnoted exploration of a single word, sharing instances in scripture and providing historical and cultural context so that we, in our modern American understanding of slavery can be balanced with what slavery meant back when the authors of scripture wrote, though still not a sunshine and gumdrops life by any means.

While very researched, when you finish reading the book you do not come away with the sense you just endured someone’s term paper. There is a great balance Biblical examples, stories of historical figures, and examination of the word.

This book is like seeing, in person, for the first time a famous work of art or sculpture. You think you are familiar enough with it, but then you get a curator who has studied it greatly. He or she stands beside you telling you about it, walking you step by step closer to examine its fine details. Then has you back up, shows it to you from a different angle, and then you step in closer to examine it again, until you see it from all sides. At the end, your understanding of what you once knew is enhanced exponentially, and the sheer beauty of the work is magnified.

This book helps you greater realize what an awesome God we serve.

Five stars (out of 5).

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson.

February 27, 2011

Dig me out (Back Blog)

Date of occurrence: January 27, 2011

On January 26th, a fast moving snow storm attacked the Washington, DC area gifting thousands with commute horror stories that lasted up to 13 hours. I enjoyed a nine hour journey home that day, making it home a quarter past 1 in the morning, the details of which will be the subject of a future Back Blog.

The following day, the Federal Government announced a 2 hour delayed opening, however, due to the late nights of the majority of the commuter bus drivers, the bus line that normally takes me into work was not operating, so I couldn't have made it into work even if I had wanted to.

So on this snow day, I emerged from a snow covered neighborhood to dig out our car from the parking lot so the wife and child and I could have a day out and about. While this is not a typically challenging task, the lack of a snow shovel and an ice scraper certainly makes any sort of snow clearing a bit more of a cardio workout.  (But gloves I do have. Not just any gloves, but amazing glove/mitten combos that my wife gave me for my birthday last year.)

I came outside simply to survey the amount of effort the snow clearing this day would require of me, and what sort of MacGyvering I needed to do. Once I came to my car, however, there was a guy sitting in a car right behind it. The was a row of cars and behind it is the lane traffic drives through, and he was sitting there, engine running with his window down. I looked at my car and he immediately called to me "Looks like you are going to need to dig out. The snow plow got you in pretty good."

I replied, "Yeah, I'm going to go grab a shovel.. borrow one from my neighbor, hopefully.." to which he responded, "You need a shovel? I got one right here."

At this point, I immediately thought "Oh, no. He's one of those 'I just washed your windshield, now pay me now! What?! You OWE me!" types.

He proceeded to get out of his car and start digging out the mountain of snow behind my car.  Not only, a dig, but a responsible dig, placing the snow in a pile away from the parked cars on the other side of the traffic lane.  I started, using my glove-mittens, to carry snow off the hood of the car adding it to another pile.  A few minutes in, he was on his cell phone letting whomever he was talking to know that he was in front of my building.

My next thought was, "Oh wow. This is a team of organized snow shovelers who are going to demand money. Oh no, I don't have any cash! This is going to get awkward when he is done. I think I have a Starbucks giftcard in my wallet. I will tell him something about treating himself to some coffee or something.."

He gets back to his shoveling, I get back to my snow clearing, and two of his friends show up. He was a guy in his early twenties, and a male and a female, similarly aged, friends show up.  The two friends were carrying bookbags and things so it appeared they were students meeting up. The guy picking them up probably was a guy new to the neighborhood as he was waiting in front of the wrong building.

But when the friends got to my car, they joined in the snow clearing effort.  Although before he started, the male friend announced, "I'm too much of a diva to help clear snow..," a minute or two into it, he joined in digging the car out.

The original guy told me to start my car and see if I could back out. I got in, turned on the car and the three of them pushed on my front bumper to help get the car rolling. Sure enough, the car easily reversed out of the spot, and even before I was able to turn off the engine, the three of them were carrying on amongst themselves, got in their car and began to drive away.

They didn't even wait for me to say thanks and they were off. I got out of my car and yelled my thanks but they didn't seem to notice.

It was definitely a moment of "Whoa, angels?" Or they could have just been a group of people who look out for their neighbors, and that's it. Nothing expected in return, just kind deeds done.

I know I thanked God for what they had done. It was just a natural reaction when folks seemingly go out of their way to help me when I needed it. Aren't we as Christians supposed to do that sort of thing? All the time? Doing things to help people so that they glorify God?

Wouldn't it be cool if we got a couple Christians driving around with shovels and an SUV looking for people digging out their cars after a snow storm with only one goal: helping others dig out?  A snow day would be about helping others?  Yeah, didn't think so either.

I have no idea who the people were who helped me, why the helped me, and will probably never see them again. But I will never forget them.

February 20, 2011

Back blogging

Have you ever had moments where you're like "Man, I wish I'da blogged about that! Oh, well."

Well, I've decided to back blog. Recall certain events in the not too distant past and write about them. In the manner I should have when they actually happened.

I will be writing them. Not Ida.


Ok, goodnight for now.

January 23, 2011

Cue the music

Your town floods. The water rises. Pretty deep. Everything--houses, restaurants, roads--all covered with water.  And then these guys start swimming by. True story.