vacation 2009

30 09 2009

Sorry for the delay in posts lately…  part of the reason was being out on vacation for a week.  I went to Louisville, Kentucky, to the National Quartet Convention.  It was a great time.  Everyone who likes Southern Gospel music should try to go at least once.  Not only was there a lot of great singing and there was the chance to meet some of the artists, but God spoke to me through some of songs and testimonies.  I left the convention closer to God and wanting to keep growing.  So it was definitely worth the trip.

The convention was also awesome because of the incredible talent.  It featured some of the best singers in the world today, and when you have several of these talented singers together, it’s hard to describe how great it is.  There’s some something about hearing pure voices and tight harmonies put to well-written songs about God.

The rest of the vacation wasn’t planned — we just did what seemed interesting as we came across it.  I don’t know if any of you reading this care, but here’s a short synopsis.

I visited the Louisville Slugger Museum and manufacturing plant.  Being a big baseball fan, it was very interesting to see bats from legendary hitters of the past, and to compare their bats with what current players use.  There was also a closed off batting cage that simulated how fast a major league pitch is.  If that was accurate, I don’t see how pro players can determine what the pitch is and hit it reliably.  (And I played high school baseball, but this was so far beyond that!)  In the tour of the manufacturing plant, I got to hold bats for Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia and Ken Griffey Jr., among others.  I wish I could’ve hit a few balls with their bats, but that wasn’t an option.

I also visited the National Corvette Museum, which is next to the manufacturing plant where all Corvettes are made.  There were a lot of classic cars in there.  I wish there had been a place where I could’ve driven one, but that wasn’t an option.  (Supposedly such places do exist, but I’ve never been to one.)

There were other things we did (particularly eating), but I won’t keep rambling on about that.  It’s not good blogging strategy to bore your regular readers, and I’m probably on the verge of that (if I haven’t went way beyond it already).  So until next time…  🙂


the smells of mowing

22 04 2009

I’ve written before about how I sometimes enjoy mowing, and Monday was my first time to mow this year.  There was the smell of freshly cut grass, the occasional whiff of gasoline, and the smell of… steaks?!?  My neighbor across the street decided to grill steaks in his driveway while I was mowing my front yard.  I’ve written before how I try not to lead my neighbors into jealousy with my grilling, and I wish they had given me the same courtesy!  🙂

If I would’ve had any meat thawed out, I would’ve been grilling that night…

Later, while still mowing, one of my other neighbors was standing outside, smoking a cigarette.  Unfortunately, I could smell it, and that smell really bothers me.  Was I complaining about smelling steaks?   Never mind!

weeping during a concert

28 03 2009

Last weekend I went to one of the Gaither Homecoming concerts.  They really put on a great show.  They sing a lot of great songs (both modern and older), there’s incredible talent, and they make you laugh a lot.  It’s worth the price of admission just for all that.  But what was best about the concert was the times I felt the presence of God as I worshipped along with the singing.

I had a few moments where I started to tear up, because God is so awesome and wonderful.  But I don’t care too much about crying in front of people (or anytime, really).  Some of my family and my wife’s family were there, so I thought of that.   But I remembered a post I had written recently: “Do you welcome intimacy with God at any time?“.  Obviously there is still some pride and self-consciousness I need to deal with.  But at least I’m making progress, because I realized this and at the concert I quit thinking about what other people might think, so I could enjoy the presence of God.  There’s nothing like getting “lost” in God’s presence.   And by lost, I mean forgetting about everything else that’s going on, to the point it seems like it’s just you and Him there.

And on a related note, ideally we would get “lost” in God’s presence during praise and worship at church, particularly at altar times, when there’s less of a “schedule” and thus more time.  I’m sure we all know this, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves to not pay attention to what’s going on, so we can focus fully on God.

making the most of time with family

24 03 2009

Sometimes we (unconsciously) assume that we and our family will keep living for a while longer, that things will continue going as they have been.  But the reality is that we never know how long we have or how long our loved ones have on this earth.

This past weekend, I went to a big birthday party for my granddad — it was his 90th.  Some of the people who put the party together joked that this is the kind of party for a 100th birthday, but that you never know.   Even though my granddad was in great health for his age, you never know.

The party was on Sunday, and I had thought about leaving immediately after it was over to get back in time for evening church service.   I don’t like to miss church.  I’m involved on the praise team, and it’s a great ministry, and it’s so awesome when God shows up.  So I rarely miss services.  But I thought that I don’t get to spend enough time with family, so I missed the evening service.  My uncle decided to have a fish fry at his house for the family, so we had an extended time of good fellowship.  I made it a point to spend some extra time with my granddad and to get a picture taken with him.

Now, I’m really thankful that I took that extra time to be with my family, because my granddad just passed away.  I’m very sad, of course, but it helps a lot that I got to spend some quality time with him before he graduated to Heaven.

My point is, we never know how long we have with our family, so we should make the most of our time.  Don’t take them for granted or assume that they will be around forever.   I realize we’re all incredibly busy these days, but let’s be sure to remind ourselves of what our priorities should be.

a 21-day fast

5 01 2009

Yesterday my pastor at church challenged us all to start a 21-day fast.  And it’s supposed to involve food, not things like TV (although that’s not a bad thing to occasionally fast from also).  He gave us three options: a complete fast with just fruit juice and water; fasting one or two meals per day; or eating only fruits and vegetables.

Normally this kind of thing would scare me, because I really like to eat.  And sometimes I’ve gotten headaches from skipping meals, so there’s that concern.  But this time I’m actually looking forward to fasting.  I’m even excited about it.  So now you may be wondering why I would say something so crazy…  🙂

This past few days I’ve been thinking about the fasting challenge and my relationship with God, and I’ve realized that I haven’t been as close to God lately as I used to be.  That is, I haven’t been as consistent.  There’s been too many ups-and-downs lately, and I want to be closer to God.

To me, this 21-day fast represents a time of renewed commitment, as well as accountability.  I don’t have to answer to anyone but God and myself on it, but I’ve made a commitment to it, and I’m going to keep it.  This isn’t some broad, general ideal, like if you say you want to know God more or you want to pray more.  We can say those things all the time, but often we don’t do much about it.  This 21-day fast is a bite-sized goal, meaning that there’s an end in sight, so it’s easier to start and see to completion.  And I’m expecting that the increased closeness to God will remind me how awesome it is to dwell in God’s presence regularly, and thus I’ll continue pushing in.

There’s a burning deep within that reminds me there should be a whole lot more to Christianity than just living “good” and doing some ministry and following the “rules”.  We can be close friends with God, and be a man after His own heart.  And we can be anointed to do miraculous things and to change the lives of the people around us.  I know most everyone in church would agree with that, but it’s quite another thing to actually live it, to go beyond what is normal in Christianity these days.  Have you ever wondered how Jesus would live if He was in your shoes?  Do you ever consider the verse that says we can do greater miracles than He did?

I’m not sure how well I’m conveying my thoughts here, because it’s difficult to put this hunger into words.  But hopefully you know what I mean and can relate to it (and are also doing something about it).

Merry Christmas

23 12 2008

Are you going to have a Merry Christmas, or do you have other plans?  🙂

I say that partly in jest, to be funny, but really, it makes a good point.  Rarely (if ever) do we have a holiday season where there are no problems, where all our Christmas shopping is done early, where everyone gets along, and where we have time to relax and meditate on the reason for the season.  In other words, it’s not a perfect situation.  But that’s life in this fallen world.  Like always, we have the choice to make the best of our circumstances or we can let the problems bring us down.

I hope you choose to make the best of the season, and take some time to reflect on what Jesus’ birth has meant to your life.  And remind others about the reason for the season.

I’ll be taking a few days off from blogging to spend time with family and play with my new toys (if I get any*).  🙂  If any of you miss my writing (I can dream, can’t I?), there’s over two years of posts in the archives.  I doubt very many people have read them all (but kudos to you if you have!).

* I’m to the point in my life where I don’t mind so much getting clothes for Christmas.  Although I’d still rather get “toys”.  But the toys I want now are expensive electronics, which usually exceed the budget.  But I digress…

Merry Christmas!

a few more thoughts from Sunday’s outreach

14 10 2008

As I mentioned in my previous post, I participated in my church’s program called “The Rock Gives Back”.  The group I was in went to the ambulance service.  I got to meet several new people, and they were very friendly and appreciative of what we were doing.

After talking to them, I was surprised at how many complaints they get compared to compliments.  Almost all calls are to complain, while very few people ever show appreciation.  These people risk their lives and put in long hours to help people in need.  I’ve heard of this tendency happening in other fields (like with pastors), where most comments are to complain.  This should not be!  I realize the people who complain have something to say (or so they think, in some cases), but we should encourage and edify those who serve us.  There’s a place for pointing out faults, but there should be more encouragement and complimenting than complaining.

Some of the complaints to the ambulance service were absurd.  For example, someone said that the siren bothered them while they were sick, so the ambulance should turn off their sirens when going past the houses of sick people.  One woman complained that the ambulance left idling was making the air toxic for her dog (across a parking lot).  One complaint was that the ambulance was being washed at 11:00pm and “what kind of person washes their vehicle at night?”  There were more examples, but you get the idea…

One thing I learned from these ambulance workers is that the safety mechanisms in modern cars are designed for seatbelt use.  So if you’re not using the seatbelt, the safety devices could actually injure you more.  For example, if you’re too close to the steering wheel upon impact, the air bag could kill you by breaking your neck.  So that’s another reason why you should always wear your seatbelt.

One more random tidbit…  I found it somewhat amusing that most people who learn of their occupation ask for advice on a medical condition they have.  I can definitely relate to that one.  Being a computer programmer for 10 years (plus 4.5 years of college), I had a lot of people ask me if I could fix their computer.  Most of the time I didn’t mind, and I never charged my friends for the work I did.  But it did start to get old eventually, especially when a friend of a friend needed help, or when the problem needed many hours of work.  Perhaps I should’ve started a side-business of computer repair, except that I didn’t want to keep doing that (nor was I trained in it)…  But I digress…

Well, I was initially going to make a point but I started rambling.  So it goes sometimes.  🙂  The point I wanted to make before I got distracted is this: don’t take people in public service for granted.  Remember that they hear lots of complaints and are rarely congratulated, so thank them for their service.  And if you are ever disturbed by the sound of sirens, consider that you wouldn’t mind if they were coming to help you or one of your loved ones.