Last month I had the pleasure of turning 30. Having been an activity I’ve wished to partake in for several years, I figured now was a good a time as any to finally go skydiving. After a false start the day after my birthday (low altitude clouds closed in after takeoff, forcing us to abort the jump and land instead), and subsequent poor weather for the past 3+ weeks, I eventually got the opportunity to go this morning! Skydive Lost Prairie sits about 35 miles west of Kalispell, a short drive for me. Anyway, to sum up the experience:
WOW! I just kept saying it over and over during the jump. Click on the picture below for a full gallery
My dreams make me wonder
What might be different
If I’d said this or that
Tried a little harder
Trusted God completely.
My dreams make me wonder
Why it’s turned out the way it has
Those important to me have been loved and lost
I’ve allowed my heart to rule
The best intentions aren’t enough.
My dreams make me wonder
If it’s in God’s plan
For me to step out in faith
Take the initiative and a risk
Make the jump into unknown territory.
My dreams make me wonder
How it all might unfold
When it’s the right time to begin
The Lord may lead me away
Or will there be reason to stay?
My dreams make me wonder.
Sidenote: today is my 29th birthday. Eight years ago today, I was riding back across the American/Mexican border with a large group of people from my church, having completed a short-term missions trip to Ensenada. I remember being pleased with myself that rather than celebrate with an orgy of alcohol as most 21 year olds do, I had started off my so-called “adult” life with service in the name of Christ instead. If I’ve learned anything since 2003, it would be this:
The deeper my walk becomes in the Lord, the more I realize my utter need for the Holy Spirit’s domination of all aspects of my life.
After typing nearly a page about last night’s incredible story of the holocaust from one of its survivors, I accidentally deleted all of it. Instead of rewriting the whole thing, I will simply express the lesson I learned last night: focus on what is good.
Philippians 4:8 says: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Ephesians 4:2-3 says: With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Noemi Ban, a survivor of the holocaust, displays an attitude of grace and thankfulness despite her horrific story of human suffering and tragedy. If anyone had a right to be angry and full of hate and negativity, it would be this woman. However, time and again during her speech, intense themes of gratitude, redemption, and grace permeated the auditorium. I should take a cue from her.
I am guilty in many ways of focusing on the negative, being nitpicky and critical, and showcasing a bad attitude, often about trivial things of no consequence. While I can say with a clear conscience that it is not my intention to do these things, the simple fact of the matter is I need to change. My response to the technical difficulties at the auditorium last night leaves me disappointed in myself. In addition to that, I became exasperated with a member of the audience who seemed to want to keep making her point despite it being addressed already during the Q&A time. Today I’m asking myself, “Why?” Why did those things bother me? It would be easy to pawn it off on simply being detail oriented, or that I was righteously indignant on behalf of those who couldn’t hear the speaker because of broken microphones, but the truth is I need humility. Nobody gets it right 100% of the time. My own life is as good a story as anyone’s of that. My failure to swallow my pride prevented demonstrating grace for an imperfect human world.
There is room for much improvement in my heart. The above Scriptures make it clear. I must humble myself, exercise patience, extend grace and mercy to others, and always choose to dwell on the positive. Maintaining a heavenly perspective is what it’s all about. When striving to love others as our Father in heaven does, little issues that can get under one’s skin just melt away.
That’s where I want to be.
My lack of general understanding in this life is something I simultaneously loathe and love. The moment I believe I’ve got it all figured out, my growth will cease. Therefore, I must embrace my human fallibility (acknowledge God’s sovereignty), my mistakes (look for lessons He’s teaching me), and utter failure to comprehend deeper meaning (let go and let God). To appropriately address this is to pray for wisdom, discernment, direction, brokenness, and humility to accept correction and encouragement.
When one prays for these things, it becomes paramount to prepare for the consequences. What I can only refer to as heightened perception, altered perspective, and a sense of unrest continue to build inside me. Although normally this would be upsetting to me, instead my hunger and thirst for communion with the Lord has intensified. I feel God directing me toward awareness in the moment; not allowing myself to waste any of what I’ve been so generously given. I pray that I will never stop fighting to give ever more of myself over to His will for me and what He wants to accomplish through me. No compartment of my life is safe from the refining fire, nor would I want it to be. Too often I’ve kept for myself that which I know is poisonous.
Sin is unavoidable, but that does not mean I shouldn’t do my all to leave it behind. With the Lord Jesus Christ’s help, I will escape temptation by the power of God’s faithfulness (I Corinthians 10:13).
In the (excruciatingly often) times I fall short, His grace is sufficient. His mercies are new every morning.
In my line of work, we often figuratively refer to what we do on a daily basis as “putting out fires”. This last Friday, a couple ladies from the mail room had been reassigned to erase a bunch of old archive tapes using a degausser our company had rented. During the course of the degaussing (which is incredibly loud), it began to smell like burning insulation. The ladies came out of the conference room where their temporary degaussing station had been set up, and informed the small group of IT guys that work in the area that the degausser was smoking, but that it had done this a couple of times and it would be fine once they let it be for a few minutes. I didn’t think this sounded good, but just shrugged it off and went back to work. No less than thirty seconds later, the ladies come quickly out of the conference room and say, “Okay it’s on fire!” My coworker Stacey and I jumped up and made our way toward the conference room. Once inside, I ended up with the ABC fire extinguisher and quickly ran to the other side of the room where the degausser was sitting. While not a huge fire, there were flames large enough that soon the sprinkler system would’ve kicked in, ruining a lot of equipment inside the conference room. I ripped off the safety ring, pulled the pin, and extinguished the flames. While this isn’t a big deal by any stretch, it was still the first time I’ve ever used a fire extinguisher to put out a real fire.
The source of the fire:
The blessed extinguisher:
A cleaning crew came in yesterday and vacuumed up all the dust that the fire extinguisher had spewed. Somehow I don’t believe there will be any further degaussing in this conference room’s future.
For the last 2.5 years, I have been employed as a Systems Support Tech II at a company called National Flood Services. Last year’s April Fools’ joke was played by just about the entire IT department on an unsuspecting SQA Analyst named Sean. Sadly, the joke went over like a lead balloon and Sean ended up leaving work for the day. Fast forward to about a month ago. While evaluating some thin clients for our VMware VDI project, I suddenly came up with the perfect April Fools’ joke to play on our CIO, Keith. The plan:
-Replace the CIO’s desktop/dual monitor setup with the absolute smallest (but still fully functional) PC possible
-Include a formal official-looking letter from someone higher up the corporate food chain explaining the reason for it
-Place a camcorder in his office to record his reaction and/or fallout
-Do this without being found out beforehand
One of our evaluation units from a company called Pano Logic fit the bill for the tiny PC perfectly. It’s actually a zero client that remotes in to our VMware View connection server and serves up a virtual machine’s display locally. For the display I found a 3″ LCD, meant for car installations, on eBay for under $30 shipped. Unfortunately, it only accepted a composite video input, so I had to purchase a VGA to S-Video>Composite converter as well. A mini keyboard and mouse(also off eBay) ran me another $15 shipped or so.
Photos of the setup at the CIO’s desk:
For the letter, I drafted up something official sounding (while still playful and sarcastic) and printed it out on our parent company’s letterhead. I signed it from the Executive Chairman of StoneRiver, practicing roughly 40 times before I was happy with how it looked. Below is a photo of the finished letter:
I placed my Panasonic HDC-SD600 in a semi-hidden position in his office to catch his reaction. The results?
Keith handled the joke like a champ, even reading the letter aloud to about a dozen IT onlookers who had huddled around to watch the prank unfold. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the micro PC was not just fully functional, (see pictures above that show our company’s Flood Processing website on the monitor) but fast too! When it was time for his real desktop to come back, he seemed a little disappointed and said that this little PC was actually pretty cool.
The best part was how fun it was getting it all working and put together. Keith’s reaction was the icing on the cake.
Special thanks to Krista, Heidi, Mike, and Sid for their indirect but instrumental help on executing this awesome April Fools’ joke.
I’m wading out so far that my feet can’t touch
I’m swimming where the water churns white
I’m wading out so far that my feet can’t touch
I’m drinkin’ in the water of life
There’s something about music that enables me to experience life more deeply. I immerse myself in it any way I can: listening to music on high end stereo systems, singing or performing with bands at church or with friends…there are many ways to let it in. Fifteen years ago I took guitar lessons for just six weeks because that’s all my parents could afford. Soon after, I enrolled in band class at my high school and began playing the cornet. My embouchure wasn’t coming together, so my band teacher moved me to the baritone horn. I remained with this instrument (aside from a couple of short stints on the trombone and tuba) for the remainder of high school and into college. Thus ended my formal music education.
So, a few weeks ago I bought a drum set. I did this because I’ve been drumming as a hobby (hand drums and kit) off and on for the last decade (in between playing horns for school etc.), and realized it behooved me to begin taking it more seriously. Professional lessons and practicing regularly are part of this plan, as I’m completely self-taught and fear that I’m likely riddled with poor drumming technique and/or habits.
Here’s what my current set consists of:
Dixon Demon 5-piece shell pack
Sabian AAX Stage Performance 16″ crash, 20″ ride, 14″ hi-hats
Evans G1 heads (these will probably be my first replacement)
For fun I recorded a drum cover of Incubus – Drive.
Some months ago, opportunity knocked. Would I like to go back to Polebridge for another visit? “Of course!” I said without pause. A slight variation on rules (I’d be staying two nights instead of one) and a new location (we’d be at Ben Rover cabin instead of the Schnaus cabin) outlined new possibilities and great potential.
Upon arrival, we quickly unloaded our gear. After a quick sizing up of the place, cross-country skis and snowshoes were immediately put to good use. The next couple of hours saw us trekking around Polebridge, breathing the crisp, clean air, and quietly absorbing the incredible views.
Long story short, it was an amazing weekend. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, jigsaw puzzles, drum circles, chopping wood, and Scrabble were just some of the activities that kept us productive and entertained.
Click the photo below to see more pictures!