Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Confession & Purpose

I'm just now finding (making) time to write down some of my thoughts from Sunday. Naturally, the profundity of what I was thinking two and a half days ago has dissipated somewhat and I won't be able to provide specifics as well, but....hopefully some of the significance will come through.

(Mental note to self: try to cut down on the preamble!)

Sunday's sermon and worship hit me pretty hard. Epiphanies. Conviction. Gratitude. Peace. Spiritual battle. Faith. I don't know if I could fully and accurately describe the full gamut of emotions and thoughts and reactions I experienced Sunday morning. But two things in particular stood out:

1. Pastor Kelly mentioned a concept during his sermon that I've heard of for years, and understood (head knowledge): confession. James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." Kelly emphasized the fact that we get that we need to acknowledge sin to God and repent. Yet we are eager to skip the awkward/humbling experience of confessing those sins to other people.

I felt convicted of this, and during the communion time, there are elders and church staff available for speaking/praying with. I immediately went and shared with one of the guys. As soon as he finished praying for me, I felt compelled to confess not just to the guy I did (Scott - awesome dude), but also to my wife. (Especially since the sin I was confessing affects her). GULP. Boy, did I sense a lot of resistance with that.

Fortunately, despite the temptation to chicken out, and the fact that Wendy had a migraine and didn't feel like talking, I engaged and we ended up talking for 3-4 hours and our relationship is stronger/closer, as well as the knowledge that I had been obedient in doing as the Lord had asked of me.

2. Now that it's a couple days later, oddly enough I can't remember the songs that triggered a new revelation for me during worship, but the gist is this: some of the lyrics said something to the effect that "I was made to worship" and "You deserve praise" and things along that line.

Though the Bible says to be anxious for nothing, I've often struggled with a sense of anxiety and angst over the very common questions everyone has: What is the meaning/purpose of my life? What did God put me here for? How will I impact the world? What is my calling?

Sunday I found a greater measure of peace and answer to these questions, even though my life philosophy has been based on this concept: We were made to worship. The purpose of our lives is to glorify God. Period. Done. That's it. How freeing it is to think of THAT as my purpose, rather than....Should I work as a band director, or in human resources for the rest of my life? What kind of career path (with increasing monetary compensation) should I be shooting for? Should we live in CA or CO? I'm not leading anything right now, and as I leader-type person, that's wrong, right? How many kids should we have? Et cetera, et cetera...

As long as I'm doing whatever I'm doing (and wherever I'm doing it) to please God, bringing Him glory and honor....the details are irrelevant.

Sorry so long again...I'll just bask in the catharsis even though I know a few people will see a long post and skip it.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Wow. Today I was incredibly focused. I felt like I got more done at work than I had hoped/planned to. Maybe it's because I stayed home on Friday while Wendy slept off the flu, but I felt like I had to make up for lost time. Maybe it's the Type-A nerd in me, but there's something satisfying about having a stack of files and paperwork in the morning that's magically gone by the time you leave!

Speaking of Focus, I'm going to need it, and discipline, over the next couple of months, as I realized this week that I will be doing regular reading out of three books.

1. Way of the Wild Heart, John Eldridge - going through this with the 3 other guys in my accountability group. It's awesome, because all of us have sons, and the book is about the process of masculinity for ourselves, and to train our sons.

2. Heart of the Artist, Rory Noland - our worship team (which includes those onstage, and off) meets on the 2nd Sunday of each month at Fike's house (our worship pastor). Last year we went through Exploring Worship...and are continuing being intentional about looking at what worship is, and what our roles are in the Church.

3. Real Marriage, Kelly & Tosha Williams - our pastor and his wife wrote this book over the last 3 years, and just had it published a month ago; and now we're attending the 12-week class they're leading based on their book. Holy cow...we're in for a ride. Kind of like Viper at Magic Mountain: a bit scary, can make your stomach turn on the really bad twists, but when it's over you realize how much fun and exciting it was!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Goal/Resolution

Pastor Kelly's message got me thinking...about how we (I) encourage and affirm others. And I've come to the realization that I talk about people, more than I talk to people. I think I do this most often with my wife, but also my kids and friends as well.

I'll tell someone how I see Wendy growing in knowledge of God and maturity, but I don't think I've ever explicitly said that to her face. I brag to friends/family/strangers about something Connor said or did that I'm proud of....but did I tell him I was proud of him for that? I want to try and build people up to their face more often.

Other challenges pastor Kelly has given us, that I still need to do:
1. Think of the top 10 people in your life you are thankful for...and tell them that you are thankful for them.

2. List the top 10 things you are thankful for someone...and tell them, either in person or in writing. The challenging part is to pick someone who has hurt you or is ungrateful to you for something(s) you've done for them. Bless and affirm them.
Kelly: "That's hard. But if you can do that, it will make you an extraordinary leader."

Good Morning

Just saying "Good morning" and checking in. I'm running sound this morning, and have a little time to kill before things get swinging.

Also, so far, so good on the Bible-reading plan. 18 days in a row! I'm pretty sure that's is better than any record I held in 2008. It's funny because yesterday I was reading the part where God is deciding to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and the selection for Jan. 17 ended sooner than I expected and I had that lovely feeling of "wanting more" that I don't always get with reading scripture.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dragons in the Bible

Obviously, the greater Story of Christ and God's plan of redemption for us is the point of the Bible. And there are innumerable instances of practical life application stuff as well as wisdom of who God is, etc.

BUT....maybe it's because I'm a guy who's into action/fantasy/sci-fi.....there are some parts of the Bible that make my heart rate increase and make me smile and daydream. Eg: Epic battle scenes, blow-your-hair-back miracles, and those unexplained mysteries that we won't get answers to until we get to Heaven.

Today, my read through the Bible chronological study had me finishing the last couple chapters of Job. I've read through Job several times before; even did an in-depth study with some fellow men a couple years ago....but Chapter 41 never fails to incite excitement and clamoring for "More!" from me. God is describing the "Leviathan". I've heard it said before that this might have been referring to: whale, crocodile/alligator, hippopotamus, even dinosaur. But my mind hasn't been able to accept those explanations....only one description seems to fit: Dragon. Seriously! C'mon....

18 His sneezings flash forth light,
and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.
19 Out of his mouth go flaming torches;
sparks of fire leap forth.
20 Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke,
as from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
21 His breath kindles coals,
and a flame comes forth from his mouth.

Has a hippo or crocodile ever shot fire from their mouth? I won't post excerpts of the entire chapter here, but there are many more example of dragon-type descriptions. The only metaphoric possibility could be that God is describing a physical manifestation of Satan. The Message adds a line that isn't in any other version (and therefore, questionable to my mind) that says "Even angels run for cover when he surfaces" Huh?

Anyways, I challenge you to read it and imagine what kind of creature this could be, if not a dragon. RRRRRAAAAAWWWRRRR!!!!!!


This morning as I was putting on my jacket and grabbing my keys, I heard a soft whimper. Cosette had a sad look on her face and locked on me with those big, beautiful, baby blues.

Me: Oh, baby, I gotta go to work. I'm sorry!
Cosette: Hug
Me: You want a hug?
Cosette: And a kiss
*Gives me an extra long, tight-squeeze hug, and very sweet kiss (with eyes closed even!)
Then she smiles a little, although some sadness remains. I move to the door, and......

Connor: Have a good day!!
Me: *All Smiles*

Monday, January 12, 2009


One, I know that the white text on black background was hard to read. (Even though I'm sure most people are using RSS Feeds now, but still...)

Two, I've been diving deeper in my posts, and wanted something a little more representative of what I'm posting. So, I wanted to replace the goofy laugh-at-the-sky photo. Psalm 16:11 (banner photo) is very apropos for my "Road To Valinor" theme, and I like it.

I also had a little fun making the photo. Check out this neat, free little webapp: Tiltshiftmaker. Basically, you upload a photo, and then it adds a blur effect to make your "focus" pop out more. Here is an example of a before/after attempt I did. These are the houseboats we stayed on for the senior trip to Lake Mohave I chaperoned with WCHS. Notice how the tiltshift one makes the boats looks like models or toys?

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I still love the "magic" that happens when God moves and works in you...whether you're expecting it or not. It seems like about half the time I go to church, I don't feel like it. I'm thinking about how busy the rest of the day is going to be, or about what to do for lunch, or anything and everything else except connecting with God.

Part of our worship pastor's prayer in between songs today said something to the effect of: "Forgive us, Father, for the distance we create between our hearts and yours. Meet with us now, God and help us to re-connect to you." That spoke to me a lot. Indictment on the sin I allow and selfishness that prevents me from focusing on putting God's will as the #1 priority in my life.

True to form, God did just that. I was a bit slow in releasing and allowing my heart and mind to slow down and focus, but once I did a couple things began to happen. I had two significant revelations.

1: Even though the concept of "white as snow" is a familiar one, the weight of sin and separation from God every day often is a difficult obstacle for me to realize that when I repent, God removes the sin as far as East from West, and sees the righteousness of Christ when He looks at me. I let the guilt and shame of my sin prevent the healing and realization that every day I have opportunity to be a new creature. But today, I really felt like a new creature. I felt that I was truly being cleansed and made "white as snow".

2: One of the central themes of "The Way of the Wild Heart" by John Eldredge (reading it with my accountability group - separate review/discussion to come later) has been that we, as men, are needing to feel like the Beloved Son of our Father, and that He is saying "You have what it takes" - the main question of the male heart. (According to Eldredge) During worship today, as revelation #1 was sinking in, I moved into revelation #2: God is pleased with me, and thinks of me as His Beloved Son. I can't tell you how awesome it was to feel His favor that way.

Just further reminders that if I don't feel like going to church on a given Sunday, there's a good chance that's the enemy hoping to prevent me from experiencing God in a new and awesome way. Now I'm able to anticipate meeting God afresh whenever I get that lazy feeling again.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

5 years old

Do you remember when you were 5? I have a few vague bits and pieces of specific memories, but mostly I think it's just a general sense of discovery of the world and trying to cram as much fun as possible in between the parent-enforced meal and sleep times.

Me, a little younger than Connor now:

Thank goodness Connor is a cuter kid!:

Connor turned 5 last week (Jan. 3), but we threw his party today (Saturday). We went to Pump It Up, the warehouse full of big bounce houses and slides, etc. There were many awesome moments.

---being kinda scared of the really big slide, but then once he was forced to try it (with mom) he couldn't get enough; going on it dozens of times in a row without pause
---seeing his best friend Justus arrive and bouncing like crazy up and down (in the lobby, not even in a bounce house thing)
---getting to sit on a throne as King for a day
---having a bunch of kids crowding around him shoving presents at him saying "Open mine next!"
---at the end having him yell at the room of 40+ people: "THANK YOU EVERYBODY!!!"
---sitting with Wendy for a while after dinner, writing the names of kids on thank you cards and signing them himself

Very proud of my little guy.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Not exactly a cheery topic, but....

First of all, to report on how the band experience went on Monday...short version: good.
To elaborate, I misunderstood the schedule. I was thinking it'd be Symphonic Band on Monday nights, and the Jazz Band on Thursdays. I had that reversed. So I just had a different kind of fun. I was the youngest guy there by at least a decade. And I guess I sort of underplayed (meaning I didn't bring it up unless asked) the whole "I was a music major for 6 years, and a HS band director for 4 years" thing. So it was a tad amusing having a couple people enthusiastically try to impress on me how fun band is, and what a typical rehearsal is like.

We spent 2 hours just reading down charts, many of which I was familiar with of course: In the Mood, String of Pearls, Pennsylvania 6-5000, Sway, etc. About 10 or so charts. I was worried about how my out-of-shape chops would do, but they held up, and I focused on getting rhythms and articulations right, which impressed the weekend warrior types.

The other aspect I misunderstood, was that apparently to play in the jazz band (called "Kicks", btw) members are required to also participate in one of the concert/symphonic bands (there are 7-8 different bands). Unfortunately, I can't commit to any of the other band rehearsal schedules. Sooooo, it looks like it might already be over for me. I did hear that there were having auditions for the Colorado Springs Chorale though..... =)

Two other areas of misunderstanding to cover:
1. I've been irked a few times in the past couple weeks at defending my fondness for the Carpenters' music. Yes, I know the music is sometimes played in elevators; and yes, Sean, I know that the bottom-side of her vibrato leans flat, but the more vehemently I try to explain why Karen's voice moves me so much, the worse the mocking gets. So, I'm resigned to be in the minority here, since I've yet to meet a single person (aside from mom!) who agrees with me.

2. I was trying to explain to someone the hands that led up to me busting out of a poker tournament, and why I made the correct moves at the correct times, but just got beat by lucky cards, and I felt like they didn't understand me. That's not a slam on their ability to understand things in general (or poker specifically), but it fell into the pattern of misunderstanding I've been thinking about recently.

I think part of the reason why it tends to get frustrating for me when I'm involved in (receiving or giving) a "misunderstanding", is that part of me suspects that I am to blame for poor communication. It would be honest to concede that a part of me just always wants to be right and get my way, and misunderstandings/miscommunication are obstacles to those. I have to try and remember that there is an infinite God who created a (seemingly) infinite number of personalities and people are just different - not "wrong" or "bad" - just different.

I'm starting to....understand...

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Next Blog Experiment

Well, as I struggle to find a way to stay motivated and on top of regular posting, I am going to try a different approach. I'm going to try to write a lot, and not censor myself myself. Part of my reticence is thinking of so many topics I want to write about that I get overwhelmed trying to find a place to start. So my thought is to try and just write about everything I want to, and then break it up into bite-size posts so I don't have a novella that runs the risk of alienating potential readers. This way I'm giving myself a chance to "catch up" since I feel like there are a lot of things that have happened or that I've thought of sharing, that ya'll are missing out on!

I'll start with the "big" news items, and work myself backward to lesser? (still interesting) tidbits.

Big News #1: Wendy goes into greater detail, but suffice to say God in his infinite Grace and generosity has chosen to bless us with the gift of a free car. We've been making do with one car for over 2 years now, and it's ok, but I think it makes life a lot harder for Wendy than it does me, since it means she's stuck at home whenever I'm at work or church or whatever. And it means she has to get up extra early to take me to work, church, etc. which is hard on her and the kids. Awesome...thanks, God! (And thanks to the person who was moved to give away their extra car!)

Big News #2: This one is kind of big to me, because of how excited I am about the possibilities it presents. 1999 is the last time I really played trumpet with any regularity, rehearsed, performed, etc. The 4 years I was at WCHS, I would break out my horn to play with the kids occasionally at football/basketball games, and sometimes take a solo with the jazz band. But I never practiced or played any music remotely challenging or was very consistent

So that's why my eyebrows arched considerably when we saw a flyer by our mailbox at the condo. It advertised an adult band program (18+) for all levels (beg. - inter. - adv.) to play symphonic band type stuff. I just found their website. Intrigued, I called the number on the flyer last week and had a great conversation with the director. He's a retired high school band director who has about 250 people spread across a dozen groups or so. He asked for my background, and when I gave it he seemed pretty excited to have me on board...even half-joking about how it'd be nice to have someone be able to step in front of a band if he's not able to. It's a little after 5:00 right now, and I'll be grabbing a bite to eat, then heading over to the rehearsal. Wish me and my out-of-shape chops luck! =)

Try, Try Again......

I've never really been one to claim to have any New Year's "resolutions" per se, but when January 1, 2009 rolled around, I did feel motivated to get on track with some goals I had been batting around noncommittally. So I committed to a couple goals (I'm intentionally avoiding the word "resolution" to keep from rolling my eyes at myself):

1. Read through the Bible in a year. I've done lots of different kinds of Bible studies in the past, but I've never attempted the read-in-a-year method. Probably since my inner skeptic balks at the idea of maintaining a perfect record for 365 days in a row. But I'm not going to hold myself to the usual all-or-nothing standard I usually do. Rather, I'm going to read whatever is up for a given date. If I miss a day, I'm not going to feel "behind" and try and catch up, I'll just start with whatever day I'm on. Hopefully that way I won't feel so overwhelmed. I'm also doing the chronological version which seems more interesting to me.

2. Run regularly. A bit vague on "regularly" since it will most likely vary from week to week depending on what other activities I've got going on. But I hope to maintain a bare minimum of 2 days a week, and shoot for 4 days a week.

Those are the big "goals" for 2009. There are a sundry of others I will discuss later. (Trying to keep this short)