Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Walking to Emmaus

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

J.R.R. Tolkien
"The Road Goes Ever On"
The Lord of the Rings

I'm off on an Emmaus Walk spiritual retreat. I'd tell you more about it, but I know very little. I'm mostly going on blind faith in my pastor who said it's a phenomenal experience, and since I trust Eric implicitly, away I go.

I'll be gone from Thursday night through Sunday night, with no phone or internet access. This makes me simultaneously nervous and excited. I'm nervous for reasons that should be obvious; they're obvious to me, at the very least. I'm an entrepreneur and web dork, and being without the phone and internet seems anathema to me at this point. I'm afraid I'm going to have withdrawls, falling trembling to the floor when the stark realization of the fact that I have no idea what's going on anywhere I can't physically see sets in on me.

I'm excited, though, for that very reason. I'm so tethered to that nonsense by what it is that I do that it's all a constant distraction for me in my life. I look forward to being without it - and any other distractions - for a few days. I look forward to listening to God in a place where His voice is one of the only ones that can reach me to see what He has to say.

See y'all next week!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I Love My Church

Family denotes a group of people affiliated by a common ancestry, affinity or co-residence. Although the concept of consanguinity originally referred to relations by "blood," anthropologists[who?] have argued that one must understand the idea of "blood" metaphorically, and that many societies understand 'family' through other concepts rather than through genetic distance.

Wikipedia: Family

We had our Easter service at HealingPointe tonight, and it was fantastic. We had worship, videos, an awesome message, and communion. I couldn't have asked for more out of a worship service.

After service, we all filed over to the local IHOP - and I reference the House of Pancakes this time, not the House of Prayer. We squeezed thirty human beings, nearly half of them children and one of them my mother, into three booths and about five tables. We had great food and awesome conversation, some of which was carried out across the aisles thanks to the awesome technology that is yelling. Some of us got our food early and ate while others without food looked on despondently. They took incriminating photographs of us eating to post to Facebook via the iPhone, only for our table, that with food, to respond in kind, mocking their lack of food. The whole place was filled with laughter, love, and a sense of belonging.

The people at my church are as much my family, and in many ways moreso, than most of the people in this world that share my DNA. To those of you reading, I love y'all. I don't toss that word around lightly, but it's the absolute truth. You guys are my family.

Happy Easter, everyone! He is risen!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Words Fail

He's alive!
Yes, He's alive!
Yes, He's alive, and I'm forgiven
Heaven's gates are open wide

Dolly Parton
"He's Alive"
White Limozeen (1989)

I've been trying to write something here about Easter for quite some time, and I just can't. God has graced me in a great many ways, and to some extent, he's graced me as a wordsmith. I do not have the skill with the written word, however, to do any justice to what this week means to all of us. I can't write anything that will do any good, no matter how hard I try. The only recourse left to me, clearly, is to stop trying, and just let Jesus' own words speak on His behalf:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going" John 14:1-4

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I Am a Panhead

Friggin' Rock Friggin' On

Gregg Kavanaugh

So we went to a rock concert here in town tonight. Terre Haute doesn't get many rock concerts, so we were happy to attend. The fact that it was headlined by one of our favorite Christian bands, Skillet, didn't make our decision any more difficult.

Our tickets said Row 1 on them, but when Holli was checking prior to the show on Ticketmaster, it also showed that there were floor seats. We figured that what we had was the first row of the bleachers, and that there would be floor seats in front of us. We were mistaken. Front row, two seats right of center. I could stretch my legs out from my seat without constraint from other chairs in front of me. My face was peeled away by the blast of the speakers. It was righteous.

Decyfer Down opened the show. I'd never heard any of their music before the show, but I quickly became a fan. Their lead singer looks like Chris Jericho of WWE fame, and sounds quite a bit like him as he sings, too. I do not mean the latter statement to be anything but a compliment, mind you, as I think Jericho's got a good voice. Their music was just good ol' hard rock, except they're rocking for Jesus, which is a cause I can get behind.

Disciple was up next, and my brother-in-law had warned me that I might not like them, as he thought they were a bit on the screamy side. Perhaps they do scream, but it's much more in the mold of Rage Against the Machine, a band I liked very much when it existed, rather than in the mold of your average speed metal band singing D-E-words, which I do not like. They've also clearly got some roots in southern rock, a genre Holli still refuses to acknowledge the existence of, because there were some really strong melodies underneath all of the hard-rocking guitar. Their lead singer has more energy than any human being I've ever known, and he gave an absolutely fantastic testimony near the end of their set. Also, one of their guitar players did a backflip off of a crate with his guitar on, which was, needless to say, awesome cool.

Skillet closed the show, and they just blew us away. They're absolutely fantastic live, and even actually trudged along a fiddle player (it's a fiddle if it's played in concert with a guitar) to do their strings live. All five of them, much like Disciple's lead singer, were loaded with energy. Being an aspiring guitar player myself, the thought of actually being able to play my instrument at the high level they were at was daunting enough; playing it while singing and bouncing around like I drank a case of Red Bull seems impossible to me, though. I even have a picture of the fiddle player playing the string part in "Rebirthing" with both of his feet off of the ground. It was just nuts.

When the show was over, Holli looked down at her feet and found a guitar pick for me. As the roadies were cleaning up afterwards, they grabbed a bunch more of them off the ground and threw me another. You know, because I was in the front row. So now I've got two picks that have been used in the Lord's service, and hopefully they can carry on the the tradition here.

As I go to more and more Christian concerts, the difference becomes more and more clear to me. Here we were, however many people filling up the Hulman-George Theater, all rocking out and bouncing in our chairs during Skillet's set, when they play a worship song for us. What was a wild, rocking time suddenly turned into a theater full of hands raised, praising the God of the universe, focusing and letting loose all of the praise that we'd been involved in for nearly three hours.

Also, before the fascists running the arena made everyone go back to their seats, we had formed the most polite mosh pit I've ever seen. Everyone had their own personal space, nobody was pushing everyone. It was great.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Me!

Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air!

Pat Hughes

Today, the MLB season kicks off in earnest, as Opening Day is finally upon us. To this, I say huzzah, and bring on the Cubbies! Also today, I celebrate my third anniversary as an entrepreneur, as it was Opening Day '06 when I opened the proverbial doors of Swank Solutions to start in as a web developer and network consultant. Times and business entities have changed, but here I sit, three years later, getting ready to start my fourth year at the same job for the first time, well, ever. Hooray for accomplishments, as pathetic as they might be.

How will I be celebrating this momentous occasion? Working. Yeah, I know; I'm pathetic.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ten Random Songs from my iPod, Round II

I felt the power
Of death over life
I orphaned his children
I widowed his wife
And all for no reason
Just one piece of lead
I hung my head
I hung my head

Johnny Cash
"I Hung My Head"
American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)

It's time for another one. Here we go!

  1. "Draw Me Nearer" by Caedmon's Call from WOW Hymns
    WOW Hymns is an awesome album. New Christian artists singing old hymns (or new songs written in the style of old-timey hymns). It's very cool. I cleaned out my iPod recently, letting go of my obsession to keep only full albums on, thereby deleting a bunch of duplicates and freeing up some space. I left this full album on, though, because the hymns are a nice break in my usual lineup of songs.

  2. "The Gloomy Mansion" by Takeharu Ishimoto from Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack
    I'm a dork. I was a dork last time, I'm a dork this time, I'll be a dork next time I do this. The video game music stays.

  3. "Hey Now" by tobyMac and Coffee from Welcome to Diverse City
    Another full album that survived the purge. Toby's awesome.

  4. "I Need You to Love Me" by BarlowGirl from WOW Hits 2008
    Holli and I have different opinions on chicks that rock. I like them. She does not. Not because of any female jealousy or anything, she just likes her rockers to be guys. I like female rockers because they bring something different to the table vocally. Suffice it to say, I like BarlowGirl.

  5. "Born Again" by Third Day from Revelation
    Dude rockers are alright, too, though.

  6. "Lord Move, or Move Me" by FFH from Found a Place
    This song is awesome. We first heard it at church (hooray for Frank and Beth!), and it's just got really powerful lyrics. I've always been the kind of guy that the lyrics have to appeal to me in a song, and this fits the bill on that. That's why I've never liked speed metal of any type: if I can't understand the words of a song, it's useless to me.

  7. "Samuel's Awakening" by Jason Upton from Open Up the Earth
    My love for Upton's music is well documented. Objectively, I'll say that he's a lot better on his live albums than on his studio albums. There's a level of passion that comes through in his live stuff that just doesn't translate into a studio-engineered album.

  8. "Doxology" by David Crowder Band from WOW Hymns
    If you grew up going to church, you know the Doxology. We sang it at IHOP on Friday, in fact, and it was awesome. Well, this is the best version of it ever.

  9. "I Hung My Head" by Johnny Cash from American IV: The Man Comes Around
    One of my regrets is that it took me until Cash's cover of "Hurt" to realize just how awesome The Man in Black really was. Vaya con Dios, Johnny, although I know you did.

  10. "Take My Life (and Let It Be)" by Chris Tomlin from WOW Hymns
    Chris Tomlin is one of our great modern performers, and his songs are going to live on long past his career. His music is absolutely amazing.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lazy Saturday

Everybody ... now bleed a beetle?

Matt Chapman as
Strong Bad
From the Sbemailerized Entertainment version of the intro

No particular reason for the quote other than that it makes me smile. Everything on Homestar Runner makes me smile, for the most part. It manages to do so without offending me, though, which is awesome. I hope the Brothers Chaps are making fifty bajillion dollars off of that site, because they deserve every penny.

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing. Which is what I have to do this afternoon.

I was going to go to the Harp and Bowl training at the WVIHOP. Now, for those of you wondering what that is, exactly, it's where the guys at the WVIHOP teach you to worship like they do. As Marvin would say, you sing your prayers and you pray your songs, and the musicians all kind of riff off of one another for an hour or more at a time. It's awesome, and I was going to learn how to do it, but it got cancelled for today.

So, I got up and played some guitar of my own this morning. I can do a pretty passable rendition of "Praise You in this Storm" now, which makes me happy. I need to be able to sing along with it, but I think if I could ever do that with any song, it would be that one. It's woven into the fabric of my DNA, so I shouldn't have to think too much while I'm doing it.

I've had some breakfast, too, which is good, and I'll have a snack in a little while. I usually do a food fast on Saturdays, but I'm feeling like the Lord's saying that it's time to start fasting a couple of other things, instead, so I'm eating this weekend. Food makes me happy, too, so I've got a lot going for me today, even without the Harp and Bowl training.

I'm on the balcony as I write this, keeping an eye on the kids while they play. Well, just Brianna, at the moment, as Connor's on the self-imposed injured list with toe blisters. And she's not so much playing as she is riding her bike around. I'm going to continue my work on some psalm memorization here in a little while.

Yep. It's Saturday. Awesome.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Random Thoughts

I wanna know
Have you ever seen the rain?

Creedence Clearwater Revival
"Have You Ever Seen the Rain"
Pendulum (1970)

Stream of consciousness. Go!

  • I'm feeling better today. Just started tonight, actually. I'm fully caught up on the Daily Audio Bible. I'm fully caught up on my task list for clients. My task list for the business itself is getting kind of lean. I think I have a handle on the budget. God's given me some clear direction on a couple of things He wants me to be doing. It's like I'm getting to see a whole bunch of light in a whole bunch of things all at once.

  • I hate the last post I did with bullet points in it, because I didn't put a line with a non-breaking space at the end of each point to separate them clearly. I could go back and fix it, yeah, but I prefer to leave it in place as a monument to my own failure.

  • Guitar actually seems to be going well. I'm having a little trouble shifting to the F chord, but apparently that's something that sticks a lot of people. My teacher said I was in some way gifted rhythmically at my last lesson, though, so that's something.

  • Were it not for the stupid F chord, I'd be playing a passable rendition of "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" by CCR. Perhaps you know it, and all of CCR's other music, from every freaking movie about the Vietnam war ever. It's also become one of Holli's least favorite songs ever, courtesy of my incessant practicing of it.

  • I've also been practicing "Cannons" by Phil Wickham, too, but just for me. Well, for God, also. I played it today and something just kind of clicked; I'm hitting most of the transitions, I've got the strumming patterns down, and it really sounds like the song. It just came out of nowhere, though. I must have leveled up at Wednesday's lesson.

  • The better I get at playing the guitar - and I'd still rate myself as quite the poor guitar player, mind you - the more rewarding it gets. When I played my first two chords (E and A) in a pattern that was kind of peacful and harmonious, that was fun. When I went from there and was able to, really slowly, strum a few simple patterns, that was better. When I could almost kind of play "Last Kiss," that was awesome. To be able to have a couple of songs that, barring a few missteps here and there, that I can actually play, though ... that's just awesome. I'm sorry I didn't pick up on this music thing earlier in life, because I absolutely love it.

  • You can shut up now, Matt. Matt will get this. If you are not Matt - the Matt, specifically, not just some random Matt - then this isn't for you. The rest of you can just move along.

  • The beefs are tender. I have no idea why that just popped into my head, but I'm laughing uproariously on the inside.

  • I played Battletech with Shannon tonight - a star of my Jade Falcons against a star of his Ghost Bears. The Falcons prevailed, but it was ... how do you say ... by the narrowest of margins. I'll probably write a report on it soon; not because I think any of you care, mind you, but because it'll be fun and that's how I roll.

  • I started doing the family books last night, because Holli needs a break. While doing the books, I summarily ate an entire box of Girl Scout cookies. They were Tagalongs - known to me in my youth as Peanut Butter Sandwiches. They were delicious. I refuse to weigh myself until Monday now.