Category Archives: Change

Failed, But not a Failure: Lift Yourself Up Off the Floor (Music Video Edition)

The Message is a paraphrase of the Bible and the authors have attempted to write the scriptures in a straight forward manner.  This is 1 Corinthians 13.  It is the Love Chapter of the Bible.  This passage pretty much provides a biblical definition of Love.

1 Corinthians 13  The Message (MSG)  The Way of Love

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Love Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

I’ve failed.  I violated every one of those lines.  I gave up, on love, on what I want most.  I’ve cared more about me than others.  I’ve hungered, desired, coveted, prayed for what I do not have.  I’ve strutted, well, a little anyway, not much.  I’m sure I’ve had a swelled head.  I tried to force myself on others emotionally and relationally.  I’ve put me first.  Although not very much, I’ve flown off the handle.  I don’t have a notebook with names and sins in it, but, I do know that thing she did to me that tears me up inside and I can’t let it go just yet.  Grovel…hmmm, has anyone groveled to me?  Hmm.  I know what truth is and instead of letting it set me free I embrace the lies and pretend I know better.  I put my foot down and and it got stomped on, crushed really.  I have refused to trust in God, he let me down in a big, big way.  I can’t see the best in this darkness I am in.  My back is to the future and my focus is on the past.  I feel like I am at the end, and my pace has stopped.

Love failed.  Plain and simple.  Not just my love.  Others too.  I feel like God’s love failed me too, but, I know I am in the darkness too deep to see anything, let alone the big picture.

So, when you fall you have a choice:  Stay where you are and give up, or pick yourself up off the floor and move forward.  I was laying down on the job.  I was…curled up in a ball, sucking my thumb, eyes closed tight asking for it to all to just go away.  But, every time I open my eyes I am in the same spot.  I even gave up hope for a bit.  I gave up completely.  Stop the world, I want to get off now.

But, I guess its time to move on.  Love failed.  I failed.  But I do not have to remain a failure.  2012, WORST YEAR EVER.  So far.  There’s 5 months left.

They say it gets better.  What they leave out is that it gets so incredibly worse before it starts to get better.

I am in a prayer group that meets Monday nights.  If you want to look God in the eyes, yell at him, smile at him, converse with him, visit my prayer group.

I am in a Divorce Care group.  And that guy in the video says really awfully painful things to hear.  But, it speaks to exactly what is going on in my lonely life.  The people around me in that class are devastated and heartbroken and in some serious, serious pain.  But that girl that sits next to me is kinda cute. And their stories help me feel like I am not all alone.  They recommend waiting a year for every 4 years you were married to enter into a relationship.  Ha, right.  Well, 3 out of 4 second marriages fail.  4 our of 5 3rd marriages fail. And 9 out of 10 5th marriages fail!  Holy crapola?!

I’m meeting new people.  Men and women.  I’m on one of those dating websites, a couple actually.  No, wait, I’m not meeting guys there!  Sheesh!  I meet them NOT online.  Wait, I’m not “meeting guys”.  OK, I mean I have a few new guy friends that have become my brothers in Christ.  I would die for the guys in my prayer group, take a bullet for them.  So back to the dating sites, I’m not looking for love!  I’m just looking to meet new women.  I am not looking for a replacement wife or to get married.  Just to talk and be healthy.  To try to live again.  And guess what?  I had a date!  First one in almost 20 years!  OK, not a “date”, we just, sat and talked.  But it didn’t suck!  I KNOW RIGHT?  Sigh.  I hate the idea of dating.  I never thought I’d have to start over like this.  But, I have to move on right?

I have hope again.  A little.  Not a lot.  But, it is a start.

I got mad at God, called him names.  Shook my fist.  Cussed. Told him how he let me down.  And he did too.  He didn’t step in and wave his hand and make everything better.  He could have, fiery furnace, lion’s den, Lazarus.  He is letting me feel incredible pain.  Because…we have free will.  Because…we do bad, sinful, evil things.  Because, well, I don’t know why yet.  God isn’t a jerk.  I feel like he is, but I know he isn’t, He loves me.  And it is OK, I serve a BIG GOD that can handle my anger, tantrums and questions.

I think about her and I fall again.  On my knees, facial fluids leaking everywhere.  That’s OK.  Because I get back up.  Why do we fall?  So that we learn to pick ourselves up.  <In my whispering voice:  “I am Batman“!>

I have failed in the past.  But, I refuse to make it my identity.  I have no clue who I am outside of who I was and who I was when I was with her.  But, I know this:  I am not a failure.  Well, I don’t know it yet.  But I hear it, I let the words go into my brain. And that thought rattles around.  And it makes me cock my head and think.  I am not a failure, maybe.

Welcome to the planet
Welcome to existence
Everyone’s here
Everyone’s here
Everybody’s watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next?
What happens next?

dare you to move
dare you to move
dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
dare you to move
dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened before

Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

Advertisements

Updated Facebook Relationship Status: Heartbroken

One’s new relationship status isn’t complete until it is changed on Facebook and broadcasted to the world. Minnie changed her Facebook status to “single” today. This was my Facebook status update:

Thank you @Minnie Beechner for being my beautiful bride. The past 18 years have been the best years of my life. Thank you for accepting me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being my soul mate, helper, lover, teacher and friend. You are my best friend. Thank you for showing me how to worship God in a new way and worshiping with me. Thank you for bearing, gifting and entrusting me with four handsome boys-you are a loving mom-kind, patient, nurturing and protective. Thank you for bringing joy to my life. Thanks be to God for giving me such an incredible, independent, bold and confident woman. I believe God brought us together and bonded us in marriage. I am blessed beyond grace and will be forever grateful for the years we have been husband & wife. I’m sorry for hurting you and loving you so poorly, I regret it every day. Your divorce from me has been finalized. Even though I failed you in the past, with God’s help I am being transformed and becoming a new man.

Well, it WAS the response I posted, but Minnie asked me to untag her, I couldn’t, so I deleted it.  She thinks that I did not mean the things I said…Let me just say I do.  With all my heart I do.

I was served divorce papers on February 13th 2012. The day before Valentine’s Day. I was completely shocked. It was like a 2×4 to the face. The effects were the same too: dazed, confused, pained, wounded, felled to the floor knocked out. I suppose I shouldn’t have been so shocked. Our marriage counselor looked directly at me and stated that if we didn’t change then the logical conclusion would be divorce. After, I asked Minnie if she thought that was true and she said no. I asked her if she’d let me know if she thought it was getting to that point. Even though she said she would, she never did. I never thought I would be divorced from Minnie. She really was my best friend. There was never a day when I was not in love with her. I’m still in love with her.

For the record: I was faithful to Minnie, I never touched another woman; I never gave my heart away to another. There was no physical abuse. No addiction or substance abuse. I wasn’t a deadbeat. I worked and provided for her and our family. I was quick to apologize when I was wrong-and even if I wasn’t. I don’t know why it is so important to me to communicate that list, but it is. Actually, I do know why.

Although I am not a verbal abuser in general, I was verbally abusive to Minnie the last 6 months of our marriage, before Minnie filed. I was hurt. I was broken. I took a stand. I lashed out. Minnie wilted and died inside. I didn’t know. If I had seen it I would have changed.  I swear I would have.

Minnie had my stuff packed up and I moved out day one. Thanks to Walter & Sean for helping me until I could stand on my own 2 feet. I eventually moved into my own 2-bedroom apartment. It isn’t much, but it is clean & organized, I have it completely furnished for me and my 4 boys. I’ve even done some decorating. I am learning what it means to be independent and a single father. Keegan, one of my 16-yr old twins lives with me. I see Kaleb, Calvin & Corbin for about 12 days out of the month. The boys are handling it very well for now, but I am fearful how it might affect them long-term. To teach them that divorce is an OK out is horrible. The sins of the father…

I refused to sign the divorce decree. Oh, the numbers and parenting time and such were agreeable enough and I signed those documents. The divorce negotiations were never mean or argumentative. But I love my wif, er, I mean, I love Minnie very much. I believe that God brought Minnie and I together, that which God binds in holy matrimony should not be undone by any man. We were married by two pastors. We wrote our own vows. A vow I could not break. There are no biblical grounds for our divorce, like I stated before, I was faithful to Minnie and I was not abusive to her or our boys. I do not believe that we have irreconcilable differences.  So I refused to sign; never a day will come when Minnie will wonder why I agreed to a divorce. I believe that Minnie and I can still work things out and have a marriage that is awesome. I hold onto hope.

I’ve been learning first hand what it means to manage unbearable pain.

I ran to God a couple of hours after I was served the papers and clung onto Him. One of the truly good things that has come from this brutal separation is that I have been reconciled to God, forgiven and on a journey of healing and comfort with my heavenly Father.

I’ve refused to fight or show anger to Minnie. I’m sad as hell and hurt like crazy, but, I can’t see how it would do any good to get angry, mean or fight. Minnie stated that if I hired my own divorce lawyer that we couldn’t be friends, so I didn’t. No legal battle.

The separation in general has been good for Minnie and I. There was even a time when Minnie and I were getting along very well. It was…great! But then she backed off again.

I make good choices and bad. It isn’t easy managing this brutal pain. Sometimes I try to fill the pain with things that aren’t the better option. But I feel like for every bad decision I’ve made, I have made 100 good ones.

I’m not “better off” without my best friend of 18 years. But I am going to be OK.  I guess.  That’s what they say anyway.  I can live without her, if I have to.  I am a better person than I was 5 months ago. I am a better dad. I am a better housekeeper. I am a better cook. I am a better shopper. I am a better money-manager. I am independent. I’m more in love with Minnie today than I ever have been.  I’ve never felt so incomplete.  I miss her every day.

I’m also in mourning. I’ve lost the person that meant the most to me. I lost my best friend. They say it is worse than a death because you have to see the loved one over and over again.

And that’s pretty much where I am. A divorced, broken man. I am trying not to let it become my identity.  I am becoming closer to God. Holding out for a miracle. Trying to manage the overwhelming pain. Trying to be transformed into a better person, for me, for God, for my boys, but especially for my bride. And learning to move on.

But not move on too fast or too far.  I haven’t changed my Facebook status yet.  Facebook automatically deleted the “married to…” part and just changed it to “married”.  The truth is that in my heart I will always be Minnie’s husband.  I love her.  I know that sounds so cliche at best and stalkerish at worst.  I am letting her walk away.  I’m going to move on as best I can.

“Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning”  (Lamentations 5:15).

Thank you to all who have prayed with me and for me.

My 3 Words for 2012

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year resolutions.  I’ve made some in the past and I’ve broken most.  Last year was pretty good.

I’ve been following Chris Brogan’s blog.  Chris Brogan writes:

Every year since around 2006, I’ve been challenging people to forego the idea of a resolution, and instead, to come up with 3 words that will help you define your goals and experiences for the coming year. Resolutions are often too vague, or too directed towards one goal. It might be “quit smoking” or “lose 20 pounds” or “get hired.” These are all fine aspirations, but I challenge you to dig deeper, to find three words that could be used as lighthouses to guide you through stormy seas, that can be used as flags on the battlefield of your challenges, words that will bolster you and give you a direction that goes beyond the goals you might attach as a result of these words.

Relationships – I will strengthen relationships in 2012.  Most of us have relationships in our lives that are broken or unhealthy that need to be fixed and improved.  I am no exception.  I’m sure there are many, but 4 such relationships come to mind:  my relationship with God, my relationship with my wife and my relationship with my twins, Kaleb & Keegan.  2011 was a year of challenge, struggle and disappointment for me personally.  Bad choices, responding in anger, communicating poorly.  Not just by me.  The Wienerdogs Indecent,  getting in trouble at school, a joy ride that lead to totaling mom’s car.  But that was last year.   These relationships are the most important in my life and I plan to seek reconciliation, peace, healthiness and intimacy.  I only have a few more years with my twins before they become independent, young men and leave home.

Believe it or not, I do have healthy relationships in my life.  My relationship with my little people, Calvin & Corbin, come to mind, relationships with friends and co-workers, and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

These relationships are my life support group.  When the challenges of life happen it is relationships that get us through.  I plan to mend the relationships that need fixing and continue to strengthen the healthy relationships.

Regimen – I will create a plan and stick to it in 2012.  A regimen is defined as a systematic plan. Regimens are what I hope to use to achieve my goals.  I plan to read the Bible more consistently, to pray, to spend time with my family.

Regimen is also a synonym of diet. If I were to make one traditional resolution this year it would be to lose weight.  I’m not sure what I am going to do just yet, but I am gonna do something.

Intentionality – I will be intentional in 2012.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of being intentional.  If one does not perform regular maintenance or take the time to make proper preparations or plan for the future then they’re setting themselves up for trouble.  It is an obvious life-lesson that many, many people overlook or ignore.  You can’t just sit back and hope things will all work out.  You have to be proactive.  You have to have a focus.  You have to be intentional.  And do it in all aspects of life.

Which means that I will need to be a little more specific about my regimens.

As with life, this is a work in progress, in process.  I’m just beginning to work on it, but at least I’m working on it.

-Derin-

Relationships

Getting Old Sucks: Relaying the Message

I look around me and I see old people!  Everywhere I look!  Oh wait, that’s the mirror.  But that’s not me.  That’s some old dude.  Some middle-aged old man.  It can’t be me.

I’m sure our parents and grand parents and other adult friends all feebly explained to us mindless younglings about the weirdness of aging and the meaning of life.  I’m sure we listened politely and nodded while they droned on and on and while we tried to focus and look interested.  And off our minds went while they jabbered on about whatever.  But let’s be honest, they were the OLD PEOPLE!  Dumb old people at that.  Why weren’t they smarter?  They’d lived 1000 years!  How could we possibly relate to these ancients?

Answer:  Wait 20 years.

It is just weird getting old.  It is awkward.  It is frustrating.  It is mind-blowing.

I mean I don’t feel old, I don’t think of myself as old, I don’t act old.  Well, I probably act old, but I don’t intentionally do “old person” stuff.  But guess what?  I’M OLD.  News flash:  you’re old too.  I have a different face, body and hair.  I still have hair but it is quickly turning gray and retreating!

I tell myself that if I could go back with my brain that I would do SO many things differently!  Make better decisions.  Live more fully.  Love life to the fullest.  Treat people better.  Stay in touch.  Learn more.  Take more risks.  Because I’d know what is really important and I’d know what really matters. But you can’t go back.

But, you can try to relay the message to a generation who can learn something from our mistakes and regrets!  So I turn to my twins who are quickly approaching manhood and I get real serious and quiet and I begin to share all these secrets of life.  I’m old, I don’t feel old, but I am, listen to my experience!  I begin to divulge all this profound and amazing gems of information.  “Listen to me sons of mine and you will be happy, you will be successful, you can know what REALLY matters and what it is really like!  You will avoid the pitfalls of life.  You will take chances and live life to the fullest!  You will have healthy relationships.  Here comes the good stuff!”

And my kids, my offspring, my blood, my babies,  they give me this look.  It is a familiar look!  I KNOW THAT LOOK!  And then it hits me:  It is the same look I gave those old folks that were trying to explain all those things that went in one ear and out the other.  And they smile and they nod. And their eyes are unfocussed.  And they are looking into space.  Are they comprehending what I am saying?  Can they even hear me?  Are they even paying attention at all?

And I stop in mid sentence, in the middle of the most important thing they can ever hear.  And I pause.  And my mouth closes.  And I smile as I give up and say, “I can help you if you can just comprehend what I am saying.”

But they can’t, they haven’t lived long enough yet.  And it makes me sad.  And it makes me love them all the more.

Getting Old Sucks: 20-Year High School Reunion

It has been 20 years since I graduated from high school.  Twenty years.  1991-2011. Two decades. It sure doesn’t seem like that long ago.  It really does feel like yesterday.  But on paper it is a lifetime ago.  How do you measure 20 years?

Married with Children

Married with Children

  • Shortly after HS graduation I had my heart brutally broken!  Thanks for that.  Welcome to the journey to adulthood.
  • I started and completed college!  I squeezed a 4-year degree into 5 1/2 years!  That takes talent.
  • I’ve become a husband.  I have been happily married (to the same woman) for over 17 years.  17 of the past 20 years.
  • I’ve become a father.  I have 4 boys.  I have twins who are 15 and who are working at the cafeteria of the college I graduated from.  Weird.  They’re like little adults.  How did that happen so fast?
  • I have built a career.  I have had over 10 different jobs, but only one career.  Even though my career has been in the same building for the past 10 plus years, the company has changed names 3 times.  I’ve moved floors 4 times.
  • I’ve lived in 6 different cities in 3 different states.
  • I’ve gained over 100 pounds!  BUT I was too skinny when I left HS.  BUT now I am overweight!  BUT I’m on a diet.
  • I’ve lost contact with old friends, gained new friends,  and have reconnected with many of those old friends!  (Thank you Facebook)
  • I’ve lost a parent.

Why all the talk of the past 20 years?  Well, because my 20-year high school reunion is in a couple of months and there is chatter on the web and Facebook.

Derin

The Start of Something New or “Diet” is a Four-Letter Word

You may remember the 3 dreaded items on my New-Years Resolutions List that were pretty much untouched:

  • #3:  Lose a little weight
  • #4:  Eat a little healthier
  • #7:  Walk more with my wife

They go hand-in-hand right?  Well, I am FINALLY starting a diet.  I asked my doctor for some magical pills to help me lose weight and she prescribed Phentermine.  Remember Phen-Fen?  Phentermine is the safer ingredient.  Even though my doctor was quick to write the prescription she was also just as quick to say that I needed to eat right and exercise-or it simply won’t work.

I didn’t drop off the prescription right away.  I wanted to research it a bit.  However, my wife, who has lost 45 pounds and was VERY excited at the prospect of me losing weight, dropped it off for me.

I didn’t pick up the prescription right away.  I really like food.  But, I finally picked it up on Saturday, April 9th.  And I did do some research.  It is best to only use the drug for a couple of months and to eat right and to exercise.

I didn’t take the prescription right away.  OK, I waited a couple of days.

I popped my first diet pill April 11th, Monday morning.  I had a banana for breakfast.  I had a BUMBLE BEE® Lunch on the Run™ Tuna Salad – Complete Lunch Kit for lunch and I had another banana and apple for a snack later.

No matter how you look at it there are expenses involved in dieting.  Diet Pills aren’t $5.00 at Wally World.  Nice, neatly packaged diet food is gonna cost you.  If you buy all that you need and prepare it and put it together yourself then it is gonna cost less money, but it is gonna cost you in time-time it takes to shop and time it takes to prepare.  Walking takes time.  Planning takes time.  Fine.

I’ve been looking for ways that will help me diet.  Hopefully the pills will help motivate and produce some immediate success.  My wife is pretty exciting and is definitely trying to motivate me.

I have created an entire Android “scene” for my HTC Evo simply named “Diet”.  I have downloaded a bunch of diet applications.  One I am seriously considering is the Diet2go Android App.  It lists many, many different short term (1-8-day) diets, details what to eat for each meal and snack and even produces a handy dandy shopping list.

I am starting my third week and I have been pretty good.  I am eating better, taking the pills during the week and skipping the weekend to get sleep!  A very noticeable side-effect is loss of sleep.  I feel more awake most of the time, not jittery though.  And I feel less hungry!  That is great!

I have lost a few pounds, and I am eating healthier (#3 & #4 check) but more than anything it is a start.  I have walked around the block with my wife once-about 2 miles.  I will add walking more permanently soon.  When I start walking with my wife I plan to try out the CardioTrainer app.  I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: New Year’s Resolution: 2011 Edition

Day 2/365 - New Years Resolution

Ugh. Not yet.

New Years Resolution #1:  Spend less time on Farmville
I have not played Farmville yet this year, nor have I replaced it with Wizard 101!  Woo hoo!

New Years Resolution #2:  Finish getting CISSP Certified
My paperwork was verified.  I can officially add CISSP behind my name!  All I am waiting on now is to receive the actual certificate in the mail!  YAY!

New Years Resolution #3:  Lose a little weight
Ugh.  Not yet.

New Years Resolution #4:  Eat a little healthier
I really like food.  I won’t admit to being addicted, but I do have an emotional attachment.

New Years Resolution #5:  Spend more time with my boys
Apparently 15-year old boys do not wish to spend time with their dad.  HOWEVER, they do wish to gain driving experience.  Power to the dad!  We have also talked about driving around and finding geocaches (look it up).

New Years Resolution #6:  Read more with my wife
I read one book this year.  Maybe that should count as resolution resolved.

New Years Resolution #7:  Walk more with my wife
The year is still young-ish.

New Years Resolution #8:  Photoshoot at least once a month
This is an easy one that I am failing to do.  But boss also wishes to do this more, so I think this will be on track shortly.  I missed a great chance at Gardner lake when it was still mostly frozen over-a gaggle of geese!  It was pretty cool.  Seize the day people!

New Years Resolution #9:  Blog at least twice a month
How many spaces after the period ending a sentence?  WRONG, only one?  What the heck?  Yeah, I’m not unlearning this one easily.

New Years Resolution #10: Take up a hobby
More like hobbies, plural.  Photography, security (CISSP CPEs-continuing education), social media management, learning more web page coding (SEO, connecting to a database, shopping cart) blogging.

UPDATE: New Year’s Resolution: 2011 Edition

New Years Resolution #1:  Spend less time on Farmville
I have not played Farmville yet this year, nor have I replaced it with Wizard 101 (yet).

New Years Resolution #6:  Read more with my wife
I finished OSC’s Pathfinder and hope to start OSC’s Hidden Empire next.

New Years Resolution #8:  Photoshoot at least once a month
I have taken a couple of photoshoot field trips with my boss.  I have taken a few pics at Erie Miller Nature Park, Shawnee Mission Park, & the Mahhaffie Farmstead.

New Years Resolution #9:  Blog at least twice a month
Check, and I started 4 new blogs to promote the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild.

New Years Resolution #10: Take up a hobby
It seems I am deciding on Social Media Management.

New Year’s Resolution: 2011 Edition

I have never been a fan of New Year resolutions.  I have never consciously made, kept and resolved a New Year’s resolution.  Having said that its good to have goals.

  • New Years Resolution #1:  Spend less time on Farmville
  • New Years Resolution #2:  Finish getting CISSP Certified
  • New Years Resolution #3:  Lose a little weight
  • New Years Resolution #4:  Eat a little healthier
  • New Years Resolution #5:  Spend more time with my boys
  • New Years Resolution #6:  Read more with my wife
  • New Years Resolution #7:  Walk more with my wife
  • New Years Resolution #8:  Photoshoot at least once a month
  • New Years Resolution #9:  Blog at least twice a month
  • New Years Resolution #10: Take up a hobby
    FarmVille
    FarmLess

New Years Resolution #1:  Spend less time on Farmville
I wasted way too much time on Facebook’s Farmville last year.  Yeah, I have over 3 million dollars, the largest farm you can get and lots of everything, it is time to move on from the farming version of hunting and gathering.  Of course my end goal is to waste less time, but I am already testing the waters out on Wizard 101.

New Years Resolution #2:  Finish getting CISSP Certified
The hardest part in becoming CISSP certified is over, I passed that blankety, blank exam.  But now I have to jump through a few more hoops.  One is getting my resume updated and detailed to ISC2’s standard.  I am also gonna strive to put together a total of 4 resumes-biographical, technical, project managerial and managerial.   I have always liked playing with different resume styles and layouts.

Healthy Choice Logo
Be Healthier

New Years Resolution #3:  Lose a little weight
I can easily stand to lose 100 pounds, but I also am thinking realistic.  So here goes, the goal:  25-50 pounds.

New Years Resolution #4:  Eat a little healthier
One of the ways I plan to lose 25-50 pounds is to use an (free) Android phone app I got that offers different 3-7-day diets, complete with shopping lists.  I thought that might be a cool and tastey method, instead of holding to just one, long diet.  Another method I may try is just counting calories.  And doing some exercise, maybe with the Wii Fit.

New Years Resolution #5:  Spend more time with my boys
My twins will be 15 in a couple of weeks-they are freshmen in high school, weird.  The time just flies.  I wanted to do so much with them.  I wanted to build them a tree house.  I wanted to have long talks about life lessons.  Play more video games.  Teach them how to drive.  Have deep theological and philosophical discussions with them.  Of course there is still time, but it involves being extremely intentional.

Cover of "Ender's Game (Ender Quartet)"

Read More

New Years Resolution #6:  Read more with my wife
Check.  Minnie gave me a copy of Orson Scott Card’s new book, Pathfinder, for Christmas, I am on page 596 of 662.  Awesome book, by the way.  I just LOVE OSC (start off with Ender’s Game, go, NOW!).  I will do my best to offer reviews as I check the books off the list.

New Years Resolution #7:  Walk more with my wife
I dread thinking about this one.  I have never been a walker.  I hate the cold.  But, I like the idea of spending quality time with my wife doing something that will be healthy for both of us.  I am also gonna use my Android phone to track miles and calories burned, I love technology!  I love my phone!

New Years Resolution #8:  Photoshoot at least once a month
I have this really great digital camera, a Canon G10.  It has all these dials and settings and it is just a great camera.  It is what professionals use when they just want a simple camera and not a huge, top-of-the-line professional camera to lug around.  And most of the time I have the settings on “auto”.  I’d like to change the settings,  but I don’t know what they mean!  I’d like to learn more about photography and take more cool pics.  I also have this cool phone, have I mentioned that, that makes sharing pics extremely easy.  I also would like to post a video or 2 on Youtube!  I may use MS’s Movie Maker!  Ironically there are tons of youtube videos that teach you how to make youtube videos with Movie Maker.  Come on, that’s just cool.

New Years Resolution #9:  Blog at least twice a month
Check.  If I am not posting here it is because I am posting here:  http://inchdeepmilewide.wordpress.com/ I plan to use this blog to hold myself accountable.

New Years Resolution #10: Take up a hobby
I am hopefully setting myself up for success for this one.  Photography is one, security is another, but I am also getting roped into acting as a social media manager for a woodworking guild, so that may include the learning of what it means to be a social media manager as well as working with wood!  Win-win! 

Powered by ScribeFire.

I Believe in EVOlution

It is time to come clean, come out, shout to the heavens.  It has been awhile since I’ve known and I just can’t keep it to myself anymore.  There are folks who have certain preferences and I have recently switched mine.  So here goes.

Of course I am talking about my new Sprint 4G HTC EVO Android phone.  Duh.  I’ve had the phone for about 2 weeks now.  Here is a quick summary:  BEST.  PHONE.  EVER.  PERIOD.  OK, thanks for reading.  Until next time, drive safe, good night, kiss the kids.

More?  OK, you got it.  There is a lot of info, I tried to put it in chunks for you.

Why Such a Fancy Phone?
I am all about taking full advantage of technology that I have access to.  I don’t

I want to use the phone for good!

want to have a super cool phone just to show it off or as a status symbol.  I want to be more productive, better informed, entertained, I want it to do my laundry, and cook etc.  The days of using a mobile phone primarily for verbal conversations are over.  Heck, one-on-one communication isn’t the only thing phones can do, they can take pictures, offer GPS navigation and weather conditions for traveling (not to mention flight and traffic info), even take your heart rate, yep, I’ll get to that in a bit.

Image representing HTC as depicted in CrunchBase

HTC makes great phones.

Switching to the Other Team
I have had a Windows-based Pocket PC phone for years, starting with the PPC 6700 (Qualcomm/UTCStarcom who became HTC) and upgraded to the PPC 6800 (Sprint’s HTC Mogul).  HTC makes great phones.   The new Microsoft Windows Mobile 7.0 is coming out soon; I heard it can sync to XBOX Live, which is kinda cool I guess.  It was a pretty big decision for me to switch from Windows Mobile to Android.  Another switch:  No slide-out keyboard!  I was really worried about giving up a slide-out keyboard, so far it has been pretty good, I changed to a different keyboard program, and I am getting used to it.  I miss it, but I’m adapting. 

The Basics
The HTC EVO Android is a communication powerhouse.  Phone calls, text messaging, and email are the bare basics of any modern phone.  The Evo does all those things perfectly, but then steps it up.  The biggest complaint my wife and boss have about the Palm Pre is that it is difficult to make a call.  In the Evo, phone calls are extremely easy to make.  Contacts automatically integrate with social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.  For instance, any of my contacts that were missing pictures acquires the Facebook pic (keys in on matching email address).  It logically combines contact databases from any email account you set up.  Text messaging is a breeze with the on-screen keyboard.  All of this is pretty basic to most modern smart phones.

EVO Evolution
EVO and Android 2.2 Froyo OS is definitely the next evolution in smart phones.  The EVO is the first 4G phone on the market.  HTC has the largest screen on the market (4.3 inches) that some folks may find too big, I love it.  The EVO comes with a front-facing and back-facing camera, that’s right, 2 cameras; only a handful of phones have this-They can be used to video chat with Skype or Qik. The cameras can also be used as a webcam (although I am still working n that).  Although tethering  (Internet through the phone’s data connection) isn’t new the EVO phone will wirelessly tether and serve as a WiFi hotspot (for free if you root the phone).  Android takes a very clever approach to profiles called “scenes”.  Just like you can have profiles on a computer where the icons and backgrounds look and feel completely different, HTC uses scenes.  Say you want to configure your phone so that when you turn it on it has nothing but news and weather apps and widgets or just game apps and widgets, then just create different customizable scenes.  Another cool thing that is unique to the Evo, it has a kick stand that allows the phone to be propped up-in case you just want to stare in awe at the awesomeness of the Evo or I suppose you can watch movies.

Oh Em Gee (Goodness)
The Evo and Android have many super cool things that will make your jaw drop:  pictures, videos, social networking, GPS Navigation, flashlight, FM radio.  The Evo will wirelessly stream HD content to a compatible big-screen TV over WiFi-that’s cool!  One of the first things that I used the phone for was to read QR Codes. QR Codes use a technology that is just taking off:  A QR Code is a bar code that can be scanned using your camera phone and a QR Code Reader (free software installed on phone). You can easily create QR codes that when scanned takes you to a website or movie or asks you if you want to add a contact or displays text or adds a calendar event to your phone and more.  Bar-code readers can also be used to scan products off the shelf at a store to find the cheapest local pricing.  Here are what QR codes look like:

More info:  http://blog.purevisibility.com/2010/03/mobile_marketing_and_how_to_make_the_barcode_hip_again/
Here are a couple of QR Code generator sites:  http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/ & http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

Proprietary vs. Open-Source Software
I gave up my Windows Mobile phone for the Android-based Evo.  There are other smart phone platforms out there.  Blackberrys or “crackberry’s” have come a long way and are becoming an internationally used phone and are great for business use.  My wife and boss have the Palm Pre that is always connected to the Internet and constantly keeping you up-to-date.  But really, in the smart phone arena Android and iPhone are the 2 major competitors right now fighting for dominance.  The biggest fundamental difference between the iPhone OS (operating system) and the Android OS is the concept of open-source verses proprietary.  The iPhone (and the mobile OS for Mindows Mobile, Blackberry & Palm Pre) uses a proprietary or closed OS; they don’t share their precious source code and they make the public pay to use their software that they worked long and hard to create.  By contrast, Android takes the Unix and Linux approach-the open-source approach:  Make the source code freely available, let anyone develop software, let anyone improve on what has been created before.  If you find a flaw, there is a community to report it to, a community to collaborate with to fix it, and a community to share the results, everyone wins.  Successful example:  Ubantu for Linux.

There’s an Evo App for That
I have a couple of co-workers who have the iPhone AND THEY LOVE IT and are fiercely loyal to Apple (something that Apple has done EXTREMELY well).  And I can understand why, the iPhone looks great, functions VERY intuitively and hey, there really is an app for everything.  Say you’re at a restaurant and you can’t quite remember the name or artist of a song that’s playing overhead, hold your iPhone up and it will listen and give you the info…an app for everything.  Although it is true that there are more apps for the iPhone than there are for Android, keep in mind that the iPhone has had a couple of years head start.  One thing that the Evo will do that the iPhone will not:  Wirelessly sync to iTunes.  Again, the Apple iPhone OS is an example of a closed or proprietary operating system.  If you are a software developer and you want to make an app for the iPhone (or Microsoft Mobile, Blackberry, Palm Pre) first you are only going to have limited access to how the operating system works and second EVERY app has to go through an approval process for the app to be added to iTunes for “legal” distribution.  The Android OS is completely open, transparent and available.  This means that the source code to the OS is not only completely available, it is also free, I easily found the Software Development Kit and found instructions that encourage you to root the phone!  So anyone, anywhere can create an app.  And the USER community decides if it is useful, if it is safe, if it works well, etc.  I have some pretty awesome applications.  I am addicted to the game, Robo Defense.  Here is a short list of other (free) apps worth mentioning:

  • The Weather Channel (Pulls updates from the Internet)
  • Compass & Leveler
  • KeePass for Android (Password keeper)
  • Pandora (Streaming Internet Radio)
  • SkyFire (Internet browser)
  • Youtube, Google, Facebook
  • Barcode Scanner (uses camera to scan bar codes and QR Codes)
  • Navigator (uses GPS to verbally communicate directions)
  • Instant Heart Rate (Uses the camera and measures oxygen saturation change in your blood.  How cool is that?)

Geeky Stats (Deep Breath, There’s Lots)

  • 4.3-inch Touchscreen WVGA (800×480) 65K colors
  • 1 GHz Snapdragon™ processor
  • Access to 4G speeds that are up to 10x faster than 3G
  • Android™ 2.2
  • Dual cameras (8.0 Megapixels on back 1.3 on the front)
  • 3.5mm stereo headset jack
  • Capture and share HD-quality video (720p)
  • Live video sharing with Qik
  • Mobile Hotspot capable
  • Sprint TV®
  • GPS Navigation enabled
  • Digital compass (proximity and motion sensors)
  • HDMI port
  • Web browsing capable
  • Email capable
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR
  • Expandable memory: 8GB microSD card included; supports up to 32GB
  • Voice activated dialing
  • Built-in kickstand for hands-free viewing
  • Supports multiple simultaneous users
  • Dimensions: 4.8″ x 2.6″ x .5″ (LxWxT)
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Standard removable 1500mAh Lithium (Li-on) battery
  • Memory: 1GB ROM, 512MB RAM

More pics:  http://now.sprint.com/firsts/evo4g/#/gallery/

Accessories
The Evo comes with a 8GB micro SD card; a bigger card can be used.  It comes with a mini USB cable that plugs into a wall charger.  I have an Otter Box protective shell that the Sprint store sold me,  I love it has a rubber inside and a plastic shell on the outside.  AND it comes with a screen protector.  I have yet to get a carrying case.  A headset or earbuds are needed for the FM radio.

The Bad

There are a few legitimate criticisms.  The battery life is terrible-I have to charge it whenever I am near an outlet, however, unlike the iPhone, the battery is replaceable and there is an extended battery available.  Battery life is MUCH better if you turn off all the extra networks and kill the programs that run in the background.  Although Android 2.1 offered a fix, Android 2.2 Froyo cannot play .wav files (yet), yeah, I don’t get it either.  Some say it is too big, (guffaw) I say there is no such thing!  The 8GB Micro SD card is under the freaking battery…so you have to take the phone out of the case, carefully pry the back off, dig out the battery, unlock the card (whew) and finally pull out the micro SD card.  It is also fair to mention that my boss’s boss is on his 3rd phone, but I keep asking around and that is definitely not the norm.

In Touch with your Inner Geek
Lastly it is worth mentioning that the Android is completely customizable.  This appeals to many user’s inner Geek.  I have mentioned rooting and this is something that advanced users love.  It is sorta like jailbreaking, except it is totally acceptable, folks just need to be more of an advanced user to understand the implications.  If you want to delete apps that come “standard” with the phone you can.  I have already found some ROM sites.  A ROM is a customized “loadset” or image for the phone.  There are tons of advanced geeky stuff that can be done with Android 2.2.  I never thought I’d give up Windows Mobile and a slide-out keyboard, but I’m sure glad I did.  It is the best phone I have ever owned.  It is big enough to not need a slide-out keyboard.  I constantly had to reset my Windows Mobile phone, I have yet to reset my Evo.  Many people won’t be able to handle the full awesomeness of the HTC Evo and Android 2.2-the combination of the hardware and software is a perfect marriage.  The Evo is a HUGE home run for Sprint.

-Derin-

More useful links:

Powered by ScribeFire.

I hope to write more about QR codes in the near future…Stay tuned!

My First High School Football Game

I went to my first high school football game last night.  My twins and I went to the Gardner Edgerton vs. Blue Valley West football game.

A Highschool American Football game

My first high school football game ever.

Catch that:  It was my first high school football game ever.  Yep, ever.

Here comes the understatement:  I hated my high school experience.  It was just…awful and painful.  I wasn’t popular, I wasn’t a jock, I wasn’t a brain, I wasn’t part of the drama club or chorus, I wasn’t an AV nerd, I wasn’t in the chess club.  I wasn’t in to art, cars, pep, hemp, computers, yearbook, newsletter, video games, math, meth, smokes, goth, debate, (deep breath), shop, science, government, cheer, beer, steer (ha, cowboy), dance, history…or anything else high school-related.  I never supported my high school’s sport teams.  Go Cougars, yeah, whatever.

What was I into?  I was into God.  A church geek, a Bible thumper, a Jesus freak, a righteous rocker, a religious retard.  OK, maybe that last one was overstating it a bit.  Although it wasn’t a clique, it was still a persecuted and discriminated group (of one?)  to be in.  I was alienated and ostracized.  I admit I brought some of it on myself.  I didn’t have a lot of friends in high school, but I did have a few close buddies.

My high-school years weren’t all bad, like I said, I was a church geek.  When I was at church with my youth-group friends life was perfect.  Our youth group was full of kids, it usually had 30 to 50 teens from several different high schools!  I had friends who looked up to me, friends who loved me and took care of me, friends who helped me grow up, friends who are still the best people in my life.   And leaders that cared about many different aspects of my life.  At church I was popular.  At church I was a drama and chorus geek!  That’s right, I sang and acted-at church!  Heck, I even skateboarded, that counts as a sport right?

My high school years are far, far behind me, but my twins’ high school years have just begun. Four fresh years ahead.   I was very impressed with the “meet the teachers’ night” message and presentations.  There are so many opportunities for students to be successful and prepare for life and college.  And I really want my twins to have better opportunities than me.  A college education without college loans would be a great start.  In addition, an education that develops marketable skills that keep their interest that allow them to give their family better opportunities would be…well, perfect.

Christ is still a most important part of our lives.  We are attending a different Nazarene church that has a thriving youth group.  The twins are making friends, volunteering and hopefully developing a relationship with Christ.

We thought that high school football games would be something we could do together.

My first-ever high school football game was everything I expected it to be, lots of loud rivalry, colorful team spirit, disrespectful kids and, foul-mouthed adults.  I felt incredibly out of place.  But the twins got to hang out and make new friends and fit in.

The #8 Jags fell to the #2 Trailblazers 49-7.

TED Talk: Seth Priebatsch: The game layer on top of the world



How I Feel About Swear Words, Goshdarnit.

There is a fine balance, maybe even an art, between professional, appropriate language and emotional, culturally relevant vernacular that communicates with force and clarity. And, heck, sometimes swearing at inappropriate or odd times is funny, it just is!

Parental Advisory: Explicit Semantics!

I swear entirely too much. Most of the time it is when no one is around or when it is somewhat appropriate but totally shocking to hear from me so the attempt is at humor. And sometimes it is with my family when I am mad, frustrated or in a heated argument. When I am around people who I know don’t swear or don’t believe in it I check myself and when I am around people who do swear, I tend to swear more. I suppose it is a bit hypocritical.

I used to take the stand that swear words were totally wrong and unchristian. Although that is mostly true, there are many times in the Bible where a case can be made that the speaker is using the equivalent of swear words-yep, Jesus and Paul cussed! Or at least used very colorful language.

On one hand swear words have become a very common practice within the cultural vernacular. OMG and WTF are used with very little thought-I’m sure because they are abbreviations and the actual inappropriate swear word isn’t spelled out, and therefore much more acceptable. And on the other hand it is an indication that one needs to expand their vocabulary and improve their articulation skills. Some people swear because they just don’t know what better words to use. However, sometimes (on the third hand?) there isn’t a better word to use than an ugly, jarring swear word.

My friend Joe H. made up a swear word! That’s right, he created a brand new vocabulary word! Frell. He says that although some people may assume that it is a combination of a couple of different swear words or assume that he can’t make up his mind as to what swear word he is trying to get his brain to process, that it really doesn’t mean anything but sounds awesome! I mean what the frell?! yeah, I like it.

Powered by Plinky

Security Software Review: KeePass Password Safe

Remember when you used to have passwords Post-It noted to your monitor?  Then you got all stealth and hid the sticky notes under your mouse pad?  Then graduated to a notebook locked up in a drawer?  And finally to a spreadsheet that has very little protection other than you have to hunt all over for it when you really need it?  Yeah, been there!  But that was “so 2009”.  We all struggle with password management, but I found an end-all, multi-security-layered solution:  KeePass Password Safe.

So here are the basic features, KeePass is FREE.  It is Open Source and OSI certified.  It is portable so it can be installed on a flash drive.  It uses real security-AES, Rijndael and the Twofish algorithms-to encrypt its password databases.  SHA-256 is used as password hash.  It has an auto-type feature.  It auto locks after a few minutes.  And it has a password generator feature!  Throw this all together and it is pretty sweet!

I installed the portable version on a USB drive and I used double authentication right away.  The program requires a master password (or one per database) and you can also create an encrypted file for the program to authenticate against.  I keep this key file on a different USB drive.  So already one must have both USB drives to use the program, a hacker would  have to brute-force the password and then figure out where the key file is to make the program usable.  I also saved a backup of the database and key file to a third USB drive that does not have the KeePass program on it.  Layered security.

First I simply added a few existing accounts to KeePass.  I use IE & Firefox at work.  I use tabs in each browser and have specific tabs open everyday in each browser.  Some are company Intranet pages and some are Internet websites.  You have to build your database in KeePass, but once you do it is very easy to use, once your mouse is at the login prompt you type a few keys (Ctrl+alt+whatever) and KeePass fires off its auto-login feature, login, tab, password, enter!  And Wham, you are logged in!  The script is customizable as well.  KeePass uses the title of the page to determine what account it should use.  KeePass also works with programs.

Have multiple Facebook accounts (hey, sometimes I just feel like a 14 year-old girl)?  No problem, highlight the account in KeePass and type Ctrl+C and the login and pass for the individual account is automatically used.  (I was kidding about the 14-year-old girl thing…really…)

I was one of the suckers who had a RockYou.com account that got hacked (I used to use it to store eBay pics)  And yep, the login and pass I used was pretty much the same one I used for everything!  To their credit they sent out several emails letting their users know what happened.  About this time I was testing the waters with KeePass, so I decided to step things up a bit.  I used the password-generator feature to not only create a password that was random, but it was whatever length I chose, and I had the option of mixing uppercase, lowercase, digits, underline, minus, space, special, brackets and even high ASCII characters!  How is this for ugly: Ì?:-Ôð?µg¤É;³$®7u?z??Êi¦×á_?Ñ? Or this:  붐>aG»q ?ÜT?ú-©Îç mvÀ/Reí$D?  So now I have a randomly-generated password that is ugly that I couldn’t remember it if I wanted to!  PERFECT!   KeePass saves the password as asterisks, but you can toggle to plain text if you actually wish to see the password.

The next step was to use the program as I signed up for new accounts, spideroak.com, snapfish.com, animoto.com, etc.  Yeah, I’ve been messing around with online storage and picture sharing lately, but I digress.  I don’t know the passwords to any of these new sites!  But I feel secure that they are safe in KeePass!

A bonus is that you start to get a feel for how secure websites really are.  Picturetrail.com limits passwords to 6 characters and only alphanumeric.  But zumodrive.com allows 20-characters and I was able to add brackets and special characters.

Lifehacker.com likes KeePass and wrote this article about KeePass plug-ins.

OK, yep, if I lose the USB drives I am kinda screwed-they are all on the same keyring (not smart).  But only until I get the backup db and file (maybe from a file sharing site?  Yes, after I use the “forgot password” button) and download the program again.  But then I will actually have a neat list of all the passwords that need to be changed, plus a password-generator to assist!

I encourage you to check out KeePass, ease into it and then THINK LAYERED SECURITY!

New Journey and New Blog

I am staring a new journey, so I created a new blog, it just sounded like the right thing to do!

My Boss is asking me to study and pass the CISSP exam.  He is paying for me to take the exam too.  The CISSP certification is a pretty big deal.  It will mean more pay in the long run.  It is every bit as valuable as a 4-year degree.  Three team members in my network security group studied and passed the CISSP exam already.  One was my boss.  I have 10 weeks to prepare.  One week is already over.  To show my commitment, I quit my second job.  Yeah, I know right?

Read more about it here:  http://inchdeepmilewide.wordpress.com/

-Durk-

Plan B

I love listening to NPR’s This American Life.  Here is an expert from an episode I recently listened to entitled Plan B:

There’s the thing you plan to do, and then there’s the thing you end up doing. Most of us start off our lives with some Plan A which we abandon…switching to a Plan B, which becomes our life.

I had a Plan A a very long time ago.  I am not only on Plan B, but C, D and maybe even E, F & G.

My Plan A did NOT include:

  • Working for a local telephone company
  • Having to work a second job
  • Constant and persistent collection calls from the student loan folks
  • Renting instead of buying
  • Having my check garnished

Derin

Chad Miller – Losing a Friend

Chad Miller and his brother Chris were kayaking last week on a swollen Brandywine Creek in PA when they went over a 4-ft dam and drowned.  They found Chris’ body the same day, and found Chad’s body a few days later.  It is a great loss.  Chad was a dear friend from my teenage years.  We were in the same youth group at Oakland Church of the Nazarene in Cedar Rapids, IA.  I haven’t talked to him face-to-face in over 15 years and still the loss is great.  It is also a milestone of sorts.  Besides my grandparents and my dad, Chad is the closest loss that I have yet to experience.  It is a milestone I wish I would have never reached.

There are quite a few links to news stories about the accident and links to memorials, but here is a short list:

Oakland Church had a huge youth group.  Karen Phillips was the youth pastor.  Her dad, Gene Phillips, was the Sr. Pastor.  Tom Darland was my Sunday School teacher and is the current youth pastor.  We must have had 75-125 kids go through the youth group during my jr. high and sr. high years.  At any one time the group was about 30-40 teens.  We were a very close-knit family of friends.  We took the church and youth group extremely serious.  We met Sunday mornings, evenings and Wednesday nights-basically whenever the church doors were open.  There were about a half dozen high schools in the area that had kids that met in our youth group.  The youth group was everything to me.  I had a few close friends at school, but for the most part I was a nobody, a social outcast, a bit of a religious geek.  And I didn’t care much about the social scene there.  But at youth group, well that was different!  I had friends, many, many friends.  I was popular.  I was a leader.  I made life-long friends.  We went on youth and mission trips, choir tours and service projects.  Youth group was my life.  Life was good.  And Chad was a big part of that.

I first became friends with Chad very shortly after he joined the youth group.  We found out that we shared a love for Bill Cosby’s old stand up records!  We recited entire sketches together, laughing our butts off!  That was the beginning our our friendship.

Everyone in the youth group loved Chad.  He was smart, funny and crazy!  Even though Chad was a year behind me, we all looked up to him and wanted to be just like Chad.  He skateboarded, we skateboarded.  He did crazy things with his hair, we did crazy things to our hair!  He rebelled, we rebelled!  Chad had blue hair for a bit, and I think Kool-aid red too!  As in he used kool-aid!  I remember one mission trip to a native-American Indian reservation near Wounded Knee.  We were really roughing it, no air-conditioned houses, no running water except for a hose, no hot water.  We stayed in a couple of shacks and tents.  Chad’s sister, Amy, braided Chad’s long hair.  They were long thick braids.  One less thing for Chad to worry about.  On this trip we were able to get away to a community pool to cool off and to clean off.  So we’re standing there, Chad with his crazy hair, and we’re talking and there’s these little kids gathering around Chad and just staring at Chad’s hair.  It was like the world stopped and they were completely enamored with Chad’s head!  So Chad carried on the conversation trying to ignore the kids.  But they just stood there.  So finally Chad changed his attention to the kids-he looked at them, acknowledging them all around.  But they just stood there.  Finally Chad is making eye contact, staring back, but the kids aren’t looking at his eyes, it is that crazy hair!  Finally Chad had to say something to break their gaze and they finally scampered away!  FUNNY, FUNNY STUFF!  We laughed and laughed and laughed.

There was a graveside service and a memorial service yesterday.  I was fortunate to be able to travel up to Iowa and attend.  There were so many people there.  Mostly family-Chad came from a HUGE family.  But there were so many friends there too.  And I got to spend time with a few of them swapping stories and remembering the good ol’ days of youth.  Many laughs and many tears.

The last time I saw Chad face-to-face he seemed like he was still finding himself, still figuring out God and the church and his life.  He didn’t seem to be that close to God at the time.  I can’t tell you how thrilled and blessed I was a few years ago when I first discovered that Chad was a minister!

I miss Chad’s blue hair! I miss his huge smile! I miss his laugh. Many old friends are mourning this great loss. All the stories I read, all the articles, comments and memories, first it’s interesting because they are either from Chad’s point of view or Chris’. Chris was just the younger brother to me, but I do remember that Chad loved Chris very much.  There are many from Chad’s church that offered very kind words and fond memories.

There is a Facebook page that is dedicated to the memory of Chris and Chad.  It has been up for about a week now.  There are over 190  embers.  Most of the members have funny names with funny symbols.  Chris was a teacher at English First International teaching English and International Affairs.  All of these foreign students offering their condolences and memories.  Chris was exciting and fun.  He tried to teach them baseball!  He introduced them to marshmallows.  So there is a pic of him with a marshmallow, he looks like he is in a classroom with his students.  The marshmallow is on fire!  I don’t know if there was a Sterno there or what.  Roasting marshmallows in class with his students.  That is a love for your job right there!  I also read that he made a mean “better than sex Chocolate cake”.  One of the stories that a student tells is of one of the last classes that Chris taught, he was making a case about true love, he was explaining that he had found it.  Chris leaves a wife behind, Nicole.  Nicole and Chris made a 6-week journey down the Mississippi in a home-made boat that he and his dad, Paul, made!  That is a lust for life!

These stories are amazing and they focus on Chad or Chris.  All of the kind words, all of the remembered stories, all of the impacted lives! Chad and Chris made a real impact on their world. A positive impact. An impact for the kingdom of God. They touched lives and were loved by many. Know this: They were blessed. They blessed others. God used Chad & Chris. They lived life. With a purpose! And many, many people miss them both very much. And we are thinking and praying for all of the family.

It is faith that keeps me from falling into depression or dwelling on the sadness of the loss.  I know that one day I will see Chad again.  We’ll catch up.  We’ll recite Bill Cosby!  We’ll ponder theology.

Dear Heavenly Father, please accept Chris and Chad with open arms.  Please keep them until we arrive. Be with Amy and her family, Paul and Ellie, Nicole, extended family, close friends, students and parishioners and all who were touched by Chad and Chris’ life. Let them know that you love them. Give them your peace and your comfort that only you can give those that mourn and weep. Amen.

I am a better person for knowing Chad and the Miller Family.

Two side notes.  One regarding communication.  I was told about the tragedy from my good buddy David who pastors in Iowa-he too grew up in the youth group with Chad.  He had tried to call me but I was unavailable.  He finally broke the news to me through Facebook’s IM (instant message).  I informed our old youth pastor through Facebook email.  There is an “In loving memory…” page for Chad and Chris on Facebook.  I was able to chat with friends and let them know about the tragedy and also let them know how much I appreciated them-all through Facebook.  Also regarding the Internet I was able to track and read most of the articles from a Google search on “Chad Miller” and focusing on the Google search news tab.  There were many, many articles.  I was also able to directly email one of the reporters and share my thoughts and memories of Chad-and he even published a few thoughts.  Instant communication is amazing.  The funeral home posted a video and had a place to offer condolences.

Second is a lesson learned.  Tell your friends you love and appreciate them.  Thanks Dyanna for pointing this out and then practicing it.  Life is too short.  Don’t wait or take your friends for granted.  Yeah, it is a little sappy, but where would we be without our friends?  I’m gonna do this.  I am doing this.  I have looked up a few more friends (mostly by using Facebook-I may be a little addicted) and told them how much I love them and appreciate them and miss them and will always fondly remember the wonderful times I have had with them.

I love you guys and gals!

-Derin-

Out with the Old, In with the New

Although I did not blog a great deal this past year, I have been reading many blogs-mostly my friends’-that have challenged me and have helped me grow.  There are links to those blogs along the sides here, but a special thanks to Pastor Donnie, Pastor Monte Asbury, Joe Kumor, Joe Hays, Dave Brush & Bill Marty (also a shout out to Ben and Irene DeLong).

So here is a quick look back to 2008 and a possible peek at the future.

Looking Back at 2008

2008 was one of the fastest years for me.  It seemed to go by at light speed.  I am sure that working 2 jobs had a lot to do with it.  Minnie and the twins have been in drama classes and performances this past semester and that has also contributed to a very busy schedule.

Transportation was another issue that contributed to business as well as financial strain.  One minivan has had the engine replaced, the other had the transmission rebuilt and also had the head gasket replaced.  And now my minivan needs radiator work.  Fun times.  It is hard for us when we only have one vehicle.

It has been over a year since we entered into the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University program.  My check is being garnished to pay off student loan debt, but the amount that is being garnished doesn’t even cover the interest.  Our church now offers online tithing, and we are taking advantage of that-It isn’t even a conscious choice, tithe just automatically gets taken out of our check.  So we are regularly tithing, we feel pretty good about this.

I finally signed up with Facebook this past spring, which is likely a reason for less blogging.  I had never done any of the social networking sites, so it was all new to me.  I have been able to reconnect with friends from college, high school and even elementary school.  I joined a group dedicated to the alumni of my old youth group-that has been especially fun.  I have been able to better stay in touch with close friends and have had some relationships strengthen.  On the down side I am addicted to a couple of the games-Mob Wars in particular.  Join my mob, feed my addiction.

Daycare has been a pretty jolting change this month.  All of our children have been with the same daycare provider-so for over 12 years we have been with the same babysitter.  Earlier this month without notice, our daycare provider announced that she is closing the daycare, is divorcing her husband, moving out of her house and moving in with her lesbian friends.  Not much more to say about that.  We found a new daycare and will start in a few days.

Looking Forward

I kinda agree with my friend Dave B about not going on and on about new year resolutions.  Now having said that, Minnie wanted a Wii Fit and I found one at the very last minute.  I feel fat.  I look fat.  Heck, I probably smell, and sound fat too.  I would really like to lose weight.  Maybe I will this year.  It would be a very healthy move.

Other than that I have no major issues that I wish to address.  Notice I didn’t say that I have no major issues.  I have lots of issues.  I just wish to ignore them.

But that isn’t totally true.  I mean I am at a pretty healthy spot in my life.  Physically, spiritually, economically, relationally and emotionally I am pretty good.  Same thing for the rest of my family.  Of course there is always room to grow, to love better, to worship without barriers, to serve more, to rest more, to eat better, etc.  And I think most of the time my family is progressing on that endless journey.  Joe Kumor is our small group pastor and that has been a very healthy thing for our family.  Love you guys-had a blast ringing in the year on New Years Eve!

Kaleb and Keegan turn 13 this month.  Teenagers.  Yeah, pretty big deal.  They have been practicing their teen attitudes for awhile now.  But overall they are great kids.  They are healthy, doing well in school and have pretty good attitudes most of the time.  They have great friends and they have a zeal for life.  Not to mention that they own the Nintendo Wii and DS Lite.  Love you guys!  Remember the XBOX 360 is mine, so be good or you won’t be able to play Guitar Hero World Tour any more.  Just sayin’.

Calvin turned 5 last month and Corbin turns 3 at the end of this month.  Everyone is growing up.

And that has been the biggest awakening of all during 2008 that I can take into 2009-I am getting older.  We are all getting older.  All my boys are growing up, becoming young boys and on their way to young men.  Kaleb and Keegan will never get that tree house I promised them if we ever bought a house.  Minnie (turns 40 this year) and I are approaching *GULP* MID-LIFE.   And that just seems weird.  Is half of my life really over?  Most likely.

So I suppose that it is time for a mid-life crises.  I am open to suggestions.

-Derin-

And Who is My Neighbor

Getting Older

Here are some signs I know that I am getting older:

  • My pastor is younger than me.
  • My joints and muscles hurt.
  • My bones crack and creek.
  • My hair is turning gray.
  • My tween twins (I have tweens! That is another sign) have mobile phones (with THEIR money!).
  • I have friends younger than me who are divorced. And remarried.
  • I’m not funny. At all. I used to be. I think.
  • Girls don’t flirt with me anymore-including my wife. And when I flirt with them I’m the creepy old guy-even with my wife.
  • I used to be confident and sure of myself.
  • I used to have dreams and ambitions.
  • I get up at least once a night to use the facilities.

-Durk-

The Ups and Downs of Life

It seemed I was a mite of sediment
That waited for the bottom to ferment
So I could catch a bubble in ascent.
I rode up on one till the bubble burst,
And when that left me to sink back reversed
I was no worse off than I was at first.
I’d catch another bubble if I waited.
The thing was to get now and then elated.
—Robert Frost, In a Glass of Cider

Hoobastank -The Reason

I’m not a perfect person
There’s many things I wish I didn’t do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I’ve found out a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I’m sorry that I hurt you
It’s something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
Thats why i need you to hear

I’ve found out a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is You

and the reason is You [x3]

I’m not a perfect person
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

I’ve found out a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you

I’ve found a reason to show
A side of me you didn’t know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you

Lost Luggage-When I Grow Up I want to Be an Adult

Our past has a sneaky way of catching up with us. The truth is we all have our own baggage that we would like to permanently misplace somewhere. Throw it out, burn it, leave it behind-lost forever. Most of us deny our past, forget it, pretend like it never happened and we move on. But we don’t move on. Because we don’t know how. We get stuck. Our past effects our today.

My good friend Irene had such an experience. I appreciate her honesty and I hope she embarks on a journey of healing. But it reminded me of my own journey and my own past.

My 4 year old had a very tough time waking up this morning. I didn’t just switch topics… It turns out that even though mom and dad sent him to bed, he didn’t actually go to bed or to sleep. Instead he was caught by my twins playing in his room with his toys with the light on pretty late! Of course HIS version of the story was that our twins barged into his room, turned the lights on and woke him up.

This is what children do: They make bad decisions, they suffer unknown consequences and then they angrily blame someone else later on. But, that’s what kids do! They don’t know any better. When Calvin realizes that it feels better to be awake and happy in the morning then he’ll make better decisions at night. Or he’ll understand that he is the reason why he is cranky and whiny. But today he is 4 and he just doesn’t get it. So it is the responsibility of someone older and wiser to guide him and help him make the right decisions. Someone safe.

What happens when the influence isn’t wiser or safe? What if another guides us in the wrong direction? What if an adult hurts us? Well, then we get a whole lot of 4 year old adults running around.

I have a past too. And so does my spouse. It is ugly stuff. Abuse, hurt, pain…unhealthiness. At one time we were adult children, running around making bad decisions that hurt ourselves and others. We blamed our past and we blamed others. Because we didn’t know how to make good decisions-we just didn’t know what that looked like. We just knew the screwed up past. We had an inkling that our past wasn’t the same past as most of our friends. We hoped that the present wasn’t how things were supposed to be. But we didn’t have the maturity to make the right decisions. We become a wounded adult child. We needed help. We needed another healthy influence to help us grow up. And to help us realize that we are responsible for the choices we make today.

So some of us seek help. I spent the first several years of my marriage in various Christian self-help groups. Christian 12-step programs, learning how to recognize the screwed upness of my present, learning how to set boundaries. Recognizing who caused the pain, identifying the unhealthiness in the past, understanding how it effects my present and finally recognizing that I am the only one to blame for my present. Recognizing my need for Christ and healthy friends. I found safety. I found people who were like me. I found healing. And I was able to break free of my past and be liberated.

I didn’t do it on my own, but I grew up somewhere along the line. I still have my past-I can’t erase it. It isn’t lost luggage. It isn’t stuck in a closet somewhere. But it is no longer the centerpiece of my life. And it no longer controls me. I have learned how to deal with it, to live with it. It is neatly packed and out of the way. Where it belongs. Where it won’t hurt me or others. I don’t have a need for it. Because it is dirty and trashy. But I understand it. I remember it when I need to. And most of all I learn from it. I recognize when I am doing something because of it. And I make a different decision. A healthy decision. And because of that damn dirty, filthy, sinful, painful, abusive, harmful past I am able to help others. I become a wounded healer. That is a miracle and it is grace and mercy all at the same time. Heck, now I am an adult among many 4 year olds! It seems absurd at times. I’m the healthy one! Healthier anyway…

Minnie and I are always keeping an eye out for those around us who are wounded and who we identify with and who might be looking to grow up. We’ve been there. We want to help. The truth is we aren’t the parent/adult that is needed in their lives. Christ is the only healthy adult that can truly transform and heal and restore one to healthiness. Fortunately Minnie and I know that Holy Father. And we would like to facilitate introductions.

-Derin-

A Great Time to be Alive-Cures for Cancer and Autism

I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate life and modern advancements in medicine. And God’s timing as well.

My friend Cliff has terminal cancer. It is this cancer that is in his chest. The doctors were talking about quality of life and not quantity of life. They were certain that cancer would eventually take his life. They had talked about surgery as a last resort-if Cliff became disabled or had trouble breathing etc. That was before.

Cliff went into surgery a couple of weeks ago-the cancer was pressing against his spine and he couldn’t walk. The surgery was successful. Cliff called me a couple of days after the surgery-he was winded-he was already walking with a walker! He asked me if he had told me that he has a new doctor. He had failed to mention that his old doctor lives a few houses down from another doctor; they shared notes and the new doctor took Cliff’s files with him on vacation and spent about 12 hours looking over the data. He came back and scheduled a consultation with Cliff. This new doctor believes that he can get ALL OF THE CANCER out of Cliff’s body. Amazing. There have been so many cool advances in medicine.

Another very cool advancement: When Cliff was researching his cancer a couple of years ago he discovered that a few doctors were using missle guidance systems to operate on cancer patients. The laser would move along with the patient’s breathing and movements as it targeted cancer! Pretty crazy.

If Cliff hadn’t gotten worse when he did his doctor may have never offered his records to another doctor who seemed to have the miraculous skills and knowledge to eradicate “terminal” cancer. That, my friends, is God’s timing.

Another modern development surrounds Autism. Autism has been in the news lately and rightfully so! The storeis don’t really tell you what is going on behind the scenes that are spawning the stories that you are seeing on TV and hearing on the radio. When children and military personnel receive vaccination shots mercury is used as a preservative. Most folks can naturally excrete the mercury from their system. But some cannot. Remember the Mad Hatter from Alice and Wonderland? The phrase, “Mad as a hatter”, was used many years ago to describe folks who hand-crafted hats. The manufacturing process contained mercury (in the tools I think), eventually these folks display symptoms of anger and madness! Why? Answer: mercury.

Mercury is NOT good for the body. Mercury surrounds nerves and blocks signals. The cool thing is that mercury does not damage the cells and nerves, it just holds them hostage! Most people have a natural ability to excrete mercury from their system. Others, it seems, may not excrete the mercury so easily-they get vaccinations and shots and the mercury settles in the brain and they then develop symptoms of Autism or OCD or mental illness. I do not think that vaccines and shots are preserved with mercury an longer.

So anyway some doctors are taking unprecedented and alternative approaches to helping folks who suffer with Autism and other symptoms such as OCD. The goal is to flush the mercury out of the body! Testing along with medicine, in some folks, has resulted in a HUGE reduction in the symptoms. Dan Marino’s son suffered from autism. He went through the expensive and lengthy process and now his son does not have any signs of autism. One of the bad things is that the process makes symptoms worse before they get better. But a possible cure for Autism-a very little known condition? AMAZING! Now the science is still out there, some folks go through the program and are still autistic. Autism is a very misunderstood condition. Some folks may have Autism “naturally”, while others may have it because their body does not naturally excrete mercury.

Here’s the real story that gets buried: You won’t see drug companies jumping on the bandwagon to offer these “detox” drugs to folks though. They don’t want to admit that their drugs that used mercury as a preservative were harmful in the first place! Can you imagine the money that the drug companies would lose? Well, you don’t have to imagine. Lawsuits have already been filed and won (or settled) by folks to have the big drug companies pay the $75,000 that it costs to go through the mercury detox programs. The programs last about a year. Which means an autistic child MAY be “cured” within a year. THAT is amazing! Extremely amazing.

I work with a gentleman who is going through the program with his daughter. He was in the military and suffers from OCD and his daughter has Autism. They are both pretty brilliant people. They understand that their behavior is not rational. But they don’t have a choice. Maybe advancements in modern medicine will offer a cure.

-Derin-

I Am With You Always-Jesus Action Figures

UPDATED POST:  The original website is here:  http://www.wearefishermen.com/home.html   But the website seems to no longer work.  It seems that the manufacturer is selling these through amazon.com. and I have linked to them below:

I am Freedom–Biker Jesus

Biker Jesus Figurine
by Fishermen

I am Freedom–Biker Jesus

I am Spirit–Surfing Jesus

Jesus Action Figure Surfing “I am Spirit”
by Fishermen

I am Spirit–Surfer Jesus

I am Victory–Soccer Jesus

Jesus Soccer Action Figure ‘I Am Victory’
by Fishermen

I am Victory–Soccer Jesus

I am Peace-Camo

Jesus Action Figure Military Outfit I am Peace

I am Peace–Camo Jesus

I’d like to hear what YOU have to say about these Jesus action figures.

-Derin-

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

 

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in
I am lost . . . I am helpless
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in . . . it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

——–

Where are you at in your walk?

-Derin-

Frozen in Grand Central Station – Video

[EDIT: “Improv”, not “Improve”…Thanks alot Bill (“Bill” should be read with just a bit of contempt)]

This, my friends is simply unbelievably cool! Check out this video of a group called Improve Everywhere.

You can see this video and its comments here and other videos from this group here.

My wife has been part of an improve group in the past. She is pretty darn good, but then so is the group headed by local middle school teacher, Jeff Yarnell. Jeff’s students have appeared at the New Theater Restaurant and other drama productions local and not-so-local.

I used to participate in church youth group musicals and dramas. That’s right, I acted and I sang. Now I wasn’t ready for American Idol or anything close, but I was alright. I can carry a tune and I can lie and make a fool of myself on stage pretty good. I miss it only slightly. But it was fun when I did it!

Ahhh…I used to be wild and crazy!

Please comment on the video-I’d love to hear your thoughts!

-Derin-

Celebrate the Day That Christ was Born to Die

I love the Advent season. It is a season of anticipation. It is also a season of Christmas music. At the Home Depot they have been playing Christmas music since Black Friday.  I am about sick of it.  And I couldn’t figure it out at first…I mean yeah you hear the same song every 45 minutes, by a different artist, sung completely different, and sometimes, most depressingly, in a country style, but why do I have this urge to remove my eardrums out of my head with a utility knife?  And then it dawned on me:  None of the songs were actually about the birth of Christ!  They were all commercial Christmas music for the most part. Songs about winter and snow and lights and Christmas trees.  Trite and familiar and it is supposed to make people happy. It just pushes me closer to the postal edge.  I’ll give you a white Christmas in a winter wonderland…  Willie Nelson sings Christmas songs?  Brings shivers to my spine.

On a different note…(get it, on a different NOTE?  Because music is made up of notes?  And I’m talking about music…Yeah, pretty funny stuff!)

Ever since City On A Hill: Its Christmas Time came out I have been hooked. I hope you will check out the link and buy a copy of it, you will not be disappointed. It is Christmas worship pure and simple. There is one song in particular that cuts into my heart, it is an original song (new) and it is sung by Jars of Clay, but the lyrics just tear me up. It is talking about Mary: “…you gave birth to the death that would bring us to life.” Just insanely powerful. Jesus was born with one purpose: To die for our sins so that we may truly live.

The other series that I just can’t get enough of is BEC’s Happy Christmas volumes 1-4. There are many traditional songs that are sung traditionally and some that are sung with a rock edge. And some original stuff on it too. Here is my favorite song of the series by Reliant K. Click on the link to see the youtube video and hear the song.

Reliant K-I Celebrate the Day

Again, Christ came to this earth and was born to die so that one day I would pray that he would save my life. Wow. Incredible. Powerful. Simple and profound. It just makes me want to fall and worship the Christ Child and anticipate his return.

Jesus is the reason for the season.

Happy Christmas,

-Derin-

Blessed Beyond Grace and Giving Thanks

I used a new phrase in the past couple of weeks, “Blessed beyond Grace”. Now, I don’t know if I actually coined it, but I can’t consciously remember hearing it. And, quite frankly, I like the phrase a whole lot. At first read there is no such thing as being blessed outside of grace. But I mean it to say that I am blessed beyond Grace (capital G). Beyond salvation, beyond reconciliation, beyond forgiveness. I am blessed even though I have been made right with God and have a relationship through Jesus Christ. I am blessed even beyond that. God has chosen, for whatever reason (and let’s be accurate-out of grace) to bless me with many other things in addition to salvation (Grace). I hope that makes sense…God continues to pile on the goodness on top of salvation.

I was born in the richest nation in the world. I have clean running water that probably has fluoride for the teeth and minerals added for good health . I don’t merely live in shelter, but a 3-bedroom duplex with a garage and basement. And not out in the sticks or isolation or in the middle of a crowded ‘hood, but in wealthy, affluent, convenient Johnson County, KS. I have 4 Wal-Marts within 10 minutes of my house, like 20 within 20 minutes. Heck, 135th st has 2 Wal-Marts, a Sam’s Club, 3 Price Choppers, and at least 5 Mc Donald’s-all on one friggin’ street. (Is “friggin” a cuss word?)

I am not merely clothed, I have designer jeans, name brand underwear, new socks, a catalog-company shirt and a super warm fleece. And shoes. And that isn’t merely what I am wearing today, but my drawers and closets are full of nice clothing.

Shelter, clothing…FOOD. Yeah, fridge stocked with it, freezer in the basement, cupboards and pantry full of it. I am at least 50 pounds over weight.

Transportation, check. I have 2 minivans. That alone makes me wealthier than 92% of the world.

So, I guess what I am saying is that I have much to be thankful for and, that ultimately, I am blessed WAY beyond Grace. I have an awesome family. My wife loves me. I have 4 healthy boys. I have 2 wiener dogs (Dash & Izzy) that are mostly potty trained. I have a great job and so does my wife. I have an XBOX360 and a Wii. Ahh, blessed. I have friends who love me (or at least love to make fun of me). I am mostly healthy. I am somewhat intelligent and educated. I go to a great church with a great support system. I work with great people.

You can’t get much better than that.

Here is the Beechner family Christmas card 2007. Derin & Minnie are in the back. Then Keegan is on the right left and Kaleb on the left right, they will be 12 in mid January. Calvin will be 4 in mid December and Corbin will be 2 at the end of January.

Beechner Family Christmas Pic

Notice the sledding pics?

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year,

-Derin-

Part-Time Jobs, Death of Dreams, Reality Bites

Where to start…there is so much I want to talk about…I have made many observations this past few weeks.

Observation:  If I work 30 hours at my new part-time job (Home Depot) then I will almost make enough money to pay half a payment for half of my total student loans.  Or another way of looking at it:  I will almost make enough money to make a payment on the interest on one loan.  I need about 4 more part-time jobs to make any difference.  Which sucks.  I am working a whole lot of hours for a whole little pay, spending way too much time away from home and family, making time sacrifices and I am sore and tired all the time.  I almost like the job itself and the people I work with.  But I am not so sure it is worth it.  I simply need to make more money.

Observation:  Dreams exist so that they can be killed and obliterated, only then can one start to accept reality and live their miserable life.  I see people every day who want to do more with their lives, become a lawyer, pastor, own their own business, etc.  These people are dreaming.  They are still 18 years old and have the lie in their heads that they can do whatever they want to do.  My case-in-point:  I saw a magazine last night at Home Depot, it had a dream house on the front cover.  I remember the days when Minnie and I would sit around and dream about the perfect house…wrap-around porch, verandas, gazebos…sigh.  Then it dawned on me:  I am never gonna have that.  I may never even be the owner of any house.  It is time to wake up.  I’m never gonna fulfill those dreams, no pastoring, no dream house.  No putting my kids through college.  No retirement.  No new cars.  No nice chrome, front-loading matching washer and dryer.  No big-screen, HD TV.  No refrigerator with the ice maker and the water dispenser that holds the milk on the door and has that extra door on the outside where you can just reach in and get juice or milk or a snack.  No white picket fence.  Although Home Depot sells most of that stuff.  I’ll work until I am dead.  I’ll have debt until I die.  The best that I can hope for is to teach my kids to not follow in my footsteps.

Kids…I keep telling myself that someday Kaleb and Keegan will grow up in a house, with a yard and a tree house.  Another dream.  They are growing up so fast.

OK, so I am a little depressed and feeling sorry for myself.  So what.  Reality bites.

Observation:  Debt still sucks.  I was talking to a friend this past weekend and he confided that he was not very happy with God and student loan debt (and other debt).  There was cussing involved between him and God.  I cuss about 2 dozen times a day to myself.  The really bad 4-letter words too.  I am angry and frustrated.  This student loan debt is doing more than killing dreams.  It is starting to consume me, starting to master me.  I hate the fact that I went to MNU to be a pastor.  I hate that I feel cheated and lied to by Christians.  I even consulted with a bankruptcy lawyer last week.  But there isn’t much they can do unless one is disabled or at the poverty level.  I am neither and am actually sad about it!  I hate that even though I am taking steps to better myself that they really don’t matter!  I mean really!

So let’s review…Mad at God…Conned into going to MNU…insanely high student-loan debt…2nd job meaningless…hope slowly dying…future looks bleak…Life sucks.  Yep, that sums it up.

And then I hear the angel in the other ear:  You have a great job.  You have a great family.  You are getting caught up in consumerism.  You got to play the XBOX360 this past weekend and kill people-that was so much fun, remember all the carnage and death?  That was fun right?  You’re just tired.  Slow down.  Take a breather.  Calm down.  It’ll be OK.

But reality still bites.  There still won’t be that “American Dream”.  And yeah that is the lie of a consumer-based culture.  But it is still a lie I want so desperately to be a part of.  I don’t want to work 2 jobs until I die.  I want my kids to have a better life than me.

Man, I am tired.

-Derin-

Is the Church Failing Politically?

I posed this question to a fellow believer this weekend: If the American government is not restored religiously does this mean the Church has failed? Let me explain.

We were having a conversation about religion and politics. It was stated that America was founded on Christian principals and by Christian leaders. I agree. It was also stated that America needs to repent and to be restored to a Godly nation. I agree. So I clarified, I asked what the role of Christianity (or Christ) is in someone’s personal life? And we agreed to restore that individual to God-So that they can enter into a relationship with Christ.

What if that never happens in our American government? What if Christian leaders don’t make it into elected/appointed government leadership roles? The response I got was that then America would be worse off and stand in judgment! AGREED! At least in the spiritually. The response I got was that God would raise up Godly leaders. And once again it was re-stated that individuals need to reconcile to Christ and be saved. What if Godly leaders are not raised? Is that failure on God’s part? On the church’s? I think not. My friends thought differently.

Although I agree that individuals need to be reconciled, need to be saved, need to have the transformation that can only occur through Christ Jesus, what if that change never comes to fruition within American politics and leaderships? What if Christians constantly become the minority and pushed underground? The truth is that America is becoming secular and “turning away from God” I only put it in quotes because I am not so sure America was ever that Godly.

So I posed the question: If the American government is not restored religiously does this mean the Church has failed? Keep in mind that it is the role of the Christian to follow Christ-to help introduce individuals to Christ. It is the church’s role to change individuals! Not the government. Do I believe that Christians should not have a role in politics? NO! But I also do not believe that by not converting Congress that that somehow means failure on the part of the church.

Because take America out of the equation. What if we were Chinese or Middle Eastern or Russian? Would the calling that Christians have be any different? No. The culture would be different, the location would be different, our methods would be different-things would look different. But not the calling, not the Gospel message, not the task, not Christ.

And what happens over and over again to the church when it is given a taste of power? When Christianity was first legalized? When it gathered a military to fight against Jews and Muslims? When the Religious Right pulled the political puppet strings? Things were bad. People got hurt. People got lazy. Grace was cheapened. Religion was fashionable.

I think the day is coming when the American church will be restored to its “rightful” place: a position of humility. A position of persecution. A position of servanthood. Where Christianity is not popular, not worn like a badge of honor, not respected and where it is difficult to be a Christian. That day is already a reality for Christians in the Middle East, Russia, China, Muslim cultures, etc. And where is the church victorious? The church is growing in China and Russia. The Middle East is making martyrs out of Christians-heroes of the Christian faith. The blood of the saints is the seed of the church people! Lives are being transformed in the Middle East and in Muslim countries.

What say you?

-Durk-

11 Presidential Issues

Building on the last post (http://www.wqad.com/Global/link.asp?L=259460) I want to talk a bit about the 11 issies reflected in the 11 Questions from the survey.

Issue #1 Iraq: Question: What is your opinion on the war in Iraq? I can only assume that the 6 answers were a summary of all the candidates. I didn’t agree with any one answer, but I closest identified with: “We are going to be in Iraq for a long time, as a support force for the Iraqi government and forces.” I believe the US should should hunker down, and militarily keep peace, set up a permanent base and start to focus on rebuilding while we train their military and create a completely safe environment for the Iraqis to form their government. The killing HAS to stop-and that can only be done with an effective military/police presence (Iraqi and foreign). My preferred exit strategy: None, we set up shop just like Germany and Japan. And we support the government in the same way-let them become independent, but never out of our sight. Or we leave and watch the whole country fall apart-which is lose-lose for everyone. I selected “Very Important.”

Issue #2: Immigration: Question: What is your position on immigration in the United States? Again, I didn’t agree 100% with any one answer. And I think I choose a different answer each time. I am trying to find the Christian answer to this and not just the Republican answer. Security is the most important part of this one to me, the US needs to know who is coming here. A fence is a joke. I don’t believe in blanket amnesty, but I don’t think the answer is splitting up families and blanket deportation either. I don’t support government-funded welfare either, you can’t just come to this country and not work! I like the bill that was just presented extending amnesty to children who were dragged here by their family. I believe in stiff fines and penalties for employers. I think denying citizenship for children born here to illegals is insane and not to mention, illegal. So I guess I’ll pick ‘Tighten security first, but I also believe we should provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already here.” And pick 3rd out of most important.

Issue #3: Taxes: Question: Do you believe the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts should be made permanent? This is where my conservatism shines through. YES. Plain and simple. Importance: let’s make it a 2.

Issue #4: Stem-Cell Research: Question: Should federal funding of embryonic stem cell research be expanded? This is where my pro-life stance shines through…Nope, especially federally-funded. Now having said that there is stem cell research that does NOT include embryonic. I have no problems with that. I still have a problem with the federal government funding it. Importance? Eh, I don’t know. Is this a big deal? The short answer is that it depends. I’ll make it a 2.

Issue #5: Health Care: Question: Do you favor or oppose the concept of universal health care in America? A few months ago I would have opposed this. Today…I keep asking myself what is the compassionate thing to do? And I keep asking what is the best for those that simply can’t afford to pay for health care? And the reasonable answer is to favor universal health care. I don’t want my taxes raised because of it. Importance: Pretty high, 3.

Issue: 6: Abortion: Do you favor or oppose legalized abortion in the United States?  Of course I picked that I oppose legalized abortion.  Not much room for debate there.  However, the importance…I hope this isn’t news:  abortion is legal in the US.  And it would take some pretty huge legislation to change that.  As a Christian I believe that abortion is a modern, on-going holocaust.  However, the US is not a Christian nation!  It is secularizing at a pretty good clip.  So even though it is important to ME I don’t think abortion will significantly change in the near future-no matter what the president vbeleives.  Unless maybe if the Church steps up and becomes known for the place to have your baby in a safe environment that pays expenses and gives the child a good home.  I rated it as a 2.

Issue 7:  Social Security: Question:  Do you favor the concept of privatization of Social Security to any degree? Conservative me:  Yep.  Importance:  High, 4th (highest).  What to say.  I hope that I can take advantage of Social Security benefits when I retire.  I think I can invest money better than the US government.

Issue 8:  Line-Item Veto: Question:  Do you favor or oppose giving the president a “line-item” veto; that is, the ability to remove parts of a spending bill without needing to veto the entire bill? Yes I do and not that important, 2.  Sometimes less is more.  At least part of the bill would get passed without sneaky pork spending!

Issue #9:  Energy: Question:  Do you support federal assistance for the production of ethanol and/or biofuel as an alternative to oil? Yeah.  It is time to the US becomes more independent from foreign oil.  And I don;t think that the private market cares to step up.  So I think it is BEST for all in the US if the gov’t paid for it.  Importance:  Well, would we be in IRaq if we were like primitive South American countries that are independent from any foreign fuels?  No, Saddam would still be killing people.  So it is of the highest importance, 4.

Issue #10:  Marriage: Question:  Do you favor or oppose a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman? Yawn.  This is an issue that detracts from other important issues.  Don’t mess with the federal Constitution, leave the issue up to states where the power belongs.  So oppose, importance, not very, I give it a 1.

Issue #11:  Death Penalty: Question:  Do you favor or oppose the use of the death penalty for certain crimes?  Let’s just say I am consistent, I don’t believe in killing unborn babies nor born grown-ups.  I know that the Bible allows for it.  I get it. Would Jesus go around killing?  No.  Another issue that tends to detract from starving people who can’t afford health care and can’t find paying jobs. Importance:  Well, more important than issue #10, 2.

Candidate:  Sam Brownback?  Yeah right.  Fred is like 10th!  But I have filled it out where he was like 3rd or 4th.  Anyway, I’m with Fred for now.  And YES, the results DID surprise me.

So here is MY criteria:  I will vote for a candidate that most alignes with the way I believe.  I won’t single out one issue.   I will also vote for a candidate that has a chance in hades to win.  A vote for a 3rd party is a vote for Clinton!  And that is simply bad news.  So let’s say it comes down to Hillary vs. Giuliani…I will vote Republican.

-Durk-

The Door’s Interview with Brian McLaren

I enjoyed this interview with Brian McLaren in the Wittenburg Door Magazinehttp://www.wittenburgdoor.com/archives/mclaren.html

It led me on a search for Brian McLaren’s thoughts on homosexuality:  http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2006/01/brian_mclaren_o.html
I  found the comments VERY interesting too.

And that led me to this article by Mark Driscoll who is a critic of the Emergent movement and directly responds to the above article (which also led me to research what a “male lesbian” is):  http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2006/01/brian_mclaren_o_2.html  And an apology at the end?  WAY COOL!

All I can say is wow.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

-Durk-

Rob Bell-Micro Econimics-The Door Interview

There was a great interview with Rob Bell in the Wittenburg Door Magazine. One of the things that I found most intriguing was this comment about Micro-finances.

clipped from www.wittenburgdoor.com
…there are huge things going on. Like micro-finance. I was in Rwanda—essentially you take someone in poverty and give them a couple of bucks so they can start a business. We met a woman who started a business, built a house, fed her family and her business was now self-sustaining and growing—on a $40 dollar loan. A Western church gave this woman forty bucks and look what she’s done. Economically speaking, that’s one of the hopes of the world right now. We have more money than we know what to do with. American churches have more concentration of wealth than any time in history in a world with massive poverty. But some are exploring with micro financing, working with ground churches and trying things that could help save our world.

   

I think it would be extremely cool to pay a few bucks and see someone start a business that could sustain their family, community and possibly country! Very exciting! Read the whole thing here: http://www.wittenburgdoor.com/archives/rob_bell.html

-Durk-

An Emerging Me is Changing My Life

I am recognizing that our culture is changing. We are moving from a modern culture [or have already moved] into a post-modern culture. And that means a whole lot of different things to different folks. So I am exploring what that means to me and to share links to friends and findings related to an emergent culture and to an emerging me.  I created a new page called EMERGING ME.  Primarily I am exploring this concept in relation to the emerging church, but I also want to recognize post-modernity in everyday life and in my American culture and the influences it has had on me and the world.  And future trends.

Unfortunately all of what I wrote and what I read is so vague and mysterious and (gulp) subjective.   I wish someone would just stand up and start pointing to all of the modern influences on my life and tell me what to change.  But even that concept is a modern one.  And it is how I got to where I am!  I have been told what THE ONLY biblical way of looking at the world is.  I have been given the picture of how God looks and how salvation works.  And I was told not to deviate from the plan!  I have been told what to do and what not to do.  Alcohol is bad, period.  And those that drink, well they are bad too, even my conservative, reformed brother in Christ.  Heck he smokes a pipe and cigars too!  And he likes Halloween!  How can he be a Christian?  How can he be saved?  And he is a 5-point Calvinist!  DON’T GET ME STARTED!  The TRUTH is that Dan IS a fellow follower of Christ.  He teaches me new things about what it means to be Christ-like all the time.  He IS my brother in Christ.

It used to be that theology was organic, it changed, not the tenants, not the Orthodoxy, but what that looked like in culture and what it looked like in relation to the latest issues.  It changed as it relates to politics, music, customs, etc.  And then it was defined, outlined, proven and solidified.  But guess what?  Culture changed, politics changed, music changed, customs changed and people changed.  God didn’t change, but our response to the Gospel and our relationship with Christ should always be changing.  What it means to be saved from our sins changes and to be reconciled with God changes.  Yes it does, YES it does! If nothing else it changes with our sins, it changes with our relationships!  But it also changes with our culture and with the changes of life.  Morphing, improving, growing, evolving.  And sometimes that demands theology and religion to change too.  God does not change.  But we change.  People change.

The way we learn has changed (scholastically and scientifically, the Internet and blogging).  What we are learning has changed (microbiology, modern medicine, space).  Transportation has changed drastically just over the past 100 years!  Commerce changed.   Technology changes drastically every few months.  And ALL of the effects our relationship with God and others.   No you say?  When is the last time you wrote a letter?  How about an email?  IM?  Big deal?  When is the last time what you said in an email was misinterpreted?  Letters used to be read differently than our casual emails.  We have instant ways of written communication that can intentionally and unintentionally hurt our friends, families and others.  And it can also build us up and encourage one another.

The reformation changed religion forever and for the better because the church needed to change.  The Holiness movement changed religion in the US and in England (sigh…for the better-mostly).

Likewise, I believe that the emergent conversation that is going on in this country will change religion and the church forever.  And believe me, the church needs to change.  The church needs to help the poor again.  The church needs to stand up for justice again.  The church needs to help people again (even gay people).  The church needs to be Christ again.   The church needs to stand for peace and reconciliation again.

I AM CHANGING.   I WILL CONTINUE TO CHANGE.  Even if it hurts.  Even if it is hard.  Even if the costs are high.  Even if I don’t want to.  But today I do want to change, I want to be a better person.

-Durk-

Reminders Change My Life

It is a shame, but I have to constantly be reminded of things that are pretty basic. Here is a short list:

  • Back up data (see a few posts ago)
  • I am a Christian first
  • War is bad

I am sure my wife has a much longer list.

I Am A Christian First

My Pastor Donnie recently reminded me of this and Monte’s blog reminded me again and re-enforced this idea. I have a tendency to be a Republican first. So instead of seeking a proper biblical or Christ-like response I look to Rush Limbaugh, the news and NPR BEFORE I look to the Bible, the church or to my brothers and sisters in Christ. And that is simply wrong. I am a follower of Christ FIRST and foremost. I just happen to be born in the US, so I am an American next and finally I align myself politically with many of the ideas of the Republican party-and that should be last on the list, or near last. That means I have to ask myself what would Jesus do? Or what is the right thing to do biblically? Or what is just? Or what is the least harmful response. Who is going to get hurt the most and why? And then ask questions regarding freedom, the US’s view of liberty and lastly, personal responsibility, private ownership and free trade and open commerce. I have failed to do this in the past. And for that I am sorry and I want to do better.  I want to change.

War is Bad, but Sometimes Justified

Although it is not always avoidable, war is bad. Killing people is bad. Stopping bad people from continuing to hurt and kill people is almost always the more right thing to do. It is just. it is right. And many times that looks like war. And sometimes it does not, sometimes there is diplomacy and embargoes and such. But war should be entered into cautiously, be very calculated and be decisive and short. So I have to ask those questions I was just telling myself to ask when talking about war. WWII was a war that, I believe, was justified entering into. Hitler=BAD, killing Jews=bad, attacking the US=bad, world domination=bad, stopping the Axis=good. Ending tyranny=good. Lives were sacrificed, but for a much greater good.

But what about the Iraq war? Well, I don’t have all the answers. I think many of the things that Saddam Hussein did to the people of Iraq were wrong. And so did a court from his country. He was tried and put to death. Saddam will not be hurting anyone else ever again. That is a good thing, it is a greater good. But invading Iraq? This war could have been avoided and should have been handled differently. Intelligence was bad, caution was thrown to the wind, calculations were inaccurate, planning was incomplete, and the war goes on and on with no decisive end in sight. I’d like to think that Bush’s intentions were good and that things have progressed badly. I am also not talking about “war on terror.” A declaration of war on atrocity and murder and oppression and evil is noble, justified and should be the goal of every country and every people-it is the greater good. All people of the world should be able to live in freedom and peace no matter their skin color, where they were born or what they believe.

But back to Iraq, OK, we did it, we are there, so now what? I don’t know. I think we should either gain control and establish peace and restoration or get the heck out. The first will take a whole lot more effort, people, and military might. I think dragging it out forever is NOT the answer and some of the rules of engagement are getting people on both sides killed. The latter will leave a country to fend for itself. And I believe that that will leave Iraq to be a breeding ground for hate groups like the Taliban and al Qeada to do what they have don in the past, initially come in, establish peace and appear to save the day and then make life miserable for the Muslim people, especially women and children.

This is change for me. Change is difficult, but it is good.

-Durk-

The Times are a Changin’ or maybe it is Just Me?

This past week has been a pretty big one for me. I will try to get it all out, but this week there have been a few changes in the way I think and look at life. Now I have to say that all these changes didn’t really occur overnight or in the course of a week. I have been learning over months and years.

My work laptop crashed last week. That allowed me to slow down a bit and read some blogs a bit! Where to start…for the past few years I have had a strong interest in the Emerging Church. It is a philosophical and theological and lots of other “icals”. And I ran across a website for Emergent Nazarenes. There was a really cool post there that asked folks to share ideas about ways one can cultivate humility in their lives. One of the comments was by Monte. Well I knew this just had to be Monte Asbury, a pastor friend from the Nazarene church I grew up in. And sure enough it was! Monte is still pastoring in Washington, IA. And he has a lot of insightful things to say. And so I began to read his blog.

MONTE ASBURY CHANGED MY LIFE

Monte is one of those people that has a way of making huge impressions on you. Now I am sure if you ask Monte about me he will say that I was some kid that grew up in a church where he attended before he was a pastor.  (And actually he will be MUC kinder and he will remember more than I think!)  I am sure he knew who’s kid I was, but other than that I was some young kid and he was a married guy with children. He wasn’t a youth leader.  He also might remember that  I saw him again a few years ago at a Robbert Webber worship conference (I JUST discovered that Robert Webber died? OH MAN I’ll get back to that in a later post). We were both older. And he recommended a book to me: A New Kind of Christian. That was one of the best recommendations ever.

Monte Asbury had a HUGE impact on me when I was in high school. There was a gentlemen in our church that died of cancer. Bernie Herne. Bernie was a patron saint in our church. He was so Christ-like and holy. He was so cool, he was humble and gentle and loving. He is one of the folks that I identify with being sanctified and filled with the holy spirit. At the funeral many were quiet and mournful. Except for one. This one guy, he kept talking out load during parts of the service. Someone would talk about the life of Bernie and the love of Christ and this guy would proclaim, “yes” or “Amen”. And then someone sang a song and the message was that living here is alright and heaven must be cool too, but if they had chance to choose between the two they’d go home, to be with their Lord in heaven. AND THIS GUY, HE LOSES IT! He is shouting and almost hollering, “PRAISE GOD” and “AMEN.” I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. You see Bernie was at peace. He was home! He wasn’t in pain anymore. But more than that, he got to finally be in the presence of his Savior! He got to meet the Christ that he had faithfully served. I didn’t fully understand that. But Monte sure did. He got it. And it made him so happy to know that this guy who he called friend and brother finally went home where he belonged! Monte is another person who I think of when I think of what it means to be sanctified. That memory is burned into my mind. It was so powerful to me. Monte really understood something that I wanted to get. And not much has changed.

Look for more changes…

-Durk-

One Definition of Insanity

…is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different or new result. If you go back to my very first post  you will read about my work laptop crashing. You will read about me vowing to back up data. Well, guess what? My work laptop crashed yesterday.

So the question is did I lose everything or did I learn my lesson the first time around and backed up my data? Well, I am not too sure that the data is completely irrecoverable. But that isn’t the point is it? I did purchase software that would back up data. I installed it and even configured it. But work has these limitations. You can’t save certain file types. You can’t back up Outlook when it is running. And the list goes on and on.

So the answer is I had very little backed up. But I am not doing everything the same…I am BEGGING my boss to have IT do EVERYTHING they can to get the data off my hd. Which may involve spending money.

I did take the first step to do things differently in the future. I am encouraging the boss to entertain different ideas of backing up data.

I am insane today. But maybe more sane tomorrow. Well, not tomorrow because I will be going crazy hoping that they can get the data off my laptop tomorrow. But maybe soon.

-Durk-

Harry Potter and the Christian Allegory

No, it isn’t the title of book number 8. It is the latest talk about the Harry Potter series. First read this article shockingly entitled, Is Harry Potter the Son of God? An original editorial by Abigail BeauSeigneur: http://www.mugglenet.com/editorials/editorials/edit-beauseigneura01.shtml

I guess I should first start by saying that I am a pretty big fan of the Harry Potter series. I have read all of the books thus far, have watched all of the movies thus far, have heard the books on tape, own 4 of the 5 movies (the 5th is in theaters now) and I have been planning the next big Line Standing Event to stand in line this Friday for the final book release at midnight. And then I need to profess my status as a born-again believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I am a pretty conservative kind of Christian. I believe that the Bible contains the word of God and is perfect and inerrant as it relates to salvation and reconciliation to a relationship with God. (I chose my wording very carefully there.) I am a Christian and a fan of Harry Potter!

I have to tell you, my first thoughts of the article were pretty negative. I have just NEVER thought of the Harry Potter series as a Christian allegory. I have NEVER thought of Harry as a representation of Jesus Christ. I am hung up on these points. But after reading the article I have little doubt that JK Rowlings, the author of the Harry Potter series, indeed intends the Harry Potter series to be an allegory of the Gospel. And JK is pretty cool, although she seems to be pretty quiet about her personal beliefs she seems to be a professing Christian or at least an attender of church. And she does site Christian authors CS Lewis as being influential on her life and literature. I have no problems with her or the series in general.

Next let’s talk about allegory versus a story about good and evil. Dictionary.com says, “John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (Bantam Classics) are allegories.” CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia is a Christian allegory. Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard is another Christian allegory. However, a great and epic story of good triumphing over evil is JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I consider the LOTR books to be THE best fiction literature ever, period. And although there are many allegoric symbolisms, it is not a complete allegory. Instead it is a story where good triumphs over evil. Tolkien didn’t really like the idea of Christian allegory-he was tiffed at Lewis over the Narnia Chronicles.

My wife reminded me of the sermon series that our Pastor Donnie gave at Trinity Family, “The Gospel According to Harry Potter.” It has been a while, but she asked if Donnie actually called the series an allegory. I don’t remember, but I do know that he made comparisons, but in the end I always thought of the series as a story of good triumphing over evil, not as an allegory.

I suppose it is the unorthodox parallels and the character of Harry Potter that hangs me up the most. One crucial point in the essay, BeauSeigneur states that “Harry may also have the power to resurrect himself.” The comparison that the writer was making was to Voldermort (the bad guy in the HP series)-who had magical powers to ressurect himself. But the implication is a parallel to Christ. I do not believe that Christ raised himself from the dead, God ressurected Christ from death. Most Christians who have a beef with the HP series get hung up on the point of magic and dark arts and such. I don’t have a lot of issues with this, but it does speak to where the power comes from. I have always read that HP’s (and the rest of the characters) power or ability to perform magic comes from within themselves. There is no mention of an external power source or a higher being or a power higher than their own. And the power that Jesus had always came from someone higher than himself, from God the Father-it was God giving Christ the power to heal and perform miracles. It was as though Jesus set aside his God-power and let God work through him in his humanness.

Like I say, my biggest, hugest hangup is the comparison or the representation of Harry Potter to Jesus Christ. To coin a phrase, “Harry Potter, you are no Jesus Christ…” Harry is by no means a spotless lamb. He does not personify a sanctified individual. Instead he is fully human. A human with all of the proper characteristics of such, with a sinful nature and a desire to satisfy the self. Compare this to Aslan in the Narnia Chronicles. Aslan is the righteous kingly lion-kind, compassionate, perfect and righteous. And Aslan ultimately lays down his life for humanity. Harry makes bad decisions. He alienates his friends. He hurts people by his actions. He’s just no where close to a Good Person. I have never seen righteousness within him.

I suppose JK will site the Greatest Goodness as Love. Maybe Harry will become such a good person. And Harry will end up making choices that demonstrate love and then sacrifice himself so evil can be defeated. And then have the innate power to ressurect himself. But what is lacking in all of the story is the constant righteous one. If it isn’t blatantly God then it needs to be a transparent 100% righteous individual. One who is spotless and clean. I just don’t see that in Harry. Maybe Dumbledore, maybe.

The author of the editorial makes an argument for Harry being Holy and pure and righteous based on the things that he possesses (wand, mother’s blood, etc.). The argument presented puts Harry in a position of holiness rather than a character of righteousness. That is most interesting.

All of this does raise some interesting points. It is as though JK has sneakily slipped a very cool and popularly accepted allegory about (gulp) CHRISTIANITY into the mainstream media. Onto the top-sellers lists, into the hands of millions, into CHILDREN’S HANDS! And into Hollywood! How long did it take Tolkien and Lewis to be immortalized and worshiped in Hollywood? What will the fundamentalists and The Christian Right do with this new revelation?

I don’t know. I know that it would be pretty cool if JK Rowlings comes out publicly and admits that the Harry Potter series is indeed a Gospel allegory. I think it would be cool to see her in the spotlight pimping God! Pointing people to Christ and maybe even encouraging people to read the Bible.

Maybe JK Rowlings will finally be asked spiritual questions in a kind and non-threatening environment. Maybe her “Satan” status will be elevated to “sister” status. Will the fundamentalists and The Christian Right change their minds and finally shelf the Harry Potter series along side The Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Ring trilogy?

Well, I am not even sure if I am ready to do that yet. I will wait to read the book and wait to hear from JK Rowlings. But the series will still be in the same room, along the same wall on the same set of shelves. Maybe just above the Left Behind series.

I’ll conclude with the last brilliant paragraph from Abigail BeauSeigneur’s editorial. It totally gives me chills, goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes.

She [JK Rowlings] has told us where to look to find out what is coming in the final book – her Christianity. She has told us that it’s so easy a 10-year -old could figure it out.(249) The secret to Harry Potter is tied to Rowling’s Christianity. The master of the red herring has done it. She has tricked the entire world. What appears to be a book about witchcraft is a story about Jesus Christ.

Durk

Memorial Day 2007

Memorial Day holds unique significance to me because my father passed away on Memorial Day in 2005. He gave me life and loved me. And I miss him much.

In honor of Memorial Day I thought I’d post my thoughts from a few years ago.

————————————
I embarrassingly bought the pregnancy test. I read the positive results by email. Minnie was pregnant again! I tried not to tell anyone; that lasted about 5 minutes. When the doctor’s found two heartbeats for the first time I was elated. I thought “Twins again?! No problem!”

Minnie’s first pregnancy with our identical twin boys was full of potential complications: Bed rest in the hospital, delivering early admitted to the NICU. But in the end they turned out perfect. They are handfuls and ornery, but they are our pride and joy.

We thought that the next pregnancy would be a breeze, we thought, “How easy it will be to have only one child?” Minnie’s next two pregnancies ended tragically in miscarriages. The first hit us very hard; we tried to gain closure by having a memorial service. The second seemed easier.

I don’t know if it was the novelty of having twins again, that fact that Minnie and I were in a good place to plan for more kids, or just that Minnie and I were going to have babies in the house again. Whatever the reasons I really wanted these babies.

I prayed so hard as the doctor’s searched for the heartbeats again a few days later. “Please God, Please God…” Smaller babies. No heartbeats. Our babies died. Another miscarriage.

Minnie found comfort from friends. She found comfort in the Bible. She found comfort through songs.

For me, there are questions: Where is God?

I thought He was there with Kaleb & Keegan. I thought I saw his work. Does he give us gifts just to turn around and take them away? Was this really His will? What kind of God is that?

Where was God? Is He a God who put things in motion in the beginning and now just sits back? Where is the personal God I’ve grown up with? Is this really for the best? Will good come out of it? I don’t want “good,” I want the babies.

And I’m mad. I’m mad at God for not stepping into my life, and I’m mad that I am close enough to Him to get mad at Him. Maybe if I distance myself from him, He can’t hurt me; He can’t anger me…and I won’t hurt Him by getting mad at Him.

Then I am reminded of Jesus, who was fully man and fully God.

I’m reminded that Jesus prayed hard, he asked for the cup to be taken away. It wasn’t. I’m reminded that Jesus asked questions: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God didn’t forsake him. I’m reminded that Jesus grieved: “Jesus wept.”

In the end there are no answers. In the end it is just Jesus and me, pondering, asking, expecting answers. It is Jesus and me grieving. But the best part is is that it is Jesus and me.
————————————

“I really Wanted these babies” Written February 8th 2002 and read in worship at Christ Community Church shortly after. Thanks Pastor Dave for encouraging me to reflect and write.

Since this writing God has blessed my wife and I with 2 more healthy boys, Calvin Wesley and Corbin Riley, they join twins, Kaleb Nathaniel & Keegan Daniel.

-Durk-

If You Never Had To Worry About Money EVER Again

It is really fun to dream about winning the lottery-to win 100s of millions of dollars.

My email and lunch buddy, Kevin, and I were talking on this subject. He asked me what the very first thing I’d do after I won that kind of money. OK, after you tell your wife and a few friends. We happened to be at lunch and so I told him that I’d go back to work to tell everyone and then politely get my stuff and quit-walk out to never work another day in my life. Kevin said he’d pack up his stuff and not tell anyone! In the past he’s said he’d just not go back, forget his stuff-hire someone else to collect it for him!

For some people it is hard to grasp what that much money can really do for them and others. Our other email buddy, Chris sent me this quote from a CNN article:

Daisy Buck of Bluff, Utah
I would quit my job and retire. Then, I would give some money to my children/grandchildren and to my family. Most of it would probably go to fixing my house, paying the bills, and just kicking back and enjoying life.

My friend then pointed out, “Just in case you didn’t get it, I’ll repeat it for you, ‘Most of it would probably go to fixing my house.'” Well Daisy Buck of Bluff, Utah, your house must be one heck of a fixer upper. I replied to his email and joked that I could pay up my rent for years. But folks don’t really understand how to think with that much money.

I was thinking along a different line…I’d build a house and furnish it with all new EVERYTHING. With the exception of some personal photos or some really meaningful personal stuff I would walk into my new house naked and empty handed ready to embrace the whole new life inside. I apologize for the mental picture.

Kevin and I continued talking about a woman that had won that had kept her job. I remarked that that was just plain irresponsible! I then went on to say that it would be cool to sit back and invest in people’s dreams, finance thier business endeavors or the like. But Kevin was quick with a chastise, you don’t need to invest with the purpose of making money…YOU HAVE MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER NEED! The question isn’t what would you do with all of that money, how would you spend it. No, the question is what would you do with your life! What would you do to impact the lives around you? What would you do for mankind? If you never had to worry about money EVER again what would you do? Where would you go?

It is kinda like an episode of the A-Team I saw on Tuesday January 14, 1986. Captain H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock was the crazy character-the BEST character I might add. Well he was on Wheel of Fortune. Remember when you could go shopping as a winner on Wheel of Fortune? You’d buy 2-3 big things for thousands of dollars then go for the $150 lamp or $75 dog statue. But not Murdock! He bought 5-10 of the little things and then had enough to get one big thing! Pretty funny. I love the A-Team. (Sigh).

So for Kevin he’d just go fishin’! He’d go volunteer at a fly-fishing shop to learn the trade and go somewhere to be alone fishing! I am more extroverted so I would do things to include my friends. I said I’d buy a really nice suit to wear to some really nice restaurants. Kevin said he’d never wear a suit again! I said I’d hire a chef to make meals where I could lose weight.

And that is how it is for most of us. We’d pay off our bills. Or buy a house. Or buy a car. Or set up some trust funds. Or fix something up or restore something. But that is all piddly stuff! I mean a $1M dollar house plus extravagant $500,000 in bills plus a REALLY nice over-priced sports car…well that is still just under 1% of a $200M payout! PEANUTS! A drop in the bucket! I’ll be 35 this year. Let’s say I live to be 85, that’s 50 more years…200M divided by 50 years…that’s $4,000,000 a year…about $75,000 a week…that’s over $10,000 a day! And that is without any kind of investment whatsoever. TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS A DAY!

Some folks would fly to different places. I’d buy a plane and learn how to fly it when my pilot wasn’t taking me to a show in New York or to a national park in California for a birthday bash with 1000 of my closest personal friends! Or for a snowball fight in Alaska! Some folks would buy a really nice house or fix up the one that they have, I’d build a housing complex where my family could live in an over-sized cul-de-sac of 4-5 houses that were connected by underground game rooms and pools and a really large banquet hall and maybe a theater or bowling alley…With a 5-story hotel off to the side where people could stay for free while visiting me! Yeah, now we’re talking. Some folks would buy a sports car; I’d go to a car dealership and get one of each with cash in hand, or cash in boxes.

I’d also do some cool stuff for my friends and family. I’d be creative in giving money away. I’d buy my kids a toy store. Maybe a video game store too. Heck maybe a train for the Thomas the Tank lover in my house complete with an engine, cars and a caboose on a 20-mile long track. I have a friend who really likes beer. I’d buy him a bar. Tell him that if he doesn’t want it he can sell it and do whatever with the money. My other co-worker is a pilot; I’d buy him a jet. I’d buy pocket PCs and laptops and maybe an Escalade for all of my friends!

I’d take Rush Limbaugh out for dinner. I’d play a video game against Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. I’d hire author Orson Scott Card for a one-on-one lecture/Q & A about his books. I’d pay to eat at a fund-raiser to meet President Bush. I’d build a house with President Jimmy Carter. I’d donate money and time to that “Extreme Makover: Home Edition.” That darn show makes me cry every time!

I’d build a church for the church plant that I attend that currently meets in an elementary school’s cafeteria. I’d give $100 bills away for no reason at all. I’d spy on folks just to learn what extravagant gift they want for Christmas and leave it on their front porch.

I’d help the poor as much as I could. But that kinda goes back to the idea of financing dreams and investing in businesses. I’d do that, start new businesses or invest in companies. Not with the purpose of making more money, but to create jobs and to build a legacy for generations to come. Maybe create departments at those jobs to recruit the homeless, clean them up and give them a place to live to transition into the workplace. Give them hope.

What Sam Walton did for his family and for the rest of the world is pretty cool. He created jobs; his Wal-Mart brand is world-recognized. Look how Wal-Mart is driving down the prices of prescription drugs. Not to mention the community involvement and the money that they are able to give to charity. I know some folks hate Wal-Mart.

Then you read story after story of those that have spent all of their winnings and get sued or file for bankruptcy. How can that be? The first thing you should spend money on is a financial advisor!

Some folks go back to work to be around their friends and maybe work at what they love. Some people might go off and be alone never to be heard from again. Others would stay right where they are and fix things up. Others may invest to make more money. And still others will buy a whole lot of little things and maybe waste all of their money.

But a few will do something worth while. They’ll leave their mark on the world-and not merly for the sake of being remembered. They’ll be a good person. They’ll have enough money to be a human being and give back to mankind. Maybe that’d be me. Then again maybe I’d end up filing bankruptcy in a few years.

I’d learn how to ride a Harley. I’d buy minivans for all the moms at the local Mothers of Mulitples organization. I’d build a really freakin’ huge tree house that spanned a forrest! OK, maybe not.

What would you do? I’d love to hear from you.

-Durk-

Planes, Pains and Automobiles

Planes Right before Christmas my co-worker Anthony asked me if I wanted to eat BBQ for lunch. I love BBQ. I love lunch! I love BBQ for lunch! So of course I said yes! Then he said, “I ain’t driving.” Immediately I thought ok, he wants me to drive. Then he added, “So I hope you don’t get air sick!” Then I remembered he’s a pilot. SWEET! So I replied, “SWEET!” So he flew me out of the tiny airport on the other side of Gardner (not New Century) and we landed just outside of Paola and ate BBQ at their BBQ joint at the airport! It was really cool. It took about 20 mins to fly there and about 15 mins to fly back. Anthony borrows his friend’s Drummond Traveler. It has seating for 4 but only has a capacity of 600 pounds or about 2 people. It was truly amazing. Thank you very much Anthony!

Pains I had surgery for the first time a couple of weeks ago…double hernia surgery. I almost died that weekend. OK, that’s not true, but I sure felt like it. And I was tempted to end it all a few times. The surgery was on a Friday morning and I was in and out and fairly lucid and pain-free and in bed by 11:00. I say fairly lucid…I distinctly remember my wife and my 2 youngest boys coming in to see me, I was happy to see them and I greeted them and I got dressed and we left. I was really scared about saying something stupid after surgery and embarrassing myself, but nope, I remember Minnie and the boys coming in the room and everything afterwards and everything mostly clearly, I guess I told Minnie 3 or 4 times that my watch was in my shoe, she had taken it out of my shoe and had placed it on the table…but whatever right, I mean there may be some silliness, IT WAS SURGERY FOR GOODNESS SAKE! HA. Whew. Life is great. Until Minnie explained to me that that wasn’t the first time she had come into the room, that she just stepped out for whatever reason (whatever reason included taking the young ones with her…SHE WOULDN’T LEAVE THEM ALONE WITH ME? What?). And that I had said something stupid to embarrass myself when she was in the room earlier. Earlier? But you just came into the room…no earlier…great. Good times. So I can’t show my face around post op for a few years and my next surgery may have to be at a different hospital-so I can traumatize another group of innocent medical care personnel. I still can’t figure out why she let me believe that she was coming in to see me for the first time. Or why she told me at all! I mean I was pretty happy to see her and the boys…I guess for a second time.

OK, so I was home on bed rest and sleeping and still waking up from the surgery…Sometime shortly after that my body rebelled against me. And at some point I actually had to get up to go to the bathroom, yeah, well, that was a mistake, because I just had to do it again later! It took me about 10 mins to slide to the bathroom and then go and then crawl back to bed. But that really doesn’t even explain it, because first you have to sit up…and I just don’t know how I did that, then STAND up, and “stand up” may be overstating it a bit, I was on my feet and fighting the urge to pass out, but if you do that you just have to stand up again. “Sloped over” is a better term, grabbing the nightstand, dresser, walls, sink, tub…and then crying when you have to sink back into bed, but relieved until you remember that you actually have to LAY DOWN again…Yeah it was painful. Then my wife reminds me at every chance she gets that SHE had a c-section that she gave birth 3 times…yadda, yadda, blah, blah…We are not talking about HER! It was my first surgery and I have a whole new outlook when it comes to surgery and pain!

Well, it is amazing what a few days can do, I was feeling pretty good Sunday night with soreness, I was still moving slowly, but I actually walked downstairs! And I began to eat more. But the drugs were running out, the good drugs! The reality-altering drugs! So I cut back and ended up running a fever most of Sunday night. Monday was pretty good once I got up and moving, just a little sore, I got the chills again in the evening, why is it always the evening when you get the sickest? But I did get to play the best video game ever: Lego Star Wars. I mean you have Legos, and everything is made out of Legos and you have Star Wars! Legos AND Star Wars! Amazing. One can pass out just from thinking about it. I must have gnawed on my tongue during surgery because I have a very painful canker sore, that actually kept me awake! You know when you put your shoe on and the tongue slips down so you pull it out? Yeah I guess they could have done that when they intubated me.

Keegan discovered a mysterious lump in his armpit before Christmas. We took him to our family doctor right after Christmas and she was concerned but not worried. They did blood tests and CAT scans, but found nothing. They scheduled a surgical consultation for a few weeks later. Then he started to have blood in his urine. More blood work and another CAT scan. The diagnosis was constipation and no connection to lump. That seemed to get resolved. We finally had the surgical consultation last Thursday and the doctor agreed that it needed to come out and scheduled the surgery for the NEXT DAY! That was awesome timing. The surgery went just fine; it was Keegan’s first surgery. They biopsied the hard lump this past weekend and preliminary results are that the lump “doesn’t look like lymphoma” and its “most likely benign”. So it sounds like Keegan is going to be just fine. Praise God!

Automobiles I own two minivans, a white one and a purple one. First the white van broke down, it lost power and would not start. Then while that was in the shop I smacked into a deer with the purple van and damaged the front passenger corner. After 3 separate stays at the shop we spent $3000 on the white van, I think it is all fixed. We have not fixed the purple van yet.

Derin

I’m Not Cool (Anymore)-The Minivan Controversy

I have had many friends over the years vehemently refuse to buy a minivan. Folks with 3 plus kids. Folks that are intelligent. Folks that can’t fit their whole family in a car-so they drive 2 cars, to the same place! Families that scream minivan. Why? Because they think that minivans will make them turn from being cool to not being cool. And I also have had several friends with kids give up in defeat and buy a minivan and resolve to be not cool anymore.

OK, listen closely, here comes the truth: If you have kids you aren’t cool anymore. No you’re not! NO YOU’RE NOT!

If you are married you are not cool, well, OK, you are somewhat cool because you can pretend you are not married, and because you don’t have kids yet, but this is just a transition stage. And if you are married WITH children, well, no, you are not cool. Single parent? You are not cool. There’s also an age where you move from cool to not cool even if you are not married and don’t have kids, but that is just creepy and not the point of this entry.

I am not cool. I have a minivan; in fact I have two mini vans, a purple one and a white one. I drive the white one. I may not be cool, but I am still a guy. But let’s be clear on this. It is NOT the minivan that makes me not cool! It is the 4 children and a wife! It is my twins laughing at me and not with me. It is my 2-yr old son asking me if I have a penis too, in public. It is my 9-month old spitting up on my shirt! Minivans have nothing to do with it.

I had this conversation with a co-worker a few years ago and she went on and on about rollin’ up in her SUV with the bling, bling rims and blah, blah, blah. If you park your pimped out SUV then strut to the back door, open it and pop out a kid. Well, guess what? You might think that you are cool, but you aren’t!

If you roll up in a Lamborghini heads will turn. You can be in the scene from Mission Impossible III, with the Asian chick with the hair and the red dress and the Italian sports car. You drive up, heads turn. You park and eyes are glued to you and your car. You open the door and your long, naked leg hits the pavement while sticking out of your skimpy, sexy red dress-heads will turn and mouths will open. You walk sexily to the other side of the car and open the door and bend over-there will be gasps-maybe even applause! You come up holding your 9-month old baby boy…Heads will turn alright, THE OTHER WAY! The applause will halt and people will smile with embarrassment and disappointment and many will laugh and shake their heads! Why? Yep, not cool.

You can be a cool mom or a cool dad and even a cool wife and cool husband. And guess what? I am a very cool dad and a somewhat cool husband! And you know what? There is nothing in the world cooler than having your kids, and sometimes your wife, think you are cool!

Like my friend Jeff said today on this topic: “I guess you can’t be cool and responsible at the same time.” EXACTLY. You can be young and single and cool-you have the whole world before you. Or you can be married with children-not cool anymore.

But here is the thing: Being married with children, well, that is the world in your hands.  Holding your 9-month old after you have all the spit cleaned up and having him recognize you as Dad and then he smiles real big and laughs…that is cool.

That’s cool.

-Durk-

Where is the Church? My 1st Rant

I have been talking to my mom about the emerging church or the Emergent Conversation that is taking place in the Christian church around the world.  Google those phrases and check these out:

I don’t fully understand it, so I am not too sure how I can explain it.  I have read criticisms and I have read A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren who is really at the forefront of this conversation (they do not like to be called a movement).  I also saw McLaren speak at a conference.  I do know this: The Christian church has dropped the ball.  Now I want to say that I am not ranting and raving against my mom.  I’m just ranting to the air.  I guess it is to the church, but to no one in particular.

The church has dropped the ball…and who is picking it up?  The government with their welfare programs that keep the poor just poor enough to not want to do anything about not being poor!  Who is picking it up?  Planned Parenthood slaughterhouses that get rich by pretending to love their victims, while still manageing to offer some sort of false hope.  Where is the church?  Encouraging the discrimination of gays and promoting war (KEEP READING…).  Why isn’t the church helping low-income families?  Why isn’t the church helping single-parent families?  Why isn’t the church helping the sick and poor?  Why isn’t the church promoting peace?  Why isn’t the church doing its job?  I don’t know, but I understand that the world has turned from the church that stopped offering hope and to the world that has nothing to offer.

So let me clarify a couple of my above statements.  I think homosexuality is a sin.  Thankfully it is the church’s job to help introduce the sinner to Christ-who forgives sins and transforms lives.  I think the winds of change in Iraq were the right thing to force.  But I am not blood-thirsty.  As I write this there has been a thwarted terrorist attack in Europe, Hezbollah is attacking Israel and Israel is defending themselves and I have not forgotten 9/11.  Tyranny and terrorism should be fought against.  HOWEVER, war should not be romanticized.  War is not good!  It is necessary at times.  Those times should be decisive and short.

I think part of the problem is that the church should be separate from a capitalistic culture.  Don’t get me wrong, capitalism has its place: in the economy!  Heck, I eBay, that is capitalism at its purest.  But the church should be a socialistic community of believers (within the church and within society).  The church should be a place where the members want to make more so they can give more away to those in need!  I remember thinking in college that the early church practiced socialism and that socialism could be a good American economy.  I was very wrong.  Bresee had it right or maybe it was Wesley, “Make all you can, save all you can and give all you can!”

It’s the church, THE CHURCH that should take care of people.  The church should love people.  The church should give away time and money and love.  The church needs do invest in people and not expect a financial return.

Where is the church when it comes to illegal immigration?  Should the church be on border patrol with guns?  Should the church be harboring fugitives and helping people break the law?  Is their another way?  Why isn’t the church offering to help immigrants come to The Land of Opportunity LEGALLY?  Because it involves, spending money and giving up time!  That kind of compassion used to be called sacrifice.  Christians are not so good at that anymore; they leave that up to Christ, they nail Christ back on the cross and tell Him to stay there.

I am not a supporter of separation of church and state, I think it is unconstitutional.  But it is happening everyday.  So Christians can choose to fight it or they choose to accept it.  I guess I do both.  I vote with my heart, but I also do not believe in legislating morality.  We no longer live in a Christian nation (if we ever really did), so once again Christians find themselves as the outsiders or the foreigners within their culture.  I think it is important to make that distinction.  The world does not understand Christianity!  It isn’t their job to pass Christian legislation or to believe the way we do!  The world does not follow Christ.  It is the job of the sinner to sin!  That is what they know!  That is what they understand.  But yet we Christians still operate like we are still in power.  But we aren’t.  And that’s OK; it is the way it has always been!  That is when Christianity does its best-when it is under fire!  It was Tertullian who said, “In the blood of the martyrs lies the seed of the Church!  ” I’m not saying that we should sit back and watch while Christianity gets outlawed, but I don’t think that it is always the church’s job to legislate morality.

I think homosexual marriage can put an end to the sacred institution of marriage and I also think that banning homosexual marriages alienates homosexuals from the church.  On one hand you have the world doing what the world does, sin!  On the other hand you have the church hurting a group of people.  It is a way for the church to discriminate against a community of lost people.  Christians don’t fight to outlaw couples who live together or protest against couples who get divorced for non-biblical reasons.  We don’t rally to outlaw affairs.  I mean what is the church doing about Rev.  Phelps and his band of haters; they protest at funerals!  AT FUNERALS!  I don’t know what the solution is, but what if the church fought with the homosexual for their freedom (to sin)?  Don’t you think that at some point they are going to take notice and build healthy relationships with folks that represent Christ?  And maybe learn what it means to live a life without sin?  Wow, how cool would that be?  I know, many of my friends don’t agree with me on this.  I am also not out there holding hands with the homosexuals as they march down the street.  But I struggle with voting to ban gay marriages and civil unions.

Take a slightly less controversial issue: Children with AIDS.  What if the church worked with AIDS stricken children the way Mother Teresa worked with those stricken with leprosy?  And why are Christians more apt to help children and kick sick adults to the curb?  Where is the church?  Campaigning for Republicans?  Trying to rebuild the Religious Right?  Trying to defend the actions of George Bush?  I’M GUILTY, right here, that’s been me.

I think I am winding down a bit…

Oh yeah, the Emerging Church… Well, it is all about what it means to be a Christian in a post-modern world.  How do you build the Kingdom of Christ when those that need to be transformed are no longer convinced by apologetics?  Post-modern people no longer respond to arguments.  Systematic theology tries to convince folks that Christianity is truth, that kind of method is a thing of the past.  People don’t want to be convinced, they want to see Christians living out an authentic life that actually means something to them.  They want to see it, they want to experience it.  They don’t want to hear sermons on prayer; they want to learn how to pray.  They don’t want to hear about the attributes of God, they want to experience the love of God.  It is very experiential which is very close to existentialism, but that is exactly where the unchurched, non-Christians are and they can’t be convinced or talked into something.  They want to see it.  They want Christians to live what they believe so that it makes a difference in their lives.

How do you present Christianity in a media-driven culture?  You present Christianity with media.  You present the e-Gospel.  It is the same ageless message, but presented in a modern way.  And not watered down, but in terminology that represents modern language.  Not catering to people that are seekers, but having a message that is presented in a way that the average person can understand.  Post-modern people communicate on a 6th-grade level, but are educated on a master’s level!  Use smaller words to describe the same message of hope.

How do you build a community of faith in a culture that longs to have community again?  Well, you participate in the community!

OK, I am almost done.

Finally, a word about justice.  Brian McLaren tells a great story that illustrates the difference between justice and mercy.  Say you are standing before Niagara Falls, just looking out into the water in awe.  Suddenly you see a person floating in the river, they are drowning, fighting for their life to get to shore before they go over the edge!  You panic, regain your composure, get some folks together and pull the guy out of the water to safety!  That is an act of mercy.  Say you see another person, you pull them out, and then another, and they seem to keep coming!  Again, pulling these drowning folks out of the water are acts of mercy.  But where is the justice?  Justice is when you walk up river and stop the guy that is pushing people into the freaking water!  STOP THAT GUY!

The church needs to practice justice & mercy.  But the church also needs to first stop pushing people in the water, and then they need to stand up against others that are doing the same.

OK, I feel better.

-Durk-

Fasting (Part III . The Conclusion)

In part one I explained that my pastor had given a challenge to fast 1 24-hour period a week for 4 weeks. Sounds pretty simple right? Well in Part Two I told you how the fist 3 Wednesdays went. Here is the conclusion and my thoughts.

Wednesday #4 The last Wednesday. The last challenged fast.

  • OK, I had a great breakfast, egg casserole; hash browns…OK enough of that, no reminders of food.
  • 12:05 and all is well, I am not hungry. But again, I am drinking lots of water and keeping my mind active. 3:25 and all is well. Been SUPER BUSY AT WORK, I think that makes it easier.
  • 4:15 Experiencing hunger pangs, but still standing strong! I have been writing this while fasting, I really enjoy the research and journaling.
  • 5:30 As I am leaving I get a phone call form home, supper is waiting…I reminded my family AGAIN that I am fasting. I get home and what is there for me to put away? Supper, the family is on their way out the door.
  • 6:30 Finally getting around to putting the food away…it looks soooo gooood. So I look for ways to justify breaking the fast. I don’t find any. I put down the tiny piece of broccoli. I hold strong. I prevail. I am hungry.
  • I made it through the evening. 3 out of 4 Wednesdays, not too bad.

Observations

I’d really like to work up to the fast during Lent. Lent is the Christian season before Easter. It is a time set aside to identify with Christ who had been fasting in the desert for 40 days. At the end of that time he is tempted by Satan-one of the temptations involves bread, Christ has the strength to deny the offer and rebuke Satan.

Lent is the time when you see a lot of folks order fish-they are not eating meat…that one always puzzles me, I mean fish are not meat? It is also a very holy Christian season. Lent starts with Ash Wednesday this is an identification of dying with Christ. And ends with the arrival of Holy week which includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and finally culminating in a celebration on Easter Sunday.

There are many spiritual benefits from fasting. All result growing in one’s relationship with God. Just like the body goes through a cleansing during a fast so can the spirit. Just like the body is starving for food, so does the spirit. During a fast the body is denied and the spirit is fed. Isn’t it just the opposite most of the time? It is nice to intentionally set time aside to focus on God.

Many people fast when seeking God’s will for their life or the answer to a decision or problem. When you are a week or so into a fast there is a physical sensation where one feels elated, very in-tune with their surroundings; simply put, they feel great and ready to take on the world! The same can happen spiritually, instead of spending time at a meal or just doing whatever over your lunch periods or at dinner time, spend that time feasting on the Word of God (as Pastor Donnie says, “Fasting is Feasting”; see I was listening), and spend that time communing with your creator and analyzing your spiritual walk. It can be a very joyous mountain-top experience.

A few good books on the subject are God’s Chosen Fast, Celebration of Discipline, and lastly the book that my pastor has been primarily using for his sermon series, The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (Emergent YS) by Tony Jones.

My Disclaimer: You gotta see your doctor and study the practice before you start a fast longer than a couple of days. You can hurt yourself if you don’t, so do!

What I Learned

I learned that fasting can be done with a little effort. I learned that I am definitely emotionally addicted to eating. I guess that every time I look in the mirror, guess confirmed. I learned that with a little effort eating can be ignored. I learned that I am fasting for the wrong reasons; I am fasting from being challenged not to eat and not from being challenged to grow in my relationship with God-my fault, not my pastor’s.

I am glad I took on the challenge. I can also see why one of the examples that Donnie gave from the pulpit was a guy who fasted once a week for 2 years. TWO YEARS! But it makes sense, I mean after a month of fasting (which was only 4 days) I paid little attention to God, His word and His son and instead paid much more attention to the lack of food. But maybe after 104 days of fasting I will have a better understanding of the Bible and have developed a deeper relationship with Christ.

Conclusion

Lastly, fasting should always be a spiritual exercise, at least in context to Christianity. Either do it for your personal, non-church related, physical reasons or do it for spiritual reasons. Don’t fast during Lent to lose weight! Fasting is definitely not some spiritual diet plan. So don’t mix the two up. I say that to remind myself that even though I do need to lose weight, a 40-day fast is not the answer. Why? Well, because during a fast the hunger is supposed to shift from the physical to the spiritual; that is the purpose of the spiritual discipline-to grow in your relationship with God

-Durk-


Fasting (Part II. The Fasts 1-3)

In part one I explained that my pastor, Donnie Miller of Trinity Family Church, has been preaching a series this summer that has been designed to be a spiritual summer training program. He started off with prayer and journaling and has moved through fasting to silence. Donnie challenged us to fast 1 24-hour period a week for 4 weeks. Here was the challenge: Fast for 4 consecutive Wednesdays. Fast for a 24-hour period. Eat breakfast, and then don’t eat until breakfast the next morning. Sounds pretty simple right? Well, here is how it went.

Wednesday #1:

I ate a descent breakfast at McDonald’s with my wife and little ones. I had no problems skipping lunch & dinner. Then I went to help a friend with his flooded basement. A little manual labor here, a little sweating and tears there…then he ordered pizza for us. Fast broken. But I learned an important observation: The earlier skipped meals were a breeze! I wasn’t even hungry until I saw that delicious cheesy pizza and smelled the sweet aromas of pepperoni and hot steamy deliciousness, just sitting there in front of my face begging for me to consume! I feel I could have made it with just a little more effort (and the lack of pizza in front of my face)!

Wednesday #2:

I put in a little more effort and I survived the fast! But see, that is way too dramatic of a way to express it! I REALLY WASN’T ALL THAT HUNGRY! I experienced no hunger pangs (fake hunger pain-just the body used to eating at a certain time and gets ready for the food to come on down the ‘ol pipe). I had a bigger breakfast, but I tried not to gorge myself, that is just silly and in the end it does not work. I did drink quite a bit of water and I did drink some tea in the evening (it was hotter than Hades outside, over 100 degrees), I even went to the movies, and get this, I DIDN’T EVEN EAT POPCORN! And I wasn’t even tempted, I even thought about continuing into Thursday! Observation: I understand my addiction. I am taking baby-steps to be the one in control of my own body. I noticed that as I kept busy and drank water, that I was pretty good to go. Another observation: I am not going out of my way to address the spiritual side of all of this.

Wednesday #3

  • (Written while fasting) I am doing well. I ate a good breakfast and here it is 2:37. I am bored. I also need to drink more water. I find myself hungry, but no hunger pangs, I am just bored! I still find it fairly easy to get through the day. I am realizing that I am not actually hungry, I just want to eat; another confirmation that food is an emotional outlet for me.
  • (Written after fast) Again, I did it! And again, it wasn’t so bad, really. Most of the time I wanted to eat out of habit or from an emotional response-I was bored to tears in the afternoon, so I wanted to eat! I will say breakfast (today-the day after the fast) tasted extra good and I ate a big lunch. I ate a big dinner too. I like eating. I like food. I’m hungry.

There’s only one more Wednesday to go; to be concluded in Part III.

-Durk-

Fasting (Part I. The Challenge)

My pastor, Donnie Miller of Trinity Family Church, has been preaching a series this summer that has been designed to be a spiritual summer training program. He started off with prayer and journaling and has moved through fasting to silence. I would like to talk about fasting.

Fasting is simply the denial of something. It is commonly in relation to food. So if you fast a meal you skip a meal. There are many variations. Most of the time it does not involve excluding water and sometimes juice may be drunk as well. Most of the time the practice is related to religion; many world religions acknowledge the practice. In Christendom many fast for many different reasons. The Lenten Fast is the most common or “popular”; it coincides with Jesus’ 40 days in the desert before he started his ministry. Christians’ observance of the practice vary from not eating meat on Fridays (except fish…) to a real honest-to-goodness 40-day fast! Some people fast sleep, some people fast eating chocolate or not listening to the radio. But this isn’t fasting in the strict use of the term, it has just evolved in practice.

Why folks fast also vary. There are folks who regularly fast for healthy-related reasons. Fasting helps detox the body. In the case of religion, and specifically Christianity fasting should only be done in relation to a spiritual discipline, to seek God or to draw closer to God.

I have attempted fasting in the past; I have never been too successful. I have even felt panicky at the prospect of denying myself food. Honestly, I like to eat, just take one look at my physique (or my chubby face).

I would say more accurately that I am addicted to eating. OK, I know what some are saying: We’re all addicted to eating! But I am not talking about the physical need for sustenance-I mean we have to eat or we’ll die, yeah, I get that.

I am talking about an emotional desire to consume tasty, delicious food! Steak & potatoes, sweets, fast food, ice cream, French fries, candy, pop, chips…well, you get the idea. I like to eat! And I don’t necessarily like to eat unhealthily; I just like to eat what tastes great! Most of the time that is junk food, fast food, fried foods, pizza, etc. Occasionally it is the succulent peach that is in season and perfectly ripe. Rarely is it a salad with the exception of a salad from Pizza Shoppe with extra pink stuff and pizza on the side! OK, I’m drooling.

I like to sit down with friends and share a meal; this is very important to me. I like to eat while watching TV. I like popcorn during movies. I like snacking at the mall. I like late-night runs for ice cream with the family. I like multiple portions.

So when Donnie challenged us to fast 1 24-hour period a week for 4 weeks, well, I was happy to think that I could do it, but not too eager to actually go through with it. Here was the challenge: Fast for or 4 consecutive Wednesdays. Fast for a 24-hour period. Eat breakfast, and then don’t eat until breakfast the next morning. Sounds pretty simple right? I’d really only be skipping 2 meals.

I’ll tell you how it went in Part II.

-Durk-

It’s Been Over A Year

It has been just over a year since I lost my dad. I was reminded about it just yesterday-a friend asked me how I was getting along since my dad’s passing-I told him that it was a year ago on Memorial Day. A whole year. The year where you experience all of “the firsts”. The first birthdays without dad/grandpa, first his birthday, then mine, then my wife, then my boys. The first holidays without a visit or a phone call-Independence Day, Labor Day weekend, Halloween (Dad would have liked the boys’ costumes and our Hallow Haunt business), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, etc. We purchased a white mini van. Then there was the birth of Corbin Riley. Dad didn’t even know Minnie was pregnant. Corbin was baptized on Easter Sunday. And finally Memorial Day was here and gone. It has been over a year. And I have to say that it has been a…well, an awkward experience for me.

As most of my friends know (and some acquaintances), I am a pretty emotional guy. I cried when my kids were born (yes, all 4). I cry at movies and TV shows; I cry every time I watch that “Extreme Makover: House Edition”. I cry as I worship God. But I have not “emotionally” mourned my dad’s passing-I haven’t cried.

I can’t really tell you why I haven’t cried, why there is the absent of some emotional moment where I come to grips with the powers of the cosmos and the rhythm of life. But I know this: I loved my dad very much and I miss him very much.

My dad and I had a pretty close relationship. We got along great, always did. I loved to hear his stories. I think my dad was proud of me and loved my family. And I miss him. There’s hardly a day that goes by where I don’t have something reminding me that dad isn’t around anymore. Something to fix around the house, something to look at with the car, a family milestone to share, pictures to email, and the list goes on and on.

There was no funeral, no viewing, no ceremony, no memorial service, no gathering to just talk! And that is the way my dad wanted it, he wanted to be cremated and that’s it-no dwelling on the painful passing, just remembering the good times. And that’s what happened. There was a road trip-all the way to New Mexico to meet up with my Aunt (who dad was traveling with-they both had retired less than a year before his passing). Although it was a somber trip, for me anyway there was no journey involved, no formal opportunity to feel the pain and to process things. I say “for me” because I remember my wife and twins talking and crying. I just drove in silence. Not really thinking, not really processing. So I have had to find other ways to process life without dad.

I saw a counselor shortly afterwards. It helped. One of the big questions that he posed to me was did I feel that my father was proud of me. Although I had to think about it, I had to say yes. Yeah, dad was proud of me.

In some ways I have done better than my dad. He was a 6th-grade drop out and I completed college. He had had 2 marriages and I have worked pretty hard to build a happy marriage and to form a family. I have a good job. I have a good life. Dad was happy for me. He told me many times that he loved me. He would hug and kiss me and my family-he adored my children.

My dad was not a professing Christian-he did not claim to have a relationship with Christ and with God. That is also a source of pain. I have never looked to my dad as a source of spiritual guidance or direction. Now I know that my father could have had some sort of death-bed experience-he was not feeling well, had lain down and then had a heart attack that took his life-almost immediately. Maybe in his sleep. Maybe not. He did not seem to greatly suffer. I am thankful for that.

It would be comforting to know that my father had had a spiritual experience before he died. It would be immensely comforting to know that I would see my father again in the next life. But I can’t really hold onto that kind of hope. I know that was not true of the way my dad lived his life and I just don’t know that to be true in his passing. And that makes it more difficult to process; as far as I know, my dad really is gone. Most likely I’ll never see him again. And that is probably the most painful part of all.

It has been a year. Still no tears. Still no explanations as to why there have been no tears. I still miss my dad. But I am continuing to process things. Even with this writing.

-Durk-

Old Job-The Big Move

I only have a few more days in my current role before I am off to start a new position on a new team within my same company. It is only a small physical move; I am moving one floor down. But it is going to be a pretty big move just the same.

I have been in my currnet position for over 6 years now. I know my job pretty darn well. Oh sure, their is TONS more I could learn right where I am. But I am comfortable in my current position, I know what I am doing and I am a “goto” guy for many who respect me. I am really going to miss the people I see and talk to and work with everyday! Jacquie and Jeff, I’ll miss you guys. Charles and Kevin F too. I hope Kevin G will still eat lunch with me once in awhile. Kurt and Robert are great co-workers, Chad is super smart! Erica trained me-now she’s the new boss. I’ll miss Paul’s crankyness, Pat’s quiet humor and even Darius!

But I remind myself why I am leaving: More money. More direction. Opportunities to learn new things in an exciting group. A new manager who just might promote me. Leadership opportunities. Career development.

I am excited and nervous about the Big Move. Such is life. Change is inevitable. Change is good. It is also hard.

Come see me on the 3rd floor.

-Durk-

New Job

Mr. B, the manager of the Security group, had approached me quite awhile ago about a job in his group. He asked if I had experience with C+ and some other computing languages. I told him that I did not have the programming language skills he was looking for. He asked me to be on the lookout for a qualified person and I asked him to keep me in mind for any future position within his group. Mr. B approached me on 5-20-06, he walked into my cube and told me to write a number down. At first I thought it was a phone number, but he clarified that it was a job requisition number, that it was for his group and that I’d better hurry because it ended THAT DAY! So of course I went to apply for the job right then and there-as fast as I could! I could not find the job requisition! So I immediately emailed Mr. B. my resume and told him that I’d love a chance to work for him.

In the mean time I phoned a friend and he suggested that I try to track down the recruiter. So I began to call around and so did he. I found a name and my friend found out more details: Only 14 applicants, all external; I’d be the only internal applicant, which could really give me an edge! So I emailed the recruiter, stating that the hiring manager had asked me to apply and asked if she would add me to the list of applicants. Mr. B called me and tried to help me look up the job, even though the job was still open it was not available to for additional applicants. So he IMed the recruiter and asked if I could be put on the list. She said that normally I couldn’t but that she would add me. YES! I would at least get an interview with 14 external employees and me-the internal employee!! And then Mr. B asked me: “Are you interested?” OF COURSE! And then asked me what my current pay was. I told him and then he did the totally unexpected: Asked me to meet him at the elevators for a talk! We went to the picnic lunch area, he bought me a pop and we sat and he interviewed me! More like explaining the details of the job-telling me what I’d be doing! Again he asked if I was interested, again I said yes. “How does a 10-15% raise sound?” I said that is sounded awesome! And he said that he’d have the recruiter write an offer! AWESOME. He even showed me the new area where they would be moving to-showed me about where I would be sitting in the group!! AWESOME!

The next day I approached one of the people on Mr. B’s team, mentioned that I had talked with their manager the previous day and they explained how Mr B had offered me a job! It had really happened!

A few days later, even before I a formal offer, I sat down with a couple of teammates under Mr. B and they explained what I ‘d be doing on the new team! WOW.

Here it is a couple of weeks later…I have a verbal offer and am merely waiting for the written offer and then I get to haggle about the actual raise! SWEET!

-Durk-