I’m not really a fan of Christian Schlock. T-shirts, posters, bumper stickers, etc. You know the ones, right? No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace. Or how about: In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned. Or maybe you prefer the cheesy replacement slogans like “Just Believe It!” (You know, like Nike? Just do it?) You also have great church sign content like: “C H _ _ C H. What’s missing? U R.”
The thing is, it cheapens our message I think. Some of them are useful witnessing tools, but too many just turn me off and I’m already Christian! What does it do to non-believers? I see some of the ones on car bumpers and feel like I was just the victim of a drive-by judgment.
Now, I like a good Christian T-Shirt from time to time. Half my T-Shirt/Relaxed wardrobe it seems is made up of just Cornerstone and Crossroads gear, our Middle School and High School Ministries at First Trinity. But some of the junk we’ve come up with as Christians isn’t even funny. It’s just plain dumb.
Of course, this is the exception that proves the rule. Every now and then, we come up with something great. Got this as a psuedo Birthday/Christmas gift from a friend. I’m not really one for laptop covers, but this one was perfect. You can buy it or see a clearer, more readable picture here. My favorite part? Tough, but I’d have to go with “Jesus has the newest iPhone before it’s even made.” Runner up? “Chuck Norris wishes he was as cool as Jesus.”
The past several weeks have been really chaotic as we get ready to move. Between work, packing and painting, I haven’t had much time for anything, including blogging. The good news is that we’re just about done with painting. Many thanks to the several people who came over to help with the project!
We’re going to be moving on November 21 and need lots of help doing it. We’ll be renting a truck and loading it with all our stuff. We’ll start at 10 a.m. at our current place (33 Cascade Dr, Amherst NY, 14228). We’ll load the truck and then head to the new place to unload it all. We’ve got boxes, couches, beds, tables, chairs and lots more to move.
If you’re able to help, it would be much appreciated it. If you can participate (or you want to volunteer a child/husband/wife), let me know you’re coming by signing up in the comments below or giving me a call.
Not too long ago, David Crowder came out with a new CD titled “Church Music”. It’s been a regular in my music listening since it came out. Now I’m grooving to Matt Redman’s newest CD. Not sure which I like more right now.
Two tracks from Matt’s CD that stand out to me:
This Is How We Know (YouTube Video)
The opening lyrics:
This is how we know
This is how we know what love is
Just one look at Your cross
And this is where we see
This is where we see how love works
For You surrendered Your all
And this is how we know
That You have loved us first
This is where we chose
To love You in return
You Alone Can Rescue (YouTube Video)
Some favorite lyrics from this one:
Who, oh Lord, could save themselves,
Their own sin could heal?
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your love is deeper still
You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise
Any good ones you’re enjoying right now?
I know not every job is like this, but one of the interesting things about my job is that it is very integrated with my life. Here’s what that means. There aren’t a lot of clear boundaries as to when I’m working and when I’m playing (play here is defined as not work).
Now, generally speaking, I certainly major in work while at work and major in play when at home. But, largely because of technology, my work and play bleed into one another fairly regularly. Some examples:
- Email: Despite the fact that you can email me at my work account (an @FirstTrinity.com email) or my play account (@gmail.com), it all goes to the same place. This means I process both work and play email every time I check my email. This is why you may get a work-related email from me at 11 p.m. or a play email at 1 p.m.
- Blogging: Generally speaking, I read blogs when I have an opportunity to do so. It’s easier to divide work and play blogs, but I read both types in both places. I also do some play blogging at work and work blogging at play.
- Twitter: One of the things about Twitter that I love is that I can get small bits of teaching wherever I am. I can also get Fantasy Football news and information. And updates on my friends’ lives. Work and play co-exist.
Sometimes it’s best to have a clear divide between the two things. For me, that’s often on Mondays, which is my “day off”. Very rarely do I respond to work requests on Mondays. Occasionally, but not often. There are also times where I need to erect a barrier so play things don’t interrupt me at work. Usually this involves shutting down my email/twitter/blogging software and focusing exclusively on work.
So here are two theological questions associated with this:
- Is your relationship with God integrated with your life?
- When do you build a barrier to keep out the world and focus exclusively on God?
Of course, God wants both: Life integration and moments of exclusivity.
Jaime and I got to participate in the very first Baby Blessing event as part of our Everyday Faith program at church this morning. Some of the information we already knew, but it was good to hear it again. Some of it was new for us.
By far, the hardest part was trying to come up with a blessing to use for Addison. It was suggested that you may be able to build it around the meaning of your baby’s name. Doesn’t work so well for us, since Addison means “Son of Adam”. So we decided to use some of the story behind her middle-namesake: Naomi.
We have a draft—which I won’t share quite yet—but we wanted to include this section of Naomi’s story, spoken by Ruth to Naomi in Ruth 1:16:
For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
It’s hard to write a blessing for our dear little Addison, but we’re praying it will be one that is meaningful to her throughout her whole life.
After just nine years and three months, we’ve paid off our first student loan as part of the debt snowball we started back in August, 2008. It took 13 months and almost $1,800 in extra payments to get it done. Check it out:
So, now it’s on to my student loan since that’s the next lowest in principle.
I’m told that children like routine. Truth be told, I’m a big fan of it myself.
Summer “vacation” was lots of fun, but it’s great to be getting back into a normal routine and rhythm. Between Workcamp, two weddings, National Youth Gathering travel and other stuff, it’s been difficult tracking when I need to be where and doing what.
If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve only blogged 3 times in the last month and a half, party because of the craziness of summer. This is your warning that I’ll be more regular about it again. So if you haven’t unsubscribed already, now’s your chance!
(Of course, I hope you continue to stick around…)
Ever since I started using Firefox and discovered the joys of tabbed browsing, I have had my browser start with multiple tabs open to my most commonly accessed websites. For about three years, there were only two: Slashdot and ESPN. About two years ago, I added Google Reader to the mix for blog reading.
What pages make it to my startup screen is a delicate balance. Slashdot could be an RSS subscription in my Reader, but I found that it was easier to just scroll through the website for a couple minutes and pick out the articles I wanted to read. The same was true for ESPN.
Lately, Lifehacker has been high on my list of sites I read, but it too is starting to clog my Reader screen with too many posts. As a result, I’ve decided that after two years, it’s time to update my startup config for Firefox. The list, from left to right:
- Google Reader
The other notable addition is Facebook. I still hate their design for the most part, but it’s becoming a critical tool that if I don’t start with it open, I won’t make it to Facebook somedays, and there are too many youth there to forget a day.
What website(s) do you include in your startup screen?
I like things that are new and shiny. You might also. For me, it’s always been about computers and gadgets. Sure, a shiny new car would be nice, but I can live with my old car. But the latest computer hardware or home theater setup or tech gadget… Now that’s interesting to me.
I’ve noticed, however, less of a desire lately to chase those new shinies, mostly because of our financial journey. Ironically, I now have the savings to buy a new television to replace the 20” loaner I’m using because ours broke, but I’m not really dying for it. It would be nice, but it’s not essential.
There’s something that happens when we get control of our financial situation: We want material things less. Sue says it’s because we focus on our blessings more than our wantings. I tend to agree with her.
Here’s how I know I’ve changed: There’s a new iPhone coming out in about a month. And I really don’t have a desire to go out and get it. I’m also not feeling bad about getting mine when I did instead of waiting for a new and better model. Because there is always a new and better thing coming.
Half a year. It’s now been half a year since Addison was born. As I think back on the last half-year with her, here are some thoughts I have:
- How did we get so blessed? Our Father must love us.
- Parents are biased, but I think she’s the most beautiful baby ever.
- She wakes up like me. Groggy for a bit, not sure if she’s happy to be awake or where she is, and then suddenly in a good mood.
- Our life has changed so much because of her, from our finances to how we spend our time.
- Not only would I not go back to our life pre-Addison, I don’t even miss it. Not one bit.
- Being a Daddy is fun. From bouncing her on my legs, to holding her above my head and flying around like an airplane. From giving her bottles to carrying her up to bed half-asleep in my arms.
- How did we ever live without her in our life?
Anyway, Happy half-birthday, Addison! Daddy loves you!
Today is Jaime’s birthday. I’m so glad that God made her and brought us together. She’s an excellent wife to me and an even better mother to our little Addison.
She has no “Happy Birthday to Me” post on her own blog, so you can leave birthday wishes in the comments here until she fesses up to having a birthday.
So thankful for Jaime today!
We had a great weekend celebrating Mother’s Day. My mom came in from Cleveland, plus my sister was here from Oregon. Some of the fun things we did:
- Mom and I saw Star Trek. Great movie, not unlike what Batman Begins did for the Batman series. I really dig the fun new feel of Star Trek and already can’t wait for the sequel to come out.
- We played On The Dot. It’s a spacial thinking game where you have to line up the dots on clear plastic sheets to match a picture on a card. There are only 4 dots per sheet and 4 total sheets, but it’s a lot harder than you’d think. I did really well at first, then quickly lost the hang of it.
- Hiked down the escarpment with Mom and Jaime (Judi was gone to a wedding in Pittsburgh for Saturday afternoon/evening) to see Devils Hole. It was a good climb with a nice payoff at the end. There used to be water flowing through the cave into the Niagara River, but has been “dry” for quite some time. I say “dry” because there’s still a tiny trickle that comes through the hole in the ceiling.
- Played some Ticket to Ride and Imaginiff. I won Ticket to Ride. It was my only win for the weekend. Jaime won most of the games we played.
- Went to lunch at Applebee’s to celebrate Mother’s Day. We waiting until Monday to avoid the crowds.
Interesting experience today. A strut went out on my car. Long story short: it cost $900 to repair. I heard the number and immediately panicked. I panicked because that’s been my learned response to unexpected bills for about 10 years. How were we going to pay for this?
It was a silly response I guess. We actually have the money to pay for it with cash. It comes from our emergency fund, which we set up as part of our financial journey these last 8 months.
The problem is that for years this kind of thing overwhelmed me. It was as if the spirit of fear had come over me. It felt like three years ago when we would have had to pay for this on credit and not known what to do when that bill came due.
As we talked about it, Jaime said we might have to relearn our emotional responses to situations like this. We no longer have to be slaves to the spirit of fear because by the grace of God, we are living in a way that we don’t need to panic about these sudden expenses.
In Christ, we have the Spirit of Power, not the spirit of fear. Sometimes, though, it takes a while to let go of the learned “spirit of fear” response and trust in the Spirit of Power instead.
It’s been a long week. Here are some of the highlights:
- Easter Breakfast Setup/Service
- Easter Dinner at Kim’s, straight from church
- Nephew Zachary arrives from Cleveland
- Early morning with Zach
- Afternoon chasing Zach on the playground at Maple East
- Entertaining Zachary
- Work in the morning
- Shoulder surgery in the afternoon (Everything’s good, as far as I know. I find out more on Thursday)
- Afternoon with Zach
- Work in the evening
- Bowling with Zach and friends
- Morning home with Zach and Hope
- Work in the afternoon
- Testing our Town Hall For Hope internet stream from 7-9:30 p.m.
- Slipped on the stairs and fell down the bottom three with Addison. (She’s fine, I’m extremely sore in the neck/shoulders)
- Sermon practice Friday Afternoon
- Worked on Confirmation gifts
- Youth Band
- Home to see Zach off
- Sermon practice and leading worship in the evening
Looking forward to some actual rest this afternoon.
Well, the moment has finally arrived, only 10 months since I first posted that I wanted one: I now have an iPhone. I wasn’t planning on getting it until Monday, but it turns out today was the day to buy. Here’s what happened…
The Back Story
I’ve really wanted this for a long time, but I also wanted Jaime to get a nicer phone when we switched to AT&T. Amazon was offering some nice deals on phones, but I wasn’t sure I could do that and keep both our numbers since they don’t sell the iPhone. ATT.com had some good ones, but no slider phones with a full keyboard.
So I’ve been meaning to stop into the AT&T store to find out what they could do for us for about a month now. I figured I’d be as prepared as I could be, then go get the phones on Monday from wherever gave us the best deal.
So I walked in this morning to find out what kind of free phones were available if I purchased an iPhone. Kerry, the sales rep, showed me one option, but I didn’t think it was that great, so I asked if there were any slider phones for free. No, but they might be able to work something out.
He asked me when I was planning to buy, and I told him Monday, the day after my Verizon contract expired. He says:
You know, we could give you a temporary number and you can buy it today. We’ll wait to transfer your number until Monday when your Verizon contract expires.
He then went on to offer lots of incentives if I’d buy today. I told him I’d call Jaime and see what she said, then maybe I’d be back. So I did, and we decided to go ahead and do it.
Here’s what I got as part of the package today:
- No activation fees (Normally $60 total)
- A free Pantech Matrix for Jaime (Normally $75 after rebates)
- 20% off non-text portions of the contract ($19.98/month, $479.52 over 2 years)
When it’s all said and done, my new base contract price will be $10 more than my Verizon contract, but I’ll have unlimited data on the iPhone. Not too shabby.
- Weather Channel (Local weather and more)
- The Bible (via YouVersion)
- Evernote (Organizer for digital information)
- Google Mobile App (Access to all Google Products)
- Twitterific (A Twitter client. Obviously.)
So the long wait is finally over. I’m excited to start using the phone and see what kind of fun things I can do with it. And Jaime’s excited because she doesn’t have to listen to Pastor tell her why I need to get an iPhone.
So, speaking of financial matters, I just had a funny conversation with an HSBC representative. I had to give them a call because we got a notice from the credit union that they didn’t get our March payment. It’s set up to automatically pay through the Bill Pay online, so I thought that was odd.
So I called to find out what’s up. HSBC confirms the check was never cashed. Now I have to call the credit union and explain what happened and see if they’ll waive the $20 late fee. Irritating, but whatever…
Then, after resolving the initial problem, the following conversation occurs:
HSBC Rep: One more thing Mr. Christ. I notice you don’t have overdraft protection on your account. Would you like to add it for free?
HSBC Rep: But it’s free.
Me: I’m not interested.
HSBC Rep: Can I ask why not?
Me: Because we don’t spend money we don’t have.
HSBC Rep: [Silence] Ok. Thank you Mr. Christ.
Made me think of this great video from Saturday Night Live. (WordPress doesn’t seem to have an easy way to embed Hulu videos, so you’ll have to visit the link.)
EDIT: Let’s try this, actually:
I’m about to head to bed and wrap up my actual birthday, though we will actually be celebrating a few days late because of the Sawmill Creek retreat I was on. Here are a few highlights of the day:
- Darcy and the youth got me Lost and Found’s Speedwood Hymns CD. It’s old favorites with the Lost and Found flavor added in.
- Mom and Jaime had a birthday party for me with the youth at my mom’s house, where we stopped for dinner on the way home from Sawmill.
- Instead of candles on a cake, I got to blow out a single candle in a Chipotle Burrito. Man those burritos are yummy!
- Addison gave me her first card.
- Jaime is taking me shopping to get an iPhone accessory, which continues my tradition of owning an accessory before the actual piece of equipment. The last one was a Wii Backpack that Jaime got me for Christmas, approximately 6 weeks before I got a Wii.
- Jaime and I are headed to Outback for my birthday dinner.
I look back at the last year and realize a lot has changed since I wrote about turning 31. Most notable, Addison entered our life and changed our world forever. She was alive for my last birthday, we just didn’t know it. It was actually on March 17 that we found out about Addison. Jaime told me about it at Applebee’s. Fun memory.
Lots of other things changed I’m sure, but none so amazing as Addison. It was fun to have her with us for this birthday, her first family birthday party. I’m looking forward to many more with her.
Sue’s brother Pete sent me a message on LinkedIn when we connected recently, mentioning that he liked the way I straddle the theological and technological worlds, then presented the two terms above to describe me. I like them both, but I’m not sure which I’d pick to describe me. Which would you pick and why?
For most people, the tax deadline is April 15. If you’re like me, however, you’re well versed in the world of extensions. We haven’t filed our taxes on time in eight or nine years.
I kept telling myself that there were lots of good reasons for it. The bottom line, however, is that we just didn’t stay on top of our finances and consequently weren’t able to get things together in time and get them to the tax person.
As part of the Good Sense course we took, I decided to set myself a personal goal of getting our taxes in on time this year. My new tax people (more on that another day maybe), suggest a March 1 deadline to get them the materials they need to prepare my taxes on time. I am now only one piece of information away from completing the packet, which I expect to get today, then it’s off to the tax people.
I’m hoping for good news on our taxes this year, but fear it won’t be pretty (another long story, related to the first one).
Funny Story About My Taxes: I’m having my previous year’s taxes reviewed as part of switching to this new tax service. I spent about 30 minutes looking for my 2008 tax returns, getting increasingly frustrated with my inability to find every other year since I started filing on my own in 1999. I had everything I’d ever done except the one I needed. It was then that I remembered that “last year” is not 2008 where taxes are concerned. “Last year” is actually 2007, which Jaime had found much earlier in the search. Maybe I’m losing my mind…
It’s almost time to start our Fantasy Idol season again. It seems the process for choosing a Top 12 is different yet again. There seem to be 3 weeks of 12 singers each (the Final 36). Each week, three winners will be chosen. There will then presumably be some method for getting the extra 3 singers back into the mix to round out the top 12.
Our rules will be a little different this time, however. Each player in the pool will be given 6 points to distribute among the finalists as you see fit. For example, you could take 6 different finalists and give each person one point. Or you could pick 3 people and give each 2 points. You get the number of points you’ve assigned to each contestant added to your score each week they survive. For example:
My picks are:
- John Doe: 2 points
- Jane Smith: 3 points
- Jimmy Johnson: 1 point
Now, John makes it 3 weeks, Jimmy 5 and Jane only 1. My point total would now be:
- John Doe: 2 points X 3 weeks = 6
- Jane Smith: 3 points X 1 week = 3
- Jimmy Johnson: 1 point x 5 weeks = 5
- Total Score: 14 points
At the end of the season, the person with the most points wins.
I’ll release the details for how to give me your picks once we get a little farther along, including when the deadline to pick will be.
It feels like we’re finally starting to get the parenting thing down. That could just coincide with Addison starting to get more sleep these days. In the past 3 days, she’s slept for 8, 8 and 6.5 hours at night. It’s a wonderful feeling to wake up and realize she hasn’t been up for so long. She’s been a little more difficult in the evening leading up to the long sleep, but that’s a small price to pay for so much uninterrupted sleep.
I was stressed out the other night while away on my trip to New Orleans for the Gathering planning meeting. Our theme for the Gathering is “We Believe”, and draws on the book of John for it’s primary material. Not knowing what exactly to read, I decided to start at the beginning of John and see what I found. I was struck by John 1:16 in particular:
16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Not only have we received grace, but grace upon grace. It’s hard enough to understand the concept of grace, but grace upon grace? It’s kind of mind-blowing. As John unfolds, we see so many characters receiving this grace upon grace.
There was the bridegroom at the wedding in Cana in John 2, who’d run out of wine, only to receive grace upon grace in the form of new and better wine.
There was Nicodemus, who didn’t understand how he could be born again in John 3, but received grace upon grace when Jesus talked with him and explained how to be born again.
There was the thirsty woman of Samaria who received living water and the official whose son was healed in John 4. The 38-year invalid in John 5, healed by Jesus. The 5,000 who were fed. Lazarus who died and was raised.
All received grace upon grace. The same grace upon grace that we ourselves receive. Amazing.
Jaime changes most of Addison’s diapers, just by virtue of the fact that she’s home with her more often than I am. So when I’m home, I like to help out with the diapers. I can’t imagine anyone saying it’s fun to change the diaper, but the time with her on the changing table can be fun as she smiles and kicks through the process.
Last night, as we got home from the Superbowl party we were at, it smelled like something was burning in the car. Rather than just assume we had to take it to the shop to check it out, I thought I’d pop the hood and look around. I’m not super handy with fixing cars, so I’m not sure what I expected to find that I could fix, but it’s the manly thing to do so I did it.
What I found got me off the diaper hook. It seems that it was not a belt going bad or the oil being too low. Nope. Instead, it was a medium-sized furry creature with a longish tail. I’m thinking it crawled up in there after Jaime parked the car because it was warm, then fell asleep. Only to be baked next time we took the car out. Nice.
About 20 minutes later, I had gotten it out and into the trash without getting any on me. Go me!
It was good to be back from New Orleans and at church with all my church friends/family. It felt like I was gone for weeks instead of days!
Crazy morning today as I was down 2 small group leaders, but it gave me a chance to sit in on one of the groups which was fun. Picked up a few more sign-ups for the Sawmill Creek trip and had a good number of sales at the Scrip table.
I’m looking forward to relaxing this evening and watching the Superbowl, especially the commercials. I’m curious to see what the tone will be in the current economy as companies spend $5 million on production and airtime while people are losing jobs left and right. I’m especially interested in the 1 second comericial.