rick & 1j13
Monday, December 30, 2002
Time to make the donuts (click here - unreal)...

I've been out of the office for about two weeks - a trip to Miami and a week-long Christmas vacation - and it doesn't look like the place missed me much. Other than an accumulation of dust on my touch-lamp, it doesn't look like time passed at all. The stack of reports, print-outs and to-do's is still there. My laptop LAN connection cord is still there, and I found my analog phone jack cord still laying on the floor (I remember knocking it down the hole in the back of my desk as I left, not wanting to waste time getting it and poking it back through then), waiting to be connected to PCanywhere anywhere it was needed.

What did I do today? Wrestled with the environment changes made while I was gone (why do they switch servers while everyone's on vacation?). Started to enter my trip expenses for reimburesement - good luck. Actually dialed in with PCanywhere (only a customer necessity would've made me crawl under the desk today) to check on a printer/archive issue. Went to lunch with Vicki and the kids at Chili's. Entered my time for today, for the rest of the week.

Whew. Time to go home. Later.
Friday, December 27, 2002
Friday Five appears to be back...

1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year?
I think I actually finished more books than I started. Usually I'm in the middle of at least five books at once, but this past year I finished some of them. Woo hoo.

2. What was your biggest disappointment?
Losing the fantasy football championship. Dang. If WIDE RECEIVER Randy Moss hadn't THROWN a touchdown PASS in the fourth quarter, I'd be listing WINNING as one of my biggest ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

3. Will you be making any New Year's resolutions?
Maybe. Last year, I resolved to email/snail-mail someone at least once a day. Kept it up for about three months before it got old. Right now, I'm thinking about trying to read a book per week. How's that sound?

4. Where will you be at midnight? Do you wish you could be somewhere else?
I'll be with family and friends - who would want to be elsewhere?

5. Aside from (possibly) staying up late, do you have any other New Year's traditions?
Kissing my wife, drinking lots of coffee, playing Trivial Pursuit and watching Dick Clark. That's about it.

Thursday, December 26, 2002
It's beginning to look alot like... um... late December...?

We're moving past the Christmas shenanigans, hard and fast for the end of 2002 and a brand new year. I'm looking forward to 2003 - if for nothing else, I want to make sure that I actually FINISH more books than I start. But more resolutions next time. Right now, I want to hit the highlights from 2002.

* 2002 Resolutions - well, the only one I remember making was to email/snail-mail at least one person every day. I kept it up for about three months, but eventually it ran out of steam. While I know that I've sent email (and then some, I'm sure) just about every day this past year, I slipped on this one.

* At Theaters - I saw all of the "S" movies this year, at least through the end of the summer. No kidding. SPIRIT, SPIDER-MAN, STUART LITTLE 2, SCOOBY-DOO, STAR WARS EPISODE II, etc etc etc. I haven't seen STAR TREK: NEMESIS yet, but there's still a few days left, huh? My favorite movie this year was probably SPIDER-MAN (the DVD has some cool stuff) - my expectations were too high, but it still told the story and stayed fairly faithful to the original.

* Music Store - I've enjoyed some new, outside-the-Christian-music-box tunes this year. BUSTED STUFF by the Dave Matthews Band is deep, and still has the right hooks. I'm trying hard to like Dashboard Confessional - but Chris Cabbarra's vocals wear on me after the first playthrough. Not so with John Mayer - when is the next one coming out?

* On Video - I discovered THE BIG KAHUNA, with Kevin Spacey and Danny Devito, this past summer. Also, there is no going back - DVD is the only way to fly. Other good discs: MONSTERS, INC. and VANILLA SKY. And Netflix fairly rocks.

* Reading Room - this is has been the year, like with music, where I've stretched the envelope a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Willard's DIVINE CONSPIRACY this past summer on the ZBA email list. I also enjoyed THE MONK DOWNSTAIRS by Tim Farrington, and I started the new series from James Patterson - haven't finished 1ST TO DIE yet, but I started, and that counts for something, right? This has also been the year of the ebook - I finished Reed Arvin's THE WILL last week, and I read the first two MARS DIARIES books from Sigmund Breuwer on my laptop, too. I'm such a geek.

* Other Stuff - This was the year of Gamecube, and I got Smart Mass from thinkgeek.com. Ain't life grand?

Thanks for playing, and reading this far... now, on into 2003...
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Ho ho ho.

Well, Santa's been to our house. The kids are nestled in their beds, Vicki's sawing logs by now, I'm sure. And I'm looking for cap to put on to match her kerchief and wait for morning. It's 1:40am est, and Christmas is good. We've had a great night with Vicki's mom and Ron, and now we sleep - for probably about four hours. But that's okay, isn't it? We'll get up tomorrow morning, and Trace will read the Christmas story before we all come downstairs. Then we'll open presents, oohing and ahhing over the games, tossing the underwear and socks into a pile somewhere in front of the recliner. And as I wrap the last gifts, and the end of A Christmas Story rolls across TNT, I'll say...

... a merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Sunday, December 22, 2002
He just wanted to sit down, at home, in his chair.

The rain had been falling all day. The chill in the air begged for a fireplace, a thick quilt, a cup of hazelnut coffee and a thick book. But Michael couldn't read, not tonight. His mind was a million miles away, and right hear screaming at him at the same time. The loneliness was more pronounced, the silence more deafening.

It was Christmas Eve.

Last year, the holiday season was filled with laughter and joy. Last year, the family had all gotten together at Mom and Dad's, filling it with children and grandchildren, the pitter-patter of little and not-so-little feet everywhere. Last year, they reminisced and ate and sang and ate and chuckled and ate and on and on. Last year, Christmas was great. This year, it sucked. This year, Mom died in July, a lump that had gone unnoticed going out of control. This year, Dad just wasn't the same, dealing with his own demons of loneliness and grief. This year, Michael hadn't talked to his brother since the funeral, never knowing what to say anyway. This year, his sister and her family had been transferred to California, packing up the kids and the dog in September for a better position in the company. This year...

The phone rang. "Hello?"
"Yeah. Um, doing anything?"
"Not really."
"I wanted to go to church tonight. Just... seems right somehow. Could you, um... come give me a lift?"
"Sure, Dad. No problem. I'll be by in fifteen minutes or so."
"We're not in a hurry, so take your time, ok?"
"Oh, no bother, Dad. I've been wanting to come over today anyway, you know?"
"Yeah... I know. See you in a bit."

Michael closed the glass doors on the fireplace as he stood, his knees cracking from his bad posture. He stretched, and headed for the closet by the door. He reached for his coat, the long coat... given to him last Christmas... from his Mom and Dad. He stepped outside, a sudden gust of wind and cold drizzle hitting his face as he turned to make sure the door was locked. He smiled, and was thankful for the warmth of his coat.

Merry Christmas.
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Heading north... tomorrow.

Today was long. Yesterday went very well, installing the system and learning a little about this company. Today was long. The life of a programmer: sometimes it works, other times you earn your pay. Today, I hope someone earned something. It's been a good trip, and I've been able to meet some new people, getting to know them on a non-work level in going out at night; getting to know them in the trenches of trying to live up to expectations and please the customer.

God has a funny way of doing things. Sometimes, it's hard to see His hand. Other times, it's obvious that the "coincidences" and such of life are so arranged and designed that God almost gives Himself away in the process. But this week... I've felt His hand, but it's been deftly hidden and mysterious at the same time. There's a drawing of me to Himself, and a faint shoving of guidance to seek Him for myself - like He draws, and wants me to will to be drawn. Does that make sense?

That's my business trip. We fly home tomorrow, and I look forward to hugging the kids and my wife. I've enjoyed the time away (could do without the temp and humidity in Miami, though!), but it'll be good to be home.

Thank you for praying.
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Hot and humid? In December?

Stepping off the plane in Miami was like walking into a hot bath. How could it be this humid in December? Whew - twenty degrees warmer than it was in Columbia and Atlanta earlier. But I've already had my MediaNoche (cuban sandwich, ham and pork and cheese), my cafe' con leche (cuban coffee with sweet milk), and tostones (fried plantains): all of the cubano food I was told to try, I've had in the first evening. Tonight: italian?

Where's the a/c?
Monday, December 16, 2002
I'm leaving... on a jet plane... don't know when I'll be back again...

Well, actually, I'm supposed to be flying back into town this Friday. I'm leaving tomorrow for Miami, FL - a little business trip into the tropics. I'll be installing the system on Wednesday, and training users on it Thursday. I'm not nervous, not really anyway. Hopefully we got all of the kinks out of the system load today. As for teaching, I think I'm okay there, too. Even if this is the first time I've really taught in a group setting that didn't involve opening and closing in prayer (trust me - I will!), I think I can handle it.

While I'm already beginning to miss Vicki and the kids (did anyone notice that Santa's missing a digit on his right hand down there?), I'm looking forward to a little time to read, get some reading and writing done, etc. I'm tired, and I know Vicki's tired and stressing, too. But after this we've got a few weeks of R&R and Christmas vacation to catch up.

Gotta pack.
Saturday, December 14, 2002
Ho Ho Ho.

Well, we've been to see Santa. Poor Santa. He's got to be thankful Cameron was sitting on his right kneee and could only hug him and pull on his suit to undo a little velcro. If she'd been on his left, I'm thinking the earring would've ben yanked out. Along with the beard. Trace told her it was fake. She checked. Real.

Feliz navidad.
Saturday, December 07, 2002
Christmas shopping. Malls. Toy stores. Bah, humbug.

I'm all about shopping online, because I'm way too wishy-washy and can never settle on what to buy for certain people. But I've already spent $$$ at the new apparel store at Amazon, ordered a bracelet from Handpicked (don't tell my wife!), presents by auction at eBay, and... something else I know I'm forgetting. Maybe that's the problem: there's no wishy-washy on the PC, just click and it's shipped.

I don't mind malls. I just don't like *not* finding that perfect gift, wasting a lunch hour fruitlessly wandering through the stores. I'd rather waste the time at home, after the kids go to bed, where I can take my coffee - food and drink allowed at the PC - and "browse" in my Tigger PJs. The future of shopping - in my living room, with no nosy salespeople, no waiting in line, barefoot with a cup of Starbucks' Light Note Blend. Ahhhh.

Merry ho ho ho and all that. And let's show some love and positive eBay feedback, ok?
Friday, December 06, 2002
Just musing... a long week, long mornings, but a weekend coming up, woo hoo.

I'm wondering how to teach our children what "real fun" might be. Trace is seven and Cammi is five - for all of your child psych majors out there, when does self-awareness get balanced out a little better with others-awareness? I want my kids to think of fun in terms of others - not just wanting others to participate in "my fun," but to start having fun that's more inclusive of others, their needs, their desires.

I hear you - some of us never learn that.

So this morning, I'm drawn to Deuteronomy, as Moses is writing his last words to the children of Israel. There's an important principle laid out - teach your kids the ways of God (Deut 6:4-9, various other places, too). I guess what I want to teach is that fun comes in helping others have fun, that joy comes in bringing joy to others, that real peace comes in living at peace with others - attitudes that come from our own relationship with Christ, where we recognize that He glories in us, and He longs to change us into His own likeness in our lives.

And we teach by living that out in front of them, and in giving them opportunities to live that way, too. As usual, whatever I see lacking in them must first be dealt with in me. Pray for me - every morning with Trace is an argument, mainly because getting ready for school isn't "fun." I don't blame him - I'd love to not have to come into work, just staying home and playing Gamecube all day (gotta do something in the midst of SportsCenter reruns). But just because I don't want to get ready for work/school doesn't mean that just being together, eating cereal and making coffee together - that can be "fun" as I make sure you have a good morning and you make sure I'm having a good morning, right?

Love one another, selflessly and "in fun"... And pray for Trace to get over it when I kick his rear in Gamecube games tonight 8^).

p.s. - ok, I'll let him win... once.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002
Not as a competition to the FridayFive, but more as a flattering imitation,...

...I started the TuesdayThree on our 1J13 Email List. Here's this week's question and a response from my friend Todd and myself.

> Hi, all - I wanted to see what your views are on the following subject: the
> Holy Spirit.
> 1) What do you know about the Holy Spirit, his function and purpose on the
> earth and in believers?

Not as much as I would like to think. But I am learning more each day.

> 2) Are you more open or less open to the supernatural aspects of healing,
> intercession, speaking in tongues, prophecy, etc, because of your
> views/understanding of the Holy Spirit?

Not more or less open...WIDE open!

> 3) Do you think this culture would be more open or less open to the
> supernatural and mysterious aspects of God in the work of the Holy Spirit?

I think they would respond well. Movie special effects get better and better, and church get more and more boring to the unchurched. Perhaps seeing with their own eyes a supernatural work of God would change their tune.

> Just curious - hopefully this won't spark debate as much as an exchange of
> ideas and God-thoughts.

I am bored with debates. I just want to know Him and make Him known.


Thanks for writing back, Todd. Here's some of my thoughts, after posting the questions and then pondering them for me the past day:

1) What do you know about the Holy Spirit, his function and purpose on the earth and in believers?
** Most churches have a blurb in their "statement of belief," either at the local or denominational level, that describes what "they" believe about the Holy Spirit, but I think most church-goers take it for granted and haven't really considered who this Third Person is. For me, I've found subtle things to be very profound: the way the Spirit draws people to God out of the clear blue; the way I feel His presence in the most simple things, moved to tears and joy in looking at the river flow under a bridge, stuff like that; and the way there can be a "powerful display" of God moving in a congregation, and yet I can still sense His "still small voice" in the midst of what some might consider chaotic.

2) Are you more open or less open to the supernatural aspects of healing, intercession, speaking in tongues, prophecy, etc, because of your views/understanding of the Holy Spirit?
** I'd say more open, but also less likely to be duped, if that makes sense. There's alot of stuff going on in this world that's being inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and then there's alot of stuff going on in the name of a "holy" gullibility. The Spirit won't contradict Himself, working against God to bring disorder and confusion, and yet folks are being led in false doctrine and bad theology because they're gullible.

3) Do you think this culture would be more open or less open to the supernatural and mysterious aspects of God in the work of the Holy Spirit?
** I think this culture is more open to the mysterious and spiritual, and that it's the church's responsibility to live this thing out in a real, meaningful and visible way. If Jesus is lifted up, He'll draw people to Himself. But the opposite is also true, I think: where He's not being lifted up or is being degraded by "Christians" who grieve the Spirit, people will be turned away. That's a good thing, though - people whould be turned off by the fake, and they should be drawn to the Truth.

This kinda fits with the Holy Spirit questions:
Jesus once told his disciples that the Kingdom of God belongs to the children. "In our children's ministry, it is particularly the 8- to 12-year-olds who have special supernatural experiences," says Ulrike Tetzlaff of the FCJG church in L├╝denscheid, Germany.

"When we go to pray on the prayer mountain on Saturdays, they sometimes see things in the Spirit which are described in the Bible, but which they have never read. For example, they have described the golden Jerusalem, the jewels, the clear river and God's throne room. They sometimes have prophetic impulses to pray for people in other parts of the world, and they prophesy freely. God's presence can become so strong that we can hardly remain standing," she says.

"These things grow a deep love for Jesus, a familiarity with the Holy Spirit, and the desire to pray more. Could it be that children hear God better because they have such a pure spirit?"

Source: FCJG through Friday Fax [from JoelNews.org]

May we listen for the Spirit, and obey in God's grace.

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