Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Worse than the blue screen of death

Do we all remember the blue screen of death from PC's 'glory days'?
To me, this screen is worse. And I see it at least 10 times a day when I am working with Final Cut. That, or my Mac just shuts down completely. Without explanation.

It makes me want to scream.

But mostly, I just cry.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Nation of Spoiled Brats

This is a great article from WorldNetDaily that I ran across. I thought it was worth reposting here:

We are a nation of spoiled brats.

We have daily miracles at our fingers tips, and all we can do is complain.

Push a button, and heat comes on. Flip a switch, and you have light. Turn a handle, and hot or cold water gushes forth. Imagine what folks would have thought about this 100 years ago.

For a small fee, people will haul away your garbage, provide you with endless clean water, and assure the continuation of your electricity, telephone and Internet.

Feel like talking to friends or relatives 3,000 miles away? Rather than waiting six months for a letter, you merely press a few buttons and viola – instant communication.

Feel sick? You can visit a doctor who can look inside your body without hurting you. He can use marvelous diagnostic tools to determine what's wrong. He's even unlikely to apply leeches to balance your humors. How amazing is that?

Feel hungry? Walk into any football field-sized grocery store and take your pick from tens of thousands of food items. You didn't have to milk a single cow, grow a single vegetable or grind a single grain of wheat. Others did that for you. (My Russian sister-in-law nearly wept the first time she set foot inside an American grocery store.)

Feel like going somewhere? You don't have to hitch up the horses and travel for hours through inclement weather. You can hop in your car or take public transportation.

Feel unsafe? Not to worry, there are thousands of soldiers thanklessly laboring in foreign countries under dangerous circumstances to protect you. This is in addition to all the domestic police officers, firefighters, EMTs and other emergency personnel whose sole duty it is to protect or take care of you.

We can fly through the air, for crying out loud. For how long has mankind longed to fly? Now we can do it anytime we wish.

When nature calls, we don't have to trudge outside in subzero weather and freeze our fannies in an outhouse. Nor is our public health endangered from water contaminated by human waste. Only by reading about the horrors of such diseases as cholera or dysentery can we appreciate the freedom from such conditions.

We can know what's happening on the other side of the planet within seconds. We can purchase consumer goods from any country in the world. Where is our appreciation for these miracles?

I no longer fear my children will die of smallpox, the plague, scarlet fever or malnutrition before they reach maturity. Instead, I can look forward to someday seeing my grandchildren because my girls, unlike earlier generations, are likely to make it to adulthood.

Though we are the daily recipients of these and other amazing miracles, what do we do? We complain. We could be suffused in awe and appreciation for all these wonders, but noooOOOOoooo. None of this abundance is good enough. We want more, we want better, we want newer. We want the government to give us stuff for free, stuff like health care and housing, food and employment. These are things that earlier generations knew were our own personal responsibility to provide for ourselves.

Instead we prefer to whine and gripe and moan our way to socialism because we've become a nation of professional victims.

How about we put things into perspective? If we counted our blessings as often as we carped about our problems, we would be overwhelmed with gratitude. Read that last line again because it's important.

Sometimes it seems that all we do is complain. Our jobs, our spouse, our kids, our finances, our politicians (OK, I'll grant this is often justified), the economy, the weather, the traffic, the credit card bills, the car payments, the run in your pantyhose, the ding in your car, the malfunctioning CD player, the long lines at the mall, the waiter who forgot your bread rolls … Stop! Take a deep breath, and count your blessings for once.

In a world plagued by illiteracy, your children can read and write. In a world plagued by people living in cardboard boxes, you live with indoor plumbing. In a world plagued by diseased children running naked through the streets, your kids are warm and well fed and clothed. And yet we gripe when our Internet service is interrupted, when the traffic light turns red or when we didn't get the diamond earrings or big-screen TV we "really wanted" for Christmas.

You see where I'm going with this? When we complain, we forget about our blessings. I'm sure anyone who has ever traveled to Bangladesh or the Sudan came home overwhelmed by their good fortune. Or maybe not. Maybe they complained that the high-speed Internet service on the airplane wasn't fast enough or their luggage was delayed at the baggage carousel.

To quote this YouTube clip, everything is amazing right now and nobody's happy. We live in an incredible world, and it's wasted on us. How quickly we have come to think the world owes us something. Why are we no longer falling down in gratitude for our prosperity and relative affluence?

In fact, it's our prosperity and affluence – and the loss of a strong religious foundation – that's caused us to forget our blessings. When you raise spoiled brats, they're unlikely to learn to appreciate simple truths such as moral character, a work ethic and gratitude.

Geez, folks, grow up. Stop acting like spoiled brats. Look around you. Learn to be grateful to God. And if God isn't "your thing," then at least be grateful for your freedom and those who fought and died to give you the opportunity to act like jerks. In this upcoming year of economic uncertainty, make a resolution to stop taking it all for granted.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thoughts on Christmas

With Christmas just 8 days away, it is obviously on the forefront of everybody's minds these days. Here are some thoughts of mine:

  • I finally got the outside Christmas lights up today. I had made my mind up not to do them as it is so late, but over the last couple of days, I've noticed scores of houses all of a sudden have their displays up. Coincidentally, this has also been the first multi-day stretch of time that the ground has been bare since basically the second week of November...so perhaps that made some people decide to put their lights up while they had a chance. In fact, as I put ours up tonight, it started snowing.
  • Looking up and down our snowy street tonight at house after house of Christmas displays as the snow fell while my wife was inside baking cookies....it was pretty much what I dream about this time of year. The only thing missing was a kid or two helping daddy untangle the lights. Ah, soon enough I say. Soon enough.
  • Growing up, cookies that were part of Christmas for us were either chocolate chip or peanut butter with Hershey Kisses. After having spent the last couple of Christmases watching (and helping) Danielle bake, frost, and sprinkle cookies, I have to say that I really love doing that with her! It's fun bonding time.
  • I'm pretty sure we're guaranteed a white Christmas. We have some storms on the horizon that promise to dump quite a bit of snow here. Of course, the forecast can change, but it seems VERY promising for those who are hoping for a white Christmas. And, as you can imagine, I am thrilled.
  • Danielle and I have not started our Christmas shopping yet. To be honest, though, there's not really that much we have to do. With our family situations like they are (four parents, six siblings, my five nieces & nephews, & Danielle's two nieces), buying presents for everybody just isn't reasonable. So we've cut way back this year. In fact, we still aren't even sure whether we are going to get each other anything. I have to be honest; Al's sermon on Sunday really made me think about the insanity of the American Christmas. It's sickening...and I'm not so sure I want any part of it.
  • When and if we ever have kids, remind me of what I just said when I am trying to provide them with the most incredible Christmas ever.
  • Another reason I think we have toned down Christmas give-giving is because there are simply too many birthdays in the month of December. We would like to request that people who are close to us either in family or friendship...please stop getting frisky during the month of March. Just wait a little bit. Thanks.
  • I have always loved this time of year. Even now, as I wrestle with God through the struggles and pains of life, I still manage to crack a smile now and then about the childlike excitement I have within me during this season. It is a time of year that I really miss my mom, even though it has been 16 Christmases. This year, I will miss my dad too. It will be our very first Christmas apart. Ever. Danielle did that last year when we were in Myrtle Beach with my dad and his wife. It's tough. But it is the way things are.

I should stop writing. You're probably bored to death.

Hope you have a great Wednesday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dave's 1st White Christmas Outlook!

That is the question on everybody's mind these days. Everywhere I go, I get asked the question: So, Dave, will Santa be able to land his sleigh safely this year or will he need to fly commercial?

Well, I am pleased to bring to you the very first look at our upcoming Christmas forecast [via AccuWeather]. Keep in mind, Christmas is still about two weeks away, and the forecast can change drastically* between now and then. But for now, it looks really good for us:

If you can read it, you can see that Christmas Eve starts off icy....but then the temps plummet on Christmas Eve night, just in time for Santa to come! He'll have to bundle up though, as the wind chills will be in the MINUS 20's!!

And then Christmas Day itself looks GLORIOUS with snow and a high of 24 and a low of 13.

If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask! In the meantime, enjoy your day and don't forget to be good boys and girls....you wouldn't want Santa to have to make a special stop at your house in wind chills like that just to leave some coal, would you??????

*so don't sue me if this forecast is wrong

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Amazing strength

You may or may not have read/heard about the F-18 crash in San Diego yesterday. The aircraft lost both engines while trying to land. The pilot ejected safely, but the plane - unfortunately - crashed into a neighborhood, destroying two houses.

One of the homes was empty at the time of the crash. The other home was where Dong Yun Yoon's family lived. The crash took the life of his entire family -- his infant daughter Rachel, who was born less than two months ago; his 15-month-old daughter Grace; his wife, Young Mi Yoon, 36; and her 60-year-old mother, Suk Im Kim, who he said had come to the United States from Korea recently to help take care of the children.

Today, he attended a press conference where he had this to say about the pilot that was in the doomed plane:

"Please pray for him not to suffer from this accident. He is one of our
treasures for the country. I don't blame him. I don't have any hard feelings. I
know he did everything he could."

Can you imagine the pain this man must be feeling? For him to say this just blows my mind.

PLEASE read the rest of the story here. This man possesses amazing strength and incredible character. I want so much to drive to San Diego, give him a hug, and see if there is anything he needs. Thankfully, he and his family were very involved in their church and will have a close church family helping him through this time.

I can't imagine what the pilot of this plane must be feeling. I cannot imagine what this man who lost his entire family must be feeling.

They are both in my prayers tonight.

Monday, December 08, 2008

oh, here i am

I know that I haven't blogged for a while, but -- really -- there's not been too much to blog about. It's been a rather difficult few weeks, however, as I have been battling a bunch of stuff.

A few thoughts:
  • We are shooting a video today and tomorrow for services at Grace this weekend. I am looking forward to the editing process...it should be pretty interesting!
  • I finally ordered a new cell phone. Mine has been broken for over a month...but thankfully...is was time to upgrade anyway. I was going to upgrade to a BlackBerry or even switch over to AT&T's iPhone, but I just didn't feel right about spending the extra money (not to mention the increase in plan costs). So, I went with a generic old phone. Best of all, it was completely free. And I'm happy about that.
  • Danielle and I are almost done Christmassing up our place. The inside is pretty much done; however, I need to tackle the outside. I think it has been difficult because we've had so much snow already (which makes it hard to do the outside stuff).
  • Speaking of snow, we are now up to 45" of snow for the season so far. Keep in mind, our NORMAL snowfall for an entire winter is 83"....so we're more than halfway there already...and winter doesn't even begin for two more weeks! Incredible!
  • We are now the owners of a snowblower. I can't begin to tell you what a difference blowing makes over shoveling. Night and freaking day.
  • A dear friend of my dad's passed away over the weekend. Bob was one of the happiest people I've ever met.
  • Bob's passing makes me think about my dad's life and how he won't be around forever. But, I've always said he is going to live to 105, so he has at least 35 more years. Thank goodness.
  • I'm grateful for Pastor Mike and the time that he has invested into me. I am grateful for his words of wisdom and wise counsel to me during this season in my life. I am also thankful for the time that he is spending with our Wednesday night group (the band of misfits, as I call us). If there is anything that I have learned with this group of guys on Wednesday nights, it is this: that things don't always have to be as they've always been. This man, one of my pastors and a friend, sees something in us that we don't yet see. That he sees what he claims God sees in me gives me strength to continue pressing forward in the hopes that, one day soon, the new creation will take hold in me. That one day soon, the old will pass away...and the new will come.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day in Dixie -Updated-

Hope you guys all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Danielle and I left with Brian & Rachel Wednesday morning at 7:30 and dropped them off in Bel Air, MD around 2:30. After a quick sandwich, we hit the road again only to get stuck in Washington/Baltimore traffic at RUSH HOUR the DAY BEFORE A HOLIDAY. Not good. We were sitting -- literally -- for three hours. I wanted to cry the whole time. We spent the night in Raleigh, NC (totally unplanned....it was getting way too late and unsafe to continue driving) with some dear friends of mine from my Florida days. Then this morning, we woke up, had breakfast, and got on the road again -- but not after surprising my best friend Chris' parents at their house in Raleigh with an unannounced visit! We had a nice, albeit quick, visit with them...although I think that his mom was a little bit embarrassed of our car in their neighborhood (it was caked white with road salt from up north). So she told us to wash it...and soon. Haha! Anyhow, we reached Myrtle Beach at 2pm, a full 31 hours after we left Erie yesterday morning. CRAZY!! Dinner was awesome, of course. And tomorrow we are meeting a couple more dear friends (Tom & Tanya) from college who are driving up to Myrtle Beach from Charleston. I can't wait to see them!!!!!

Because our trip down was so horrible, I don't think we'll be driving anywhere anytime soon. In fact, I'm not sure if I ever want to get in our car again. Ugh! So, Brian & Rachel -- looks like you're on your own for heading back to Erie on Monday. ;-)

Also, I know that I am going to cause a lot of controversy here, but I'm going to go ahead and say that I absolutely love the south.

Maybe it's the sun....maybe it's something in the water.....
But I just feel......happier here.

However, the south doesn't get snow. So, looks like the north wins (again).

the end.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Had to post this...

Erie Times News editorial 11/25/08

An early winter? Bring it on!

With so much snow coming so early, we might as well get out and enjoy it. The Old Farmer's Almanac didn't see this coming. It predicted a "mostly mild November" for the lower region of the Great Lakes, from Milwaukee to Syracuse. But now that we've been blanketed with so much snow that we could set a record for November, we might as well enjoy it.

This is for the intrepid folks who build snowmen with "Hug Me" emblazoned across the midsection.

This is for the guy we saw riding his bike down Parade Street, when skies
turned brilliant blue in between snow squalls.

This is for the folks who treat their snowblowers like toys to share, by
clearing off sidewalks and driveways for their neighbors.

This is for the people who know how to wield a snow shovel to scrape a
navigable path for postal employees, delivery workers and school children.

This is for the schoolchildren, who earn a few bucks by shoveling snow,

This is for the owners of Peek'n Peak Resort and Spa, who decided to open three days ahead of schedule after 51 inches of natural snow powdered the slopes.

This is for Peek'n Peak President Steven Lempke, who says the resort can
never have too much snow. He kept the snow-making machines working even as the lake-effect snow fell.

This is for the retailers who entice shoppers to buy a set of skis or a
pair of snowshoes as Christmas presents.

This is for the state and city employees and for the roadmasters who try to keep up with snow during blinding whiteouts.

This is for the tow-truck operators who rescue the drivers who get hung up in their driveways or stuck in the median strip.

This is for the kids who pester parents to take them sledding as soon as
the barren hills are coated white.

This is for the fun-loving parents who flap their arms to create snow
angels with their little ones.

This is for the grandmas and grandpas who warm up the kin with mugs of cocoa sprinkled with marshmallows.

This is for all of us fortunate enough to live on a lake that refreshes us
in summer and plays pranks on us in autumn, by cranking up a snow machine that requires no electricity but provides endless entertainment.

This is what I love about winter. It brings out the best in everybody! Except, of course, those of you who are sourpusses and decide to hate the snow and cold. ;-)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is your sin unforgivable?

A friend of mine recently met with his Pastor about a couple of issues that he was dealing with in his life. He wanted to have an honest dialogue with a person in his life that he knew he could trust; a person who, he thought, would pour out wisdom to somebody who happened to be really down in the dumps. As he poured out his heart to his Pastor, do you know what his Pastor's response was? His Pastor told him that he probably 'ought not talk to others about this particular sin' because, as his Pastor put it, 'there is such a stigma attached to that sin, that people won't forgive....even God's people won't forgive'.

I cannot imagine how my friend must have felt as he left his Pastor's office that day. Obviously he was crushed and even embarrassed, but the overwhelming feeling he had that day was hopelessness. He was sure that if God's people couldn't forgive him, God surely wouldn't either. All he so desperately wanted was for this person, who happened to be his Pastor, to give him some godly advice and wisdom. Instead, what he got was a healthy dose of condemnation.

I hear stories like this all the time. It breaks my heart that God's people can be so cruel and mean-spirited. What gives any of us, as Christ-followers, any right to pick and choose what sins are forgivable and which aren't?

Sometimes, I am almost positive that Christians have forgotten the beautiful, glorious, life-changing truth that Jesus HAS overcome the world. And not just SOME of it; ALL of it. Christianity is not an exclusive club that is only open for certain people. I am so sick of a small but vocal minority of Christians spouting off their divisive words of anger, hate, and intolerance to those whom they disagree.

Do they honestly think that those whom they are trying to reach will react kindly to them? Or could it be that hatred will only breed more hatred?

Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." Indeed, we are to bless and not curse; we are to do good to those who treat us badly; we are to pray for those who call us enemy. Doesn't God command that we deal with our enemies completely different than the way they deal with us? So then why do so many of the hurting, lost, and broken feel so utterly oppressed by those who claim to proclaim the Word of God?

If you were told -- like my friend was -- that your sin, whatever it may be, was unforgivable, would that make you want to repent and accept Christ? I highly doubt it.

It absolutely boggles my mind that [some] Christians have the audacity to determine what sins God will or will not forgive.

Last I checked, Jesus didn't leave a list of unforgivable sins as He died on the Cross.

Shame on us that we think we can make our own.

Friday, November 21, 2008

An Erie Autumn

This is what we awoke to this morning:

Be careful out there!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2 of the 41,000,000

Danielle and I are going to be 2 out of an estimated 41 million people who are going to be traveling 50 miles or more next week for Thanksgiving. We are going to be going down to South Carolina to see my Dad and his wife. It should be a fun time. Hopefully we have good weather on the way down, although there is a little part of me that hopes for bad weather (it makes the trip fun).

We're going to have a bunch of new music to listen to (although D and I are notorious for....GASP....having conversations while we drive long distances). In addition to having three full CD's of Christmas music (compliments of Aaron), Danielle downloaded the new Casting Crowns Christmas CD and Sara Groves' new Christmas CD. So we're set music-wise for the trip. I'm wondering if we'll even listen to them, though? We might have too much to talk about.

Another great thing about this trip is that is going to be HALF the cost of the exact same trip that we took just three months ago over Labor Day weekend. Consider that gas, at that time, was about $4/gallon. I heard on the news this morning that the national average of gas will fall below $2/gallon by Thanksgiving. Checking the trusty gasbuddy.com, I see that there are places along our journey that are currently selling gas as low as $1.69/gallon. In the same news report this morning, they said that it is entirely possible that we could see $1.00/gallon gas by midwinter. ONE DOLLAR PER GALLON?? I can't even fathom that. I mean, I've seen it before, but ask me two months ago if that was possible ever again, and I definitely would have said no.

It's strange, because I understand that the country (and the world) is suffering through really bad economic times right now. But for somebody who has nothing invested in the stock market or any other kinds of investments, I actually feel really good about the way things are right now. With gas so low, it's beginning to affect prices on other things too...which is awesome news. Is it bad that I am actually feeling hopeful in this time that so many people are struggling?

Well, I'm going to sign off. But, before I do, I realize that my love for all things winter is a little too obvious to those who know me well. Even here on this blog, I have been talking quite a bit as of late about the weather. But this blog isn't a weather blog, and I know that I must talk about other things once in a while. So today, I'm not going to talk about how AccuWeather says we're supposed to get another 18.5" of snow by Sunday.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Awesome video

This video was shot last night during the thunder snowstorm that struck our area.

Unfortunately, this wasn't captured by me, but it's still a cool video (shot by YouTube user pitt9496 and posted at erieblogs.com)!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This Rocks.

This is the forecast for the next few days:

Can it get any better than this?! And it's only mid-November!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Weather Forecast FAIL

Check out the weather forecast for next Thursday:

In case you can't read the print, this is an actual forecast on the National Weather Service website for next Thursday:
Now, I am not going to question what the guys at the National Weather Service do to put a forecast together. But something tells me that it is not going to be 80 below zero here next Thursday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

not good.

Tonight, I laid in bed as I do on many nights and tried to read. Unfortunately, as is usually the case when I try to read something, I was unable to. Now, obviously I can read. It's just that when I do read, I do not/can not comprehend what it is I am reading. My mind is always going in a thousand different directions. I got really frustrated because this problem seemed to go along with so many other things that have been frustrating me lately about myself. So, I looked up some stuff online, took a depression screening quiz and an Attention Deficit Disorder screening quiz. These are my results:

For the ADHD Screening:

Serious ADHD Likely!

You scored a total of 101

It is highly likely that you are presently suffering from adult attention deficit disorder, according to your responses on this self-report questionnaire. You should not take this as a diagnosis of any sort, or a recommendation for treatment. However, it would be advisable and likely beneficial for you to seek further diagnosis from a trained mental health professional immediately.

For the depression screening:
You appear to be suffering from severe depressive symptoms commonly associated with serious depressive disorders, such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder or dysthymia. These symptoms appear to be causing you some serious impairment and distress in your normal, everyday functioning. You would likely benefit from the immediate attention of your physician or a trained mental health professional for further evaluation and a more accurate diagnosis and treatment. If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program, you might also contact them for help and referral.

I'm not posting these things here for you to have pity on me. I am posting these results on here so that you can pray for me. Please please pray for me. I feel that I have reached a point where I no longer have any clue how I should handle life.

Whether or not these screenings are accurate is a moot point. All I know is that something is affecting my life to the point where I am completely unable to function....mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.

I don't know what to do. I just don't.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008


I got this as I edited my profile in Facebook today:

Which example applies to you?

Right now your profile may be confusing. Please choose how we should refer
to you.
Please select either Male or Female

Dave edited her profile.
Dave edited his profile.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My Thoughts

Undoubtedly, half of the country is waking up this Wednesday feeling let down, while the other half is jumping with joy with what an Obama presidency could mean to our country. As I watched the returns come in last night and I began to realize that there was no way that McCain could catch up to Obama's impressive road to victory, I found myself strangely calm in the midst of all that was happening.

Deep down, I am sure that most McCain supporters realized some time ago that it was a long shot at best that our guy would ultimately win the prize. And so we began the internal process of dealing with it and accepting it and wondering what it would be like in this new era of American history that began last night. It was a process that I think helped me deal with accepting the reality of what I believe is a less than ideal situation for our nation.

Like many of you, I watched McCain's concession speech. Full of class and integrity, my heart overflowed with gratitude for his service to our country and the campaign he ran. Let's face it: for all he had going against him over the last few months, he sure ran a close race right down to the finish line. Several minutes later, when Obama and his family walked on the stage, a whole new set of emotions set in.

I realized at that moment, that this truly was a defining moment in our history. We witnessed a moment that our grandchildren and our grandchildrens' children will learn about in school many years from now. We witnessed the American dream in it's most beautiful form: that, in the United States of America, anybody really could be anything they wanted to be.

I thought about what this election will teach our children and what it will show the world. I thought about how incredible this country is that something like this can happen. I felt overwhelming sadness for those living under regimes that will never allow them to know what it is like to participate in a free and democratic election. I felt so incredibly blessed to be an American.

All this to say that I believe this man has done a great job at brainwashing all of his supporters into believing he is some sort of messianic figure that will usher in peace, prosperity, and unity beyond our wildest dreams.

Although I may not have voted for Barack Obama, and I certainly disagree with him on just about every issue there is, he is going to be my President and I will pray for him. I will pray that his heart will be softened towards issues that I care so deeply about -- and ones that I believe God does as well. There's no escaping the fact that Obama will be the most pro-abortion president in history and I don't hesitate for one moment before I say that I believe he is leading us down the road to socialism. I maintain my belief that he is a dangerous man of whom we know frighteningly little about. No moment, no matter how historic, can trump the genuine concerns that so many of us have about this undeniably mysterious man that will -- in 11 short weeks -- be the most powerful man in the world. But he is who we have chosen and it is something we are going to have to accept. We exercised the greatest gift of democracy yesterday...and the beautiful thing about democracy is that we get to do it again in four years.

Four years may be a long time to wait. Much damage may be done by then. But for the sake of this great country, I hope and pray that he proves me wrong.

In the end, Jesus is still King and every person is personally accountable to a holy and righteous God. God's will WILL prevail. He is all we need.

We're gonna be okay. I promise.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My Wife Was Right

Danielle has told me over and over again that I am addicted to the news. While I never really disagreed, I shrugged her off and said, "meh". But this morning, as I clicked through my daily list of sites that I visit for up-to-the-second coverage of Campaign '08, I couldn't help feeling that perhaps she was right. After all, I found it a little odd that, as I was reading, I felt myself getting a little noxious. Three different times, I felt my eyes well up with tears. And then I realized something. I realized that I am dreading Wednesday morning. What will I be feeling? What will I do in the event that things don't go well? The way things are right now in this country, half the country will be rejoicing and half the country will be dejected. I am rather afraid that I may be in the latter group, yet I cling to the hope that the polls are wrong.

It is difficult for me not to feel such emotion when it comes to politics. Of course, I trust God and I know that His dominion over all of us transcends any nations' petty politics. But I also know that while we are here on earth, the quality of life we enjoy is a direct result of the leaders that we elect. So it is hard for me not to be genuinely concerned that we may be on the verge of electing a man as dangerous as Barack Obama. Do we even know who he is? Not in the least. Do those who are voting for him even care who he is? Many, if not most, don't. Has the media done its job letting the American people know who and what this man stands for? HA! Don't even get me started. Does Barack Obama want to lead this nation or does he simply want to be President? There is a difference, and I think we all know the answer.

After what has seemed like an eternity, tomorrow is the day we've all been waiting for. Tomorrow, go out and vote. Before you do, however, I urge you to KNOW WHO AND WHAT YOU ARE VOTING FOR.

Millions of precious lives who have no say in matters having to do with whether they ever see the light of day or not. THREE supreme court appointments. Two wars waiting to be won. A dangerously and dramatically reduced defense budget. The possibility that my hard earned money may be redistributed against my will. Free trade. Nuclear proliferation. Tax increases that will stun everybody. A lopsided government that will be run by a single party (read: A LIBERAL SUPERMAJORITY). A much much much bigger government. Unfair and irresponsible legislation based on the myth of climate change. And the list goes on...

Do you see what is at stake tomorrow?

Now, I leave you with this (via Mrs.P):


An impassioned letter from a "nobody". But he gives his telephone number at the end.

Sent: Monday, August 18, 2008 3:19 PM

A letter from Illinois

Dear Fellow American:

My name is Joe Porter. I live in Champaign , Illinois. I'm 46 years old, a husband, a father, a small business owner, a veteran, and a homeowner. I don't consider myself to be either conservative or liberal, and I vote for the person, not Republican or Democrat.

I don't believe there are "two Americas" but that every person in this country can be whomever and whatever they want to be if they'll just work to get there and nowhere else on earth can they find such opportunities. I believe our government should help those who are legitimately downtrodden, and should always put the interests of America first.

The purpose of this message is that I'm concerned about the future of this great nation. I'm worried that the silent majority of honest, hard-working, tax-paying people in this country have been passive for too long.

Most folks I know choose not to involve themselves in politics. They go about their daily lives, paying their bills, raising their kids, and doing what they can to maintain the good life. They vote and consider doing so to be a sacred trust. They shake their heads at the political pundits and so-called "news", thinking that what they hear is always spun by whomever is reporting it. They can't understand how elected officials canregularly violate the public trust with pork barrel spending. They don't want government handouts. They want the government to protect them, not raise their taxes for more government programs.

We are in the unique position in this country of electing our leaders. It's a privilege to do so. I've never found a candidate in any election with whom I agreed on everything. I'll wager that most of us don't evenagree with our families or spouses 100% of the time. So when I step into that voting booth, I always try to look at the big picture and cast my vote for the man or woman who is best qualified for the job.

I've hired a lot of people in my lifetime, and essentially that's what an election is - a hiring process. Who has the credentials? Whom do I want working for me? Whom can I trust to do the job right?

I'm concerned that a growing number of voters in this country simply don't get it. They are caught up in a fervor they can't explain, and calling it "change".

"Change what?", I ask.

"Well, we're going to change America", they say.

"In what way?", I query.

"We want someone new and fresh in the White House", they exclaim.

"So, someone who's not a politician?", I say.

"Uh, well, no, we just want a lot of stuff changed, so we're voting for Obama", they state.

"So the current system, the system of freedom and democracy that has enabled a man to grow up in this great country, get a fine education, raise incredible amounts of money and dominate the news, and win his party's nomination for the White House that system's all wrong?"

"No, no, that part of the system's okay we just need a lot of change."

And so it goes. "Change we can believe in."

Quite frankly, I don't believe that vague proclamations of change hold any promise for me.

In recent months, I've been asking virtually everyone I encounter how they're voting. I live in Illinois , so most folks tell me they're voting for Barack Obama. But no one can really tell me why, only that he's going to change a lot of stuff. "Change, change, change." I have yet to find one single person who can tell me distinctly and convincingly why this man is qualified to be President and Commander-in- Chief of themost powerful nation on earth other than the fact that he claims he's going to implement a lot of change.

We've all seen the emails about Obama's genealogy, his upbringing, his Muslim background, and his church affiliations.

Let's ignore this for a moment. Put it all aside. Then ask yourself, "What qualifies this man to be mypresident? That he's a brilliant orator and talks about change?"


I'll be forthright with you I believe the American voters who are supporting Barack Obama don't have a clue what they're doing, as evidenced by the fact that not one of them - NOT ONE of them I've spoken to can spell out his qualifications. Not even the most liberal media can explain why he should be elected.

Political experience? Negligible. Foreign relations? Non-existent. Achievements? Name one. Someone who wants to unite the country? If you haven't read his wife's thesis from Princeton , look it up on the web. This is who's lining up to be our next First Lady? The only thing I can glean from Obama's constant harping about change is that we're in for a lot of new taxes.

For me, the choice is clear. I've looked carefully at the two leading applicants for the job, and I've made my choice.

Here's a question - "Where were you five and a half years ago? Around Christmas, 2002. You've had five or six birthdays in that time. My son has grown from a sixth grade child to a high school graduate. Five and a half years is a good chunk of time. About 2,000 days. 2,000 nights of sleep. 6, 000 meals, give or take."

John McCain spent that amount of time, from 1967 to 1973, in a North Vietnamese prisoner-of- war camp.

When offered early release, he refused it. He considered this offer to be a public relations stunt by his captors, and insisted that those held longer than he should be released first. Did you get that part? He wasoffered his freedom, and he turned it down. A regimen of beatings and torture began.

Do you possess such strength of character? Locked in a filthy cell in a foreign country, would you turn down your own freedom in favor of your fellow man? I submit that's a quality of character that is rarely found, and for me, this singular act defines John McCain.

Unlike several presidential candidates in recent years whose military service is questionable or non-existent, you will not find anyone to denigrate the integrity and moral courage of this man.

A graduate of Annapolis, during his Naval service he received the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. His own son is now serving in the Marine Corps in Iraq.

Barack Obama is fond of saying "We honor John McCain's service...BUT. ..", which to me iscondescending and offensive - because what I hear is, "Let's forget this man's sacrifice for his country, and his proven leadership abilities, and talk some more about change."

I don't agree with John McCain on everything - but I am utterly convinced that he is qualified to be our next President, and I trust him to do what's right. I know in my heart that he has the best interests of ourcountry in mind. He doesn't simply want to be President - he wants to lead America, and there's a huge difference.

Factually, there is simply no comparison between the two candidates. A man of questionable background and motives who prattles on about change, can't hold a candle to a man who has devoted his life in public service to this nation, retiring from the Navy in1981 and elected to the Senate in1982.

Perhaps Obama's supporters are taking a stance between old and new. Maybe they don't care about McCain's service or his strength of character, or his unblemished qualifications to be President. Maybe"likeability" is a higher priority for them than "trust". Being a prisoner of war is not what qualifies John McCain to be President of the United States of America - but his demonstrated leadership certainly DOES.

It is time for us to stand. It is time for thinking Americans to say, "Enough." It is time for people of all parties to stop following the party line.

It is time for anyone who wants to keep America first, who wants the right man leading their nation, to start a dialogue with all their friends and neighbors and ask who they're voting for, and why.

There's a lot of evil in this world. That should be readily apparent to all of us by now. And when faced with that evil as we are now, I want a man who knows the cost of war on his troops and on his citizens. I want a man who puts my family's interests before any foreign country.

I want a President who's qualified to lead.

I want my country back, and I'm voting for John McCain.

Phone: 760.434.1395
E-mail: ronald.hess@alumni.purdue.edu

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Today kind of stunk. Oh well. Tomorrow's another day. I did, however, get to see some good snow. I had a film shoot this afternoon and got to drive through some areas of the city that got hit with the snowstorm last night. Lake effect snow is so weird. In one place, you can have absolutely nothing. A mile down the road (literally. a mile. as evidenced by the picture of sunshine, and then 2 minutes later, snow squall) there is half a foot. It was quite a sight today seeing some of the fall leaves still out on the trees:

It's not just here in the States where we are getting an early taste of winter. London, England woke up to their earliest snowfall in over 70 years this morning (pictured at left). Crazy stuff!

Yes, I do realize I'm a nerd. Ok?

I have so much other stuff to blog about...including an incredibly fun time last weekend....but I just don't have the time right now. Danielle and I spent a couple days up in Toronto and that was fun. And then on Sunday, Aaron, Kelly, Danielle, and I went to Cleveland to celebrate Aaron's 30th at his favorite restaurant. It is definitely now one of my favorite restaurants. Anyway, more on this on another day.

Speaking of Aaron, he turns 30 today and I want to take this opportunity to wish him a happy birthday. Aaron, enjoy your day and may this be the best year you've ever had. Danielle & I love you very much and appreciate your friendship. You are an example to me and I want to thank you for being such a huge part of my life. You really are family to Danielle and I. So, happy birthday, brother. Make it the very best. :-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our First Snow!

Ok, so it's not a foot, but it's still snow. Actually, it's not even snow, it's graupel. But it's still exciting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shiver me timbers.....literally

The seasons have definitely changed and winter is getting nearer everyday. We're approaching the end of October and Danielle & I have yet to turn on the heat in our house. For me, it has become somewhat of a game as I try to see how long we can go without turning it on. We do have a space heater, which actually -- for as small as it is -- works wonders. It keeps our bedroom warm at night and when we combine that with our down comforter, we are actually quite warm and comfy at night. I hate the price of home heating, but at what point do you bite the bullet and say, ok, i'm tired of shivering my butt off everyday? For me, it's when the daily high temperature fails to reach 15° for four consecutive days. I think Danielle may disagree though...

I had a fun(ny) time with Michelle V and Kathy W tonight on a film shoot. We had to navigate rush hour traffic on Peach Street to get the perfect shot. Several near-accidents later, we got the shots we needed. After that, Michelle and I met up with Eric R, Mark B, John W, and Mark B's son to film a fake football game at their house. It was hilarious. Sometimes, I wish that the videos in the services could be the raw footage. People wouldn't believe what they were seeing! :-)

The rest of this week promises to be extra busy. Lots of video work to do (personal and church). The load keeps getting heavier and heavier...but I love it...and I'm not complaining!

I am EXTREMELY excited about this upcoming weekend. This past Sunday, Danielle and I received a pretty incredible gift from a friend of ours. We've decided to make a weekend out of it, and I can't wait. Yay!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Goodbye Autumn?

From AccuWeather.com:

There is every indication that the weather is going to turn mighty cold across the Midwest and much of the East next week. As a matter of fact, it will probably look and feel more like the end of November. With all the cold air that is going to rush southward from Canada, there is every reason to believe that there will be plenty of snow flurries and even squalls from the Great Lakes to the Appalachians. It looks like a major trough will develop over the Great Lakes next week. The air mass should be cold enough to support snow downwind from the Great Lakes and into the Appalachians. In fact, some models suggest the snow could be quite heavy and prolonged in some of those areas. This may be a Halloween for the record books.

I also wanted to post a snapshot of the forecast for our area beginning in the next week. From Monday the 28th all the way to the end of the forecast period (Nov 3), there is snow in the forecast every day:

Of course, weather forecasting is not an exact science, and this all could be model exaggeration. But we'll just have to wait and see. Either way, winter is on it's way...and word on the street is that this year is going to be pretty wild. Yay!

2008: The Year the Media Died

There is a myriad of things I can/should blog about, but I'm not going to today. Instead, I want to leave you with a cartoon I saw yesterday in the paper. It summarizes uber-accurately the uber-obvious media bias that exists in this country:

Who cares about Obama's past. Who cares about Joe Biden's past. Who cares who they associate with. Who cares that Obama is a socialist. The REAL danger to America is somebody like Joe the Plumber who...gasp, can you imagine...questions the Messiah on an issue that A LOT of people are wondering about but the media is totally and knowingly and happily ignoring?

When will people wake up and realize what danger looks like when it is staring us in the face?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ams and Am Nots

9 things I am:

  • glad last week is over. Wow, it was insane
  • impressed with this beautiful fall weather
  • excited to spend a few days with my best friend Chris
  • nervous about all the stuff I need to do within the next few weeks
  • happy that gas prices are falling falling falling
  • thankful that I was able to spend some time with Aaron and the boys on the boat yesterday
  • in awe of what God continues to do at Grace. Yesterday was awesome. Kat was baptized and MAN! what an incredible testimony of what God has done in that young woman's life. She rocks.
  • excited about some awesome changes coming up in the communications department at Grace, including my area of expertise: video announcements.
  • excited about the doors God is opening in Danielle's life
5 things I am not:

  • impressed with the movie Eagle Eye
  • ready for Chris to come
  • content
  • ready for Christmas
  • loving enough towards my wife
As I sign off for the day, I leave you with this video. It is a hilarious look by The Onion at the sensationalism of weather events by the news media (which, I believe, is adding to the "climate change" hysteria going on right now):

Thursday, October 09, 2008

First Snow!!

We are quickly approaching the time of year when many of my blog entries will be about my favorite thing in the world (besides Jesus, Danielle, my family, friends, and Chick-Fil-A): SNOW!

This morning, according to AccuWeather, there was snow in the forecast for the first time this season. Granted, it's still two weeks away, but exciting nonetheless to see snow forecasted!

By the way, they (AccuWeather) just released their winter forecast yesterday and they are predicting a harsh and snowy winter for most of the Eastern USA including the Great Lakes. That is about the best news in the world for me to hear right now. Unfortunately, that also means that it will probably be an extremely expensive winter for many. In fact, Joe Bastardi, the AccuWeather forecaster who issued the Winter 2008-2009 forecast, stated that "many homeowners could be pushed to the brink this winter". That's in line with what the Farmer's Almanac said about how this winter could be "catastrophic". Yikes.

As for Danielle and I? We'll just invest in a few extra blankets and keep the heat at 55. Fun!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What the heck is going on?

I admit that I don't truly understand the financial crisis that is unfolding before our eyes. I don't own any stock, we have no investments, and everything we do is done with cash. But I am not stupid enough to believe for one second that America's greed and lust for money has a lot - if not everything - to do with it. When the pundits talk about whether this could be another great depression, I have to admit that it frightens me a little (although - technically, we're not even in a recession yet. For that, don't we need two quarters of negative growth..and we haven't even had one yet?).

The following is an analysis of the situation written by Ron Paul. It is from his blog, Campaign for Liberty (hat tip to this friend for the initial find). My interest in what he had to say began about a year ago when he was campaigning for president. Although he did not get very far in his bid for the Republican nomination, he made made a lot of people think about the way things are. For me, it was the first time I ever thought about what being a true conservative meant. Although I would love to ask you to write him in, I cannot do that, for giving a vote to Ron Paul is basically the same as giving a vote to Obama. And I cannot, in good conscience, be responsible for a single extra vote that Obama will receive in three weeks.
That said, grab a cup of tea, some biscuits, and put on some Nickel Creek (it's a long read):

Something Big is Going On
Taken from : http://www.campaignforliberty.com/

The following statement is written by Congressman Paul about the pending financial disaster. He will introduce this statement as a special order and insert it into the Congressional Record next week. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to debut it first on the Campaign for Liberty blog. It reads as follows:
I have, for the past 35 years, expressed my grave concern for the future of America. The course we have taken over the past century has threatened our liberties, security and prosperity. In spite of these long-held concerns, I have days—growing more frequent all the time—when I'm convinced the time is now upon us that some Big Events are about to occur. These fast-approaching events will not go unnoticed. They will affect all of us. They will not be limited to just some areas of our country. The world economy and political system will share in the chaos about to be unleashed.
Though the world has long suffered from the senselessness of wars that should have been avoided, my greatest fear is that the course on which we find ourselves will bring even greater conflict and economic suffering to the innocent people of the world—unless we quickly change our ways.
America, with her traditions of free markets and property rights, led the way toward great wealth and progress throughout the world as well as at home. Since we have lost our confidence in the principles of liberty, self reliance, hard work and frugality, and instead took on empire building, financed through inflation and debt, all this has changed. This is indeed frightening and an historic event.
The problem we face is not new in history. Authoritarianism has been around a long time. For centuries, inflation and debt have been used by tyrants to hold power, promote aggression, and provide "bread and circuses" for the people. The notion that a country can afford "guns and butter" with no significant penalty existed even before the 1960s when it became a popular slogan. It was then, though, we were told the Vietnam War and a massive expansion of the welfare state were not problems. The seventies proved that assumption wrong.
Today things are different from even ancient times or the 1970s. There is something to the argument that we are now a global economy. The world has more people and is more integrated due to modern technology, communications, and travel. If modern technology had been used to promote the ideas of liberty, free markets, sound money and trade, it would have ushered in a new golden age—a globalism we could accept.
Instead, the wealth and freedom we now enjoy are shrinking and rest upon a fragile philosophic infrastructure. It is not unlike the levies and bridges in our own country that our system of war and welfare has caused us to ignore.
I'm fearful that my concerns have been legitimate and may even be worse than I first thought. They are now at our doorstep. Time is short for making a course correction before this grand experiment in liberty goes into deep hibernation.
There are reasons to believe this coming crisis is different and bigger than the world has ever experienced. Instead of using globalism in a positive fashion, it's been used to globalize all of the mistakes of the politicians, bureaucrats and central bankers.
Being an unchallenged sole superpower was never accepted by us with a sense of humility and respect. Our arrogance and aggressiveness have been used to promote a world empire backed by the most powerful army of history. This type of globalist intervention creates problems for all citizens of the world and fails to contribute to the well-being of the world's populations. Just think how our personal liberties have been trashed here at home in the last decade.
The financial crisis, still in its early stages, is apparent to everyone: gasoline prices over $4 a gallon; skyrocketing education and medical-care costs; the collapse of the housing bubble; the bursting of the NASDAQ bubble; stockmarkets plunging; unemployment rising;, massive underemployment; excessive government debt; and unmanageable personal debt. Little doubt exists as to whether we'll get stagflation. The question that will soon be asked is: When will the stagflation become an inflationary depression?
There are various reasons that the world economy has been globalized and the problems we face are worldwide. We cannot understand what we're facing without understanding fiat money and the long-developing dollar bubble.
There were several stages. From the inception of the Federal Reserve System in 1913 to 1933, the Central Bank established itself as the official dollar manager. By 1933, Americans could no longer own gold, thus removing restraint on the Federal Reserve to inflate for war and welfare.
By 1945, further restraints were removed by creating the Bretton-Woods Monetary System making the dollar the reserve currency of the world. This system lasted up until 1971. During the period between 1945 and 1971, some restraints on the Fed remained in place. Foreigners, but not Americans, could convert dollars to gold at $35 an ounce. Due to the excessive dollars being created, that system came to an end in 1971.
It's the post Bretton-Woods system that was responsible for globalizing inflation and markets and for generating a gigantic worldwide dollar bubble. That bubble is now bursting, and we're seeing what it's like to suffer the consequences of the many previous economic errors.
Ironically in these past 35 years, we have benefited from this very flawed system. Because the world accepted dollars as if they were gold, we only had to counterfeit more dollars, spend them overseas (indirectly encouraging our jobs to go overseas as well) and enjoy unearned prosperity. Those who took our dollars and gave us goods and services were only too anxious to loan those dollars back to us. This allowed us to export our inflation and delay the consequences we now are starting to see.
But it was never destined to last, and now we have to pay the piper. Our huge foreign debt must be paid or liquidated. Our entitlements are coming due just as the world has become more reluctant to hold dollars. The consequence of that decision is price inflation in this country—and that's what we are witnessing today. Already price inflation overseas is even higher than here at home as a consequence of foreign central bank's willingness to monetize our debt.
Printing dollars over long periods of time may not immediately push prices up–yet in time it always does. Now we're seeing catch-up for past inflating of the monetary supply. As bad as it is today with $4 a gallon gasoline, this is just the beginning. It's a gross distraction to hound away at "drill, drill, drill" as a solution to the dollar crisis and high gasoline prices. Its okay to let the market increase supplies and drill, but that issue is a gross distraction from the sins of deficits and Federal Reserve monetary shenanigans.
This bubble is different and bigger for another reason. The central banks of the world secretly collude to centrally plan the world economy. I'm convinced that agreements among central banks to "monetize" U.S. debt these past 15 years have existed, although secretly and out of the reach of any oversight of anyone—especially the U.S. Congress that doesn't care, or just flat doesn't understand. As this "gift" to us comes to an end, our problems worsen. The central banks and the various governments are very powerful, but eventually the markets overwhelm when the people who get stuck holding the bag (of bad dollars) catch on and spend the dollars into the economy with emotional zeal, thus igniting inflationary fever.
This time—since there are so many dollars and so many countries involved—the Fed has been able to "paper" over every approaching crisis for the past 15 years, especially with Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, which has allowed the bubble to become history's greatest.
The mistakes made with excessive credit at artificially low rates are huge, and the market is demanding a correction. This involves excessive debt, misdirected investments, over-investments, and all the other problems caused by the government when spending the money they should never have had. Foreign militarism, welfare handouts and $80 trillion entitlement promises are all coming to an end. We don't have the money or the wealth-creating capacity to catch up and care for all the needs that now exist because we rejected the market economy, sound money, self reliance and the principles of liberty.
Since the correction of all this misallocation of resources is necessary and must come, one can look for some good that may come as this "Big Even" unfolds.
There are two choices that people can make. The one choice that is unavailable to us is to limp along with the status quo and prop up the system with more debt, inflation and lies. That won't happen.
One of the two choices, and the one chosen so often by government in the past is that of rejecting the principles of liberty and resorting to even bigger and more authoritarian government. Some argue that giving dictatorial powers to the President, just as we have allowed him to run the American empire, is what we should do. That's the great danger, and in this post-911 atmosphere, too many Americans are seeking safety over freedom. We have already lost too many of our personal liberties already. Real fear of economic collapse could prompt central planners to act to such a degree that the New Deal of the 30's might look like Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
The more the government is allowed to do in taking over and running the economy, the deeper the depression gets and the longer it lasts. That was the story of the 30ss and the early 40s, and the same mistakes are likely to be made again if we do not wake up.
But the good news is that it need not be so bad if we do the right thing. I saw "Something Big" happening in the past 18 months on the campaign trail. I was encouraged that we are capable of waking up and doing the right thing. I have literally met thousands of high school and college kids who are quite willing to accept the challenge and responsibility of a free society and reject the cradle-to-grave welfare that is promised them by so many do-good politicians.
If more hear the message of liberty, more will join in this effort. The failure of our foreign policy, welfare system, and monetary policies and virtually all government solutions are so readily apparent, it doesn't take that much convincing. But the positive message of how freedom works and why it's possible is what is urgently needed.
One of the best parts of accepting self reliance in a free society is that true personal satisfaction with one's own life can be achieved. This doesn't happen when the government assumes the role of guardian, parent or provider, because it eliminates a sense of pride. But the real problem is the government can't provide the safety and economic security that it claims. The so-called good that government claims it can deliver is always achieved at the expense of someone else's freedom. It's a failed system and the young people know it.
Restoring a free society doesn't eliminate the need to get our house in order and to pay for the extravagant spending. But the pain would not be long-lasting if we did the right things, and best of all the empire would have to end for financial reasons. Our wars would stop, the attack on civil liberties would cease, and prosperity would return. The choices are clear: it shouldn't be difficult, but the big event now unfolding gives us a great opportunity to reverse the tide and resume the truly great American Revolution started in 1776. Opportunity knocks in spite of the urgency and the dangers we face.
Let's make "Something Big is Happening" be the discovery that freedom works and is popular and the big economic and political event we're witnessing is a blessing in disguise.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Does Michael Phelps have this much trouble?

This afternoon and evening, Danielle and I went on a much needed shopping trip. One of the things I was searching for was a pair of brown shoes. My shoe size is 14 and I know from experience that it is generally very difficult to find size 14 shoes in most stores. We hit Marshalls, Kohls, DSW, and others...and none had size 14 shoes.

Are guys with size 14+ feet freaks of nature or something? I mean, you go to just about any store, and there are rows upon rows of 12's and 13's. But not a single size 14. What gives?! What is it that guides a stores' decision to not sell size 14 shoes? It totally baffles me.

We finally did find a fairly decent selection of size 14's at The Shoe Dept in the mall. In fact, they were having an INCREDIBLE sale, so I walked out of there with two pairs of brown shoes.

I wonder if Michael Phelps - a fellow size fourteener - has this much trouble finding shoes?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Granger Film Festival

Well, the results [click on Granger Film Festival then 2008 Entries] from the Granger Film Festival are in, and - sadly - Grace did not win the grand prize. However, the good news is that out of the many videos they received, one of Grace's was chosen. (I submitted three). So, despite the fact that we didn't win anything, I am extremely pleased that my work and our church got some national exposure at a renowned event like the Granger Film Festival. That, in and of itself, is huge!

The irony of it all is that the video that they chose was a video that was created PRIOR to the purchase of our new and incredible video camera. Oh well.

I hope it's not too lofty to set a goal of Grace being one of the winners in next year's festival.

Friday, September 26, 2008

the funniest thing i've seen in a long time

If you are not a regular reader of The Fail Blog, you should be. 9.5 out of 10 of the posts make me crack up in pure unbounded laughter. (Please be aware that if you do go to their site, however, that a very select few of the posts may be offensive to some. For those that would find it useful to them, there is a G-Rated link you can choose). Anyhow, this one, in particular, almost made me die.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I wish you guys got to do what I've been doing...

I am currently in the middle of shooting a bunch of segments for a DVD that we (Grace) is sending out for our small groups to watch, along with a bunch of videos for the weekend services in October. It has been an incredibly busy couple of weeks, especially because this past Sunday was our annual meeting, which - for me - means the biggest project of the year: the year in review video. This year's video was especially fun to make because we have been through an incredibly historic year at Grace.

In order to pick out the most important images of this past year, I had to sift through almost 45 hours of footage. When it all came together in the video, it really put into perspective the amazing work that God is doing through His people at Grace. As I said in the year in review video: this year we learned to dream bigger. And I wasn't referring to the building. Yes, our new facility is a tool that God is using to bring people to Jesus in ways way beyond what anyone could have dreamed of. I was referring to having people dream bigger about what God will do and is doing. People from all over this community are stepping foot into the church -- A church -- for the first time. Healing is taking place. Restoration has begun in the hearts of many. Salvations. Baptisms. Discipleship. Helping the downtrodden in our community. In so many ways, Grace is an awesome, albeit imperfect example of what a New Testament church should look like. And people are responding en masse.

In going out over the last couple of weeks to film peoples' testimonies for our upcoming We Will Tell (Part II) campaign, it has been an INCREDIBLE blessing for me to meet all sorts of new people whom I have never met before even though we attend the same church. I feel like, sometimes, we get in our own little bubbles and we tend to lose perspective of the stuff going on all around us at all times. I have met with young and old, new believers and veterans of the faith, newcomers to Grace and others that have attended for many decades. And the underlying message in each of their stories goes something like this: I never thought a place like Grace existed. Then, for whatever reason, I became part of this body of believers and my life has never been the same.

Today, for instance, I filmed a lady from Australia who moved to the United States to become a professor here at Penn State all because she met somebody from Grace at a conference in London, England. I mean, what an awesome story!? She spoke with incredible passion tonight about what God is doing in her heart and how incredibly grateful she is that she found Grace and how at home she feels there. She said she never expected to find a church like Grace in America, as she came from a very similar church in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. I also filmed a precious lady today who has been at Grace for nearly 30 years. She spoke of how, in 1998, when they first announced that they had purchased the land on Grubb Road, she could barely contain herself. She didn't even know if she'd be around another ten years, so the wait was excruciating for her. She wanted so badly to see the finished product, as she knew that God had amazing plans for His work here. Well, she's still here, and she spoke today about how Grace is positioning itself for the future. This incredible and godly woman, who was born before TV's were even in existence, spoke of how vital it is for Grace to embrace change, progress, and innovation. She knows that in order to reach this generation, we must adapt to the culture and meet the lost where they are. Her testimony literally brought me to tears. I can't wait for everybody to see what she had to say.

Another overwhelming theme in everybody's stories is the immense amount of respect that these people have for our pastors. People love Al, our senior pastor. I mean, they ADORE him. They appreciate his honesty, his vulnerability, and his humility. And the respect that people have for Derek and Mike -- while not surprising -- is simply incredible. What they say is true: we are so blessed to have such incredible leaders guiding us and doing their best to bring us closer to Christ.

If one thing has become ABUNDANTLY clear over these last couple weeks, it is this: God is moving at Grace Church in ways I think few - if any - people can possibly comprehend. In fact, I fully believe that we are only seeing the tip of the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what He is going to do at Grace. Innovation and change is never easy. Sacrifices must be made and there will be bumps along the way. But I ask any Grace attender who is not excited about what they are seeing happen all around them: how can you NOT be excited about what God is doing? And for those who are sitting on the sidelines watching the action, I beg of you to jump on board and be part of the incredible story that is being written at 7300 Grubb Road.

I think Derek summed it up nicely tonight:


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Allow me to brag a bit...

Things are really crazy right now. I have about 200 video projects going on, which I am very happy about. Some are for church, others are not. I'm glad that things are so busy with that right now, but it doesn't allow me much time to do other things...ya know, like blog.

One of the big projects I am working on this week is the video for the 2008 annual meeting being held this Sunday at Grace. I have had the privilege (some wouldn't call it that, but I consider it as such) of going through hours and hours and hours of video from this past year. In doing so, I feel the need to brag a little bit about this place called Grace. I have much to say, but for now, I am going to just say a couple things:
  • Grace Church is an absolutely amazing place. If you live in Erie and you're reading this and you have yet to visit Grace, I just need to say that you are missing out big time. PLEASE VISIT! We welcome you with open arms. But I have to warn you: when you do finally visit, please know that you have entered into a movement of God that is thriving like crazy.
  • This past year has been incredible. If somebody would have told me one year ago that we would have just under 1,000 people worshiping at Grace on any given weekend, I wouldn't have believed them. But in going back through the footage of this past year and seeing everything that makes Grace tick and everyone that makes Grace tick, it has brought me to tears several times as I realize how God is moving amongst His people and how He is leading so many in our community to begin a relationship with Him.
  • When I walked through the doors of Grace on Easter Sunday 2003, I had no idea that God had placed me in the middle of something so amazing. Over five years later, I continue to be grateful that I am a tiny little part of His story as it unfolds at Grace.
  • When I think about the future of Grace, I get goosebumps. I know it's going to be incredible. And the best part? This is only the beginning.

I have so much more to say about all this, but I must get some sleep right now.

Have a great Thursday, all!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I arrived at work at 8:30 to begin my day as a teller at First Union Bank in Port Orange, Florida. Just about 10 minutes before we opened the doors to customers, our manager ran from the break room to the teller line to tell us that the World Trade Center was on fire because a small plane had hit it. Shocked, but not terribly concerned, we continued about our business as usual.

At 9:00, we unlocked the doors and customers began to file in. A few minutes after we opened the doors, a customer came in and informed us that another plane had hit the other WTC tower. My coworkers and I then took turns going to the break room to watch the news coverage on TV. As the situation continued to unfold and as we began to realize that this was no accident, the decision was made to roll the TV out to the lobby so that we could continue to work but also so we could keep updated on the news of the attacks.
As the morning went on, customers began to come in with tears rolling down their cheeks. And the news just kept getting worse: the Pentagon was hit. Both towers collapsed. A plane crashed just outside of Pittsburgh. And of course there were the rumors: bombs at the State Department, planes headed towards the White House and the Capitol Building, Disneyworld and Cape Canaveral (both just 50 miles from where we were) was on the list of attack targets. Things got crazy quick. All of a sudden, people started coming to the bank wanting the withdraw their ENTIRE accounts. I remember one gentleman, who had more money in his account than we had in the entire bank, demanded we give him every last cent of his money. We had to scramble and borrow money from other First Union branches, but we eventually were able to get it to him.

I called my dad who, at the time, was working at a plant in Greenville, PA. Anyone who remembers that day remembers thinking that they didn't know what was going to come next. I don't know why, but I was so scared for my dad even though he was over a hundred miles from where United 93 came down. I remember crying on the phone and telling him that I wished that our family was together, and I told him how much I love this country and how grateful I was that he brought his family to America.

Word came from our bank headquarters in Charlotte, NC that all branches would be closing at 12 noon. When the bank closed, I immediately drove over to my friend Rebekah's house. We watched TV in stunned silence as channel after channel went dark to pay respects for the thousands of people that were dying that day. We decided to go over to Don & Dianne White's (the leaders or our college ministry) house. I remember walking to the car that afternoon and thinking how quiet it was outside. I felt like everything around us had stopped. I will never forget that moment. It was incredibly eerie.

For the rest of that dreadful day, a bunch of us "family-less" college students gathered at the White's. Word came that evening that the Feds were in Daytona Beach looking for information on some students who had attended Embry-Riddle, the flight school that we all went to. All of a sudden, the attacks seemed a little closer and a little more personal. Not knowing what would or could happen on this day like no other, we went around locking the doors and closing the blinds on the windows. In retrospect, that was probably a little silly, but we all were in fear that night.

I remember thinking the worst when we were in the kitchen watching the little TV and there was breaking news that radar showed a formation of airplanes in Alaska. At this point, of course, there were supposed to be no airplanes in the sky anywhere in North America. I remember thinking that the next wave of attacks was about to begin. A few minutes later, they said that the Air Force had confirmed that the planes were theirs. Thank God.

As it turns out, there was no next wave. And, seven years later, we have been spared another attack on our soil. Whether or not you support our President, the war or whatever...I think it is worth being grateful to our government that nothing has happened since.

September 11, 2001 was my generation's December 7, 1941. It changed our country forever. It will be a day I will never forget. And as we pause today to remember the 2,700+ people that lost their lives that day, let us pray that a day like this never happens again.

Friday, September 05, 2008

To Dixie and Back

Well, routine reared it's ugly head again after having spent five wonderful days with Danielle at my dad's place in Myrtle Beach. Although two of the five days were spent driving, I have to say that it was absolutely worth the journey. We arrived into town at about 4 Friday afternoon after having left Erie at about 4:30 that morning (we stopped three times: once for breakfast at Panera somewhere in West Virginia, once for gas in Virginia, and once for a snack in North Carolina). I had arranged with MaryJo, my dad's wife, to keep our visit on the DL. We agreed to meet at a restaurant they like at the beach near their house. As they walked into the restaurant, the hostess brought them to the table that Danielle and I had already been sat at. He wondered why she was seating them at a table at which two people had already been seated. He was absolutely stunned when he figured out that it was us. It was the best reaction we could have hoped for! And -- hopefully -- the best birthday present we could have given him.

With my dad reaching the 70 year milestone on Sunday, I will do everything I can do utilize every opportunity that arises to go see him. I refuse to pass up any opportunity to spend time with my dad. It's already been two years since he retired and headed south, but the idea that I am 800 miles away from him is still something I am trying to get used to. For him, he chose to move his family to America 40 years ago and left his parents and other family back in England. For him, being separated from those you love is something that you "just do". I accept that, but that doesn't mean that I don't miss him terribly. So when Danielle emailed me early last week and said, "hey, wanna go to Myrtle Beach this weekend?", I jubilantly wrote back and said, "heck yes!" I would not have answered any other way.

I'm also very grateful that I have a wife who enjoys my company on roadtrips. I definitely enjoy hers. To many people, the very idea of a 13 hour roadtrip makes them cringe. To us, it is an opportunity to reconnect, laugh, and plan. We do not need music, a portable DVD player, or iPods to keep ourselves entertained. Actually, if I was to be completely honest with you, the drive down and back is my favorite part of the trip. We have each other, and, in my ever-so-slightly biased opinion, that is all we need. ;-)

[EDIT: i tried six times to upload a few pics, but Blogger must be having issues. i will upload them sometime later on friday if and when i get a chance. sorry!]