The joy, pain and (un)reliability of technology…

It has been close to two weeks since Hailey and I returned from Ireland. Since returning from our trip it seems that every piece of technological equipment we own has had something wrong with it.  Well, thats not entirely correct; our ipod touch and my blackberry both took a huge hit while we were in Ireland. Yes Ireland was wet, but I figured that a completely sealed pocket in my waterproof jacket was a very safe place for said pieces of equipment.  I took apart my blackberry and, though some of the buttons took longer than others to completely recover, it quickly became usable again.  The same cannot be said for the ipod. More annoying than the fact that we lost a couple of blog entries I had written and had not uploaded (really a journal of our trip) is Apple’s refusal to believe that we did not submerge the ipod in water and hence their refusal to replace the Ipod (a call to their corporate offices is coming soon enough).

Upon returning home we were reminded that our dishwasher had decided to stop doing its job and now it has resorted itself to a very expensive drying rack.  However the frustration of the blackberry, ipod and dishwasher pale in comparison to what ensued the night I began copying our pictures on to our computer. Suffering from a bit of jet lag, I started coping photos over in the late evening. The first 2Gb card worked perfectly. When I put in the second card, a 4GB one with 410 photos on it, an Aperture (usually an amazing program) error sign popped on to my screen.  Before I knew it half of the photos we took were gone. After a few choice words, Hailey woke up and I threatened to throw my computer.  As she tried to calm me down, telling me its “just stuff,” I grew more agitated–I knew I wouldn’t sleep that night. A few hours later I found a program that said it could find deleted pictures. I downloaded it, the process began and after an hour of watching the progress bar move a millimeter I gave in to my wife’s lovely advice and tried to sleep. I woke up two hours later, and the progress bar had moved, maybe, twice as far as it was two hours earlier. But now I realized my camera batteries were dead. 4 am, no pictures and dead camera batteries–now where could that card reader I once used be? I restarted the process and, literally, 16 hours and 30$ later the pictures were recovered.

Our dishwasher and Ipod are still broken and now our air conditioner is sounding more like a trash compactor than anything else. As I think about how angry I was that night and how much more time I spend washing dishes now I can’t help but feel spoiled.  I am spoiled by technology, spoiled by stuff. And the truth is I am not alone. We have forgotten the days of film, washing dishes with hands and writing in an actual journal. Our kid’s have no idea what life is like with out myspace, facebook, twitter or blogs like this. Our society has become so engulfed in the technology that surrounds us that we forget that life exists outside of it. My reminder has come through the failure’s of the technology I rely on all too frequently. I was forced to step away from things that make my life ‘easier,’ but I am glad for what has come around

Cold, Wet Ireland

It rains in Ireland. It rains in Ireland a lot. Yesterday we completed our ‘bike tour’ near Conmera National Park in Galway County. The route for the first day took us from a small town called Leenane down to the national park and up to an even smaller town called Tulley Cross. Yesterdays route took us along the coast back to Leenane. The people we rented the bikes from told me that the route was rather flat but their definition of flat and mine are two very different things. Rolling hills and strong head winds would have been a much better description! The entire ride was just under 40 miles, so I figured Hailey would be okay doing that over two days (and though I hadn’t ridden in a month or so, I figured riding with an extra 30 lbs of luggage in our side panels, I’d be okay). Hailey’s legs are in a good amount of pain (grand idea of vacation huh?) and our faces are super wind burnt, but we survived and had a great experience.

We woke up yesterday to howling winds beating on the windows of our room at the bed and breakfast. When we walked out of our rooms for breakfast (eggs and toast, we’ve stayed away from ‘black budding’) we realized what exactly we would be riding in. Pouring, wet and super windy.  Hailey met a couple from Philly and when they saw us struggling up our first climb they pulled over, threw our bikes in the back of their rented land rover and drove us to the top of the hill. Once we got to the top, the rest of the ride was gold. And by gold I mean the kind of thing that we will love to get out and tell stories about someday, but like an antique piece of jewlery are plenty fine keeping it stored away for now. It was cold (and did I mention wet and windy?).  Everything we had was soaked. The camera, phone and ipod (which has my other blog posts on it–and still doesnt work) frozen and wet. We were told that the sheep dont mind the rain so I guess it should have been a sign to us that even the sheep sought shelter from this storm. We were the only people we saw on bikes yesterday, and they knew we were crazy. Still the scenery was breathtaking. Riding along lush cliffs, seeing the atlantic bellow was truly a treat. When we arrived at the bike rental shop we went upstairs and got coffee, thawed out and waited for our other backpack to arrive so we could change.

Last night we spent the night in the city of  Galway. We had to stay a bit outside of town because there are giant horse races here once a year, and they happen to be this week. The town is crazy busy. Our bus dropped us off near the city centre and we had about a mile and a half walk to our hotel. After maybe three minutes it started pouring again. But this time, instead of cycling clothes and just some of the essentials atleast we were in jeans and with all of our luggage. Hotel, finally, more thawing.

The weather cleared, we walked back to the city for dinner and had a wonderful evening. The main walking street in Galway is a blast. In Eyre Square radio staions were set up to announce the races and every ‘sports shop’ was advertising that their bookies gave the best rate. Truly a fascinating sight. A street performer blew fire from his mouth while his friend played a djembe and of course the guinness was plentiful. What has shocked me most about the pub scene so far has been the annoying prevelance of crapy american beer and the desire of so many people to drink it. At dinner last night people drank Corona, Miller and Coor’s Light. I wanted to scream, then I saw the Bud Light patch on our servers shirt. Really?

Today we will walk down to a Saturday market down at the St. Claus church before getting our car and driving to the Cliff’s of Mohr, exploring a bit and then heading to Limrick for the night. We are tired, but doing well and are eager for what today will bring.

Entering the “big boy world of blogs/websites”

Slowly but surely, through the help and guidance of multiple friends, I am learning about managing a blog/website. Moving away from a .mac site was the right thing to do, but the transistion has taken way longer than I would have liked. I have been toying with and learning about the options wordpress has for tags, media, plugins, appearances and widgets. Meanwhile I’m trying to connect the other social media sites I use (twitter and facebook) into what I hope to do here. Eventually I hope for this site to be the place I write about different experiences I have, thoughts i have while reading or the happenings of every day life. Soon enough some of my photography and clips from sermons I have given should find their way here. If you have any suggestions (that is if anyone actually reads this) please feel free to give them.

When music gets in the way…

There I stood. Guitar in hand, congregation looking on and no idea of how to recover from the horrendous sounds coming out of the guitar I have played so many times.

Tonight I had the opportunity to lead worship for a friends church.  He and his wife were on vacation and he asked if I would fill in for a few Sunday nights while they were gone. I had practiced a couple times with the worship team, learned a some new songs–And for the most part I was confident, after all I know how these services go… I was playing the ‘special music’ alone, without the worship team, during the time the tithes and offerings were taken and had played the song I was butchering at least a couple hundred times.  Yet tonight my guitar, my ears, my head and my heart just weren’t together. I’m not sure if it was the exhaustion of the 3 services I had assisted in and led earlier in the morning, the new atmosphere or just the wrong song–but, at least to me, it was nothing close to worship.  The music, rather the horribly out of tune guitar (which I had checked and tuned many times within the hour before I played the song), left me feeling naked and lost in front of a group of people who had come to worship the Creator of all that is good and mighty and what I was playing was in the way.

We all know that worship is not about the music (how many times has the present day Christian sang and/or heard or told the story of The Heart of Worship?), but what do you do when the music is so distracting that everyone in the room feels disjointed, out of place–naked.  I imagine this is what Adam and Eve felt when they realized the awkwardness of being completely bare in front of one another. They had to cover themselves up. In some ways I would have rather been naked (shoot, an in-tune guitar would have served as an ample ‘fig leaf!’) As soon as I played the first chord I knew it had to be covered up in order for worship to continue.  Music had to get out of the way, completely.

I’ve been leading worship and playing music long enough to know that this wasn’t the first nor will it be the last of my screw ups. But I pray that God continues to teach me how to get out of the way, and not be in the way of the people of God who are seeking to gather in worship. Music can get in the way; tonight it was out of tune picking that had to be stopped, but sometime it is more than that.  I am learning that sometimes, even the good and in tune music must be stopped in order to fully worship our almighty God. I pray that our music, whether it is in or out of tune, is more than a resounding gong to our Heavenly Father’s ears. My fear is that much of the music we bring to God today is not the joyful sound that God longs for.  But this is not because we are out of tune, or are writing bad music.  It is because we go too long without being exposed, without realizing that much of our music is what truly leaves us stranded. I know, for me, sometimes it takes butchering a song to bring me back to the place I need to be; it shows me how in need of God’s covering grace I am.

Father’s Day Musings

Father's Day Musings

My wife, sister and I spent hours yesterday trying to figure out what we were going to do today for the fathers in our families.  We were trying way too hard to find something that would appease all different sides of the family. After a way too busy weekend we really wanted to do something, but had little energy to put something together.  We ended up just taking our dad’s (and my sister’s husband) on a hike through the Torrey Pines State Park.  We spent just under 3 hours walking around and enjoying the beautiful day (today as actually the longest day in the year).  My nieces (almost 2 and 4) were a blast, but the four year old got mighty heavy on my shoulders at around mile 2.5. We got back to the parking lot and went or separate ways, driving home to an epic sunset. It really was a great afternoon and showed me how ridiculous we can be trying to put together a party or ‘event’ when in reality all we should be doing is spending time with those that are important to us.  Sometimes, it is the none planned moments with those that we love that end up being the most memorable. My wife always jokes that I’m not very good at the whole “quality time thing,” and though I sometims brush it off, the truth is I need to intentionally seek it more often.

I love my dad and have feel extremely blessed to have a man like him as a role model, mentor and person to laugh at/with.  My dad and I are very different, but I have learned much from him and am honored to be his son. So thanks dad!

Graduation Reflections

Graduation Reflections

It was a surreal moment.  After 6 years of studying, writing papers, sitting in class, a horrible commute from San Diego to Irvine and Pasadena–6 years of doing ministry at two different churches, coaching high school sports teams and leading mission trips to all different parts of the globe with the threat of school projects sitting in the back of my head and finally…it was finished.

I debated not walking in the graduation ceremony last Saturday, but only for a moment. Each of my graduations have meant something to someone, but not necessarily me. When I was promoted from 5th to 6th grade I almost didn’t participate because of a strike I led against my p.e. teacher, my mom was angry and I was a bit hurt (I was gonna miss out on pizza!) but the ceremony was defiantly designed for and important to parents. In middle school I spoke at the graduation ceremony, how the tides had turned in 3 years! But I still didn’t feel like the ceremony meant much to me (but I did wear contacts for the first time at it, and was convinced I wouldnt be a nerd and girls would like me because of it).  In high school I felt accomplished, but more so felt that I had met the common milestone that most American young adults achieve. College graduation was awesome. I took pride in finishing college in 3 1/2 years–but with the unknown looming, the uncertainty of my future made me want to crawl back into the tiny chairs of my kindergarten classroom. I’m not sure whether it was the fact that I was finally pushed in a way that challenged me to the very core of who I am or the simple relief of completing a degree that many don’t, but this graduation felt right. This graduation didn’t feel like a step into the unknown (even though I don’t know where I am going with the degree yet), an ending or a beginning.  Yes my seminary classes have finished and in some ways “formal” ministry for me may be beginning.  But the truth is, being called to ministry is not something that can or should be directed, dictated or defined by a master’s degree’s or denominational ordination.  My call to ministry did not start when my first class did, nor when I took my first youth director job at a church, but when I was knitted together in the womb of my mother by the Creator of the universe.

As annoyed as I got with one of my professors years ago for her continual bland regurgitation of the saying “all ministry is God’s ministry,” the truth is that I am not about to jump into “my” ministry, but my Savior’s.  It is for this reason that I walked across the stage with a smile proud, not of an accomplishment I have achieved, but of who I have been called to serve.