Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Kid Pics

So I'm a proud Dad! Sue me!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Stallone Speaks...

Here is a very interesting link that discusses a conference call Sylvester Stallone recently had with pastors and ministry leaders. Yes, I said Stallone. The Oscar-winner speaks about his new film, "Rocky Balboa", and the overarching Christian themes inherent within. He also discusses his personal faith journey and where he stands now. Very interesting ready, especially for someone who grew up on Rambo and Rocky!

Here's the link!

And for those of you who haven't yet caught the trailer for Rocky Balboa, you can check that out here!

Black Friday Musings

As I'm sure I've mentioned and as my three faithful readers know (Hi, guys!), I work in the Christian retail industry. Honestly, if I had my druthers, I'd rather not be affiliated with it but, at this point in time, it seems to be the place where the good Lord has planted me and where I'm to be for the time being. But, either way, I've had some general misgivings surrounding the concept of Christian retail around the Christmas season.

It's no secret that the Christmas season is known as the time where stores make a huge ton of money, hence the label of the day after Thanksgiving, "Black Friday", so named as the point at which retailers make the push out of the red into the black of profits. This is no different in the Christian industry. Yet, I wonder if this ought to be so. Now, I'm not totally condemning capitalism as a system nor saying that it is improper or sinful for Christian business owners to make money during this time of year. But, there seems to be a bit of a paradox inherent in the system at work. Let me explain.

Most Christians, and most people for that matter, realize that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, the coming of the promised Messiah. Many will tell you of their frustration with the commercialization of the holiday, of the focus being placed upon gift giving and Santa Claus and "Happy Holidays" rather than upon the Christ child himself. Christian booksellers across the nation, and perhaps even the world sell buttons and ornamental items and whatnot emblazoned with slogans like "Jesus is the Reason for the Season", and "Keep Christ in Christmas". Now, I agree with these things to a degree. We do celebrate Christmas because of the birth of Christ and I think it's foolish to try and separate the two.

However...That's right. You knew it was coming. Well, here it is. Do we not make ourselves complicit in the commercialization of the season by selling these very products? By prepping for the rush and opening our doors early to the hordes of shoppers? Are our "Black Friday" sales geared toward, as some would say, spreading the good news or with breaking a profit margin? All too often I think that our eyes have shifted from God to mammon. It's not a conscious decision but it is a decision that has been made nonetheless.

My prayer is this. Please enjoy the season of Christmas. Rejoice in the times of fellowship with family and friends. Please partake in the rituals of giving and receiving gifts in honor of the One who was born so long ago. But, somewhere along the way, take a few moments and analyze the "why's" of what you're doing. Are you stressed out, frustrated, and overspent financially and physically? If so, you might need to do a motive check. Are you focused on what you're getting for Christmas this year? If so, you're either a teenager or someone who is struggling with selfishness and greed. Take time out and savor the moment and look to help someone in need. Allow this season to merely be a kickstart to that kind of lifestyle as we push forward toward the New Year. And, most of all, make Christmas about Christ. Don't make it about a bottom line, a profit margin, or pushing an agenda. Instead, let the amazing truth of the Incarnation sweep over you like a cool breeze, carrying you away to a place of love and grace that truly sets itself apart as the greatest story ever told.

Christmas Time is Here!

We are officially in the realm of Christmastime now and, well, I'm excited. I'm a sucker for the sappy music, the lovingly wrapped gifts, and all the cookies. I love Christmas time. I'm the kind of guy who still refuses to let my wife put out the presents until after I've gone to bed in order that I can get that whole "Santa's come!" kind of feeling when I arise in the morning. There's nothing like arising to a tree surrounded by a bevy of gifts and goodies! Anyway, being that we're at least at the dawn of the Christmas season, I thought I'd share this quick clip with you that lets you know how excited I am that it's this time of year!

Click here and check it out!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Review: Eyes Open - Snow Patrol

This one hasn't left the CD player much since I bought it! "Chasing Cars" is addictive and the rest of the album follows suit! Here's the review:

Eyes Open - Snow Patrol

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Invigorating Friends

I've sort of been out of the loop lately as far as deeper thinking goes. It's not so much that those thoughts have left my mind or gotten to a place wherein they have disinterested me but, well, I just found myself getting a little overwhelmed. It's tough to imbibe so much information sometimes and to know what to do with it. So, I took a break. Lately I've been spending my free time devouring paperback novels and listening to music. Now, that's not going to change entirely, especially the music part, but I think I'm ready to wade back into the deep end of the pool.

The forces pushing me toward this again are twofold yet very much the same. Both are due to friendships I have, one forged over twenty-plus years and the other really less than a year old. One friend I talk to quite frequently and the other, well, only now and then. One was once a NASA engineer and the other is a musician and graphic design artist. What both of these friends have in common is a restless mind and a heart that keeps on giving. They both come from diverse backgrounds, have tasted of very different slices of life, but both continue to ferry on, thinking, pondering, loving, and living. I'm thankful for the challenges that their lives bring to me and for the contribution that they make to this great life of mine, whether they realize it or not.

So, to Ryan and Holly, and to Celena, here's to you!

Just FYI....
Ryan and Holly are featured on this week's Emergent Village podcast. You can check that out here!

And Celena and my conversation has just really begun to pick up steam over here as we discuss friendships, faith, life, and other sundry items! Please feel free to join us!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Conversation Between Friends

Recently, although that really implies that its just been in the past couple of weeks or something which isn't the case, a wonderful longtime friend of mine from childhood and I have gotten back into touch and have been sharing our lives with one another. We are seriously friends from childhood too. We grew up a couple of miles away from one another, went to elementary, middle, and high school together. In fact, in high school, for a good amount of the time, she was my ride although sometimes it was a little unnerving. Our friendship has survived good times and bad, those awkward "is there more to this?" moments, and more. Ultimately, we've found ourselves having spent some time apart, lived vastly different yet similar lives, and are now back in touch. I love her very much and am so happy to see her happy with the life she has now.

A few months back Celena and I had this nifty idea to just kind of discuss some things, really whatever came to mind, but to do it in a blog format. The reason for this varies but partly we both wanted to keep working on our writing skills plus, let's just be honest, the blog world is kind of cool and any sort of additional input is more than welcome. So, I want to share that site with you. I'm going to add a link on the side as well so you, as well as I, can access it quickly if any of the three of you who read this so desire.

Please check it out!

A Conversation Between Friends

Review: Migrations - The Duhks

For fans of skilled acoustic performances and soulful vocals, the Duhks are a must listen!

Migrations - The Duhks

New Pics of the Kids...

I'm really going to be posting more, really! Please trust me! But, until then, here's some sweet, sweet eye candy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Review: Songbird - Willie Nelson

I've become a huge fan the past year or two of this country legend and Ryan Adams only helps his star shine brighter here! Check it out!

Songbird - Willie Nelson

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bathroom Humor

Okay, in keeping with my committment to post something a tad more regularly, here's a quick thought that I had this week.

All righty, now stay with me here because this is going to unpack itself quick and well, might be a little off kilter. We've all certainly had this experience and I want to ask you how you feel about it. It deals with a certain number two and said number's relationship to public restrooms. No, I'm not trying to be vulgar or just gross here but, well, I'm curious. Have you ever had that moment where, well, despite all good intentions, you've just got to go and you're out and about? Of course you have. It's that bodily function nobody really wants to discuss but it's there. We can't escape it. And sometimes it takes us down in public.

So, we hurry off to the nearest restroom, Lord willing not at a roadside gas station or some other similar home of every disease known to man and God and enter in. Now, here's the part I'm particularly freaked out by. It's the part of the show where one must drop their britches and sit down. The freaky part is when you sit down to take care of the impending issue and the seat is warm. Warm! This should not be! This is a porcelein toilet bowl, not a towel fresh from the dryer nor something you really want to be warm. I'm not saying that I particularly enjoy the chilling feeling of a cold toilet seat but, in the confines of the public restroom, yes, that's what I want. Because if it is warm, then the obvious is apparent. Someone has been here. Someone has been here recently.

This is not a comforting thought to me. Some might think otherwise. They might contend that the commonness of our humanity via our waste functions and whatnot show a bond between all humans and that this sameness is a beautiful expression of who we are. They might state that to be freaked out by something so inane, so banal, is to simply deny being who you are. Well, to them I say, WHAT? I'm just not incredibly excited about allowing my hinder quarters to be sharing space with just anyone elses. It's one thing to share a seat, with a layer of clothing between us and whatnot and even then, sometimes, it's questionable. But to share something upon which my bare cheeks will rest, knowing that not minutes before, Joe Jones has rested his own very behind upon as well. Well, that disturbs me.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Attention Faithful Readers...

Okay, I realize that I'm really just addressing myself here and maybe a few other people but, well, listen up anyway. I apologize for the lack of compelling material as of late. Pretty much all I've been able to do is to link to my reviews as of late and for that I am sorry. The good Lord willing, and this will be greatly dependent upon my powers of self control, I am going to attempt to post something, hopefully something more intelligent and significant, than what you've been seeing as of late. I just thought you should know.

(And if you've stumbled upon this, wondered why I'm addressing myself via the blog, it's just a bit of accountability! Maybe seeing myself tell, well, myself, that I'm going to keep writing will help!)

Review: Smoking City - David Condos

Keep your eye on this kid! He's got some good stuff to say and says it well!

Smoking City - David Condos

Review: Wintersong - Sarah McLachlan

I'm a sucker for the Christmas music! It's a nice, understated album perfect for curling up by the fire with a loved one!

Here's the review: Wintersong - Sarah McLachlan

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Review: Germ - Robert Liparulo

If you like fast paced, action packed, "they have to make a movie of this"-type books, check this one out! Good stuff!

Germ - Robert Liparulo

Review: Ray Sings Basie Swings - Ray Charles

This was a terrific album! Here are my thoughts on it!

Ray Sings Basie Swings - Ray Charles

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pumpkin Pics

We took the kids (the other little girl our friend's kid!) out to a local pumpkin festival this past weekend! Here are some pics: