Music Monday - 20100531

I sometimes struggle to put something up for Music Monday, even though it is something i really like to do.  And when there is a holiday on Monday i usually do not bother putting one up, but now that i know how to schedule a posting in the future... no big deal!

I went with a patriotic choice for my selection today:
Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I spent 22 years being a "Citizen Soldier".  When i first joined it was not because i was patriotic, or because i wanted to fight for my country.  I needed a job, plain and simple.  It was only over time that i grew out of my adolescence and developed my appreciation for my country.  We are not perfect.  I know not everyone in the world does not want to live like we do, not everyone is jealous of our way of life.

For me it has been an appreciation of what our first National Guard units went through, and how our country has grown from over the past 400+ years.  The ideals of the forefathers of the late eighteenth century are solid, but since man is falable it has not been a perfect run since then (or now).

Only God knows how this "Great Experiment" will work, but it is a noble ideal in my opinion.  And one well worth fighting for.

My appreciateion goes for my fellow Airmen, Sailors, and Marines.  Please never lose a chance to say and give thanks for those who have fought and died for our country.  And while the Armed forces is our country's international defender/representor of our country, never forget those who serve our country domestically:  The Citizen Soldier, the Police, The Firemen, the EMT's, Unifromed Health Services, and many others that i fail to recall that serve us as a whole.
May America bless God, and may God continue to watch over and bless America.


Micro Fiction Monday - my first participation.

I told you not to wandering off like that. Do you know how many Dragon snatchers are out there? What would I have done if you had gone missing? Worried sick I would be! You only think of yourself!

But Papa, I was hungy, i just went down to town for a little snack. The Farmers have put their cows out to pasture. No one saw me.

That’s not the point! What if Sir Watkins had seen you! What then? Next thing you know these hills would be crawling with Knights! And with only one thing on their mind, and it would not be Princess Darla either!

Yes Papa.

There, there my boy. Papa still loves you, but next time you must allow me to cast the sleep spell on the town before you go out for a snack.

Your Turn!


About Microfiction Monday

Microfiction means the shortest of short stories. Think Aesop's fables, comic strips, or even jokes: complete stories that can be told in under a minute. For this game, the limit is a tweetable 140 characters or fewer.

Every Sunday evening I'll post my own 'microfiction' inspired by a photo or illustration, and invite you to do the same. (If that degree of brevity scares you, feel free to use my own microfiction of the week as your first line instead, and spin something longer. )

You can leave your story in the comments here, or better yet, post on your own blog and leave your link in Mr. Linky.

Hate counting letters and spaces? Try Design 215's character counter, which will count for you as you type. Microsoft Word will count for you too, of course, as part of its word count feature under the 'Review' tab.

Photos will be from my own archives; illustrations are from Dover Publications' free clipart sample newsletter.

And finally, why 140? A whole new fiction market has arisen via mobile phone texting and Twitter, who limits 'tweets' to 140 characters including spaces and punctuation. It's fast, it's fiction, it's fun.

This was my first foray into the "world" of Micro Fiction Monday's... i will see how well i do before i commit to doing it every week. 8)  Although, as you will see a little bit later... Music Monday's will still be a regular, albeit seperate, blog post on Mondays.


Happy Birthday!

As of tomorrow my Toyota Echo will be10 years old!  It has a little over 126k miles on and all but one of them has been under my ownership.  It has been a great little car and i am hoping it goes for at least another ten years.  When i bought it i had considered the Prius, but went with the Echo because it has a timing chain instead of a belt, it gets over 40mpg at times, and the battery technology was still too new for me to feel comfortable over the long haul at the time.  If i were making the choice today i would probably side with the Prius though ~ even with all of the troubles in the media of late.

Last night i had to do some work at the "widget factory".  it was the 4th time in the past two weeks i've had to come in at midnight, and it is wearing on the mind and body.  But that is not really what i want to talk about.  The season is moving on towards summer and last night was a beautiful demonstration of this.  I have grown up, and really lived most of my four plus decades, in the Washington D.C. area (this region is pretty big stretching from almost the Baltimore beltway down South to Fredericksburg, and from Annapolis all the way out to the foothills of the Blueridge Mountains).  I have many memories of Washington summers, hot, sticky, and powerful thunderstorms growing up.  Last night the air was still, but heavy with humidity.  The air had not cooled off all that much as of midnight so it felt really thick.  As i got ready to come in i could see the flashes of "heat lightning", even though the sky looked clear with the almost full moon in radiant display.  As i got into my car i could see the line of clouds that the lightning was flashing throughout.  While it didn't rain while i was on my way to and from work it was a magnificent display of the incredible power of summertime Thunderstorms.  I love thunderstorms.  I found myself missing being out in the wood line at night, sitting in a field chair, with my rain gear on of course, and just watching a storm come through.  Especially at night when the lightning flashes subtlety.

For whatever reason, it made me think of how man has learned to capture and use that power to some degree.  Some might claim we have mastered it, but i will not.  However, we can light up cities like Los Angeles or we can make pulses so fast and yet subtle (the power level equivilant of a barely noticable static shock) that we can use computers to display little characters and pictures on a screen from anywhere to anywhere ~ that has an internet connection ~ in the world.  And then we can turn these "virtual" images, into "hard copies" in print.  Amazing.

My Beloved and COWGIRL were coming through a thunderstorm from Johns Hopkins yesterday.  High winds, hail, all that.  She said that when they broke through the other side of the storm is was beautiful.  While i did not get the sense that this was a sign from God or anything, it is a beautiful real world representation of how our walk through this world is - even for those of us who do not face sever trials like cancer.  Our time here on Earth is but a poor reflection of what those who have their names in the Lamb's Book of Life will experience.  For whatever reason Tunnel by Third Day has been playing over and over in my mind today, so i thought i would share.

I hope everyone who comes by to visit the "dojo" has a restful, thoughtful, and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.  God Bless.


Random Redleg Ramblin' Rememberings

I came to be a Redleg late in my military career.  I joined the Alpha Gators in the summer of 1999.  I was looking for a new "home" after being bored to tears a second time in the MP CorpsI have a respect for the MP's, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.  I do know that as soon as i joined up with Alpha i was welcomed.  I had a choice of going into the FDC or out on the gunline.  At the time FDC was at 120% strength and i didn't see any room for advancement (having been an E5 for about ten years at that point it was a concern). 

My first drill with the Gators was a live fire and it was pouring down buckets.  The guys in the section i was assigned to rotated me around to each of the positions so i could get a feel for what they all did.  I was put into a section after that drill as a gunner, which may have irritated some of the other assistant gunners because i stepped right in and some of them had been in the unit for a while.  Since i like the rain i didn't mind, and besides there were plenty of places to get out of the rain under the net.  I still remember Ammo Sergeant talking about how he kept expecting the animals to come out of the woodline two by two. 8)

A little more than two years later came 9-11 and deployments.  While we were never deployed according to our MOS, we always had a good Esprit De Corps. It was while we were on active duty together i finally earned my E6 stripes.  I remember knowing that unless i passed the APFT there was no way i could make E6.  I had not been in very good shape, but i made sure i pushed myself.  When i completed the 2 mile run event i was recycling my "lunch" as i ran the last 100 yards.  But i passed.

When we finished our tour we went through reintegration training.  Meaning we had to "relearn" how to be Artillerymen.  It was my time as a Section Chief.  "STONEY" was assigned my babysitter as i learned the ropes.  The guys made sure i got to keep my first canister - really cool.  It is stored away with my other keepsakes for my future "man cave".  The most memorable part of this training was when i lost it and let fly a string of expletives.  What set me off was the horseplay was beginning to "endanger" (or so i thought at the time) my collimator.  That got everyone's attention.  You see, by now i had earned a reputation as the unofficial Battery "Chaplin", and that sort of thing was not expected out of me.  Some times it still comes out in conversations at our reunions - even seven years later.

After i moved much further away from Armory i chose to stay with them.  You see, in the Guard, if you move over a certain distance away from your unit you are allowed to seek out another unit closer to home.  But by 2004 i had grown quite attached to the camaraderie there.  So, instead of drilling with a unit that was less than ten miles away from my house, i was driving the approximately 80 miles one way to stay with a bunch of guys who all i had in common with (most of) them was we were all Redlegs.  I never regretted it.

One advantage i had, in my opinion, over many of the other Section Chiefs until my promotion to E7 in January of 2006, was that i had the same Gunner the entire time, and my Assitant Gunner almost as long.  Many a time we would be well understaffed (one memorable AT it was just us 3), and yet would could still get rounds downrange faster than most of the other sections, most of the time ALL of the other sections.  It got so that when we went to Section Certification the tester would say begin and i would just stand there and watch too.  Even though i was the one being graded.  I was being tested on how well i trained my section, and since they were already trained i never had to say anything towards the end of my time as a Section Chief.

Two memorable experiences, which is actually what i was going to blog about the whole time but i am just now getting too, were when we had a missfire (we actually had a few over the years, but one is set apart) and when a nearby unit from our division (The 29th Light Infantry) was folding their flag and were looking for other MOS positions to go to.

I will start with the latter.  We were at AT at Fort Pickett, VA.  It was a typical steamy Virginia summer day.  Open field, blazing sun, no breeze, 90+ degrees with a pretty high humidity level.  Anyone who has lived South of the Mason Dixon line, i am pretty sure you know what i am talking about.  In rolls a 5-ton truck with about two dozen "kids".  All of them E5 and below.  Our gunline is "hot" (meaning we were receiving fire missions) and they were all wearing their Kevlar helmets and flak vests.  Top brought a third of them under my net and asked me to "show them what the artillery was all about".  The first thing i did was had them drop the Kevlar and Flak Vest.  One of the guys was visibly nervous.  I kindly informed him that if something went wrong it would not help.  First, the kill radius of the HE round we were firing was 30 meters.  Within that radius i had my current supply of (if memory serves) thirty more rounds of HE.  By the time the chain reaction was done, the helmet and vest would not prevent their deaths and they might as well be comfortable in the Virginia afternoon heat.  We received a few fire missions and were burning up my ammunition at a decent pace and i was able to talk about various duty positions on the gun when the Ammo Section resupplied each gun with one hundred rounds of either HE or HE and ILLUM rounds.  It was then that i got a mischievous grin.  The drop was a good fifty meters behind the my position.  The only way to get them to my ammo pit was to manhandle each and every one of the eighty plus pounds case.  I informed the group that if they learned one thing about artillery it had to be that it was a heavy deal.  We proceeded to move every round and i made sure they participated (and drank plenty of water).  There was not a dry shirt when all was said and done.  I don't think i ever saw anyone of those kids ever again.

The next memory is one that i feel was a major contributor to my eventually being admitted into the Honorable Order of St Barbara (the patron saint of Artillerymen).  We were in the middle of a fire mission when we heard the metallic "tink" of the firing pin impacting the canister's primer.  We followed the misfire procedures to the letter and the round continued to fail to fire.  Finally i sent my section to the rear while my gunner and i (and the Battery's Gunny and Smoke) waited the prescribed amount of time and then began the unloading procedures.  As we removed the canister from the breach a wisp of smoke curled heavenward.  Our SOP indicates that we furl the canister towards the rear to disperse the powder bags, which helps prevent the ignition train from spreading beyond one or two bags (hopefully).  When the bags hit the dirt behind the trails four of the seven bags were smoldering.  Top was johnny on the spot and hit them with the fire extinguisher. I believe someone else also tossed some water on them as well.  Top, Gunny, and Smoke (and Smoke and Top had been in the Artillery for well over ten years each) said they had never seen a misfire where the powder bags were singed like that.  I still have the picture somewhere.  I remember lifting up a prayer to thank God for His protection that day.  You see, powder bags burn very, very hot.  And the flame can reach up several feet at times.  This all occurred underneath my cammo-net, which is known to be flammable.  Under that net was several more pieces of flammable equipment and more HE rounds. There was the potential for a pretty bad chain reaction of events.

In my twenty two years of service the three proudest moments were when i earned the right to fire a live TOW missile, when i was given the Humanitarian Service Medal (for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita), and when i was admitted into the Honorable Order of St Barbara.  All if those things happened while i was performing in a Redleg, or Redleg-like, MOS.  It is why i consider myself a Redleg for life, Field Artillery - KING of the Battlefield.

I am grateful for all of my years of service.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day.  Please take a moment to thank those who serve.


Random Dozen Wednesday

1. Would you rather host party or simply attend a party? ~ I am not really partial to crowds of more than say, 5 - that includes myself and my Beloved.  So, having to choose between these two... i would much rather attend.  That way i can find a less crowded corner or room to kind of disappear to.  However, God has a sense of humor because my Beloved is an awesome hostess.  She bakes and invites people over to relax.  And if you are inviting one couple over might as well invite five, and their children.  Although it is "uncomfortable", God has never allowed me to get complacent or comfortable. 8)

2. Tell us about the most memorable party you've been to. ~ The one that is most memorable one to me is the first one i was ever invited to.  My brother and i had been invited to BARD's house.  The age group was pretty diverse for such a party.  College students, High School Students, and others.  I remember because it was the first time i realized that i was not comfortable in a large crowd, and i learned that my brother could speak Orcish. 8)  I had to walk all the way back home to tell my mom that he was puking his guts out.  It just wasn't my scene.  Although BARD and i have been reacquainted through muFacebook and other means.  He is a fellow believer and a really good musician.  It's a shame we live about 100 miles apart though.

3. What is one thing you hope for in the after-life? ~ Wow... that is a tough one.  To be honest, i would be glad to just be cleaning the streets with my shirt tail.  I truly hope to be able to learn how to play a musical instrument so that i may play in the workshop to God that way.

4. What do you enjoy most about sunshine? ~ I enjoy the penetrating warmth that can be felt after a long cold/wet night.  When those first rays of sunshine hits your body you can almost literally feel the warmth soak into your skin.

5. When you attend a bridal/baby shower, do you prefer to bring your own gift or chip in with others to buy a larger gift? ~ 8| ... um.... i like chipping in.  I never really know what to get, and this way i feel like i have contributed in a meaningful way.  Even though it is not directly personal to me.

6. Would you rather have a FREE week of having your house cleaned or all of your meals cooked for you and your family? ~ I am leaning towards having the house cleaned.  I grew up scraping by with whatever could be scrounged to eat, and i am still that way today.  Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy a well cooked meal, and my Beloved makes sure i never go hungry.  But i think to best balance our gifts and season of life... a week of free house cleaning would be a real blessing.

7. What song describes your mood today? ~ He is Our King - by the David Crowder Band has been playing over and over in my mind today.

8. What is something you received for your own bridal shower/wedding that you still own or use? (If you are not married, feel free to sub a gift you received a long time ago.) ~ I cannot honestly remember any gift from my wedding day that we still use.  My Beloved might be able to, but i cannot.  However, my most treasured gift from my wedding day will be my bride and the ring she slipped on my finger.  It is scratched, it has been resized, it has a gauge from my military days, but she is mine and i am hers.

9. Your favorite flavor of ice cream is? ~ .Vanilla, all other "flavors" are merely variations of the original. 8)

10. When was the last time you felt "tested?" ~ Other than today?  There are "tests" everyday.  The only question is how one is going to respond to the situations you find yourself.  Tests of temptation, tests of persecution, tests of failures, test of prosperity.  But in the end what does it matter what you find yourself in the middle of, but how you react to it.

11. "[Fill in the blank] is a food that once I start eating I find really hard to stop." ~ My Beloved makes a Chicken and Rice Casserole that i can eat until i get sick to my stomach.  I have the same problem with her Pumpkin Pie too.

12. "-----" is the best motivation. ~ For me?  Responsibility.  If i don't care about something than i am not going to commit to competing/caring-about it.  But knowing that others are counting on me is a pretty good motivator for me.


I will Praise You in this Storm - Music Monday edition - 20100524

Have you ever been in a storm and not known it?  I doubt it.  God has given each of us an ability to have a visual perspective.  We can feel the rain and the wind on our face and bodies.  We can see the dark clouds and lightning.  We can hear the crack of thunder and the impact of rain upon the ground.  But what happens when you are following what God is leading you to do?  There is a peace that truly surpasses all understanding.  The storm still rages, but when you are looking into the Saviors face, Paradise, Psalm 23 playing out.

A really good illustration came to mind as i was typing this out:
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,  but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.  And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.  But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33, ESV)
This awesome experience of Peter does not fit my situation exactly.  For me God had mercy on me and He was beside and leading me before the storm kicked up.  Peter had to go on ahead of His Lord and before Christ rejoined them the storm blew in.  But the illustration is still vital for me as i continue to go forward.  As long as Peter looks at the Savior he is perfectly safe out on the water.  He is walking on the water while waves and lightning (the later an assumption on my part) crash and the wind howls.  He is at peace in the midst of it all until... he looks no longer to his Lord and Savior, but at the storm.  It is then he begins to sink.  And yet, he is still not lost.  Jesus reaches out and takes hold of Peter and leads him back to the boat.
Praise You In This Storm
Written by Mark Hall / Music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms

I was sure by now
God, You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with You"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with You"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away


I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth


Though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

2005 Club Zoo Music (BMI) / SWECS Music (BMI) (adm. by EMI CMG Publishing) / Word Music, LLC (ASCAP) / Banahama Tunes (ASCAP) (adm. by Word Music, LLC)

I have no idea how long, or even how severe this storm is going to be, but i am grateful to Jesus for being with me, and even when i have taken my eyes off of Him, He will draw me back in. 

But ultimately my storm is tame compared to what COWGIRL is going through.  My "storm" is mostly a result of my own comfort and preferences.  Hers is one of family, cancer.  What is going to happen with the illness?  What about her children?  What issues may arise from the children's father?  None of these things are in her control, and yet she is handling herself with grace.  She is the image of peace.

May the Lord continue to shower us with His grace and mercy, may His perfect peace and strength carry us through to the other shore.  Perhaps, even all together.


Friday Ramblin' Wrap Up

Thanks to Linda over at the 2nd Cup of Coffee blog (and home of the wonderful "Random Dozen" meme on Wednesdays), i have learned how to schedule the posting of my blog at the exact time of day i want.  Really cool.  It's a small thing really, kind of embarrisingly easy now that i know how.  Yet another reason to call into question my geekhood.

As i made my rounds around my "Virtual Village" (thanks Alise for that visual, and thank your friend for me too please) today i came back to the Sovereign Grace Ministries blog where they have six more recommended books on the Gospel.  My pile of books on my night stand usually continues to move in only one direction... up.  But, lately, i have been making more of an effort to actually continue on and not start any new books before i finish the four others i have bookmarks in.  However, i am pretty sure the next time i find an excuse to order more books from Amazon.com i am going to have two more books on their way to add to the pile.  The first one is, What is the Gospel (9 Marks) by Greg Gilbert.  I too, hope that this will be a book i devore and then give it away.  The seond one is, It is Well: Exposition on Subsitutionary Atonement (IX Marks) by Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence.  This book addresses a concern near and dear to my heart in regards to the preaching of the gospel in many churches across the United States.  I feel we have drifted from the preaching of the gospel, that sin is a real issue and that Christ is the answer to that sin.  Instead the topic of sin, and man's sinfulness, it has become politically correct for fear of actually saying things like homosexuality is a sin, that lying is a sin, etc.  I have my own sins... i deal with anger issues, pride issues, covetousness.  Just because i am not a homosexual does not mean i am any less guilty before God and his Holiness.  And the cross is the answer to the sin of the homosexual, the murderour, the thief, the idolator, the adulterer. and for me.  Just like the ACLU does not want the Bible and the Ten Commandments on any public (i.e. government) property, politcs has no place in the Church of God.  And before anyone says, "you are judging!", no i am not.  God is showing us His rigtheousness in His Word, and not just other people's sins ~ my own as well.  The cross is more than the condemnation of sin, it also shows the mercy of God too.  It shows that the penalty has been paid for in full, if we but believe and accept the gift of His substitutionary death.

Ok... enough of the soapbox.  In regards to Amazon.com, i realized this morning that i have nineteen items in my Cart in a waiting status.  I have been a really good boy about not ordering things from there... but... i...don't...think...i...can...hold...out...much...longer. 8)  Especially because TULIP told me about a hand household chore organizor that would help me immensly in keeping 5 children gainfully employed over the summer so my beloved does not have to do it all herself.  Besides, she admits that she is not a very good organizer. 8)  The name of the organizer is Melissa & Doug's Magnetic Responsibility Chart and is already in my shopping cart, just waiting for me to pull the trigger. 8)  Which leads me to other items in that shopping cart... The Book of Eli on DVD.  I am a little disappointed that not all of the bonus features are not in this set for the basic DVD.  Nope, they are putting them all on the Blu-ray version instead.  I am sure this is a marketing decision, and not just to sell this movie, but to push the technology forward.  I guess that means my feet dragging about upgrading my DVD experience is going to have to begin sooner than i would prefer.  I am glad they are not pushing Max Headroom on Blu-ray... otherwise i'd be out comparison shopping (on the web of course) for a Blu-ray player and hi-def TV.


The Networking of My Life

Facebook is incredible.  I know there are tons of people out there screaming about privacy, etc. but as the user if you pay attention these things are easily taken care of.  You, as the USER have to be more aware of  your surroundings.  Don't just click on every link, if something sounds too good to be true it probably is, and if you don't want everyone seeing your details don't leave the settings that way.  The part that is really cool is that i had a friend in High School who i would hang out with a lot.  Some of things we did were not all that good, but we were friends.  When i shattered his nose (broken in seven places) over a misunderstanding he never told his mother (thanks, and ai am really sorry for that, TYNIE).  He told her it was an accident.  Well, shortly after he came to my wedding, he kind of faded out of the scene.  Later attempts to find him were not very successful ~ granted i am NOT a Private Investigator.  Out of the blue i got a friend request from him on Facebook a few days ago.  Awesome!  We may never by 'tight' friends again, but it is good to catch up with him.

Speaking of Facebook, i have been having a hard time feeding my Flair addiction of late, and this has actually bummed me out some (TULIP ~ i have already admitted i have an addiction, but i am just not ready to commit to treatment yet ;-) ).  I "only" have a little more than 725 pieces of flair, and over 6,100 points. 8)  I really like collecting the various pieces of flair because they are sort of snapshots to things that interest me.  For example i went out of my way and made sure i had one piece of flair representing each of the 32 NFL teams.  I also have one of each Bobblehead from Fallout 3.  Sometimes i will go through phases, like looking for samurai themed ones, or a favorite musician.  I have slowly been "categorizing" them in folders so that it is easier for me to use them here on my blog.  I work hard to not have duplicates, especially ones that have quirky sayings on them, but some i will have variations on a theme such as thunderstorms, or Dr Pepper.  Recently though, i have "purchased" (using my surplus of flair points) another background (or dozen) just for a new "series" of buttons i have been picking up.  The Mice from MouseHunt.

MouseHunt is not quite a new addiction, but obsession might be close.  This is a unique game on Facebook in that you do not have to have a ton of "friends" to do well or watch your back.  People are not out stealing your supplies or sabotaging your efforts.  It is you, the hunter, versus the mice of the game.  You have to figure out what combination of trap and cheese to catch the mice.  There are different types of traps for different types of mice, and not all mice are attracted by the Gouda.  There are a lot of different areas to hunt in, new clues to find, new items to construct, etc.  It is also a game that i do not have to play obsessively.  I can perform one hunt and let the game go for at least 24 hours before it stops to wait for me to come back.  MouseHunt is a fun game that fits me pretty well.  So far i have captured only 32 out of the 165 different kinds of mice.  This might take me a while. 8)

Between Blogger, Facebook and Google Alerts, i am pretty much as connected as i want to be.  I don't feel that i am overly subscribed, but i am connected and i receive information on the things that interest me.  For example, i do not just get alerts and blog updates about TRON, or Shadowrun.  I get blog updates from several men and organizations that i am spiritually fed by (in a supplemental sort of way).  One blog i follow, both through Blogger and NetworkedBlogs on Facebook, is CJ Mahaney's view from the cheap seats & other stuff.  To be honest, some of the posts are over my head, but a recent three part series i really admired.  It was posted by Dave Harvey and the title of the series is Patience, Pace, and Church Planting.  I admire this series because God has allowed me to witness at least three instances where churches were not being led well but had been managed in the name of expediency.  SGM does not plant new churches just to plant them and add another group of members under their banner.  They take their time, they are thoughtful, and they are deliberate in how they proceed.  You see, for years i had lived in Frederick, MD and was driving to Gaithersburg, MD in order to attend the church i thought God wanted my family to attend.  At the same time i was convinced that God wanted SGM to plant a church in Frederick, MD.  I wrote a couple of letters, and even had at least one face to face meeting with the Pastors, but the timing was not right.  Not yet.  Five years later, still no church plant and my family was moving once more.  Not long after we moved, SGM announced that they would be planting a church in the very city i had been praying for.  It was God's timing, not mine or the Pastor's or anyone else's.  And now Sovereign Grace Church of Frederick is flourishing, and that is an awesome thing.  For almost the past year God has been putting on my heart a desire to approach SGM once again.  To be honest, i have been scarred to even write the letter - despite GUNNY's encouragement.  I think, starting immediately, i will go to my knees in prayer.

On a side note, in my researching for background information on an upcoming character for my short stories, i impulsively took a moment to write an author about how much i enjoyed a recently released book (Shadow King), as well as an upcoming release (Path of the Warrior ~ which looks like it is the 1st part of a trilogy! wOOt!).  I also dared to ask a few questions about the Eldar of Warhammer 40,000, since he has been involved with this particular race and game system for a long time.  Would you know he wrote back!  Totally cool.  He thanked me for the encouragement, and he answered my questions.  I think, that maybe, i need to learn to have a little more courage when i am pursuing the things that matter to me.  Perhaps there is a lesson there about the church plant as well...