Thursday, November 20, 2014

Men in Action XIV



Tonight we had our Men In Action awards dinner celebration.  Men in Action is a 12-week leadership class our pastor designed to challenge guys to be men living out their faith, being knowledgeable in the Bible, and loving their families well.  He designed the class in response to being frustrated at seeing a lack of qualified leaders in our church.

I went through class # 4 several years ago, and I decided to retake it for class #14.  Over 300 guys have now graduated from this class, and other churches are now using this material.  Pastor Jim encourages alumni to retake the class either as a personal refresher or just to encourage the new guys taking it.  It is a fair amount of work.  You memorize the books of the Bible and the fruit of the spirit.  You have a personal initiative (e.g. controlling your temper) that you find an accountability partner for.  You create a Life Focus Statement to identify ministry goals and opportunities, and map out a timeline of God's faithfulness in your life.  One of the capstone projects is an elder case study.  You’re given a scenario of something an elder board would have to deal with in a church.  You have two weeks to research the underlying legal, moral, biblical issues and then you meet in groups of three as a mock elder board to deliberate and decide on these issues.

I struggled with motivation in this class.  Work and seminary hit harder than expected this season, so I almost dropped out, but didn’t only because of peer pressure.  I didn’t want to have to deal with all the guys in there saying for years to come, “Oh, we wish you would have finished it with us.”  And I was hoping for it to hit me more with relevance now going through it as a married man, but it didn’t.  Finally, it was just an overcommitted season.  Heidi and I had done so well saying “no” to regular commitments for our first eight months of marriage, and then we took on too much.

But I finished.  I was on the fence above going to the awards dinner tonight, but Heidi wanted to, to celebrate this and to see what I had been learning.  I was able to finish up at work so that we were only a little late.  They handed out completion certificates to the 30-something guys who finished out of the 47-ish that started the class.  Then they had some special recognitions based on class votes for most powerful testimony, and most likely to be an elder, etc.  My jaw dropped when I was one of the two guys nominated most likely to be a future elder.  I was very humbled and grateful that I appear to be getting a few of those biblical qualifications right in how I interact with others.

It was a tough class to get through, but tonight made it worth it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gratitude

As I got out of my car at work this morning, I was overcome with a feeling of gratitude for the many blessings in my life particular to today.  I don't care much for the Facebook postings of gratitude every day in November.  I'm glad people make an effort to focus on the positives, but those planned posts don't do much for me.

 

Things I am grateful for today:

-our new roof finally being finished and being able to pay cash for it

-the beautiful drive into work on a foggy day

-my car giving warning beeps that my headlights are on when I've turned off my car so that I won't have a dead battery tonight

-my lovely wife having the day off to rest and recoup even if I don't

-our veterans keeping us safe

-our Dave Ramsey class ending tonight so we'll have another free night at home after this week

 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rachel's Visit



This weekend my sister Rachel came to visit!  Both of my sisters actually came up to Fresno.  Joy was just starting her trek back to Oregon for another year in her discipleship program.

So Joy stayed one night and drove out the next morning, but Rachel was staying the whole weekend to spend time with us and then would be taking a bus back on Sunday afternoon.

The girls arrive Thursday night and helped Heidi make a cauliflower salad for dinner.  They recently read the book “Forks Over Knives” at our suggestion and are moving in the vegan direction like we are, so it was nice that we all had the same healthy goals in our eating, as well as being able to learn from each other.

We helped Joy get a hotel booked for the next night and played a round of Dominion Intrigue before going to bed.

The next day, my sisters went to visit Heidi and tour her workplace.  From there, Rachel borrowed Heidi’s car and Joy got on the road heading north.  Rachel then came down to visit and tour my workplace.  I was able to hook her up with a bag of dried fruit as well as some chocolate-covered raisins, which she was very excited about.  After hanging out with me, she went to go spend the rest of the afternoon with Amy, picking her brain about nursing, getting ready for her second-round interview for a school nurse position with the City of Orange.

I got off work around 7:15 and met her at the house.  We loaded up the kayak I had borrowed from Heidi’s brother’s mother-in-law and returned it to them since they wanted to use it the next morning.  Then another work emergency happened and I got on the phone for a half hour as I drove to the grocery store to get us some supplies for dinner before heading home.

Dinner was rather makeshift since I wasn’t paying attention to check the ripeness of the “ripe-now” stickered avocados.  So we opened a bottle of wine, boiled some ears of corn and pulled out a salad Heidi had made the day prior.  Rachel and I got to talk about our respective relationships (me & Heidi, her & Adam) and some other family dynamics before Heidi arrived home from getting together with her accountability partners.

The next morning, we nixed our plans for me to run and Heidi & Rachel to cycle alongside me and slept in.  It was pretty wonderful.  We all got up around 8:30 and Heidi made some vegan waffles with almond flour for breakfast.  Afterward, I unloaded the dishwasher and then began re-washing all the dishes the automatic dishwasher did wrong.  Ugh!  But we ran into a time-crunch because Heidi and I needed to leave for a neighborhood watch info meeting downtown, and so Rachel graciously finished the dishes for us.

When we got home, we relaxed for awhile before teaching Rachel how to play Spades.  Our monthly card game night was that night, and Rachel would be subbing for Amy, who was housebound with a work kid (Amy does home care for medically fragile children).  I had to play two hands since there were only three of us.  It was a fun challenge.

We had an hour before we had to leave, so we sat down to watch some T.V.  We picked White Collar so that it would be easy for Rachel to join in the middle.  She opted to go watch Project Runway in her room instead.

Then we headed over to Tiffany’s house.  Dan & Olga had brought taco fixings.  Delicious food.  We had arranged for Ron & Sarah, the youth pastors at CBC Palm to come and sub in the group.  We have really enjoyed getting to know them and wanted to give them a chance to get to know people over at CBC Maple.

Spades was a lot of fun.  I had one hand where Tiffany was my partner and she went nill with the King of Spades.  It was really cool because I was able to focus in and really able to pick up on the strategy to draw out her high cards where I would be able to cover them.  The first two rounds I scored pretty well, but then I tanked on the last round.  Ended with 700 for the night, so I was happy.

We went home and I decided to go for a run then since I hadn’t run that morning.  Heidi was tired and went to bed, but Rachel decided to cycle with me.  We went five miles.  She was a little nervous riding in the dark, especially on county streets with no lighting or on more crowded streets, so we steered into city neighborhoods.  It gave us some great opportunities to talk and really share with each other.

After I finished running, we kept walking, but eventually came home and kept talking there as I stretched.  We finally called it quits at 2 a.m. because daylight would be coming soon.

The next morning we were running a little behind getting ready for church, but we made it just in time.  It was nice having Rachel there and getting to introduce her to so many of our friends.  Heidi’s sister Heather showed up for the second hour of the service with her kids, and we had them all over for lunch afterward.

We played a couple more hands of spades since Rachel was now addicted, and then took her to the Greyhound station.  It was a great weekend!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Day Trip to L.A. - bridal showers and running



I am very delinquent in blogging.  I have been writing and half-finishing lots of our life happenings in our seven-and-a-half months of married life, but this is my first one I'm posting to my public blog.  Thankfully I can backdate these with Google to keep them organized along a timeline (this day blogged below occurred a week ago on 7/19/14).  I want to do better because I love looking back and reading about past experiences because I re-remember details that I had forgotten and get to relive all the memories again.  I don’t want to forget anything from this first year of marriage.

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Heidi’s former roommate Hannah was having a bridal shower down in L.A.  Heidi initially was disappointed thinking it impossible to go.  It was the weekend after father-son campout and her watching Ava and Caleb, so it would be too much to be out of town again the whole weekend.  So I proposed a day trip.  The shower was at noon, and really close to where Daniel Z. lives, so I made plans to hang out with him.

So we set out early and stopped at McDonalds on the way for breakfast.  Since becoming “part-time vegans” (as I call our food plan changes), that food tastes like plastic to me, but I was desperate, so I ate it.  We did have healthy snacks in the car for the rest of the day.

I drove the whole way down there.  We talked, listened to music, and one Adventures in Odyssey episode.  We enjoy our opportunities to travel together.  Heidi still had to buy a shower gift, so we stopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond just a mile away from the restaurant where the shower was being held.  The clerk Stacey, was so helpful.  We were frazzled from just walking in after driving 200 miles nonstop.  She was from Florida, so we talked about the Disney World trip we had taken.

Then I dropped Heidi off and plugged in Daniel’s address.  I should have actually looked at the map before following the directions.  Google changed the zip code on me, so it took me in the opposite direction of Daniel’s apartment.  It took me awhile to figure it out, and I finally got to Daniel’s an hour later.  I was so frustrated that I was really glad we were going running.  So I changed into my running shorts and off we went.  Daniel took me along a new running route that I hadn’t been on before through some nice ritzy neighborhoods.  It was a cool but sunny day, absolutely perfect outside.  We ran and talked, catching up from the last few months.  Daniel had manager at his firm a week earlier.  I told Daniel about married life and the Tough Mudder, trying to convince him to join me for my next one.  We ran a hard 4.5 miles.  I'm usually lagging a few steps behind Daniel huffing and puffing because his legs are so long, but we were holding together pretty well.  A little slower than our usual, but we were happy with a 9:10-minute-mile pace.

We headed back and I called for push-ups until dropping (trying to cajole him into Tough Mudder shape).  I did 16, but Daniel pumped out at least five more than I did.  We re-hydrated and walked down the street for some lunch.  Daniel took me to this place that serves amazing pita wraps.  Back at the apartment, we took turns showering, and then it was time to meet Heidi.  She had gotten ride from Hannah’s aunts to a Starbucks down the street.  We drove over to meet her and sat talking for awhile so Daniel and Heidi could catch up, and then we got back in the car.

Heidi drove the first leg of the trip home.  I conked out for a good 30+ miles and barely woke up when she stopped for gas before Magic Mountain.  She continued driving, I napped a little more, and then we switched at the base of the 99 freeway.  I got us the rest of the way home, and was so grateful when we were done driving.  We pulled only the necessary stuff out of the car and crawled into bed.  It was a long but “worth-it” day of memories.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Great Way to End



Today is my last day of work before my wedding and honeymoon.  I’ll be off work for three weeks.

The last couple of hours have been transition meetings with both my auditors and my boss since my boss will be carrying the majority of my workload while I’m gone.  I’ve been killing it here to get this to as smooth of a hand-off as possible.  I have a folder of several instruction Word documents to guide him through each of my daily and weekly duties.

My boss just paid me the biggest stream of compliments on both my overall performance but also on how I prepared everything for him in my upcoming absence.


  • I am everything he wanted in a Controller.
  • He knows he doesn’t say it often enough, but I’m doing a great job.
  • Everything I prepared for him is clean, organized and easy to follow.
  • I made great progress on the audit even though it isn’t done yet.
  • If we did performance reviews as often as we should, mine would be all positive.
  • I’ve come a long way since I first started and he’s very happy.


We’ll see if he still says that after covering for me for three weeks.

This kind of affirmation goes a long way.  Totally makes it worth the crazy hours I’ve been putting in the last couple of months, even more so the last couple of weeks.

Okay, back to work.  Two more reports to hammer out and then I'm shutting it down and going home.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Men's Retreat 2013



I was really looking forward to going this year because I’ve been missing all the guy friends I have at CBC.  If not for my audit at work being delayed another week, I might not have been able to go.

Javad and I rode up and back with Bryan.  When they picked me up at work, they were a little stunned at the security guard knowing me by name, and by me having a reserved parking spot with my name on it.

We picked accountability & skill partners for the weekend and from there were put into four teams.  I was sitting next to Robert T., so we decided to partner up, and we went on the green team.

The speaker was Michael Pouliot, a football player from Montana who started his own men’s ministry called BattleZone.  Kenton went through it and now it seems like the whole program is coming to Campus.  Michael was a good speaker, very intense, but also very intentional.  His big plug was on relational discipleship, and creating multiple generations of discipleship from the idea of 1 Timothy 2:2, Paul discipled Timothy, who disciple faithful men to disciple others.

A couple exercises focused on teaching us things to later teach our partner (who wasn’t in the room learning it firsthand with us).  First was a dollar-bill trick to automatically link two paper clips together.  Later it was more serious stuff: 1) a PRAYERS acronym for daily praying that follows the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. 2) a “C-4” technique of emergency defense against temptations that get thrown at us.  The emphasis was heavy on learning each skill well enough to pass that knowledge on.

The food was amazing as always.  The only thing that disappointed was the cookies on Saturday night.  This year they weren’t on warmers (so they were hard instead of soft) and there was no milk.  Epic fail, but at least it helped me to stop after eating only three of them.

Friday night Spades tournament, I partnered with Josh B.  For round 1, we went up against Tim P. & Kyle L.  Tim went nil every hand, but only got it three times, and we still beat them.  Round 2, we lost by six points to Jon D. & Matt S.  I should have counted the points potential (I was last to bid on the last hand) and bid one more trick.

The weekend activity was “top shot.”  The four teams rotated through stations of 3D archery, throwing knives, tomahawks, and slingshot.  Lots of fun.  I wasn’t terrible, but I was not skilled at it.  During competition, though, I was only of only three guys on our team to break a bottle with the slingshot.  Daniel Y. was so thrilled that someone finally broke one for our team that he ran in and picked me up.  Marc (who is blind) and Chapman were the only other guys to break bottles (Chapman broke two).

A great weekend with encouraging conversations and fellowship.