Thursday, September 5, 2013

God, the Product Owner

Who is your master - Sin, or Jesus?
I James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello! Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:1-7 – The Message 
In a software development environment, the role of Product Owner has an important job to do.  There is something called a product backlog - which I will touch on very briefly here - that the Product Owner is responsible for adding items to, removing items from, and prioritizing items in order of importance for working on.  Consider this as the master to-do list, the one that the entire team looks to for work to do, put in order with the most important things on top.

God is the product owner.  God informs us of the most important things in our lives that He wants from His team. During prayers, and during other times, it is up to us as His servants to ensure we're working on the right things in the backlog.  Thankfully, we have an open view of His backlog - it is not a secret for us, He makes it very clear what He wants, and when He wants it.

So, as I sit here considering the concept of a God-Product Backlog, I wonder what the first thing on my list is, in terms of things that are not yet on my "in progress" list. I think as Christians it is not enough for us to be content with what we're already doing, but also to look for things that we could be doing in the future.  God's product is "Humanity", and His message must be spread to all of His creation about His Son, our Savior.

So, I recently took something off of the backlog, and it's now in progress.  Actually, the thing that's in progress is a pretty discrete item - explaining why I see God as the Product Owner.  If the task had a title, it would be "Write a Blog Post About God as Product Owner".  It's description would be, well, you're reading it's description right now.  It has high priority, at least I think it does, because I feel inspired by the Holy Spirit to write about it.  In fact, all of this writing is coming to me easily, mostly because He is in control of it, and I know the Agile process well enough to help Him for my words.

Seeing as I've been inspired to talk about the Agile God, the interesting thing about an Agile backlog is that it's not static.  At any given time, the Product Owner can evaluate the product backlog items, prioritize it, add items to it, and remove items from it. It's also up to the Product Owner to ensure that when the team, or the scrum master, have questions or concerns that they are managed as swiftly as possible.  If the action item requires it, the team and any interested members can leave notes on the action item for the active team member to consider.  Interestingly enough, all of our product backlog items also have notes in them - in the form of The Bible.  Sure, we could rely on other members of our team to provide us with additional notes, but to hear His message for Your life, first, pray, then devote time to The Bible.  It's helped provide me with clarity about this idea of Agile God.

I've not yet really expanded my horizons for the "God" part of the Agile God concept, outside of using The Bible for inspiration on how to tie my ideas about agile development into my faith.  Of course I would certainly welcome any and all feedback as I start this journey with God and Christ, as my understanding of both God and Agile development can certainly gain more subject matter expertise.  I'd hardly consider myself a prime authority on either subject.  That said - I'll go back to the product backlog, and how God is in control of the Life product backlog.

Challenges, triumphs, defeats, war, peace, and all of the things that God has declared have their time and place, have been put into His backlog.  Who knows, this conflict with Syria is floating around in His backlog, too.  I don't know how He has prioritized military conflict in this Syria situation, and I know that God would not advocate bloodshed.  However, He knows why this Syrian issue is happening, and He knows the best way for it to better serve His plans.  Hopefully the people involved in the critical decision making process are praying about their questions related to their "in progress" faith tasks.  Hopefully they've gone to The Bible to find His comments about what is happening.  And, hopefully we, the people of God, have enough of a voice to have it heard in the places where it needs.  For, another concept of Product development is team size.  The ideal team size, as studied for optimization, sits at or around 7.  Which is interesting, 7 is a very important biblical number.

There's no possible way that in a nation of millions that we can all assume that one person can be truly held accountable for all of our deeds. Jesus was the Son of Man. No human can make that claim.  We need to start taking the time to look at Product backlog of life and making sure that we're delivering the most valuable items to God, as He has called us to do.  And, we also need to rely on those that are absolutely closest to us to help keep us accountable to Him.  And by closest, I mean the people that know every little thing your life in Faith includes.

I don't know what is in your backlog. I don't even know yet everything that is in mine - probably because it's not been fully formed yet, neither has yours.  I do know that I can trust the people I'm closest to to keep me accountable for the backlog items I choose to work on.  I'm doing my best to open up my life to the people closest to me for inspection and constructive criticism.  It's really the best way to prove that I am worthy of calling myself a Christian Man.

I think I'll focus next on the second part of the trinity, Jesus, who I see as the Scrum Master.  As a brief snippet, the Scrum Master is the liaison between the Product Owner and Team - removing impediments that get in the way.  Here's a hint - our impediments are called Sin. We all have them, we all do it, Jesus makes sure that God understands that, while these things are not the right things for us to be working on, He will help us course correct, because He has taken responsibility for our Sins.  Thank God and Jesus for that.  I'd hate to be on any development team that didn't have a good working relationship with the Product Owner.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

God for Geeks

Simple Scrum Diagram
I think it helps people have a good relationship with God if they create a personal metaphor that gives them a more direct perspective on His work, and His plan.  In the case of most of the faithful I know, they also happen to be passionate about writing computer software.  One of them even gave me a great idea for helping me shape my personal understanding of God a little better, which could easily turn into multiple blog posts spanning several paragraphs.  See, something I'm extremely passionate about is the concept of agile software development, specifically in the desire of moving towards continuous delivery.

I was having a faith conversation regarding predestination and free will with a fellow developer who I'm also working on agile practices with, and came to an interesting theory.  God, to me, is like the ultimate agile developer - He definitely gave each and every one of us the free will to work on his Life product however we so choose, and while he has every single epic perfectly planned, the sprints that we go through do not get planned until it's implementation time.  He even has a great backlog of user stories that he has certain individuals assigned to.

I italicized some terms that are part of the concept of agile development, I can, and will, write about God as a Product Owner (another one of those buzzwords), about how Life is a product, not a project - also an important distinction - and all kinds of other things that combine agile development theory with my strongly increasing faith.  I don't know yet how long this blog series will carry me - I'm not really doing it for me, I'm doing it because He assigned this user story to me, and He wants me to carry it out.  I'm going to do my best to move out of His way, and let Him work through me and my understanding of software development to explain His purpose for me, and for Life.  I don't know yet exactly where this journey will take me, nor do I know all of the technical implementation details of the user story.  All I know is that the final result will be His story, told through the eyes of a developer that loves Agile practices.

I'm not sure yet what a good starting point would be.  Scrum is a simple concept, with so many complex and interacting components that each one could certainly grab my attention for the length of one, or possibly many, blog posts.  I guess I just need to move out of the way and let Him give me some guidance on where to start first, seeing as He is the Product Owner (He owns Life) and His Son is the ultimate Scrum Master (Jesus removed Sin as the ultimate impediment).  Maybe that's a good place to start - explaining what a Scrum Master is, or what a Product Owner is, and explaining why I see God as the Product Owner of Life.  I'll pray about it a little bit, but I've been inspired by the Holy Spirit to keep working on this - and while He is patient, He also has a reason for calling people to action.  Thank God for his inspirations!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mashed Potatoes

Short side rant: Shame on Facebook and YouTube for their initial response to this movie trailer.  Glory to Him, humans can't take away His message, no matter what. God wanted this message heard, YouTube and Facebook are not big enough to get in HIS way. That trailer is obviously now back on YouTube, after originally being banned.

This has nothing to do with my mashed potatoes post, and yet it also has everything to do with my mashed potatoes post.  I was working on preparing potatoes for becoming mashed potatoes.  As I peeled them, cleaned them, and then cubed them, thinking about God along the way, it struck me as a fitting metaphor for The Christian Church (or The Body of Christ).  Every potato (human) is a little different.  Preparing potatoes to become mashed (humans for heaven) requires peeling (saving).  Christ is the potato peeler, the peels are the Sin of humans.  As the potatoes become peeled (saved) - some of the dirt from other peels gets on the peeled potatoes.  When Humans come into contact with Sin, we once again become tempted to Sin (potatoes get dirty again).  Jesus is also the faucet that washes off the dirt - He's multifaceted like that ;).  Once the potatoes get mashed, it becomes a uniform (tasty) mass that all support one another.  However, the cook (God) notices when one of the potatoes is missing, the body is incomplete!

I apologize if the metaphorical mind of mine went on a really wide tangent that I'm doing a terrible job explaining.  However, Kirk Cameron is a potato.  So am I.  Someday, we'll all be a part of the Body of Heaven, mashed together for eternity in one quite scrumptious future!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Code Life Review

So, one of the wonderful things that I get to do at work these days is take part in code reviews. I show off my code, good, bad, or otherwise, to people that have an interest in the code I'm writing. They show their code to me. And, we can point at things in the code and actively direct attention to good code, and code that could use some constructive improvement.

 The thing we get to do with code reviews is make changes, in almost real-time, to correct mistakes. We can append additional changed files to the ones we originated a review on, so that we can show exactly where we improved anything somebody listed as a "defective" portion of code. We get do-overs, and it works well to make our code significantly better. The code we write tells a better story about the team we are on when code reviews are included.

 When we sin, we are showing the human defects in our lives. God is the primary code reviewer in our lives - he knows exactly what it is that we've done that doesn't "follow standards" and he definitely knows all about the "unsafe practices" or "pattern violations". The thing is, His people didn't get a chance to do a code life review, sin became a permanent part of their lives. Then Jesus came along. Guess what, even when we do screw up (we are human after all) He goes through and makes our code lives clean. Sure, the evidence of our sin sits on our soul. But, we get to apply a change-set any time sin happens. Jesus gives us that chance and that love. How about that :D. Amen.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Black Spot

Though not perhaps the most well known of all literary devices (possibly more popular thanks to Disney), The Black Spot represents, in most cases, a curse, an imperfection, or some sort of other ill will.

As I was working on a drawing I am doing, sitting with my daughter as she colored on her dry erase easel, somehow or another a little black dot from one of her markers made it onto my very carefully planned and worked pencil drawing.  It's obvious.  It's gaping.  It's a black spot.  And, it's beautiful.  Because, it reminds me that God - a much better creator than I - knows about each and every one of the black spots in His creation.  That's what we call Sin.

I plan on using all of the capacities I have as an artist to make the black spot go away.  Most likely, nobody but me will know it was even there, once I'm finished.  But - the spot happened.  The great healer - Jesus Christ - came to get rid of all of the black spots in the creation of His Father, and our Father.  Most of the black spots we have, He knows about, but His eraser - the Son, got rid of them for us so that we can be with Him again.

I'm thankful for the reminder that even black spots are an integral part of creation.  They can be managed, they can be dealt with appropriately.  But, only through the great eraser that is Jesus, can they be erased and forgiven.  I'm still learning how to draw around black spots.  And, I'm still learning how to accept forgiveness for my sin.  But, through Him, we are all forgiven.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

God Trusts Us

Whoever is faithful in small matters will be faithful in large ones; whoever is dishonest in small matters will be dishonest in large ones.” (Luke 16:10)
God implicitly trusts us with many responsibilities as we live out our mortal lives.  Some of them will be obvious to us, such as parenthood, careers, friendships, all stemming from some of the most important relationships we have.  However, sometimes we have to remember that He trusts us with all kinds of things, even the not-so-obvious ones.

The best example I have of this right now comes from my workplace.  We just recently stared down the throat of a lion, and the lion decided it was better just to leave us alone.  Working in the  software industry, sometimes we come across "show stopping" changes, sometimes they are bugs, sometimes they are software features that "got missed".  Our project is 1 week away from being production ready.  A show stopper showed up at our doorstep earlier this week.  God trusted me to handle this issue with integrity and dignity, hopefully I made him proud.  We've decided on a 2 step process.  We'll put in a quick fix now, and then follow up with a more in depth solution once our original solution is successfully seated in our production environment.

I slipped up a little bit while dealing with this show stopper, because I forgot to open my ears and shut my mouth.  God helped me get through the whole situation, though - and gave me the strength, courage, and wisdom to keep the team members I'm leading from having to deal with significant overtime and / or a missed deadline.  I also thank God that the project manager on the project helped us to mitigate any major scope explosions, as it could have easily turned into that.

Compared to dealing with a family health situation, dealing with a conundrum at work is simply one more test that God trusted me to pass.  Dealing with the family health thing was a little bit anxiety riddled, too - but it is now behind us as well, and His strength did not fail to see us through it.

I'm sure there's lots of little things I don't know about that God trusts me with. Thank God for His trust in all things.

Monday, April 15, 2013

God is in Boston

Something really bad just happened.  Be warned, some of the imagery on that link is a bit graphic, so don't go there if you've got a weak stomach.  For those who have not yet heard, an apparent act of terrorism has taken place in Boston, taking place during the Boston Marathon.

My prayers go out to those that were injured, those that were witnesses, emergency responders, and everyone else that will have direct or indirect involvement with regard to this tragedy.  Our government once again needs God's direction to know how to react to the situation appropriately.  Family needs God's hand to talk to their loved ones, and mourn losses, appropriately.  At a moment like this, I hope that our nation turns to God.  For, I know He is present and working hard in this aftermath, even if right now the situation seems the worst of cruelties.

On a more specific and intimate level to my life, I can speak of a near tragedy that turned into a miracle.  I eat lunch with a student every week at a nearby elementary school.  He got really sick at the beginning of this year, badly enough to get airlifted by helicopter to a specialty hospital.  His road to recovery will take time, but God has His hand in the recovery.  For, even though he got so sick, he also got some desperately needed attention in the form of one-on-one education.  In the three months between the time I last saw him before he got sick, and the first time I saw him after his illness, his academic ability increased significantly.  Some people call that a silver lining.  I call it God.  While it may seem silly to point out an event specific to my life during a national tragedy, I find it a compelling story similar enough in nature to this one to remind everyone God can do work here.

I know God is present to make this kind of things, and many other miraculous ones, come out of such a horrendous event.  I do not wish to downplay the tragedy that the massacre certainly was, and is.  However, I do hope everyone remembers, God is present, there, too.  Take a moment to pray for the victims, whether directly or indirectly impacted.  And, remember, we're all people - and all of us hurt when something this terrible happens.  Now is not a time for hate to blossom, but instead to remember to find a way to love.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why Ask Why?

Because.  God has given each of us inquisitiveness and curiosity. Why is the universe so massive a place?  Why do some parents bury children, and some children bury parents?  Why does everything start at the level of the atom?  In general, questions like these can only be answered in one way - God's way.  So, God wants us to ask why.  All the time, in fact.  If we don't ask why, we don't build our relationships with God.  Asking why isn't a matter of questioning God, though.  You should ask God why He expects you to do something.  You shouldn't tell God you won't do it because you disagree with Him.

If you are unsure as to why God has something in mind for you, though - don't always wait for the answer to the question Why.  For, sometimes the answer comes in fulfilling the purpose in the first place, and by asking why we misplace the trust that God has placed within us.  And, sometimes God wishes to test our loyalty to Him, by not giving us the reason why right away.  So far, one way or another, I always learn the "why" of the "what" that God asks of me.  Though, sometimes it doesn't happen for many weeks or months later.

We have an awesome God that does awesome things.  Some of the things God does are so involved and intricately planned that there's no way we can see why he did them.  However, in asking why, we can do a little bit of a better job to understand Him.  Just remember that, in the end, the first reason to do anything is to glorify Him.  That's the best answer to "Why" - because He desires it from you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Live Like You Were Dying

He replied, "What is impossible for people is possible with God."
Luke 18:27, New Living Translation
While I was getting my daughter ready for bed, tucking her in, I was saying a prayer of gratitude for the day and for God bringing this child into my life. The song attached to this post came on her radio, albeit quietly, as we like to have good music on in the background to help cover up some of the other ambient noises that come with living on a busy street. Seeing as this song was playing as I was praying in gratitude, it gave me pause to think about what it really means to live like you are dying.

Even as you take the time to read what I've written here, your mortal life is closer to over. You are closer to dying from this mortal life, just by a few moments. We are all dying, at least in the physical mortal sense on this planet. However, that's not something to fear. It's something to find great joy in, for the end of mortality means the beginning of eternity. So, the best thing to remember is that we all have a purpose that our creator designed us for. We all have a reason for being mortally alive - so we should all treat each moment as a last moment before death. Or, at least do our best to do so anyway - I know I'm not great at it sometimes.

What are some of the things that I can do to live this way. Well, the first thing I'm going to do is ask God what I can do in His name. After that, I imagine everything else will continue to fall into place as it has now that I have found faith. A dying person (someone that has a terminal diagnosis) might take time to do things on their "bucket list." It's probably best to decide what's on God's bucket list for your life, and then do those things now. Don't wait. Turn around, and go do them. My kid gives me plenty of opportunities to do mine. Everyone has been given this life to prove their worthy of God's trust. So, let's prove Him right.  Let's do the impossible, made possible by living for God first.  Then just maybe instead of living like we are dying, we will die knowing we had done our best living.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Not Knowing What God Wants

I find my self in a bit of a frustrating situation tonight, and I know God expects us to get frustrated sometimes,so I've decided to share it with others.  I was at a restaurant today for lunch with my fellowship-at-work group.  We had a wonderful conversation, primarily revolving around God and His work in our lives.  The food was very good and fairly priced.  The dining experience and the company are not what frustrated me.  I'll get to the blessing of my frustration in just a minute - I do want to say thank you to God first because He truly has blessed the life I live.

My frustration stems from the waitress that we had.  She did an excellent job at her job, and I left her a fair tip because of it.  What I find frustrating is something I saw tattooed on her arm, "La vida es dolor" (Life is Pain).  Yes - we were eating Mexican today.  I'm not sure why God put this young woman in front of me.  My fear is that if I were to return to that place to do His work, she would think of me as some bible thumper and not really hear what I was trying to offer to her.  Even worse, I fear that I could take something so ordinary as a tattoo and turn it into an escalated situation where one isn't warranted.  This is what frustrates me about the situation.  God expected me to meet this young woman today.  He's placed a Mexican contractor in my team so that I can get better at Spanish.  Otherwise, I never would have had a remote understanding of this young woman's tattoo.  He wanted me to meet this lady today, I've asked Him why, and so far I have not heard a response.  I realize that He has a lesson, a test, and an assignment in this for me - I'm just a little stuck as to what that might be exactly.  I suppose I could bring His word to her, but if she's not ready to hear it, I don't know that it would do anything more than upset her to hear it.

I plan on bringing this up with my fellowship group on Monday - I'm heading out of town tomorrow before lunch.  However, as I sit and consider this situation, I really do feel like I am being asked to do something about it - perhaps all of us who met her today are.  Yet, I'm at a loss as to exactly what, and when.  Thank God for this test, for I am sure it is because He trusts me that He brought it to me.  Truly quite a blessing indeed, but God trusts me more than I feel like I'm equipped to handle at the moment.

Feel free to include your ideas, if you wish - because I, for one, am stuck.  As I pray about this situation more and come to taking action on it of some kind, I will be certain to journal about how it transpired.

Thank God for this day, and for the wonderful puzzles he presents to me in each one of them.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Sheer Magnitude of Eternity

God wants my time. I do my absolute best to keep Him in everything I do, and in everything I plan on doing. He doesn't need my time though. After all, I cannot possibly learn Spanish, read more, do more artwork (drawing and painting), get better at my chosen career, and work on this blog simultaneously. Funny thing is, God's creation does all of that, and so much more, at exactly the same time. So, while there's lots of things I can do, God can do all of them, and does, at the exact same time.  I know that time management experts have tips and tricks for multi-tasking, but God didn't really design the human brain to be like that.
I am currently reading about God's design of the human brain, in this book: Welcome to Your Brain. It's a bit like a neuroscience for beginners book - which is perfect for me. Something that the book has made fairly obvious - we have powerful brains. But, as I'm typing this blog, my brain is filtering out the other noises and sensations going on around me. It is not mentally, or for that matter physically, possible for me to start working on a drawing and typing at the same time. If I tried to write with one hand, and draw with my other, I'd end up drawing letters and typing words that were in a given shape. As a trifle example: erfcxs is the shape of a circle, typed counterclockwise. Some of you have seen my handwriting. Imagine how much worse it would be if I tried to write something while focusing on also typing something. Eesh.
It's possible to focus our attention in some cases on two things at once, but even that we don't do very well. I imagine that's why dietitians recommend against eating while watching television. The TV has our brain as a captive audience, so we don't really pay attention to how much we're eating, and tend to over-eat more when we do that.

Imagine a life where you could literally do everything you wanted and experience everything you wanted. That's God's eternity for us. If we want to learn more about computer science, we will have plenty of time to experiment and get better at it in eternity, so long as it supports His purpose. I wonder if God has an intranet in heaven... heh. If we want to get better at drawing or painting, we'll be able to learn from the great masters that also believed. Not that we would necessarily need to, the presence of God and His knowledge and ability would certainly be better at teaching us how to create than even the most esteemed of all human creators.

Though I imagine we could learn the history of languages easily while in Heaven, I doubt we will need to learn different languages. My imagination tells me we will all speak a new or different language in Heaven, God's language, and we will all understand each-other implicitly. Language is a barrier to understanding - one that God would have no problem destroying. The Holy Spirit communicates with us regularly in ways that we easily understand. So, once we're surrounded by it and embraced in it, I bet we all understand each other without any need for a translator.

Eternity and our eternal home, Heaven, are too big for human minds to comprehend. The God that made the universe - something so infinite we cannot possibly study all of it - also prepares our homes by His side. Some people I know consider spending time with God a waste of their time, mostly because they have a broken relationship with God. I say that spending time with God is the best use of my time, and that no matter what I'm doing, God is doing it with me too. So, it's better to do something for Him, and do so to glorify Him. I'm human, so I suck at that. But, Jesus came along to make it so that even with my inability to be a perfect saint, my Home in Eternity still waits for me.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy St. Valentine's Day

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God.  1 John 4:7-10 
Each holiday we celebrate, whether religious in origin or not, should serve as a reminder to us all that God wants us to remember Him, and that God loves us.  On a day intended for celebration of love, it seems fitting to turn to God first.  God gave us marriage so that we could know a fraction of His love during our mortal lives.  God gave us courtship so that we could understand what it's like to desire love. God even gave us sexual attraction so we could understand physical love (though - we have to be careful not to step into lust).

I've briefly researched the history of St. Valentine, and though it's not certain whether or not it was in fact one man - February 14 is now celebrated as St. Valentine's day.  He represented the Godly idea of supporting being in love, the act of loving, and love as a general term.  God so loved the world He gave His only Son.

Love, of all things, has significant importance in a relationship with God and Christ.  When we reach our eternal home, we will live in a spirit of undeniable and incredible love. Jesus died for us, because He loved us and wanted us by His side in eternity.  I think it's a good idea to say Happy Valentine's Day to anyone you'd like - God wants us to be His valentine - but not just on St. Valentine's day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Goodbye Facebook

I disabled my Facebook account.  Apparently it takes approximately two weeks for it t o go away completely, but it's already not possible to find me on Facebook, at least from what I can tell anyway.  Facebook has really done two things for me.

1) Invaded my privacy
2) Allowed me to play games with friends (and people Facebook calls friends).

In learning more about what God wants for my life, I've come to a pretty strong conclusion that Facebook actually does not fit into His plan for me.  Sure, it's supposed to be a good way to stay in touch with people.  In all reality, it's turned into more of a single sign-on platform, and less of a rich communication medium, than I would prefer.  Might I go back to Facebook some day.  Maybe - but if I do you can guess I won't be accepting friend requests from anyone other than my closest friends and family.  There's a higher chance that I won't even get back on at all.  Facebook has done a very good job of distracting me from other goals I have, most of which revolve around being a good Christian, none of which Facebook has really progressed.

There is one case where I was a little sad to turn of my Facebook account.  After many years, I reconnected with a childhood friend through Facebook.  Hopefully he'll see this - and know that I don't want our communications to stop just because I'm not on Facebook any more.  I'm not concerned about sharing my e-mail address on this page - so leave me a comment if you need it, and I'll do my best to get in touch with you.

God seems to have inspired me to leave Facebook behind.  I didn't even really hesitate when it came to hitting the deactivate button.  It's something I've been considering for a while, but haven't really followed through on until tonight.

It's going to take a bit of God's strength not to give up and turn my account back on in the next day or two.  I know that I don't need Facebook in my life, but the temptation to run right back to it because it's "easy" is pretty strong.  I guess it's kind of like the dark side of the force.  The quick and easy path... heh.

Hopefully the people I care to stay in touch with the most already know how to do that.  If not, hopefully we can find a way to connect without Facebook.  Time will tell, I suppose.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I've got someone from Mexico working on my team right now and he's helping me to brush up on my otherwise abysmal Spanish.  Learning something this completely out of my comfort zone has certainly been teaching me a little bit about myself, not the least of which revolves around humility.  His English is way better than my Spanish, so there's no doubt who the teacher is in this case.  It's not me.

Something I've come to consider as I spend time with a new language is something simple that doesn't even require a translator.  In this country, and many others for that matter, adios is a word that we hear frequently but don't give much additional thought to.  After all, it's pretty commonly known that this word translates to "goodbye" for most of the understanding we have in this country.  However, a different saying that we don't run across as often in the USA is "vaya con Dios" - "go with God".  Notice something about that... the only thing different about "Dios" and "adios" is the letter A.  And, if my understanding of the Spanish language is correct, "A Dios" could literally translate to "with God".  So, I have to wonder if it makes any difference to live in a country where God is such a fundamental part of the daily secular language. Always.  I have to imagine that in Spanish speaking countries, a person would hear the term adios either directly or indirectly dozens of times a day, if not more.  If anything, I think it serves as a subtle reminder that we are always with God.  God never stops watching us and being with us.

I explained my understanding of this concept to my wife a few days ago using Skype as a metaphor.  Imagine for a moment that you have your parents tuned in to watch your child playing.  Certainly, as grandparents, they would definitely enjoy even just watching, because by watching they are still taking part in this experience.  However, how much different is the joy that the grandparents receive when the grandchild on the other end reciprocates the involvement in the activity.  Instead of just knowing that Grandma and Grandpa are watching if the grandchild actively engages with the grandparents, then the connecting bond grows that much stronger.  It's no different for our relationships with God.  His "webcam" is always turned on, and He is always watching us as we take part in our lives.  He enjoys watching us, with no doubt.  But, when we actively engage our interest as part of His interest, this is truly when the purpose of our creation - Love - abounds.

The next time someone says "bye", "see you later", or any other saying similar to "adios" - put the phrase "adios" in your mind.  Then remember that Dios and God are one and the same.  See if you start thinking about your time with God a little differently.  I know I have.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dare to Dream

God called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to action.  I studied the man's life as an elementary and middle school student in quite a bit of detail - something about him fascinated me.  The idea that someone so resolutely and passionately believed in peaceful resolution to even the most serious conflict intrigued me.  As a figure of memory in American history, most people probably remember what he did for African American civil rights. One of the main reasons he accomplished so much in the time that he did relied on his faith.  I find it interesting that he managed to move the hearts of so many people, and did so without directly referencing God, yet also the entire time managed to do God's work.  He's the face of Civil Rights that I hope we remember today, as we face new and different struggles in our nation in terms of bigotry, hate crime, and discrimination.  His ministry was certainly one of love.  And, though Dr. King was certainly as human as they come, he proved to me that a Christian life can, indeed, be a life built for Good (with a capital G).

We have many reasons to be thankful for the life of Dr. King.  However, as Christians, one of the things we can be most thankful for is a wonderfully accurate depiction of a Christian man deeply rooted in his faith, wishing to bring Good to people all around him - black or otherwise.  We can turn to the Bible to better understand Jesus, His Disciples, His Works, and God's Word.  We can turn to people like Dr. King as an example of how to follow what the bible teaches us.

I pray for the future of this country, and that it can return to being one of the nations that others respect.  I hope that we can remember one of the most respected historical figures we know was also an extremely devout Christian.  I strongly believe that Faith alone can guide us out of some of the dark places we are heading as a nation.  However, as individuals and families, regardless of our nation, know that God is still in control, and still has a plan for the way everything is unfolding.

I have a dream too - that someday, once I'm called home, people just like Dr. King will be waiting there for me with a grand smile on their face.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


God made me into the kind of person that puts the left side of my brain to work quite frequently.  As a software engineer, I create solutions to business problems.  Software, though very technical and logical, has a creative element that many people overlook.  Most, if not all, of the software engineers I know dabble in some other kind of creative expression.  Many of them dabble in many forms of artistic expression.  I find myself not very different.

The great thing is, God created me to be creative.  And, in being creative, I understand just a little better what it means to be a creator.  Obviously, I don't have any idea the kinds of things The Creator is fully capable of.  But, I do understand that creativity lends to further creativity.  One person could write a story, and inspire a painter to paint a scene from the story.  Many movies are inspired by books, many books by paintings, paintings by music, and all kinds of other creative cross-references that logic itself can't dictate.  But, God understands all of these creative underpinnings.  After all, he created the universe to include creativity, which I think helps creative people understand Him.

Most recently, I've been undertaking the task of re-invoigorating my art skills.  God gave me at least a little bit of natural predisposition for artistic rendering (drawing, and more recently, painting) so I've been making it a point to sharpen those skills as time allows for it.  I've learned a couple of things as I start to draw and paint again.  First of all, God has an incredible eye for detail.  If I were going to create an image that contained all of the hairs on a human head, (without a camera) that'd take me a good long while.  And God did it 8 billion times.  Or, at least he made the rules that make it happen 8 billion times.  Second of all, God has great plans for his creations.  When I work on an artistic piece without anything planned, it usually turns out sloppy and otherwise a poor example of my skills.  If, however, I have a plan for a piece I work on, it turns out much better.

God planned His entire creation - which includes you and I.  He designed us, engineered us, and made us into the perfect representation of a unique soul.  God has great plans for us.  So, it's important for us to have great plans for ourselves, knowing that God will support them.  We just need to be sure that our plans aren't selfish, but instead glorify His will.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It Matters

The most important thing of all you can give of yourself is time.  Period.  I realize that you can help others with your money if you have lots of it (or even if not).  I realize you can help others with your non-monetary objects, if you have them to give.  However, God wants an open, loving, and interactive relationship with you, which most of all requires time.

I was reminded of this over the past weekend when I saw my sister.  She uses my child as a story for her peers, and will again once she finishes learning to be an elementary teacher.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my wife went to a party that the daycare threw to celebrate the day.  For the next couple of weeks, my child said "Mommy came. And <Friend's Name> Mommy Came."  My child, who hasn't left the toddler years - and is in fact still early in them - noticed when people were there with her.  Even a simple gesture like taking part in a party matters.  Lots.

When spending time with God, remember that your time with Him matters, too.  God loves you very much, and loves to hear from you and to see you grow into spiritual adulthood, just like we as parents like watching our children grow into adulthood.  Also remember this.  God is always present.  It's where the term omnipresent comes from.  No matter what you're doing, you can be excited that God is doing it with you, because He loves spending time with you.  My child loves knowing that nothing (except God) is more important in our lives.

Do you know that nothing is more important that Him?  I mean, really know it.  You may strive to make that true in your life, but is it?  I'm guilty of putting human interests before God interests much too often.  But, the great thing is, God loves seeing that too - and He'll help course correct us when we need it.  We'll come to self-realization about what's good and Godly, and what's not.  As we "grow up" he'll be right there with us the whole time, partying with each success we find, and holding our hand when we fall down and skin our spiritual knees.  I've got lots of scrapes and bruises that God needs to kiss to make them feel better.  And, in time, I know He will.