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I'm a stay-at-home Dad suffering from Fibromyalgia. I homeschool my daughter and lead worship at my church. I'm also a gamer and a geek and proud of it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Managing Mondays: Sometimes Something Has to Give

So originally I was thinking that I would write a review of one of my favorite pieces of software. I even carved out sometime in my schedule last week to really do a thorough job. But, as some of you may already know from my VLOGs all week, we had VBS at church last week. I knew VBS would take a lot of my time last week but forgot to factor in how much energy it would take.

As some of you may be aware I suffer from Fibromyalgia Syndrome or FMS. And sometimes when I'm feeling good I forget how easy it is to push myself too far. The problem is that when I start to feel like I may have overdone it, it is already too late, sometimes it's too late before I feel it. What I'm saying is I need to really pace myself to the point of feeling like I'm moving at a snails pace at times.

Needless to say I did not get the review done, I didn't even look at the software all week. So, here I am typing away trying to figure out what to write about today, when it hit me. I'm already saying what needs to be said. Sometimes, something has to give. Sometimes, I just can't do it all, and that's ok. Trying to live, never mind homeschooling and managing a household or trying to publish a blog and operate a YouTube channel, with a chronic illness isn't easy and sometimes you have to accept your limitations. So the laundry didn't get folded or there are some pans in the sink, is that really what's important.

Take my daughter's education. Do we get to do all the academics I have planned out for the year? No. Do I get to mold her character and prepare her for life as a responsible and caring adult? Yes. So we didn't finish her science book (we still get more done than the public school) and we didn't learn much about Algebra, but she did learn the importance of family and responsibility.

So, Will I ever do that review? Maybe, maybe not.

Does it matter? Not really.

In the long run I chose to use what little energy I had last week, serving God by being a blessing to over 50 kids at VBS. I think I made the right choice.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: In the Pursuit of Excellence

You will notice in the title of this article I said excellence not perfection. I think that is the first thing we need to remember when it comes to worship, we should never strive for perfection because we are never going to reach it. If we wait for everything we do to be perfect then we will do nothing. What we need to do is strive for excellence, that means we need to constantly strive to do our best. We should also be actively seeking to improve our talents and abilities in order to achieve even greater excellence. The flip side is that we can handle failures much easier if we know that we offered our best.


 We should never strive for perfection because we are never going to reach it.


As I have mentioned in earlier posts, God expects us to serve him with excellence. The bible is full of references to excellence.



  1. God recognizes excellence in His creation (Gen 1)
    "...and God saw that it was good" (vss. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21 and 25)
    "God saw all that he made, and it was very good" (vs. 31).
    The New Living Translation renders it as "excellent in every way."
  2. David's choir had a standard of excellence (1 Chron. 25:7).
    "All of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord - they numbered 288."
  3. Skill (excellence) is commanded in music offered to the Lord (Ps. 33:3).
    "Sing to him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy."
  4. There is also a cost in the offerings presented to God (2 Sam. 24:4).
    "I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing."

The Application


If we don't give our people opportunity to grow they won't.


So what does all this mean when it comes to our worship? How do we offer God our very best? Well, I just so happen to have a few suggestions:

  1. Music selected for worship should be excellent music. I know that is very subjective, but let me continue. First of all the lyrics should reflect sound theology and should be creatively constructed (i.e. free of cliché). The music itself should follow actual musical rules and should match the message of the lyrics. Chords and rhythmic patterns should fit with the melody. This leaves a lot of options to choose from, but overall there should be some conscious effort placed on the selection of music for worship.
  2. Artists (i.e. musicians, dancers, actors) should be prepared for the presentations offered to God in corporate worship. Sloppy offerings should never make their way to the house of worship. This means very simply that artists should put in plenty of practice, I know many of us are amateurs and volunteers, but we are all called to serve God with excellence.
  3. Leaders should train those entrusted to them. As a leader we need to give ample opportunities for those we lead to gain additional skills through practice and training. If we don't give our people opportunity to grow they won't.
  4. This is not limited just to the Arts as all service is considered worship unto God. We should strive to give the best we can offer in all areas of ministry.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Managing Mondays: Recipe - American Chop Suey

American Chop Suey


This is by far the most versatile dish we make at our house. Also known simply as Macaroni and Beef, it is a simple mixture of elbow macaroni and ground beef in a tomato sauce. Though rarely added in most classic recipes, I find garlic to be a welcome addition to the flavors of this dish.



Ingredients:
16 oz. dry elbow macaroni
1 tbsp olive oil  
1 clove garlic, grated
1 small onion finely chopped
1/2 cup diced green pepper (optional)
1 lb ground beef
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 26 oz. jar prepared tomato sauce, preferably meat flavored
1 cup water
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Prepare pasta according to package direction. While pasta is cooking heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. add garlic, onion and green pepper (optional) to skillet. add a pinch of salt and cook until onions are slightly translucent.
  3. add ground beef to the pan. season with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. cook until all the beef has been browned. 
  4. add the flour to the pan and cook for an additional 2 minutes in order to completely cook the flour and then add the prepared tomato sauce and water. (I usually add the water to the empty jar in order to get the last of the sauce out.).
  5. finally add the basil, oregano, and parsley and stir to combine. pour the meat sauce over the cooked and drained elbow macaroni and serve with grated Parmesan.



Friday, July 20, 2012

Fun Fridays: The Weekly Download

So It is Friday and time for the Weekly Download, a news show about things that interest me in the world of geekdom.





Also my VLOG still goes up on my YouTube Channel Monday through Friday nights

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: The Heart of the Worshiper

I've said it many times before that what we do for God is all about our motives or our heart. After all David, you know the guy who wrote most of the Psalms, is described as a man after God's own heart. The heart is where it all begins when it comes to worship. So what kind of heart should we have when it comes to worship? Well in his book Biblical Foundations for Worship Leadership Dr Randy Quackenbush describes 7 biblically-based characteristics of a lead worshiper. The following is my take on these 7 characteristics.

  1. Purity
    This goes straight to the heart of the matter, pun not intended. It is our motives in doing what we do that is important here. Are we trying to win God's favor or are we trying to give him the honor and glory that He is due? Are we trying to appease a guilty conscience or are we grateful for His forgiveness and mercy? Are we just giving lip service to the great I AM or are we sincere in our adoration of the creator? The bottom line is we need to check where our heart is when it comes to serving God.
  2. Passion
    We need to be passionate, and I think most people involved in music are. The real issue is to be passionate about the right things and to prioritize those passions. I have to agree with Dr. Quackenbush that our priorities when it comes to passion in ministry should be: 1.) God (get to know Him through reading His Word.) 2.) His Church (Be passionate about facilitating God's people in worshiping and serving Him.) 3.) The Arts (Strive for excellence in the artisitic expressions offered to God both in public and in private.)
  3. Power
    I firmly believe you need the anointing of God on your life in order to effectively minister to people. I once heard a speaker compare the difference between serving God with the anointing and without to the difference between a screwdriver and a power drill. Yeah you can do it, but it will be that much more work to get anything accomplished.
  4. Prayer
    This one should be a no brainer. Seriously we can't do any of this with out God's guidance nor should we try to. We need to sincerely seek God's will for our services and earnestly pray for the moving of His Spirit in our corporate worship gatherings.
  5. Pastor
    This one actually surprised me. I never thought of my leading worship as a pastoral position, but when I really looked into it I realized that is exactly what I am doing each Sunday morning. I'm also in a position to mentor and teach those on my team. If we are leading a ministry in church then we need to mentor and shepherd those under our leadership.
  6. Presentation
    We should be offering our best to God. What this means is we need to take time to hone our musical talents, i.e. practice. God desires excellence, for us to use our talents and abilities in the best way possible for His glory. We should always be striving to be better. There is always room for improvement.
  7. Price
    Serving God should come with a price. If we only serve God when it is convenient or when it takes little to no effort then where is the "sacrifice of praise?" We should never apologize for detailed planning and preparation when it comes to our ministries. Of course if we expect others to be disciplined in service we need to set the example ourselves first.
I did find it telling that out of these 7 "P's" there is one "P" that is missing. "Perfection." God does not require us to be perfect in order for us to serve and especially to lead. The Bible is full of Godly leaders who were far from perfect. What God requires is a willingness to serve and to strive excellence. Remember excellence is not perfection, it is doing the best we can with the gifts God has already given us.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Managing Mondays: Summer School?

Summer School? Really? I thought you homeschooled?

Well Yes, Yes and Yes.

Doing school through the summer is actually a great way to catch up on those items that may have been missed during the school year, or to reinforce areas that your child may be a little weak in. Let me pause here for a moment and mention that I am not advocating sitting our children down at the kitchen table or at a desk with a workbook or textbook. I am saying that just because summer is here that our children should stop learning for 3 months.

I found that this is actually a lot easier to do than it sounds and I hope these suggestions will give you some starting points for your own "Summer School". (BTW just because you don't homeschool doesn't mean you can't use these ideas too.)


  1. Bake/Cook - This one goes without saying. Kids love to bake and cook even simple things like s'mores can be a great opportunity to teach and/or reinforce math concepts. How many graham crackers do we need? How many marshmallows for everyone? Can you divide that chocolate evenly?
  2. Clean your room! - Even simple everyday chores like cleaning can be a great opportunity to learn invaluable skills. younger children can learn grouping or classification (this is basic math and science) and older children can learn to be generous by giving away toys and/or clothing they no longer use that are still in great shape.
  3. Road Trip - Even simple trips to the beach can lead to great science lessons. Simply do a little research ahead of time about the local flora and fauna, or take a book along with you to look things up. This works great for hikes in the woods too, bring along a field guide to birds and you've got a ready made lesson in zoology. Historical sites and museums are also great family trips and some are even free for younger children.
  4. Flash Cards? - sometimes you may need to resort to learning some hardcore facts over the summer. Flashcards if used should be presented as fun not a chore. Also there are many great games that require basic math skills, even basic board games require the adding of dice. Use dice with actual numbers on them with older children so they can't just count the pips. My favorite game that requires math right now is StoneAge. It requires basic multiplication and division for various parts of the game and still remains fun. (My daughter hates math but loves this game!)
  5. Blocks! - Blocks on a rainy day are always fun to learn shapes and motor skills. LEGOs are particularly great for this. They not only teach basic math skills (how many studs long is that piece?) nut also problem solving and creativity. I highly recomend the Creator series as they give instructions for some basic models but also pictures of other models for the kids to figure out on their own, which in turn encourages them to come up with their own creations. Also if there is a LEGO robotics league in your area you could look into getting your children involved in that as well.
So I hope these ideas get you thinking. These are of course just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creative ways to trick, I mean encourage your kids to learn this summer.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fun Fridays: Weekly Download

Weekly geek news now on YouTube. (and no this is not the secret project I've been hinting at in my Vlogs)


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: Idol Worship

The Bible is very clear when it comes to idols. So why do we worship so many of them? You might be saying to yourself, "wait a second, I don't worship idols." And I would have to say that you were a liar. Maybe you don't bow down or burn candles to little statues, but those aren't the only types of idols.

An idol is anything in your life that takes the place of God. It could be money, basically placing our trust in it instead of God. (Ever wonder why our founders put In God We Trust on our money, maybe as a reminder not to put our trust in the money on which it was printed?) It could be our favorite sports team. We know every single stat of every single player right down to their shoe size but can't be bothered to memorize scripture or even remember the topic of the sermon we just heard. we can even make idols out of favorite preachers or even, dare I say it, our favorite worship music.

Let's face it, even the best of us find it easier to "enter into worship" if we hear just the right song. We all have musical preferences, and that's fine, but those preferences shouldn't dictate whether or not we worship God. Maybe I'm just tired of people complaining that we don't sing enough hymns or suggesting we sing such and such a song because they really love it. Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one who thinks that worship isn't about us but about God. 

Each week I spend hours in prayer, seeking God's will for each service that Sunday. I try desperately to get a feel for what it is that God is trying to communicate to His people for that service. I then try to choose songs that will convey that message or theme. During this process I also try to be sensitive to our Church's unique culture as well as maintain the flow of the songs both thematically and musically. (i.e. key signatures and transitions between songs.)  

So I find myself wondering have we turned our worship music into an idol? Are we worshiping the songs we sing whether they be hymns, choruses, or modern worship songs? Or are we looking past the music to the One we are singing to and singing about?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Managing Mondays: Easy Fettuccine Alfredo

This is a go to recipe for my family. Sasha, my growing up way to fast daughter, loves Fettuccine Alfredo and since I need to be careful about what I eat due to the Fibro we found this simple yet tasty recipe.

Fettuccine Alfredo




Ingredients:

8 ounces dried fettuccine
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream (light cream or half n half can be substituted)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use kosher or sea salt)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (I prefer fresh ground)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh is always better)
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package
    • Note: when I cook my pasta I bring the water to a rolling boil (the water continues to boil when stirred) I then liberally salt the water before adding the pasta.I then cook until al dente (firm but not hard)
  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan melt the butter. Add the cream, salt and pepper. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered for 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese (I like to use a whisk for this.) Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce while still hot. Serve in a warm serving dish and if desired sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.
I have also added broccoli and sliced grilled chicken to the fettuccine to make a complete meal. Shrimp would also be a good protein to add to this and diced tomatoes would add some nice color.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Worship Wednesdays: God of Wonders


We sang this song recently in one of our worship sets and I started to do some deep thinking about that word, 'Wonders'. I mean what is a wonder? Do we even know what that is anymore, in our high-tech gadget filled world where what we see everyday would be considered science fiction or even magic depending on how far back in the past you wanted to go. Certainly during the times of the Biblical narrative such technological advances would have been seen as great wonders indeed.

But, has all this advancement made us oblivious to the even greater wonders that God has created all around us. A wise man once stated that the more we know, the more we realized how little we know. Yet, the world moves on as though it knows all and is no longer impressed by God's wonders.

Wonder - noun - something strange and surprising; a cause of surprise, astonishment, or admiration; miraculous deed or event; remarkable phenomenon.

Really? Is there really anything in this world that fits that description, and if there is when was the last time we stopped and noticed them.

God truly is a God of Wonders. As Christians we need to start acknowledging that with more than just our words, even if we like the song. We need to start acknowledging it with our thoughts and deeds as well.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Managing Mondays: Beautiful Feet Books Review

When I was in school, one of my favorite things was when we would get to watch a historical movie. Movies and miniseries, like Blue and the Grey and Becket still rank among my favorites of all time. I loved historical fiction such as Killer Angels, and A Farewell to Arms, but when it came to actual history I would tune out. I hated all the momorization, I just couldn’t keep it all straight. I realize now as an adult that my problem wasn’t an inability to memorize fact but rather that the facts had no context. There was no meaning behind the places, people, and dates.

When we decided to homeschool I desperately wanted a history curriculum that told history more as the great story it was. I found that curriculum in Beautiful Feet Books. Each Study Guide gives projects, and assignments around living books. Real literature and stories that take place during the times and places that are being studied. When a people, such as Lewis and Clark are studied, children associate more than just places and dates to the names, but come to appreciate what they accomplished in spite of the hardships they endured. Ancient Egypt comes alive by reading fictional stories that highlight the daily lives of that civilization. And most of all, history is studied more as a flowing stream instead of a list of disjointed and unrelated events.



Beautiful Feet Books Study Guides are also fairly inexpensive and the majority of the books they use can be found in the public library. They do offer discounted bundles of all the materials needed if you want to go that route. Based on the Charlotte Mason Method of notebooking, the curriculum provides a flexible fairly inexpensive quality history education.