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Glimpses of Greatness

I am the son of a Marine.

Throughout my life I’ve been given glimpses into what it means to serve in the United States military and to see the bond of this mythical brotherhood. These memories not only changed me but forever changed how I see my Father.28498_394292693611_724868611_4184756_2059165_n

Snapshots

I’m 11 years old and I’m watching my Father’s face as we approach the Vietnam Memorial. I’m there as part of a sight-seeing class trip to get a dose of history but I didn’t expect to discover a whole new side to my Father. His face grew still and with every step his eyes grew more puffy with tears. Normally my Dad would have noticed me looking at him but in this moment there was only Him and a wall of names. My father isn’t a stoic man but I’d never seen this side of him. I understand now that we were on holy ground and that wasn’t a wall of names from a history book but they were the brothers and sisters of my Marine father.

I’m 16 and after a cross country train trip I met up with my parents in California to see some long lost family. During our stay we we drove to San Diego to visit the Marine Corp Recruiting Depot (MCRD). Every Marine west of the Mississippi River has crossed these vast parade grounds. As we watched a new class of boot camp survivors join the brotherhood of the Marine Corps I realize I’m at the high temple of Jarheads. The precision click of their heels were Church bells ringing to celebrate my Father’s pilgrimage to the place that ushered him in to the Semper Fi fraternity.

I’ve seen Arlington Cemetery and her sea of white Crosses.

I’ve seen the reflecting pools at Normandy stand so still and so dark you’d thought they were pools of ink.

I still get teary when my Dad stands up during the Marine Hymn on the 4th of July.

Gratitude

All this is to say I stand in awe of the men and women of the United States Military. You served to protect our freedom and our way of life. You didn’t even know my name and you stood in the gap.

As a boy my best friend’s Father was also a Marine and in our eyes that made them superheroes. 20 years later I know I was right.

They are. You all are.

Thank you.

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Serenity NOW!

There are a lot of words I’d use to describe myself but serene isn’t one of them. I’ve blogged previously that one of my largest struggles is seeking contentment. I don’t even like typing the word. It might as well be hieroglyphics.

There’s this little prayer that most people are familiar with called the “Serenity Prayer”

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Ugh. Why isn’t there a call to chaotic dissatisfaction? I’ve got that down to an art form.

At the close of the day I’m left looking at my failures and my inadequacy. I should…

be more

Part of me hates being interested in everything. Why do I have to love computer networks, information security, social networks, web design, marketing, psychology, business, economics, politics…

Sure my varied interests and skills have opened many doors but it also feels like I haven’t reached the top of my game in any of them. I know this isn’t entirely accurate but my feelings aren’t very rational most of the time.

have more

I’m not overly materialistic (except lusting for an iPad) but I really thought that by this life stage things would be more controlled financially. Shouldn’t I be looking at my building my nest egg & retirement instead of facing all these bills? I want to run off to BlogWorld & SXSWi but the reality is I’m thankful I had a gift card to Outback for our last date night. My daughter is only 8 weeks old and I’m already worrying about paying for college, a wedding, cars, & clothes.

Ah worrying – that’s something else I do very well

Throw in the feelings that I should be a better husband, father, Christian, handyman, & yard raker and you have the antithesis of contentment.

So what’s the real problem?

Mostly a lack of faith.

God I realize you are the creator of this world, you are all-knowing and understand me better than I know myself but I just don’t think you are capable of running my life. I’m in charge and here’s what I need.

If I’m ever going to reach that point of being okay with who I am and where I’m at in life then I have to be okay with God being in control and trusting Him to know what he’s doing.

In closing, I’m pretty sure a large chunk of the problem lies here,

seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well – Matt 6:33

My Dad would call it a priority problem and as usual he’d be right. The entire last part of Matthew chapter 6 hits way too close to home. It’s a call to sorry sacks of mud like me to have enough faith to live for God and let him deal with the rest.

rest… funny word, by one definition it’s the problem and by the other definition it’s the result of the solution.

-Lord, help my lack of faith, grant me contentment & serenity – and make it snappy.

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Bucket List

Being a long time tech blogger I’m still getting used to baring my soul here but I was challenged by some friends that recently shared their bucket/life lists.

I wasn’t sure I’d post my list but I really enjoyed taking the time to consider and create my own list. Since their lists inspired me I’ve decided to pay it forward.

My bucket list

1. Find my place in this world where my knowledge of tech & passion for people collides in a brilliant way that provides very well for my family.
2. Go skydiving
3. Learn to sail and go sailing far enough into the ocean that I can see a 360degree horizon
4. Take my daughter to Paris for a week when she turns 16
5. Take my wife to Italy
6. Become master salsa maker
7. Be completely out of debt
8. Go Stormchasing for a month
9. Ride the best 15 rollercoasters in America
10. Learn to play the piano
12. Visit my World Vision sponsored child, a beautiful girl named Talen, in Zimbabwe
13. Visit the Kentucky Derby in style
14. See my daughter and my father walk hand in hand up to the Vietnam Memorial
15. Horseback ride in the snow
16. Learn to really dance. Jazz, Tango, & 2-stepping
17. To write one article on people & the south as well as Paul Greenberg
18. To own the world’s hottest sauce 
19. To have these words be more descriptive of my life- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
20. To be content

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A few reflections from a week fast

So I spent the past 5 days without Facebook, Twitter, RSS, or TV. It was a fast from media and you can read my reasoning here.

Overall I did really well. I give myself a B+

I’ll need some time to reflect and process this past week but here are some initial insights. (If you want the really important stuff feel free to skip to the end)

The world didn’t stop

I have a condition that tricks me into thinking I always need to be in the know. Twitter and RSS allow me to keep my finger to the pulse of the internet and the world at large and that is a blessing and a curse. I have no idea what happened in tech this week and that’s ok. TechCrunch Disrupt and 200 Mashable posts came and went. Most of it probably won’t matter in 6 months and if it does then I’ll know about it later. At times it felt like being stranded on an island but I needed to know that it’s ok.

TV lost out big

I discovered I watch too much TV. There are some great shows I can’t wait to see but I gained precious hours this week. That extra time is a gift that I need to not waste. (On a side note much of this time was spent talking to my wife and that was monumental. We communicate well but being in a quiet house opened the door for a 200% increase in talking. It was great.)

The book is back

I used to be a voracious reader and over the years I got lazy. I started a habit of reading again this week and it was beautiful. I devoured most of Linchpin, which I highly recommend, and I rediscovered how a great book can make you more thoughtful and deliberate. It was one of the highlights of the week. My goal is to read 2-3 nights a week and that should lead me to finish at least 2 books a month.  That’s my starting point.

The REALLY important stuff

Social Media

What I missed most was you. Your writing. Your tweets. Your life. Our relationship.

I didn’t once think about buzz words, stats, or trends but I missed my friends. Terribly.

While I know its okay if I miss something fact is I’ve built some amazing friendships and Twitter is our front porch.

And you would know the week I take off from Twitter is the week that @ChrisMessina shares my Twitter hashtag post.

Spiritually

This week held plenty of successes and challenges. I still have a LOT further to go but I took good steps toward more spiritual discipline in my life. I’m still trying to figure out how to love more and server better. I’ve got more of my will that needs to get out of the way.

Anytime we take a step of devotion toward God we can be sure that Satan is setting up a derailment. I had some serious challenges this week but each time I stopped and chose to praise the Lord. That sounds so elementary but love is almost always action. Deliberate action. In my tiredness and frustration I was able to still surrender and praise him. I’m not sure what He’s trying to teach me or where some of these roads are headed but I trust Him.

I’m so thankful that God doesn’t give up easily because I’m a very slow learner with little faith.

I need my steps ordered… my approach, my perspective, my heart, my goals, my daily walk. Toward Him.

“Blessed are they whose ways are Blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord”– Psalm 119:1

The goal is identified the journey continues.

I’m reminded that a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step. I’ve got 999.9mi to go but this week was my step.

God Bless.

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Fasting from a world of media

I’m taking action on a personal development task that is way overdue in my life.

For 5 days from sundown tonight to sundown Friday night, I have committed myself to the following:

  • No Twitter – I’m turning off iPhone push notifications and abstaining from using the service in any manner on behalf of myself.
  • No Facebook – No checking in, No browsing, nothing
  • No RSS – I will not read any of my RSS subscriptions for a week and at the end of the week I will mark all items as read. This seems a bit drastic but I am forcing myself to confront the notion of “feeling like I missed something”
  • No TV – My favorite shows will save to DVR and I’ll decide at the end of the week which ones I want to take time to watch. I hope to pair this down to 2-3 shows a week max.
  • Personal & Work Email Only – Nothing tied to any social networks or web services will be read for 1 week. Only the emails necessary for personal communication and taking care of clients will be opened.

This is a pretty drastic fast that I’ve postponed at least 4 times. I’m not backing out this time.

Why am I sharing this?

The Christian principle of fasting encourages us to fast in private but I’m sharing these goals publicly because it forces me to be accountable. It sets this plan on stone. I can’t back out or cheat on my fast without hundreds of friends knowing. Also I wanted people to know why I’ll be off the radar for a few days.

Why am I doing this?

My motivations are both personal and professional.6a00d8341bf6f553ef00e54f5024ef8834-640wi

I’m seeking balance, perspective, discipline, introspection, and quietness. I have issues with that whole “be still and know that I’m God” idea and that is my focus for this week.

Surrendering my will so I can clearly discover His will. His will for my family, my personal development, my career, and my service to Him.

In addition I’m longing to return to a regular habit of reading books. Primarily non-fiction books focused on Faith, business, & personal development. I miss reading and I need to make it a priority.

What do I hope my life looks like after this week?

I don’t want to make too many changes at once because that is a quick path to failure on all fronts. Rather I want to set aside 3-4 weeks to focus on creating better habits

  • Physical Goals: A productive sleep schedule, healthy eating, & exercise. I’m determined to start playing Tennis again next Spring and that means dropping some weight and being in better overall health.
  • Personal Goals: I want to dedicate more time to spiritual growth, introspection, and serving others. I have great vision and ideas and very poor follow through. I want to change that
  • Professional Goals: I want to ensure that all my online activities are in line with some long-term goals. I’ve got a vision for where I want this to lead and I need to hone my efforts in that direction.

This week is set aside for writing down these goals, prioritizing, and creating an action plan. To accomplish this I need some quiet time to reflect and assess.

I doubt I’ll reach any epiphanies this week but this is something that I need to do for me. Wish me luck and I’ll see you online in 5 days. In the meantime if you need to get in contact with me just give me a call 501-859-6075.

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A Spiritual Journey – With a little help from my friends…

God always finds a way to reach us just where we stand. Sometimes its a still small voice and sometimes it is a through the words of a friend. Feel free to envy me because I have the most amazing friends in the world and they share their life with me continually through tweets and blogging. Sure we blog about family and might rant time to time but on occasion we share our spiritual journey with the world.

So here are a few words of empathy, conviction, & encouragement told with a little help of my friends.

Daily Prayer by @KerriJack

I have a standing deal with Kerri, if she doesn’t write a book one day I’ll kill her. I truly enjoy her humor and tales of her family but there is real power when she bears her soul and we are all the better for it.

Morning:
God,
Make me a better wife, a better mother, daughter, sister, employee, friend and neighbor. Give me grace today.
Amen

Night:
Well, God,
There’s always tomorrow.

An Open Confession by @AaronBReddin

Aaron calls it like he sees it and while we’ve yet to meet in real life I’ve come to really appreciate his voice. This post wasn’t an easy one to write but the best ones never are.

It is unacceptable to blame anyone but yourself for your current spiritual health

Seeing Spots by @bootsmc

Boots is the go-to-girl for all things concerning fashion and style. She has impeccable taste in music but I contend her real talent is allowing God to speak through her in a manner I can’t explain. Her insight is priceless.

I want to be that one leopard that can change her spots!

I try. My power to change these spots on my own has proven useless. The spots remain glaring at me reminding me of my darkness. In my frustration, I cry out to God.

Then, I hear his voice deep deep within my heart say, “When I look at you, I don’t see what you see {Proverbs 10:12}

To these folks and many others it is a great blessing to call you friends along this journey.

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Lord teach me to keep my big mouth shut.

So that initial promise I made to not write about politics… I completely and utterly lied. I’m sorry. Sue me.

If I’ve learned one thing from my friend @BryanJones it is to avoid discussing politics on Twitter. Be positive and don’t be divisive. I swear on cheesecake I try but last night I opened my big fat mouth.

I told someone that they made me ashamed to be a conservative.

It’s true and I stand by it but I should have bitten my tongue. So in response I decided to blog about it. (Makes sense to me)

Without linking to the lunacy let’s summarize the opposing viewpoint as…

Islam is a militant religion set on destroying the U.S. and world domination. I am an America-hating Marxist blinded by establishment media to the fact that Islam seeks to enslave me as dhimmi. etc…

First and foremost I’m not diving into a debate on Islam. I’m not an expert and I’ve never personally read the Koran in its entirety. My personal belief is that crazy people can twist whatever they like to make someone else the enemy.

So why am I writing about this?

Thoughtcrime

I realize this is a bit extreme but I’m pretty sure its legal to want to destroy me because of my belief system, stunning good looks, or my lack of a jump shot. What the law says is you can’t act on that belief. Is it wise to be aware of crazy people that want to me damage? Sure.

There’s this little book I subscribe to that says,

be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves Matt 10:16

Think and believe whatever you like but take action on your belief to destroy me, my family, my church, or my country and you’ll find yourself at the business end of a Smith & Wesson or the United States Marine Corp (depending).

I’m not naive. I understand the world is a dangerous place but I’m not willing to start rounding up Muslims and deporting them solely based on their belief system. Rumor has it some of them are even decent America loving folks.

Reminds me of an old song… Freedom’s just another word… that people use when it benefits them.

-Marxist signing off

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Newborn tips from a New Dad

I’m not in the habit of dispensing non-technical advice but I’ve learned a few things in the past 3 weeks about having a newborn so I thought I’d share a few lifesavers.

Become the Baby Whisperer51u7tHuIPCL._SL160_

Buy “The Happiest Baby on the Block” (DVD)

This is the best $20 we’ve ever spent. There is a book of the same name that I’m sure is great but we found the DVD to be all we needed. This DVD turned me into the baby whisperer. I used the techniques from day 1 and one of the nurses even commented that “we’d done our homework”. Just go get it I guarantee it works!

Diapers

  1. Get the Pampers with the yellow stripe. It’s a Godsend for new Dad’s that need an easy way to tell if your baby is wet. They are awesome.
  2. Amazon Diaper Subscription: My wife and I are both huge fans of everything Amazon. If Amazon made a t-shirt that said “My life brought to you by Amazon” I’d wear it proudly. Seriously though forget Walmart/Sam’s Club etc… Amazon prices are the best and they offer a subscription service. Subscribe and you get %15 discount and free shipping. Click and forget. One less thing to worry about.
    1. *BONUS: Join Amazon Mom and get FREE 2-day shipping and 30% off Diapers & Wipes. Your welcome.

It’s a Wrap31c1IkxsEGL._SL160_

Swaddling is important (see DVD above) but our ladybug was 9lbs 4oz and we soon found every blanket we had was way to small. We’ve used hospital blankets for the past two weeks because they are the only ones large enough to turn ladybug into a burrito baby. My friend @SavannahB strongly recommended the “Miracle Blanket” and I am very grateful. It’s a straightjacket for babies and they love it. It will help prevent straightjackets for Mom and Dad.

On the Clock

Keeping track of time will become a major component of your life. How long did they sleep? When did they feed last? I needed a great way to keep track without keeping 3 stopwatches in my pocket. iPhone to the rescue.

Buy the Baby Connect App

You can keep track of everything and it works from multiple phones so both my wife and I see the same synched info. You can even output reports to spreadsheets. I tried several and Baby Connect was hands down the best. It’s $4.99 and worth every penny.

Picture-2

As for everything else well that profound post will have to wait a couple of days but be prepared for nothing short of amazing. Being a Dad is awesome! claire

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Wear Sunscreen

Few videos are worth more than a few moments viewing this is a wonderful exception. I hope the advice is as good of a reminder as it was for me.

Wear Sunscreen or the Sunscreen Speech are the common names of an essay actually called “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997.

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