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Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 - 5:23 PM

"Bike Stats"

Bike Stats: 08-25-08
Distance 4.04 miles
Ride Time 23 minutes, 43 seconds
Average Speed 10.1 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 20.0 miles per hour

Bike Stats: 08-26-08
Distance 7.77 miles
Ride Time 40 minutes, 50 seconds
Average Speed 11.3 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 22.0 miles per hour

Notes: Check out that distance! Can't get more "blessed" or "lucky" than that!

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Tuesday, August 26th, 2008 - 11:49 PM

"Lightfastness - May His Influence and Dominion Never Fade!"

I just wrote an email to a friend, and for some reason I just started writing affirmations and stuff that seemed to mirror scriptures that have been hidden in my heart - not for any particular reason that I know of, it just flowed out in one stream, with no pause. I've been experiencing the Word of God in a new way lately, and I guess it is partially because of that. It is strange and glorious to see the Spirit of God at work in my life. It is humbling because my ways are wretched, and I am constantly able to do evil of the worst degree, for my flesh has neither been done away with nor perfected. Yet He is drowning out my darkness even as the thread of my earthly life continues to fade. As I fade, I pray His influence and dominion in my life never fade, even as my body is sustained by but a breath. Hopefully this little ditty of stuff has something good or encouraging for someone reading.

The Light. The Light. The Light. THE LIGHT! It doesn't make sense. I didn't "see" the Light, but I felt it... I continue to feel it. May it never leave me! He has transformed me. May I never take my life into my own hands again! May I never equate darkness with Light or choose to return there. For God spoke Light out of darkness! He has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. In Him there is NO darkness at all - not even a shred! He cannot be tempted by evil nor does He tempt anyone! He is holy. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto Him... yet it has always been His, for it came from Him. He is the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega. Everything exists by Him, through Him and for Him! He sustains the earth by His mighty power, and but for His love and mercy we are not consumed. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!

May you be richly blessed by the power and authority of Jesus, the same Spirit who lives in me, the same One who raises to life from death! May the name of Jesus be eternally praised!

I'm moving into a new apartment and don't have all my infrastructure set up yet. I will be without internet access and phone for a bit. Thanks mom and dad for helping me move some stuff this evening - and of course for your loving company. I covet the presence of God's people. He is providing an endless and bountiful supply in my time of great need. Praise Him for it!

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Sunday, August 24th, 2008 - 9:20 PM

"We Were Singing in the Rain"

Today was a pretty good day. That about sums it up. But then, that wouldn't be very me to settle for a summary when hundreds or thousands of words are just waiting to be written.

My good ole friend Marcus and I arranged to go on a bike ride today around 11:00. I picked him up at his place, and we parked at the entrance to the Fanno Creek Trail on Denny Road. The basic plan was to see how far we wanted to ride, find a place to eat lunch nearby, and go back from whence we came. "All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return." (Ecclesiastes 3:20 NIV) - okay, so not quite that far back... just back to Denny Road.

Marcus and I ended up making it to Pacific Highway and ate at Ole Ole, one of my favorite haunts. "Babylon will be a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals, an object of horror and scorn, a place where no one lives." (Jeremiah 51:37 NIV). Okay, so there were no jackals (or ghosts) in sight, and we certainly didn't ride all the way to Babylon, but the word haunt reminded me of that sort of verse (there's actually a bunch of them!), and I couldn't resist. Those wacky jackals!

Bike Stats: 08-24-08
Distance 8.70 miles
Ride Time 48 minutes, 19 seconds
Average Speed 10.7 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 17.9 miles per hour

After taking Marcus home I drove out to Cathedral Park in North Portland. Ethnos had arranged to "take over" the park for the afternoon and evening. I didn't want to miss it for anything! I long for each moment I spend with the Body, especially now that my need for community and spiritual sustenance is so evident. These are a good and Godly people, and I know God has blessed me to be counted a part of this awesome community. I am the least of them and unworthy of their kindness, but God is kinder still. As I walked under the towering St. Johns Bridge and heard the praise resounding over the grassy hill, I prayed thanks to God again with great emotion today, realizing how privileged I am to be where I am. God is good. The cup He has handed me is running over. Yes, my soul is thirsty, but I sense what I have been given is more than enough to quench... and I want to share some of the excess.

in a canoe, near St. Johns Bridge

My arrival at Cathedral Park was somewhat comical in my own estimation. Not knowing exactly where the majority of the group was congregating, I parked and walked toward the river, seeing a small group of people there. It ended up that the small group was filming a movie and had nothing to do with Ethnos. However, I encountered Mark and Paul nearby. What was funny to me is that there was Paul with his canoe. That's not so funny, but rather cool. Funny was that I immediately accepted an invitation to join him rowing and stepped into the boat pretty much immediately after approaching the river. I had my backpack, camera and 7-11 Double Gulp. I didn't even go back to the car to reassess my supply situation. I simply stepped in the boat, and off we went!

Paul's a nice guy who I've been connecting a bit with. He was thoughtful in bringing his canoe along, and I was thankful to be invited to join him. In spite of having no clue what I was doing it was a blast. I've only rowed a boat a handful of times, and I don't have a feel for it - or the muscles. Paul compensated for my lack of experience by keeping the craft pointing in the right direction while contributing to our overall forward thrust. Good times.

After the row, I made my way up to the amphitheater where all the sound was coming from. Our leaders arranged with the park to have full access to the stage, along with the power boxes. The musically inclined crew brought along the full range of sound equipment and instruments. There was an "open mike" throughout the afternoon for various musicians to contribute, and the sound carried throughout the park.

Athletic activity abounded, and there were hot dogs roasted and other vittles to munch on (though I kept myself clean of the extra calories). In fact, I probably came away with a net caloric loss, as I was physically active almost every second I was there. The moment I walked up I played with some of the kids, running around a bit. Then Anthony and I juggled my soccer ball to my heart's content - though contentment in that area is nearly impossible, especially when I find that rare someone who also likes to juggle.

Ethnos at Cathedral Park

Paul took over the mike when it came time to start the service around 5:00. He blasted out some awesome tunes as we sang along in worship. It was a great occasion. We were without a screen for words, though fortunately I knew all the songs save one. After the music Dave delivered a passionate message that outlined the basic history of the world and the Gospel message of Jesus Christ :).

baptism

Several observers and bystanders came and left throughout the course of the afternoon. One lady in particular took a very active role in the service. She talked to Dave and asked if she could share something that had been going on in her life. Her honesty and boldness had an impact on me and reminded me of my own recent experience involving God exposing me to His marvelous light. She was a believer who had taken some wrong turns and was dealing with darkness and evil of the most potent form, even manifesting itself in tangible spirit world crossovers of an evil variety. Somehow God had reached through all that and had spoken to her (not a difficult feat for Him whose dominion and power has no boundary or limit - and He is good). She realized what she had exposed herself to and grabbed hold of God's hand of deliverance. She claimed victory in the spiritual battle she was facing and is making bold steps toward holiness in spite of oppression and opposition. Later, after her testimony, a bunch of us laid hands on her and prayed, thanking God for His deliverance and requested continued protection from evil. She talked with the elders and made some friendly connections with others. What a blessing to behold such a "chance" encounter in the park! God is at work, and surely His hand was upon us all.

"I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness." (Isaiah 42:6-7 NIV)

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45 NIV) So it rained almost the entire time we were at Cathedral Park. While such conditions had potential at spoiling things, for once I really enjoyed the rain. I was half drenched with sweat from running around, and the other half with the rain. I got dirty, had fun, and it was all worth it! We were singing in the rain!

Oh, and I dare not forget the baptisms! Two young ones were baptized by their respective fathers in the - I'm assuming - quite frosty waters of the Columbia River. It was a grand and glorious occasion!

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24 NIV)

See some pictures from Cathedral Park on EsoShow

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Saturday, August 23rd, 2008 - 5:35 PM

"Back to Biking"

I haven't rode my bike in a couple days due to rain - too wimpy for that. Yesterday I rode to work and back - a very short ride. Normally I ride home for lunch (or ride to some restaurant) as well, but my mom took me to lunch yesterday, so my riding was at a minimum.

Bike Stats: 08-22-08
Distance 1.12 miles
Ride Time 6 minutes, 54 seconds
Average Speed 9.8 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 17.0 miles per hour

Today I rode my bike considerably more. I went all the way to Pacific Highway via the Fanno Creek Trail. Turning east, I ate at the first restaurant that fit in my normal eating and budget template, in this case being Subway.

Bike Stats: 08-23-08
Distance 10.01 miles
Ride Time 47 minutes, 12 seconds
Average Speed 12.7 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 23.5 miles per hour
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Saturday, August 23rd, 2008 - 5:07 PM

"I Finally Caught the Bunny"

For a couple weeks now I've seen some bunnies (rabbits, hares, whatever) along the Fanno Creek Trail on my way to work. At first I saw only one black bunny and later saw 2, the second white. I really thought I was seeing things at first because the animal didn't even move as I passed by quite close and quickly. Afterward, when I started to believe my eyes, I was wishing I had my camera with me to take a picture. As when I was trying to "capture" an owl some time ago ...and captured, Murphy's Law kicked in the moment I started packing my camera. The bunnies were not there.

Finally on Friday I saw the first black bunny again, and I happened to have my camera in tote. I was able to get within a couple feet of him without him stirring much. My hunch is that this was formerly a pet. I can't imagine a wild rabbit being so tame. When a lady at work heard of my bunny sightings, she said there were actually 3 in total. Several of the ladies at work walk that trail during lunch on a regular basis. Now that I finally have my picture (though some of them are a bit blurry), I'm satisfied. I will probably continue to have some concern for the bunnies' safety in the back of my mind though, as is the case with our annual duck visitation.

a black bunny along Fanno Creek Trail

a black bunny along Fanno Creek Trail

I showed the pictures to my bunny, Sweet Tooth Sally, and I think she thought that was cool. It's hard to tell for sure, as I skipped "Bunny Behavior 101" in college, along with all the other important schooling I never received.

Sweet Tooth Sally

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Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 - 11:03 PM

"That Sunday Song My Heart Requested Played"

Last Sunday wasn't a particularly good day for me emotionally - was struggling with my thoughts. I was craving going to church like something nuts. Sometimes I wish there was a service every day. I certainly miss the 2 services on Sunday (morning and night) and Wednesday night service. All that is pretty much a thing of the past, shamefully. At any rate, one song that Anthony chose to sing really hit me about halfway through. The words of the song are a big part of what I'm struggling with - to sincerely and wholeheartedly relinquish all my hopes and ambitions to God - and to trust He will make something good out of my mess. I could barely get the words out the second time through the song, as my emotions got the better of me.

Jesus, All For Jesus

written by Jennifer Atkinson and Robin Mark

Jesus, all for Jesus
All I am and have
And ever hope to be
Jesus, all for Jesus
All I am and have
And ever hope to be

All of my
Ambitions, hopes, and plans
I surrender these
Into your hands
All of my
Ambitions, hopes, and plans
I surrender these
Into your hands

For it's only in
Your will that I am free
For it's only in
Your will that I am free

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Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 - 9:00 PM

"Solitude Ad Infinitum"

Solitude Ad Infinitum

a poem by Phil Steller
August 19, 2008

Alone I perish
Perish the thought of whom I've lost
Lost I am without her
Without her I am alone

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Monday, August 18th, 2008 - 4:08 AM

"Canada Birthday Pictures Online"

Just a quick note to say that I decided to put the pictures from the Canada trip online. I uploaded them several days ago. I was planning to write captions before making the slideshow live... but that's quite the undertaking, and some people probably just want to see the pictures anyway. Maybe I'll get motivated to eventually write the captions.

Click here to see the photos on EsoShow

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Sunday, August 17th, 2008 - 11:31 PM

"Springwater Corridor Bike Ride With Mom"

Today my dad called, inviting me to come over for a barbecue lunch. Good company (any company is good about now, but Dad, Mom, Grandpa and Grandma are about as good as it gets!), no need to cook or buy food, something to do... could I possibly resist? After lunch my mom came up with the idea of going on a bike ride. Unfortunately I didn't bring my bike, but my dad was generous and let me use his (also sacrificing his ability to go).

My mom and I parked on the east side of the Willamette, near OMSI and headed south on the waterfront path. The path joins or becomes the Springwater Corridor just south of downtown Portland. I'm amazed that such a trail exists. I've gone on the Springwater Corridor before, but a number of years ago. Back then it didn't connect with the eastside waterfront path (which also didn't exist back then), and I simply rode it to and from Gresham. The segment between Sellwood area (where it starts going east) and the eastside industrial district is gorgeous! I've simply got to go back there and traverse the entire new-to-me path - from downtown all the way to Gresham. Talk about an awesome trail! My mom and I went out about 4.5 miles out and turned around... I didn't want to be late for church at 5:00, otherwise we would have gone farther.

Here's my (Dad's) bike computer stats from today's trip.

Bike Stats: 08-17-08
Distance 9.75 miles
Ride Time 58 minutes, 48 seconds
Average Speed 9.9 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 20.0 miles per hour

Mom under the Markum Bridge

OMSI's submarine

tons of kayaks in the Willamette River

The mausoleum where Papa - my dad's dad - is buried

Oaks Park

Oaks Park

Springwater Corridor

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Sunday, August 17th, 2008 - 11:13 AM

"Ethnos Church Campout"

guys only camp site

Last weekend, at the last second, I got talked into going to the Ethnos Church Camp Out. I'm rather thankful for the 3 consecutive invitations and am very glad I went. It was a much needed weekend away. The turnout was pretty good, some 60 or so people. We had a whole road of the camp to ourselves, all in a big long row. It brought back memories of some of our church camp outs back when I was a kid.

The planning was initiated quite late this year. Due to the short notice, it ended up being quite a challenge to find a camp that could accommodate all of us and allow us to have adjacent camp sites. Fortunately Troy found Black Canyon Campground, east of Eugene on Highway 58. While I enjoy being outdoors in most reasonable conditions, I'm not as much of a campsite fan as I used to be growing up. It requires a carload of stuff to set up camp and often isn't worth the hassle unless the trip is more than just a few days. Perhaps the one feature of site camping that I absolutely love, cherish and can't live without for any significant length of time is a fire pit - a designated legal and mostly safe place to build a fire out in nature. There's absolutely nothing akin to sitting around a campfire at night with people you care about, roasting marshmallows, sharing laughter, recounting stories, singing, and the like.

Willamette River, middle fork

Nowadays I prefer trekking out on a wilderness trail with everything I need in a backpack. There's less supplies to worry about and tote around, it's awesome exercise, and the nature experience is far more heightened and raw. I'm not necessarily into extreme or dangerous conditions or foraging the land to find food, but somewhere between that and site camping is what I enjoy. Mostly I like the solitude and beauty (attempting to capture it in photos) of backpacking.

As campgrounds go, I enjoyed Black Canyon. The more natural the better as far as I'm concerned. I don't really like when sites are perfectly cleared out, with pristinely groomed lawns, curbs and sparse trees. Black Canyon is far more natural than that unfortunate description, with seemingly untouched nature immediately behind and surrounding each site - just the way I like it, enough to make you feel like you're not just camping in a sanitized city park! The camp is situated close to the middle fork of the Willamette River. The highway is a little too close to one side, and a noisy train cuts through nearby across the river, but I never had occasion to find these "features" annoying.

I was graced to share a large "8-person" tent with Troy, Keith and the two Lukes (I think I got that all right, though some of the names sound wrong all of a sudden). Our site was one of the larger ones, and we had likely the largest collection of food. Fortunately I was counted in on all the well-planned provisions, so pretty much all I had to bring was a sleeping bag, clothes and other normal necessities. I rode down with Keith, Jason and Luke. It was nice to get to know some of the Ethnos guys a bit better. Keith in particular was there for me in a very crucial moment as we arrived back home... and I thank you again for that, Keith - even if you don't read blogs! :)

Though a church camp, there was no hugely restrictive activity schedule. Each person was on their own to pursue what they found most interesting and fun. Of course, since we are all one big happy "family" people grouped together to visit the various venues afforded. This included a hike or two, hanging out at the river, biking to and fro, a more serious mountain bike ride, disc golf, ladder ball, hot springs dip, gun shooting, fire tending and socializing, and perhaps a few other events I didn't witness or hear about. My activities of choice were ladder ball, hanging out at some of the socializing camp grounds (including ours), rock jumping at the river, and the mountain bike ride.

off-road mountain bike ride

The off-road bike ride was easily the highlight of the trip for me. Jeremy, Troy, Dave, Luke and I racked up our bikes and drove several miles to a path that Troy found in his biking book. I learned that the location we found ourselves in, Oakridge and the surrounding area, is very well known in Oregon for mountain biking.

It had been perhaps almost 15 years since I had gone on a ride that resembled a serious undertaking. While I've gone on far longer and more colorful and varied trails before, this tops them all as far as technical skill required (either that, or I'm just getting old and feeble). The path was rated "moderate" which basically means I'm an absolute beginner - or at least not conditioned like I used to be. Summary: it was about 4 miles up, turn around, and 4 miles back down the same path. The path was single track and seemingly less in some spots :). The steepness of the initial climb sent Jeremy, Troy and I intermittently walking our bikes, a very slow ascent. The "machines" Dave and Luke somehow quickly made it all the way up without dismounting.

All the grueling work of getting up the hill immediately paid off as soon as we all did a 180 and started going down. Woah, what a thrill! We were flying down the trail, recklessly at best, smiling (with the occasional hoot and holler) the whole way! I love activities that - within reason - test my ability to react to the unknown. An example would be jetty jumping (my friend Jim and I on more than one occasion risked life and limb in this splendid "sport", where the challenge is to keep moving while leaping and stalling on enormous boulders, avoiding deadly sharp ridges and pitfalls). This rapid ("thrilling", as the biking book described it) descent fit that category.

Dave at his finest

Unfortunately I was missing a few key skills that would have kept me in the realm of sensible safety. Dave warned us that we would have to attempt to keep our center of gravity back as far as possible to avoid flying over our handlebars. Well, I was Superman twice... but I lacked his invulnerability and ability to fly more than about 8 to 10 feet. I slammed into the dusty trail ahead of my bike, and gravity called my metallic vehicle right back down on top of me. It was amazing I wasn't severely injured by either fall. At least once my pedal flew inches from my face, and I somehow "caught" the crushing blow instinctively without really being able to see it coming from behind. At first, I thought I was indeed Superman because I didn't initially detect any skin breaking damage. After dusting off, however, I found several scratches on my elbows, arms, knees and shins. A day or two later revealed a couple enormous black bruises on my left knee and the back of my right thigh. There was no permanent or debilitating injuries; nevertheless, and for that, I'm thankful! While there were a few tense moments for the other guys, they skillfully remained mounted on their bikes for the entire descent :).

Bike Stats: 08/08/08 to 08/10/08
Distance 10.51 miles
Ride Time 1 hour, 38 minutes, 47 seconds
Average Speed 6.3 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 25.0 miles per hour

Notes: mileage total includes 0.58 miles: a ride to work on Friday prior to leaving for camp; otherwise the rest was incurred at camp and includes the mountain bike ride

Thank you everyone for inviting me and allowing me - a somewhat outsider as of late - to join in on your "family" outing and feel right at home. I've been going through some amazingly difficult struggles lately, and this time away was quite providential.

To sum it up, Dave pretty much says it all in this magnificent picture. Okay, so I'm not known for striving to make sense in everything I do and say... so perhaps this picture has nothing to do with anything other than making sure the world can see that church elders are allowed to be goofy sometimes.

See more pictures from the Ethnos Church Camp Out on EsoShow

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Friday, August 15th, 2008 - 6:37 PM

"Dr. Sbaitso Says"

He told me, "PERHAPS YOU CAN SAY ANYTHING NOW". So I wrote this short prose poem and figured I'd share it here more formally. Don't ask me what it means because I don't really know. Perhaps Dr. Sbaitso can explain.

Soft Ide

by Phil Steller
August 13, 2008

The tide that turns the hand of time comes quickly in the night, yet no one listens. The silence it speaks cries softly and no one finds the softness so sweet except those that burdened to speak so kindly.

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Friday, August 15th, 2008 - 10:53 AM

"For He Has Called You Out of Darkness"

I'm learning many valuable lessons, most relating directly to light and darkness. The Spirit of God is teaching me directly by placing verses and concepts into my heart. He is also confirming these things through words from other believers, and of course as I'm reading in the Word. While it may be a hodgepodge presentation of content with no specific premise or linked flow of thought throughout, I'm going to share some of what I'm learning. Maybe later I'll go back and explain what it all means to me. For now, I'm just going to do some basic cut & paste.

First, here's what I wrote last Thursday after talking with elder Dave at church and prior to calling a spur-of-the-moment meeting with some other guys at church. This was written after a lot of thinking on the subject since the whole life chaos happened. Interestingly enough, almost the second after all the unfortunate events occurred, God showed me much truth in this area of light..

The heavenly light is coming. He is asking to shine in all my darkness. I think I am wishing to undergo this transformation. It will be the most fierce battle of my life thus far, and I will be absolutely humbled beyond description, even utterly humiliated. Pray for me, that I submit to the holy power from on high, as I desire to be His bond servant, without barrier to serving Him.

I want to carry the cross set before me, for I know it will be a lighter burden than I have been choosing to carry. I have been keeping this area of my life in secret, in darkness too long. I am not willing to live that way any longer. I am sad and ashamed beyond description. There are no words for my sorrow day by day.

I know that when I allow His light to saturate the darkest regions of my inner container, it is going to hurt like heck! I may not even survive such a thing. The truth of my darkness may even guarantee me a life of solitary loneliness... something I shiver in fear at the thought of. Nevertheless, I'd rather die alone in shivering cold than allow an evil spirit the pleasure of keeping me bound to fear, shame and guilt. I want to be free, free to live and free to serve. Free to love. Free to die, knowing that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. Free to obey, to cast aside all that I've been holding on to with the sweet knowledge that I have done what He has asked me to do in the quiet of my shame.

When it is all revealed, when it is exposed, just try, fool! Just try, enemy, to bring me to shame! What will be left to condemn, when all is brought into the Light? God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all! When the light is come in me, you will have no power, nothing to claim me with! Jesus Christ is above all, in all and through all, and to His name be glory forever, Amen!

"For He has called you out of darkness, out of darkness, out of darkness Into His marvelous light, into His marvelous light!"

Since I wrote that, that song has been on my mind quite a bit, so here's the text of that (the way we sang it way back when):

For we are a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation
a peculiar people
who have shown forth the praises of Him
who has called you out of darkness, out of darkness, out of darkness
into His marvelous light, into His marvelous light.

And I will sing Hallelujah,
Praise to the King
And I will sing Hallelujah
and show forth the praises of Him
who has called you out of darkness, out of darkness, out of darkness
into His marvelous light, into His marvelous light

Some verses I've been thinking about that relate:

Matthew 6:22,23 - The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

John 3:19-21 - This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

Ephesians 5:8-14 - For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

Ephesians 6:12 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

James 5:16 - Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

I Peter 2:9 - But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

I John 1:5-7 - This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

I John 2:8-11 - Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

I'm not big into formulas or equations or the latest Christian trends. In fact, these things bother me to no end, and I tire of hearing of them. Unless God tells me to, I'm not planning to write a book on this subject or try to commercialize it into a neat package. Nevertheless, I believe I have stumbled (He has made it clear to me through His truth, not my own wisdom) upon something very profound and important and want to share it with anyone who it would benefit. My "discovery" or "revelation" is that one of the "secrets" (ain't no secret) of being victorious over something dark in life (a habit, sin, struggle, depression, etc.) is to simply make it a secret no more. I know this is proving crucial to me through this new experience. The enemy likes us to live in shame, to have those dark, secret areas in our hearts or minds that we share with no one. I am choosing to allow God to expose these parts of me, even though it hurts and will likely affect how people I value think of me. I no longer care. Even if it kills me, I will not live that way any longer. Perhaps I will share the story of my confession and repentance here some day soon... don't know. But for now, I wanted to share this aspect - that He has called you out of darkness, and in Him there is no darkness at all... wake up, O sleeper!

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Thursday, August 14th, 2008 - 10:37 PM

"Flowers Fade"

My 6 year wedding anniversary just passed. I bought and arranged these flowers for a special person. They kinda got ignored, so I figured I'd share them here, just so their beauty isn't wasted entirely. So anyone who wants a flower, just imagine yourself picking out your favorite one from the over-sized vase. I'd say come by and get one in person, but this picture was taken last Thursday, and they don't look quite this good now :)

happy anniversary

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Thursday, August 14th, 2008 - 10:41 AM

"Hard Drive Dead"

Dead Hard Drive

I came into work this morning to find my computer in a weird, zombyish state. The lights were on (literally), but no one was home. I did a hard shutdown and booted it up. Well, it didn't boot. Turns out my hard drive is dead. Whoopie! Fortunately a while back I had our network administrator add my computer to a weekly backup process. Supposedly it gets backed up every Sunday, so hopefully I can restore most everything from that. Had I not done that, I would have just lost 5 years of work, and I think I would have just given up and found a new job :) Instead, hopefully it will be okay.

I did a Google search for images relating to dead hard drives, and this particular one piqued my interest (on page 4 of the image search results - relevancy!). It seems totally random and unrelated, but in reality, it's about how I feel without my computer at work. Not much I can do except bury my head in a huge cup covered with snowman imagery. And the large foot pool with multi-colored stars is of great significance as well. It's so complicated and meaningful to me that I can't express it in words. For more images like this, visit icanhascheezburger.com - when I looked through the site, I didn't see any inappropriate images (unless they're above my head), but view at your own risk. By the way, what language are all the people on that site speaking? Is it some form of ebonics or "gangsta talk" - not something I'm familiar with.

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Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 - 2:38 AM

"Talk to Me, Peter and Paul"

I am so far behind in my blog writing! I have about 10 posts to write that relate events from ages past. Well, not quite ages past, but it's getting there. Nevertheless, I'm going to write the most recent one first, even if it messes up the chronological order of the posts - hopeless anyway.

I have long been interested in Text to Speech software. TTS programs simulate the human voice, enabling the computer to read typed text audibly in order to be understood. Back when I first learned about these programs, the computer's ability to simulate human voice was not extremely impressive. In fact, it was quite humorous. My friend Jim and I often fed gibberish text into the TTS programs and cracked up at the horrible pronunciations... "Silly Sampton Eats Plantlike Patunias." is one of the famous quotes of the time - we say it often even today. Back then, the programs of choice that I was exposed to were DocTalker and Dr. Sbaitso. Dr. Sbaitso was particularly interesting because it tried to intelligently answer based on your input. I found the program again just now (it's an old DOS program!). While I cannot record the sound, I did do a sample conversation, just so you can see how it works. Click here to read my conversation with Dr. Sbaitso.

The newest Text to Speech programs have come a long way. Lately I've found voices that are almost indiscernible from real people talking. All the old voices are free, but you have to pay to get the good ones. I decided to buy two voices today.

I've been using simple TTS reading programs to listen to the Bible while at work and other places with nothing else to do. Hearing the same verses playing over and over, I have been picking up and absorbing things I don't think O would have noticed just by reading the printed words. I'm finding this method to be a very effective way to meditate on the Word and allow it to convict me. A few times I've been led almost to tears because the words were so poignant, spoken directly into my ears. I decided to buy better voices, largely so the reading experience would be more enjoyable - though I do enjoy the unique quality of the old voices too.

For those who were not aware that computers can speak, I've included some sound files for you to listen to. This entire blog entry has been read aloud by two TTS voices: one that is rather old and one of the new ones I just purchased. I trust you will be able to discern a slight difference in the quality and accuracy. :)

listen Peter - old voice listen Paul - new NeoSpeech voice

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Sunday, August 10th, 2008 - 6:47 PM

"Walk to Work Beauty"

Okay, it's time to catch up on a few old blog entries I've been meaning to write. Many moons ago I took some photos on the way to work. In fact, I do this quite often. I walk or bike about 0.58 miles to work each day - sometimes as many as four times - to work in the morning, home for lunch, back to work after lunch, and back home in the evening. Each commute segment takes me through a short bit of Greenway Park, on a paved path surrounded by preserved wetlands on every side, with Fanno Creek as the primary water feature. The natural vegetation consistently makes for some nice photo opportunities. Based on the modified date of these files, the following photos were taken back in the beginning of June. Let's just say I'm a bit behind on my blog.

Walk to Work Beauty EsoShow
Click image for flower photos from Greenway Park

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Friday, August 1st, 2008 - 11:31 AM

"Chinese Takeout Contortionist"

Yesterday our IT department went out for lunch for a coworker's birthday (as is our tradition). We ate at a close by Chinese restaurant. Though my leftovers were fairly minimal, I decided to label them, knowing that others would put theirs in the fridge as well. I got a little carried away with my labeling. So far, I haven't received any comments. At least I entertained myself though. I'll be finishing up the yummy Kung Pao chicken for lunch shortly.

C2F Fridge

Chinese Leftovers

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