What We’re Playing – 4/20/21

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I pull into my driveway and park my car. Making sure everything is turned off/good to go, I gather all my things and exit the vehicle. From out of nowhere, “Hey Dad, have I told you about what I’m doing in Sneaky Sasquatch?”

“Umm…”

“Today in Sneaky Sasquatch, I became a police officer. You see, I used my radar gun to catch bad guys.”

It has been like this for awhile now, which is how I know that a game has gotten Wyatt. I don’t know too much about Sneaky Sasquatch, but I do know that it is good enough to catch my son’s attention.

So much so, that Wyatt was asking the other day if the developers sell tee-shirts–They do! Head on over here.–. I think this is a first for him.

When I have had time, I’ve been dabbling in Cozy Grove. Think Animal Crossing, via Apple Arcade, but more of a hidden object game with clues. I’m loving it so far!

What are you playing?

Adoption Update – 4/19/2021

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This is one of those issues that I am hesitant to talk about here (it is supposed to be about gaming, mostly, after all, right?). Sure, I have written about our family going through the adoption process. But what does that look like 2 years in? What challenges are we facing as a family?

We took our classes to adopt through the State of Texas in May of 2019. Since then, besides being a part of a few broadcasts–social workers are sent emails with prospective adoptees–, nothing. With COVID settling in this past year it has seemed like everything has shut down and hasn’t awakened… yet.

Without access to broadcasts (have heard nothing from our caseworker), we’ve been stuck. Adoption has gone from a dream, to what felt like a reality, to a thing we only whisper about.

Q: So what does it look like 2 years in?

  • Quiet. Absolute silence. Is our caseworker not doing her job? Is this normal when going through the State? Are we supposed to become foster parents with hopes of adopting later on?

Q: What challenges are we facing as a family?

  • Dealing with the silence. Deciding whether we continue on the adoption journey.

COVID was a really big deal and still is for some. I don’t want to diminish that feeling of helplessness we all felt in March of last year. I also know that it feels like time is ticking for myself. Do we play the State’s game? Do we close our house and give up the adoption dream?

Something says not yet.

Not yet.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Two weeks ago, I was on the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE). I came across a young man who I thought would be a good addition to our family. So I emailed our caseworker and asked that she make inquiries. Beyond a simple email back asking for some more information, nothing yet.

And so we wait.

The Crown – All Things Bright and Beautiful

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With none of our usual shows to watch–hey, it was only Monday–, Tabitha and I sat down and watched The Crown. We are on Season 3 Episode 3: “Aberfan”. Should make for night of light television viewing, no?

The methodical way this episode began should have been our first clue. The shots of school children going about their day in school; the lingering shots of a little girl practicing for her school assembly, her dad coming home from work only to lovingly listen to her.

As an American… as a History-Political Science degree holder… I had no idea.

In the end, 116 children, 5 teachers, and 23 locals died.

Got me thinking about how our American Presidents respond to disaster. Roosevelt with his speech after Pearl Harbor; Bush traveling to the 9/11 site and making a speech as well. Moments where we put down our differences and unite as a country. Our President’s words speaking as if for all of us.

Aberfan wasn’t one of those moments. It took the Queen eight days to visit the disaster site. Reportedly, this is one of the Queens biggest regrets.

But “Aberfan” made for some solid performances on The Crown. I especially enjoyed the gentleman who plays Prince Phillip, and his response to the aftermath.

Thankful that “Aberfan” also helped me understand a moment in history.

No one will care

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There is a lie that is whispered to me that goes something like this:

“If you leave, no one will notice you left.”

That lie becomes a nagging thought, played on repeat, at different volumes throughout the day.

Even just now, that lie was whispered to me in a different form:

“If you quit blogging, no one will care.”

Writing that, I almost believe it.

“No one will care.”

Thankfully, I’m stronger than the lies today. Able to push back against the whispers of deceit.

  • To the lie of “If you leave, no one will notice you left”, that may be little true. But, eventually, someone is going to call and reach out.
  • To the lie of “If you quit blogging, no one will care”, that may be a little true too. Ultimately, I write for myself first. If I don’t have anything to write, I’m not going to write. That’s okay.

The best lies are laced with truth.

For the days where I am weaker… I need to remember that someone does care.

South of the Circle

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Memory is a tricky thing.

South of the Circle begins with a plane crash. But the plane crash isn’t what the story is about… or is it?

As the plane flies into nuclear dawn and credits roll, I find myself thinking, “Why?” South of the Circle’s ending shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. The decision had already been made. I think I blame the faulty memory of the protagonist. Wishing for what might have been… could have been… and in the end, nothing. Blah.

12 Inches of Deception – A Tale from Risk

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It’s your turn.

You place one guy, at a time, on a territory of your pick.

Eventually, you place another guy on a different territory. And another, and another, and another until all your men have been placed.

The dice of power, domination, and rule enter your hands. Which territory to attack first?

Passing the dice of defense to a fellow player, you begin your turn. Who will win?

Risk
I’m safe in Australia, I swear!

Buried beneath 12 inches of snow, Tabitha, Wyatt, and I decided to play a game of Risk.

Phase 1: I Think I Can!

Tabitha placed most of her pieces in North America. I didn’t think much of it as I had Australia and the tips of South America and South Africa. My reasoning was that I could battle my way north to victory while still maintaining a base of operations (Australia).

Phase 2: I Thought I Could

Well… my strategy was a bust! Tabitha fought against Wyatt and I like a whirlwind. Before I knew it, Wyatt was gone from the game (haha!). Within the few fell swoops, Tabitha did me in and won. SHE WON!

Risk

I didn’t see Tabitha coming. I was clearly the superior Risk player here. Heck, I’ve played a 24 hour game of Risk before. I was going to win… until I didn’t.

Congrats again, Tab!

What’s your favorite snow day, rainy day, death from above day game to play?

Journey to the Cross by Paul David Tripp – Awareness

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The Lenten season is about the sin that was the reason for the suffering and sacrifice of the Savior. It is about taking the time to reflect on why we all needed such a radical move of redemption, to confess the hold that sin still has on us, and to focus on opening our hands, in confession and submission, and letting go of sin once again. But as we do this, it is important to remember that the knowledge of sin is not a dark and nasty thing but a huge and wonderful blessing. If you are aware of your sin, you are aware of it only because you have been visited by amazing grace. Don’t resist that awareness. Silence your inner lawyer and all the self-defending arguments for your righteousness. Quit relieving your guilt by pointing a finger of blame at someone else. And stop telling yourself in the middle of a sermon that you know someone who really needs to hear it.

Photo by Jake Weirick on Unsplash

Classic Disney Cartoons Failed Me

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Classic Disney cartoons ill prepared me for snow in East Texas.

Scenes filled with Mickey and Minnie skating across the ice? Nope.

Scenes filled with Huey, Dewey, and Louie battling against Donald Duck in an epic snowball fight? Nope. Our snow is sandwiched between two layers of ice. Sandwiched! Even if you can get through the first layer, the snow underneath is powder. Not an ideal snowball building material… at least not here.

Luckily our power has still worked, our heater is running, and my wife did grocery pickup before the storm hit. East Texas, for the most part, has had it pretty easy. I think there is something about the constant thunderstorms (re: death from above), in the spring/summer, that keep our powerlines in working order. The storms are good for something, I guess.

So how about you? What is the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Playing Together in Among Us

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“Do you want to play again?”

Wyatt looked at me. He had us playing Butter Royale on Apple Arcade. To say that I was done with it after 3 games was an understatement.

“No, I’m good. Do you want to play Among Us?”

“Sure.”

Among Us

I hadn’t played Among Us before. I had no clue how the controls worked; I had no clue what you did in the game besides make guesses as to who the imposter is.

The game starts you off in the lobby where you wait for other players to join your game. Wyatt and I created a password protected game first, joined the game together, and then opened it up to the public. While we waited, I used the computer to change my color and add some accessories. Perfect. Once we had enough players (the minimum is four), we were good to go.

Among Us - Playing

From there, we ran around and accomplished different tasks (as you can see in the top left of the screen above). While we were accomplishing tasks, the imposter lurked nearby. Before I knew it, I was dragged into a meeting where we could chat and decide who was the imposter. Wyatt and I decided it was a specific player, so we voted for him. Among Us then cuts to an airlock screen where the player who received the most “he’s the imposter votes” is sent floating in space. The person we all voted for, the person we thought was the imposter, wasn’t.

Our game went through this cycle a few more times. Each time we voted wrong, a fellow player was sent out the airlock. Eventually, the imposter won, and we lost.

Wyatt and I played 5 or 6 games together. Each on our own screen (we both have iPads). Completing tasks, making accusations, and generally having a good time.

I miss this.

Playing games, together, is a lot of fun.

It almost makes me miss Fortnite. Almost.

The Surf Report – Bible Reading, Social Media, and Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

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Welcome to the Surf Report for January 14, 2021

.: God :

My Bible reading plan for 2020 has carried over into 2021. I’ve got to finish up:

  • Jeremiah
  • Psalms
  • James
  • 2 Kings
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Lamentations
  • Obadiah
  • Ezekiel
  • John
  • Daniel
  • Ezra
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Esther
  • Revelation
  • Malachi
  • Job

.: Life :

I’ve been sitting here scrolling through Facebook. Mindlessly, I scroll past former friends and acquaintances. Some have tried to monetize their lives, perhaps even create some sort of lifestyle brand; Some have tried their hands at homebuilding, while documenting how many kids they have on the side. Through the countless pictures, videos, and inspirational images of scripture, I have to wonder, does anybody care?

We put so much time into social media but what does it really give us?

More importantly, could I start a lifestyle brand? 🙂

.: Gaming :

I spent part of my Christmas break playing Ustwo Games Alba: A Wildlife Adventure on my iPad. I love it! I loved:

  • Skipping around the island
  • Taking pictures
  • Enjoying the wildlife
  • Being able to explore and chill at my own pace

So, what about you?

How did your Bible reading plan go for 2020? Did it bleed over, like mine, into 2021?

Play anything good lately? Read a fantastic book?

Let me know in the comments below.

From Across the Net – “What We’ve Lost by Over-sexualizing Male Friendship”

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“But with this change has also come a loss of male friendship—something which men everywhere will readily admit. Keeping close male friendships just seems hard. It is. Intimacy makes a bond, but we no longer have access to male intimacy because it seems sexual. We avoid it. We do not have strong bonds.”

You can read more here

Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

From Across the Net – “How Do We Discern Good and Bad ‘Magic’?”

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Based on these truths, when parents approach a fantasy novel, our critical thinking should always precede our impulse to censor the story. Start by analyzing the story’s magic system to determine the source of power. Ask: Do the magicians seek to elevate themselves? Or do they wield their power in sacrifice and service to others? More importantly, does the story cause you, the reader, to desire to elevate yourself over others or even over God, the source of all real power?

Read more here

Photo by Christopher Ott on Unsplash

President Trump, Twitter, and Freedom of Speech

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In the midst of the storming of the Capitol yesterday, Twitter pulled the plug on President Trump. Initially restricting anyone from replying, liking, or sharing his tweet (and later pulling it all together), Twitter had enough. Apparently there is a magical end to the freedom of the Internet, and President Trump reached it.

President Trump, who is no school boy, knew what he was doing. I would call his response to the attacks calculated.

“We had an election that was stolen from us,” Trump said. “It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now.”

One does not pour gasoline on a fire unless you want to see things explode.

But I digress, what will be talked about in the months to come, will be freedom of speech.

Photo by Jon Sailer on Unsplash

Freedom of speech[2] is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction.

The moment Twitter did not like what President Trump had to say, they pulled the plug. Up until this point, they had let him exist. Call the election stolen, sure, stay on our platform. The moment though you do not do as we say (in this case, denounce the protestors), you can show yourself the door.

Now, Twitter is a private company, they can do as they please on their platform. But what do Twitter’s actions say about freedom of speech?

  • Should politicians be held to a different standard on social media?
  • Have social media companies become too big? Big enough to silence the President of the United States?
  • When does freedom of speech become a “risk of violence” OR WORSE a result for permanent suspension?

Sound off in the comments below.

Welcome to JBG in 2021

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You are probably now discovering what everyone else is discovering, the problems of 2020 have carried over into 2021. We are still dealing with COVID, masking up, and all of the little things that a pandemic brings. Here in East Texas, life has continued as pandemic normal. Which is to say that I’m still wearing a mask when going into businesses (thankfully though, not at work) and that I’m still beyond bothered by decisions this pandemic “forces” us to make.

In the midst of it all, be it 2020 or 2021, God is still in control. Beyond my annoyances (which are annoyances), He is still reigning.

In 2021, I hope that you’ll make the journey with my family and I. A journey were we can:

  • Share what we love and what we don’t like
  • Practice authenticity
  • And continue writing on the topics of Faith, Life, and Video Games

The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:8 (CSB)