A Christmas Note To Myself

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On the day before December begins,

I’d like to remind myself.

That no matter how stressful work gets,

Nor how much I miss family,

Swirling down into the depression pit isn’t worth it.

At all.

I need to focus on my family around me,

My friends,

The anticipation of the Advent season.

Spending the entire month of December, in a funk, sucks.

You know it, and your wife knows it. 

So stop it!

Break the cycle this year.

Tell depression to get off your mental lawn.

You’re welcome, by the way.

– A note from November Bryan to December Bryan.

Photo by Adam Birkett on Unsplash

Not sure about you, but December is traditionally a tough month for me. All through November, I’ve been watching depression circle around outside the fire light. Beckoning me to step away from the comforts of clarity and embrace the dark/warm fuzzy jacket of depression. Wanted to write a quick note to remind myself not to go down that path this year. I want to encourage you also to stay near the fire and pay attention to the words you are speaking to yourself. We can do this.

In the fog of Quil, drinking snot

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How was your Thanksgiving?

We spent Thanksgiving at home and invited family over. Tab cooked an amazing meal (her Pioneer Woman Stuffing being my favorite).We had a nice day with great weather outside. Got to go for a walk, play a few games (Chicken Foot being a highlight), and enjoy time spent with family. Missed my family back in SoCal/Arkansas and my youngest brother-in-law, who was away in Houston with a special somebody/her family.

I’ve had the worst cold since Thanksgiving. NyQuil and DayQuil have been my best friends/enemies. I think a combo of allergies from mowing the yard and insane temperature shifts doomed me. Wash your hands, folks. Wash your hands and perhaps wear a mask while mowing.

Got a chance to dive into Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain over the holiday. Played all through the intro, where I encountered a fire horse/horseman (which was actually one of of the more normal things about the prologue):

Enjoyed watching video game’s Tarantino, Hideo Kojima, show off his craft.

There is something brave about opening a game with the protagonist in a weakened state. In this case, your character has been in a coma for 9 years only to wake up to special forces trying to kill you. Good times.

I’ve been a little gamer ADD lately. Picked up Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare last night. Nothing like boarding an expensive theme park ride a few years later. Price of admission is much cheaper ($4.50) but the thrills are just as good.

What have you been playing?

If I Hear Another Woof

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My neighbor’s dog barked all night. Sometimes their other dog would join in. No matter what, the dogs would not stop barking but for a few minutes. Sweet relief would then be interrupted by barking once more.

< – – – >

You start thinking about things when you are constantly being woken up by a barking dog. I found myself flashing back to my childhood. We had two dogs at that particular point in time. Benji, a Lhasa Apso, and Chance, a Golden Retriever. They trained my family well. Any barking, late into the night, was immediately followed with someone letting them into the garage to sleep. I remember my parents not wanting the neighbors to call Animal Control on us.

They look so innocent… but they are not! The neighbor’s dogs sleep all day and bark all night. I dislike them, passionately.

The barking kept going all through the night. I wondered if the dog had treed a creature; I wondered if the dog just didn’t want me to sleep. Saturday night and Sunday night, the dogs barked. No response from the owner. No, I think they were sound asleep.

At one point I got up, padded down the hallway to the backdoor and poked my head outside, nothing. The dogs had magically quit barking in those moments. I couldn’t hear anything that might have been causing trouble, so I went back to bed. The dogs began barking again.

By 6:00AM, I think they stopped. I slept really well for about thirty minutes. Climbing out of bed to get ready for work, I felt like we had a baby. The warm shower and coffee not doing much to wake me up.

I drove to work and arrived here safely. A co-worker talked to me, I could hear an edge in my response. You could say that I mildly barked back.

Stupid dogs.

Midweek Design: Photoshop and Daigle

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Last night, I unleashed my Photoshop powers and created some slides for my church. Enjoyed listening to Lauren Daigle’s Look Up Child album while working.

Christian radio about killed Lauren Daigle for me by repeatedly playing her older music, ALL THE TIME. Daigle’s new album is fantastic though. Drawing vocal comparisons to Adele, I appreciate Lauren’s thoughtful lyrics. Give her a listen below:

Also, here are a few of the images I cooked up for church:

Welcome to The MAC

Thanksgiving 2018

The MAC Family Worship Service

Hope ya’ll are having a fantastic Wednesday! Stay warm.

Personal Preferences and Media Consumption

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Back on this date in 2017, I asked the following question on Facebook:

Parents: How much do personal preferences play a role in what media your child consumes?

The general response was that personal parental preferences play a huge role in what media a child consumes. I know that for years, in my home, I have curated and encouraged consumption of specific video games, shows, and movies. Part of that is me being an engaged parent; the other part of that is wanting to show my son what quality media looks and feels like.

Super Mario Odyssey represents quality media.

Over the years, my son has watched a few shows that have driven me nuts. There has been nothing wrong with these shows, content-wise, but the voice acting and plotlines just seemed inane. Something I’ve had to learn, as a parent, is that sometimes my kid is going to like something I do not.

The big bad video game, in my house lately, has been Fortnite. A typical match looks like:

  • Picking a place on the map to start out in
  • Scavenging for weapons
  • Trying not to make a lot of noise and survive
  • Engaging fellow players with the weapons I’ve collected while trying not to become a victim of the virtual Hunger Games.

I have found that I enjoy the satisfaction of staying alive and making it into the final 5 players alive. Knowing that 95 other players have been eliminated and that I’m one of the few remaining is a good feeling. But I dislike how aimless Fortnite otherwise feels. I dislike the lack of direction, objectives, and how I have to make my own fun while surviving at the same time.

Fortnite does not fit my personal gaming preferences. This has taken me awhile to realize/put into words. But I’ve learned that there are times, as a parent, where you need to be quiet and explore the things your kids love. I may dislike Fortnite for many reasons, but I enjoy the time I get to play with my son. I have to focus on that positive, co-op play, and ignore the “we could be playing such-and-such game instead because that game is designed better” thoughts. Play in the moment, right?

The Bible App (YouVersion) Events – Sermon Notes

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This past week, I plugged my pastor’s sermon notes into The Bible App as an Event. I wanted to see if having the sermon notes (which we already have on the back of our printed bulletins) available via The Bible App, would be helpful to our members.

YouVersion Events - Sermon Notes

Above, you can see what it looks like once you have all of your information plugged in. You can add:

  • A Sermon Series Graphic
  • Church Name
  • Sermon Title
  • Location and Times
  • Sermon Bullet Points + Associated Scripture
  • Links for Giving, etc.

I made sure to tell a few members, before the service, that I had made the sermon notes available via the app. We’ll call this week part of a test run.

YouVersion Events - Sermon Notes

So, I intentionally sat my Bible down and only used my phone during the service. I liked that I could:

  • Take notes by typing
  • Read the corresponding scripture in the same version as the pastor

As someone who does not normally interact with a personal device during the Worship Service, I felt a bit awkward being on my phone though. But looking around the auditorium, I could see many members using their phones/iPads to read the Bible on.

I’m going to keep plugging the sermon notes into the app for the next few weeks. I would like to see what type of feedback I get. If your church is looking for another way to help your members engage, The Bible App – Events, could be a good thing.

An Interview with Justin Fox

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I’ve known Justin Fox for awhile now. The last time he visited JBG, we talked about faith and his game ReElise (which was on Kickstarter at the time). Three years have passed and I figured it was time to catch up with him.

Hey Justin, what have you been up to since your last visit? What happened to ReElise on Kickstarter?

I’ve done a lot reading and understanding of the business world since then. Helped build my church, and I made another game (Black Simulator) in the process just to get a project finished relatively quickly.

As far as the Kickstarter goes, I gained a lot of new great connections… but I fortunately didn’t reach my goal. I say fortunately because I wasn’t mature enough with such an amount of money. I’m not saying I would have spent it on Blackjack and hookers or anything, but I wouldn’t have applied the “sowing and reaping” (making sure the money is making money) principle that I now understand. The investment wouldn’t have been what it COULD have been for that project. So I took a hiatus from it for 2 years to clear my head and only recently started active development on it again. Fortunately, I was able to raise a fair amount of money for ReElise through the Patreon. I’ve been able to hire colorists for the illustrations. It’s very humbling to receive support of any kind for it.

It’s interesting how God uses different seasons to grow and mature us. Seasons where we think we know what/where we should be going, but God is sitting there saying not yet. I hate those seasons of life but get why they are important.

Tell me more about your smaller project you’ve released. What did you learn in the process of creating the game?

The smaller project is a project called Black Simulator, a satirical mini-game on Steam where you’re just trying to run 3 errands without getting shot or arrested by the police. Started out as a joke with another developer but… here we are.

 

I learned a ton about the importance of workflow, time management, and even overcoming ego/defense mechanisms. That last one though is the biggest thing. I was so scared to release this game. My brain found all kinds of reasons to protect itself from potential failure. I had essentially been sitting on this thing for months, slowing my own progress, because it wasn’t perfect. It still isn’t perfect (truly far from it), but sometimes the bigger picture is just the experience of releasing a game on the market. Not a perfect game, but YOUR game is out there at least. It’s a starting point no matter how bad it is, you can grow from that place. Beyond even that, sometimes your loved one’s need to see you trying, because you never know who’s waiting on your progress to encourage them to do the things they’re scared to do. I learned that a good “why” can slay the ego. My “why” was that releasing this game would be edifying to my friends, because they need to see me win just a little bit. I don’t know if my game will have the impact of bringing understanding to culture, but I know it’ll edify my friends who believe in me… because they tell me it does.

So what’s next for you? Where can people find you and your game?

Next is wrapping up ReElise in August. It’s not the full game or even in the engine that I want, but I’m gonna release the first half of it. Then I’m planning to start ReElise over in an engine that isn’t RPG Maker VX! I now have someone to partner with, and we’ll make a true version of the game. After all, we’ll have an alpha/beta so to speak, with finished art, music, and sound. The Patreon is doing well to produce the art assets, and I’m so thankful to each of them.

Justin Fox Media

In between ReElise and it’s final version though, I think I’m gonna make White Simulator and some other weird games. Super Baby Fetus: Pro Life Power is something I’m really excited about.

But to find everything that I do, I’d just go to JustinFoxMedia for: Patreon links, YouTube live streams, links to demos and games, (merch coming soon) the works!

Is Nintendo Labo Doomed?

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Variety posted an article today, “Nintendo Labo’s Last Chance“, that touches on the disappointing sales numbers the cardboard-based edutainment concept has suffered.

A lot rides on the next two months. “I had high expectations for Labo at the initial announcement that, so far at least, appear to have been a bit too enthusiastic,” NPD’s Mat Piscatella said. “But I’d agree that the holiday period would be the time for an uptick to happen.”

I thought this was sad.

A few weeks ago, Wyatt picked up the Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit.

For a solid week, Labo overtook our house, knocking Fortnite into the oblivion. Wyatt would spend his free time folding cardboard, following the step-by-step instructions on the Switch. He built the:

  • Steering Wheel
  • Gas Pedal
  • Flight Stick

And then quit. No longer were:

  • Cars being driven
  • Objectives being accomplished
  • Nor planes dive bombing the blimp circling the in-game city

Nintendo Labo went from the hottest toy in the house to the cardboard refuse in the corner. The submarine controls remain to be built on a rainy day. But for that week that Labo overtook the house, I saw my son use his imagination in a different way. Refining his fine motor skills through folding cardboard. Interacting with on-screen instructions/games while physically manipulating cardboard. Labo is this perfect marriage of digital and physical toy combined. Truly a unique toy that could only have come from Nintendo.

I’m sure Wyatt will circle around back to Labo at some point. I guess all I need to do is grab a sheet of cardboard and start folding. Maybe even explore the way Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Labo interface with one another. Innovation deserves to be awarded and Nintendo Labo deserves to be experienced.

When Security Masks a Spirit of Fear

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in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can man do to me? – Psalm 56:11 (ESV)

Another week goes by, we hear another story of a gunman invading a space and taking innocent lives. Calls for gun control quickly ring out in the media. Feelings of justice, fueled by anger and pain, trigger that deep down knowing that the world should not be this way. That we were not meant to deal with nor experience death, separation, brought on by a single choice made back in the beginning.

The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 56:11 that we should put our trust in God. There is no reason to fear when we put our trust in the Creator. Right? And yet fear percolates and permeates the atmosphere we breathe. Even in our churches, where Safety Teams equal Security Squads, fear rages. Played out with armed church members, unofficially, watching over the flock while services take place. A new defensive cultural norm.

NOTE: Please, do not misconstrue my words here, I’m all for keeping the Church safe. But I’m not okay when the spirit of fear drives a weekly version of security theater.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Keeping silent. Toeing the party line. Those seem like the obvious responses. But I believe God calls us, as Christians, to more: Power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

What do you do when a spirit of fear infects a church?