Whichever Shoe Fits

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Back in February, Tabitha and I were sitting in the auditorium at church listening to a guest speaker. I was having trouble paying attention, my mind wandering, until the speaker started talking about the Stages of Hurt:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

God spoke to Tabitha and I in that moment. We both realized that we had been cycling through those stages for years. Years. Not always in that exact stage order but something quite like it. You see, we have been trying to have another child for about 9 years now. Seeing what ultimately are the Stages of Grief, written down on the conference handout we were attending, did something. I could finally see the bigger picture. I could see how a friend’s baby announcement would suddenly shoot me into anger or even bargaining over not being able to have more children; I could see why, at times, I’ve been depressed.

In that moment of epiphany, Tab and I both felt that God was calling us to step out of those stages. We felt Him calling us to more.

So we talked and met with wise counsel at church. My church’s youth pastor and his wife sat down with us over dinner. They listened to our story and shared their own (I can’t put into words how much this meant to us). We learned that we weren’t alone in our experience. After meeting with them, we decided to contact the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. We attended an informational meeting (which was awesome). Soon after, we signed up to take adoption certification classes (PRIDE) which lasted a few weeks. We have since finished up:

  • Turning in financial information
  • FBI Database fingerprinting
  • Having a fire inspection of our home

We have a:

  • Health Inspection for the house
  • And an Home Study/Interview left before we are certified to adopt. We are almost there!

If you think about my family, as we move forward in this process, we are asking for:

  • Prayer (if you are not the praying sort, positive thoughts then)
  • Discernment
  • Wisdom
  • That God would lead our adoption caseworker to the child He wants

Excited to finally share this news with ya’ll. More to come.

Pressing Forward – What Remains of Edith Finch

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Stayed up last night and pushed forward in my What Remains of Edith Finch play through. I am loving how personal, how intimate, and how superb the game’s storytelling is. I feel like I’ve been invited to peak behind the family curtain, so-to-speak; invited on a woman’s search to understand her family. I think deep down, we all want to understand our family’s past as a way of processing the present.

Never know what you’ll find in the bathroom. A book that leads to secret passage? Yes, please.

There is something about this house that makes it unlike other homes in video games. This house feels lived in.

So much detail.

Never know what you’ll find in the basement.

A walk along the beach in the moon light, why not.

I am surprised by where this game is able to go.

What Remains of Edith Finch has reminded me of the power of the video game medium. I can’t wait to continue pressing forward. Will post soon.

The Halls Head West – Part Three

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The Mission San Luis Rey grounds feature an area that the friars used to bathe and to wash their clothes.

First, the brothers would descend this expansive stairway.

This would lead them to a aqueduct-fed bathing area. Yes, those are goldfish crackers in the bottom left of the photo (historic/beloved food of kids ministries everywhere).

Water would pour out of the gargoyle’s mouth. Mmm, tasty!

Another view of the area.

Heading back towards the Mission, we saw:

The oldest pepper tree in California.

The pepper tree is through the archway, to the right.

We then walked through the graveyard.

The Franciscan Burial Crypt. Let’s get closer!

Locked and barred to keep Lara Croft from doing any tomb raiding.

Loved the metal work on the crypt gate.

Our trip to Mission San Luis Rey was amazing. I enjoyed how peaceful the Mission and the grounds were. Also love that this is still a working Mission used for theological studies.

King of the Missions, indeed.

The Halls Head West – Part Two

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After Disneyland, our trip was a bit more low-key. We had a chance to see my Grandma (who I hadn’t seen in two years), play some Dutch Blitz with my Mom’s family, and even go bowling.

My mom won both games. That seemed to be a theme throughout our visit no matter what we played.

Tab and Wyatt studied California History this past year. So we went and visited Mission San Luis Rey. As someone who holds a degree in History-Political Science, I was super impressed with the mission’s museum.

A sheep skin hymn book.

The door from Walt Disney’s Zorro.

A letter from President Lincoln giving the Church their land back.

After touring the museum, we headed outside to walk the grounds.

If you missed Part One, click here

For Part Three, click here

Fear, Geek Culture, and the Church

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Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

Michael Mendis, writing for Geeks Under Grace, recently wrote a piece titled “Geek Culture and the Church“. As he weaves through the history between the church and geek culture, he touches on something I have always found interesting:

Over the years I have heard numerous stories about Christian geeks who feel that they have to hide their hobbies from fellow saints. I’ve met a well-respected leader in a church who can’t reveal to the rest of his leadership team that he plays Dungeons & Dragons. A gaming missionary I have worked with tells a story about how he once visited a church to talk about gamer culture, and after his presentation, two people came up to him—back-to-back, but independently of one another—to privately confide that they were gamers, and that they were afraid to tell the other people in their church.

On a basic level, I get that we can’t 100% be ourselves at church. Fellow Christians may struggle with things that we do not, making it un-wise to talk about whatever it is in front of them. I get that. But playing video games, to me, is just as normal as watching television or following sports. In all my time, living in the buckle of the Bible Belt for over sixteen years now, I have never felt like I needed to hide the fact that I enjoy playing video games and tabletop games (and I get that my experience may be unique).

I remember approaching my pastor, soon after college graduation, about how I wanted to start a video game ministry. He encouraged me to talk to our youth pastor; who then encouraged me to think outside the box and not go to seminary. “Just do it”, he said like a Nike commercial (it was deeper than that). I’d like to think that my experience here isn’t unique, I was encouraged by my East Texas based church staff, not discouraged from where I felt God leading me in that moment.

As I edge closer to 40, I have learned to not be as worried about others opinions, to enjoy what I like. I have found that there are others out there, in the church, who share my hobbies. I want to encourage you not to live in fear. Be passionate about what you are passionate about. Own your video games, your hunting, and your love for modifying old cars.

Update 5/23/19 – My wife lovingly reminded me that I have encountered instances, at church, where fellow Christians have been less than loving about my hobby. Funny how one forgets such things when not in the moment. As with anything, I think you quickly learn who you can talk to and who you should avoid talking to about nerdy things. Such is life. – Bryan

Press Start – What Remains of Edith Finch

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Developer Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch has been on my radar for quite sometime. Thankfully, one of the PlayStation Plus games this month happens to be the above said title. So I fired up the game for the first time tonight. Enjoy my opening photo safari below.

So much lovely detail.

How curious…

Built by Sven.

Sirius Black once had a family tree…

More photos to come, I’m sure, as I continue to play.

The Halls Head West – Part One

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Had a good visit with my parents last week. Hadn’t seen them in two years! Was nice to visit them in Southern California, enjoy the weather, and tour some of the local sites.

Our plane flight, out of Gregg County, was a bit bumpy. Our pilot had to dodge thunderstorms while flying into Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).

View outside the plane as we took off from Longview, Texas.

Nothing like a little turbulence as we flew around thunderstorms.

We eventually landed at DFW and made our way to our second flight. The flight boarded but we had to sit in the plane as a second wave of thunderstorms made its way into the area. Tab and I caught up on much needed sleep (we were so excited that we hadn’t slept the night before).

Fun Fact: When lightening hits near the airport, a clock starts a countdown to an all clear (so much time has to go by). Apparently airport workers cannot work out on the tarmac when lightening has struck nearby. Safety first!

Landed in San Diego without incident. Loved flying on what appeared to be a new Airbus! Tab and I watched Netflix’s The Highwaymen, with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, on the flight. Super good movie about two former Texas Rangers hunting down Bonnie and Clyde. We had about 30 minutes till the end of the movie when our plane landed. Can’t wait to finish this film.

My parents picked us up in San Diego. The weather was cool, cloudy, and drizzling. Such a relief from the 80 degree humid weather we’ve been having in East Texas.

We made our way over to Old Town San Diego, ate lunch, and toured around.

I can’t imagine traveling in a wagon like this. Talk about back issues!

While there, we walked into Seeley Stables (which was pretty amazing and free). Came across some old gaming machines… something that one rarely sees in a museum. I was impressed.

THE JUDGE!

THE OWL!

Rolling history.

After a bit of walking around, we braved the traffic and headed to my parents house.

The next day, we woke up and headed to Anaheim. Spent the day at Disneyland. Wyatt loved it (his first trip) and we all walked quite a bit.

I do not have a ton of pictures from Disneyland. We spent the day being in the moment and absorbing the magic of Walt’s original park.

Highlight of our day was Wyatt getting to meet Darth Vader. Wyatt tried to pledge allegiance to him… and Lord Vader seemed pleased. He told Wyatt that when he was of age that Wyatt would make a great recruit for the Imperial Army. I’m taking this as a parenting win!

Click here for Part Two

Thomas Wasn’t Alone – A 2015 Flashback

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I came across this piece the other day and still felt it was relevant. At this point, Thomas Was Alone is available on pretty much everything (even your iPad). Give the game a chance if you haven’t happened to play. Never know what life lessons you can learn from colorful shapes. – Bryan

We are not meant to go at this life alone.

thomas-was-aloneThomas Was Alone drives home the point that we are meant to live in community with others. As the levels in Thomas progress, the game reinforces that red rectangle Thomas needs others to move from one point to another. Thomas cannot move through the game world alone.

My son graduated from kindergarten today (5/29/2015). I’m not sure how I feel about that. Sitting there in the auditorium, I was reminded of what big personals events were like growing up. I remember having the biggest cheering section out of anyone. My parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were always there to cheer me on. I wasn’t alone.

thomas-was-alone1Thomas Was Alone combines minimalist design and expert narration to introduce characters one cares for. Take Claire for instance. Claire is a large blue square. Even though she cannot jump high, Claire dreams of becoming a superhero. Thomas and his friends need Claire. She is the only one that can float across the toxic waters that would kill anyone else in an instant.

The Bible talks about the human body having many parts, each with it’s own task, function, and purpose. The Bible likens the human body to the body of Christ. In that we are meant to live in community.

I teach a group of men on Wednesday nights. We’ve been going through some difficult material. Peeling back masks and becoming real with one another, I have learned that we all have a need for friendship. Most of us feel as if we do not have anyone to walk in life with. We feel alone. Sometimes lost. Isolated within our families, running the race of life. The guys and I discussed how we can move beyond our personal islands:

  • Reaching out, in person, on the phone, even a simple text
  • Having a bigger focus than just ourselves
  • Being legacy minded

God lives in community with the Holy Spirit and Christ. If He is our example. . .  it may be time to pick up a phone, knock on a door, and connect.

From Across the Net – “Instagram, Twitter, and the Longing for Approval”

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Russell Moore wrote great article titled: “Instagram, Twitter, and the Longing for Approval”. I liked this:

One needn’t spend very much time with parents of teenagers with heavy social media usage to see how many of them are battling a generalized anxiety specific to social media itself. It’s hard enough to be an adolescent, wondering constantly where one fits it and what others think of you, without having a mechanism that purports to show you the answers to those questions with raw data, all of the time. Such a life is like a politician checking his or her daily tracking poll numbers, except without an election at the end.

I’m not sure about you, but I struggle with the constant influx of information. Watching my blog stats, in real time, to see how many people are liking/reading my posts. And then agonizing over my traffic numbers as they’ll never top JBG’s traffic from 2010 (I have no clue what happened that year). Sounds silly typing all that out…

Read more here

Creativity, Inc. – Embracing Failure

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Picked up Creativity, Inc. again last night. Came across the quote below while reading. I love how this explains so many things I’ve encountered in the work force.

There’s a quick way to determine if your company has embraced the negative definition of failure. Ask yourself what happens when an error is discovered. Do people shut down and turn inward, instead of coming together to untangle the causes of problems that might be avoided going forward? Is the question being asked: Whose fault was this? If so, your culture is one that vilifies failure. Failure is difficult enough without it being compounded by the search for a scapegoat.

In a fear-based, failure-averse culture, people will consciously or unconsciously avoid risk. They will seek instead to repeat something safe that’s been good enough in the past. Their work will be derivative, not innovative. But if you can foster a positive understanding of failure, the opposite will happen.

From Across the Net – “Why Facebook’s Bans Warrant Concern”

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Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

I had caught a headline on this, last week, and thought it was disturbing. Moderation is a tricky task where the easy path equals censorship versus allowing conversations to take place.

Facebook’s speech rules were already vague and malleable. And now the platform is apparently evaluating at least some of its users actions off its pages. This means a person can potentially face social-media bans even if they comply with every syllable of the company’s speech rules on the company’s platform.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Author”

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I loved reading the Encyclopedia Brown books growing up. How about you?

Most authors would love to be a big name—a Stephen King, a James Patterson, a John Grisham. People buy their books not for the title or cover image or first page, but because it’s the new King, the new Patterson, the new Grisham.

Not Sobol. He preferred nobody know who produced all those books.

“What I really wanted, and couldn’t achieve—it was just a pipe dream—was to remain anonymous,” Sobol once told his college alumni magazine. “That never worked.”

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “Things I’ve learned from being adopted”

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Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

This is heavy… but good. Thankful Malinda chose to share this.

Adoption starts with trauma.
Perhaps this doesn’t seem like something to rejoice in. It’s actually not. But, it’s something that is important to grasp and accept when it comes to thinking about adoption. The majority of adoptions start with trauma. I hesitate to use the sweeping word “all” here, but I struggle to think of an adoption scenario that wouldn’t involve some element of trauma to at least the child involved. I think so often we can have a glorified view of adoption—and I don’t want to diminish its merit—but to bypass this root element of adoption is to lessen its messy beauty.

I have learned that when root-issues are overlooked—and this applies beyond adoption—there can’t be a solid foundation for anything to be built on top. Without a solid foundation, whatever was built will surely crumble.

You can read more here

Things I’ve Loved in April

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I finished another book last night. A book that is a part of a series I’ve loved. This perfect mixture of humor, drama, and thoughtful science fiction. So why haven’t I talked about this book series here? I think, deep down, I’m afraid too.

I fear being judged by things that I love. So I keep them close to my chest. I don’t want to cause any fellow Christians to stumble or friends to be all like, “Whoa”. I’d much rather be silent, free of causing anyone harm, and free of being judged; free to just enjoy something.

“But this is your blog”, you might say, “Why not write about what you actually love?”

Why not indeed.

Things I’ve loved in April

Awhile back, I had a co-worker introduce me to author John Scalzi. Now Scalzi is known for his novel Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas. But I jumped into his Old Man’s War series at my co-worker’s suggestion. Tabitha bought me all six of the books for Christmas. I have a good wife. 🙂

Initial Premise: Imagine a world where you have a choice to live out the rest of your life among the stars. Once you turn 75 years old, you are eligible to join the Colonial Union as a recruit. Leaving Earth behind forever to fight against the horrors of space. A 10 year tour, if one survives, that ends with retirement on a human colony.

Old Man's War

I have loved the way Scalzi has built his world, characters, and then interwoven them throughout the Old Man’s War series. Pure popcorn reading at it’s best. Sure, there are a few questionable things… BUT I’ve enjoyed the literary escape Scalzi has created.

I just finished up book three, The Lost Colony, and will continue on with Zoe’s Tale. I’ll let you know how it is!

Guildmaster Story (iOS) also consumed a bit of my time in April. I love the writing; not super hot on the puzzles. The protagonist reminds me a lot of Fozzy Bear’s character from Muppet Treasure Island.

What have you been enjoying this past month?

Been reading or playing anything good?

Let me know in the comments below.