Impressions – Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

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In the absence of Nate, Elena, and Sully, where does the Uncharted series head off to next?

Building upon the lessons learned while making The Last of Us and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, developer Naughty Dog unleashes a new kind of adventure in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.

Chloe Frazer (Uncharted 2)
Nadine Ross (Uncharted 4)

I’m only an hour or two into the game. Enjoying my time with Chloe and Nadine so far.

The Dirt Clod Wars: Rewind

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Seacrest was a sleepy seaside community located next to Flint Air Force Base (AFB). Locals often joked as to why such a big name was given to an airstrip, a few buildings, and two jets. Rumor around Evansdale was that Flint AFB was the place the military sent those they wanted to forget about. 

The Morris family had received orders to move from Youngstown to Seacrest just two days after Hawk’s Dad had returned from the Middle East. This had been a surprise to Hawk’s parents, who had always lived in or around the town they had both grown up in. Stability and success had always followed the Commander throughout his military career. The Middle Eastern campaign had brought various medals, promotions, and a hidden secret into the Commander’s life.

Hawk pressed his face against the car window as the family turned off the highway into Seacrest.

“We’re almost there?” Hawk asked as he yawned in the backseat. His Mom had driven through the night; his Dad had had to report to the base earlier in the week and was going to meet them at the new house. 

“Yep, I think we are almost there.”

The main strip through town contained a grocery store, movie theater, and a bowling alley called The Purple Tango. On this Monday morning, the downtown area was virtually empty.

Turning off the main street and onto Starlight Ridge Drive, Hawk noticed bicycles laying in front yards, basketball hoops in driveways, and all other sorts of signs that there were other kids in this neighborhood.

“Which house is it Mom?”

“Umm, your dad said it was 2104, the house is painted white with a blue trim. See it yet?”

“Yeah!” Hawk could see his dad out in the front yard carrying boxes into the house. The house itself was a rather imposing Victorian style home with towers and intricate woodwork. Compared to the other houses on the street, the house stood out due to sitting on a slight hill above all the other homes. A perfect vantage point, Hawk thought.

Pulling into the driveway, he jumped out of the car.

“DAD!”

The Commander came out of the house and stared at his son in disbelief. “You’re already here?”

“Yeah, Mom drove all night.”

Austin Morris shook his head then grinned, “Your mother is a stubborn woman.”

Hawk ran past his Dad and into the new house. 

“Hold up, son.”

The house was dark inside. Odd, thought Hawk. Candles lined the entryway and cast a warm glow through the darkness.

“Power isn’t on yet, chief.” 

Seeing the fear on Hawk’s face, the Commander handed Hawk a flashlight. 

“Why don’t you go check out your new room. It’s at the top of the stairs, second door on the right.”

Hawk planted his feet at the foot of the stairs. 

“Do I have to go all by myself?”

“Yep,” his Dad nudged him, “Go on.” 

The floral carpeted stairs creaked as Hawk climbed towards his new room. “Top of the stairs, second door on the right”, Hawk repeated to himself over and over. 

“Did you say something, son?”

“No,” Hawk yelled from the top of the stairs. “Just talking to myself.”

The upstairs hallway was a mixture of dark wood and wallpaper with wild flowers on it. Second door on the right. Opening his new bedroom door, Hawk was blinded by the daylight pouring in through the three bedroom windows. A dust covered telescope sat in front of the middle window. Curious, Hawk decided to see what he could see from his new outpost.

Focusing the lens, Hawk panned the neighborhood up and down. Nothing too out of the ordinary. He did see a basketball in the driveway next door. Curious.

“Pretty cool room, huh?”

His father smiled and wiped the sweat off his forehead. “Pretty cool telescope too. See anything interesting?”

“Yeah, there might be a kid next door.”

“Well, school doesn’t get out until this afternoon. Why don’t you come on down and help me unload the U-Haul.”

“Yes sir.”

< –  – >

Later in the afternoon, they were still outside unloading boxes when the school bus pulled up down the street. Hawk heard it immediately. He put down the box he’d been carrying and found himself starring as the kids streamed off the bus. A group of boys met up and then began walking up the street. They looked to be Hawk’s age.

Hawk watched as the boys came closer.

“Hawk?”

His dad was calling him from inside the house.

He reluctantly walked inside, away from the boys. He found his dad in the entryway.

“Yeah, Dad?”

“I just thought I would check on you.”

The sounds of talking and laughing drifted into the house from the street.

His dad looked at him, “Boys, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, do you want to go meet them?”

Hawk looked wistfully out the door and then shook his head no.

“I’ve got to help you unpack.”

The Commander took note.

“Okay, you’ll get to meet them tomorrow. Your starting school first thing.”

“School?”

>>–<<

To read the first part, click here: The Dirt Clod Wars: M-Day

Tis the Season

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There is so much uncertainty in the air. Uncertainty as far as what the future looks like for the United States; Uncertainty as far as what the pandemic might bring.

Everywhere one looks, they are told to think in a certain way. Due to fear, masked in the veil of compassion/the right thing to do, we should act accordingly. After all, if we want to protect everyone, we must all do what is right, just, and ultimately good.

In the midst of this Advent season, I am reminded of a plan. Of a baby, his birth, and the plan to redeem humanity.

With uncertainty and confusion whipping around, I am thankful for Jesus. Making a way for us through his birth, death, and resurrection on the cross.

Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash

The Surf Report – Junior High Boys, Dogs, and Star Wars

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Welcome to the Surf Report for December 9, 2020.

.: God :

I’ve been teaching the junior high boys, at church, for over a month now. I find myself surprised. I think, walking into this, I had thought these kids would be on the same level (at least) of the adults I used to teach. Sadly, basic Bible reading and prayer (essentially a daily quiet time) are really hard for these kids. Be that these spiritual disciplines are perhaps not happening at home, I realize we have a lot of ground to cover. And yet, it is hard to teach the lesson at hand when you are fielding off-topic questions, off-the-wall thoughts, and just trying to create a general order in the room.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge of teaching this class. I don’t regret stepping down from teaching my adult Sunday school class. I just thought it would be easier.

Right now we are focusing on:

  • Prayer – having one boy pray per week
  • Reading – having the boys read the Bible in class
  • Pushing the core theme of the lesson at hand

.: Life :

We got a dog! This is Gus.

Gus

Gus is a American Staffordshire Terrier (at least, that is what his official documents say). He is a good boy who enjoys having his belly rubbed.

.: Gaming :

Wyatt and I have been playing Star Wars Battlefront lately. Specifically the co-op hero battle matches that allow you to destroy one another. Oh yeah, we’ve also been playing Castle Crashers! I picked this one up on sale, and we’ve really been enjoying it.

That’s it for us. How about you? What have you been up to? Let me know in the comments below.

From Across the Net – “A Friend Who Sticks Closer than…a Hobbit? What the Inklings Teach Us About Friendship”

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“In the age of social media, the notion of friendship has taken on new meanings. Many people have “friends” whom they have never met, nor do they know them on any personal level. While most of us would agree that such a relationship does not constitute a friendship in the true sense of the word, the term itself has broadened in application over time to now include nearly any individual one has met and not found deplorable. This expanded use is not necessarily a bad thing, provided one understands varying degrees of friendship.”

You can read more here

The Bath

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I woke up this morning and rolled out of bed. Grabbed my towel before heading for the shower. Wait. No shower. The shower is going to be fixed later today. So I disrobe, start the bath water, and climb on in.

Part of me feels absolutely ridiculous. A 39 year old man doesn’t take a bath. Does he?

As I scrub the various things that need scrubbing, I think to myself, “The water sure is nice.” I can feel the relaxing feeling coming over me, the feeling that only comes from sitting in the tub.

***

Not wanting to be late, I pulled the plug, and I watched the water swirl down the drain.

Maybe a 39 year old man does take a bath every once in awhile.

Adoption Update – The Door Hasn’t Closed Yet

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A friend asked me recently, “Have you heard anything on adoption front?”

I sighed, “No.”

Turns out our caseworker visited us a few weeks back. As she inspected our home, she confirmed ages, whether we want a boy or girl, etc. All things she should have already known. After a year and a half of waiting, we found this a tiny bit discouraging.

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

And yet, my friend also said something that gave me hope.

“You’re just going to keep plugging along until God tells you otherwise?”

I hadn’t really thought of this before, but yes, we will keep our house open until God tells us otherwise. He called us into this messy process, and He can call us out of it.

Patience is hard. Waiting is hard. But until God closes the adoption door, we’ll be standing right here, waiting.

The Dirt Clod Wars: M-Day

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My parents told me never to talk about what had happened in the last town we lived in. The Battle of Starlight Ridge was one I would never forget. 

Moving day had finally arrived for the Morris family. Hawk Morris had been dreading this day since the beginning of summer. All of his friends, family, and even school, everything he known and grown up with, would soon be gone forever. Forever. His parents had said that the move had nothing to do with Hawk, but Hawk knew better; the whole town of Evansdale knew better. 

The Battle of Starlight Ridge continued to be one of the most talked about events in Evansdale. Ladies at the local beauty salon whispered in horror over the damage that had taken place; men at the local barber shop shook their heads in disbelief that something so exciting had happened in their town and yet they had not been apart of it. The battle had taken place a few months before school let out for the summer. Joey Higgins, resident Evansdale Elementary bully and Hawk’s next door neighbor, had pushed Hawk for the last time.

“Hawk, we need your help downstairs,” yelled Hawk’s father.

“Coming!”

Hawk took a quick look around his room, noting that everything had been packed except for a photo that sat where his nightstand used to be. Wiping away the dust, Hawk smiled as he looked at his combat unit in their full fatigues. never in his life did Hawk imagine that he would have to move away from his friends. He couldn’t imagine life without them.

“Hawk!”

“Coming!”

Commander Morris, Hawk’s father, was an Air Force pilot that always demanded punctuality. Hawk knew that if he had to be called a second time, he would be scrubbing oil off the driveway until sun up. No joke. Hawk placed the photo of his friends, his comrades in arms, into the last open packing box and headed down stairs into the entryway.

“What do you need, Dad?”

“There you are,” Commander Morris huffed as he carried a loaded box out the front door. “Why don’t you grab one of the boxes stacked in the living room and give me a hand loading up.”

“Yes, sir.”

The living room was a forest of boxes filled to the brim. Last week it had looked like a normal living room, couch on one side and television on the other. Hawk had had his friends over last week for a farewell party. Well, he had had the friends over that would still speak with him.

“Hawk?”

Hawk’s mother, a dental hygienist by day, poked her head over one of the boxes and stared down at him, “You helping your Dad?”

“Yes, mom.” Hawk stared at the ceiling for a moment. “Do we really have to do this?”

“Do what honey?”

“Move.”

Rustling around a stack of boxes, Hawk’s mom navigated around the room to him. She hugged him tight.

“Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. Your father has received orders that he is to be re-stationed near the coast. Our moving is a step up for your Dad and has nothing to do what happened. Do you understand?”

“Yes ma’am…and no. I just don’t want to leave Tommy, Scott, Cory and Andrea. They’re my friends.”

“Hawk, I thought you were going to help me?”

Commander Morris had come back in from the yard and had been standing there for a few moments.

“Everything okay?”

Hawk’s Mom gave him another hug, “Everything is fine.”

Hawk quietly grabbed a box and headed out the front door. 

“What did you tell him,” the Commander whispered.

“I told him what he needed to hear.”

“You sound so cold hearted my dear,” the Commander chuckled, “He is our son after all.”

Felicia Morris smiled at her husband, “I should probably get back to work.”

Walking up the moving trucks ramp, Hawk noticed that Cory was out riding his bicycle. 

“Hey Cory, you allowed to talk with me?”

Cory silently shook his head no, popped a wheelie, and took off down the street to his house. Fears of moving and loneliness swept over Hawk, he sat down on the truck’s ramp and buried his head in his hands. 

“You okay, chief?”

The Commander placed his hand on Hawk’s shoulder. “I noticed that Cory didn’t say hi to you. Guess his parents are still a bit unhappy over what happened.”

Hawk shook his head.

“No reason to cry son, you did win the battle after all.”

“I know but everything is changing now because of it.”

“Hawk, your Mom and I have told you over and over that our moving has nothing to do with you. I received orders that I have to follow.”

“You could have said no.”

The Commander sat down next to Hawk.

“I’m just a fighter pilot son, I do as I’m told. We, our family, has to move. Orders are orders whether you like them or not. I’m sorry.”  

“It’s okay, dad.”

“I am sure there will be lots of kids your age where we are moving.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

He doesn’t know that, Hawk thought. He just doesn’t know.

Walmart and the COVIDS

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I am not much of an expert when it comes to science. I can read though, process the information, and come to my own conclusions.

I was at Walmart the other day. I walked in without a mask. No one said anything to me. No weird looks or strange glances were given to me. Nothing. At the time I was there, there were probably more wearing masks than not. Still, no one said anything to me.

From one side of Walmart, there is a sign that says that masks are required; The other side of the store does not have a sign. You can draw your own conclusions over which door I choose to enter by.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t wear a mask if you wear one. I’m not saying to not wash your hands either. I think that we have been fortunate, in East Texas, so far. The virus doesn’t seem as big of a problem here. And yet, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to be entering by the door nearest the pharmacy. No sign = No mask.

With all of ya’ll wearing them, I figure the air is probably the safest it has ever been.

From Across the Net – “What’s The Point Of Family Devotions?”

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“So what’s the point of family devotions? I wonder if it would be helpful to first consider the purpose it hasn’t served in my family. Family devotions has not been a means through which we have obeyed a specific law or fulfilled an explicit command. There is no commandment in either the Old Testament or the New that tells Christian families they must spend time reading and praying together each day. So we haven’t prioritized it for that reason.”

You can read more here

If you don’t read your Bible, start.

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“How many of you have a personal quiet time?”

Crickets could be heard in the room.

“Any of you?”

Silence.

Then, one of the boys spoke up.

“As part of my homeschooling curriculum, I have to do Bible in the mornings.”

I looked around the room, “Anyone besides Steven?”

Again, silence.

< – – – – – – >

Parents, I teach junior high boys on Sunday mornings. The above is based on a real conversation we had a few weeks ago that left me dumbfounded.

We can bring our kids to church… but if we aren’t having them reading their Bibles, praying, having a personal quiet time, then they are hearing the Gospel one day a week. That’s one day to:

  • Minister
  • Transform lives

One day to build fellow brothers in Christ up.

It is not enough.

A personal quiet time starts with one day, you, God, and His word. It morphs out of that one day to become multiple days where you spend time with Him.

All I can say is if you don’t read the Bible, start.

Animal Crossing: Day 5

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That Racoons are at it again. Little Timmy and Tommy are hard pressed for cash. You see, in order to grow their business, they need some of your bells. Or more specifically, they need resources to help grow their empire. Resources such as:

  • 30 Wood
  • 30 Softwood
  • 30 Hardwood
  • 30 Iron Nuggets

The wood we can get, no problem. It’s just a matter of shaking some trees over a day or two. The Iron Nuggets though, we’ll be hitting the rocks for a few days or more!

Nothing like rock hitting… hitting the rocks… and all that jazz.

Animal Crossing: Day 4

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With winter around the corner, I’m starting to stock up. I’ve been purchasing things such as:

  • A snuggly blanket
  • A mug, for all my coffee needs.
  • A bottom warmer. No need to freeze when your ruling the kingdom.

And best of all:

  • An axe

Now hear me out. I am a pretty hairy dude. The axe is perfect for some late night trimming, if you know what I mean. I can trim with the axe… and I can even cut down some trees if I want to.

Whack a tree three times, you’ll find your pockets full of useful stuff like:

  • Wood
  • Softwood
  • Hardwood

Whack a tree four times, and your tears will start to flow. Goodbye tree.

Animal Crossing – Day 3

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A day in the life of an Animal Crossing Star is something like this:

  • Running Around
  • Hitting Trees 3 Times, Collecting Whatever Falls
  • Gathering Fruit
  • Running Around
  • Finding Fossils
  • Fishing On The Beach
  • And Might I Add, Running Around

While it may not be easy, living the life of a superstar, I do it. I do it because I spent $55 on this game.

Animal Crossing – Day 2

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I didn’t sleep much last night. Hard to sleep on an island full of strangers.

Tom Nook says that today is the day. Today is the day that we are now on synced time. This means that everything that we do is done in real time. Real time? Of course everything is done in real time! I am not sure Nook is up to task on running the island. All in good time though.

Also, I met Bozo (a sports loving nut) and Ms. Put-in-Pockets (a grifter). I’m sure I’ll be seeing more of them, so I’ll put on my best game face.