Waiting for the Bomb to Go Off

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Life for me, in this pandemic, hasn’t changed much. I still get up in the morning and drive to work. I spend my day at the office, filled with bosses and coworkers, where we push forward on projects. At home, my wife continues to homeschool our son. His home education hasn’t stopped even due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19. Life hasn’t changed much for the Texas Halls.

And yet life has changed all around us. From the local grocery store being out of such things as rice, yeast, and other baking supplies. To hearing stories about people around us dying, oftentimes alone/separated from their spouses, due to hospital quarantines.

Spring, in the South, is filled with severe weather days. Days where we:

  • See the skies darken
  • Hear the thunder, off in the distance
  • Watch for for rotation in the clouds
  • Find ourselves praying over the weather

Tornadoes are a real threat in the violence of Spring. A time of pollen and a time for death from above. There are days where we feel like we are waiting for the bomb to go off, for the hammer to drop. That feeling of anticipation we experience every Spring is the same feeling I feel, right now, in the midst of this pandemic. Even though my life hasn’t changed one bit, I feel as if I am on edge.

Photo by Siim Lukka on Unsplash

To all my friends and family, who live in places where the weather doesn’t try to kill you, welcome to feeling like you are living in the South. A place founded on sweet tea, sweet people, and the subtle feeling of dread. From experience though, I can tell you, Summer is coming. Threats of rain-soaked death will cease. This pandemic is only for a season, as is the pollen. Soon the sun will come and bake it all away… or try and kill us too.

The Passionate Fisherman

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I had a sales rep stop by the office yesterday. He was dropping off some furniture samples for a bid we have coming up on a project. One of the samples was a heavy student desk. So I helped him unload the desk from his Suburban. While unloading, I noticed that he had two fishing poles sitting in the back.

“I see you have your priorities in order.”

He smiled, “Yeah, I try and fish any chance I get.”

There are so many ponds and lakes across East Texas, I’m sure his chances come often.

Photo by Vladislav Suvorov on Unsplash

I love that moment when you ask someone about something they love. Their face lights up in pure excitement. And then that wave of body animation kicks in as they talk about whatever sparks their interest.

Although I’m not much of a fisherman–never ask my brother-in-law Mike about me and fishing–I 100% understand the excitement of getting to talk about something you love.

So what about you, what are you passionate about?

A Quick Update

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I’ve been sick since before Thanksgiving. Living in a world of drippy mucus and cough syrup infused days and nights. I haven’t felt very creative. One of the reasons my blog has been quieter lately. Not helping things, our weather here in East Texas keeps going up and down. We’ll have a day in the mid-70’s only to drop into the lower 40’s. To all of this, my body says, “nope”.

We live in a pier and beam home, which is cool in the summer and cooler in the winter. Often we’ll be freezing in the house only to walk out and find that it is warm outside. This morning, I put on my jacket thinking that it looked like jacket weather. I walked out the back door and was immediately hit with humidity. The ground, that I thought looked soaked from a stray over night shower, was wet from the humidity.

Photo by Anton Scherbakov on Unsplash

Spent the weekend doing a bit of Christmas shopping, rollerblading, and meeting our potential pastoral candidate at church. Feels good to have some Christmas shopping done. Rollerblading, which I hadn’t done since junior high, didn’t result in any broken bones. Our pastoral candidate, whom we met during a meet and greet yesterday evening, was very nice. I’m excited to think about where my church could possibly go under his leadership.

I have 10 days of work left for the year; 9 days after today. With Tabitha’s help, I got a chunk of the company Christmas cards mailed out–thank you, baby!–. As things wind down, I’m working on a marketing project that is due by the end of the week. Otherwise, I am hoping things chill at work as the year comes to a close.

How about you? How was your weekend? How is your Christmas shopping going? Let me know in the comments below.

East Texas Yamboree – 2019

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While driving to the East Texas Yamboree, in Gilmer, Texas, I saw a deer off to the side of the road. The doe seemed to contemplate running across the highway. I could see her muscles tense as she started to run in what would have been a direct line for our car. She tensed up, ran, and then seemed to think that running into a car wasn’t the best of ideas for an overcast Saturday. Just one of those surreal moments where I could see things playing out in slow motion and couldn’t do anything about it. Thankful she decided to veer off.

The East Texas Yamboree was fun. We met up with some friends and watched the parade. We saw:

  • Harry Potter (JK Rowling)
  • Mary Poppins
  • Julia Child
  • Beverly Clearly
  • Mary Kay Ash
  • Joanna Gaines

One of the local cowboy churches even had a float with Moses and Jesus on it. Harry Potter and Jesus in the same parade. Only in Gilmer, Texas can you celebrate yams and Jesus. And tons of American manufactured cars. Parade might as well have been sponsored by Ford.

How has your weekend been? Drop me a comment below.

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

I met my wife in hell

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I met my wife in hell. In the bowels of a Christian haunted house. I was playing some sort of motorcycle riding bad boy; she was playing the role of my sister. Nothing weird, just evangelism.

I remember my dorm floor chaplain asking me to be in the play. I wasn’t interested. And yet felt that I needed to be a part of this “scare people to Jesus” movement.

At our first practice, I was immediately attracted to the other woman playing my sister. You see, we had two casts that rotated turns acting throughout the night. No polygamy or Arkansas relationships going on here. Turns out I was attracted to a mean married woman. I’ve never known much about the lady folk beyond Jane Austen.

We rehearsed, rotated through the different walkthrough sets, finalized how things were going to go down. I didn’t notice Tabitha until the next night.

We were between scenes. It was late. I was laying across some chairs, tired. She didn’t see me and almost sat on me. We laughed. I knew I could talk to her about almost anything. I told her something about my Grandpa Ayers, not sure what. The sister I hadn’t paid a second thought to was suddenly front and center.

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Tabitha and I always laugh about how we first met. How we were both in a place where we had given up on dating, on finding the “one”. Heck, Tab wasn’t even supposed to be at school that semester. A cancelled class, much to her displeasure, put her on campus at the same time as me. God is funny.

Life hasn’t turned out the way either of us thought it would. I’m still working in an unhealthy work environment with zero room for advancement. We haven’t been able to have any more children beyond our only son. The Special.

I think we’ve been in a period of refocusing. Trying to figure out who we are as a family and who we want to be.

I’m not sure what the future holds. We could be leaving East Texas; we could be adopting children. I have no idea. But I do know that obedience to God, that stepping out and following Him, has always been hard but good.