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.

On the road with Final Fantasy XV

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Monsters exist. They eat children at night. When monsters are famished, they eat adults too. The guys of Final Fantasy XV know this. Which leads them to suggest resting when the sun goes down. Nighttime is scary.

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But when you are with friends, nighttime is fun! Adventures in the wilderness lead to camping out versus hotel stays. Camping equals amazing meals cooked by master chef and best bro, Ignis. In your many many travels, Ignis collects recipes to cook later on. Food equals stat boots as well as other fun mathematical thingamajigs. Trust me, food is awesome.

One of my favorite things about FFXV is something rather simple, photography. Party member and best bruh Prompto takes pictures as you cruise the countryside. At the end of each day, when you camp for the night, the game gives you a chance to check out Prompto’s pictures. You can even save the ones you like. The guys will also comment on the photos they like as you flip through them. Check it out:

Final Fantasy XV is such a weird game, but I love it. Simple features such as cooking and photography add a wonderful layer of personality. I don’t want this roadtrip to end.

(Note: The video featured above was captured in a hurry. Reason why there aren’t any huge level ups or even that many photos taken. A full day played in-game can yield some pretty fantastic photography.)

Let us share your joy

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I am not exactly sure how to write this. But I’m living at that point where friends and family don’t want to tell my wife and I that they are pregnant. Somehow afraid that our feelings will be hurt after years of dealing with infertility.

More than any birth announcement, I am hurt more by silence. Robbed of that shared joy that comes from living in community with others.

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I want to encourage those around my family to share their news. Allow us to come alongside them. Please don’t be silent. Let us share in your excitement.

When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other. – Ecclesiastes 7:14a (NIV)

Feel Stuck Volunteering In The Church? Stop.

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Sunday mornings you get dressed, eat breakfast, and then head out the door to church. Upon arriving, you check your children into their designated areas. Ah, free childcare!

Navigating halls filled with the smell of fresh brewed coffee, you make your way to your small group. Greet friends. Swap stories. Enjoy a quick Bible lesson before heading off to the main service.

Everyone wants to be served and no one wants to serve. This model of the Body of Christ is broken. Prone to burning out volunteers who become stuck in their volunteer roles, for years. No escape. No growth. All due to someone else not heeding the call, that slight Spirit tug, to be the hands and feet of Christ to the church.

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Dejected and depressed, these burned-out volunteers fuel our churches. Under the impression that if they do not serve, no one else will. This is a lie.

God calls every Christian to serve in various areas for a season. Seasons change, just look outside the window. The Bible talks about there being an occasion for everything (read Ecclesiastes 3).

I want to challenge those that feel stuck volunteering in the church to stop. Take a step back. Examine where you are on your faith journey, where God is calling you. The Body of Christ cannot function in selfishness. Give another brother or sister in Christ a chance to serve His people. Allow God to help them grow through service; Allow God to help you grow in freedom.

Loyalty

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“What I value most in my friends is loyalty.” – David Mamet

Back in the early MMO days, I was active in a game called Asheron’s Call (AC). What made Asheron’s Call different was a simple ingredient that seasoned in-game relationships:

The Allegiance System – introduces the unique concept of vassals and patrons. In this system, a vassal swears allegiance to a patron. The patron then acts as a protector, item giver, and basically a guild leader. The reward for being a patron equals a daily award of experience points based upon a small percentage of experience that the vassal makes while playing. The allegiance system ultimately encourages the formation of miniature kingdoms, much like guilds found in today’s more modern MMO. – Asheron’s Call Celebrates 10 Years (via JBG)

Time, trust, and loyalty were the bonds that held the allegiance system together. A symbiotic scratching of backs, defense, and survival.

Pay Day

As I drove into work this morning, my mind was racing faster than my Honda Accord. I kept asking myself:

– Am I going to be let go this morning? –

– They wouldn’t fire me, would they? –

– If they don’t fire me today, will it happen in two weeks? –

Working for a firm that is on the verge of collapse is stressful. Seeing no hope on the horizon, in the form of incoming work, is enough to make anyone concerned.

In my situation, my patron is still putting in the time to try and salvage the operation. However, trust and loyalty were dissolved the moment a co-worker was let go. Who will be next? I’m not sure. No one wins this game of office Survivor.

Despite my earthly patron’s status, I know that my God is in control. As I was reminded yesterday in church, everything boils down to reminding myself of God’s promises AND believing that they are true. In fact, I’m even thinking of writing them down and randomly sticking them around the house. God promises me that I will overcome, if not in this life then the next.

Until next time: Who are you trusting to be your patron?

Thoughts on Father Fiction: Part 1

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For my 30th birthday, I was given a gift card to Barnes & Noble from my in-laws. They know that I like reading with my Nook and knew that I would be quite happy with some new reading material. One of the first purchases I made with my birthday loot was Donald Miller’s Father Fiction. In the past, I had read Miller’s Blue Like Jazz and was greatly influenced by his real thoughts about living the Christian life. So, I saw Father Fiction and decided to jump in.

In the course of my reading, today I came upon the chapter on friendship. Spanning no more than a couple of pages in length, the chapter on friendship contained a simple line that stirred something up within me. Miller writes:

We become like the people we hang out with.

Immediately, my brain went into overdrive. I found myself questioning:

  • How are my current friendships influencing me?
  • Do I surround myself with friends who lift me up or tear me down?
  • Are there any friends that are dragging me down/ keeping me from realizing my God-given potential?

I mean, there is nothing wrong with any of the friends I have. None of them are drug dealers or are engaged in questionable moral dealings that would one day lead me to prison. No, the guys I have allowed to speak into my life are solid. Many of them I have known all throughout my formative years. In a way, I am lucky to have guys like this in my life; guys who have seen me at my best and most certainly at my worst. In fact, I have always prided myself on having a “Personal Board of Directors”.

Miller continued the chapter by talking about his intentional recruitment of a group of guys to help him do life with.

A few years ago, I handpicked some guys I wanted to be friends with. I already had some good friends, but knowing you become like the people you hang around, I decided I wanted to take more responsibility for who I was becoming. I looked around and identified about four guys who didn’t know each other very well, but each of whom I wanted to be like in some way. They owned their own businesses, they were faithful to their wives, they were intelligent. I asked each of them if they would get together for breakfast on Tuesday mornings in Portland. To my surprise, each of them said yes. And so we met.

As time and life have marched forward, I have found myself separated by literally over a thousand miles from my some of my board of directors. The guys I grew up with are far away from the small part of Texas I call home. Even though we have the Internet, this has made the “doing life” part of our friendships tough.

In college, I picked up another set of friends to do life with. Guys who enjoyed deep conversations about life and were honest in giving their opinion. Upon graduation, we each went our separate ways. We do, however, still talk on the phone every few months and pick up quite easily. I love friendships like this. My friend Jon (I have many!) told me that this particular group of friends are like lone wolves. Every once in awhile we check back in with the pack but are otherwise trailblazing forward into the greater wilds. I love that rugged mental picture.

I guess where I am going with all of this is that Miller’s chapter on friendship has made me realize that I don’t have a group of guys, locally, to meet up with. If I have learned anything in life it is that finding people that you can be yourself around is hard. Good friends are hard to come by. This is why I treasure my friendships with those that have traveled along the heat-soaked roads of life with me.