Twitter Geek

Twitter Geek

As far as social media platforms go, I love Twitter the most. Granted, I probably use Facebook more often, but the ability to customize feeds and easily interact with others via Twitter is what makes it, to me, the best platform out there.

I also love soccer. It was one of the first sports I learned, and it was an early bond my father and I shared. His passion for the game was passed down to me, and I as I started playing American football, he used the analogies and differences between the two sports to make me a better player.

I am glad to say the soccer bug was also picked up by my daughter. In 2015, we had the opportunity to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to cheer on the United States Women’s National Team as they competed in the FIFA World Cup. My daughter played recreation and competitive soccer for over a decade, and to see her watch her heroes on the pitch was an extraordinary sight.

Natalie at BC Place in Vancouver (2015).

Because of her, I am an avid fan of the USWNT. I’d much rather watch the women play than the men, in part because I believe the play is more pure, but also because of the emotional bond I have from watching my daughter play all those years.

A third reason I prefer to watch the women play is that I still recall their amazing run in the 1999 World Cup. Three months before my daughter was born, the US women defeated China via penalty kicks in the championship game of that tournament. The game was amazing. The atmosphere, as seen on TV, was electrifying. I can only imagine what it felt like in the Rose Bowl on that afternoon in July. I still get goosebumps watching the replays, and I became a fan, following the USWNT roster and results ever since.

So you can only imagine my excitement when two of my geek worlds collided. I made a playful remark to a tweet from Julie Foudy, a member of that 1999 World Cup team, as she was commenting on last night’s loss by the US Men’s hockey team in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Her tweet read:

Heartbreak for Team USA. @usahockey knocked out in Qtrfinal shoot out loss against the Czech Republic. I officially do not like Shoot Outs. There, I said it. #PyeongChang2018

I casually reminded Ms. Foudy of the shootout in 1999, and she promptly shared my tweet with a reply of her own.

I know it may seem silly, but it’s a complete geek-out moment for me. Julie Foudy had a stellar career as a member of the USWNT, is an ambassador of the game, and does exceptional work for ESPN. To be RT’d by her – a world champion – is way, way cool!

I’ve written before (Part I and Part II) about some of the things I’ll miss when my wife and I move later this Spring to the D.R. to pursue our mission work. Living in Florida, we’ve had several opportunities to see in person the USWNT compete. Perhaps I should publish a Part III discussing how much I will miss being in the stands, watching those talented women play, watching them represent our country on the pitch, and watching so many girls and young women dream big.

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Voice and Light

Voice and Light

I was watching the Golden Globes tonight (tuned in about an hour into the show) and noticed many of the men and some of the women had on their formal wear a pin saying, “Time’s Up.”

Upon looking into the meaning of the pins, I learned many of the celebrities arriving at the awards show wore black as a statement of solidarity with victims of sexual misconduct.

I can’t begin to understand what a victim of sexual misconduct feels with regards to dealing with a traumatic memory of unwanted advances and opportunities foregone as a result of saying no to a predator. Yet I can assume the current climate of greater openness and increased dialogue of the subject matter is one that is a welcomed by those who’ve lived so long in silence.

It takes a certain amount of courage to come out and stand up against a predator, especially one who has the weight and power of a Harvey Weinstein or other lofty executive. We fear to stand alone in our pain, being looked on and judged, wondering if the risk of speaking out will result in the reward of justice. To see so many artists come together in solidarity is heartwarming and much needed. These conversations that begin in Hollywood will hopefully traverse the walls of boardrooms, private offices, and even personal bedrooms across the country.

My pastor today preached about drawing courage by worshiping God. “Worship is being God-conscious and not self-conscious,” he said. When we’re right in our worship of and alignment with God, we can stand confidently in what we say and do. This means defending and advocating for those who are not in a position to help themselves.


Give justice to the poor and the orphan;
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.

Psalm 82:3


There is a lot of darkness in the world, and it is our job as believers – as followers of Christ – to shine a light into every corner of our planet. Silence equals darkness, and we should not be afraid to speak up for those who cannot. We should also be willing to stand next to those who use their voice against any form of oppression and victimization. We are the defenders of His truth and the carriers of His light. Let’s make sure His light shines on.

 


For more information about #TimesUp, visit timesupnow.com

Slowmentum

Slowmentum

“What did you get done today?”

“Well, um ….. ”

“Did you take all the stuff out of the attic?”

“Not exactly.”

“What about moving all of mother’s stuff into the garage?”

“Yeah, about that ….”

“I see the Christmas trees are still up.”

“How was your day, dear?”

“Did you basically spend the whole day lounging around?”

“Um …. yes.”

Such was the conversation with my wife upon her return home from work. What was supposed to be Day 1 of ‘Get Sh*t Done’ week turned out to be more of a womp-womp experience.

Perhaps it’s the cold weather (downright frigid by Florida standards), or that there are simply too many tasks to complete, or that my dog had a bad case of the snuggles and I just couldn’t break away. Whatever the reason, today does not receive a passing grade in terms of productivity.

As it turns out, I realized without having an organized plan of attack, literally having all day to do something leads to spending all day doing nothing. And there really is a LOT to do.

I think I will spend some time going over the existing To Do list, adding to it, and – most importantly – printing it out so it serves as a constant and visible reminder of what I need to work on next. As much of a fan as I am of all things digital, sometimes falling back on an analog technique is what’s best.

For Wednesday, the most important thing is simply to start.

Project Gratitude – A Jarring Experience

Project Gratitude – A Jarring Experience

As an avid Facebook user, I had stumbled across the idea of a gratitude jar many times. Usually, it was in the form of this image:

Gratitude Jar

I thought it would be something fun to do, but then my lazy kicked in and the idea of finding just the right jar and keeping little pieces of paper handy seemed to be waaaaay too much effort. (As an aside, I have a PhD in “Can’t be bothered.”)

Then I realized my blog would be the perfect substitute for the jar. I am always in front of my laptop (or phone, or other laptop, or tablet, or yet still other laptop), and I can keep my ‘jar’ up to date even when I travel or run out of ink or can’t be bothered to find more little pieces of paper. Besides, this method is also good for the environment.

So here we go. Project Gratitude. Three hundred and sixty-five days of Thanksgiving.

Today, I am grateful for no hangover. Lee and I were in bed not long after midnight. No crazy parties. No voracious drinking. We watched Ohio State get destroyed in the Fiesta Bowl (#bonus), then called it a night shortly after the New Year.

I am grateful for being a part of the social media team at my church.

Yep, I was responsible for this tweet. 

I am grateful that we were invited to the birthday party of our friend’s daughter Eisley. Although my days of being invited to little kids’ birthday parties are long since gone, it was great to be with our friends from church. We got to meet new people, two of which are hosting a growth group on wellness and nutrition, something Lee and I want to better focus on this year. Besides, how can you resist this precious girl who just loves dinosaurs?

Eisley

Why ‘Christians’ Need to Shut the Hell Up

In the midst of the Kim Davis saga, there has been a plethora of divisive commentary on both sides of the argument. Do a search in Twitter on the hashtag #KimDavis, and you’ll find yourself drowning in sea righteousness, rhetoric, and ridiculousness. I will admit I’ve been enthralled by the issue, and much to my own chagrin, fervently active, as well as a bit snarky, about it on Twitter.

#KimDavis meme

This post is not meant to add fuel to the divisive commentary, although I will admit the choice for the title was deliberately bold. I imagine some people will quit reading this post right about here (and go block me on social media), and that’s fine. But if you do continue to press forward, let me explain why I felt compelled to write this post.

I need to also state I don’t claim to have all the answers. As binary as people claim this issue to be, there really is a lot of nuance that is overlooked as the vitriol and mimes are hurled in this Internet brawl. I was deliberately avoiding blogging about this matter, mainly because I’ve been know to put my foot in my mouth and, at times, rock an already sinking ship. But what drove me to write was the commentary I found in the wake of turbulence.

I am a Christian. More specifically, I consider myself a Christ follower. To be even more granular, I believe Jesus Christ is God, came to earth in human form, sacrificed himself so that all of humanity could be redeemed from sin, and conquered death through His resurrection. I also believe we are all sinners, incapable of perfection, and that we’re each striving for betterment in our lives.

As a Christian, I believe I am called to reach out to those who are not believers. I am called to reach out to those who are away from God, to be a light for those in darkness. I like to think I do that through my words and through my actions. As I’ve written before, we are called to evangelize God’s word. The actual soul saving part, however, is done by God.

And there’s the rub that’s at the heart of the Kim Davis controversy. I am sure Mrs. Davis feels she’s evangelizing. There’s no doubt in my mind she feels in her heart her convictions are true. To a certain extent, I commend her for standing up for those convictions. Where I disagree with her, however, is in what I feel is the imposition of those beliefs on others.

I don’t want this post to go down the tangential conversation of First Amendment rights, separation of church and state, and what contempt of court means. Instead, what drove me to write this post is what I perceive as the non-Christian approach many of the vocal supporters of Kim Davis are using to further their argument. With defiant hands in the air and signs lathered in fire and brimstone, the message I see them convey is, “Obey our God …. or else!” It’s a message not of compassion but of condemnation. It is not a message inviting others to share in the celebration of God’s love, but rather one cloaked in spite and bathed in fear mongering. It’s a message that makes me wonder if they’re talking about the same Jesus I love and worship and praise.

Perhaps this is simply a matter of style. I am not an ‘in your face’ kind of person. I don’t have the ‘come at me bro’ bravado the seems to work well for others. I subscribe to the school of thought my friend Rick employs in his approach to ministry, one that calls for us to be gentle witnesses to God’s amazing grace.

Rex

 

But what I find sad are the casualties this conversation – if you want to call the circus that is the Kim Davis issue a conversation – is producing. At the end of the day, are we, as Christians, presenting God as a loving and forgiving God? Are our words and actions working to bring others closer to Him? As Christians, regardless of what side of the argument we may find ourselves, is what we’re doing glorifying His name? The following tweets seem to indicate that for some, at least, the answer to those questions is no. And that’s the really heart-breaking part of all of this.

“We were not created to settle for mere religion. Jesus did not die so that we could have a religious belief system, but rather a life-giving relationship with our Father.” – Christine Caine

Skate, Bitch!

Coincidence is just God showing off.

And it was by coincidence about a month ago my wife stumbled across an announcement the venerable and talented Kevin Smith would be conducting one of his famous Q&A sessions at Tampa’s Improv comedy club. In the early stages of our relationship in 2005, Lee and I bonded, in part, because of our mutual love of Kevin Smith and the movies he makes.

“There is no way we’re missing this,” she told me.

“Umm …. I may be in New York on August 12 playing telephone repair man,” I reminded her.

“There’s no way I’m missing this,” she said with a confident, unapologetic smile.

And so this evening my wife and I had our second ‘go out on a school night’ date of the week, and it was amazing.

Kevin Smith is a fantastic story teller. If you let him, he could tell stories for days on end. Tonight’s performance was, by definition, a question and answer forum with the acclaimed writer and director. One would think Smith would cover a wide array of topics and subject matter. He did, but in the two hours allocated, he answered only four questions. That’s how detailed and immersed Kevin gets into telling a story about how or why he did something a certain way.

Kevin Smith
Image via ew.com

And through it all – through the foul language and inappropriate subject matter, through the stories of friends maintaining sobriety and fighting off thoughts of suicide, through eye-opening accounts that show the human and real side of celebrities often thought to be divas – the common theme was inspiration.

It was a slap in the face to me, but one I desperately needed.

In my new-found faith journey, one I’ve been traveling for just over six years now, I’ve immersed myself in the writings and teachings of so many men and women of faith. Steven Furtick, Christine Caine, Joel Olsteen, John Eldridge, Joyce Meyer, Craig Groeschel, and, of course, my own pastor Paul Wirth: I’ve learned so much about God and my faith and my relationship with Jesus all because of their words, teachings, and actions.

I am currently reading Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and it’s not hyperbole when I say the book is transforming my life. Not only am I learning about the power of prayer, I am experiencing it as well. I remember listening to the audio book four weeks ago – yes, I am a slow reader/listener and I don’t do a good job making time to finish the book – and being inspired to pick up a writing project I shelved a year ago. It’s an intimidating project I’ve been avoiding, and I always manage to find a reason to not start it up again. Yet there I was in my car, crying, and feeling Batterson’s words speak to me.

I still haven’t touched the project.

God has enveloped me in kid-glove-like affection and direction by surrounding me with such inspiring and positive works, yet I still find myself in the rut of my own making. I still find myself playing it safe in my comfort zone and ignoring what He’s calling me to do.

And that is why I think God took a different approach with me tonight, one filled with F-bombs and stories of smoking weed on hotel room balconies. There’s no doubt in my mind God put me in the audience of Kevin Smith’s show so I could finally do my part and get back to the keyboard. It worked. Today is August 12 and I hadn’t posted to my blog since July 2.

The writing hiatus stops now.

God does His part to give us joy, accomplishment, and greatness. He delivers every day in a million different ways, yet we fail to listen. We fail to move. We fail to act. We fail to respond. As is the recurring theme in scripture, we fail God while He remains faithful to us.

The failing stops now.

During the Kevin Smith show, we were not allowed to have our phones out at all. This is very understandable, but hinders my affection for tweeting great quotes or ideas as they are said. Thankfully, I was able to capture some of them the old-fashioned, analog way: pen and napkin. Here are some of the tweet-worthy comments from tonight’s show.

<when pursuing a dream> “Push a little fucking whimsy.”

“If you want to get shit done, surround yourself with people who will ask, ‘Why not?'”

“Acting is the lie that tells the truth. It’s the only witchcraft that really exists.”

I think my favorite Kevin Smith quote of the night comes from the idea that we live in a world where people will question your motivation and tell you you can’t do a particular something. They’ll tell you, as an example, you can’t skate or that you’ve never skated before or that skating is for other people and not you. They’ll tell you the ice is thin and give you reason after reason of why you can’t or shouldn’t skate. Yet what we need ….. what we crave …. is someone to look us in the eyes and say, “Skate, bitch!”

In His own crafty way, that’s what God told me tonight. I’ve been watching other people on the ice for so long. Now it’s my turn to lace ’em up, get out there, and skate.

Image via WikiPedia
Image via WikiPedia

A New Open Letter to LeBron James

I am very excited to have been invited to contribute to The Florida Post, a new writing endeavor launched by my friend, the ever-so-talented Jonathan C. Mitchell. Since the site is, “dedicated to all of the major Sports Teams, Culture, Entertainment, and anything in relation to the great Sunshine State,” I figured I’d make my first post a topic about which no one seems to be talking. <yeah, right>

Here is my open letter to LeBron James.

 

 

Also, be sure to follow The Florida Post on Twitter.