Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Love and Fear my Shop Vac

My shop vac is amazing. I've had it for like 20 years and it still works like a champ.  It picks up lots and lots of things that I simply don't want to pick up!

I also use it to imprison spiders.   Our garage seems to be a haven for them. I don't know why, but what I do know is that rather than getting on a ladder to smush one, or spraying some toxic chemical to kill one, I'd much rather just use the Shop Vac.

Cindy, yes, I know.  Spiders should be free to live their own lives, they kill other bugs, etc.  But i'm sorry.  Some spiders need to die.

But here's the thing.  I guess all this time, I've had it in my head that it works something like this:

That is, I can use it to trap scary things.  Like spiders.

The problem is, even in Ghostbusters, they've got to open the trap to put the scary things somewhere.


I haven't emptied the shop vac in years.  I guess I'm afraid that inside is one alpha zombie spider that lives on the flesh of the spiders that I suck up, and that he's just waiting in there for me to open it.

Have I told you that my mom took me to see Giant Spider Invasion when I was 7?

Cindy, I think my fear of my Shop Vac is Karma.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New PC

Prior to the big ch-ch-changes last week, I'd bought parts for a new PC.  We've been a couple of PCs down at home (due to conversion of one to a Solaris file server, and Robin's laptop being flaky) and I wasn't able to get PC time.

It's been running for a week or so now, and so far, it's been fantastic.  Here are the specs:

Intel I7-2600k Overclocked to 4Ghz
Corsair H70 Water Cooling
16GB GSkill DDR3-1600
Radeon 6870
Corsair White 600T Case
Corsair 650W PSU
Hitachi 3TB Data drive
Corsair 60GB SSD
Old 750GB drive I had laying around as the system drive.
Gigabyte Z68 Motherboard (forget the model)

Now that the arctic silver thermal paste has, ehem, burned in, I'm getting idle CPU temps (overclocked) at 28 degrees C.   Fully Loaded (PRIME95), they don't get above 50 degrees C.

Since I have the Z68 chipset, I configured the SSD as a Intel Ready Response disk cache for the 750GB system drive.  Now that the cache has warmed up, boot times are super fast, as are app load times.

I'm super happy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Storms and ch-ch-changes

Our pastor Matt did a sermon out of Mark on Sunday and part of it was about Storms.  

"A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, 
so that it was nearly swamped.
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. 
The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves,
Quiet! Be still!"
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples,
"Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?
They were terrified and asked each other, 
“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:35-41

Over the past few days, our family has found ourselves in a storm.  Not your usual squall, but a true storm.  

"The clouds prepare for battle in the dark unmoving silence 
Bruised and sullen storm clouds have the light of day obscured 
Looming low and ominous in twilight premature 
Thunderheads are rumbling in a distant overture" - "Jacob's Ladder" - Rush

It's been tough on everyone, but I find myself reasonably calm in the midst of the storm. Not that I haven't had my moments where I doubted, or was horribly depressed, but I know that it's in these storms that our faith is tempered and made stronger. Sometimes it seems small comfort, but for the most part, I'm doing OK. 

"I come into this place
Burning to receive your peace
I come with my own chains
From wars I've fought for my own selfish gain
You're my God and my Father
I've accepted your Son
But my soul feels so empty now
What have I become?

Lord, come with your fire,
Burn my desires; refine me
Lord, my will has deceived me
Please come and free me
Refine me" 

- "Refine Me" - Jennifer Knapp

I love the part of the Mark passage where Jesus is sleeping in the midst of the storm.  It's not that Jesus is unaware, but what's important is that He's both unconcerned about it, and that and He's with us in that storm.  He's in the boat with us, and His presence provides comfort.

A couple of days ago, I posted about God saying "No" and how he always has something better planned.  Well, it seems God hand is moving in my life.  My prayers are being answered.  Not in the way I expect, or even want, but His hand driving the boat, and I'm confident of the destination.

"All at once the clouds are parted 
Light streams down in bright unbroken beams 
Follow men's eyes as they look to the skies 
The shifting shafts of shining weave the fabric of their dreams" - Jacob's Ladder, Rush.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When God says No

I tend to pray. A Lot.  I pray every night with Beth before she goes to bed. I try to pray while I'm lying in bed, before I go to sleep. And all day long, I'm offering "breath" prayers, about things both mundane and glorious.  For example, today, we had a sun break, so I thanked God for seeing the blue sky again. 

"This is the day which the Lord has made; 
we will be full of joy and delight in it." - Psalm 118:24

Lately, I've been praying for something big.  I try to stay away from "I want" prayers, but they always creep in, and this is one of them.  I believe that it's aligned with God's will, and will give me a chance to sow his seeds more widely.  Having said that, I'm pretty self aware, and part of this prayer is selfish and in answer to some of my own pain.  And for this particular prayer, it sure seems like God is saying "No".  

Over the years, I've had lots of misguided "big" prayers, and when I heard God saying "No", I railed against Him.  Much like Jacob, I wrestled with God, but the funny thing is, I never really lost the battle.  However, I was always humbled, and His will was ALWAYS done...

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 
When the man saw that he could not overpower him, 
he touched the socket of Jacob's hip 
so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 
Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." 
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 
The man asked him, "What is your name?" 
"Jacob," he answered. 
Then the man said, 
"Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with
 God and with men and have overcome." 
Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." 
But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" 
Then he blessed him there. 
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, 
and yet my life was spared." The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. (Genesis 32:24-31) 

Like Jacob, I'd wrestle with God, often not realizing who it was that I wrestled with, but I have always come out of if blessed, but rarely in the way I expected.  

I've come to realize that I thought I heard God saying "No", when what he was really saying was "Patience, son, I have something better."  Every one of these misguided prayers was answered, and every one was better in the light of God's will, both for me, and for everyone involved.

One by one He took them from me,
All the things I valued most,
Until I was empty-handed;
Every glistening toy was lost.

And I walked earth’s highway, grieving,
In my rags and poverty.
Till I heard His voice inviting,
“Lift those empty hands to Me!”

So I held my hands toward Heaven,
And He filled them with a store
Of His transcendent riches
Till they could contain no more.

And at last I comprehended
With my stupid mind and dull,
That God COULD not pour His riches
Into hands already full.

Martha Snell Nicholson, “Treasures,” Ivory Palaces 
(Wilmington, Calif: Martha Snell Nicholson, 1946), 67

It's hard to remember, in the midst of pain, that God always has a better plan for us.  I've never been good with patience, but I must find a way to cheerfully endure until His plan is revealed and unfolds.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

God is bigger

I've come to the realization that I often try make God smaller   I try to fold him, I try to squeeze Him down to a manageable size, and I try to limit Him, if only so I can try to better comprehend Him and His purpose.  Needless to say, I fail miserably. 

"God is bigger than the boogie man.
He's bigger than Godzilla and the monsters on TV.
Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man,
And he's watching out for you and me." - Veggie Tales

Pastor Matt, at Duvall Church, has been doing a series on Mark for the past few weeks, and did a sermon on how biblical movements often turn into religious movements.   It got me thinking about the role of religion in our faith, and how it can often get in the way of our relationship with Jesus and God. 

When I was much younger, I used to attend Mass with my step-grandmother, Luz. I was in awe of the amazingly beautiful church, and all of the solemn ritual.  I really, really wanted to take communion, not because I understood it's significance, but because I wanted to belong, to participate. I look back and realize that I didn't correlate going to Mass with worshiping God. 

I've been to other churches over the years, where the success of the church often felt like the goal.   I've watched 'cult-of-personality' preachers on TV shame people into giving, promising Grace. And over and over, I've seen churches split, over what seems the smallest points of doctrine. We seem to often miss the point of the church.  That WE are the church and that we give our lives to the worship of God.

I've certainly been guilty of caring more about trivial points of doctrine than Jesus.  Having come from a restoration movement church (Church of Christ), we moved up here to Washington, and when looking for a church, we automatically looked at CoC churches first.  We loved the theology, the lack of a 'band' accompaniment, and the familiar music.  However, none of the churches, CoC or otherwise, seemed to live up to our expectations.  We went to a few churches that we dismissed seemingly only because they had a band and didn't sing the same songs.  Trite, I know.  But we were only seeing the surface, and never looked deeper into the body of believers that made up the church.

My family and I went and saw Gungor in concert a couple of days ago.  They played a song that they sing in their church:  God is not a white man. It managed, in the space of 3 minutes, to remind  me that I often try to change God into what I want Him to be.

"They tried to keep you in a tent
They could not keep you in a temple
or any of their idols
to see and understand

We cannot keep you in a church
We cannot keep you in a Bible
it's just another idol 
to box you in

They could not keep you in their walls
We cannot keep you in ours either
for You are so much greater

Who is like the Lord?
The maker of the heavens
Who dwells with the poor
He lifts them from the ashes
and seats them among princes
Who is like the Lord? " Cannot Keep You - Gung

How do we manage, time and again, to make the church bigger than God? To make the ritual more important than worship? To make religion the goal? To try to change the unchangeable? To somehow limit Him, and ultimately, to desire to have him serve us by changing to suit US?

All of this has led to a lot of praying and thinking on my part. I've come to realize that very often, I put my desires over His.  That I often worship my career and 'status'.  That often my goals are more important than His glory.

Over the last few weeks, I think that rather than me trying to make God smaller, with the help of Pastor Matt, the Bible, a Gungor concert, and lots of thinking and praying, I've become smaller.  And I think that's how it should be.