Saturday, July 30, 2016

1,500th tweet.

So, after participating in something called #g5qs, where @GeneWillis asks (generally) 5 questions, and a bunch of tweeps answer most of them (I usually skip movie-related ones), I noticed I was at 1,499 tweets.  Thought I'd do something meta for 1,500.

Then I forgot about 1,500.

On Monday, July 18, Captain Dave Melton was shot and killed while responding to a call in Kansas City, Kansas.  The second cop-death in the Kansas City area in less than three months (the other one, Brad Lancaster, was also in KCK), and another one right after the ambushes in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

This one was different, because Captain Melton had served in the Kansas National Guard, including two year-long tours in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Captain Melton was going to be buried at Leavenworth National Cemetery.  (The same cemetery my grandparents are buried at.)  The procession was going to drive up from Childrens' Mercy Park (where Sporting KC plays soccer), up K-7 through Lansing, into Leavenworth, then a right turn on Muncie and to the cemetery.

Right past a home improvement retailer that pays me to wear an orange apron and find online orders.  Right in the middle of my shift.

@Romans_837 #1,500
"The procession for fallen KCKPD CPT Melton will go past my workplace while I'm at work tomorrow. @LVTimesNews (link to article)"

So...I was outside, helping a customer load their product into their vehicle when the first motorcycles drove by.  I called the store manager to let him know that the motorcade had started - but he was already out there.  The motorcade took somewhere between 25 and 30 minutes to pass.  I wasn't able to be outside for all of it, but...

Rest in peace, Captain Melton.

Change, measured by the five rings

My life is full of changes.  A friend once challenged me to think where I want to be in five years.  My supervisor wants me to think about where I want to go with my career.  (Let's start with learning a few more of the tools, getting full-time status, and being able to pick my hours)
But, using a regularly scheduled event as a metronome, let's look at how things have been in my life for the last five Summer Olympic Games.

The 2000 Olympics began in Sydney, Australia on 15 September 2000.  I lived with my parents and eight sibs (youngest wasn't born yet) on the west side of Leavenworth.  My mom had just started a sewing business with my girlfriend's mother, so I got opportunities to see my girlfriend and her daughter whenever my gf's mother (future m-i-l) would bring them down to sew.  I'd just started a temp job on Shawnee Mission Parkway, an assignment doing data entry that would last four months.  And I was borrowing my grandpa's gray Toyota truck.  "AIBUBAT"

The 2004 Olympics began in Athens, Greece on 13 August 2004.  I lived at the house I'd just bought in Severance a few months earlier.  My wife and our four children called that place home.  I was working down in Leavenworth as a computer programmer.  I'd hit a point where I wondered, "I'm 23, married w/4 kids, own a house, have a good job, what's left to conquer?"  We'd just bought a red Ford Windstar.

The 2008 Olympics began in Beijing, China on 8 August 2008.  Still lived in Severance with wife and four children.  Still worked down in Leavenworth as a computer programmer.  I was a day away from my fourth and final trip across the Pacific for the war games.  But by then, several challenges had hit me - my faith, finances, and relationship were all suffering badly.  This was the time I owned a old piece-of-junk gray Dodge Caravan (over 12 years old, held together by a shoelace and wire, pray to God it doesn't rain)

The 2012 Olympics began in London, United Kingdom on 27 July 2012.  Still lived in Severance with wife and four children.  Unemployed for over a year - it would be another six weeks before I landed the job as a call-center-from-home rep.  Ivy had a job working at the nearby nursing home.  By this point I'd hit a major low, with my faith, finances, relationship still troubled.  And other storms were on the horizon.  We had a blue Ford Aerostar (a really old one), but it was on the fritz so Ivy was borrowing her mom's car.

The 2016 Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 5 August 2016.  Living in the middle of Leavenworth with wife and four children.  I'm working part-time at a major retailer, my wife is working at the nearby grocery store.  (Between London and Rio, I've went from unemployed to call-center-from-home to retail to call-center back to retail.)  By the grace of God, I've survived some of the major storms of the last few years. Currently driving a gray Mercury Grand Marquis.
But, I've got no idea what's in the future.  Besides my children getting close to graduation, adulthood, etc...and, looking back, I've never had a clue what was coming up.
God be with me.

Monday, July 25, 2016

new chapters start with a trumpeter

MM#89 Covenant Children - Phil Driscoll [New]

In the fall of 1988, whenever my mom would play that song in the morning (on a cassette tape, on a tall stereo system behind a big glass door), that would mean that the homeschool school day had begun.  Sometimes I hoped the tape was on the wrong side.  But, when your homeschool is named "Covenant Children Foundation", you start your school day with that song from Phil Driscoll.
Lyrics [if I'm hearing it right as I crank it again and again on Spotify]

Bone of his bone
Flesh of his flesh
I'm a new creation with Jesus
All things are passed away
And I am brand new
I'm got a contract with Jesus
Covenant Children
Covenant Children
Covenant Children
In covenant with Jesus with the blessings of Abraham
Made me the head
not the tail
said i'd be above and never under
I'm blessed when I go out
I'm blessed when I come in
All of heaven's power I'm plugged into
He set me on a high place
Filled me with his love
Made me a joint heir with Jesus
Opened up the treasures
Of his heavenly realm
All I see around me here is blessing

1) Sounds a lot like some of the word of faith / prosperity gospel stuff.  (Question of emphasis, purpose of faith and emulating Abraham, etc.)
2) An invitation to hear this trumpet player at a different church in St. Joseph during my first semester at Missouri Western...changed the direction of my life.  Found a new church, a new understanding of God, a new depth of relationship with God, and eventually - the woman I would end up marrying.  (She heard the pastor first, I went to the church first, she joined the church and the choir first)

Monday, July 18, 2016

naked, screaming, and a lot shorter

MM#88 Lady - Kenny Rogers [New]

The Phillies had won their first World series a few weeks earlier.
President Carter had been soundly defeated by former governor Ronald Reagan.|
Kristen was discovered as the answer to the biggest cliffhanger in television history.
A Kenny Rogers song was topping the charts on the  4th Sunday in November.
John Lennon was still alive and making news.
And a pair of twins were born in Leavenworth, Kansas.
But since this is #mondaymelody, let's back up to the chart-topper.

Lady, I'm your knight in shining armor and I love you
You have made me what I am and I am yours
My love, there's so many ways I want to say I love you
Let me hold you in my arms forever more
You have gone and made me such a fool
I'm so lost in your love
And oh, we belong together
Won't you believe in my song
Lady, for so many years I thought I'd never find you
You have come into my life and made me whole
Forever let me wake to see you each and every morning
Let me hear you whisper softly in my ear
In my eyes I see no one else but you
There's no other love like our love
And yes, oh yes, I'll always want you near me
I've waited for you for so long
Lady, your love's the only love I need
And beside me is where I want you to be
'Cause, my love, there's somethin' I want you to know
You're the love of my life, you're my lady

Ah, typical sappy song.  Sort of thing that mostly fits the love between my wife and I (and a million other couples.)  But, it's special to me because of when it hit the top of the charts.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

No drought, no locusts, no plague.

So earlier this week I was followed on Twitter by a couple Twitter accounts, representing an event and it's leader, who are trying to rally an American week of repentance right before election day.

As I think I've previously stated on this blog, in general I will not speak ill against a preacher of God calling people, saint or sinner, to repentance, because that is what we are called to do. We are told by John the Baptist, St. Peter, Martin Luther, and Christ himself to repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.

But, I'm not alone in having a bit of disagreement with the use of Two Chronicles 7:14 as a rallying cry for a prayed for American revival.
One person who I know has also stated an objection to this is Dr. Russell Moore. His Twitter bio reads, "President, @ERLC; author of Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel; terrible representative of evangelical Christianity, due to nastiness".  And I respect and agree with his point of view. (2Chr714 only for original nation of Israel/Judah)  But I have a different point of view, and I have stated it before.
How do we know which calamities that have befallen our nation,
    if any event in the last hundred and fifty years can be considered a calamity,
would fit under the criteria of 2nd Chronicle 7:13,
in which God says
  if I have (paraphrasing smited your land) - more precisely, "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people"

As I have stated before, without the word of God to necessarily call a calamity the Judgment of God, we are merely guessing on whether God is smiting us or if we are smiting our selves, or if it is merely the curse of Adam cursing us.

And, another thing.  There are so many fractured movements trying to unify the church and call us to repentance, action, sorrow, etc.  There's only one person who could even get half the church to come together on a single day, and he's an Argentine octogenarian living in Italy.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Playlist of my life

MM#67 I Go Back - Kenny Chesney [Xanga 2011 May 02]
"We all have a song that somehow stamped our lives
Takes us to another place and time"
Excerpt from "I Go Back"

This is a massive tune-assisted look over my life.  Over the songs that sound like my life.  The songs I marked, and a few new ones.  By my preliminary count, 18 old #mondaymelody and 11 new ones. Artists like Kenny Rogers, Phil Wickham, and Carrie Underwood are getting their names added to Monday Melody.

So, next week, I'm going to turn the dial all the way back.  Back to the Carter Administration, to the first time the Royals raised the pennant, and Lennon was still with us.

But before I do, a quote from the day I blogged "I Go Back"

"It sucks.  So many of the funerals our family has went to...have been of people in their 20s and 30s.
Joe & Richa.  Jacob M.  Jennifer H.  Brian B.
I hate death."
Excerpt from blog, 02 May 2011.

I still hate death.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

What part of "thou shalt not kill" did you not understand?

  I wish I had the guts to ignore this week's events and blog something entirely irrelevant.  Like which sport I think has nowhere to go but fourth-down.  Or my struggles with how to trust an unpredictable God - Lewis's "not a tame lion".  Or whether I have anything unique to say about any subject.

  I was going to do a #FridayFlyover. March 3, 1991.  The corner of Foothill Boulevard and Osborne Street, Los Angeles, CA.  The original case of white cop, black suspect, police brutality, and a camera.  Rodney King.  But after Dallas, ...

  Not all deaths are created equal.  Some deaths are a national tragedy, mourned by many.  Others are a personal affair, a mostly empty funeral parlor with just the surviving family.  And some get the attention of the media.
  And, as I've noted before (see blog), the tail wags the dog.  Chance, circumstance, proximity to recording, and anticipated media value decide which deaths we hear about.  And, this week, seven deaths have wrenched our attention away from Clinton and Trump...
  I told my brother that I think that as a white man in the 2010s, I'm 10x as aware of a racism that is only half as virulent and hazardous as it was 50 or 100 years ago.
  But as we try to defeat the plague, we go from considering it a part of life, to an enemy to be fought and eradicated.  As we win the war, each battle seems more dear, more important to win.  The same theory works for smallpox and racism.

  Again, I don't know if it's because it is the national conversation...but...this might be the week that we lose hope in American civilization.

  Again, although I consider this potentially a important day in American history (call back in 10 years, because sometimes we can't tell whether a day will become historic or not - see June 28, 1914)...I don't see it as a sign of the end times.  This isn't the first time a nation has lost trust in its pillars.  And I still think the 20th century was much more full of what would be considered signs of the end times, using popular definition.

  And...unless you want to tell me how God has smitten our nation, unless you want to point to a true calamity in our nation in the last 150 years...I don't see how you can claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 if you can't find the qualifying event in 2 Chronicles 7:13.

  We are held hostage by 70 people per million.  By the violence and murders of a miniscule but deadly cancer.  16,000 murders in our country.  Another 1,000 killed by cops (whether justified - see Orlando shooter, or less-than-justified to what-in-the-hell-were-you-thinking).  Guns guns guns.
  Is there a solution that reduces the reaper's toll?  (One that actually reduces violence?)  And if you believe the answer is revival, how can we create a revival if we haven't been able to do it in the last ??? years.  And what would a revival look like?  And what cultural, political, and other changes would accompany revival?

  As usual, all I have are questions.  I don't have answers.  I have statistics, but they're poor consolation.
  I posted a tweet on June 11.  "The math geeks tell us that the crime rate has dropped by 40-50% nationwide in last 20-25 years...but yeah, @GeneWillis, we must get better."  This was after a singer was murdered in Orlando, one day before the Pulse shootings.
  Like I said before, I'm getting sick of it.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Monday Melody: Recap

#mondaymelody - (hashtag, used to reference the mostly-on-Monday song highlight-and-personal reflection articles mostly on my Xanga from October 2007 to January 2012, then intermittently on Saturdays With Steven)

I've posted four songs so far on SwS.  I'm highlighting three of them to open the #mondaymelody account.

MM#84 Born This Way - Lady Gaga
Perhaps the most pop of my MMs, I posted some words about my battle with depression.  It was a cover.  A lot of my blogs were cover, or obscure, or "in the style of Romans_837", leaving much unsaid.  And so was this one.
Someone I knew had "come out of the closet."  And I didn't see it coming.  It left me wrangling a few questions, about the whole "nature vs nurture" / "born or bred" issues, the questions in regards to my traditional Christian understanding of gender and sexuality, and such.
This was neither my first nor my last time talking to someone who was LGBT.  But this one led to my kids asking questions.  Questions that, in this decade, will be asked eventually.
And, because of the nature and proximity (or lack thereof), I figured that the person already was getting everything from both sides.
But, this is half of my reasons I "hate hate hate loathe despise" the phrase "God doesn't make mistakes."  (The other one involves Potter's Syndrome)

MM#85 Life Happened - Tammy Cochran
The song originally hit me for a single line in the final verse.  But...the whole "leaving college with dreams and goals, and then ending up nowhere near where you thought it would" concept of the song...hits me more these days.  I had a college professor who thought I was going to be the next Bill Gate$, and wanted a 10% cut of my future earnings.  I haven't written code for a paycheck in almost six years.
"I finally realized we turned out alright."
It's taken me a long time to let go of the regret for a bunch of things.  Some things I could've done differently/better.  Some  things were inevitable. happened.

MM#87 Even So Come - Kristian Stanfill
"I find great hope in our blessed hope.  The hope of the resurrection of the dead.  The hope of the return of Christ.  The hope of the Creator restoring all things.  The hope God has given to us about a future with Him."
This song gets a lot of play on the national Christian radio station I listen to.  (Currently, my preset stations are the national Christian radio station, the local Christian radio station, and the station that has Chiefs Football on it.)
And, as a Christian, the promise of the resurrection and the Second Coming help me persevere with perspective.  Life sucks, and it's a hell of a fight, but it's not the final chapter.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Rent out Texas, live in hell.

Last year, Sporting KC beat Houston on their way to winning US Open Cup 2015. Since the Cup is geographically divided, not a surprise that we got a rematch. But Houston pulled the 3-1 win earlier this week, advancing to the quarterfinals, the first playoff win for Houston over Kansas City (any sport) since both ALDS (KC Royals 3-2) and Wild Card weekend (Chiefs 30-0).

Politically... If it came down to SCOTUS, it would be easy. Governor Johnson would probably put Ron Paul on the bench...
But there's things on the LP platform that I disagree with.  Frankly, it's a crap and diamond smorgasbord, almost a "Satan sandwich", to borrow the quote from the congressman in the next state.  Long story short, might write in Bill Pratt for President.

Sometimes, I feel like I could write attack ads for both sides. Disconcerting feeling when I grab my No.2 pencil and fill out my ballot.

And even if I was running a campaign...I don't know the best ways to motivate the base and win undecideds. (Van Damm's 20%)

Title quote from General Sheridan, in regards to part of his jurisdiction after the Civil War: "If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell.