022. The Art of Patients (spelled intentionally)

There’s this tattoo I want to get…

It’s a line from a song that practically brings me to tears every time I hear it. A Switchfoot song that puts me back into an appropriate perspective when I get [easily] distracted by life and my ever present cynicism. The song is about belonging to another place and remembering that identity and that one day we will finally be in the world where we belong. That line that repeats several times accompanied by this decree the author says fervently:

“‘til I die, I sing these songs on the shores of Babylon…”

It reminds me of this passage in Daniel that I’ve heard about a billion times. Three men are about to be thrown into a very hot fire for refusing to not worship God. Their response is as resounding as Jon Foreman’s from above: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

‭‭Daniel‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭‬‬‬‬

This year has sucked a lot for my family; mostly in the last two months or so, but I know that God is still good. I don’t know why He is, but I know that He is.

I find myself back in the hospital again this evening (Kaiser wants me to celebrate all of my holidays with them apparently). I was diagnosed about a month or so ago with Crohn’s Disease, a wonderful auto-immune disorder that can affect the entire GI tract. For me, it’s the end of my small intestine that’s utter inflamed and causing me (and also my patient and caring wife) lots of pain. This absolutely isn’t where I want to spend my son’s first birthday or thanksgiving, and the God I serve is conclusively able to deliver me from this, but even if He does not; I’ll still be singing these songs on the shores of Babylon.

I’m fine, but these little sleepovers are very, very difficult on my sweet bride. Keep in mind that she won’t ever asked anyone for anything, but despite her incredible strength, she needs more…and maybe other things too, but I can’t guess what those things are. Prayer? That would help her…a text message encouraging her? Remind her how stubborn I am and that I can definitely bounce back from this and that there’s nothing to worry about? Any of these will work.

In the meantime, I wait…Need to see what’s going on, listen to my doctors do some kick ass forensic medicine, and attempt to ignore food commercials until these fools let me eat something. And I’ll finish designing this tattoo to remind myself (in between listening to this song) that the God I serve is good even if I’m not delivered the way I think is best, but that “delivered” is still His plan.


021. The Art of Healing

I think we often take for granted how God answers our prayers. We discount the time in which they happen; that they aren’t answered in an obvious manner, where it’s clear the supernatural will of God has been had. Justice has been served. That struggle is over. Healing has come.

I’ve said before that my dad’s passing a few weeks ago was an answer to prayer. Time has only convinced me more that this is the truth. I was driving frantically down the 91 to my parents’ house minutes after I got off the phone with the nurse who informed me that he was gone. With tears streaming down my face, I thanked God for healing my dad. He had answered our prayers in the truest way possible. My dad had fought the fight, grew in love of HIS God, loved and cared for my mom, my sister, and I; held onto what was left of his life for well over a decade because, I’m convinced, he wanted to see all the legacy (all the grandkids) be born and turn into little people who would carry his name.

He held on an enormous amount of time. He lost two sisters, a brother-in-law, a nephew, his parents, and numerous friends while he was hanging on. Pressing into his situation, not rejecting God, but in fact praising Him in it, and saying “He died for me, so I can do this for Him.” What kind of strength is that…knowing that you haven’t had your earthly body healed in the miraculous nature God can heal in?!?

My dad’s disease and last twenty years of life is just as much about my mom as it was about him. Sure, she said vows of dedication that we all do, “through sickness and health” but, much like there is a difference between a wedding and a marriage, there is a huge difference in caring for your other half while they’re sick and watching a disease suck the life out of your spouse slowly, and methodically, until they’re barely hanging on. My mom’s faith, too, has been strong. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t doubts or that there won’t be any anger or fear; we are only human. We are made in the image of our God, and I’m certain He understands and knows those emotions even better than we do. My mom’s day-in and day-out has been an example to anyone who loves: this is how you practically love and sacrifice from your soul. It’s the very definition of dedication, and she did so without resentment. She, too, can enter into rest knowing she fulfilled her calling.

They say that you can tell a lot about a man by looking at his children. I’m certainly not perfect, but neither was my dad; no one is. The best I can do is attempt to honor him by being the man he raised me to be, watching his example: in how he loved my mom, I can love my wife like that…and better. In the way he would talk to us, matter-of-factly, about Jesus, I can speak to Lincoln and Reid with the same confidence. The way my dad pushed forward thanking God, I can sing those same praises in the midst of my anger, sorrow, and sickness. My dad was a man after God’s own heart, I can yearn to be the same.

My sons will grow in this legacy, honoring their Papa by carrying that banner of God’s love for His people, they will love their wives like my dad loved my mom, they will care for their kids and set an example that’s even better than his or mine. And it will come natural to them because of the example my dad set for me and for everyone that he met. He inspired people to be thankful for what they had; whether it was health or disease, happiness or sorrow, laughter or tears…

I believe we all are called to honor my dad’s legacy by loving God the way he did; by loving our spouses well; through pain, through doubt, through unsurety. By unconditionally loving our children and training them up to make Jesus as beautiful as He is. In the midst of prayers answered with “wait.” In deterioration. In fatigue. And at the end, in that final breath, when we’re called home and the prayer is answered, it will be announced with a “well, WELL done, MY good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Master.”

This is the legacy of my father, the man of God: to love well; not in spite of adversity, but because of it. It is the heart of God and my dad was a man after God’s own heart.


019. The Art of the One-Liner

My wife and I have an agreement with each other about and surrounding our wedding. She won the day with the vows she wrote me and I won the other day with the engagement. Her vows highlighted and weaved a list of one-liners throughout that were songs from mixtapes (mix-CD’s always sounds wrong to me, but they were CD’s) that I had made her over the course of our dating relationship and engagement. It was beautiful and still moves me reading it even now; showing me how much she loves me by repeating words to me that used to describe how I felt (feel) about her.

The best example of how random some of these songs are is by MxPx, a 90’s punk rock band from Bremerton, Washington that I loved while growing up with a song called “Do your feet hurt?” It’s a song that contains one of the best classic pick-up lines I’ve ever heard: “do your feet hurt…because you’ve been running through my mind all day.”

Hokey and cheesy; yes. Right up my alley; yes as well.

The remainder of the songs run the gambit ranging from country to jazz to, well, punk rock. It’s really a great collection and we made a “summarized” version as a wedding favor for our guests. Frankly, whenever a song from one of the mixtapes I made her comes on, it instantaneously rips me back to the days when I gave it to her, anxiously anticipating what songs would stand out to her and what she would ask me about. It was a fun prompt to allow me to explain my growing love to her and the way music breathes inspiration into my life.

I haven’t continued the practice post our wedding because I made her a special version of the disc that we gave our guests…I sang a song to her that reflected the more practical commitments I felt I was making at our wedding:

That I would be a shoulder for her to cry on…

I would sacrifice myself for her…

I’ll continue to better myself for her…

I’ll always be her biggest fan.

I’m not certain she’s ever put that much thought into the lyrics of that chorus as we’ve never talked about it in detail, but the music is hung on our wall as a backdrop for some photos of our wedding and engagement that remind me every day when I grab my wallet and phones that I’ll be everything for her. It’s normally viewed (and I certainly saw it this way too initially when it came out) as a cute, little expression of pop music romance. Something arbitrarily attributed to the girl or boy you’re dating in high school…it took on a personified meaning when I met my wife. It gave the words meaning. She gives the words meaning…and I don’t just mean the lyrics. The words of the music; the notation…she gives that life. The least I can do is make meager collections of it for her to listen to what she does to me.

In fact, it reminds me of a song with no lyrics that she ended up walking down the aisle to that, when I first heard it long before meeting her, I knew that one day, my wife would walk towards me and I’d hear those hesitant single piano notes as she rounded the corner and I saw my entire future become my reality. The dream become tangible. My insufficiencies become irrelevant. My hopes fulfilled. My loneliness shattered. This is the soundtrack that played as my life changed forever and the world was never to be the same. Love expressed in music.

“Mixed tapes are the love notes to the soul, right?”


Here is the whole album…minus me singing. No one needs that in their life except Kimberly.

018. The Art of Organization

Everyone has one. That one location in your house that collects all the crap that you don’t know where it goes, but you need somewhat immediate access to it and therefore this place is where it goes…the junk drawer.
Now, I have a huge problem with this moniker simply because it’s like admitting you have a need to store “junk” in your house as a means of permanent life. I feel strongly about words, so it’s no surprise to my wife that I’m fine if it’s referred to as the “catch all” or the “drawer under the toaster,” but not “junk” drawer. It’s really like you’ve given yourself approval for retaining dumb, tchotchkes organized near where you eat! Appalling!
What goes in these drawers both seem to be common and uncommon depending on who you ask. I’m not sure about your house, but in ours it’s where the scissors go, the spare keys to the cars, birthday cake candles, “aim-n-flames,” a spare USB-to-Lightning cable, etc. Why do we feel these things don’t have another home? Some of them make enough sense to be in the kitchen until you get to the car keys and spare phone chargers, but really where else would we keep these? In one of our dresser drawers? The office? It’s sort of (as previously alluded) a “catch all” for all of life’s random things that you do, legitimately need.
Perhaps it’s just me that this bothers on a fundamental level, but my over organized being can’t handle the admission of a mess in any fashion, not the least of which one where we prepare food. It hits me at my core enough that I planned to write this blog about the little idea around two years ago. Apparently, I have issues…
What do you keep in your “catch all?” Where is it in your house? Is it your car? The dark side of my psyche needs to know this happens to other people…

017. The Art of the Unfathomable Boundaries

In my past before this love I know now, I feebly tried to project this deep, knowing love onto whomever I was with at the time. It was better received at certain times than others, but it resulted in a lot of blurry, low resolution versions of the love I experience now, however the description is the same.

We try so hard in our lives to describe our love to each other and, after a while, words just can’t do it justice and you must communicate using terms and definitions you both can agree on. It can be difficult to say these three, small words and still have them mean something more when you really mean something more. I had said these words before, but never had been able to articulate what I meant when I really meant more. There are many ways to try: “I love you to the moon,” “to the moon and back,” “to the stars…” etc. etc. etc. It made me begin thinking of ways to describe love as an unfathomable distance-amount. What’s at the end of the universe? More universe? We often like to put boundaries around things we don’t fully understand and from a young age I always thought there was possibly a brick wall around the edge of our galaxy. And even still, past that brick wall could be another brick wall to contain all the galaxies.

But, that leads to a question: what’s past the brick wall? I don’t know and I don’t think we’re meant to know. In the case of how I tell my wife and sons how much I love them: there’s only more love past the brick wall. We often just simply say “past the brick wall” when we’re referring to the entire statement, but the sentiment is the same; enormous amounts of love.

Our oldest son has started saying the phrase back to us and there’s something about hearing it in a genuine, little man voice that adds validity to the simplicity of the concept: further out than the known universe, “my love for you goes on forever and ever;” “I love you past the brick wall.”


016. The Art of Mixing

I’m not exactly an unconfident person, but also not overly proud except when it comes to some technical abilities I possess; that in particular of mixing a live band or theatrical show. I feel very at home behind a console, any console really at this point even ones I’ve never seen before. Granted, I do like to prepare, so I tend to do some technical research ahead of time such as building a base console file and even try to listen to some of the content I’ll be handling as well. It really depends on the context of the event, show, or performance. I had friend that always used to equate this job to being the perfect blend of “artist and scientist” and I tend to agree with that overall. In fact, I teach something similar when I do hands on instruction in saying that I can teach you what EQ and effects do, but I can’t tell you when to use those tools: you have to have that inclination yourself. Much like a paint instructor could teach me color theory, but can’t inspire me with a subject to paint.

This is where my true, unadulterated joy comes from and where my wife says I appear to be the most comfortable in my own skin. That said, if you want to have a good time as an artist that I’m working with, you’re in for some very focused attention and if you’re game for it, we can give the audience a good show together. We can lock your vocal melody into your rhythmic performance and let the audience feel the emotion in your song. We can provide a wide spectrum to your rock ballad. If we’re in church, we can give the parishioners something to sing with at the top of their lungs. If we’re in a theatre, we can both lead the audience to the edge of their seats for the resolve at the end of the first act. We can make auditory magic…and if I’ve done my job right, no one will ever notice that I’m there. I’ll have the same chills the audience does at the end of a piece and will applaud right along with them.

This is how I’ll know we won the night.

If everything is done right, I can help to give the listener, an emotional snapshot in time and even if we record it, it can only really trigger the emotion of being there in the room where it happened with me and the artists responsible for making people shell out their hard earned money to give an experience and a night to remember.

Let’s just hope you forget I’m there.


015. The Art of Faith

My lovely wife posted this to her blog today, which you are welcome to read if you’d like some perspective on what I’m about to say. Anyway, we were given what could potentially deemed “bad” news regarding little Reid a number of months ago. Naturally, this was right in the dead center of my back-and-forth travel to Shanghai for work, so not and ideal time to have some emotionally challenging pregnancy issues, but that’s not the point of this. It was an opportunity for us to trust that God is in control and can use any situation and literally the only thing we could do was trust. While that was seemingly easier for me than Kimberly, I still had some internal struggle with what the news could’ve meant.

Fortunately, I know some wonderful parents who are more than open about their parenting situations and I have had a lot of time to “what if” this situation to have formed a stance as the head of my family. That’s not to say that being sad is wrong or unholy or untrusting, but merely a stage in the process; regardless of outcome. It reminded me of a couple of things I’ve been learning (overall) about my life in the last few years and maybe it’s a good chance to highlight them now:

One is the very well-known Biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are caught not following the King’s worship guidelines and the men say something interesting to the King: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” One of our church’s (Rock Harbor) pastors gave some incredible insight to this situation when he spoke on this saying that it’s interesting that while they had faith that God would deliver them, they say that even if He doesn’t, they won’t change their obedience. What an interesting perspective of deliverance…God doesn’t have to spare their lives in exchange for their obedience. This is the faith I strive for.

The second is the example that Jesus sets forth when he is confronted with Lazarus’ death as described in John’s gospel. A verse that most Christians love because of its brevity, Jesus (the all-knowing God) gets news that Lazarus has died and His first response after asking where he is laid is to cry. “Jesus wept.” He knew that a short time later He would raise Lazarus from the dead, but he cried with His family first. How quick I have been in my life to rapidly explain that God is in control and that He has a plan in tragedy of any magnitude…how wrong I was (and still am sometimes) in allowing that platitude to be the first words out of my mouth to comfort someone about anything, much more so my wife about a difficult, potentially life-transforming situation.

I’m sure Kimberly can tell you whether or not I responded properly all the time in the last few months, but I think this was the first time in my life that I wasn’t worried about something so life-altering. We love Reid having never met him, having not known him…If he has developmental challenges and we are his parents and caregivers, that is where our love will be. There was never a doubt in this for either me or Kimberly. And, yes, God is able to deliver us from such troubling situations, but even if He does not, our faith in the situation and our ability to love our child. But first, we wept.

These beautiful moments for our family, in its mere infancy, are the things that let me know I had a massive #marriageWin . We are able to learn these things about ourselves and our God together at a common pace with a wonderful support system; both together and separate, Christ-centered and otherwise (there is a lot of value in opposing religious views too, but that is a different blog post).

You see, Kimberly and Lincoln and now Reid are all great motivators to remain myself, but further engrain my faith in God and inspire my spiritual leadership with my wife of our family. We can draw off of each other’s strength and our friends and families’ strengths to be good parents to both of children how they are and not how we want them to be.



014. The Art of Tech #3 – My Second Review of The Dash by Bragi

If you haven’t read the initial post about this product, please begin here.

About three weeks ago, I headed to LA International airport to take a business trip. At the time, my Dash weren’t consistently working despite being fully charged and had been working at some point. I took them to on my trip anyway, optimistic that customer service would get back to me and address my out-of-the-box issues with the unit. Right as I arrived to my destination, an e-mail was sent to all Kickstarter backers regarding the currently deployment and, sure enough, there was a firmware update to be issued. As it turns out, that update solved my problems and so I was able to begin using the unit consistently and attempt some personal tests in order to answer questions of my friends and family regarding how I like the product.

I was able to work out VERY consistently while I was abroad. I began taking The Dash with me for my cycling portion and running portion. It’s pretty awesome having the ability to track the workout, it really sucks to not be able to save that data for when the workout is complete or to push that data to the Health App embedded in iOS. It is also a little clunky to begin the workout on the device as there is no other way to select which activity and to begin. All that interfacing is something that can be easily solved with an app upgrade and firmware, so it IS fixable.

I don’t swim, but I was curious about what the quality of features while in water so I wore my Dash into the shower. Because the sensors are not capacitance (like I originally thought), whenever water droplets passed over the sensors, it registered a command. Usually nothing big, but it paused my music a couple of times and turned the volume up and down a little. The left Dash doesn’t really do much with a single push touch, but it will beep, so there was a little bit of that as well. I was able to turn on the transparency feature and while that was cool, it began to get annoying having each side beep in my ears so I actually took them out and set them on the counter to finish my shower.

I wore The Dash around my jobsite (currently under massive construction) and the transparency helps move around in places without isolation, which is fantastic. I also took a couple of calls home both on the phone and FaceTime and while that works, it’s not the best connection unless The Dash is firmly seated in the right ear. It’s fine though and transitions between music and calls nicely. The onboard audio player has a slightly higher quality than the streaming, but neither is a bad listen. I wore them in the Metro and on the busses and all over the place, they’re truly a great buy. As a first generation tech product you won’t find better, Bragi put a lot of attention to quality and upgrades and it is well worth the $299 USD you’d have to shell out to get your own.


013. The Art of Quiet

I’ve been trying to write this blog for probably about two years now, but after the events that 2015 had to offer, it was pretty clear that the time to hesitate is through.

At the risk of sounding [more] cliché, let me begin at the beginning. I was a pretty outgoing kid that would play with others and create wonderfully imagined playground stories and games. From the looks of it to anyone else, I was a normal child with a normal personality. Ambitious, but normal. In addition to playing outside and for hours on end with my friends, I also would have the ability to spend full days and nights in my room entirely alone, listening to music or the radio and playing with Legos or my wood train sets. It never really struck anyone as weird, not my parents and especially not me.

This naturally carried on through high school and college: I could spend hours with people or hours alone. Neither bothered me and being alone just became a regular part of work (sitting in booths alone for 12+ hours and not going crazy has always been a by-product of these jobs). I worked at least full time every week from the day I was issued a work permit at 15-years-old until last March when I took my new position at work that afforded me to spread my workload out across the entire span of the week instead of just working shift-by-shift. It’s been really great and I think both my family and the company are happy with the arrangements. However, it has afforded me more time with my thoughts.

This all seemed to be going relatively positively with my personality until, last July, I had just finished a long month of travel around the country and world, for that matter, my wife and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. The next day, we received the worst news our family has gotten to: our 25-year-old cousin Grant took his own life. Many emotions struck our family instantly. Much sadness and anger was followed by a lot of discussion with family and friends about mental health in our family and each other and in the country on the whole. My own anger and frustration at the situation couldn’t be resolved in the way I normally handle loss, where I recluse into my work and just avoid the emotion at all costs. On top of the obvious heartache, everyone began thinking that life doesn’t afford you the ability to not ask for help when you need it in any capacity, mental or physical or otherwise.

You know how our culture treats psychology? It’s seemingly like the rest of our social issues where we only live in extremes. Either over-acceptance of the psychological community’s narrative about clinical disorders (read: “medicate f*cking everything”) or complete and utter ignorance of the actual issues. I’m sure it is as it is with most things and the right answer is somewhere in the middle, but the irritation with society on this still persists with me. Regardless, medical counseling terrified me as I was completely under the impression that the first solution would be drugs. The side affects alone are reason enough to avoid them (especially since one of them is psychotic episodes). I carefully scheduled some sessions with a psychiatrist in my medical system only to be told to do breathing exercises and try not to worry about it. Whatever the hell that means. Helpful advice too…wish I wouldn’t thought of that myself…I still knew that I had to deal with my issues before they dealt with me, so reluctantly, I sought alternative options.

Between using our essential oils (a different post for a different time), I was finally, almost 9 months later, able to get sessions with a counselor through our church. Appropriately priced and convenient, as well as being able to give advice that falls closer to what I believe about the world, it was precisely what I needed to get back to being myself. I am also able to talk out loud about it to people, which was equally therapeutic as the counseling for me and those I talked to about it. It’s actually a little nice knowing other people are also struggling with the same demons that I am. Anxiety isn’t a rare quality in people: the executive, the public speaker, that girl from high school…it completely can and does affect all types from all backgrounds without exception. It doesn’t make the awkward emotion and anxiety disappear entirely, but it is completely helpful.

As it turns out, my years and years of being told that I “act out enough to perform,” I am a damned fine at projecting the little extroversion I have. Despite my realization of my introverted self that I’m learning more about every day, I still take pride in what I can do that are outgoing and yet still personal: I can public speak, I can give a mean tour, I can entertain groups of co-workers and crews that I work on, I can entertain guests at our house…I can slowly adjust to the “new normal” of the day-to-day. But somewhere, after all those events are over, after I’ve performed my outgoing personality for you; maybe you’ll see a man sitting peacefully in the corner of a little coffee shop in Anaheim Hills…just recuperating…quietly being his other self.


012. The Art of Tech #2 – My First Impression of The Dash by Bragi

First impressions are very important, so you can imagine not only my awestruck look, but also my gloriously overjoyed anticipation when in early 2014 a Kickstarter campaign was featuring some new wireless earphones. Completely wireless. No wires. For reals.

Not only was the Bluetooth “headset” small, compact, and sleek; but also tracks heart rate, swim activity, bike activity, running activity, and allows for handsfree phone calls, streaming music from your mobile device OR will work standalone with the 4GB of attached storage. Wow.

So, after many months of promises from Bragi about delivery (and several delays mostly revolving around waterproofing), I got my shipping confirmation last week. The unveiling of the box was a feeling I’ve gotten one other time in my life: completing a multi-year install of a water show in California. Absolute beauty and completion.

It looks like this:

Now, the first think Nickolaj suggested doing upon receiving the Dash is a good ol’ fashioned firmware update…this is a multi-step process that begins with charging the “dock/case/portable charger.” This step will take two hours to complete. Once you do that, you can begin the three to four hour firmware update. This is so arduous the website recommends doing it overnight. All things being completed now, it took me one hour and fifty-one minutes to do the firmware update…the first time. I ended up having to do it a second time as I was not able to get the left Dash to connect or even to recognize input.  Honestly, at this point, I think that two hours isn’t long enough to do an initial charge, but that will go reported to the Bragi team in an e-mail that I’m sure they’ll not read for months at this point.

The system works as such that the right Dash operate all music and phone controls with the capacitive touch on the surface of the unit and the left operates all health and fitness tracking. The controls will take some getting used to as there are certainly functions that can only be done by operating the Dash and not through the app. I personally think that this restriction on beginning workouts on the Dash instead of the app won’t last long. It seems like a small correction that can be made…with a “small” firmware update.

This morning, I fiddled with the charging/resetting routine a couple of times and FINALLY got the right AND left Dash to connect to each other as well as to the phone. The cleanest working features are music streaming playback and the audio transparency. Phone call quality leaves a little to be desired, but works (better than my car handsfree according to my wife) and the health tracking control is sort of complicated to get going when you’re a noob to this system. It lacks just a little finesse on the intuition scale of approachability. In contrast to the fitness functions, answering or declining a call is pretty awesome…just nod your head like you would if you were telling a person that “yes, I will take that call” or “no, I won’t.” Yep, just nod your head….and it looks like there will be more gestures going forward from the sounds of things in the Kickstarter updates.

Being that this unit has been in my possession for less than 24 hours and I have yet to do an actual workout with it (tomorrow I’m riding a bike somewhere between 13-26 miles), I can’t speak much to the battery life, but it likely will last the 3/5/17 hours in particular function they say it will. The quality of the other features such as music, audio transparency, and noise canceling are average to better than average for quality.

The functionality has been pretty hit or miss (especially with the Left Dash) and I’m attempting to correct whatever issues I’ve been having by troubleshooting myself and with the Bragi team. I will post more updates about it as I use the device more.

The Dash retails for $299USD and is easily worth that much money especially since all the moving parts are there already, all they have to do is push a firmware/app-ware update to the units to make more features work. I can’t suggest more that you all get in line and pre-order one now. They’re shipping next month.