A Facebook sized failure

Last month I made the epic (although I didn’t quite know how epic at the time) decision to write all of my Facebook friends within the first month of turning 30. It would be a way to re-connect, to reach out and say hello, to actually use Facebook to connect with people. October 27th came and I started the Facebook challenge. I started writing people and found out it was quite difficult to write some people. I have some “friends” who I haven’t seen in years and who technically aren’t friends and I just didn’t know where to begin, so I just promoted the blog. Other people who are actual current friends were easy to write because I do often anyway. I churned along through all the letter “A’s” and it took longer than expected. I started working my way through the “B’s” and as the days went by I understood that this undertaking would take much longer than a month and would be much more difficult than I had planned. So I took a break. I still plan on finishing the Facebook experience, I still plan on writing all my “friends”, it is just going to take a lot longer than a month. Would that be considered a failure?

spoiled

In the not too distant past I dreamt about the days when the power wouldn’t go off every day, when I could go to In ‘n Out, and when I could buy Pepsi in a plastic bottle. Now I long for those days of the past. Living here in southern California and more generally in the United States I have become spoiled.

Life in Uganda is lived day by day, minute by minute. Survival is a reality not just a given. Death is ever present, especially if you’re riding a boda boda through downtown Kampala. Here in California I’ve become a softie, getting what I want when I want, I don’t think about death and I imagine I’ll live forever. Quite the contrast.

It’s funny how the little things were so nice in Uganda. One day where the electricity didn’t go off was a miracle, having a day where it was on longer than it was off was a blessing. I loved drinking Pepsi and Coke out of glass bottles, but once in a while I just wanted one that was in a plastic container with a resealable lid so I could just toss it around. But, I had to take a 12 hour bus ride to Nairobi, Kenya just to get one of those. Another big difference is transportation. My wife and I have 2 vehicles that we can hop in and go to where we need to go fairly quickly (even though the Los Angeles traffic is starting to infect us), but in Uganda I either had to walk, take a boda boda, or a taxi and it could take up to an hour just to get into Kampala.

I’m not a rich man, but I can basically get what I want when I want it even if I don’t need it. I’m not relying on the donations of kind people to help me get food. If I’m hungry I find something to eat, I don’t have to spend a day with that growling, longing for food rumbling in my stomach. When I want to take a shower I just turn on the hot water. Even in an equatorial country like Uganda a hot shower is nice, but those were a rarity.

I don’t say all these things to put down the US, it’s more about me personally. I’ve allowed myself to slip, to become dependant on myself rather than trusting God to get me through a day. I’ve gotten comfortable having all these luxuries (which I enjoy) instead of finding joy in the little things. I’ve gotten fat off the land instead of just having my daily bread. I’ve realized that for me, it takes so much more discipline and faith to live here in the States because I get blinded and lulled into a comforable existence. I miss the days of truly living in faith that God would provide each single day everything that I needed. The awesome thing was that God always did provide. Now I try to provide. I would love to go back to Uganda and live, but for now I’m here and I really want to try to shed some of these comforts, shed some of this self-sufficiency and cling to the feet of Jesus. I want him to be the one I put my faith in, not myself, not my job, not my money, not my Pepsi in a plastic bottle.

Silver Hase takes 3rd

Another Boys U16/19 AYSO soccer season has come to a close and I have to say, as a co-coach with my friend Kevin, we most definitely improved. Last year in our first season of coaching, our team FC805 finished with a record of 0-5-5, no wins, 5 losses and 5 draws. We didn’t make the play-off’s so therefore had no chance of playing on Championship Day. This year, after the 7 game regular season our team Silver Hase (pronounced Haze but spelled Hase on purpose) finished with a record of 3-3-1, our one tie coming in the first game of the season against the team that ended up in first place before pool play.

The 8 teams in our divisions were split into 2 pools of 4 and we would play each of the other 3 teams in our pool once with the top 2 teams in each pool advancing. We were in an underdog role all season, but came out of the first game with a 1-0 win over the top ranked team in our pool thanks to a second half penalty kick. The second game we dominated from start to finish and left with a 4-1 victory. Heading into the last game, all we needed to advance to Championship Day was a single goal. When the whistle blew the final score was a 3-3 draw (which included a goal scored by our goalkeeper!) which meant we were advancing as the first place finishers in our pool!

Championship Day dawned bright, clear, and warm. Kick-off for the first game was set at 10:00am with the winners advancing to the Championship game at 2pm and the losers playing in the 3rd vs. 4th place game at the same time. Game time came and it was intense, back and forth play went, attacking and defending and then the whistle blew. One of our defenders had raised his hands to shield his face from the ball and it was declared a handball and the ref pointed to the spot. They had a penalty kick and made it. At halftime we were down 1-0. The second half was a struggle, both teams taking shots and our goalkeeper made some amazing stops but unfortunately we were unable to score and lost. The Championship game was out of reach but we still had one game left to play.

The 3rd vs. 4th place game was definitely light-hearted with the players having a lot of fun, but there was still a desire to win for both sides. The Yellow team (the Twinkies) struck first and took a 1-0 lead and our side just couldn’t seem to score until the middle of the second half when we were given a penalty kick. Our player stepped up to the spot and cooly shot the ball into the back of the net and we had a 1-1 tie. A few minutes later the whistle blew and we were going to extra time. There were two 5 minute halves and then if it was still a tie there would be the dreaded penalty kick shoot-out. The first half came and went quickly and then 2 minutes into the second half we attacked, their keeper came out and the ball slid past him to one of our player who hadn’t scored all year. He had opportunities that either sailed over the goal or he was called offsides. In this moment though, with everything on the line, he gently tapped the ball and it slow-motion rolled across the line and into the goal! Silver Hase had a 2-1 lead. The next 3 minutes were heart pounding but then the final whistle blew and we were able to celebrate the victory!

It felt good to end the season with a win, with a medal, and with our team happy. We definitely improved as coaches and who know’s what next year has in store. All I know is we’ve tasted Championship Day and we’re not going to want to miss out on that again.

Around the world in 30 years

To those of you who have been visitors of the blog in the past, you may have noticed something new recently…..the name of my blog has changed! As I get older so must the name of this blog. 29 is gone and 30 is here. It’s hard to believe I’ve been alive for 3 decades now. It seems like ages since I turned 20 so I certainly hope it takes as long to get to 40. I was hoping to change the title on my birthday but it took me about 2 weeks to actually figure out how to change the name. I had resigned myself to it permanently being at 29 while I continued to age, but then I finally found a tutorial that showed me the way!

I’d like to give a big Thank You out to everyone who visits this blog, whether a first time visitor or a regular reader. I enjoy writing it, I enjoy getting feedback and comments (either on here, Facebook, or Twitter), and I hope it entertains you and makes you want to come back! Almost 2,000 people have visited “Around the world in 30 years” since I started in back in February, which I think is extremely cool! So thanks again for stopping by and come back again real soon.

I was in a band once – Part 1: Strummer

The audience had left, the smoke began to clear, but my ears were still ringing…then I woke up.

I was in my own home, it was 5:30 am, and I had to go to work. I wasn’t a rock star, I wasn’t a radio hero, I wasn’t even a local coffee shop favorite, I was a “pick-up my guitar once in a while” kind of guy. But that wasn’t always the case….I was in a band once.

A long time ago, when I was a younger man with a lot more hair (and a tongue piercing) I lived in Florida and was in a band called Faintly Macabre. There were 4 of us: drums, lead guitar, and then another guy and I sang and switched off on bass, rhythm guitar, mandolin, piano, and even the spoons. But let me not get ahead of myself, my music career didn’t begin with Faintly Macabre, it started a few years earlier when I was still in high school.

P.O.G. (Peace of God) started out of a need for a worship team at our youth group. I had never played an instrument before but I volunteered to learn the bass guitar, so I bought one and taught myself. After a while I realized it was kind of boring to sit at home and play the bass (it’s not really a solo instrument) so I bought an acoustic guitar and taught myself to play that as well.

There were 3 of us in P.O.G. and we all played the acoustic guitar. We played together for a few years, mostly just at church services, but then I moved away to college and an interesting thing happened. I had always learned to play songs but I had never written a song of my own, but during my first semester at college in Florida a friend of mine asked me to write a song for her. A few night’s later I was in my dorm rooming, strumming my guitar and then I found a chord sequence that I liked, then I began to hum a melody, then words fell off my lips and after a while I had composed my first song. And with that song, a new chapter in my musical career had begun.

North, South, and some Missions in between

Since I was shifting into a new decade with the approach of my 30th birthday, my wife and I decided to take a little trip we had been talking about for a while. So last Friday morning we jumped in the Cube and headed north on the 101. The plan was to drive straight to Monterey to enjoy the awesome aquarium they had there, but us being us, we didn’t follow the script.

We were cruising at a steady 75mph when Jenny shouted, “there’s a mission in San Luis Obispo, let’s stop!” Now 2 things are important here, 1. We have a goal to visit all of the California missions and 2. We were driving through San Luis Obispo at the time and the exit was fast approaching…

I pulled across multiple lanes of traffic, ignoring the honks, and we made our way to the San Luis Obispo Mission. They were having a 7th and 8th grade Halloween costume dance. I think Junipero Serra would roll over in his grave (which we would see soon enough).

After giving a homeless guy $1 we were back on the 101 and made it another 15 miles before seeing a sign for the San Miguel Mission, so we stopped there too! It was my favorite one, very old, very original, very dusty.

We finally made it to a cool, blustery Monterey around 2:30 and went straight to the aquarium. I’ll spare you all the details, but the jellyfish and sea horses were the best part.

The next morning we headed back south, first stopping at the Carmel Mission (our third in 2 days) which we breezed through because a wedding was about to start. The highlight of this Mission (in a weird, dark way) was that it was the one where Father Serra (who founded all the Missions) died and is buried. After our quick stop we took off down the PCH through Big Sur (which is absolutely beautiful), across some really high bridges and around some seriously windy roads and finally made it to Hearst Castle.

                                                                                                    Wow.

                                                                                  What a house.

                                                            I think I could live there.

I am not a good enough writer to describe Hearst Castle in a manner that would effectively capture what it is like. Go see it for yourself.

Soon enough we were home, having decided to bypass the 2 Missions we would be passing in order to speed up things, and the trip was over. It was a good introduction into my 30’s, but hopefully it’s just the beginning.