"Just like a Star"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Just like a star, if seen from afar,
My friends keep me company.

But fly more near and you will see, I fear,
That I am as alone as can be.

~Matthew Kelling

(Note: I wrote this almost exactly a year ago, August 26th, 2009.)

Oh Dear!

Saturday, August 22, 2009
Oh Dear, I hit a Deer! The lesson I learned from hitting a 6 point buck

The night of Thursday, August 20th, 2009, I was driving from Waco, Texas (where I was doing a job), to Bryan, Texas, to hang out with my best friend and throw his wife a surprise birthday party.

It was 2:30 AM and I was just getting to Bryan as I made the exit from Highway 6 to Texas Avenue (as per the directions from Google). As I made the exit I was decelerating (but I was still going a good 55 MPH) when I saw a deer appear on the left shoulder of the road.

My first thought was: "Oh cool, a deer on the side of the road." But I quickly saw that the deer was not standing still, he was headed for the middle of the road, and my thoughts quickly went to "I am going to hit this deer!"

I instantly reacted and did two things: I hit the breaks, and I hit the horn. I have no idea if hitting the horn scared the deer at all, but it didn't matter: there was no way I was going to miss it. As the deer ran across the road, the passenger side of my front grill hit it in it's rear quarters. I quickly brought my Jeep to a rest on the right side shoulder, and I turned on the hazard light and turned off the engine. I could hear large amounts of liquids draining from my engine, and I instantly knew I would not be driving away from this spot tonight.

I got out and surveyed the damage (link to photo). As you can see, the right side grill, lights, and bumper were gone, and my radiator had sprung a leak. I walked back and quickly found that there were pieces (some large and some small) all over the road. After getting the big pieces out of the road, I called my best friend to come pick me up (he lives only a few miles away).

(While the above photo link is open to the public, if you are a friend (or a friend of a friend) of mine on Facebook, you can check out my album with 23 photos here.)

While I was waiting for my friend, a truck pulled over and two college age guys came out to help. After saying "Wow, that's f#*&ed up!" like 20 times, they helped me push my Jeep further off of the road for safety. (At one point one of the guys threw a drink can into the grass. After they left, I stepped on it and fount it was a beer can... And I think it was the driver's drink!)

Anywho, they left, and after a short wait an NAPA delivery truck pulled over to a stop to see if I needed help right as my friend arrived on site. We all surveyed the damage, and the NAPA guy left. I then called Geico Emergency Services (I have tow insurance), and after joking around for a while with the guy on the phone, he told me that a tow truck would be there in 45 minutes.

On a side note: I have been very pleased with my Geico services. Everyone that I have talked to is very cheery, very nice, and very thorough. So far, they have an A+ rating from me!

The guy in the tow truck finally showed up, picked up my Jeep, and we were able to go home. Less than two hours after I ended the life of a poor deer, I was in my friend's home getting ready for bed. The next day (Friday) I called claims at Geico, within two hours a guy was looking at my Jeep, and a few hours later it was towed to a body shop. Later in the day my dad and step-mom drove in from Brenham (45 minutes away) and let me borrow his truck (it used to be mine). It is now my main mode of transportation until my Jeep if fixed.

[That is the end of the detailed account of what happened. Now begins my philosophical response to the situation.]

In the 24 hours since the accident, my mind keeps coming back to one thought: "What could I have done differently?" It is not reasonable to say that I could have taken a different route into town, because I had no idea that a deer would be lurking on that exit, just waiting for me to swing by. My timing, my route, my meeting with the deer was completely uncontrollable and inevitable; there was nothing I could do to change that.

But could I have acted differently once I saw the deer? At first (a few minutes after the accident) I thought "If only I had swerved, I might have missed it." But the more I thought about it, the more I realized: I was going 55 MPH at the time, and if I had swerved, there is a good chance that I would have swerved onto the shoulder, lost control of the vehicle, careened into the median, and started to barrel-roll... at FIFTY MILES PER HOUR! When you look at it that way, I will take my chances with hitting the deer!

So the more I think about it, the more I realize that there is absolutely nothing that I could have done to prevent me from hitting the deer. And to be honest, it is bugging me. It is in fact bugging me more than the $500 coming out of my pocket to cover the deductible. The thing that is bugging me the most is: I was not in control of this situation. Not to say that I lost control of my vehicle or that I was not in a good mind at the time, there is simply nothing that I could have done to make the situation any better.

And this is perturbing me! I like to be in control of everything that goes on in my life! I like to know what is going on, and when and where, and how things are going to happen. I control what I eat, when and where I go places, when I go to sleep and when I wake up, what I wear throughout the day, how I spend my money, even how often I brush my teeth. My life is the perfect example of a control freak living a controlling life. And I am not alone: most people are in full control of their lives. It is human (and very American) to be in control of one's life at all times.

But at 2:30 AM on August 20th, 2009, I no longer had control of my life. For that one instant, there was absolutely nothing that I could do to improve my life.

For whatever reason, if it be God or Satan or "nature" or just plain luck, I was destined to hit a deer that night. But, once you accept that I was going to hit a deer, things went amazingly well for me. I have insurance, so past my deductible everything is covered. While the car was beat up, there wasn't major damage to it. And most of all, I walked away from the accident perfectly healthy and safe.

But, for every thing that went perfect that night, there were ten things that could have gone wrong. I could have lost control of my vehicle. My airbags could have deployed, causing further damage and causing me to lose control of my Jeep. It could have been raining, causing not only the accident to be worse, but then I would have had to deal with a busted up car in the rain. I could have been in the middle of nowhere, instead of 5 miles from my destination. I could have had a passenger in the car. I could have hit the deer with the center of my car, causing the deer to flip up and crash into the windshield.

I could have died.

Of all of the things that could have gone wrong (past me hitting the deer), none of them happened. NONE! And they all refrained from happening with no help from me controlling my life! Every single thing that didn't happen was a gift from God! Every possible outcome outside of what happened would have been worse, and God saw that and created the situation to be the best outcome for me.

Romans 8:28 says And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. While I believe that this verse is often quoted for selfish reasons (IE: God will bless me simply because I am a Christian), I am absolutely certain that this verse describes how God worked in my life that night.

The night of August 20th, God worked for my good. He watched over me, he protected me, he loved me. And this is all absolutely separate from anything I could do. God knew that his plan was best for me, and while I couldn't see it at the time (and I quite possibly still don't), I know that God is working for my good. And while the worst feeling I have about this event is still "I was not in control", it is instantly covered with a feeling of "That's OK, God was in control".

So if I had to sum what I learned from this event in one sentence it is this: Sometimes we have to lose control so that God can show us that he is in control.


I hit a deer

Friday, August 21, 2009
I hit a deer.

Yup. At 2:30 this morning, going 55 MPH, I hit a deer just outside of Bryan, TX.

I am perfectly fine, the airbags didn't even go off (which kinda makes me sad), but Jackie had to be towed away as the radiator was shot. (I am soooo thankful I paid an extra $1 per month for towing insurance!)

It is now 4:30 AM, and I need to get my sleep, but I will leave you with this:

Photo of the scene


New Texas Law

Monday, August 17, 2009
For all of my Texas friends out there, here is a warning: House Bill 537 goes into effect September 1st.

Why should you care? Because it says that every person in a vehicle, no matter the age of the person or their location in the vehicle, MUST wear a seat belt at all times. That's right, you have to buckle up even if you are in the back seat.

More info: link



Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Here, for no real reason, and in no particular order, is a list of the podcasts that I subscribe to. For your convience, links to the original site and to iTunes are included.

Church Tech
Church Tech Talk (iTunes): A bunch of guys sit around and talk about church tech. They often get off topic (sometimes to a fault), but this relaxed atmosphere is part of what makes them endearing.
Creative Synergy (iTunes): This podcast only has 6 episodes and it hasn't been updated in nearly two years, but it is still a must-listen for church tech guys.
Faith Tools (iTunes): This is my latest addition to my podcast collection. I am slowly catching up to the current episodes, but it is turning out to be a great resource for church tech help, tips, and tricks.

Other Tech
MacBreak (iTunes): This video podcast shows great tips and how-tos for Mac people. They also have a wide range of sub-categories, including "MacBreak Dev" (for developers), "MacBreak Work", and "MacBreak Tech".
MacBreak Weekly (iTunes): MacBreak Weekly is an audio podcast all about Macs. If you like Macs, you have to listen!
This Week in Tech (iTunes): Simply the best tech podcast ever.

New Release Tuesday (iTunes): NRT is a weekly podcast featuring releases from Christian artists that are coming out that week. They have a great mix of popular artists and new artists.
Tooth & Nail (iTunes): Tooth & Nail is a Christian recording company, and their podcast features new music from their artists. Great stuff to listen to, but if you don't like death metal, stay away from their "Solid State" editions.

What podcasts do you listen to?


Family or Church?

Friday, August 07, 2009
Recently I have been surrounded with people that have two main draws in their life: family and ministry (IE: they work for a church). This has made me ask the question: Which comes first, family or God?

My first "Sunday School" answer is "Both. Putting your family first is a form of putting God first." But it isn't always that easy.

Say you are a senior pastor with a wife, two-point-four kids, and a dog. It takes a lot of energy to be a husband/father (or so I have been told), but it also takes a lot of energy to be a senior pastor. Let's say that you have been working all week on a project at the church, and it comes late in the week and you realize that you have not spent enough time preparing your sermon (and not by choice, you simply haven't had the time). Do you prepare the sermon, or do you go home to your family which you haven't seen all week?

Does the answer change with who you are? IE: If you are the choir director, is the answer different? The technical director. A choir member?

To ask the broad question: If you aren't employed by a church but you are just Joe the Plumber, do you put God or your family first?

Just a thought provoker this week.