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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Please pray for Mark...














Mark is a bass player and drummer here at NewCov. He is a great part of the team and a wonderful Christian man. My friend, Mark, went into surgery a few minutes ago. He is undergoing extensive surgery to remove cancer. Here is what his wife, Kathy, wrote on their CaringBridge site about Mark's condition:

Mark is a Radiation Therapist who has been treating cancer patients for the past 15 years. He loves his job and feels it's a wonderful ministry to give hope to others.

Mark and I met 5 years ago on October 31, 2003. We were set up by Kelly Fitzpatrick to go to dinner with a bunch of friends. Yet, the only people there were Mark, Kelly, and Scot. Later I found out it was a planned date without my knowledge. After dating for several months, Josh and Lacey (Kathie's children) started begging me to marry Mark. This begging went on for 6 months. Finally, we married in July 2004.

About 3-4 months ago, Mark's left side started hurting. He told me two months later because he didn't want to frighten me. For the past 4-6 weeks he has been getting tests done to see if there was a problem.

Mark has been diagnosed with Retroperitoneum Sarcoma in his left upper abdomen. His doctor diagnosed this partially to get him in surgery asap. Mark is going into surgery on Thursday, February 19th at 12:00 noon at Fresno Heart Hospital. After meeting the doctor this morning he stated that Mark will undergo major surgery. He feels the cancer is malignant. The mass is extremely large (approx. 9 cm) and involves the left kidney, spleen, pancreas, stomach, large intestine, rib muscles, and is obstructing his bowels. During the surgery the doctor plans to remove the kidney, spleen, approx. 1/3 of the stomach, up to 1/2 of his pancreas, colon (large intestines). He will do a possible transverse/descending colon removal/resection. Because of the extent of the damage, the surgery will be quite long. The doctor said Mark will be in ICU, then transferred to his own room. The hospital stay will be 7-10 days.

4-6 weeks after the surgery he will begin Chemotherapy for approximately 5-6 weeks. The doctor is requesting the maximum dose for Mark because he wants to kill any other cancer cells in his body. At the same time he will also undergo Radiation treatment for 5-6 weeks.

You can keep updated on Mark's progress HERE. You can also post notes of encouragement to Mark, Kathie, and Josh and Lacey.

Thanks for praying.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Overcoming Creative Blocks...











I just came across THIS great article by Dr. Robert Schwarz on overcoming creative blocks:

The normal creative process includes fits and starts. If you are attempting to create or innovate anything, you need to expect that there will be times of great apparent productivity and times when it appears that not much is happening. You need to accept that this is the nature of things, not unlike the seasons of the year. But there are some things you can do to work with this natural process so that you maximize your own creativity.

1. Recognize that creativity cannot be commanded to appear.

Any attempt to do so is likely to have an opposite effect... Negative states of mind such as anger or fear also block the creative flow. So the first thing to do is to take an inventory of your state of mind... do whatever you know how to do to stop engaging in those thought patterns. At the very least, leave wherever you are and go to another chair or another room...

2. Get up and do movement of any kind.

I am not necessarily talking about exercise, although that is good, too. I am talking about walking around, swinging your arms, kicking your feet, bending, and twisting. In fact, the more unusual the movement, the better. After all, you are trying to activate your creativity, so the more you move in novel ways, the more likely you will activate your own muse of novelty.

3. Another thinking block to creativity is the need to avoid being wrong or the need to do things perfectly.

Creativity is a process that includes many “wrong” turns... Some things take a while to percolate.. No one has a thirty-minute delivery guarantee on creative thought.

4. You cannot command creativity, but you can activate it.

If you are stuck in one area, access creativity from a different area. Take a break from the project you are working on and do something else that is creative... Do that activity for at least an hour or until ideas start to flow. Allow yourself to get involved in it. Then go back to your project.

5. Ask your unconscious mind for help.

There are a number of variations to activate the creativity of the unconscious mind. The most basic is to a three–step process:
  1. Review the situation as you understand it.
  2. Literally ask your unconscious mind for help to solve the problem by revealing something new or putting something together that you had not thought of or by giving you a new perspective or by letting go of your assumptions.
  3. Let it all go and do something else for a while (i.e., step 3 or 4) or for even longer periods such as a day or two... The trick is to completely distract your conscious mind from your usual way of thinking that may be blocking you. Then allow yourself to be open to whatever shows up... After a period of time, go back to your original problem and start back in on it. Most of the time, something new actually does show up.

HT: WomenCo

Saturday, February 14, 2009

22 Valentines Days...











February 14, 1987 was the day of my first date with the beauty sitting on the front of the hippo. We had dinner at the Chart House in Portland, OR (at the top of Terwilliger with a great view). Then we drove down to the Columbia River to watch the submarine races (see note below).

It was the best first date ever.

And within a month's time, I was off the market forever... hopelessly in love with the woman who would become my wife in a little over a year's time.

In the course of these 22 Valentines Days we have experienced our highest highs and lowest lows... together. We have lived in Portland and LaPine, OR, in Bellevue and Maple Valley, WA, and in San Jose and Fresno, CA (in 13 different places). We have served together in 5 churches (and apart in 2 others). We have been totally broke and absolutely debt free. And we have been blessed with two incredible, wonderful, handsome young men.

How could have I known then, on that first date 22 years ago, that we would experience a lifetime of love together?

Happy Valentines, my love!

*Update: JVO thought "watching the submarine races" might be a metaphor for "hiding the pickle" which is, of course, a metaphor for something that didn't happen until we got married. For the record, "watching the submarine races" is a metaphor for "picking a little neck" which us a metaphor for, well, you know...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Always check your child's homework...













The names have been changed to protect the innocent...

Dear Mrs. Jones,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.

I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot.

From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Smith

HT: Beehive

What a week...





Chad and I are packing up and heading home after an incredible week at the re:create conference. This was my 9th year at re:create and, let me tell you, it was the best!

From the first night with the Adam Nitti Band to Ian Morgan Cron to Ken Davis to the celebration of the Eucharist to the face-melting sounds of Fee, it was truly an amazing week.

I'll be blogging about it after I get home and am able to process the information and upload some pictures and video. Until then, I'll say "thanks" to Randy and Chris for another amazing week of refreshment, renewal, and diffusion of ideas.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Do You Need More Sleep?










I am at the re:create conference in Franklin, TN this week. It is the BEST conference I have ever been to. However, I often get too little sleep during the week. I'm not complaining... I love meeting new people and interacting with them. It is amazing.

Do you need more sleep? Sleep is as vital for survival as food, according to Dr. Mary Susan Esther, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). Chronic lack of sleep can lead to a host of health problems—such as high blood pressure, obesity, depression, irregular hormone production, a weakened immune system, memory lapses, constant irritability, and decreased concentration and reaction times.

So are you spending enough quality time between the sheets—asleep? See how many of the signs below describe you. Then decide if a sleep deficit is holding you back.

1. You're not hungry for lunch. A lack of sleep can make you constantly want to eat more, or persistently feel like you're not hungry. It throws off your internal clock resulting in abnormal feelings—which is why so many people lose or gain weight during periods of sleeplessness.

2. You've looked at three other Web sites in the last 5 minutes—and checked your email twice. Whether you're writing a quick email or solving chemical equations; a lack of sleep can make focusing seem impossible.

3. You can't remember where you put the car keys. Your brain needs sleep to refresh and regenerate. Without it, your short-term memory may be impaired—which is why pulling an all-nighter rarely yields better results than getting quality shut-eye, according to Dr. Neil Kline, a sleep physician and representative of the American Sleep Association.

4. You can't carry on a conversation. Come Saturday night you may work a party like a pro, but as long as you're sleep-deficient, coming up with witty—or even coherent—one-liners is out of the question.

5. You're drowsy at the wheel. Your eyes may glaze over now and then when you're staring at the computer screen or stuck in an endless meeting, but if you struggle to stay awake behind the wheel—or doing any task that puts your life at risk—you're not just bored. You need more sleep.

6. You feel sick—and you never get sick. Your immune system repairs and strengthens while you sleep. So in addition to eating flu-fighting foods, log at least seven hours a night to stay healthy all season.

HT: Men's Health

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Awesome Customer Service Experience...












I recently "broke" my guitar... my main guitar: a Taylor 814ce (Brazilian Rosewood).

I was leading worship recently at a conference when I stepped on the cable and tweaked the end pin where the cable plugs in.

So I called Taylor to order a replacement part. I told the tech (Michael?) what had happened and he took my information. When I asked if he wanted my credit card info, he said, "We're just gonna take care of it. There's no charge to you."

Let me be clear: my guitar was a year out of warranty. And they just "took care of it."

Customer service, the way it was meant to be. Thanks Taylor!

PS: I am thinking about switching to Snap Jack cables to try to prevent this from happening. Anybody have experience with this?