Three of Four are Eagles

Last night we attended the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for the twins, Cole and Kyle. It was one of those occasions that starts out stressful and, afterward, turned out to be something that none of us (most of us are introverts) would have wanted to miss.

There were eleven young men receiving their Eagle awards last night, two of them were ours. Not only that, Clinton (he’s the oldest) came in from Law School to attend the ceremony. For me, know that our boys have earned this award is less about my pride and more about my admiration of them and hope for them.

I deeply admire their accomplishment and it gives me hope that they will have a balanced, healthy approach to living their lives. Here’s the 12 points of the Scout Law as they learned it:

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

There are no rational arguments against living that code. It’s a happy time for our family when two more of our boys—three out of four, so far—become young men with that code in their psyche. The world and the people they touch in their lives will be better for it.

Now for the fourth…

P.S. — Thank you Wendy for making the night special for everyone. Your awesomeness is…well…awesome.

Anxiety and Glorifying God

As a left-brain-dominant (ISTJ) introvert, my personality likely seems odd to the majority of the earth’s population. I’m blessed with my wife Wendy who is really awesome at helping me balance things out…mostly.

Possessing such a temperament also means I analyze things to a degree that requires an electron microscope. This often allows me to identify subtleties others might miss but the side effect is that it also creates a perfect environment for anxiety.

When I’ve collected all this subtle information, processed it, come up with a less-than-good-news conclusion and—at the same time—been leveraged by over active extroverts…well…it’s not pretty to be in my head at those times.

Since my father is also an introvert and I work with him, I have had years of watching him deal with these stressful situations and persevere. Nonetheless, anxiety often creeps in.

Thankfully I’ve come to a maturity in my life where I turn to Scripture for answers. Recently, when the stress of my job creeped in and anxiety threatened to consume me I dove into scripture for refuge.

What was so wonderful was the scripture didn’t just console me, it also emboldened me by charging me with a duty to honor and glorify God. Scripture in Philippians was most impactful:

Philippians 4:6–7 (NLT)
6Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I took the advice given in this scripture. It wasn’t long before it began to be very evident that God had already been at work in my situation. Things were already being put into place before I had even realized, before my faith was strong.

What I realized in this situation was that anxiety expresses a lack of faith. Through prayer (mine and others; thank you Wendy & Corbin) my faith is strengthened until anxiety diminishes, fades.

A comfort and boldness takes me. Perhaps it’s wishful to think I’ve finally and completely learned how to prevent these moments of weakened faith, but I’m encouraged. What’s sure is, the successes I’ve seen are greater than my abilities, but not God’s. Let any successes I have in this life be credited to Him.

Underused, Powerful Software

There are two pieces of software I don’t use efficiently or often enough; Evernote and Hazel. Many other pieces of software have come through my hands but they did’t stick. Evernote and Hazel stuck around even though I neglected them…a lot.

One thing that drove me away from Evernote was that editing notes was very different (dysfunctional) on the mobile app when compared to the desktop versions. It would corrupt notes and cause all kinds of formatting clashes. These problems drove me to try other “note taking” applications:

  • TrunkNotes: great wiki features, bad sync and no viable desktop version, limited input options
  • Voodoo Pad: excellent wiki features, great sync, great desktop version, limited input options

Wiki-style cross linking functionality—a feature Evernote is weakest in—is the single most powerful feature I use in note taking apps. TrunkNotes & Voodoo Pad are exceptional apps with that feature. So why leave a great app like Voodoo Pad and go back to Evernote when Evernote is a weaker app in this area? One word: ubiquity.

Evernote is tied into everything. It’s a rare app, mobile or desktop, that doesn’t tie into Evernote. This ubiquity isn’t limited to software, it’s also true for hardware like the awesome Fujitsu ScanSnap (Evernote Edition) and the Jot Script stylus. So, after shifting back to Evernote again, it seems they’ve conquered their editing issues. I’m hopeful that they will add Wiki features in future releases.

Evernote Essentials CoverTo get better at using Evernote I bought a book by Brett Kelly titled Evernote Essentials. Hopefully the book will help me polish up on my Evernote skills and, perhaps, learn some new ones. Who knows, I may find a workaround for the wiki issue.

The other underutilized app (utility), Hazel, has been doing very minor tasks on my system for a while now. I keep coming across articles where people are using Hazel to levels I can’t yet achieve. Running scripts, moving and renaming files, all kinds of housekeeping functions.

For a while I used Desktop Tidy to keep me from piling up files on my desktop which helps with performance, etc. The main reason I’m interested in going back to Hazel is that I don’t like racing Desktop Tidy. When a file lands on the desktop, Desktop Tidy then moves the file to a shadow folder and that’s annoying when I’m placing something there briefly to work on before tossing it in the trash.

The shadow folder is another irritation. It’s fairly difficult to navigate to the shadow folder in OS X Mavericks. Sure, these issues might be able to be addressed by tweaking Desktop Tidy but, if I’m going to learn new software, I think it will be best invested in Hazel because of it’s way more powerful.

John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer and a Prayer Journal

Going through my Twitter feeds this morning I came across a link to an article by Chad Brooks about using a prayer notebook (what, I believe, Wendy calls a Prayer Journal) to start, and maintain, a prayer life. What’s so appealing about this approach is that he uses a Field Notes brand notebook as his prayer notebook.

I agree with him that using a tangible item helps motivate a person to pray and affirms to others that they are being lifted up in prayer. Recently I’ve begun a prayer list in Evernote and placed it at the top of my shortcuts list. Without question the Evernote technique has improved my prayer life but it falls short in those areas where a physical notebook would excel.

Thinking deeper on this concept I’m also reminded that we teach by example. If all our prayer is hidden, how will our children—and friends, etc.—learn to be prayerful? Being an introvert means I’m very private. Those things we do that are routinely visible to our children speak louder than our words. The Field Note prayer notebook is something I’m going to explore.

Chad’s article was exceptional in that it was short, powerful, and offered more than most long posts on the Internet. The real prize in the article for me was John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer. This will go at the top of my Evernote Prayer Journal as well as the Field Notes notebook(s). Here’s the prayer:

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

Stalking Horse or, Elk Don’t Know How Many Feet a Horse Has!

Today, while reading an article on Reason.Com about Obamacare, I came across the term Stalking Horse. Of course, whenever I come across a new term that I don’t know, my mind will not let me pass it by. I’ve been known to obsess on more obscure words and phrases for days until I can find out the meaning; it drives me crazy…er. Luckily this term was easily definable on Wikipedia (link here).

Here’s an example of the use of a Stalking Horse in the Wikipedia article taken from the 1972 film Jeremiah Johnson, when Johnson and Chris Lapp (“Bear Claw”) are hunting elk in the Rockies:

Jeremiah: Wind’s right, but he’ll just run soon as we step out of these trees.

Bear Claw: Trick to it. Walk out on this side of your horse.

Jeremiah: What if he sees our feet?

Bear Claw: Elk don’t know how many feet a horse has!

Mitered Picture Frame Started

Since I didn’t start this project before Christmas I (obviously) didn’t get it completed to give as a gift last year. One reason I pushed it off is that it has miter joints and I haven’t successfully made precise miters. Gaps in a miter joint are horrible.

There’s no way to learn without getting into the workshop and doing it so I started the frame. Below are the pictures of what I have completed at this point:

There are very small gaps in the miters joints. I’ve got a couple of options for repairing them but I’m leaning toward using a table saw miter sled I saw Steve Ramsey on Wood Working for Mere Mortals (click here to see his solution) use.

One overarching lesson I’ve learn while woodworking is to not panic or get frustrated on a project. Calmly think it out and come up with a solution. Rarely have I had to scrap an entire project. People who know me know it’s tough for me to accept less than perfect. It’s sort of a sport for them to find the flaws in my projects because they know I’m having to bite my tongue not to point them out.

Eventually this tiny issue will get solved and the frame will look pretty good. In the process I’ll have new skills for making miters without gaps.

Building Your Own Fishing Lures

Y0401There are two things me and my father did together when I was younger; hunting and fishing. Neither of us are the “nothing else matters on earth” type of hunter or fisherman. We enjoy honing the skills and spending the time with others. Both of these skills are expensive.

It has always been my inclination to learn how to minimize the cost of activities like fishing and hunting. From what I’ve read, people hunted and fished to survive and because it was cheaper or more readily available than a grocery store. So, spending a lot of money on these activities seemed a little fake; $100–$300 / pound of meat is not thrifty.

Part of reducing the costs of these activities and getting closer to the original skills used by our ancestors was hand making as many of the tools and materials used in hunting and fishing. Since I do woodworking, fishing lures have been one of the most attractive areas to initially explore.

So today, when Wendy sent me a link to a blog about the 101 Skills for the Modern Homesteader, one item in particular stood out on the list:

26. Learn how to fish and make your own fishing lures.

It doesn’t seem like this subject is going to go away, it keeps popping into my mind. I think it also fits into my “more hand tools” migration as well; I’ve been learning how to build projects using more manual processes. Making fishing lures will likely fit right into hand tool processes.

I’m excited to dig into this because I won’t have to put anything else on hold. Maybe I can learn it well enough that I can make some lure for my father next Christmas or even for his birthday. Or, perhaps, Corbin will be interested in making using the lures and we’ll take them with us when we fish with my father. Great possibilities.

Editorial: Talking Past One Another

Excellent editorial by one of my pastors at TWUMC, Rob Renfroe on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Compassion, love, empathy yet strong adherence to the Word.

Editorial: Talking Past One Another.

Nostalgia: First Aid Kit

It has been quite a while since Clinton, the oldest, has been in Scouts. From time to time I come across things that remind me of the time when he was working toward his Eagle Scout badge.

In my workshop there’s a fist aid kit. There is some writing on it with a date. I don’t usually read the date when I use it because, well, I’m usually bleeding at those times.

Tonight—since I’m all nostalgic, I guess—I read it and it’s dated 11/1/04. It’s the first aid kit Clinton put together for his First Aid Merit Badge.

This year, 2014, that kit will be 10 years old! Wow, time flies. I need to get busy making this life count. Here’s a picture of the first aid kit:


Nostalgia: Tommy Gun

Nostalgic thoughts are those that come to you causing you to suddenly realize “it has been a long time since…” or “it was a long time ago when…”.

Here’s something that caused that for me. Approximately seven years ago I built (2) wooden Tommy Guns; (1) for each twin. I haven’t built any more since then, only those two exist.

The other day they came to kind and I asked, “whatever happened to those Tommy Guns.” The twins, both in college now, still have them. Pretty cool. I hope they keep them to pass on. Maybe I’ll build more for grand kids. Here’s a picture of Coke’s Tommy Gun: