Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rock on !!!

Another big concert around the corner. February 15th...
When last I spoke of concerts I was telling everybody about the Hearts of the Innocent tour, featuring Kutless with Disciple, Red (who will be returning to The 'burgh May 4th) and Run Kid Run. This time around, Disciple is the headliner. They're being supported by 3 other bands; Fireflight, Decyfer Down and Family Force 5 (which sounds like a pretty lame name for an alternative band - sounds more like it should be for a kids sing-a-long CD. But, hey! that's just me - but they sound pretty good). Be sure to check out audio samples at the various band websites - that's why I'm linking to all of them (Duh !!!)
We'd like to get the kids from the youth group to go so we can get a group rate ($10). Well, that, and because we think they'd all enjoy it. So far, it's gonna be "the usual suspects" - me, Bob, JT, P.Dave, Ray and probably Julian. So we're more than halfway there.
I expect to get pics this time. I will make sure that my camera doesn't leave my possession between now and the concert. There's no way I'm going to let my darling daughter steal it again. Especially since she didn't even use it while she had it that last time, and I didn't get any pics of what was one awesome show.
So, if you're in, or going to be in, the greater Pittsburgh area, or if you're already familar with these bands, you're free to join us. the more the merrier, right?

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Youth of the nation

Well...
Maybe, East Pittsburgh. Here they are, the kids from our church's youth group, with a few of the not so youth, too. Most of them anyways, there are a few who didn't show up tonight.



They're a great bunch of kids. They've been pretty faithful to show up on Tuesday nights, and we're beginning to see the impact that it's having in their lives. Several of them have been struggling with faith, while a few of them have embraced it willingly. Tonight P.Dave spent a good bit of time talking to them, answering some of their questions, and even getting them thinking beyond the lives they know. It's good to see how God is working in their lives. Please keep them all in your prayers.

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Quote for 1/30/07

"I'm not looking for attention. Attention is looking for me."
Bob Cross

Yeah, he's my son.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Quote for 1/29/07

"You can't have resistance to nothing - there has to be a push or a pull involved."
Merry C.

See below for the explaination.

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Affirmative

The above "Quote..." came up today during a conversation I had at work.
Merry is one of my co-workers, who happens to have become a very dear friend to me over the last year or so. We talk about a great many things (practically everything) that go on in our lives, and we have a sort of brother/sister relationship as a result of it all.
Today we were talking about all of the things that have been going on for me lately. We discussed my pending divorce, the various situations with both of my kids, my growing relationship with a wonderful lady, my brand, my church and several matters of faith which touch on these topics - as well as several others. It was great to have someone to talk to who shares many of my own views, but also has some unique perspectives that help me to see things through different eyes.
I won't go into much detail about exactly what was said between us, but Merry is fully aware of many of the things I've been struggling with over the course of my divorce. She's also aware of much of what's going on in my personal life. So she usually has words of encouragement for me when I'm facing those struggles. The above "Quote..." came from those words of encouragement today.
I can see quite often how many of my efforts to do right in my life are met with resistance. Sometimes the resistance is my own stubbornness. Other times it's that of those to whom I'm reaching out. And sometimes it's just the nature of the situation that I find myself to be in. But in all of these areas I find that Merry is absolutely right. Resistance only happens because there is something to be resisted.
Then came the real shocker for me. Out of the blue, after our conversation had ended and we had moved on to doing other things. Merry approached me to share something unusual with me. She asked me if I had just been praying about something, but I hadn't. Still, she said that she had the strangest feeling come over her that she needed tell me something. What she told me was that the answer to what I had been praying for was "Yes, it'll happen.".
I am not generally prone to accept such affirmations without some scrutiny. But this was not something that Merry normally does. So I trust that this was something significant to her, and not just her emotions getting the best of her for my situations. And God knows that I've been doing my best, and waiting patienty, for a lot of things to happen in my life. And since I've already acknowledge that so many of them have been happening lately, I think it's safe for me to take this one to heart.
Once again, I see the hand of God as He works in my life. And I will see even greater things happening as He does even more. I am truly loved by God.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Quote for 1/28/07

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."
C. S. Lewis

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ink-n-Fire (pt.7)

Still healing...

This was from earlier. I'm really hating this part of the whole branding process. It's not very pleasant to have to pick at the healing wound or to have to deal with the discomfort of having the wound being rubbed by my clothing. But I suppose that it will all be worth it in the end. I sooooo can't wait til the scarring is done so I can get the "Ink" taken care of.

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Couldn't tell ya to save my life

I don't know why I took the pictures that I took today, or even why I decided to post them here. It's not like the subject material is anything spectacular. Perhaps I was just bored and this gave me something to post about instead of some mindless drivel.
Oh, wait, this pretty much is mindless drivel...
Anyways, here are the pics.
First is another shot of the Edgar Thompson works in Braddock. It seems to be an ongoing theme for me to get photos of the mill whenever possible. I don't know why I'm so fascinated by it, I just am. I got this one after I dropped Bob off at Ray's. It was along the way home, so I stopped to capture the image.


Now, this one actually frightens me. I took Aliesha to dinner tonight because we needed to talk about some stuff that's going on in her life. So I figured dinner would be a great way for us to sit down and connect. But this statue really made me feel uncomfortable. And I have no idea as to why. It's just kinda creepy to me.
But then again, my Mom has a picture of me, from when I was like 5 years old, with my brother and one of my cousins at Kennywood Park. In the picture we're sitting on a park bench with a similar looking statue of a cowboy (if you're familiar with Kennywood, you hafta know the statue that I'm talking about) and I'm sitting on the cowboy's lap crying because I was scared to death of the damned thing. So I'm guessing that it's because the Colonel here reminds me of that traumatic experience from my youth.


OK, that's all for now.

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Quote for 1/27/07

"Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden."
Corrie Ten Boom

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Quote for 1/23/07

"What happens to a person is not as significant as what happens inside of a person."
J.D. Davenport

See below for more thoughts on this

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It's what's inside that counts

JD had the sermon tonight. His key point was from the above "Quote..."

He spoke about how the things we go through in life will either break us down or make us stronger in our faith. I see that all the time in my own life. I draw strength from God when I am at my lowest points. And that's what God wants from us. He doesn't want us to face Him in the conceited attitude that we can do everything on our own. He wants us to trust Him to bring us through and make us more like Him as we grow through the hardships. He doesn't want us to gripe and complain about the difficult times, which is one of the reasons why Jesus had to suffer - so we could look at what He went through and say that our own suffering is nothing by comparison.
He also addressed the idea that in order to bring changes we have to be willing to change from the inside. He pointed out the idea that we put so many things inside of our bodies, hearts and minds that will cause us to act in ways that we know we shouldn't. We need to be willing to put things into ourselves that will do us good in the ways we ought to be living. Which is one of the reasons why reading the Bible is such an important part of being a Christian. If we put good things into our hearts and minds (the scriptures) then we will see good things growing from that. It's also a reason for why we ought to spend time in prayer everyday, to seek out what God wants for us each day.
I also see this to be true in my own life. This is one of the reasons why Christian music is so important to me. While I don't believe that mainstream music is going to harm me in the way that so many preachers used to always proclaim the eviils of Rock-n-Roll would do. I do see that when I allow myself to dwell on the types of music that promote or glorify the kinds of behavior that are unbefitting of Christians, I find myself leaning towards a more permissive attitude to such behaviors. But when I focus my attention on music that at least acknowledges God and has a positive perspective of how we ought to live our lives, it's a little bit easier to face the challenges of the day.
And I'm also capable of seeing that in other peoples lives. Not the least of which being my son Bob. I can see how his interest in Christian music has had a positive effect on his life and his attitude towards many topics. I can see how he has grown as a person, and as a man, over the months since we've become involved in each others musical interests. And I like being able to see that change in him.
All in all, a very good message.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Ooooowwwch !!!

So I peeled the first scab off of my brand yesterday. Man! Did that hurt! Now my brand is kinda like a fresh wound - which really sucks.
But to make matters worse, today I had to fill-in as a Material Handler at work. All of the lifting and moving has thus aggravated my wound and I am in some serious pain as I sit here typing this.
I'm glad I have a soothing gel to put on it tonight.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Quote for 1/21/07

"People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do."
Lewis Cass

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ink-n-Fire (pt.6)

This is what my brand looks like now.



I told everyone it was looking kinda nasty lately. You can see where the skin is starting to heal away from the actual brand. I'm still having trouble with picking at the scabbing - I've just never done that sort of thing. But I have been peeling away some of the dry skin around it.
OK, that's it for this update.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Quote for 1/19/07

"The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."
Oscar Wilde

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Coming along nicely

Life is good!
Well, the papers came in from the lawyer yesterday. I signed them and sent them out this morning. These were the affadavits that will be filed in the courts once Jo has had a chance to look them over. The 21 day waiting period will begin once she signs whatever portion she has to sign, and then things will be underway. This most recent communique also stated that I would not hear from my lawyer for approximately 45 days. After the papers are filed it's all up to the courts.
Soon, I'll be done with all of it!
More good news came the other day as I finally remembered to weigh-in for my weight loss program at work. I'm down to 247 - that's a whopping 29 pounds since I started this thing. It equates to 11% of my original weight, which is what they're really measuring. That puts me squarely tied with two co-workers for the largest % of weight loss to this point. I am so psyched about this!
Also, the brand is looking particularly nasty the last couple of days. I took the time to peel away some of the dead skin that was flaking around the brand and it aggravated the area. So now it looks kinda red and swollen, but at least I can see some of the scabs forming. It won't be long til I can start picking at them - not that I'm looking forward to that, but I've been told I have to.
In other areas; I must say that my most recent relationship is coming along nicely. We're taking things slowly, getting to know each other. Enjoying each others company whenever possible.
Work is good. I still have a fair amount of OT.
Kids are fine. Aliesha, however, has decided to move back to Indiana with her aunt and uncle. She realized that many of the people that she spends much of her time with aren't good for her. She also realized that every time her car needs something worked on, it's easier to just have it out there, rather than always having to get it towed. I'm not particularly happy about this decision, but there's nothing I can do. I just have to hope for the best, and that she'll get a decent job soon enough out there.
OK, I guess that about covers everything for now. I'll have a photo update of my brand tomorrow - first week down. WOOHOO !!!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The general consensus

So far, of all the people who've seen my brand or the video of me getting the brand, or both, there are a few prevailing thoughts about it all.
Among my male co-workers; I am either insane, or one serious bad-ass - or some combination of the two. I have been told by at least 3 of my male co-workers that they wouldn't want to be on my bad side and they would love to have me on their side if they were ever in a bar fight.
Among my female co-workers; it's pretty much the same. The ones who think I'm a serious bad-ass all seem to have a new level of admiration for me. They think my brand is awesome! And the ladies who think I'm insane, they now stand just a little bit further away from me when they talk to me...
All in all, everybody gets the symbolism of the work I'm having done. They at least respect that, for the most part. And the majority of them can't wait to see the finished product. And that's pretty cool.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Ink-n-Fire (pt.5)

Alright! For those of you who wished to witness my actual branding, you can go see the edited video version of the event at JT's blog on JTTV - Episode 7.
You're gonna love it! It's got sound and everything. Go check it out, now!

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Ink-n-Fire (pt.3)

Well, here it is, the moment you've all been waiting for; my brand!

I think it looks awesome.

I have to admit, the process wasn't quite what I expected. I was under the impression that Z would make an actual cross out of metal and would heat the entire brand to use with a single strike. Instead, she cut out a strip of metal that was about an inch long to use as 5 individual strikes.
She started by prepping my arm. She shaved the area, and wiped it down with alcohol.


Then she applied a template for guidance, and had me lie down so I wouldn't move around too much.


This was the first stike.

It's not as bad as you'd think. You feel more of the heat as the brand is being brought closer to your skin. But once the brand touches you, it only burns for a second or two then the pain goes away. I guess that's what you can expect from deadening the nerve endings with searing, red, hot metal.
Yes, I flinched each time, but I didn't make a sound. I just kept breathing and waited for the pain to end after the first couple of seconds. Bob was kinda upset that I didn't cry. P.Dave was really impressed by it. But then again, he thinks I'm half Klingon...

Artist and victim... uh, I mean, client... posing together.

Z is one very interesting lady. And she thought that JT and I were a lot of fun to hang out with. She said she's looking forward to when I can come back and get the ink done because she had such a great time with us there. She thinks we're funny!
Of course, it's going to be awhile before I can go back for the ink. My aftercare instructions are to encourage it to scar. I'm not supposed to put anything on it that might promote healing. No lotions, no ointments, no bandages. I am allowed to use an aloe gel if I want to, but even that she said to use sparingly. I'm also supposed to pick at the scab as soon as it forms. I have to make sure that my hands and the brand area are both clean to prevent infection. But over the course of the next few months, a good scar should form. And that's what the branding is all about.
I will be keeping everyone updated with the progress of my scarring. A photo-journal of sorts. And JT captured some of my branding on video. So you can expect me to link to his next episode of JTTV whenever he finally gets it all edited and posted. But that won't be any earlier than Monday. You'll love it!
OK, there you have it. Moving right along with my brand new life.

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Ink-n-Fire (pt.4)

JT getting his ink.

He chose a rather interesting design. Two angels dancing around a cross. In this shot all of the outlines are done, but they still need some filling in.

This pic is as close as I got to the finished product. I thought Z was done wiping it down. Ooooooops...

And this sign just really captured my attention.

There are dozens of others all over the shop, but I couldn't have possibly taken pics of them all.
This night was fantastic!

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That went well !!

No, really, that went well! And I mean really well!
My date earlier tonight, that is...
Things just really clicked for us. It was incredible! And the real kicker to it was that I went into this like a "blind date" - we've been e-mailing and talking on the phone for a couple of weeks now - I'd never seen her before tonight.
She's a smokin' hottie!
So, for those of you who remember Callie, I really have to thank her for hooking me up with Trish. Tonight was just amazing. And it's only the beginning.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Wait n see

I think it's time I give myself a new profile pic. I took down the previous shot - my Christmas display - since Christmas is over and all of my decorations have been put away. Now, I'm not sure I want to go back to the one of me from the Ren Fest eating the turkey drumstick. I think I'd like something different now, but I don't like any of the options that I have at the moment.
Well...
Maybe one or two, but I'm not really excited about them. I almost like the ones of me playing my bass, but I don't like the lighting on them. Or perhaps I'll use the shots from tomorrow night's event. That might be cool...

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

What has been my week thus far

OK, time to get everybody up to speed on what's been happening in my life so far this week.
Monday was Monday, ya seen one, ya seen 'em all...
But this Monday I had the opportunity to spend some time with a dear friend of mine. We had dinner together and we talked and it was very nice to be out away from the house and spending quality time with someone that I really care for.
Tuesday seemed to drag all day at work. It usually does, but this Tuesday just seemed unbearably long to me. But Tuesday night made up for it with church. I did my usual thing and picked out the songs for the worship service, and gave them to P.Dave so he could copy them and give them to the kids who are a part of the Worship Team. P.Dave substituted a song for one of the ones that I had picked and it was pretty good, too. We kicked things off with "How Great Thou Art", but with a really nice bluesy/rock riff. It was great. Followed that with "He's Alive", but I was laying down a punk bassline while Ray hammered out some solid percussion. Then we slowed it all down and brought everything to bear on worship with "God of Wonders". Then wrapped the music up with "You", a very smooth, worshipful, but also a very intense and upbeat song. I love it when the worship comes together like it did. It makes the whole service that much more uplifting.
Oh, yeah, P.Dave preached, too...
Wednesday was a good day. I managed to get some actual writing done for our Writers Workshop. I'm not going to post it because it would require too much explanation of things that are not fully developed in the story. And I don't have all of my notes available to undertake such a task just yet.
But I will recommend going to visit JT's blog so you can all enjoy reading his offering from last night. I just thought it was hilarious.
Today, being Thursday - but also pretending to be my Friday (I'm taking a vaction day tomorrow to clean my house), has brought us here. I had to get my oil changed tonight. That's why this post is going up now.
And now, for some forward looking news...
I have a date tomorrow night! I'm not going to say much else about it, but I will be sure to let everyone know how things went.
Also, Saturday night is the big night: Ink-n-Fire! I'm getting my brand! I will be sure to get pics to post here for when it's done. Be watching for them!

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Just hold your horses!

OK, I know I haven't posted anything since Sunday. And it's not because I don't have anything to post about, it's because I haven't been home long enough yet this week to actually get a post typed up and published. Sorry.
But don't fret! I will try to get something posted tonight - sometime between getting home from my oil change, making dinner and taking a phone call or two that I'm expecting.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Who would've guessed it?

Actually, I would've guessed "it", but we'll come back to what "it" is in a few minutes.
Mom invited me and Bob over for dinner tonight. Stuffed shells, mushroom caps and broccolli - I dunno, I didn't think it belonged with the rest of the meal, but that's Mom. It was nice to visit for a little while. We really should do so more often, but Mom keeps so busy anymore. She's at her church more often than I'm at mine. And I run the worship service for mine!
It was a very nice evening. We ate and talked and enjoyed one another's company. And then came the surprise - the "it".
Bob had his mp3 player with him and he was listening to it while we sat there talking. I mentioned to Mom that Bob has been getting his friends hooked on some of the Christian music he's been listening to lately. Which intrigued Mom since she likes music so much. So Bob offered to let her listen to what he had playing.
Mom accepted.
It just so happened that Bob was listening to Skillet (you can find the video for "Savior" in the Now Playing section on the site - that's the song Mom got to hear). And Mom actualy liked it. It was quite amusing to watch her bobbing her head up-n-down a little bit as she listened to it.
I can't say that I'm too surprised to know this about Mom. She always liked the music that I brought home. Even when I was going thru my Metal/Punk phases. Not bad for a 72 yr old, former farm-girl.
My Mom sooooo rocks!

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Quote for 1/7/07

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing."
Abraham Lincoln

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Just something to pass the time

OK, I'm up earlier than I wanted to be. So, you guessed it, Blogthings...

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to good manners and elegance.

In love, you feel the most alive when things are straight-forward, and you're told that you're loved.

You'd like your lover to know you are loyal and faithful... that you'll never change.

You would be forced to break up with someone who was too emotional, moody, and difficult to please.

Your ideal relationship is open. Both of you can talk about everything... no secrets.

Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.

You think of marriage as something precious. You'll treasure marriage and treat it as sacred.

In this moment, you think of love as something you thirst for. You'll do anything for love, but you won't fall for it easily.


I guess I picked the above one so I would know what kind of person I'll be looking for as I begin to date again, soon.

You Are Sunrise

You enjoy living a slow, fulfilling life. You enjoy living every moment, no matter how ordinary.
You are a person of reflection and meditation. You start and end every day by looking inward.
Caring and giving, you enjoy making people happy. You're often cooking for friends or buying them gifts.
All in all, you know how to love life for what it is - not for how it should be.


Yeah, I guess that sounds like me.

Just wasn't very impressed with any of the other selections this morning.

Oh, look! Only another hour before I have to start getting ready for church...
Guess I'll go look for a "Quote".

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wow! That was fast!

I just got the first set of papers from my attorney. It's a very simple questionaire about our current "status". I'm going to fill them out and get them into the mail first thing in the morning.
Looks like my divorce is moving right along.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back in the swing of things

It was the first service of the new year, and it was great to walk in to see this...


Melissa thought she could play Julian's bass.

JD warming up before starting practice with the youth worship team.


Melissa and Leah waiting for their cue.


Julian, Melissa and Leah getting into the groove


Ray making the "thunder"


It was good to be back to a normal Tuesday night. And it's always good to see our youth getting involved.
That's all I had to share. The sermon was a repeat from a few weeks ago, so there's no need to rehash it. Except that I lit a few candles for some people that I'm praying for - trying to be a light to...

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Quote for 1/1/07

"Today is the first day of the rest of my new life."
M+

See below

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All things are made new

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that your celebration was as enjoyable as ours.
Well, it's time to start things out right. First a little rehashing of what JT and I did for our celebration last night, then the more profound impact of what this new year will mean to me.
Did our annual DVD fest. This was our list:
Fearless
Labyrinth
Dogma
The Longest Yard (Burt Reynolds version)
Anchorman
Had our traditional fare of wings, taquitos, meatballs, munchies, wine and pop (soda to some of you) we had a pork roast, but never got around to it - so that's for today. And just enjoyed the time together.
As for the profound impact on my life. I will be mailing out the authorization form, and a check for the full amount of the fees, to get my divorce rolling.
Yes, I know that there's no mail delivery or pick-up today! But this is all symbolic to me.
This will be a year of changes for me. According to the information package that I received from the attorney, I will be getting the actual papers within 4-6 days of my check clearing - which could take up to 6 weeks (according to them). Then, after I sign what I have to sign on the papers, and, I hope, Jo signs what she as to sign, we can mail them back to the attorney. Once they receive the signed papers there is a 21 day waiting period. After that, the papers will be filed and within 3-4 months a judge will issue a Decree of Divorce, and we will each receive copies to use for getting on with our lives.
I have waited for so long to be done with this episode. It was never what I wanted, and I hate that I have to be the one to do this, but I have no choice in the matter. I can't allow the state to come after me for her pregnancy to "Cowboy". So I have to do this - even though I said I never would.
But now that I find myself in this position, I find that I'm ready to make some radical changes in my life to reflect the fact that I now have a brand new life to move forward into. I'm sure you're all aware by now of the first big change - my brand, and subsequent tattoos. But I also plan on doing some other things to my physical appearance. For one, what began as a joke - to not cut my hair until my divorce is final - it's finally looking like I will have to make a decision as to what I'm going to have done when I do get it cut. I have a few things in mind that will look good with the brand/tattoos, but I'm not sure which will be best for me (my face).
Additionally, you may remember that I've been doing a weight loss program through my work. At last weigh-in I was down 23 pounds over 6 weeks. But I've also started to lift weights at home. So I'm hoping to add some substantial muscles mass to my upper body. I should look a bit different by the time my divorce is final. And then, I may be comfortable with the idea of dating again.
So that's what I have planned for my brand new life, and this new year. Wish me blessings, as I wish the same to you, in whatever we do in this upcoming year. God has done a great deal in my life to bring me to the point where I can finally accept this. So it's time I stop looking back at what used to be, and start looking ahead to what He now has in store for me.

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Quotes from 2006

Quotes from 12/2006

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