Saturday, January 31, 2009

The end draweth nigh

Tomorrow is the big day, the Big Game; The Super Bowl.
Or, if you're anything like JT, The Super Bowl Commercials. And that's OK, too. Because if you're not a big fan of the game, or if your favorite team isn't in the game, the commercials are still always worth watching.
However, now that the day is actually upon us, that means that the endless hype that has been pouring out of every media outlet in existence over the last two weeks will soon come to it's end. I can't say I'm terribly upset about that. But I must admit that I will miss some of it.
You see, I have the NFL Network. Or, as I have been calling it for the last two weeks, the 24/7 Steelers Network. If you have the NFL Network, then you know what I'm talking about. The Steelers have such a fantastic record and history in the Super Bowl that there's a lot of great footage that can be shown. So it seems like everytime I turn around, there's another Film Session feature about one of the Super Bowl winning Steelers teams. Or a Replay or Rewind of one of their playoff or one of their five Super Bowl wins. It's all very cool and exciting if you're a Steelers fan - which I am! Not to mention that the NFL Network stage in Tampa has been surrounded by countless Steelers fans, with their Terrible Towels waving, all week long. So, I will miss all of that when the game is finally over. Unless, of course, the Steelers win, in which case I'm sure we'll get to see a lot more of it with the newest win included in that footage.
Now, I will not miss the multitude of various experts and players, past and present, who've been playing politician for the last two weeks. Mostly because they keep saying a whole lot of nothing as they try to answer the question "Who do you think will (or want to) win this game?" without actually answering the question. I mean, even Ray Lewis - who you know hates the Steelers - wouldn't give a straight answer. In fact, he answered it the same way JT does "The team that scores the most will win." (DUH!). But I can't say I blame the commentators for being cautious with their answer. They have to appear objective in this, at least until just before the game. Because there really is no voice for the Cardinals. They have no history with the Super Bowl. They're a young team with a few veterans, but very little footage for a 24/7 football network to show us. So, I expect the talking heads to do a lot of talking about the team that doesn't have enough film to do it's talking for them. But I don't mean for that to sound as if I'm diminishing the Cardinals accomplishments. I have to respect what this team has done. Especially in light of the coaching staff being pretty much another Pittsburgh squad.
So, enjoy the game, or the commercials, and may the better team win. We'll be watching at church on our wall sized screen. I'm sure you all know who I'm cheering for. And, Faith, I also wish your team well - because they are almost a Pittsburgh team. But I have a deeper interest in a Steelers win this year. This year I actually know someone who's playing in the game. And I really want to see one of those rings up close. Especially one with 6 diamonds...

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Quote for 1/30/09

"I have to listen to my music loud or it won't drown out the voices in my head."

Just something I tossed out there at work today...


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I'm not prone to talk about the weather, but the last 24 hours have been really special.
It began last night as snow, then turned to ice overnight, and rain in the morning. The rain continued until the afternoon when it became snow again. But it wasn't just the snow. The sudden changes in temperature brought something more along with it - Thunder and lightning...
Yeah, thunder and lightning during a snow storm.
So, the question that me and my co-workers have been asking is, what do we call that?
Is it a Thunder Snow-Storm or is it Thunder Snow-Shower?


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dedicated !!!

Anyone who follows football is well aware of how dedicated the Steelers fan base is. Pittsburghers travel well. You can always find more than a few Terrible Towels being twirled no matter who or where the Steelers might be playing. Steeler fans also transplant well into other cities throughout the world. And we remain loyal to our beloved Steelers. In fact, I've met Steelers fans in many of the places I've visited. Even in places where the Browns and Bengals are the long-time favorites. But I think that level of dedication has just been bumped up a bit.
As of my typing this, there is a restaurant chain - headquartered in Pittsburgh - called Eat'n Park that is closing all 75 of it's restaurants at 3:00 PM on Super Bowl Sunday so all of their employees can be home in time to watch the game...
And they're not the only business doing it. I know of at least one grocery store that's closing early on Sunday for the same reason.
I have to admit, there's a part of me that has to wonder if there isn't something more to it than that. Maybe it's something they're doing preempively. Perhaps they expect the majority of their employees to call-off, so they're going to avoid the potential mess of having their business understaffed by simply not being open during the game. Or maybe it's because it isn't worth being open because nobody goes out to eat or shop unless they can still watch the game while they're there. Both are possibilities.
But I tend to believe that it is a matter of being loyal to the Steelers and their fan base. After all, the Steeler fans are also some of Eat'n Parks favorite customers.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quote for 1/25/09

"Falsehood has an infinity of combinations, but truth has only one mode of being."
Jean Jacques Rousseau


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Friday night

I think it's safe to say that all of us are recovering from our night out last night.

Yeah, it was the usual suspects (plus one or two more) last night as we headed to Crafton for a concert that was snowed-out last month. It was JT, Bob, Matt and, the latest addition to our crew, Corey - as well as yours truly, of course. And we had a great time.
I must apologize that I didn't take any pictures. My batteries were dead enough that I probably wouldn't have gotten more than 4 or 5. So I just didn't take any. However, if you're interested in seeing pics from the event, you can always check out JT's Flickr page. He did get some good shots.
We got to the church sometime around 6:30. JT was already there since he took a bus straight from work. It was a somewhat disappointing turnout at that time with maybe a dozen people mulling around. But it would grow by the time the show began. So we sat and talked and joked around with one another and chatted with some of the people we had met the last time we were here - for the concert that had been cancelled. BY the time everything started the crowd had grown to be about 40-50 kids and adults. Not too bad.
The show started sometime around 7:15. The first act was a white Christian rapper named Braille.
I gotta tell ya, I'm not too keen on rap. Wait! Let me rephrase that; I despise rap! OK, that's better. Now, I'm not especially fond of white rappers, either (as if that needed to be said). And to put the final nail in this coffin for my enthusiasm, I've always found Christian rap to be rather lame. It's as if it's geared towards parents so they can tell their kids that there's Christian rap out there so they don't have to listen to the rest of the crap that's out there. But that's just my take on it.
Now, I'm not gonna tell you that this guy changed my mind about white Christian rappers, or even about rap in general. But I will say that as white Christian rappers go, he was OK. And I would be remiss if I didn't at least say that he had a good message to share when he stopped rapping and just talked to everyone. His message actually hit home with me. It was about God having a purpose for us if we're willing to submit and let Him guide us. And that God has incredible plans for all of us, if we're willing to follow His lead.
It seems I've heard this message before. A lot, in fact, over the past couple of years. Funny that God would use this, the most unlikely source that God could choose for me, to remind me of this message in my life.
Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?
And, yes, after the set I made sure to tell Braille that his message was an affirmation for me. Which, in turn, was an affirmation for him in his calling.
How cool is it that God does that kinda stuff?
But anyways...
So, the next band up was Undermine The Common. Very hard rock. We had a mosh pit for this set. It made us happy that there were a few other guys that wanted to mosh with us. I really like these guys. Especially since we got to hang out with them on the night of the snowed-out show. They have a great sound, and they are tireless in their efforts to thank everyone involved with their music ministry. They even plugged JT's podcast for him.
Next up was Joe. I suppose he has a band called A Common Crisis, but we never saw anyone else. Or maybe he just uses it to describe the theme of his music. Either way, he's a very talented guitarist. He used a Sampler pedal to record a riff, then he'd lay down his live playing over the playback. Very cool! He had an almost jazz feel to some of his music. Very relaxing. I almost fell asleep to it. But I don't mean for that to sound like I was bored, but we just weren't going to mosh to this and I had been up since 3:30 AM.
The last act was Take The Name. This was actually the band that I wanted to see more than the others. They found me on Myspace and invited me to the original show last month. So when I found out it was rescheduled, I knew I had to be there. They put on a great show. Hardcore screaming metal. And they had some of the kids really worked up. We moshed! And to make things even better, they gave us the Wall Of Death. JT has pics of it on his Flickr page. You'll have to go see them. We were all quite impressed with this band. Much better than we expected. So it made the wait worthwhile.
We wrapped it up by talking to all of the bands and getting JT's picture taken with all of them. And he also bought a poster from Take The Name so he could get it signed to hang on the wall with all of his other posters. This is a band he is looking forward to playing on his podcast.
We left sometime around 11:00. Dropped JT off and then me and the rest of the guys realized that we were kinda hungry. So we stopped at Pasquales for some pizza and then headed home.
It's always good when I get to enjoy a night out with friends, especially when it only cost $5 for the show. But it's even better that Bob and his friends enjoyed it too. We all had a blast, and can't wait for our next opportunity to have some fun like this again.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

The host with the most

Why I do these things, I'll never know...
So, we have the annual Super Bowl party at church coming up next Sunday. But there's only one slight problem; P.Dave won't be there to host it - he'll be at the Super Bowl!
Yeah, that's right folks, P.Dave's cousin Patrick got him tickets for the Super Bowl. And since I suspected that it was a possibility, I volunteered to host the party if Patrick came through on this. He did. So, I'm the host for our party next Sunday.
It's OK though, I'll get to watch the game on a screen the size of a wall - because we pretty much use the projection equipment to put the game on a wall - and the food and lodging will be a lot cheaper than what P.Dave will be paying. I'm not too excited about the possible clean-up, but ya gotta take the bad with the good.
All I know is Patrick better show me that ring when the Steelers win this one.

That's right Faith, I said it...

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Quote for 1/19/09

"Faith is much better than belief. Belief is when someone else does the thinking."
R. Buckminster Fuller

I have a few thoughts that reflect this idea posted below.


Not playing by the rules

I thought the above Quote... to be quite appropriate for the thoughts I wanted to express in this post.

Yesterday we had a pretty small group at church, so the sermon was more of a group discussion than it typically is. And the topic of that discussion was playing games by the rules.
I suppose that with the AFC Championship game being played yesterday (which our beloved Steelers won!), and P.Dave's cousin Patrick being a part of that game, there's some sort of law that says he has to use a football analogy to start a sermon about games and the rules that we play them by.
The example he used was built around the way the rules of football have changed over the years. So much so that it takes forever for the officials to make certain calls because the rules have become so complex. And that complexity has taken away much of the edge from the game. And a significant amount of the fun as well.
P.Dave likened this overbearance of rules to organized religion. We begin with something good. The traditions we've developed are important as a tool to pass our faith from one person, or one generation, to another. But when we add to those traditions, and give those traditions a place of greater authority than the faith we're trying to live out, then those traditions suck the life out of our faith, and make it meaningless to anyone who doesn't already embrace it. And worse still, it turns that faith into a clique of people trying to maintain their status in what has devolved into a social club.
People care more about their church buildings than they do their neighbors. They worry more about a person's clothing, or appearance, than they care about that person's spiritual condition, or their needs. People fuss over candles, hymn books and misspellings in the bulletin, while the world around them wastes away.
Is that what it means to be a Christian?
What organized religion has done is to kill the spirit of what Christ came here to do; to care for the needy and the oppressed. Jesus didn't come here to set up a system of rules. He didn't come to create a new religion. He came to release us from all of that crap. Jesus told His disciples not to worry about what they would wear, what they would eat. He never asked anyone to build a memorial to Him. All He's ever asked of us is that we love Him, love one another, and care for the least of His bretheren. And it doesn't take a whole lot of rules to get that done.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Quote for 1/17/09

"Your enjoyment of the world is never right, till every morning you awake in Heaven: see yourself in your Father's palace: and look upon the skies, the earth, and the air as celestial joys: having such a reverend esteem of all, as if you were among the angels."
Thomas Traherne


Do I need to say it?

Yeah, JT and I had a great time last night.
We started things out at the Golden Corral, and left for Butler from there. Of course, JT was cracking me up the entire time we were on the road - which was about an hour. And it always sets the mood for what's to come.
We got to Butler sometime around 7:00 PM and had to make a detour around the block a few times before we found our destination. I've now learned that Mapquest doesn't really give driving directions so much as approximate suggestions for how one might arrive at their destination. It would seem that the turn we were supposed to make to get to the venue wasn't really there. Or maybe it should've been a left instead of a right - because there was no right turn where it was supposed to be. But we still found the place OK, and with plenty of time to spare before the concert.
The place was called The Net Outreach. A really cool set-up. We walked in to what would be a small snack bar where they offered drinks and snacks of all sorts. Then on a split level there was a lounge and dining area with an alcohol free bar. We hung out there for a while until it was time for the show.
The concert took place on the third floor. It was a studio-loft with a hardwood floor and a real under-construction look to it. Not sure if it's intentional, or if they're still working on it. But it was the perfect place for a concert.
First up was an opening act called Breakaway. A kinda power-pop band with a hint of punk or maybe even a little goth influence.

They had a few of their own original songs, but they also covered a few tunes. One of which kinda took us by surprise was Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. The other was a great power-pop punk version of Stand By Me. But I'll share more about this band later.
The main event was Alakrity. They remembered us, especially since JT has maintained contact with them for his podcast material.

I gotta admit, I like the message on the stickers.

After Alakrity's set we lingered to hang out and talk with everyone. Not to mention getting our obligatory pics.

I had to get my pic taken with Breakaway because I know one of the band members - and didn't even know it until I saw her behind the keyboards. She's in the middle of the shot. Her name is Sharon and she's the manager of our defect investigation technicians group at work.
It's kinda funny that she didn't recognize me at first because of the missing mohawk. But once she realized who I was we started to talk about our involvement with music. She plays the piano for her church in Murrysville. These youngsters have been begging her to come play keys for them for over a year. So she finally gave in, and they actually have a few shows scheduled for out of state in the summer.
We also made sure to hang out with the guys from Alakrity for a few minutes. Ya gotta love the fact that their shirts are fashioned after the original Power Rangers insignia.

And they even started their show with the original Power Rangers theme song - and if you aren't aware of what that might be, consider yourself blessed.
Yeah I got my pic taken with these guys this time.

They've gone through a few member changes since we saw them last. New bassist, and no more keyboards. Their bassist left because he felt called to go to college. Their keyboardist quit because of health issues. it's kinda sad, but they've maintained their sound, and their new bassist is really good.
They're gonna be in the area again next Friday too, in Kittanning. Their schedule is to do a show tonight in Haggerstown MD. Then they'll be playing at a pro-life rally in DC during the inauguration. And as they swing back to Wisconsin, they'll be hitting Kittanning.
They've asked JT and I to pimp this show for them. We'd love to go, but we have a previous commitment to see a few other bands in Crafton - a rescheduling of a show we missed because of bad weather last month.

OK, now some more serious notes on supporting Indie Music.
As JT and I talked to the guys from Alakrity about their "touring" we came to realize that these guys are really committed to making this thing a go. They don't usually get paid for their shows. Typically they get fed by whoever has invited them to play. Sometimes there's a few dollars for their gas. But it's usually only what they get from merchandise that they get to keep. And the CD sales are still paying for the production costs. So, they usually have a little jar or pop bottle set up on the Merch Table to accept donations for their food and fuel expenses on the road. It's a rough life, but they're committed to it because they're committed to the message of their music. Ya gotta respect that. And that's why JT and I are so committed to supporting indie artists. They've earned every bit of our respect and admiration for the risks they take to pursue this calling. We should all have such courage and faith...

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Friday, January 16, 2009

A little fun

I'm not gonna stay on too long because I have plans for the evening. Tonight, JT and I are heading to Butler to see Alakrity. I'm sure there will be a few other bands there too, but our main focus is these guys. Mostly because we met them before - at the Summerslam Fest, back in June last year - and we like their music. But also because we support Indie Music.
I'll have a post, and maybe pics, tomorrow.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Not a problem

Life is good.
Attitude is everything, you know? And I try to always have a positive attitude. Especially after some recent news we received at work.
It was originally announced a few months ago that we would be getting our annual merit raises in March, when the Philips acquisition of Respironics was complete. But the other day we were told that there would be no merit raises in 2009. Because of the economy, of course.
But I can't complain. In fact, when the announcement came out, I actually turned to one of my co-workers and said "We were getting a raise in March?"
I had forgotten all about it. Especially since we had already received raises in September while we were still operating on Respironics fiscal year. So finding out that we weren't going to be getting it really didn't bother me.
A lot of people might be upset with news like this. But I can't see any reason to be. I'm grateful that I have a job. And a good job at that! I make decent money, have good benefits, low stress, and I like the people I work with - and for. And I know there are a lot of people who can't say that these days.
I figure if we're willing to make this sacrifice now, it will pay off in the long run. Better to have a job without a raise for the next year, than to have the raise and lose the job in 6 months.
Besides, I know God is watching out for me.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quote for 1/13/09

"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others."
Saint Augustine


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quote for 1/11/09

"True wisdom is less presuming than folly. The wise man doubts often, and changes his mind; the fool is obstinate, and doubts not; he knows all things but his own ignorance."


Saturday, January 10, 2009

My solution

The other day I discussed my dilemma with everyone. Well, I think I've come up with a solution.
But first, I want to thank my dear friend Wink, for her suggestion to showcase one of my many weapons as my profile pic. While it might be a fair representation of me as a person - or of certain aspects of who I am - I don't think it's the best one possible.
I did consider the little bit of photo-play that Bob's friend Matt did with me and The Punisher: War Zone movie poster. But I also didn't think that it was the best possible reperesentation of me.
Instead, I looked through my photo gallery to see if there were any pictures of me that I could work with. And there were. It took a little editing but I think it does the job just fine...

Well, whaddaya think ?

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Unintended consequences

OK, it's been a week since I removed my mohawk and I've made some observations about what it's like to not have any hair on my head. Or, at least, the top and back of my head.

* I didn't think I'd notice much of a difference in the weather, since two thirds of my head was already bald, but I have noticed a difference. Especially on the back of my neck where my ponytail used to hang. I actually wear a hoodie under my leather jacket now so I can cover my head when I leave the house in the mornings.

* I do have to say that I haven't noticed any difference in how I react to snow and rain. They still suck when they hit my head, but at least I don't have to worry about my ponytail getting soaked.

* I've noticed a draft from behind my work station. Once again, it's something I've been feeling on the back of my neck. I miss my ponytail...

* I haven't adjusted to the fact that I don't need to wash my hair when I take my showers. I still put a dollop of my Old Spice Hair & Body Wash in the palm of my hand after I've gotten myself soaked down.

* Fortunately, it's Hair & Body Wash...

* My brush is absolutely useless for the moment, or the next few months.

* I don't use my razor nearly as much as I used to.

* Many of my co-workers have no clue. I keep hearing "I like your hair cut." And I keep replying with "It's not a hair cut. This is what you get when you shave off a mohawk." Do they think I was going for the regrowing-my-hair look?

* Many of my co-workers have no clue. Several of them have told me that they never really liked the mohawk. Was I ever concerned with their opinions? I didn't do it for them, I did it for myself. Whether or not they could appreciate it was never a factor for me, nor is it a factor now.

* I have no idea what I'm going to do with my hair when it does finally get to a length I can work with.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My dilemma

Now that the Christmas season is drawing to it's end, I'll be changing my profile pic. Unfortunately, I don't know what I should change it to...
I can't go back to the old pics, because I no longer have the mohawk. But I'm not real happy with any of my newest pics. Besides, I'm letting my hair grow back, so I don't want to post any shots of my bald head.

What to do, what to do...

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I'm certifiable !!!

As if we didn't already know that...

Actually, today at work we began our annual soldering recertification classes. Which means that those of us who regularly do soldering as a part of our job, get to go through several hours of rehashing the theory behind what soldering is, and how to do it properly. We also get to do a lot of hands-on training to demonstrate to our instructor that we know what we're doing. And when we're all done, we get a nifty certificate that says we're certified to solder according to the industry's J-Standard for Soldering.
It's all kinda cool. Philips/Respironics shells out a substantial chunk of change to provide this training. And of the hundreds of people who work in production, there are only about 30 of us who get this training. I feel so special...
I always enjoy the classes, too. The company, Blackfox, that provides the training and materials always sends us the same instructor now, but they didn't always. I think it's because of the one time when they sent an instructor that rubbed everyone the wrong way, and had an almost confrontational teaching style. She didn't go over very well with any of us. But our current instructor has been training/re-training us for the last 5 years. And she always has such great stories to tell about her many travels. Which really makes the classes that much better. That, and the fact that we all kinda know each other now makes it a bit of fun. And just think of it, I'm getting paid to do this...
How cool is that?

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Quote for 1/4/08

"This is the highest wisdom that I own; freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day anew."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Quotes from 12/2008

Quotes from 2008

Friday, January 02, 2009

As promised

Yesterday I told everyone that I would have a big surprise for everyone today. Well, here it is...

Notice something missing?
OK, people, it's a brand new year, so I decided that now was as good a time as any to make this particular change. I don't plan on remaining bald, but I'm also not expecting to try for a new mohawk. I'm just gonna let my hair grow back in until it's long enough for me to do something with.
As for the old hair, I actually did something special with it. I donated it to Locks of Love. And since I had more than 10 inches to donate, I got my hair cut for free at Fantastic Sam's. Typically, they only cut off one long ponytail from the customer - so they can style the rest. But since I was getting rid of all of my hair they pulled it up into 4 ponytails and snipped them all off. The rest of the cut was rather simple. They just took the clippers to what was left and shaved it as close to my scalp as the clippers would get. But I still had to come home and finish it with my razor. Perhaps you've noticed the little nick in the back of my head...
It's kinda funny, when I went to my brother's for Christmas Eve, my sister-in-law asked me when I was planning on getting a hair cut. And my brother joked about me waiting until I could donate my hair. He had no idea that I had been planning this for the last few months.
Makes ya wonder what I might do next, don't it?

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Shiny and new

Happy New Year, everyone !!!
Well, JT and I had another one of our fantastic Annual New Year's Movie-n-Munchies Marathons last night - and into today.
It all started when I got home from work yesterday. I put the pork roast in the crock pot and ignored it for the rest of the night.
Headed over to get JT around 5:00. We stopped to grab a case of hard cider and some pop to go with our munchies. Also decided to grab some other snacks in case the taquitos, tortilla chips with taco dip, pizza rolls and the pork roast weren't enough.
We kicked things off with The Jerk. It just happened to be on HBO when we turned on the TV. After that we watched I Am Legend, also just happened to be on one of the other HBO's when we turned the channels. From there we decided to watch Doom - based on the ever popular computer game - because I'd never seen it before. After Doom we watched Vantage Point. A very good movie, though it gets annoying when they rewind every thing every time they show a different person's perspective of what happened. Still, it was a good story and very well done. We ended the night with The Dark Knight and hit the sack sometime around 4:00 AM.
We rolled out of bed at 9:00 AM and started a new marathon for the day; Mythbusters. It was on Discovery Channel. We both like the show, and neither of us felt like searching through our CDs for something we both might like - that we haven't already watched a thousand times. So we stayed with Mythbusters until 3:00 PM. That's when JT decided it was time to go home and take a nap.

So, how was your New Years celebration? Everybody have fun? Recovering nicely?
I could use a bit more sleep, but I'm doing fine otherwise.
Are we all looking forward to the shiny new year?
I am. After 2008 being one of the best years of my life, I can't wait to see what God is going to do this year. Besides, I've already had a preview. Some things that have been coming through lately in my prayer time seem to indicate that great things are on the horizon. And I will share a bit of scripture with everyone that God lead me to yesterday, so I could share it with those who need to know this.

Psalm 37:18-19
18 Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent,
and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.
19 They will not be disgraced in hard times;
even in famine they will have more than enough.

I hope you all take comfort in that. I certainly do. It encourages me. It strengthens me. It reminds me that God is ultimately in control, and that we matter to Him. And that's good to know.
OK, I have some sleep to catch up on, because I want to be fresh for tomorrow. I'm gonna have a big surpise for everyone. I think you'll all like it...

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