New beginnings

Sometimes life does crazy things. And sometimes those crazy things can lead to other not-so-crazy things.

Recently, I’ve embraced the art of furlough, though not voluntarily. As a result, I’m exploring new possibilities with regards to employment that could keep me here in the familiar hometown I’ve lived in for most of my life, or possibly venturing out beyond the walls of comfort into a new place.

In any case, it’s allowed me (read: forced me) to begin to find ways to promote myself. The beauty of this, though, is that I’ve become a bit more reinergized when it comes to the art of storytelling in the various mediums I’ve dabbled in over the last 10 years.

The result is the re-launch of this website. I’m excited to really take on the project of using thisispatch as a design playground, specifically in the areas of design, writing and photography.

My hope is that I can build connections and community with others who share the passions seen here, and even moreso, those who are far better at this than I am. thisispatch is a website about expression, exploration and education. I’m excited to see what kind of castles I can build in this sandbox.

Not Your Momma’s Christmas Songs

Merry Christmas. Yep it’s the time of year where we embrace everything that the season brings, from the pangs of Black Friday to the “terrific” traffic (according to Karen Carpenter at least) and the always on Christmas Music, either by choice or not.

I have to say that I’m a fan of the tunes of the season. I admit that by habit, my radio shifts to our local radio station playing 24/7 sounds of the season and tends to stay there more often than not. Christmas music to me (and any form of holiday entertainment) is akin to the attitude I have for the Olympics. Everything “normal” gets put on hold until December 26h. Regular shows get DVR’d and are replaced with the holiday classics and not so classics (I’m looking at you Hallmark and ABC Family). I get a little lazier in my exercise because hey, here comes that New Years resolution in a few weeks.

Christmas music has always taken a front seat to anything I listen to for 4-5 weeks at the end of the year (with the exception of the Chronicles of Narnia radio drama from Focus on the Family. Seriously, if you haven’t experienced it yet, go HERE, swipe your credit card, and prepare to live)

This year has been a bit different. For some reason or another, I haven’t been as motivated to tickle my ears with Bing, Fred, Karen or any of the other standard voices that occupy my days. Even the more current artists that are out there aren’t really doing it for me. Instead, I’ve gravitated to some newer sounds of the season, the songs of Christmas that are less about the traditional (read safe/mainstream/commercial) ideologies and stories, and more about Jesus.

There’s been something refreshing about queuing up a song like Fleurie’s “Wake Up (O Night Divine)” driven by a cool wintry piano overlayed with a breathy falsetto voice driving the lyrics that is somehow, in its simplicity, incredibly satisfying.

Maybe its the kid in me giving way to the grown up. Maybe it’s the traditional, “it has to be this way” guy giving way to the new traditions that come out of a marriage and fatherhood. In any case, it’s refreshing. It lightens my heart and in a lot of ways it connects me with my savior, which is how it should be right?

That’s not to say I have abandoned the standards that drive the season. I put up Christmas lights this past weekend with Karen Carpenter, Dollie Parton and the Muppets as my soundtrack. But i’m enjoying these new voices and they stories they are telling me. I’ve listed some new ones that have caught my ear this week. Check em out if you haven’t yet and if you have any non-traditional favorites, sound off in the comments section. I’m looking to

Wake Up (O Night Divine)

Sidewalk Prophets
Hope is Born This Night
What a Glorious Night
Hey Moon

Our King Has Come
We Have A Savior
Unto Us
Born is the King

A Trip To Crystal Bridges

This past weekend my bride and I took a trip to Northwest Arkansas to celebrate her birthday. Along with the massages, shopping and sushi, we ventured to the somewhat new museum in Bentonville known as Crystal Bridges.

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The architecture reminded me of the Sydney Opera House

The architecture reminded me of the Sydney Opera House

Along with being free and having amazing architecture, the museum houses a fantastic permanent exhibit of American art ranging from the late 18th century all the way up to present day.

I love the "action" in this painting, although the guy in the back looks to be aiming at someone outside the frame.

I love the “action” in this painting, although the guy in the back looks to be aiming at someone outside the frame.

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There are also tons of trails to walk around on, along with a rotating exhibit or two, but time kept us from enjoying those. We are planning to make a trip in the fall to enjoy some of that a bit more. I highly recommend this place to anyone into art, architecture or just a cool thing to do that doesn’t cost anything. Yay free.

Full pics can be found at my flickr page located HERE. Enjoy!

Equilibrium – A Review

The Critic

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

I remember reading some time ago that great stories aren’t new, just refreshed. After watching Equilibrium, I can see where this holds it’s truth.

The cerebral action film starring Christian Bale does a lot to retell the story of a man’s awakening from what the world is telling him is normal and battle to fight back. But as much as this feels like The Matrix in a lot of ways, complete with well choreographed gun play and paso doble style music, the refreshing part about this narrative has to do with it’s antagonist, specifically the fight and suppression of human emotion.

I’m grateful that I wasn’t taking my Prozium at the time of watching this movie, otherwise I would have missed out on several fist pumping moments, including the opening sequence where we get introduced to Bale’s character John Preston, the lead “Cleric” whose job it is to suss out any emotion offenders and burn all their cool emotionally created stuff like books, cds, paintings, etc.

The muted colors of the world these guys live in, in contrast to the colorful spaces occupied by the resistance, go a long way to reemphasize just how oppressed they are.

The choreographed gun play and fight sequences were really well done. I specifically loved how the narrator (Father in this case) explains during a training session, how the martial arts being taught has purpose, that it isn’t just a discipline.

The Christian

“Without restraint, without control, emotion is chaos.” – Jurgen

This seems to be the driving force behind “Father” and his doctrine of control. He sees human emotion as the catalyst for all of the evil events that have taken place throughout human history. This is reinforced throughout the movie with images of past leaders like Saddam Hussein appearing in the midst of the numerous propaganda speeches by Father.

As a result however, the opposite end of the emotional spectrum is oppressed as well, that which includes humanities capacity to love, create, believe, and hope.

We see this conflict begin to arise in Bale’s character the moments he stops taking his emotion inhibitor. The rest of the story from here on out becomes his slow “awakening” to the fact that emotion by itself may be chaos, but if controlled, can be just as powerful. No clearer is this made than when he is granted an audience with Father and is taken through a lie detector test to see if he evokes emotion. It’s only when he is able to control it that he is able to take down the guys around him and complete his mission.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” The Apostle Paul

Without our emotional capacity, human beings are incomplete. They are a part of who we are. But they aren’t all that we are. Created in the image of a complete God, we recognize that, unless controlled and re purposed in a sense, we become just as much a part of the problem. Emotions help us deal with the triumphs ad tragedies in life. Grieving and celebrating should be done. It’s healthy and frankly mentally therapeutic (dancing and crying are highly recommended). But because of the Spirit, we have the capacity to exhibit that fruit that the Apostle Paul talks about. We can be those people who are known for their love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and SELF-CONTROL.

Leaf Peeping and "No Shave" November

Ahhh, November. Welcome welcome. The colder and shorter days are upon us. My bride will tell you this isn’t fun for her. She doesn’t dig the sun going down before the news comes on. This guy, however, totally digs it. Something about the night time, the quiet. I can’t help but admit that I’m smitten with this time of year. Last night I went for a run and came back telling her “It smells SO GOOD outside.” Between the Fall air, the cooking of food from outside grills (the best time of year to grill IMO), it made my run that much more enjoyable.

This past Sunday, we were venturing home from church and noticed the trees and all their changing colors. It got the photographer in me excited and K suggested that we come back around in the late afternoon to catch some of the late day lighting on the trees. I liked this idea, so around 3 that afternoon, I grabbed my Nikon and my Canon PAS and we drove out to this little area to the west of my office building. Though the lighting wasn’t quite what we hoped for, we both got some pretty great shots. I’m hoping to get to shoot some more this fall. You can check out the rest, fully tweaked on my Flickr page.

This month also marks the start of “No-Shave” November, a period of 30 days where, for a noble cause, a chance to grow a beard, or an opportunity to frustrate your spouse, you go without shaving. This is my first time doing it, though I have gone without shaving for a period of time in the past. This was mainly due to laziness. Look for a “Before,” “During,” and “After” photo near the end of this month or the first part of next.

The Rest of October

Where does the time go? I’ll tell you where it goes. Right down the chronological freeway without stopping. I really REALLY love this time of year and when 10/1/13 rolled around I told my bride, “I need this to slow down. I just want to enjoy fall before it gets away.” Well I did, but like weekends, it seemed to fly. Oh well.

In addition to the pumpkin patch experience, the family went to our first (and only) high school football game of the season. K and I both dig the Friday night lights experience, but have missed the last couple of seasons due to various reasons. This year we didn’t want to miss it, mostly because CJ was gonna be around to check out all the sites and sounds, but also to rekindle that tradition with each other. We also made an opportunity to hang out with our fun neighbor Doug who I believe is the best at tweets and Instagraming, but that’s just me.

Yours truly also spent the last weekend of the month on the streets of Conway competing in his third annual half marathon. Let me say this. I’m NOT a runner. There isn’t something in me that needs to convince anyone that running is for all of us. However, I do enjoy it. When I train for stuff like this, I tend to run early in the mornings when it’s dark and quiet, and there is something therapeutic about the isolation that exists with nothing but me, my iPod and my thoughts. Running in the half marathon is gratifying in a sense that it becomes payoff for all of my training, but also that it’s just as therapeutic, minus the darkness and quiet :). Still have my iPod though. Some quick facts about this years race: 1) I beat my time by 7 minutes (a big deal for this guy) 2) After I crossed the finish line, my calves decided to go into hibernation and I was forced to crash on the pavement and need the assistance of some of the local workers there. 3) The medals have gotten progressively bigger every year. I have a feeling that my 5 year run will end with a big piece of sheet metal in lieu of an actual one.

I also got the chance to be a part of the annual fundraiser that the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Central Arkansas held downtown in Little Rock. This years speaker was Voddie Baucham, a pastor out of Houston who has made himself familiar to me through various venues I’ve attended over the last 15 years, from revivals to conferences to camps. He opened up his message by saying “I always find it funny when I come to an event and folks don’t have their bibles. I’m not a speaker. Radio Shack has those, I came to preach.” As he has done in the past, Voddie presented a powerful message on promoting the value of life from a biblical context. One of the things that stood out for me personally was his importance that we don’t just get excited about an idea or a slogan, but that we take an active roll to live out what it means to honestly value life, particularly that of the unborn. We had some great feedback and were very grateful with the turnout and the financial support we received.

October closed out with CJ’s first Halloween. K and I as a couple never really dressed up for all Hallow’s eve. Last year I dressed up as Clark Kent / Superman. But we didn’t know if we wanted to do anything special with him. Well, when one works at a pregnancy center, one is bound to discover that people bring the cutest outfits to donate. It was because of this that our little man was involuntarily given the chance to be a dragon.

It was the cutest thing ever. We got a few shots of him in front of the house, and when K took him to work, her boss gave him his own bucket of treats. We also took him over to see my parents where they did the same. The jury is still out on whether or not he enjoyed it, but Mom and Dad have no doubts that they did.

Ender’s Game – A book review

Reading Ender’s Game a second time through in anticipation of the upcoming movie was a similar experience to watching The Sixth Sense after seeing it the first time. You know what’s coming and because of that, you tend to pay attention to more of the subtle dialogue and interaction of each character to see if it points to the overall payoff.

In some ways, this made the book a better read. For the purposes of review and because of my previous reading experience, I tried to pay more attention to some of the details I would normally gloss over for the sake of getting to the end (the compulsive need to finish a book wanes heavily with this guy). I digested the conversations between Valentine/Peter, Ender/Bean, and Graff/Anderson a lot more slowly than I did the first time around. This gave the book a lot more weight and meaning for me as a reader.

Though I struggled with the whole premise that kids had the ability to influence adults in incredible ways (aka Peter and Valentine taking on the roles of Locke and Demosthenes), that whole idea worked and paid itself off in the form of a beautifully written conversation between Valentine and Ender. In it she says “While you’re governing the colony and I’m writing political philosophy, They’ll never guess that in the darkness of night we sneak into each other’s room and play checkers and have pillow fights.” Card is able to encapsulate the idea that, yes, kids are being asked to do insane things, and in fact they are doing them successfully (with sacrifice of course), but he uses Valentine as a way to say “but we are still kids, and we can still hold on to that as long as we are kids.” In some ways, I think Valentine is the strongest of the three Wiggin children.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Card’s debut novel into this “enderverse” as I’ve heard it called. While the book didn’t leave itself to motivate me to read any future stories (which are vast according to Wikipedia), it is one that I would recommend happily to anyone who loves a good character exploration wrapped in good fun dystopian sci fi.

The Pumpkin Patch

K and I took CJ on his first trip to a pumpkin patch (which, coincidentally was OUR first trip to a pumpkin patch together). Of the handful that we had to choose from, we chose Motley’s due to the fact that it was fairly close to the house and it had everything a couple with a 9 month old could want. Pig Races :).

There were also pictures to be taken, animals to attempt to pet, hay to sit on and fuss about.

It also gave me a chance to (finally) try out my new DSLR I purchased back in the spring. I have a lot of education to obtain on how to use the thing properly, but it was a great first time out (and I think I got some keepers). You can find my final work here.

We didn’t get any actual pumpkins there this year. We want Carson to be a bit older and to be able to pick out his own so that’s on next years agenda.

It was a good time for sure. I’ve only been to a handful of pumpkin patchs in my lifetime (and none when I was a kid if you can believe that). Being there with my family, as a dad, was a really great experience. And as you can tell, we seemed to have a pretty good time.