A Night of Thanks


We held a night of Worship tonight at church. We called it A Night of Thanks. It’s been discussed some before but now was the time. Things are happening at Catalyst. We are in the process of buying our property. So we thought it was a good time to just come together as a church and say Thanks to God for all He has done.

And seeing God move tonight was amazing. I saw guys who struggle with addictions raise their hands to God in Praise. I saw a dad dancing with their kids in praise. I saw one guy in a knitted hat praising with style. He moved from row to row. He moved up. He moved back. I was talking with the guy who was working with me on lights and he said give him a song or two and he will be on stage. It was just great to see people coming together and praising God to just say Thanks.

I saw a worship team come together and just flat out knock it out. The team all had their part and it was great to see them all work together. I volunteer with an amazing team. Everyone playing their part. No one better than the other.

It was just a good time to come together and praise God together going into this Thanksgiving holiday. And with that, I give you this. 🙂

 

Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂 

I will never stop learning

“I will never stop learning” – Automatic Creed

Over the last couple of years, I have been using WordPress for building websites. WordPress started out as a blogging platform but thanks to the open source community it has evolved into so much more. But to be good at using WordPress you have to keep learning. You need to know SEO. You need to know security. You need to know plugins and themes. You need to know… Well, you get the picture.

One good thing about WordPress is the community. There are local groups all over the country and well, the world that meet around once a month to come together and talk all things WordPress. Every so often, these groups will host a bigger meeting call WordCamp. I was able to go up to Cincinnati this past weekend to attend WordCamp Cincinnati. All I can say is wow. I described it once that it was like drinking from a fire hydrant. So much information to take in over a short time. The sessions were all videotaped so I will be able to go back and watch them over again in case I missed something. I can also watch the sessions that I didn’t get to see.

But the best part is the hallway conversations. Being able to talk to someone who is also using WordPress and sharing knowledge is just amazing. One guy came in and talked about how to use Google Local and schema to help improve your sites Search Engine Optimization (SEO). After the session, he twitted that he would be out near the Happiness Bar (an area where WordPress experts hangout to help you with problems) to go over any SEO questions. Right before lunch, I skipped a session and went over and talked to him some about one of my sites. He gave me some tips on how to improve the site in the eyes of search engines, read Google.

I took sessions on SEO along with site encryptions and security. Other sessions included on how to build your brand and how to set and maintain a blogging schedule. After noticing I hadn’t updated this one in over a year, maybe I should really go back over my notes for that one. I also got to see a demo of the new content editing panel code-named Guttenberg. Debating on installing the plugin to go ahead and start using that.

The keynote was about being in WordPress communities and how they can help. The Lexington area does have a local group. I wish they didn’t meet on Monday though. I would like to be more involved in learning and also helping. Maybe one day they will change the evening they meet. But we will see.

Automatic, the company that makes WordPress has a creed, “I will never stop learning” WordCamp gave me that opportunity. I have already put some of the SEO tips in on some of the websites of mine and some that I have designed for others. But I don’t need to stop here. I need to keep learning.

Be the solution or get out of the way

stateripped

Yes I’m crazy. Yes I sat up until around 3 am on Election night/morning. I guess it’s the journalist in me. With my background, I have plenty of friends that were in the Clinton camp. I also have plenty of friends in the Trump camp.
Both candidates promised hope. Both candidates promised a better America.
The problem is that America was, and still is, a melting pot. People of different races. People of different religions. People who are just different. And there is nothing wrong in that.
The problem comes in that there is no compromise.
The problem comes in that there is no tolerance.
None from either side.
Either you love my candidate or you hate me.
If you love your candidate, who is not my choice, then you don’t know what you are talking about.
It doesn’t matter which side you are on. The above holds true. And for me, I can see both sides.
On the Republican side, you had a guy who, to a lot of us, seemed to be offensive, crude and at times just downright mean and hateful.
On the Democratic side you had a lady who again to a lot of us seemed to be a criminal and someone who could and would violate some of their basic rights.
The candidate who you were against was just so opposed to your beliefs that you felt threatened by them. So, even though your candidate wasn’t a great candidate, you couldn’t vote for the other person no matter what.
I’ve seen this path since the election of 2004 between Bush and Kerry. In that election, in my opinion, the Democrats nominated someone who was so far left that the undecideds just had to vote against him.
In 2008 both sides did this and the gap gets wider and wider each election cycle until we get this.
One big divided mess of a country. And the candidates lead us this way. Ads show how bad the other candidate is. Ads show that you will be hunted down and killed for either your race or beliefs.
We have to get past this mentality. We have to start listening and understanding.
Yes. Healthcare in this country is messed up. Maybe the Republicans can work with Democrats to compromise on Obamacare if Democrats can compromise with Republicans on Gun Control.
Maybe a Democrat can give in a little on tax cuts if Republicans can back off some on Privatizing Social Security.
Discussions and compromises like this made this country great and this country needs more discussions like this.
If we can’t do this, then this county is headed toward what could be another civil war. It wouldn’t be a war between the states like we had before. It will be a war of the races, the religions and the classes.
We must come together in unity and come to these compromises. We will never be one country again if we can’t meet somewhere in the middle on these issues. Both sides are at fault. I don’t blame one party over another. Both sides have made this mess and I’m sorry, if you don’t believe that, then you are part of the problem.
If you can’t be the person who can sit down with the other side and compromise on the issues, then get out of the way. You are blocking the road to progress.
If you have nothing to say other than how bad it will be if one party wins, then you are part of the problem. Again, move out of the way.
This country needs leaders, real leaders. Someone who wants to make this country better and not just bash someone else. If you can’t run on what you can do for the country, just shut up and move.
Again, this goes for both parties. We have had enough of this hate mentality.
Just look at your social media feeds. Nothing but hate. Nothing but bashing. I have never wanted to drop off the grid more than I have the last two months or so. I can’t open Facebook without seeing so many post about how the other candidate is so horrible.
I wanted to just unfollow everyone no matter who they were when they posted something bad about the candidate that they were not supporting. We don’t get anything accomplished this way. If I am having a discussion with you and you have nothing to say other than how bad I am for following this candidate, it’s not going to take long for me to shut down from listening to you.
This does nothing but damage relationships and this causes nothing to get done. I can get more accomplished with someone who I have respect for but don’t agree with what they believe in than someone I have no respect for but have everything in common.
I can’t say that I have been blameless in this. I know I have posted some things from time to time about candidates I didn’t like. I’ve tried this election cycle to not post anything about it. I’ve tried not to comment on someone’s post. It can be hard at times but I don’t want to contribute any longer to the problem.
I guess I need to end this rant. I could go on and on but at this point I think you get the idea.
So next time you want to post something, think twice and ask yourself, “does this just fuel the flame or does it propose a solution?” If it fans the flame, delete it. If it proposes a solution or starts a discussion, then post it.
Please. Just please, be a part of the solution.

RIP Prince

purplerain

Well another music icon from my childhood passed away today. Prince was found unresponsive at his home and EMTs were unable to bring him back.

I’ve written before about how much music plays a role in our lives but for me, the artist that really followed me through my life was Prince. From hearing him for the first time in seventh grade all the way through my college years, I could always fall back and enjoy his music. Even through my hair metal days, I could always take a day and listen to Prince. I have 1999 on vinyl. I had it on cd as well. Always hated that the cd was missing one song that was on the two album vinyl set. I also had Purple Rain on cd and cassette as well as Around the World in a Day on cassette.

I can remember specific instances of my life involving his music.

I can remember at a seventh grade dance and hearing 1999 for the first time. I can remember at the same dance hearing Let’s Pretend We’re Married for the first. We won’t discuss that one though. :O

I can remember listening to Purple Rain cassette on high school trips and discussing the lyrics. Darling Nikki was always an interesting conversation. Sorry mom.

And of course the end of the song was always interesting. He sang in reverse. As luck would have it one night while a friend of house sitting we ran across a special cassette player for tapes for the blind. You could actually play one side of the tape backwards so we ran and got the Purple Rain so we could hear what he was singing. In case you want to know he is singing the following:

“Hello, how are you?
Fine fine ’cause I know that the Lord is coming soon
Coming, coming soon.”

I can remember when Around the World in a Day came out and thinking that this album wasn’t as good as the last two and was a bit disappointed.

I can remember my senior year in high school and our FBLA chapter did a fund raiser by holding a fashion show and the theme was U Got the Look based off of the Prince song from Sign o’ the Times.

While in college, I don’t know if there was an artist that me and a friend of mine played air guitar to than Prince.

Misty said earlier today that Prince is our Elvis talking about our parents. My parents owned a business that sold records and tapes when Elvis died and I can remember mom talking about when her and my aunt heard the news of Elvis dying them going over to the record case and only finding one copy of Moody Blue. Mom said they flipped for it and mom won.

But Prince is our Elvis. He is the one artist that has continually produced music over the years. He could played the guitar like it was nothing. If you haven’t seen him in the tribute to George Harrison  at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps, then go watch it. Amazing performance at the end.

However about a year ago, Prince requested that all of his music be removed from online streaming services. No Google Play Music. No iTunes. No Spotify. No reason. Just gone.

So I have one request to those who could change that. Let us remember Prince by being able to listen to his music. Give us a couple of weeks to listen and enjoy the Artist Known as Prince. Let us take a ride in that Little Red Corvette again. Let us party like its 1999 again. Let us dance in the Purple Rain while we mourn him.

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life

Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world

A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

Prince – Lets Go Crazy from Purple Rain

 

Off to college?

twinsAOL

I felt like I left for college again Monday night. After eight years, our family’s time with Pack 45 Cub Scouts ended as the twins earned their Arrow of Light and have now crossed over into Boy Scouts. What does that have to do with leaving for college? Joining Cub Scouts was what finally made Nicholasville home for our family and now that we are leaving for bigger challenges, it’s just like when I left home for college. Leaving the security of what you know for bigger and better things.

When we moved to Nicholasville 11 years ago, nothing felt like home to us. We knew a total of three people in town and that was pretty much it. The people we knew at church didn’t live in Nicholasville. The people we worked with didn’t live there either. We just felt out of place and wondered if we should move back to Richmond. In fact, when I took a job back in Richmond, we looked at a few houses wondering if we could move back.

One evening after Colby started 1st grade, Misty made the comment about Scouts. We wondered what it was like around Nicholasville and when they started and where they meet. Then it seemed like the next day, Colby brought a flyer home informing us about a pack that met at a local church. We thought, ok, we will check it out. So on a Monday evening, me and Colby took off to see what it was all about.

Now I knew a little about Scouts. My brother was in it for a while but that was the extent of my knowledge. I dropped Colby off in one room while I went into another room with other parents to learn more about the Pack and how it works. After that I went back and picked Colby up and he showed me some leaf rubbings he did. He seemed to enjoy it so we decided that we will try it this year and see how it goes.

After a couple of months, Colby loved it even more and was starting to make friends in his den. I got to know a couple of the other dads in the group and enjoying the time with Colby. One day I was looking over the requirements for his Tiger rank and noticed that a fire station tour was one. So I sent an email to the den leader letting him know that I could work on arranging that if he needed some help.

Well normal practice seems to be if you step up to help with something then you are considered a leader. One evening at a fund raising night at a local restaurant, the den leader pull me aside and asked if I would consider being an assistant den leader. My thought was if Colby is going to enjoy this and go forward with it, then I should be a part of the planning process so I said yes. Along with three other guys, we had four strong leaders for Colby’s den and a good Tiger leader for next year who had a son in Colby’s den and had a son starting the next year. All of us loved the boys as if they were our own and would do anything for them. In fact, there are four of the boys from that den that are still in scouts today and are great friends.

During my time at the pack, I have been an assistant den leader for Colby’s den for a couple of years and then moved to a den leader position when the twins started. I have also been very involved in our Pinewood Derby and the District Pinewood Derby for a couple of years. I have helped at Twilight Camp at the district level as well.

The friends that we have made while in Scouts are still some of our best friends. And I can say I have made two different “groups” of friends. I have a group from when Colby went through and who have went on to Boy Scouts and I have my group from the twins’ time in Cub Scouts who for the most part will be moving on to Boy Scouts. Our kids stay at each other’s houses overnight. They go to each other’s parties. I would guess to say that they do more with their friends from scouts then they do friends at school and church.

The last eight years have been very important to our family. And even though I’m ready to be done with Cub Scouts, it is a bittersweet departure. But, I am ready for a new challenge and a new adventure. Off to college I go.

End of Watch: Wednesday, March 11, 2015

burke_blog

Almost 10 years ago, Misty and I made the decision to pack up and move to Nicholasville with a 2-year-old and new born twins. The decision was not easy and we were wondering if we would ever be able to make the move. But it finally came to be and in March of 2005 we moved. Left our friends and church in Richmond to move closer to some family to help with the kids. Twins can a hand full so you look for all of the help you can get.
I wish I could say the move was easy. I wish I could say we never regretted moving. But that wouldn’t be the truth. The first couple of years was very hard. We didn’t know anyone. Wasn’t involved in anything. I worked in Lexington and Misty didn’t work for a while after moving. We had some friends at church but it still wasn’t home. In fact once I took a job back in Richmond, we looked at moving back. In fact, we were happy to think about moving back. We even went house shopping. But we were kind of locked in to our house we just bought and then the housing crash took any value of moving away from us.
It was disappointing. It was hard. But we stuck it out. Finally when Colby hit first grade something happened. Something changed.
Colby started scouts. We started making new friends. We changed churches. We made friends. We changed churches again. We made more friends. Misty started working for the schools after working at Southland Christian. We made even more friends. Nicholasville was starting to finally feel like home. It finally started to feel right.
But things happen when you make friends. You get to know them. And as you get to know them, you start considering them family. And the more people you know, the greater possibility of tragedy happens.
We saw that this morning. A former scout leader from our pack and husband of a coworker of Misty, was involved in a car wreck this morning. He didn’t make it.
Burke leaves behind a wife and three kids. Kids who I have went camping with and been involved in other scouting activities with. The youngest son is the same age as our twins so our scout dens did stuff together.
When you see your wife or your husband or your kids again. Give them a big hug. Tell them you love them. Always tell them.
It’s been hard. It’s not been an easy day. Misty has told me the same thing. Everyone at her work has been in a daze all day. You just don’t know what to think. You think that stuff like this only happens to other people. You never know how long you have on this earth. You never know what tomorrow will hold.
I have had to experience this way too often this year. The death of a 13-year-old daughter of a good friend of mine. My dad’s first cousin. And now a friend of ours from Nicholasville. Our home.