Barbecue Sauce + iPhone 4 = “Can you hear me now??”

OK, quick background. I passed on the 3GS in hopes of something better the next year – Laura has always had a hand-me-down phone since she avoided getting a cell phone until about 3 years ago. When I finally upgraded to the iPhone 4, Laura got my old 3G. I knew it wasn’t going to last long. I couldn’t stand the thing for over a year (it’s slowness) and even though it was a big upgrade for her – it quickly became aggravating to use for her as well… and that’s saying something.

So in December we were able to take advantage of the Radio Shack deal for the iPhone trade-in and she got upgraded to an iPhone 4. She insisted it wasn’t worth the money… until she could actually boot an application in less than 30 seconds. 🙂

So, all was well and good until a few weeks ago. We had been promising to take the girls to the dollar theater to see Secretariat since they both like horses and dream of getting one on the farm someday. Church ran late and so the idea to having lunch at McDonald’s first turned into a drive-thru run. Surely, we thought, the theater wouldn’t be that packed and we could sit in the back and eat our chicken nuggets and cheese burgers. So Laura proceeded to stuff everything into her purse so that we could just whisk into the theater and hopefully only miss a few minutes. Aside from being a few minutes late, the plan was working perfectly.

I should have realized at this point not everything was going to work out so smoothly as appeared on the surface.

First off, we bought tickets, ran into the theater only to find that half of State College thought today was going to be a good day to see a horse movie. And all of them had been on time. Instead of sitting neatly in the back and eating our stowaway food, we about halfway back. I can only imagine what everyone else was thinking as we opened our fries and burgers – there’s just no way to hide the aroma of McDonald’s. It took us half the movie to slowly eat the food in hopes of not drawing more attention to us than needed. It took another quarter of the movie for me to stop thinking about how everyone was mad at us for bringing in outside food… and McDonald’s at that.  Regardless, we made it to the end and nobody seemed to give us a second glance as the lights came up at the end. (Did I mention that I’m generally a “rule guy” when it comes to public things??)

The second surprise came about a week later.  At some point that week as we were sitting around the dinner table Laura mentioned that she had a surprise in her purse earlier that day.  Turns out that in the midst of the mad rush to shove everything into her purse for the movie, a barbecue packet has been placed in a side packet and forgotten about.  Somehow, today, that packet had been squeezed open.  Unpleasant for sure.  Since I knew it wasn’t a bodily injury kind of incident, I didn’t feel too bad about asking, “So, how’s the iPhone?”  “Oh, it’s fine.  I’m pretty sure nothing got on it.”  Somehow, I missed that “pretty sure” comment.

Later that week, Laura called me while she was at the store trying to ask me a question.  At least three times in that conversation I said, “Honey, I just can’t understand you.  Are you sure there’s not something covering the mic at the bottom of the phone?”  I could tell she couldn’t quite understand what I was asking but again, she confirmed that nothing was on the bottom of the phone.  OK – no need to store a “to do” in my brain then.  I quickly forgot about it.

Then last Sunday came.  Laura’s phone had not been plugged in for a few days and was sitting in her purse dead.  Since we were going to church early so that I could practice music Laura was going to head to the store for a few items.  I made sure she plugged in the phone on the way to church.  Halfway down the road I realized that her phone was in fact, NOT charging.  Not having the time to look at it then I figured I’d get to it on the way home.  On the way home we tried again, plugging and unplugging the phone with no luck.  Finally at one stoplight I was able to get a better look at the bottom of the phone.  Much to my surprise the mic portal was covered with…

…you guessed it…

Barbecue sauce.  Gummy Barbecue sauce.

“I thought you said nothing got on the phone in your purse??”  “Oops…”

Needless to say I had one task on my mind when we got home.  I grabbed a toothpick and a Q-tip dampened with rubbing alcohol and did my best to carefully clean the screen covering the mic.

Unfortunately, as careful as I was trying to be NOT to get it actually wet so that nothing would get into the mic, my cleaning only seemed to make things worse.  By the next day, the mic stopped working totally.  Laura was now tied to either a bluetooth speaker or headphones if she wanted to use the phone.  I knew that was not going to work.

I read and searched for two evenings looking for solutions to the problem (yes, I’m slightly obsessive compulsive when I want to figure something out).  I knew this wouldn’t be covered by AppleCare and I wasn’t ready to fork over $150 to a third party to fix it… yet.  There are a number of sites that offer help – but I’ve always been a fan of iFixit.  And so, last night I embarked on the adventure to take the phone apart and see if there was any way to get a working microphone before I took more costly steps.

Long and short – I was successful.  The phone is amazingly well designed (no surprise) and very easy to work on as long as you have the right tools.  There was one slight casualty – the rubber microphone holder tor on me and – so Laura’s phone has some yellow craft foam carefully stuffed in next to the mic to make sure it’s won’t slip out of place.  But, other than that – I don’t think you’d know I had performed an operation.  And hopefully, no apple engineer will ever have to see our little addition.

So, once again, we’re a happy little iPhone family.

The Honor Dare – Day 5

(part 5 of 14 of the “Honor Dare“)

Dare: Plan a family night.  Enjoy each other’s company for two hours or longer.
Verse: If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
(Mark 3:25)

Laura will be the first one to tell that I’m not typically the game organizer of the family.  Don’t get me wrong, I grew up playing family games a lot as a kid – but we just weren’t the flashy kind.  I remember playing a lot of games as a kid with my friends and sister – but with my family it was usually a holiday/special occasion thing.  I always had a good time (at least when I/we won), however, the existance of games or not didn’t determine if the time together was “real quality time”.

Then I met Laura and her family.  Any time we’re together for more then a few hours somebody always utters the words, “Who wants to play a game?”  If it were always just board games that would be one thing.  Unfortunately for me it’s often the kind of game where you have to write words down on paper or act something out or… well, it usually requires effort above the actual playing of the game and often requires me to go up against a family of word smiths.  Until recently, this was not fun for me.   And the problem is, I’ve been with Laura for almost 8 years now… so it’s been a long road of getting used to the concept that it’s not REALLY family time if we don’t play a game.  (OK, in all fairness to any Nazimek’s reading this post – I always ended up having fun… it was the process that I just didn’t get.  You people rock – don’t worry!)

Probably two years ago it did finally hit me that this was a good time – that spending time huddled around a deck of Dutch Blitz, a board of Sequence or a table of speed Scrabble was a good thing.  As everyone has grown older we don’t get much time with everyone now and we actually get to talk about a lot more when we’re playing games then when we’re sitting in front of the TV or mesmorized by Facebook locked away in our room.  I actually get to find out what’s going on with everyone and laugh (and often loose too… but I digress).

Go dig through the game closet and find that game you remember playing a couple of years ago after  Thanksgiving dinner that everyone enjoyed.  Set a time, invite the peeps and make sure you have a good bag of snacks on hand.

The Honor Dare – Day 4

(part 4 of 14 of the “Honor Dare“)

Dare: Speak well of your parents to others
Verse: Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Cor 13:6-7)

We’re told that our tonges (and the words they speak) are the hardest part of the body to tame.  I’ve known this to be true in my life many, many times.  In this and a couple of other areas, I’ve known Paul’s feelings to be true when he speaks in Romans 7, “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…”  In our words this seems to be a hard thing to control.  I want to be more encouraging to others, I want speak more truth, I want to lie less… I want to speak well of others rather then talk about their weaknesses behind their back!

The really interesting thing is this. The more we speak well of others (both when they’re around and when they’re not) – the more we realize that they’re actually really great people!  Even when we don’t say a thing to them directly (although this will be a natrual outflow once you start to get in the habit of speaking well of them) – you’re attitude and interaction will improve.  That’s almost like doing no work at all.  You simply choose to speak well of your mom and dad when others are complaining about theirs – and a side benefit is that you start to get along with your mom and dad better… and you didn’t even try to do that!

Surprise yourself – find one nice thing to share about your parents with someone else.  See how it changes your attitude towards them.

The Honor Dare – Day 3

(part 3 of 14 of the “Honor Dare“)

Dare: Pray for your parents with a sibling or friend
Verse: Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.
(Matthew 18:19)

This is a rather simple day.  And here’s the kicker – if you start with this dare each day for the rest of the “Dare” it’s bound to be “easier” for you.  Somehow in our small Christian worldview, the practice of prayer is often to daunting, to boring, or to misunderstood.  No matter how much we talk about it, hear about it and… well, pray about it… it often seems to always end up as our magic little bullet… the lifeline.  I’m finding, albeit slowly, that everything I’ve been told for all of these years (as a kid before I was a Christian and for the last 12 years as a Christian) – really is true.  Let me explain.

I’ve been a Christian for 12 years now and I’m finally starting to (by pure “will” sometimes) approaching my day in prayer.  And God has honestly been showing me that He is there, He is listening and He is doing His work within and through me.  Who knew!  Specifically in relation to my family.  As I’ve come before Him most mornings, I can tell you that I’ve seen a direct relation between what God is doing around me and what He’s directing me to be faithful in prayer about.  Whether it’s been for Laura and the girls or for my extended family, I can actually see days later that things were moving in those areas.  Not exactly as I had wanted every time, but moving non-the-less.  It’s been a very exciting thing to be honest.

Which brings me to your parents and family.  Prayer is the simplest and most powerful thing you can do for them.  It may seem cliche to say it – but at some point you realize that if enough people say it, it’s probably true (like “kids grow up so fast…” – true!).  Humbling yourself for five minutes of your day to simply ask that those around you would experience God’s love, would be open to Him throughout their day and that your relationship with them would be more loving and kind (Oooo, kind, that was yesterday’s challange!) isn’t a big chunk of your day.

Take five minutes right now… give it a try.

The Honor Dare – Day 2

(part 2 of 14 of the “Honor Dare“)

Dare: Do something kind for your parents.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32)

Kindness can be a hard thing, especially in relationships where there is a structure in place that says, “you do what I tell you to”.  Our natural tendency to sin in our attitude, the one that says, “whatever, I’m old enough to make my own choices now.”  When those feelings creep in and start to grow deeper, we can easily start forgetting about kindness – because if we did, we’d have to worry about serving someone else.

I remember a profound thing that Laura’s mom used to say to her whenever Laura would call home from college upset, depressed or angry about something.  After listening for a while, Laura’s mom would end the conversation with, “Tell you what, how about you go do something for someone – go serve someone else for a little while, and then call me back.”  Inevitably, when Laura would do that (help a friend, go work in a soup kitchen, etc.) – there wasn’t much of a need to call her mom back to complain or grip again.  Serving others does that – puts our current agenda, wants, desires and general “me first”-ishness into perspective – makes them all seem pretty small.

And so, what better way to serve someone then those that have quite literally sacrificed a lot for you to exist and survive.  Cut them a little slack for once and do a good turn their way.  And remember, this isn’t a dare where you check something off the list and then forget about it, it’s a dare where you build each day upon the next.  So, today, as you set the table, clean your room, restock the wood pile or cook everyone’s favorite dessert for dinner – all without being asked – make sure you do it with a spirit that says “Yes, mom” and “Yes, dad” through the whole thing.

Just remember, if they look at you a little weird – if means you’re probably doing the right thing.  🙂

Back again…

Surprise!  I’m back.  :-)  Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted – but there are only a few people that would ever consider checking this blog anyway – so I don’t think anyone is terribly let down.  But, a lot has been going on in our lives and I’ve had this big itch to try and start posting again.  Events of this past weekend put me in a spot to start again – maybe it can become a regular thing – maybe not.

Laura and I had the privilege to speaking at our churches youth retreat.  The theme was “God’s Surprising Love” – shown through gifts, words and family.  The weekend was unique because the students had no idea what they would be doing – it was billed as a “Mystery Retreat” – only the parents knew what was happening.  The students didn’t know that when they showed up, they would be split into two vans, guys and girls, and head opposite directions.

Friday night didn’t go exactly as planned because half of the students were taking part in a school dance and so the other students took part in a video scavenger hunt, ending at the school dance to “crash it” (they had the schools permission) and pick up the other students.  Laura waited at one local camp for the girls and I waited at another camp at the other end of the county for the guys.  Although it was a late night and weekend of little sleep – the students didn’t arrive until about 12:45AM – we both enjoyed preparing for the weekend and working together on the message for Saturday night.

My heart, when it came to the young men was to talk about one of the most overlooked gifts of the Christian: God’s Word.  I tried to demonstrate through the weekend that we’ve been fed a diet lacking in Christian Worldview and God’s given us the very tool we need to form it’s foundation.  We focused specifically on the Ten Commandments as the foundation of our Worldview and then talked on Saturday morning about what the world has to say about/to us (their worldview) and how we can respond.

We culminated the weekend last night giving the students a dare in the spirit of the “Love Dare” from the movie Fireproof.  We called ours the “Honor Dare” and encouraged the students to honor their parents – putting their hearts and passion where God intends it to be at this stage of their life… their homes.

With that in mind, I’m going to attempt to augment the slightly-larger-then-a-bookmark size 14-day dare card with a brief story/encouragement dealing with the challenge of that day.  Who knows if this will get me in the posting habit or not, but hopefully for the next 14 days (at least), I’ll have a few things to say.

The Heart of the Battle

This is probably the most important post I’ll make in a long time.  I’ve added a new “page/tab” at the top you might notice called “Daily Victory“.  It’s the audio and slides from a talk I gave in church a few weeks ago (4/13/08) about my struggle with pornography addiction and how the battle to find victory nearly destroyed my marriage, family and life – but how His unrelenting pursuit of me just wouldn’t let go.  The end result is a marriage and family that is strong (not perfect mind you – we still have a lot of learning to do) and a strengthened passion for helping men find freedom from this junk and step into their calling as a man/husband/father.

With that in mind I approached the elders recently and asked if they would let me use some/all of the men’s ministry budget to help subsidize accountability software for anyone in the church that wanted to use it.  They were all for it and so I presented that to the church by sharing my story.  I pray that as men (and women) choose to become accountable for this one area, it will free them up to step into the calling God has placed on their lives in other areas.  But, for this generation, I believe that this is one of only a few major battles for our future and our growth in Christ as a whole.

Please let me know what you think.  It’s tough to take off the mask sometimes, but if Christ is glorified – then it’s all worth it.

Listen to the talk


…has been my word for a long time. Every once in a while when I realize I’m in a horrible tail-spin of attitude and annoyance (frustration) I try to figure out when it all started. The first time I remember really throwing a fit was when I was in seventh grade. I have no doubt there were plenty of other times, but this is just the first one I can recall that was very much “flesh”. I wanted a Nintendo – who didn’t. (BTW, that?s the original Nintendo…) And I had actually been saving money for it. But, one Sunday afternoon I was doing what any kid would do that just moved to a small farm with his family – I was playing in the barn breaking old sticks. Well, one of them broke (after all I was breaking them) and a couple of splinters got in my eye.

After a few hours of mom telling me to “lay down on the couch and it will go away, I’m sure nothings in your eye anymore…”, I finally convinced her that something was indeed still in there. So, off to the hospital on a Sunday evening. After a long wait (and yes, my eye hurt very badly with every movement) a doctor pulled out three splinters – once of which was at least a quarter inch long. Good news is that the eye is the fastest healing organ in the body (according to the doctor) and I was on my way looking like a pirate with a patch on my eye.

Well, on the way home mom needed to stop by Hills, a pre-WalMart type store that was the “go to” place in town. And there it was, the Nintendo. Somehow in my little seventh grade mind I knew that I had an advantage here. I had just gotten splinters take out of my eye, had a patch on it and was looking pretty sad. So I struck – the little selfish, fleshy Ryan emerged. My mother, the poster-mom for being frugal with money (which I am now VERY thankful for!) resisted. And so the fit started to well up. In the middle of the store I remember my mother almost not having a choice. Of course she did, but I remember making it pretty hard. I think that I even pulled out the “but I just got splinters out of my eye” line.

I walked out of Hills with my Nintendo.

And it went on from there. Within the next few months, because I was the smallest kid in class and the “city slicker” that had just moved to the valley, I was “beat up” more and more – usually starting in home room when the teacher wasn’t there yet. Twisted arms, pulled backs, fat lips. I could feel the frustration growing. It also happened that at about the same time I began to be molested by a family friend for the better part of two years. Talk about being frustrated and feeling helpless. I think Satan knew exactly what he was doing.

Here’s the thing though, that’s all nearly 20 years ago now. There have been many ways I’ve dealt with all of those things. Most of the time I can honestly say that I don’t believe they effect me day to day. But over the last few days, I’m once again realizing that I still haven’t gotten over it. In most everything I do, in most of my reactions, I’m still the little kid that needs to prove himself to be better then everyone, more of a man than I assume people see me – to put up with my annoyances and my complaints… as if they were the most important things for everyone to deal with. In a word (or three) – me, me, me.

Man, it really sucks when you come face to face with it again (and again, and again…)

So, through my latest round of me, me, me – Laura and I have been talking about it. Well, I’ve been frustrated and angry about it, Laura has been talking. She puts up with a lot. But the end result is that God has given her great wisdom to speak hard truth. The biggest one of all being…

drum roll….

I do not have a teachable spirit. (THUD)
I am generally not of a humble nature (double THUD)

And she’s right. When it comes to most of the things around me, no matter how much I really do want to become a stronger man of faith, or the Word, of truth – I just assume I know better than everyone else. Well, that’s not completely true. Just most of the people that are in direct authority over me. There’s always a better speaker out there with the ideas that I really want to emulate. But that just gets me frustrated that they’re somewhere else other than here. Which leaves me with CDs and podcasts, one sermon at a time. But man, I want to interact with these people on a consistent basis. Surely if I could be under someone like “them” – my life would really start to take off. I?d lead my family with all encompassing godly authority that would be the awe of everyone I come in contact with. My words would be insightful and truthful – I’d expound on the Word of God with authority unseen by most people.

Wait a minute!! Just wait a minute!! That might not be true!! (thud again…). Turns out that I’m am where God has put me for a reason. I’m in the workplace and church and town that God has ordained for this time. I have amazing, Godly friends that God has ordained for this time. I have the family, and hopes for my family, that God has ordained for this time. And believe it or frickn’ not, I have the CDs and podcasts that God has ordained for this time. What I seem to be lacking is the spirit of Christ that God has ordained for my lifetime. Yes, I know without a doubt that I have salvation through the author of Life and the death of His Son on the cross for my sins. But in eleven years of being a Christian I have continually neglected to submit myself to the work Christ would have me do to become the man he greatly desires I be. I know that because if I was doing it, I wouldn’t care if I was the best, greatest, smartest or even coolest guy in the room (or church).

The end of all this (kind of funny to type something and realize that very few people will ever read this…) is that it’s time to anti up – to humility. I’m 100% sure that without an overwhelming change of heart resulting in a humble spirit – I will not be a teachable man. Which means I will never reach the potential or dreams that Christ has for my life, the life of my family or the life of those around me. It has nothing to do with me being pivotal in any of those realms necessarily (God can overcome my lack of contribution in spite of me) – but it would be much better if I were in a place to play my part.

If I really “believe”, there are a few things that will happen:

  1. I will walk what I talk and realize that nothing (work, exercise, computers, home projects… even family) is as important as my maturity in Christ. All of those things (starting with my family) will be enriched to untold degrees when my maturity in Christ is in continual forward motion.
  2. I must realize that there are plenty of men that Christ has placed in my life that have much to teach me. Some the deep digging apart of Scripture, some the ways I need to grow as a man, husband and father, and some how to just have fun.
  3. Wherever I feel the “teaching” is not complete, I must seek out every opportunity to get more. As Laura cleverly suggested last night, I might simply start by emailing a few of the men I have listened to (CDs and podcasts) and try and start a dialog with them.
  4. I will seek counsel and accountability from close friends that will lovingly kick me in the butt when I am not approaching my life with a humble and teachable spirit.
  5. God will use me to lead other men – not for my own reward – but for the purpose of passing on the Truth He desires for each of us to lead our families and to live in contrast to the world around us.

So, let’s see where this goes from here. While I think about it and hopefully keep my thoughts updated, check out one of the men I’ve been listening to lately. (definitely look at the YouTube stuff)

Pouchy Pouch

As little V grows up (all of a ripe 2 years, 4 months), I have begun to notice that routine is a beautiful thing for a child and how much I’m going to hate losing it over time. I know it’s bound to happen, but I definitely don’t look forward to it. Here’s what I mean.

Laura and I have been pretty consistent on having a bedtime and making it a “routine”. Milk, potty, teeth, prayers… good night. Over the last few months as Vivienne has started to really dig patterns in life bedtime has become my favorite time with her. Laura graciously lets me take the duty whenever I can (which thankfully is most nights). There are many “on your marks, get set, go…” throughout the routine – but the end result is that I know I’m going to get some laughs each night. I know we’re going pray together. I know mommy is going to get a “… hug and a kiss and tell her I love her…”.  I know that I’m going to get a hug and a kiss. And… I know that Vivienne is going to get two flying kisses – one on her head and one on her cheek – from daddy. This is all an amazing thing to look forward to.

But back at the “… tell mommy I love her part…” is where I got stuck tonight. I was laying in Vivienne’s bed waiting for her to come back from saying good night to Laura (I wait in her bed so that she can find me, jump on my back and tickle me) when I heard her usual line… “I…. um…. pouchy pouch you…”. At some point we were successful in teach our daughter some very keen language skills. For instance, “pouchy tink”, “pouchy pouch” or “pouchy poink” will get you a laugh every time. That means that for the last three months, Laura always gets many “…I… pouchy pouch you” before she finally gets a “I love you mommy”. And that got me thinking – Vivienne is probably not going to be saying “I pouchy pouch you mommy” when she’s 7, or 10, or 15. At some point that routine will be over and we’ll move onto the next one. I got to wondering in bed when that will be. When will Vivienne not want a flying kiss from her daddy on her head and cheek?

I don’t know – but I’m going to miss it terribly. Each night, no matter how long the routine takes or how many other things I think I could be doing with that 30 minutes (or longer) – I wouldn’t ever want to give that time back for the world. Hopefully we can use Jingle Bells (Vivienne’s name for her baby brother/sister in progress) and teach him/her to do all of this stuff before it gets old for Vivi. It won’t be the same but at least it will prolong the memories for a bit longer.

Hey Vivi… I pouchy pouch you!