Is this thing on?

Comments   0   Date Arrow  November 1, 2007 at 11:08am   User  by joel

Right. A few trips to other countries, one to bring home two beautiful kids, and a house move later, and you start to wonder if there’s time to catch up on everything. Right now, no. But in the meantime, I’ll leave you with a couple of interesting reads by Paul Graham.

The Word “Hacker”
Good to clear up any misconceptions, especially since in some respects I consider myself somewhat in the category. Before you call the feds on me, go read it. :)

And in a not-altogether-unrelated vein, thoughts on why the land of America is rich but ugly:
Made in USA

And just in case you’re still around, thoughts on some of the mental aspects of programming:
Holding a Program in One’s Head
I especially like the image of walking around in a memory.

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Be Not Afraid

Comments   0   Date Arrow  June 23, 2007 at 10:05pm   User  by joel

Go free up the next ten minutes or so, and read Michael Yon’s essay on what’s going on right now in Iraq. Incredibly insightful, and well worth the read.

(Hat tip: Dr. Bob)

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Waiting for them to come home

Comments   1   Date Arrow  June 6, 2007 at 1:35am   User  by joel

So we got some exciting news the other day about our Ethiopian adoption: our court date was successful! We are now the proud parents of two more children! As those of you who’ve been faithfully following my non-existent posts (*ahem*) already know, the court date is one of the final steps to happen before bringing your children home. Really, it’s the first time you can truly refer to them as your children. Up to that point, anything can change at anytime for any number of reasons. But once the judge in Ethiopia has approved your petition, the children are legally yours. Unfortunately, though, you can’t just go pick them up and bring them home. They need immigration visas, which means they need to be seen at the US Embassy, which means you have to wait for another date to be assigned. Once that date comes up, then you fly across the ocean to pick them up and hold them and be with them even though they may not fully understand yet quite what’s going on, and you take them to the Embassy and hang out for a few days to make sure everything’s copacetic, and then you bring them home and there is much rejoicing.

Until that point, though, we’re stuck in this mind-bending limbo. To be sure, the process — any international adoption process, for that matter, and quite possibly a good bit of domestic as well — is almost defined by periods of limbo. You get a bunch of documentation together and then wait for your homestudy. You get all the homestudy visits done and then wait for the final product. You get more documentation together and then send in your dossier, and wait for a referral. You accept the referral and then wait for the kids to be moved to the care center. Etc., etc. It’s just the nature of the process. But this particular limbo, by its very nature, feels the most awkward to me if not flat-out wrong. Not that anyone’s doing something wrong, or isn’t doing what they should — not that sort of wrong. But…well, here’s the deal. I’m a parent, right? Been one for over five years now, three times over before this adoption, and while that’s not “long” by parenting standards and I make no claims to having parenting all figured out, I at least can say that I have the parent mentality somewhat figured out. I love my kids, I want what’s best for them, I want to provide for them, etc., etc. Not that I’m making light of it, but it’s all the sorts of things any half-decent parent would readily say about their kids. And what would any half-decent parent do if a couple of their kids were suddenly stuck halfway around the world and needed to get home? You’d do whatever you had to do, make whatever arrangements you had to make, sparing no expense, to make sure they could get home or you’d go and get them yourself, right?

That’s where I am. I now have two children halfway around the world, and I want to bring them home. But I can’t, because it’s not time yet. And that’s what just feels wrong. Even though they don’t understand it, even though they know nothing about me yet except a single photo I’m hoping they saw today, I’m their Dad now. But I’m here and they’re way over there, and I can’t fix that. It’s not time yet.

I was telling one of our pastors about this on Sunday after worship, about how it just feels weird to suddenly have two more kids and not be able to go get them and bring them home, and his comment became a trigger to a deeper realization for me. He nodded in understanding of what I was trying to convey, and then he said, “You know, God knows exactly how you feel. He has children all over the world…”

And suddenly it hit me. It hit me so hard I couldn’t help but blurt it out even as I was still grasping its reality: “And he wants to bring them home!” Now I’m not talking about “coming home” as in believers dying. I’m talking about people who are incredibly loved by God and don’t even know it yet. People who have no idea how much He loves them and wants them to come home to Him. People who don’t understand how much He paid to give them a way to do that, no matter how far away they are now.

Is that you? Please come home. He loves you so much, and can’t wait to pick you up and hold you and be with you. The ticket’s already paid for, in full. You just have to get on the plane.

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Submission as part of ministry

Comments   0   Date Arrow  May 31, 2007 at 10:32am   User  by joel

Kerry over at the Voice of the Orphan has a good post on the place of submission in God’s order, and the effect its absence can have on ministry.

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Comments   0   Date Arrow  May 30, 2007 at 10:00am   User  by joel

    Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should become a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the face of the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offerings. Help me to remember that I am a prophet — not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
    I accept hard work and small rewards in this life. I ask for no easy place. I shall try to be blind to the little ways that could make my life easier. If others seek the smoother path, I shall try to take the hard way without judging them too harshly. I shall accept opposition and try to take it quietly when it comes. Or if, as sometimes it falleth out to Thy servants, I should have grateful gifts pressed upon me by Thy kindly people, stand by me then and save me from the blight that often follows. Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that it will not injure my soul or diminish my spiritual power.

A.W. Tozer, in prayer for his ordination to Christian ministry, August 18, 1920

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How’s your icca?

Comments   0   Date Arrow  May 14, 2007 at 12:31pm   User  by joel

Great post by CrazyD about…well, stuff. Go read CrazyD’s Icca, and then look up from your computer and take a look around.

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Comments   0   Date Arrow  April 24, 2007 at 10:36am   User  by joel

In the “thanks for a job well done” category…

Snipshot is a website that will let you upload a picture and do a few basic photo-editing tasks (like resize, crop, etc.) right in your browser, with quick multi-step undo, and save the results back to your computer. They provide a sample image you can play with first, if you like. Oh, and it’s free. :)

So the next time you take pictures with your 5 megapixel camera (which, by the way, means REALLY BIG in terms of file size as well as picture size — all those bits have to go somewhere) and you want to email them all to your extended family and friends, and you don’t have something handy like F-Spot or Picasa installed, take a few minutes at Snipshot and size them down a bit.

Simple Machines Forum (SMF)
This is a little more on the geek-specific side, but I’ve recently started running a private online forum for some adoptive families and have been quite pleased with the Simple Machines Forum software. I was trying to get something set up quickly, and it was available as a quick-install package with my hosting provider, so I figured I’d check it out. It has become, in my mind, another example of solid, quality software put out by the open source community. To be sure, their license is open source more in spirit than in technicality — they pull back from the open re-distribution aspects of typical OSS licenses but you’re more than welcome to tinker with their code. But as a team they function just the same as other OSS projects, and I’m quite impressed with the result.

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A blend of poisons, dark and light

Comments   0   Date Arrow  April 22, 2007 at 12:36pm   User  by joel

Two links to share this afternoon, speciously connected by yours truly on the topic of poison (really I just happened to read them both and thought they were worth sharing). The first is actually part 4 in an ongoing series by Dr. Bob called “Moving the Ancient Boundaries”, on “the erosion of moral, cultural, and ethical boundaries in modern society.” I need to go back and read parts 1-3, but if part 4 is any indication it will be well worth my time. This man not only has excellent insight and analysis but a keen ability to express them in writing. Go read The Assault on Religious Authority.

The second is much lighter. Antique Mommy tells an amusing tale or two of those parenting moments that convince us that CPS will be showing up any minute. The comments that follow are just as good as the main post. :) Go check it out, and feel better about your own parenting skills.

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Bono gets his preach on

Comments   0   Date Arrow  March 22, 2007 at 12:05pm   User  by joel

Bono’s acceptance speech at the NAACP Image Awards a few weeks ago. Definitely worth a watch or three, especially at the end…

“‘Love thy neighbor’ is not a piece of advice…” Great stuff…

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Big Sister Hillary

Comments   0   Date Arrow  March 19, 2007 at 11:21pm   User  by joel

By now I’m sure you’ve probably seen this video.

What’s so striking to me is not the production quality of the video mashup, which is very good, but rather how much this furthers the trend begun by blogs, where everyday people suddenly have a voice, and a potentially powerful one at that. This is the promise of the Internet, coming of age in ways both promising and perilous. Anyone can say anything they want (true or otherwise) and have an audience, and I believe the impact on this election cycle is going to be remembered and talked about for the next 20 years the way Apple’s “1984” ad has been for the last 20. Howard Fineman gets it:

The candidates don’t really control it anymore. It is not something they do; it is something that is done to them. They have to learn to ride the beast like a Fremen riding a sandworm in “Dune.” If they master it, they can speed across the desert; oblivion awaits the unskilled.

We are in the middle of a fundamental shift in the way the world works, and it’s not all going to be pretty.

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