Friday, December 2, 2011


All was still. Clouds filled the sky, and mist drifted down on us. But then the rising sun cast its shimmering rays through the eastern clouds.

And the gray, cloudy sky was transformed into a canvas of color.

I've never seen a rainbow from a sunrise before. But this was absolutely stunning! We could see the entire arch of both rainbows - 170 degrees. The camera doesn't do it justice... Even as the color began to fade, it was still beautiful. I'm glad God gave us the opportunity to witness such a spectacular event!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In memory of Steve Jobs

The words on the icon of the TextEdit application in Mac OS X apply quite well to Steve Jobs, with a few adaptations...

Here’s to the crazy one. The misfit. The rebel. The troublemaker. The round peg in the square hole. The one who saw things differently. He wasn't fond of rules. And he had no respect for the status quo. You can praise him, disagree with him, glorify or vilify him. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore him. Because he changed things.

A man who didn't fear to tackle the greatest challenges. He accomplished many things that others said were impossible. He wasn't afraid to try. Steve Jobs was not a Christian. But his life was an inspiration to me, a story of perseverance and innovation. And his memory lives on through the company and devices he built. He certainly left a mark on the world.

In memory of Steve Jobs

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just an update...

The fire is out (and actually went out not too long after my first post) but it's still extremely dry. So dry, in fact, that the grass actually preserves our footsteps. It's unbelievable.

Even though the fire is out, we're not completely out of danger. It has been very still most of the time. The fire happened almost as soon as the wind picked up. It's still again now, but if it gets windy again it will be very dangerous.

Oklahoma broke the US record for the hottest average temperature for a single month. The average temperature in July was 89.1 degrees. The previous record stood at 88.9, in July 1954.

We need rain and cooler weather...

Friday, August 5, 2011


Apologies once again for not updating my blog very often... I'll try to do better.

But it's very, very dry right now. So dry that the ponds are running out of water, and fish are dying.

This afternoon, I noticed a whitish haze in the sky. I knew it couldn't be a cloud. At the same time, I caught a whiff of smoke. I suddenly was completely alert, and went to investigate. Turns out there's a fire about 20 miles southwest of us, coming towards us.

Five minutes after the first picture, another fire started next to the first.

We're not in imminent danger, but we'd certainly appreciate your prayers (and so would the people who live nearer to the blaze). It's tinder dry, baking hot, and windy. Not a good combination for firefighting... There's a river between us and the fire, and also a highway, but there's no telling what could happen under these circumstances...

We'll keep you updated!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Too late to prepare

It started out as a perfectly normal day (or so we thought). At breakfast, we listened to the weather radio, and the forecast was dark indeed. We were in the High Risk area, under risk of “large, violent, long track tornados, giant hail (possibly larger than baseballs) and wind gusts up to 65 miles per hour.” That was a pretty ominous forecast! However, we’ve gotten bad forecasts before, and nothing ended up happening, so we decided that we would pay careful attention to the weather, and see if anything turned up. Unfortunately, all the ingredients were in place for a severe weather outbreak – moist, warm air; a strong cap to prevent thunderstorm development in the morning; and sunlight to add energy to the mix. The past several days had followed a distinct pattern – normal morning, hot and humid afternoon, storms in the evening. But none of the storms had hit us; at least, none of the severe storms. However, this time, it appeared likely that we could get something significant.

As the day progressed, we checked the weather several times. The warnings became more urgent, and we were placed under a tornado watch.

Around 3 PM, we saw (on the radar) a large line of strong storms approaching from the west. They appeared to be moving quite rapidly, and multiplying in intensity. We prepared the best we could. Matthew and I put the chickens in their coop, and Father put the car in the shed to protect it from possible hail. It began to become very windy, though that’s not at all unusual when a storm is approaching.

For a while, we thought that maybe it was going to miss us. (It’s happened before.) I practiced my guitar, with my computer showing the latest radar. Around 4:30, I noticed a large red splotch on the radar, moving straight for Chickasha. In fact, it was almost here. Bach Preludes forgotten, I went outside with the video camera to see what I could see. It was very unimpressive. Just a bunch of gray sky, with thunder rumbles all around, and an occasional visible flash of lightning. Nothing particularly exciting or out of the ordinary. I was a bit disappointed, and went back inside. But I couldn’t concentrate on practicing, so instead I just hung around and looked up the latest weather updates. The Weather Channel was posting Twitter updates on their website, so I was reading about the tornados that were about to hit Oklahoma City.

I came downstairs again, and just sat around in my parents’ bedroom, discussing the weather and what was going on. We wondered if the storm was indeed going to hit us. Everything seemed normal at the moment. Suddenly Mother looked out the window, and asked, “Is that a funnel cloud?” I looked out the window as well and announced, “Yes, that would be a funnel cloud.” My whole body immediately felt an adrenalin rush. I ran out of the room, grabbed the video camera (which was conveniently sitting on the table, fully charged and with plenty of tape) and turned around and raced out the door. I was in such a hurry that the door didn’t open quite fast enough, and it got in the way of my foot. I managed not to fall, and someone apparently closed the door behind me. My entire consciousness was focused on getting to see that funnel cloud.

I raced to the fence on the west side of our property. There it was – a tornado dropping out of the cloud! The view here was obstructed by the hill in the cow pasture next to us, so I ran a little farther south to see better. There was no doubt about it now – this was a full-size tornado, and it was moving right towards us!

I was standing there, filming, hardly believing what my eyes were telling me. All the discussions we had had about what we would do in case of a tornado flashed through my mind. What would I really do, now that I see a tornado coming? I wasn’t quite sure. Go to a storm shelter? That was at least 5 minutes’ run away. Go and hide in the house? Definitely not. Stand out and watch it? That might be pretty dangerous. Then I realized I had no choice. I had to make sure my family knew what was going on. Inside the house, they might not be aware of just how serious this thing was. I also realized that if our house was really going to be destroyed, then not only did we need to get ourselves out, but I really wanted to save my external backup hard drive with all our photos and videos from the last 15 years. If we lost that, there would be nothing we could do to replace it. Just about everything else could be replaced.

The next two minutes merged into a blur. Apparently my family already knew the tornado was coming, and they were going to the truck to drive to our neighbor’s house (to use their storm shelter). I ran upstairs, set my iMac face-down on the carpet as a desperate measure of preservation, grabbed the precious hard drive, and scrambled down the stairs, out the door, and into the truck.

We drove slowly down the driveway, not knowing if we would ever see our house again. However, by the time we reached the end of the driveway, it was becoming quite apparent that the tornado was going to go north of us. By this time it was a massive vortex, flinging up a huge cloud of dust and dirt.

We live nearly on the top of a ridge. The local people tell us that tornados generally follow the ridge. There’s a small valley, of sorts, and then a few miles away, another ridge. As things turned out, the tornado followed the other ridge.

We were so relieved.

It later went on to Blanchard and Newcastle, and rendered about 50 homes uninhabitable. We are so thankful that God spared us from destruction. But oh, my heart goes out to those whose homes were destroyed…

I had long wanted to see a tornado in daylight. I also wanted to see one that didn’t destroy our home and property.  This met both of those criteria. And thankfully I had my video camera to capture the moment. (Good thing it was fully charged and ready to go!)


I’ve seen many videos of tornados forming. I’ve heard lots of stories where people say, It happened so fast. But I never realized just how fast it really happens! When Mother saw the funnel cloud, it was smaller than a finger held at arms’ length. Less than a minute later, it was on the ground, kicking up debris and dirt, and destroying whatever was in its path. And it appeared to be moving very, very fast.

We had basically no solid plan in case of a tornado. We thought, if it ever happens, we can use the Chabot’s storm shelter. And, in this case, we probably could have. But what if we hadn’t seen it coming? It would have been too late to do anything. As it was, God spared us from what could have been something very terrible.

Someday we will have to face our Creator in a judgment.  And if we haven’t prepared our hearts to meet Him, it will be too late.

Too late. Forever. No second chances.

Our second chances are now. This is the time given us to get ready.

Don’t waste it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

First of all, my apologies for not posting anything for far too long… I hadn’t forgotten, but amid the bustle of things to do and to be done, blogging has slipped farther and farther down the list. I’ll try to do better in the future though.

A few evenings ago, for evening worship, we were talking about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. That story is such a classic Bible story.

I always used to think that the purpose of this story was to show that God can rescue you out of the most dire trouble. He certainly can. But this time, I saw it in a new light. Rescuing the three friends from the furnace was only part of the story. It’s a story about worship and commitment.

The three young men were determined to stand for God – quite literally in this case. When they were called to answer for their disobedience to the royal decree, they didn’t waver. They were no cowards, even when they were standing before the ill-tempered king who ruled most of the civilized world at the time.  They were so far from being cowards that they told the king that “we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” They already knew their answer.

“Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.” (emphasis added) God was able to deliver them from the furnace, and He would deliver them from the hand of the king. That’s interesting. Apparently delivering them from the fiery furnace is separate from delivering them from the hand of the king.

“But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

“If not” what? Probably if God chose not to deliver them from the fiery furnace…

Was there any thought in the young men’s minds that God was going to rescue them? They knew that He could do it. But in plain sight was the furnace, now being heated seven times more than it was designed to be heated. I’m sure they were aware of the very real possibility that they could be martyrs.

And so they were cast into the fire, but not to death. Death fell upon the men who cast them in, however. It seems rather ironic – Nebuchadnezzar wanted to destroy the men who defied his authority, yet instead he ended up killing the “most mighty men that were in his army.” And the men who were supposed to be destroyed ended up as national heroes.

This is a showdown type of story. And God wins, just like He did on Mount Caramel, and just like He has ever since. Yet His victory is not merely based on preserving His men from harm. That almost strikes me as of secondary importance. The crucial moment was just before they were cast into the furnace. All fear of death was gone. All fear of the king was gone. Instead, it had been replaced with all trust in God. And that’s where the real victory was. The power of God to turn a feeble human being into a courageous man, with no fear of anything someone else might do to him…

So many times Christians who seem perfectly steadfast and loyal end up failing when presented with certain temptations. “Surely God wouldn’t keep me out of heaven just for that.” I’ve even tried to use that line of reasoning (better known as excuses) myself. But that’s not what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. They could have come up with all kinds of reasons why it would be okay to bow before the image.

But they knew they could trust God with their lives. In fact, God was the only one to whom they could safely entrust their lives.

It wasn’t the first time they had risked their lives to remain faithful to God. But it was probably the scariest. The Bible doesn’t paint a picture of fearful men, however. These were men who had forgotten every trace of their natural self-preservation.

To them, life would not have been worth living had they purchased it by compromise.

Oh, that we would see more of that kind of commitment today…

Sunday, March 20, 2011


My latest challenge - learning Asturias, by Isaac Albeniz. One of my favorite pieces ever...

Asturias comes from the Suite Española, a suite for solo piano. It is thoroughly Spanish, and extremely guitaristic. It is far more well known from its guitar performances than the instrument for which it was intended. Yet, I wonder if maybe Albeniz wrote it under inspiration from guitar music. For it fits the guitar perfectly...

I've posted a video at the following link. I know the video has imperfections, but try to focus on the music itself... not my flawed performance. :)

I'm planning to record this piece for my next guitar CD, which will hopefully finished by late summer.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I stepped outside the front door. It was time to bring in more wood. Yet soon, my attention was diverted - by nothing. Nothing? Yes, actually I stood outside in the cold, and listened to the deep, pervasive silence. I could almost reach out and touch it. 

In our fast-paced society, often we forget to take time to be still and quiet. Life is full of things to do. Is there any value in taking time to be silent? 

"When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God. He bids us, 'Be still, and know that I am God.' This is the effectual preparation for all labor for God." (Christian Service p. 249)

Being busy isn't a bad thing necessarily, and certainly our Savior must have been one of the busiest men who ever lived. Yet the secret to His unending strength must have been at least partly related to secret prayer and time alone with His Father. Alone. No cellphone, no Internet, no communication with the outside world. Just Jesus and His Father. 

If we were to follow His example, and take more time to be silent, alone with God, don't you think that our lives would be drastically different? Maybe?


It hasn't been easy for me to learn to appreciate silence. I am a person whose mind is always active. I constantly have music playing in my mind. I'm always thinking about some friend, or my recent projects, or the latest piece I'm learning on the guitar. Recently I got an iPod that lets me have access to all my music, emails, Internet (when I'm in range of wifi) and other information - all the time! (In fact, I'm writing this very post on my iPod!) And texting on my cellphone goes on where the iPod leaves off. For me to put that all aside, and be still, has been difficult at times. I used to think that I was being silent if I wasn't listening to any music. But what God has been teaching me recently is that the most powerful kind of silence is the silence of the soul. Silence when my heart is waiting to hear God speak.

Silence has great power. There is no substitute for quiet time with God.

There are some lessons which cannot be learned apart from silence, some things that we cannot hear until we are still. The still, small voice has precious lessons to teach us.

May we ever remember to take time to be silent, alone with God, no matter how busy our lives become. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Time flies, and changes are inevitable. When I look back at some of the fond memories I have from past years, I don’t know whether to be happy or sad. Happy that I had such wonderful times in years past, sad that those times are past, never to be lived through again. Recently we watched a video of my first guitar recital. It was a landmark performance for me, my first time playing in front of a real audience (other than at church). The pieces I was playing weren’t exceptionally difficult (though at the time, they seemed like an impassible mountain of music). But it was such a special time for me, to have the privilege of playing in a real music hall, with other students playing real classical guitar pieces. Then I thought about my most recent recital, where I played the Prelude and Allegro from a Bach suite. It was another major event in my life, but it was just another recital. It wasn’t the huge achievement that the other one was. Sure, I had a wonderful time playing those pieces (which were much more challenging than the ones I played at my first recital) but it wasn’t any great mental struggle to get up there and play them. I’m surely thankful for videos and pictures to help me remember those special times.

And then, I look at myself. I’ve changed a lot through the years. Years ago, I was a little adventurous boy who loved to run outside through the rain, ride my mountain bike for an hour every morning, and even enjoyed cooking. I still enjoy cooking somewhat, but I don’t do much anymore. My life is so different now. Back then, it seemed I always had lots of chores to do. I never could get quite enough time to do what I wanted. But now, looking back, I realize that I had far, far more free time than I ever get now. For a long time, I blamed it on my daily hour of guitar practice. But it’s more than that. My life as a whole is different. I have emails to answer, a blog to update, videos to edit, deadlines to meet, responsibilities at church, more schoolwork than ever before, and chores to be done. And I haven’t even started working at a job, or studying for my learner’s permit. There are so many things that I’d like to do, but I can’t do because I don’t have enough time to fit them in.

I’ve wondered if all these changes are good. Some of them haven’t been, I’m afraid. Sometimes I make poor decisions about how to spend my time. I might answer an email to a friend instead of working on a project that has a deadline. By God’s grace, I have been improving in that area. Other changes have definitely been positive. I’ve been learning to take responsibility for my own decisions. Learning how to accept the consequences of what I choose…

Then I came to the sudden realization that, whether or not I like what’s happening, I’m growing up. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. My friends aren’t 12, 13, 14 years old anymore. (I still have plenty of friends in that age range, of course. J ) Many of them are now in their upper teens, or early twenties. They’re growing up too. Some of them have gotten married. My world isn’t the same as it was 5 years ago.

But there’s one thought that comforts me through all this. God’s hand is leading me, and He’ll be there for me every step of the way. If I trust Him… 

And I’m sooo thankful for wonderful memories that I’ve been privileged to have from years past… I know that there will be many more things to remember in the future. I want to enjoy life as God brings it to me. I don’t want to spend my life wishing that the “good old days” were here again. Sure, there are some things I miss about them. But there’s no turning back.

And why should there be? Though there are some things I’ve had to leave behind, there are new opportunities, new adventures, new friends, and new blessings ahead. I wouldn’t miss out on those for anything.

The day I sat down with my steel string guitar, to record a few songs on a cheap RadioShack microphone and a PC laptop with a freeware audio program, I never dreamed I’d be where I am today. Today I have a much more powerful, flexible recording system. But I’m ever so glad that I recorded those pieces when I did. It gives me something to look back on. That was a special time. I was constantly discovering new things I could do with the guitar.

Now, my recording sessions are much different. My guitar is different, my playing is different, my microphones are different, and my computer and software are different. But the memories of the old times are precious. Even though I didn’t know where to put the microphone, or how much EQ to add. Even though I left the speakers on the laptop turned on, and got a little feedback…  Even though I turned up the bass on my recording far beyond what was reasonable. Those times are past. But there’s something I’ve learned over those same years, that’s more important than knowing the right kind of reverb to use, or where to put the microphone. Something far more important…

It’s learning to enjoy the journey. Enjoying where God has placed me now. Knowing that though things will change, I can still be content knowing that God is leading me. And knowing that the destination is far better than anything I enjoy now.

Don’t fear to leave the past behind. Press upward and onward and forward. No turning back.

“Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”


And in case you were interested, I thought I'd include the video of my first recital. I was 13 at the time. I had been taking guitar lessons for nearly a year.

I apologize for the glitch in the middle of the video - I didn't know where the original captured video was, so I just copied it off the DVD, and there was a short gap in the middle for some reason.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

No Turning Back

Imagine looking at a stormy, fearful passageway, with dangers lurking in every corner. You can’t imagine how you’ll make it through. The only thing upon which you can rely is the promise of your superior’s protection.

And then, behind you, is a lush, attractive meadow. (Doesn’t this sound like something from Pilgrim’s Progress?)  You wish with all your earthly heart that you could contentedly sleep in that meadow.

But now, the Master tells you to advance. The salvation of souls is at stake – even the salvation of your soul. There must be no turning back.

Total commitment. No turning back. No thought of giving up. This is the only way that the battle can be won.

When the time comes to fight the powers of darkness (even if that battle is in the solitude of the heart, struggling over an impure thought) no half-hearted soldier is fit for the task. 

No man who after a time resolves to go back to the beggarly elements of the world, is worthy to be called a disciple of Christ. If he does not intend always to be on the side of truth and righteousness; if he does not mean to be a brave, whole-hearted soldier, to endure opposition from a determined foe, and to press close to the bleeding side of Jesus, not faltering or turning back, “he can not,” says Christ, “be My disciple.” (ST July 28, 1898)

This is what GYC is all about…

And more importantly, this is what I want my life to be all about…