Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Home

Hi all, if you were wondering why I haven't updated this blog in a while, it's because I've moved my blog and site to a new location. Please visit me here:

and my new blog:

Monday, February 23, 2009

To Share With

TV Time - Project365:32

I was recently watching a DVD called "At Close Range". It's the story of internationally acclaimed National Geographic magazine photographer Joel Sartore. It's a fantastic DVD that I highly recommend. Joel is a great photographer with a neat personality, but he's also a father and husband. Much of this story details the struggle he has with balancing work and family. He spends weeks and occasionally months on location, sometimes without any way to communicate.

Joel said something in the movie. It was not featured, in fact it was in a non important thought to the subject at hand, but it caught my mind. He said, "Everyone needs someone to share with". When I heard that and it settled into my head, I had to pause the movie just to think about it a bit. I couldn't agree more.

Not having someone to share your dreams, hopes, experiences, ideas, frustrations, joys, triumphs, and failures with is like being the only one on the golf course when you sink a hole-in-one. Yes.. you still got a hole-in-one. It still counts, but it doesn't have the same satisfaction of having someone next to you screaming, hi-fiving, and jumping up and down.

My wonderful wife allows me to share with her. If I didn't have that in my life, I don't know if I could survive. Just yesterday, she sat there and let me rant to her about how frustrated I've been with my own performance at work. I'm talking about 2 hours of this. She was my sounding board. She allowed me to share and she help me guide my thoughts. I felt better after. But, I'm not talking about just someone to "vent" to. I'm talking about truly sharing with.

I say, "Hey Heather, come listen to this". She doesn't have to say a word. She just sits next to me while I play a song I found on iTunes that I like a lot. She doesn't have to do anything, but allow me to share that experience with her. I love to take pictures. I love to look at great pictures. She can sit down next to me and browse photos from a photog that I really like on Flickr. It's wonderful.

The joy of doing something.... anything... is far richer when it can be shared with someone. Heather is my someone.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Peeps

Fun In Target - Jump - Project365:39

These are my peeps. My people. My blood. My my most favorite human beings to ever walk this planet. I thought I'd dedicate this blog entry to them, my family. I just love them to death. We just got through celebrating a rather strange valentines weekend. Friday night, we celebrated Heather's grandmother's 90th birthday. It was a great celebration. Granny's daughters, Ann and Carol, did a fantastic job putting on the event. Then, Saturday... Valentines day, I went to say goodnight to my grandmother, Cassie. My Dad, my uncle, my sister, and various extended family members gathered in Dade City, Florida for a graveside service.

TEL_4928It was bitter sweet. My Grandmother was a Christian. I know I'll see her again, but it was still sad to know I won't see her here on earth again. However, it was nice to have all my family together, not to mention it being Valentines day.

Later that night, we gathered at Heather's folk's house with all her extended family and had a huge dinner and just hung out.

The bottom line, I got to do one of my most favorite things... take a road trip with the three people in the photo above. I just have so much fun spending time with them. They are the coolest people in the whole world. I have the smartest, funniest, most creative kids ever. And the best part... they put up with me. They let me do stuff like take crazy pictures in Target!!! They pose for me. They listen to me rant about politics, music, business, etc.

Together At Last

My Grandparents - Project365:40, originally uploaded by Thomas Lester.

I can only imagine Papa waiting for her at the gates with a big loving smile on his face. Together at last.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Four Flames - Project365:28

Life is all about influence. Everyone around us influences who we are. Some may disagree with me. They may say, "I'm not influenced by that person". I say, yes you are... You are are influenced to be like a person or your are influenced to NOT be like a person. Everyone that we have contact with influences one way or another. Often times, it's not until we take stock in a persons life do we realize how that person influenced our lives.

Catherine (Cassie) Lester was one of these influencers in my life. When I was young, I didn't get it. I sometimes even regretted her influence. As I take stock, I realize that she has influenced a great many aspects of my life in a very positive way. Manners, grammar, my music, parenting, learning, goal setting, investing, and just living life. I'm talking about my Grandmother. God called her home Saturday February 7, 2009.

I know one thing more than almost anything. My Grandmother loved me dearly. She loved me unconditionally. She was strict, but I never doubted her love. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by love like hers. These are the influences that allow me to love my wife and family the way I do. She may not be here in the flesh, but she lives on through us. I think of her regularly as I find myself teaching my kids the things that she taught me. I don't even think about until after I hear myself say it. Just last week my son said, "Me and Harrison are going to the circle" and without even thinking I said, "What's so 'mean' about Harrison". I smirked to myself after hearing those words come from my mouth. That's exactly what Cassie would have said.

I will miss her, but I will see her again one day in Heaven. So, for now, I will just say "Goodnight".

I never thought it'd come so soon
I'd be with you inside this room
Heaven's taking you from me
Your hand grows weak, it's telling me it's time to leave

Help me say goodnight
I won't say goodbye
Leave the light on, I'll be home in time

How can a granite
stone symbolize
The kaleidoscope
that was your life?
Your words will stay alive in me
My knees grow weak, the tears I leave, are healing me.

"Say Goodnight" - This Beautiful Republic

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How can they hear hear about Him?


Brian was playing at Fuel last night, and I usually head over to the main sanctuary after they get done with the worship set. Something made me stay last night to hear the message. I'm glad I stayed because Pastor Josh Turner was so in their face... he was in my face, too!

Josh spoke about evangelism. Specifically, he taught from Romans 10:14-15. It goes like this:

14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

That's a pretty powerful set of verses. "How can they?" I kept hearing that. "How can they?" Well... they can't. That's our job. It's our job to tell them. Josh pointed out, it's not our job to have all the answers. We end up not telling our friends about our relationship with Jesus because we are afraid we won't have the answers to their questions. THAT'S OK! We don't have to have all the answers. If that was the case, their would be even less Christians on this planet. We just need to share what God has done in our lives. That's the one thing that we know and we know well. We use that as our foundation to share Jesus with others.

What if we don't share Jesus? It's easy, and maybe even comforting for us to think, "Someone else will tell them about Jesus". But, what if we get to Heaven and we find out that we were it? That there wasn't anyone else?

If we love our friends, we need to make sure they are aware that there know that there is another path than just "down". We need to share with them Jesus with loving words. We need to be their for them when they need us. We don't have to have the answers. If we do our part and share with them Jesus, then God can do the rest.

They can not believe, if they have not heard...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Grieve

I Grieve, originally uploaded by Thomas Lester.

Last night, instead of having our normal Wednesday night youth service (called "Element"), we had a memorial service for two of our teens that died in a car wreck. It was a sobering experience for sure. This photo was taken at the table where kids wrote notes, prayers, and memories for their friends and left it at the table.

Those who know me well know that I'm not big "griever". However, those who know me well also know that I do get deeply saddened by events like this. My son asked me last night if I was sad for the two kids who died. I told him "no... but I am sad about the pain that their friends and family are going through". I didn't know them well. I didn't really even know them at all, but I know they were loved by many who will miss them dearly. For me, dying isn't the sad part. It's the void in the lives left behind that is sad.

Last night, I found myself thinking of lyrics to a song by Peter Gabriel as I watched the tears flow down many kids faces. Peter writes, "There's nothing yet has really sunk in, Looks like it always did". When I showed up last night, it was like any other night. Even with with photos of the kids, candles, and cards it was hard to "get it" that two of our teens were gone. I don't even think their friends were getting it. I saw some walk around the place with a smile on their face, laughing with friends and then it would hit them and their face would change. Tears would roll down their face. Even if it was just for a moment.

I grieve for those left behind that have to deal with the new huge void in their lives.

I Grieve
It was only one hour ago
It was all so different then
Theres nothing yet has really sunk in
Looks like it always did
This flesh and bone
Its just the way that you would tied in
Now theres no-one home

I grieve for you
You leave me
so hard to move on
Still loving whats gone
They say life carries on
Carries on and on and on and on

The news that truly shocks is the empty empty page
While the final rattle rocks its empty empty cage
And I cant handle this

I grieve for you
You leave me
Let it out and move on
Missing whats gone
They say life carries on
They say life carries on and on and on

Life carries on
In the people I meet
In everyone thats out on the street
In all the dogs and cats
In the flies and rats
In the rot and the rust
In the ashes and the dust
Life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on

Its just the car that we ride in
A home we reside in
The face that we hide in
The way we are tied in
And life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on

Did I dream this belief?
Or did I believe this dream?
Now I can find relief
I grieve

I Grieve - Peter Gabriel

Monday, January 12, 2009

The 21 Day Fast Has Begun

Our Bounty, originally uploaded by Thomas Lester.

Sunday was the first day of our 21 day fast. I was originally planning on doing a liquids only fast. However, the rest of my family is doing the "Daniel Fast", which is fruits and veggies. So, I've decided to join them. The picture above is our "bounty" from the farmers market Saturday morning. We got a LOT of food. It's not too hard... last night we had potatoes, salad, and corn for dinner. I had apple and steel cut oatmeal w/ raisins for breakfast. Home made lintel soup for lunch. I think we are having veggie stir fry tonight. Yum!

Today's Bible readings...

Wow... I'm starting to think if you just modernized the old testament, you could make it a hit prime time television series. Imagine the television announcer guy's voice, "In tonight's episode... Esau marries two women that drive his parents to the brink of insanity. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Isaac gets duped by his no good spoiled son into giving Jacob his brother inheritance. Tune in tonight at 10 Eastern, 9 Central to find out how Esau plans to get his revenge!"

I also read from Proverbs (which is my favorite book of the Bible, btw). I like this one a lot. Proverbs 3:9-10: "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce". As Christians I think we need to do things BETTER than what the world expects. There are so many Christians that miss this. I've seen way too many times people doing a poor job at their profession or ministry and profiting by the fact that they are "Christian". Take the music biz. I've heard the phrase, "not bad for a Christian artist". I hate that phrase. It should be, "That guy's a Christian artist, so you know it's going to be great!"

Everything we do should be done the best we can. It is to honor God. What better reason is there than that?

Learn more about the fast at awake21.org

Friday, January 9, 2009

Good tree == Good Fruit

TEL_3482, originally uploaded by Thomas Lester.

Today's quiet time readings.

Jesus tells us we can tell a good tree by it's good fruits. He teaches that in the same way that people should be able to tell that we are Christians by our fruit or works. This is scripture that is easily mistaken. This DOES NOT mean that our works get us into heaven. The Bible is very clear that declaring Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour is the ONLY way to heaven. But, once we have made that declaration, we should be at least a little big recognizable by our behavior, the fruits of the spirit, and are desire to cary out God's instructions.

I love how Jesus never says that we have to see the fruit to become a Christian. You can't have fruit before the tree. Let me say that again.... you can't have fruit before the tree. What does this mean? This means that Jesus wants us to come to him as we are. Then, he will begin to transform us into a tree that bares good fruit. Jesus does NOT expect us to get our act together before coming to him. He want's us right where we are. Then, He'll position us in fertile soil, feed us with living water, and grow us into beautiful trees that grown beautiful and very recognizable fruit.

Yes... I took that picture this morning specifically for this scripture. See... the lamp is kind of like a tree and the apple is the fruit. Get it? The blurry (that's called "bokkeh", for the non-photography crowd) black pot in the background was where I made spaghetti and meatballs last night. I made some tasty meatballs!!!

I'm starting to get better at waking up early. Tomorrow, we are going to the farmers market to stock up on fruits and veggies for our 21 day fast. Heather is doing the "Daniel fast" of just fruits and veggies. I'm either going to do all fresh juice or only water. I haven't decided, yet. I may do all water and see if I pass out! Ha! If I do, then I'll start doing just juice. I did just juice last year for 9 days. That was a good start. I hope to go all 21 days this year.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Angel Sodomy, Virgin Daughters, and Sulfur Rain

TEL_0439, originally uploaded by Thomas Lester.

Woah! People say that our society is getting more and more corrupt. This may be true, but I don't think we hold a candle to Sodom. I think Hollywood would even have a tough time putting this film together! So, God sends Angels to destroy Sodom because the city has become so depraved. They Angels meet Lot (Abraham's son) at the entrance to the city and Lot invites them to his house as his guests and feeds them and washes their feet. When the Angels are at Lot's house, men from Sodom show up and surround Lot's house demanding that Lot sends out the "men" visiting Lot so they can all have sex with them.

What? I guess that's how they rolled before the invention of the gay bar...

Lot says... "don't do my guests... instead do my two virgin daughters". What the heck! He offers up his daughters to a crowd of horny men? What kind of father logic is that? I would have been offering up a Louisville Slugger by this point. So, the men refused. They wanted the men (actually angels) instead. The angels were like, "ok, we've heard enough.... let's torch this joint!" Lot and his family got out of Dodge and the angels poured down a rain of fiery sulfur.

I guess the moral logic doesn't fall far from the tree... later the daughters decide to get Lot drunk and have sex with him. Both of them get pregnant with "dad's" child. Ewe... that's just wrong.

If this were made into a movie, it would have to be on Cinamax or "Pay Per View" only!

What did I learn from that? I learned that... Hmmm... I guess I'm not as screwed up as I thought. Ha!

My new testament reading (Matthew 6:25 - 7:14) this morning is one of my favorites. This is Jesus teaching them not to worry that God is our provider and He loves us more than anything. I should read this passage every day. I used to not worry about anything. In the last year or so, I worry a lot more. I get anxious about deadlines at work and such. I know I shouldn't. When I read these passages, I instantly feel calm.

The scripture talks about how beautiful God dresses the flowers that will be destroyed. If he takes care of them so well, then how much MORE will he take care of us. I think the picture above demonstrates this. I took that picture at Hilton Head over summer when we visited there for a vacation.

Today's Reading.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hello, my name is Abraham, God told me to cut you!

Sunset over the St. Johns. Proj365:2, originally uploaded by Thomas Lester.

Can you imagine that? You are hanging out in your tent, minding your own business when the person you know as "Abram" comes crashing in with a sharp knife, "Good afternoon. God gave me a new name. I am now Abraham and God told me to cut your penis." How do you reconcile that? I'd have been like, "back the truck up... God told you to do what???". That was God's deal with Abraham. God's end of the deal was to give Abraham the land and Abraham's descendants will rule the land. Abraham's part of the deal was to circumcise his boy children and the men of the nation as a symbol of the covenant. Ouch!

God can do ANYTHING and He can follow through with His plans for you even when you screw them up. Sarai, Abram's Wife, couldn't have kids. God revealed to Abram that he WOULD give him a son and that he'd have a nation of descendants. Sarai got impatient and offered up her hand maiden for Abram to sleep with and get pregnant.

Now... first of all, every man out there should understand that this is a ridiculous idea. As much as we all would be tempted by a hot young assistant and no matter how much the wife say she's cool with it, SHE's NOT. This is true of today as it was true in ancient times. As soon as Hagar (Sarai's servant) got pregnant, which was the plan, Sarai began to hate her. Sarai got mad at Abram and blamed him for the situation (duh... who couldn't see that coming) .

Here's the point... line up with God's plan for your life and you will have less headaches. Try to execute God's plan on your own power in your own timing and life will be rough. However, God is gracious enough to follow through on his plan for your life even when you blow it. Abram and Sarai blew it. The rushed God's plan and didn't trust him. They though, because of their earthly circumstances, God couldn't get them pregnant naturally. However, God proved to them he could do anything and is not bound by their early situation. God also proved, that even when they screwed up, he still followed through on His promise. That's pretty cool!

Do you dig today's picture? I took that yesterday evening on the way to band practice. That's the sunset as seen from the Julington Creek bridge. That is the picture I picked for my day 2 of my 365 project.

I have a question/rant I wanted to talk about, but this post is getting kind of long. I'll save it for later.

Today's quiet time reading here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Whole Other Level

TEL_0447, originally uploaded by Thomas Lester.

Ok... so this picture doesn't really have anything to do with today's quiet time. It's also an old picture (not part of the 365 project). I took this picture back in Summer when we were on vacation in Hilton Head, SC. This was a really nice jazz club that we went to and Brian sat in on drums for one song. I just think my blog entries look better with photos. I thought of this photo this morning because I can barely get my eyes to focus and I had to get some coffee before I started reading.

I found The One Year Bible online and they have links to Bible Gateway that have each day's scriptures grouped together. Here is January 6.

In the New Testament read this morning (Matthew 5:27-48), Jesus takes things to a whole new level. He really sets up how much we need Grace. Jesus tells us that it's more than actually committing the sin... but if you THINK about committing the sin, then you have already sinned in you heart and that it's just as bad. Kind of makes you think twice about the old thought, "I'm a good person... I haven't murdered, I'm faithful to my wife... surely I'll go to Heaven". Jesus tells us in this passage that if you've ever thought, "wow... she's hot... I'd like to [censored]". Then we've committed adultery.

We must truly understand this "next level", this sinning of our heart and mind for us to truly understand grace. Then THAT takes our relationship to the next level with our Lord and Saviour.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Resolutions Begin

Resolutions begin - 1/365, originally uploaded by Thomas Lester.

This photo is photo #1 of a Flickr 365 project that I'm starting today. What's a 365 project you ask? A 365 project is where a person commits to taking one photo a day for 365 days. Of course, you can take more than one photo per day, but you have to take at least one photo each day and choose only one as your photo for the day. The motivator for me to do this is to force myself to take more photos. More photos means I have more opportunity to improve my photography skills.

Taking more photos is part of my new years resolutions. Also, I'm resolving to get up before the kids wake up and have quiet time with God and read the Bible. I'm trying to do a one year read through of the Bible. This photo depicts this part of my resolutions. Note the time on the iPhone.

I also resolve to blog more. Hence this post.

About my quiet time this morning. A great friend of mine, Joe Bassett, has agreed to be my accountability partner (his idea actually) on keeping to my quiet time in the morning. Part of the "deal" is that we report to each other what "spoke" to us in our quiet time each morning. So, here's mine for today:

I read the following:

What jumped out at me? Well... I've been anxious a bit lately. In fact, enough to make me have trouble sleeping at night. I haven't been doing what I feel is my best work at my job. Not that I've been doing poorly, but I think I can do better. I also have a lot of internal "what should I do" type of questions that mainly stem from a lot of uncertainty in the world today. Psalm 5:8 really spoke to me this morning and I made in my prayer.

"Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow."

Can't get much simpler than that. Show me the way, God! I can't figure it out on my own. Help me make your way, my way too.

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 New Year's Resolutions

It's been a while since my last blog entry. Sorry for that. I've been busy, lazy, etc... It's 2009! I survived another year. You know what that means? Time for my New Year's Resolutions. I didn't do so well with my resolutions from last year, but I'm willing to refine and give it another try. So, here goes.

Work harder, but play more

I went back to work for Sun Microsystems in 2008. With this move, I've been working a lot. However, I haven't been focused as well as I can be so therefore I haven't been as efficient. This causes me to have to work more to keep up. This year I resolve to work harder 9 to 5, but learn to put away work at the end of the day and wind down... play hard.


This kind of goes hand and hand with "Worker harder, but play more". I have a hard time just sitting and relaxing. When I'm not working, I'm working. I'm researching, trying to learn new things, etc. This keeps my blood pressure pretty high. The Dr. wants me to bring it down. This means, in part, that I need to "chill".

Get Healthy

I purposely didn't put the good ol' new years stand by, "lose weight". Yes... I need to lose weight and that's part of this, but it's more than that. I need to get healthy. This means not just east less, but eat better. Cut out some salt. Exercise. Get my blood pressure lower (see points above).

Spend more one on one time with my daughter, Rachel.

She's growing up fast and I don't feel like I know her as well as I'd like. She's an amazing little girl! Every time I look at her I'm amazed that she came from my DNA.

Take and print more photographs

Photography is a creative outlet for me. I love doing it and it's "de-stresses" me. I resolve to get out more and take more photos. I'm going to start a 365 project of some sort and follow through with it. I also want to print more of my photos and put them up in the house as art. I haven't framed any of my photos in many years. Even family photos. I need to do this. I want to have at least one large "art" photo that I took on my wall by the end of 2009!

Blog more!

Again... I need to stop working and relax. Blogging is a good way to get my ideas and thoughts out of my head.

Be a nicer person

I came to the realization recently that I'm an $%@ Hole. I guess I've always been one and I just didn't realize it. Not everyone feels this way, but some important people in my life seem to think so. So, I need to figure out a way to make myself a "nicer" person. I don't exactly know how to approach this, but I'm going to humble myself and reach out to people to figure out how to improve on this.

Live "Greener" and more natural

Heather and I have been migrating to a greener lifestyle over the last two years. We will continue to do so in 2009. We shop at the farmers market and use reusable bags. Use more glass containers, instead of plastic. Drink less bottled water and more from our own filter into reusable glass or metal containers. Cook more from scratch. Make our own bread, cookies, snacks, juice, etc. Avoid preservatives. Eat more fruit and veggies. Start a garden. I want to raise chickens for eggs... but I'm not going to commit to that until I read through my neighborhood bi-laws. Ha!

Get on a healthier, more family friendly routine

I tend to sleep in. Some mornings, I'm not up before Brian leaves for school. I'm usually up before Rachel. I stay up later than everyone else in the house. I resolve to wake up early. Before Brian wakes up. I want to fix Breakfast for the kids. Have my quiet time with God and read the Bible. Get in some exercise. All BEFORE I start work for the day. I want to go to sleep when Heather goes to sleep. Which can be quite early.

Go to the beach more, swim more in the ocean, and spend more time in the sun

Yeah... I look like a corpse. I live by the ocean and don't visit very often. Heather loves it. She loves to go as often as possible. It would do me good to get some more daylight exposure!

Get Organized

I started using the "Getting Things Done" methodology last year and it's fantastic. I just need to apply the ideas across everything in my life and be consistent with it. I need to organize my routine. Do thins more consistently.

Whew! That's a big list. I'm sure I'll blow some of them, but I'm sure going to try to achieve them all. We'll see!