March 2014 In Review
I do a recap about once a year… which is a rather large unit of time. Jonathan Edwards resolved to peer into his heart on a daily basis and to question if he really loved God as much as he thought he did. So here’s the first of hopefully many more monthly recaps to force some more regular self-assessment, and I’m hoping to write with only myself as the intended audience.
The one thing I think I learned this month was reconsidering the role of prayer in my life and how active I believe God to be. To be honest, I didn’t exactly feel like God was active in my life… that’s an unfortunate confession. It’s not like I wasn’t actively participating in church and trying to do Christian disciplines regularly… but it was like He doesn’t always feel all too near or all too real. I wasn’t seeing any of my coworkers become Christians or any of my Sunday school students show spiked interest in God… and I guess I wasn’t seeing God too much in my own life. When things are going well and as I get older, the easier it seems to feel self-sufficient and stop feeling like I desperately need God…
I started reading a book this month that I had read through once in college, called Fireseeds by Dan Hayes. Hayes wrote about spiritual awakenings and revivals over the past few centuries and how God miraculously worked through handfuls of colleges and towns across the world, changing the hearts of masses of peoples and calling them to Himself. He would seemingly randomly reveal to people their brokenness and their need for Him, He would disrupt their everyday schedules. There were stories of people who were driving in the middle of the night and were randomly struck with guilt before God, having to pull off the road to collect themselves and asking for people to come pray for them.
One of the major points of that book was that God moves when His people pray, are obedient, and seek after Him. He wants to give us good gifts, but He also wants us seek Him first. If I want to see God move in and around me, I must seek Him and trust that He will reward me, that it is not in vain. So I should pray, as that is a primary means of seeking Him.
But then I realized that I didn’t pray much at all. I started trying to pray with Suzi at nights, though it was pretty inconsistent. One of the first nights that I was praying alone, I set my phone timer for 10 minutes. I prayed my heart out, everything I could think of, a prayer that I thought God would be pleased with. I looked down. I had only prayed for 5 minutes. A little shocking… I believe I am a Christian, a Christ-follower, but how can a Christ-follower be unable to pray for 10 minutes a day?
So that was the biggest thing of March. Realizing that God will respond if I seek Him (particularly in prayer)… and that He does respond. He’s not like a neighbor who needs to be tirelessly cajoled into action, but He’s a Father who wants to give us good things and sometimes seems like He’s giving us bad things, but they’re actually still very good.
Additionally, I’ve enjoyed getting to grow closer with the guys in my small group and feeling like I’m able to rely on them as a spiritually mature community. And since going through John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God a few months ago in our church’s guy’s group, I’ve been making a more concerted effort to memorize Scripture. Piper describes a method for memorizing verses - each day, you read a single verse 10 times, then repeat it from memory 10 times.. using this method (slightly modified) and my commute each day, I’ve been able to be a bit more disciplined to memorize Scripture. I can hold about 3 chapters in memory at a given moment, but I’ve finished memorizing the book of 2 Timothy, in the sense that I have the last 2 chapters in memory now, and I’ve recited the first 2 chapters at a time in the past. So I need to go back and try to pick those chapters up again, but it’s still a point of joy for me.
At work, I had a three day stretch in which I worked harder than I had worked in years. I can’t talk about it publicly, but I really enjoyed being able to step up and take on more responsibility as my manager had been gone at GDC for half of the week and someone needed to make sure we released in time. I’m not typically that kind of go-to guy, so it was kinda nice to feel really responsible for a change. One night, I woke up at 3am to start working. The next few days, I was staying up until 2 and 3am to get work done. I eventually hit a point where all I could think about was the project (which was not good for my relationship with God or Suzi), and yet the quality of my work was slowly deteriorating. My attempt to refactor code resulted in the introduction of trivial bugs… but now I understand promises a whole lot more and was able to get pulled into phone calls and meetings with managers and feel important.
Earlier this month, I was also working on our charting infrastructure and looking into different charting libraries on top of D3 (NVD3, Rickshaw). And I made a lot of progress on a test boilerplate for all of our Angular unit tests.
HasOffers started hosting weekly bike rides for employees as part of their perks program… like really nice road bikes, the kind you can lift with one hand without trying, the kind with the really thin tires. So I’ve been doing that - we went to the Ballard Locks and Golden Gardens the first week and to Alki Beach the second.
I got featured in http://facebook.github.io/react/blog/2014/03/14/community-roundup-18.html#ng-react-update.
I also did a bunch of work on http://csbcseattle.org/english/, getting it from a kinda terrible 5 second load (http://www.webpagetest.org/result/140315_T4_GJX/) to currently a 1.4 second load (http://www.webpagetest.org/result/140315_T4_GJX/). Big notes were installing W3 Total Cache, lazy loading a carousel of images (which I must say is pretty nifty), and optimizing a bunch of images. I still can’t figure out how to get Apache Keep-Alive working, but once I do, that should be a pretty big win as well.
Also, I tried participating in codeforthekingdom.org, a big weekend long Christian hackathon, but ended up only going to the opening session. I was kinda burnt out from the preceding week at work.. but I knew one of the organizers and apparently everything went really well - check out the Geekwire article: http://www.geekwire.com/2014/faith-based-hackathon-meets-impact-hub/ Also, I got to meet Bob Pritchett, who cofounded Logos, as well as Neil Ahlsten, one of the head guys for Carpenters, a group of techies down in San Francisco working on ministry-related apps.
And… I was supposed to be part of the second class of Design Lab (http://trydesignlab.com/), but admittedly have hardly done any real work in it. It’s supposed to be a 4 week course targeted towards programmers, but I’ve kinda been digging myself out of a hole for the past 2 weeks, trying to get my feet underneath me again after that work week.
At home, we moved back into our condo and put everything back in its place. We had been displaced for a week while construction replaced our bedroom ceiling as the original crew had apparently cut a ton of corners. We spent a week staying with various friends until we began to unravel and lose our composure. I had a short temper and was like a ticking time bomb. It was bad. We moved back in and construction mostly finished at the beginning of the month, which helped us get back into the rhythm and routine we had established towards the end of last year (before the construction began).
I do have to say.. I’m frustrated with myself and the way I’ve been acting this past month. A lot of nights, I end up being pretty short-tempered and antisocial towards Suzi. So besides a growing frustration with myself and almost a feeling of lukewarmness, I think my other realization is how gracious Suzi has been towards me. The truth is she does a lot of pacifying towards me. She gives me space and extends understanding when I am a jerk for no good reason… she doesn’t return my offense or escalate the situation. I guess that’s not always the right thing to do, but I kinda feel like it has been the right thing for me… I think it gets me thinking a lot more than if she just reciprocates my attitude. For that, I’m immensely grateful… the truth is I’m really impressed. I genuinely wish I was more like that…
If anything, seeing Suzi’s progress makes me want to do the same. I have those feelings of “manning up” and being more sold out to God, more abandoned to myself… but I feel like I don’t have much follow-through. I feel like my faith is dead because it feels like my character has depreciated.
Other just random stuff
- We went to the UW Gospel Choir concert (and Molly Moon’s afterwards)
- CSBC volunteered at Northwest Harvest Mission, so now I know a lot of the process behind packaging beans
- Upgraded my Mac OS to Mavericks and then spent like 6 hours trying to get my programming environment back to working
- Spent a night making prayer cards with CSBC to send off a few of our members on mission trips
- Helped some people move.. it was actually really fun.
- Enjoyed a 3 day pass to 24 hour fitness and played a lot of basketball
- Chris and I had our annual “tax party”