Space Shuttle Columbia – In Memoriam

My friends and family can testify that when I get the opportunity to go to IMAX theaters, I usually prefer to watch the films about the shuttle program, the planets, stars, moon… or just space in general.  It’s truly amazing that we have the technology to blast ourselves off the face of this earth at 25,000 miles/hr to escape our planet’s atmosphere and travel to distant bodies in the universe.  Simply unbelievable.  C.S. Lewis and his character Ransom, from The Space Trilogy, would be in awe of the photos and videos collected.  Over the years we’ve seen the unimaginable beauty of the heavens and wondered at the glory of God’s creation.  Although our society has since largely removed “God” from the realms of science and discovery, during the age of the space race there was no doubt Who had blessed us with such heavenly opportunities, as you’ll hear in the video below from Apollo 8.  And in regard to all of our space ventures, I can only say as Mrs. Armstrong did following the lunar landing of Apollo 11, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

Sadly, today is the 10th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.  My family’s house shook as it disintegrated over Texas and landed in pieces all throughout our county.  In the words of President Bush, it was a day that “brought terrible news and great sadness to our country.”

I’ll always think of our country’s accomplishments in space with pride and pleasure.  We have indeed been mightily blessed.  I”ll always smile every time I hear Walter Cronkite say as he anchored the Apollo 11 landing: “Armstrong is on the moon.  Neil Armstrong.  38-year old American.  Standing on the surface of the moon.  On this July 20th, 1969.”  But it is events like the Columbia disaster that remind me that despite our accomplishments and awards, the God who made the moon and gave us the ability to walk on its surface also holds us in His hands.  As the apostle James says, “You don’t know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.”  At one moment we may be perfectly healthy and completely normal… the next moment gone.

He who fashioned the heavens and the earth – does He not know our footsteps?  Does He not care for us?  Did He not fashion the entire universe for His own glory and our enjoyment?  Truly – we can only look up to the heavens and marvel because He made them just for us.

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Looking Back To Look Forward

As each year of my life has passed by, I have increasingly appreciated the ability many have to recap the previous 12 months and look with expectation and excitement upon the upcoming new year.  In an attempt to imitate, but not duplicate, their words, I offer my own perspective on last year and what I hope to accomplish in 2013.

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We had a very exciting and joyful beginning to 2012 – our first child, Trinity, was born just before the new year and we were just settling in to our life as a family of three.  Thankfully, she made it easy for Joanna and me by being a very pleasant and content baby, surprising her vocal parents with a subdued personality.

Last year I also had the privilege to continue teaching a 9th-grade American Government class at our local private school, Regents Academy.  I had a great group of students and we had a lot of fun.  Highlights included the class having an opportunity to attend our local Lone Star Legislative Summit (where we hosted some high-ranking politicians and experts from Austin to talk about relevant issues to the East Texas area), a field trip to the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M and the George Bush Library, and guest lectures from our State Representative, mayor, and county sheriff.  I think I learned as much as my students did over the course of the year.

Our country was also privileged to be able to follow the spectacle which was the Republican primary over the course of the first half of the year.  I was happy to have paid more attention to the political process and conversation than I have in years past, and was overall pleased with many of the issues that were raised over the course of the primary.  But then I was also reminded why I identify myself primarily as a conservative and not a Republican.  As you were sure to have noticed from my posts both here and on Facebook and Twitter, I was unhappy about Mitt Romney’s nomination (having voted for Santorum, myself), but I supported him in the general election against President Obama.

On a lighter note, Joanna and I were able to celebrate the summer (and the RNC, ironically) by joining her entire family on the Florida coast for a week.  It was the first time in over 10 years that I’ve been to the beach, and I was reminded (maybe partially due to the hurricane that affected our stay) why I still think nothing can beat the mountains, particularly the Rockies in Colorado.  But we really did enjoy our time with all of the family.

To hop around the calendar a bit, in May our church’s new building was completed and we were able to finally move in and hold services there.  This was a big deal for me, having been a member of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church for 14+ years (with a 5-year hiatus while in college).  When our church began, my family was meeting with a few other families in homes and working with what could barely amount to any kind of liturgy, much less anything formal.  Now we have outgrown the only building we ever really called “home” and have over 150 members, with a beautiful liturgy, a beautiful building, and a location in town giving us finally a visible presence in Nacogdoches.

Jumping forward again, as the summer came to a close, I recognized that I had unfortunately given up most of my reading and extra-curricular time to be able to work on the government class the previous year.  As much as I enjoyed it, last year I finally realized I needed to get back to reading on a regular basis – perhaps not quite at the NSA level (1-2 books a week), but more than I’ve done since I graduated.  With that in mind, I decided not to teach a second year.  As a result, I was able to spend a fair amount of time reading – enjoying some fantastic works I’d been meaning to read for a long time: 1984Decision Points, the Richard Hannay series, Idols for Destruction, and Rendezvous with Destiny (which I’m currently finishing) to name a few.

The second half of the year was just as pleasant as the first.  We discovered late summer we were expecting a second child, finding out more recently that it is also a girl, due to join us in April.  I am now preparing myself for having to spend gobs and gobs of money on gobs and gobs of makeup in 10-15 years.  On the home front, we finally got around to putting a new roof on our house – one of those major projects that always seems to get postponed longer than it should have been.  On the political front, I was obviously unhappy with the results of the presidential election, but happy to see my fellow Texans elect Ted Cruz to the US Senate.  We’re looking forward to having him in Washington.

As far as work goes, I was pleased to have doubled my busy-ness and business from 2011, and to build my contact list and clientele.  On the side, I have enjoyed working and volunteering with our local Chamber of Commerce on a variety of committees, and doing what little I can with our church music and our long-suffering church choir.  That combined with having a toddler around the house who’s preparing to walk now is keeping me plenty busy, and I’m grateful for it all.  Joanna continues her full-time job as a stay-at-home mom, keeping our house in order and Trinity under supervision.  She is a wonderful wife and mother, and I wouldn’t trade her for anyone, even though she prefers the house temp to be much warmer than I like it.  Overall, God is extremely gracious and His mercies are new every morning.  He filled our lives with joy in 2012 by giving us Trinity, and is doubling our joy in 2013.  Our cup runs over.

And what of 2013?  I’m not really one for official resolutions, although I did indicate on Goodreads that I plan to read 25 books this year.  Inside I tell myself that I really ought to read many more than that, but baby steps seem to be the way to go, particularly with 2 under 2 in the house.  I hope to get a few home improvement projects accomplished.  I plan to hit some new goals and new highs with real estate.  I hope to add a couple other part-time interests.  And I hope to continue improving what I’m doing here on the RPC website.  Plans are in the works to add some guest posts and commentary, thereby improving the content of the site.  I also hope to continue building the RPC presence on Facebook, so keep watching the FB page.

One thing I know – no matter what plans I make for 2013, God has it all mapped out for me, and His will will be done regardless.  I pray that He uses me and you to advance His Kingdom, and that our lives will be used to fulfill the Great Commission.  I know that although President Obama sits in the White House, Jesus sits in the heavens and on the High Throne, governing the nations.  Because of that fact, I know that 2013 will be better than 2012 – His Kingdom is always moving forward and the Gospel always wins, even when victory is readily apparent.  We cannot lose when our message is the Gospel.

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