Saturday, February 9, 2013

More stuff and things (pt 3)

My final installment of the 30 Things challenge (Here is the original)

21.  If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you with it first?
TELEPORTATION!!! I have given this one a lot of thought.  I don't know what I would do first, but here are some things I have daydreamed about:
*jump ahead in lines at amusement parks
*rescue people from burning buildings
*Free fall skydiving without a parachute; simply teleport before crashing
*Photobomb celebrity events, can you say unannounced live cameos?
*Of course there is all the illegal stuff, like teleporting into a bank vault, or just taking whatever I want from somewhere, I mean, even if they catch me, they can't hold me..... mwhahaha!
*Create urban legends by wearing a gorilla costume and showing up in unexpected places for small periods of time

I could go on, but I gots lots to do today (I might get it all done if I could only teleport...)

22.  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  10 years?  15 years?
     In five years, I hope to have established myself in my career, with a balanced client load, diversified income stream and be out of personal debt.  In ten years, who knows?  I couldn't have imagined where I am now ten years ago, so it almost seems improper to dream that far out.  I know I want to be deeper in love with Christ, with my wife, with my kids.  10 years out, my kids will be either exiting high school or in college or that transition.  We will be on the brink of empty-netsting.  It would be nice to have reached a point that when the kids are out of the house, Amelia and I can travel for business and pleasure.  In 15 years...  who knows?  Maybe there'll be grandkids on the way.  I had two kids already when I was in my late twenties.  Maybe I'll have published a book or gone back for my Ph.D.

23.  List your top five hobbies and why you love them.
  1. Photography.  I got a nice DSLR about 7 years ago and, drawing on lessons from a class I took in college, I started learning about how f-stops, shutter speed and ISO are linked.  I learned a lot about taking pictures, from the asthetic side, like the rule of thirds and framing to the technical sides like depth of field and bokeh.  I get to be creative and have immediate validation when I look into the viewfinder. 
  2. Reading.  I love sci-fi and fantasy.  Getting to lose myself in a good book is an amazing way to escape from reality for a little while and train your brain to imagine... what if?
  3. Blogging!  I enjoy the discipline of putting my thoughts together and making sense of my world and I enjoy sharing it with others.
  4. Gaming.  I enjoy a variety of gaming, from pen and paper RPGs to CCGs like Magic:TG to board games to video games.  I wouldn't call myself hard core in any particular genre, but I enjoy almost all of them.  Except sports games, you know, like Madden, or MLB video games or Basketball emulators ... if you want to enjoy a sport, play the actual sport.
  5. I don't get to do it often, but I love to travel with my wife.  I hope that it becomes more of a recreational thing for us in the future.
24.  Describe your family dynamic from your childhood versus your family dynamic now.
     The rythym of our family life when I was a kid was dictated by the Air Force.  I was born in Lubbock, TX and by the time I entered the 8th grade, I had lived in more places than many people get to visit in a lifetime!  I loved being in a military family and getting to live in different countries was an adventure that I treasure.  I am the 3rd of 5 children, and the only boy and when I think back on my relationship with my siblings, I feel like it was pretty typical.  We cared about each other, but fussed and fought like any other sibling group.  We looked after each other and teased each other and annoyed each other and stood up for each other when we weren't blaming each other for not doing chores.  I remember feeling loved and supported, generally.
     Thinking about the family dynamic we have in my household now that I am the parent and not the kid, I am pretty pleased with how we do things.  There is, without a doubt, love in our house.  Amelia and I work mostly as a single parenting unit when it comes to values and discipline.  We have a great relationship and model respect and love for each other to the kids.  We do a lot of things differently in our household than either of us experienced growing up, but it is not dramatically different.  It is interesting to me to contemplate giving my children the roots that I didn't have growing up... being connected to grandparents and cousins in deeper ways... not having to adjust to changing schools and houses every few years.  Those differences aren't bad, just different.

25.  If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
    Disclaimer: This is not a definative answer, depending on my frame of mind, I would probably give a different answer to this question on any given day.  There are so many interesting figures in history and so many good foods!
     I would like to have dinner with anyone who was not a "main character" in an encounter with Jesus.  Anyone whose life he touched directly, to hear a sort of Paul Harvey "The Rest of The Story" from their perspective.  We'd dine on frozen desserts because, hey, they've never had FroYo.

26.  What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
     YOLO.  This mentality is pervasive and allows us to behave in ways where we can minimize the consequences of our attitudes, thoughts and behaviors on our world and our relationships.  IMHO, it would be better for people to understand that WALE (We all live eternally), and how we choose to live in the here and now influences how we will live eternally: in close relationship with God, the creator of our souls or eternally separated from the Eternal Loving One. 

27.  What is your favorite part of your body and why?
     My mind.  The mind fascinates me.  There is so much about the brain that we don't know, and so there is a lot of research coming out daily about how neuroscience is advancing our understanding of how we function and why we act/think/feel the way we do.  I love knowledge and trivia and learning and intelligence and it just gives me a thrill to think that the mind/brain is connected to it all.  I like puzzles and the feeling I get when I solve a puzzle or figure something out.  I like learning and the way I feel about myself when I learn something new.  I enjoy wit and sarcasm and humor and drama and none of it is possible without a learned brain.  I love listening to other people and being exposed to new ways of thinking.  I am energized and honored when others come to me for help and I am able to walk with them into new understanding and behaviors. Other than that, when I think about my appearance, what I like the most is my calves.  I have shapely calves, I think.

28.   What is your love language?
     So, long ago I read the book and determined that my primary love language was Acts of Service.  However, I just went to the website and took the online quiz and the results of it this time were:
a tie between Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch, with Quality Time, Acts of Service and Giving Gifts coming in in that order.  So... maybe things have shifted a bit for me.

29.  What do you think people misunderstand most about you?
     It has come to my attention several times in the past that I can come across to others as arrogant or condescending.  This is a real blow to me because I don't see myself that way.  I once tried to justify that others sometimes see me that way because I have a lot of self-confidence and because I am educated and intelligent and so my word usage can seem to be in a different vocabulary register than others'.  When I was able to be more honest to myself, it was probably because I didn't take the time to get to know those people and let myself be known.  I may have been seeing them as less than what they are because of my own shortcomings.

30.  List 10 things for which you hope to be remembered.
  1. A follower of Christ.
  2. A loving and devoted Husband and Father
  3. A great friend
  4. A helpful counselor
  5. A laughing soul and wit
  6. For leaving a legacy for others to emulate
  7. Heh... as a multi-millionaire
  8. A memorable writer (does blogging count as writing?)
  9. A discerning steward of resources
  10. Touching other's lives in a positive way
Well, readers... I hope you have enjoyed my journey through this "30 Things" process.  Feel free to comment or send feedback.  If you choose to do it as well, link it and let me enjoy your responses! 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stuff and things pt. 2

...Continuing the "30 things about yourself"

11.  Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
  1. Pronouncing the "t" in the word "often".  I know the dictionary lists both pronunciations as acceptable, but in my book, the "t" is silent, as in 'listen'
  2. Absolute language, as in "You always do xxxxx..." or "I never get to...."  Using these extremes is a linguistic way that we either set our arguments in an unassailable position or invite people to defy our interpretation, sparking conflict.  The only acceptable use of them in our household is, "God always loves you, and he will never stop loving you!"
  3. Drive-thrus.  I avoid using the drive through whenever possible.  Exception: Sonic, as it is a drive-up and not a drive through.  Although for those Sonic franchises that have a drive through, I still use the drive up stalls.
  4. Justifying poor adult behavior that affects kids by saying, "Kids are resilient..." It is true, they are, but that is not an excuse.
  5. Political correctness
  6. Butchering joke delivery
  7. Poor theater etiquette
  8. Bullies
  9. Running out of battery power on various devices (iPhone, camera flash, etc)
  10. Cashiers who can't count back change
12.  Describe a typical day in your current life.
  • Wake up, turn of alarm
  • Get the rest of the household up and harangue them until they are moving.
  • Get kids to school, self to work
  • See clients/do paperwork/marketing/billing
  • Pick kids up from school
  • Depending of the day of the week, I either have more clients in the evening, or I am working at the hospital as a chaplain or there is some family activity (boy scouts, ballet, chorus, school event)
  • Evening routine, homework, dinner, family time, bedtime
  • Once everyone else is in bed, I usually stay up for a few hours and blog, watch TV or work on a project.
13.  Describe 5 weaknesses you have.
  1. Procrastination.  I am unfortunately very good, as I have spent years perfecting my technique in avoiding doing stuff I know I should do promptly
  2. Gluttony.  Despite being a 'deadly sin', I find myself having to exercise self control so I don't give in to my mouth's desire to enjoy a flavor, taste or texture of a delicious food item.
  3. Technology.  I am a technophile, but because I am not affluent, I will never get to be a first adopter...
  4. Punctuality.  I often run on "Emery Time", which is to say at least 5 minutes later than anything is scheduled to start.
  5. Lack of attention to detail.  I tend to be a 'big picture' thinker.  Great for creativity, bad for follow-through.
14.  Describe 5 strengths you have.
  1. Attentiveness.  As a counselor, I have cultivated my listening and empathy skills.
  2. Optimism- I was once told that I would never truely experience or understand depression because I'm too much of an optimist and I might feel depressed, but I will never live there.  I am okay with that.
  3. I have a tendency to look for the best in people.  Although I have done this naturally for years, since coming through my grad school experience, I have cultivated this tendency as it relates to creating a non-judgemental atmosphere in the therapy session.
  4. Objectivity.  Again, this is a skill that I have worked on because it allows for better reasoning and logical thinking.  Being able to avoid getting caught up in emotional, irrational thinking means that I am better able to help others (and myself) live happier, more fulfilling lives.
  5. Sense of humor.  Admittedly, it is quirky and even cheesy, but it suits me and has served me well (most of the time).
15.  If you were animal, what would you be and why?
     Well, my favorite animal is the penguin.  There are many traits about penguins that I could mention that are endearing when applied to human circumstances.  They appear awkward on land, but are elegant and powerful in the right element (water).  They are intelligent and clever in survival as well as socially.
     However, the animal I would choose to be is Peregrine Falcon.  Flying and speed!  Woo hoo!

16.  What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
     This is a difficutlt question to answer because it requires some qualifying criteria that are extremely subjective.  I have no idea of they are my greatest accomplishments, but here are some things I am proud of:
  1. The feedback from individuals in congregations I have served has been encouraging.  I have some regrets, but overall, I think fondly of the relationships with church folk.
  2. I am proud of the way that we have addressed the disease of Type 1 Diabetes as a family.
  3. Finishing my Master's and completing all of the requirements to become a LMFT in Texas was arduous, but worthwhile.
  4. An independant poll conducted in the Emery houshold has me in the top two contenders for "best parent"!  Seriously, I am generally proud of my children and how we are raising them.  Amelia and I are not only a great couple, I feel like we are fantastic parents.
  5. I am proud that I have accepted myself as a work in progress.  I no longer feel inadequate, but recognize that it is okay to feel how I feel and accept myself where I am, knowing that I can grow and change as needed as life goes on.
17.  What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
     I wish I could play a musical instrument.  Piano or guitar or ... something more sophisticated than a recorder.  Having said this, "Learn to play an instrument" is on my bucket list.

18.  What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
     I have plenty of things that I have done to hurt others that have taken a great deal of time, effort and emotional energy to get past and to forgive myself.  However the hardest thing I've had to work through and forgive was my parent's divorce.  I did a lot of internalizing of the whole situation and had to realign my thinking to understand that there was so much that I didn't know and could never completely understand that it was wrong to hold onto the hurt and disappointment.  My anger and bitterness about it only held me back from healing and moving on and kept me from being able to have ongoing relationships with either one of my parents.

19.  If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
      I love, love, love Europe, but I am not sure I would want to live there full time.  I actually like West Texas: the landscape, the weather, the climate, the culture.  Of course, I also enjoy traveling, so access to a better airport and transportation would be a plus.

20.  Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
  1. My earliest memories are all from living in Florida when I was 3-4 years old.  I seem to remember going fishing with a little kid's "Peanuts" themed fishing rod, with my dad.  I remember having neighbors that we played with a lot, other military families.  I remember feeling it was very safe.  Even after we moved to Athens, Greece, I remember doing a lot of exploring on my own.  I may have been better supervised than I remember, but in all my memories, I was either with a friend or alone as I explored the neighborhoods we lived in.
  2. I loved the experiences I had growing up in Europe.  Field trips were to castles and forrests.  Living on military installations meant that we could roam around the housing areas knowing that things were safe for us and I remember hanging out with friends and sleepovers and lots of fun times.  The food, the culture, languages, learning about our 'host nations' at school... all of those things were exciting.  From 1980 to 1987, we lived and traveled in Greece, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Holland, England and France.
  3. My teenage years were full of adjustments as we transitioned to 1) living in Texas 2) Not moving every three years 3) normal teenage developmental stuff.  School was fun and I learned a lot and made friends, but I mostly remember my summers.  For the first couple of summers after we moved back to the states, I would typically ride my bike two miles from the house to the air base and spend my day at the officer's pool or the library.  I was tanned and toned from biking and swimming almost every day.  Then I got connected with the TTU/GTE prep program for a few summers at Texas Tech.  I stunk at all things math and engineering, but I had LOTS of fun making friends and getting to feel grown up and sophisticated because it was on a college campus.
One more section to finish the 30 things challenge.  Stay tuned.

Things and stuff

Found a list on Pinterest from a blogger who challenges us to leave interesting tidbits about ourselves for posterity.  (

Here goes:

1. List 20 random facts about yourself:
  1. I think Oreos are the perfect cookie.  Not Double Stuft.
  2. I was voted "Most flirtatious" in my senior class.
  3. My friends and I used Tolkien's "Tengwar" runes from LOTR in 6th grade to send coded messages.
  4. My favorite vegetable is the potato, in all it's delicious forms.
  5. Although I'll willing suspend my disbelief about radioactive spiders bestowing super powers on unsuspecting geeks, Ghostrider's backstory just annoys me.
  6. I am missing a clump of eyelashes on my upper right eyelid from chicken pox when I was young.
  7. I learned to French Kiss at church camp.
  8. My "Love Language" is Acts of Service. ( a great book, btw.  Worth owning - see below for link) 
  9.  Sandra Bullock is my celebrity crush.
  10. I think I could be happy permanently traveling.
  11. My youngest daughter's middle name is a tribute to my best friend.
  12. On the list of things I never want to do: skydive, scuba dive, take a dive.
  13. When asked to describe myself in one word, I like to say, "ineffable"
  14. Teleportation is the super power I would chose, if such a choice were mine.
  15. To stay awake while driving on long trips, I sometimes buy a lotto ticket and then daydream about how I would spend the winnings (no luck so far)
  16. I want to someday become proficient in hypnosis, for therapeutic purposes.
  17. One of my favorite Bible verses is Ephesians 2:10 
  18. I played the MMORPG "Everquest" off and on for about 6 years.  At my most invested, I played about 25-40 hours per week.
  19. Sometimes I miss dating.  Then, I get a new couple in my office for relationship counseling and I don't anymore.
  20. It took me over 25 minutes to come up with 20 random facts about myself.
2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
  1. Inadequacy.  I think deep down, most people feel inadequate at times.  This became a legitimate fear for me after I was 'let go' from several ministry positions by the church leadership at various congregations, despite popular support from the congregation members.
  2. Losing my sight or hearing.  I suffer from a significant hearing loss in my left ear, and sometimes think about losing either of those senses causes me to have anxiety.
  3. Being alone.  Not loneliness.  I actually enjoy downtime where I can rest and rejuvenate away from people, but being disconnected from family and community are things that I don't enjoy.  When I contemplate some things that I regret and the potential fallout, this becomes a real fear (though I doubt it would ever turn out how I imagine the worst case scenarios)
3. Describe your relationship with your parents.
     I feel connected to both of my parents, but I feel like the connection has changed since they divorced several years ago and I am not certain how to describe it now.  I love both of them and feel loved and cared for by both of them, in their own ways.

4.  List 10 things you would tell your 16 year old self, if you could.
  1. You know less than you think you know.
  2. Work harder at developing better habits (punctuality, eschew procrastination)
  3. Guard your heart better
  4. Respect your future self enough to behave well in the present
  5. Don't slack off so much in your senior year
  6. Putting down roots is okay
  7. Thank you for not engaging in smoking, drinking or drug use like so many of your peers did
  8. Develop some financial savvy and learn what a budget is
  9. It is okay to be a kid, don't rush into adulthood.
  10. Good job.
5.  What are the five things that make you the most happy right now?
  1. My family (wife, kids)
  2. My career (doing what I love)
  3. God's grace (without it I'd be ... ugh... don't even want to think on it)
  4. Helping others heal and grow (I get my energy from this)
  5. Optimism about the future.
6.  What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
     Being honest with myself about my own failings.  The worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

7.  What is your dream job and why?
     I used to joke that my dream job would be "a playtester for Sony or Nintendo", but I really, really, really enjoy being a therapist.  I am currently in private practice and so far, it is a good experience, overall.

8.   What are 5 passions you have?
  1. Knowing God and being known
  2. Being the best husband/father I can be to my family
  3. Growing in my skill and experience as a therapist to be an influence in my community
  4. Teaching others things that help them grow and heal
  5. Knowing stuff (trivia, minutiae)
9.  List 10 people who have influenced your life and describe how.
  1. My family of origin has obviously influenced my life in myriad ways, from my birth order to the fact that I was the only boy, to the fact that we moved a lot in the military.  I remember that when I was very young (4 or 5), a house in our neighborhood burned down.  Despite having a household of 7 people already, we offered our home to that family for a few days till they could work out other arrangements.  
  2. Mrs. Snelling, my 4th grade teacher.  Taught me that "stuff" was a 4th grade word and helped me reengage in school.
  3. O.W. Smith (Dub), was an elderly gentleman I knew while I was in High School.  He was a member of our congregation at church and was very encouraging to me.
  4. Many of my high school teachers were more than educators for me, but functioned as role models and encouragers: Mr. Franklin, Mrs. Bennett, Ms. French(Barber), Coach Lawrence, and many others.
  5. Jim McKeever, my regional manager at my first out-of-college job: Enterprise Rent-a-car was a big influence on me.  Specifically, he influenced me to not want to be employed by ERAC and to seek a career elsewhere.  I learned a lot during my time at ERAC which I appreciate, but my negative experience with McKeever's personality wasn't part of what I appreciated.
  6. Again, a list of many people from the churches I attended and served in ministry: Karl King, The Hoopers, The Turners, The Loomis's, The Washburns, The Longs, The Hugabooms... and many others.  Sharing hearts, lives and hurts brings people together in so many ways.
  7. My graduate school experience brought be in contact with amazing educators and mentors: Drs. Halstead, Milholland, Goff, Hinson... the adjunct supervisors and my own amazing cohort all shaped me as I grew through that experience.
  8. My college buddies: Jay, Scott, Jeff... continue to be positive influencers though we don't get to see each other much these days.
  9. My amazing wife, Amelia, has loved, stretched, encouraged, challenged and grounded me for the last 17 years and daily reminds me of God's lovingkindness and undeserved grace.
  10. Likewise, my children: Mary Hannah, Ethan and Eleanor all continue to shape me daily and they teach me how to be the father God has called me to be for them.
10. Describe  your most embarrassing moment.
     In general, I dislike any directive which asks me to qualify something as my "Most _______" because I feel differently about experiences and favorites as I grow and change.  I will share a memory that no longer embarrasses me, but at the time was mortifying.  Dad used to have to serve a post which required him to be away overnight on military duty.  On those nights, us kids used to try and get some one-on-one time with mom.  I remember answering her questions about how I was feeling about school and life and such and confessing that I was starting to grow up, getting hair under my arms and "down there".  A while later, I overheard Mom sharing my confidential confession with some other grown up ladies and characterizing it as "so cute".

This challenge has 30 topics, but I've been working at it for over an hour and it is late, so I am afraid the rest will have to wait.


Friday, January 18, 2013


Overwhelmed.  Worn out.  Powerless.  Sometimes we are just at the end of our rope and our only response is to shut down.  I think we all have those days (weeks, months...)  How awesome would it be to go from powerless and stuck to unstoppable?  It is unrealistic to think that we will go from a 1 to a 10 in an eyeblink, but what if our goal was simply to build momentum?  To take that first step, to start the forward motion... to build momentum.  Even if it is slow at first, momentum builds up and, unless it is derailed, will eventually result in you being unstoppable.  And so what if it is derailed from time to time?  All it takes to start again is taking that first step.  You don't go from 1 to 10, but from 1 to 2, then 3 and so on... Small successes lead to more successes and greater ones.  Before long, the momentum carries you to a place that seemed unattainable when you felt overwhelmed, worn out and powerless.  So what does it take to be unstoppable?  The will to take the first step and get the momentum going.
And now, may you be infused with the motivation to take the first steps needed to take you from where you are to where you dream of... let the momentum build.