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Monday, December 31, 2007

Odd Top Ten Lists

Lots of year end Top Ten lists popping up on blogs and other websites all over the net. So here are a few of my favorite quirky 2007 Top Ten Lists:

Top Ten News Stories (Nat Geo style)

Top Ten Interesting Images

Top Ten Most Dangerous Toys

Top Ten Viral Videos (some classics)

Check out 50 other Top 10 Lists on There was simply some really incredible, odd, and wild things that happened in 2007.

Christmas Day 2007

Christmas Day gets cooler by the year with kids. Sarah and Parker are coming into their "prime times" for experiencing the magic of this time of year. This year was no exception. Here are a few pics from our morning:

Sarah and her first digital camera by Vtech

Parker's smile says it all!

This was the year of Cars cars/toys for Parker

Princess gear for the princess!

The Year of the Watch for the Rings clan (excluding me)

Paper Airplane Flight

Maybe one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. I've made a few paper airplanes in my time, but nothing that flew like this! Amazing. This little video is like a mini movie filled with drama and a soundtrack...too cool.

Amazing Paper Airplane Flight Over NYC - Watch more free videos

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Eve Faces

You can just feel the passion about Christmas in these pics!

Oh, the joy!

Me and my Scout

Christmas Eve gets only one thumb up, but three great smiles!

I hate it when my sister gives me tongue during the holidays...eeewww!

Reading 'Twas Night Before Christmas is magical on Christmas Eve!

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was at my parent's house. All the dudes went to see I Am Legend in the afternoon. Good flick. Kind of a sci-fi Castaway. Later, finger foods, ham, and cheesecake were served up as primary food items. Laughter could be heard. Presents were exchanged. My three brothers and their families were missed, big time.

Presents being rolled out.

The Cuzins: Scout, Alex, Ana Kay, Parker, Cooper, Evan, and Sarah

Parker got new Cars PJs

Tradition: Sarah got her very own handmade Raggedy Ann from Granny

Kelly and I with our amazing nieces

Prayer Of The Weak

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's Christmas Time (A Few Days Ago)

Sorry for being a slacker when it comes to posting. In case you haven't noticed we've been living through a little holiday called Christmas that makes crazy things happen to 5 and 3 year olds respectively. I swear for a week and a half my kids have been injecting HGH, Pixie Stix, and straight adrenaline as we moved closer to that "silent night". I'll give you a run down on what we've done and then post pics accordingly over then next couple of days.

Christmas Eve - Chilled with the Rings side of the fam. My sis, Marcie, and her Solin crew plus myself, Kelly and the kids and my nieces Ana Kay, Scout, and Evan hung out at my parent's house. We ate like pigs and exchange gifts. Good times were had by all. We came home and read The Night Before Christmas and went to bed. It's funny, even now, that is still the longest night of the year from me...the anticipation of the next day is almost too much to bear!

Christmas Day - Kids woke us up a decent hour - 7:30am - and we proceed to the living room and the magic that is watching your kids rip through Santa's presents like a tornado through a trailer park! We were in our jams most of the day, but then got ready and headed towards Cincy to have Christmas dinner with the Voet side. Kel's bro, Jim and his son, Kel's sis LA and her crew, and her parents were there. We ate like kings. We spent the night there because...

The Day After Christmas - This is when the Voet clan gets together and parties! Everybody was there but Kel's bro Joe and his wife, Petra (we missed you two!). We grazed like cows at pasture on all sorts of unhealthy food that arteries hate. mmmm - cholesterol! Once everyone arrived we dove head first into the frenzy that is opening presents. Mom Voet did a great job staging it so that everyone got there time in the spotlight (even though what she really wanted to do was actually be able to better see the grandkids open their gifts. In the past she hasn't been able to do this. But this was a great call, Mom!). We proceed to talk, mingle, eat, and chill some more before the annual tradition - The Step Photo (will post later). At that point, Parker hit a wall and hit a wall stemming from three days of go, Go, GO! And so I packed up and we headed home. Good times were most definitely had by all (except for the crashing at the end, but that was nothing compared to all the good stuff before that).

Pictures to come...

Come and Listen Post to follow...

Then some year end thoughts...

Monday, December 24, 2007

NORAD Tracks Santa

It's Christmas Eve which means the countdown is on at my house for the arrival of Santa Claus. So this critical tool is a must have for parents and kids alike who trying to answer the question, "When's Santa gonna be here?"

"What tool is it," you ask? Well thanks to NORAD we now have the technology to track Santa's progress as he delivers gifts to little boys and girls all over the world. It's the NORAD Santa Tracker. It's found here at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center.

Where was this technology when we were kids? Maybe it was just called Mom, Dad, and the line, "Now go to sleep!"

Little Drummer Boy

Maybe one of my favorite versions of any Christmas song ever done. Bing Crosby and David Bowie made for a great duet.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Prayer Of The Weak

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Xmas Letter 2007

Once again I bring you that time honored tradition where we share with you some of the yada, yada, yada of our lives. So from our winter wonderland to yours, here we go!

Parker (3) is king of all whine and cheese. He loves all things swords, digs Cars (Lightning McQueen etc), tells knock-knock jokes, watches YouTube, and cranks that Soulja Boy.

Sarah (5) is sweetness personified. She loves to make Parker’s bed, is passionate about Polly Pockets, and announces often to the family that she is “Fergalicious!”

Kelly (35) is honing her skills as moving coordinator, art/glitter curator, story orator, and conflict manager. She is also getting her new house legs under her as she gets our pad ready for MTV’s Cribs. It’s gonna be off the hizzle! Along with all that, she’s looking for gainful employment to put my behind back through school. This time she says she’s charging me interest.

Seth (hanging on to 29), is at the University of Dayton pursuing an even baker’s dozen of master’s degrees – this time in Education/School Counseling. He’s taking the idea of being a life-long learner literally. He is a graduate assistant (a.k.a. copy boy) at an urban high school. In his free time he enables his friends/family’s dysfunction and geekdom by being the commissioner of their fantasy football leagues.

Find out more about this Dayton Rings clan at Seth’s blog: And if you haven’t picked up on it by now, we moved from Hoosier country to the Buckeye state of Ohio and its crown jewel, Dayton. So if you are in the neighborhood of I-70 and I-75, drop by – we’d love to hang!

All that’s involved in changing addresses is amazing. And that is especially true when I think about what Jesus did when he moved into “our neighborhood” by coming from heaven to earth. Awe, wonder, and amazing love came to us “wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Together may we be in awe and wonder at the love that compelled Jesus to be with us 2000 years ago.

The Finger of Christmas

So Parker and I were out this morning shopping for Sarah. The kids get each other a few dollars worth of fun knickknacks and toys at the Dollar Tree. We had a blast: sword fighting, looking at dolls, tossing squishy balls at each other, finding princesses, playing a trumpet, and deciding on Disney stuff. We then wandered through the pet store gazing at geckos, fiddling with fish, and playing with puppy mill Boston terriers. While we were checking out all the animals, Parker asked if we could go to Target to look at "boy" toys. Obviously the purchasing of thoroughly "girly" stuff needed to be counter balanced with some testosterone injected window shopping to get the cooties off of us.

As we drove into the parking lot, I commented that it was a zoo: lots of cars and lots of traffic. We gave up a close spot so that an older couple could park closer to the store. No big deal. We then proceeded to bob-and-weave our way into the store through the traffic and carts. Parker loved the adventure!

Then as we were walking into the store, I noticed there was this women walking in behind us that was particularly antsy about getting in. No big deal. She pealed off to grab cart. We'll the front of the store was a mad house and making your way through that with a 3.5 year old is a bit of a challenge. He loves taking in the sights and pointing out the cool stuff. It's a bit of a slow process. I tried getting us to the edges of the people flow, but we were hemmed in on either side by returns and people exiting the store.

Just then the antsy lady was back in the picture. She was trying to make her way through this narrow section of traffic like a NASCAR driver through a pile up. As she was doing this she almost took out Parker with her cart. This is conversation that followed:

Me: What is your deal, lady?
Antsy: You are in the way!
Me: Where do you want me to go?
Antsy: You could get out of the the side!
Me: I've got a three year old in my hand! You need to chill!
Antsy (as she pulls away): I've got kids, too! (not with her mind you)
Me (not be very Jesus like and adding fuel to the fire): Well, slow down. It's not about you. It's about the kids (like I was working for the Salvation Army)!
Antsy: Without looking back, she threw the international symbol for "Happy Holidays", "Merry Christmas", and "F. U. Fellow shopper" - her middle finger - over her shoulder.
Me: You are so awesome! Now that's the spirit of Christmas! Thanks! Merry Christmas to you, too!

It was not pretty. But what is it about peace, joy, and get the F@#k outta my way that says, "Man, I love this time of year"? I don't know. I'll be the first to admit I wasn't "spot on" in my response. But seriously people...chill out and get your shopping done in September!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Nativity Scene-World of Warcraft/Emo Style

I'm gonna be honest. This made me laugh out loud. Very funny. Does this make me a heretic?

(bu Wittenburg Blog)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Night At The Ballet

Kelly, Sarah, and my mom went to the ballet the other night. It was the Nutcracker. Everyone was excited, but none more so than my cultured five year old. She was excited about every detail of the experience: the dressing up, the music, the story, the dancing, and the company. Kelly said she riveted from the moment the curtains went up to the instance the last note was played. In fact, she cried when it was over because she didn't want the show to end. She wanted them to keep dancing. So sweet. Here are a few pre-event pics: the Belles of the Ball!

Religious people now have an alternative in the viral experience phenomenon. GodTube is moving, shaking, and trying to make its way into mainstream religion by catering to and servicing those in the culture that love the video and social networking environments.

I think it's a got a great chance to make it and have some major impact on the video swapping community as ideas, creativity, convictions, and faith are shared through this medium. USA Today online as an article spelling out a bit of the story and vision of the web site. Here's a teaser:

GodTube may be like the fabled mustard seed in the biblical parable: it starts small and grows mighty. It has burgeoned in just four months; it had 866,000 unique visitors in the USA in November, according to Web traffic tracker ComScore Media Metrix., the leading general spirituality site, had just under 3 million unique visitors that month. And multimedia behemoth YouTube had 53.5 million.

"We aren't MySpace or Facebook. We're not chasing cool," Wyatt says. "Our demographic is religious."

Will you visit it? Will you visit regularly? Will you use it? For personal reasons? For ministry purposes? Just curious.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Dark Knight Trailer in HD

The question is not if I'm going, but when do I have to start camping out for tickets! The new Batman - The Dark Knight - looks freaking awesome!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Prayer Of The Weak

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Come and Listen... the Wonder of it All.

You know it's been hard these last few weeks to hear anything but the hum of school. It's been the driving factor these last few weeks to finish strong with four finals and about 8 papers. There has been nothing subtle about it. And more than a few times, it's been a little annoying.

Through it all another sound has been reverberating in ears...the sound of sheer wonder that can only come from the mouths of kids - my kids in particular. Their wonder at this phenomenon that is Christmas is amazing. I shouldn't be surprised by it, but I usually am for some reason. Probably I'm too distracted with other things to hone in on them, but that is another story for another day.

Every piece of decoration is a precious jewel to them. Every advertisement in the Sunday paper is a treasure chest of potential goodies. Every strand of lights on a house is a piece of art and beauty. They soak it up...every last drop.

I want to do the same. I want to soak up every instance of wonder, beauty and peace that is infused in the story of the birth of Jesus. The wonder of God's plan. The beauty of Mary. The peace of His very presence. What a wonder! What a Savior!

God of Wonders - you are amazing. Give me the heart of child this season to be in awe of your gift, beauty, light, and life this Christmas season. May every "ooo" and "aaahhh" that comes from the mouth of my kids stir within me wonder of who You are and what You have done for the world. What you have done for us. What you have done for me. I am humbled. Thank you for speaking. Amen.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Quarter Done

Status Report: One semester down...three to go in my pursuit of another hole in my head...eeerrr...another masters degree. Nuts - that's what I am.

Just thought you might be wondering.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Great Conversation - Part 2

See right below part one - the Democrats. Now it's time for part two - the Republicans. I love stuff like this. It's so freaking interesting! Thanks, Jesus're swell!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Great Conversation - Part 1

Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight has been highlighted this week as "Blog of the Week" here on Held Up High. The conversation over on his blog is awesome about which candidates people are voting for and why. Today is a case for Democrats. Tomorrow is a case for Republicans. I'll post again tomorrow to remind you of the conversation. Check it out. It is great to see how brothers and sisters in Christ are reflecting on the candidates. It's really cool.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What Would Jesus Produce?

1.3 million dollars for a Christmas production. Wow. That's a lot of freaking money. Is it right? Even if done with the mission to bring the unchurched and unsaved into the church for spiritual influence? Isn't that what evangelism is all about? Shouldn't we do whatever and spend whatever to influence the lives of those far away from Christ?

I don't know.

Read what Keith Giles' take is on this:

"Just imagine how many homeless families could be cared for, fed, given shelter and have the Gospel message demonstrated to them for what it cost to put on a show like this.

Makes me remember why I left the traditional church in order to give 100% of the tithe to the poor instead of spending on over the top distractions for the Saved."

Makes you take pause to really think about Jesus, how he lived, what he taught, and what the Kingdom is all about.

If I'm honest, it's probably a bit (maybe a lot) much in light of more pressing Kingdom issues such as the literal poor and oppressed. Talk about something to think about and wrestle with.

Check out this article for yourself and watch the corresponding video report.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Prayer Of The Weak

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Golden Compass - Will You Go?

There has been huge talk about the film The Golden Compass. Most of the talk that I've heard has been centered around to go or not to go. This has been voices primarily from the Christian community from the standpoint that the movie is anti-God and looks to subversively steer children away from His reality.

My friend, Charlie, poses basically the same question I am wondering over on his blog. Will you go see it or not? And maybe the more important question is why?

I, for one, want to see it (and will probably read the whole trilogy, too). When did we stop trying to understand what is trying to be communicated about God (especially when we don't agree) whether it be in politics or movies and positive or negative? We do this so we can better be salt, light and love in a world that is losing it's Jesus-y flavor. Remember, the statue of the unknown god didn't stop the apostle Paul from hanging out and engaging the people and culture of Mars Hill.

And since when have we Christians been so worried about supporting anti-God, anti-Kingdom endeavors? We shop the Gap which uses illegal sweat shop that employ children to make their clothes. We shop Waldenbooks for our novels and it sells pornography. The list could go on and on. I'm not saying that we should support this movie or this cause, but b/c it is subversively against God doesn't mean that we shouldn't understand it or the issue surrounding it.

So why are we all bent out of shape about this movie that is anti-God, anti-Kingdom? Is it because it's an easy target? It's high profile? It's convenient? It targets kids? When did we stop engaging the culture on controversial topics that are contrary to truth of the God's word and the work of His Kingdom? Well, we should be fired up about things that are contrary to the truth and seek to distort what God is all about, but we shouldn't disengage and bury our heads in the sand until it goes away. For me it so much healthier to engage what is being communicated in order to talk with others near or far from Christ who are going to this movie.

Here is a cool blog post/interview with Philip Pullman, the author of the books that the film is based on. Very engaging. Very good. Here is another great post on ALL sorts of other reviews/opinions of the books/film.

Whatever you choose about seeing this movie is cool with me (like you need my approval), but please don't simply go or not go based on an email you got or someone in your church says, "Don't go." Use your brain, do some research, make a wise choice, and then do what you gotta do. Then let me know what you think. I'm curious like a cat.

p.s. My dad just sent me a link to an article on the The Golden Compass. It's a good read. Interesting to note that with all the hype, it didn't meet expectations even though it was #1 over the weekend in box office draw.

Decorating The Kid Tree

I totally meant to post this on the first of December, but laziness and life got in my way. This is just a little video of the kids putting up their tree as their surprise for the first day of Advent. So stinkin' cute!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pearl Harbor Tribute

In honor of those who gave their lives and so that my generation (and future ones) never forget the sacrifices made so that we might have our freedom.

Blog Of The Week

I like to blog. It's fun, thought provoking, and meaningful for me and most who find this space. But it's difficult at times to come up with stuff that is thoughtful, fresh, quirky, and creative. Blogs like mine are a dime a dozen at some level. However, if you want a blog that is thoroughly insightful, stimulating, and reverent pretty much with every post, I encourage you to check out Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight. This guy is good. Real good.

Now a lot of you that bump around Held Up High know about Scot's Jesus Creed blog b/c you know where the good stuff is online! But for those you that don't here are a few reasons why I dig it. One is that it always points me back to Jesus. Whether it's a post on advent, theology, life of Paul, or a book review, I always find myself thinking about Christ at the end of it. Another thing I love about this blog is the book reviews. But it's not like me in that you basically get one post and general comments. Scot's posts are like having your own little theological book club full of insight and discussion about each and every chapter. Very cool. And lastly, during this season of Christmas, he has a series of Advent post that are short and deep. It takes thinking about Christmas to a whole new level.

So check out this very wise, articulate, and humble man's blog about his love for his Savior, Lord, and Friend, Jesus. It will be well worth your time to discover the Jesus Creed.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Not Your Typical Cartoons

Here are some very thought provoking cartoon images. Here are three from the post. Follow the link to check out the rest.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Cat Funny

Post will be short, sweet, and fairly superficial over the next week. It's finals.

Found this funny video for all you cat owners out there. Our Sally Cat is a bit like this persistent feline at 6:00am.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bo Knows Husker Football

I'm excited about the hiring of Bo Pelini at Nebraska. Let the new era begin! Read more here.

Prayer Of The Weak

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Perfect Holiday Gift

What do you buy for the special someone in your life that seems to have everything or is just plain hard to buy for? Another sweater? Gift card to Best Buy? Jewelry? Well if those don't catch your eye then how about this: Uranium Ore. That's right. The perfect holiday gift. It just screams, "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire!"

Buy now at Amazon. Don't miss out on this once in a lifetime gift item!

Deep Freeze - Xmas Game

This Christmas game is all about attitude: Santa's V is for Vendetta! So if you are looking for a study break or another reason to procrastinate, then this is the holiday game for you! Killer soundtrack, too!

AIDS On The Rise In American Youth

The news is not good. More and more American youth are contracting AIDS today. The numbers should make those of us that work with youth and families straighten our backs and take notice:

"...on the eve of World AIDS Day, a disturbing statistical fact has emerged in this country: The number of newly infected teens and young adults is suddenly on the rise.

And the question is, why?

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2001 to 2005 (the latest years available), the number of new cases of HIV infection diagnosed among 15-to-19-year-olds in the United States rose from 1,010 in 2001, held steady for the next three years, then jumped 20 percent in 2005, to 1,213 cases.

For young people aged 20 to 24, cases of new infection have climbed steadily, from 3,184 in 2001 to 3,876 in 2005."

Check out the rest of the article here.

And though Africa should get a ton of attention given the pandemic that creating havoc on the that continent, let us never ever fool ourselves into thinking that this disease does not reek its own brand of destruction here in the U.S.

The Hunger Site

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