Tag Archives: confessions

When life gives you class vi rapids…

In conversation I tend to be as direct as tact will allow.  So you’d think blogging would be even easier, right?  Not for me.  I want to write about the deep and shallow things of life, but I over the last year I have stopped short several times of actually posting, for fear I’d say too much, reveal too much or offend someone I care for.  But the real reason is that I feel like I’ve been paddling through serious white water for the last year, and blogging, journaling, or even simply taking a quiet solitary walk haven’t been on the table as serious options.

On July 6th, 2010, I was sitting in an office at the Sommet Group, in Franklin, TN.  The developers had become aware that layoffs were coming, and most – if not all – of us would be let go.  One of my fellow developers had left for an interview and texted me as he left the building: “At least a dozen FBI are headed into the building!”  I knew in my gut that they were bound for Sommet, though I couldn’t tell you why.  It turns out the our CEO had been embezzling money.  Sommet handled payroll for other small businesses, and we were apparently taking their money and instead of funding payroll taxes, IRAs, medical insurance, FSAs, etc., our CEO was using it to subsidize a failing business unit along with a lavish lifestyle.  So we weren’t just in trouble for our own company’s delinquency, but for dozens of others.  Employees from across those small businesses (including Sommet) were discovering that their retirement, medical insurance and other benefits weren’t actually being funded, though the money was being withheld from their checks.

So.  FBI *and* IRS agents raided our office that Tuesday.  They were very nice, but it was a serious situation.  I literally left my post-raid interview with the FBI and headed straight to a job interview at a consulting company in Nashville – talk about context switching!  Thank God my good friend Garry Kean was in town – I was able to talk to him at Starbucks for a few minutes prior to my job interview.

The ensuing job search was rough.  Sommet didn’t pay us the last two paychecks, and despite recruiters promising “Sure, there are plenty of senior level jobs in Nashville”, none materialized.  I secured some side work that would help keep us afloat, but it wasn’t much.  At the end of July, at the recommendation of my good friend and former Sommet co-worker, Alex, I interviewed with a company in Chattanooga, TN.  They offered me right in the range I needed – and they were the only offer I’d had since Sommet collapsed, so we were Chattanooga-bound.

chattanooga

It’s been interesting.  Chattanooga is a good city overall – lots of interesting things to do, great restaurants and it’s small.  We love living on Signal Mountain, and I work with some very good people.  I would never have considered the job here if Alex hadn’t recommended I interview – and getting the chance to continue working with him has truly been one of the most rewarding things about the new job. 

But I’m also not going to lie – it’s been a tough year.  Our first six months was overshadowed by an awful rental house.  My second full month on the job saw my team working loads of overtime, so I was practically gone the whole month.  If we haven’t been travelling, we’ve been sick, vice versa, and sometimes both.  Making friends has been a challenge as well.  We’re still looking for a church (thought we’d found a good one, but alas no).  Steph has met more people than I have.  I’m extremely thankful for friends like Jon – though he lives in Nashville, we’ve stayed in regular contact and have managed some visits as well, and Alan.  You don’t replace the network of family and friends that was built across 15 years very easily, if at all.

SignalSnow

I’m thankful for a good job – and one that continually challenges me to step up in my skills.  There’s still the interesting dynamic, though, of working alongside people who wanted to move to Chattanooga and plan to retire here, whereas I would’ve never considered it outside the events of last summer.  In the words of Gomez, “I’m just as lost as you are” – especially when it comes to what lies ahead.  It’s been tough having to lay aside so many things I love – writing and recording, camping, and others.  I don’t see an end to the white water just yet, but I still have the paddle in a firm grip….

Confessions & Promises

At the inception of this blog, I had in my mind the kinds of things I wanted to write about – life, philosophy, economics, history, government, science, religion, being a dad, relationships – maybe even fashion.  No, really, NOT fashion.  Anyone in their right mind would see some of those topics and say “Jim, stay far away from religion, government & economics!”  After all, aren’t there a million ‘political’ or ‘evangelical’ blogs out there churning out arrogant, close-minded, misguided, irrelevant or sincere-but-easily-misconstrued content?  Yes.  There ARE.  I cannot answer for them.

But I have some confessions to make.

I often hesitate to truly ‘let my hair down’ in conversation for fear of experiencing the “listener’s-eyes-just-glazed-over-because-you’re-talking-about-boring-deep-subjects” moment.  Maybe this blog is the chance I have to let your eyes glaze over without me knowing it.  I have hesitated to discuss certain aspects of my faith on my blog, not at all because of wanting to hide it, nor due to lack of understanding.  Instead, I’ve had a difficult time because, for years, I’ve felt like the outsider in evangelical Christianity.  I’m the guy who would ask the “But what about…” questions.  I’m the proverbial burnt piece of popcorn in the fluffed up culture of pop-Christianity.  I have been deeply changed as I’ve lived the Christian faith.  But I’ve begun to relate to Bono when he sang “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…”.  I don’t think he was complaining that what God has done for us isn’t enough.  I think he was complaining about us.  If I were to take some liberty with the lyrics, I’d say “You broke the bonds, and you loosed the chains, carried the cross and all my shame, all my shame.  You know I believe it…but what the heck is up with this crowd of arrogant, anti-intellectual, hide-in-their-safe-ghetto-culture Christians?”  I haven’t found what I’m looking for, though I feel closer today than ever.  And I’m not finding it in the emergent-meets-re-hashed-social-gospel-church either.  I’ve hesitated in discussing certain aspects of my faith because of the manner in which some Christians have discussed their faith with others in my life – all to often it’s gone so horribly wrong.  The mere hint that someone might be devout in their faith evokes all kinds of ‘fundamentalist-idiot’ stereotypes – and there always seems to be a Christian who’s willing to provide another piece of anecdotal evidence for the stereotype to live on.  But I’m done worrying about stereotypes.

I confess that I want to discuss how religion, culture and government interrelate, but have hesitated to do so before because of the immediate suspicion with which I would be greeted.  “Yet another Christian who wants to cram his beliefs down the nation’s throat.”  Good grief, no.  What I want to do is plainly make the case for what I believe, see how it stacks up against the alternatives and then you decide for yourself.  I confess that I will get passionate at times, maybe even YELL.  So what, we all do that.  What I don’t want to be is another shrill voice in the same old “red vs. blue” argument.  I can promise you that will not happen.

I confess that I want to commit a portion of this blog to journal some of my observations of evangelical Christianity, but it will be uncomfortable for both of us at times.  I promise that I will endeavor to be honest, fair and humble.  I confess that I think many readers might jump to conclusions about me.

I confess that I’m the quintessential geek when it comes to history, economics, science and philosophy.  However, I love the thrill of taking what might normally be boring ideas, and turning them into something interesting for discussion.  I promise I will try to do that.  I confess that I hope you keep reading even if I drop a few boring entries in every once in a while…