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I typically don't endorse giving personal shout outs, but hey this is my blog :-)

An article I recently wrote was published in today's Reno Gazette Journal along with a pic from Heather. You can see the article here:

Camp Solace Provides Support for Grieving Youths

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Heather and I initially had high hopes for this past weekend. What with the previously nice weather, we thought it'd be nice to take a camping trip. Little did we know that the weather would turn for the worst (or best depending on who you talk to) and we didn't end up camping.

We did, however, take a quick trip down 89 south near Markleeville, CA. I have enjoyed this area ever since my buddy Jon and I had passes to Kirkwood back in 2002. In any event, Heather, Dave, and I spent some time relaxing and taking some pictures. Hopefully, camping this next weekend in Yosemite will be a bit warmer.

Markleeville General Store

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I really hate to admit it. By no means am I a "gamer". In quite the opposite manner I typically find myself laughing and pointing my fingers at such individuals. Sure I own an ancient Sega, but I have it mainly for nostalgia's sake. All that to say this past weekend I had my first experience with the Nintendo Wii.

Having overcome my fear of becoming a nerd, I picked up the controller and was thoroughly impressed by the system. Amongst other things, the system can download super old games for the NES and Genesis allowing users like myself to remember the days of yesteryear. This was awesome. But I was then introduced to Wii Sports - quite possibly the greatest sports game ever. In this game users can play sports such as bowling, baseball, boxing and tennis against another player. The Wii's wireless controllers act as the sports sensors. Using the controls in this way was a bit unusual but I soon realized that it was the best thing ever. I enjoyed boxing more than the other games. I was literally aiming my controllers and hands at the TV and punching as fast as I could. Check out this YouTube video to show you what I mean.



Although I quickly lost nearly every game I played, I discovered that video games and the gamers that play them aren't all that bad. I think deep down we all have a bit of 'gamer' in us. And for those of you looking to buy me a birthday present (Oct. 17) you now have a new option.

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This past weekend, Heather and I had the opportunity to serve with a local organization called The Solace Tree at their 1st annual Camp Solace. The Solace Tree is a Reno-based non-profit that offers support and grief-share for children and teens going through a family tragedy. The organization held a weekend retreat for some of its teens and kids up at Tahoe. Heather and I provided photography and videography services for the camp, as well as some participation with some of the kids.

Although initially we felt a bit out of place, we quickly realized that these kids and teens had to carry a pain that rarely children face: the loss of a loved one like a mom, dad, or sibling. These kids had something in common that only they can relate with and understand. As I shot footage of the kids swimming, playing and making crafts, I began to understand that all these kids really needed was the support and attention of others. Although I couldn't distinctly relate with them, my willingness to participate in their lives brought a smile to their faces.

On our final night with the group, I had the privilege of listening to poems written by some of the kids. The poems echoed hearts of pain and sorrow, but had deep words of love and honor. Seeing these kids deal with so much pain was difficult for me. I felt so helpless in that moment. But knowing that there is an organization and set of volunteers to help these kids brings me some amount of hope and relief.

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As many you may already know, this past weekend marked a tragedy for a lovely wife and family, Heather, myself, our small church, Coram Deo and many other friends. We lost a brother and a great friend that we so soon will never forget. Heather and I had the joy of spending time with our brother and his wife the weekend before Labor Day. We had a fantastic time floating in the Yuba River, sharing laughs and stories, as well as watching a great movie (Wayne's World).

It truly has been a pleasure to have known my brother and been a friend to him. I know that my many fond memories of him will remain close my heart. He was a kind-hearted, selfless man who went out of his way to express interest in others; he never hesitated to initiate a great conversation. It will continue to be difficult to grasp his loss, but my prayers will continue to be with his dear wife and family. In addition, I am finding my strength in Christ by leaving my feelings of guilt and anger at the cross in exchange for His grace, mercy, and hope.