Urgent prayer for my dad needed

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, and I’ve placed a number of projects on hold due to some other priorities, but right now my dad is in ICU fighting for his life. The doctors have given him 24-48 hours to live, but I believe in my heart that this sickness is not unto death. We NEED him alive! Please please please pray for my dad – that God would heal him from the liver and spleen cancer, his lungs would be cleared, that his liver and kidneys would kick back in and start cleansing his body of the toxins, and that all his blood levels and vitals would get to and stay normal!  His name is Ron Sr. and he desperately needs the Grace and Mercy of our King right now.

I had a stroke…

I couldn’t think of a better way to title this post… I wanted this to not only serve the purpose of sharing with you what I went through, but also to serve as a reminder to me if I ever start to go back to my old ways so here it is:

This past Friday morning I woke up after a long trip to Tampa, Florida that lasted the week. This was going to be a special day as it was the day before my son’s birthday. We were going to Sea World as a family in celebration. We were looking forward to this day for months. When I got up, the entire right side of my body was numb and literally felt partially disconnected from my brain. My right leg and arm would obey commands but both were very weak so I limped to the bathroom and started brushing my teeth thinking I must have been sleeping in a bad position and figured—hoped it would go away. After brushing my teeth I headed to the shower wondering how this would affect the gift God has given me if this were permanent. The thought truly frightened me. When I started shampooing my hair, I noticed my right hand was hardly moving while my left hand was promptly obeying commands from my brain briskly shifting back and forth across my scalp. This is when I knew something was wrong so I finished up, grabbed my iPhone, and googled the symptoms, but my phone was stuck loading the results. At this point the wife and kids were calling me out of the bedroom excited about what the day would bring. Sanban’s first words to me were “It’s the day before my birthday!” with a big smile on his face – Jake repeating the same words to me telling me as if it were the first time I was hearing the phrase. I immediately explained to Yoko what was happening to me but these symptoms – especially described in my state of mind just brought about more confusion in both of us so she went to finish up getting ready while I headed to the studio computer to see about buying Sea World tickets online. With the limp still in full affect and the symptoms not subsiding I decided to click open another tab and search the symptoms again. The results loaded with not 10, 5, or even 3 possibilities. Only two possible diagnoses – Stroke or TIA (mini-stroke). I immediately went to Yoko and told her – we need to go to the hospital. The drive there seemed like an eternity – wondering if more of my brain was literally dying every second it took to get to the hospital. Then we and everyone else on the road crawled to a stop, we moved forward what felt like a few inches, then another stop. We had never seen the traffic this bad on this road. What should have been a 10 minute drive looked like it would take forever. I could see the stress and the worry in Yoko’s face – her eyes gripping the road and cars in front of her almost as tightly as her hands gripped the steering wheel.  I remember telling Yoko with a tear in my eye, “If this is it, you have to make sure the Music To Pray By Album master is published!” I know God created me for this purpose. As we continued to sit in traffic, my mind began to race – if only we would have called 911… if only we had got an ambulance…  if only… After 50 minutes of waiting in traffic, I limped into the emergency room and told the attendant, “I think I’m having a stroke” and described my symptoms. She asked me to fill out a short form and with confusion I answered a few simple questions she asked at which point I heard her say to listeners unknown to me over a radio, “I have to call stroke protocol”. She immediately sat me down to take my vitals. They supported the stroke theory at which point she walked me back to a room where more than 8 doctors, nurses, and assistants were standing around a hospital bed waiting for me to lie down. I was ordered to take my shirt off at which point they began to place untold numbers of sensors on my chest and stomach. All these wires – what are they for? What do they do? So may questions in my head… So much confusion… “…what is your date of birth?!” “…what year is it?!” “…what is your name?! ‘Ronald John’ or ‘Ronald Johnssss'” I tried to keep up with all the questions, but that one particularly bothered me. “Ronald Johns” I said, or did I? They rolled me into a big machine all the while explaining what was going to happen. Answers were coming – I was so tired of all the questions. While the CT scanner was spinning around my head I prayed, “LORD, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for not taking care of the body you gave me. I commit to You that will change if I make it out of here alive. I promise.” So many promises broken. So many commitments unkept. Could I keep this one? Was I done? Was this the day God takes me home? My vision for Music To Pray By was incomplete. I had imagined 30-40 more years of creating music – bringing praise and worship to my King here on earth. This couldn’t be it could it?

The fog of “stroke protocol” finally came crashing to an end. A doctor stood at my bedside and said, “Good news! You’re not having a stroke”. He went on to say that I likely experienced a TIA or a mini-stroke and that I was going to be admitted to the hospital for further evaluation. I knew my kids would be crushed – no Sea World today. Once I was moved out of the emergency room to a hospital room, I began to notify friends and family of the news. The plan was to run more tests, get an MRI in the morning, then go home – just in time to prepare for church services. Yoko and the kids left to get me some necessities – extra clothes, my tech gadgets, my laptop bag, and my in-ear monitors as Billy had just sent me the mastered proof of the album and I was hoping after 5 previous rejected proofs from another mastering company that this would be the one. Once the family made it back, we spent some time together talking about Sanban’s birthday and the next steps, but it didn’t take long for the kids to get restless. Once they left, I broke out the in-ear monitors, listened and immediately entered into prayer, thankful that the circumstances weren’t worse. Thankful that this master could be the one after a month of disappointments. Thankful to be alive. Next on the to-do list was preparation for Sunday services. I immediately went to work – listening to the set list and charting songs tapping away at my bedside table testing the dexterity in my right hand. Things feel normal – that’s a good sign.. There… I was ready to go for Sunday Morning.

The night was long and sleepless. Every 2-3 hours someone was waking me up from my slumber to poke, prod, or interrogate me. “Now I understand why people don’t like to come here…” I thought as I tried to still my mind and go back to sleep for the 3rd time.

The morning came and the next thing I know I’m being wheeled to the MRI machine by a young man asking me a number of questions that would afford any clue as to whether or not there was any material on or in my body that would be susceptible to magnets. Once we were there, he explained what the experience would be like – 30 whole minutes of laying perfectly still – not my idea of fun, but maybe I could catch up on some z’s. I was given earplugs as if I were headed to the shooting range and once I was in the contraption, I understood why. There were clicks, bangs, and buzzes loud enough to likely do permanent hearing damage if it weren’t for the ear protection and the foam around my head to keep it still.  17 minutes in, the tech came on the intercom and announced I only had to endure for 3 more minutes. It seemed longer than the previous 17, but I made it! Now, the doc can tell me everything is fine and I can go home.

After the past 24 hours, I knew some serious lifestyle changes were afoot. I was good – “message received LORD.” Once I was in the room, I put the album on again – with my in-ear monitors, praying in my mind – keeping my promise not to miss a single day for at least a month – maybe my whole life. “This time with You LORD IS the most important time”, I spoke with my mind. I then pulled up my daily Bible plan on my iPhone and began to read and think.

Next thing I knew, the neurology doctor in a rush came into my room explaining that my MRI was good – no signs of a stroke, and based on all the evidence, I didn’t even have a TIA. I believe it was called a hemiplegic migraine, which meant there would be no prescription meds – just a change in diet and work on getting my blood pressure under control. Great news – relief washed over me. I was going home soon and this nightmare would soon be over. While discussing this, there were two circumstances that led her away from this conclusion. One was my blood pressure at the time I was admitted, and the second was that the symptoms disappeared sooner than they would have in the case of a hemiplegic migraine. While another assistant was looking at my heart using ultrasound, the doctor came back with one of my MRI pictures on her laptop were she showed me a very small area on the left side of my brain that indicated a full-out stroke. She told me that was dead brain tissue. I immediately began to wonder what was contained there that is no longer. Was it a childhood memory? Was it the ability to hear new melodies in my head? Was it something – a memory that was more harm than good? There was no way to know because it was gone. Depression – a familiar feeling as they told me I would have to stay at the hospital till possibly Monday. No church service – I was going to let my team down for the first time in as long as I could recall. As the seriousness of the circumstance began to close in on me, I began to text. First, my pastor and creative arts director so they could prepare for my absence. Then, my family – what to say to not cause too much worry? I felt fine, but I obviously wasn’t fine. I had a stroke – something that could have easily claimed my ability to serve the Kingdom of God here on earth – at least in the way I was used to and loved to.

Next came more and more tests to try and find the source of the vein blockage in my head. Was it a blood clot? Was it fatty tissue? There were scans, blood tests, more scans, and more tests. The highlight of the time in the hospital room were the visits from church families. It is truly a blessing to have the friends that I have. It helped to talk about the situation and communicate out-loud the re-plotting of my life’s course correction. Each visit ended with a prayer – prayers that truly inspired and encouraged me.

After the final exam Sunday Morning, I was so ready to go home and start my new life – a life I am truly blessed to have. They were not able to find the source of the clot, but they did confirm a hole in my heart – the song, “God-shaped hole” popped into mind and a smile across my face in an awkward point of the doctor’s explanation, but I didn’t care. I have a God-shaped hole in my heart – one that will remain there till I vacate this body to be with my Savior. This hole means that my lifestyle has to change in order for me to remain alive, but I am truly thankful for the second chance. I am thankful this happened to me as I already see in many ways God’s Will being worked out in it.

Now, I’m home with the family taking it easy. I’ve listened over the master again in the studio and I’m so excited about the end result! Billy has put the finishing touches on it and I should have the master in-hand today or tomorrow at which point it will be mailed in for replication and publication on the iTunes store. The whole process should take less than a month so it will likely be published before my 41st birthday and I hope and pray I will be given enough time on this earth to complete many many more of these projects as one of my life’s missions is to inspire God’s people to pray. More updates coming.

The new piano is here!

So much has happened over the past few months! I’ll start by sharing some pics of the new piano being delivered:

 

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To be honest, I’ve been somewhat negligent at recording new content for the next podcast as there have been quite a few life-changes recently since I passed the CCIE Security.

First, and probably the biggest change is my departure from Soundwave. After over 10 years with the band, God has made it clear that I need to step down. The reason behind the decision was unclear at the time, but there have been a number of confirmations since.

Second, The Connection Church started a fourth service on Saturday Night last weekend. It was a HUGE hit, but this does come with a greater commitment of my time and also brings some clarity as to why I believe God brought me to the decision to leave Soundwave.

As the two little ones get older (now 4 and 6), they want to spend more time with dad, which I consider a true blessing. We are taking our first ever family vacation starting tomorrow and it’s going to be a blast!

With all this said, the next podcast release date is somewhat up in the air at this point, but I’ll keep you posted.

Prayer of Healing – by my sister

Hannah Fountain, my sister said a prayer over my latest podcast that I believe is truly anointed. They don’t have access to a studio so she recorded the prayer using her iPhone. I tried to clean up the audio a little bit, but if you focus on the prayer, I believe you’ll be blessed.  Feel free to share with anybody who may be encouraged.  Also, Hannah got references from Joyce Meyer’s healing scriptures and confessions. I pray this is as much as a blessing to you as it was to me.

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Download mp3 here:  Hannah’s Prayer of Healing

So much to update you on!

First, I want to say I’m sorry for being out of pocket for so long. I came nowhere near my goal for Music to Pray By in 2013. It seems as though other priorities snuck in throughout the year, and I wanted to share with you about some of them.

First, one that directly impacts this ministry – we’ve moved! We actually stayed in the same neighborhood, but upgraded to a little larger house that has more space for the studio. Now the piano has it’s own room where I plan to keep microphones at the “ready” at all times so there’s no setup when it’s time to record. There’s also more space in the control room for recording the band, which will certainly be a welcome change. Here are some pictures right after the move. I’ll be sure to update you with current pics once everything is setup:

Ctrl Room 1 Piano Room 1There’s conduit running between the rooms for the MIDI and microphone cables. Most of the acoustic treatment is here and it’s just a matter of putting it up based on the designs Auralex provided. I hope to have the studio 100% ready by the end of this weekend.

We’ve kept our old home and are renting it out as a vacation home for those traveling to the Austin area since it is a hot destination for a number of reasons.  We’ve listed it at homeaway.com. If you’re ever destined to the Austin area and need a place to stay, feel free to reach out! I know this GREAT church right down the street if you’re here over the weekend and would like to attend Sunday service.

Another major deterrent was the CCIE Security lab exam, which I spent countless hours  preparing for this year. I took the lab in the middle of November and I did not pass. In fact, I left Cisco feeling as though version 4 of the lab is not passable. It was extremely discouraging, but I’m not going to give up and hope to try again mid-next year.

With regards to podcast 68, it is recorded and about 60% edited and hope to have it posted before the new year so stay tuned!

Miraculous update on the prayer request

Our prayers have had a tremendous impact! While Yoko was in Okinawa visiting her sister, God opened up a perfect opportunity for her to share the love of Jesus with her sister, and Eiko agreed to pray with her and received Jesus into her heart! That which seemed impossible God made possible!

I had also asked for prayer that God would put in Eiko’s path believers. Before Yoko arrived in Okinawa, she was transferred to a hospice founded by a Christian, filled with Christians, prayer rooms, live worship, and New Testament Bibles! Out of all the places she could end up, this is truly a miracle.

One more update – Eiko’s health appears to be improving! In fact, she has improved so much that the staff at the hospice have encouraged her and her family to get a second opinion. She is also out of the wheelchair and is getting around more on her own. Still no official word yet on the cancer, but I believe God has fully healed her from this terminal disease! My prayer now is that she will fully recognize God’s Hand in all of this and give Him all the Glory – please pray with me, also that the Holy Spirit would give her boldness in her new faith.

We hear these sort of stories on occasion, but something this close to home just leaves me in awe of God’s Wondrous Mercy and Grace! Please continue to pray for her and her family as I believe through this the door will be opened for the rest of Yoko’s family to know Jesus! I post this with much love for you all and can’t thank you enough for your prayers as they have had a miraculous impact.

Our God is an Awesome God!

A quick MTPB update – Podcast 67 has been recorded and I’m in the process of editing. My goal is to get it posted this weekend or next so please stay tuned.

Huge prayer request – please pray now and often for…

Yoko’s oldest sister, Eiko was recently diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. It has already spread to her brain and liver and the doctors are giving her 2 months to live. She has 3 siblings ranging from 20 years old to 9 years old. She is only 48 years old, and has played a very special role in Yoko’s life as she’s mailed stuff and communicated more than anybody else in her family except for her mom. She is scheduled for radiation therapy on Monday. She does not know Jesus, and Yoko is planning to fly to Okinawa soon.

When I found out, I immediately started to pray that God would put in her path people who know the Truth, and God has already answered that prayer. Within days, Yoko’s mom told her that a parent whose child attended the same private school her daughter went to asked Eiko point-blank if she believed in Jesus and Eiko did not know what to say. Yoko’s mom made it sound like an awkward encounter, and the fact she said “believe” instead of “know” is a little odd, but the fact that Eiko felt it important enough to communicate this encounter to her mom, and for her mom to communicate it to Yoko means something. I do believe this was a direct answer to my prayer considering that only around 1% of Japanese know and believe in Jesus as their Savior – truly a miracle!

It will take many more miracles for Eiko to believe in Jesus, but with God,  ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! Please pray that Eiko’s heart would continue to be softened, that she would be open and curious about the Truth, and that she will begin to seek out the Truth! Also pray that God through the Holy Spirit would prepare Yoko for this unbelievably important encounter – that God would give her a courage and boldness she’s never experienced before. Pray that the Holy Spirit would give Yoko the right words in order to speak the Truth in love in a way that Eiko will hear, understand, and receive.

Also, please pray for healing. I truly believe through healing God could open the doors for Yoko’s entire family to come to Christ. The doctor stated it would take “a miracle” for her to make it through this stage of cancer. We know our God is more than capable of miracles.

I thank each one of you from the bottom of my heart for praying with me – Eiko means so much to Yoko, and even more to our Loving, Heavenly Father.

2013 Goals for Music to Pray By and more

It is often times difficult to find balance in life is it not? This year has been the most challenging yet, and I feel as though I have grown closer to God more than ever! He has been so faithful! I am so excited about 2013. The goals I hope to reach next year seem impossible, but with God, ALL things are possible. (Matt. 9:26) Here they are in no particular order:

Start and finish the next Soundwave album – We will start recording our next album after DCYC in January. Jeremy has enough songs written and so far what I’ve heard has been amazing. I am truly excited about God’s plans for us!

Retake the new CCIE Security Version 4 lab exam – In order to avoid taking the written exam again, I will need to attempt the lab exam by November 14th. For those who don’t know, I attempted version 3 of the lab last month and did not pass. The new version has a huge amount of new technology so I have hundreds of hours of preparation to undertake before November.

Finish the Music To Pray By Album – This is a difficult one since we plan to release the Soundwave album early 2014, a large amount of my spare time will be dedicated to Soundwave in the studio.

Post quarterly Music To Pray By podcasts – I believe part of the reason it has been difficult to be consistent in the podcasts is I’ve had unrealistic goals. A podcast every 3 months should be an attainable goal. This means podcast 67 should be posted in February.

Remain faithful to the Worship Team, the Ministry Leadership Team, and our small group at The Connection Church – This has become almost second nature, but does require time and is a very important goal. Our church has continued to grow and reach the lost for Christ and it is truly exciting and inspiring to be a part of it!

With my “day job” of IT consulting absorbing around 50 hours of my week, there are two remaining parts of my life that I know have to take priority over everything. My time with God and my time with my family. 2013 will truly be a great year, but I believe above all, seeking first His Kingdom (Matt. 6:33) and trusting in The LORD with all of my heart (Proverbs 3:5-6) is my true goal as I try to find a balance.

One more thing – I made a minor change to Podcast 66 about 4 days after it was posted to bring down the midrange a little since it was a bit much so if you’d like the update, just unsubscribe, delete the old podcast 66, resubscribe, and you should be prompted to download it again.

The invisible war wages on!

It is difficult to get into the details of what has happened to me over the past 3 months, but I feel it is important to share this with you. Mid-April was a huge turning point in my life. I had just left my job at AT&T to become a consultant with a much smaller company, the Soundwave tour was in full swing with weekly practices and concerts, there was my commitment to The Connection Church ministry leadership and worship teams, and Yoko and the kids were getting ready to leave for Okinawa without me for 3 weeks. On top of all of this, the enemy took huge advantage of a very weak point when I was under for a dental surgery. I literally thought I was dying and it was as though every Truth about our existence in God’s Word ceased to exist and my entire foundation was shaken to the core. I was flooded with more doubt and depression than I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. I began to spend every spare moment I could find listening to God’s Word in the car, praying, reading the Bible, but the “near-death experience” had me convinced EVERYTHING was meaningless. It was so crushing that it took me 3 days just to recognize it as a spiritual attack. When I did, the enemy no longer tried to hide the evidence of the attack, which increased exponentially with fear added to the mix – unexplainable fear. I immediately began to call and text family and friends to pray. That night, I sought after God and relied on The Holy Spirit more than ever.

Over the past few months, there have been victories, but there have also been struggles with depression, doubt, and fear like never before. A split-second thought followed by wave after wave of spine-chilling goosebumps, sometimes occurring over and over for hours! Throughout most of my life, the enemy has used my flesh with sinful desires and bad habits, occasional doubt, etc., but this was different. It was truly a non-stop war on my mind. I have never had thoughts enter my mind that made my soul cringe like this – thoughts I don’t have the words to describe, and the enemy would trick me into pondering these thoughts to the point of spiraling into deep, dark depression that would last for days. Over time, God began to bring into greater light the spiritual war that was going on. Truth in the scriptures like 2 Corinthians 10:5, prayer, family (especially my bro David), and the same Power that raised Christ from the dead gave me renewed hope and peace. Our God is so faithful!

I truly believe that God is doing some GREAT things through this ministry and the enemy is not happy about it. Prayer IS the way we wage this invisible war by the Power of the Holy Spirit, and this fact has never been more real to me. A few days ago when I posted on Facebook asking for prayer, it had been another very rough few days dealing with a weight of depression that had no explanation whatsoever. I could literally feel the depression lift as you guys prayed for me.

I hope this encourages you to pray continually. Pray for the state of our nation. Pray for those affected by the Colorado shooting. Pray for the unsaved in your churches. Pray for your pastors, your family! …and if you have time, I am eternally grateful for any prayers lifted up on my behalf. Satan is a formidable enemy, but GREATER is He that is in me than he that is in the world!!! – 1 John 4:4

A long overdue update…

So much has happened since my last blog post almost 2 months ago! Soundwave has played at over 8 concerts/events across the state of Texas as part of “The Start” tour.  Please check out our new album here if you haven’t already. Our drummer got married this past weekend. Of course, Soundwave played, which made us seriously think about doing wedding gigs for a living. 🙂 We have our first out-of-state concert in Kansas in a couple of weeks. It’s gonna be off the chain!

Things have been full throttle at The Connection Church. We are now serving for 3 services on Sunday, and ministry is happening! Rene is doing an amazing job leading worship, and Cole has been delivering powerful, applicable messages with passion 3 times every Sunday. It is truly an honor to be a part of that ministry, and if you live in the Austin area and don’t have a home church, I promise you it will be worth your time to come check it out!

Yoko and my two precious children went to Okinawa, Japan to visit her side of the family. They have been gone for a week and a half with a little over a week to go. I miss them so much. Please keep them in your prayers.

I also made the decision to leave AT&T after 8 years and accepted an opportunity at Accudata Systems as a Senior Consultant. It’s been almost 3 weeks now and I have to say that I love it and can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in this role. Adjusting to this new world has been a welcomed challenge. I also committed 10 hours a week to AT&T temporarily to help in the transition so I’ve had no time to devote to the MTPB album. Thankfully, this is only for a season.

One last thing – some of you may remember when I put everything on pause to focus on obtaining my CCIE. Well, I’ve decided to go for a second CCIE in Security. This time the plan is to spread it over a year in order to have more of a balance between family, ministry, and work. I am still planning to have the MTPB album out in Q1 of 2013. Please keep me in your prayers as I go through this very challenging time.

Podcast update and Soundwave video…

It has been too long since the last podcast. For this I apologize. Podcast 65 is almost ready to track. My goal is to have it posted by the end of the week. I’ve also scheduled a week off from work this month to spend time on the album. I haven’t made much traction on either front the past few months, but I do believe one day there will be much more time to devote to this ministry. Great things are coming – I will trust in You oh LORD!

Soundwave had the CD release concert last month, and some friends of the band put together a really nice “official” video of one of my favorite songs. Here it is:

“The Start” tour is here!

I cannot believe it has been almost 2 months since I last posted any updates. For that I am sorry, but there is good reason. Now that Soundwave’s new album, “The Start” is about to be released, we have been intensely preparing for what God has in store for this ministry. Since my last podcast, we’ve done a weekend-long camp for some little ones, we’ve had a number of practices, and I’ve spent many many hours preparing some new technologies that should help us in a major way when playing live. We’ve also done four in-home pre-release concerts the past 2 weeks. Here’s a song from one of them requested by the host called “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan:

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This weekend is DCYC, an event we’ve been a part of the past 2 years, and it continues to grow. So far, there are over 2,100 young people signed up to attend, and we are stoked! After this, I’m headed off to Canada for a week (work related), and the weekend I get back is our CD release concert in Lockhart.

Soundwave has a few more concerts in February and March, but I hope to record and post another podcast between now and the end of March. I actually recorded a podcast in December, but had technical problems again. I’ve also started work on the “Music to Pray By” album, and I’m torn between putting time and effort into that project and posting podcasts.  Sometimes it’s difficult to find a balance.

With all that said, I am truly blown away at the number of downloads MTPB has had even without new podcasts. The site has just recently hit over 500,000 downloads with an average of over 1,400 downloads a day now. To those who continue to use this resource to enhance your prayer time – thank you. These numbers are truly inspiring to me.

Happy Mothers Day!

Happy Mothers Day to all of you mothers! I have somewhat failed at showing my true appreciation to Yoko today for all she does as a mother – likely the most difficult job in the world. I spent most of yesterday and today editing the podcast – a total of about 15 hours so far, and I’m at around 19 minutes. Still have about 12-13 minutes to go, but I really need to spend the rest of the evening with Yoko. My plan is to work on it after Yoko goes to bed and hopefully finish before the sun rises. Regardless, I will get Podcast 58 posted within the next 24 hours – my apologies for the delay. When I committed to May 8th, it completely slipped my mind that was Mother’s Day. I pray Yoko finds it in her heart to forgive me, and I had hoped the Mother’s Day gift pictured below would have helped in that area. Turns out my time with her is more valuable so here I go!

Change in podcast frequency to monthly…

With the commitments I have to family, church, Soundwave, and work, I have come to the conclusion that the amount of time required to edit, record, mix, and post bi-weekly podcasts is throwing my life out of balance. I’ve thought and prayed about this for a while now and I know this is the right decision. I pray someday I will be able to do music ministry for a living, but just as Paul temporarily built tents to provide for his needs, I temporarily build internetworks to provide for my family. I still intend to sit down at the piano on a bi-weekly basis and record podcasts with hopes that in the future I will be able to catch up or employ help for the editing and mixing. At any rate, expect the next podcast to be posted on the 8th of May. I hope you had a blessed Easter.

The story behind the $100 song – Terms of Endearment

Growing up, I didn’t have a choice when it came to taking piano lessons and practicing the piano. I remember like it was yesterday how my mom would sit me down at the piano and tell me I had to practice an hour or get a whipping. She would then set the stove timer for an hour and I would have to sit there and run through my practice routine before I could do anything else. She doesn’t know this, but I used to sneak over to the kitchen stove and knock 5-10 minutes off the timer every now and then when I could get away with it. I started taking lessons at the age of 7 and by the time high school came around, I had gotten pretty proficient at learning and playing classical music. I can just picture in my mind’s eye my dad thinking to himself, “this kid’s gettin’ pretty good” so one day, he offered to pay me $100 if I could learn and perform the piano solo, “Theme from Terms of Endearment”. The $100 was all the motivation I needed so I started practicing it every chance I got. I even remember my piano teacher, Mrs. Lum giving me pointers. I actually combined the standard and advanced arrangement into my own custom version. About a month or two later, I had it memorized and as I was running through it at home, my dad came over and gave me a $100 bill. That was the first money I had ever earned playing the piano and it was truly motivating. So, here we are two decades later and my dad asks me, “where’s my $100 song?”. Well, obviously, I had forgotten it long ago, but I found the sheet music for the standard arrangement online, and my mom actually found the advanced arrangement I used back in high school. It even has Mrs. Lum’s notes throughout so I spent the past month practicing almost every night and got it recorded for him. Here I am 20 years later still earning that $100! 🙂 Enjoy!

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Something so inspiring to me…

I decided to go look at my podcast on the iTunes Store, and found some truly awesome “Customer Reviews”. They make my heart ache with the desire to record another podcast. Fortunately, we close on our new home a week from today so the next podcast should be coming soon.

We’re moving!

It’s not to another country or anything like that. Things are bad, but they’re not that bad yet. 😉 We’re just moving across the street to Buda. I probably should have blogged about this sooner but life has been full speed ahead! Since my last post, we’ve completely transformed this house into a new home staged beautifully. There have been a dozen people in and out of it helping us. We’ve got it listed for sale, packed up half of our stuff in boxes, and still have more to go. Somehow, I found time for a local Huey Lewis cover gig. We had a 10-piece band – there were 4 singers, two of which were the electric guitarist and drummer with an electronic pad, trombone, trumpet, and sax players, an organist with an old 60’s B3 and Leslie cabinet (beautiful sound), bass player,and myself with every synth sound I could hear in Huey’s songs. We performed for Valentines Day, and had a really great time. At work, we brought hundreds of servers into production in our new datacenter in San Antonio. It’s our primary datacenter supporting AT&T Wi-Fi Services. It’s huge, and I’m responsible for the network – lots and lots of pressure. 🙁 Yoko had her yearly Okinawa Tomonokai event in Downtown Austin where hundreds of people go experience traditional Okinawan food and dance. I also got to serve with Soundwave at a wonderful church in Bastrop, TX this morning. We had a great time – lots of similarities to my home church. I would have most certainly fit the podcast in if my piano were tuned. I’ve held off since it’ll need to be tuned after the move, which should be the beginning of April. In the new home, I’m going to turn a room into a studio where the piano will reside so recording podcasts will be so much easier. The new piano will just have to wait for now.

Below you’ll find a video I took of Sanban a while back on my iPhone, and I just had to share it.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for the next podcast. The next one will be recorded in our new home – stay tuned!

Over a month and no podcast? Here’s why:

The past few weekends have been non-stop family and Soundwave. We had the “Night of Worship” on the 21st of November which encompassed a day of practice, Thanksgiving with the family the following weekend, two entire weekends of Soundwave recording, mixing, and mastering here in the studio after that, and I’ll be out in Sonora, TX hunting at the deer lease with dad and all my brothers this weekend. My goal is to take down the buck I passed on last season. (see last year’s blog and Youtube video) I’ll try and send out some tweets about the hunting experience if I can get online. The best part of it is going to be chillin’ with all my bros, David, Adam, and Josh for the first time in a very long time.

Here’s the song we recorded. Jeremy wrote it for the DCYC event we’ll be serving an entire weekend at in late January. It is going to be awesome!

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Praise God! I got it! CCIE#25612!

CCIERouting_and_Switching_UseLogoThanks to everyone for their support. Below is the story of my journey I posted on one of the CCIE study groups I followed for years while preparing:

My journey began a little over 5 years ago. I had already obtained some Cisco professional level certs and figured the CCIE couldn’t be much harder so I booked a lab and a bootcamp with IPexpert. I had some experience, but nowhere near the skills necessary for a CCIE candidate, which I realized the first day of Scott Morris’s bootcamp back in 2005. That was back when ATM and ISDN were still on the exam. At any rate, I barely made it through layer 2, and got stuck on layer 3. I knew I didn’t have a chance.

3 years later after gaining some valuable experience on the job, and putting together a lab of 7x 2811’s, 5x 2600 series (2 of them XM’s), 3x 3560’s, and a 3550, I started hitting the books. I purchased the IPexpert Blended Learning Solution, and worked through all 3 volumes (Volume 1 I worked through twice), watched the videos and listened to the audio throughout my study time, and read the following Cisco Press books:

Cisco QOS Exam Certification Guide

CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Quick Reference Sheets

Routing TCP/IP, Volumes 1 and 2

Internet Routing Architectures

CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide

Developing IP Multicast Networks

I started studying on a regular basis after I passed the written back in October of 2008, but really started hitting it hard the day they announced the change and I scheduled my lab date. For the OEQ’s, I used the IPexpert as well as the Internetwork Expert Core Knowledge sims. I’ve studied for more than 500 hours since May. I put everything on hold – the band, my “music to pray by” blog (http://musictoprayby.com), and my wife and 1 year old child. The only thing that didn’t go on hold was God and serving at the church. Yoko and I sacrificed celebrating our 10 year anniversary on September 25th so that I could wrap up preparing for the lab. My wife is awesome – she did this without complaining once. I couldn’t have done this without her support.

I just want to thank my LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ for being my inspiration and giving me the abilities I have. I also would like to thank IPexpert for putting together some of the most challenging material I’ve ever put myself through. After working through all the labs and understanding the solutions, I actually felt a little over-prepared, which is certainly not a bad thing. I would also like to thank everyone in groupstudy for helping me out with the questions I posted. I didn’t participate much compared to a lot of the other professionals who are a part of this awesome community, but I’ve been reading religiously for over a year now, and that knowledge gained from yall has been a tremendous help!

Here’s a little bit about my lab experience:

I flew into San Jose from Austin on Wednesday just so that I’d have Thursday to relax and get mentally prepared for the big day. On Friday morning, we met the proctor. I actually remembered him from my last lab date over 4 years ago. He showed us to the lab, and to my surprise, there were these really nice Dell 24″ displays at each station. I remember them being junky CRT’s the last time I was there. The OEQ’s were not super easy, and if I would have relied solely on my lab experiences, I probably would not have passed. I think the reading I did certainly prepared me for these more than anything else. The irritating things were my keyboard’s space bar made this squeaky sound that was really annoying and the guy next to me had this habit of humming, but once I started my lab, I zoned in and finished in a little over 4 hours. At this point, I’m freaking out thinking there has to be a page missing or something. So I took a little over 2 hours going over everything again very carefully and found a few mistakes. At 3:15, I figured it was pointless to stay any longer so I did another round of tclsh pings and write mems and left.

Thanks again to everyone who has already congratulated me. Now, it’s on to the SP track before they add OEQ’s!

Well, I just got the piano tuned yesterday, and I can’t wait to do the next MTPB podcast! Look for it to be posted sometime on Sunday.

Some huge improvements to the podcast coming…

For the past 2 weeks, study time was cut in half, but I’ve started picking up speed again for the 2 month stretch I have left. During this time off, I spent a bit of time researching the new Yamaha Disklavier Mark 4 System. I even went to the local dealer and played one of the grand pianos that was built with the system. 5 word summary: It completely blew me away! They recorded about a minute of my music, and the playback was exactly what I played – sustain pedal and every meticulous keystroke made. There’s a lot more it will do. The benefits would be huge for my family, the Music To Pray By ministry, and me:

  1. The chance to playback the MIDI from the old Music To Pray By Album on an unbelievably sounding Yamaha 7′ 6″ Acoustic Grand, record it, and make it available to you.
  2. The ability to record MIDI first, not having to worry about the bird, the dogs, or anything, edit out the mistakes, play it back and record the flawless audio.
  3. Huge built-in teaching tools for SanBan. I plan to start teaching him as early as 3.
  4. SOUND!!! THE UNBELIEVABLE SOUND A HUGE 7′ 6″ YAMAHA GRAND PIANO MAKES!!! :mrgreen:

Needless to say, this is something very exciting to me. Upon further research, I discovered these things aint cheap. They are basically the cost of a new Mercedes ML500. During my research, an opportunity to buy a used one grabbed my attention. It was an S series which are crafted with much finer wood, it was only 2 years old, it was the pro version, which normally costs substantially more, and it was practically half off due to the seller’s circumstance. I came very close to making a very bad decision by going into debt, but thanks to some very wise counsel from my father, I turned down the offer and decided to start saving up for it. In the meantime, I’ve thought about doing the podcast with a keyboard instead of the Yamaha C2 Grand. This way, I could go back and record those podcasts with the Yamaha DC7M4 when I get it. What do you think?

Here’s a picture of it:

Yamaha DC7M4 Accoustic Grand Piano