Best games of ’07

As playing video games is one of the only hobbies I have any time for I thought I’d run down the games I loved this year. I bought my Xbox 360 last December and I have never had more fun with video games than I have this year.

Xbox 360 Retail Games:

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 1 & 2
Number 1 came out last year, but that’s ok because I didn’t dive into it until ’07. Both these games featured realistic tactical combat and fun online play.

One of the greatest games of the year. I had so much fun with it’s open-world game play and character leveling system. There’s nothing more fun than scaling skyscrapers with your beefed up super-cop, only to jump to the ground below and hurl vehicles and the bad guys. It allowed you to tackle missions in truly creative (and generally over-the-top) ways. Best achievement of the year award goes to Crackdown for requesting that I “Use the Harpoon gun to attach 5 gang member corpses to a single vehicle.”

Rainbow Six Vegas
Took the tactical combat of Ghost Recon indoors for an incredibly intense game. Almost a perfect game, except for a lopsided online leveling system that makes it no fun for new players.

Call of Duty 2
This also game out in ’06, but it was the first game I bought for the 360 and still one of my favorites. The online play is about as fun as it gets. Plus I’m a sucker for World War II games.

Medal of Honor: Airborne
It had a very solid single-player story and a great weapon upgrade system. A very glitchy online mode is the only thing that kept this one from being better. It didn’t receive the greatest reviews, but like I said, I have a soft spot for WWII games.

The sequel to the John Woo film, Hard Boiled, Stranglehold puts your right in the middle of a cinematic shoot-em-up. It’s great fun for the length of the game, but not much beyond one play through. It’s fun, but really just a rental.

The Orange Box
The absolute best buy in gaming. For $60 you get Half-Life 2 along with it’s two expansion episodes, Portal and Team Fortress 2. I’d never played Half-Life and am really enjoying it. Portal has some of the greatest game play ever conceived. You need to own this set.

Beautiful Katamari
Sometimes it’s fun to just turn your brain off and roll crap up into a big ball.

Guitar Hero II & III
This year alone I have spent almost $400 to enjoy Guitar Hero. That translates to one copy of GH II with wired guitar, one extra wired guitar and two copies of GH III, each with wireless guitars. To say we love the games is probably an understatement. Of course, when it’s all said and done, I’ll sell most of it and be down to two wireless guitars and one copy of each game.

Hands-down one of the most compelling experiences you can have on the 360. I love video games that scare be so bad I don’t want to go into the next room.

Halo 3
While I don’t know that it lived up to all the pre-launch hype, it’s still one of the best games ever made. With one of the deepest online modes ever, we’ll be playing Halo 3 for years to come.

Assassin’s Creed
I flat out love this game. It’s not without it’s flaws, but it is still incredibly immersive. AC hero Altair out-climbs Spider-man himself.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
In a year of so many great games, CoD 4 rolls in as my Game of the Year. For any fans of first-person shooters this game is pure heaven. It features an incredibly beautiful and intense single-player game and one of the deepest online multiplayer set-ups.

Xbox Live Arcade Games:
One of the true gems of the Xbox 360 is the Live Arcade with tons of high-quality games available for $5 – $10.

The quick list of Arcade games I bought and loved:
Hexic 1 & 2
Geometry Wars Evolved
Puzzle Fighter HD Remix
Texas Hold’em
Bankshot Billiards 2
Heavy Weapon
Carcassonne –
My XBLA Game of the Year
TMNT 1989 Arcade

DCifFPC Week 3: The Christmas stuffing edition

Diet Coke is for Fat People Challenge Week 3

Week 2 starting weight: 237 pounds
Week 4 starting weight: 239 pounds

Total Challenge weight lost: 2 pounds in 3 weeks

I haven’t done a weigh-in in the last two weeks because I’ve been gone for most of it. I was really afraid to see what I weighed. After a great start in week one, I stuffed myself during the week leading up to and the week of Christmas.

Surprisingly, I only gained back two pounds. I expected much worse. I’m back to my eating less diet and still not hating it. Hopefully next week we’ll be back on the shedding-pounds path.

Drinking Diet Coke? Offended? I don’t really think it’s for fat people. Read the history behind the name here.

Required reading

If you’re reading this on the RSS feed, it won’t make much since. For the rest of you, notice the new section in the sidebar to the right titled “All about me.” One of the links is “Read what I’m reading.” It directs you to a page with all my shared items from Google Reader. Basically anything I read in Google Reader that I find interesting enough to share, I post there. These will mainly be items I like, but don’t have anything to really say about.

So there you go, one more way of sharing.

2007 in words and numbers

I started this blog (well, not actually this one, but a blog that transformed into this one) in 2006. In all of 2006, I posted 57 times. At the beginning of ’07 I decided to make a concerted effort when it came to blogging. I love writing and I think it’s made me a better one so I didn’t really see it as wasted time.

Well, since that resolution to write on a more-regular basis, I’ve posted 665 times. That doesn’t include this one, and I’ve probably got a few more to bang out before the end of the year. You get the idea, though. That’s a lot of writing. Between this blog and my previous one I had about 8,000 of you stop by this year. I’m not sure why you continue to read, but I appreciate it. This blog has always been a picture of what interests me. It’s nice to know it interests someone else too.

Looking back, this year of writing has led to a few major changes. The biggest would be the fact that I moved my family and business to an entirely different city, and it can all be traced back to this blog. It was blogging that first connected Tony and I and eventually led to us moving to serve at Legacy.

I’ve come to love writing here and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I can’t wait to see what happens on ’08 for me to write about.

Now if I could just get more of you guys to speak up and comment…

Quote of the Year

“There’s a rusty Christmas tree in the front yard?!” — My Mom

You had to be there, but it was the funniest thing I’d heard all year. It’s why I love hanging out with my family more than anything in the entire world.

Two-week wrap-up

I haven’t had time to write much here in the past two weeks so I thought I’d do a quick list of things on my mind.

It didn’t feel like Christmas this year until Christmas day. Kind of disappointing considering I love this time of year.

This was our first Christmas traveling away from home for four days. It was tiring.

Despite being whirlwind I enjoyed the time at both my in-laws and parents houses. I can’t tell you how badly I needed to rest. I still feel short of energy after the past two weeks, but I’m feeling slightly better. My unofficial vacation still runs through next Tuesday. I say unofficial because while I’m on vacation and relaxing I’m still whittling away at the mountain of work I have.

Last week I spent an entire day following my Dad at work and photographing it. It was a blast.

My Mom asked for nothing this year, except that we do something good for someone else. I think it worked out great for everyone.

I had a blast shooting photos for a friend of mine and his three boys. Pictures coming today.

I’m considering selling all my computers and just pairing them down to one new laptop.

Image Studios is changing for the better and will probably look very different by the end of 2008.

Look for posts later today or tomorrow. One on 2007 reflections and one on 2008 predictions.

I can feel God really pulling me towards Him. There is so much on the to-do list for 2008 and every bit of it will require my total reliance on Him.

I forgot how much I like writing here. It helps me decompress and really sort through my thoughts.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone out there. I hope you are enjoying it as much as we are. I’m experiencing some much-needed relaxation at my parent’s house right now.

Toward the end of this week I’ll get back to my regular writing duties here with some thoughts on the last two weeks which have been the busiest of my life.

Until then, everyone enjoy your families.

Chili Cheese Fritos, God and me

I’m sitting here in the afterglow of a Chili Cheese Frito binge. The empty bag is laughing at me for stumbling. Like a drunk stumbling into an AA meeting, you can probably smell my breath through the monitor.

Hi, my name is Chad and I ate too much today.

This is the first time since I started my “diet” last week that I’ve fallen off the proverbial wagon. Ever since I started, I haven’t been tempted even once to eat something when I wasn’t hungry. Just now, I wasn’t anywhere near hungry. But the craving for some chili cheese goodness came on and I couldn’t stop it.

So why the sudden trip down fat-boy lane?

Today is nuts. Way, way too much to do and not enough hours to do it in. I’m leaving for a three-day trip tomorrow morning at 6:30 and have a mountain of work that I won’t finish until very late tonight. Knowing this, I dove right into my day. I passed over my normal morning quiet time. I have prayed zero today. I’ve thought a few sinful thoughts. I let a few of those sinful thoughts form audible words, which I promptly released into the world through my soon-to-be-full-of-Fritos pie hole. (Mmmmm…..Frito Pie.)

Overall, not exactly a great day on the God scale. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus is still here. Sitting right over here in the corner, patiently waiting for me to stop being an idiot. My point is, I didn’t intentionally make room for Him today. I put everything else in front and right now I can feel it. When you are focused on God, the stresses of life don’t seem so, well, stressful. Without Him, I’m left to deal with things on my own and to find solace at the bottom of a Frito bag.

Hi, my name is Chad and I ignored God today.

DCifFPC Week 1: The great start edition

Diet Coke is for Fat People Challenge Week 1

Week 1 starting weight: 241 pounds
Week 2 starting weight: 237 pounds

Total Challenge weight lost: 4 pounds in 1 week 

Honestly, I planned on losing nothing this week. The first week of a “weight-loss” plan is when I lose maybe a pound and give up because I’ve basically starved myself and am miserable. This week was the exact opposite of that.

I had zero time for exercise (unless you count time spent with Guitar Hero III as exercise). What I did do was stop eating so much. Even if I hadn’t lost a single pound, I’d still be happy. After every meal, not only was I full, but I felt good. Usually meal time means eating until I’m full, then eating until I can’t eat anymore. This ends in me feeling like crap for a couple of hours. Not now. I feel like I have a little more energy.

This week should be interesting. I’ll be on the road for three days straight, which means lots of fast food. We’ll see if I can lose any weight subsisting on mostly fast food.

Drinking Diet Coke? Offended? I don’t really think it’s for fat people. Read the history behind the name here. 

Quick Notes 12-16-07

Today was a challenging day in the kid’s department at Legacy, but in a good way. It’s one of those things that showed me we are headed in the right direction.

God told me to take a nap this afternoon. I listened. He was right. I feel so good right now.

I took all three boys to the mall today by myself. I think I deserve a medal of some kind.

Next week could possibly be the busiest week I’ve ever had and I’ll be on the road for three days straight. Please pray for me.

My wife forced me to buy some new shoes the other day. Apparently I need “nice” tennis shoes in addition to a regular pair of tennis shoes. We found a pair of Airwalks at Payless for about $25.00. I refuse to take them off now. Most comfortable shoes I’ve ever had.

February 3rd is going to be the big kick off day for an entirely reworked children’s ministry at Legacy.

I probably won’t be writing much this next week, except for tomorrow’s first weekly weigh-in in my “Diet Coke is for fat people” challenge.

I got invited to play Disc Golf today. I really wish I could have gone, but it would have conflicted with my God-inspired nap. Maybe next time.

Bowled over

I find as I’m getting older, my competitive streak is dying out. I used to hate to lose while at the same time making it look like winning was so easy it was nothing. Now, I just don’t care. Any time spent not working is just used for relaxing. Any time not spent working and without the kids is even better.

Tonight we went bowling with the other pastors from Legacy. The girls stomped us mightily. But I still had a great time unlike some others (*cough*Dave*cough*). I don’t know, I just didn’t mind losing the game. I got to drop the stresses of life for a few hours and that was a win for me.

Ba humbug!

Does it not feel like Christmas to anyone besides me? We’ve got the tree up. The lights are hung (mostly). The weather is overcast and chilly. So what is the problem? Around Christmas we always go stay with my parents for a couple of days which is hands-down my favorite time out of the entire year. It literally makes my year. That’s less than two weeks away. While I’m excited, for some reason it just doesn’t feel like Christmas this year. Maybe it’s living in a new place. I don’t know.

Job or ministry?

Anne has a phenomenal post today about ministry being a job versus being the outflow of your relationship with God.

I’d encourage you to click over and join in the conversation. It’s very interesting. Below is my response to it.

The answer to the question is absolutely yes. However, people’s general reaction to the question will probably be flawed. When you say ministry and job, people automatically think “working in a church.” To me a staff position in a church is absolutely a job. You have agreed to be there to manage some part of the church experience and that is a job. I think we’re kidding ourselves if we ever think most church staffers have never done their job while disconnected from God. I include myself in that category. It’s no different than any other job in that respect. You can show up every day with God as your companion or as a distant observer. It’s your choice.

However, ministry is a different animal. Because of my job at church, I have the opportunity to minister to people. This is where the overflow comes in. I can minister out of the overflow and speak into the person’s life. True ministry absolutely comes from the overflow.

Now take that concept and apply it to non-church jobs. Through my business (which is a job), I have the opportunity to minister to people I come in contact with. Again, that’s where the overflow comes in. I’ve also found that when I’m not making the effort to be close to God, the “ministry” opportunities are few and far between. I’ve always believed he’s not going to send people to us if we aren’t prepared.