Siri Can’t Answer Everything

Our friend on the beach. I call him Toby.

We have been having a great time on our vacation here in Florida.  Tomorrow we begin the trek that takes us one unwilling step back into reality.  I will be in class for three days before we get on the plane and leave all of the wonderful sun and warm (comparatively) temperatures behind and step grudgingly back into the reality of Northern Michigan Winter. (At least it will be with tanned faces and systems chock full of Vitamin D!)

On Saturday Tammi and I had a great afternoon on the beach enjoying the 70 degree temps, the blazing sun, and the sound of the surf. It was a little windy, and many of the locals we saw were wearing fleece, but to us it was divine.  We settled into our chairs for a three hour time of relaxation.  So we thought…

It wasn’t long before we realized that we had placed our chairs directly “downwind” from a guy that was very talkative…  The problem was that he was not talking to someone who was there, but someone on the phone. I say he was talking because this was not a conversation.  It was a monologue that was irritating at first, but it quickly turned comical.  Here are some of the topics we were able to overhear:

  • How to put a Buick engine in a Toyota – “Sure the motor mounts are different, but you can just weld the thing in and then splice the wire harnesses.  It’ll just take some fine tuning, but it’ll work.”
  • How to help your loved one in a Long Term Care Facility if you don’t think their meds are working properly for them – “Just look at the pills they give her in that place then go down to CVS and find a pill that looks like it.  Buy those and then go back and switch ’em out.  Make sure it’s not a pill that’s gonna hurt her though.  I don’t want you to think I’m saying to murder her, ‘cuz that wouldn’t be right”
  • Staying up to date with technology – “Yeah I got this new iPhone yesterday and it does all kinds of stuff.  First time I had one of these things, so I made sure I really read the instructions good.  Man, I went over ’em for like 8 hours yesterday ‘cuz I don’t wanna look stupid in front of people or nuthin’.”

There were a number of other things that came up, and the funny part of listening in was that his accent made it sound all the better.  He was definitely from the northern east coast, and after thinking about it, I would place his accent as Jersey or maybe New York.  I’m not making fun of people who live there, it just made the conversation about pain meds sound REALLY funny!

Shortly after the lesson on “learning your tech”, he began to apply his new found knowledge and skill set  to ask Siri for some information.  I am not sure if his accent was causing the problem or if a ninth hour of study would have been a good idea…

“Hello there, Siri.” “Hiya, Siri.” “How are ya, Siri?” “Siri?”  “Can you hear me, Siri?”

Those salutations and questions were made or asked one after the other with an approximate one second pause between them before being repeated 3 times.  At then end of that he would call someone on the phone and ask them if they knew what to do to get Siri to share her knowledge with him before he would hang up and start the cycle over again.  We heard this happen 4 times before he started a new tactic…

“Siri, how do I turn you off?”  “Siri, how do you disable Siri?”  “Siri, OFF!”

We heard this a couple times and then more phone calls were made asking if anyone else could help with exorcising the phone of the spirit of Siri – to no avail.  Finally he made a last phone call…

“Hey.  Yeah, it’s me.  Of course it’s me.  Why wouldn’t I call you?  Who else would I talk to?”

At that point Tammi said, “Well it certainly isn’t Siri!”  We lost it.  I laughed so hard.  I love that gal and her wit.  Our friend quieted down after that and just started smoking cigarettes.  As we were downwind from him, we soon packed up our stuff in search of a less carcinogenic area of sand.

It was a funny event on our trip, but it got me thinking.  How often do we treat God like this guy treated Siri?

  • Spend some time reading the Bible so we can feel like we understand how this whole “God thing” works in our lives and how we can use it for our own good.
  • Speak to God in a way that does not offer Him any honor or respect and only when we want something from Him.  (Great way to build a relationship with your Creator.)
  • Get mad and blame Him when He doesn’t come through for us in our requests – trivial and self serving as they may be.
  • Enlist the help of others to find a way to make God fit into our idea of who He should be.
  • When all else fails, try to cut Him out of our lives.

I know God isn’t an artificial intelligence.  He is TRUTH.  He holds all knowledge in His hand and is willing to share it with His children when they humbly ask.  He wants His children to be RELENTLESS in their desire to know Him better.  He wants them to be eager to bring their requests to Him, but He wants us to always understand and recognize that He is God.  He has the answers.  Every single one of them.

Sorry, Siri…



Just Breathe…

img_20160218_110849.jpgAnyone following my Instagram feed will see that I am not at home right now.  Tammi and I are in Florida for the remainder of this week and all of next to see some of our good friends and for me to do some training for my job.  I know, suffering in Florida in the month of February is not going to garner a lot of happy feelings from those back home where I hear it was -11 degrees last night.  I’d feel bad for them, but can’t hear their cries of woe over the sound of the crashing surf.  Wow, I am a snot today!

This morning I sat outside having my quiet time (in my shorts and t-shirt with no socks or shoes with the 70 degree sun on my back) and enjoyed reading about the freedom I have in Christ.  It got me thinking about the feeling of bondage I have been living in a lot lately.

God has been doing some work in my heart regarding working with stress and identifying the source of the stress in order to deal with the problem rather than just coping with the symptoms.  The problem I have is that too often the problem is me!  I have been doing better, but this trip is giving me an opportunity to regroup a little bit and do something I don’t usually take the time to do…

Just Breathe

img_20160218_075104.jpgYeah.  That’s a big thing for me.  I know I need it, but I don’t make a priority to do it.  I find myself being so busy sometimes that when I let just one or two things go I get a false feeling of relief.  A false feeling because I am just less busy instead of really busy.

David tells us what we need to know in Psalm 46:10a:


“Be still and know that I am God”

The thing about being still is that you have to be still.  David doesn’t say, “Be less still” or “Be mildly interested”, he says to “Be still.”  Well, when you are still, and I mean really still, you maybe surprised at what you might hear.

This morning, Tammi and I sat out at that table (in the sun, in our shorts and t-shirts) and I told her that I was so FOCUSed on enjoying this time that we are away and FOCUSing on being intentionally relaxed.  I have nothing on my schedule until 9am on Monday, and I intend to be relaxed in every moment.  I want to take the time to just breathe and enjoy myself and my time with her.

Not to make the rubbing any worse, but this afternoon we went to the beach for a couple hours and just sat there listening to the wind and the surf.  I tipped back in my chair, closed my eyes and just let the smell of the ocean and the sound of the waves wash over me.  I just listened and relaxed as the sun warmed my face.

img_20160218_155704.jpgBefore long I realized that I was fully involved in prayer.  It was a reflexive prayer that was happening before I even knew I was doing it.  The prayer was not born out of a desire to speak to God, but from a moment of complete peace. Peace brought me into His presence. In that moment when I put my FOCUS on relaxing I see now that God had every intention of pulling my FOCUS toward a conversation with Him.

End result?  I had a very good day.  Even though I set out for nothing more than relaxation, I had a day where I experienced a step in Relentless Growth.  They sneak up on you when you take the time to just breathe and be still.


God Is Doing Something In My Basement

img_20160201_225538.jpgThis picture was taken a couple of nights ago.  After a phone call earlier in the day, I felt the need to go down to the basement and take a photo of this amazing machine.  Just look at it!  Aren’t you feeling an upwelling of emption?  No?  Well, maybe you need to hear a little more about the furnace and the phone call.

The Furnace

I’ve mentioned before that our house has been in the family for generations.  It has some quirks, but we love the old place and have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into making it our own.  One thing we have never replaced is our furnace.

I’m not sure when this furnace was installed (my dad may be able to comment here on the blog to let us know if he remembers), but I did some looking into how old it is.  According to the info I was able to find stamped inside the front cover and searching it out on the internet, this furnace was manufactured either in 1961 or 1966. Yep.  The old gal is 50-55 years old.  As far as we know it has the original firebox inside too!

About 10 years ago, we seriously looked at replacing it with a newer, more efficient, propane furnace.  I had three different companies come in to look at our situation and make a recommendation.  All three pointed out that due to the small size of our house, we would actually need to add more heat runs to make a newer furnace run more efficiently.  The amount of air that the new machines push was just too much for  our current duct system.  The only option was some major duct additions and added expense to “save” money.

After hearing the same thing from the third vendor, I was getting discouraged, and voiced my concerns.  He asked me if he could take another look at my furnace, so down to the basement we went.

When we got there, he took the cover off and started to really poke around. Our furnace is old, dirty, and a fuel-oil burning beast, but this guy looked it over with a smile on his face.  After poking around for a few minutes he looked at me and said that he just loved these old furnaces.  He said ours was in incredible condition, and he really felt that we would be better served in keeping it.  His inspection showed that the firebox was in good condition, and he felt that the only thing we may eventually need to be concerned with was the burner itself. So, we decided to stick with the old beast.

We found out the furnace vendor was prophetic about 5 years later when the burner did fail. Since it was an ancient thing, there were no parts available for it.  My fear of a huge expense and renovations to our house began to loom, but after calling in the same vendor that had looked at it before, he was able to find a new burner that could be retro-fitted into our furnace for only $700 instead of several thousand!  He said it would almost be like getting a new furnace again.  We went for it and have been worry free ever since.

Fill-ups for the furnace have always brought a sense of dread as we wait to see just how much our efforts at being frugal would be rewarded, and in talking with the delivery guy, I would often hear from him that he was amazed at how much less fuel we used than comparable homes on his route.  That brings us to the phone call.

The Phone Call

Monday I called to make sure that we were still on our fuel oil company’s “keep full” system.  We had received a fill-up last April, but had not seen a delivery since. We had enjoyed the warm fall and early winter, but I was beginning to wonder just how much fuel was in our tank as the weather had finally changed and the furnace was running more often.  I had gone out a couple weeks earlier and had dipped the tank to find that we still had about 18 inches of fuel in there!  I was pleased that we were not in danger of running out, but wanted to be sure that we were on the schedule nonetheless.

When I talked to the man at the fuel depot, he told me that they were considering taking us off the “keep full” list due to the fact that we use so little fuel!  In fact, he said that the average home in our area that burns fuel oil gets at least 2-3 more deliveries MORE than we do!  In 2015 we only had one delivery for the entire year, and with the warm temperatures we had at the end of last year, we will likely not need another delivery until at least December based on our historical use.

Think about that!  We know our house is not kept at a super warm temp throughout the winter.  We might be a little cool, but we never see our breath!  What is happening in this old furnace?  How is this possible?  How many 50+year old ANYTHINGS do you see still running along without problems and running efficiently as well? (I’m a 42 year old something and can’t claim that!)

My take on it?  God is working in my furnace.  You might think I’m crazy, but I have no other explanation.  Let me be clear, I don’t think God is working on my furnace because He wants me to claim a miracle is taking place in my basement.  I think He does it because He wants to use His work in my basement to do a work in me.

The fact that my furnace is ancient by industry standards, still runs without any real issues, and runs efficiently may be considered “luck” by many, but I believe it is God’s way of giving me a chance to give Him glory for his daily care for me.  He does it in order to give me a chance to proclaim His work as He reshapes my heart and my attitude from one that focuses on what I am missing out on, and then He turns it toward a grateful heart for what He has done for me.

The list of things He has done for me is long, and while the furnace stands as an amazing gift, it pales in comparison to the gift of His mercy and grace and a new title as an heir with Christ, an adopted son of God.  I am His child, and I have much to be thankful for.

I tend toward a negative outlook at times, but I want to be Relentless about seeing the good that God has shown in my life.  If I cannot keep my eyes on God and His goodness to me, I will be filled with dread every step of the way, but as David said in Psalm 27:13:

“I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

I’ve thought a lot about that verse over the last five years, and I think I have come to the conclusion that God is showing His goodness all the time, but we need to look for it in order to see it.  Sometimes, you might even need to go to the basement!