Saturday, January 02, 2016

2015 Year in Review

2015 was quite an eventful year for all of us. In January we started attending Northwest Bible Church in Oklahoma City. I love this church. It is Reformed Baptist, with expositional teaching through the scriptures. The music is traditional with hymns. We are making many friends, and we love our new church. Northwest Bible Church believes in the biblical doctrine of plurality of eldership. Alexander Strauch covers this topic thoroughly in his book, Biblical Eldership. I was included in a group of men that read and studied this book this year over the course of about six months. We worked through the accompanying workbook and met together to discuss. The eldership at Northwest Bible Church currently consists of Alan Conner, Alan Loeffler, and Dwayne Bolin. I had met Alan Conner and Dwayne before we started attending. However, over the course of this year, I have gotten to know all three of these men better and have developed a deep respect for all of them. Alan Conner is the primary teaching elder. If you visit the church, most likely you will hear him preaching. He has been working his way through the Gospel of John ever since we started attending in January. We joined several months later.

When I started 2015 I was employed as a contractor at Chesapeake Energy. I really like working there. Their environment seems to be a good match for me. There was a Toastmasters club on the campus that I became actively involved in. “Chesaspeak” Toastmasters is a great club with a great group of individuals. I had been at Chesapeake since September 2014. When I left my government contracting position at Tinker Air Force Base the assurance was given that this was a “long term contract” with an expectation of lasting about two years. There were four contractors on our team. In January they renewed all our contracts for another six months. However, when June rolled around and it was getting close to time for them to renew the contracts they informed all four of us that due to budget constraints tied closely to the low energy prices Chesapeake had to let all their contractors go.  They gave us ample notice of several weeks. I believe it was about 4 weeks if I recall. So I began another job search. I ended up at Farmers Insurance. The appeal to this new position was two-fold. 1) Seeing the clock wind down on my time at Chesapeake I needed to find something in order to support my family and 2) this was an “IVR” position. Much of my career has been in the telecom industry programming IVR systems, phone switches, call centers, etc. So I saw this as an opportunity to renew my skill set in a niche where I already had a lot of experience. The only problem, and I did know this when I took the position, was that this was much more of an advisory role as opposed to a hands on programming position. Most of my days were spent on the phone in conference calls discussing issues that were to be fixed, or the new project that was going to begin shortly. However, after the talking had been done, it was a vendor, not our team that got to do the “fun part” of actually coding the changes. I am a programmer. Since I began my career I have been a programmer. I have never liked the thought or the duties involved in project management. Give me a technical problem to solve rather than an administrative one. One additional side note, and Farmers, if you are reading this please take notice, this is the only contracting position I have ever held where contractors were included in an “on call” rotation. Sure, they paid me if I spent extra time responding to a call. But I didn’t get any extra pay for the hassle of making sure I was “ready” if I received a call. I felt like I was being treated as a full time employee. Yet I didn’t receive any of the standard full time employee benefits. During my final two weeks there, I wasn’t “on call” but there was a mix up in the schedule where some thought that I was. So I received two calls on the weekend of my birthday. This was also a Friday night in which Paton was in a Christmas recital with his violin. I had to apologize to the guy who called me and let him know that I was not on call. Then, throughout the recital my mind was on whether I should have dropped everything to handle this call. Avoiding this type of personal interference is one of the benefits of contracting. I am simply expendable “paid help” brought in to help solve a problem. I take no ownership or loyalty to the company as a whole like I would if I were a full time employee. Chesapeake understood that and operated on those principles. I didn’t get invited to the company Christmas party, because I was a contractor. I didn’t get invited to company wide “town hall” meetings, because I was a contractor. But neither did I carry an on call responsibility, because I was a contractor. I was good with that. They were good with that. But at Farmers it seemed they were as inclusive as they could be with their employees and contractors. I regularly called into remote “town hall” discussions over the phone. I even took a business trip, as a contractor, with Farmers. I was scheduled for another trip the first week of January 2016 (next week) if I hadn’t have left. I am super glad to have avoided that trip for reasons I will cover when I talk about each of the kids in a moment. Long story short, after looking for another position for several weeks I received an offer for a contracting position at Dolese doing web programming in C#, ASP .NET. I started there on December 18. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. This is good for my career as I don’t want to be too far removed from hands on programming experience. I liked the people I worked with at Farmers, but this is an altogether better match for me. Lastly, news about Sheri and I include the fact that we have discovered a new “buying club” that is currently in its pre-launch stage. It’s a sort of a mix between Sam’s Club and Amazon, with a fabulous referral bonus business model rather than advertising. That’s all I’ll say for now. I’ll have more details later this month. If you’d like, drop me an email and I’ll tell you all I know.

OK, now for the part that everyone is waiting for, what’s going on with the children? Well, in my last “Year in Review” I talked about Brittney’s marriage to Landon Hastings. Early in the year they let us know that they are expecting our first grandbaby! Brittney’s due date is actually tomorrow, January 3. They are having a girl. They’ve already picked out a beautiful name; Clara Joy Hastings. Brittney’s middle name is Joy. So it’s a great name for their little girl.

Michael also surprised us this year by proposing to Heather Poencet. He met her when he worked at Kimray. That was several jobs ago. This year has been a year of constant transition for Michael. Things are looking hopeful for Michael landing at a fire station. Stay tuned for more information as that develops.

Brianna became the third graduate from our homeschool this year. She’s kept pretty busy after that including working at a Summer kids camp in Texas, working at a local honey farm (mainly helping the owner with construction projects), and continuing to further her photography skills. She also bought her first car this year. It’s awesome. It’s a 2000 Crown Victoria police cruiser. She doesn’t have emergency lights, as that would be illegal. But she does have the big black bumper guard thing on the front, a spotlight on each front door, and the original black and white color scheme. It’s fun riding with her on the freeway. People naturally get in the right lane and let her by. The specs on the car are pretty nice as well. It’s got a beefed up suspension system, engine, and transmission. We haven’t tried this yet, but the guy that sold it to us said that you can hit a curb doing 40 mph and it will handle it fine. He also said that you can take a 90 degree turn at 55 mph. That sounds a little daring, but if it can handle that, then surely it can handle “normal” driving. We bought it from a guy in a small town that is part of their emergency team. He bought three cars from Edmond PD and “fixed them up,” providing what he thought was the best of the three to the small town police dept. Then he finished the one for Brianna and thought it cleaned up nicer than the other two. The guy was asking $2000 and Brianna got it for $1900. It’s a great deal for an older car that runs great with cold AC. As an added bonus he left the two antennas on top of the car to give it that “police” look, though he took out the emergency radio.

Justin seems to keep growing taller and taller. He’s got an interesting “hair look” going on. He’s taken an interest in entrepreneurship. He’s currently reading The Richest Man in Babylon. He has a drive to excel and I expect that he will be very successful in whatever business attempts he tries.

Paton continues to get better and better at his violin playing. He finished “book 3” out of the Suzuki series.

Sarah has continued to improve in her piano playing. Sarah and Samuel were baptized in October. This was preceded by a six week study that I did with both of them. We worked through a book provided by Alan Conner speaking to the meaning of baptism. The title escapes me now, but it is also used at Bethlehem Baptist Church (the church where John Piper formerly pastored).

Samuel’s update is pretty much combined with Sarah’s above as his baptism was the biggest news for him last year.

Melody loves looking at books. She’s moved up to “preschool” in both her coop classes and in her Sunday School class. I’m planning to at least start teaching her to read this year.

David is two, and full of life. He loves to have books read to him. I think his favorite is The Adventures of Ping. Toddlers love repetition. So I think I just about have that book memorized.

OK. Well, this post seems longer than most, and I’m already late in getting it out. So I’ll end it for now. Hopefully I’ll put another post out before my 2016 Year in Review. But we’ll wait to see if that happens. Later.