Latest iPhone App Picks

Today we finally became a 2 iPhone family. As I was gathering up my suggestions of iPhone apps to share with my wife, I decided I’d go ahead and share them with everyone. Most of these apps are free. I’ve attempted to group them into types of apps as best as I can.

Location Aware Apps:

  • AroundMe – find things near you
  • Google – localized search, voice enabled, access to all Google apps
  • Gowalla – track and share where you are
  • iWant – find things near you
  • Showtimes – view local movie show times, read reviews, view trailers
  • Urbanspoon – get random local restaurant recommendations
  • CoPilot Live – relatively inexpensive GPS navigation


  • Bible – best free Bible app with most versions – developed by
  • WordPress – manage your WordPress blog
  • Photoshop Mobile – Photoshop for simple editing of your iPhone photos
  • Remote – control iTunes on your computer from your phone
  • ESPN ScoreCenter – view scores and game updates
  • Walgreens – we use this to manage our prescription orders

Social Networking

  • Tweetie – best Twitter app available
  • Facebook – connect with Facebook
  • AIM – instant messaging on the go
  • Yahoo Messenger – instant messaging on the go
  • Pandora Radio – streaming music to your taste – check out Rockin’ Holidays channel


  • Quicken – financial account overview via free Quicken Online
  • PayPal – pay people securely
  • USAA – best online bank – deposit checks with your camera – transfer money live


  • Paper Toss – waste more time than imaginable
  • Sol Free – best free solitaire games
  • iBowl – like a Wii on your phone

Remote Connectivity

  • TouchTerm – ssh client for linux sysadmins
  • VNC – remote vnc viewer for screen sharing
  • RDP – remote desktop for Windows

My office mate, Matt, currenly has 254 apps installed on his iPhone.  That’s more than the iPhone is actually capable of displaying on it’s home pages.  Anyway, I also asked him for his recommendations of best apps.

Matt’s Picks:

What are your favorite iPhone apps that you use at least once a week?

I’m Thankful For…

The Talking Heads help inspire my thoughts today, as I express what I’m most thankful for this Thanksgiving:

And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself: Well…How did I get here ?

Yeah, “How did I get here?”

Just one year ago this holiday wasn’t near as much fun. In fact, like most family holidays before it, it was slightly depressing. But this year I’m celebrating the holiday with MY family. Not just my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and other assorted family; but for the first time I’m sharing that experience with my wife and two sons. Wow, that’s a great feeling.

Like the Talking Heads refer to, I do have a large automobile and beautiful house, both of which I’m thankful for. But, more so I have a beautiful wife and beautiful family (and a beautiful dog and two beautiful cats).

Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young helps me finish out my thought process with:

Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
‘Cause of you

Thank you God, for blessing me this year with an amazing family! Your blessings are new every morning. Thank you.

What are you thankful for this year? Share your thoughts as a comment.

Praying for Our Kids is Messy

About a month and a half ago I was driving home from somewhere and was thinking about my two boys. I was basically being impressed that I should be praying for the two guys. As I was thinking and praying about praying for them, I was hit by a deep thought that wasn’t part of me. I realized that I often pray for things to be simpler and less chaotic with my boys. “God, help tonight be an uneventful night. I don’t need extra drama tonight, so can you help things go smoothly?” Maybe you can relate to that sort of prayer.

Well, below is a recording of my thoughts and insights about praying for my kids. Take a quick listen.

How about you? Do you have any messy prayers for your kids?

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

My First Christmas Letter

I’ve recently been getting back in touch with a lot of old friends that I haven’t talked to in 10-20+ years. I thought I’d post my first ever Christmas letter here to get people up to speed on my life these days.

What Do I Do These Days?

August of 2008 marked my fifth year of working for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. I maintain computer systems that host lots of web sites, email services, distributed storage, and authentication services for NCSA. You may have heard in the news recently that we are now in the process of building the world’s largest supercomputer, which is supposed to go online in 2010.

While I enjoy my job, my true passion is my church, Grace Community Church. I volunteer several hours each week there leading our TechArts teams (sound, video, production, and IT) and also help lead and serve on our board (which has been a huge task this year). For the past year and a half, Grace has been networked with, which is one of the most innovative and powerful churches in the US. This partnership has really excited me again about the life changing power of the local church.

Highlights From 2008…

In January our pastor resigned. He’d been the pastor of our church since long before I started attending 16 years ago. I helped lead the task of hiring a new pastor and leading in new ways during the transition of hiring our new pastor on July 1.

My dad went to Moscow and Siberia for a month-long mission trip in June & July. I was pretty proud of him, since he hadn’t gone on any mission trips for a few years due to his health. He spent a lot of his time training Christian leaders there from some churches he’d help plant about 18 years ago.

My Mom had both of her hips replaced this summer and fall. She’s been off work for almost 6 months as she’s been rehabilitating. Things have gone great for her, but it’s made for a slow rehabilitation for a lady that’s always on the go. Since both my parents have had both hips replaced now, I think I need to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon in about 15-20 years. 🙂

In September I became kind of a surrogate father. A friend of mine from church has 2 teenage brothers that she adopted a few years ago. The oldest one has been having some issues with her this year and they’d gotten to a point where she wasn’t comfortable with him continuing to live with her. So, R.C. has been living with me for the past few months. It’s been a really good experience for both of us.

Lessons & Growth in 2008…

  1. This year I’ve realized a new confidence in how God has created me. He has created me, and that’s good. Over the years I’ve gathered a lot of wisdom, and as a result I should use it and share it. In the past I’ve normally kept quiet and not offered my opinions, but I’ve come to realize my opinions also come with years of experience and are valuable. I no longer consider myself a kid, but rather a man who God can use. I’m no longer afraid of greatness.
  2. This year I’ve also gained a new level of trust in God. At church things looked almost impossible this spring. But, I’ve been reminded that I don’t need to have all the answers. Despite me not understanding all the details, God’s got my back and I can relax and not worry. If I’m following God’s leading, He’ll take care of the details and lead us to a new place.

So, anyway, that’s a brief look at God at work in my life this year. It’s funny how most of the excitement from this year was totally unexpected, but has been one of the best yet of my life. He’s still the Lord Emmanuel, God with us. I’m excited to see what new excitement is awaiting in 2009.

Merry Christmas!

Healing and Wholeness at Christmas

In the last couple of days I’ve really been struck with the reality that my faith is hypocritical. I look at so many hurting lives around me and honestly believe that those lives could be miraculously made whole and complete by God. He longs to bring complete hope, healing, and restoration to His children who are hurting. I want to see that continue in the lives around me.

But, sometimes in my own life and those that are closer to me, I don’t honestly expect God to show up such miraculous ways. I get used to the hurting and brokenness that faces me regularly and have almost given up on the idea of God fixing those issues. I notice myself internally voicing the following kinds of things:

  • “Well, that’s just the way Joe is. He’s been sexually abused when he was young, and he’ll always react in bad ways when he’s hurt or confused.”
  • “Since, Mikey is young and been brought up in a dysfunctional home, I shouldn’t expect him to be as mature as other kids. He’ll always be that way.”
  • “I’ll always suffer from the hurt and rejection from a couple of years ago. I just have to be tough and not let that hurt bring me down at times like the holidays.”

But, wait a minute. Didn’t I say that Jesus wanted to bring ‘hope, healing, and restoration to His children’? Isn’t He the blessed redeemer? Didn’t He come to seek and save the lost? Didn’t He come to bring healing and wholeness?

My king can bring healing to Joe, Mikey, and me.

Lord, continue to work in my life to bring healing and wholeness!