Browse Category: Miscellaneous

6 Quick Updates from My New Coffee Spot

First off, I’m sorry that I have neglected this blog over the last month. Sorry! Life has continued non-stop and I’ve had to step back and hit pause on a few things. Now that things have somewhat settled down… I wanted to give you a quick update on me and the family.

1. My new coffee joint. A couple miles from the office = the perfect lunch-break retreat! I’ve wrote about Land of a Thousand Hills coffee and praised their joyous blends and roasted goodness. They have a nice set-up in the Vinings area that overlooks the Chattahoochee River. It couples nicely with a smooth pour-over or pressed cup of Joe. Thanks to my buddy Youngsang for telling me to come! (Btw, the picture is lovely, right?)

2. Our house is on the market. Those on FB and Twitter probably know, but we ‘moved out’ of the house Memorial Day weekend. In the course of 5 days, we packed up and U-Haul’d it out of there! Mixed with sadness and excitedness, we moved into my parents’ basement while the house sells… and for the next season of life. Knowing that we’re taking a pretty big hit on the house, we’ll need to hang tight for a little while to re-save back up. Big plus: we’re less than 4 miles from Ben’s gang. Big win! But, lastly, please say a prayer for us that everything moves quickly and everyone stays adjusted nicely in the new digs!

3. Family vacation. Our family vacays over the last few years have all been car-trips (beach, nearby mountains, reunions, etc.). But this year, we’re going large! A couple weeks back, we got tickets for the whole family to visit my family out in sunny Southern California. So, come early October – we’ll be chowing down In-n-Outs, sun-bathing on Huntington Beach, and visiting family from LA to San Diego. But first, Harper and I are going out there next week for a wedding. Holla!

4. Work is going great. Have a couple trips planned (DC, NYC/Boston) and busy as always… and couldn’t ask for a better place to be at right now. A year and a half ago, when I made the job-switch I was anxious and expectant – now, 17 months later I am grateful for the place that God has put me in… for the growth-opportunities, work-flexibility, and overall satisfaction. On top of working full-time, I’m planning on starting my Masters this fall. ‘Bout to get cray cray up in here!

5. A little running. While Jen has been running more recently (ran the Nashville half a couple months ago), we’ve just now started to run/train together as we have a couple races on the horizon. We are going to run the inaugural Area 13.1 locally here in Roswell, GA. Pretty cool – it’s a ‘night race’ that starts at 6:30 PM. Also in October, while in California, we’re going to hit up the Long Beach half-marathon. Pretty stoked about that!

6. Family, family, family. Jen is holding down the fort at home: prepping for home-schooling the kiddos (mainly Sophia’s preschool in the fall), being the ideal support-partner to me, and connecting with other moms/friends on a regular basis. Sophia and Olivia will be in the same ballet class this fall. Harper is on the verge of walking all the time (no rush, though!).

I promise the next post will come sooner than 4-weeks out… Thanks for bearing with me!

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What’s new with you? What’s on deck with your family this fall?

I’m Coming To Orange 2012!

If you aren’t aware of Orange, I invite you to check out this dynamic organization.

Along with curriculum, training, and resources for your church they organize events across the country to equip leaders impacting our next generation.

One such event is the annual Orange Conference here in Atlanta.

The Orange Conference is opportunity for all areas of ministry to get together to strategically align their vision, refocus their understanding, and redefine the way they ‘play the game’.

From the pastoral staff, to the children’s and student ministries, to the adult and women’s areas… the Orange strategy aims to synchronize all areas together to show the next generation that there is a God who unconditionally loves them.

Photo credit: Greg Gibb (Creative Commons)

The Orange Conference 2012 will be a gathering of leaders called to understand the changes influencing this new generation — our kids, our mentees, our students.

You’re probably saying to yourself: “Dustin, you aren’t in ministry, right?”

Right.

But… I have a family. I serve at church. I blog about faith and fatherhood.

All those things tie into the singular vision of wanting to align myself with the vision of those in my community.

With that being said, I’m excited to announce that I am going to blog for the Orange Conference in April. If you happen to be in the area, let me know!

As part of this opportunity, I’m excited to be able to give away one of two books: Think Orange (by Reggie Joiner) or Parenting Beyond Your Capacity (by Reggie Joiner & Carey Nieuwhof).

Now, the contest! Here’s how to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post with an answer to the question, “If you had to travel to a conference/festival this year, where would you go and why?”

2. Twitter a link to this post mentioning @dustinv, #thinkorange and this link: http://cl.ly/Dvvx. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook. You can write your own or use this example: “Win a book from @OrangeLeaders on @dustinv’s blog http://cl.ly/Dvvx! #thinkorange”

3. Bonus: every day you Tweet/Facebook that link, I’ll give you an extra entry!

4. On Friday, February, 10th  (2:00 PM EST) I’ll will pick the winners (via Random.org). I’ll announce them the on Friday and you can email your address if you’re one of the winners.

**Contest is over. Thank you! Congrats @LivingNGrace!

Please Forgive Me

Please forgive me…

I have been traveling with work a lot these last two weeks and have neglected the blog — I apologize.

Truth be told, I don’t have to travel that often so these back-to-back trips have gotten me a little off-track.

I plan on being back next week with a pretty cool announcement and news!

In the meantime, let me know what is going on with you. What’s the latest and greatest in your world?

My 2012 Digital Tool Kit

I wanted to share what I use everyday to manage Abraham Chronicles, my social media presence, and the daily what-nots of Dustin Valencia. I get giddy when I get to teach my wife a new trick for her iPhone. It’s who I am! So, without further adieu…

BIG GOODS

  • 15″ MacBook Pro – 2.53 Ghz Intel Core i5; 4 GB memory; 500 GB storage; Mac OS X Lion
  • iPhone 4S – 16 GB; iOS 5
  • iPad2 – 32 GB; iOS 5 – more of a work thing right now; favorite app right now = Noteshelf (Because of my Pogo Sketch Plus!)
  • Timbuk2 messenger bag – although I’m thinking of getting a backpack-styled bag. Any suggestions?
  • Moleskine – I’m not fully digital in this regard yet… but I use this to capture random thoughts.
Desktop.

MAC GOODS

  • Wunderlist – last year this became my task management app of choice. It syncs over the cloud to my iPhone/iPad. It has quietly nudged Things off the top spot these last six months.
  • Skype – on it all day long, mostly for work… but usually around 10AM each morning I get to Skype with my girls. Highlight!
  • Evernote – Live on it. Use it personally and professionally to store customer notes, blogpost drafts, pictures — you name it, it’s there.
  • Twitter for Mac – When on my Mac, this is my Twitter client of choice. Intuitive and simple.
  • Reeder – I know I’m missing out by not having it on my iPhone/iPad, but the Mac app was well worth the $10 I shelled out for it. Well, well, well worth it.
  • OmmWriter – If I need to block everything out for 20 minutes and write, this is what I use.
  • Chrome – Safari, bleh. Firefox, bleh. Chrome, yeah!
  • iTunes – I’ve tried Spotify, Rdio, Pandora… but I keep coming back to my trusty ol’ iTunes and my vast library of songs that include Hall & Oats, Foo Fighters, and Huey Lewis & the News. REPEAT!
  • Fantastical – iCal keeps me organized. Fantastical makes it easy to schedule events on my Mac using natural language. Brilliant!
  • Alfred – Shift+Command+Space = Find anything on my Mac. Uhh…. YES!

ONLINE GOODS

  • Pixlr – Don’t have Photoshop… like Snapheel (I think)… but if I need a quick edit this online editor is my choice!
  • Facebook – Don’t care for the iPhone app (even though I have to use it), so I’ll stick with this for now.
  • Compfight – The site that I use to find blog post images; it searches through photos that can be used legally through the Creative Commons license.
  • Yahoo! Fantasy Sports – I like to dominate Fantasy Football. Sue me!
iPhone screens.

MOBILE GOODS

  • Tweetbot for iPhone – Hands down the best iPhone Twitter app out there. Trust me on this one.
  • Instagram – It’s like a little community, syncs to Twitter, and makes my photos like somewhat decent. I like!
  • Dropbox – If my wife and I need to share documents (budgets, photos, etc.), this is it. Plus, it allows sharing folders with other folks!
  • Amazon – I’m an unashamed Prime-guy. There have been at least 2-3 times this past week where I’m like, “Oh I need to order that (batteries, baby formula, random stuff).” Pull up the Amazon app, get a good/fair price, order it, and voila! It arrives at my doorstep in two days.
  • ESV Bible – The YouVersion app is cool and all (especially for the reading plans), but I tend to do stick with this one — doesn’t require an Internet connection and it’s fast!
  • Flipboard – The best personalized magazine app out there. Prefer it over Zite.
  • Triptracker – Automagically imports/updates my flights, hotels, & car rentals into one simplified screen.
  • Pulse – As far as a personalized news source, I like it a lot.

Wow, took longer than I expected… but I hope that you’ve found something useful/you want to try out/etc. These are the programs, apps and websites that I frequent everyday. They make me more productive (I think) and help shape most of my day.

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Share you tools… how do you make happen what you do everyday? What am I missing?

Win a Watch from Hello Somebody!

Their website says it best, “Hello Somebody exists to feed and educate children in order to break the cycle of poverty and hunger within their generation.” Right now, they are partnering with an organization called Africa New Life — specifically sponsoring 100 Rwandan boys to go to school and receive 2 meals a day. Pretty cool, huh?

To help with this effort, they sell these sweet looking watches for $25 – a bunch of different colors and sizes. For 70 watches sold, one of their boys is sponsored for an entire year. That’s a difference-maker right there.

On top of that, on the Hello Somebody website you can read through bios and pictures of the 100 boys. Skim through their stories. Look at their pictures. Be moved and support their cause.

I read through their website a month ago and purchased my black Hello Somebody watch. Little did I know how much I would be talking about their organization simply by wearing a watch. Day 1, two coworkers asked about it. Day 2, a guy at the gas station. A few days later, my brother. After more coworkers and an little boy at Target later, I felt honored to share about how a simple watch was impacting children in Rwanda.

To help bring a little awareness to this program, Abraham Chronicles will purchase a watch on your behalf! That’s right, you get a cool watch (color of your choice!) — and H.S. is closer to sponsoring more boys! Win/Win!

Now, the giveaway! Here’s how to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post with an answer to the question, “What is your favorite Christmas tradition?”

2. Use Twitter to tweet a link to this post mentioning “@dustinv” and this link: http://cl.ly/CXlH. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook. You can write your own or use this example. “Win a @HelloSomebody watch on @dustinv’s blog! http://cl.ly/CXlH”.

3. Bonus: each day you tweet/Facebook that, I’ll give you an extra entry!

4. On Wednesday, December, 14th  (4:00 PM EST) I’ll will pick the winners (via Random.org). I’ll announce them the on late Wednesday afternoon and you can email your address if you’re the winner.

** Update: Congrats to Keri Welch @ Pop Parables on winning the watch!

When Bloggers Unite


On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to hang out with countless other bloggers at the annual, pre-Catalyst Bloggers Meetup.

Not only did we all get the chance to break out of our internet-only shells, but we also were given the opportunity to put faces with names, laugh it up with like-minded people, and take silly pictures like the one above.

Above is picture of myself, Ben, Sonny, and Moe. What Moe is doing, we may never know… (may be another story for another time).

One of the coolest things about blogging is just this: participating in a community that cultivates friendships. These dudes are solid dudes, and I’m grateful to have gotten to know them over the last nine months.

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Who would you love to meet “IRL”?
What on earth is Moe doing? 

 

Reflections After The Hike

For those of you who read my post a few weeks back, and who might follow on Twitter or FB, I went to Morocco to hike up the tallest mountain in North Africa. Admitedly, that is not something I would normally choose to do during my sparetime. Hello–I’m a nerd, not a mountaineer!

While the trip was a ‘work function’ (team building), I feel that I approached it with a set of different eyes than the rest of my team. As I mentioned before heading out, I wanted to experience God’s beauty in a part of the world that, chances are, I won’t get to see again.

I was able to spend time in the center of a big city (both Marrakech and Casablanca) along with the beauty of a tiny mountain town (Imlil). Both unique, both spectacular!

Mt. Toubkal was actually behind that mountain!

Looking back at my reflections before the hike, I wanted to circle back around and see if my experience met my expectations.

Take risks. Simply by participating on this trip, I was able to cross this point off. I can definitely mark this off as something out of the ordinary for me.

Real time community. While it wasn’t the norm, one night of the hike included all 21 of us sleeping in a single room like sardines. Who knew I would sleep next to our CEO and one of our VPs?

Endure. I’ve completed a marathon. I’ve had sleepless nights (hello fatherhood!). Both require unbelievable endurance, but trekking up a mountain was something on a whole different level. Maybe it was that I truly didn’t know what to expect? A few hours into the hike, lugging a heavy backpack, I soon realized ‘one foot in front of the other’ will be my mantra for the next couple days. Also, I figured going up would be the hardest part — but going down required so much more mental activity.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. The goal of the trip (building unity across a global organization) was a success. But on top of that, I was able to actively reflect on the beauty of God’s creation. At times I had to be intentional about stopping to look up, because going up (especially) I became so intent on pinpointing my steps. I didn’t want to be so focused on the activity that I failed to reflect on my surroundings.

Lastly, thanks for those fantastic guest bloggers to ‘holding down the fort’ in my absense. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to Justin, Tony, and Keri’s individual blogs. Also, in case you missed it, my wife graciously shared her amazing writing (“I Am From”) the week after I returned. Great stuff.

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Describe an experience in your life where you learned about ‘endurance’.

Stonecreek Church Hosts “An Evening with John Eldredge”

I’ve read a few John Eldredge books – Wild at Heart, Waking the Dead, and Love & War. To be quite honest, Love & War was one of the best books on marriage I’ve ever read. It was insightful, practical and full of questions that spark conversation. I’ve gone through it in a small group setting (highly recommend!) and also personally by reading the book. If you want a book that challenges you at a personal level while giving granular advice that is very basic (in a good way!), I can’t say enough good things about that book.

On another note, I’ve excited to announce the church I attend and serve at is hosting an evening with John Eldredge next month. I’m excited to learn more about his new book, Beautiful Outlaw! If you happen to be in the area, I hope to see you there! (Details below.)

Stonecreek Church will host Beautiful Outlaw: An Evening with John Eldredge, Tuesday, October 11, 7 p.m. in the main auditorium. The event is the first stop in Eldredge’s four-city tour to celebrate the release of his new book.

Eldredge shares, “Beautiful Outlaw is a book I’ve just written about the personality of Jesus–His playful, disruptive, scandalous, dangerous, beautiful personality. There is nothing more that matters than Jesus; to have His life, His joy, His friendship, His love. To know Him is to have the greatest treasure in all worlds.”

Seating is limited and this event will sell out quickly. Tickets are $5 each. There is no childcare for this event.

Tickets for Stonecreek Church leaders and attendees may be purchased, here.

Tickets for the General Public may be purchased, here.

For more on Beautiful Outlaw, visit Ransomed Heart’s Web site, here.

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Have you read an Eldredge book? If so, thoughts?

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