Category Archives: Barred Owl Web

Posts that talk about, or have to do with, my business, CENTS (Computing, Equipping, Networking, Training & Supporting), formerly named Smooth Stone Services.

Filled With Awesome Wonder (And Excitement)

It’s 3am on January 1st, 2013. I just spent over 1 & 1/2 hours writing this blog post. I was planning on spending part of the night (after New Year’s celebrations) working on configuring a new a new server (yes, I’m a geek 24/7). I won’t go into all the details, but if you’re also a geek and curious, then here’s the summary: I’m building a new Postfix + Dovecot server. Postfix is done and working, but I’m still working out a few bugs with Dovecot. I’ll get around to (finishing) the configuration of this Dovecot server, but this blog post isn’t supposed to be geek-related at all.

This will be more personal. This post originally started out as a short Facebook status, and then it turned into a Facebook note. But now as I’ve continued to write, it has turned into this blog post of over 1,000 words!

I was listening to some worship music (specifically the CD Songs 4 Worship Ultimate) and thinking about all of the different interests and passions that seem to pull me in (what I feel are) completely different directions and feeling a bit confused, as I’ve felt for a while, in a number of areas.

As the CD was playing on my iPhone, I pulled out the devotional “Daily Light” and the first verse for January 1 is  also one of my longtime favorite verses, and was exactly what I needed to read tonight (morning now): Philippines 3:13-14, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Each time a new song came on this CD, I’ve been renewed this evening (morning, now) a little bit more. I’ve also been closely following the Tweets that people are tweeting from the triennial Urbana (Student Missions) conference for the last few days, and as it has wrapped up tonight in St. Louis. (Urbana is an international missions conference, made up primarily of students, that meets every 3 years the week between Christmas and New Year’s, in St. Louis, MO. I’ve never been to the conference, but heard about it from a good friend of mine when she and I worked together in Boston in 2009-2010).

Sometimes, I feel that I have two incompatible interests (technology and community development). On the one hand, I’m a geek, I know server administration,  I know Linux, and I find myself in front of a computer more often than not. On the other hand, I love to travel, I love different cultures (and the study of different cultures and cross-cultural communication). I strongly desire to build long-term relationships with residents AND those who “doing” development and missions in developing countries.

As many of my readers know, I am working very, very hard to launch my own business. Barred Owl Web will very soon be launched into a full time venture.  2013 is going to be a very interesting and exciting year. As some of my close friends know, I will be shortly leaving my current full-time employment to attempt this launch into a full time venture. Barred Owl Web exists to provide affordable technology consulting services to nonprofit organizations transforming underdeveloped communities worldwide, and to provide technology education and jobs to members of communities in which these NGOs work. The mission and vision of Barred Owl Web meshes with the interests I have, which I outlined earlier.

However, sometimes I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. One of my biggest fears in launching Barred Owl Web has been that I would “get stuck” behind a computer 8 hours a day. While computers and technology are a big passion of mine, they are not my deepest passion, nor can they fulfill me. My deepest desire is to help people all over the world, both in developing countries and in developed countries, in two areas:

  1. The first desire I have is to help people meet the same Lord & Savior that I have been given the grace to know. I believe in the God described in the Bible. I believe that he is a loving and everlasting God. I believe that I – and everyone else in this world – are messed up (“sinners”). I believe that one day, by God’s grace, through faith and not through any other works of my own, I will spend eternity with my Creator. And I firmly believe that anyone’s decision to make that faith their own is the most important decision that person can ever make. The alternative is not pleasant. However, while I believe God is sovereign over all, I also believe that God has given us free will and will not force this decision on anyone.
  2. The second desire I have is to help people become empowered so that they can support themselves. I firmly believe that there are ways we can help people (the materially poor), but I also firmly believe that there are ways that Outsiders try to help “Insiders” (the “poor”) that actually do more harm than good. I believe that anyone who seek to do “missions” or “community development” work have a responsibility not to do more harm than good. (I studied “Community Development” for my B.A. in college at Covenant College. Two of my professors, who also work for the Chalmers Center have written a book called When Helping Hurts. If what I’m writing resonates with you, and you haven’t read this book, then go read it).

But I know that it is not true I will sit behind a computer 100% of my time, and become a recluse. I have a vision to partner with Community Development and Missions organizations worldwide, and build lasting relationships. I have a vision to work with people. I firmly believe that technology is a means to an end, and not an end in and of itself.

I firmly believe that Barred Owl Web can and will help nonprofits worldwide. I am very, very excited to see that happen, and to see my desires and passions flow through the business model. The road may be hard and possibly lonely at times.

But for now, my Lord is saying to me “This is the way: Walk in it.”

With excitement, I start 2013, and I greatly look forward to seeing the ways in which my passion for missions, community development, and technology will mesh.

Happy New Years!


We Are Made of Love: Getting Back to the Simple Things

After giving it some thought I have decided to begin steering my blog back to my personal life – and not just blog about technology stuff. I honestly haven’t come up with a great solution for blogging about my personal life, my thoughts, and generally what I’m doing and thinking about doing in the technology industry (like the post I wrote back in March on Technology Solutions for Nonprofit Organizations) versus raw technical topics that 3/4 of my friends & family would have no interest in (and hardly any understanding about).

So if you are one of those 3/4, I apologize.

As I am continuously working on ideas and plans for launching Develop CENTS into a full-time venture that will provide web hosting and technical support to nonprofit organizations around the world, I do plan on blogging about pure, raw technical topics. But those will be on Barred Owl Web’ (edit: was Smooth Stone Services) website from now on (that website has recently been redesigned and upgraded with more features including an interactive forum & wiki as well as a blog for site administrators – like me).

I’ve had an interesting past few days, as well as an interesting few months. As many of my friends know, I am now officially in my last week of work at TechMission, the nonprofit organization I worked with as an AmeriCorps intern, for the past year. Next Wednesday, June 2nd, will be my last day. On Monday, June 14, I will begin a new internship with a freaking-awesome company called Acquia that provides Drupal services. I’m pumped.

In addition to my time at TechMission, I have worked hard on my own business plan and in building a stronger foundation for Barred Owl Web to eventually turn into my full time business / ministry. All of this time working has kept me busy to the point of not doing much else. Building your own business on top of working a full time job is hard! But this is what I plan on doing for at least the next year or two – and maybe longer.

But right now, I feel like I’m on a bunch of different rabbit trails. Here’s the main point of my blog tonight: I’m getting really excited for my future (whatever that is), but also have a lot of things on my mind. Just a few minutes ago, I set the following to be my Facebook status message:

I forgot how much of what encourages me: a) talking to old college friends on the phone; b) listening to Sleeping at Last (and other music – I don’t turn my stereo on much); c) Taking an evening to “chill” – do a bit of yard work, eat a good dinner, don’t have anywhere to go; or d) All of the Above. If you answered “D” then you win… well nothing. But it’s been a good night.

I have a friend getting married in under two weeks. For the first time in a long time, I cleaned my room yesterday. After being literally sick for about a month, I think I’m finally starting to feel better. And tonight – I took time to chill. Life is good.

Listening to Sleeping at Last a few minutes ago, their song Needle & Thread came on. I’ve never been one to pay attention to lyrics much, but a certain part of the song always sticks out to me whenever I listen to it: We are made of love.

I looked up the lyrics tonight, and they are beautiful. Here’s an excerpt:

That we are made of love,
And all the beauty stemming from it.
We are made of love,
And every fracture caused by the lack of it.

“You were a million years of work,”
Said God and His angels, with needle and thread.
They kissed your head and said,
“You’re a good kid and you make us proud.
So just give your best and the rest will come,
And we’ll see you soon.”

As I move on from TechMission to my next adventure at Acquia, I want to give my best in all I do. But more than that, I want to give my best in everything I do – building my own business, eventually doing “community development”, and even simply living life.

It’s the simple things in life – taking time to relax, read the Bible, do something physical, listen to good music, talk to old college roommates on the phone – that I don’t do nearly as often as I think I should. But, as Sleeping at Last mentions in another one of their songs, “You are meant for amazing things.”

Life is Short. Why waste it by staying too busy all the time?

This was edited on Monday, Dec 17, 2012 to change the business name from Smooth Stone Services (old) to Barred Owl Web (new).