No Shave November 2011: Recap

So November has been over for a while now...I've been slack on blogging...sorry.  I've been so busy with lots of things, but my lovely wife hasn't let the world down with telling our news. :)

So here are a few pictures of my awesome beard in November.

 November 1

November 15

 November 30

 Side-view on November 30

Fun shots while I was shaving it off. :)

 Definitely my favorite

Collection of Fun Shirts

Just a little collection of fun shirts I like from  Which one do you like the most?

Disclaimer: Once you leave my site, I am not in control of what you see...aka - there are a few shirts that I do not approve of on their site.

Disclaimer: Once you leave my site, I am not in control of what you see...aka - there are a few shirts that I do not approve of on their site.

No Shave November 2011: It Begins

Today marks the beginning of No Shave November or "Noshember" as a few charities have dubbed it.  As you may remember, I participated last year with a solo no shave November.  This year, however, Merge is participating as a whole so we should have lots of laughs at the guys who can't grow a solid beard and gasps at the ones who turn into Grizzly Adams or the guy on a buffalo.  We are raising money and spreading the word about prostate cancer awareness and there will be voting through out the month to see who has the best beard.  I'll make sure you have a chance to vote.  :)

Day 1

I'll keep you posted with all the great jokes and the cash we raise through out the month.

My Poor, Poor Blog

So after many, many hosting issues and going back and forth on other various issues, I have moved back to Blogger.  There are many things I am upset about...mainly most (hopefully not all) my posts that I've posted since the move have been lost to my hosting company.  I'm tired of dealing with them and do not want to deal with any others.

This doesn't really bode well for me talking up how great Wordpress is, but this has nothing to do with Wordpress.  Just my hosting company.  I will probably have more posts on them once I work through a few more things with them.

Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know what's going on since the design of this blog is...well...bland and frankly that's the mood I'm in at the moment.  Technology has not been good to me this week.

My Favorite Bible Verses

I thought I would share a few of my favorite verses/passages from the Bible.  I love many more verses, but I keep these few verses pretty close to my heart.

Psalms 103: 11-12


For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

This passage reminds me that no matter what I do or don’t do, God still loves and will take my sins away as long as I submit to Him in fear and reverence.  This is my favorite of my favorites.

Genesis 25:21


Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.

You may or may not know that my wife and I are struggling with infertility.  I know a lot of people who battle with it too.  It is a tough road; a road I wish no one would need to travel down, but while I was traveling this road I found comfort in this Old Testament verse.  Isaac and Rebekah were struggling with infertility just as many people do today.  Issac knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would give him what he and Rebekah wanted.  All he had to do was ask.  This verse continually encourages me.  I pray just as Issac prayed, but I know that God will answer my prayer in His time, not mine.

Isaiah 40:31


but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

This verse truly embodies my feeling when I am out in the mission field.  Either in another country or right in my backyard.  I know that whoever believes in the LORD and puts their faith in his power, they will not grow weary; they will not be tired; they will have the strength of the LORD in them.

Matthew 22:37-39


Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love is a choice.  Jesus commands us to Love.  Love God.  Love people.  Simple, yet not.  This verse constantly challenges me to choose love over any other response.  I hope it challenges you and makes you think.

John 14:6


Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This is just a simple reminder that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.  A lot of people think there are other ways to get there, either through works or being a good person, but this verse explains everything in black and red.


1 Timothy 4:12


Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

I find this verse to have multiple meanings.  The first meaning is to not let older people look down on you or dismiss your opinions just because you are young in age, but the second meaning is a thinker.  I think it also means that Christians who are young in their faith should not let “mature” Christians dismiss them or look down upon them just because they aren’t as mature as them.  There is no true “mature” Christian.  Every Christian is being changed and refined to become more like Christ.  The only time we will truly be “mature” is when we are in Heaven worshiping the one true God.

Now you know some of my favorite verses and passages, but what are yours?  Let me know what your favorite is in the comments.

Musical Monday: Beautiful Things

My wife has already posted about Gungor so I may not be the first person to tell you about them, but I have to do my civic duty to let everyone know about this amazing band. Gungor, formally known as The Michael Gungor Band, is from Denver, CO and have released a few EPs under the new band name and one major album, Beautiful Things. I had never heard of Gungor until Heather and I were invited to a benefit concert by our close friends, Jordan and Amanda Green who was going to Kenya, Africa on a missions trip. The concert consisted on a few local bands from around the Laurens, SC area and the final act was one of the guys who was headed to Africa. He closed with an amazing song that we both thought was an original song, but later found out it wasn’t. We looked up the song and found a couple of versions, an acoustical version and the original album version.

I love the album version, but the acoustic version is so simple yet so inspiring. I have probably listened to this song and album 100 times since finding them. (Thank you Spotify!) Head over to New Release Tuesday for a little more story behind the song and Worship Together if you want to learn how to play it on guitar.

Sit back, relax and give this suburb worship song about God taking the tragedies in the world and turning them into beautiful things.

New Blog - Update Your Feeds

So I made the jump from Blogger to Wordpress.  You may not even have enough time to read all of this (because I've inserted a auto-redirect function to safely and easily forward people on to my new blog), but I needed to let you know that I've moved my blog from Blogger to Wordpress.  All my posts and comments have been moved over so I still have all my content.

The only thing that may mess you up is if you're following instead of  Make sure you update your blog reader or any other RSS reader to follow

Stay Tuned!

Work In Progress

Just to give you a little heads up...

There are some major changes in store for my blog.  Hopefully there won't be any interruption of your viewing pleasure, but just in case there is, don't fret.  Everything will be back shortly and better than ever.  

If you need a shoulder to cry on because you find this news terribly upsetting, please head on over to my wife's blog to keep up with us.

How-to Optimize Blogger Blog Title Tags

As many of you know I am a SEO (Search Engine Optimizer) at Merge in Greenville, SC.  I should have plenty of SEO on my blog, except that I have a Blogger blog... I know, I know... WordPress.  Anyway, since I don't want to recreate my blog right now and transfer everything over, I did a little research on how to optimize your title tags for your Blogger blog.

Optimize Your Title Tags
One of the most important things you can do is optimize your title tags.  A title tag is the title that is displayed in the top of your browser and it is also the main link title in search engine results pages.  Normally, all Blogger blog posts' title tags start with the blog name and then the post title.  Not bad, but definitely not the best.  The best is to have your post title first and then have your blog name last.  Google puts more weight on the keywords that are at the beginning of the title tag so obviously you want to have exactly what the post is about first instead of your blog's name first on every single page.

How to optimize Blogger title tags:
  1. Log in to Blogger and navigate to 'Design' > 'Edit Template'
  2. Search for: 
  3. Now replace that bit of code with this:
  4. Replace ***blog information*** with a short (and I mean short) sentence describing what you post about on your blog. Mine is 'SEO, Music, Life & Everything In Between'. Ideally you want your title tags to be 70 characters or less so type out your homepage title tag, which will consist of your blog name and whatever the short sentence will be, in Word and do a character count to see if it under 70 chars. If you choose to use the '&' like I have done, please, please, please replace it with &-a-m-p-; (remove the dashes). Otherwise it will break your blog.
  5. Now Preview and Save your template.


You now have properly optimized title tags. If you are worried about messing up your blog or have any questions please leave a comment or contact me and I will help you out.

My Standup Desk Experiment

So I've been standing up at work for about 6 or 7 weeks now and it's been awesome!  You're probably thinking, 'WHAT?!?!  WHY???'.  There many great benefits for standing up all day vs. sitting.  It's better for your back, helps burn calories, increases energy and many other amazing health benefits.  Here's a little taste of my day at Merge.

Standup Desk Experiment

Scripture - Psalms 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
-- Psalms 23:4


Just letting you know about my wife's latest post...

Ever Dreamed Of Hacking?

Have you always dreamed of programming your very own iPhone game?  Or...have you been dying to show off your crazy aw3som3 h@ck1ng sk1llz?!?!!11?

Well, wait no more....
Just click and type....type as fast or as slow as you want...your skillz are no match for the interwebs.  Or visit to see other hacking fun.

brought to you by

Musical Monday - 4/18/11

Whoa!?!?  It's been a while since our last musical monday, but it's here again.  I'm not going to make any promises on having a new musical monday for the next year or something else outlandish that I can't keep because that's just not cool of me to let you down.  So from now on, I'm just going to post a musical monday whenever I can.

Now on to the music.  I've posted this band before, but they just came out with a new album and it freakin' rocks!  Emery is one of my favorite bands and since they are from Rock Hill, SC it makes them even better because they are local.  As you may or may not know I love the last song of a band's album.  I really feel like that's where they can really express themselves as a band and not try to make the song a "radio hit".  Of course some last songs are just horrible, but most of the time it's a great song to jam to.  And Emery comes through with a great one on their latest effort, 'We Do What We Want'.  Emery is a post-hardcore, screamo (not crazy screamo), rock band and they can definitely rock the house but I love 'Fix Me'.  It's a low key acoustical song that speaks volumes.  Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

Emery - Fix Me

We Built a House

Here's a video of the men's trip to Costa Rica that I went on this past February.  I put this together for our church's 'missions night'.

Every time I travel to Costa Rica, I leave a piece of my heart there.  I leave it with the people that I meet and serve.  I truly believe that one day Heather and I will live in Central America.

SEO Webinar: Recent Changes in Google

So I conducted my first ever webinar last week on the recent changes that Google has been making to their search results and algorithm.  I've attended many webinars in the past, but never actually had to present one.  It was a little unnerving at first, but I made it through it...slightly unscathed. :)  Check it out, if you have about 50 minutes..I know that's a crazy long time to listen to me talk about SEO, but it's great content and semi-high level so even if you don't know a whole lot about SEO, other than how to spell it, you should find it interesting.


5 Basic SEO Principles For Everyone

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving the visibility of your website in the organic search results of search engines like Google and Bing. Optimizing your website for search engines isn’t a formula. It’s a constantly changing and evolving process that needs to be evaluated on a periodic basis. You may be thinking, “Why do I need to be worried about SEO?” Below is an example that we are going to use to address your question.

Let’s imagine Joe is the owner of an exotic pet shop located in Somewhereville, USA. Joe carries a rare and highly desired type of toucan that very few shops have. A potential customer may want to purchase this exact bird, but none of the local pet shops they’ve visited sells one or can find one to resell. At some point in the process, someone will decide to “Google” for exotic toucans or pet shops to look for the bird. If Joe doesn’t have a SEO strategy or implemented basic SEO on his website, then he will not be identified as a potential match for this customer.

Losing a sale because a customer can’t find your site is just like having a customer walk right into your store while you dive behind the counter so they can’t see you. Well, maybe not exactly, but you get the picture. So in an effort to jump start your interest and point you in the right direction here are five basic SEO principles that everyone can apply to their site.

1. Tracking Your Success

The first basic principle isn’t just for SEO; it’s for your entire online digital strategy. Track, track, track…and did we mention track? If you don’t track and analyze your marketing efforts, how can you know if you’re converting users (or leads) into customers? Using our example of Joe’s Exotic Pet Shop, if he were using an analytics tracking program he would be able to see who is coming to his site and how they are getting there. With this information he would be able to make informed decisions about how users are navigating his site and what changes could be made to improve their interface with it. One of the best analytics programs we’ve used is Google Analytics. After using many different analytics programs, both paid and free, Google Analytics is as good as any of them. Remember, the key to any analytics program you choose is to properly set up goals and conversion tracking with measurable and attainable objectives.

2. Keyword Research

A Well Optimized PageWhat keywords should you choose to target? How do you optimize your website for those keywords? Both of these questions are great starting places for keyword research. They may seem simplistic, but these answers will be the foundation for your future SEO efforts. Your first step is to select keywords that fit with your business strategy and align with your company’s services. Let’s revisit Joe’s Exotic Pet Shop. His basic keyword list might include: exotic pet shop, unique pets, pet shops in Somewhereville, exotic pets, exotic toucans, rare toucan bird, etc.

Now you have your keyword list and you want to optimize your site for those keywords, but how? Well, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here is a graphic that is modeled after something that Rand Fishkin created at SEOMoz.

Remember that every SEO strategy should include a healthy amount of testing and refining. It’s critical to find the best combination of keywords for each webpage and your entire website.

3. Content is King

Expert content is king. Having relevant, targeted content will help search engines define what each of your pages is about. Whatever you write about, it should contain your targeted keywords and should be informative and entertaining. Being the authority of your industry is one of the best ways to be both informative and entertaining. The more informative and interesting your content, the more likely your users will link to your site and spread your message for you. In our example, how can Joe make his pet shop site entertaining? Simple, since he’s an expert on exotic pets, he might have page after page of interesting facts and articles about the pets he carries. These pages could contain the types of creative facts that only an expert would know and that is a recipe for great, unique content.

4. Site Popularity and Links

As it relates to SEO, your website is engaged in a 24/7 popularity contest. The same “cool factors” that you remember from your high school days hold steady in the online world. In the most simplistic sense, you need to drive your advocates, fans and customers to visit your website, spend time on it and talk about it in order to improve your SEO. Let’s revisit Joe. He’s one of the only exotic pet shops in his area and has lots of people recommending his shop to their friends. However, his web analytics reveal that his site traffic is poor. One tactic he might try is handing out something to every customer to tell them about all the information they can get on his site. If he’s used the other principles we’ve discussed, their visit should result in organic linking of blogs, Facebook, or their own business to his. So, what’s the secret to cool? Having great content that people want to link to and share is one of the primary factors. This is called backlinking and it is the key to increasing your site popularity. Other sites linking back to your site is basically a measure of how many advocates you have that speak to your expertise. Google knows how many sites are linking to you and who those sites are. Joining industry specific associations and organizations that have a link to your site is also great for increasing your authority in your industry. The more the merrier is a great way to describe backlinks, but don’t get caught up in link farms or submitting to thousands of directories. Those can and will end up hurting your site more than they will help.

5. Social Media

One thing that we’ve learned about social media in the last few years is that ignoring it won’t make it go away. Social media can be a very powerful marketing tool if you target your audience correctly and contribute relevant messages and content. Having a Facebook page or a Twitter account doesn’t mean you have SEO gold sitting in your lap. You need to utilize those channels effectively by providing an informative voice into your participating community. For example, say Joe created a Facebook page for his business and requested all of his friends become fans. His business page might have hundreds of fans, but perhaps none of them are making any comments or posting pictures of their pets. Joe’s strategy might be to create a contest for a Pet of the Month and have fans upload pictures to enter. Then, he may ask his Facebook community to judge the entries. Don’t just sit back and wait for your fans to start the conversation. Jump in and engage your community. The larger question for us is, can social media marketing help your website’s SEO? Let’s refer back to Principle #4…popularity. Both Google and Bing take social media into consideration when they rank your site, so don’t get left on the sidelines thinking this fad will pass.

Bottom Line: Don’t be like Joe’s Exotic Pets and skip out on SEO because it takes too long or doesn’t produce results quickly. The long term gain from putting plenty of time and effort into your SEO greatly outweighs choosing to ignore it. Consider these five basic SEO principles, fit them into your business and web strategy and then execute.

Note: This was originally posted by me on Merge's blog.

Happy Pi Day!

Get it?  Pi Day?


Please enjoy this lovely tune set to Pi.

For The 80s Kid Inside You

I know one person who will see these trailers and immediately face palm.  7-1-11 can't come fast enough for this movie! Please enjoy.

Super Bowl 30 Second Spot

Longer 2:00 Trailer

Amazing Showmanship

No-Shave November Slideshow

So it's been a few months since November and I'm just now getting around to putting together a little slideshow of all the pictures I took.  I wanted to have 1:1 with days and pictures, but I'm human and forgot to take a few days worth.  Anyway, check it out below.  Enjoy the awesomeness of the 30 day beard!

Renewed Interest

Now that I have a new job in Greenville, I have a solid hour drive to and from work.  Some people groan when I tell them that, but I definitely think it is a good thing for me.  It's time in the morning to prepare for my day.  I pray on my way there.  I listen to the radio and hear some news.  I have time to make a mental to-do list for that day.  I get to have a giant cup of coffee that really gets my day started off right.  It's quite refreshing actually.

On the drive home I have time to jam to some tunes, listen to an audiobook, or just chill and wind down from a hard days work.  Lately though, I have found a renewed interest.  I have a copy of the Bible on my iPhone.  It's the NIV Dramatized Audio Bible and it's actually really interesting to listen to.  I know some people think "you can't learn from the Bible just by listening to it, you have to read it and study it".  I find this to be only partially true for myself.  I feel like I am partly an auditory learner.  Listening helps me focus on what is being said and I can focus on the context instead of having to focus my mind on actually reading the words.  I've amazed myself in the past couple of weeks.  I decided to start listening to the Bible where it was most the beginning...Genesis.  I've been listening everyday on my drive home and (at the time of writing this) I am almost through Leviticus.  What?!?!  Technically I've listened to 7 hours of the Bible and I've almost blown through the first three chapters.  By "blown through" I don't mean I've just let it play and not paid attention.  I've listened to every word and it's definitely sparked a few things in my mind.

I'm enthralled with the history and genealogy of the Bible right now.  Not the actually reading of "so and so beget so and so", but bigger questions old is the Earth?  what does the biblical "family tree" look like?  how many people were there when the flood came?  what did the ark really look like?  why did God seemingly repeat himself over and over in Exodus and Leviticus?  if there were 600,000 men when Moses lead them out of Egypt, how many people were really there?  how in the world did Moses tell 600,000 men what God told him?

My mind is full of questions that makes me want to study the Bible more.  Now if that's not what reading the Bible is supposed to do, then I don't know what it's supposed to do.  I'll make sure to post about some of the more interesting questions that come up.

I hope this little blurt inspires you to dig deeper into the Bible and maybe you can help me out with some of my questions.  Let me know in the comments!

Scripture To Live By

 But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,
   what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
   be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously—
   take God seriously.

- Micah 6:8 (The Message)


The LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. 

- PSALM 11:4

Musical Monday - 1/10/11

So it's been pretty long since I've posted any 'musical monday's' and to tell you the truth, I've missed it.  I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'll never miss any monday's in 2011 (especially since I've already missed one), but I do want to tell you that I will never stop doing musical monday's.  They have been my little retreat from the normal music world and I want you to take the trip with me whenever you want.

Anyway, on to the music...

Today's selection comes from a band that I've heard a lot from, but never really knew they were the band that I had been listening to.  I've been listening a whole lot to the Deas Vail channel on Pandora and this band has been popping up on that channel constantly.  They are Abandon and they sound very similar to the secular band 'The Killers', who I love to jam to often, but now that I've realized there is a "Christian" alternative to 'The Killers' I will be adding them into my usual mix of tunes. By the way...there's nothing wrong with listening to secular music as long as you don't let it be your only source of music.  I believe there is much to learn from Christian and non-Christian bands, just filter what you hear very carefully.

This song is definitely not the typical Abandon tune.  Like I said they sound very much like The Killers and when you listen to this doesn't sound anything like The Killers.  There's a reason for that...I love listening to an entire album.  Especially the last song on the cd.  I find that the last song on a cd is where a band really expresses themselves as a group.  They aren't trying to make it a "radio-friendly" song that everyone will love.  They are just writing it for themselves.  And that's what 'Hero' is for Abandon.  The last song on their cd.  And I can't get enough of it.  So simple yet it has such a powerful message behind it.

Enjoy!  And pay close attention to the lyrics of the chorus (they are so powerful):

There He goes - a hero. A savior to the world.
Here He stands with scars in His hands.
With love He gave His life so we could be free.
The Savior of the world.

I'm Famous!

Not really...but I was on the home page of with a press release about me joining Merge.  Oh yeah, if you didn't know already, I got a new job!  I'll tell you more about it in another post.  Go check out the press release and Merge's site.

Really Mags?


Heather said that Maggie laid there forever and was sweating she was so hot.  Awesome