I believe. Help thou my unbelief. Mark 9:24 KJV

September 24, 2010 2 comments

I am starting a journey through Romans.  I have often thought about doing this and just keep coming up with other subjects.  My devotional life hasn’t been what it should be lately so I’m studying Romans and recording what I think about.  I am no authority on Holy Scripture.  This is just my impressions.  As I go through, I’ll write about what strikes me as appropriate.  What’s funny is that after reading Romans I have 2 topics already and will probably add another 1 or 2 depending on the direction I want to go.  Or the direction I’m led.  We’ll see.

So what does it mean to believe?  Many people express a belief in God.  Many people express a belief that Jesus is His Son and that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin.  They believe that he rose on the third day and ascended into Heaven.  Many believe but what does that get them? Read more…

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On action and adventure movies and also being a dad

September 16, 2010 1 comment

My family and I went to see Ramona and Beezus over the Labor Day weekend.  Let me just say I loved this movie.

When we were considering what movie to see we considered seeing Sorcerer’s Apprentice but my wife and girls really had no desire to see it, even though my son and I kinda did.  Yes, we were going to the cheap movies.  I can’t afford to see new release movies anymore, but that’s another story.  My wife said my son and I could go see Sorcerer’s Apprentice while she and the girls went to see Ramona and Beezus.  We had approached the whole idea of going out as a family date, so I took a big breath and said, “No.  Let’s be together.  I want to see Beezus and Ramona, too.”  Yes, I even talk in italics.

So we got to the theater and watched a terrific movie about a little girl and her struggles with her sister and her rivals and her father losing his job and her mom going back to work and on and on and on.  I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.  My adrenaline pumped just like in an action movie.

I remember liking these books when I was in grade school.  I knew Beezus, Ramona, Henry and several others I have since forgotten.  The story is not at all what I remember, but it caught the spirit of the books beautifully, if I recall correctly.

I was sitting there thinking about this movie and thought, action and adventure movies have nothing on being a dad.  And to me, that’s what the movie was about.  It was on being a dad from a little girl’s perspective.  As I said before, I teared up at several points in the film.  The world’s longest picture was one of those places.  Dad sat down in the floor with this little girl (sometimes a holy terror, but not on purpose) and drew a picture with her help.  It had all of her classmates in it.  It had the cat.  It showed the school.  I think the purpose of the picture was to show dad’s talent as an artist, but to me it showed a loving father taking an interest in his daughter.

That is something I have to work hard on.  I am soooooo tired from working all the time.  I sometimes just want them to leave me alone a few minutes when I’m at home.  But the need me soooooooo badly.  A little girl (or boy) needs her father’s love.  A touch, be it sitting on his lap and cuddling in the recliner, or a hug, or a pat on the head, is absolutely vital to the proper development, both emotional and spiritual, of a child.  Sure.  I’d sometimes rather be reading a good book.  But there will come a day when they would rather be reading a good book than hang out with Dad.  It will be those times when I can look back on what I did or didn’t do when they were little and see whether my contact with them and my life before them made the impact I hope it did.

My youngest daughter talks so much I sometimes think my ears will bleed.  I am guilty of not really listening to a lot of what she says.  I have two other kids who still like to talk to me, too.  I hope they don’t lose that desire to just sit and talk with me.  Moreover I hope I don’t pull that desire out of them.

Being a dad is not some boring chick-flick.  It is more exciting than all action-adventure movies put together.  It is more moving than anything ever nominated for best picture.  It is funnier than Abbott and Costello (or Jim Carey, take your pick) ever thought about being.

Kids, I love you more than words can ever express.  I hope over the course of my life to be able to not just tell you that but to show you that…and listen you that…and hug you that.

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On no new posts

September 10, 2010 1 comment

I hate when I can’t post for a while.  I know.  My 1 or 2 normal readers can cope without it.  I mean I think they both have my phone number.  But again, this page isn’t really to earn an audience, though, hey, I won’t argue if several thousand people suddenly found what I had to say interesting.  I mean, I like it well enough to say it. 

But I digress.  I generally use this as a dumping ground for my brain.  Today I had two ideas I thought were brilliant.  I shared one with my wife and started writing on the other one.  I may eventually post a teaser here.  We’ll see what develops.  The first one wasn’t about writing and I may never share it.  Again, we’ll see.

Regardless, I’ve had many thoughts about things I’d like to put here and just never took the time.  For instance, I went with my family to see Ramona and Beezus.  Man, I am such a sap!  I teared up two or three times in that movie.  It inspired me to think about action and adventure in a different light.  I plan on making that my next blog entry.

Anyway, until I make time to come write in this space again, (perhaps Monday or Tuesday) I bid you adieu (or however you spell it.  I’m not French.).

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Budget is NOT a four letter word

My wife and I are in a mountain of debt.  Earlier this year we started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  We have been successful in paying off our smaller bills and as we get into the larger ones, they are coming down pretty quickly.  This is largely due to our budget.

I have never really operated off of a written budget.  I always just looked at our bank account online and figured out whether we had enough money to pay for something. (Note this was AFTER using credit cards for years and running up the aforementioned mountain.)  Thus we ate out often, we paid most of our bills mostly on time, we never had money in the bank, and I was always worried about it.  I didn’t talk to my wife about it because I didn’t want to worry her.  She asked if we had money to do something and I said yes whenever I could.

See, I did not tell my money where to go.  I wondered where it went.

Enter Dave’s FPU.  An early lesson in FPU is about budgeting.  Yes, I said the b-word.  My wife and I were determined to do FPU correctly and do what we were supposed to.  We sat down at the kitchen table with a budget worksheet from FPU and our cashflow worksheet and a calculator.  We went through and named every dollar that was coming in.  It wasn’t easy the first time.  It wasn’t perfect the first time.  In fact it still isn’t perfect, but it is easier.

Last month, I looked at my bank account (for the first time in two weeks) and there was $27 in the account.  I didn’t get worried or upset.  I knew that our money was where it was supposed to be.  It was two days before I got paid.  I used to stress if the account went below $200 because I didn’t know what we still had outstanding.  That evening I mentioned it to my wife and she said, “That’s about what I expected.” Again, no stress.

That Sunday we sat on our bed to have our budget meeting.  We talked about what we had coming in.  We talked about the debts we still had to pay and how long till they were gone.  We named every dollar we had coming in.  While I was sitting there I had an epiphany.

My stress over the money was gone.  We still have to stretch some.  We still have struggles.  But now we talk about it.  We plan it together.  We are together on this trip to being debt free.  It occurred to me that a budget is like the lines on a two-lane highway.  The lines allow two fast-moving cars to pass inches from each other with confidence.  The budget allows my account to go to $27 at the end of the pay period and I have confidence it won’t be overdrawn.  It allows me to push the edges in order to make larger debt snowball (look it up on Dave Ramsey’s site) payments.

Thanks for helping us paint our yellow lines, Dave.

Peaks and Valleys

A message sent out from our church was talking about being on the mountain tops with God and how wonderful the feeling is.  The air is crisp and clean, you can see for miles, the sun is bright, etc.  The valleys you have to go through between the mountain tops are going to come.  The mountain tops are there to give us a goal or a memory.  A high point, if you will.

It occurred to me while reading this that mountain tops are incredible blessings from God.  It is while we are there that we are feeling close to God and the answers to our prayers seem nearly instantaneous.  God blesses us and blesses us.  The valleys, however, are not usually great times.

These valleys are long, dark places where the distance between God and us is very clear.  Though God is always right there beside us, it seems the distance is between our righteousness and his.  Prayers seem to be traveling at the speed of molasses in winter.  The rains come and we get soaked in problems.

Have you ever noticed that nothing grows on mountain tops?

The higher the mountain the less grows on top of it.  They are desolate areas with a great view.

The valley is where growth takes place.  My boss asked me yesterday if I wondered why we went through these times.  I said it was to make us stronger, to prepare us for something better later, or to make us better able to help someone else going through the same thing.  Valleys get the rain and clouds and the bad times of our lives.

Wonder what a valley looks like that doesn’t have these times of problems and stays sunny all the time?

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The Paralytic Converter

So here I sit.  I am surrounded by data.  Some of it raw data.  Some of it processed and redistributed to make sense.  Often times I sit here thinking about what to do next or what I want to do until it is too late to do anything at all.  That’s kind of what happened to some of my recent blog posts.

I want to put something out that people will enjoy reading.  I am torn though, between writing more in my book, writing something here, or critiquing someone else’s story or chapter for Critters.  And if I am going to write in my blog what do I want to write about?  Read more…

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Stephanie Plum

August 17, 2010 1 comment

I am writing more on books here than I ever thought I’d write.  I just almost finished reading Janet Evanovich’s Finger Lickin’ Fifteen. I hate to say this but I’m rather disappointed.

What was once a great mix of humor, danger, and sexiness has become just another formulaic silly novel with no further character development, no depth of plot.  The bad guys are, as usual, incompetent and dumb.  The protagonist, Stephanie is, as usual, torn between Morelli and Ranger.  The humor is becoming more crass and, I believe, toxic to the whole Plum franchise. Read more…