Top 5 Ways to NOT Sell a House

5.     Saute liver and onions instead of baking bread or cookies.

4.     Set up the inside like a haunted house before your Realtor hosts an open house.

3.     Leave all the windows and screens open to welcome the neighborhood’s wildlife, because they deserve a showing too.

2.     Set up a tent in the front yard and sleep there, so you can properly greet each prospective buyer.

1.     Don’t list it for sale.



Sharing Our Values Not Our Vices

As our girls are getting older I’m noticing how much they are starting to emulate my wife and me. Whether it be our mannerisms or words they remind me more and more each day that they are ours.

At times I think to myself that they are so cute and it’s so awesome that they act like us. But at other times I grow weary of what that could lead to. I know my faults, my vices, my sins; and I don’t want to pass those on with the cuteness that I see now.

I want to leave my kids a legacy and I don’t mean that I want to leave them a ton of money I mean that I want them to have something to look forward to as they get older. I want them to look at me and look at my wife and see that we are good people and hard-working people. I want them to see the values that we have, and want them to have those same values for themselves. I definitely don’t want them to be clones of us, but I want them to see that good options are in front of them.  Then, hopefully they will choose those options or even find better ones.

Did She Just Say … ?

Every once in a while my oldest, Mikaela, will repeat something that she heard either from one of us or others around us that makes us cringe.  We’ll usually say something along the lines of “well I’m glad it was just around us” or “thank goodness she didn’t say that at church.” But then I have to wonder what she is saying when we aren’t around. I honestly don’t care much if someone talks poorly about me, but I don’t want to find out that my daughters are viewed negatively because of my influence.

Setting the Train on the Right Tracks

With all of this in mind I decided to set aside some time this week to breakdown what it is I want my kids to learn, what values I see as most important to pass on, and then figure out how I can best instill all this into my girls.  The steps I took seemed to be effective so far:

1. Partner up – None of us should have to face any parenting challenge alone.  Even if you are a single parent there needs to be someone you can turn to (a fellow single parent, a friend, a parent, etc.).  Get with your partner and discuss what values are most important to you.

2. Plan – Now that you know what matters most to you it’s time to figure out how you can pass those values onto your children.  There may be simple steps to model the behavior, and it may mean a complete change in your own behavior.  Put together a solid plan and start enacting it right away.

3. Evaluate past – Think back on your own actions, feelings, and words.  What areas would you change if you could time travel?  Figure out what you’ve done that you don’t want your kids to do.

4. Change the future – You control your future, so make it the way you want it to be.  Take steps to put the changes in place that you want to see.  Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t get discouraged if your changes aren’t happening as fast as you would like.

5. Be present in the present – The most important way to change how your child acts is to be with them and show them how you want them to act.  And when you are with them, be with them.  Don’t just be in the room with them, but interact with them and give them one-on-one time whenever you get the chance.

This week my wife and I had time to get through steps one and two together and then we each spent some time thinking through step three.  We are really looking forward to sharing more of our values with our girls and seeing them grow up—but we’re in no rush for that part.  Now it’s time to change the future, so that our girls can change the world.  Bring it on!

Devotional: Week of July 7, 2014

Psalm 90:12 – “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” (NLT)

I feel like there are two key points in this verse, but for much of my Christian life I have only focused on one of them.  The first half of this verse has been reworded and repurposed throughout time within various stories.

There are plenty of sayings like: we should enjoy each day like it’s our last and we should enjoy every moment because we never know when they will stop.  These have the same general idea as the beginning of this verse, but Moses reminds us that we don’t always have another day to go into.  We need to be reminded that God has given us a set number of days, and we need to determine how to best use our days—especially the day we have now.

I know there were many days in my past that weren’t used to the best of my abilities.  So I can only hope that as I move forward I, more often than not, use the days in a way that will best serve God and the people around me.

I’ve often overlooked or even ignored the second portion of this verse.  As I look at it now I wonder how I could do that, because I love the ideas of developing and gaining wisdom.  This portion reminds us that beyond living each day like it matters we also need to learn and seek out knowledge each day.  Every day that we have has been gifted to us, therefore each day that we have is a day we can use to gain wisdom about ourselves, those around us, the world we live in, and, most importantly, about God.

So each day we need to set aside time to look at the world around us, be part of the world around us; and we need to set aside time to be one-on-one with our creator, with the one has given us a purpose, to seek out what Moses sought as he wrote this psalm.  We need to seek out the wisdom that comes as we give value to each of our days.

PRAYER:  Lord, please remind me each morning that the day I have before me is a gift.  Help me to see how I can add value to today and give me the strength and motivation to act accordingly.

Top 5 Ways to Spend the 4th

5.     Go to work, because you still have a job to do.

4.     Wake up with “ooh” and “aah” on your tongue, but try not to use them all up before nightfall.

3.     Hide under your bed and randomly bark. (It works for many dogs…)

2.     Set up a lawn chair on the side of a busy street and wave and cheer to the cars that drive by. (Pick a street that isn’t having a parade)

1.     Light a fire, cook some meat, and relax.


Enjoy the day, and definitely the night!

One Project, Five Years: Then and Now

Five years ago my wife and I took on a major project – we partnered with her parents to invest in a rental property.  Bettina and I decided that we could handle the renovation job pretty much on our own, so we chose to handle the majority of the work and only bring in hired help when necessary.

The renovation included a new kitchen, new bathroom, landscaping, cleaning, some flooring, painting, and many other odds and ends.  The house was on the market as a foreclosure that hadn’t seen any updates since it was built in the 1940’s, so we definitely had our work cut out for us.

We’ve now had the house for five years and we’ve decided it’s time to sell.  So guess what we get to do?  We get to do it all again.  Luckily the kitchen and bathroom don’t need to be remodeled this time, but there is still a great deal of work that needs to be completed.

Time Keeps on Slippin’…

It’s amazing what a difference five years can make.  When we took on the project the first time we were married and “busy”, but this time we also have two toddlers to throw into the mix.  Five years ago we started the project at a time when I was laid off for the season and Bettina had set hours that she worked.  We were involved in other activities, but it was nothing we couldn’t step away from for a brief time.  So we were able to give as much time as we wanted to this project.  We were able to set goals that seemed unrealistic, but we were still able to meet them.

Overall we wanted the project done in two months, and that’s what we did.  This time we have four days between the time our previous renter left and the time the house will be listed for sale.  We agonized to come up with a plan to actually complete everything in that time since we both have work and kids that are taking our time.  The project isn’t horribly difficult, but with our change in situation we are finding it harder to get things done well and quickly.

Where are We Now?

We have completed day 2 of 4 and we’ve made solid progress, but we still don’t know how we will get done by the deadline.  We know that we will, but we just aren’t sure how it’s going to happen.  It seems that each time we start to make progress we have to take a break to get the kids home or to get ourselves to work.  This makes it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel without fearing it’s a freight train at full steam.

The Difference, The Experience, The Blessing

This time around the project is different in so many ways.  There is a ton of uncertainty and even some fear.  We are creating and sharing new memories with our little ones.  We know just how far the house is from where it used to be, because we did the work to get it there just five years ago.  And we simply don’t have the luxury of time.

Yet we are still confident that we can complete the project to our standards and within the allotted time.  While doing so we are able to hear our oldest ask, “Where can I clean?” and see our youngest walk over and pick up a broom and then start sweeping the floor.  We can learn what it’s like to work an entire morning with a 13-month-old on our backs—ok, so only Bettina did that one.  We can encourage each other when frustrations rise, and we can commiserate together when things just won’t go how they’re “supposed” to go.

Each day is this project—both in 2009 and now—we have been able to learn a little something about ourselves and about each other.  And this time we get to learn a little about our girls as well.  I’m enjoying this project again, but I can’t wait until it’s done and the house is sold.  I’m thankful for the memories we’ve had while working this project, and I’ve truly enjoyed my time in that house.  Not every day or every moment has been floating-on-a-cloud fun, but the good has outweighed the bad.  It may take some deep reflection and some funky math, but the good does outweigh the bad in this one.

Ultimately, this was an investment property, but we may not make our money back.  Nonetheless this has still been an investment property for me, because I have gained numerous intangibles like memories and experiences (but it would still be nice to make our monetary investment back).  I hope that future projects, no matter what size, are able to provide me with similar value throughout my life.

I hope you’ve enjoyed tonight’s journey through my brain.  Check back Friday for another dose of weekly ridiculousness with my new Top 5 list.