Top 5 Pre-Christmas Thoughts to Avoid

5.  “Will I get the bonus that allows me to put in a swimming pool, or will I get stuck with a membership to the Jelly of the Month club?”

4.  “So if Christmas is on a Thursday, then what am I supposed to do about my in-laws on Friday?”

3.  “My kids deserve coal this year, so maybe I’ll take them to a coal mine.”

2.  “Did I buy enough to make everyone forget the kind of guy I’ve been this year?”

1.  “Why is that jolly guy in red velvet watching me while I sleep?”

I’m hoping this post will mark the return of my blog, because I’ve been away for far too long.  We’ll see how things go though…

Devotional for Week of November 3, 2014

Romans 12:2 — Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I’ve been thinking a lot about new beginnings lately. I’ve probably been influenced by the current message series at our church and a local band that has changed their name and musical direction.  The message series has been about what to do when you feel stuck and can’t seem to get any traction.  The band changed their name to Ellis, because of Ellis Island.  They noted that they know who they are and how they’ve gotten to where they are, but now they are at a point that starts a new adventure for them.

This verse, Romans 12:2, reminds us to be transformed through God. To some it may seem that this verse is speaking of a static moment in time when you decide to make the transformation from “of the world” to “in the world, but of God”.  But I would argue that this decision to be transformed, to start new, is a daily decision.

It may not be a conscious decision once you are far along your walk with God, but for new believers and believers feeling stuck or beat down this is a decision that must be consciously made each and every day. These believers must ask, “Am I willing to trust, to have faith in, a God I’m just getting to know?  And am I willing to give up the comfort of knowing this world as I have?”

Like Ellis, the band I mentioned, we need to know where our roots are and where we plan to go. Uncertainty lies before us, but if we are sure of who we are and sure of God’s guidance then we can take on the new beginnings and we daily agree to accept God’s transformation in our lives.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the opportunity to choose to be transformed.  Thank you that I don’t have to be stuck in a life that leaves me unfulfilled.  You have given me great things and set a path for me to follow.  Lord, help me see the path and daily choose to let you transform my life, my heart, and my soul.

Voting for My Children

Here in the U.S. this week it’s time to get out and vote.  I’ve long been a proponent of voting, because I truly believe that each individual vote matters.  When you see the total tallies it may not always appear that way in presidential or even state-wide elections, but if you look at the votes in individual precincts or for smaller proposals it’s different.  Each vote visibly matters in those elections.

So I’ve always been interested in voting and being an informed voter, but since becoming a parent I’ve started thinking about voting a little differently.

It’s easy to see certain correlations between choices we make as parents and the effects on our children.  If we choose to home school or choose a private school or a public school, then we know it will alter our child’s life.  But what about who we vote for and how we make our decisions on proposals?  Some of those decisions could lead to immediate changes in the world around our children, and some could lead to a butterfly effected change in the future lives of our children.

Researching the Repercussions

I normally research before I vote.  I know the campaign ads and I recognize names on the ballots, but that’s not enough for me.  I want to know what changes my vote could lead to and what changes my vote could help avoid.

I’ll be honest.  This year I haven’t done nearly the research I’d like to, but I know that before I cast my votes on Tuesday I will be researching every item on my ballot.  I will seek out the info I need to make the votes I believe in.

A Future and a Hope

I want to give my children the best future that’s possible, and I realize now that the way I vote—and the way I respond to voting—can affect that future.  So for the next couple of days I will research the candidates and the proposals.  Then on Tuesday I’ll vote for a brighter future for my children.

 

 

Top 5 Things to Do with a Pumpkin

5.     Carve an image that has people wondering.

4.     Punkin Chunkin.  It’s real.  Look it up.

3.     Buy one and set it in your back yard.  Your neighbors don’t need to see what you have…

2.     Scoop out the seeds with goo covered hands.  Then roast the seeds, and wipe your hands on someone you love.

1.     Cut a hole in the bottom, clean out the pumpkin, and attempt to wear the pumpkin on your head.

Devotional for Week of October 27th, 2014

Proverbs 27:12 — The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

 Oh to have been prudent all of my life.  I wish I could say that I’ve never been simple as this verse describes, but many times I have.  I’ve known there were troubles before me and still continued on the path.  I’ve even known the consequences that awaited me, but sought no refuge.  Some might call that being a risk-taker or a dare-devil, but when you know there are definite negative consequences, but continue on you are being simple.

Years ago I was in a tough financial situation.  I’ve since learned that what I was in was nothing compared to the troubles my wife and I have faced over the last few years, but at the time it was a tough situation.  I saw that I was low on money and that little would be coming in, but I put my desires first and continued to spend.  I even went beyond what I had and borrowed from friends and family—just so I could live the life I wanted to live.  I knew I was going to be broke, but I wanted to enjoy myself on the way there.

But then the bottom fell out and I had no money left to spend.  I had change my diet, change my habits, and actually be honest with those around me.  Those were consequences I wasn’t ready to face, but I knew they were there when I started spending.

Since then my wife and I have faced some tough times, and I used to get the urge to keep spending in those times.  But we realize now that if we trust in each other, trust that God will provide, and follow sound financial principles we will find a way out of the financial struggles.  We’ve learned to take refuge rather than continuing down the path of the simple.

We know now that our overall goals are more important than our immediate desires.  We know that giving our first fruits to God helps align us with our goals.  And we know that together we can wait out the danger in order to find a clearer path.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for providing for me and my family in times of need.  Thank you for giving me the reminders to avoid danger rather than jump headfirst into it.  Please help me spot danger from a great distance, Lord, so that I can take refuge  and wait.

Holiday Hoopla

Halloween:  The Candy & The Chaos

I remember the days when Halloween was a one day event that kids dressed up for and hoped to get the most candy of all their friends and siblings.  Maybe I was just oblivious when I was younger, but it seems that there are so many other opportunities to celebrate Halloween now.  In fact, we are still five days from the actual day of Halloween, but my kids have already been in costume three times.

They are adorable as a minion (Despicable Me) and Minnie Mouse, so I don’t mind one bit.  I especially don’t mind that they have dressed up three times and only have about twenty pieces of candy a piece.  Our girls are way too young, in our opinion, to have too much candy.  Since they have only received a little bit it’s easy to try to teach them about how it is special and not to be eaten at just any time.

Turkey Day Drama

Thanksgiving is coming up quickly.  This is often the most overlooked holiday—much to my wife’s dismay—and that’s not the way it should be.  Thanksgiving is a great day to spend time with family, watch some good football, and eat a feast.  This has been the go-to prescription for many people over the years, including me, but retailers and other factors are cutting into the traditions.

I usually take part in the Black Friday craziness, but I don’t buy much, if anything.  Maybe that’s why I won’t take part in the Thanksgiving Day shopping, but I’m pretty sure I just don’t like the idea of an industry changing how they do things in a way that helps their bottom line (theoretically) while hurting their employees.  The extent of my Thanksgiving shopping has always been a morning trip to the corner store for a newspaper and sometimes a coffee.  I welcome you to join me in abstaining from the Thanksgiving Day shopping, and instead stay home, spend time with family, and relax.

The Trees and The Lights

Christmas is just two months away, but that doesn’t mean we need to freak out about holiday plans, present buying, and family photos just yet.  Take it easy, make a plan, and help yourself to a lower stress Christmas season.  It’s too early in the year for me to comfortably write a lot about Christmas, so that’s all I’ll say for now.