Friday, January 30, 2009

We're Back!

Well ... we're back from our cruise to Nassau & Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. I have to admit - it's actually a little bitter-sweet!

We had an awesome time of relaxing, spending time together, hanging out with friends and enjoying being waited-on ... but really missed our kiddos.

Next year, we're planning on going to Cozumel, Mexico ... but we're taking the kiddos with us! We're still going to open it up for a group cruise - but we're allowing people to bring their children with them. We are planning to sail out of Mobile, Alabama sometime in early January - and are looking at a 5 day cruise to Cozumel and Calica. I'm working with a travel agent right now to try to get the rates, so we will know how much it will cost. We're going to go ahead and get passports for our children, that way there won't be as much money due later.

The picture above is of the sunset somewhere between Nassau and Jacksonville. Watching the beauty and splendor of something like that makes me wonder how some people can actually believe that there is no God. That this (life) just 'happened' ... and that there is no divine creation, intervention or salvation. I just don't get it.

Anyway ... we're back. Who-hoo! ;)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Some pet peeves ...

... and I'm not talkin' about the 4 legged kind.

Maybe I'm just getting more cynical in my old age, or maybe I'm just turning into a crotchety old man ... but there are some things that just really irritate me - and I thought I'd air them here.

1. I went to Walmart (have you noticed they took the dash out of their name) last night to get some necessities. I got there around 10:30, or so, and there were several things that irritated me.

First off, I understand that they have to restock the shelves ... but do they have to stack the pallets in such a way that it is almost impossible to move down the isles? I went to where the meats are, and had to literally walk from the front of the store to the back of the store to get to the other side of the 'islands' of food. They had pallets lined up between the islands, and there was no egress.

Secondly, I noticed some families out shopping. One family, in particular, caught my attention. It was a father, mother and two young children - probably 4 and 2 years old. The father was getting really agitated at the youngest of the two because he was whinning and fussing. UMMMM ... it's 11:00 at night - these kids should be in bed!! Do you really have to bring them to Walmart in the middle of the night - and then get mad at them because they're fussy? I mean, come on! Either you or your wife stay home with the kids and the other one goes to the store ... how hard would that be?

Lastly ... 2 lanes open with 15 people in each? Really? Seriously?

2. I hate it when people won't fess-up when they've made a mistake. It happens on all fronts, and it is really irritating. Really ... if you mess up - then fess up.

Children are the worst at this pet peeve. I can't begin to tell you the number of times when I've confronted my children about something - and they have bold-faced lied about it. Case in point - one of my children was supposed to be taking some antibiotics. I went into the bathroom, and notice that the pills were in the trash can. I took them out and went to my child. I asked them if they had been taking their medication. They looked at me - and without blinking - said that they were. When I showed them the pills - they STILL stood their ground. Unbelievable.

When confronted with a mistake, I guess it's just human-nature to try to lie and protect ourselves --- but that's where maturity comes into play. Admit the mistake, take the slap on the wrist and go on. I guarantee that the honesty will be met with a better response than will be given when the deception is found out!

3. Customer Service Representatives. This group is a major pet peeve to me. For some reason, they feel that they are doing me a favor by allowing me the privilege of letting me breathe the same air as them, and that I am somehow less of a person than they are - because their time is apparently much more valuable than mine.

CSR's who don't speak clear English (primarily those in India) are the biggest peeves in this area. I have finally gotten to the point where, as soon as I hear an Indian representative on the line, I tell them that I want to speak to someone who speaks fluent English --- and preferrably someone in the contiguous 48 states. After hours of dealing with HP's Indian Reps ... I can't take it anymore.

4. Do you want to know what really burns my butt? It's a flame about a foot high.

Have a great day ... and here's a tip to help make someone's day:
When at a restaurant, be sure to get your server's name - and call them by their name everytime they come to the table. It makes you more personable to them - and will make their service more friendly to you. Try it ... and then tip at least 15% ... if not 20%!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Time Continuum

OK ... so maybe not that science fiction ... but I do think there is something to an old adage that I heard many years ago. The adage goes like this:

"The amount of time it takes you to do something is directly related to the amount of time that you have to complete it."

I have found this to be amazingly accurate - especially when it comes to my children. This adage can best be proven when they are told to clean their bedrooms. If I lay down the gauntlet and tell them that they have 10 minutes to get the room cleaned, or they will lose their phone/DS/PSP (depending on which child) ... they can have the room cleaned in 10 minutes. On the other hand - if I tell them at 3:00 pm that the room needs to be cleaned before their mother gets home ... it will take them the whole 5+ hours to do it.

This adage can also be proven when getting ready in the morning. If I wake up on time - it usually takes me 25-30 minutes to get up and get ready to leave. However, if I oversleep, I can be up, dressed and out the door in 3 minutes!

Well ... in thinking about this, I think we have to be extremely careful about proving this adage out in our ministries. Those of us in ministry (and to some extent, especially those of us that have been in the ministry for many years) have to be careful about our time management ... and not only giving ourselves minimal amounts of time to complete the things in our ministry areas.

There have been a few times when I have put off and put off getting things ready for worship on Sunday morning ... and then, at the last minute, have thrown together a worship set of music. Sure, it flows well, and is pretty to listen to - but it wasn't a Spirit-Led arrangement ... and I could feel the tension in trying to lead it. Others may not have noticed anything - and I may have gotten away with it ... but that isn't how it's supposed to be done.

As I challenge myself, I want to challenge you, as well ... Let's take the time to do what we need to do, and do everything the way it's supposed to be done - not in a hurried or repetitious manner. We need to do everything as unto the Lord, Himself ... remember another old adage:

"If we keep Christ in the Center of our lives ... then the Circumfrence will take care of itself."

Anyway ... those are my thoughts for today. Please feel free to comment (or not!).

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year Resolutions ... that I know I can keep!

Here it is, Friday, January 2nd ... and we are full-force into the new year of 2009!

Along with the new year comes the tradition of making those dreaded New Year Resolutions. You know - the promises that we make to ourselves with false pretenses of sincerity, knowing full-well that by the 3rd week of January, they will be like the period on the Dr Pepper Can ... gone forever, but not missed at all.

In an effort to make my resolutions a little different this year - I decided to make a list of things that I'm pretty certain I will be able to keep. Some of them may seem sillier than others - but it's my list!! So, without any further ado ... here are my top-ten resolutions (in random order):

1. I resolve to put the remote control in the remote holder after use, so that it is readily available for the next time we need it.

2. I resolve to finish my powerpoint work for the church on Friday, so that I'm not up until the wee-hours of Sunday morning finishing the slides for the morning services.

3. I resolve to spend more time playing with my kiddos. They are getting older, and I don't want to miss-out on the times that we can spend together.

4. I resolve to make my wife happy. Not that I don't try already - but this is an area where I know I can always improve.

5. I resolve to take more pictures of our family. Even though I have a photography business - basically the only shots we take of the family are staged shots. I want to take more pictures of my family than I do of other people.

6. I resolve to get down to my goal weight of 200 - and stay there. This isn't an out-of-reach goal, and it will just take me being serious about it. 20 lbs isn't too much to ask for!!

7. I resolve to make sure that my day-off from work is actually a day-off from work. Sounds easier enough ... but it's something I need to do.

8. I resolve to beat Jonathan in NCAA College Football on the XBox 360. Even if only once!!

9. I resolve to take a family vacation this year ... and to not call-in to the office one time while we're gone. Another one of those things that sounds easy ...

10. I resolve to eat-out for lunch only one time per week (which should help with #6) - and to put that money I save aside for our family vacation.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Dirty Laundry

Those of us in our mid-life years will readily remember the Don Henley song, "Dirty Laundry". (In fact, you probably had to sing the title in your head when you read it!) There is a phrase in the song that states, "Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down; Kick 'em when they're stiff, kick 'em all around." Well, after a meeting I had with an old friend (old as in 'it's been a long time, old' not, old as in 'aged') I started thinking about how we, as Christians, do just that.

It's sad how we, who have been forgiven of ALL our sins by the blood of Jesus, have such a tendency to 'shoot our wounded', or 'kick 'em when they're down'. Why do we feel that we need to continue to hold someone else's sins against them, when Christ specifically tells us that we need to love each other as He loves us. If He can forgive them - why can't we?

It really amazes me that we can get so self-righteous and pious that we think that because someone may have made some mistakes, that seem so much bigger than our own, that they are somehow not worthy of forgiveness, reconciliation or friendship. It's especially laughable (not 'funny laughable', but rather 'sad laughable') that we will hold their shortcomings against them, even when they didn't do anything to us, personally.

Over the years, I have had several really close friends who have, for various and sundry reasons, gone through divorces. Now, the 'D' word may be taboo in many of our SBC churches - but it is not the unpardonable sin! In the cases of most of my friends, there were irreconcilable differences that prevented them from remaining together as spouses - but over the years, they have worked out their differences and have been able to mend friendships with each other. Here's the catch, though ... even though they have been able to forgive each other - friends, aquantances, ministerial leaders and others STILL hold the divorce against one or both of them!

How ridiculous is that!! I mean - if the two parties involved can forgive and move on - the rest of the world needs to get-a-grip and let it go! Life is too short and precious to 'black-ball' someone because of mistakes they have made. We need to cherish the friendships that God has given us - and realize that He is still on His throne, and is still in control.

Let's make it a goal in 2009 to mend relationships, reconcile differences and move forward with the Great Commission. As the old saying goes, "It's impossible to move forward if we keep looking in the rear view mirror."