Monday, January 30, 2006

Jury Duty and a Town Hall Meeting

Finally, a chance to serve the great democracy we live in through federal jury duty. I sure hope the full-time student exemption I claimed doesn’t go through so I can serve and miss class! I’m trying to lay the sarcasm down pretty thick. If I had nothing else to do, I think it would be fun to serve on a jury, but this time I can hopefully pass.

In other fun news, we had a great home group town hall meeting, and have sorted some things out. I realized I had too many agendas for the meeting, and having other people voice their considerations helped me see a better way (hence the reason we had a town hall meeting). This paragraph means nothing to you if you are not in a young married home group at Sycamore View. We now have a great home group plan and with a lot of work, intentionality, and prayer, the new plan should work.

Last and least exciting, Monica decided to get sick last night after the meeting and stay up all night hugging the toilet. We can’t trace the illness to any one thing she ate, but I know one thing, I’ll never dare her to drink a whole gallon of milk in an hour again! Monica knows how to be sick, though. I thought I was sleeping with a little kitten with a broken paw all night. She's gaining her strength today, and should back on her A-game tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pray for Secrets

I determined today we carry too much stuff around with us that we have to keep a secret. I also determined that I hate how it has to be like that. I imagine you can think of at least 5 people right now who you know need help because you know their secret. They might not even know that you know their secret, and for some reason, it is better that way.

I just thought it would be nice if we prayed for all the stress and confusion we all are feeling because all the secrets we carry around, be it our own secrets, or the secrets of others. I am not sure there is a much worse pain than the pain of knowing someone else is hurting and you can't say or do anything about it. Add that pain to your own pain and all the other people's pain you have taken on and you have to be careful not to explode. We carry a lot of pain, and if it wasn't for being a part of God's kingdom, it would be a tough life. We need to pray for each other!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Babies, Babies, Babies

To have a baby or to not have a baby…that is the question. More importantly, WHEN to have a baby or when not to have a baby seems to be more realistic in our case. I know it’s not surprising that it seems that everyone around us has a baby, is pregnant or is trying to have a baby. Sure, there are the few & the proud that have chosen not to have kids or to wait several years until the fad is over in our age group & everyone has given up & then SURPRISE, they’ll start popping them out & be those 60 yr. old parents whose kids are still in high school.

We’re going on 2 1/2 years with it just being me, Ben & in the recent year Cali (our practice child). We’ve been talking a lot lately about parenting styles & who’s going to be the disciplinarian, etc. Obviously, we plan on waiting until Ben is out of grad school & has a job so he isn’t trying to balance homework & ‘dadwork’ at the same time. Beyond that though there’s always the financial stability issue & is someone going to stay home with the baby & how many kids do we want to have & how far apart should we have them & what things do we want to do BEFORE we’re parents…the list goes on & on.

Right now we’re perfectly content with our little family. We are excited to have kids someday, but are also excited to spend these few years together without all the chaos. Maybe we should get another puppy before diving into parenthood just to be safe. Any advice on this subject would be truly appreciated.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Parenting Class

I had a meeting with a committee at church last night and Monica decided to go attend a class. This was our first time to go to church on a Wednesday night at Sycamore View (and we call ourselves Christians!?!). So, I went to my top secret man committee meeting and Monica chose the only class she was really interested in—the Parenting Class. This class uses short videos every week from Focus on the Family starring Dr. Dobson and then the Family Life Minister facilitates discussion of questions different parents have. Monica will continue to ask questions until they find out we don’t have kids, but are trying to apply the advice to our dog Cali (i.e. why does our “kid” steal our underwear and try to eat it in the backyard?).

The other night on Scrubs, kids were described as being like dogs that slowly learn how to talk. Actually, Monica’s rationale is that we need to know about parenting before we have kids (no we are not trying, nor are we pregnant) so we have something to go on. I will join her in the class when my man committee doesn’t meet. Does this sound funny to anyone else? I mean the part about the class, not the part about us having kids someday.

We’ll try to pass some tidbits on as we develop our parenting style that will totally change when we actually have kids someday, but maybe something will stick . . . you know, for Monica because she is the woman and she will be raising the kids (please know I am either joking or getting a butt whoopin’ tonight or both).

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Book of Daniel

I have to put my quick two sense in on this Book of Daniel TV series coming out. Apparently it will not be shown in several cities including Little Rock. The show has not even aired yet and it has caused quite a stir. It looks like the show is based on a priest who has a drug addict wife, gay son, and other personal and family problems. It also looks like Jesus makes a few cameos throughout the show to help this priest out with everything. You can only imagine the uproar this has caused in Christian circles—they don't want the show aired at all because it is just not right theologically and religiously.

Here's what I think. This is typical of American Christianity—let's attack this show because it has something to do with the Bible. What about all the other shows that constantly portray Christians as rigid, extreme, women oppressors who can only see one side of an issue?

ER is about as anti-Christian as it can get sometimes. For instance, last week a conservative Christian family comes to the ER because their 15 year old girl was raped and now pregnant. The parents said it was God's will for this to happen and they want to keep it. The show then portrayed the girl as an innocent, brainwashed victim of an oppressive Christian home. Long story short, the girl is given a special application of something that hardens the uterus and somehow causes a miscarriage in many cases. The girl is told that this is God's way to reconsider his will, and her parents will just think it is a miscarriage—Christian dilemma solved, oppressive Christian values defeated. Hmmm. . . lying, dishonesty, deception, etc. Where is the outcry against this? Wait, ER is too good of a show, it just represents our culture, blah, blah, blah. Don't worry, we'll keep watching it in my home.

We could go into so many more examples in shows like CSI, The Office, Scrubs, The OC, Las Vegas, etc. I mention these because we watch many of them and we're not doing anything about it either. My point is this—be consistent. We can't pick and choose shows because they "directly"? deal with the Bible and it might look bad for us "Christians."? We need to be on the front lines against many shows that attack Christianity and make us look crazy.

The real bottom line: the best way to get rid of TV shows is to not watch them (like Joey, per example) and show people what Christianity really is (like Curt Sparks). I've heard estimates that the country is 90% Christian. That is a lot of TV programming power. But more than that, people need to see what Christians are really like from your actions, not ER.

Unfortunately, ER and other shows are not exaggerating what they've seen Christians to be like, they don't need to. And what if, like the Book of Daniel series, some Christians are fighting battles against addictions and homosexuality, while looking for Jesus—even if what he says does not seem perfectly theologically consistent to us. It might not be a bad representation of many Christians, or it might be a slam on mainstream Christianity. . . I guess we'll have to watch and see, since it does not conflict with our other shows. As for me and my household, we will serve the __TV __LORD (Check one).

Monday, January 9, 2006

The Challenge

Here is the goal for the first half of our year: Pay off our no-interest credit card before it becomes an interest bearing card in July. This is a big goal for us, because the payment we have to make to achieve this goal each month is about 18% of our income. We are pretty psyched about it because Monica’s new job actually pays her for the work she does, so we have a stable income.

Yesterday, while I washed the dog, Monica cancelled our other credit cards-one even offered to transfer our balance we are trying to pay off and give us 0% interested for 12 more months (jerks!), but we resisted the devil, and he fled from us. Our tax return money should pay for our car insurance, and the little extra money I bring in working my 2 jobs will mainly go to payments. We can do it and we are going to do it, with the hope of no major accidents or surprises!

We have a few strategies we are employing. #1. Praying #2. Eating in more and taking our lunches to work everyday #3. Making all of our payments, including the credit card, as early as we can in the month and live off the rest (might not work for everyone, but it does us) #4. Not lowering our standard of what we give to God #5. Keeping a cushion in our account so we do not have to use the credit card again #7. Not being stupid with our money (i.e. buying things we don’t really need—this is a tough one)

We are going to do it and by the end of June we are going to have $0 on our credit card. We are willing to challenge anybody to do the same and go for it with us—you just have to set a goal for some month this year and tell us. It would be way easier to have others to go for this goal with us. Grand prize (unlimited number of winners): You’ll have no more stinkin’ credit card payments and can begin to actually make some money.

Friday, January 6, 2006

New Drapes and a Clean Couch

Monica picked out these new curtains from Target last night and I was in charge of hanging them up this morning. It is amazing how she can make our front room look so pretty. The night before she took all the stuffing out of the couch cushions, darned the holes, and washed the cushions. Then we put the stuffing back in and now it looks incredibly clean—no more water spots where Cali decided to lick the couch.

Plus, we got Cali a doggie bed and she is no longer allowed on the couch. We’ve been busy with the little things . . . I’m glad they are only little things!

Curtains 2

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Welcome to 2006!

The New Year has arrived and we made no New Year's resolutions. Are we underachievers or are we just realists? Perhaps we don't make resolutions because we get everything done anyway and we are pretty much perfect. Or maybe we just didn't make them because we didn't want to. You be the judge.

I think it would be fun to make Chinese New Year Resolutions, but then I fear the fortune cookie would lose some of its mystery. We could make a New Year's UN resolution, but then only us and our British friends would do it, and everyone else would hate us for it, and it would even bother some of us after awhile. Then, you have to contend with the fact that there is no New Year's resolution example in the Bible—not even a necessary or unnecessary inference.

I think our best example is the new day resolution given by Jesus when he said we have to take up our cross daily and follow him (Lk. 9). Maybe instead of trying to fit inside a pair of pants or our bathing suits we should think about putting on our cross everyday, because I definitely don't fit my cross. By the way, just like the New Year's resolution, it is okay if you fail as long as you keep trying and don't say you'll start tomorrow, because you won't—start today!