Out with the old, and in with the new

As i get... more mature (yea, go with that) i find that i do not really like that saying.  Especially having seen what my Pop went through during his working years (he's "retired" now).  But, it fit with where i wanted to start my ramblings today.

If you are a regular (thank you), or have been here before (thank you), or have just drfited by (thank you too) you may have notived a few changes around my "dojo".  OK, if you've never been here before... probably not noticed any change, but i digress. First, i would like to thank TULIP for the really cool Blog Banner up top and what i refer to as my "end cap".  She was working on learning a new piece of software and happen to think of me and asked if she could play around with some images... we went back and forth on concepts, etc. and VIOLA!  Then, i went and changed the layout some (see below) and now i need to see if she would be willing to tweak just a little bit more.  Even if she is too busy, i am very grateful for the new images to liven up the old place.  Because, let's face it... when you use Blogger's "Minima Black"... it can be pretty bland. 8)  Yes, i know they have a lot of templates to choose from, but i like the minimalistic look, somewhat, and black suits me.

I have also been itching to stretch the blog sideways some, and although i cannot remember how i ran across the blog "Cute and Cool Blog Stuff", i am glad i did.  This woman has a talent for editing blogs, etc. and she has a self help tutorial on how to add that nifty colomn you now see to the left here.  It only took me two tries too!

I have found several blogs out there of people who have taken a lot of time to figure things out in regards to how to spruce up their blogs, and then have graciously shared their learned experiences and tasks.  Really cool.

This past week has been pretty off balance so to speak.  As a result i was able to take yesterday off to catch up on some doctor's things, as well as scout a nearby museum and mow the lawn.  I had wanted to surprise my Beloved with a trip to the museum, but it is nearly impossible to do so.  Surprise her that is.  She is very smart, and has this uncanny ability to know when i am scheming.  I don't think i have ever been able to lie or deciever her... at least not for very long.  (There is a reason that i do not refer to myself as a Christian Ninja. ;-) )  Yesterday was more about life getting in the way than my ability to surprise her though.  DS2, my Aspie, ran into trouble at school.  He's a great boy, and smart as a whip.  His aide said, "he's had so many good days, we just don't know what happened".  Statements like that drive my Beloved nuts.  While i have had several well meaning friends try and show me ways to "cure" Autism, the truth is that there are a lot of methods to help improve the social interaction but there is no cure for Autism.  Some things work, others don't.  We continue to try new things for DS2, but sometimes there are just "bad" days.

The Carolina Panthers had a pretty decent draft, if i am to believe the analysts.  I never know what to expect.  I would just like to see the Panthers string two winning (i.e. 9+ wins) seasons back to back.  As a football fan i am nervous about the next two seasons.  This season is an "uncapped" season.  not really sure what that means other than it is helping the Panthers soak up a huge (well deserved) bonus they are paying Jake Delhomme whom they let go during the off season (who is now a Cleveland Brown).  Another high profile loss was Julius Peppers.  While i totally respect his athletic ability, the past three seasons or more, his heart just wasn't in Carolina.  I am sad about that because as a Panther fan i want all players to be happy to play for the Panthers, but the truth is that's just not possible.  As concerned as i am about this season though... i am very concerned about the collective barganing agreement being reached in time to save the 2011 season.  I am not a concerned party in those negotiations, nor do i really understand either side's position so... all i have to say is... guys... work it out... please.  Oh, and speaking of football... I am rooting for Caleb Campbell.  Some may remember that he was drafted out of West Point two years ago.  Long story short, it looks like he will be given a shot to make the roster of the Detroit Lions this year.  Go Army!

The first character sketches from my friend for Ian Hauk, (one of the characters i mentioned previously) i like to write about is in (right).  I have been blessed with some really creative people around me.  While i like to write, and that is my creative out let, people like MANGA (it's all i could come up with...), TULIP, the woman at "Cute and Cool Blog Stuff", and my Beloved.  I am very thankful for them all because while my writing feels black-and-white, creatively speaking, to me, each of them adds a splash of color.  Which is really cool, and inspiring.  I have a daily goal of about 100 words that i want to add to my short stories, but i've been in a rutt lately.  Just too busy to stop and smell the roses, but the other day a friend just made a little comment about something (i forget now), and it was like a floodgate... i wrote about 2,000 words in just two or three days, and i have a small outline to help me keep track of my train of thought going for two of the stories.

To wrap all this up, ever notice that when it seems like God is getting ready to move in your life, the enemy stirs the pot so to speak.  Hardships, temptations, distractions, and out right strife seem to strike.  I am thinking that is not really a coincidence.  I think God allows those things to happen to help you learn that you need to focus on Him more.  Are the things of God, really of God or of yourself?  For me, i have found that when i have the least "resistance" to seomthing it is almost always because it has been of my own initiative.  This may sound wierd, but i am grateful for trials such as those.  It helps me learn to rely on God more, and myself less.  It is WAY too easy for me to go off trapsing on my own.  Lately i have been praying for God to show me how He is wanting me to serve within the body of Christ.  I believe i am heading in the right direction, but i always like to look up and see if there are any course corrections to take place.  I may not end up where i think i am going... but at least i am going... and i will end up somewhere.


Random Dozen Wednesday

1. Have you ever been so lost that you were really afraid? ~ I have been really thinking over this one and i cannot recall a time that i was lost - lost.  Meaning that i truly had no idea of where i was.  There have been times when i was not sure of exactly where i was, but i always have had (that i remember) an idea of how to get back to where i wanted/needed to be.  True story:  One crazy blizzard filled drive out to visit my Paternal Grand Parents, who i had only visited only once before with my father (and we had flown), my mother drove past the turn we needed to make.  I had told her that was the turn because i had remembered it from the few years before.  I was 12 at the time.  I am not some kind of navigational freak, but i am pretty good at finding my way, or at least having confidence that i will find my way.

2. Have you ever been to an island? ~ My Beloved and i went on a cruise to the Bahamas on our Honeymoon, so yes.  Oh, and i've been to Manhatten.

3. Are you more of a thinker or feeler? ~ Feelings baffle me.  I feel them from time to time, but they utterly baffle me.  Definetely a thinker.

4. Do you tend to see issues or situations in life as black and white or shades of gray? ~ If someone sees something as a shade of grey they are not applying the right question or background concept.  It's something that drives people nuts about me.  Over time i have learned to bite my tongue, and to not speak up so often.  I rarely speak in absolute terms, and when i do it is because i am insecure about what i am saying.  If there is a chance something will happen, no matter how small, i will say that.

5. If you were stuck on an island, what book would you hope to have with you (Let's pretend the Bible is already there, so you can't say that.) ~ That is an excellent question. I believe i would like to have The Book of Five Rings. For me this is a good philosphical book that helps me be the best at what i am doing, no matter what i am doing. It does not superceded the Bible, but since that is already there with me, i would like to have The Book of Five Rings to accompany it.

6. What are you most afraid of? ~ My Paternal Grandfather died of Alzheimers. I fear growing old and "losing my mind" and my memories. But the fear that trumps all others, is (literally) the fear of losing my soul. I believe this is one of the driving forces behind my desire to know God more, and to be known by God. The verse that strikes the biggeest fear in my heart is"“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23, ESV) For me this verse shows that even those who think they are doing good, are not relating to Him. They have not truly sought to have Jesus in their heart.

7. Would you rather lose all of your old memories or never be able to make new ones? ~ Since my biggest earthly fear is to have Alzheimers it is interesting that this is a follow up question.  I am not one who dwells in the past all that much either.  So, if i had to choose, i would rather lose past memories, than not be able to make new ones.

8. Pretend I'm looking at a scrapbook page about you. There are three spaces for you to drop in individual pictures. What are those pictures of, and why did you select them? ~ My Beloved and i have a picture of our honeymoon on the stern of the cruise ship we were on.  Other than my glasses looking like the eyes of an owl, that is one.  I like this because it reflects how i feel about her and how happy i am that she married me.  The second one would be something from military days because i really enjoyed those times.  The last one... i guess would have to be me at work.  I enjoy my work and the people i work with.

9. If you were re-doing your wedding, what would you do differently? (If you're single, tell me one thing you would do if you were planning a wedding OR huge party.) ~ I would have RAM be my best man.  Looking back i had my brother as my best man.  While i would have definetly had my brother as a Groomsman, i am really much closer with RAM.  I really feel that i did him a disservice and dissrespected our friendship by doing what i did.  RAM has never allowed that to get in between us, he is truly a friend.  Quick to forgive, and willing to do pretty much anything to help you out.

10. Tell me one thing you know/believe about forgiveness. ~ God's forgviness is complete.  He knew about every sin that i committed before i became a Christian, He knew about the sins in my life at that time, and everyone i would commit from that time on until i stand before His throne.  He knew all of them, and yet He still took the initiative to come and die on the cross for me, and then to reveal these things to me.  His forgiveness is so complete that there is nothing i bring to the table to contribute to it.

11. You're waiting in a doctor's office. What is your favorite way to pass that time? ~ I love to read.  I prefer whatever book i am reading at the time, or my cell phone if a book is not available.  If i am desperate i will pick up a magazine or a newspaper.

12. If there were a clone of you in a parallel universe what is one way you hope she/he would be the same as you and one way you hope she/he would be better? ~ I think i would like them to have the same kind of analytical mind.  To look into things and see how it works in regards to the things around it.  I really like that about myself.  The one area i truly hope they would be better at is the ability to look into situations involving people and see how they interact.  I'll never forget the day when a friend of mine was having a hard time with someone else and we were trying to work through it.  I proclaimed that i knew what the issue was and then expressed it.... neither person agreed with me... and in the end i was not even close.


Don't blame the politicians - they are because we aren't

I had started a blog yesterday in honor of Earth Day, but life dictated other priorties. Still, i feel it is an important enought deal for me to go ahead and blog about it today. 8)

In Genesis 1 it says, "And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food." (28-29, ESV, emphesis mine)  To often we "on the right" stop here in our views on how we are to take care of the Earth.  It is ours, we must dominate, we must control.  I don't know about you, but if i don't clean my house from time to time those little dust bunnies collect, and my feet pick up little crumbs and little stones or dirt.  We need to read the whole chapter, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (1, ESV), but also latter we read, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." (2:15, ESV).  If you think it through it is implied that man does not own the earth, he is merely a steward of another's creation.  In this case, God's creation.

Before i go on i want to be up front, i do not buy into Al Gore's and a lot of the "liberal left's" view point on global warming, or climate change, whatever you want to call it.  The evidence is not clear as has been portrayed, and there is a lot of evidence that is not consistant and/or contradictory.  However, having said that, that does not excuse the blattant disregard for the resources we have on this earth.  It only makes sense to find ways to reuse renewable resources, such as the sun to heat and create energy.  To take metals and melt them down and reform them.  To not take the trash from our automobiles and just throw it on the side of the road.  The reasons that community recycling is not more common is because we humanbeings are L A Z Y.  We do not like to change, we do not like to be inconvienced.  I feel that there should be better corporate stewardship, and better government/corporant sponsorship to help develop these technologies, which to be honest are overdue.  When megacompanies, such as Ford/GM/Chrysler/AT&T/Gladman Sachs/whoever snatch up  smaller companies who have made great innovations to improve a process or create a better widget, solely because it would cost them money to convert to the new ~ then if it costs them more now because they were selfish and gready back when - tough nogies.

The government - at least in the United States - was not established to micromange everything.  There is just no way that it can.  But because we are/were L A Z Y the government has had to step in on way too many issues.  When it was written, "We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." - it denotes that the people have the responsibility to, in essence, promote the common good.  If we use up more electricty or gas, which in turn causes more polution which reduces the health of those exposed and thus cause health care costs to go up, we are not promoting the common good.  If we jsut discard our trash on the side of the road forcing others to have to come along and clean up, or causing damage to vehicles, etc. this is not promoting the common good.  If we constantly just throw away all of our old junk instead of recycling it we fill up available land space, we poison ground water, and we cause unsafe (generally) the area when that land is reclaimed for use, we are not promoting the common good.

I think what i am trying to say is, STOP BEING LAZY!  And this is true for pretty much everything in life.  Raising children is hard work.  Stop ignoring the children to go play video games, or pursue some other coveted thing.  Employment is hard, stop trying to avoid work ~ wether it be for "the man" or for yourself.  "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,..." (Gen 3:19a, ESV).  Stop expecting the school system to teach your children the difference between right and wrong, or the Sunday School teacher to lead your child to Christ.  Stop ignoring the plight of those truly in need around you, and give clothes to the shelters, time to the soup kitchen, or sweat to the community projects.

No one person can do everything, but when individuals step up, well "many hands make light work".  In the end, if we leave it up to the government to do it they are going to need the money to make it happen.  The government has three options, 1) Print more money, which causes incredible inflation, 2) Borrow the money, which is never good financial stewardship because in the end you spend more money than what it originally cost and it lessens what you can do in the future until you are able to pay the loan off, or 3) Raise taxes.  I am hear to tell you that the final consumer ends up paying ALL of that tax burden.  Some might not believe me so let me put it this way.  When the mineral is mined out of the ground to make the raw material to eventually make the plastic (oil by product), or the steel or aluminum, or the circuit board, that corporation is taxed on their inventory and profits.  The workers pay (which is also taxed) is an expense in addition to the tax.  What does that corporation do?  Do they jsut soak up the costs?  No, they are a business and in the end the want to make a profit, so all expenses are pushed on to their consumer - the companies that buy the product to make the components.  And so on until the car (or whatever) rolls off the lot, or out the door of the store.  When a new tax is created, or increased, on any product the cost is then reflected in the increase of the sale price to the next in line - which always rolls down to the consumer eventually.

I have two quotes i would like to end my blog with today:
"Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases." ~ Thomas Jefferson
"I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.  Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man."  ~ Proverbs 24:30-34, ESV)


Ramblin' Random Wednesday

1. Ever had any run-ins with the "library police?" ~ The worst i've ever experienced is a late notification being received.  Everything was fine and dandy once i returned the books in question.  I was fortunate to not encounter the dark suits and sunglasses.

2. Do you have a special organizational plan and place for wrapping paper, gift bags, etc., or do you just purchase whatever you need as you give gifts? ~ My sole responsibility at Christmas time is to wrap presents.  It can take me more than 10 minutes per package.  More if it is an odd shape.  Now, having said that, as much as i would like to have a little work table, with all of my supplies laid out on it... it usually ends up me on the floor, or coffee table in an uncomfortable cross legged seat, my legs going numb and my back going out.  Even during the year, my Beloved brings the prize to me for wrapping before any birthday party/shower event/etc.

3. Have you ever been in (first-hand witness) a natural disaster? ~ By God's grace, i have never experienced a natural disaster first hand - that is i have never been where one was happening, but i have seen the devastation first hand on a few occasions.  Being a member of the National Guard exposed me to several floods where we were deployed to help out. I was also deployed to help after Hurricane Katrina and Rita (which rolled in while we deployed - some intense hours in Army huts at the end of an Air National Guard runway) Some help was not as easy as others.  I will never forget the sight... the devastation , the smell... or the sense of personal pride of being able to do something, anything, to help.

4. What's your favorite Barry Manilow song? ~ Barry who?  Just kidding Linda... um... to be honest... never really a fan of Mr. Manilow. The only song that comes to mind is "I Write the Songs".

5. What's the best costume you've ever worn? ~ Ooh... that brings back some memories.  Way back, before High School, i was into the Rock group KISSAce Freeley being my personal favorite of the group. 
My costume was not Ace, but of a zombie soldier.  I mentioned the KISS connection only because of the makeup, which completed this costume.  I spiked out my hair to make it look matted and stuff.  I did a full white face and neck and then used black to make it look like a skull.  Then i colored pieces of smooth toilet paper and paper towels with a pale flesh color and then stuck layers of the stuff in various places all over my face and neck.  Highlighted various areas with "dried blood", etc.  I had some memorable reactions to that one.  The desire to get in costume, even at sci-fi or renaissance festivals, has waned dramatically since then though. 

6. Which do you use more often, the dictionary or the thesaurus? ~ Thesaurus, definitely.  I have come to rely on spell check in both Word and Firefox way too much.  I find that it also helps a lot in my writing.  Especially when i am using the same word over and over.  The Thesaurus helps me find other words that mean the same thing, sometimes even fits better.

7. What's your favorite breakfast food? ~ French Toast.  Yummy!  Although, a really good Blueberry Muffin, say from Dunkin Doughnuts, will give them a run for their money on some mornings.

8. Have you ever purchased anything from an infomercial? ~ Not directly, but now that our local mall has an "As seen on TV" Store... a few.  The ShamWow is awesome.  I also have the drain snake.  Both work as advertised.

9. Have you ever crawled through a window? ~ Not sure why, but i actually chuckled at this question.  The answer is yes.  As a latchkey kid there was many a time i would forget my key and have to find my way in.  Especially since there was a better chance than even my mom would not be home until late.  Now i look back and realize i should have been more responsible and made sure i had my key, back then it was just my normal way of doing things.

10. Do you believe in love at first sight? ~ I do.  It happened to me... even though i was too daft to recognize it at first.  The afternoon i met my Beloved she was supposed to be on a canoe trip, and i was being introduced to her roomate on a blind date.  The three of us spent a whole football game talking about the Sovereignty of God.  Later, after the homecoming dance and dinner, the whole Christian group from her college went to Denny's and later to a park (at 1 AM).  Two or three days later i was on the top of a ladder, working on someone's gutters (i was a carpenter's apprentice at the time), when the Holy Spirit gently tapped me on my shoulder and "asked" me if i had been paying attention.  It took a little while, but i eventually got my act together and got in touch with her... even though we were seperated by over 50 miles, and i didn't have my own car.

11. How man pairs of jeans do you own? ~ Umm... four.  2 black, and 2 blue.  One of the blue ones are really faded, the other is too long in the leg.  One of the black pair is too small now that i've added on some "love handles".  I'd wear them all the time if i could get away with it though.

12. If someone were going to bake a cake to honor/represent you, what would it be? (Think creatively, like Duff and Crew on "Ace of Cakes.") ~ I am not a big fan of fondant cakes.  The icing is not all that delectable... in my opinon.  However, i think a cake that would represent me would have to have four elements... 1) It should look sort of like the Matrix or TRON... 2) It should have some samurai elements... 3) It must incorporate some Elven influence, and finally 4)  It must represent my faith in Christ.  The first 3 could be summed up by one word/genre/game:  Shadowrun, while the later could be represented by using a cross.


One needs to exercise the muscles in order to keep them healthy... and that includes one's brain.

I want to go running and screaming into the woods!!! Whew, ok, now that i have that off my mind...

I am not a professional writer, and i am pretty sure i could not make it as one. My thoughts are too disjointed, my writing skills (at least punctuation/grammer wise) are poor, and my orginanizational skills are woefully inadequate. This causes me no small amount of consternation when trying to look for old notes, recall "facts" and events for the heroes of my tales, and yet... i love to write short stories. 

What it is, is that i am experiencing growing pains as i try and write for more of an on-going like series than disjointed stories.  I've mentioned this before, but i have five on-going characters and i like these fictional "people".  I have an idea of their backgrounds and their personalities.  I am especially fond of the "newest" kid on the block.  I have done more research on this one character then i ever did for a paper in school.  Probably because he is the most unlike me. The character is an Eldar Ranger who finds himself stranded on an inhospitable planet where most of the human population have an ingrained sense of zenophobia.

While doing the research i have found very few books that are written from a non-human perspective. I am also a little picky about the type of Elf i envision. I am leaning heavily towards how Tolkien envision his elves, with heavy influence from Games Workshop, .  Which is probably pretty good since i write all of my stories within their universe, especially within Necromunda.  I have scrounged up both a current (5th edition) Eldar Codex, as well as a 2nd edition Codex.  I have made personal copies of various sources from the web, i have a used copy of The Complete Book of Elves for AD&D, and i plan on buying both Shadow King and Path of the Warrior by Gav Thorpe.  I am constantly tweaking Elrain Luinon Râdîr.  I think this goes back to my days when i played Role Playing games every day after school.  For me, that type of escapism is better than movies or books.  Which is why God has graciously removed me from such environments.  It feels like God has given me the joy of writing.  Through my writing i can enjoy those "worlds" by practicing some of the talents and gifts He has given me, while being restricted to just an occasional hobby (as opposed to being an all encompassing deal).  I have been invited a few times to join friends to play those games, but i have kindly turned then down.  I know my own personality too well.

Wow... i have no idea where i was going with all this... and now... i am out of time. 8)


Music Monday - 20100419

Every Christian has times of struggle, times of "walking through the valley", were it feels like you are far from God.  Not because He is allowing you to feel like He has "wandered off", but because of a sin (any sin) you struggle with.  For me, i struggle with anger, i have struggled with porn, and many other things.  The past month or so i have really been struggling with doubt and worry.

When it is a sin that we continue to fight with over and over again, discouragement can find a way in.  Doubt, questioning, etc.  I am constantly reminded that God is not surprised by my on-going struggles.  When He saw me before time and layed down the plan of salvation, He saw every sin i would ever commit.  Not just the ones i overcome, but even the ones that continue to plague me.  It is times like this i feel that God allowed Paul lto experience his own struggles, so that it may encourage me today:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, ESV)
How many times have we read about the fall of a Nationaly recognized Christian leader?  How many times have i struggled with pride over how well i feel when i am following God, or in some other accomplishment?  Instead of acknowledging what God has done, i take credit for the deed.  So, to some degree, i take solice in the struggles i expreience.  Not to leave them alone and never resist them though.  I am encouraged because i am seeing them, that i know what Christ has already done, and what He is doing.  But when i heard my song for today on the radio, it felt like i was singing the song.

by Rush of Fools

I've been here before
Now, here I am again
Standing at the door
Praying You'll let me back in

To label me
A prodigal would be
Only scratching the surface
Of who I've been known to be

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I've become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can't do this myself
You're the only one
Who can undo what I've become

I focused on the score
But I could never win
Trying to ignore
A life of hiding my sin

To label me
A hypocrite would be
Only scratching the surface
Of who I've been known to be

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I've become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can't do this myself
You're the only one
Who can undo what I've become

Make every step lead me back to
The sovereign way that You

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I've become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can't do this myself
You're the only one who can undo
You are the only one who can undo
You're the only one who can undo
What I've become

I am so incredibly thankful that God does not leave me where i am, that He does not forsake me, and that when i want to give up, He is still there to lead me on.  I am grateful that He is indeed working to transform me into the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-30).
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phillipians 1:6, ESV)
Praise God for His incredible kindness and mercy.