Friday, September 12, 2014

Easier Does Not Equal Better

There are times when I wish things were as they used to be. Life as a child is significantly easier than as an adult, especially in one particular area.

Decisions.

As children, most decisions are made for us, what we eat for dinner, when to go to bed, how much sugar is enough, and the list goes on. But as we grow up, more and more of the decisional responsibility should be placed upon our shoulders.

I'm at one of those momentous points in my life. I have to make the decision as to where I'll work for the foreseeable future. I have two options on my plate, both have their pros and cons, both would be enjoyable, and both would pay the bills (though one would pay them with more left over). What factors do I consider? How do I decide which is a better use of the limited time that the Lord has entrusted to me?

In years gone by I would probably have run to dad and mom and asked them what I should do, and they, while likely leaving the final decision up to me, would have told me what they thought was the best option. Now that I'm a young adult though, I'm so very thankful that my parents have sought to help me stand on my own two feet, rather than let me rely on them to choose my path.

My parents have given me mountains of advice, suggested things to consider, and people to talk with, and encouraged me to pray and see the Lord as I make this weighty decision. But they have resisted the urge that I'm sure they feel to tell me what they think is the right decision, for which I am extremely grateful.

And it's hard sometimes. Having the answer handed to me on a silver platter would be easy, but it wouldn't be better. While I wouldn't be responsible if the decision were a bad one, but I also wouldn't grow and mature, nor experience the blessing of a wise decision. We have to make decisions every day of our lives, and my parents recognize that the only way we can learn to make decisions, is to make decisions.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

~Paul

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Shiny Sink

Sinks - We all have them.


Shiny, clean, spotless sinks - Most of us don't have them.

I just got home from work, and was greeted by a very clean kitchen. So when I was finished making my afternoon snack (carefully seasoned mashed potatoes), I almost threw the spatula into the sink. But then thought about all the work that someone in my family had done to get the sink to it's current sparkling condition. I felt ashamed that I, in my laziness, was about to toss a soiled utensil into it, marring it's pristine condition.

So I didn't. I grabbed the scrub brush, took literally less than 15 seconds to clean the spatula, and add it to the drying rack.

It's so much easier to keep a space clean once it's completely clean, because leaving the first item out is always the hardest. By not leaving my spent spatula in the sink, I helped keep the kitchen clean for that much longer. 

Hmmm, now perhaps I should clean my room, because it literally looks like a tornado went through it...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Value of writing

A moment of terror flooded over me. I couldn't find them. I checked drawers, bags, all over my desktop, but they were nowhere to be found. But then I remembered that I had filed them all, safely next to my birthday cards from last year.

Phew.

That was a sigh of relief, I had found all of my birthday cards, and could commence writing my thank you notes, thanking each family who had taken an evening of their week to come celebrate with me the passage of yet another year that the Lord had granted to me. But being the distractible fellow that I often am, I sat at my desk and pondered the emotions of the last few minutes: concern, then panic, followed by hurried searching, and finally sweet relief as I found my treasures. All for some pieces of paper with only a few sentences penned on their smooth surfaces. But all were well spent emotions.

Long after the party is done, the money is spent, and the gifts are either lost, out grown (that one doesn't happen to me anymore) or worn out, I will still have the cards that people have given to me. Whether they were hastily written in the car on the way to the party - thoughts off the top of the author's head, or carefully formulated words of encouragement and wisdom written days in advance, I cherish them all. They show that those who penned them value their recipient enough to show their love and appreciation in old fashioned hand writing, long or short, in depth, profound, or a simple I love you.

Though they may not say we love you in so many words isn't that what birthday cards say? Words of Encouragement may not be my primary Love Language for showing love (and an area in which I need to grow), but it certainly is one that makes my heart rejoice. To know that others love me in ways that I know I don't deserve, it's almost too much joy to contain.

To all of you who have written to me, thank you. It means more to me than I can express.

Paul

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why I Don't (and Never Did) Believe Money Grows on Trees



We've all heard the saying, "Money doesn't grow on trees." This evening I was contemplating that phrase, and why someone, particularly a young someone, might believe that it does.

I know that no one (well, hopefully no one, but someone probably does) believes that money really does grow like shiny green leaves on a tree, it's the root of the matter that is the issue. Rephrased, the saying could say, "Money does not sprout from nothing."

But why might a child grow up with the idea that money comes from nothing? I would wager that it likely could be that he was given money for doing nothing.

Like a government handout, but from parents instead of Big Brother.

Because little Johnny didn't have to work for the money he received, wouldn't it would be counter intuitive for him to think that income is (normally) proceeded by work, and is therefore the product thereof? I tend to think so.

My brothers and I never received "government handouts" from our parents (which are often masked as allowances) growing up. Very early on my parents would find ways for us to earn money to finances our extraneous spending, like mowing, special cleaning, selling things, and yard work, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Don't raise your kids to expect money that they didn't earn. It won't stop just because they grow up. There's a reason 47,000,000[source] (that's million) Americans or on food stamps (i.e. government allowance).

Thanks Dad and Mom!!
~Paul

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

In the Multitude of Counselors There is Safety.


"The more you know, the more you know you don't know."
~Aristotle

An accusation that's often levied at people my age is that we think we know everything. And while that assertion is often well founded, the Lord has been gracious enough to give me a recognition of the fact that I know very, very little.


I know I don't know very much (in fact, I probably don't even know how much I know I don't know!), that's why I'm so thankful for verses like this:

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety
~Proverbs 11:14

There will always be those who are wiser than you are, seek them out, and never, ever stop asking them questions.
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding
Proverbs 3:13 
The Lord has graciously placed a few people in my life who are just mountains of wisdom, depths of knowledge and experience gleaned from years of living. But most of them won't offer their council unless I first ask them (or if they see a blind spot of mine, and then I'm most thankful that they will lovingly come alongside me to point me back in the way I should go).

Be that young man or woman that's known for their hunger for wisdom. Seek out those who are wiser than you, like your parents, and older couples in your church. You will never regret it.

Paul

Monday, April 14, 2014

God Will I Fear

In my morning reading today I was struck by three verses from Psalm 46. They perfectly express what I imperfectly attempted to express in What Do You Fear. Fear of the dark seems petty in light of not fearing "though the earth gives way." What a mighty Lord and Savior we serve!
     1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
     2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be move into the heart of the sea,
     3 though its waters roar and foam,
through the mountains tremble at it's swelling.
   Selah. 

In Christ,
Paul

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Do You Fear

Last night I accompanied my youngest sister out to do the animals because it was well after sun down. She hasn't quite gotten over her fear of the dark, but she's doing way better than I was at her age! But as I helped her shoo the last of the chickens into their barn, I started thinking about fear.

Fear of the dark is something that it seems most people suffer from at some point in their life. But why? What's so scary about the dark? I would wager that it's not actually the dark that scares people, it's what could be in the dark that has some people (my former self included) jumping at every rustle or snap. Sophocles once said
"To him who is in fear, everything rustles."
It's really fear of the unknown. When we don't know what's out there, our minds can be uncannily  good at scaring the dickens out of us with the ridiculous, and more often than not, unreasonable scenarios that it can come up with.

But as a man whom I respect much more than him of the above quote has said,
"My religious belief teaches me that I’m just as safe on the battlefield as I am in my bed.  The Lord has already appointed the day of my death so I need not worry about that." ~Stonewall Jackson
Fear of anything shows a lack of trust in God. If I'm afraid of what could be out there just because I can't see it, that is evidence that I lack trust in my Savior. If I truly love Him, and trust His plans
and timing, then I should be one of the most fearless people alive!

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love" ~1 John 4:18"

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Abrogation of Personal Privacy, and How to Fly Safely

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” 
These timeless words spoken by Ben Franklin went through my mind as I stared into the distance in front of me at the Nashville International Airport. This wasn't the first time that I've opted out of the backscatter scanners, nor was it the first time I'd received an "enhanced" pat down.

But unlike the many atrocious reports you've probably read or heard about of aggressive, rude, obnoxious patter downers, I've always had fairly uneventful and painless (or as painless as having a gloved hand running around my waist band can be) experience with the TSA. So I really can't really personally relate to some of the outrageous stories that have been told (like this one).

But that's no excuse to accept these kinds of invasions into our personal privacy just "to obtain a little temporary safety." This kind of violation wouldn't have been tolerated even a decade ago, but today, people will go through nearly anything so long as it's 'for your safety.'

What's even more sobering is the knowledge that the airports are only the first step. The distrust of Americans will eventually move to more general public places like stadiums and schools (oh wait, we already have that), and will only become more and more invasive. But are we actually safer in the air and on the ground today then we were in a pre 9/11 world? I would wager that we're not.

But I know the solution to this whole problem: weapons, maybe even assault rifles.

Yes, I just said that, allow the thing that liberals have nightmares about, and constantly rail against, onto planes. Actually though, they're already on a lot of planes. Many pilots are allowed to have a gun in the cockpit, and more than 10% are armed in the sky (per this not-so happy-about-it article).

Just as arming American citizens can and has protected innocent life on the ground in schools and in public, allowing the people to protect themselves and those around them while in the air will not only make us safer, but it will preserve our liberty and freedom.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Don't Want to Hear It...

...but that's no excuse for having a 3-year-old-just-lost-his-favorite-toy attitude.

http://ambassador-enterprises.com/blog/three-wisdom-builders/
None of us like being corrected, or at least I know that I don't. Sometimes correction means that something I've been doing is way out of line and I really to check my heart. But other times it's simply a kind word from a dear friend telling me I need a little course correction. I know that I need others to help me stay on the straight and narrow, even though it's uncomfortable sometimes to face the fact that I've been wrong (though it really shouldn't be surprising, as it happens all the time), be it a huge log in my eye that a Brother is gently pointing out, or merely a speck
.
For those of you who know me, you know that I tend to over think issues, I can spend days wondering about something someone said, trying to figure out if they were simply being nice, or if they really didn't like my hair. And while it hurts to be told that I'm wrong, in hind sight I am always thankful that they were willing to take my hand and gave me the guidance that I need. But there's one thing that hurts even more than being told "you're wrong": not being told "you're wrong."

When I'm doing something that hurts others, or even simply makes them uncomfortable, like belching at the dinner table for example (though that's not a dining sin that I'm in the habit of committing, just FYI), I'd want to know. But there have been times in my life when there has been something that I was doing that did make others uncomfortable, and it was a while before anyone would tell me.

This happend to me again recently, and needless to say I was a little upset when I finally did find out. I distinctly remember thinking "why didn't they tell me!?!" and I was just starting to get upset when the Lord brought something to mind that my mom told me a year or so ago. In fact, it was shortly after writing this blog post: Would Someone Please Just Tell Me!?!. I even considered titling this entry "Please Just Tell Me!" but I realized that this title would completely miss the point that I apparently still needed to learn.

What my mom had pointed out to me so long ago, and indeed has had occasion to point out several times since (ok, a lot of times, my noggin's pretty think), was that I often don't accept correction with a Christlike attitude. For instance she said that I often argue when others correct me, and I remember getting ready to say "well that's not always true!", and that's when it hit me.  I don't have "ah ha!" moments very often, but I had one then. I had just proven to myself that mom was right (as she usually is).

It's not about others not telling me, it's about me not listening with grace and humility.

I wasn't accepting her correction with enough humility to see that she was right, or enough grace to accept her reproof with thankfulness. The fault lies completely with me. I can't complain that others didn't tell me the hard things, because I hadn't made it safe for them to do so. They weren't making life difficult for me, I was the one making life difficult for them. If I was known to accept correction and reproof with grace and humility, others probably wouldn't hesitate to help me see my flaws.

I think that two of the verses in particular that I quoted in "Would Someone Please Just Tell Me" apply to this situation quite divinely:
Proverbs 15:31: The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. 
Proverbs 15:32: He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. 
Getting mad at others when they are trying to guide me is like getting mad at the messenger, it doesn't make the message untrue, but it can drive away even my closest friends. By the grace of God, I need to man up and accept responsibility for my actions, and especially when others come to point me towards Christ. After all, those are the best kinds of friends to have.

By God's grace, and with a little more humility than before,
Paul

P.S. This was post 100!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The one thing Christians should keep saying


I don't make it a habit of simply posting links to other blogs (that's what facebook and twitter are for, right?), but given the widespread popularity of the article that this blogpost is critiquing, I thought it worth re-sharing. You've all probably seen the article "The One thing Christians Should Stop Saying" floating around in your various feeds and updates.
I read it a week or so ago, and while I saw Mr. Dannemiller's point, something seemed off, like he was reacting against an improper emphasis, but in doing so swinging too far in the opposite direction. The pendulum is a very easy thing to ride, and Justine does a sound job of pointing out the error and offering correction. Head over to MI Taylor Family's blog and give "One Thing Christians Should Keep Saying" a read, and drop a comment over there if you feel so inclined.

~Paul

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