Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Missing Words

There is an email going around that really catches your attention. "The US government has omitted the words "In God we Trust" off the new Presidential $1 coins. The email suggest we boycott the coins and refused to accept them as change when we get them handed to us.

I did a little research on this and the link at the end of this post will help you understand what happened. I am relieved to understand that these words are not omitted from our US coins. As you can read there were some coins that were printed without those words on them but it was minting error and was not intended to be printed that way. The original design had these words printed on the outer edge of the coin rather than on the front side of the coin as usual but now it appears that the coins made this year have gone back to having the words back on the front side of the coin. It appears, at least for now, that we will still be seeing the words "In God we Trust" on these coins.

It's good to see that so many Americans are bothered by the possibility that our government would mint coins without the words "In God we trust" on them. If that were the case, I'd boycott them as well.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Looking to the future

Sometimes, when things seem hopeless, it's good to focus on the future. Looking forward to a better time, and better day. I know when I was in the Army I spent 2 years overseas in Europe. I was stationed in Stuttgart Germany, and even though it was wonderful living there and experiencing life in Europe, I also missed home and America. I remember on those days that I was homesick, I would think to myself, this is only temporary and it's not going to last forever, it won't be long before I'm back home and this would always make me feel better and even help me be able to endure whatever I was going through or feeling at the time.

The day before my oldest son Eric was to go into jail for the next 2 and half years of his life, I was riding my motorcycle and thinking about how difficult this was going to be for him. How difficult this was going to be for his Mom, his brother, and myself. I was pained at the thought of this separation for so long. Remembering how it helped me to look forward to the future when I was stationed in Europe I thought to myself, "I need to give Eric something to look forward to in the future when he finally gets out. A carrot "so to speak" that will await him when he gets out in a few years. Eric had always wanted to learn to ride my bike so I went home and had Eric join me on the bike and I spend some time with him his last free day teaching him how to ride. He absolutely loved riding the bike and he did very well. After our short time together I made Eric a promise. I told him to remember how good it felt to ride and never forget it while he's in jail, because when he gets out... the bike is his. I told him I wanted him to have my bike and look forward to once again feeling the freedom you feel when your riding a bike down the road. Of course he was excited about this and as I had hoped, over the next few years while I'd visit him in jail we talk about one day getting to ride again. I believe this helped him more than I ever dreamed. It's in times like these we need something to look forward to, helping to take our mind off of what we're going through at the moment.

Yesterday, Eric got his bike! It's taken a few months since he got out but he practiced riding and took his test to get his motorcycle licence and after getting insurance yesterday he finally got his bike. It's his! I wish that I had planned better, because right now I'm without a bike, but Eric doesn't seem to mind me riding whenever I want until I get another one of my own.

You know, I find it very helpful to look to the future when times get tough. Looking forward can pull you through because you always know there is a better day ahead. Don't let today's problems ruin your hopes for tomorrow. You know when you have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, there's always a better day ahead. This has always helped me through the tough times in my life. I hope you too have Jesus in your life. Because I promise you... when you go through trials, when you go through set backs or struggles, you won't be alone and it doesn't last forever. What you are going through is only temporary and it helps to look to the future and take your mind off of the present. Yes... there is a better day ahead.

John 14:1-3
The Way, the Truth, and the Life

1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Prayer: Dear God, no matter what we go through, we can have the assurance that it's only temporary. You have promised us eternal life in a special place that you have prepared for us! Just as I looked to the day I'd return home and Eric looked to the day he'd ride free again, we can look to the day when we'll live forever with You in paradise! Knowing this can get us through anything we face today. Thank you Lord for your loving kindness and for reminding us that this is not all there is. It's in Jesus name I pray. Amen

Friday, April 3, 2009

Where's your Spark?

It's hard to stay upbeat and energetic when you just don't feel like it. Today I was asked by an associate if I was ok? She says that I'm tired looking and I just don't have that spark the last couple of weeks. She says I'm still professional and friendly and all that, but I just look, well, stressed and tired!

News flash... I am stressed! My job is stressful in nature. Budgets to achieve, along with operational expectations and demands, can take a toll on you. No one really cares that it's stressful either... those above you just want results and after all you are in a position to figure those things out. I accept full responsibility for my career and I hold myself to a very high standard. Basically, I can stress myself out by holding myself accountable, rarely do I need someone else to do it for me. I know if I'm meeting expectations or not, and when I'm not... I'm stressed!

Saying that however I realize that if I appear stressed I can affect the people that I supervise into feeling stressed just because I'm stressed. My stress, my anxiousness, unsettles others around me and I understand the affect this has on others. I appreciate her saying something to me so I can be aware of this. I know she's concerned about me and that means a lot to me. The problem is however, even after she said something to me, I was still stressed!!!! Sure I was more aware of it, but the stress is still there to be contended with and my only hope today was to try and cover it in someway, which honestly I'm lousy at doing. My face always has reflected how I feel. I can't really hide it. So what course should I take now? How do I eliminate my stress so that I once again have that "spark" in my eyes that my co worker misses seeing in me? And quite frankly... needs to see in me as her leader.

I believe most of my stress comes from worry and the bible has a lot to say about worry. There are many verses that help us on the subject of worry and I know in my life, when I miss budget, when I miss sales projections, when I miss the mark on expectations or goals, I worry about the consequences of it. Worry comes from fear and God says we should not be afraid but rather but our faith and trust in him. those of you that know me know I struggle in this area and you know what? I'm not alone. You know how I know I'm not alone in this issue? The bible speaks too much about it for it not to be something all of us are going to struggle with from time to time. The good news is, that this worry, this fear can be overcome and it's something that should not take the spark out of our life. My focus is in the wrong place for me to have lost my spark.

My first plan of action needs to be... "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."

Jesus teaches about worry... Matthew 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

My job has always had a lot of stress in it, but lately I've been really worried and concerned about my results. I've always believed and know that I must strive to do my best and use my God given mind to think my way into improving my results. But sometimes everything you try just doesn't deliver the results you had planned. What do you do in this situation? I don't know about you but my tendency is to work harder and harder and before I know it, I've left God out of the equation. Not completely of course, but to the point I'm focused more on what I can do rather than what God can do. The points is this, God promises comfort, peace, and security in all situations and circumstances. My problem is to be mindful of that and seek God's kingdom and His righteousness, and God will then meet my needs. he will guide my steps and encourage me on my journey of ups and downs.

Prayer: Dear God, forgive me for forgetting to seek You first. I ask that You give me strength, energy, and the desire to seek Your will in my life and then through my obedience, You will provide. Whether I ever accomplish all the goals and expectations I set for myself at work, one thing I do know, I don't need to worry about my life. Worrying only makes me sick and unhealthy. My hope and prayer is that as I seek You and follow You I will perform as I live for You. May others see a spark in me, and that spark reflect the light of Jesus. It's in Jesus name I pray. Amen

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Recently I took a vacation trip to Vegas. Yes I know of all places to go, Vegas (sin city) would not have been on the top of your list for vacations but this trip had been planned for a long time. You can see from the picture at Hoover Dam, my son Ryan went with me. This trip was special in that this was a Father/Son trip.

Years ago when Ryan was around 10 or 11 years old, I'd take him to a convenience store and buy him a 20oz. coke. He'd always go for the bottles that had the "You can win" lid's on them. When we'd get in the car he'd take off the cap of the coke bottle and look at the inside of the cap and sure enough! Most times he'd win a free bottle of coke. I can't tell you how many times this happened. Over and over again he'd win those free cokes. One day I told him, "As lucky as you are when you turn 21 I'm going to take you to Vegas." Well Ryan, even at this young age had an Idea of what Vegas was like, because he'd watched the Griswalds (Chevy Chase and family) go to Vegas on their vacation. He loved that movie and of course we joked with each other about only having to buy one way tickets to Vegas because we'd drive back the cars we won (just like they did in the movie.) We'll we had fun for several years joking about this, then as Ryan got a little older he mentioned, "Dad, we really ought to go to Vegas as a Father son trip when I turn 21." I think he may have been 16 maybe when we decided to really do this. So I made a commitment that we'd do the trip when he turned 21. So for many years after that we would occasionally speak of the trip joking again about winning it big. For me the excitement about the trip was different than I suppose Ryan's was. I was excited about spending time with my son.

Well Ryan turned 21 in November of last year and with his school and my work we couldn't arrange to go on vacation until March of this year. Well as you can imagine... were not gamblers, but we did plan all kinds of other fun things to do while we were there for four days. We stayed at the Paris Hotel (pictured above), which I would recommend to anyone wanting to go to Vegas. It's centrally located on the strip and close to many other shows and hotels. We wanted to play golf, but decided against it when we realized just how expensive the courses were there. We went to see Lance Burton the magician. This was a great show and we enjoyed going to his show and then out to eat our first evening. The next day we went to see Terry Fader the ventriloquist. You may have seen him win on the TV show, "America's got Talent." Now this was a great show, lots of fun and he;s so talented, and again we went out to eat. The next day we went on a tour bus out to Hoover Dam and enjoyed our day there. Of course our Dam tour guide enjoyed telling us telling us several Dam jokes as we went on the Dam tour. You can imagine.

The good news is we didn't lose a lot of money, because you have to bet to lose it. Every hotel has a casino and you see many people betting money, and losing it. I didn't see anyone win big, and if they did win and collect a stack of chips, it wouldn't be long before that stack disappeared as they continued to play. Ryan and I played a few slot machines, yes we ventured out with our 10 to 20 dollars here and there, but it was short lived and I was thinking to myself it sure is good that we bought round trip plane tickets, because we certainly were not driving back in new cars that we won playing the slots in Vegas. Save that stuff for the movies!

The reason I even mention this trip however is because I will never forget this trip as long as I live. What began as a joke when he was 10 years old turned into a wonderful Father/Son trip that gave Ryan and myself a chance to spend some quality time together. I was telling someone at work about this trip my son and I took together and he said... "It's great that you have a son at the age that would want to spend time like that with his Dad." I really never thought about it much, but I am so blessed that my boys (both of them) love being with their Mom and Dad. they show great respect for us as their parents and both love spending time with us.

Another thing that I believe is so important is that I made a promise to my son and I kept it. This trip was so important to him and he thought about it constantly throughout the years and now that we've gone and come back we talk about the fun time we had together. It's also kind of fun to watch the expression on my Christian brothers and sisters faces when I tell then I went to Vegas for my vacation. I guess most see the worst in Vegas, the drinking, gambling, and exotic shows, but that's not all there is to do there. There's so much more to see and do. Wonderful restaurants, great shows, and fantastic tours around the area. You don't have to go there with the slogan in your head... "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" you can go and come back and tell everyone what you did. Sin doesn't just abide in a city called Vegas, you can stay at home and find it as well.

I thank the Lord for the time Ryan and I had together.