Saturday, September 18, 2004

Date Night

Tonight was our night. We had gotten all of our work done earlier in the day because we had plans for the evening.

The sitters arrived at 5:30 (that's right, it takes 2 of em to watch my boys). I'm not sure if the sitter's feet actually touched the interior of the house before we were out the door and in the car. It had obviously been too long since our last date. We headed off for a quick dinner at BW3 - that's what it was called before they revamped their name to Buffalo Wild Wings. I still call it BW3 because I know what the 3 W's stood for. After dinner, we took a little walk through Best Buy. Now ladies, I know that you are getting pretty jealous reading this. You are probably thinking, "Wow, his wife is the luckiest woman ever. He takes her out for messy, spicy chicken wings and then takes her through Best Buy to look at some new parts for his computer!!". Sorry ladies, but you are too late.

After our little jaunt through the electronic Mecca, we head over to our church for a little concert. A member of our church is having a CD release party. He leads worship at a Sat Evening server, which we don't attend, but he has also made other appearances during Sunday mornings. I really enjoy his voice and the music that he writes. Needless to say, the concert was AWESOME!!! His title track, "Long arm of love", was very moving. It talks about how no matter where we are in life, no matter how far we have run, we can never outrun God's love for us. His arm is always the reach out and help us to turn around and run back to Him. For someone who spent most of my life running from God and avoiding Him, this song hit home. Does that mean that my life is easier now, that there are less obstacles, that everything now goes my way? Not a chance. But it does help me to see that every circumstance in my life, no matter how messed up and horrible I have made, God works through that situation and I am able to look back later and see how beautiful he made it. We had another artist realease a CD a few months back as well, Stacy Hanson. She release a song called It's only a season. The message she shares is about how, no matter what you are going through in your life, that it is only temporary. You can choose to dwell on it everyday and lengthen that situation for you, or you can choose to allow God to work on that area and turn it into a beautiful season in your life.

Once I get my CD opened, I will grab some lyrics and post them up here.

I hear Tanya calling - time for bed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Let me count the ways...

I love....

1. That she places her hand on my leg as we drive
2. That she has encouraged me to not be satisified with where I am
3. That she is patient with me as I try and understand what her true Love Language is.
4. The fact that all the things that she does that annoy me are what I also find most attractive.
5. That she laughs at my attempt at dancing
6. That she enjoys having "Date Nights" with me.
7. That she is the only person, without a license, that I will ever allow to cut my hair
8. That she cares about taking pictures and preserving memories of our family
9. That she has patience with me when I have no patience for anyone.
10. That she wants to be a part of my life
11. That she has become a local sports fan
12. The way she descibes things in such detail
13. Her legs (I AM a leg-man, afterall)
14. Her desire to be spontaneous
15. Her willingness to try new things as a family
16. Her desire to define our family identity
17. Her ability to write fluently (good thing oneof us can)
18. The way she is able to find something to compliment someone on.
19. The way that she is always trying to improve her self for me
20. That she is crafty (not sneaky)
21. That she has vowed to never give up on us
22. That she will not allow me to give up either
23. That she always forgives me when I have done something wrong
24. That I trust her with all my heart
25. That she trusts me with all her heart.
26. That she lets me make jokes about her home-state (Iowa) :)
27. That my family is just as messed up as her family
28. That she made me a pot of split pea soup, from scratch. Just to show me love.
29. That for my birthday, she made my favorite meal - liver and onions. (thats gotta be true love)
30. How she tries so hard to have dinner ready when I come home, but there is always a timing issue.
31. How she is always willing to step out in faith and try new things
32. That she always let me drive
33. That recognizes when I need to "de-stress", and allows me that opportunity.

...More to come.....

The end has come....

I got to catch the finals last night of the WSOP. I know, I know...the event actually ended months ago and this is only ESPN's broadcasting of it. Who cares!!! I love watching poker and cannot get enough of it. More than watching poker, I thoroughly enjoy playing it. Online, of course - and not with real money. I spend most nights playing for a few hours before I head off to bed. I enjoy sharing with my wife the money that I made in the evening. It allows me to dream big knowing that on a given night I can make around $400K. Someday, if all of the pieces fall into place, I will head down to the local horse track and play a little in their Card Club.

I cannot tell explain my love for this game. I have watched the 2003 WSOP so many times I have the hands memorized, yet I still find incredible enjoyment in watching it.

ugghhh......I'm pathetic ;)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Don't rob someone else.

I was reading a story last night that reminded me of something. As my family and I trudge along in our life, looking for signs of God and wanting to hear more from Him, thoughts from past experiences and past readings came creeping back in.

I recalled reading a story that talked about prayers; more specifically, the answers to prayers. Here is the abridged version of the story, hopefully I don't mess it up.

Amy, the eldest of 3 daughters, had just turned 8. She came home from school one afternoon talking about how she had needed to get a new pair of shoes. Everyone else at school had these shoes and she wanted to get a pair to be like all of her friends. Money was tight in the family, and these were pretty expensive shoes. She begged and pleaded, but was told that they were too expensive and that they were currently unaffordable. The saga continued for a couple more days as she would come home and talk about these shoes again and again. Each time raising the the level of pleading hoping that her parents would finally break. After 4 days of this, her father finally told her that they would not be able to buy her the shoes, no matter how much she continued to plead for them. He suggested that she go pray and ask God for the shoes. Not yet having been crushed by the world, this little girl figured it was as good of chance as anything else. She ran off to her room and started praying for these shoes. Her father figured that he had solved the problem, with her now asking God for the shoes, he no longer had to be the scapegoat when she didn't get them. Amy continued praying for her shoes for the next week. On Sunday, as the family was returning from church, they pulled in the drive and noticed a bag on their front porch. The girls jumped out of the car and ran to the porch to see what was in. Within moments, Amy came running back to the car with tears in her eyes. In her hands were a new pair of the shoes that she had been praying for. Her squeals of joy could be heard throughout the neighborhood as her parents stood there in amazement. This was the day that Amy became a believer in the power of prayer.

It was a few days later that the father was on the phone talking with his sister, when he mentioned the story about Amy and her shoes. His sister said that the shoes had come from her. She had purchased a pair for herself, but didn't like the way they felt. She was speaking with Amy's Grandmother about the shoes and was telling her that she had bought these shoes, but could no longer take them back as she had worn them for a couple of days. Amy's Grandmother relayed the fact that Amy had been wanting a pair of those same shoes. Since the size was right, they decided that they should just give them to Amy and allow someone to get some use out of them.

When I first read this story, I thought, "See, God doesn't really answer prayers. It was just circumstances that made it look that way." It wasn't until I began to have similar experiences that I really understood how God was working in my life and working my life into other people's lives. I remember shortly after I was saved, we were in our new house and were unpacking boxes. I was working in the kitchen and was unpacking a set of knives that we had purchased off of TV. I laughed at the fact that each of these knives was wrapped in cardboard and each was imprinted with the phrase - Caution: Knives are sharp!!! I found out quickly how sharp they were as I pulled a bread knife out of the cardboard and it ran against the palm of my hand. There was Plenty of blood splattering to know that I had taken it pretty deep. Living close to the Hospital, I hoped in the car and drove up to the ER for some stitches (a place that would eventually give my family a punch-card so we could earn a free visit). While I was waiting for the Dr., a nurse came in to clean out my wound. As she was cleaning we were making small-talk about this and that. She mentioned that she had a daughter who had just started college that year. She had been getting a little nervous because she hadn't heard from her in a while, but she was sure everything was okay. This was when I did something that I had never done before. I asked her if I could pray for her and her daughter. She said that would be fine. I reached out and grabbed her hands. She pulled back and said, "You mean right now?" "Yes", I said, "right now." I grabbed her hands again and began praying. I cannot remember, to this day, what I said. All I remember is that when I finished, her eyes had began to tear up and she thanked me and walked away. I felt a little odd inside afterwards, wondering if she was now thinking I was some kind of freak, but I just let it go. A few days later I was at work and I received a call from her. She apologized for calling me at work, and explained that she wasn't supposed to get personal information off of our charts, but she felt the need to call me. She wanted to thank me again, and tell me that her daughter had called her later that same day I had prayed for her. Her daughter mentioned how she had felt this need to call and let her know that everything was fine and that she was doing good. She had no other motive for calling - not looking for money, not for food, not anything - she just felt that she needed to ease her mother's heart. This was a moment that this wonderful mother, was reminded of the power of prayer.

This was the moment at I had my eyes opened to the fact that God does not directly answer prayers. God answers prayers through other people. There have been many times since then that I have felt the need to pray for people. In the supermarket, in parking lots, at work. Each time I have done this, I remember the moments leading up to the confrontation and I recall what happened afterwards. But, for the life of me, I cannot remember what was said or what was prayed. This has been the true confirmation for me that God was in control of the situations. I remember, in such details, the moments beforehand. I remember the lighting, the background music, the time of day. Everything!!! Except was was actually spoken.

I caught part of a movie the other day - Pay it Forward. It dealt with doing a good deed for someone else, without expecting anything in return for it. When I watched that movie, I was reminded of all of the prayers that God has used me to answer. I also looked forward to that day when I will sit down with Him and He will show me the far-reaching impact that each of those scenarios had. Our lives cross paths with people everyday that we may never see again - don't rob someone of the prayer that God is trying to answer through you. If you choose to not allow God to use you, He will find someone else to answer that prayer, but you will miss out on the blessing that it will bring to your life.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Painting the driveway....

I spent this weekend working on seal-coating my driveway. Saturday was the fill the crack portion of the adventure, while Sunday would be the main event. It went well, other than the fact that I ran out of sealant with about a 4x4 section still unpaved. No big deal, as it only took 2 1/2 5 gal pails to complete this driveway. The last one I did, which was about 1/2 the length of my current one, took 12 pails to cover because it soaked up the crap so quickly we couldn't spread it. That was a fiasco that I hope to never deal with again.

My boys came out to the front to investigate what I was doing. They quickly noted that I was painting the driveway. Now this may sound funny, but I have a neighbor with a painted driveway.

Joe passed on a couple months ago from an incredibly aggressive cancer. He was older, maybe late 60's or early 70's. He was very maticulous with his house and his yard. I remember seeing him out in the yard early in the morning with his weed puller getting rid of those pesky dandelions. There were many days where I found him doing touch-up work on the paint on his house or sweeping the dust off of his patio. His driveway always made me smile. While mine is an asphalt drive, his is made of concrete. When we first moved in I was amazed at how white his driveway was and wondered if he used a bleach or some special cleaner on it in order to keep it that way. I quickly found out when I caught him out there with his paint and his roller stick. He said he put a new coat on every year. He liked the way it would shine and he liked how smooth it made the drive. I am debating if, as a tribute to Joe, I should grab the black paint and give mine a special coat, just for him.

Although Joe is missed by all of us, I can guarantee that Heaven's lawn has never been better kept. Keep the mower tuned up for me, Joe!!!!