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I know that I am not a fatalist

June 14, 2010 1 comment

I have been thinking quite a bit about God’s will in my life in the last several months.  I have come to the conclusion that I am not a fatalist.  I do not believe that our lives are completely predetermined.

I truly believe in free will and that our choices matter.  I do not think that God has our entire lives mapped out from before we are born and we somehow must struggle to find our one true path in order to fulfill destiny.  I also do not believe that every choice that we make is between a “good” and an “evil” choice.  Sometimes, there are two good choices or two evil choices (in which, neither would be an appropriate choice).

My opinions on this have grown stronger through my own actions as a father.  Jesus asked if a father would give his son a stone when he asked for bread and how much more does the Father give good gifts?  Yes, I know that God is all knowing but if He wants us to ask, then doesn’t that mean that what we want matters to Him?  Not in a “Oh, Lord, I need a fishing boat” sorta way, mind you.  However,  I know that when my children express interest in something that could be good for them, I am willing to explore it and if they have a passion for it, I will do anything in my power to help them.  We have driven for hours so that my girls could spend minutes doing gymnastic routines and will probably do the same for my son in baseball if his passion stays remotely as strong as it is at the ripe age of 6.  We have bought art kits and help turn items that were never meant to be part of a craft project into just that because one of the kids had a creative idea that we saw as good.  We do these things because our children have a passion or desire for something and as their parents, we want them to do what is both good for them and what they enjoy.  Doesn’t it stand to reason that God wants the same for us?  That may be oversimplifying things quite a bit.  Obviously, what we want needs to be pleasing to God in the same way that what my children want must be pleasing to me.  Just because my son could be real passionate about sitting on the couch and watching television hours on end and his oldest sister may be passionate (and talented) about tormenting him and his other sister, I am most certainly not going to allow those things, let alone encourage them.

If I am wrong, then why do we have free will?  Why would  we have varying talents and passions?  Why would we have such abilities to dream?

Before I go off on another trail or get way too deep, I should wrap this up and leave deeper thoughts on this for another day.  What do you think?  Let me know.

Still A Lot To Learn

June 13, 2010 Leave a comment

One thing that I hate to do is repeat hard lessons, so I am always looking at what I can learn from difficult situations.  Socrates said that to know is to know that you know nothing.  That is meaning of true knowledge.  It seems like I am learning that lesson over and over again.  It’s amazing how much less I know today than I did even three years ago.  God has really been showing me that I really don’t have it all figured out and all things cannot be wrapped up in a nice little package with a neat bow on top.  That’s okay.  I’m not a big fan of pretty little bows anyway.

I am still learning plenty from the recent health drama episodes.  You may have never met someone who is so happy to see green fuzzy objects, but I can say that I was truly excited when I was able to make out that a person was standing in front of me with my right eye.  I have also never been so grateful for one good eye.

But deeper than the physical aspects of my condition, are the things that have been rolling through this cranium of mine.  I have been forced to be still.  I don’t like to be still.  However, I have rediscovered the love that I have for music and have spent more time with my guitar in the last week than I have, outside of church, in a very long time.  It is amazing how an acoustic guitar and an uplifting song can change a mood.  I am sure that new songs will come out of this time as soon as my mind is clear enough to wax poetic again.

I am learning that my strength does not come from my physical being.  Quite frankly, my strength does not even come from within me at all.  I have always been aware of that, now I am seeing it to be true.  It is one thing to say that you depend on God and it is another when you actually do.  I am grateful that I able to learn these lessons in relatively minor incidents.  Let’s be real honest, although no one wants to have any kind of surgery or medical condition, a few days of being blind in one eye and having to keep your face down for a week a really small in the grand scope of medical conditions.  Still, it tested my strength and removed my ability to rely on myself to meet my basic needs.  I would much rather learn that I need those around me through retina re-attachment than open heart surgery.

I am learning that things are often times much more complicated than they first appear.   Besides the eye, there are so many times that I go into things thinking I have a grasp on what is going to happen only to be so far from reality.  I’m growing okay with that.  I guess I’m getting old, but I am okay not knowing everything.  I realize that the world keeps spinning around even if I do not have all the answers.  Occasionally, it still slows down a little, but that is happening less and less.

All in all, I am learning a lot about myself and learning that the more I learn, the less I really know.

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Half Blind

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve had medical eye problems since I was 21 years old.  Considering the fact that my family’s medical history reads like the annuls of the New England Journal Of Medicine, it’s a small cross to bear.  I have to put drops in my eyes every day.  I had cataracts removed at age 31. No big deal,really.  I have had bee stings that hurt worse than cataract surgery.  Last week, things were different.  Things had never been this cloudy before.  A quick trip to my eye doctor and it was determined that I would need to see a retina specialist because the inflammation was in the rear of the eye.  Again, no big deal.  I was expecting to get a shot in the back of the eye and go about my business.  Tuesday morning, I was hit with the news that my retina was 2/3 detached and it was getting worse.  7 hours later, I’m full of happy juice while the doctor cuts and ties, flattens and squeezes my eye back into shape.  Still no big deal, right?  Pain meds are good.  I will be fine.

The doctor comes in post op and explains that all went well but there is one problem.  Because of where the tear occurred, in order to have a chance of using my right eye again, I will need to keep my head down facing the floor with almost no break for one to two weeks.  This is a big deal.  You see until now, all the outcome was out of my hands.  I can promise you that after two and a half days of this, the complications from leaning forward far outweigh any post op pain or discomfort.  I don’t say this to garner sympathy (although I do like cookies) but rather to explore the comparison of this to our spiritual and mental responses to our condition.

Today, the technician in the office said that some people do not follow the doctor’s orders and their retina detaches days after the surgery.  Tanya could not believe that people would do that.  I can.  I have to purposely make the choice to do something that will cause back pain, neck strain and headaches for over a week.  I can make the pain go away simply by sitting up straight.  I have to choose.  My family has to put up with this big baby that is staring at the floor all day.  But if I just sit up, the pain will go away.  All it will cost me is a blind right eye for the rest of my life.

There was actually one moment where, based totally on current feelings, it was almost worth the cost of the vision to have relief from the pressure in my head.  But James said that to know what is good and to not do it is sin.  If I had given in to my weakness, I would regret it for the rest of my life.  I’m only 36, so I plan on it being around a long time.  My wife has been able to provide the decades long perspective when I’m stuck on the moment.

For the moment, my head is clear and this has made me think about how our life choices affect us and many times, and we do not realize it.  It’s nice to know the consequences.  Keep your head up and be half blind.  Life choices, however, are not usually so clear for us.  It is often said that we cannot choose our circumstances, only our response to them.  The clear lesson for me is that our choices matter.  My doctor could be the world’s expert on retinal reattachment but he cannot make me keep my head down.

We are quick to cry out to God when faced with something tough.   We want God to make life be like a McDonalds drive thru.  I want a number 3 with sweet tea.  Extra ketchup.  Many of you reading this will have varied opinions of God, but think about this.  Do you know a God that controls and manipulates you or do you know a God that gives you free will?  My God let’s me make mistakes.  I have to choose to do what is right.  I have to choose to look past the current and examine the costs of my decision.  After this incident, I will pay even closer attention to those choices because I don’t want to go through life half blind, physically, mentally, or spiritually.

Change Can Be Hard

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment

As I have covered in previous posts, my girls have been doing competitive gymnastics for 3 years.  Together, we have made the painful decision to move away from this part of our lives.  We agonized over the decision for months and we as a family were able to come to an agreement.  The night we made the final decision was one of the worst nights as a father and husband that I have endured.  We analyzed this thing 243 different ways and looked at every possible angle before making the final call and it was still terrible.  This is not a sport that your child can be casually involved in.  It involves the entire family and you become close friends with other parents, gymnasts, and coaches.

Although we made the ultimate decision to walk away, I will never regret that my daughters were involved in such an intense sport.  They have learned so many life lessons that I did not learn until my high school, college, and even in some cases, adult life.  Yes, it is ultra competitive and that can be a very bad thing. However, I have found in life that you cannot succeed without trying hard and you cannot try hard unless you truly know yourself and trust yourself.  My girls learned much more than how to do a roundoff back tuck.  They learned to trust themselves.  They learned to believe in themselves.   They learned that no matter how hard you try, you cannot always win and that success does not have to be measured by the number of awards won, but when the award do come, enjoy and celebrate.  They learned that success doesn’t come without hard work.  That people can be tough on you because they care about you and believe in you.  But most importantly, they learned that they have potential of so much more than what they currently are but in order to achieve it, they are going to have to push beyond their comfort zone, trust themselves, and let go of the bar in order to spread their wings.

I wonder how many years it will be before their coach is able to see the amazing impact on these young girls’ lives away from the chalk and springboards.

So now, we find other things, many other things, I’m sure.  Other sports will come soon, but for now, it’s animals, vegetables, and water.  This summer my little gymnasts are just little farm girls.

Been a long time

May 19, 2010 Leave a comment

As I log in to this site for the first time in way too long, I can’t get Led Zeppelin’s Been A Long Time out of my head.  Life has been crazy for the last year and a half.  Recently, a friend stumbled on my blog for the first time and suggested that I start writing again, so I am taking his advice and firing up the old neurons and giving my fat little fingers a work out.   More to come…

Categories: Random Thoughts

So can you secede from a town?

September 25, 2008 3 comments

We recently looked at  a very nice home and quickly ruled it out because it was the last house inside town limits.  With town water, sewer, and taxes, it added over $200 per month to the cost.  So it made me wonder, can you secede from a town?  A quick Google search showed me that I was not alone in my thoughts.   It has been done by at least one condominium complex in Pennsylvania and is being considered by another in New York.  (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DEFDA1431F93AA35752C1A961948260)

My question is can one homeowner secede?  There have been many towns that want to secede from their state.  I know there are advantages to being part of a town and that those advantages come at a price, and for me, they are not a good value. 

My question goes much deeper than just pure economics.  What about political and regulatory issues?  I am, for the most part,  a far right social conservative but I have very libertarian views on property ownership.  I have a hard time paying the town a fee so that they will allow me to make improvements on my property.  Uh, thank you?  I understand the need for safety and good citizenship but we have become this nanny state society where everyone must be protected from themselves and have government watch over every move.  I have said it before and I will say it again, at the very least, our forefathers would be disgusted at what our country has become.  I fear that they would label us all Tories.  I find that my desire for independence does not fit well with municipal living. 

So, can someone legally secede from a town?

Josh Howard, Let Me Help You Out

September 19, 2008 1 comment

I know everyone is dumping on Josh Howard right now.  I don’t want to do that.  I actually want to help him out.  First, let me thank him for being honest with us.

Josh, do you feel like the world is closing in around you?  Do you need to get away?  After you clear up this little drag racing trial, why don’t you take a little trip.  I found a place that would suit you.  You won’t have to worry about being harassed about your comments about The National Anthem.  In fact, you will be held in high esteem.  If only you played baseball instead of basketball, they might even adopt you.  Just go to http://www.cubalinda.com/ and book a flight.  You’ll feel right at home.

Unfortunately, Howard has the right to make disparaging comments because of the thousands of men and women gave their lives to defend his freedom.  The very poem that became our national anthem was birthed in a battle for that freedom.  I realize that one song could never fully reflect the deep love and commitment that so many of us have for this great nation, but I can’t think of any other song that comes close.  People risk their lives to get into this country, albeit illegally. 

Josh, try what I do when I celebrate this fine song and all that it represents.  Keep your mouth shut, stand up straight, and think about those brave soldiers who served us, the brave forefathers that faced tortuous deaths, the freedoms that you enjoy, and the God that gave us the rights that we are guaranteed.  If you don’t want to do that, I’d suggest that you make that little getaway destination a permanent relocation.