6/28/07 at 9:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

It’s a little delayed, but for those just stopping in for the first time I hope you enjoy the new (but not necessarily improved) Spudlets.  Back in May 2002 I started out on Blogspot.  It was OK though had its problems (difficult to post pictures at the time, comments were 3rd party), so I opened up a Bravejournal account.  While Bravejournal made it easier to post photos and comments, it was not flexible design-wise and the servers were somewhat finicky.

I found a good deal on Netfirms for buying my own domain name and hosting at $10 for a whole  year.  After the year was up, I didn’t want to pay $60/yr. to maintain the site.  Netfirms used the WordPress blogging program and I’ve grown to like it.  WordPress also will host blogs for free.  You can pay to get more design flexibility and storage/transfer space.  I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t care too much about design as long as it’s easy to read.

 Things have been delayed as I have been dealing with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for the last 2 months.  It’s an occupational hazard, and during one difficult stretch at work I went a little overboard and am now dealing with the pain.  I can best describe it as the pain you feel when you accidentally fall asleep on your hand, where the tingling/burning sensation occurs when the blood flow is renewed. 

It happens anytime for me, though, and using a mouse/keyboard aggravates it.  The best thing I can do for it is to put my arm in a sling and not use it for a few months.  Since that is not feasible, I’ve taken other measures:  mousing with my left hand, wearing a wrist brace, cutting back on typing.

It’s the last one which is particularly not conducive to blogging, so I have to pick my spots.  I do want this blog to prominently feature my attempts at TUG:  Training Up a Godly-man.  For the next two and a half years I will be training my son.  By writing down my lessons I hope to preserve them and maybe even help other dads who want to do the same thing. 

Basically I’m working on a Christian bar-mitzvah, where he will be trained in becoming a Christian man by his twelfth birthday, with a ceremony at the end to celebrate his accomplishment.  I’ll be using some ideas from How to Raise a Modern-Day Knight by Robert Lewis, as well as just coming up with my own outline on how to build a solid foundation of maturity, wisdom and faith for a young man.

I’ll still blog on other stuff occasionally (and maybe even on next season’s American Idol!), whatever gets me stirred up enough to put my thoughts down on pixel.  Thanks for stopping by, God bless you and y’all come back now, heah!

The 3 D’s

6/28/07 at 8:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

In schools you may hear an emphasis placed on learning the 3 R’s. Perhaps we need to emphasize the 3 D’s before we can get to the book “learnin'”. Daniel Henninger over at OpinionJournal wrote about the recent Supreme Court decision on the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case, where a principal demanded a sign with that saying displayed on school property be taken down. The principal won on a split 5-4 decision.

Mr. Henninger repeated some interesting items from Justice Thomas’ opinion and how he looks to the precedents set in the 19th century:

A North Carolina court in 1837 spoke of the need “to control stubbornness, to quicken diligence and to reform bad habits.” In 1886, a Maine court said school leaders must “quicken the slothful, spur the indolent and restrain the impetuous.” An 1859 Vermont court spoke of preserving “decency and decorum.”Missouri’s court in 1885 found reasonable a rule that “forbade the use of profane language.” Indiana’s in 1888 ruled in favor of “good deportment.” An 1843 manual for schoolmasters speaks of “a core of common values” and teaching the “power of self-control, and a habit of postponing present indulgence to a greater future good.”

Antique words from a world long gone? Even Justice Thomas admits “the idea of treating children as though it were the 19th century would find little support today.” I’m not so sure about that. How else can one explain the flight from the public schools–into home-schooling, parochial schools, private schools and even charter schools, which invest public principals with greater control? Parents are spending thousands to have what American schools had from 1859 to 1959–some basic measure of the Three Ds: decorum, decency and diligence. Self-control as a higher “common value” than out-of-control.

Yes, those D’s: decorum, decency and diligence. I wonder how many kids in high school would have a difficult time effectively defining those words, let alone following them. You’ll hear the tired, old excuse of, “Well, if they’re not learning it at home you can’t expect them to learn it at school.” Unfortunately, out-of-control is more common than self-control, and that is something that should but is not being effectively enforced at home.

It comes back to expectations and the parents backing up enforcement of discipline at schools. Hmm, discipline – there’s a 4th D. Society has reaped the planting of “free-love, whatever goes and getting in touch with your feelings” from the 60’s and beyond. Yes, I may be over-generalizing some, and there are many school systems that successfully enforce discipline. Mr. Henninger started out his article:

The U.S. began as a complex country–thus the genius of the Founders’ template Constitution–and now finds itself in an infinitely complex era. The solution of we moderns to this inexorable multiplier effect has been to burden our institutions with more laws and more lawsuits. The inevitable result is a society steeped in unintended consequences. Ask the principal of a public high school.

The ever-growing litigious nature of society will be the death of us yet. Don’t like the principal telling a student what poster he can fly on school property? Sue the rascal!

Harvest Crusade-Raleigh: Day 3

6/26/07 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

While we did not attend the first two days, we did attend day 3 to see Third Day.  On Sunday we dropped off Li’l Tater at Camp Flintlock, where for a week he’ll be living in 1770’s “comfort”.  It’s our first time for him being gone from home this long and fairly far away (about a 2 hr. drive).  I hope he comes back with more confidence in himself and an appreciation for the good things we enjoy now in the 21st century.

He will at least be washing his own dishes, a new experience for him.  On check-in he was assigned a small knapsack containing a metal dish and cup.  I was encouraging him to be sure and clean the plate and cup right after eating, as it gets more difficult to clean if the gunk on there gets crusty.  He told us, “Oh, the women will be cleaning them.”  After a good chuckle, both Kristal and I tried to bet him on the likelihood for that.  While we were registering the head of the camp did affirm the boys will be doing their own dishes.  I asked him to give my youngster a few extra to help give him more practice.  I don’t think Li’l Tater appreciated that.

Since my in-laws were not too far from the camp, we cajoled them into watching our two little ones while we headed up to Raleigh for Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusade.  Anne Graham Lotz gave a short message after the initial praise and worship songs.  She was followed by Greg Agajenien(sp?), some fancy guitarist.  That was followed by the bucket passing, and then finally Third Day.

The guitarist guy reminded me of way back during my concert-going days.  Some warm-up acts, though they may be talented, seemed to be filler and all you wanted was the main act to come out onto the stage.  While guitarist guy only lasted two songs, Third Day was only on for four songs (24 min.).  I wish I could see them give a full concert, but it does not look like it will be this year.

 Kristal and I had seen Greg Laurie give a talk about 15 years ago, and he used the same joke Sunday as he used back then.  He talked about us having glorified bodies in heaven, but that if you look for him you need to spot the guy with a big afro (since he’s fairly bald now).  He is a gifted speaker and he gave another excellent sermon.  Unfortunately we were about five rows from the top of the auditorium on the third level across from the stage, so he was basically an “ant man”, and even the screens to the sides of the stage were slightly obstructed with stuff hanging from the rafters.

The part of the message that stayed with me is “Whose hand are you going to hold?”  Through our life, we start out holding our parent’s hands, and then gradually become independent and rely on ourselves.  For some, at the end of our lives we need the help of others to get through the day.  When we die, all of us will be reaching out.  Whose hand do you expect to find?  Nobody’s?

If you’re not in the Lord’s gentle grasp, if you don’t expect to find His hand when you reach out, then you can continue to rely on yourself and grab your other hand.  You’ll end up going in circles, though, and staying in the same spot.  He reaches out to us in love.  What a privilege it is to love him back!

Thank you Lord for your hand reaching out to us.  Forgive me when I think I know better and brush your hand away.  I love you Lord.  Amen.

Training Up Godly-men – Anchors

6/26/07 at 1:26 pm | Posted in TUG | 1 Comment

In order to train up Godly-men, guidelines/posts/anchors to build a foundation are needed. Robert Lewis gives 3 aspects of a man in Raising a Modern-Day Knight: a Will to follow, a Work to accomplish, and a Woman to love. Rather than copy his “W’s”, I will focus on Head, Hands, Heart.

Head: How do I establish right from wrong? What influences my thinking and decision-making? Where should we go for counseling? Who’s will do I follow?

Hands: What talents do I have and how do I use them to my fullest to earn my wages? Where are those talents most effective and where does God want me to work? Who do I work for (or serve)?

Heart: How do I find the woman to share my life? What qualities should she have? How should I treat her? What is my role in the family?

As a man I need to be confident in how my faith affects my decisions, to maximize my effectiveness at my job, and love must guide my thoughts and deeds. While many of these topics can be similar to what women go through, for men the emphasis will be on leadership and the role of men in the family.

We will also discuss “childish” ways and how they need to be put aside for the Godly-man. A child mainly cares about himself, is not concerned about the future, does not need to work since everything is provided for him and changes what he “loves” as often as he changes his underwear. In particular, an understanding of love will be an essential anchor, acknowledging that the “study” of love is a life-long pursuit.

He will also be discouraged from any attempt at thinking he has women “figured out”. Good manners and acting as a gentleman should be a sufficient start when interacting with ladies. My 9 y.o. still thinks kissing girls is “gross” (he has been given the “sex talk”), but it will be good to prepare him for dating.

For those guys with dads who never went to the trouble to help you with this when you were young, take heart! Pray for strength and guidance and the Lord will richly bless you. The thought of training up your sons (and daughters) may be intimidating, but it needs to be done and you have been divinely appointed for this privilege.

Training Up Godly-men

6/19/07 at 8:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

If I post this then there will be a better chance of me following through with it.  It is my intention to train my sons to be men, and to have some type of ceremony/recognition near their 12th birthday.  I’ll be using some of Raising a Modern Day Knight (by Lewis), but most of it will be training I originate. It will be something like a bar mitzvah, with the intention of building up a Christian disciple and a young man (a Godly-man) who can take care of himself in this world by his 12th birthday.  It has not been all that long ago in mankind’s history where a teenage boy went to work, learned a trade and contributed to his family’s well-being before starting his own family.  Modern day society relies too much on public institutions, such as schools, where we now have endless teenagers, 20-30 something guys who never grow up (Peter Pan syndrome).

We can wring our hands about it, and indeed there is much grief over the lost generation(s) of boys whom not much was expected so they did not succeed, or we can raise up boys to be mature men, leaders of their families and responsible for the communities they live in.  With that in mind I plan to go through with a program I call

Training Up Godly-men (TUG)

I plan to give a short lesson each Sunday night (to my now 9 y.o.) where we can go over topics such as faith, responsibility, maturity and the qualities of a Godly-man.  I will try on the following Monday to post the notes I use, so that others may benefit.  I may even get an outline together too, with background references!  I’ll stop here before I promise more than I can possibly deliver.

If anyone has suggestions, questions or just wants to chat about TUG, please e-mail me.

Why Can’t I

6/19/07 at 7:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

post on Mondays?!  There are times I’m tempted to recap my weekend, but am not sure if it would be interesting enough.  I did have a great Father’s Weekend (not day), and I do feel blessed.  Holding two more children in my arms is awesome.  Having a little girl give me hugs around the neck and call me “Daddy” is something I didn’t think would happen.  Thank God for the love he has surrounded me with.

Summer of Fun

6/14/07 at 7:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

It started on Monday for the rest of my family.  Kristal is done with homeschooling for the summer, so she’ll have the 9 and 4 y.o. boys and 3 y.o. girl every day until the end of August.  The two younger ones are out of daycare and into full-time mommy care.  She has a list of a hundred fun activities to work through and the meals/snacks planned out for the week.

Yesterday she took them to the theater for a late-morning matinee showing of <I>Charlotte’s Web</I>.  The local theater has a movie a week during the summer for the kids.  Fortunately they behaved OK.  The tiny girl is the one we usually worry the most about, as she has a short attention span and an extraordinarily hard-head.  She’s at that magical age where she wants to know the reason(s) for everything and is not shy to ask.  Every now and then she even accepts the answer you give her.

Her bad behavior got her in trouble last night.  Kristal has them (3 and 4 y.o.) going to swim lessons this week, and while we have reinforced the idea that she is there to learn how to swim and to listen to her teacher, she thinks being in the pool means playtime.  She ended up wandering off, going to her brother’s class and distracting them, and generally not listening to her teacher.  It got to the point where she was kicked out of the pool, so she put on her typical display of screaming/crying.

For some reason Kristal does not like these displays, particularly in public.  You hear parents complain about the “terrible two’s”, but it’s age 3 that seems to be more of a challenge.  They’re smart enough to know better and big enough to pull off quite a bit of shenanigans, yet it’s difficult to mold their behavior as they don’t care about consequences, or really appreciate them for that matter.

Kristal will be juggling two hard-heads (3 and 9 y.o.) with a 4 y.o. tattle-tale in the middle, and unfortunately no other playmates near their age in the neighborhood.  Of the houses around us, one is a single man, three have retired couples, one is childless and one has a youngest child of 15, though he does occasionally play outside (football, basketball, baseball, soccer) with my oldest son.

When we moved into this neighborhood I was hoping there would be more kids for them to play with, but after 7 years things have not changed all that much.  I always took it for granted when I was growing up that there would be kids within a block to goof around with, and it’s something I’d like to give my kids.  I like where I’m living otherwise, but I don’t know if it would take another move.

For now the three will somehow play together and learn how to be a family, hopefully making it a summer of fun.

Concentrated Mind

6/11/07 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I think things are starting to settle down at work and home, so I’ll be able to get back to concentrating my mind on regular posting again, whatever that is. With the vacation over the Memorial Day holiday and the week of catching up, I have had the opportunity to assess where I’m at and where I should be going.

To update those who may not know, my wife and I (along with our 9 y.o. son) are housing and taking (foster) care of a 4 y.o. boy and 3 y.o. girl. Several Wednesday’s ago the court case for their birth mother was heard and her parental rights were terminated. She still has a month to appeal, and she probably will, but for now her last visit with the children is scheduled this Wednesday.

While the girl is easy to love, the boy has been more of a challenge. Spending a week of vacation with him has helped us towards building a relationship, and it feels like he’s treating me more as a dad now than just another father figure. While there were some difficult times during the week vacation, as can be expected when you have 3 energetic kids in a small condo, the togetherness will hopefully bear fruit in the future.

It is frustrating that the adoption process is taking so long, but like the relationships we’re building it takes time. A part of me wants to get it done and over with now so we can really be a family, though I’ll have to put my trust in the Lord to see us through.

A sermon delivered by Philip Yancey on the Virgina Tech campus two weeks after the shooting got me thinking about where I’m headed. The four (actually three) questions that Yancey posed as he lay strapped on a body board after his own rescue from a rolled-vehicle accident have haunted me the past week.

Samuel Johnson said when a man is about to be hanged, “it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” When you’re strapped to a body board after a serious accident, it concentrates the mind. When you survive a massacre at Virginia Tech, it concentrates the mind. I realized how much of my life focused on trivial things. During those seven hours, I didn’t think about how many books I had sold or what kind of car I drove (it was being towed to a junkyard anyway). All that mattered boiled down to four questions. Whom do I love? Whom will I miss? What have I done with my life? And am I ready for what’s next? Ever since that day, I’ve tried to live with those questions at the forefront.

The first two questions could be combined, and they are easy to answer. It’s not too surprising, at my age, I’m stumbling over the third. You can tell you’re getting old when you linger over the obits in the paper and start to wonder what would be written down for you. Unless you’re one of those “prepared persons”, someone else will try to cover it from their memory rather than using autobiographical information.

If what’s next is death (the 4th question) then I’m ready in that I don’t fear death, and I trust the Lord to take care of those I leave behind. I am concerned about what’s next in my life. This broken-down body does not have much more physical strength, and I’m not sure how much someone will pay for my judgement that seems to get more cloudy over time.

Every day that goes by seems another lost opportunity to start a business I have been planning for some time. How much do I need to concentrate my mind in order to make it a reality? By taking in the two+one children God has blessed me and my wife with (expanding our family) I feel as if I’m serving the Lord. Will He go on to bless me with this business I want? Are there other parts of my life I need to get right?

I’m reminded of Ben Franklin’s admonition of “God helps those who help themselves”. No, it’s not scriptural, though I believe God expects us to put in some effort to secure the blessings He has for us. I also feel as if my credit card debt could hold back any type of business loans I would need to start things. Most importantly of all, I have not heard God’s voice telling me “OK” … yet. I pray it will be coming soon, so I need to be ready.

Are you ready for what’s next? Concentrate.

Back Inna Saddle

6/08/07 at 1:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Here we go again.  I’m going the cheapy route because who wants to pay for blogging?!  I still like WordPress over Blogger or Movable Type (MuNu?), and they’re nice enough to let me play in this sandbox for free (maybe without ads?).

I’ll eventually figure out the RSS and will start adding widgets, once I can understand what they’re good for.  For more $$ they’ll let me tweak the design, but I’ll just stay with this plain look, though I can modify the header.

As I started out my first blog/post on Blogger over 5 years ago, I hope to honor God, lift the name of Jesus and that these little taters of wisdom I call posts will glorify Him.

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