Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The 90 Minutes I Will Never Get Back...

Me and my wife have been poking around for a new stroller with bigger wheels to make walks a little easier and found ourselves at "Once Upon A Child", which is a "gently used" children's store. They sell toys, book, clothes, etc., that they have purchased used from folks who have no need of them. The quality of the merchandise is very good, and since my kids grow out of clothes monthly, I like the discount. They also sell brand new merchandise, and we were able to find the stroller we wanted for less than other retailers carrying the same thing, not to mention the owner gave us a 10% off coupon. Nice. Needless to say, I was pleased. Mama got her new jogging stroller and I got to be cheap about it, yes!

Then everything changed...

Mrs. Bullfrog mentioned there was a crafts store around the corner and she wanted to stop in to buy a "few things" to make Christmas decorations. The original plan was for Mama and our daughter to take time together to do this bit of shopping and The Boy and I would go to the park or something. But, here we were, so I conceded.

I have not often ventured into a store like this one, so I don't know if it could be considered "typical", but it had what I have to assume is all a person would need to "make stuff": Baskets, seasonal empty wreaths, cinnamon pine cones, paint, fabric, aisles of ribbon, you get the point. Not to mention I was 1 of maybe 3 guys in the place, which was crawling with women picking over merchandise planning their next project. Of the 3 of "us", 1 was actually carrying a basket and looked pretty happy, while the "other one" and I had been brought by our wives and were making the best of it.

I poked around some and goofed around with my son, trying to keep him from getting squirmy, such is his way when he gets tired of riding around in a shopping cart for too long.

From time to time, wifey would ask questions about this or that "thingamabob" or if I liked a particular gold ribbon more than the next for hanging pine cones on our tree. What she got back was a barely coherent, "Dunno" and/or a shrug of the shoulders. It's not that I really do have an opinion about the gold ribbon and do not want to emasculate myself by sharing, it's really that I have NO OPINION about it. She understands, and doesn't give me grief about it, 1 of the many things I love about my wife.

Then she found some clothy, ribbon-type stuff that needed to be measured and cut by the service department. So she went to the counter and took a number, which put us about 3 people back from the head of the line. I busied myself looking at a computerized sewing machine which was doing some custom embroidery on a blanket or something. It was unattended, so I was intrigued, and my son stopped squirming and asking to be released from the confines of the cart. Bonus.

It was at that point that I got a surprise: The Mrs. handed me her number "60" and asked me to wait and get 2 yards of the ribbon... stuff... I really don't know what it is! It isn't ribbon, but it is long and on a spindle thing... never mind.

I didn't know what to say. I just stared blankly at her while I envisioned what I would look like standing in a crafts store with my son holding a number and a spindle full of "what's-it" asking for "2 yards".

Mama didn't have time to wait for me to think it over, so she handed me everything and said, "I'll be back." and scurried off with our daughter.

So I am standing there in what can only be considered complete disinterest. There is not 1 single thing about this store that I am interested in exploring or purchasing. I made small talk with an older woman who had come to check on the automated embroidery machine after she mentioned she had a grandson about my son's age, which she overestimated at 3. Happens all the time: my son is 50th percentile according to the doctor, but people consistently think he is older.

Anyway, my number was up (I don't think I have ever used that in a literal sense before) and I asked for the lady to cut me off 2 yards and went on my way to find the rest of my family. I found it comforting to be near my wife in such a place as this as I believed it provided an answer to anyone who might ask themselves, "What is he doing in here?"

We spent a little more time looking for the right beads, sequins, felt, and other goodies Mama needed to complete her Christmas decorating plans. After about an hour and a half, we were leaving and I have to be honest, I was exhausted and have vowed never to return to such a place as it holds nothing for me.

That said, the decorations are turning out quite nicely and the kids are having a blast helping out. Thank God for women.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lazy Blogging...

I decided to take a week off before the end of the year, and accidentally scheduled it right after the 4 day Thanksgiving weekend. A stroke of genius, as now I have eleven days away from work (aside from compulsively checking my work email, don't tell the Mrs.!).

So far it has been really relaxing, and although I anticipated having more time to blog than usual, I have found that I only even get online once or twice a day for a few minutes. So I have been checking the blog roll and stopping by, not commenting much. I guess you could call it "Lazy Blogging".

I have been spending most time outdoors with the family as this time of year is ideal for it in the desert valley where we live: cold mornings and afternoons rising to about 70 degrees with very clear blue skies! We had my wife's father over for a couple days, which was a blessing. My son really bonded with "Gampa", a very cool thing to see!

I have been cooking a bit and will probably finally get my BBQ rib recipe up on my recipe blog shortly. I also made some killer bratwurst this week, so I will probably scribble that down as well.

By the way, the picture I chose may imply that I am doing some fishing while on sabbatical. I WISH!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I Am Thankful For

This time of year for me, and probably most of us, definitely causes me to reflect on my life. Good or bad, I have always been a blessed man and walk in the assurance that I have experienced nothing except that which is from God's own hand.

Above all else, I am thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave me life eternal and the opportunity to glorify and enjoy Him forever. He did this for no other reason than it pleased Him to do so.

The biggest blessing in my life today is my beautiful wife, who is easily the best friend I have ever had and who loves me with an unconditional love. She is also an excellent mother, and I leave for work every morning with peace of mind, knowing our children are in the most capable and caring hands.

The 2 children God has blessed us with are 2 of the most amazing little people, and it is a privilege to know them and have the responsibility to lead them to God through my guidance and example. These 3 people are my heart, and I pray that I will learn to serve them better by covering them with God's word, prayer, and my affection.

The body of Christ, which is the church, has been an amazing source of support, encouragement, and accountability wherever we have found ourselves in life, and I praise God for providing this.

Every circumstance in life is a blessing, whether it is character built through difficulty, or rest sought in times of plenty, and I trust the wisdom of The Most High to get me through all of them!

Monday, November 24, 2008

An Interesting Hypothetical

I couldn't resist linking this article from Patterico's Pontifications.

One of the readers there posed a hypothetical alternative to the abortion question that I think is very thought provoking. When the question was asked of a pro-choice supporting woman and a pro-life woman, the reactions were interesting and unexpected.

Here is the hypothetical:

Suppose the technology existed to safely remove a fetus from a womb at any gestational stage for incubation elsewhere until birth. If such “no-death abortion” was available to any woman who wanted it, would most abortion rights supporters stand down?

In the case of the pro-choice female, she was still very much against this form of "safe-abortion".

I would like to know what you all think, but I would also like to echo some rules of discussion posted by Patterico:

I’d appreciate it if you could keep the usual stuff about murder and evil and so forth to a minimum. Like zero. I’m more interested in a dispassionate discussion.

Let's keep comments limited to specific concerns raised by the hypothetical itself and not let the conversation devolve into emotionally charged vitriol. I also reserve the right to moderate if things get out of hand.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good News! Obama Appears to Be Listening!

It seems as if the reality check that is our economy and the nature of economics itself has caused Obama to go back on his promise to repeal the Bush tax cuts. In all likelihood, he will allow them to expire in 2011 as originally designed by the Bush administration.

From myway via Patterico, here is a quote from a top Obama aid:

Obama's plans, outlined by his transition team on television talk shows, could put aside his campaign pledge to repeal a Bush tax cut for the wealthy. With the downturn in the economy, those tax cuts may remain in place until they are scheduled to die in 2011, said William M. Daley, an economic adviser. "That looks more likely than not," he said.

Okay, so even if they are still pushing the "tax cuts for the rich" angle (and I must be rich, because I remember my tax cut rolling in courtesy of "W"), this still proves that down deep, Obama is a "supply-sider" after all!

Seriously, I am encouraged that Obama isn't blindly keeping keeping all of his rhetorical promises, the reprieve will be nice. This also means, at least for the next couple years, Obama will borrow and spend instead of tax and spend. But we are used to that by now.

Come 2011, I shall batten down the hatches.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Morality and Conscience

We all make decisions every day that impact us in a negative or positive way. These can be financial in the form of how we spend money, social in the form of how we choose to interact with people, or political in the choices we make to be informed about strategic issues and write our representatives, cast our votes, and let our voices be heard. These are just a few of many examples, but all of these decisions have logical consequences that are beneficial or not so beneficial; if I choose to spend my pay check on DVD's, my kids won't have enough to eat, but if I carefully make a budget and stick to it, my family has all we need to get along.

Aside from the obvious and practical consequences, we are also subject to the tyranny of our own conscience. If an atheist chooses to break God's law by murdering another or stealing his goods, even if he is not caught by the authorities and punished, his own conscience will condemn him! That is not to say that over time, one practicing theft will not grow callous and have an easier time committing the crime.

Conversely, the individual and society as a whole benefits from living according to Biblical principles and listening to their conscience, whether they are trying to glorify God or not.

The Bible explains the role of the conscience this way:

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)
Romans 2:14,15

I can't help but think of O.J. Simpson who for all intents and purposes did get away with murder by escaping legal consequence. But his life since then reflects a man who is certainly not content and I am inclined to think he carries a very guilty conscience with him wherever he goes and maybe even wishes he had been convicted and been sent to prison to pay for his crimes. As anyone who has violated their conscience knows, it can be terrible.

The fact is our actions have consequences and these consequences apply universally, and we are aware of right and wrong from a very early age. My toddlers remind me daily of this as they demonstrate an awareness of what is sin. In their childish folly, they choose to do what they know is wrong because they simply enjoy it! It is then my job to introduce a consequence that is proportional to the pleasure of that act so they choose not to go that route next time around. This is done in hope that they will choose to avoid much more serious consequences later in life.

Whether you acknowledge a Creator or not or have any belief in a universal literal moral code such as the Bible, this awareness of sin proves that morality exists. As to where the laws come into the picture, this can be treated as a "chicken and egg" problem, as some believe the laws of our land establish a moral code. I don't believe this moral code was created as much as our laws reflect and reinforce existing social taboos that originate in the conscience. That conscience that is created by a very real and all powerful God.

I believe morality is created by God and designed to preserve our precious liberty and this is absolutely universal. So essentially, you are living by the "rules" whether you believe in them or not.

Is The Honeymoon Over Already?

I expected at some point Obama's most liberal supporters would experience a giant collective hang-over; it seemed inevitable after expectations were set so unrealistically high during Obama's campaign. But I anticipated the buyers remorse to set in maybe a few months into next year, after Obama had taken office and had an opportunity to actually do some stuff.

Not surprisingly, Obama's "Clintonesque" cabinet, including the almost certain appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is not helping him win over his base supporters. Add to that the forgiveness of Joe Lieberman by Democrats for what some considered to be a betrayal of the party, namely his support of John McCain's presidential campaign and attendance at the RNC, and the result is some unhappy folks. Some of Obama's most loyal following who were celebrating a future of new hope and a different kind of government on November 4th are already showing signs of having buyers remorse.

From KOS, courtesy of Daniel Harper over at Pajamas:

Kos, from the radically left DailyKos, called the decision to keep Lieberman as chairman of his committee “idiotic.” And, in another post, the radical Left’s standard bearer derided the Democratic Party as being “spineless capitulators” for allowing Lieberman to keep his post.

As Harper suggests, maybe Obama is showing a more moderate, bipartisan side in his treatment of Lieberman. And that would maybe be a good thing, but I am frankly baffled at the possibility of Hillary as Secretary of State. There is no debating whether or not a Clinton addition to Obama' cabinet aligns with the "Change" mantra, but it would at least be understandable and forgivable if Senator Clinton had the pedigree for the job. Her foreign policy credentials are limited to visits to foreign countries as First Lady, where she acted in a nondiplomatic capacity. She certainly is no Condi, that's for sure.

It is anyone's guess what Obama is up to, but it goes without saying he has created quite a bit of drama, especially for someone who has yet to actually assume the office of President. Time will tell whether this let-down will have any political impact.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A New Approach

I have been doing less blogging lately, although I have been reading yours and commenting when time permits. The political arena has quieted some, and aside from the "What exactly WILL Obama do?" projections, there isn't alot politically to talk about.

This has given me time to be a little introspective and re-evaluate my approach to sharing with those who I come into contact with on the blogosphere. My last post, The Right and Wrong Way to Debate reflects this.

It occurs to me I have been caught up in the political hype that has dominated this election year, and have exhausted myself trying to make political, intellectual, and social arguments for or against this issue or another. The truth is, I have a strong Biblical world view and I have been holding back on making an argument purely from this position because for any issue that is important to me, a good social argument can be made. It has been an interesting exercise, and has actually encouraged me in my faith as I see our society and culture, in good times and bad, reminding me that God is on His throne where he belongs and that He is wise and good (more on this in my next post).

As I have painstakingly made my arguments or rebuttals I have found that, when all is said and done, people believe what suits them and aren't likely to be won over by logic. No matter how intellectually sound your argument may be, there is always someone who will have a rebuttal that amounts to, "Well, that's just not fair!", or "I don't like that." What matters is not that you can out argue a person, but what is the basis of your argument.

The Bible explains it this way:

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
Colossians 2:2-4

What this tells me is I need to stop half-stepping and simply represent the Biblical world view that I am called to.

I feel a bit like Jerry McGuire, writing his memo suggesting, "Fewer clients", because I fear those who turn away because they don't want to risk being "preached to". And indeed I have been rejected before and even endured hostility for sharing what is in the Bible. But I rest in this:

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
Romans 8:15

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."
Matthew 5:11

In that same Spirit, I have started putting to paper (so to speak) my life story in the form of a separate auto-biographical blog, to be announced later. I started doing this a while ago in another post, "Testimony of Jeremiah Robinson". That is the story of how I came to know God in a personal way, and I was inspired to complete the story by adding the details of my life before Christ and what has happened since my conversion. Not that the story of how I got to where I am today is particularly interesting (although I have some good stories to tell) but because I want to share, with those who are interested in reading, who I really am. In this way, the conversations I have with others in the blogosphere take on a new context and meaning, and by being vulnerable in sharing I hope to encourage others to do the same. This is the same approach I take when building a relationship with someone who is in my life, I try to be as transparent as I can.

As I work on it, it has grown to be fairly lengthy so rather than make one huge post or series pf posts, I decided to have a separate blog where the biography will be split into logical parts. As each chapter is finished, I will provide a link so the interested can have a read.

(Photo: Ron Smid)