I’ve been absent from the blog for a while now. I won’t apologize because I just felt I had nothing to say or write about and I didn’t want to waste your time or mine coming up with something arbitrary and pointless. I now, however, do feel like I have something to say. Here goes:

I’ve been busy. Very busy. I keep telling myself that. It’s true. I’m not telling a falsehood when I say it. Between my full time job (46 hrs/wk right now), multiple church activities (deacon duties, Sunday school teacher, youth group teacher, etc), and the responsibilities of home ownership along with my own little side projects, I don’t have much free time. Or rather, I don’t take full advantage of the time I have. I admit, when I have time, instead of doing things I’m often paralyzed by having to pick something to work on over another thing so I get little to nothing done on anything. I’m busy, yes, but it shouldn’t keep me from doing what I want/love/enjoy to do. Instead, I find I need to make time to do the things that are for me. It doesn’t always work out, but I’m getting better at it.

It’s spring time in central Mississippi. Seeing as how I work I the plant industry, it’s arguably the busiest time of the year (hence the long work weeks). I tend to be worn out and beat down by the time I get home every day. So much so I don’t even want to do the things I enjoy. I just waste my evenings in front of the TV, stuffing my face. Yet, when I make myself do something for me, like play guitar or work on a project, it makes me feel better. It’s like I feel I’ve accomplished something. Spring is busy, but I still need to do things to relax and rejuvenate me. What good is any overtime if I’m too exhausted to enjoy the fruits of the labor?

Now, I do need to apologize. When I first started this blog about a year and a half ago, I mentioned that I was working on making an album of my own music. This has not happened, obviously. I let life , busyness, get in the way. I got frustrated and gave up. I walked away from writing any music or lyrics for a while. I’m sorry. I apologize to myself and to my readers. I let us all down. I’m getting back up and I’m going to finish writing and recording my music. It may not be perfect or professional, but it will be mine and one going to finish it.

Thanks for letting me ramble and flesh out some things going through my head. I hope my attempt at encouraging myself is helpful and encouraging to you. I’m going to try and do better about regularly posting here again. Thank you.

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What are your dreams? What do you want to accomplish? Where is your life going? What do you hope to do/be? All valid questions. The problem comes when all we do is talk about these answers and we never pursue them. We tell ourselves that we’ll go after this dream or that accomplishment once we’re in the right place financially/jobwise/lifewise and we keep talking about what we want but we do nothing to go after it. The only difference between dreamers and those who accomplish things in this world is that somewhere along the way those who accomplish things stopped dreaming and started acting. If you wait until the stars and moon and sun all align just right and you’re in the right place in your life to start going after what you want, you’ll never start. My generation and the one after mine are especially bad about being all talk and no action. We write blogs about these great ideas and dreams, but they never go further than that. We post on face book about these lofty ideals, but we never try to change our life to meet them. We have pithy tweets about what wrong in our society/country/world/neighborhood/church/etc. but we don’t do anything to fix it. We love to complain and tell everyone what they’re doing wrong, but we don’t want to do anything to be outside of our comfort zone, and we definitely don’t want to have to take on any responsibility. And here I am, complaining about it in my blog, yet I haven’t done much in my life to end the trend. How do you stop being stagnant and start being active? When I figure it all out, I’ll let you know. I think the first step is simply picking something small to believe in/pursue and acting on it, then going from there.

Who’s Responsible?

October 25, 2013

It seems with each generation society becomes less responsible. We like to pass the buck and place the blame on someone else, usually the previous or next generation for leaving things how they are or for trying to change everything. One place I think we can really see this is with the “video games make kids violent” argument that is so popular. First off, I played hours upon hours of video games from the Atari to arcades to the xbox360 and ps3, and I’m not violent because of it, honestly I’m probably less violent because I could work out my frustrations with the world through that medium. Secondly, there’s one thing nobody seems to mention when blaming video games. Where are the parents? Too many times parents blame their kids’ misbehavior on “those evil games” but it’s never mentioned that they have a responsibility to know what their kids are playing and what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Parents are supposed to talk to their kids and know what’s going on with them. Parents should be highly aware of what their kids are doing, but they aren’t anymore. Instead people make their kids the responsibility of anyone and anything else. They sign their kids up for every program they can so they never have a free moment in which to be a kid, but always have another thing to get to and are always being pressured to preform academically and on the field. Is there anything wrong with a little pressure? Of course not, but when it’s constant and your kids’ schedules are busier then most adults, that’s not teaching them to deal with pressure, that’s throwing them in a shark tank to teach them to swim. Packing more stuff into a kids life isn’t going to teach a kid to be responsible or keep a kid out of trouble they way spending time with them and knowing what’s going on in their life (this includes the games they are allowed to play and punishing them when they break the rules) and setting a good example of living a balanced life can. So let’s take some responsibility. It’s not video games making kids violent and brats, it’s no one taking responsibility for their own actions and nobody setting an example. Kids will act how those they see act, therefore if parents don’t take responsibility and are jerks, their kids will be that way too. We need to teach kids wrong and right and responsibility for our actions and the place to start is with ourselves.

When You’re Down and Out

October 4, 2013

It’s really easy for me to get down. I psych myself out and wallow in my failures instead of recognizing my victories and successes. I’m convinced more and more that I’m not the only one who deals with this, but that a larger percentage of the population deals with this then doesn’t. So, my first encouragement to myself, and you, when we find ourselves here is quite simply, we are not alone. Our minds and hearts try to trick us into feeling alone and not talking about what’s going on because obviously no one else deals with the problem I have, when in reality almost everyone deals with the same problems, we just don’t talk about it. And that is my second piece of advice, talk about your problems with people you trust and who love you and want what’s best for you. Speaking the problem out loud to another person can sometimes show you the absurdity of the issue and will let you share the burden every time. My final encouragement goes hand in hand with the first. Sometimes we wake up in the middle of the night and we are alone, and the wee hours of the morning makes us feel hopeless and helpless. Even then, we aren’t alone because we have a savior who is with us always. He cares for each of us. Some people say how can God let me feel this way or let this happen, but I believe God is in control, even of the hard times. I believe God has a leash on Satan and the only authority Satan has on earth is that given him by God. Some find that disturbing, but I find it a comfort. I take comfort in God in control. What do others have? A god who can’t control the devil, a god who doesn’t care, a god who enjoys our pain, or no god at all with all our lives simply pointless, hopeless, useless existences. My God, the God of the Bible is in control, he cares, he doesn’t rejoice in the suffering of his people, and he gives us hope. That is my ultimate hope and encouragement when I am feeling down.

Wednesday Blues

September 25, 2013

So I woke up this morning thinking it was Thursday. Yeah, I tried to skip Wednesday. This week has just drug on already to the extent that I feel like it should be a day later then it actually is. I feel like there should be some sort of term or phrase that describes this, yet I don’t know what it is. Does anyone else ever feel this way? You wake up and think it’s closer to the weekend than it really is then you realize your mistake and just want to curl up and cry? Part of it may be the fact I was sick last night and didn’t get enough sleep. I think part of it is simply what I call the Wednesday blues. Yeah, all you optimists out there are like, “The week is half over! It’s hump-day,” but us realists/pessimists are all thinking, “We’ve barely made it halfway through. How are we supposed to make through the rest of this week?” Also, not to bring you down, but just for purely logical reasons, I must point out that you’re not halfway until after lunch on Wednesday. Oh, and Wednesday means nothing to those of us who work Monday -Saturday. So, what are the cures for the Wednesday blues? The only thing I know to do is keep pushing through and prove to yourself and to the week that you are stronger then it is. Keep fighting and struggle on. Find joy in whatever you can and make the little things count.

Do you suffer from the Wednesday blues? How do you handle them?

Joy: The Hard Choice

September 6, 2013

I’ve always thought of happiness as an emotion, something we don’t have much control over, and joy as a choice. That is the main difference between the two in my mind. So I try to lead a joyful life by keeping what brings me joy foremost in my mind (my savior, my salvation, my wife, my family, my dog, my youth that I’ve taught over the years, etc.). Sometimes, however, it’s not easy. Sometimes it would be easier to just wallow in despair and depression, hating everyone and blaming everything and everyone else. I’ve spent time being the depressed, despairing, angry person. It’s easy to go that route, but I’ve found that route doesn’t change anything. It’s a continual spiral of deeper despair, depression, and anger. It’s very easy to find the bad in every situation, and I’m the kind of person who naturally tends to focus on it. As an example, I may have a huge list of things to work on and cross off all but one of them, but I’m not going to focus on all I did, I’m going to focus on the one thing I didn’t get done. It’s hard to choose to be joyful. It’s tricky to find the joy in bad or rough situations a fair amount of the time. Striving after joyful living, however hard it is compared to wallowing in negative living, does make a difference in your life. Wallowing will never change your circumstances no matter how much you want it to, but seeking and choosing joy will change your viewpoint and let you move on. Moving on from mistakes or hard times or loss seems to be key. I don’t want to forget the hard times or the loss, maybe I want to forget the mistakes if I can keep the lessons learned from them, but we can’t continue to focus on them. We have to set our sights on where we are and where we are going. If the Apostle Paul had wallowed in all the evil things he had done, he never would have gone out to the Gentiles and done all the mission work he did. If Peter had wallowed on all the mistakes he made he never could have been a leader in the early church. There is a time for sorrow and sadness, but we can choose joy in the midst of those emotions. That, to me, is the harder and better road because it makes a real difference in my life.

Living What You Say

August 28, 2013

It’s easy to say we believe this or that all day, but when it comes down to it, how we live shows what we really do, or don’t, believe. My speech teacher in college used to ask us if we believed what we were saying in our speeches, and if we did, then we needed to say it like we believed and meant it. Speaking with conviction is good. Living with that same conviction is a rare thing. We live in a society that twists words and meanings, and loves to rationalize. Actions, however, always have and always will, speak to the heart of the person. You can hide behind words and forced actions for a while, but your real colors will come out eventually. Jesus gave great sermons and wonderful parables and told many people they were healed. What if those words weren’t backed up with actions? What if he didn’t live out the lessons from his sermons and parables? What if those people he said were healed weren’t really healed? He would have been debunked immediately and thought of as a lunatic (which some tried to say he was, but it wouldn’t stick because he spoke with power and backed the words up with actions). Words have real meaning and power, but only coming from someone who backs those words up with action. If someone who is a chronic liar and promise breaker tells us something we tend to disregard it. However, if someone who follows up with what he says by what he does tells us something, we listen. Be a person of integrity in word and deed. Follow through on what you say with what you do. People are always watching Christians, wondering if we really live out our beliefs. You never know when your living out what you say you believe may make a difference in someone else’s life, drawing them to the point where they will believe.

Speak boldly for Christ! Live boldly for Christ!

More Thoughts on Prayer

August 9, 2013

I’ve been continuing to think about prayer and how to pray. Specifically I’ve been thinking about the times when I’ve felt I couldn’t pray. Either I’ve been so distraught, caught up in a sin, or doubting whether God cares and hears (he does care and hear by the way). I can’t believe I’m the only one who’s dealt with these things and the feeling that I can’t pray or don’t know what to say. My answer for these times is to go to Scripture. I know that sounds like a Sunday School answer, but let me explain. I pray through God’s promises, not to remind God, he remembers them, but to remind myself. I pray through whatever Psalm or Psalms fit the situation I’m in (they cover a lot of ground). The Psalms are really ready made prayers. Many times just getting started will fix the prayer’s block going on. The Lord’s Prayer is a wonderful starting place too. On paper (or screen as the case may be) it sounds too simple, but it really works. Use the resources God has given you and work through the block, whether it’s being mocked by Satan as being insignificant or feeling like you don’t know how to do it right, God calls us to be a prayerful people.

What do you do when you’re at the end of your prayer rope?

What is prayer in your life? I don’t want the “Sunday School answer” either. Of course prayer is how we talk to an almighty God, through Jesus our savior, but what role does it really take in your life? I generally see two main roles it can take in a personal life (though in a public life it can be used in different ways too, some good, some bad). Either we tend to use prayer as our last resort when everything else fails or we have it as our way of life. I either am “praying without ceasing” or only praying when my world is falling apart. There isn’t really any in between for me, and I think a lot of others are that way too. We know what prayer should be and shouldn’t be, yet we can’t get it together in our own prayer life. Prayer shouldn’t be what I call the “gimme, gimmes” (translation: give me this, give me that). I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask for anything, we’re told, “ask and you shall receive,” but we shouldn’t center our prayers around a want list of all the coolest new stuff. Prayer should be a privilege. We should look forward to praying. It shouldn’t be a chore. It should involve praise, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication (asking for what we need). We tend to think of prayer as a given, but it wasn’t always. Jesus shocked people with The Lord’s Prayer. It was radical to call God father. The personal prayer that we are all used to started there and rocked a lot of people’s world. There are a lot of books on prayer and how to do it out there, but all the good ones have at least two things in common. One, you have to start praying more, and two, prayers have to start being centered on God, not on yourself. It’s not easy, but I’m convinced a healthy prayer life bleeds over into other parts of our lives. It’s worth it.

Do you have any thoughts or success stories on helping your prayer life?

Family Time & Baseball

July 24, 2013

It has been a busy and full, yet fun, half a week. My eldest sister and her husband came to visit (along with their dog) last Friday and there has been something going on every evening since then. We’ve had a lot of fun between eating, birthday parties, a wedding (my wife and I went to that), church (where we had a VBS presentation by the kids who attended VBS), painting (my mother and sister painted my bathroom while I was at work one day), leaking refrigerators, and a Mississippi Braves baseball game all while I have been working my regular 8-5 hours (8-2 Saturday). It’s been packed, but I’ve loved getting to spend time with my family and especially my brother-in-law who isn’t always able to make the trip to visit because of work. I’m so glad my family gets along and we enjoy spending time together. We’re not perfect, but we love each other and look out for one another. I’d encourage everyone to seek out a group of people who care for each other, albeit nobody will be in a good mood and easy to be around 100% of the time, knowing you have a family (whether its your actual family or just a tight knit group of friends) is a wonderful thing and gives you a baseline from which to measure and analyze what the world throws at you and a safe haven from the craziness that can so easily drag us down.

As I mentioned, we went to an MBraves game and it was a lot of fun. I highly recommend getting out to see a game and enjoy Trustmark Park. The Braves beat the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, and it was a pretty good game, though several innings were uneventful. If you’re like me, part of a ball game is ballpark food. I enjoyed the food a little too much. For future trips I will stick with the hotdogs and sausage dogs, the burger was ok, but the dogs were better. Here’s a collage of a few pics I took of the cool moon over the ballpark last night.

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