Sunday, December 30, 2007

God Is Not a Minimalist

When I say God is not a minimalist, I'm not referring to the style of art known as minimalism. Instead I'm referring to the fact that God does not do things that just barely get the job done, that just meet the minimum requirements. He is a God of generosity and abundance. The God of more-than-sufficiency. Here are two passages (NIV) that demonstrate this:

Romans 8:32 "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

Malachi 3:10-12 "10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty."

These two are but a tiny portion of the passages in the Bible that support this conclusion. The specific area that I would like to focus the first part of this post on is creation. It is close in topic to one I did previously. The second part of the post will focus on God's grace.

I was thinking about this a few days ago, about how God didn't just do the minimal needed for creation. He didn't just create the earth, the sun, the moon and a handful of stars in a single solar system. That would have been enough. Life, as He designed it, would happen the way it does now. We would have our days and nights, with the sun to govern the day and the moon to govern the night (see Genesis 1:14-19). Psalm 19:1 would still be true, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Instead, God chose to create innumerable stars, planets, moons, solar systems, galaxies, comets and meteors. He created big planets, little planets, planets with thick atmospheres, planets with thin atmospheres, planets with rings, planets with no rings, planets with lots of moons, planets with no moons and planets with one moon. He created dwarf stars, black holes and supernovas. He created solar winds, solar flares and asteroid belts. It boggles the mind (at least it does mine).

Let's move on to other aspects of creation. How about the vast number and variety of life forms - fish, birds, bugs, mammals, plants and a whole slew of others. According to the web site, there are over 10,000 species of birds in this world! Think of the varieties you know - parrots, penguins, ostriches, robins, blue jays, cardinals, crowned cranes, bald eagles, sparrows, mocking birds, vultures, and the list goes on and on. And think how unique and different each one is. The same goes for all the species in the world. All so unique, different and totally creative. Just think, God could have given us omnivores just one source of meat - the humble chicken. Then everything really would taste like chicken :-). Think of the great variety of fruit there is for us to enjoy, both in kinds (like oranges and bananas) and within kinds (like granny smith and mackintosh apples).

How about geography? God could have created a big ironing-board flat island surrounded by a still, calm fresh water sea. That would have been enough. It would have met our needs for a place to live and grow plants and for water to drink. But not God. Instead he gave us oceans that roll, and mountains and valleys to break up the land. Streams, rivers and waterfalls to distribute fresh water. He gave us deserts, tropical rain forests, savannas, prairies, and polar ice caps.

The list of examples of God's extravagance in creation could go on and on. Isn't it wonderful that God isn't a minimalist? He does things super-abundantly, extravagantly!! Nowhere is this more precious than in regards to His grace to us and supplying Jesus Christ as the more-than-sufficient atoning sacrifice for our sins. Romans 5:12-21, below, says this very well. While you are reading it, look for all the words and phrases that show God's super-abundant grace.

12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

20The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Batcave Home Theater

To add to the two other cool home theater setups I posted about previously is this Batcave themed one.

December 30, 2007 Update

I'm still busy doing other, "non-blog" activities in the evenings, which is why I've posted a lot less in the last couple of months. Here are some updates.

First update - I found and purchased a new wireless router (reference this post). After doing research, reading reviews and doing price comparisons, I purchased a Linksys WRT54GL wireless router from (which is one of my favorite places to buy electronics; they have a warehouse in New Jersey so I usually get my order the next day, depending on when I place the order). I ordered it this past Wednesday and received it Thursday. Based on comments in many of the reviews I read, I flashed the new router with DD-WRT firmware - it is supposed to have more features and be more stable. It definitely has more features. Only time will tell about the stability. There are a number of other 3-rd party firmwares out there that can be tried and of course there's always reverting back to the Linksys firmware if this one does not prove stable.

Second update - back in October I posted about God speaking to both my wife and I but did not reveal the subject. Well, now I can. She and I will be hosting a marriage Bible Study for couples in our church starting in January. The study is a HomeBuilders study by Family Life - Building Your Marriage. Stephanie and I did this, and others in the series, several years ago. This series and the Weekend to Remember marriage conferences that Family Life gives, have made a big, positive and lasting impact on our own marriage. I'm spending time on some evenings preparing for the study.

Third update - Christmas. We've decided to start a new family tradition - opening Christmas presents on Christmas Eve day (we started in the morning to give plenty of time for kids to play with the new gifts). That way Christmas Day we can focus more easily upon Christ, the real reason we celebrate. So we did that. A great time was had, especially by the kids who received an abundance of presents from family. On Christmas we hosted eleven people from our church. The day was good, though it did not go as intended and was tiring (just think two sick boys puking - enough said). Go over to my wife's post to read more about this.

Fourth update - I'm currently in the process of listening to a series of messages by Chip Ingram titled "Good to Great in God's Eyes". I first heard Chip Ingram give a message at an Iron Sharpens Iron (Christian men's) conference several years ago. I really enjoyed his speaking and the straight forward, yet engaging, manner he deals with Biblical truth. I started listening to his radio program on this past year. That's when I came across this series. On the Living on the Edge website, the message notes are available to be downloaded for free. I have downloaded and printed them off so that I can take notes as I listen. About half way through the series I decided that it was so good that I wanted to own the series and so I have purchased the CD set and the book. The series is about ten practices that great Christians have in common. I would recommend it to anyone.

Closing thoughts - 2007 is almost over and has been full. As the closing act for 2007, I'm going to have oral surgery tomorrow. I wonder what God has in store for us in 2008?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas 2007

Rejoice O Christians, for a Savior was born and now lives and reigns eternally - Redeemer and Lord!

Thank you dear Father God for sending Your One and Only Son Jesus Christ into our fallen world as a baby, born in a stable. Without Christmas there would have been no Easter.

Luke 2:1-20 (NIV)
The Birth of Jesus
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.[*] 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!**

* The use of bold and red font color to highlight the text was my addition.
** Hmm, that sounds familiar for some reason?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christians in China

I found this article by BBC America on Christians in China to be interesting and convicting. It is easy for me to forget how fortunate we are in America to be able to worship freely.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Long-Awaited Picture

For those handful of people who read my blog but don't read my wife's blog, the picture of my hair cut is posted there. Go over there to take a look.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Oral Surgery

Last Thursday, I went to the dentist for my first cleaning and exam in over a year. You would think I would know better than to wait so long with the amount of dental work I have had during my life, but life happened. The last time I went was during the summer of last year when I had a bad tooth ache. The dentist determined I had an infection and prescribe me antibiotics. Around the time of the tooth ache, maybe a short time before, I developed a bump on the gum beside the lower molar that started to hurt. I assumed that the dentist would have said something about the bump if it was a concern since it was adjacent to the tooth that was infected.

The antibiotics seem to work as the pain went away after a while, but the bump never did. In fact it grew a little bit over time. When I went to the dentist everything else was fine but he did notice the bump, which he called a fistula. He was concerned about it, took some x-rays and referred me to an oral surgeon.

I went to the oral surgeon yesterday to have him do an exam. Based on the x-ray and looking in my mouth, he determined that he needed to do surgery. This tooth is one I had a root canal and crown put on while I was in college. Apparently my body is reabsorbing my tooth. He showed my on the x-ray where about 1/3 of one of the roots was already gone. Since this was done about 12 years ago, he thinks this might be due to an infection. If this had happened soon after the root canal, then it could have been attributed to the fact that sometimes the body will reject the packing material as foreign matter.

He also thinks that it was not the antibiotics that made the pain go away but that the liquid in the fistula, which had built up pressure, thus causing the pain, had broken through some of the tissue and were now draining. Thus the pain went and stayed away.

I'm scheduled for outpatient surgery on New Year's Eve, at 10:00 a.m. Yeah! Not. Since I had almost all of my benefits for the year on my dental plan available, he wanted to schedule me so that I could use them this year, and not lose them, and so that I would have all of my benefits next year. I was given a choice of Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve. My first choice was Christmas Eve since I already had that off but after a phone call to my wife, it was changed to New Year's Eve.

During the surgery he will remove the fistula, peel back the gum around the tooth, clean out any infection in there and check the tooth to see if the root is cracked. If it is, the tooth will have to come out immediately. If not, I may be able to keep it. He tapped on the tooth and decided it felt solid, so it would be worth saving if possible. I agreed.

He said I did not have to be knocked out for the operation but recommended that I be. I agreed again. So Stephanie will have to be along to drive me home and care for me. After the surgery, he will have me on antibiotics for two weeks. About a week after surgery I will go back in to have him remove any remaining stitches. After the two weeks on antibiotics he will have me go two more without before coming in to see him again. He will then take some x-rays and examine the area to see if any infection has returned. If not, I should be good to go. If it has gotten re-infected then the tooth will have to be removed.

I asked what the options were if I had the tooth removed. He said my dentist could talk to me about the specifics but in general I could, because the two teeth on either side of the infected tooth were in good shape, get a fixed bridge, or I could get a removable bridge (which he did not think I wanted at my age, again I agreed with him) or I could, once the bone had healed, get an implant with a crown on top, which is the one he would recommend. Once again, I had to agree with him.

The recovery after having my wisdom teeth removed was not a fun experience and I don't imagine that the recovery from this will be much better, except that it will be only one area and not four. If you remember this on New Year's Eve, I would appreciate any prayers made on my behalf.

Router Hunt

My current wireless router, D-Link DI-524, is starting to become unreliable. It keeps dropping my connection. When we first got it a couple of years ago I never had this issue with it. It seems to be degrading. Yesterday afternoon I worked from home and it dropped me three times, which meant I lost my VPN connection and had to re-connect and re-authenticate.

So I'm on a router hunt for a new one. Do any of you have any recommendations?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"I Cannot Believe You Did That"

When was the last time your spouse said those words to you? After ten years of marriage, I don't often cause Stephanie to say them anymore. But I did today.

Now I have your curiosity piqued, don't I? "What could he have done to cause her to say that? It must have been something pretty bad." Well, that depends on your point of view.

I gave myself a hair cut. It was not planned but was a spontaneous action on my part. Stephanie has been cutting the boys and my hair for over a year now. She uses some cheap buzzers/clippers purchased at Wal-Mart and just gives me a buzz cut. Straight forward and simple, and it saves us a lot of money.

I've kept it fairly short even during the winter so that I can wear my knit hat without worrying about getting hat hair. Well, its been a few weeks since the last hair cut. I had even mentioned to Stephanie this past week that it was getting long and due for a cut.

Today, church was canceled due to weather and I knew I would be shoveling snow (see this post about it), so I had not shaved or showered in the morning. Once I was done with the shoveling this afternoon, I came in to shave and shower. Prior to shaving, I was trimming my beard with my trimmer and just decided to go ahead and use it on my whole head. I put the guard up one notch above the level I trimmed my beard at and started to go at it.

Stephanie was not aware of this until she overheard Will ask me what I was doing and me replying that I was giving myself a hair cut. I heard "What?!" coming from another part of the house, followed by Stephanie's appearance in the bathroom. That's when the, "I cannot believe you did that." came.

I do have to admit that the length I chose turned out to be shorter that I thought. Apparently beard hair looks longer at a shorter length than does head hair. It looked fine when I was doing the sides but once I started on the top, I realized, "Gee, that's shorter than I thought it would be." Stephanie told me to make sure that I told people that this was self-inflicted and not wife-inflicted. So now you've been told. She was kind enough to trim up around the back and my ears.

Thanks honey for loving a cue ball like me.

Winter Weather And Shoveling

Winter weather has struck with a vengeance. On Thursday we got around six inches of snow. This caused some aggravation because we had to be out in it for an eye doctor's appointments. See my wife's blog for general details on the day.

The part I want to draw your attention to is the shoveling of the snow. After supper, I had to go out and shovel the driveway and the walk ways. If I didn't do it then, I would have to do it all before going to work and that was not happening. The boys came out with me and played while I labored. I'm looking forward to when they are seven and up and can actually help me shovel.

The snow was very dry and so it was light, there just was quite a bit of it. The boys and I tried to make a snowman but the snow was so dry that it did not stick together. I could not make a snowball to save my life. It was still snowing after I finished or rather completed the first wave of shoveling of each area. The next wave would be in the morning.

Sort of a side note, I wonder if the guys plowing take any delight in filling up the end of people's driveways with walls of snow? I had literally just finished shoveling out the end of my driveway when a plow came along. I had to step back so that I would not be covered in the wave of snow coming off of the plow blade. And I got to shovel the end of the driveway out once again.

On Friday morning there was about an inch and a half that had fallen since I finished up the night before. I hurried to clear the walk way, the driveway and clean of the van before heading off to work. Which meant I arrived at work tired and ready for a nap.

For those who don't live where there is a lot of snow you may be thinking, "Why bother when there's only one and a half inches?" I thought the same when we first moved up here. The reasons are:

  • If the walk way is not shoveled, the mail man could decide not to deliver the mail. With Christmas approaching we've been getting a lot of packages so I could not let that happen.
  • If you drive over the snow in your driveway, it compacts it and those strips (where the wheels drove over) will turn to ice and become a pain in the neck.
  • If you can get down to the pavement, even if it is only in spots, that lets the sun heat it up, which assists in the melting the snow and ice around it.
It's also a good idea to clean off the hood and roof of your vehicle, especially if you will be going very fast at all. If the snow stays snow, then it just blows off of your vehicle, which does not do much harm other than possible obscuring the view of someone behind you and making them use their windshield wipers. However, if the snow has hardened and turned to ice, it can be come a deadly weapon. Once you are going fast enough, the wind can cause the ice to come off in a big sheet and fly up into the air, possibly landing on a vehicle behind you. Not good.

Another tip - always keep your windshield wiper fluid topped off, especially if you live where they salt the roads. Salt and dirt in the spray caused by the tires of the vehicles in front of you can fast dry out on your windshield, making an opaque screen. If you don't have the wiper fluid to wash it off with, you will be forced to pull over and remove it some other way.

Sorry, I didn't mean for this post to turn in to one about winter driving tips. Back to the weather and the shoveling. To recap, I shoveled Thursday evening and I shoveled Friday morning.

On Saturday, I made a couple of trips to Lowes to buy a new snow shovel (the one I had came with the house and had seen better days; Thursday and Friday convinced me that it needed to be retired) and some more ice melt. I had to make two trips because on the first one, they did not have any snow shovels. When I could not find any I asked one of the employees where they were. His reply, "On I-95." I was puzzled by this response (I had visions of them having fallen off a truck and being scatter on the interstate), which he read on my face. So he explained that they had run out of them on Thursday evening and were awaiting an emergency shipment via UPS that was due to arrive at any time. Not knowing how long this time would be, I opted to go home for breakfast and return afterwards. On the second trip I was able to purchase one of those ergonomic snow shovels, the ones with the bent handle to minimize the amount of bending over you have to do.

After the boys' nap time I tried out my new shovel, this time to free up our trash and recycle bins. I also worked on some ice still sticking to the driveway, a result of coming home Thursday evening (see bullet point number two above.) Once that was done, I decided that was enough.

Stephanie was gone, Ellie was napping and I had taken the boys out with me to do the shoveling. So I took the boys into the backyard in order to pull them around in the toboggan. That did not last long. On the second circuit around the yard, I decided to try to get up enough speed that I could release the boys and they would go sliding off on their own. It had worked great last year with Will. Something went wrong in the transition from dad-guided to free-sliding, resulting in a capsized toboggan and two crying boys, one with a bleeding lip and one with a bleeding cheek. Boy, did I feel bad, especially as the boys were wailing and asking why I made them crash.

I took them inside, cleaned them up and fixed hot cocoa, with miniature marshmallows. That soothed them.

Sunday morning, we awoke to more snow (2-4 inches) along with sleet and rain. It rained most of the day. Our church service was canceled, so I was not forced to go out and shovel during the worst of it. After lunch the sleet had stopped and the rain had slowed down. I was not looking forward to this but knew I could not put it off any longer. I suited up and headed out for my fourth day in a row of shoveling. This time add in a slow rain to change things up. I was impressed at the difference have a good, ergonomic snow shovel made on my lower back. It did not do anything for my arms or upper back. And even though this snow fall was less than the one on Thursday night, this one was wet, heavy snow.

I'm now plenty sore and tired. I've had enough snow for the winter, thank you very much. I checked the forecast and at least there does not appear to be anymore snow for the next five days.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Four Bank Robbers, None With Cents (Sense)

I found this story amusing. Four men (it would have to be men, wouldn't it!?) tried to rob a bank and might have been successful expect for three critical errors:
  1. The bank had already closed for the day.
  2. They timed it during the police shift change, which meant that twice the normal number of police responded.
  3. Their escape route was a major commuter road in gridlock.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Scripture Connection

I have found that the more I read the Bible, and thus the more I know of it, the more I am able to make connections between passages and truths. I made one today during my quiet time. The passage below was part of my Scripture reading.

2 Chronicles 15:12-15
"12 They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul. 13 All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. 14 They took an oath to the LORD with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. 15 All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side."

The emphasis is mine. The context of this passage is that Judah and Benjamin, under the leadership of King Asa, had just returned from a battle that the LORD had won for them. The connection I made was with a well known passage in Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 29:11-14
"11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

Again, the emphasis is mine, to show the connection between the two. In the Jeremiah passage, God gives the promise that if we seek him with all our hearts, we will find Him. The 2 Chronicles passage is a real-life example of this promise fulfilled. In this case the people of Judah and Benjamin sought God with all their hearts and, as promised, they found God. I think that's pretty cool.

Some of you may point out that the Jeremiah 29 promise was given quite a while after the 2 Chronicles event happened. True, but this is not the first time that this promise has been given. It's just the passage that I made the connection with. Here's another instance of this promise. I'm sure there are more of them too. I included some verse before and after the promise to give it context; the emphasis is mine to highlight it for you. Moses is the one speaking.
Deuteronomy 4:25-31
"25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God and provoking him to anger, 26 I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the LORD will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him. 31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath."

I also think that the promise is not only a promise, but it is also a principle of spiritual life that has always been true. So, go and seek the One and Only with all your heart and you will find Him.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Five Less Two

Today we were blessed by being able to drop our two oldest off at the birthday party for one of their friends and leave them. In fact, parents were specifically excluded from the party, which was fine with us. These were friends we trust, so we had no issue there. That gave my wife and I three and a half hours with only one child. It was quite an unusual feeling, almost like going back in time to when we only had one.

We used the time to go out to lunch and do some Christmas shopping. We went to a Chinese food restaurant because the boys don't really care for that kind of cuisine. Lunch was done first so that we did not have to hurry through it. It was nice to only have to deal with one child and to spend a little more one-on-one time with Stephanie. And not to have to hear two children complain how they don't like the food.

After that, we went to Lowes in order to buy some tools for the boys. Will is getting a set of three adjustable crescent wrenches. Ben is getting a hammer. I wanted to get a 16 oz. claw hammer, the kind that has the metal handle (with grip), not the wood or fiberglass handle. After looking over the hammer section several times trying to find this hammer, I saw the label on empty support hanger identifying the location of the elusive hammer. I also noticed why it was elusive - it was marked down on sale for $1.99! That's right, $1.99. For that price, I could use another hammer :-).

After Lowes, we popped over to the K-Mart across the street so that I could purchase a tail light bulb for the van. One had gone out earlier in the week. Nothing like doing car maintenance in the parking lot of a store.

We then proceeded back through the time warp to pick up our other two children and return home in the present day. The kids were put down for a nap and Stephanie left to do some more Christmas shopping and supplies shopping. Will, being the oldest, has a shorter nap time than the rest of the children. We put him down on our bed so that he will not disturb his younger brother. After his nap was done, I went in and laid down next to him. We read some from "The Dangerous Book for Boys" by Gonn and Hal Iggualden.

Nap time done, we (the kids and I) proceeded with a little play time and then I fixed a gourmet supper for the kids - hot dogs, crackers and slices of oranges, all washed down by a very good glass of milk. I had left over Chinese.

Stephanie returned and the kids enjoyed some more play time. Then it was time for Saturday evening showers and bed time. Now I'm catching up on some of my radio program listening while blogging. I have listened to an episode of Focus on the Family (the last part of three with David Ring) and now I'm listening to John Piper (Our Hope: The Glory of God).

Friday, December 7, 2007

Bad Ideas in the News

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First Snow

Tonight we are getting our first real snow of the winter.  It's not much, just a thin layer over the grass, but it gives everything a nice white look.  One evening this weekend we had a few flakes come down but they did not stick and the snow sprinkle did not last long.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Almost 800!

I just need two more visitors to make my visitor count 800. Come on visitors! Nothing like my wife's visitor count of course. She's blown me away. It's not even close.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

December 5, 2007 Update

I know, the titles of my posts recently have not been very creative. I just have not been up to thinking creatively. It takes too much energy and time. I recently moved my wake up time so that I'm getting up an hour earlier, which means I'm going to bed earlier, which means I have less time to do things in the evening. I'm either going to have to try to get a little bit of blogging in at work (like this one), perhaps during lunch, or I'm going to have to designate one evening a week to be my blogging night.

At work I've been learning Perl in order to try to use it to provide a solution to a problem we have. It's been fun learning it but has taken a lot of prolonged, intense reading, thinking and experimenting (which is the fun part). There's also been a lot of intense, stress inducing activity, which I cannot go into detail about.

At home, I've been doing a lot of reading. On Sunday we saw our first meager flakes of snow. By the time we got the kids bundled up and out to catch snow flakes, they were done. They were disappointed. Hopefully we'll have some by Christmas.

For those guys who read this blog, check out this list of 25 skills every man should know and this Christmas wish list.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

One Big Snake

Check out this short video clip on a 440 pound snake found in an abandoned house in Brazil.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

November 29, 2007 Update

So much time has passed since my last "real" post, I'm not sure where to start or what to include.

Last week my in-laws flew in to spend Thanksgiving week with us (not with Stephanie and I but the grand kids - you parents know what I'm talking about). They flew in on Monday, several hours late due to weather and mechanical delays. We ate at Chilli's for supper. Monday I worked but I was off the rest of the week.

Tuesday I decided to do another one of those "quick" home projects. If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know that inevitably when I start a home project, it's never quick or straight forward. This time the toilet in the half bathroom wouldn't stop running. So I bought all new guts plus a new shut off valve because it was now a slow-down valve but not a shut off valve. The plan was to do the work during the kids nap time, while my wife and her mom went shopping. This seemed an ideal time since I had to turn off the water to the house to replace the shut off valve. Replacing the valve went smoothly, with no issue (yeah!). Replacing the innards of the toilet did not. It should have been easy. I've put in a whole new toilet before without much issue, but every time I would attached the tank (I had to remove it to replace the old flush valve) and fill it with water, there would be a leak. First they started off big, like when I flushed the toilet and water squirted out from around where the tank meets the toilet. Finally, after I had lost count of the number of times I had taken the tank off and put it back on, it was down to a very slow leak, a single drop every 20-30 seconds. At that point I declared it good enough for the day and put a towel on the floor behind the toilet to catch the drops. The toilet could be used. Mind you, I had started around 1:00 p.m.. When I called it quits it was around 8:00 p.m. The rest of the family had gone to McDonald's for supper. Prior to attempting the toilet repairs I did replace a knob on a lamp that had been broken and after calling it quits I cleaned out the aerator in one of the sinks to make the water flow better, so I did have a couple of small victories. Once the family returned from supper we exchanged Christmas presents with Stephanie's parents. Good and fun stuff was given and received.

Wednesday was Stephanie's birthday. Before lunch Will helped Grandma make a birthday cake. After lunch we went to the Providence Children's Museum. The kids really enjoy going there, especially the "water" room where they get to splash and play with water and have permission to get wet. Afterwards we went to eat at On the Border, Stephanie's favorite restaurant. I let the waitress know it was her birthday, so she received the typical restaurant birthday cheer and a free dessert. Then we went home and did the birthday cake. The adults would have been fine skipping that but Will was insistent that a birthday needed a cake (and once the cake was served and eaten the birthday is over). Then came presents.

Thursday was, of course, Thanksgiving. It was a very relaxed day. The ladies chose to have our big Thanksgiving meal at supper so that they did not have to rush the preparations.

On Friday the in-laws left on a road trip to Niagara Falls with a detour through Vermont. The rest of us just relaxed - Stephanie read a book and I played with the kids.

On Saturday I tackled the toilet again. This time there were no more leaks. Thanks be to God. In the evening we got out the Christmas tree and decorated it. Both parents and all three kids got involved, even if the youngest, Ellie, was mostly taking the ornaments off the tree which were being put on by her older brothers :-).

Sunday we went to church, came home and did more of the Friday activities.

On Monday (of this week) I went back to work. Grandma and grandpa returned from their road trip, which they enjoyed a lot. We ate out at Friendly's.

Very early Tuesday morning Stephanie's parents flew out. I'm grateful that they had to return their rental car and so we did not have to take them =).

That's a synopsis of the last couple of weeks. Nothing significant to report for most of this week - got up, had quiet time, ate, got ready, went to work, ate, worked some more, came home, ate, played, put to bed, read, and went to bed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving 2007!

Happy Thanksgiving

to everyone. I hope it has been a blessed day for all and that you took time to thank God for all of His abundant provisions and blessings.

We have been busy and I'm tired, so I'm going to keep this short and post more about this week at some future point.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Honey

Happy Birthday!
to my wonderful wife.

Friday, November 16, 2007

November 16 , 2007 Update

As you've probably noticed, I've been absent from the blog world for a few days. I've been busy, mostly with reading. Last weekend while shopping for Christmas presents for others, I picked up a book for myself - "Out of Islam: One Muslim's Journey to Faith in Christ" by Christopher Alam. I finished it in two days. I will try to do a review on it soon. I picked it up 1) because that kind of biography/story interests me and 2) I thought it was another man whom I heard about several months ago and I had wanted to get his story. I found out this was a different individual, the one I was thinking about is Daniel Shayesteh.

Once I finished that, I've been reading "Mary Pride's Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling" by Mary Pride. I've gotten through about eight chapters but still have quite a ways to go. Will will be ready to start school next fall. At the same time that we got the "Getting Started in Homeschooling" book, we also got "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" by Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox and Elaine Bruner. Stephanie has started working with Will on that. He is very excited about it. I only hope that he does not get frustrated because it does not go as fast as he wants it to.

I also got issued a different work laptop yesterday because my senior manager decided the one I had was running too slow. So he gave me his old one, which was a definite step up from the one I was using. So I've been in the process of getting it set up and customized to my likes. This one has a dual-core processor and twice the RAM I had in the previous one. I have noticed a performance difference. It has a wide screen display, which is taking some getting used to.

I'm having breakfast in the morning with a couple of Christian brothers, which I'm looking forward to. Unfortunately, I have to work Sunday morning - our fourth quarter disaster recovery test. Not too excited about it.

My in-laws fly in on Monday for Thanksgiving, so our house will be quite full. We will be exchanging Christmas presents and celebrating Stephanie's birthday next week as well. It's going to be a busy week, but it should be good.

I think that's pretty much it. Stay tuned on this same bat channel for the next bat update.

Monday, November 12, 2007

November 12, 2007 Update

For my company, Veterans Day is a "personal choice" holiday. That means we can choose to take it on the day it is celebrated (today) or we can work the day and use the holiday at some other time. I chose to do the latter.

Since there were not going to be many people at work today, the family came in for lunch. The boys like coming to the office and having lunch. And my boss likes to see the kids. After lunch, we went to my cube, visiting people on the way. I had arranged to work from home in the afternoon so that my wife could go to an appointment without dragging the kids along. So after spending some time at my cube, I packed up and we went home.

As I was packing up, my boss graciously told me not to worry about working this afternoon. So I got to work for half a day and bank a full day to be used later. Isn't God good?

Friday, November 9, 2007

What a Way to Celebrate a One-Year Anniversary

Looking for a unique, once-in-a-life time way to celebrate your first anniversary, or any anniversary for that matter?

You could try to duplicate this couple's experience, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Let's count the number of times I've eaten out this week:

  • Monday - Chuck E Cheese
  • Tuesday - Burger King
  • Wednesday - ate at home
  • Thursday - ate at home
  • Friday - Long Horn Steak House
That's three times this week. And my lovely wife and I are supposed to have a date night tomorrow night, so that will be number four. I'm looking forward to date night, but at the moment I'm feeling rather "restauranted" out. I'm feeling stuffed to the gills. Stephanie offered to make me some hot chocolate tonight. Usually I would have taken her up on the offer. Not tonight. I think anything other than water may put me over the top.

Maybe a salad tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Daddy And Three

What do you get when a dad takes three kids out and about? Unusual questions.

Last night Stephanie was not feeling well when I got home from work. I was going to have to cook supper and she just wanted to go to bed. So I decided to take the kids out for supper to Burger King where they could play in the indoor playground. On the way home I was to get bread and milk.

During these activities I received two questions that I have not received before.

The first question was from one of the Burger King workers. As I was filling up our cups at the soda machine he looked at me and asked, "Babysitting tonight?"

The second question was from the cashier at Wal-Mart. As it came my turn and I was placing the milk up on the counter, she asked me, "Is this WIC?"

What's the deal? Is it that unusual that a dad takes out his three kids, by himself?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

November 4, 2007 Update

About a week and a half ago, I blogged that I was going to go to the Rock The Sound concert this past Saturday. As Proverbs 16:9 says, paraphrased, my plans were not God's plans. I did not make it to the concert.

To sum it up briefly, last Saturday my wife took a pregnancy test, which tested positive. This Saturday she had a miscarriage. You can go to my wife's blog to read more details: Discovery and loss. We are doing well, but are of course grieving. It's amazing how quickly one's heart can make room for a new child. We trust God and know that He is good no matter what trials come our way.

I do want to recount a conversation thread I had with my oldest child, Will, who is four and a half. We had told the kids about the pregnancy and he had been really excited. On Saturday, he perceived that I was sad and asked me why. I put him off until nap time when I could talk to him one on one. I did so, letting him know that the baby had died and was in heaven with God and that we would see him or her one day when we got to heaven.

Among the many questions and comments Will asked and made throughout the rest of the day was the comment that we had not named the baby. I replied that no, we had not but that I was sure God would give the baby a name.

On Sunday, I took the boys and made a trip to Wal-Mart that had been planned for Saturday but never happened. On the way, Will asked a question that really touched me.

"Dad, when we get to heaven, can we ask God what He named the baby?"

"Yes son. We can definitely do that."

Friday, November 2, 2007

Truck Update

Last Sunday I got around to looking at the truck. A friend from church, Kevin, volunteered to come and help me. Since he is more vehicularly savvy than I am, I took him up on his offer. While waiting for him to arrive, I went ahead and got my tools out and decided to try and start the truck. I was fully expecting it to be completely dead. To my surprise, it started right up and ran just fine. The only thing I noticed was the charge meter was showing higher than normal.

Kevin and I looked things over. I asked several questions about interesting looking things in the engine compartment. And we decided to take a "wait and see" approach. I told Kevin that I had been praying, asking God to fix the truck, so that could be the reason nothing appeared wrong.

Well, the truck has started faithfully without a hitch all week. I'm choosing to believe that God fixed my truck. Thank you God.

P.S. I know, "vehicularly" is not a real word. But I thought I would try it out. The English language needs this word.

The World's Smallest Radio

I read this interesting article today on the world's smallest radio, made from a carbon nanotube.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Time Travel

Do you believe time travel is possible? I don't, but it is a fun science fiction story line.

Today, as I was taking my walk at lunch, I began wondering if there was anything we, as Christians could do, in the form of prayer, to affect the past? Quasi spiritual time travel, where we would not directly impact the past by traveling through time there but God would impact it as a result of our prayers.

Here's the premise, the foundation for this question. God is not constrained by time. He is eternal and He created time. He works within time by His own choosing but is not bound by it. He has the complete plan of all that He wants to happen and that will happen.

Here are some verses that help support this premise, though some people may say some of these are a stretch:

  • Psalm 139:4, 16: God knows of what we will say, before we say it; God has all of our days planned before we are born.
  • 1 Peter 1:1-2: God has chosen Christians based on His foreknowledge of how we would respond to His calling.
  • Genesis 21:33: The LORD is the Eternal God. Time is meaningless if you are eternal and would not have been needed before the world was created.
  • Genesis 1:3-5, 14-19: God creates light and calls it "day" and separates it from darkness, calling the darkness "night", on the first day of creation. On the fourth day, God creates the sun, moon and stars, one of the reasons being that they are to "serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years". Time was a creation of God.
  • John 17:24: God the Father and God the Son interacted in relationship before the world was created.
  • Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8-9: How God sees or interacts with the passage of time is different that how we do.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20: All these verses speak of God making decisions and plans before the world was even created.
I cannot take claim for this illustration, or at least the general idea for it, but it is one I use to try to help me wrap my mind around what God's view of time is. Imagine that the history of the world, the time line of the world is like a yardstick. At one end is the creation and at the other end is the end of time, when all that God's Word has prophesied will have been accomplished. God is able to stand above that yardstick and see the whole scope of all that has already happened and all that is yet to happen. Each point on the yardstick represents a specific point in time. Not only can God see the whole time line, but He can "zoom" in on any one of these points and interact with all that is happening at that point in time. He can look back or forward from that point in time and knows how everything will turn out. He also has His plan, which He works out, making sure the right things happen at the right times to bring about the fulfillment of His plan.

All right, the premise should be fairly well set. So let me reiterate the question I was pondering. Can Christians impact what is the past to us, through prayer? Let me pose a couple of scenarios against which to apply this question.

  • Say you have a friend who has an important presentation to make at 10:00 a.m. Your friend asks you to pray for them at 10:00 as they are making the presentation. At 9:30 a.m. or so, you get pulled in to a small crisis at your work and completely forget about praying for your friend. Around 11:15 a.m., when the crisis has been resolved, you return to your desk and realize that you completely forgot to pray for your friend. You decide to go ahead and pray for your friend's presentation, that they would do their best and honor God, as if you were praying at the actual time, at 10:00 a.m.
  • Take the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theater in 1865. You decide that it would have been better if he had not died, so you pray and ask God to spare his life.
For both of these scenarios, I had to ask the questions 1) Could God answer a prayer request with respect to something that happened in the past? and 2) Would God answer prayer in a way that impacts the past (i.e Would God treat the prayer for the friend the same as if you had actually prayed on time? Would God spare Abraham Lincoln's life in 1865 and so rewrite what we know as history?)? By answer, I mean granting the thing for which we are asking. A "No" answer is still an answer but that answer would prevent any speculation as to the answer to the overall question.

For both scenarios, I would answer "Yes" to question 1, God could answer a prayer request with respect to something that happened in the past. He is Almighty God and not constrained by time (see premise).

For question 2 (would), my answer, after all this long-windiness, is "I don't know." Psalm 139:4 says that God knows our words before we speak them. How soon before? Is it just a split second before? No, God knew them before the creation of the world. So at that point in the past He knew we were going to pray for this person or event. Does that mean He will take that into account at that point? I don't know. I would like to think He would. In my opinion, based on nothing but my opinion, I think God may be more likely to answer the prayer request in the first scenario because it is happening within the life of the person praying and they don't yet "know" what the result of the situation was, whereas in the second scenario, the event was far before the person's life and the results are already recorded in history.

Of course, the omnipotence and omniscience of God come into play in ways I will never understand. I believe God knows everything and His plan accounts for everything. He also has the power to do anything. So the way known events in history occurred could be the answer to prayers from the time of the events as well as prayers made before and after the events. Who knows but God.

This was basically an exercise that had little practical application but it was fun to consider God and His power outside the normal realm in which I think of Him. I hope I was able to communicate my rambling thoughts fairly clearly and that this has not left you scratching your heads too much.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Here's To Long Leg Hair

I bet that title tweaked your interest. A Texan is waiting to find out if his freak leg hair will gain the Guinness world record as the longest leg hair. Every thing's bigger in Texas, isn't it?

Another One For You Star Wars Fans

Apparently, there's going to be a live action Star Wars TV series. However, it's not supposed to feature the main characters that we all know and love. So any predictions on how it will do are being withheld.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Feeding the Need for Destruction

On my side bar, I have a link for the Will it Blend? site. This is a site for the BlendTec blender company. To promote their expensive blenders, they started demonstrating the power of the blenders by blending unusual things. Thus the name, Will it Blend? I find it very entertaining and wish I had a blender that could 1) do that and 2) I would not care if it got messed up doing that. If you go there, make sure you view the "Do not try this at home" videos - they are the most fun.

Here's clip from a live demonstration to give you an idea of what they do.

This video was not made by the company but uses their blender.

This video is of a visit to the BlendTec company. Batman gets it in this one.

You get to see several things blended here.

My Friday

This past Friday did not go as I had thought or planned. I'll give you the summary and you can go to my wife's blog to read more detail from her perspective.

  • On Thursday, when I had gotten into my truck to come home, I noticed that the alarm system was making a ticking noise. The last time it did this, I ended up being stuck at work and having to replace both the battery and the alternator. So on Friday morning when I could not start the truck remotely, when the door would not unlock via the remote and when I had started the truck and the clock time had changed, I knew that things were not good. So I had my wife take me to work.
  • I forgot that it was jeans and sneakers day at work in support of the Red Sox.
  • I locked my wife's keys in the mini-van while we were at Wal-Mart on the way home from work. No cab companies wanted to come pick me up and we could not reach any friends, so I walked 3+ miles home to get my set of keys. I was praying hard that the truck would start and would get me to Wal-Mart and back. It did start on the third attempt and did get me there and back - praise God.
I'm trying not to think of it as a bad day, since it was created by God. God had a plan. I'm not positive what it was but it may have been about keeping me humble.

Today I was going to do something about the truck but ended up not doing it because it was rainy and I was tired.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rock The Sound

Yesterday, when I arrived at work, I parked beside one of my colleagues, who had just arrived also. Scott is not just a colleague but he is a brother in Christ and a friend. For our first Thanksgiving in Rhode Island, Scott and his wife had Stephanie and I over to their house for dinner.

When I pulled up, he was on his cell phone. I got out and waited to walk in with him. When he got out, he told me that he had just won two tickets to the November 3rd Rock The Sound concert in Bridgeport, CT. Only he already had tickets for him and his teenage son. So he offered me a ticket. I was like, yes but let me check with me wife. So I checked with Stephanie and she has graciously agreed that I can go.

So I'm going to Rock The Sound, featuring Jeremy Camp, Jars of Clay, Skillet, Grits and Story Side B. I only know Jeremy Camp and Jars of Clay. I'm excited both to go to the concert and to be able to spend time with Scott.

And if everything works out, Stephanie and I are going to attend the Steven Curtis Chapman Live in this Moment Tour event at Lowell, MA on November 10th. It also features Sanctus Real and Bethany Dillon. It's going to be a great couple of weekends.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Family

Here's some recent pictures that involve all of the family, except for the photo taker in most of them.
Family 01
The family at the apple orchard

Family 02
Looking at tide pools at Beavertail

Family 03
Looking at tide pools at Beavertail

Family 04
Trying to get the boys to look at the camera - not working

Family 05
Out on a rock at Beavertail

Family 06
Looking at tide pools at Beavertail

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My Boys

Here are some recent pictures of my two favorite boys.

Boys 01
Will and Ben in the apple orchard

Boys 02
Will and Ben at Beavertail

Boys 03
Ben at Beavertail

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My Girls

Here are some recent pictures of my two favorite girls.

Girls 01
Ellie and I apple picking

Girls 02
Stephanie and Ellie at Beavertail

Girls 03
Stephanie and Ellie at Beavertail

Girls 04
Stephanie and Ellie at Beavertail

Girls 05
Stephanie and Ellie at Beavertail, looking at a snail

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Monday, October 22, 2007

When God Speaks

Early this morning, my oldest son woke me up because he had had a bad dream. So I prayed for him, had him go to the bathroom and put him back to bed. Then I went back to bed myself. I lay there, not being able to go back to sleep. As I was thinking over some things, I had a certain idea come into my head. It was a good idea. As I thought about it more, I wondered if God was try to tell me something. After laying there for about forty-five minutes, I finally decided to get up and have a prayer time.

After about an hour, I was pretty well convinced that this idea was from God. I went back to bed and slept the rest of the night. As I was getting ready for work, I told me wife that I would like her to pray about this idea. She laughed and said that she could pray about it but that she thought she knew the answer. She pulled out her journal, flip to a certain page and said, "I was praying about that Thursday and asked God that if this was from Him that He would confirm it through you."

I said, "I think He just did."

I found it really cool when God chooses to speak in such an overt manner.

Just so you know, I intentionally kept the "idea" vague and don't plan on revealing it in this post. It's not ready for publication yet, if ever.

A Laugh On Me

A neurosis of mine is losing or misplacing my pens. I hate to do that. I can have a totally messy desk, side table, room, etc. and it does not bother me (at least not enough to do something about it). But let me not be able to find my pen and I get all anxious about it and have a strong urge to keep searching until I find it. I want to know the disposition of my pens. I'm getting better at learning to let go when I do lose one but it still causes some distress.

Today, I had another pen incident. A few minutes prior to our weekly team meeting, I was in one of my teammate's cube discussing an issue he was having. When it came time to go to the meeting, I walked back over to my cube to get the printed agenda. At that point I looked for my pen so I could take it too and did not see it. Then I remembered that I had it when I went over to my teammate's cube. So I walked back over to his cube and looked. It was not there. On the way back to my cube and once I arrived, I did the Inspector Colombo routine of patting all of my pockets, trying to identify where my pen had gone to. Not there. Then I started rifling through the papers stacked on my desk. Not there. Feeling pretty anxious now, where had that pen gone to?

By this time, I was a minute late for my meeting. So finally I decided I would have to let the pen go and I retrieved another one from my drawer. I went to the meeting and sat down. It had not started yet and I was still wondering where I could have misplaced the pen. As the meeting was beginning, I reached up to scratch my ear and my missing pen fell into my lap. I had stuck it behind my ear to keep it safe. Relieved that I had found it, I could not help but smile and have a silent laugh at myself.

Another "Simple" Project

This weekend, I made it my goal to do a couple of simple projects around the house. First, I needed to break up the old fence I had just replace and take it to the city recycle center. That was done in the morning. No big deal.

Second, my wife had been asking me to take a look at the kitchen faucet, which had now become very hard to swivel the spout. Should not have been a big deal. It should have been simply removing the faucet, taking it apart and fixing whatever was causing the sticking. I say "should have", because, once again, a simple project took on a life of its own and became not so simple.

The problems started when I was having trouble loosening the nut holding the faucet to the sink. It was located in a tight space and I thought the issue had to do with not being able to get good leverage on it. The solution, I decided, was to remove the sink. This sink is one of those heavy, cast iron sinks with an enamel coating. I had removed it once before and it was that big of a deal. I had already disconnected the water lines going to the faucet, so I only needed to disconnect the drain tail piece and use a paint scraper to cut through the caulk that glued the sink to the counter.

Fear and trembling should have been my response when my wife, upon hearing my plan to remove the sink, announced, "Well, if you are going to remove the sink, why don't we go ahead a get a new one. I don't like this one anyway." These words usually spell project doom (not that she causes the doom, it just seems to happen that way). However, I was not thinking clearly and said OK (must have been from laying on my back too long under the sink, straining to loosen that nut). She also suggested a new counter top, but I drew the line there.

Once the sink was out (which is very heavy by the way), I applied all the leverage I could get on that nut, but it still would not budge. Finally, I wised up and sprayed some WD-40 on it. About a minute later, I was able to easily unscrew the nut. After freeing the faucet from the sink, I proceeded to attempt to take it apart. I removed the only hex screw that was visible. I was then able to remove part of the faucet but failed to be able to disassemble it enough to get at the area where I thought the sticking was occurring. I was afraid to provide too much brute force lest I tear it up. So, we decided we would buy a new faucet too.

After loading up the kids, we sped our way to our local Lowes. There Stephanie picked out a new faucet and a shiny new stainless steel sink. On the way home we devised a strategy to allow me to work in peace. Stephanie dropped me at home and to the kids to McDonalds to eat and play in the indoor play ground. She would bring me home supper when they returned.

I set to work immediately, unpacking the new faucet and the new sink. And to my horror, I almost immediately discovered that the hole in the counter left by the old sink was smaller than the one needed by the new sink. We had gotten the same size sink to replace the old one. However, the old sink relied on its considerable weight and caulk to hold it in place, with no issues. The new stainless steel sink was very light and so required the use of clips underneath it to hook onto the bottom of the counter to secure it (caulk was just for water proofing). This had not even crossed my mind. The clips hooked into a rail system on the bottom side of the sink and where these rails were located was beyond the edge of the existing hole.

So, there was nothing left to do but some demolition. By the time Stephanie and the kids had returned, I had used a jigsaw, a circular saw, a belt sander and a mallet and chisel in an effort to get the hole the right size. There was saw dust everywhere! This was certainly not what she expected. But by nine p.m. I had the opening big enough to fit the sink in.

Here's some of the issues I dealt with:
  • I had to use the mallet and chisel along the back edge of the sink opening because neither my jigsaw nor my circular saw had a narrow enough foot on them to be able to cut the strip of counter between the hole and the back splash.
  • On the front edge, I had to be careful in enlarging it because the hole edge was even with the back of the cabinets. So I had to set the circular saw blade shallow enough that it cut through the counter top but not the cabinets.
  • Due to the issue above, there was no counter top bottom for the clips along the front edge of the sink to grip on.
  • In my test fittings of the sink, I noticed that the counter top thickness must not be the current standard. It was too thick for the clips on the bottom of the sink to fit under and grip.
At that point, once I got the sink fitted, my wife wisely advised that I call it a night. I did. The rest would have to wait until Sunday afternoon.

Sunday afternoon, I spent chiseling out spots for the clips on the sides to hook onto - making the counter top thinner at those points. The back had plenty of points that were thinner because of the chiseling I had already done. Since the counter top is made of particle board, it tends to crumble under chiseling.

I also came up with a solution for how to engage the front clips. Actually, I think God must have helped me with that. I put three corresponding screws on the backside of the front of the cabinet (where they could not be seen) and affixed wires from the three clips long enough the reach the screws. I installed the new faucet and soap pump while the sink was out. A clear, quick-setting caulk was applied next. Then the sink was positioned in place. While I worked under the sink, my wife helped by applying pressure on it from above. I tightened the clips on the back and sides. Then I wrapped the ends of the wires around the screws and tightened the clips. I had positioned the top end of the wires over the ends of the clips so that when I tightened down of the clip screws, the wires would be tightened. It worked great.

Now that the sink was secured, I attached the water lines, installed the drain and attached the drain tail piece. Then came the test. I turned on the water cut off valves and turned on the water slowly. Everything worked! I checked for leaks and there were none!

We had purchased one of those faucets where the spout pulls out on a hose. The instructions on the faucet said, prior to connecting the actual spout, to run the water on full through the hose to flush any debris. Once I had checked for leaks, I decided to do the full power flush. I must have been tired from the two days of labor because I was not thinking as I pushed the faucet lever to full, without holding on to the hose. Yup, you guessed it, that hose came alive, lifted up and blasted a stream of water across the kitchen in the one to two seconds before I realized my error and shut the water off. I just had to laugh at myself.

Now, the sink is in full operational order. Just ask my wife has been diligently washing everything that was covered in sawdust. See my wife's blog on this project.

P.S. For those who, out of the kindness of their hearts for my wife, might want to drop hints or suggestions about, or pave the way for, other home improvement projects for me to do (you know who you are), I just have this comment. She does not need your help. She does just fine on her own, coming up with a never-ending list of things for me to do. :-)

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pray for Emily and her parents, Mike and Dawn

I know most of my readers also read my wife's blog and most read hers first. But for those who come only here or here first, I would ask that you go over to my wife's blog to read about our friends Mike and Dawn and their newborn daughter, Emily. The purpose of this is to ask you to pray for them. Emily has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Emily Rose
Emily Update
Emily Update #2

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Books

I recently ordered four books from and they arrived today. I was very excited. But I'm guessing not many of you would be excited about this books.

  • "Learning Perl, Fourth Edition"
  • "Visual Quickstart Guide to HTML, XHTML & CSS, Sixth Edition"
  • "JavaScript, A Beginner's Guide, Second Edition"
  • "Head First Java, Second Edition"
Was I right?

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers"

While I was having my quiet time on Sunday, I was praying and started thinking of the awesomeness of God. Then I read Psalms 8 which was right in line with my thoughts.

Psalm 8

For the director of music. According to gittith.

A psalm of David.

1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

I took time to do what verse three talks about, considering God's handiwork and His greatness. I mentally agree that God is great and all-powerful, but rarely to I really take time to meditate on that and ponder it. In Matthew 10:30, the Bible says that the hairs on our head are numbered. That's the hairs on everyone's head - present, past and future. Wow. If God keeps track of that, what else does He know and keep track of? I'm sure some people will point out that He knows everything of course. That is very true, but I've found considering examples of that helped bring that truth home.

Consider for instance, the electrons that move through the electrical circuits of the world. Does God know each one of those? I believe this to be true. He knows where each electron starts, where it goes, and where it ends up. He could tell us how many electrons are in use for electricity at this moment just as easily as He could tell us how many electrons are in all of creation. Wow!

Consider the blood cells that flow through our veins. God knows each one, from the point it is made to the point it dies and deteriorates. He knows where each one is within each of our bodies. Or consider the waves of the oceans. God knows each and everyone of them - where they start and where they are going.

Each rock, blade of grass, spider, ant, snow flake, tree, leaf, drop of sap, oxygen atom, rain drop, and particle of smoke. God knows each of these and innumerably more things than can be listed. Wow! How does God keep track of it all? Well, He's God. Isaiah 55:8 say '"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. ' That is so true. He is beyond my comprehension, except what He chooses to reveal to me.

Psalm 147:4 says "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name." He even has names for the stars. Does He have names for other things? I think it's a good possibility.

Psalm 139 has many truths in it. God knows everything we do, everything we say and everything we think - even before they happen! God is every where; there is no where that God is not. Each one of us was created by God, knit and woven by Him. God has a detailed plan for each one of us, for every moment of our lives. Wow.

Is God surprised by the things that we, people, make, invent, discovery or create? I think not. When He considers the computer chip, does He think "Wow, I had no idea that something like that could be derived from sand."? Again, I think not. When God created everything, He wove into creation's fabric all these wonderful properties and abilities. I think He designed creation in such a way that we could make, invent, discovery and create. It's a gift to us. It allows us to use the intelligence He has given us. As a dad, I love to watch my kids learn and discover things. I think God is the same way, assuming what we are doing is in line with His will. I was not very happy about Will learning how to open the vitamin bottle. They are only vitamins, but that means that he may be able to open other bottles that are supposed to be child proof, which may contain something that can harm him.

God is truly an awesome God. Oh LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

These thoughts lead me to re-read the creation narrative.

Genesis 1

The Beginning

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day.

6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning - the second day.

9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning - the third day.

14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights - the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning - the fourth day.

20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning - the fifth day.

24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground - everything that has the breath of life in it - I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Genesis 2

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Adam and Eve

4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens - 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground - 7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

As I read over it, God showed me some things I had never noticed before and reminded me of somethings I had forgotten.

  • In chapter one, verses one and two, God creates the "canvas" on which the rest of His creation will be applied. The earth was formless and empty. The sun, moon and stars are not created until the fourth day. Light had not been created yet. However, this was no ordinary canvas. I believe that when God created the heavens and the earth, He did so with all the laws and properties we know today and probably some we don't know. I believe gravity was created at this time, as well as the laws of thermodynamics (with the possible exception of the law of entropy, which may have come into play after the fall), E = mc2 and other such laws and properties. God had it all planned out. There was no trial and error with God. He got it right the first time. Just think about the complexity of the natural world we live in. All the things that need to happen to make it work. To me, the idea behind evolution, that things just happened by chance, is so improbable, so impossible, that it would take more faith to believe in evolution than a creator God. How could so many complex systems, with so many interdependencies, just happen by chance? I don’t think so!
  • Notice the power of God’s words. He creates things out of nothing by His word. And His words are backed by His power and intelligence – they are full of meaning beyond the simple meaning conveyed by human languages. When He says “Let there be…”, God does not have to spell out the details. He did not name all the types of fish with a description of their shapes, sizes, colors, breeding habits, life cycles and food. He just said “Let the water teem with living creatures…” (1:20) and it was so. Wow.
  • God creates light on day one but does not create the natural sources of light (sun and stars) until the fourth day. So where did the light come from that He separated from the darkness?
  • In the beginning God creates the heavens and the earth. I'm not 100% sure about this, but I think this was prior to the start of the 1st day of creation. Knowing from the creation account that the sun, moon and stars were not created until the fourth day (and I'm guessing the other planets too), that this still a lot of creation in terms of size. Once the earth and the heavens have been created, God spends the next six days working on creating things on or around the earth. That says to me that the earth was the geographical focal point for God's creation (I think this is a good argument against extraterrestrial beings). God had the power, He could have just spoken and everything would have been created in that instant. So why didn't He? I believe that Scripture is clear that He did this to establish the pattern of a week for us. On any of the six days of creation, God could have done it all. He has not limitations. So why parse out the work? To establish the idea of six days. In 2:2, the seventh day, God rests from His work. Was God really tired and needed the rest? Palsm 121:4 says "indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." The answer to that question is No. God did not need the rest. He is spirit and does not have a body to get tired. God did it to establish the idea of a Sabbath day of rest (see also Hebrews 4:1-11). Exodus 20:8-11 says,

8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

  • If the earth was the geographical focal point of God’s creation, then man was God’s creative focal point. God saved the best for last. He created everything else prior to creating man. He prepared for us a perfect place to live (sounds kind of like heaven, John 14:1-3). While God spoke everything else into existence (“Let there be…”), chapter 2, verse 7 says, “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground...” God used His hands to create Adam. Talk about special. But the crowning characteristic of this creation, that truly separated it from all the other creation was that fact that man was made in the image of Almighty God (1:26-27). We have a spirit like God and, like God, it will live forever. God created something to last for an eternity, just like Him. Wow!! Where it will live forever (heaven or hell) depends on that person’s relationship with Jesus Christ.

God is truly beyond anything I can imagine. He is more powerful, more glorious, more awesome than I can began to comprehend. I cannot think of a better way to end this post than with a couple more Scriptures.

Psalm 19:1- 6

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

Romans 1:18 - 25

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

All the Scriptures are from the NIV, courtesy of