Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is It A Right or Isn't It?

Is It A Right or Isn't It? by Ross Kaminsky

http://spectator.org/archives/2010/12/29/is-it-a-right-or-isnt-it

In an October, 2008 debate against John McCain, Barack Obama said that health care "should be a right for every American."

In rights parlance, his assertion is one of a "positive right" meaning that others may be compelled to provide a person's health care. This is distinguished from essentially every right laid out for Americans in our Constitution: these are "negative rights," meaning that they proscribe others from inhibiting you from exercising your right but do not otherwise require active cooperation of others. Your right to free speech does not require others to help you breathe; it simply requires them to leave you alone (except in a few very specific circumstances where your speech is likely to cause imminent harm to others, thus infringing on their negative right not to be killed, beaten, or robbed).

On the other hand, if health care is a right, that means that an American who for whatever reason does not have access to a doctor must be provided that access, whether that means redistributing taxpayer money to the would-be patient or even the potential of forcing a doctor to provide his services in an area "underserved" by health care professionals.

The problem with Obama's positive right formulation -- as with all positive rights -- is that one never knows where such a right ends, if or when such a right might be curtailed when it conflicts with citizens' other (usually negative) rights.

Those who argue that perhaps our foundational (and negative) American right to the pursuit of happiness is infringed upon by the government's taking money earned presumably "according to our ability" and distributed presumably "according to our need" are called heartless and told that our policy suggestions will lead to children starving in the streets. Conservatives and libertarians have never figured out how to counter such heart-rending arguments -- even if the arguments are utterly belied by real-world outcomes, such as the 1996 welfare reform bill signed by a reluctant Bill Clinton (who now proudly claims that legislation as one of his great achievements).

In the modern welfare state, the asserted positive right seems always to win; in particular, there seems to be no limit to the amount of a "rich" person's money the left is willing to redistribute in order to fund America's own socialism-lite, pleasantly rephrased "the safety net."

Indeed, why should there be a limit if welfare or a retirement income or health care is a right?

But at some point, even the charitable and constitutionally illiterate American populace pushes back on the cost of these so-called rights. With trillion-plus-dollar budget deficits as far as the eye can see, we've reached that point in America and the government is now looking for ways to curtail the cost of the latest created right, the so-called right to health care. And when looking to contain costs, it only makes sense to look where government's costs are highest: in the last year of a person's life.

Studies have shown that the percentage of Medicare spending for people in the last year of their lives has been in a narrow range just under 30% for several decades, with about 5% of Medicare patients dying each year.

Chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Dr. Donald Berwick, a health care socialist who idolizes the British National Health Service -- that's the group who will only treat macular degeneration in one eye because it's better for a person to go blind in one eye than for the government to spend another £1,500 to save both eyes -- is on record saying that health care must and will be rationed. In that vein, and despite a similar provision being removed from the Obamacare bill during debate in the Senate with cries of "death panels," Berwick has issued a rule allowing reimbursement to doctors for end-of-life planning.

Of course, the only way such planning will save money is if the plan calls for grandma to die a little sooner. (Take that, former Congressman Alan Grayson.) And suddenly, liberals come face to face with the contradiction, or at least unsustainability, of their assertion of health care as a right.

After all, if it is a right, shouldn't Grandma Smith be entitled to as much of the Jones' and Jacksons' money as necessary to keep her alive for as long as she wants to and can have a pulse in her heart, a breath in her lungs?

The big-picture problem for the left is that in the context of government-run health care Berwick's rule is not only sensible, but it's the only possible outcome. This leaves proponents of a "right" in the uncomfortable position of having to say that it's only a right up to a certain age, a certain degree of sickness, or a certain cost.

Yet, if a "right" ends at an arbitrary point set by bureaucrats and legislators -- a point not based on conflict with other rights but rather with changeable financial or political considerations -- then it can't be a right. Furthermore, if a positive right such as that claimed by supporters of Obamacare can be curtailed because of cost, then every government program that relies on the redistribution of wealth can be curtailed. Either they're all "rights" or none of them is.

Of course, the idea that government, with an incentive to "control costs," would be involved with end-of-life counseling is disturbing enough. But perhaps the biggest problem for Progressivism in the news of Berwick's giant step toward health care rationing is that the country is learning in an unmistakable way that the emperor has no clothes. In our constitutional republic, positive rights are anathema to liberty and to life itself.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tax cuts for the rich?

I'm outsourcing my blog today. Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social critic, political commentator and author.

Can Republicans Talk?

Republicans have the stronger case, but they still need to make it.


The biggest battle in the lame-duck session of Congress may well be over whether or not to extend the Bush administration’s tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire in January. The fact that this decision has been left until late in the eleventh hour, even though the expiration date has been known for years, tells us a lot about the utter irresponsibility of Congress.

Neither businesses nor individuals nor the Internal Revenue Service will know what to do until this issue is resolved. In a stalled economy, we do not need this prolonged uncertainty that can paralyze both consumer spending and investment spending.

Republicans want the current tax rates to continue, and Democrats want only the current tax rates for people earning less than “the rich”– variously defined — to continue, with everyone making more than some specified income to have their tax rates rise next year.


What makes predicting the outcome of this battle very difficult is that Republicans won a big majority in the House of Representatives in the recent election, but the tax cuts are scheduled to expire before the new members of Congress are sworn in — and the Democrats have a big majority in both houses of Congress in the lame-duck session, where this issue will be decided.


Theoretically, the Democrats could win, hands down, since they have the votes. But Congressional Democrats are well aware of how they lost big in the recent election, and some Democrats don’t want to gamble their own jobs in the next election by going the class-warfare route.


Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats can afford to have all the tax rates go up in January because they couldn’t get together and pass a bill to prevent that from happening. But the nature of that bill matters, not just for politicians but — far more important — for the economy.


Former secretary of labor Robert Reich, now a professor at Berkeley, has made the case for the liberal Democrats’ position in an article in the November 28 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle titled “Extend benefits for jobless, not tax cuts for the rich.”

Professor Reich points out that both Republicans and some conservative Democrats say that we cannot afford another extension of unemployment benefits because the deficit is already too large. Then he adds: “But wait. These are the same members of Congress who say we should extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.”


Reich advocates “extending unemployment benefits for struggling families without a breadwinner” because “these families need the money. The rich don’t.”


This is the Democrats’ argument in a nutshell. It seems very persuasive on the surface, however shaky it is underneath. But cuts in tax rates do not mean cuts in tax revenues, as Reich assumes. How the tax-rate battle in Congress turns out may depend on how well the Republicans answer such arguments.


These are not new arguments on either side. They go back more than 80 years. Over that long span of time, there have been many sharp cuts in tax rates under presidents Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. So we don’t need to argue in a vacuum. There is a track record.


What does that record say? It says, loud and clear, that cuts in tax rates do not mean cuts in tax revenues. In all four of these administrations, of both parties, so-called “tax cuts for the rich” led to increased tax revenues — with people earning high incomes paying not only a larger sum total of tax revenues, but even a higher proportion of all tax revenues.

Most important of all, these tax-rate reductions spurred economic activity, which we definitely need today.


These are the facts. But facts do not “speak for themselves.” In terms of facts, the Republicans have the stronger case. But that doesn’t matter, unless they make the case, which they show little sign of doing.


Democrats already understand the need for articulation. Robert Reich is only one of many articulate Democratic spokesmen. But where are the articulate Republicans? Do they even understand how crucial articulation is? The outcome of this lame-duck session of Congress may answer that question.


Guess who said the following: "It is incredible that a system of taxation which permits a man with an income of $1,000,000 a year to pay not one cent to his Government should remain unaltered."

Franklin D. Roosevelt? Ted Kennedy? Nancy Pelosi?

Not even close. It was Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury under conservative Republican President Calvin Coolidge.

What was Mellon's point? That high tax rates do not necessarily result in high tax revenues to the government. "It is time to face the facts," he said. Merely having high tax rates on large incomes will not bring in more tax revenues to the treasury, because of "the flight of capital away from taxable investments."

This was all said in 1924, in Mellon's book, "Taxation: The People's Business." Yet here we are, more than 80 years later, still not facing those facts.

It is not just a question of what Andrew Mellon said. It is a question of hard facts, easily checked in official documents available to all-- and ignored all these years.

Internal Revenue Service data show that there were 206 people who reported annual incomes of one million dollars or more in 1916. But, as the tax rate on high incomes skyrocketed under the Woodrow Wilson administration, that number plummeted to just 21 people reporting a million dollars a year in income five years later.

What happened to all those millionaires? Did they flee the country? Were they stricken with fatal diseases? Did they meet with foul play?

Not to worry. Right after Congress enacted the cuts in tax rates that Mellon had been urging, there were suddenly 207 people reporting taxable incomes of a million dollars or more in 1925. As Casey Stengel used to say, "You could look it up." It is on page 21 of an Internal Revenue publication titled "Statistics of Income from Returns of Net Income for 1925."

Where had all the income of those millionaires been hiding? In tax-exempt securities like state and local bonds, among other places. Mellon had urged Congress to end tax exemptions for such securities, even before he got them to cut tax rates. But he succeeded only with the latter, and only after a political struggle with those who made the same kinds of arguments that are still being made today by those who cry out against "tax cuts for the rich."

Still, one out of two is not bad, when it comes to getting Congress to do something that makes sense economically, rather than something that looks good politically.

The government, which collected less than $50 million in taxes on capital gains in 1924, suddenly collected well over $100 million in capital gains taxes in 1925. At lower tax rates, it no longer made sense to keep so much invested in tax-exempt securities, when more money could be made by investing in the economy.

As for "the rich"-- who really were rich in those days, when $100,000 was worth more than a million dollars is worth today-- those in the highest income brackets paid 30 percent of all taxes in 1920 and 65 percent of all taxes by 1929, after "tax cuts for the rich."

How can that be? Because high tax rates on paper, that many people avoid, often does not bring in as much tax revenue as lower tax rates that more people actually pay, after it is safe to come out of tax shelters and earn higher rates of taxable income.

The investors do this because it makes them better off, on net balance, even after they pay more money in taxes on incomes that have gone up. More important, the economy benefits when there is more investment in things that create more jobs and rising output.

None of this was unique to the 1920s. The same scenario played out again in later years, during the Kennedy, Reagan and Bush 43 administrations.

But economic success is not the same as political success. As former House Majority Leader Dick Armey put it, "Demagoguery beats data."

As long as the voters keep buying the "tax cuts for the rich" demagoguery, politicians will keep selling it. And it will keep selling as long as it goes unanswered. The question is whether today's Republicans understand that as well as Andrew Mellon did back in the 1920s.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Contentment

Last night in my American women’s history class, we were learning/talking about wives and mothers in the 50’s and 60’s and how these women, after working outside the home and finding fulfillment in their jobs during the war, didn’t want to go back to being “just” housewives after their men came home. Feminists saw this discontent and latched onto it like a flee on a dog’s leg. They encouraged housewives to be discontented with what they had and told them there was nothing wrong with wanting to be more than “just” a housewife. After all, being a wife and mother really wasn’t anything of significance. To put it more succinctly, there was nothing wrong for housewives to put their own happiness as the greatest pursuit in their life.

A generation or so later, what do we have? Our divorce rate is at 50%. Promiscuity, affairs and spousal abandonment have skyrocketed. 2 to 3 out of every 4 girls is carrying at least one STD. We have unplanned pregnancies (70% of girls in the black community), thousands of abortions a year, and unwed teen mothers living off the government. There have never been more women on antidepressants as what we’re seeing today. Child delinquency is at an all-time high as children are raised by day care providers and teachers instead of loving and involved parents.

And people have never been more discontented with their lives. This is what happens, ladies and gentlemen, when we’re selfish and put our own happiness and contentment and fulfillment ahead of everything else. If you can’t learn to be content with what you have now (no matter how good or bad!), you will never be content. Paul says in Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Why are people so blind? Can they not see what a generation of pursuing happiness above all else has gotten us? I wish we could go back to a time when men and women may have been less than happy with their lives but still did what was right and upheld their commitment to their spouse, their children, their families, their community, and their God.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Letter to Dr. Laura

Richard, a listener to Dr. Laura's radio show, sent in the following letter:

"We have slowly but surely emasculated men in our society - made a mockery of "real men" - expunged all the old heroes. The results have been boys growing up to be men who do not know how to be men nor how to treat women - who have no respect for women - nor are they able to provide the strong male figure their sons need in their quest for manhood.
This "neutering" of the male is and has been due to an apparent unwillingness to accept the nature of the male. This nature is there whether we like it or not - and I strongly suspect it is there for a reason.
There is a natural "warrior" in all boys. A boy needs to learn that to be a good warrior, he must learn to control his aggressive nature. A boy needs to know that a brave warrior believes deeply in honesty and justice, has a strong feeling for God, and is able, in his own way, to love and show kindness, mercy, and tenderness. If he does not learn this, it will be the women who will suffer most from lawless males. It is in a woman's interest that a boy grows up to be a good man, and if this is to happen, I might add, he must have male authority figures: his father, his minister/rabbi, and, yes, God.
In previous generations, boys often settled things "out behind the barn" with their fists, and, if they were to be "manly" about it, they followed fairly well defined rules. That type of conduct has since been considered uncivilized - considered uncivilized by a generation that has produced a society which is far less civilized than the generations that preceded it - and it continues to produce much of the same.
When an attempt is made to strip a boy of those things that identify his natural maleness, he will either be left with an aggression he has never learned to control, or with nothing that identifies his innate maleness - he becomes an emotional eunuch - a "nice" guy perhaps, but an emotional eunuch nevertheless. And, Dr. Laura, emotional eunuchs do not protest evil at any level. They feel no commitment to do so.
When women set out to remold men into what their emotions suggest is a civilized human being - they turn men into women! These are the guys who sit by, leaving many of the problems they should be facing in the laps of their wives.
Feminist thinkers - male or female - see violence of any kind and for any reason as totally impermissible. It is most fortunate for them that thinking such as that did not dominate past generations. Good warriors have been a major influence in the civilization of nations. Civilization requires warriors - good warriors."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dancing With the Stars

This morning on my way to work, I was listening to a Christian radio station and the question that callers were answering was if they’d allow their spouse to go on Dancing with the Stars, if invited to do so. The announcer was saying that he wouldn’t do it, nor would he want his wife to do it, but for the most part, the listeners (I didn’t hear the whole thing so the only callers I heard were female) who were calling in were disagreeing with him. The common theme? “I trust my husband and I know he’d never cheat on me so I think he should do it if he gets invited.” Are you kidding me?! This is not a matter of trust. It’s a matter of protecting your marriage. I trust my husband to never ever cheat on me but there’s still absolutely no way I’d allow him to go on that show (and I certainly wouldn’t either). Why would you purposefully put yourself or your spouse in a situation where there’s going to be temptation? Your spouse would be spending long hours with a very attractive person of the opposite sex, dancing extremely erotically, holding each other close, gazing into each others’ eyes, touching that person’s body in ways that would be absolutely forbidden in any other environment. Even if “nothing happens”, things are still happening in the normal course of what’s required of them in order to compete. And besides that, it’s hard to win a competition like that unless there’s “chemistry” between the two dancers and even though some people are able to perform really well, true chemistry comes from having feelings for that other person.

I was just stunned that women would allow their husbands to participate in that kind of thing. Is it any wonder why affairs are so common? If this is how these wives always think, they’re not doing a very good job protecting their marriage.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"My Life"

Well, dear readers, I have not written in several weeks, not because I had nothing to say (if you're close to you, you know I always have something to say!) but because I don't want to overwhelm you with heavy subjects every time I write. One of the things I'm passionate about is dealing with the social problems of today (sexual promiscuity, divorce, absentee parents, politics, etc.) and I know that can get tiring to hear all the time (just ask my husband). So tonight, I will try to just be positive, which is a little hard to do this week. I've had several bad things come up that I've had to deal with (family issues, school, and work) but I'd rather not dwell on those things right now. Instead, I'd like to think about something positive... specifically, that I'm content. Despite the crap that's been dumped on me recently, I'm content with my life. You may be a little puzzled as to how that can be. Well, it's simple really. You see, my class, my job, my extended family issues is not my life. It's a part of my life, yes, but when I think about the essence of "my life", I think about my husband, my kittens and our home. It's like... a campfire. The middle of the campfire (the flames and the wood in the middle of it) is my life. The embers at the edge and the sticks poking into the fire are my job, my extended family, and school. They're involved and related to the middle of the campfire but they aren't the middle of the campfire. Now, this view of my life has pros and cons. The pros are that I can feel that "my life" is good, peaceful, and fulfilling. The cons are that, if something bad happens (I lose my husband, my kittens, or our home), my life will suddenly suck majorly. If that ever happens, though, I'd like to think that the essence of my life will shift from those things to other things that are positive. I'd like to think that, no matter what happens, I don't consider the negative things in my life to be the essence of my life... if I did, "my life" would always suck and I would never be content. There's always positive things in people's lives (sometimes a little hard to find) but if people would view the positive as their essence, I think people would feel a lot better about their lives.
I'm sitting out on our deck right now, enjoying the mild temperatures as my kittens play near me. Daniel's at class tonight but we're (hopefully) going to have a date night tomorrow night. "My life", despite the crap, is good.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wait

Caution: some of the content in this blog may not be appropriate for children. Rated PG-13 for sexual references.


Even though it’s been quite a few years, I remember fairly vividly one of the assignments I had to do for school (I was in high school). The assignment was to write a letter to my daughter, telling her all the reasons why she shouldn’t have sex before marriage. The point of this was, of course, to try to cement those beliefs in my own mind and heart and to remind me that one day, I will have to have that talk with my daughter and that talk should be a story of success, not of guilt and disappointment. I think of that assignment from time to time. I remember generally the things I said and what I said back then hasn’t changed. I still believe those things. But it’s different now that I’m married.


Here are the reasons (I know I included most of these in my assignment) why people shouldn’t have sex before marriage.


1) STD’s – these are so common now, it’s virtually impossible to have sex with random people (i.e. anyone who’s not your spouse) for even a short amount of time before contracting one. A lot of men carry them but don’t know it and aren’t affected by them. STD’s devastate women in particular. Many women who get them are sterile because of it and a lot of the STD’s can’t be cured – the women carry them for the rest of their lives. If they do have children, they run a fairly high risk of passing it to their children. You don’t hear this talked about much in the media. Why? Because the ONLY sure way of protecting yourself from an STD is abstinence, and you definitely don’t hear that in the media. Let me be clear – condoms can help but they DO NOT protect you 100% from STD’s. Also, quite a few people (mostly teens and early 20’s) now suffer from mouth and throat cancer. They get it from having oral sex with someone who has an STD. It’s not worth it.


2) Pregnancy – I don’t know the exact statistics on teen pregnancies but I know the numbers are high, upwards of 75% in the black community, less among Hispanics and Caucasians. After an unmarried girl gets pregnant, her options are limited. A) put the baby up for adoption – a painful but sacrificial decision. B) marry the dad (if her/his parents allow it) and try to live a semi-normal life. Life will never be normal though, since a lot of pregnant teen girls drop out of high school because of it and a lot of pregnant college girls drop out also. C) try to raise the baby yourself, but that virtually guarantees that the girl has to drop out of school, whether high school or college, and work full-time to support herself and her baby. D) abort – that girl/woman will suffer from that decision for the rest of her life, constantly plagued by guilt and self-loathing. Every time a child laughs, it’ll be like a knife being driven into her heart. It’s not worth it.


3) Emotional destruction – unlike men, almost all women have to have an emotional connection with the guy before they’ll have sex. Then they have sex and a few days/weeks/months later, he breaks up with her and she’s crushed. She slowly recovers but is constantly nagged by feelings of worthlessness – her self esteem is shot. Many times, another guy will come along and recovery will be swifter. She’ll give her heart to that guy and the cycle continues. But after awhile, it doesn’t hurt so much. It’s like… if you put tape on your arm than peel it off. The first time, it hurts like heck. The second time, it hurts like heck but not as bad. The third time, it stings. The fourth time, you feel it but it doesn’t really hurt. The fifth time, you don’t even notice. That’s what happens to the girl’s heart – pretty soon, there’s nothing left to feel the pain. It’s not worth it.


4) Marriage – one of the things that most people don’t consider when they’re sleeping around is the negative impact their promiscuous lifestyle is going to have on their marriage. Habits die hard. If you’re having sex with someone who’s not your husband/wife right now, why would you change after you have a ring on your finger? And for a lot of people, it doesn’t change. A lot of affairs/divorces happen because the husband or wife isn’t content with who they’re married to. Before marriage, if they grew discontented with the person they were having sex with, they just moved on. After marriage, they either get a divorce or have an affair. Inevitably, they find someone else and get married again… and do the same thing. And you people out there who are marrying someone who you’ve been having sex with – if you can’t trust him/her now to only have sex within marriage, why should you trust him/her after you marry him/her? Also, besides the fact that you really shouldn’t trust the person you’re marrying, quite a few people (though certainly not as many as what it should be) live with guilt the rest of their lives for having sex before marriage. How can you tell your child to do the right thing when you didn’t? It’s not worth it.


5) Sex makes you stupid – a blessing in marriage, a disaster outside of marriage. There’s something about sex and the emotional connection that’s forged that just makes people not think straight. In marriage, it’s an awesome thing. When you have that kind of connection with another person, you tend to be more forgiving, you notice bad things about the other person less, and you have that general “stars in your eyes” thing. Yes, it does lessen the longer you’re married, but as long as you continue with an active sex life, the effect will always be there. God created sex to be the glue that holds your marriage together – it’s the only thing you should only be doing with your spouse (you can talk to your friends, you can go out to eat with your friends, you can say you love your friends, but sex is reserved for just your spouse) and it’s very special. However, when you’re having sex outside of marriage, it blinds you to what the other person is really like. You have that “stars in your eyes” thing… but it’s at the wrong time. You need to have a clear head and be focused before marriage so you pick the right person. The percentage of people who had sex before marriage then got divorced is very high. Why? Because after they got married, the “stupid” went away and they realize what the other person is REALLY like. If you don’t believe me, go ask some people. I think you’ll be shocked. It’s not worth it.


6) The reasons given above apply across the board, whether you’re a Christian or not. But if you’re a Christian, one of the most devastating things about having sex before marriage is that you destroy your witness to those around you. Having sex before marriage and being a Christian do not go together. “Yes, I’m a Christian but I sleep with my boyfriend every weekend”. Well, I’m sorry, but what kind of Christian is that? The Bible is clear: sex before marriage is wrong. If you don’t believe me, look at how many times in the New Testament “fornication” is forbidden. It’s wrong, it disappoints God, and it destroys your witness. If you’re really a Christian, you can’t do it. It’s just that simple. I don’t know which is worse though, the disappointment of God or the destruction of your witness. Whichever it is, it’s not worth it.


From a different perspective, as Christians, we’re required to love everyone. Jesus said: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). If you really loved the one you’re fornicating with, you wouldn’t be doing it. Love means doing what’s best for the other person. Sex before marriage is not best for the other person (see reasons above). Love doesn’t steal. Sex before marriage is taking something that doesn’t belong to you. It’s not love and it’s not worth it.


Like I said above, I still believe (as I did back then) that sex before marriage is wrong and isn’t worth it. But I also said that it’s different now. Why is it different? Because back then, I wondered sometimes if I had the strength of character to stand strong in the midst of temptation. And now I know that I do. I’m very happy, proud, and relieved to say that I was a virgin on my wedding day (don’t hear those words out of people very often, do you?). I know that some people claim to be virgins but then you find out they’ve done everything BUT (in fact, oral sex is often called “Christian sex” since a lot of people do only that before marriage and still think they’re virgins… sorry people, but you’re not). That wasn’t me. I wasn’t perfect but (not to get too graphic) clothes stayed on and hands didn’t stray. I don’t have feelings of guilt or remorse, I don’t live every day with a shadow because of the things I did. And I KNOW that I would’ve been one of those people who feel the burden of that guilt every day. I also know that the oft-used arguments “I can’t help it” or “everybody does it!” aren’t true. I didn’t do it. Because I knew that it wasn’t worth it.


Now, I know there are many people out there who can’t go back and fix their mistakes. If you’re truly sorry for what you did, God will forgive you. But why even get to the point where you have to beg for forgiveness? Wouldn’t it have been better if you hadn’t done it in the first place? That’s why you need to teach your kids to do the right thing. That’s why you need to be accountable to someone and hold them accountable. That’s why you need to do the right thing with the small things, so when you’re faced with bigger temptations, you have the strength of character to resist. This isn’t about trying to make anyone feel bad (unless of course you’re having sex outside of marriage right now… than I hope you feel like crap for what you’re doing); it’s about trying to stop something before it starts. We have to learn this lesson or it will destroy not only our lives, but the lives of our children and their children and their children. Believe me people. It’s not worth it.


There’s one last thing I’d tell my daughter: “My darling girl, your virginity is the most precious, wonderful gift you have. It can only be given once. Save it for the man you marry. I know how much you’ll love him and I know, because of that love, you’ll want to give it to him and him alone. The world will tell you that you can have sex with no bad side effects, men will tell you that they love you just so they can use you, your girlfriends will tell you how great it is to be able to sleep with any guy they want. But God tells you that it’s worth the wait and when you marry, you’ll agree. And trust me, daughter, when I tell you that it’s worth the wait. I know…. because I waited.”

Friday, July 30, 2010

Unanswered Prayers

As a rule, I don't really like country music. But I do like some of Garth Brooks' songs and this one in particular. It's called "Unanswered Prayers" and every time I listen to it, I think of all the things I've prayed for that I'm glad God didn't give me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOXim5ZmSKc

"Just the other night at a hometown football game,
My wife and I ran into my old highschool flame,
And as I introduced them, the past came back to me,
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be.

She was the one that I'd wanted for all time,
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine,
And if He'd only grant me, this wish I wished back then,
I'd never ask for anything again.

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers,
Remeber when you're talkin' to the Man upstairs,
That just because He doesn't answer doesn't mean He don't care,
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams,
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed,
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn't much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what He's doin' after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife,
Then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the Man upstairs
That just because He may not answer doesn't mean He don't care,
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

Some of God's greatest gifts are all too often unanswered prayers."

Monday, July 26, 2010

A True Friend

Last night, my husband and I watched “Steel Magnolias” with Julia Roberts, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, and Sally Fields. [Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen this movie and plan on watching it, you may not want to read this blog] The movie was rather sad since Julia Roberts’s character dies. But I was impressed by the five main women in this movie. They stuck together, no matter what. They laughed together, grieved together, gossip, made fun of each other, and told each other secrets. Sometimes they were frustrated with each other, but it never lasted long. These women knew what it meant to be a true friend. These women were living life together.

I don’t think very many people today have true friends, and I think that’s due mostly to the fact that a lot of people don’t know how to be a true friend. It’s more than someone you go shopping or fishing with on the weekend. It’s someone who lives life with you, who shares in the joys and struggles as if they themselves were going through them, and vice versa. You don’t always have to agree or like the same things but you do have to be willing to walk through the deepest valley’s with your friend. You have to be willing to feel their pain as if it was yours. Being on the mountaintops with your friend is the easy part and definitely the fun part and that’s usually where friendships are started, but it’s the bitterness of disappointment and despair that will test the bonds that unite the two of you and when those bonds are tested and found to be strong enough – that’s when you have a true friend and when you are a true friend.

God Himself said that “it’s not good for man to be alone.” That verse is applied to marriage a lot, but it’s more fundamental than the marriage covenant. God’s saying that every person needs a friend, that He didn’t intend for us to go through life on our own. You may wonder why I speak so strongly about friendship when it may appear to many that I don’t have very many friends. In fact, I’ve been criticized at times for not having more friends. While it is true that I have very few friends, I don’t feel that I lack anything. There are, in fact, just three people who fall into the “friend” category which I’ve described. One is, of course, my husband; one is my younger sister; and one is another person I met a couple years ago. These three friends know my heart; they know that when I say stupid, moronic things that I don’t mean it. They share my burdens and I share theirs. They celebrate with me and I with them. When any one of these three needs me, I’m there for them; and I know that when I need them, they’re always there for me. These are the people I plan on going through life with. There may be one or two others later on who become a friend, but for now, these three are all I want or need. Without them, life would be impossible. With them, life is an exciting adventure.

Friday, July 23, 2010

God and Brett Favre

God asks Peyton Manning first: "What do you believe?"

Peyton thinks long and hard, looks God in the eye, and says, "I believe in hard work and in staying true to family and friends. I believe in giving. I was lucky, but I walsy tried to do right by my fans."

God can't help but see the essential goodness of Manning, and offers him a seat to his left.

Then God turns to Aaron Rodgers and says, "What do you believe?"

Aaron says, "I believe passion, discipline, courage and honor are the fundamentals of life. I, too, have been lucky, but win or lose, I've always tried to be a true sportsman, both on and off the playing fields."

God is greatly moved by Aaron's sincere eloquence and he offers him a seat to his right.

Finally, God turns to Brett Favre, "And you, Brett, what do you believe?"

Brett replies, "I believe you're in my seat."

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Husband

I haven't written in quite a while. Things have been busy around here, between work, chores around the house, extra projects we're trying to get done, and me trying to figure out what I'm going to do about school this fall. I'm also trying to finish a book - "Why Men Hate Going to Church". Excellent book.
Anyway, the only reason I'm writing tonight is to talk about my husband. He's a very wonderful, special, sweet, caring man. There's been some rather negative things that I've had to deal with recently and he's always been here for me, to give me a shoulder to cry on, words of comfort, or just a hug when words weren't adequate. Everyday, he goes to work to provide for me. He holds down a job and a half, just so I can have things that I want. He goes to school for me, so he can have a better job someday so I can be a stay-at-home mom. He makes me feel special all the time, as if I'm the most beautiful girl in the world. He listens to me, even when he doesn't necessarily want to (like when I talk about politics). He loves me... no matter what.
And I love him too, more than words can convey. I know I don't tell him that often enough, which is a fault all of us have I think. But I do love him and that will never change. No matter the trials we'll go through, no matter how I feel, I'll always love him.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Question of Happines

Too many times I've heard Christians say "But God wants me to be happy, right?" Well, frankly, no. Despite what I would like to believe, my happiness is not all that important to God. Why? Because if I only did things that made me happy, I'd be in continual violation of God's commands.
When I hear a Christian try to justify their actions by saying that "God would want me to be happy", I just know that the thing they're trying to justify is wrong. How many Christians use that as an excuse to get a divorce? "Well, God wouldn't want me to stay with my husband/wife and be miserable. God wants me to be happy, so I have to get a divorce." This isn't something that's generally taught in churches today so I think a lot of Christians are stunned if/when they find out God isn't all that concerned with their happiness.
I know the question is out there so I'll answer it for you. No, that doesn't necessarily mean that God wants you to be miserable. But then that begs the question; well, what exactly DOES God want? The answer is found in 1 Peter 1:15-16 "But just as He Who called you is holy, so be holy in all that you do; for it is written: 'be holy, because I am holy.'"
The next logical question is, what exactly is holiness? According to webster, holy means "exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness or righteousness; devoted entirely to the deity." So, in other words, be as like Jesus as you possibly can. Do you think Jesus was "happy" when he was being spit on, flogged, or crucified? Somehow, I doubt it. Jesus didn't strive for happiness... so why do Christians think that they can or should?
As I think about my life, I know that, in pursuit of holiness, sometimes I'll be happy and sometimes I'll be miserable. But see, happiness in and of itself isn't something that I want to pursue anyway. I don't want to be miserable of course, but happiness is so fleeting that it's pointless to seek after it. The thing that Christians are commanded to be is joyful. Joy is much deeper than happiness and, unlike happiness, you can be joyful even in the midst of bad circumstances.
Proverbs 7:24-26, though talking about foolishness and adultry, could apply to happiness. "Now, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Don't let yourself be tricked by such a woman; don't go where she leads you. She has ruined many good men, and many have died because of her." Happiness will ruin you if you follow wherever it leads.
Let me conclude by saying, I like being happy and I'm a generally happy, upbeat person. But my happiness or lack thereof doesn't dictate my actions. My pursuit of holiness does.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Love You

First Corinthians 13: 4-8 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
As I sit here and ponder how much I love my husband, it angers me to think of how often the words "I love you" are used either for manipulation or to ease one's own conscience. What many people don't seem to understand is that love is not words, love is actions. If you are not patient, you do not love. If you are not kind, you do not love. If you are selfish and only seek your own, you do not love. Now obviously, no one can love perfectly except God, but I'm not talking about those people who really try. Every day I try to love my husband but there are times I still get angry and say hurtful things. The difference is my actions all the rest of the time. If I'm ALWAYS angry and saying cruel things, than I do not love my husband. If I'm always thinking about myself and ignore the needs of my husband, than I don't love him. But (hopefully) he can see that I try to love him everyday. I go to work everyday so the weight of paying all the bills doesn't rest on him alone. I come home and make supper and do laundry and clean so he doesn't have to do it between his 1.5 jobs and school. I take care of him when he's sick. Now, I'm not trying to brag about how good I am (because there are days when I don't do all the things I should) but I know that if I don't do these things, I don't love my husband. If I don't show him through actions that I love him, than I don't love him.
So what about these other people? Well, think about cases of domestic abuse. In a lot of those cases, the abused women will finally go get help, and what do they say is the reason they stayed in an abusive situation so long? Most of the time, their story sounds like this: "Yeah, he'd hit me sometimes, especially when he was drunk and angry, but he'd always come back and say how sorry he was and that HE LOVED ME." And the woman would stay, sometimes because she really thought there was nothing she could do, but a lot of times because she really believed that he loved her and she didn't want to leave him. And you know what? He knew he could say those words and she'd stay, no matter how badly he treated her.
The other people of which I speak also use those words without meaning them but in a different way. They use them because they think that by saying "I love you", they can do whatever they want and it doesn't matter. That they can act in ways that are completely unloving but as long as those words are used, it excuses and even justifies their behavior... and eases their conscience.
Think of the situation where a girl is dating a guy, but then another guy catches her eye. She starts dating the second guy and then the first guy catches her. Her excuse for not telling him she was dating someone else is "I didn't want to tell you because I love you and I didn't want to hurt you." There's something inherently wrong with that. And inevitably, she'll part with "I love you and I always will." I'm sorry, but cheating, whether within marriage or not, is not love. But by saying it, it in her mind, excuses what she did and she can feel good about herself because, after all, she did it "out of love". A spouse that divorces the other but afterwards says "I love you; I guess I'll always love you." Yeah, whatever. It makes me angry when I see that because those people make a mockery of those of us who truly are trying to love another person.
The thing about saying and acting out "I love you" is, it's not necessarily supposed to make you feel good... it's supposed to make the other person feel good. A couple lines that could've been added to the above verses: "Love is work. Love is hard. Love is not words or feelings, but actions. Love is a decision that is made every single day. Love can only be lived out if we have the power of God's love in our life."
I'm not perfect, by any means, and there are others who are light years ahead of me in this area. But I know my love for my husband is genuine because I don't just write about it - I act it out every day, to the best of my ability. What about you?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Letter

Ben Stein, a television personality and writer, wrote this for an Army newsletter, The Stryker, out of Ft. Lewis, Washington. It was addressed to one of the wives of the soldiers.

Dear Karen,

I have a great life. I have a wife I adore, a son who is a lazy teenage but I adore him, too. We live in a house with two dogs and four cats. We live in peace. We can worship as we please. We can say what we want. We can walk the streets in safety. We can vote. We can work wherever we want and buy whatever we want. When we sleep, we sleep in peace. When we wake, it is to the sounds of birds.

All of this, every bit of it, is thanks to your husband, his brave fellow soldiers, and to the wives who keep the home fires burning while the soldiers are away protecting my family and 140 million other families. They protect Republicans and Democrats, Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists. They protect white, black, yellow, brown and everyone in between. They protect gays and straights, rich and poor.

And none of it could happen without the Army wives, Marine wives, navy wives, Air Force wives - or husbands - who go to sleep tired and lonely, wake up tired and lonely, and go through the day with a smile on their faces. They feed the kids, put up with the teenagers' surliness, the bills that never stop piling up, the desperate hours when the plumbing breaks and there is no husband to fix it, and the even more desperate hours after the kids have gone to bed, the dishes have been done, the bills have been paid, and the wives realize that they will be sleeping alone - again, for the 300th night in a row.

The wives keep up the fight even when they have to move every couple of years, even when their checks are late, even when they have to make a whole new set of friends every time they move.

And they keep up the fight to keep the family whole even when they feel a lump of dread every time they turn on the news, every time they switch on the computer, every time the phone rings and every time - worst of all - the doorbell rings. Every one of these events - which might mean a baseball score or a weather forecast or a FedEx man to me and my wife - might mean the news that the man they love, the man they have married for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, is now parted from them forever.

These women will never be on the cover of People. They will never be on the tabloid shows on TV about movie stars. But they are the power and the strength that keep America going. Without them, we are nothing at all. With them, we can do everything.

They are the glue that holds the nation together, stronger than politicians, stronger than talking heads, stronger than al Qaeda.

They deserve all the honor and love a nation can give. They have my prayers, and my wife's, every morning and every night.

Love, and I do mean love, Ben.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Last Year

It’s been a very long since I’ve written… in the beginning, it was because I was too busy to write (what with buying a house and starting a new job and all) but after awhile, I was just out of the habit and didn’t really think about it. I figure I should get back at it though.

Lots has happened since the last time you heard from me. My husband and I bought a house and moved in, I got a new job, we celebrated our one year anniversary by going on a trip to Wyoming and Colorado and we got two new kittens. The most exciting thing, obviously, is that Daniel and I have been married for a year. As I think about what our lives were like one year ago, I’m amazed at how much God has blessed us. When we got married, neither of us had a job. We were living off the little savings I had, the little savings Daniel had and Daniel’s student loan money (since he gets way more in loans than what he actually needs to pay for his classes). Of course, our first order of business was to find jobs. Since Daniel was looking for a more specialized job than I was, he had a much harder time. After a month or so, I got a job as a checker at Dillons. Daniel finally got a job a few months later through a temp agency as an accountant for SCKEDD (South Central Kansas Economic Development District – a government subsidized business that weatherizes the homes of very low-income people). Between our two jobs, we barely had enough to live on. It was discouraging at times, but we kept praying and besides, as newlyweds, we were happy just being together. At the beginning of this year, SCKEDD hired Daniel permanently (instead of him working for SCKEDD through the temp agency). Besides the relief that came with Daniel finally having a permanent job, he also got a pay raise. Well, we were doing okay financially. We had talks about the future and I started thinking about a house. I knew that owning a house was an impossibility at that time, since we didn’t have the money for a down payment, but it didn’t stop me from thinking and hoping. I kept hearing about the First Homebuyer’s credit that the government was offering and I kept thinking… and thinking. Finally, I came up with an idea of how we could get a house with no money for a down payment. We’d borrow money from the bank or a family member, use that loan for the down payment and closing costs, file our revised tax return to get that money from the government, than pay back whoever we borrowed the money from! It was a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself! My parents agreed to let us borrow the money from them so we started looking for a house (this is March). We finally found the perfect house… by chance. We’d spent the afternoon looking at five or six other houses, none of which we liked. We called it quits for the day and were on the road heading away from the last house we’d looked at when our realtor (who’s also a deacon at our church) honked for us to pull over and said that there was another house for sale that was real close to where he lived. It wasn’t in the location where we were looking (we were looking at houses outside the city and this one was in the city) but we agreed to go look at it. As soon as we walked in the door, we fell in love. Daniel kept saying “I think this is it…” Needless to say, we bought it and are very happy there.

At the same time that we were looking at houses, I got a job at Exacta Aerospace. I got hired by them through the temp agency that Daniel had used… they liked Daniel so much and thought he did such a great job working for them that they recommended me for the first job opening they had, even though I had no experience in that area. Somehow, I got the job. And, I should be hired by Exacta next Monday (instead of working for them through the temp agency) which will mean benefits and, hopefully, a pay raise.

As I think back over this last year, I’m amazed at the blessings that have been showered upon us by a God Who’s obviously taking care of us… but I think it’s more than just blessing. We remained faithful to Him and He rewarded us for that. In our most difficult times, we still tithed and helped others who had less than us. I firmly believe that’s why we’ve been so blessed. The Bible is clear “He who sows sparingly, will reap sparingly, but he who sows generously, will also reap generously.” If we show that we can be faithful when we have little, God will reward us for that. Our challenge now is remaining faithful when we have much. Somehow, it seems much harder to give when 10% is a lot more than $50 a week. Now that we have a house, the hoard mentality is stronger than ever. I can just hear the devil whispering “ya know, you better save every penny you can… if either of you loses your job now, you won’t be able to make your house payment and will end up foreclosing.” That’s a very scary thought, but it’s superseded by the evidence of this past year. We have nothing to worry about. As long as we remain faithful, God will take care of us. That’s why I feel so strongly about giving (whether it be to our church, to charities, to people we know who need money, or even sending care packages to soldiers). I don’t want God to regret blessing us. I want Him to see that we took what He gave us and used it to help others.

One last thought: our money isn’t really ours anyway – it’s His. Ever notice that it’s a lot easier to give money away when it’s someone else’s? If we just keep in mind that it’s not our money, it’s makes the giving a lot easier.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Shower of Blessings

Wow, it's been a long time since I last posted. In addition to buying a house (we close on the 13th), I had another major change in my life. I got a job... a different job actually, since I have a job right now. I started on Monday, working at a company that makes parts for the airplane companies and I enjoy what I do. I'm working in the purchasing department, entering information into two different computer programs. The other two ladies that I work with and my boss do the actual purchase orders but I enter the po's into the computer after we get the material, correcting numbers and making sure we got the right thing. It's very different from any other job that I've had, and I really love it. I have my own cubicle and I sit at my desk, working on my computer almost the whole time. I LOVE it. I don't have to deal with rude or angry costumers, people treat me with respect, and the company values me. This past week, I worked four hours each day, and next week, I'll have the same schedule. The week after that, I'll be going to six hour days and probably go to full-time eventually, though, I'd rather just work 6 hours a day. I don't want to work full-time, so 30 hours a week is great. I go in for 7:30, which has been an adjustment for me. Working at Dillons, I usually worked the afternoon or evening, many times until 11 or even midnight, so I'm used to sleeping in until 9 or so, but I actually like getting up earlier and getting done with work earlier in the day.
Last Tuesday, I put in my two week notice at Dillons. I told them my last day would be Sunday, the 4. Dillons wasn't so bad when that was my only job, but working my new job this past week made me realize how much I dislike working at Dillons. It's okay for a temporary job but, unless you have the temperament for it, it's hard to do for a long time. You have to answer to everyone... the managers, the supervisors, and the customers. Customers are allowed to treat you any way they want and you can't say a thing about it. I get hit on all the time by black guys, and some of them are pretty perverted (though, as soon as I mention something about "my husband" that usually stops them in their tracks - I love being married :)). The hours are crazy and the job is, actually, rather stressful. I like doing U-Scan because I don't have to talk to people as much, but when I check, I hate dealing with people that are crabby at me and I didn't do a thing. Every customer that comes through my line, I can't help thinking "I wonder if this person is gonna be rude to me". Or, if they don't say anything rude to me, I have to listen to them demean the sacker (I've heard some customers say some pretty cruel things to the sacker, just because it was a kid. I can guarantee, if it was a 40 year old woman doing the sacking, the customer wouldn't have said a word). And then there are some pretty stupid rules; for example, Kroger has a credit card (1-2-3 Rewards Mastercard) that they offer. Sometimes, an application will print on a customers receipt and we HAVE to tell them about the card. 95% of customers don't want to hear about it and some customers even get rude because they're tired of getting credit card offers. However, since a lot of checkers aren't offering them the card, a new rule was made by management that if we don't offer the customer the card, we'll get written up. Can you believe that?
Anyway, I tried not to be too negative about my job while I was working there, because I didn't want to start dreading going to work everyday, but now that I'm leaving and going to another job that's so much more enjoyable, I feel like I can vent a little. And I know that even though I really like my new job, I'll find things, as time goes by (hmm, that's a song...) that I dislike about it, but it'll still be way better than being a checker at Dillons.
It's funny how things work out... I probably wouldn't have kept my Dillons job after we moved into our new house, since it's not really worth driving that far for what I get paid, so I would've either had to transfer to a store closer to our house or find another job. And then this new job comes along... and it's 6 minutes from our new house. We're getting a new house that we both love, I have a new job that I enjoy and that pays better and is a lot better hours (after I go to 6 hours, it'll be 7:30 to 2 every day, so I'll have plenty of time in the afternoon to do things at home, clean, make supper, go shopping etc.) - and I can't help but wonder what's going to go wrong to screw it all up. Everything is too perfect and you know the old saying "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is". However, I know that one of the ways that the devil gets to Christians is to make them think that way. God blesses us and instead of us enjoying the blessings like we should, the devil comes along and makes us doubt the blessings and steals our joy. So, I'm determined to enjoy the blessings that God is showering on us now and not worry about things that probably won't happen anyway. Crappy things will happen in the future, because that's life and sometimes crappy things happen. But the way to deal with the crappy times is to enjoy the blessings when you get them and realize that, in the crappy times, blessings are just around the corner.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A House?!

A few weeks ago, I put a status on my facebook: "my life is boring right now...." Since then, my life has gotten sooo busy and so exciting. Daniel and I are looking for a house. Even as I type it, I still find it hard to believe. If someone had told me two weeks ago that we'd be seriously considering buying a house, I would have laughed at them. How did this all come about? Well, a week and a half or two weeks ago, I was online at our bank's website and, just for the heck of it, I decided to calculate what our monthly mortgage payment would be if we bought a house. To my surprise and shock, the number that I came up with was only about $30 more than what we're paying for rent right now. And that's how it all started. I thought about that number constantly, thinking how ridiculous it was for us to be paying rent each month when we could be investing that money in a house instead. The only problem was, we don't have enough money saved for a down payment. I thought about every scenario possible to get money for a down payment but nothing came to me. And then I remembered something that I heard my parents talking about with some friends of ours who are trying to buy a house. The government is offering an incentive to first-time homebuyers - a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price with a maximum of $8,000. That, of course, made the prospect of owning a home even better. But we still didn't have money for a down payment. And the incentive that the government is offering is good until April 30, 2010, with a 60-day extension to June 30 if a contract is entered into before April 30. So what to do?
And then it hit me. We could use the tax credit for our down payment! We'd have to get a short-term loan of $8,000, use that for the down payment and closing costs and then pay off that loan when we get the credit from the government. I talked to my parents about it and they said we could just borrow the money from them, which is even better since most banks don't like it if you're borrowing any of the down payment. So, now that we've found a way to actually get the money for a down payment and our bank has pre-qualified us for a loan, we just need to find a house.
A week or so ago, during the time that I was pondering how to get money for the down payment, I was driving home from somewhere (don't even remember where) and I was looking at the houses along Kellogg. About a mile from the exit that I take, there's a sound barrier wall along the highway and just on the other side, you can see the second story of houses in that neighborhood. I'd noticed those houses before (many of them were brick and looked pretty nice) so I decided to go check out the neighborhood. I exited, took a couple rights, and ended up among the houses that I had seen. And lo and behold, there on the corner was a for sale sign (realty sign actually) for a house, pointing farther down that street. I turned right again and drove down to the house with the realty sign in the front yard and saw an absolutely beautiful house. I immediately knew that we had to try to buy that house. Since then, reality has set in and I realize that there's a good chance we may not get that house but Daniel and I went to see it on Monday night and he really likes it too. It has new hard wood floors inside, new roofing (Daniel was excited about that), a nice backyard, a garage, a basement, a good-sized kitchen, etc. and it's in a pretty nice neighborhood. This Saturday, we're going to see some houses that are actually outside the city of Wichita, but I think that, if we don't like any of those, we're gonna try for that first house.
Anyway, if you follow me on facebook, you'll see each step as we move forward, but I'll try to keep my blog up-to-date on what we're doing too. I'm so excited!

Monday, February 22, 2010

"I tried, but it's hard"

For several days now, I've been thinking about the "I tried but it's hard" concept. You know what I'm talking about: "I tried to do the right thing, but it's hard!" "I tried to be nice to that in-law who always annoys me, but it's so hard!" or "... but I just couldn't!"

First of all, since when did "hard" become "impossible", because for a lot of people, those two words are synonymous. Whenever Christians use the "it's hard" excuse, I can't help but shake my head in wonderment. They think that being nice to someone is hard? They think that being respectful to their husband or wife is hard? Christians today have no concept of what "hard" really is. Dying a martyr's death is hard, watching your children being thrown to the lions is hard, choosing to follow Jesus when it means certain death is hard. There are not very many Christians in America today that encounter something that is truly difficult. Yes, everyone goes through struggles at times in their lives, but when we complain about the stupid little things that we have to put up with or deal with (being nice to someone who's not, holding your tongue when you're angry, etc.), and whine that they're "hard to do", it's a real slap in the face to the Christians around the world who actually are doing something hard. There are Christians even now who are dying a horrible martyr's death. Someday, our country may even start persecuting Christians. If we can't do the right thing at a miniscule level, what hope do we have of choosing Christ when there's a gun being held to our head?

And then there's the first part of that statement: "I tried". These two words are used everyday to excuse one's behavior. It's as if Christians believe that, as long as they tried, the outcome doesn't matter. This is how they think Judgment Day will play out: God says "you cheated on your wife. Why'd you do that?" 'Sam' replies "well, you see, this girl at the office would catch me alone in the break room and she kept on trying to kiss me. The first time, I pushed her away, and the second time, I pushed her away, and the third time, I tried to push her away, but..." "Ooooh" says God "You tried to push her away? Well, that's all that counts. It doesn't matter that after your wife found out about your affair, she divorced you, your children grew up in a one-parent home guaranteeing that they'd live in poverty for the rest of their lives, your daughters had low self-esteem and were abused by men their whole lives because they never had a father around to tell them how valuable they were, your sons turned into men who abused women because you weren't there to teach them the right way to treat women, and your wife died of an STD that you contracted from the other woman. But hey, those things don't really matter. How can I judge you? At least you tried." Here's a thought, why don't we stop trying and just start doing! Just do the right thing, for heaven's sake. I understand that Christians struggle with sin (after all, we aren't perfect), but 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 says "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." So for Christians, this means one of two things. Either God's a liar and He doesn't really give us the strength to do the right thing and we're tempted beyond what we can bear, or sometimes, we'd rather just do the wrong thing. My bet's on the latter. So please, either use the strength that God's given every Christian, or just admit that you gave in to sin. But don't give the pathetic excuse about "trying". Just trying to do the right thing doesn't count.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day

My husband and I celebrated Valentine's Day on Saturday, since I had to work on Sunday. I had to work on Saturday morning, but after I got home, we spent the rest of the day together, taking a nap, going for a walk in the park, and having dinner at Chili's. After we got home, we watched Mansfield Park and then Daniel played me some songs on the piano (keyboard actually). I fell asleep on the couch, listening to him play. Daniel is an incredibly talented pianist. Some of my most wonderful memories of when we were dating is of him sitting at the piano playing and me sitting next to him with my head on his shoulder, listening. He would play romantic songs like "Beauty and the Beast" and "To Make You Feel My Love" (both of which he played at our wedding), Jim Brickman songs, classical and just about anything else he had. Whenever he plays for me, which isn't as often anymore since the time that he has to play he usually spends practicing with his headphones on, I'm always amazed by it. He can read music like I can read a book. And he is SO good. I took a couple years of piano when I was younger, so I know the basics of it. Knowing that little bit gives me an even greater appreciation for what he can do, because I know how hard it is, but he makes it look so easy. I know he could be a great pianist someday, if given the opportunity, but he doesn't want fame and fortune. He wants to play for the love of playing, and to touch other's lives with his music. He plays the organ (and sometimes the piano) every Sunday morning for church. He says he does it because that's his worship to God and because he wants other's to have a good worship experience. He doesn't have to do it, and it would certainly be easier on him if he didn't do it. Most 26 year-old guys are sleeping in on Sunday morning, but he gets up so he can go to church and offer what he has to God.
Daniel is truly a good man and I'm so blessed to be married to him. And I love it when he plays.

Monday, February 15, 2010

America Today

What America is saying to God:
"Get out of the boy scouts, God."
"Get out of our universities, God."
"Get out of the military, God."
"Get out of our textbooks, God."
"Get out of our homes, God."
"Get off our televisions, God."
"Go away, God."
"We don't want you, God."
"We don't need you, God."

Katrina hits.

"God, where are you??"
"Where'd you go?"
"Help us."


- Compliments of Christian comedian Brad Stine

Monday, February 1, 2010

Moving and Struggles

This past Friday, Daniel and I moved. It was a long and tiring day and I'm glad that it's over with and I'm definitely not looking forward to our second move. We moved into an apartment that looks almost exactly the same but it was a rather sad time. We've lived in that other apartment for the past 8 months, ever since we got married. It was sad to leave the place where we started out our married life. And even though we'll be moving back into that one in a couple months, it won't be the same. That apartment was where we spent long hours looking for jobs, as neither of us were employed when we got married. Many prayers went up through the roof of that building as Daniel would go to interviews and come home disappointed. And it wasn't just financial struggles that we had. The window above our bed would let in a cold breeze so we'd have to huddle together at night just to keep warm. The dishwasher in our apartment was a piece of crap so we had to wash all our dishes by hand... most nights after supper, you could find us side by side in the kitchen, washing dishes. The apartment was so drafty that Daniel would keep me wrapped up in a blanket just so I'd stay warm. A lot of people think the struggles that couples go through when they're first married are a bad thing, but I don't think they are. The struggles early on are what brings a couple close together. Our lives will be easier when we move back to our renovated apartment... during the last big snow storm (not the one a few days ago, but the big one before that), we had a small pile of snow inside the balcony door of our apartment. I think about what it would be like if we had all the money we wanted and never had to wonder how we were going to pay our bills. Life would be great, seemingly, but it's hard (almost impossible) to forge a deep and lasting love and commitment to another person if everything about life was easy.
So I guess my encouragement for those couples out there that are struggling (and I know there are many couples in a lot worse position than we're in), the key is to struggle together. If you can make it through together, nothing will ever tear you apart.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Anniversary Trip

Today is my (mine?) and Daniel's 8-month anniversary. Yeah, I know it doesn't seem like a lot to all you readers who've been married for years and years but I think it's a big deal. Four more months and we'll have been married for a year! And that brings me to the subject of my blog. For our one year anniversary trip, we were originally planning on going to Arizona. I've been to Arizona twice in my life (once at 10 and once at 16) and I absolutely loved it. Some people say that the desert is a horribly ugly place but I think it's beautiful. Yes, it's barren and rugged, but it's still beautiful, especially up in the mountains around Phoenix. Anyway, we did some number-crunching (one of Daniel's favorite things to do) and decided that we just couldn't afford to go there. If we drove, we'd have to stay over night along the way there and back and then we wouldn't get much time to drive around the state and if we flew, tickets are rather expensive and then we'd have to rent a car on top of that. So we decided to pick somewhere (closer) else to go. I wanted to go to Colorado and Daniel wanted to go to Arkansas, so what to do. We came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to trade off picking where to go each year. Daniel said, since I'm the cuter one :), I get to pick this year. So we're going to Colorado. It'll be probably a 4 day trip, the first two days spent at a secluded cabin deep in the mountains and the other two days spent at a cheap hotel in some city, probably Colorado Springs. I found this great website (http://www.coloradomountaincabins.com/our_cabins.html) that has a whole list of different cabins that we could stay at. Yes, most of the cabins are built for more than two people, but since just about all of them have the same rate, it doesn't really matter which one we pick. Right now, we're trying to decide between cabin's 5, 19, and 29. We haven't even started to discuss other things we may want to do, such as go up Pikes Peak, see the Garden of the Gods, tour the Focus on the Family campus, walk through Cripple Creek's historic town, drive through Cheyenne Mountain State Park, etc. I'm really looking forward to our trip. I love the mountains and Daniel and I both love to travel, preferably by car since we can see so much and can take detours whenever we want to. That, dear readers, is our next adventure.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Slow Fade

This song, by Casting Crowns, is one of my favorite songs. I love it because it's so true. Please take a little time to read the words and ponder them. Here's a link to the song on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QASREBVDsLk

Slow Fade:

Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see