Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Push of a Button

We’ve had some really great weather lately, and when the weather is nice, we like to barbeque. The way that works at our house is that my lovely wife prepares the chicken with spices and ........ whatever she does (I really don’t know), and I cook it out on the grill.

I like my gas grill. All I have to do is turn on the gas, push a button and presto……instant flame.

However, this summer the igniter hasn’t been working. Whenever I push the button, nothing happens. I figured it just wore out. All summer I had been using a fireplace lighter to start the grill (since pushing the button didn’t work anymore).

So while on my way home from work the other day, I stopped off at the store for some groceries and noticed they had gas barbeque grill replacement parts. Among those parts was a new igniter for the grill, just like mine. I had already spoken to my wife on the phone and she said she was preparing the chicken so I could start the grill once I got home. Naturally I bought a new igniter, thinking I would replace our old one as soon as I got home. It looked rather simple to install and I figured I should be able to install it in a matter of minutes before I started the grill for our dinner, while the grill was still cool.

I pulled my truck into the garage and carried the groceries into the kitchen. Once the groceries were unloaded, I proudly grabbed the new igniter and headed for the back patio to perform the manly task of repairing the grill. My wife would be so impressed (or so I thought).

As I got to the back door, I met my wife as she was coming back inside.

She said, “The grill is ready for you”.

“What do you mean ‘It’s ready’?”

“I started the grill for you”

“You’re not holding the lighter, how did you start the grill?”

“I just pushed that little red button and it started right up”

“You pushed the button?”


“And it worked for you?”



The chicken was delicious too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Random Stuff

Okay, I’m back. Sorry it’s been awhile but sometimes life has a way of just happening without you realizing it. If that sounds like an excuse, it's because it IS an excuse! But it's the only one I've got for now.

The new job is going well. No work stories to tell. Well, actually there are, but I prefer not to write about stuff that happens at work or about the people there since that sort of thing could cause problems.

But the drive there and back? Now, that’s another thing entirely!

On the way home the other day, I saw what looked like a train crossing arm coming down where there are no train tracks.
A rusty old pick-up truck full of rusty old junk had apparently swerved to miss hitting the cars in the right hand lane, and it seemed he realized a bit too late that the traffic in front of him had stopped. He was able to avoid the car in front of him, but he took out the guard-rail and knocked the street light pole right off its base. The pole came down right on top of the car he tried to avoid running into. It also landed on the car in the next lane over. As I drove past (rush hour, all traffic was moving slowly) I saw that everyone involved had gotten out of their vehicles and were talking on their cell phones. The guy in the truck was still sitting behind the wheel of his truck, shaking his head. He tried to miss one and got two. Talk about a bad day!

This Power of Dad stuff is really hitting hard with me. I am learning about the awesome affects of the Power of Dad, but what about when you are the step-dad? The Bible tells us to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not part from it. But what if you are dealing with children who have been affected by a dad who knowingly and willingly severely misused his Power of Dad? What can you do? I’ll write more on this one later. The Holy Spirit is really dealing me on this one.

Last weekend, our church threw a huge party called Hillfest 2007. We’ve done this every year for the past 7 years. There’s carnival/fair type rides, games, food and all kinds of fun that you would find at a county fair. And everything is free. Last year we had over 8,000 people show up. This year there was even more. Why do we do it? Simply to demonstrate God’s love to the community in a practical way.
We had a great time.

We’ve also been attending our church’s Connections class. The Connections class is where you go to learn about the church, the pastors and get all connected and stuff. We’ve been members for almost three years and are involved in a few of the ministries at the church, and this is the only class we haven’t done yet, so we figured we’d go. Everyone else in the class is fairly new (less than a year).
While we were at Hillfest (it’s called that because our church is located on a hill, the highest ground in the county, and it’s a really big festival type thing), we ran into another couple from our Connections class.
They’re rather nice people and Catherine and I seem to have a lot in common with them. While we were talking, my son and two of his step-brothers walked up to let us know where they were going to be. We introduced the boys and my son Josh stepped forward to say hello to our new friends and spoke with them briefly before hugging me and going on his way.
As the three boys walked away, the couple commented on what a fine young man Josh is. They said he was polite, respectful and considerate. He referred to them as sir and ma’am. They said that a 19 year old who acts that way is rare these days. They then patted me on the shoulder and said, “Good job, Dad”.
Wow. How do you respond to something like that? I know he’s a good kid, and a fine young man. He is a joy to know and I am extremely proud of him. But to hear someone complement him like that after just meeting him? All I could say was, “Uh……thanks”.
(They didn’t even mention the other two boys).

I’ll also brag on him a little and tell you that he just got a promotion at work this week. He’s only been working there for less than two months and they really like him.

During our Connections class this week, we got to listen to the Youth Pastor talk about why he enjoys working with Junior High kids so much. In college, he ministered to and counseled college age men. Most of those guys had some sort of sin issue they were dealing with and over the course of the year he worked with those men, our Youth Pastor asked them when they first started having their particular “issues”. Most of them said it all started in Junior High. He said the Holy Spirit impressed upon him that, although he was doing a great work for God with these men, that his ministry was reactive, not proactive. He felt God was telling him to be proactive with his ministry, so he began working with Junior High students. It really is God’s calling for him.
Ever since, I have felt a “tug” to go volunteer in our Junior High ministry. I know someone who is already doing that in her own church and loves every minute of it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Well, it’s getting late and I’m exhausted. Morning comes way too early! I’ll write more later. I promise.

More later.

See? I keep my promises.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Power of Dad…part 2

We talked before about the awesome Power of Dad. Every dad has it. Some are aware of it and some are not. In either case, it is easy to abuse the Power of Dad and in most situations the dad isn’t even aware of the impact he is having on his children.

I’ve witnessed first hand the results of the Power of Dad. I’ve seen what abuse of that power can do to an entire family and not just the child affected.

Here is the story of one grown woman that I know….
This woman was severely affected by a dad who lived to serve only his own interests. Between the ages of 9 to 11, this woman was molested and abused by her uncle. She told her father about it, but he did not believe her and choose to defend his younger brother instead of protect his own daughter. She begged her dad not to send her back to that house, but he made her go anyway. Every summer. The little girl begged and pleaded for her father to protect her and not let her go back to that house, but he made her go anyway. His final response to his daughter was to tell her that it was God’s way of punishing her for not being a good girl. He told her that she deserved it!
(According to the rest of the family, she WAS a good girl.)
Her dad had let her down and proved to her that she wasn’t very important to him.
During her teenage years, this woman dated one boy for seven years. Her father thought this boy was terrific. However, this boy treated her badly. He abused her, took her for granted, controlled her, beat her and raped her.

She finally found the courage to leave that abusive relationship when she met the man who would marry her a few years later. She looked to this man to rescue her from her abusive boyfriend and from her controlling and demeaning father. Her father never respected her as a person and she was afraid of him.
The thing that puzzled me the most was that after all he had done to drive his daughter away, she still sought to please him and to make him proud of her.
That is the Power of Dad. Some men just don’t deserve to have it, but they do.

The whole family was affected by this man. Each of the woman’s siblings would sell one another out for just one glimmer of hope to be seen favorably in that man’s eyes. He had each of them under his thumb and did his best to control them, including his wife.

The only decent people in the family that I knew of were the woman’s grandparents on her mother’s side. They were truly nice people and they did not like or approve of the woman’s father. But he was their son-in-law so they tolerated him.

The woman grew up, got married and had a child of her own. But daddy wasn’t done with his life lessons to his children just yet. Once the grandfather passed away, the first person to the house was her “daddy”. No, he didn’t go to comfort the widow, he went to clean out his father-in-law’s closet and go through his stuff and fill his pockets. I’m not making this up, this is what this man did (I saw him do it).

Not long after the funeral, “daddy” talked his mother-in-law into "loaning" him the bulk of her savings account, telling her that he would pay her more each month than that account was paying in interest. It is important to know that this man initiated this deal right after learning that grandma had cancer and had maybe only a few years left to live. He knew he would never have to repay that loan.
Since she was the oldest grandchild, grandma showed the woman a copy of the will so she’d know what was in there. Grandma’s will stated that the grandchildren would each receive an equal share of all the liquid assets upon her death, and their daughter (the woman’s mother) and son-in-law (daddy) would receive the house and property (which wasn’t very much compared to the cash in that savings account).

In short, “daddy” took all of grandma’s money, paid off his own house and began making small payments to grandma. This cut his mortgage payments by more than half and he now had control over grandma since he now controlled her income (he took it all!).

Sure enough, grandma passed away a couple of years later and daddy was now debt free. The kids? After they sold grandma’s house, they each got a small portion of the sale price, which daddy refused to fully disclose.

She hated her father for what he had done, but still made every effort to please him. I once asked her why she was still so nice to him after all the things he had done to hurt her and cheat her. She looked me right in the eye, and with a devilish little sneer told me that she desires to stay in his good graces because someday he will die and she will get all that money!

Why is that important to the Power of Dad? Because a few years later, the woman drove her husband into an obscene amount of debt, stole all the money from her children’s savings accounts, divorced her husband in an effort to cover up her actions, and lied to everyone she knew, about who was responsible. To this day, a lot of people still blame her ex-husband for all of it.

Her daddy taught her well. He never told her to do any of those unspeakable things. He simply showed her how.

Another bad dad……
His daughter is still a teenager. She’s fun, she’s pretty and she is full of energy. She’s also very smart and incredibly talented. Her father however, thinks only of himself. He drives a brand new expensive car while his children are forced to use an unsafe old rust-bucket type vehicle. He dresses very well in expensive fine clothing while his children wear old rags. The children are often left on their own to fend for themselves while “daddy” is out enjoying himself. He has no skills, no education, but he’s married wealthy women. Twice. Yet he brags to his kids that he is a self-made man who worked his way to the top of the corporate ladder.
This girl recently won an award from school, and invited her father to come to the banquet to see her get the award. He promised he’d be there. As she arrived to the school where the banquet was held, she called her dad to let him know she was there. He was still at home. He had forgotten all about it. This is not an isolated incident. This happens all the time. I overheard her complaining to a friend about what a jerk her dad is, but then stated that he gave her a wad of cash, so everything is okay now.

His sons lie and steal and are constantly getting into some sort of trouble. One son is known to steal cars from family members and go for joy rides (without a driver’s license). The oldest said his dad taught him that before you do anything for someone else, you must first ask yourself “What’s in it for me?”.

This guy is clearly abusing his Power of Dad.

What about me?
I am most certainly not perfect. I don’t come close, not even on a good day.
I have made way more than my share of mistakes. I have abused the Power of Dad.
Any man who has children has abused the Power of Dad at one point or another. Most men don’t realize it at the time. The problem isn’t in abusing the Power, the problem arises in what the dad chooses to do about it once he realizes it.
No child will think any less of you for kneeling down beside them and begging for their forgiveness. I’ve done this many times.

Like I said, I’ve made my share of mistakes. I thank God that I learned to deal with it early on.

I have no memory of my childhood before the age of 5 or 6. Several family members tell me that this actually a good thing and would rather not tell me why, so they don’t.
It is for that reason that my wife encouraged me to start blogging, to keep a journal of some sort, to write down my thoughts as they came to me in an effort to help me remember things so I can resolve old issues and move past old hurts.

When my son was small, he got into trouble as little boys often do. Sometimes, when my son would need to be disciplined, I would find myself getting angry. One time, as I was about to unleash that anger on him, I had a flash back to my own childhood. I saw myself, as a small boy, being hurled into a wall or getting kicked in the backside by pointy-toed cowboy boots. Those are the impressions my father had left on me that I had apparently repressed.

Those visions scared me deeply and I vowed to never do those things to my son.
Instead, I would tell my son to go to his room and wait for me there. My son would go to his room and I would go someplace else so that I could cool down and think about how to deal with my son in a loving manner. And pray. None of this was easy. It took a lot of prayer and a lot of strength.

During this time my son would sit in his room and think about what he had done and what was coming his way. He and I had a deal. If he messed up, he would get spanked. Once I had cooled off and could think with a clear head, I would go to my son’s room where I would find him waiting for me. I would sit down on his bed next to him and we would talk about what he had done, why it was wrong and what he should do the next time. After our talk, I would hold him, hug him, pray with him and for him, then bend him over my knee and give him his swat. He was usually crying hard long before getting the swat. I would hug him again, tell him I love him, and leave his room. When he finished crying he was allowed to come out.

That’s usually how it went, but not always. Sometimes I messed up and had to ask his forgiveness.

My son is now 19 and lives with me. He hugs me every day, kisses me on the cheek and says “I love you Dad”. Every day. He works hard and everyone who knows him thinks he is terrific. He just got promoted at work and is doing rather well. He recently told me, “Dad? Remember how you always tried to teach me to do the right thing even when you don’t want to? Well, dang it, I keep catching myself doing that and sometimes it really bugs me!” From his tone of voice, he was complaining!

Then he paused and calmly said, “Thanks, Dad”.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Did I mention that he likes to go to church with us each week?
Yeah, I think we’ll keep him.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Alpha Dude Returns...

Hey Dudes and Dudettes!

Alpha Dude is back! I started my new job last week and then we went to a family reunion over the weekend, so I haven't been around much lately. Tonight starts off the new fall season for the Alpha Course at our church, so Alpha Dude will be hangin' with the Alpha Sprouts every Monday night for the next 12 weeks.

Whoo Hoo! What fun. Those little dudes are the coolest and we're gonna have a mondo fun time!

I don't have much time, so I'd like to share a little something I found in my e-mail today. The author is anonymous, and I don't know who it is either. Enjoy.

IMO, liberalism has murdered the American spirit.

President Bush did make a bad mistake in the war on terrorism. But the mistake was not his decision to go to war in Iraq .

Bush's mistake came in his belief that this country is the same one his father fought for in WWII. It is not.

Back then, they had just come out of a vicious depression. The country was steeled by the hardship of that depression, but they still believed fervently in this country. They knew that the people had elected their leaders, so it was the people's duty to back those leaders.

Therefore, when the war broke out the people came together, rallied behind, and stuck with their leaders, whether they had voted for them or not or whether the war was going badly or not.

And war was just as distasteful and the anguish just as great then as it is today. Often there were more casualties in one day in WWII than we have had in the entire Iraq war. But that did not matter. The people stuck with the President because it was their patriotic duty. Americans put aside their differences in WWII and worked together to win that war.

Everyone from every strata of society, from young to old pitched in. Small children pulled little wagons around to gather scrap metal for the war effort. Grade school students saved their pennies to buy stamps for war bonds to help the effort.

Men who were too old or medically 4F lied about their age or condition trying their best to join the military. Women doubled their work to keep things going at home. Harsh rationing of everything from gasoline to soap, to butter was imposed, yet there was very little complaining.

You never heard prominent people on the radio belittling the President. Interestingly enough in those days there were no fat cat actors and entertainers who ran off to visit and fawn over dictators of hostile countries and complain to them about our President. Instead, they made upbeat films and entertained our troops to help the troops' morale. And a bunch even enlisted.

And imagine this: Teachers in schools actually started the day off with a Pledge of Allegiance, and with prayers for our country and our troops!

Back then, no newspaper would have dared point out certain weak spots in our cities where bombs could be set off to cause the maximum damage. No newspaper would have dared complain about what we were doing to catch spies.

A newspaper would have been laughed out of existence if it had complained that German or Japanese soldiers were being "tortured" by being forced to wear women's underwear, or subjected to interrogation by a woman, or being scared by a dog or did not have air conditioning.

There were a lot of things different back then. We were not subjected to a constant bombardment of pornography, perversion and promiscuity in movies or on radio. We did not have legions of crackheads, dope pushers and armed gangs roaming our streets.

No, President Bush did not make a mistake in his handling of terrorism. He made the mistake of believing that we still had the courage and fortitude of our fathers. He believed that this was still the country that our fathers fought so dearly to preserve.

It is not the same country. It is now a cross between Sodom and Gomorra and the land of Oz. We did unite for a short while after 9/11, but our attitude changed when we found out that defending our country would require some sacrifices. We are in great danger. The terrorists are fanatic Muslims. They believe that it is okay, even their duty, to kill anyone who will not convert to Islam. It has been estimated that about one third or over three hundred million Muslims are sympathetic to the terrorists cause...Hitler and Tojo combined did not have nearly that many potential recruits.

So...we either win it - or lose it - and you ain't gonna like losing.

America is not at war. The military is at war.

America is at the mall.