Follow by Email

The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

1979 Celeb Guessing Game

I did this a couple years ago for my 29th birthday. I thought that it was kind of fun to see who all in the celebrity world is about my age. At 29, most of the celebrities still looked like they could pass as teenagers. Maybe not so much at 31?

This year, I only found 6 celebrities. One, of which, isn't even alive anymore. I wanted to get all new famous people without repeating any from the last game. The problem with that was that after these six they started becoming very obscure. I didn't recognize anyone else, in fact, with the exception of the young blonde girl from the movie Jurassic Park. Although, I doubt anyone else would have recognized her. I didn't until after I saw what all she had been in on

So, good luck. Oh, by the way. The name of the game is easy. Name all the celebrities. Be the first to do so and leave them all in a blog comment and you'll receive honorable mention in an upcoming blog, bragging rights for a whole year, and you get to choose my next blog topic! Exciting, isn't it? And, as always, click on the picture to make it larger (in case my audience is getting older like me and needs it bigger to see anything).

Science vs. Christianity?

Since I was a young teenager, around 14 or 15, I think, I gave deep thought to the apparent incompatibility between the modern science that I had been learning in school as well as seeing taught on public broadcasting shows and the sometimes contrasting things that I was hearing and being taught at church. My mind would wander for hours sometimes attempting to make sense out of what all I was being taught. During this time, I would sometimes ask questions to different people. This, in most cases, led to further confusion. I would receive answers that only proved that the person attempting to answer didn't really know the answer themselves. I even would get the pat answers from fellow Christians sometimes like, "Well, you just have to have faith." These are non-answers anyway; just a way to get out of answering the question.

I don't have anything against the answers I received or the people I received them from, but I much would have rather preferred an 'I don't know' or maybe a referral to someone who might know in place of some of the responses I got. I actually got lovingly reprimanded once, I think. It was explained to me that I shouldn't spend so much time and energy in seeking knowledge since most people aren't won to Christ from being shown knowledge anyway but rather by being shown love. I won't argue with that. I believe that it's true, even. But, what about the few that remain that aren't moved by love? Could it be said that the majority moved by love is the '99' and that the ones that have questions they cannot let go of might be the '1'? I believe that God calls us to help those who are struggling with the same issues that we once struggled with. And, I can remember being plagued with unanswered questions. I've since found satisfactory answers to those questions and I can't help but want to help others who are battling with that. A simple answer sometimes is the only thing holding some people back.

Since then, I have spent much time reading books on the subjects, talking with others, watching videos about it, listening to my pastors, and searching the Bible. What I've found is that there is only a thin layer of false information out there that a lot of people have just accepted as truth. Their pursuit of knowledge has stopped in its tracks upon receiving this information. It's as if once they heard it, they thought nothing else needed to be learned on the subject. And, furthermore, they've assumed that since what they know supposedly makes a strong argument against the existence of God, then they don't have to give any consideration to any arguments that support God's existence. They just stand on their few little arguments and they feel untouchable by the oceans of evidence for God's existence surrounding them on every side.

I am currently reading Lee Strobel's A Case for Faith. I'm not quite half way through it, but I love it and have been very excited by the clarity given to the answers for many of the arguments that people unfortunately rely on. I believe that, just like me, when people's unchallenged rebuttals get answered with a satisfactory amount of convincing evidence they become ready to accept what previously they had resisted by tooth and nail.

One of the recent arguments that was made in this book by one of the many scholars Lee interviews pointed out some irony in the process of most people's belief systems. I found it kind of funny, sort of sad, but mostly insightful. I put my own twist on his point, though, and came up with a hypothetical scenario to demonstrate it.

Imagine that you are lounging in your back yard on your day off. All of a sudden, what appears to be a boom box falls from the sky, bounces off your trampoline, and then lands in your hammock almost unscathed. You get out of your chair and walk over to check it out. You see speakers, dials, buttons, switches, but no brand name of any kind. You also notice that it doesn't have a CD tray or a cassette player. You start wondering if it's a boom box at all or if it's equipment that fell off a plane or something. Then, it strikes you that it must be a satellite radio or some bluetooth controlled stereo that you know nothing about. You are a little strapped for cash and your personal ethics (we're still imagining a hypothetical here) include the motto 'Finders-Keepers' so you go down to your local pawn shop that buys high-end electronics, but they don't want to buy it because they say it's homemade. So, you snatch it back up, take it back home and open it up. It takes you a while because the screws were threaded the opposite way which makes you wonder why the ones who made it would do that. Once open, you see that there is writing on different looking circuit boards and metal plates and things. But, clearly, this thing was made overseas somewhere because you don't recognize what language it is. It's apparent that it is a language, but you've never seen letters or symbols like that before. So, after a short trip to Stanford, you walk in a meeting of linguistics experts and present a small group of them the metal plates with the strange writing. The group of experts that you show the plates to immediately become intrigued and place them under a camera that projects their image on the big screen. One by one, every one who had been talking in small groups become silent as they notice what is up on the screen. A room full of some of the most intelligent and learned scholars in the world on the subject of languages both antiquated as well as current cannot tell you what language it is. You go back home and it occurs to you that it could be an extra-terrestrial's boom box. After laughing it up at that absurd thought, you're startled to see a flying saucer come screaming out of the sky and become implanted in your lawn. You go over and tour the UFO, not laughing this time, and you see all types of controls that have the same writing you found inside the boom box. The ship is empty. Maybe the pilot bailed?

Now, do you believe in extra-terrestrial intelligence? After all, here is your proof, right? Or is someone playing a very expensive joke on you? You don't know any pranksters with that large of a bankroll, do you?

My point is this: Almost everyone would believe in extra-terrestrials if alien technology fell in their lap. A lot of people would think it to be lunacy to deny their existence after the arrival of such evidence. Many people believe that they exist even now without all that "proof". Still, there are those who would blame it on the government. It must have been NASA, right? I'll admit that thinking it's our or some other country's government is more logical than aliens' involvement.

We believe it for all the evidence. Given the right amount of compelling evidence we'll believe in what the evidence logically points to. But, no matter who you think is responsible for making the evidence, you can at least agree that it was made. It didn't become assembled by mere chance. Rocket ships don't build themselves. That would be absurd. The mathematical chances of that happening are probably one in some number with more zeros than I want to count. Some of you devil's-advocate-loving rebels out there may be saying, "But it is possible no matter how small the probability." But, that argument reminds me of Jim Carrey's character in the movie Dumb & Dumber. He was asking the girl what the chances were that they could wind up as a couple. He asked something like, "Is it something like 1 in 10?" to which she replied, "No, more like 1 in 5 billion." Then, instead of accepting that number as zero like we all know that he should have, he excitedly says, "So, you're saying there's a chance." Yeah, so which one was he again? Dumb or Dumber?

All it takes to prove the existence of intelligence is the presence of evidence that is so complex that the probability of it happening by chance is virtually zero. We live every moment of every day rightfully assuming that the objects around didn't materialize from happenstance, but rather were designed by intelligence, built by intelligence, marketed by intelligence, shipped, purchased, etc. You get the idea.

All around us is evidence of a Creator. The "natural" world is so full of evidence of design that it leaves a virtual zero for the probability of any other possibility. Every living thing has DNA in it, a written blueprint of and all the work instructions for a microscopic manufacturing process that the cells use to function at tremendous speed and efficiency that we see nowhere else in nature. DNA is the most complex written language we have ever seen in human history. It only consists of four "letters" but one DNA strand is so incredibly long that it has more information packed in it than the Encyclopedia Brittanica. This is no less written information from an intelligence or evidence of design that the boom box or spacecraft is.

It goes on from there. The level of fine tuning of multiple factors such as our distance from the sun, earth's magnetic field, our solar system's position in the galaxy, the speed of earth's orbit,.the tilt of earth's axis, etc. could not have been achieved by mere chance. Again, it is so ridiculously improbable that it is virtually impossible.

I can see, I suppose, why Charles Darwin came up with what he did. The nineteenth-century information that he had at the time was child's play in comparison to the amount of knowledge we have ascertained from all the scientific discoveries since then. This is true of every science, astronomy, biology, physics, archeology, medicine, just to name a few. Aside from that, we have sciences now that didn't even exist in his day. Modern technology has allowed us to look further into space and deeper inside living cells. Archeology has unearthed countless new fossils, written accounts, and other evidence that fails to support evolution and Darwin's idea of the origin of life while lending support to the biblical account of historic events.

So, I ask you, if you do not believe in God, what information do you believe? Where did that information come from? What ideas have you accepted as truth? How open are you, intellectually, to the possibility that the information you have or the conclusions that you have come to do not hold up to the reality of any truth, scientifically, spiritually, or otherwise? The real intellectual crime is to stop learning, stop being open to new ideas and studies, stop listening. Christians get accused of this all the time, ironically by those who are closed-minded themselves. While I will concede that some Christians are closed-minded and have given a bad name to Christianity, the same can be said of any group of people including atheists, non-church-goers, and agnostics. So, it's hardly an argument at all, but rather a moot point. The truth about most Christians I know or have observed is that they go to church to learn more. They go to have their own thoughts, beliefs, and priorities challenged. The Bible says that David was after God's own heart. But, David wasn't perfect. Where David went right was that he asked God to test his thoughts and to test his heart. He invites God to set him straight where he had it wrong. This is what most of us do when we attend church and search the scriptures and read books and pray and meditate on His word, etc. We're doing everything but stopping our quest for the truth and a better understanding of it.

So, to conclude quite possibly the longest blog I have ever written, I would like to challenge you, the reader, to search your own beliefs and thoughts. None of us our perfect. In what categories of knowledge have you stopped learning and accepting challenges? What information do you have that you think you need no more understanding on? And now ask yourself where that information came from? From friends? Teachers, authors, your parents? People, though, right? Should any of that information from people be accepted at face value, without strong evidence to back it up? What is your evidence?

Don't stop searching. Don't stop learning and testing what you already "know."

Mother's Day

Mothers have it hard. Parenting in general is not easy, by any means. But, mothers definitely bear the burden that comes with raising children in a greater way than fathers do, in most cases.

Mothers have society working against them in many ways. Here in modern America, our culture paints a picture of the ideal woman. She is now in our mind's eye as a beautiful, young, strong-willed, independent, career-driven woman. But, does any woman fall into this category? And if they do, are they satisfied with their life? Really satisfied? I would bet that all women, everywhere, have felt inadequate at one time or another (if not always plagued by it) due to this social distortion of what a woman should be. I try to think of mother characters in movies and there aren't many that I come up with. The first ones that come to mind are portrayed in a negative way. Most of the women in movies that are portrayed in a positive light are single and childless. Even the happy endings where the women fall in love with men, don't usually show children even on the horizon. Honestly, there just aren't that many things in the media today that make mothers look good.

At least movies, books, television and other forms of entertainment that paint the ideal woman incorrectly have an excuse. They're all forms of fiction entertainment. Fiction is understandably fake.

But, let's get real, shall we? Mothers aren't rare or background fictional characters. They're everywhere. And they're, in most cases, the most important person in the next generation's lives. Think about that for a moment. Mothers not only bear the next generation for nine months, they shape it everyday with their endless and, all too often, thankless dedication. Mothers literally shape our future.

So, this Mother's Day, call or visit your mother. Thank her for giving you a future. And do something nice for all mothers you see. They deserve it. But, most importantly, don't limit your kindness and respect for mothers to Mother's Day.

Excel-lent Fun

This past week, I was playing around with the World Cup Spreadsheet that I posted for download on the last blog, and I wound up running across a huge error. As I was popping in numbers in the score section to test it out, I realized that it was taking the wrong teams from the first round and placing them incorrectly into the second round. I tried to follow the string of functions to see if I could correct the issue, but whoever wrote the thing appears to have only learned a few choice functions in Excel and doesn't like to stray from what he knows. I would finally figure out what one function did only to find that it pointed to the results of three other functions that pointed to results of two more. It went on like that about 5 functions deep and I gave up.

I'm no Excel guru. Trust me. I think I know the program really well, but some forums have shown me that I know very little. Guy's are on there talking about pivot tables and background coding and I just have to ignore it from lack of understanding. However, I decided to take a crack at redoing the World Cup sheet because I couldn't help but think that whoever wrote this one was over-complicating the whole thing. I do admit, though, that some of the situations I got into when coding the functions seemed to paint me into a corner, if you will. I was a little stumped a couple times, but it all finally came to me.

This spreadsheet is much better. It's more attractive, in my opinion. It's simpler. And, most importantly, it works right. So, in case you were one of the seven people who downloaded the old one from last week, I suggest that you download this one again, here. I also changed the old link so that people wouldn't get one that doesn't work right. Enjoy!

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More