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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!


In the last blog, I left off talking about how much God really does in this world. There are plenty of people who profess to believe in God and also believe that God created everything, but that He doesn't really concern Himself in our everyday lives. This is commonly referred to as God the clockmaker. This is where it is believed that God created everything, set up rules of how it should run, set it in motion, and then went on vacation where He continues to reside leaving us to handle all matters ourselves in a completely unabated environment.

Some may say that it's illogical to say that God made something happen or stopped something from happening when there is a logical explanation for the occurrence. So, for my argument I will use logic. After all, illogical arguments are just... well... illogical.

So, for purposes of argument, I'm going to ask you to use a little imagination. There. Ready? Okay. Imagine that you are God. You decided to create mankind. But, you want to do something that you've never done before. You want to create something like yourself. See, you're God. You have free will to do whatever you want. You've created lots of things, but this is a first for you. So how do you create something eternal that has free will, all the while it being designed for a relationship with you? You're going to have to set up some rules to limit yourself. Even though you can do anything and are limitless by nature you're going to have to change that at least in relation to this new creation.

For example, you could easily make man love you. Or could you? Is it love if it is not a choice? What sort of relationship would that be? You could easily make man mind you by putting it in an environment that he couldn't mess up. But, without the choice to mess up, is there really free will? Okay, so scratch all that. For free will to be present there must be a choice. You designed them for relationship with you but they'll need to be able to choose not to have one if free will is to be a factor here. So, you create a huge planet of almost infinite variety all of which you deem good. Then, you make one lonely tree that you deem bad and instruct them not to eat from it. This is their choice.

Despite the mathematical odds against doing so, they ate from it. Now things get slightly more complicated. You are good, perfect, righteous and that has tremendous power. Now, man is bad, imperfect, sinful and cannot be in your presence. Just as light and darkness cannot coexist because light displaces darkness, neither can you and man stand face to face. Good thing that you had a plan for all this.

So you sacrifice a part of yourself to pay for what man did, ultimately punishing yourself to buy back what man sold and to reconcile your relationship with them. Now, man has it all. You've given them a complete record of the facts that you made them, you love them, you made a way for them, and all they have to do is believe that you are telling the truth. See, man didn't believe. They questioned what you told them, disbelieving who and what you are.

Okay, back to our discussion. Your beliefs change your actions. Also, your actions reveal what you truly believe. For example, you believe that dollars have a value, so you want more and you protect what you have. Belief creates action. Another example would be that you pay your federal income though neither you nor anyone you know has ever seen the law that requires you to pay them (there's another blog coming that explains why I know this to be true). You pay them because you believe that you will be in violation of the law if you don't. Action shows what you truly believe.

If you truly believe something then your actions will show it. You may be asking yourself the age-old questions right now. "If God is everything that the Bible says about him, if He truly does play a huge role in our lives and the world around us, then how come I never see Him? Why does He work in mysterious ways? How come He doesn't just show up and make it obvious?"

Let me attempt at answering these. His ways are mysterious because, simply put, He must always allow room for you not to believe. If He came and knocked on your door, all your faith would be gone the instant you locked eyes with Him. You cannot have faith in that which you also have material proof. Faith is belief without material proof. Also, upon seeing Him you would lose your free will to choose not to believe in Him. Once you knew beyond a reasonable doubt, or unreasonable for that matter, that God existed you could never go back to unbelief. Therefore, your free will would have been taken away by such an encounter. The very existence of all the talk of faith in the Bible is to say that God Himself is unseen. All we see of Him is what He does.

In order for there to be any chance of us having free will, He must remain hidden to such obviousness. He must reveal Himself to us in ways that there is at least a small possibility where one could think that it was not Him. This way, in case you want to exercise your God-given free will, you can do so. It's all a choice.

I told about my wrist getting healed in the last blog. I could have just thought that it was about time that it healed and that it did it on its own. I could have thought that it was just a coincidence that it healed while I was having it prayed for. Or, I could claim that I'm just really losing it and getting mixed up with all this God mumbo jumbo and I believed in the healing so much that my body healed psychosomatically. Mind over matter, right? But regardless of all the explanations that I could have come up with to make it a normal thing to have happened, I'm believing that God healed me. To me, it makes more sense anyway. It's the most logical explanation.

You may be asking, "Why do we have to choose to love Him then? Why does He punish us if we don't?" I'm not God and I can't answer for Him, however I imagine that He doesn't want you with Him in heaven for all eternity if, in fact, you don't really want to be with Him. I'm sure you can relate. You wouldn't be roommates with someone who doesn't like you and didn't want to be your roommate in the first place. Now add eternity to that scenario.

Forget for a second all of how you've pictured both heaven and hell to look like. Just realize that the simple truth is that heaven is eternity with God and hell is eternity without Him. We choose by our chosen beliefs and our subsequent actions whether we want to be with Him or not. And, regardless of your decision, He will respect that decision. That's what giving someone a choice is all about.

"...choose this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

Kansas City Trip

In the last blog I talked about Wilderness Outcry, but that wasn't the only thing that I did on my vacation. We also were able to go to Kansas City and stay with the Imes' for three nights. We had a blast. We really miss having them closer, but they are in a good place and so it's just a bittersweet thing, I suppose.

Among the various items on our play-it-by-ear agenda was playing some serious spades. Even though Mike and I lost to the ladies, it was extremely close and a great nail-biter finish. Good job, girls. You deserved it. I'd like to fins another spades couple because I miss playing the game. Not that the Imes' can be replaced, but surely some couple can fill our need to play between trips to Kansas City.

A nice little bonus was that I got to watch several World Cup games in high definition on a big screen which was amazing! I'm glad that they didn't mind putting up with my sudden sports fanaticism. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched several more World Cup games, but HD big screens really do make watching something a better experience.

One of the nights they bought us dinner at Cinzetti's. It's my new favorite restaurant of all time. Too bad the only locations are Denver and Overland Park! It's the only all-you-can-eat authentic Italian food restaurant I've ever heard of. Not just authentic Italian, but GREAT Italian, GOURMET Italian! Everything I had was delicious. I recommend highly.

Also, while we were in town, we went to IHOP (International House of Prayer). IT was an experience that everyone around here needs to come check out. The Sunday morning service was good, but not near as hopping as the Saturday night worship. Hundreds of youth filled the place, many of which were being trained as leaders. There were several people healed including two people with past sports injuries that permanently damaged their rotator cuffs. One was a 20 year-old guy who was the quarterback for his high school football team until the injury took him out of the game. The other was a girl. Both got back full rotation without pain.

I got healed, too. I had had a bad wrist for about two and a half months. One morning, I woke up about 30 minutes before my alarm was to go off. To keep it from waking up anybody else I turned over on my left side so that I was facing it and could shut it off quickly when I woke back up. I don't normally sleep on my left side. When I woke the second time, as my alarm went off, my wrist and neck were really hurting me. The neck pain eventually went away that day, but the wrist never let up. If I put any weight on it, it would snap. I say 'snap' because it wasn't a nice, relieving 'pop' like you might think. It would snap and really hurt. I didn't and still don't know what was wrong with it.

To keep the story as short as possible, I'll just skip to the teenager coming up to me to ask me if he could pray for me. I said, "sure." His prayer was short and afterwards he asked how it felt. I had to admit that it did feel a little better. I couldn't get it to snap anymore, but the pain was still there. I told him so and he asked to pray again. After that prayer it felt even better but still not gone, by any means. So he asked to pray one last time. While he prayed and even after he stopped I felt as if my wrist were wet and a fan was blowing on it. It just felt cool, exposed maybe. I don't know. But, the pain was completely gone. I didn't find any hint of the injury no matter what I did with it. It was awesome!

It's now been two months and I've had no pain come back. It never snapped again after that night either. A thought did come to mind, though, roughly a week after IHOP. I thought, "Maybe it just finally healed on it's own." Upon thinking about that thought, I immediately said out loud, "No, that's not it. Thank you, God, for healing me."

This little thought exchange brought together some recent teachings I've heard and read as well as some revelations I've had while reading the Bible. I realized that people tend to explain away everything that God does. They explain it in a way that it makes sense to them how it happened without God's involvement. Those same people may argue that God was never involved on these matters and that maybe I should stop attributing things to God that can be otherwise explained.

Hmm... sounds like my next blog.

Wilderness Outcry

It's actually been a long time coming for me to write this blog. I've been pretty busy with life and have not set aside time to write a blog at all for several months. The sporadic few that have somewhat filled the black hole have been ones that I wrote when I should have been sleeping (sort of like right now). But, nonetheless, it's time to break this "no time" excuse and just knuckle down and write.

Back in June, I took a week off of work. Since I haven't been at DEI long enough to have acquired vacation time, all I got was time off without pay. But, I was thankful for that since they could have declined my request altogether. The reason I asked off in the first place was for an event called Wilderness Outcry in Poplar Bluff, MO. It was a call to all Christians regardless of denomination to come together for worship and prayer. Jodi and I both felt that we needed to go. We prayed that DEI would let me off and God came through and made it happen.

Originally, we planned to stay the whole week but our plans changed. We, like most everyone else, found out through Facebook that they were canceling the event due to a lack of funding to pay for all that they were planning. We were told that most of the things that needed rented and paid for would need to be paid for up front. But, since there wasn't a huge organization with a bankroll running things, the result was a canceled event.

However, the landowners, whose property was being used for the event also were the ones with the original vision and heart for the whole thing. So, they put together a website, Moriah Ranch, that they used to say that their land would still be open for camping, worship, prayer, etc. They promised portable toilets but couldn't really say what all would be available. But, they were hoping that people would still come. We were excited still and thought that it was actually a good thing. Some of the events that were planned that were no longer going to take place seemed a bit out of the original vision anyway.

As the days grew closer and closer to the event, people who previously had voiced that they were going or who wanted to go started to back out one by one. We, too, were tempted just to call it off, but we couldn't shake the feeling that God was calling us to go. Our hearts were already set for it and there was no backing out at that point.

It turned out to be much more than I expected. I have no idea how many people were there. It was a lot, but nowhere remotely near as many that could have been accommodated by that land. It turned out that according to those who registered and signed in 38 states and 6 countries were represented. Almost all who were there came from somewhere far away. I felt almost a little guilty that we only traveled 3 hours to get there. The worship was awesome! The quality of the musicians was pretty much just average, I'd say. But, the Spirit was moving and it was truly being felt by everyone. We had some interesting conversations and met some cool people.

The only tough part was the intense heat during the day and the swarms of hungry mosquitoes at night. After worship was over, we went back to our camp to enjoy some eating, hanging out together and what should be the most fun part of a camping trip. However, we pretty much left our food to the mosquitoes while running into our tent to seek shelter from the bloodsuckers. We spent the next hour or two attempting to sleep while killing a mosquito every few seconds. The twenty seconds or so that the door to the tent was open seemed to let in about 40 of the little vampires. We survived it, though.

On the way back home, we stopped at the Current River in Van Buren, MO. The river is fed by Big Spring so it is super clear. There are parts of it that are 20 feet deep but you can stand on a rock ledge and see the bottom with incredible detail like the water isn't even there. All of us swam for about an hour or so. It was a lot of fun and it was satisfactorily cooling enough for us to release all the heat that we had been soaking up for the duration of our camp.

One of the coolest parts to the trip came later. We had prayed that God make it possible for us to go to Wilderness Outcry both in the sense of getting off work and financially. When it came to going, no extra money came, but we had enough to stretch and make the trip. The difficult part would come the Friday after my week off for there would be no paycheck for me that day. Then, that Friday came and I got handed the usual envelope which normally contains a paycheck. I immediately thought, "Oh, yeah. I'll still get a pay stub showing that I didn't work any hours." I didn't even look in the envelope until I got in the truck after work. To my amazement, there was a check inside. I looked at the stub to see where the mistake had been made, but I found no mistake. It turns out that the company decided to pay out a bonus, in which I was not made aware. And, it was decided that it would be that Friday that they would pay it out on, the one week that I would receive no compensation. Isn't God good? We asked and we received. Simple as that.

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