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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!

Negativity Scene


Would you agree that you are unhappy? Would the word 'content' ever come to mind when asked to describe yourself? The reason that I ask is because I see a lot of negativity where I work. It's pretty rampant in most workplaces really. But, the workplace isn't the only place, by any means. It just stands out in my own little corner of the world.

It seems as if almost everywhere I go, I see and hear people complaining about anything and everything. It's their job, or spouse, or kids, or family, or bills, or commitments, or school, or one of a thousand other things. What do you talk about with people? What do you focus on?

It's funny. Have you ever noticed that when you're driving and you look off to one side or the other that you subconsciously turn the wheel ever so slightly in the same direction? It's a matter of focus. Our focus leads our direction. This point of truth can be illustrated in countless ways, really. Having been through extensive leadership training throughout the years I also learned that people are many times more likely to accomplish the goals that they set for themselves rather than the ones set for them.

The Bible tells the story of Peter walking out onto the water going out to Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33). Peter was able to walk on water just like Jesus until he took his focus off of Jesus and placed it on the storm and the waves. The passage specifically says that he saw the storm and was afraid. He put his focus on something negative and began to fall into the water in which he was focusing. Like Peter, we live out the reality of what we spend our time focusing on. In other words, we reach the goals that we set for ourselves.

If you think about and talk to others about all the things that you struggle with, you will always struggle with whatever you do. You will find a struggle regardless of the situation. Also, if you focus on your sickness, you'll eventually be perpetually sick. Every ache will be exaggerated into some pain that you will self-diagnose to be the worst possible ailment. Or, if you feel like somebody did you wrong over something and you spend your time focusing your thoughts and feelings towards it you will eventually start to feel victimized over other situations. Next thing you know, you're living life as a victim. You've decided it.

It's ironic, I suppose, to realize that these things happen because you are successful. You focused on something and you obtained it. You set some goals and you successfully hit your targets. Unfortunately, you were looking at negative targets.

I speak for myself, too, here. I'm not immune to losing sight of what I should be focused on. Far from it, really. But, we need to realize the destructive and constructive power of our focus if we intend to change how we think. Every time we start to think about something that's depressing, vengeful, hateful, worrisome, etc. we need to recognize it for what it is: negative thoughts that lead to negative outcomes. And, then we need to replace those thoughts with positive thinking, admirable goals, good memories, etc. Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

Thanking God for being able to do whatever you are doing at the moment does wonders for your feelings about your current task. Sometimes we just need to slow ourselves down, slow our thinking down, stop thinking about all the things that we could be doing and just be thankful for what you are doing. Be thankful for the health you do have even if it's not perfect. This sounds cheesy but, you cannot change the past nor obtain it again. Likewise, the future will always be outside your grasp. We own nothing in this world, not even time. We cannot make any more of it and we cannot retain any of it. It's God's gift to us what little time we are allowed to experience. That is why it is called 'the present'. We could all stand to be a lot more grateful, don't you think?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Makes Good Point


On Thursday, Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, gave a speech at the UN. Amongst his many topics, was the attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. Reportedly, a bunch of government officials walked out during the speech including the US Representatives. So, I see that many didn't agree with him, nor did they want to hear anymore on that subject or any other. President Obama has already given a statement, condemning Ahmadinejad for his "inexcusable" statements.

Despite what people may think of me for saying this, I have to agree with him about what he said concerning 9/11. He listed three different theories of who was responsible for the attacks. In a nutshell they are: some foreign terrorists did it (our government's official version), our own government did it, and lastly that foreign terrorists did it but our government saw them coming and took advantage of the situation.

The UN Representatives for the United States walked out during the second theory. Many other country's representatives left, as well. One reporter called what Ahmadinejad said "vile conspiracy theories" and, of course, Obama was acting very offended as if Ahmadinejad was insinuating that Obama himself had orchestrated the whole thing.

But, everyone is missing the point here due to our preconceptions of the man giving the speech. I don't agree with most of what Ahmadinejad said, but the things he said concerning 9/11 were right on. He only called a spade a spade and mentioned that there are multiple accounts for what happened that day, evidence that points to people other than the officially accused, and questions that have not been answered nor had honest attempts of aptly answering them by our government. He further suggests that the UN put together a fact finding team, to answer these questions.

If you think about it, he's properly using a democratic process. The US government has had 9 years to find and provide answers to the obvious 'who', 'why', and 'how' questions. Instead, it only took them hours to point a finger. Despite the ridiculous amount of new evidence that would implicate more involvement from others, this finger has never stopped pointing at the initial suspects and has turned a deaf ear to any suggestion that the event had co-conspirators other than those already named.

This deaf ear, continues today with the walkout of our government at the mere mention of theories that have been sparked, not by Ahmadinejad, but by unanswered questions and intentional government cover-ups.

Ahmadinejad's reason for bringing up 9/11 was to point out that the United States government's leading of the UN in bringing punishment to Iran for their "lack of transparency" surrounding their nuclear program couldn't be more ironic. It might be difficult to find a better example of the pot calling the kettle black.

How can I relate the two, you might ask? The United States used 9/11 as a springboard to invade two countries, and completely overthrow the government of one of them. Several thousand people did die on 9/11, but several hundred thousand have died in the United States' mission to avenge the supposed responsible parties. The United States' military force driven by a government that needs no solid evidence to choose a target is, in and of itself, a weapon of mass destruction. However, the US government feels no need to further investigate nor answer any questions. On the contrary, they get upset and leave just by the mere mention of the subject. Which only leaves us to believe that they're avoiding discussion on the subject because there is something to hide.

Volition


Around a week ago, I followed a link posted by a friend on facebook to a short film. Somewhere it had said, "preview the movie." So, I thought it would be a normal movie preview and be a couple of minutes long. It turned out to be 15 minutes long. It wasn't a movie preview. It was a short film. It's called Volition.

It was very powerful. I recommend that everyone watch it. I was so moved by it, in fact, that I didn't hesitate in purchasing a copy.

Later that evening, I received a personal e-mail from a couple thanking me for purchasing the movie and supporting their cause. The movie arrived at the end of last week and we've already watched it again. The movie was professionally packaged complete with artwork. The packaging to ship the movie to me, on the other hand, was a simple bubble mailer that had both my and the return addresses hand-written. It's neat that we bought a movie straight from the people who made it rather than some large corporation that only sold it for another corporation.

On the DVD were some bonus features that included the original promotional video advertising a video contest. Apparently, Volition was one of the finalists in the 2008 contest. The prizes consisted of dollar amounts to go out to the finalists to go towards their next film. It was really awesome. Also in the bonus features were the 10 movie trailers for the 10 finalists of 2008.

What an awesome concept! It's called the Doorpost Film Project. Their website can be found here. But, most importantly, the short film ,Volition, can be be viewed for free right here. Watch it!

9/11 Conspiracy?


After writing the last blog, Jodi and I watched the movie World Trade Center starring Nicholas Cage. It was, of course, a sad movie. Even more so since we remember watching these events as they unfolded on our TV screens nine years ago.

Remembering all that took place that day and the days that immediately followed, one finds oneself in the eye of a storm of emotions, thoughts, and unanswered questions. 'Who', 'why', and 'how' being the ones in the forefront.

Not long after the event, we were given answers to those questions. A foreign religious extremist group of radicals was the 'who.' Their extreme religious beliefs were the 'why.' And, a simple story of terrorists among us exploiting a weakness was the 'how.' So, mystery solved, right? Isn't that what really happened? I know that I bought it without question. At least in the first few weeks, anyway. However, as the weeks turned into months, all kinds of questions were raised. One being the locked up secrecy in which they hauled off, quarantined, and then sold for scrap the wreckage of the World Trade Center buildings. What purpose could secrecy about the evidence serve? The world saw the buildings come down. We were all given a fairly good explanation as to why they came down. Why would the government go to the extra effort of hiding the material from everyone? Unless, of course, leaving the material out for anyone to see might reveal something they don't want us to know. Hmm...

Other questions started arising that led me to start searching for answers on the Internet. It didn't take long to find several web pages and YouTube videos that not only were asking similar questions but were also presenting evidence that I had either not yet been made aware of or I had not thoughtfully considered.

My initial thoughts were of doubt. Less doubt about what I had been led to believe along with the rest of America, but more towards what these "conspiracy theorists" were trying to get me to think. No one could have done this. No one could be that evil. No one could have kept the truth quiet and hidden. It's too complex to have been pulled off without getting caught.

But, am I right? Why would I believe that a bunch of radical Muslim extremists living in the mountains of Afghanistan are that cunning, evil, and capable? Because it's easier to believe that some Muslims are that evil? Because to believe that I've been deceived would be a blow to my intellect? My pride? Because, I think that everything is hunky-dory here in the 50 states? Because the news said so? What, exactly?

A great documentary to watch on this subject is called Loose Change. At the end of this very well put together, informative, and unfortunately appalling film the narrator made a statement that really struck me. He said, "You will either have an emotional response to this information or a logical one."

What do you think? Would you be in support of a criminal investigation over the disaster? Would you agree that there is, at minimum, enough evidence and motive to implicate others' involvement so much that a new investigation would seem called for?

Where Were You?


It was Tuesday. I was 22 years old. I was taking a week off of work using "vacation" hours that I had just acquired the previous Friday, the second anniversary of my hire date at Springfield Remanufacturing. I hadn't gone anywhere. An actual vacation, as people define them here in the U.S., wasn't in the budget for me, but I was thoroughly enjoying my time off of work just hanging around the house with Jacob, then only 19 months old.

We left our home, just out of town, around 2:00 in the afternoon to get a few things at Walmart. Along the way, I drove past two gas station both of which had lines of cars stretching out into the streets. I found it odd, for sure, but didn't think too much of it until after I left a hectic Walmart and saw the same lines at other gas stations, as well.

I thought that maybe I should find out what was going on. I switched the car stereo from CD to radio and heard a lot of talk. I only picked up clues, but couldn't figure out exactly what they were talking about. I switched the station twice to find the same talk again and again. The stations were broadcasting the same thing. I heard, "war", "attack on American soil", and "death toll well into the thousands."

When I got home, I scrambled to find the TV antenna that was still packed away despite having lived at the house for over three months. I've never been much of a TV watcher. After hooking up the antenna, I sat and watched the footage for hours.

Alan Jackson wrote a song less than two months after the disaster. That song asked a simple question that has an answer almost everyone in the United States remembers very clearly: "Where were you?" So, where were you when you got the news?

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