Sunday, January 5, 2014

Out With a Bang

This was not how I wanted my New Year's Eve to go...

I was on my way home from work, driving through windy, snowy conditions. Snow blew across the roads, and while the snow plows were busy, they didn't feel like they made a dent.

It was right about here where I hit an icy patch in the road. The rear end of my car started to turn on its own. I tried to make minor corrections, but each change turned the car too much. I knew my car was going to crash, I just didn't know where. Finally, my car picked a course, and turned into oncoming traffic.

My memories of the crash are a blur. From what I could tell, I hit the first car on the front passenger side. That hit spun the truck around, where it was hit by a tree-trimming truck. Somehow, my truck stopped with its tailgate in the back of the first car. Besides the annihilation of the front end and the impact on the back, my front door was also bent so badly, I had to climb out the passenger side to get out..

While my truck was totally undrivable, I walked away from the accident pretty much unharmed. In fact, everybody was relatively injury-free. Praise be to God for that. And even though it was my truck that went across two lanes of traffic, the police didn't issue me a ticket.

A few days later, I went to the towing yard to pick up the contents of my truck. The old man at the desk asked me who the driver was. When I said it was me, he turned white as a ghost. Apparently, he didn't expect to see anybody walk away from that accident.

These pictures were taken the weekend after my accident, at the tow yard where I signed her over. She served me well over 8 years and 50,000 miles (and the previous owner another 2 years and 30,000 miles more). She was a good truck, and while I wanted to drive her until the wheels fell off, this wasn't what I had in mind.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a short list of things I've learned from this experience.

  1. Why are cars so expensive and so heavy? One reason is they're (usually) engineered to be safe. When a vehicle slows down from 25 mph to 0 in a fraction of a second, that releases a lot of energy. Plastics and metals in the car are designed to bend, break, crumble in such a way that absorbs much of that energy, softening the impact. All in all, it takes thousands of dollars of material and design to safely transport $5.00 worth of organic matter (though that last value is debatable).
  2. When I think about the accident, I can't get the song "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood out of my head.
  3. Trying to replace the above song with Pearl Jam's "I'm Still Alive" has lead to some interesting results.
  4. I learned that if you have GEICO car insurance, and you show a cop your insurance card on your smart phone, that can be as good as a paper copy.
  5. I also learned that downloading the app, logging in, failing the log-in attempt, requesting a username look up and password reset, checking your email (several times), successfully resetting your password, then searching the app for a copy of your insurance is a pain in the fingers when you're outside in freezing weather and your smartphone refuses work without your gloves off.
  6. The hectic life is a raging river, forcing all your attention on keeping afloat, without letting you wonder "How did I end up in the middle of a river?" 
  7. Finally, I'm truly thankful for the outpouring of support from my friends and family. Your help, prayers, and well-wishes are so appreciated.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Recovering from a "Pinteresting" Christmas

I'm not really sure what to think about Pinterest. I like the idea of it, as a place to stash pictures of things you like. But it has been so embraced by the women in my circles that I don't dare sign up for it. I'm afraid I'll have to forfeit my man-card or something.

When my wife first signed up for Pinterest, she spent a lot of time the first day pinning things and organizing her "boards". I wasn't worried about the time she spent. I assumed she would spend a lot of time at first, but it would taper off after a month or two,and she would eventually ignore it completely (and you know what happens to those who assume).

Her Pinterest activity grew when she realized she could make things she saw online. There was a kids project here, some decorations there. Before long, we had a new sewing machine, a new camera to replace the one she wore out, and one room plus one kitchen table converted to a crafting center.

The holidays brought out a new dimension to the Pinterest obsession. Burlap became the fabric of choice for our rustic Thanksgiving. Christmas meant hand-made gifts for friends and familly. With these bold projects came the stress of completing them on time. It's hard to scrape together enough time for crafts when you're a full-time mother and an entrepreneur. Some people had to receive store bought gifts, instead.

Christmas afternoon, I found my wife lying on the couch, barely able to keep her eyes open. She asked me why she felt so tired. The first thing that came to my mind was, "Babe, you just had your first Pinteresting Christmas. I'd be tired, too."

Some days we're up to our eyeballs in sewing boxes and fabrics on the dining room table. On those days, neglected dishes.line in the dirty half of the sink, Sometimes, I sometimes wonder if this Pinterest thing is worth it. But when I see the smile on my wife's face as her creativity flows through her sewing machine, when she smiles at the satisfactory work of her hands, I'm thankful for joyful challenge that Pinterest brings.

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
    She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.
Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.
She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.
Her children stand and bless herHer husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

Monday, December 23, 2013

Twas the Resolution before New Years...

(My apologies in advance to Clement Clarke Moore, for butchering the cadence of his beloved poem.)

Twas some days before Christmas and my wife asked me this
"What New Year's Resolutions will you add to your list?"
Her plans already hung in her thoughts with care,
In hope that improvement soon would be there.

My boy was nestled all snug in his carseat,
With Mickey Mouse providing a mental retreat.
My wife in the passenger seat, and I at the helm,
And a question between us left my mind overwhelmed.

When up ahead of us there rose such a clatter,
I swerved to the side to avoid a grave matter.
What happened before us I can't quite recall,
but it gave me a chance, that question to stall.

A few days later I pondered the challenge,
In what daring change next year would I take the plunge?
When out of my mind, there flowed a solution,
I knew in a moment it was my resolution.

Your problems, dear self, are that you don't remember,
From the beginning of October to the end of September.
So take out your pencil, your blog, and your gall,
And Document, Document, Document all!

So I'll take up this challenge, and here I will pen,
The highlights and the lowlights of this life I live in.
I'll see you here soon as I take on this quest.
Merry Christmas to all, I wish you the best.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jesus is a lot like soap

This Sunday, our pastor started a sermon series looking at the Gospels and how grace shines throughout them. He began by going through Luke 7:36-50. The story details Jesus' dinner with a Pharisee, where a sinful woman interrupted the meal to anoint the Messiah with perfume and wash his feet with her tears. It's such a great story, I dare not sully it with my description of it.

However, I'll share a thought I had during the sermon. As I visualized the woman washing Jesus' feet with her hair and tears, I couldn't help but think "Jesus is a lot like soap." Okay, before you gather your torches and pitchforks, hear me out a second.

Imagine the world before soap. People were dirty and grimy, and not too pleasant to smell. But they didn't really notice, because everybody was sullied. People got used to their own stench.

Now, if you read about God, you know that He's perfectly clean. So clean, He can't come in contact with anything dirty, or else He'd be dirty, too.

With a clean God and a dirty people, you have different ways you can relate to God.
  • You can avoid all the mud puddles and keep as clean as possible, like the Pharisees. 
  • You can hope for a Muddy God like the idolators. 
  • You can accept that you'll never be clean enough, and just live in filth like the tax collectors and prostitutes.
  • You can search after stuff to make your dirt smell better, like the desparate.
  • Or you could scrape off enough dirt to look only mostly disheveled, like normal folk.
  • Or... I'm sure you could come up with some more ideas.
Now, imagine that our Clean God has offered us soap. I'm not talking 99.44% pure, but 100% pure soap. And it's cheap, too. All you have to do is let it come in contact with all of you, and let it do it's job of lathering up and washing you clean.

So, would you use it? Judging by our society today, I'd say you would. Now, how would people look at the new, clean you?
  • Pharisees would be jealous of your cleanliness, since they used to be the standard for clean before.
  • Some people would wonder why you're going on and on about being so clean.
  • A few would say that since soap didn't taste good, they wouldn't use it (even though it wasn't meant to go in your mouth).
  • Some shysters would try to sell you something that's "better than soap", but costs a lot more and does a lot less.
  • But many would want to be clean just like you, and would want to know where you got the soap.
Now, in this analogy, Jesus is the soap, and God's grace and mercy are the soap suds that wash away your sins. Like the soap bar that wears down with use, Jesus sacrificed himself to make you clean and presentable before God. And without soap, you can't get clean enough on your own. Sure, you can roll in a field of daisies, but you're still dirty without the cheap gift of soap.

So, look at how you treat your soap.
  • Do you leave it in the cabinet, thinking that will be enough to keep you clean? 
  • Do you only take a bath on Christmas and Easter? 
  • Have you bought into the lie that you only get one bath, and then you have to avoid dirt for the rest of your life? 
  • Do you just wash your hands, and leave the rest of your body dirty?
  • Do you avoid washing certain parts of your body, thinking your soap is too good to go anywhere near there? 
  • Or maybe you cover up with perfume that smells like soap, just to make people think you're clean?
  • Do you like the concept of soap, but think you're going to find your own way to clean up?
  • Do you think you need to clean yourself before you can wash with soap?
  • Were you so scarred as a kid when someone made you eat soap, and you swore you would never touch the stuff again?
I could go on and on.  Why do we treat our relationship with Jesus any differently?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bleary-eyed post

Lately, I've felt a lot of pressure. Pressure to put something out, to perform, to create something. I've been looking for an outlet, but I can't decide on content.

Here's a few ideas that have popped in my head:
  • A work related blog about the field I work in
  • A blog about my faith
  • A blog detailing one of my hobbies
  • A blog where I write humorous stuff
  • A blog where I delve into the variety of food here
  • A blog where I whine about my life
  • A fake blog where I write from the point of view of a character who doesn't exist.
  • A blog where I write about my life
Here's what I came up with:
  • Work blog - work blogs require you to be very serious and technical about your work. While I am serious about what I do, I'm never serious about how I present it. Trust me, if you read the trade publications I have to read to keep up, your eyes wouldn't stop bleeding. Frankly, I'm not serious enough in my writing to write like that.
  • Faith blog - Maybe, but I can't focus on this all the time. We'll see
  • Hobby blog - Unless your hobby is writing, you probably make stuff you can take a picture of. And that requires downloading pictures from my camera. I usually let my wife handle all that, since she has the awesome camera that makes dreary days look beautiful. Basically, because I'm too lazy to upload the pictures I take, I just don't take them.
  • Humor blogging is a dangerous thing. I know, because I used to do it. At some point, you feel pressure to put more good stuff out, but you're completely tapped out in terms of ideas. Then you have to go on hiatus for a while, and your friends stop visiting your site. Then you whine about how you have nobody visiting your blog, and frankly, nobody likes a whiner
  • Food blog - Love food, but it requires that I go to different restaurants and eat. Why can't I write about how I went to Taco Bell for the fourth time this month and ordered the same grilled stuffed burrito again? 
  • Whiney blog - Like I said before, nobody likes a whiner
  • Fake blog - Interesting concept, but I'm only inspired to do this for about a day or two. Then I move on to something else.
  • Life blog - Don't know how interesting that would be. Most posts would start out, then be interupted with "Uh-oh, baby's awake. Gotta change his diaper and feed him."
We'll see where this one goes.