29 December 2014

My Word for 2015: ἐγκράτεια

ἐγκράτεια (n.) self-control, from ἐν (in, by, with; a state of rest) + κράτος (force, strength, might, dominion); lit., centered strength or dominion, not receiving nor sending

Around the middle of this past autumn, I set aside all of my self-improvement efforts in an attempt to prevent an impending mental breakdown. Instead, I took some time to focus on what the Bible had to say about self-control. I felt (and still do feel) that the majority of my challenges with exercise, proper eating habits, productivity, etc., essentially stems from poor self-control. What I learned is that self-control is less about controlling myself and more about giving up control of my life.

Fruit of the Spirit: Self Control Gal 5:22-23

13 January 2012

When it Rains...

I haven't gotten off to the best start on my resolutions. My weight is slightly up (and I've cheated on my diet a few times this week - hello, Dove chocolates!) and the running isn't terribly compatible with the snow on the ground. Maybe I'll make running a "starts-April-first" resolution. Why should January get all the excitement?

Sermon transcription is humming right along, and I'm catching chances here and there to read. Genealogy has taken a back seat to life right now, but I've been mulling some ideas around in my head. I've baked two pies; they just aren't on my list! The Easter project hasn't started yet - again due to a lack to time.

We spent two nights this past week at an apologetics conference in Milan (Michigan, not Italy) and that was time well-spent, for sure, and not just because I'm teaching apologetics this quarter in Sunday School. I cannot recommend enough the ministry of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum; if you have the opportunity to go, please do.

Through no (recent) direct action of my own, however, we have been making progress on our financial goal for 2012. Between now and next Monday (1/23), I have no less than four in-person interviews for full-time professional positions. Any one of these would more than double our 2011 income and allow us to make significant headway on getting out of debt. They would all mean a move for our family, but we've been prepared for that.

The timing couldn't be better: we need to move on to the next chapter of our working lives, and soon. Tiffany needs to cut back due to our new baby, and I can't support us all on pizza money alone. Our savings have lasted just long enough to carry us through the last 15 months, but we can see the bottom of the barrel. Praise God for His perfect provision and perfect timing. We need not fear, for God is with us.

Please be praying with us over the next weeks as we travel for interviews and await their responses. I will be going to Fort Worth, Texas, next Tuesday; then Hamilton, Ohio on Thursday; Mansfield, Ohio on Friday; and finally Carbondale, Illinois, on the following Monday. As I mentioned above, any of these would be a providential opportunity for us, and while we have our preferences, I'll be content just to have a full-time job again.

31 July 2011

31 July 2011

A weekend of milestones! Isaac swam across the pool yesterday, without his floaties, and is definitely reading independently - his latest effort is the original Boxcar Children chapter book. Esther has had two days now of no diapers and no accidents, and lots of self-prompted trips to the bathroom, both at home and at church. It's funny what gets you excited as a parent of pre-schoolers, but there you go.

I watched the recording of Dave Ramsey's The Great Recovery presentation last night. I am reminded again of how much I want to be out of debt, but not having an income to speak of makes that difficult. When you're just getting by, it's hard to dig out of the pit. At least we're not adding to the hole at all, and we haven't since February.

One of Dave's action items, especially for church leaders, is to teach people what God has to say about money. I've certainly got the platform in my Sunday School class, but how do I structure it and how do I get over the trepidation that the broke, unemployed kid in the room wants to teach everyone else about money. And is there a way to tie discipleship in, or is that just pushing it?

Kathy went back home to Houston yesterday morning, and we're attempting to settle back into normal life. Tiffany's at Applebee's tonight, I got the kids to bed about 8:30, and now I'm on the computer, playing cards and surfing the web. I've already clipped and sorted coupons, even though there's not money for groceries before we leave for Minnesota in a week. I've got a sink over-full of dishes to wash, the house is a disaster, and I really should help Tiffany with the laundry. I guess we're back to normal, then!

25 July 2011

25 July 2011

I stopped in at Borders on Lohr Road last night just to walk around and see how things were going. There are signs everywhere about the closing sales, and the coffee shop is already packed and gone. It may have just been my general pensive mood - almost a minor depression - but it was a very melancholy experience to see the last dying gasps of such an institution. It wasn't nearly as crowded as I expected, but it was closing time on a Sunday, so maybe that's why.

I know that many people decried Borders for killing small, independent bookshops in the past, and I would agree with them. I remember bookstores on Main Street in Newark and McMahon's at Christiana Mall - now you're hard-pressed to find any sort of a decent bookstore in a mall. While Borders was a juggernaut, it was still a place where we could go to touch books and sit down for a while with a coffee and a novel. Tiffany and I spent many date nights at Borders, just enjoying a bit of peace and quiet while browsing through a stack of books that we didn't need to buy.

There's the rub: we don't have much disposable income to spend on books, so we've shifted much more to borrowing books from the library. It's free, and we don't have to find shelf space to hang on the books after we're done. We have plenty of books already and we're trying to pare down - buying more from Borders is a touch antithetical to that endeavor. In fact, I can't remember the last time we bought a book (more than a small school book for the kids); I can't even remember whether we bought it in store or online. Do I have much room to lament the closing of Borders if I don't buy their merchandise? It's not for lack of desire - I'm sure I could spend a couple hundred dollars each time I walk in - but perhaps there are just too many others in our situation.

I do mourn the loss of Borders: the loss of a local Ann Arbor business, the loss of a haven of knowledge and entertainment, the loss of being able to physically browse books. I don't see e-readers being a viable alternative, and while the library is an ideal option in many respects, there's just something different about it.

Farewell, Borders. I pray that this is not a nail in the coffin of printed books. If so, God help us all.