Dry Roasted Peanuts

Dry roasted peanuts are very tasty.  And the memories that come with a handful of these little nuggets of goodness are many.  Most of them revolve around my Dad.

He was known in our family for liking dry roasted peanuts in a variety of ways:  mixed with M&Ms; roasted with honey; in a trail mix; and just by themselves.  So, as you can imagine, I can’t eat dry roasted peanuts without a memory of my Dad having a jar of these at his side as he watched sports on weekend afternoons.

My wife just bought some of these dry roasted peanuts along with a bag of candy corns.  Believe it or not, the two of these mixed together tastes remarkably like a Butterfinger candy bar.  Once again, the memories flow.  My Dad’s dry roasted peanut legacy lives on.

But that’s not by any means the only thing my Dad left as a legacy.  What’s far more important is the fact that he touched so many lives when he was alive that quite a few people came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ at his funeral.  Nothing could be more important than an eternal difference made in someone’s life.

So what are you living for?  Yourself?  If not, why do you do anything at all?  Just for the sake of knowing that you made a difference somehow?  But for what reason?  It’s certainly a selfish and self-centered existence to be living for yourself alone.  But what guarantee do you have that anything else you do is going to last?  Our motives can be very revealing.

This all comes into sharp focus when you’re living out what God would have you do with your life.  An “eternity mindset”.  A realization that every day has the ability to count for someone’s eternity and where they will spend it.  My Dad had that kind of influence and I’m proud of that fact.  I know God is using my life even more so to that end.  And He is helping me to raise my two boys to be even more influential for His Kingdom than my life has been or will be.  And that means everything to me!

Hopefully your legacy consists of something more than just dry roasted peanuts.  If not, it can.  I would encourage you to really think about how you do that.  Regardless of what it is, it will have eternal consequences.  So choose wisely, my friend.  Your eternity depends on it!

What’s Up, Doc?

“What’s up, Doc?”  These are words that my generation loved to hear.  It is probably the most common phrase ever remembered from a cartoon character.  The now famous words of Bugs Bunny.

This brings to mind something my wife and I were just talking about.  As kids, we lived for Saturday morning cartoons!  Around mid-week the countdown would already begin for the unleashing of many hours of cartoon fun.  (I know for me and my brother, that countdown also was for the sugar cereals we would sometimes be able to have on Saturday mornings.)  So there was lots to look forward to every week!

What’s it like now?  B-o-o-r-r-r-i-n-g.  Where’s He-Man?  Where’s Superfriends?  Where’s Scooby Doo?  And best of all, where’s The Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Show?  I distinctly remember The Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Show being an hour and a half of full-length six- to eight-minute long cartoons–classic ones at that.  Like Foghorn Leghorn and the weasel; Yosemite Sam and the camel riding excursion in the desert; Daffy Duck as Robin Hood; Bugs Bunny and the forgetful wolf; and countless attempts by Wile E. Coyote to overcome and suppress his nemesis, The Roadrunner.

In spite of the attempts of some to say that these cartoons were too violent (Really?  Compared to what? The video games of today?), they still live on through certain cable channels and YouTube.  But what happened to our Saturday morning line-up?  The answer is that our education system got involved.

Through the antics of politics, money, and influence, the education system insisted that children must learn something educational when watching cartoons.  If a cartoon didn’t have that key ingredient in it somehow, it was thrown to the curb.  But let me ask you something:  What child wants to learn anything on a Saturday morning??  Saturday morning cartoons were an escape from having to do any of that!  A child spends his days in school all week long learning all kinds of things that typically in his mind are pointless, needless, and downright stupid.  He doesn’t look forward to Saturday morning cartoons to learn something more.  He looks forward to Saturday morning cartoons to escape into those worlds for a little while and enjoy the fun of doing that.  Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.  Or was.  Because it sure isn’t that way any more.

It’s sad because my kids won’t have that experience.  Granted, they can get on YouTube or a cable channel to see some of those same cartoons, but it’s just not the same.  (There was just something about knowing that come 9:30 a.m. you were going to be tied up for an hour and a half watching Bugs Bunny).  And as far as the cartoons of today, they certainly don’t have the same type of cartoons to choose from that we did!  It’s a bygone era that thankfully lives on in the memories we share with our kids and that can be backed up by watching certain episodes found on YouTube.

Though things do change, it’s great knowing we can still use today’s technology to keep the memories of yesterday alive!

Time Management

Time management can be amazingly difficult sometimes.  From what I see in others on a day-to-day basis, most people don’t manage their time well. In fact, it probably gets away from most of us on a regular basis.

But that’s life, isn’t it? Time management is challenging, yes, but as most of us know, it is well worth learning how to do well.  Now, I realize that there are quite a few resources out there about time management and how to do it effectively. I’m not here to go over that kind of information. But just to address the issue….well, that’s important.

I am finding this to be a huge challenge right now. Between lots of overtime at work, home-schooling the kids, house projects still beckoning and jewelry to make for a local business, managing my time is crucial right now. And I’m still trying to figure that out. But it is happening!

I’ll tell you one thing: I am so thankful that God doesn’t expect me to figure this out on my own. I really don’t know what I would do without His presence or His help in my life. People can say what they want to and believe what they want to about that. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with a theory. I know from personal experience what He has done for me and how faithful He is to what He said He would do in His Word (the Bible).

So we keep pushing forward, living the life He has given us to live and making the most of every moment. And learning how to best use and manage that precious time we have so that we can make the most of it.

Happy Time Management!!

The World of Selfies

Selfies.  A word that I never heard growing up.  Now, of course, it’s such a popular term that it has found its way into the dictionary like the word “Google” has.

Taking a selfie is something I rarely do.  In fact, I really don’t do much with the camera on my phone (or any camera, for that matter).  My wife, on the other hand, is quite familiar with her camera and selfies.  (I’m glad she is.  Otherwise, we would hardly have any pictures of our boys from over the years.)

We were all invited to a wedding yesterday.  I may or may not have mentioned in previous conversations that my wife does Daycare work out of the home.  One of the moms she watches for was getting married and invited us to the wedding.  So, as you can imagine, I’m basically flying blind as I attend this event.  I hardly know the mom and certainly don’t know anybody else in attendance.  My wife wasn’t too far behind me either.  She may have known another person or two, but she was essentially in the same boat as I was.  But that was okay.  Our boys were with us in the boat as well, so we were content as a family to just float along and enjoy the afternoon.

It’s interesting to watch people you don’t know interact with other people that they obviously do know.  Interesting behavior was observed all the way around:  An older couple walked in and were greeted by a woman whom they had apparently not seen for a long time.  She gave each one of them a peck on the lips as they caught up on human events.  A couple of individuals even deemed this celebratory event worthy of bringing an open beer to the wedding ceremony.  But none was more entertaining for us than the young woman who sat directly in front of us.

She wore a skirt short enough that my wife was concerned our boys would eventually see something they shouldn’t see as this woman sat in front of us.  Then, almost immediately, she pulled out her phone.  I thought, Oh no!  Here come the selfies!  She held it out and slightly up in classic selfie fashion.  Her head tilted to one side.  She smiled real big (I know, because I could plainly see the selfie screen of her phone as she held it out for all of us to see).  Click.  (Her head tilts the other direction.)  Click.  (She and the woman next to her lean in together.)  Click.

Then, in what had to be gold medal Olympic selfie speed, her fingers flew all over her on-screen keyboard as she madly texted something.  This seemed to be extremely important as it had to go along with the selfies she had just taken.  The world of Facebook was waiting!

This happened two or three times from the time we first sat down to the end of the ceremony.   At least I can say that I came away from that wedding knowing I was entertained and certainly wasn’t bored!

One On One Time

I didn’t grow up having one-on-one time with my Dad.  I really wish I had been able to.  But that’s one of those things you don’t necessarily have control over.  Not so with my boys!

The power of generational influence is huge.  God’s original design for this was to have a father teach and influence his children so that they know more and can do more than he ever did.  Then, when his children have children of their own, they are doing the same thing.  The result is that each generation is further ahead and knows even more than the one before it.  And each generation is passing on its legacy to the next.

What do you think the answer is to the question, “Is this happening today?”  I know it’s happening, but not near to the degree that it should be.  I want to do my part to change that.  And that starts with how I raise my own children and how I influence them for the next generation.

It’s important for you to know that this cannot be done properly without God’s help.  That’s intentional, too, by the way.  And I’m glad it is!  Why try to do something like that without His help?  He’s the One who knows all about us anyway.  After all, we’re made in His image.

My one-on-one time with my children is vital.  It makes them more comfortable talking about uncomfortable things.  And it helps them get to know their Dad better.  It’s uncomfortable for me, too, but so worth it when I look at the Big Picture:  I’m very thankful that my boys know that as they grow up through the roller coaster ride of adolescence, they can come to their Dad with any question or problem that they may run across.  (They can come to their Mom, too, but who knows better what they’re going through or experiencing better than their Dad?  And by the way, a mother’s influence with her daughters should be the same way as well.)

This can get in to other areas like mentorship, counseling, teaching and other related things.  Those all have their equal importance and they can all effect the influencing of the next generation.  In looking to keep this as simple as possible, however, I would recommend reading a book to start you in the right direction (if you’re needing that input).  It’s entitled, “Preparing Your Son For Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker.  The first half of the book is my focus for recommending it.

Whether you are a Mom or a Dad, single or married, with boys or girls or any combination thereof, the first half of the book will help you see the importance of one-on-one time and how to effectively implement it.  From there, you can go to whatever source you’d want to for your children’s needs (if you have boys, the second half is right there for you to use to get you started).

I hope you are able to positively influence your children for the next generation.  I pray God’s blessing on your efforts!

Autumn In The Air

Autumn has definitely been in the air this week.  Cooler temps and shorter days certainly add to the feeling that the Holidays are just around the corner.  The sky itself–the position of the sun and even how the clouds look–lends to that Autumn feel in the air.

Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan

Our family loves this time of year.  The coziness that comes with the weather getting colder and the Autumn decorations coming out (excluding anything to do with Halloween) continues on into the Christmas season.  Even more so with all of the Christmas decorations that come out.  Some people and families don’t make this much of a big deal.  And that’s certainly ok for them.  But for us, it takes on a wonderful life of its own.

This time of year also means getting ready for home school.  And this year brings for us a new curriculum that we’re using.  That usually brings a little more stress to the situation since we aren’t familiar with the curriculum.  But compared to the stress teachers deal with in public school on a daily basis, what we endure is hardly worth mentioning.

My wife does Daycare out of the home and has watched kids for a number of school teachers over the years.  One of them was homeschooling her kids, even though she was a teacher!  If that doesn’t go to show how bad things have gotten in our school systems, I don’t think much else will.  That arena certainly is not what it used to be when I was a kid.  I wouldn’t want anything to do with it now, which is another reason we took the home school plunge years ago.

We certainly recognize that homeschooling isn’t for everyone,  but for those willing to do it, it’s very much worth the effort!  We have found it makes things far more flexible for us, allowing for trips to see family in Michigan certain times throughout the school year.

So, as we begin that process once again, it just goes to remind me that Autumn–my favorite time of the year–is here again!

Autumn at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan

Happy Autumn, my friend!

Ode to an Air Mattress

An air mattress is very convenient.  Something I know didn’t exist when I was a kid like it does today.  Nowadays you can find them in about every shape and size and for every possible need known to man.  We own quite a few between camping, traveling and having company stay at the house.  We even have two twin-sized air mattresses that came from the inside of our old Select Comfort air mattress that we had for a very old waterbed frame.  Now that’s the way to sleep on an air mattress!

It’s Labor Day weekend which for us means camping.  We’re at a fantastic campground just north of Richmond, Indiana called Grandpa’s Farm.  Nicely secluded and lots of trees for shade.  We’ve got some very good friends with us on this trip.  They love to camp but currently don’t own a camper, so we put all four kids in a tent (they have two boys and so do we) and us adults stay in our Coleman Niagara pop-up camper.

As you can imagine, pop-up mattresses are not comfortable…..at all.  We’ve slept on an air mattress on top of the pop-up’s mattress since we’ve owned the camper.  The last one we had didn’t last long at all before getting a leak in it.  This led us to trying to get by without one.   (So far, this line of thinking has not panned out very well.).  This other couple–Jason and Patty–have slept on some memory foam on top of the pop-up’s mattress.  But alas, they have had the same result as we’ve been experiencing:  Sore everything.

This particular trip found Patty insisting that they bring their air mattress for them to try on top of the pop-up mattress.  Jason felt it would sit too high, but she still wanted to try it.  And he, being the good husband that he is, respectfully relented his position on the subject and loaded it in their vehicle (all the while committing to keep to himself the words, “I told you so”).

Now, it is important that you know a key fact regarding the bunk-ends on our pop-up.  Ours being a Niagara, it has everything we wanted in a pop-up:  Fridge, toilet, shower, microwave, gas oven and lots of space.  This means that the bunk-ends are both King-size beds with lots of head room at the far end of each bed.  Well, as Jason began inflating the mattress, it looked like it might actually work for them.  But then it kept inflating.  And inflating.  And growing larger and taller.  Thus ensued a conversation or two, first between me and Jason:

“Ummm…..Jason?  I don’t think this is going to work.  You’re going to scrape your nose against the roof of the bunk-end.  That could hurt.”

“Yeah.  Go get Patty.”

“Yessir!”

When I went out to get her, my wife heard about what we were doing and went in to see it.  I could hear her laughing from where I was standing at the campfire.  Then I followed Patty in to where the mattress was and witnessed the next conversation.

(Patty):  “Oh wow.”

(Jason):  “I know.”

(My wife):  “You should get on it.”

At which point Patty did.  At first, though, she posed for a picture:

Then my wife insisted that Jason get up on top of it.  He was initially concerned about the thinner air at higher altitudes, but we assured him he would be fine.  Here’s what we saw:

Needless to say, they didn’t use it and promptly deflated it.  But it sure made for a memorable Labor Day camping weekend!

Coming of Age

Growing up brings many “coming of age” moments.  For our oldest son, he’s experiencing a pretty big one today:  Shaving for the first time.

I remember my first shave.  I was pretty nervous about it.  Of course, that may be also due to the fact that I was in fifth grade when that happened.  Yes, I shaved my mustache every two weeks at that point.  By middle school, I was dressing like a back woodsman with a beard down to my belly button and a deep, gravelly voice that drove the girls crazy.  (Ok, maybe I didn’t have the beard.  Or the backwoods clothing.  I had the deep voice, but no girls.  Fine…forget it.  Moving on.)

William will be shaving his rather thick mustache today.  My wife pointed out that he even has an inch-long hair or two on his throat under his chin.  Yup…it’s time to shave.  He’s pretty excited about it.  Monumental moments in the coming of age process and this is one of them.

Do you see them with your kids?  Unfortunately, my Dad wasn’t too keen on taking advantage of moments like this.  That’s not going to happen with my boys.  I just pray that God helps me see them when they come along (I’m certainly looking for them).  What kind of influence can a Dad have on a child during this coming of age process?  I totally believe it’s more than us Dads can possibly fathom.  What about our Heavenly Father?  He’s the Dad of all Dads, right?  You can bet He doesn’t miss a single one of these kind of moments in our walk with Him.  We are told very clearly in His Word that He has never failed us and He never will.

So when a coming of age moment like shaving for the first time comes up, look out!  Someone’s going to get cut.  And deal with ingrown hairs.  And sensitive skin.  But he’ll get used to it.  He’s got a good example to follow in his Dad.

Nose Strips

Have you ever used nose strips?  They’re cushioned pieces of thin plastic that are encased in a band-aid-like adhesive strip.  You open them just like a band-aid and place them across the bridge of your nose just above the nostrils.  They look like this:

My wife and I use them off and on and they seem to work pretty good.  They certainly open the nasal passages and help to keep snoring at a minimum.

Not too long ago, we woke up one morning and were talking about them.  We were both laying on our sides, looking at each other and talking about how we had slept the night before.  Things were said like, “It’s wonderful after fifteen years of being married to each other that we are more in love now than we were then!”  “How did you sleep last night?”  “These strips work pretty good!”  It was then that we both noticed how mine had started to come off on one end. That started a conversation about how good the adhesive is.  And then about what the best way to take them off is.

I was still talking about how the edge of my nose strip had worked loose when she said, “I usually take mine off fast.  Like this.”  And she immediately reached over and peeled mine off my nose so fast that I hardly knew what had just happened.  Until the burning pain set in like fire across my nose and tears flooded my eyes like torrents of rain and I screamed out in agony….

Ok, it wasn’t that bad.  But it did burn like fire.  Probably almost as bad as child birth, but I won’t bring that up.  At least I wasn’t laughing hysterically when she was giving birth to our children.  Unlike the outcome of her brutal actions that morning.

It’s a good thing I love her like I do.

A Load of Crap

Bathrooms can be unpleasant to deal with.  Especially when you’re getting new flooring put in and need to take the toilet up.  Definitely a load of crap.

I haven’t had to pull a toilet up in years (thankfully).  When I did, it was in our old house which sat on a concrete slab–all one level.  I had a horrible time getting that toilet to sit correctly on the new wax ring–another load of crap.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, toilets sit on a big wax ring which creates a seal between the toilet and the sewer pipe.)  Here’s a picture of what I mean:

 

The typical problem that occurs with this potentially nasty and disgusting task is having the bolts that the toilet sits on move around on you as you try to set the toilet down on top of the new wax ring.  They look like this:

These bolts slide down into the top of the flange (the top of the sewer pipe) and sit loosely so that you can place the wax ring on top of the flange and in-between the bolts.  This sounds simple enough but quickly becomes a rather large load of crap when the bolts start moving around as you place the toilet on the wax ring.

Now in some circles, the wax ring is supposed to be pushed onto the bottom of the toilet before attempting to set it down on top of the flange.  This effort can be met with equal frustration and a few choice words since the wax ring can have a tendency to pop off the bottom of the toilet.  This results in a circle of wax on your floor as the wax ring plops down in a heap of smashed-in edges and flattened sides.  To add to the predicament, attempting to install the toilet this way also means that you can’t see how the new wax ring sets itself into the flange.  This provides for an even bigger load of crap as it means that you are sure to have water leaking out of the bottom of the toilet from a poorly set wax ring.

So what to do??  Well, a good friend of mine helped me with a couple of rotted sub-floor issues I encountered when getting new flooring in the house recently.  One of them was around the upstairs toilet that I needed to pull.  His Dad was a plumber and I found out something that you may find very helpful the next time you need to pull and reinstall a toilet.

Here is all you need to do in order to get a toilet seated correctly on a new wax ring:  Instead of setting the floor bolts loosely into the top of the flange, find an extra washer and nut that will fit the floor bolts.  Set the floor bolts in place and put a washer and a nut on top of each bolt. TIghten them down so that the bolts don’t move.  Then set the new wax ring in its correct position, centered on the top of the flange between the bolts.  Bring the toilet down onto the wax ring, keeping the bolts centered in the bolt holes on the base of the toilet.  Gently rock the toilet slightly from side to side as you press down on the toilet bowl.  Then sit down on top of the toilet, slightly moving your weight from side to side.  Secure the toilet to the floor with the original washers and nuts and you’re all set.

Hopefully this little bit of news will help make removing and reinstalling a toilet the lightest load of crap it can be for you!

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