Saturday, November 29, 2008

Year Two

It's official... Becky and I have completed our first year of marriage together. Last year around this time, I told Becky a few things in front of 300 people that I meant with all my heart. We sat in our hotel room a year later and repeated these vows to one another to serve as a reminder to one another about promises we had made, but more than that to re-commit this next year to serving each other out of our mutual love for the Lord. It haunts me to think that on average it takes a married couple 9 years to move from "I" to "we"... but I can honestly say that I want to be a "we" more than I want to be an "I" right now.

So I wanted to type out my vows to my beautiful bride as we begin another year that will inevitably leave us different than from when it found us... Lord Jesus, help us this year to be more like you and to stop at nothing to get there.

Becky, God in His wisdom decided it was not good for me to be alone.
So He made you to be my helpmate.
You are God's gift to me, perfectly suitable for my completion.
I receive you as my completion, just as you are with all your strengths and weaknesses.
Every quality in you is aimed at perfecting a quality in me.
I declare my love for you to be unconditional and nothing can discourage that love.
You are the Lord's primary tool to shape and conform me to the image of Jesus.
Therefore, I submit myself to you in the fear of the Lord that this might be accomplished and the Lord Jesus be glorified.
I choose to love you as Christ loves the Church.
I will provide for you.
I will protect you, give you loving leadership.
I honor you.
I am faithful to you.
I cherish you as long as we both shall live.

I love you sweetheart. Thank you for stopping at nothing to help shape and conform me to the image of Jesus. You are a wife that honors and serves the Lord in your service to me. You love me despite all circumstances, whether I'm in an angry mood, quiet mood, happy mood, or in a talkative mood. You love me in front of your friends, but even more so when no one is looking but me. I respect your willingness to live life and love how you push and pull me to areas that I would've formerly been afraid to travel. You are God's perfect gift to me. You're my wife, someone that I cannot and will not live without. How would I ever get dressed for church or pack for a vacation? I'm so thankful that I can talk to you and tell you the truth. I'm so thankful that you listen to me and that you tell me what you're thinking. I'm so thankful for your heart and for what it's doing to mine. I love you sweetheart... I always will.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Auto Industry

I'm against the bailout. The business model of the companies is outdated and bankrupting the companies. What happens to small business when their business model isn't profitable? They go bankrupt, find out what worked and what didn't work, cut what didn't work and build off of what did work. Why do we think big companies operate any other way?

The companies need restructuring. I'm just wondering if there's a way to restructure without losing jobs or consumer confidence. From what I've heard, they are good cars (I drive a Nissan and no, I don't have an opinion on cars. I honestly couldn't care less). But will people want to buy them? Time will tell.

What I find extremely ironic is that our government is now attempting to "fix" a broken industry, all the while operating inside of a broken government. The principles of government I believe are still solid (some would call these the "fundamentals"), but what government is today is a far cry from the purpose it was created to serve. Take our tax code or "oversight" (I use that term very loosely) committees, different departments, lobbyists, etc. It's all patchwork and reactionary. Our economy is patchwork, it's not pure capitalism. As we've seen in the auto industry, the market (consumers) decided that they liked Toyota's cars better because of gas mileage, longevity, safety and overall style. There needs to be some consequences for business models that don't work. Example...

Growing up, did I honestly think, "Wait, wait, wait Mom, you can't afford that! Really, I don't need that for Christmas." Of course I didn't, it wasn't my money. I had no real appreciation for the hard work that she did to earn that money. I didn't know any better. I trusted her to make the decisions that were best for me and the rest of the family. And you know the strange thing? She swears we weren't well off, but we never went without. No one ever called us under privileged. We loved our '86 and '90 Toyota first cars. The '86 one even broke down because a screw fell out. Did Jason get mad when he had to call a friend to drive all the way to Andrews to fix it? NO, it was a memory. Did I get screaming mad when my car all of a sudden started honking uncontrollably when no one had ever told me my car had an alarm on it? Absolutely not... we all laughed while we covered our ears. The government has no reason to be smart with money because if they spend it all, at the end of the day they still get their checks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Privacy and Teaching

These next two Sunday's I'll be teaching the college group at church... the invitation was very surprising to me to say the least but something I jumped at the chance to do. There's only one problem...

I'm no longer the teacher in my family. Becky is. I say that half-jokingly. In college I taught a few times without hesitation. I thought the messages were really good, but after speaking you hear hardly any feedback at all. Then you have to filter out the real feedback, the "i'm your friend so I'll tell you you did good" feedback, and then the negative feedback. Once everything balances out, you're left wondering if the message that the Lord gave you was even heard. To this day I still don't know... Well now that I've heard Becky teach a few times, I honestly don't know how to even reach that level. I think she's a phenomenal Bible teacher.

So what am I going to do? I'm going to teach about being authentic in our private and public lives, something I wrestle with every day that I'm alive. This is a topic that I'm intimately comfortable with, something that I could talk about for hours if only someone would listen. The private part is the part that I'm REALLY passionate about, mainly because that's the foundation of your authenticity. I've not always been an all-star at this.

Back when I really wrote, both personally and on a blog, there were days that I found myself writing to impress someone else (truth be told, a girl. Depending on which time in college depends on what girl I wanted to read it). I wanted to show them that there was depth in me and that I had a real relationship with the Lord. Looking back on it, I don't regret it because I worked my way through a lot of issues by writing, but I also created a few more to be dealt with at a later date. The biggest of those being pride.

Well fast-forward to November 24, 2007. Our wedding day. I had now reached the day where I no longer had to impress a girl that I was interested in. I had done it. I won! Now the goal was not becoming complacent but leading my family in a very focused direction... into deeper relationship with the Lord and with each other. So subconsiously I decided to not write. It wasn't some set in stone decision and I don't have a date to really go back to when I decided not to write, but somewhere at the beginning of our marriage I decided that pride couldn't be given such a comfortable role in my life anymore. So I choked it. I shut it down.

What did this mean? It meant I wanted to wear sweats on date night when we went to Pappasito's. It meant that I didn't shave for a while or get a haircut, because appearances were feeding my pride. It meant that I didn't read a whole lot, for knowledge puffs up. It meant that I didn't do a whole lot to grow because I was afraid of what I would grow into. And it's through this fear that I found the folly of my ways...

The Lord very lovingly showed me that if I make a commitment to stop growing, then I also make the same commitment to stop leading my family. If I purposely become unattractive... guess what, you're unattractive to your wife too. If I stop writing, then I all of a sudden have a lot of issues built up that have yet to be dealt with (giving way to my very first counseling appointment this Friday :) I'm excited, because now if Becky and I have a disagreement I proudly exclaim, "Becky, I'm in counseling ok? I'm working on it"). Purging the ugly in your life does not give you permission to purge the beautiful as well.

There's one breakthrough I'm glad to possess. I no longer write to impress, I write to process. I don't care what you think to be honest. I'd like to know what you think, but I'm not doing this for you, the reader, anymore. I'm doing this for my family and for me in hopes that I will become who God created me to be. I don't think hardly anyone reads this anymore, but the moral of this story is what you do in private will be what defines you. You may not understand it until years later, but if at any point you don't like the definition of who you are then a different course of action must be taken. A purposeful course. And it's along this path where true treasure is discovered.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A new direction...

So I'm guessing most of you caught the election last night? I want to touch on a few things from last night and then be done with it. Be done with the election, not actual issues, ideas, and policies. Oh no... that whole pursuit is just starting.

So last night I was visibly and verbally upset and depressed for most of the night. We had our friends Dustin and Cassi come over and for those of you who don't know them, Dustin and I are extremely similar. Luckily he brought a nerf ball to throw around so holes didn't end up in the walls. And yes, that nerf ball found itself speeding to different areas of the room for a good 4 or so hours. The TV was not exempt and in fact the main target at times. Our wives endured a very long night with us, talking us down from a ledge and dealing with our disgusted comments during the acceptance speech. I've already asked for forgiveness from Becky and am currently doing a lot of soul searching as to why it made me so angry and why I wouldn't let her talk any sense into me last night. Here's what I've come up with...

1) I'm selfish. When I'm down and don't want to talk, I don't want to hear anybody else talk either. This isn't the first time selfishness has reared its ugly head, just another episode.

2) I'm from Texas. Socialism and handouts and whining just doesn't to appeal to us. These last 2 years of campaigning has been infuriating to say the least. Hearing about the foreclosure "crisis" that wreaked havoc on 2% of homes in the country just makes me want to throw up. Our country should be celebrated for the opportunity and the prosperity that we enjoy, not put under a microscope so very small problems seemingly become nationwide issues.

There are a few things that I love about my state. We take care of ourselves. We give when there is need and when we can and towards things we believe in. We're responsible. And we don't have income tax. We're pro-growth. And some of us have a pretty great accent too, even if time in Indiana steals it away from us :) Now to my next point...

3) Can someone please realize that we are not in competition with each other? Class wise, state wise, part affiliation, etc. This whole false sense of partisanship in the country is ridiculous. I don't believe conservatives and liberals are as far apart as we are being led to believe. There are differences, yes, but when was the last time you went hunting for a spouse or significant other that was EXACTLY like you? And if you did... do you ever find your conversations boring and lacking passion? I mean give me a break, we embrace differences. We also embrace those things that we agree on because that is precisely what keeps us together in the midst of debate. Then why would the media want to drive us apart? Because it increases our dependence on them, not ourselves. If we can make them our barometer for the state of the country, then they are now in power. That's all it is. And guess what? Once you decide to take responsibility for your own life, the media no longer can get you down. It's been a very painful lesson that I've learned this year, but I'm much farther than I once was.

4) I believe America as a superpower is no longer a truthful statement. We've changed alright. Last night as I sat through the "Yes we can" mantra of the crowd (very eery to me), I turned to Becky, Dustin and Cassi and said, "Great, now we're the little engine that could..." That's exactly what it made me think of. I am now the little engine that could. "I think we can, I think we can..." I prefer the freight train myself...

5) If I can be Joe Biden for a little bit, mark my words... oil prices are about to skyrocket once these policies are enacted. The ban on emissions will, in Obama's words, bankrupt the coal industry. The coal industry supplies 50% of the energy needed for the electricity in homes. Once you remove that source of energy, you have to move to another. Oil is the most efficient today. Therefore there will be less available, driving the price up to higher levels than what we've seen. I wouldn't be worried if we were going to drill, but look for the ban on our offshore areas to come back into place around March. We're not decreasing our dependence on foreign oil... it's not pheasible today. Work towards it yes, but provide a bridge to get there with oil...

6) If I hear another sound bite as to why people voted for Barack Obama that sound like these, I will explode. I actually did this morning in the car when I heard this guy pushed as to why he voted for Obama. I yelled...
a) "I just think we need change" Why?
b) "I just like what he says, he speaks to me" What does he say to you?
c) "That we don't need 8 more years of the same thing" What's the same thing?
d) "Failed policies" ** This is where I gave up and yelled. It felt good...

7) I actually have a rational reason for voting against Barack Obama and I haven't even gotten into his associations. It's crazy to me. This is the most uninformed decision we've made in a very long time in my opinion. I hope it doesn't bite us, but I honestly think it will. And we won't forget it.

8) I'm not racist! One of the most profound comments I heard last night was that the youth of America is color blind. I believe this is true. The fact that the media kept talking about race made me sick. Bring anyone in office and as long as their policies are ones that will grow our economy and strengthen our country at home and abroad, I'll put him in office. Period.

9) This was the most telling reason why I'm so upset. I've placed my faith more in my government and country than I have God. That's the root of all my frustrations. I don't know when my dependence was being eroded away, but it has been eroding away. Who's to blame? I don't care honestly, I just know I want my dependence on God back. I need His help and I need your help... Our relationships with the Lord puts life in perspective in a way that makes it impossible to despair the winds of culture and change. I can't be depressed when I think about the Lord. I don't know what it is in me, but I simply can't bring myself to do it.

I love my country and I'll do whatever I can to support it. My congresswoman is very much a liberal and my goal is to make her sick of hearing from me, either through phone or email. I don't care. I just want her to know that I'm keeping up with what she's doing. I hope I can encourage her, but I definitely want to challenge her where we don't agree.

I'm ready to fight for conservatism and throw republicanism under the bus. It's a very different ideology and it's wrong. There should now be 4 parties instead of 2. Liberals, Democrats, Republicans, and Conservatives. The differences are too many to find much commonality anymore.

Here's a few books that I'm going to try to get my hands on to study and learn about our country, policies, and how we got to where we are:
- "Patriotic Grace" - Peggy Noonan
- "The Forgotten Man" (about the Depression)
- "Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism"
- "Liberal Fascism" - Jonah Golberg
- "Disraeli" - Robert Blake (This is about the Father of Modern Conservatism)
- "Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World - Patrick Buchanan
- "Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship" - Jon Meacham
- "Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy" - Bruce Bartlett (former Reagan staffer)
- "The Hand of Providence" (Ronald Reagan)