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The Coolest Spider In The World August 29, 2010

Posted by Joe in Animals.
4 comments

Rachel came running into the house yesterday proclaiming that she’d found the coolest spider in the world. She wasn’t scared; she wasn’t even bothered by it. She just wanted to share with us her discovery.

I’ve seen this kind of spider before, but I wasn’t sure of its name. After a bit of research, we learned that it’s a Black & Yellow Argiope.

This is an actual picture of it. It looks to be preparing a meal that it’s caught in its web.

Some Pictures of Darth Kitty August 22, 2010

Posted by Joe in Animals.
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For those who haven’t seen Darth Kitty yet, here are a couple of pictures.

I’ve been amazed at how the dogs have accepted Darth Kitty. I was a bit concerned that Daisy would break him as she does the rabbits, squirrels, and moles she catches.

May The Feline Be With You August 15, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family.
4 comments

We’ve finally decided on a name for our new kitten. It will now be known as Darth Kitty.  There were just too many good one liners to pass up.

  • “May the Feline be with you.”
  • “Luke, I’m your kitten.”
  • “Come and feel the power of the kitty side.”

And of course instead of the heavy breathing, we hear a deep breath followed by a long purr.

Rachel has decided that she’ll call him DK for short.

Do Hard Things August 14, 2010

Posted by Joe in Faith, Family.
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I took Benjamin to an all day conference called The Rebelution: Do Hard Things today. What is a Rebelution? It’s a teenage rebellion against low expectations.

Here’s are some notes I took during the conference.

Setting Expectations

An elephant can pull trees out of the ground; it can win a tug-a-war contest against 100 men. Yet a simple piece of twine and a wooden stake in the ground can keep it from leaving in the night. Why? It’s not the twine around its leg that’s holding it back; it’s the shackles around it’s mind. It’s a matter of expectations. The elephant is trained from a very early age that it cannot pull free if something is tied around it back right leg. And it never challenges that expectation as an adult.

Young people of the past did incredible things. There were high expectations for them. That’s not so today; we have, as a society, have told young people that we expect them to be lazy, to goof off, and to be unreliable. And they are living up to our expectations.

When you look in the Bible, there is no mention of adolescence, of looking like an adult yet behaving like a child. God’s Word doesn’t have the concept of teenager. Paul counsels us to put away childish things. He doesn’t say that as young adults we should hold on to childish things.

Set high expectations. Actions follow expectations.

Do Hard Things

The complexity of our challenges have grown as we have grown, yet so has our capacity. What’s the difference in a four year old lifting 10 pounds and an eighteen year old lifting 100 pounds? Think about it this way. What’s the difference in a little Dixie cup and a huge super-sized cup when each is half full? Which is more full? One has more capacity, sure, but they are both still half full.

Our culture expects more from babies than from teenagers. Babies learn to talk, to walk, to go to the potty. We don’t give them a pass. Yet as our kids get older, our expectations for them goes down. We give ourselves and our kids a pass. “I’m not a math person.”, they say. Yet we don’t let our three year say “Mommy, I’m just not a toilet person.” when they are potty training.

Growth comes when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. And we need to grow to be the person that God wants us to be. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t quit. Moses tried to quit; Jeremiah had an excuse. But God wouldn’t give up on them. So don’t give up on yourself.

Expect great things of yourself and strive to reach the potential that God has given you to do the work He has prepared for you. Do hard things. Reach your full potential. Remember, worthwhile things are not easy. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first. Just keep trying.

Much More

Although this has been a long post, there was much more great information presented in the conference. This post doesn’t come close to capturing many of the great points the Harris brothers made. It wasn’t a name-it-and-claim-it conference either. It was full of solid and boldly spoken truth.

For example, Alex gave an incredibly powerful testimony as he shared the Gospel. He challenged all of us to carefully consider our relationship with God, to examine our lives to see if there is evidence of God’s grace. It was moving. And it was a tremendous call to actions for each of us to live out our purpose. Then the oldest brother, Joshua, talked of the importance of building our life on a solid foundation, the rock that only Christ can be.

The conference was a great time of worship and bonding with Benjamin. We had a wonderful time together. He’s already asking to go back next time the conference comes around. If you have kids, I’d definitely recommend attending one. If you can’t make it to a Rebelution conference, buy the Harris’ best selling book Do Hard Things and read it with them. The conference is based on the book.

Recommended Resources

During the course of the conferences, many books were recommended and even given away. Here’s a list of some of them. We bought the first two. Benjamin’s looking forward to reading them.

This Week’s Ultrasound August 13, 2010

Posted by Joe in Faith, Family.
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Laura had another ultrasound yesterday to look for breathing motions, amount of amniotic fluid, heart rate and so on.  Every thing looked good. We will probably receive the official report later today.

David Edward weighs in at nearly 6 1/2 lbs which puts him in the 98th percentile for growth.  In other words, he’s full-term size already but he’s supposed to stay put for another 5 1/2 weeks.  Laura says that he has been busy renovating her interior, pushing her liver over here and her bladder over there to make room for his continued growth.

We’re thankful that everything has gone well with this pregnancy. Thanks for continued prayer.

Our Kitten Has Arrived August 12, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family.
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Laura picked up our new outdoor kitten this afternoon. It got a very warm welcome from everyone except for the existing outdoor cat, Coco.

We still haven’t decided on a name for it. Right now the family is evenly split. The choices are:

  • Darth Kitty
  • Dexter
  • Thin Mint
  • Meow
  • Chubbs

With one abstention.

When Opportunity Crows August 10, 2010

Posted by Joe in Farm.
2 comments

Or in the way that The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show had two names for every episode “Make Hay When The Rooster Crows”

After supper, I went out to give the turkeys and chickens in the portable tractors some fresh water and I noticed that one of the tractors had some new residents. It contained three roosters we’d kicked out of the tractor earlier for being mean to the other residents. We had just turned them loose to forage and fend for themselves. And they’d done that well.

A couple of weeks ago I learned why they’d been so successful surviving on the outside. While I was processing some of the other chickens, I tried to catch the mean-spirited cockerels to include them in the day’s activities. I couldn’t. They were elusive little buggers.

This afternoon however, the playing field was leveled a bit. They had somehow worked their way back into the tractor and thus would be easier to catch. So as daylight was rapidly yielding to dusk, I quickly gathered my supplies and went back out to capture the three roosters for a quick processing.

As I entered the tractor, I was entering their domain. But I was able to capture two of them rather quickly. Unfortunately the third escaped through the same hole that allowed him to enter. Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad as they say.

So since the unexpected opportunity presented itself this evening, I processed two roosters for Laura to make into canned soup. It’ll be good this winter!

An Exhilarating Sunday Afternoon August 8, 2010

Posted by Joe in Family, Farm.
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Remember Easy Like Sunday Morning from Lionel Richie? Well Sunday mornings may be easy, but this Sunday afternoon was full of adrenaline for me.

I needed to take several items down to the toolshed where we store off-season clothes, camping equipment, and of course some tools. When I got down there, I noticed a couple of wasps flying around near the door.

Generally, I don’t mind all of God’s creatures being around. They’re part of nature. They exist for a reason. In His omnipotence He created them. I don’t pretend to understand why He created some of them, like the horsefly, but I know He had a reason.

So I live and let live for the most part. There’s an exception for me, though. If the animals are causing problems for us, they’ve got to go. For example, I don’t mind chicken snakes, unless they are eating our eggs. In this case though, the wasps were in a very inconvenient place. I didn’t want Benjamin or Rachel to get stung while getting something from the toolshed for me. So the wasps had to go.

I sent Benjamin back up to the house to get the fly swatter. As he walked back up to the house to get it, I began unloading the totes and items from the bed of my truck and taking them into the toolshed. I’d gotten about half of the items into the shed when he returned with a fly swatter and a very old can of Raid. In fact, I believe both the Raid and the flyswatter were purchased when we moved into the house 5 and 1/2 years ago.

I decided to go ahead and take care of the wasps before unloading the rest of the items in the truck. As I approached the door armed with just the flyswatter, I noticed that another wasp came out of a baseball-sized hole in the side of the toolshed. I carefully peaked into the hole. And there, inside the hole, was a whole swarm of bright red wasps busily doing whatever it is that wasps do.

Wow! I immediately retreated, nearly falling over myself, and grabbed the can of Raid that Benjamin had brought for me. Since it was  a very old can, I tested it out before approaching my newfound Sunday afternoon nemesis. I’m glad I did. A fine mist came shooting out of my secret weapon. Well, shooting is not exactly the right word for it. It was more like a mist from can of spray starch. Then I remembered. A couple of years ago, the nozzle of the can somehow broke. I replaced it with the only other nozzle I could find, one from an old can of spray starch. So the can of Raid that boasted of a being able to hit bugs at 25 feet now couldn’t shoot 12 inches.

Undeterred, I approached the hole in the wall, aimed the spray starch nozzle at the home of the little stingers with wings and let it rip. Mist!

And did the wasps come flying out! It seems a fine mist of Raid is very effective at getting a swarm of wasps very agitated. As I turned to run, I nearly knocked over into my 20 month old son, Timothy, who was standing right behind me. A picked him up, holding a can of spray in one hand and a flyswatter in the other and awkwardly ran toward the truck. Benjamin was under the truck.

I ordered Benjamin to take Timothy to the house. He didn’t object.

Then I approached the clearly annoyed wasps again. There’s something very exhilarating about doing battle with a swarm of wasps. Your adrenaline starts pumping was you swat one out of the air, mid-flight. The only thing more electrifying is swatting at one, missing, and then losing sight of it as it flies right by your head. That’ll really start your cardiovascular system to pumping.

In the end, I did battle with the wasps for 20 minutes. I’d get two or three of them, and then have a couple of close calls that sent me running back to the perceived safety of my truck. I’d slowly approach again, score another couple of points and then hurriedly retreat again.

I’m glad Laura didn’t have a video camera on me. I’m sure it wasn’t a pretty sight. Me swinging wildly left and right with a bent flyswatter then high-stepping it out of there with my elbows pumping.

But I’ve got to say it was as fun; fun like going to a haunted house and roller coaster all rolled into one. If you do well, you win. But there’s always the threat of intense pain when one of them gets through your line of defense.

Fortunately, I bested the wasps this day. And I didn’t get stung.

After it was all done I still had to enter the toolshed and finish putting away the remaining items. I was a bit nervous about it. I was still on high alert. But I finished my task without getting stung.

Who says you can’t get a cardiovascular workout while doing farm chores?

What about you? Got any stories bug stories you’d like to share?

Voting in America August 7, 2010

Posted by Joe in People, Politics.
2 comments

A couple of days ago, I went to the polls to cast my ballot in our local elections and state-wide primaries. I view voting as a civic duty and responsibility. Every citizen has the right, nay the obligation, to help select the person that he believes will best represent his beliefs and interests in our great republic. If you consciously choose not to exercise that right, you are forfeiting a powerful opportunity to help shape our democracy. But that’s another great thing about out country: it’s your choice. You can choose to sit on the sidelines if you wish.

An Imperfect System

Winston Churchill once said “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947). I’d have to agree with that sentiment. The are lots of imperfections in our system of government. You don’t have to look far to recognize them.

For example, consider one person, one vote.

In every election there are well-informed people who study the issues and the candidates, who carefully considered the specifics and the larger picture, and finally reach a carefully formed conclusion on who they believes is the right person for the job. They take their civic duties seriously.

On the over hand, in every election there are people who enter the polls that have never heard of the candidate’s name before. They haven’t studied the issues; they are making their selections based solely on the name of the candidates. “I’m not voting for that Williams fellow; he’s probably kin to that kid in sixth grade that stole my lunch money.” Or, “Gomez sounds like a foreigner to me; he should go home.” Or equally bad, they make their selections based on race, or gender, or something else that has no relevancy.

Yet in both of these cases, the decisions of the votes of those individuals carry the exact same weight when voting level is pulled. The person who has carefully weighed the factors has the same impact on the election as the one who make his choice without any regard to the issues.

Is that good? Is that what our founding fathers intended? Not really, yet on some level it is.

A Hope Continued

How can anyone except for the person casting the ballot know how and why he is voting. It can’t be done. And even if it could be done, who would set up the commission to determine who has a right to vote and who doesn’t? The voters? Elected politicians? I don’t think so.

I wouldn’t want anyone telling me that my vote would carry more or less weight than another due to the way they perceive my decision-making and consideration of the issues. That’s not democracy. That’s the facade. It’s only a veneer of democracy with tyranny lurking just beneath the surface.

So even though my vote may be cancelled out by someone who’s never heard of a candidate, I’ll carry on making my decisions. I’ll keep hoping that the majority of people will study the issues before casting their ballots and that this country will be led by the individuals we’ve consciously and intentionally elected.

A Handshake And A Smile At The Dump August 4, 2010

Posted by Joe in People.
2 comments

Late yesterday afternoon, I took a break from my busy work day to take our trash to the drop off station a few miles down the road. That’s one of the nice things about working at home: you can check off a couple of items from your honey-do list while taking a mental break from work.

The trash really needed to go. It wasn’t that I had a large quantity to take, rather it was the quality of trash that necessitated its departure. I’ll spare you the odiferous details; suffice it to say it was offensive. The combination of contents and extreme August heat created a concoction that could rival any smell.

So, donning some work clothes that I didn’t mind parting with if permanently contaminated with an odor and some work gloves, I set out for the dump.

Our drop off station is frequently manned by a nice older fellow whose name I don’t know. He doesn’t know my name either but we always have a pleasant conversation about the weather or some such. He’s usually supervising at least one teenager that begrudgingly helps toss my trash into the giant compactor. The teenagers are there working off their community service hours as prescribed by a local judge for some act of stupidity perpetrated by them.

Yesterday was different though. As I pulled into the station, I noticed that my normal acquaintance was accompanied by a second gentleman in his mid-50’s. “Sad,” I thought as I pulled in, ” I wonder what landed him in this predicament.”

But as I got out of my truck, I immediately realized that this was not ordinary time-server. No, he gladly strolled out to the bed of my truck and started unloading the stinky trash. He asked how I was doing and commented about the heat of the day. I could tell he had been there for a while. His shirt was soak through with sweat and his face red.

Before I left, I learned that the man working so hard in the blazing sun that August day was running for County Commissioner in my district. His name was David Romain and rather than meeting people at restaurants or banks, he was lending a helping hand at the local trash drop off station – a good place to meet a broad cross-section of our community.

I don’t know much about his politics, but I’ll do a little research tonight before casting my ballot tomorrow. I respect a man who’s willing to roll up his sleeves and do the hard and unpleasant jobs, a man who is a servant leader.

Did I fall for his tactics? Maybe. Would he have kissed a baby if I’d brought one? Probably.

If he’s elected, only time will tell if he’s any different than the majority of the politicians that “represent” us. But for now, he’s sparked a glimmer of hope in me that maybe he’ll be little different.