It Coulda Been Me

That could be me...

Whatever you do, don't look him in the eyes. He could get a job if he wanted, he's probably not really a vet. I heard they make like $200 a day holding that sign. He's probably going to spend it on meth anyway. He's just lazy.

His older brother was the football star and did everything dad wanted him to. His older brother stayed in the family business. His older brother married his high school sweetheart. Its tough growing up like that. Especially when you were born in the early 60s. Especially when dad showed love by being hard on you. Life was tough for dad too. He grew up in a farming family during the depression. And fought depression; but what's depression to that generation? They worked hard and expected their boys to do the same thing. 

But he found his niche. When his brother started using drugs, so did he. Now he felt so much closer to him. His brother didn't know he knew about the drugs. But he was always watching; he idolized him. He watched everything he did. And he heard about it at school. I mean, it WAS the 60s and lots of people were doing it. When you're the 4th of 4 kids, its easy to get away with a lot. He just wanted to make people happy and it hurt when he disappointed everyone. He seemed to never please dad. Its tough for a 14 year old kid no matter what, but its great to find a little escape from disappointing everyone.. 

Dad wasn't disappointed. Dad loved him, he just didn't know how to show him. Real men don't show emotions. 

He was never lazy, he always worked hard. There was that one day when dad told him that he works faster than anyone else that works thereDad said he was proud of him. Too bad dad didn't really know that its because of the different drugs he's been taking. But whatever. He was making more money because he worked faster. And he's grown now. And married. She knows about it, and she bugs him sometimes about taking them, but she's coming around. And she's so beautiful and they really love each other. 

He really screwed things up. He's a little short this week but can't do without. He'll work some overtime next week and it'll be ok if the rent's late a week. or two. 

She's really mad, or embarrassed, or disappointed. It doesn't really matter what she is- all that matters is that its his fault. She said they came by to kick them out of the apartment. She didn't know the rent was three months behind. 

"Why didn't you tell me?!" 
"What are we going to do?" 
"What's wrong with you?" 


And she left. The only good thing that he ever had going for him, and now she's gone. He got straightened out a little, but she still won't talk to him. And now, he can't find her. 

Dad would be so embarrassed if he saw him crying like this. But Dad's been gone for years. 

And that's life. 20 years later, he's figured out how to survive like this. Some years he uses less. Some years he uses more. He still sees his brother and sisters. They say they're worried about him. He tells them he's fine. They don't understand anyway. Everything's perfect for them. They're still married. They have their families. They have their normal lives and couldn't understand how hard it is on him. 

They took his house. And the car. He left the rest of the stuff because it doesn't matter anyway and he walked away.

He heard those guys make like $200 a day. He could get a fix if he just had $40. 

But Dad wouldn't be embarrassed. Dad would have given anything to help him. His brother and sisters would do the same. But no one knows how to help. When they gave him money, he just blew it. They buy him clothes every once in a while. They pick him up and bring him over for dinner. 

He's just a burden on the rest of the family. He's an embarrassment to them. He's ashamed of how he ended up. How did he end up like this?

He's decided. He's finally going to do something right.

And he did.

They haven't seen him in a few days. 
Its been months now. 

Life's tough for everyone. Don't judge.

Don't vote

Please don't vote. Its not your responsibility.

I lied a few weeks ago on Facebook when said i haven't voted in an election since i was 18. I voted in the Presidential election 1996 as well. Here's why: i didn't take time to educate myself about the issues or the candidates. I am a little against the grain when it comes to voting. I really believe that you shouldn't vote unless you've taken time to understand who or what you're voting for. In both of the elections that i cast my ballot, i refrained from voting for most of the measures or candidates on the ballots. I didn't know what they were or what they stood for. If we continue to encourage everyone to just vote without understanding what they're voting for, we're idiots. We're abusing a system that could work wonderfully. If you don't take the time to understand what you're voting for, stay home on the first Tuesday of November. Please. You are messing it up for those who take the time to understand; you dilute the votes of those who do care.

Elections shouldn't be competitions.
Political parties aren't helping at all. They just want to win. If they could get you to promise to vote a straight political ticket and promise not to read any literature from them or the other side, they would see that as a win. I understand we're Americans and part of being an American is that we want to win. Win big. In voting or politics, i would rather be right than win. Too often, those who win aren't the ones who are right.

It's the little things... that piss me off

Three things I chose to do today that should be relaxing- 1) get my hair cut 2) eat at Whitecastle and 3) get a cup of coffee at Starbucks while I blog something witty about hispanic Jehovah's Witnesses not wanting to witness to me but asking if I knew of any hispanics in the apartment complex.

I did those three things, but each is more frustrating than I thought possible.

1) Getting a haircut is something I don't do often enough, but always enjoy when I go somewhere where my personality matches up with the one cutting my hair. Its a relationship built on making good assumptions, asking the right questions and then shutting up and cutting my hair. I won't get into personal attacks about the fidgety, spaztic woman who cut my hair while making sure to tell me and everyone else about how righteous she lives. I've learned to be specific about how I want my hair. Its not hard. "Medium Skin Fade and take about 1/2" off the top." Simple. She started cutting and coughing and grabbed a blow dryer and aimed it at my head with one hand while using the clippers with the other. Turns out that hair gives her hives. "Or maybe I'm allergic to people, I don't know. People or hair, I'm allergic to something. And I get these big scabs on my feet..." I should have stood up and walked out with my hair half cut. I would have saved myself 40 minutes.
After about 5 minutes of cutting she stopped and said, "Wait, how do you want it cut?"
I said, "Medium skin fade and take about 1/2" off the top."
Her: Do you know what that means?
Me (blood pressure): Yeah. Skin about half-way up, then fade it the rest of the way up.
Her: Ok. Most people say things like that but have no idea what they're asking for. I just wanted to make sure.

She then proceeded to give me a High and Tight. Not once did she turn me toward the mirror to look at it. When she finally finished she said, "Is that better?" I said, "I hope so, but I'll tell you when I turn around and see it." She looked confused. I saw what she had done, paid her and left.

2) I left the barber shop that I won't return to and drove a block or two down the street to White Castle. I was in the mood for something greasy and bad for me. I had never actually been inside White Castle before. Its nothing to write to mom about. Fortunately I was able to support them on what I can only assume is their "Brainless Americans Can Cook Hamburgers Day". Too many details. 20 minutes to get 4 small burgers. I was literally shaking with frustration.

3) thank goodness Starbucks is right across the street. 98% of the time I order a drink from Starbucks I say the exact same thing: "Grande Drip. (room for cream?) No thank you. (have a nice day) Thank you, you too." But no. Not today. Today... i can't even think of a way to convey the interaction with the nice young lady behind the counter. Obviously she will start her training next week. I'll start where it went wrong:

I walked up to the counter.
She welcomed me like all good Starbuckians do. She asked what she can get started for me.

Me: Grande Drip
She stares at the computer and pushes buttons.
Her: I don't really know how to ring that up.
Blood runs from my ears.
Her: Um. you want a triple shot iced what?
Me: No. I just want a grande drip coffee.
Her: Ohhh. OK. Sorry. Wait- what do you want?
Me (motioning politely to the coffee makers 4 feet from me): Just a Grande brewed coffee.
Her (looking at me like I just changed my order and asked for a pulled pork sandwich): Oh- well thats a lot easier to ring up. Do you want room for cream?
Me: Nope :) just the coffee

I know I may have a little bit of a pet peeve about poor service or people not knowing their job or something. But- WOW!- I am surprised about the amount of frustration I have felt over all of this.

I should take a moment to look on the bright side:
- I don't have any more gray hair.
- My head has never been smoother on the sides (she asked at one point if I wanted her to shave it with the straight razor)
- I found out that eating a White Castle makes me feel dirty- a lesson I won't have to re-learn.
- I know without a doubt that the closest Kingdom Hall is not interested in my soul. Seriously- what if I went door to door asking which houses the white people lived in?!?!?
- I was able to provide a training oportunity to someone who is new at Starbucks.
- And right now my wife is saying, "I would love to have the opportunity to have bad service at Starbucks and then sit there and blog about it." I love you Janey.

Sunday Notes

Notes I took at church on Sunday. There were thoughts that happened before that formed each of these notes, but these notes are the ones that got to the paper.

Emotions during worship?
- There's no standard for emotional involvement during worship (no baseline of how a person should show emotions)
- BUT- worship is between you and the Spirit of God.
- You have to open up somehow to the Spirit. Something has to give.
- Be a little raw
- Let the Spirit move you (is that a song?)
- Just because some people raise their hands/ cry/ or are very active in worship doesn't mean they're being fake
- and some may be faking it
- understand this: If you're noticing them and wondering about their worship- whether its real or fake- you're missing it. You're not worshipping at all. You're wasting your time judging others
- Worship is between you and God; and ONLY between you and God.
- Knowing that its just between you and God- Get over yourself. Reveal (unveil?) your soul to God as he's revealed himself to you.

Define: Worship
How does God receive our worship?
What are the different ways to worship?
How does our environment affect how we worship?
How do our circumstances affect how we worship?
How do our circumstances affect our somberness or energy level as we worship?
Why do new/ young Christians embarress us when they show their worship loudly and/ or energetically?

Now- onto the notes from the sermon?

Would seeing God make a difference to your faith or belief?
- Momentarily- yes.
- Long term? Probably not.
We're unfaithful to ones we love. We see these people here on earth.
- We're still selfish beings.
- we're no different than the Israelites or anyone who saw Jesus face to face.
- We still doubt. we still forget. We still turn to ourselves eventually.
John 20:29- Jesus to Thomas: B/c you have seen me you've believed... Blesses are those who have not seen and still believe.

Why Faith is important:
- Hebrews 11:1,6 "Faith is... No one can please God without faith"

If belief in God is such a big deal- why doesn't God make himself more obvious?
Job 1:9

The goal of the gospel message is not belief- it is the transformation of the soul (James 2:19- even the demons believe in God)
This thought/ fact accounts for the unchanging nature of humanness- the unchanging human nature.

2000 Years of smart people arguing for and against the existence of God. He doesn't want to be argued into existence. Job 29:13-14- You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart.

Unchanging Human Nature:
- We react the same way Adam and Eve did (Have we evolved? Has human nature changed?)
- We are the same. Human Nature is the same.
Human Nature hasn't changedat all.
- We're Selfish
- We doubt
- We forget about God

Job's Faith:

Job 19:25-27 (New International Version)

25 I know that my Redeemer [a] lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. [b]
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

Phil 2:3-8
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit. Don't be concerned about your own interests...

What if instead of trying to see God- we start trying to let people see God through us?
What if instead of prayers for ourslves, we prayed for others' well-being?
What is instead of working for our own good, we worked for the well-being of others?

Why don't people want to believe???

-It requires a change in your lifestyle?
- I'll have to swallow my own pride- Ps 10:4

Lego Mania

So I discovered that 4H sponsors programs in more than livestock. Here are pictures of the Lego displays sponsored by the Lebanon, Indiana 4H club.

This one is called "The Black and Yellow Intelligence Command"


The Responsibility of the Survivor

Because I'm a guy and I don't talk about girly things like emotions, dresses, and musicals, I've been confused about my feelings on Veteran's and Memorial Days.

On Veteran's Day, I call and thank my Dad for his service during the Vietnam era. I think about my Grandfather during WWII and the Korean War (conflict). I send Facebook messages and emails to my friends still serving. But I don't want people to tell me thanks. I did it because I wanted to. But I appreciate it when they say it. But Memorial Day is different.

Today I decided that although I'm not sure if it's a job or a curse, its definitely a responsibility. As someone who survived, my responsibility is to remember. Remember and read their names. Some guys are adrenaline junkies, but on Memorial Day, I find that I turn into an Emotion Junkie. I need to remember those who can't hear me say thanks. I want to remember the feeling when I heard of their death; the pain that I imagine their family must have felt and still feels. I am truly thankful for their willingness to go, to get on the plane, to wake up when it's 97 degrees and know that its the coolest the day will be, to leave the gate with "weapons red", and to do it again the next day.

To tear at my emotional scabs and make them feel again, I left work today at 10:30 and went to our city's Veteran's Memorial. I was happy to arrive and see that I would be walking through it mostly alone. They (someone) had placed flags all around it and the central flags were at half-staff. I walked around and stopped at each of the monuments for each war and read the names of each of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, or Coast Guardsmen that had died during that war. When I arrived at the last one, the Afghanistan/ Iraq monument, I read them all out loud. On a cloudy, windy day in Oregon, I stood alone at a monument and read aloud the names of the ones from here who can't hear me say thanks. It's all I could do to honor their memories and sacrifice. It was all I could do to see my way back to my truck through my tears. I'm sure it was my allergies.

That's why I fly my flag and read their names. For them. The ones who can't hear me say "Thank You".

The Baseball Bat

At some point in every man's life, if he lives long enough, he is hit with a baseball bat. Figuratively. Sometimes literally, but that's a different topic.

I'm still not sure what to call this bat. It could be 'getting old' or 'going bald' or 'reality' or... well, you'll see what I'm talking about.

There are three ways that men deal with this baseball bat.
1) Ignore it. "Nah. That wasn't a baseball bat that just hit me." Reacting this way doesn't make it hurt any less. It just guarantees they'll get hit again. And again. And again. Until they finally accept the fact they were just hit. Then the hits stop.
2) Over react (Google "Define: Midlife crisis").
3) Accept it. "Ouch! What the...? Why did I have to get hit with a baseball bat? Man! that hurts!" And then you move on.

Different ways I've been hit with the bat:
A- Me: "Hmmm. My pants are too tight. Musta dried them too long."
B- Me: "Ouch. My back hurts ... again. What did I do yesterday? Oh. Nothing."
C- Me: "Not really. I just want to go to sleep tonight."
D- Wife: "Hey, you know I was serious about your hair thinning out up there, right?"
E- Barber: "I can only do so much with what I have to work with."
F- Work Associate 15 years older than I: "James is too young to know about things like that. He's not old like us."
G- My kids: "Dad. You're Old."
H- Me to my wife: "Yeah, we were dating then, but we're more than twice as old as we were then."
I- Me: "When did looking at my ear hair become part of personal grooming?!?"

I guess in reality, I've been living the #1 reaction from above until the last two days. During the last 24 hour, examples D, E, F, and H all happened to me. And then, finally, I said, "Wow, that was a baseball bat that hit me."

The advantage for people who don't dive headfirst into an early midlife crisis is that we get to stay married, don't incur new debt for a car, and get to (and this is the most important) grow up. I know what you may be thinking, "Seth, you're 35, you have 4 kids, spent 10 years in the Army and have a career with a little bit of responsibility. Of course you're grown up." or may you're thinking, "Well, it's about time!" Either way the truth is that the way I see myself is never the way others see me. I look in the mirror and I still see the 17 year old captain of the wrestling team. I don't think anyone else has seen that when they look at me for the last 18 years.

I realized when I was whining about the fact that I don't want to have the beginnings of a bald spot that I'm not 17 anymore. Shocker, I know. But realizing that my body is getting a little... a lot older also frees me to finally see myself as something other than a kid. When you see yourself as a kid, you act like a kid. When you see yourself as a man, you act like a man.

So, because of that, I welcome the receding hairline, the very slight-only-my-wife-knows-its-there bald spot, the extra weight around my waist, and the hair where it wasn't before. Don't get me wrong. I have a razor and know how to use it. I'm not accepting the physical changes without a fight. But I am accepting the facts. I accept that I'm a man and am free to act as such.

Oh. one more thing. The grey hair. I accept that too. Begrudgingly.