Late for Work

I was late for work this morning with a new and unusual excuse. First, let me setup the scenario.

It’s a little stressful around the house right now. Last Tuesday we received nearly 10 inches of rain in about 5 hours. I woke up that morning to find an inch of water in the study. Fortunately, the floor isn’t completely level and the computer gear was on a tiny island. Unfortunately, the closet absorbed a lot of water and all the boxes on the floor. And we’re sure the walls have absorbed water and will have to be replaced.

There was eighteen inches of water in the garage. Shop vac, camping stove, other minor stuff was ruined, but the water was high enough to cover the floorboards of both cars.

So I’ve been talking to the insurance company a lot this week. Homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, townhome group insurance, and two separate auto insurance claims come into play. Last night, a remedial company drilled holes in the water and sprayed anit-mold chemicals and set up two noisy air dryers. The house is noisy and smells funny.

I dropped my car off last week to be repaired; my wife’s car is still pending because the rental car company only seems to make a car available for an hour before saying “oops, sorry, it’s rented already.” And I’m driving a smelly, beatup rental car that reinforces my believe that Enterprise Rent a Car supplies only trashy vehicles.

On top of that, I’m working 65 hours a week, trying to hit an important, expensive deadline.

So this morning, I’m up a little early. I’m going to de-stress and pick up a latte on the way to work and count it as my protein for the morning. And I chill, relaxing in the car, listening to AM 700 talk radio.

After a while, I glance at the clock. It’s 7:00 on the nose.

After a while longer, I glance at the clock. It’s still 7:00 on the nose.

And I realize it’s not 7:00am. It’s 700AM. What I thought was a digital clock was actually the radio station readout. It’s likely to be 700AM all morning.

And that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

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Bits and Pieces

The news isn’t interesting yet again today. Republicans admire the Democrat’s desire to surrender. I don’t disagree that the Iraq war must end eventually, I just don’t think Congress should be dictating it. But I’m alone on that point, I think. Tammy Faye Bakker is preparing to die, but aren’t we all. I don’t spend a lot of time reading about her, but what little I know, she didn’t do much to improve the image of Christians. The Pope gives a warning to Catholic politicians. Good; pro-abortion catholic politicians are hypocrites.

Personal stories? Fresh out of them at the moment. I work all day, go to the gym, get home late for dinner, then go to bed. Rinse, repeat. I’m teaching bible class this Sunday, so I’m not likely to have any personal stories this week.

Christian Carnival should be posted soon, if not already. Let me go look for it… Nope, not yet. It’ll be posted at Light Along the Journey this week, but it’s not up yet.

I’m enjoying the built-in RSS reader in IE7, so I haven’t used Shapreader or Bloglines in a while. Hard to make a story out of that, but I suppose geeky tech writers, poor souls, have to write 1000 word essays on stuff like that so other geeky tech people can read about it. I don’t know many people like that, and trying to explains what RSS is to most of my friends would be like speaking French to a cat. But it has a great advantage; you can see if a website like this has been updated without ever visiting the site. Saves a bunch of time on clicking and loading web pages.

Um…. what else…. oh, Starbucks has a new sugar-free syrup to go with the vanilla and the cinnamon dolce; now they have sugar free caramel. I still like the vanilla best. And it has to be sugar-free, those full-fat, full-sugarlatte’s have like 6000 calories in them, enough for a small African village. I’m still losing weight, but I’m not sure when I’ll stop. Some friends the other night told me I looked “gaunt” so I suppose I’m almost through. It’s taken over two years, but I’ve lost 60 lbs. Another 10 lbs to go, maybe. The last 10 lbs, the hardest, were suddenly made easier when I signed up for Nutrisystem, so I’m going to recommend that program. Easy, almost never hungry. Email me if you want a coupon and we’ll both save $30.

What’s going on in your life?

Inviting the Illegal Aliens

At Sand in the Gears, Tony first opined that enforcing immigration laws is not a Christian thing to do. After taking some heat for that statement, he addressed their comments and challenged Christians to rethink their position on illegal immigration. On his latter post I took the position that although I agreed with his sentiment, I disagreed with his conclusion.

Christians have a fundamental calling, and that is to find our lost brothers and sisters. We will not conquer this world for Jesus, and frankly, he doesn’t need our help. We will not stop gay marriage and institute a God-approved (the Republican version, of course) tax rate. We will not keep people from philandering, gambling, masturbating, and wearing clothes that fit too tight, and if you think Christ wants you to fix these problems, then you are dreadfully, soul-shakingly mistaken.

“Tend my lambs.” Not “stop people from being naughty.” No “get the government off the back of the small businessman.” Not a hint of “protect gun rights and the death penalty.”

And certainly not “keep out the immigrants.”

Tony’s chief concern seems to be – and I don’t mean to put words in his mouth, so go read him for yourself – that the illegal immigration problem is not clearly a Christian problem, so Christ should not be invoked when taking a position on the issue. Instead, Christ was far more likely to tend to the aliens needs than close the gates and keep the aliens out.

Can’t argue with that logic, yet I still think our borders ought to be better patrolled, for many reasons: safety, overloading our healthcare systems, loss of jobs, etc. I think it’s because if we as a society give free welfare to illegal immigrants, it a) does nothing to share the gospel of Christ to those that are breaking the law, and b) denies the individual the ability to determine how his funds are to be spent on the needy.

What do you think?

Old Age is a Gift

I stumbled across this is my studies this morning. The author is unknown, or at least I wasn’t able to track him or her down.

“The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know.

Old age, I decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body .. the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken back by that old person that lives in my mirror, but I don’t agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend. I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need, but looks so avantegarde my patio. I am entitled to overeat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 a.m, and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60’s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love … I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the bikini set.

They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten … and I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. I can say “no”, and mean it. I can say “yes”, and mean it.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day.”

Blogger Interview

One of the blogs I’ve just started reading is Amy’s Humble Musings, winner of the 2005 Best New Evangelical Blog. I stumbled across it at just the right moment; she’s starting a Interview Game as part of a “Blog-a-thon” at Buried Treasure Books to raise money for an Ethiopian orphan named Azanou who needs eye surgery.

Whew. No wonder she’s winning Evangelical awards. Anyway, here are the interview questions she’s asked me:

1. Favorite book?

My favorite Christian book has to be the one I’m reading at the moment, Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. I’m on Chapter 37, “Sharing Your Life Message.” My favorite book for casual reading is Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth.

2. If you were a fly on the wall, who’s house would you like to be in?

George W. Bush’s, assuming the White House uses inferior pesticide. I’d love to see how a man of faith faces the serious issues of the Presidential office.

3. How do you drink your coffee?

The more disguised, the better. Even though I drink coffee almost every day, I dislike black coffee. My current favorite is a low-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte.

4. Link us up to your favorite post.

I have to assume she’s asking about my favorite of my own posts, as opposed to somebody else’s. That’s got to be “Patch and the Blustery Day,” one of my first posts.

5. Tell us about your family.

She’s managed to nail the one question I’ve skirted since I first started blogging. For most of my adult life, I’ve been a single father, raising a son since he was four. Alex is now 19 and currently a freshman at college studying Criminal Justice and recently joined the Army Reserves. I remarried nine years ago, divorced, then became a Christian. There’s more to this story, but it’s not quite ready to be revealed. I have a testimony to give to my church Sunday regarding this, and I promise to spill the beans after that. You’ll have to come back. 😛

Now, here are the rules for this Christian Blog-a-thon. I’ll offer to interview the next three people to respond to this post that will follow these rules:

1. Leave me (Michael) a comment saying “interview me.”
2. I will respond by asking you five questions here on Chasing the Wind. They will be different questions than the ones above.
3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

I have a bible study tonight that will keep me out late, but I’ll try to get the interview questions posted as soon as I can.

Belief-O-Matic

I saw this at rachel’s a few weeks ago and just now got around to answering the quiz. All that overtime is making my todo list pileup. 😛

Warning: Belief-O-Maticâ„¢ assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul.

Take a short quiz at the Belief-O-Matic, and it will rate your beliefs against all the world’s religions (or lack of religions) and tells you which religions most closely reflects your beliefs. Mine’s not a surprise to me:

  1. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (100%)
  2. Eastern Orthodox (91%)
  3. Roman Catholic (91%)
  4. Orthodox Judaism (89%)
  5. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (84%)

I have the least in common with Taoism and Secular Humanism.

What are your beliefs?

Once you’re done, you can check to see how unshakeable that faith is. On a scale of 25 to 100, I scored an 86, “Confident Believer – You have little doubt you’ve found the right path.” Once you get to 90, you’re a candidate for clergy, so I’m not surprised I fell short. 😛

Zell Miller, Patriotic Democrat

Zell Miller gave a rousing patriotic speech last night to explain why he’s switching party lines to vote for George Bush. His heart and mind is his conscience, and he’s proudly stated something that’s important to me.

I am not necessarily a Republican. I don’t hold certain ideals because Republicans tell me to; I am a Republican because they hold my ideals. I’ll abandon my party, too, if they abandon me. And the Democrats have abandoned Zell.

I was going to post only excerpts, but the speech is so well done and captures the essence of patriotism, I’m going to list the entire speech here:

Since I last stood in this spot, a whole new generation of the Miller Family has been born: Four great grandchildren. Along with all the other members of our close-knit family, they are my and Shirley’s most precious possessions.

And I know that’s how you feel about your family also. Like you, I think of their future, the promises and the perils they will face. Like you, I believe that the next four years will determine what kind of world they will grow up in. And like you, I ask which leader is it today that has the vision, the willpower and, yes, the backbone to best protect my family?

The clear answer to that question has placed me in this hall with you tonight. For my family is more important than my party. There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust their future and that man’s name is George Bush.

In the summer of 1940, I was an 8-year-old boy living in a remote little Appalachian valley. Our country was not yet at war, but even we children knew that there were some crazy men across the ocean who would kill us if they could.

President Roosevelt, in his speech that summer, told America “all private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger.” In 1940, Wendell Wilkie was the Republican nominee.

And there is no better example of someone repealing their “private plans” than this good man. He gave Roosevelt the critical support he needed for a peacetime draft, an unpopular idea at the time. And he made it clear that he would rather lose the election than make national security a partisan campaign issue.

Shortly before Wilkie died, he told a friend, that if he could write his own epitaph and had to choose between “here lies a president” or “here lies one who contributed to saving freedom,” he would prefer the latter.

Where are such statesmen today? Where is the bipartisanship in this country when we need it most? Now, while young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrat’s manic obsession to bring down our Commander in Chief.

What has happened to the party I’ve spent my life working in? I can remember when Democrats believed that it was the duty of America to fight for freedom over tyranny.

It was Democratic President Harry Truman who pushed the Red Army out of Iran, who came to the aid of Greece when Communists threatened to overthrow it, who stared down the Soviet blockade of West Berlin by flying in supplies and saving the city.

Time after time in our history, in the face of great danger, Democrats and Republicans worked together to ensure that freedom would not falter. But not today. Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today’s Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator.

And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.

Tell that to the one-half of Europe that was freed because Franklin Roosevelt led an army of liberators, not occupiers.

Tell that to the lower half of the Korean Peninsula that is free because Dwight Eisenhower commanded an army of liberators, not occupiers.

Tell that to the half a billion men, women and children who are free today from the Baltics to the Crimea, from Poland to Siberia, because Ronald Reagan rebuilt a military of liberators, not occupiers.

Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don’t just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home.

For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.

No one should dare to even think about being the Commander in Chief of this country if he doesn’t believe with all his heart that our soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home.

But don’t waste your breath telling that to the leaders of my party today. In their warped way of thinking America is the problem, not the solution. They don’t believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself through our clumsy and misguided foreign policy.

It is not their patriotism — it is their judgment that has been so sorely lacking. They claimed Carter’s pacifism would lead to peace. They were wrong.

They claimed Reagan’s defense buildup would lead to war. They were wrong.

And, no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. Together, Kennedy/Kerry have opposed the very weapons system that won the Cold War and that is now winning the War on Terror.

Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts.

The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40 percent of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein’s command post in Iraq.

The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Khadifi’s Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora.

The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War. The F-15 Eagles, that Senator Kerry opposed, flew cover over our Nation’s Capital and this very city after 9/11.

I could go on and on and on: against the Patriot Missile that shot down Saddam Hussein’s scud missiles over Israel; against the Aegis air-defense cruiser; against the Strategic Defense Initiative; against the Trident missile; against, against, against.

This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?

Twenty years of votes can tell you much more about a man than twenty weeks of campaign rhetoric. Campaign talk tells people who you want them to think you are. How you vote tells people who you really are deep inside.

Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations. Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending.

I want Bush to decide.

John Kerry, who says he doesn’t like outsourcing, wants to outsource our national security. That’s the most dangerous outsourcing of all. This politician wants to be leader of the free world.

Free for how long?

For more than 20 years, on every one of the great issues of freedom and security, John Kerry has been more wrong, more weak and more wobbly than any other national figure.

As a war protester, Kerry blamed our military.

As a Senator, he voted to weaken our military. And nothing shows that more sadly and more clearly than his vote this year to deny protective armor for our troops in harms way, far away.

George Bush understands that we need new strategies to meet new threats.

John Kerry wants to re-fight yesterday’s war. George Bush believes we have to fight today’s war and be ready for tomorrow’s challenges. George Bush is committed to providing the kind of forces it takes to root out terrorists.

No matter what spider hole they may hide in or what rock they crawl under. George Bush wants to grab terrorists by the throat and not let them go to get a better grip.

From John Kerry, they get a “yes-no-maybe” bowl of mush that can only encourage our enemies and confuse our friends.

I first got to know George Bush when we served as governors together. I admire this man. I am moved by the respect he shows the first lady, his unabashed love for his parents and his daughters, and the fact that he is unashamed of his belief that God is not indifferent to America.

I can identify with someone who has lived that line in “Amazing Grace,” “Was blind, but now I see,” and I like the fact that he’s the same man on Saturday night that he is on Sunday morning.

He is not a slick talker but he is a straight shooter and, where I come from, deeds mean a lot more than words.

I have knocked on the door of this man’s soul and found someone home, a God-fearing man with a good heart and a spine of tempered steel.

The man I trust to protect my most precious possession: my family.

This election will change forever the course of history, and that’s not any history. It’s our family’s history.

The only question is how. The answer lies with each of us. And, like many generations before us, we’ve got some hard choosing to do.

Right now the world just cannot afford an indecisive America. Fainthearted self-indulgence will put at risk all we care about in this world.

In this hour of danger our President has had the courage to stand up. And this Democrat is proud to stand up with him.

Thank you. God Bless this great country and God Bless George W. Bush.