Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Personality Tests

I'm not a huge fan of personality tests. I find them interesting, but have never believed a set of multiple-choice questions could completely sum up a person's whole personality. I still feel that way.

But today I was introduced to a personality test that ended in the most accurate description of who I am, how I feel about things and why I do things the way I do them. So, if you have ever wondered who I am, why I do what I do and how I feel about things, just read that description.

Now, remember, it doesn't necessarily describe every facet of who I am with 100% accuracy, but it's pretty close!

And feel free to take the test and share what you find out about yourself!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Getting Creative - Porch Swing

Easter weekend turned out to be a long weekend for me because I was given an unexpected day off for Good Friday. It also turned out to be a productive weekend because Katie and I decided to use the extra free time to finally get some furniture on our porch.

Well, we didn't go out and get furniture, we made it! The swing you see above is what we spent much of our weekend on and it has turned out to be a great time investment already. Katie and I were inspired by this swing, then tweaked it a bit to come up with our design. We already had a lot of the wood laying around our house, so we were able to keep costs low. We were given an old crib mattress by a friend and that determined our size.

The reason I say it has turned out to be a good time investment is because just this morning Katie was able to spend some high-quality time with our kids on the swing, just cuddling and talking. That makes it all worth it!

I'm starting to realize that projects like this are always fun for me, but even more fun when the end product gets used and loved by my family or others who visit our home. So, it really all comes down to relationships because if I spend time making something that nobody ever benefits from, I've simply taken time away from others to work on a project. But when that product blesses somebody else or enhances our time together, then it's well worth the time!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Filtering My "Loud" Life

I've been known to be a bit passive aggressive at times.

I think it's because I dread conflict, but I also sometimes have some strong opinions and like to be heard. So, typing something on a blog or posting on Facebook suits me.

And that's unfortunate because I just read this today:

And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. - 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12

The part that really hit me in those verses was "make it your ambition to lead a quite life."

Most people who know me probably wouldn't describe me as loud or outspoken or even outgoing. I'm pretty reserved. There is something inside of me, however, that likes to get people stirred up by writing or saying something that borders on being controversial or argumentative.

For example, last week I posted on Facebook, "Do you think Jesus cares what we wear to church on Easter Sunday?" My purposes were partly genuine and well-meaning, but there was also part of me that wanted to rile some people up.

Why do I do that?

I'm not sure, but now that I see it I don't like it.

Another thing I wrote last week in this post came close to accusing my family and friends of doing something wrong when, in fact, they were being exactly what I wanted them to be - loving and supportive.

I wish I hadn't done that.

But I did, so now I find myself sitting here wrestling with my intentions, my motivation and my true desires. Do I want to show people love? Do I really want to serve others? Or do I want them to acknowledge me? Maybe I just want the attention.

Only I can know what my true intentions are, so now I will stop writing about it and spend some time being quite. I will search my own heart for any selfish, impure or evil motives.

Thanks for reading what I write. Please don't stop. I will try hard to filter my intentions before I put anything up for public consumption.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My (Christian) American Dream

My house, circa 1916.
To the right is my American Dream.

It's the house I own and live in. This picture was taken almost 100 years ago. The house was built by my wife's great grandfather and handed down to his son and then to us.

Most people don't get houses just handed down to them. Most people, like us, would be ecstatic to receive a free 5-bedroom house with a 2-car garage and full basement.

Then again, most people in the world have never dreamed of living in a house of that size. Most people in the world have never dreamed of owning their own house or having their own bedroom. And a 2-car garage? That's like having a house for you car (both of them) so that's obviously beyond comprehension for most people in the world.

But here in America, most people probably wouldn't think our house is all that great. After all, it is nearly 100 years old. It needs new siding. The front steps are kind of crumbly. The gutters have gone from bright white to a grayish color over the years. Well, how about I show you what it looks like now?
My house today.

So there you go. Nothing special right? Yeah, it's pretty big and it's got some nice features but, compared to many houses in America - or in my own neighborhood, for that matter - it's pretty average.

At the beginning of this post I called this house my American Dream. That's because in a country and society where (nearly) everybody has a place to live and plenty of food to eat, our dreams can become rather extravagant.

I titled this post My (Christian) American Dream because even though I know what I have is a blessing from God, and not something I've earned or deserve, I still find myself dreaming of bigger and better things. Not too big, of course, or it might look bad. I might appear to be materialistic, even worldly.

So, no, I don't want a bigger house or a fancier house. I do, however, find myself longing to fix up my house to make it nicer. I want my family to be more comfortable in our home. I want to like what I see when I look at my house.

But why?

What makes me crave those things?

Why in the world do I think comfort is something I should strive after?

I've spent many, many hours and borrowed money to remodel most of the insides of my house. I BORROWED money to make my house look better and feel more comfortable!

And nobody said a word.

I never gave it a second thought. My family never offered any objection. My friends all delighted in the progress we made and the changes they saw taking place.

Now, before I go farther, I have to admit that remodeling work is something I thoroughly enjoy doing and would do just for the enjoyment of it, much like many people play golf or collect things. It's a hobby of mine. But, the bigger picture of my efforts was not about a hobby. It was about my (Christian) American Dream.

My (Christian) American Dream includes fixing up the rest of the rooms in our house, saving up to get myself a reliable car whenever mine breaks down, giving my kids gifts that will make them happy, going out to eat on occasion, figuring out how to put my kids through college and maybe even set some money aside to retire on someday.

Most probably think that's a pretty humble, down-to-earth set of goals. But that's just it. It's completely down-to-earth. It's so focused on the present and the short-term future that I forget about eternity.

There's not a line in my (Christian) American Dream budget for giving generously to those in need, or buying clothes for homeless people, or helping someone get the education they want. There's no time in my day to spend telling people about Jesus and how He changed my life and can change theirs too. There's no flexibility in my schedule to go help someone fix their gutters or move into a new home.

My life is so consumed by my humble, down-to-earth dreams that I can't even see the eternal things that happen every day.

I'm sick of it. I'm disgusted by it.

Let me make something clear: I am not against America. It is an amazing country and it's an incredible blessing to live here and enjoy the freedom that most of the world can only dream of. I am also not against the wealthy people in this country. I believe God blesses people in different ways and with different amounts, so I don't judge anyone for the money they have or will have someday.

Here's what I want to start standing against: Pride, selfishness, the pursuit of comfort, worrying about what other people think of me, apathy, short-term thinking, holding onto stuff that is not eternal.

What do you stand for/against?