Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Inter-service Rivalry

In 1994 I was sent to Fort Huachuca in the High Desert of Arizona for some Army training. The post was also home to schools for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. One could see a stark difference between the services by observing the morning routine.

We Army soldiers came outside for calisthenics and running at 6:00 am. By that time, the Marines were already done with their exercises and were starting their 3-mile run.

About 20-30 minutes later when we were headed out for our 2-mile run, the Air Force people were just coming out of their building.

By the time we finished our run, the Air Force folks were already done with their exercising and running and were crowded around the center of the courtyard talking loudly amongst themselves in several groups.

This was when the people in the Navy quarters made their appearance. They threw open their windows and yelled out, "Hey! Keep it down out there! We're trying to sleep!"

Friday, April 24, 2009

Chris Brogan Is Shaving His Head for Charity

This reminds me of my time in the Army. Often, when we wanted to raise money for a good cause the unit commander would volunteer to let whoever donated the most money for the cause shave his head. Well known blogger and online marketing expert Chris Brogan is offering to shave his head, live online, for Giving Kids Laptops. You can read about it here:

Please consider supporting this worthy cause. Even if you don't know who Chris is, the money will be put to good use. Here's the tally (you can also click the box and donate):

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Know, Don't Delete Anything

I know it's not a good idea to delete blog postings. They never really disappear anyway. But, I did delete my latest two blogs about Governor Rick Perry, the first of which endorsed his support of Texas House Concurrent Resolution 50 and the second which mentioned his comments about some Texans who may want to secede from the United States.

I may have posted those in haste. Although I think it's high time people started to debate the Federal Government overstepping its Constitutional boundaries, I find the discussion has centered around the old Republican versus Democrat battle. The vitriol has gotten way out of hand, too.

Folks, our current problems are truly "bipartisan." The underlying issues have little to do with party - they stem from long ago and did not all-of-the-sudden start with the latest Congress, nor with President Obama. They did not even start with the last President - but rather long before.

After some consideration, I decided to delete those posts. I wish to ponder on some ideas further and present a more thorough discussion. This discussion, I hope, will stimulate some true debate rather than the simple "us versus them" rants I'm hearing now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Led Zeppelin and the Book of Hosea

The other day as I was working "Hey Hey What Can I Do" by Led Zeppelin came on my MP3 player. As the song played, the lyrics struck me as kind of a parallel of the story of Hosea in the Old Testament.

In the story, Hosea marries a prostitute as a symbol of ancient Israel's rebellion against the laws of God. In the short story, in chapter 3, God tells Hosea to find his wife and bring her home despite her love for adultery.

The Led Zeppelin song tells the story of a man who goes through the town looking for his love who stays in bars and strays with other men. I can imagine Hosea thinking similarly as he looked for his wife, Gomer, in the streets and bars of his day.

In the end, the man in "Hey Hey What Can I Do" packs his bags and moves on. Hosea, however, does not give up on Gomer. This is an illustration that God does not give up on us even when we stray.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Let's Be Friends Award

Donna, who does the Fantasy Dreamer's Blog, has given me the honor of listing me as a recipient of her "Let's Be Friends" award. I appreciate this award very much.

Here is the story behind the award: "The Let's be Friends Awards stands for this: These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers."

I've been wracking my brains all weekend to think of 8 friends who actively blog. Unfortunately, other than Donna, I can only come up with four:

The first three blogs are done by ladies I know from work. They work in marketing and have just started blogging. I salute them for this and I hope this award goes towards encouraging to share their knowledge and experience with the rest of us:
The last blogger is a friend from way back. I've mentioned him in this space before, but he's certainly worth mentioning again. Scott Topping is the author of the Ugly Scott blog. Scott is a talented writer with a very unique perspective on things. He's also uproariously funny, often even when he's being serious. He's also a great friend who has shown me many kindnesses throughout the years.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friend Walking in Breast Cancer 3-Day

A friend, Rose, whom I know from my days in the Army is walking in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, which benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund. It's a 60-mile walk over the course of 3 days. Quite an ambitious effort, and one well worth supporting.

Please consider supporting Rose in her quest to raise $2500. Even a small donation helps. Donation information can be found here on Rose's Donation Page. There you will find information about how to donate online, by phone or by mail.

For more information about the Breast Cancer 3-Day, Susan G. Komen for the Cure or the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund, visit or call 800.996.3DAY.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Not A Christian Nation

President Obama participated in a press conference in Turkey on April 6th where he declared that the U.S. Is not a "Christian nation, nor a Muslim nation nor a Jewish nation, but we are a nation of citizens. Here is the quote from the Chicago Sun-Times web site:
That's something that's very important to me. And I've said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is -- although as I mentioned, we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.
Christian pundits went into an uproar. I heard many people call in to radio talk shows declaring that the United States is a Christian nation because it was founded by Bible-believing Christians under Judeo-Christian values.

Those people only have it partially right, though. Yes, most of the founders of our nation were Bible-believing Christians. Yes, the country was founded under Judeo-Christian values. However, the United States is not a Christian nation and it hasn't been for quite a few years.

It's too late to convince people this is still a Christian nation - the time for that is past. The U.S. is a secular nation whether we like it or not.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

What's Up With Dave Ramsey?

After I blogged about Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope a few days ago, quite a few folks have asked about Dave and what he's all about.

How I Got Started - The Total Money Makeover
As I mentioned in that post, I was introduced to Dave's book "The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness" (TMMO) just before Christmas. My friend, Jim, caught Dave on Fox News Business and on the radio and was intrigued enough by what he heard that he bought and read the book. As Jim described to me the six "baby steps" outlined in the book and I read some of the stories by real people, I realized this is what I needed to get my financial house back in order.

A Short History
My wife and I married with some financial baggage left over from our previous lives. She made some bad financial decisions and declared bankruptcy a few years prior. I made some terrible financial decisions with my ex-wife and on my own and had a mountain of debt. I seriously considered declaring bankruptcy myself on more than one occasion.

Shortly after our wedding I was able to settle a fairly large amount of old credit card debt and I paid off a few things. There were still a few financial things hanging over my head, but, as a couple, we were treading water fairly well. We even purchased a new truck and motorcycle because we could "afford the payments." We thought all was going well until I received a rather unpleasant surprise: a call from a collection agency which informed me of a credit card I forgot about after my divorce.

This really woke us up to reality: We were fooling ourselves and living paycheck to paycheck. I knew we needed to do something to get things back on track, and as I spoke with my wife about it she agreed. But, what to do? We didn't know where to start. That's where Dave's book came in.

Our Road to Financial Peace
I ordered the book when I got home after Jim showed it to me. When it arrived, my wife and I sat down and started reading. As we read it, I realized there wasn't a lot in there I didn't already know. The things he teaches are things my mom taught me years ago. But, because I thought I knew better I went against those things and got myself in a mess. TMMO helped us formulate a plan to get ourselves back on track, out of debt, and into financial fitness.

Keep in mind - TMMO is not a "get-rich-quick" scheme. Neither is it a proven way to make more money so you can be rich without working, and it's not affiliate marketing nor MLM. It is a way of changing your attitude about money, learning how it works and how you can control it and use it properly.

Getting out of debt is the biggest part - and the part which takes the most work. We're in the middle of our Debt Snowball, which is step 2 in Dave's 6-step program. After totalling up our debt and starting to pay off those debts one at a time from smallest to largest, we have managed to knock off almost half of our total debt load in almost four months. I can't describe how liberating this is - you really have to experience it for yourselves. It hasn't been easy and we've had to tell ourselves "no" on many things. I can, however, honestly tell you it's worth it. If you are living paycheck to paycheck - or worse finding you have more month than money - I can't recommend Dave's TMMO book enough. It will change your life.

We Believe in Financial Peace
We believe in TMMO so much that we jumped at the chance to help run a Financial Peace University at our church. This is a 12-week program where a group of us meet and watch a lesson by Dave on DVD. It's TMMO, except in more detail and with more specific instruction. After 5 weeks we can already see the lives of some in our group changing for the better. We're already planning to hold another Financial Peace University later this year, this one has been so successful thus far.

Finally - The Big Picture
There's one more aspect of this I want to cover, concerning how our personal financial dealings can impact our nation. If you read some of what I've posted in this space, you've probably caught my attitude about how our government is running things. Over the past few days I've been giving this some thought and I've come to the conclusion that if we're going to change how our government does things, we individuals need to lead that change in our personal lives.

If we, as individuals, insist on living in debt and meandering around paycheck to paycheck, how is our government going to know we are serious about dealing with overspending and indebtedness at a national level? But, if we get our financial houses in order, could we not bring more pressure to bear on Washington to do the same?

You may be thinking I have it backwards. Those in Washington are supposed to be leaders, shouldn't they lead by example? Yes, they should, but they aren't. I think if we're going to change the attitude of Washington, part of the process is changing our own attitudes towards overspending and debt. I believe Dave Ramsey has a way to point us in the right direction. So, please join in on April 23rd and attend a Town Hall for Hope viewing in your area.