Wednesday, April 30, 2008

the votes are in

As you know I shaved my head before we went to Nicaragua. Thank you for participating on my poll concerning the future of my hair. The votes are in and the majority of you want the mullett.

Well, you asked for it and I will deliver. As you will notice I not only grew hair but I am showing off my "gym body". As you know, if you are a regular reader, I go to the gym.

My point: I am a man of my word. You spoke and I listened. Not only did I listen but I acted. More people need to do what they say they are going to do.

You can call me "Gary Dirt"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Do you have someone in your life that you are still mad at for hurting you? The person that continues to hurt you over and over and ... What do you do when the same person keeps hurting you.

Don't you want to hit the person in the face with a hammer or pluck the eyeballs out of their head and watch the ravens eat them or (you knew it was coming) jack them with a sock full of nickels! As much as we think we would enjoy all those things - they are wrong.

I listened to Charles Stanley this morning while at the gym (you knew I wasn't going to do a post without a gym reference) and he was saying how often times pride is the root of unforgiveness. I thought that was an interesting perspective. He went on to explain that pride tells us that we are better than the person who hurt us. We think "how could he/she do that to me" as if we are more important or that our feelings are of more value.

That made me think. I don't ever want to think of myself as more valuable than others. I force myself to think "God loves that person as much as He loves me". It may seem hard to believe but God loves us all equally. If I choose not to forgive, I am in the wrong. It is my responsibility to CHOOSE to forgive.

My point: Forgiveness is not an option. Unforgiveness eats us from the inside out. It makes us bitter and it becomes harder to deal with the longer it goes. God does not love you more than the person you are choosing not to forgive.

Even thinking about the violent options is wrong.

(I removed the first picture I had for this post, it was a little too graphic...)

Friday, April 25, 2008

I got ticked

I was talking on the phone and decided that since it was such a nice day, I would go for a walk while talking. I walked the grass line of C3 church.

I came back in (I wasn't even tired because I have been going to the gym...) and felt like there was a bug crawling on me. I pulled up my pant leg to expose the very muscular calf (did I mention I have been going to the gym?) and there it was - a tick!

I flicked the tick and Becky started complaining that
the tick will now find her head and make it a home. I said - no way, what are the chances... how about 100%. She felt something in her hair and out it fell onto the floor.

I tried to stomp it but it didn't even care. I then went into survival caveman mode and grabbed my pen (they had those back then) and began stabbing this tick. It is now dead.

My point: ticks are bloodsuckers. Don't just flick a bloodsucker - kill it

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

here's a tip

The last night we were in Nicaragua, we had the opportunity to eat at a restaurant. They were taking us to a local chicken place. It was supposed to be really good. There was only one problem. When we got to the chicken place, there was a Papa John's right next door. We rallied the American majority and began making a plea for some good ol' American pizza. We were ready for mutiny if need be... (Let's just say I was getting a sock ready to be loaded with nickels if persuasion and begging didn't work.)

Everyone was cool with pizza. We ordered and it was stinkin' awesome. There was about 18 of us so when the bill came, I was expecting it to be rather large. Pizza was a lot cheaper in Nicaragua than here in the states. I was also surprised to see that the "tip" was not automatically included since we had such a large party.

I factored in the standard 15% tip and then decided that since it was less than we originally thought we could give the waitress a little extra. We gave about 25% tip. I don't say that to brag, I say that to let you know that the waitress was brought to tears when she saw how much we left her. I guess the standard tip in Nicaragua is 10% and the hourly wages are pathetic.

I was told by our translator that the tip we gave was probably equal to about a weeks worth of her normal salary (Then I was nearly crying). It was so sad to see that the adults and the children live in such poverty. That woman worked her tail off and did a great job. She gave better service than a lot of American waitresses and to think she did it while expecting a lot less.

My point: she gave her all without expecting anything in return. Most of the time we give based on what we want out of it. We give only to get. We want something in return for our kindness. We need to give just because it is the right thing to do, not to get something back.

We made sure to tell our waitress that we were showing God's love by blessing her. Who knows, that may have been what she needed to help her develop a relationship with Christ.

What does your giving say about you. Are you generous or cheap (don't even try calling it "thrifty" or "conservative".)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

kroger gas lady

I went to get gas this morning at a place where it was still the low low price of $3.34 a gallon. Down the street it went up to $3.59 so I had to move quick.

I pulled into Kroger because with my Kroger plus card, I get 3 cents off (sound of cheers and images of confetti falling from the great unknown). I got out to put the fuel in my silver machine when I suddenly realized that I didn't have my card. What am I going to do? Now I have to pay the full $3.34 and not the discounted price of $3.31!!!

I asked the lady at the next pump, "can I scan your card?" She handed it over to me and said "sure - well wait, I only have 4 left, well who cares, go ahead." I shot back the blankest stare you have ever seen. I crossed my eyes, opened my mouth and lowered my bottom lip lower than I have ever it before. I even tried to let drool dangle but I couldn't generate enough saliva to pull that one off, then mumbled "what?"

Anyway, she went on to explain she had about 50cents off of 6 fill ups and she has 4 left. Now, I felt like an idiot. I didn't want her 50cents, I was only looking for my 3cent discount. I gave it back to her and said thank you for offering it but I couldn't do that to her. I was very impressed that she would even let me use her 50 cent savings with the prices the way they are. (no, I didn't use her card...)

My point: In a time when greed seems to far outweigh generosity, it was refreshing to see someone willing to pass the savings on to someone else - even a complete stranger. I hope I would have done the same thing. Thanks Kroger gas lady!

Greed is a trap and unquenchable addiction. Greed is never satisfied!

Greedy people should be beat down with a sock full of nickels.

Monday, April 21, 2008

not lost in translation

One of the most difficult things about being in another country was the language barrier. We had 2 Nicaraguan students assigned to our team. They were amazing. I couldn't understand one word of what they were saying but I did understand the message.

The message they were living (notice I didn't say speaking) was LOVE. They were the most humble, polite, soft spoken, serving people with the biggest hearts I have ever met. Every word they spoke was in a different language but even before it was translated into English, I felt like I had an idea what they were saying. When they spoke it was always kind, loving and encouraging. The words may not have sounded the same but the actions translated "love" in every language.

I got the opportunity to speak in a church. I obviously needed a translator. The experience was very cool. I would speak a sentence or thought then pause for the translator to say it in Spanish. It was kinda weird telling a joke (I am funny in all languages) then pausing for it to be told in a different language then waiting with anticipation to see if it translated as funny as it is in English. Needless to say - it was.

I spoke a message about being a "R.E.A.L." Christian. It was received with an open - hungry heart and we had some great prayer time at the end. Even though they didn't understand the words I was praying with them, they knew I was talking to the same God they serve and worship. VERY COOL!!!

My point: Even though we are English speaking Americans (and proud of it), we don't always speak the same language. Some speak hate, sarcasm, vulgarity and anger while others speak love and encouragement. Sometimes we need a translator to mediate. What if we all spoke the same language? In the words of Louie B Armstrong (the great Satchmo) "What a wonderful world it would be"...

God does not only understand English. Acts and words of love in any other language is not lost in translation. It is still "love".

Speak loving words and live a life of kindness. Stop being a jerk.

Friday, April 18, 2008

85 cents

At first glance of the menu, it appeared that the ice cream was very expensive in Nicaragua. I was sad until someone did the math for me. The board read 18.50 so I thought "you gotta be crazy" - then someone told me it was only .85 in American money.

That's right my friend that is a waffle cone with 2 huge scoops. It was called the JUMBO!!! In the states, I would've paid about $24 for that monster, but not in Nicaragua. I only paid .85!

I didn't even care if I could finish it. I could throw half of it away and still feel like I got a great value. I did get a stomach ache from eating that gallon of sugar topped off by a waffle cone, but it was totally worth it.

The exchange rate is about 19 to 1. For every American dollar we got 19 Nicaraguan Cordoba's. We did have to adjust to the sticker shock but once you did, you realized things were pretty cheap.

My point: everything is not always as it appears. We all get caught up in our own paradigm. We have to willing to step outside of our own world sometimes if we want to get different experiences.

I would've missed out on ice cream if I wouldn't have been willing to see things in a different way.

Yes, I shaved my head. I didn't want to bring any bugs back on my head...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

the eyes

"Wow" is one word I keep repeating these days. We got back from Nicaragua on Saturday. I just now woke up (Thursday). When people ask me "how was your trip?" - I respond "wow!!!"

The one thing that keeps coming to my mind when I think about the trip is the eyes of those kids. I have never seen such sadness, despair and hopelessness combined with innocence. They are such beautiful people with a hard life.

They were so excited to get a little toy from McDonalds (that we usually throw away) and a piece of candy. Some of them didn't know how to receive or give a hug. Some would stay stiff while others would not let you go. They were starving for affection and love. I keep thinking of how blessed I am to have been born in this country. I am relieved to know that my children will never know the kind of poverty other countries call normal.

I am so glad that I went and will no doubt go on more missions trips, but this trip changed me for the good in a number of ways. I am still learning things from the trip and from the people. I refuse to allow this experience to be short lived or temporary. I will continue to apply the lessons I have learned to my life to make me a better person.

My point: If this was just a trip then I missed many life lessons. If I allow it to continue to impact and change me, then it was an amazing life experience. I believe we go through situations in order to sharpen and refine us, it is our responsibility to receive and apply the lessons.

There are many more lessons I am sure I will share with you. It is good to be back in the ol' USA!

Friday, April 4, 2008

the great compliment

My wife told me that when I do certain things it reminds her of my dad. Or she will say, you sounded just like your dad when you said that.

I was told that the greatest compliment you can receive is the one you are not around to hear. That means the person is saying something nice about you not just to butter you up to ask for money. While I agree a great compliment is when they say it without a motive, I think the greatest compliment you can give me is that I am like my dad.

I am very blessed to have a great dad. I have hopefully taken some of his great qualities and applied them to my life. Even when I am not trying to be like him, it just happens. He a great influence to me and it is an honor to be like him.

I hope when people tell my girls, "you remind me of your dad", they mean it as a compliment. That is why I want to model Christ as best I can. Not just when they are watching but all the time. It is called integrity and I learned it from my dad.

My point: people are going to say things about you, are they going to be good or bad - that is somewhat up to you. Give them something great to say to you, about you and when you are not around.

If my children love me half as much as I love my dad - I am a success.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

wow, that has to hurt

My mouth is full of blisters. I woke up on Monday morning with sores in my mouth. They were uncomfortable but not a huge deal. Tuesday they began to hurt but not a big deal yet. Wed it officially went from uncomfortable to unbearable.

I got in to see the Dr and her first words after looking in my mouth was "wow, that has to hurt." When Dr obvious got off the floor from being cracked in the bridge of her nose with my vicious elbow, she went on to explain that my mouth is full of blisters. There is really nothing she could do so I paid my $25 copay and went on my merry way.

I am now figuring out how difficult it is to drink your meals. No matter what I eat it feels like I am chewing glass and it is shredding my cheeks. Oh, well - this too shall pass.

Ok, so am I looking for sympathy - not really, well ok maybe a little... actually I am learning a huge lesson about not making the people around me miserable just because I am in pain. It would be real easy to treat everyone around me like crap just because that is how I am feeling. I am trying my best to not be a crab or grumpy. I am not sure how I am doing but I will ask another day...

My point: Just because you are having a bad day, don't take it out on others. Be mature enough to know that YOU are the one that has the issues. Just because you are grumpy, don't make everyone else miserable.

The only thing you will do if you take it out on others is make them mad at you. Then even when you feel better, you have no friends and that will be a bummer.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I knew it

"I knew it". If you are a parent you probably say those words often.

I know it probably isn't the best idea to sit a glass of milk on the end table then walk out of the room while my 2 year old red-head still occupies that very same room - you know what happens next.

If "I knew it" would happen, then why did I still choose to do it. Why do I leave the screwdriver on the floor right next to me when my kid is anywhere in the house? I know if there is the slightest chance she can, she will get into it. I do this with the dog too. Leave a bowl only to come back to see the dog helping you finish it.

I guess it hit me the other day when I had one of those moments that I thought I could walk out of the room to grab a napkin and thought, "naw, she won't do anything..." only to come back to her grabbing a fake tree in the corner of the room. She really had to reach to get it but she managed. The tree was falling in the blinds and the food was ready to hit the floor (the dog was ready and waiting). I ran back in saying out loud "I knew it"... Then that little voice in my head said "then why did you do it?" -SHUT UP!!!

My point: If we know it is probably going to turn out bad - why do we insist on doing it. Why do we continue to watch and listen to the same garbage and put the same junk in our bodies. Those bad habits only end with either you or someone else saying "I knew it".

If you know it, do something about it now.