How My Father Became My Dad

This is a strange Father’s Day for me.img_4026

Last year at this time on Father’s Day I had no relationship with my father.  We were estranged.  We hadn’t spoken in eight years.  During those years, I sent him a card on Father’s Day card but never received a response.  That seemed to be the way it was going to be for us.  That had become the usual thing but things changed in September when I sent him a letter and he responded.

He was dying.

I’m a little bitter that it took that for him to finally reach out to me.  I was living out the movie “I Can Only Imagine” in my own life.  I’m sure the expectation that he had was that I would not be there for him yet I put everything aside and went to be with him during his final week.  I will be forever grateful for that time.  We resolved most (not all) of the issues between us in the end but now I wish I would have had more time with him and our new relationship.  Without the interference of the church and my mother, I think things would have been much different between us.

If I had a message for Dads out there for this Father’s Day it would be this:  If you have issues with your children, get things right with them NOW.  Don’t wait.  Don’t let the years stack up like another brick in the wall between you.  You will discover that all the drama and stupid things we thought were important won’t really matter in the end.  Stubbornness and pride aren’t worth it.

Now I will tell you that my Dad was a stubborn man.   He was a man who believed what he believed and was set in his ways.  There is no easy way to sugar coat it.  He was always excused with the explanation of “you know how he is”.  I’m sorry but that excuse is B.S.   People can change if they really want to and if it is important to them.  For most of my life, I hoped he would make an effort for me.  He never did until the end.  I went through the early years of my adult life feeling that I was never important enough for him to make an effort.  Here he was a minister and the person he couldn’t forgive or ask forgiveness was me.  It took a long time for me to work all of that out and rise above it.  I had to get to the place where I just had to be willing to let it all go if he ever responded to me.

Dad was a good man but his stubbornness really caused problems in our relationship along with my mother’s interference due to her own insecurities.  A father-son relationship was much more complicated than it needed to be and in the end, it was different.  I think we both saw what it was supposed to be.  We both saw each other without all the junk.  I saw the man he was and he saw the man I am.

He finally became my Dad in the end.

Today, I am mostly mad as hell that it took this long to reconcile with him and now he’s gone.  It isn’t fair.  Today I miss him.

We still didn’t agree on everything.  I wasn’t expecting that he would and I didn’t need his approval.  I have passed that expectation years ago.  My life didn’t need his approval but I still wanted my Dad.  I guess I could go on about what wasn’t right about me and my Dad but today I want to honor him with the good memories I have of him.

During his last week, he told me about the time he lost a toe nail pushing me around on a tricycle and how much I loved that tricycle.  He also tried to make time for me even if it was rare but I do remember him putting up a basketball goal at most every place we lived.  He and my mother would play a game called “Round-the-World” where you would attempt to make shots at different spots and try to beat other players back to the beginning.  He would always win.  I also remember the times he would throw the baseball with me.  Again, it wasn’t often but I do remember those times.

The church occupied most of his time.  In fact, he apologized for that in the end but I had long ago made peace with all that and I told him that although I hadn’t understood it at the time, I understood it a lot more now.  It was hard for him at times to separate the preacher from my father.  I can’t say that my Dad “led me to the Lord” as they say but he did his best to put me in the right direction.  Over the years I have had to re-learn a lot of things about being a believer and separating my relationship with the Lord from being a member of a church.  My dad was strict and rigid about the church teachings so we didn’t always agree on them but I still respected him I just resent it that the church stole much of my relationship with my Dad.

I see a lot of my Dad in me.  Like him, I hate to be late for anything.  I would rather be early than to be late.  I am also strict about following rules and having a good work ethic.  My Dad also loved his Clinch County Panthers high school football team.  He is the one that got me into following high school football.  That was something we always shared.  I will never forget sitting with him in the Georgia Dome in 2010 to watch his alma mater win the Georgia High School Football state championship.  He’s the one I credit with igniting my interest in Georgia High School football.

clinch_dad

Dad and I watching Clinch County in the State Championship Game

It took a long time for me to miss my Dad but that’s what I am feeling today.  No, it wasn’t all good but it wasn’t totally bad either.  Honestly that might could be said about us all.  I am just thankful that I was with him at the end.  I am glad I was there when he said his final words “Beam me up Scotty” as the orderlies were moving him to the bed that would transport him to Hospice.  It was fitting for him because he always had that kind of sense of humor about him as well.

For a long time I didn’t want to see any part of him in me.  Today I am honored that I have a part of him with me.

Life has many twists and turns.  We can never predict how things are going to work out.  I never thought I was ever have a relationship with my Dad.  I hoped and I prayed about it but I never saw any results until I received his letter last September.  I was fortunate that my cousin and her husband were there for him during the years I was shut out of his life.  When you are estranged from your parents, you feel like the whole family is against you.  You think that no one understands nor do they have the guts to support you or just simply tell you that they know what you are going through.  I spent many years furious about that but no more.  It is what it is.  Can’t change it now.

My Dad was a good man.  He did the best he could.  I can’t fault him for that.  None of us are perfect and we go through life trying to figure it out too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding Officiants Outlawed in Tennessee

officiant1Thinking about becoming a wedding officiant to marry your friends in Tennessee?

Think again.

The State of Tennessee is going to ban the practice beginning July 1st when House Bill 0213 prohibits people receiving online ordinations from solemnizing the rite of matrimony.

Unless you have a church or religious group that meets regularly, you can’t legally marry people by becoming a wedding officiant online.

Elvis can’t even marry people now – unless he has a building or religious organization.

A few years ago I became a wedding officiant by applying for a license with the American Marriage Ministries (AMM) based out of Seattle.  I will tell you that there was no official training only an application and paying the fee.  About a week later I received my certificate and a box full of “training” materials about being an officiant but mostly as reference and not mandatory training.

Okay, I get it that maybe Tennessee doesn’t want just anyone going online and getting license to officiate weddings but I also think it is wrong to only limit officiants to ministers, preachers, pastors, priests, rabbis or other spiritual leaders from a church, temple or other religious group.  After I was licensed by this AMM group, it took about a year before I got a call to officiate a wedding.  When I checked to make sure it would be legal, I called to find out that the Tennessee Attorney General had added an opinion to the code in 2015 that “other than the click of a mouse” to the code.  I called the AMM about this issue and they fired back a rather curt response to me about it and how it was legal but I did not go through with it at the time and now, this amendment has gotten their attention.

The AMM is now planning to work with members of Tennessee’s legislature to resolve this issue.

I can tell you how to “resolve” this issue so that both sides are satisfied.

If you want to get a license to perform a wedding, it absolutely needs to be more than just paying a fee and getting a license online.  It needs to be more than just a click of a mouse.  Marriage is a serious thing and needs to be done properly.   I think that the AMM and these other online wedding officiant organizations need to work with the states perform actual training and not just sit back and collect the fees.  Officiants need to know what they are doing and how important their role is- not only in performing the ceremony – but also in counseling the parties who want to be married.  When a wedding officiant is properly trained and licensed, they should be on the state’s list as officially recognized wedding officiants.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

So why this and why now?

That’s a good question.  Why has this become an issue now?  Well, you can draw your own conclusions about that.  Some say it is Tennessee’s underhanded way to stop same-sex marriages in the state.   Regardless, Tennessee is excluding people who want to officiant the marriage of their friends or family members.  The AMM says about half of weddings in the United States are performed by family or friends.   The exact proportion of couples being married by a friend varies depending on the data you look at, but the numbers are clearly growing. The wedding site The Knot has been conducting a survey on wedding trends for the past 11 years. In 2009, 29 percent used a friend officiant, and by 2015, that number jumped to 40 percent. A different study by the Wedding Report, a data-tracking company, found that 25.7 of polled couples were wed by a friend or family member in 2017, a jump from 16.4 percent in 2010.

So what do you do now in Tennessee if you don’t attend a church or part of religious organization?   The current law allows the following to perform marriage ceremonies:

  • Current county clerks and former clerks who were in office after July 1, 2014
  • Ordained religious leaders
  • Current and former county commissioners
  • City mayors
  • Current and former county mayors
  • Current and former judges
  • Governor
  • Current and former speakers of state and house of representatives

Any of these people your friends?

To be fair, paying $100 to get a certificate online doesn’t mean you are an ordained minister.  It should take a little more than that to be a wedding officiant.

When my wife and I were planning to get married one of the obstacles we faced was finding someone to perform the ceremony.  At the time we were living in Georgia and with neither of us attending a church or member of any religious organizations, we asked a couple of ordained ministers that we knew but for some reason it didn’t work out.  We ended up asking a wedding officiant who had performed our commitment ceremony.

Both the State of Tennessee and online ordination services need to make some concessions.  They should work together to ensure that proper training and licensing are done.  Simply “offering” online training to potential wedding officiants, training should be more involved and responsible for such an important role.

 

 

Environmentally Friendly Lawn Mowing

img_4025I’m all for using products and services which are friendly to our environment.  One of the things that I love to see is a move from gas-powered equipment.  Unfortunately it is difficult to find an adequate environmentally friendly alternative.  Lawn mowers have been one of those.  Years ago I purchased a battery powered lawn mower which I used for a small yard but it seriously lacked in power.  When we moved to our new house, I decided to try another one.  After some research, I decided on the Ryobi 20 inch, 40-Volt Brushless Lithium-Ion Cordless Battery Walk Behind Push Lawn Mower.

I have not been disappointed.

The mower works very well for our .4 acre lot which is pretty flat.  If you had a larger lot I would recommend another model.  For me, this mower is the perfect one for my lawn mowing.  I also made the decision to buy an extra battery which was about $150 but very helpful to have it ready to switch out to complete my mowing.  I can almost finish my yard on one charge so it’s good to have another one ready.

What do I like about the mower?

  • No gas.  I don’t like having to worrying about keeping gas around.  Never liked the fumes from a gas-powered mower.
  • Quieter.  It still sounds like a lawnmower but it’s still quieter.
  • Battery storage.  There is a place to store the extra battery onboard if you need to switch it out.
  • Safety features.  A key helps to ensure that the mower is on or off.
  • Run time.  One fully charged battery will give you about 45 minutes of mowing time.
  • Height adjustment.  The mower has seven positions from 1.5 inches to 4 inches to choose from.

The cost for this model was about $279.00.  That’s not a bad price for an alternative mower.  It’s also not the cheapest one but it’s a good idea to spend a little money to get what will fit your need.   Also, if you get one of these, it comes with a battery and charger are compatible with any RYOBI 40-Volt tools.

ryobi

A battery-powered lawn mower isn’t for everyone.  Obviously, if you have multiple acres of land this isn’t for you.  If you have a small yard, maybe less than an acre, I would highly recommend it.  They also have a self-propelled model if you need help with hills or inclines in your yard.

Where do you get one of these?  Home Depot, Lowes or just go on Amazon and order you one.   I was thrilled when mine was delivered.  I was like a kid with a toy on Christmas morning.  So far, it has worked well and has been functional for me.   Compared to my previous experience, Ryobi got it right this time.

 

 

 

It Ain’t My Fault

no faultWe backed out of our parking spot at the grocery store when a woman in a large monster truck pulled into the aisle facing us.  She motioned for us to go around her on the other side which created a hazardous situation for us and potentially head-on into other traffic.  We backed up and she furiously did the wide-swing maneuver to that the spot.

Then I saw it.

She had a smartphone in one hand while trying to drive her beast of a truck with the other.

We both pointed out to the woman that she might have better success driving if she would put the phone down.

Words were exchanged before she suggested we “something” off.

A contractor was scheduled to meet us at 5 p.m. to give us estimates on a project.  Never showed up.  Never called.  Nothing.  Then at 6:15 p.m. we get a call they were in our drive way.  We told them goodbye.  They then tried to push the blame that they “thought” they were told it was 6 p.m.

Again, not their fault.

My friends, we live in a world where you can never call out or correct anyone for anything.  Somehow they will turn it around to blame you for calling them out for their mistake.

What is wrong with people?

One word comes to mind:  Pride.

We live in a world where people are too prideful to admit their mistakes or apologize.  Even worse, some are more apt to pull out a gun and shoot you rather than taking responsibility for their actions.

It’s a sad state that we are in.

I see examples of the no-fault world every day.  Too many people act as if they are the only one in the world and they do not have to wait or be mindful that other people could be around.  I have simply walked down the main hallway in my building and have had people busting out of a side door never looking or thinking that someone might be in the main hallway then giving me the stink eye for being in their way.

The only right-of-way is THEIR way.

And don’t get me started about the traffic.  That’s the subject for another blog.

People are selfish and have no patience today.  The moment the light changes to green, vehicles behind the first car are already moving forward as if trying to push their way through or blowing their horns at the first hint of green.

And why can’t people stay off the phones when driving?  With all the laws that are passed and deaths caused by distracted drives, why can’t people simply DRIVE their vehicles?

The world doesn’t want people who obey the rules anymore.  We are a dying breed.  We hold everyone else back and when we call them out about their infraction they are ready to fight.  People what to do whatever they want to do without regard to others.

So why is it so bad?  Why are people never to blame for their actions?

The smartphone has made us dumb.  We stare at them all the time.  We are slaves to them.  We are spoiled with instant news, instant data and moving faster.  People who aren’t in our circle aren’t important.

“Move out of my way!”

“I want to get ahead of you!”

“You are insignificant!”

I dread becoming a senior citizen.  I’m already slow and I know I won’t be able to keep up with how the world is getting faster and more impatient.

So what’s the answer?  Should we still call people out for their infractions?

I think there are times you have to do it but in the same situation how do WE respond when we are called out when WE are in the wrong?  Yep, that one stings doesn’t it?  There will be times when we are the offenders and we have to make the instant decision on how to respond.

A simple “I’m sorry” goes a long way to helping the situation.

I know there are people who go around saying “life is good” and singing songs to the Lord who will poo-poo this blog as they clean their rose-colored glasses.  They obviously don’t live in the real world – or maybe they are the no-faulters themselves.

The Golden Rule has tarnished.  Not many people out there think of others.  It’s more like “I will do unto others what I want to do but they had better no do unto me.”

I don’t have six ways to deal with this subject or any easy answers.  The only thing we can do is do what we can do and respond the best we can.  It’s just a fact that we are outnumbered by a-holes out there.

Offended by this blog?  It’s not my fault.

 

 

Letting Go Letgo

I tried it and now I’m done. Commercials for the Letgo app got my attention. I wanted to turn stuff I didn’t want into money. Easy right?

Let me say this – it was an improvement over Craigslist where at least you knew the basic identity of the people you were dealing with and, unlike Craigslist, you had to register and were rated as a user. But even with those improvements, it was still the same experience. Yes, if you are willing to deal with the headache of accommodating people to sell stuff then you can make money.

Whether it is Craigslist or Letgo, you still have to deal with people and I don’t have the patience for it.

The last straw for me was my recent potential buyer. I posted a loveseat with all the specs, measurements and photos. He messaged me through the Letgo app and said he was interested. He later asked if the loveseat would fit in a sedan. Seriously dude? Do you not understand measurements?

He later texted some weird jibberish that I could only decipher that he was going to pay for it and pick it up later. It wasn’t completely clear. I decided to just shut it down and take the loveseat off. He was texting some weird crap. Regardless of how much safer Letgo tried to make it, I know that people are still unpredictable and it can be just as dangerous.

Since using Letgo I have made some money but the hassle that goes with it makes it more work than it needs to be. People are damn divas. They want you to deliver or load it and almost gift wrap it for them. One buyer asked if I would give them the sectional I had listed for free. Or when the buyer arrives they want to talk you lower.

The worst part of it is when people say they are interested and you set up a time and they are no-shows. No message. Nothing. I don’t really understand that or why people would do that. Then you also have people who message you that they are interested and you hear nothing else from them.

One of the things that is annoying is how people expect you to help them load it. I have been specific in the ads that I can NOT help them load due to a neck injury and yet people still show up with no help to load furniture or bring their kids to load heavy pieces of furniture.

I honestly don’t know what people are thinking. It is silly to assume people will treat you the way you would treat others. They don’t.

If you are thinking about doing this app or any other service like it, let me give you some advice:

  • Always be safe. If you feel uneasy about the buyer, don’t do it. Don’t do any transactions at night. Don’t give out your address until the buyer is on the way.
  • Don’t assume the buyer will buy your stuff. Even if they do show up they may decide they don’t want the item. That’s okay. Pictures don’t always capture it properly. Colors might not be what the buyer wants. Don’t force the buyer to take it. If anything, be willing to lower the price.
  • Don’t hold items for people. I know this sounds harsh but if you want to sell something, sell it to whoever gets there first. I have held items for people who were apparently messing with me and never showed up or responded to messages. Sell it and move on.
  • Don’t load stuff for people. If they don’t have the help or way to load the item, turn them away. Sorry but you don’t need to throw your back out if someone didn’t plan properly. If you are selling a sofa and someone pulls up in a sedan, it’s not your job to make it work.
    Have LOTS of patience. Trust me you will need it. People will not show up. They will be late. Expect anything.

Can you make money using Letgo? Yes, you absolutely can. Is it worth the hassle? That depends on the level of your patience. If you are working a full time job or a set schedule, it might not be the thing for you.

It’s not for me. I’m letting it go.

Another Year Wiser?

Today I add another year onto my life. I would like to say something profound about how much wiser I am but I can’t say that I would believe it. Experience teaches us all and we hope it helps us to become wiser.

It would be nice if we always made the right decision but as we all know, it doesn’t always turn out that way. We do the best that we can.

I grew up with a strong church influence and have had to make my own way through it. It hasn’t always been easy and I have done some really stupid things but that’s all a part of life.

I have learned to pray about things, make the best decision I can and trust God with the results. Some people stress about making the absolute right decision on everything but life is filled with twists and turns. Sometimes you just don’t know if you made the right choices until you are down the road and look back.

One thing I always say is that the best ability that someone can have is the ability to adjust. We all get into routines and when those routines change, we have to be able to deal with them. Whether it is a job, new home or other changes we face. My wife and I recently moved and this move changed several routines and my ability to adjust has been tested. I am still a little out-of-sync but I also realize it will take time and then the new changes will be the routine.

Today as I reach the number of 55 years, I can say I don’t think of myself being 55 but physically I feel it. I can tell you that at this point in life the years add up quicker than you want. The world seems to move faster around you while you slow down. I guess that’s the way life works. I can’t say that I am happy about that but sometimes you just do best to accept things that you can’t change.

Am I wiser today? I don’t think so.

You just live and be happy. Everyone has their own idea of what makes them happy and how to live their dream. Some actually realize their dream while others continue to chase theirs. Sometimes you have to make difficult choices to be happy. I know I have been there myself and you just have to do what you have to do to get there.

Don’t rely on looks because looks fade. When you find love, hold on to it and fight for it. True love is ageless. It is always wise to choose love. Yeah I know that sounds a bit mushy but if I am wiser about anything, it is love. Love is worth it.

Live your life and make wise choices and hold onto love.

Surviving The House Process

 

overwhelmedMy wife and I just experienced one of the most stressful events that an adult experiences – selling and buying a house.

I won’t lie. It was a pain in the arse and this wasn’t our first rodeo as they say.  Between us we have moved over 100 times in our lifetime.  I always say I will never do it again but somehow I always find my way back repeating this experience.  It could be that we are just wandering souls or something.  I do know that I’m getting too old for this.

This most recent experience was the worst. Do you know what the worst part was? Dealing with people who are part the process. If you have never bought or sold a house I would suggest you prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions. If you’re married, you’d better have a strong marriage too.  It will test you in ways you can’t imagine.

Let me tell you some things you need to know about this process based on my personal experience:

#1 – It will always cost you more than you think.  There is always someone that has their hand out for your money.

#2 – You will have trust issues with realtors.  I don’t know a nice way to expound on this so I will just leave it at that.

#3 – Unexpected things happen.  You can never prepare for the things that come up in the process.

#4 – Expectations are not equal.  People will ask you to do things and expect immediate action; however, when you ask for something you get the delays, excuses and BS answers.

We are in our new house and we love it but it wasn’t easy. One thing we never figured we would have a problem with was radon. I didn’t even know much about radon until our test failed. Unfortunately most people don’t take it seriously and you have to fight to get things done about it. We were able to have a mitigation system installed to make it safe.

The financing went through pretty smoothly. You just have to get the finance people the information as soon as they ask for it so they can get the loan processed. One thing that has always gotten me every time is the cash-to-close. This is the amount of money you have to bring to closing. The amount always fluctuates up to the very day before closing. This part always drives me crazy. I use my VA benefits to finance me and they always say it is 100% percent financing but don’t let that fool you because there are always things you have to pay so it’s not totally 100%

Let me get my soap box out a moment and step up on it in regards to Comcast/Xfinity.  We did the responsible thing and called our cable/internet provider well in advance of our move.  One week before our move we discovered that our services had already been transferred to our new address.  It was an all-day ordeal and took SEVEN people before our service was restored.  That is utterly ridiculous.  Why can’t a customer call ONE person, explain the problem and they get on the big Comcast/Xfinity computer and correct their mistake?  They have good service but their customer service is terrible and that is if you even get a live person on the line.

Home inspections are not all created equal.  You never know what the inspector will find.  They all have their thing they focus on and it could be anything.  Many times they simply have to write something up just to prove that they are doing their jobs.  Just be prepared to fix something.  Many years ago, the buyer asked me to put a “z-brace” on a gate on our fence.  I had no idea what that was and it took some doing to get it done.

The moving process is an unnerving experience for sure.  You really discover how much crap you have.  If there is one piece of advice I could give you is that you don’t need to go cheap on moving.  We hired movers and they were awesome.  Even on a day when there were heavy thunderstorms, nothing got wet.  This still amazes me. Don’t skimp on hiring movers.  You definitely get what you pay for.

Right now I am emotionally spent and we face a long transition ahead to get this new house the way we want it.  I am just happy the move is done and we overcame the people in the process who made it difficult.  They all have their money now and we have our new house.

If you are considering buying or selling a home, just be prepared for everything and manage your expectations.  Also, if you think you can sell or buy it without representation, I would suggest you think about it.  I know the possibility of holding onto all of your profits is tempting but do you really want to deal with all the real estate things you would have to handle yourself?  Please think about representation to cover you.  You will need it.  Trust me.  You need to find the right realtor for you.  Sometimes this is quite difficult to do.  We didn’t have a pleasant relationship with ours.  I won’t go into details but it will push you to the limit if you don’t have a good one.  You will need encouragement during the process and not just advice to lower the price.

This experience is a process – a long process.  You will have to prepare yourself for it.  It is torture but if you keep your focus on the end result, you will make it.  Don’t let the people in the process ruin it for you.  If there’s one thing I kept in mind it was that after we close, we never have to see these people again. Once the papers are signed, they move on to the next client.

Buying or selling a house is stressful but a necessary process to accomplish your goal.  The process doesn’t last forever.  I promise you that sometimes it sure feels like it will never end but it does end.  It is quite a relief when it is over.

 

Is This A Sign or A Test?

I still get a little confused about this sometimes.

I have been a believer for most of my life and I still can’t always tell when God is giving me a sign or whether he is testing me. I think many times I look for signs rather than admit that God is testing me.

Right now is one of those times. I have asked God for a clear sign about something but I haven’t seen it. I have, however, dealt with some obstacles in this situation. I think we all want that “burning bush” sign but we don’t want to be in the fire during a test.

It is certainly difficult to keep one’s focus. I really try not to make things super spiritual but there are times you just have to depend on God.

I have thought about the story of the three Hebrew children in Daniel 3.  This is where the king issues a proclamation that everyone would worship the image of the king.  If they didn’t, they would be thrown into a flaming furnace.  Well, there were three dudes named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused.  They stood up for their worship to God alone.  They told the king that God would take care of them.  The king threw them into the furnace and even turned up the heat seven times hotter.  Now, you have to wonder how they were feeling.  They had to be scared at this point.  Today it would be “Okay God where is the sign?”  but none came.  God didn’t rescue them from the fire but preserved them IN the fire.  Not only did God protect them but they weren’t even touched by the fire.

This shows us that when the time for the test comes that we might still feel the intensity of the heat of the situation but God can protect us while we are in the fire.  Too many times we whine and complain when something happens to us.  We assume that because we are a believer that we won’t have a flat tire or someone will fuss at us about something.  We have to deal with these situations just like everyone else so the important thing is HOW do we deal with these situations.

I have had to deal with people recently that has made an experience very unpleasant.  I have been tested.  I am sure I haven’t passed every time.  I always look back and wonder how I could have handled things differently.  I am easily frustrated when someone doesn’t do their job and it creates an unnecessary stressful situation for me.   Silly me to expect someone to do their job.  At times I have not been so nice and others I have.  Yes, this has been a season of testing.

I don’t propose that I am anything like the three Hebrew guys that survived the fire but it is comforting that God was in the fire with them.

So why does God test us?   I have asked that question a lot recently.  I think He does it to show us what we need to work on.  Will we trust Him or will we try to do it ourselves?  After the last few weeks, I see that I need to work on a LOT.  I didn’t get an “F” but I didn’t get an “A” on the tests either.  It’s easy to trust God and sing songs when things are going your way but what happens when someone is in your face about something?  The test is when we can’t hear the praise soundtrack playing in the background.

Life is hard and it isn’t always fair.  We have to deal with it.  Even for believers.  Crap happens to us just like everyone else.  The tests are important to teach us.  I can’t say I like them but I know they are instrumental in developing my character.  Testing hurts.

So, if you are looking for signs, you might want to consider if it is really a test.  Is it a burning bush or a fiery furnace?

And, not to offend our spiritual views, but sometimes things aren’t a sign or a test. Sometimes things just happen. Mechanical things break. People are buttheads. That’s just part of the world we live in. We don’t have to make something spiritual of everything that happens to us. The microwave is going to break and sometimes people coming out to fix it will be totally incompetent. Stuff happens. God isn’t against us and sometimes neither God or the devil have anything to do with what is happening to us.

So whether it is a sign, a test or just stuff happening to us, we can still get through it without us losing our minds. Is it easy? Nope. Can we avoid it? Nope. We can only do the best we can and make the best decisions possible and leave the results to God.

 

 

Living With Panic Attacks

I have never had a panic attack which is odd since I work a high stress job and my personality would certainly be susceptible to it.

My wife has them and I can tell you it is nothing to take lightly. A panic attack is a physical reaction to stress. Sometimes it can occur well after the stressful situation has passed. It can also be a chemical imbalance as well. It isn’t someone who is running around like a maniac. Sometimes you may not even know a person is having one. It also affects each person differently.

Here are some tips I have learned that might help you if you live with someone with panic attacks:

#1 – Do NOT tell the person to “calm down”

This is the worst thing you can say to someone who is having a panic attack. I know it seems like the obvious thing to say but it doesn’t help. A person having a panic attack can’t just “calm down”. The body is reacting to it and needs time for it to pass.

#2 – Get the person’s mind off of the situation

Talk about something else. Engage the person in a conversation. Try to avoid any stressful subjects. Play a trivia game or do some activity to get the person’s mind on something more pleasant. Don’t be cute about it either and try some cheap therapy techniques like asking them to count to 10 or close their eyes and image they are on a beach.

#3 – Be encouraging but don’t overdo it

The main thing is to be there for the person if they need something. Don’t smother them. Give them some time and space. They will recover in their own way. Don’t try to speed it up.

#4 – Remove them from the stressful situation.

Get the person to a safe place. Go to a park or anything that gives them a break from the situation. Learn what works and be ready to do it.

#5 – Do NOT take it lightly

Just because you don’t have panic attacks doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. It is a serious thing someone is dealing with. If you care about the person you will do what you can to help them.

#6 – Encourage healthy things

Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol may help relieve fear and anxiety. Getting regular sleep and exercise, and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and yoga may also help.

We all have our own issues and ailments of our own. It is important to treat issues that others have with the same care and concern as if it were our own. Stress and anxiety is a real thing we all have to deal with and it affects us all in some way. I know when I have one of my headaches I have my own routine of getting over it. I know what works and what doesn’t work. It’s comforting to know that my wife knows me and knows how to handle me when I’m dealing with it. Sometimes just having her there is medicine in itself.

The key to knowing how to help someone with panic attacks is understanding. If you want more information about it, Google it. You will find an abundance of resources that will help you to understand it better and helping someone when they are having a panic attack.

Not a Fan of Administrative Professionals Day

confused-workerToday is Administrative Professionals Day (once upon a time known as Secretaries Day). I am not a fan of these Hallmark-induced days.

Wait. Let me explain.

I think bosses and employees should be appreciated EVERY day. There shouldn’t be a day where we get a free lunch, a card or flowers for appreciation for doing our JOBS.

Speaking of flowers, let me tell you about my flowers incident….This is probably why I dislike this day. On my first job, I was an administrative specialist in the U.S. Air Force. The NCOs in my unit thought it would be hilarious to get me flowers for secretaries day. When I reported to work I found roses on my desk with a card saying “Happy Secretaries Day”.  I promptly through them in the trash can while they all got a good chuckle over it.

I don’t need one single day to boost my self-worth about my job. I rather have a good place to work with people who have some integrity. Just be a good employee and a good boss every day.  Don’t wait for one day to do something.  I have actually heard a co-worker say “If they don’t do anything for us for secretaries day then I’m gonna be pissed.”   Seriously?  Now we are obligated to do something to maintain these diva expectations?   What about the day you are 15 minutes late due to traffic and the boss didn’t count it against you?  How about those long lunches you take sometimes or the times you bring you child to work because of childcare issues?

All I want is a workplace with people who have integrity and consistent.  I want a boss who will deal with the bad employees instead of just enjoying the paycheck and position while allowing the bad apple to spoil the morale of the entire bunch.  Someone who is not afraid to deal with the slacker who adds the workload burden on the good employees.  Be an employee with integrity.  Do a good job and don’t be a constant source of drama.  I would rather my employer do things such as pay for my parking.  (I have always thought it was ridiculous to make employees pay to park where they work)   Recognize employees for doing a good job or coming up with ideas that benefit the entire company.  Those things mean a lot more than a free lunch on Administrative Professionals Day.

There are a lot of professions that have thankless jobs.  There aren’t enough days in the year to go around.  Just do your job every day.  This is work.  If we didn’t need to work to get a paycheck to pay our bills we probably wouldn’t be there.

These special days aren’t necessary.  There is no need to patronize anyone with a special day.  Just give everyone year-round professional respect.  We should be thankful to get a paycheck.  If you have a good boss or a good employee you can depend on, those are the things that are important.   Flowers, cards, free meals once a year a no substitute for a bad workplace environment.