Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I'm so fired up right now, that I need to blog about this. First, take a look at the first comment of the post directly below this one. My nephew seems to think since my posts include many entries about God, my faith, etc. that I am an extremist. It's an interesting comment and certainly a bit judgemental. Not sure exactly what is extremist about it, but I still feel compelled to respond. Several other families members have mentioned my postings and their inclusion of God, so this may help them gain some understanding.

I categorically believe that God created EVERYTHING. And that because he is Holy and we are not, we were necessarily separated from Him.

I believe that God loves us more than we could possibly comprehend, and because of that love He sent His son, Jesus Christ to us for our salvation.

I believe that the Bible is the word of God, and is Truth (all of it, not just the part that I agree with).

I believe that because the bible says that the only way to spend eternity with Him is to believe in Jesus, that this is the case (no exceptions). This means that your actions do NOT get you there, AND that your actions do NOT keep you from heaven.

I believe that God gave us the bible (or, as I like to say - the OWNER'S MANUAL FOR LIFE) because He made us, He knows how we work, He knows what we need, and He wants us to live happy and fulfilling lives. To follow the teaching of the bible is to live in God's plan.

I believe that God isn't about us following His rules. He's about loving us and since He knows us (better than we know ourselves) following His Fatherly nature is for us to follow His teaching (Parents: why teach your children not to touch a stove? Because you're all about rules or because you know it will hurt them? This is why God gives us rules, too. If more men, for example, "averted their eyes from the impure", would we have less broken homes and marriages? Seems to me the answer is yes.)

OK - I could keep going, but I think we get the idea. I now have one question. If, I truly believe what I say I believe above, wouldn't it make sense that our ALL-POWERFUL, ALL-KNOWING, and EVER-LOVING GOD BE THE CENTER OF MY UNIVERSE? More important than even my relationship with my wife and my kids (and other family)? You better believe it. Does that make me a worse husband? Ask Angie, but I bet the rent she'd say the more I am in touch with my relationship with God, the better husband and father I am.

EXTREME? You bet! I'll not judge you if you aren't, but be assured I'm praying that you'll be.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Why blog?

My first couple of posts were about how blogging is an endeavor that is basically stupid. Who, in their right mind, would care what I have to say or think? Probably not many. However, as I look over my past entries, I see that there is only one intended audience, and that's me. I think the utility to my putting my experiences and thoughts down has more to do with being an introspective record that anything. It is interesting to go back and read my entries. It can be a learning experience if I allow it to be.

I know some that journal. I've tried to do it, but I've never really kept up with it, and eventually I invariably abandon it. However, I've now blogged for upwards of a couple of months, and I don't see an end to it. It's easy, relatively quick, and since I'm on the computer daily, it is convenient. Interestingly enough, when I talk to people about my blog site, they always ask what my motivation is...well, here goes:

1) Keep in touch with family back home. Instead of calling all of my family every weekend, I can keep them updated to the goings on from Texas, all at the same time - with pictures.

2) To get opinions of others. Often, I'm curious if I did the right thing, or if I'm feeling appropriate feelings. Thankfully, my family and friends are always there to offer either a word of encouragement, a critique of my actions, or (in the case of my beloved nephew) a spell check.

3) A written record on how God works in my life. The only way to retrospectively contemplate His good works is to keep a record of them. Basically, if we don't focus on what happens to us, in particular, the good that He does in our lives, we are apt to miss it. The blog is a unique way to keep a record of my openness (or closed mindedness) to allowing him to work in my life.

4) An accountability record. If I put it up on the blog, then you can keep my accountable for my actions. This one is particularly important to me. This weeks sermon by our pastor was one that I will blog about going forward, and one in which I will ask that you all help me stay accountable. It was about anger, and I will talk about that one next time.

Till then,


Monday, March 20, 2006

Imagine if she were a genious, like Einstein?

As it rained this weekend, we've spent the last couple of days enjoying the end of the kids' Spring Break. Since our camping (and shooting and fishing) plans have been thwarted, we instead went out to eat, bowling and playing games. One of the games we played was Pictionary Junior.

It is relatively easy splitting into teams with Dylan and Marissa, but Cassie tends to complicate things. We gave her the duty of keeping time (she made us say, "3 - 2 - 1 - CUP" to start each round!", and every once in a while we let her draw a picture in which we needed to guess. She loves to draw, and is pretty good, so we could usually guess what she was drawing. This arrangement sufficed during the first game, but when we started the second, she became bored with keeping time. We basically tried to ignore her, until she started guessing drawings that no one else could get...first she guessed crab (and trust me, I would have NEVER gotten it, since Marissa's drawing looked like a flying egg). Then she guessed purse (while I was guessing pail and pot). Lastly, most amazing was her guess of Parrot.

Out of no where, she just blurts it out like she new exactly what I was drawing. We were all suitably amazed by a four year old who was seriously contributing to the game. With her help, Marissa and I caught up to Angie and Dylan and actually won the game.

We've been blessed with really intelligent kids, but even Dylan and Marissa were impressed with Cassie. Marissa mentioned that Cassie has been "really smart this week", and Dylan commented how cool it would be if she "were some kind of genious, like Einstein". I don't know about that, but I do know I want her on my team next time we play Pictionary.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

When it rains it pours...

It's been a couple of hours since I posted about the incredible rains we get...it has continued to pour and the creek in the backyard has now flooded the first portion of our yard. We have a 3 to 4 foot retaining wall, which leads up an incline to the house. If this continues, and it will for a while, we could be in for some possible flooding. Time to start praying.

Here's an updated picture of the creek.

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

If you've never spent a spring in North Texas, then you may not be aware of the AWESOME power of mother nature that we regularly experience this time of year. I remember my first March/April after moving here, and I would sit by the window and just watch the incredible light show that God provided. I would watch for hours, or at least until I was frightened enough that I might get struck.

I've since learned that this area is really the beginning of 'Tornado Alley', and that springtime thunderstorms were the norm. In fact, they are so necessary due to the very dry hot summers that we suffer through. Over the course of the last year, we've been going through a severe drought. If memory serves, we may have been as much as 25 inches below normal, or more. You could visibly see the lake levels and how low they are.

I think that may be ending with this weekend's rain...it's been POURING since Friday night, and is expected to continue for about 24 more hours. The lightening and thunder have been incredible. Angie and I were both shook awake at 5:30 this morning by an amazing boomer. We both woke and jumped at the same time. The amazing thing is that the kids never stirred. The rain has both good and bad associated with it. We were supposed to go camping and shooting this weekend, but cancelled due to the forecast. However, those inconveniences are minor compared to the benefits. The lawn has greened before our eyes and lake levels (which are actually reservoirs for the Texas water system) have noticeably risen. A normally dry creek behind our house has become a raging river.

Like the benefits and the inconveniences of it raining, so too will there be both when it stops. Although we'll be able to enjoy the outdoors again, the water bill for the lawn and the foundation will be high. The best compromise I can think of is to rain during the week, and stop on the weekends. Oh, if life were so easy.


Monday, March 13, 2006

What a weekend

I've always loved to travel...at least from the point where I started doing a significant amount of it for work. I've been extremely fortunate to have done significant travel on my company's dime. I've been around the word (literally) and have been to a majority of the continents (except South America, Africa, and Antarctica). Of late, I've spent some significant time in India and the Philippines. By no means am I one of the top tier travelers, but I've done a lot (approaching three-quarters of a million program miles on America Airlines), and have enjoyed it immensely.

One of the most memorable trips was a layover weekend in Paris several years ago. I was traveling from France to Singapore, and thought I'd spend a weekend seeing the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and L'Arc De Triumphe. It was as wonderful as I expected. However, I was alone (and single at the time), and swore that I would return with my loved one (assuming I would ever have one) by my side.

Angie and I are approaching our 5th anniversary in a month and a half and the plan was to spend our anniversary in Paris. Unfortunately, for several reasons, this is not going to happen. However, with the training that I was sent to last week, we did have an opportunity to spend a weekend in one of my other favorite cities, San Francisco. I've been there a couple of times, but never really got to experience the city (at least not since a family vacation back when I was 12). I have to admit, it was an amazing experience. Why, because Angie loved it so much. She has not traveled a lot, and has not experienced many of the world's great cities. In fact, you can probably count the number of times she's been out of Texas on both hands, and most of them have been to New York with me.

And that was the great joy in this weekend. Seeing her amazed by the mountains, the sea, the Goldengate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street, the hills of San Francisco, the architecture, the shops, and the sourdough bread at Bodin. That was the joy for me and I still can't wait to experience Paris with her. I guess it's the WHO you are with that matters more than the WHERE you are.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Something else I've learned this week

I've recently returned to school to complete by bachelors degree which I never completed when I was younger. I've always enjoyed school and particularly enjoy learning new things, applying that learning to what I am doing, and ultimately the competitive nature that school presents. To me, a grade is a bit of a competition. I compete with myself and with the others in my class for my grade. There is an extremely good feeling in earning an A in a class where you had to work very hard.

Recently, Angie and I have been talking about the demands school makes on us, and our kids. The strain is significant. There are days that we don't see each other since I often leave for work before she is up, and on nights I have class, I return home after she is asleep. Not the greatest marriage situation. Additionally, I am often not around to see the kids or to participate in their activities during the week. Basically, between class time and study time, I am OOH (Out Of the House) four nights a week. Angie told me that she "hates when school is in session" and that she "feels like a single parent". If you add the fact that this will continue for about 5 more years, she is understandably disheartened.

I understand how she feels. Trust me, I'd rather come home after work, play with the kids, have a nice dinner with the family (instead of choking down double cheeseburgers on my way to class) and watch idol with her.

Recently, we discussed WHY I am back in class. First, I believe it is the best way that I can continue to provide for my family. I strongly believe that my options are limited and my "upward mobility" is restricted by the fact that I do not have my degree. There has always been more to the feelings I have about my education, but I've previously been unable to communicate them adequately.

However, this week at Wharton has helped me understand what I've been feeling. In a nutshell, it is the strong belief that I am SUPPOSED to do more with my professional life. That I've been given a certain level of intellect, and not fully expanding that and realizing that potential would be a waste and that I have to do it…for me. The fact of that matter is that I enjoy learning and pushing myself, and currently do not see any boundaries in this respect. Don't take me wrong, I am not the brightest bulb in the pack, I have friends that I think are MUCH more intelligent than I am. However, I think there can be more than I am doing, and that only through education can I actually achieve those things.

I haven't talked to Angie about this yet and I will - but, I also know she'll read this. I hope she can LEARN to understand. Perhaps I can register her for the course!


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Frames, Overconfidence, and Anchors

In my last post, I mentioned the Wharton Executive Management training that I am currently enrolled in. Needless to say, it has been an amazing week. My expectations around the training were that we would be receiving people management training. Of course, those expectations were wrong. Actually, we will do organizational management training tomorrow, but so far, the training has focused on other parts of the support and services business.

Day 1 revolved around expectations, uncertainties, and how both effect our business. It was a mind opener, as we learned that most people are incredibly overconfident in what they believe to be facts. Additionally, our attitudes and beliefs are based on frames (the external stimuli that effect the way we interpret information) and anchors. An anchor is the way in which we often come to conclusions based on what we've been exposed to.

Day 2 was all about negotiations. Interestingly enough, we negotiate all the time, whether at work or at home. The take away was that through exhaustive preparation, practice and active listening, we can improve the outcomes of our negotiations.

Day 3 was financial analysis. I learned more in a full day session this week than in the first 6 weeks in my accounting course at UTD. Did you know that a dollar today will probably be worth only 90 cents next year?

Day 4 (today) was about customer value. Customers are assets, and some are more valuable than others. Interesting stuff. Now I know what LTVC (Life Time Value of the Customer) is and how to measure it. The interesting thing is that we can effect each and every variable within the equation.

Tomorrow - people and organizational management. I knew it would be in there somewhere.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

I left my heart...

...in San Francisco. We'll, I hope not, but today I depart for an incredible opportunity. I am enrolled in the Wharton/SSPA Technology Support Services Management Program which will last the entire week. Sometimes, we all need to just sit back and contemplate the amazing blessings that we receive. This training is one of them. Not only is Wharton one of the top business schools in the country, this very expensive training is being supplied by my company. Donald Trump, on a recent episode of "The Apprentice" said that Wharton was THE BEST business school in the world, with Harvard in second - I think he is an alum, so it may not mean so much. It is an amazing feeling to know that your company values you enough to invest in your skill sets. I've received other training before, but nothing on this scale.

I know the week is going to be extremely difficult (the agenda has us working from 9:00AM to 9:00PM every day). Being away from family for a week will be difficult, as well. And, my company rightfully expects that I bring the knowledge gained in this training back to the rest of the management team. All I know is that I am humbled by the opportunity.

I'll blog about the experience this week.

BTW - on Friday, Angie will be meeting me for a weekend in San Francisco, as well. So I have something to really look forward to.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Saturday night lights

Guys, I have a question for you? Have to ever told your wife the ONLY reason you were going to a ball game were to see the cheerleaders? Well, I have and I still breathe. How was I so fortunate? That cheerleader is my step-daughter, Marissa.

Our family is probably typical of most families with children. Our kids have activities that they participate in, and since we have two active kids (Dylan is one of my other step-children who plays basketball and baseball) we usually are busy on weekends.

Most Saturdays are spent shuttling from one game or activity to another. There are a couple of very special Saturdays that mark the end of the season and usher in a time of...well - leisure for us. Today was one of those Saturdays. Today marked the end of basketball season, and for us, it means that we will not have to run around from game to game. This inactivity on Saturdays may be short lived since baseball season has already started, but we'll enjoy it while we get it. In fact, next Saturday I'll be blogging from an early anniversary weekend from San Francisco.

Don't get me wrong, I love watching our kids play and grow. Marissa is absolutely one of the best, if not the best, on her squad. Watching her do round-off flip-flops, or whatever she calls them, are amazing. Those dollars spent on gymnastics and cheerleading really have done wonders. She is real good. Dylan, is an all-star baseball player, and is responsible for re-igniting my involvement in the game. This basketball season he seems to have come out of his shell a bit, and has been real aggressive, particularly on defense. Its fun, no doubt. However, I am really looking forward to not having to schedule my Saturdays like my work calendar, shuffling between fields...at least for a couple of weeks.