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Showing posts from May, 2007

Marriage Materials

I have officiated a couple wedding ceremonies in the past and I have a couple lined up for the future, but I'm wondering if there is anyone out there who might have some resources that I would be able to use. In particular I am looking for premarital counseling curriculum, ceremony order and vow books, and any other related materials to help enrich and guide me through the process.

Basically...
- What has worked for you?
- What did your pastor use in your premarital counseling?
- What was helpful?
- What was not so helpful?
- What would you have liked to have been included?

Any feedback is appreciated. Leave a comment or send an email. Thanks.

Your Store Smells Like....

One of my first customers today commented that the store smelled like a combination of the Zoo and Valleyfair. He said it was a mix of fish - like the polar bear exhibit - and all of the food at the amusement park.

Don't know if that was a compliment, or a complaint, or simply an observation. I'm hoping for the latter, and I'm encouraged that he stayed and enjoyed his meal.

Prayer Requests

Would really appreciate your prayers this week.

Stephanie and I have both been waiting to hear back on a couple things and we expect some kind of news either this week or next. I am also going to be having an important conversation tomorrow that I hope will provide Stephanie and I with a clearer sense of what direction we should head in the future. In addition to that, we are hoping to have our house finished and ready to be listed by June 1st.

Needless to say there is some stress in the Balvin home. Requested prayers would include...

- patience in all circumstances and with all people
- exceptional child behaviour
- focus on what need to be accomplished
- wisdom and discernment in planning
- joy in whatever God reveals to us
- that we would know and experience the desire of our hearts

Thanks.

Student Graduation Protests in Texas

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A friend sent me a link to this article this morning.

There is a group of students and parents picketing some Forth Worth (TX) school district offices today representing the "613 Fort Worth seniors who did not pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam."

I don't really understand why school officials are not allowing the students to walk in the graduation ceremony when they haven't graduated? Maybe it has something to do with the signs they're parents are holding?

Bonds and the Baseball Hall of Fame

A majority of baseball commentators criticize him. Fans all across the country call him a selfish cheater. People act like it is more fun to jeer him than to cheer him.

And yet everybody wants his stuff.

I don't blame Barry Bonds for not being overly generous with the MLB Hall of Fame. If I was in his spot, I might feel the same way. Why should he give his stuff away when most people don't think he deserves the record or a place in the Hall?

Good Eats

Just experienced my first black BBQ and I am stuffed.

I gave one of my employees and extended break time so that he could go home and eat BBQ with his family. He brought back a couple plates of ribs, chicken, sausage, and pork chops. Plus he brought a plate full of potato salad, spaghetti and baked beans. The grilled meat and homemade BBQ sauce was amazing.

I don't know how I am getting anything else done today.

Working Naked

Forgot my cell phone and work keys at home this morning. I feel naked without my phone.

Help!

Memorial Day Activities

Memorial Day weekend is over for me. I have to work all day tomorrow. A major downside of the food industry.

We had a good day today. Everything at church was striking an emotional cord with me. After the service we went and grilled with our small group. It was fun throwing the ball and pitching to Jacob in the yard. I hope we have a yard of our own soon.

Next, I went to visit a friend of mine. He is at a 30 day retreat center working on some issues he is facing. I love this guy and it was encouraging to walk the woods with him and just talk. I am praying that God would continue to work in his life. For his sake and for the sake of his family.

When I got home Stephanie and I took the kids to a carnival in town. Unfortunately the crazies running the thing thought that $3 was a fair price for a 30 second kid ride. NO WAY! So, we drove to Cub Foods and rode the horses for a quarter. Then we went and picked out some toys at Target. And finally, we had dinner on the patio of a local bar a…

All Done Painting

Finished painting the house tonight! Hurray. Some great friends came by and helped us finish the job. My sister is home from Guatemala and she was a huge help distracting the kids. Now all we have left to do is a ton of packing. Oh well - at least the walls look nice.

Kind of feel like Abraham right now.

Go.

Where?

Just go and I'll show you.

Um...ah...OK....I think.

Attitude Matters

Can you imagine having a person with this kind of attitude on your staff, in your church, or on your team....

"I tried my best to take the team as deep into the game as possible to fulfill my responsibility as the starter," Matsuzaka said in the statement. "I regret that I ended up being a burden on my teammates [Friday]. I'll do my best to prepare for my next start."
- Boston Red Sox rookie pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, commenting after leaving a game in the 6th inning because of nausea and intestinal turmoil

The Nerve of Some People

A man in his 50's came into the store around 9:45 pm. After ordering his food he asked me what time we closed. I informed him I'd be locking the doors in about 15 minutes.

Next he asked what I was going to do with some extra hushpuppies sitting in the food warmer. I told him I could probably throw a few extra in his bag for him.

He thanked me and proceeded to ask if he could have something to drink while he waited for his food to cook. I replied that he could have a glass for some ice water. But as I was cleaning the counter I watched him to make sure he only got water because I was thinking to myself that he probably wanted some free soda.

Then, after turning my back for a couple minutes to pack up his food, when I handed him his bag I realized that he had refilled his water cup with soda. I could tell because under the cover the liquid was dark brown like Pepsi. It made me so angry that I wanted to say something really sarcastic like, "Here's your food. Have a gr…

Future Blog Posts

In the mental pipeline...

- the importance of Dad's sticking around for their kids
- the difference between hiring and training girls vs. boys
- a critical look at the deception inherent in the act of hymenoplasty
- frustrations with people who don't do the job completely
- comparison of race car driver spotters to Jesus
- a list of behaviours I am thankful my parents instilled in me

What would you most like to read about? State your pick in the comments.

Bringing Sexy Back

I am on a personal mission to bring the mustache back to sexy. Right now I have been growing it out for about 3 weeks and it looks like something a kid gets in grade 9 - give me a couple more weeks and we'll see what happens. My wife hates it, but we're in the old man hockey play-offs and so I absolutely cannot shave. Bad luck.

I think a bunch of bloggers should all grow mustaches for a month or two. It'd be a great way to unite us all.

Old Man Play-off Stats

Two assists in the final 10 minutes (including making the play on the game tying goal with 1:30 left) and the game winning goal on the first shot in the overtime shoot-out. My old man team wins 4-3 (2-0 shootout) to advance to the second round of the play-offs.

Not too bad, eh?

Thoughts on the Decline of Societal Intelligence

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend about the decline of modern language and the increasingly small amount of word range that people possess. An example of this would be the enormous overuse of the words awesome and nice. While I was lamenting this thought my pal argued that a majority of people in the past probably spoke with about as little sophistication and linguistic range as the majority of people currently do. Maybe so, maybe not.

This is not going to sound good but...

Today while I was walking to the mailbox at work I was pondering the possibly detrimental effects that limited family sizes among elite families in America could have on the intellectual repository of our country. It seems to me that some amount of intelligence and intellectual ability is passed on genetically. So, if this is true, the decline of births in intelligence rich households, coupled with increases in births among those in not-as-intelligent households, could lead to a society filled with inte…

Watching the Old Man

When I played open hockey as a high school and college aged kid there was always a guy at the rink who would have his kids with him. If they were old enough they'd be on the bench, otherwise his wife would be with them in the stands. I always assumed the old guy wanted to show off his dwindling skills to the family.

Yesterday I became 'old dwindling skills guy.'

A old friend of mine looked me up online a couple weeks and invited me to play on his hockey team. It has been great. I love the sport and am very grateful that Stephanie has given me some free time to play. Last night I had an early game and so the whole family packed into the van to come and watch Dad tool around on the ice.

It was fun to score a goal for my kids and wave to them from the bench. They were running around on the bleachers having a blast. Unfortunately they missed my second goal and my time in the penalty box because Mom had to take them aside for a spanking. The reason - they were spitting over t…

Rhythm

Today the pastor talked about finding rhythm. He quoted Ecclesiastes 3 and the idea that there is a time for everything. He focused on Sabbath and making sure that we slow down. He challenged us with questions like...
Do you know your rhythm?
When you think best? When you serve best?
When to do more? When to do less?Do you know when is your best time to connect with God?Jesus knew the answers to these things. Jesus knew about rhythm. After big ministry events he took time to be alone and recharge with his Father. Read about it.

I have been living out of rhythm lately. Letting life run me, rather than me running life. I need to make some time to slow down, listen, reconnect, recharge. I need to rest. Physically yes. But much more wholistically.

By the way...anybody who has Mark Buchanan's book The Rest of God....if you don't want it anymore, please send it to me. Thanks.

Be Ready

I do a lot of driving around in the retail development where my store is located. As I am driving I am usually wearing me work uniform. And when I finish my errands I park my car not far from my store.

Yesterday I had a situation where a guy thought I was coming into his lane and he honked at me. I slowed down and let him go by, giving him a sarcastic wave and head nod. As I pulled of I thought to myself, "How stupid, that guy might follow me or have seen my uniform, and I could have cost myself a customer!" (Sadly I've blogged those thoughts before). But my next thought was about myself as a follower of Christ.

When I was in full time ministry I was much more conscious about what I said and did because a) I didn't want controversy in the church over debatable things, and b) I didn't want someone to not attend our church because of me. But since I have been out of ministry there have been times where the idea of wearing a uniform and winning 'customers…

Betting the Preakness

The Preakness has some really tough horses running in it. Obviously it would be pretty exciting if Street Sense could win and take the next step towards the Triple Crown, but the field is very strong so it wouldn't be a big of an upset if he doesn't.

With that in mind, here is where my imaginary money goes....

Winner
1. Hard Spun

Exacta
1. Street Sense
2. Hard Spun

Trifecta
1. Curlin
2. Circular Quay
3. Street Sense

Love Equals Time Together

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This week our three year old Jacob has been having a difficult time with his daddy being gone so much. Some of the primary ways he has shown his disapproval is by having a negative attitude and being very disrespectful with his mouth. This has taken a toll on his mother.

There is a strong connection in Jacob's mind between time together and love. Earlier this week he asked my wife, "Why is Daddy never home? Does he not love us?" It broke my heart to hear that. I can only imagine how detrimental it is to a child's psyche when they don't get to spend large amounts of time with their parents over an extended period of time during their adolescent lives.

Jacob doesn't understand that I am working hard to pay bills and hopefully give us the chance to get a new house. In fact, he doesn't really care about a new house. Spending time playing with his Dad is far more important to him than having his own room or having a fenced in backyard or having new cloth…

Life is a Roller Coaster

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Life is a roller coaster. It is an old adage that is ringing true in my life right now.

Everyday brings a new twist and turn of thought, disappointment, possibility, challenge, dream, frustration, and hope. The future looks bright, then future looks dim. The odds seem favorable, suddenly they're wiped away. All the stars seem to be aligning, chaos dominates the horizon.

I don't feel like I've lived in this kind of turbulence since sometime during college and it is not easy to click the seat belt and enjoy the ride. There is a loss of control in that. I don't know how long the climb is or when the upside down parts will end. The speed and uncertainty can be frightening.

Soon I'll look back amazed at how quickly the ride is over and I'll marvel at how the whole thing held together and moved along the track exactly as its Creator designed it to.

I know this and this are true, but until the ride ends my stomach will occasionally be in knots and my hands will be …

Gauging Your Heart for Those Outside the Faith

Since I became a pastor I always supported the idea of loving people far from God. I believed and taught about the importance of the Great Commission; I sincerely encouraged people to befriend and care for those outside the family of faith. And yet drumming up internal passion for lost people was something that I struggled with personally. I had the knowledge (knowing that we should love people) but I was lacking in the practice (actually doing it). And I was bothered by it.

It is an important practice for me to constantly be looking out against my own apathy. If I get complacent I will drift towards self-absorption. I will become more concerned with my own comfort and enjoyment in life than I am with the eternal state of others' souls. I will forget to extend to others the great grace and rescue given to me.

Casey points out 4 questions that Dan Kimball asks himself to gauge the condition of his heart for lost people. These are convicting questions to use for personal evalu…

Less is More

Less is more. Or so they say (who is 'they' by the way?). My mess is that I can't seem to settle on my less.

I have always admired experts. You know, those people who seem to know everything about something. My problem is that in trying to emulate these people I end up knowing something about everything.

There is so much out there that it is impossible to be an expert in everything. Narrow the focus. Pick something and go after it. That is what I should do.

It's tough for me. I get sidetracked. I get worried about being specific. Feels like it limits my options. I suppose though you can never be prolific if you are not specific.

I need to pick a direction and sell out for it. That kind of scares me. Too be honest.

JVD - I need help.

Thanks for listening (reading).

The Tragically Hip

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I just got home from watching my favorite band perform in Minneapolis with my friend Chad. The band is little known in the US but they are huge in Canada. Their name is The Tragically Hip.

The lead singer in the group is more than mildly entertaining to watch on stage. He sings, dances, rants between verses of songs, and has a very unique style. Plus he can do some amazing things with his mic stand. Really love the way lights are incorporated into the show.

Here is as many of the songs as I can remember from the set (I'll post the whole set list when it comes online)...

World Container
1. Yer Not the Ocean
2. The Lonely End of the Rink
3. In View
4. The Kids Don't Get it
5. Family Band
6. World Container

In Between Evolution
7. It Can't be Nashville Every Night

Phantom Power
8. Bobcaygeon

Trouble at the Hen House
9. Gift Shop
10. Springtime in Vienna

Day For Night
11. Grace Too
12. Nautical Disaster

Fully Completely
13. Fully Completely

Road Apples
14. Little Bones

Up to Here
15. New Orleans …

Introspective Inventories

Filling out application forms, updating resumes and writing cover letters sucks. Stephanie is pursuing a couple things right now and all the paperwork is a major hassle. There is this feeling that the future hangs on every word. The positive of it all is that many of the application questions force a person to evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses and passions and skills.

I don't think these kind of introspective inventories don't happen enough. Most people are out of touch with who they are. Rarely do you find someone who can articulate their passions and desires and skills. Added to that is the difficulty of speaking positively about what we perceive as our talents.

It would be a good exercise for you to grab a journal tonight and answer a few simple questions....

1. What am I good at?
2. What do I enjoy doing?
3. What can I do better than most people?
4. What skills do I bring to a work?
5. What types of activities energize me?
6. What kinds of things drain me?
7. If I c…

What My Kids Would Say on Mother's Day

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I am sure many blogger will be taking the opportunity today to publicly brag up the special women in their lives. I am no different. Sometimes I wonder what my kids would say if they could fully comprehend and articulate all that Stephanie does for them. I'd bet they would say something like this:

My mom is the best because....
- she always gets up at night to help us when we're sick
- she takes us garage sailing and buys us Toy Story and Clifford toys
- she sits in the driveway while we ride our bikes outside
- she takes us to Taco John's for potatoes and cheese
- she brings us to the park and the play land
- she takes the time to listen to us
- she prays with us when we are scared
- she is more patient than Daddy
- she reads us books over and over again
- she makes us lunch and dinner almost everyday
- she shows us how to blow bubbles, and write letters, and color pictures, and get ourselves dressed, and how to sing the ABC's when we wash our hands
- she brings us to church s…

Cheese Curds for Mother's Day?

When I took the job as General Manager of the A&W last September I told the owner that I would make a firm commitment not to work Sundays. Since I am required to work 50 hours a week I knew that I would need Sundays to recharge, enjoy my family and find some peace. So far that arrangement has gone well; so well in fact that today is the first Sunday in nine months that I have had to be at the store in the morning.

The reason I'm here today is because many of the employee took Mother's Day off. Unfortunately as the GM I have to pick up the slack. This sucks for my wife because today is supposed to be her day to rest from her motherly duties, but I am planning on making that up to her tomorrow. It is pretty slow at the store today - maybe because most moms don't want their special day to include a trip to the fast food joint for chili dogs and cheese curds.

Craziness

May has been a crazy month for my family and I. Stephanie has a bunch of Tupperware stuff happening, I have been tied up working two jobs, and to top it off we are trying to get our house ready to be sold. This has all left me very little time for anything else and it has left Stephanie exhausted. But God is good and we are really excited about what the future holds for us; I look forward to recording the rest of our journey here. It will be amazing to look back years from now and see how God's invisible hand was guiding us along the entire time.

Turning Points

Turning points.

We all have them in our lives. Those conversations, moments, or experiences that leave us different. Changed. Headed in a new direction.

It doesn't always happen instantaneously. Sometimes new life takes a time to develop. But usually there is a point that can be retrospectively seen as decisive.

I might have had one of those conversations today. Only God knows.

Turning points can be scary places. They can leave the future unknown, open-ended, up for grabs.

Turning points are usually accompanied by a choice to be made. To step into the ambiguity or not.

To chase a lion or to stay put. To pursue the promise or not.

I don't want fear to cripple or cage me.

But it is hard.

Praise that I am not alone. Or on my own.

My Derby Picks

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After two days of sports talk radio I am hooked on the Kentucky Derby.

If I was a gambling man here are my picks...

Winner: Nobiz Like Shobiz

Exacta: (1) Street Sense, (2) Dominican

Trifecta: (1) Tiago, (2) Curlin, (3) Scat Daddy

Leaders Are Readers

I love to read. With three small kids I am not able to read nearly as much as I would like, but in those few moments that I do there is little else I would rather do. Reading expands my mind, opens me up to new ideas, forces me to think about new things, advises me on things I need to learn about, and makes me a resource to other people. I think reading is one of the most important parts of developing as a person and as a follower of Jesus. And yet most people don't do it.

There are a million excuses given. Maybe you have heard or used a few of them...

-I don't have time
-I am not good at it
-I can't stay focused
-I don't ever remember anything
-I am an audio learner

And the list goes on and on.

Loved what Casey had to say a few days ago about reading. You'll have to read his whole post to get the context...
"I love it: "Who cares if he doesn't like to read?" Don't you owe it to your clients, coworkers, spouse, friends, congregation, yourself, …

Andrew Goes to the ER

Stephanie took our 8 month old baby Andrew to the ER about an hour ago. He got a penicillin shot a couple days ago to treat his strep throat and tonight he was getting sort of blotchy so we figured we should get it checked out. Just to make sure there is no allergic react happening.

Ever notice how our minds have a funny way of racing ahead and creating what-if scenarios, usually with negative scenes unfolding, when we face a crisis? I am no different tonight. While praying for Andrew I thought about the fact that we have no life insurance for him. Also I wondered, "If he did die where in the world would we bury him?" Next thought: "If I died, where in the world would I be buried?" (For the record-when I die don't waste land with my body. Burn it up. I'm getting a new one anyway.)

How do you decide where you want to be buried? These are not fun thoughts to have. Please keep the Drew-man in your prayers.

*Update: Allergic reaction, he was treated and…

Drug Testing for Horses

This Is Your Moment

"This is your moment. You can't quit this time. You have to finish the job. I'm made of wax Larry. What are you made of?"

- Theodore Roosevelt's character in Night of the Museum

This was an OK movie. The scenes with the dinosaur were pretty sweet. The comedy was alright. There were some funny lines and comments, but it was not on par with other Ben Stiller movies. The appearance of Owen Wilson added quite a bit. This would be a fun movie to rent and watch with yours 5-9 year old kids. The language and comedy was fit for all people.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (PG)

Kentucky Derby Madness

Can't wait for the Kentucky Derby to get over with.

Nobody talks about horse racing all year until this race comes around. Now everyone acts like it is some big sport. Annoying.

Sucks me right in though; I'll probably be watching and routing for a specific horse.

I'll let you know who to bet on.

A Few Questions

Life gets really dirty and hard sometimes.

I have a friend who is in some serious trouble. This person is headed down an extremely dangerous road with some pretty major, painful consequences and I don't really know how to help. There is an addictive, possibly neural chemical element to it all that I don't know how to deal with.

Knowing my own sins and shortcomings I can sympathize with this person but even so, I can't fully wrap my head around the situation. I wish I could just smack him/her straight.

What is the best Christian response I can offer my friend and his/her spouse?

What do you do when someone you love is caught in a vicious cycle of sin/ repentance/ re-offense/ and regret?

Greenhouse Seasonal All-Star

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Pretty pumped about making the Seasonal All-Stars at the greenhouse where I occasionally work.

Hope you enjoy the picture of me in my delivery truck.

You can check out a vast array of other very professional looking pictures of my co-workers here. My pals are Derek, Matt, Dean, and Trevor.

Tony Dungy Interview

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Yesterday Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy was interviewed on a Minneapolis sports talk radio station. I was blown away with the humility, wisdom, composure, faith and gentleness that Coach Dungy exhibited. He answered all kinds of questions about football, coaching, parenting, the grief of losing his son, fame, leadership and faith. I really learned from Dungy's words about his coaching staff being like a family, and the fact that their consistent time together (for many guys 6 seasons together) has built a level of trust that enables Dungy to delegate much of the responsibility for coaching different parts of the team.

Drills home the idea that TIME + TESTING = TRUST which may lead to SUCCESS.

At one point the conversation turned to a question about Dungy's 'religion' and 'spiritualism.' The talk show host, a spoken out agnostic at best, questioned Dungy about the possibility of God somehow 'choosing' the outcome of last year's Super Bow…

Jesus is the Radiance of God's Glory

Wow it is already May 1st. Amazing.

This month my small group is reading, meditating on and talking about the Book of Hebrews. Here is something sweet to savor, chew on and digest into your soul.
Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (ESV)
Hope your month goes great.