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Showing posts from December, 2010

Andrew's Memory game Tactics

Last week I was playing Memory with my 4 year old, who by the way, is amazingly talented at that game! As we were playing I noticed that he had this little habit that was helping him get the edge on me. When it was his turn, if he accidentally flipped over a card he knew was there, or that he thought was something else, and it wasn’t what he wanted, he’d flip the card back over again and pick two more. I called him out on it a couple times, but then I decided that winning all the matches in a game of Memory with my toddler son isn’t all that impressive so I quit making a big deal of it and let him get away with the extra moves.

As I think back on 2010 and even years previous to it I can’t help but think, “It is too bad I haven’t used that strategy with some of the decisions I’ve made in my lifetime." I could have avoided myself some pain and struggling if I had more quickly ‘flipped the card’ back over and made different choices along the way. That is the choice we have ever…

10 Highlights of 2010

1. Running Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN
2. Family trip to Cragun's Resort in Brainerd, MN
3. Annual vacation to Michigan
4. Finally passing pay grade interviews at work
5. Watching Stephanie's basketball team in the State Tournament
6. Taking Jacob to Twin's game at Target Field for kindergarten graduation
7. Pheasant hunting trip with neighbor Brian to Marshall, MN
8. Adding a dog, Manny, to our family
9. Playing in hockey tournaments in Chicago and Blaine
10. The many small family trips to movies, bowling, baseball, pajama parties, fireworks, parades, times with grandparents, fun at the neighbors, trick-or-treating, swimming pools,etc.

Hitting the Target in 2011

I'm working on a list of 2011 targets. These are targets that if I can continually move towards the center and hit the bulls-eye, my joy and love for God and others will deepen, and my life will be increasingly filled with happiness and fulfillment. Here's what I have so far. If you have any additions leave a comment.

Target #1 - Knowing God More Intimately
Target #2 - Knowing God More Scripturely
Target #3 - Fight Your Sinfulness More Courageously
Target #4 - Living Your Life More Healthy
Target #5 - Loving/Respecting Your Spouse More Selflessly
Target #6 - Raising Your Children More Graciously
Target #7 - Serving Your Church More Faithfully
Target #8 - Working More Purposefully
Target #9 - Reaching Out to Your Neighbors More Intentionally

12 Gifts of the 2010 Christmas

This is a condensed compilation* of my family's favorite gifts this Christmas. Thank you to everyone who made it memorable with your love and generosity.

12. Reading the Christmas story with the Balvin family and creating stars
11. Brenton's Think book by John Piper
10. Stephanie's absolutely awesome hair straightener
9. Andrew's Imaginex ambulance
8. Isabelle's CD player
7. Jacob's Moose themed pajamas
6. Family Membership to the Children's Museum
5. Andrew's Thomas the Train sets
4. Jacob's DSI-XL and many games to go with it
3. Stephanie's glittery scarf and clothes pin picture frame
2. Isabelle's Rebekah American Girl doll and some cute outfits
1. Brenton's Taylor Made driver and zip up golfing vest

*Gifts are not ranked by coolness and many other awesome gifts were left off this list for the sake of time.

** One more: all the date night supplies like Wild tickets, movie tickets, and restaurant gift cards!

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

Stephanie's class is reading Harper Lee's literary masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird. Whenever her class reads a book I usually read it too. I hadn't read To Kill a Mockingbird in a long time and all I could remember was the name Boo Radley. As soon as I started reading I was absolutely hooked. I read the whole thing in less than three days; I literally couldn't put it down.
Lee's use of dialog in the book is spectacular. She did such an amazing job of creating characters who say things like 'ain't, yess'm, and sehr' in ways that come across as authentic and alive. The characters in the book come alive and I felt like I was watching a movie as I flipped through the pages of the book. I couldn't get over the way Lee's writing makes the pages of the book come alive in the imagination, without over stimulating and giving unnecessary or boring details. I was never bored with one page, and extremely rarely with even one paragraph.
I was als…

Balvin Blizzard Highlights

We were snowed in today but we found some fun things to do. Here's a quick rundown:
- Izzy and Stephanie baked lots of Christmas cookies - Andrew and I go to help frost them - A few loads of laundry - Kids version of Charades - many rounds of 20 questions - built a Thomas the Train track - watched Ramona and Besus - watched The Christmas Carol (scary Jim Carey version) - Snowblower in the driveway, 2x - Sausage sandwiches for breakfast - Stephanie's amazing chicken salad for lunch (and dinner...yummy!) - Andrew built a fort in his bedroom - lots of coloring and bead-making

Connectedness & Decision Making

You don't know how many people your life is connected to until you do something that lets everyone down. When we screw-up we see most clearly (if we're willing to look) how we are tied to others. Very few people live in such complete isolation that their choices have no effect on someone else.

I once heard Pastor John Ortberg describe how he uses his journal to write down as many of the negative consequences he can think of if he were to choose to give in to a temptation facing him. I think that's a great exercise and I wish I used it more often. Stopping to think about how our choices affect others can act as a deterrent to errant behavior.

Should You Cancel Church due to Bad Weather?

Read this blog post from Pastor Rob Ketterling of River Valley Church explaining why he has a hard time canceling church services because of weather...
* The reason we don't cancel is because years ago during the first Gulf War, my brother Rick was about to be deployed to the middle east. It was his last Sunday before deploying and he lived in Arkansas. That Sunday they received a snow storm and when the pastor got to church, only 100 people were there. Read the rest....I've never been a big fan of canceling church either. For starters, the weather is usually not as bad as people think. Secondly, it is my feeling that most people would brave the storm for a Vikings game, and how much greater is it to spend time praising Jesus with his people.

Friends, leave early and drive slowly but DON'T skip church!

Reactive v. Proactive Living

Mark Batterson wrote in a blog post today,
When I'm frustrated spiritually or relationally [professionally], it's often because I'm in reactive mode. I'm just reacting to the circumstances I find myself in. And that's when you default on life. When I'm feeling fulfilled, it's usually because I'm proactive. I'm going after goals or executing a plan or living out my priorities.I know all abut being in reactive mode. Living in some of it right now but working to get on the proactive side. Developing a plan takes time and it can be really hard work, but it really does pay off when you feel less stress and have a greater sense of where you are headed.

You Don't Have to Get What You Deserve

There is a prevailing attitude in the culture around me that says, "You should get what you deserve." This kind of thinking pervades all kinds of situations. Here's some examples:

- Guy can hit 100 homeruns, he deserves to get paid $100 million.
- Guy gets behind the wheel and hurts someone, he deserves to spend time in jail.
- Girl messes up her sister's make-up, she deserves to get her hair pulled.
- Girl struggles with addiction, she deserves to lose her kids.
- Guy organizes dog fighting, he deserves to suffer for the rest of his life.
- Girl gets pregnant as a teenager, she deserves to being ridiculed or labeled.
- Girl lived a nice moral life, she deserves prosperity and blessing.
- Guy never hurts anyone, he deserves to life a cancer free life.

I'm sure you can think of your own examples.

Most of the time the concept of: "my behavior = deserved result/consequence" is a good thing. It helps us understand boundaries and it has some potential to deter dama…

Sound Sleep is God's Gift, as are Children

Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
(Psalm 127:1-5 ESV)

How Do You Talk About Death

We've all heard comments like this. Many of us have probably uttered them at one time or another.

- 'John Doe' is in a better place now.
- Heaven is reserved for the very best.
- They're resting with the angels.
- I know he/she is watching over us.

I understand many people don't know what to say in the face of death. Death is a sad thing. The ironic thing to me is how spiritual people get when they encounter death. "There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole" they say. Well, there are very few atheists when it comes to dealing with death.

When someone dies suddenly everyone is 'praying' for the grieving family. Sometimes people even commit to 'praying' for the dead person. I don't get it. The same people who get live entire lives focused on themselves and serving their idols (be it the god of sex, money, good feelings, power, fashion, or fill-in-the-blank), these same people are talking about angels and better places.

Shouldn&#…

No One is Righteous But Through Christ

I've been reading and thinking on Psalm 118 for the past couple days. It is an amazing song of praise to, and confidence in, the Lord God. Today while doing some mundane task at work I was thinking about the Psalmist reference to 'the righteous.' In verse 19-21 he writes,
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
(Psalm 118:19-21 ESV)As I thought about it I felt an evil spirit trying to speak to me and bring me down. It was saying, "You'll never enter the gates to the Lord because you are unrighteous." I even thought of the verse in Romans which say, "There are none who are righteous, not even one." (Rom 3.10) As I thought on it, I wanted to enter the gate of God into his presence but I wondered if my unrighteousness was holding me back.

Th…