Decade in Review

30... Ten years ago 30 seemed so old to me. I thought it would take forever to get here when I turned 20, yet here I am. If you told me when I was 20 that the day after my 30th birthday I would be sitting in Marietta on a Wednesday afternoon writing on a blog and drinking coffee I would have told you I would never be that much of a loser. I seriously would have said that. Do I feel like a loser? Not at all. Would anyone ever admit they thought of themself as loser? I sure hope not.
My last Christmas in my 20's

When I was 20 I didn't drink coffee. There was no such thing as a blog and wireless internet did not exist yet. I was probably in school on a Wednesday afternoon.

My 20's were a very wild but blessed ride. I say it too much, but I still consider myself one of the most blessed people walking on Earth. How can I not say that as I look over my laptop screen and see footage of the Haiti earthquake on the TV? When I look back at my computer I can remove myself from the wreckage, pain, and death in Haiti. There are 9.7 million people in Haiti that can't just look away. Just the latest example that I am more blessed than I deserve.

I am going to stay away from naming people too much because I surely will forget some people that played great roles in my 20's.

In my 20's I worked...
First job was working at the UGA golf course after my sophomore year. I walked 9 holes 3 days a week before my shift started and didn't improve the entire summer.
After college I was lucky enough to work for McNeel Builders and Glen Eden Wool Carpet where I would measure, cut, and glue wool carpet to make rugs.
I managed townhomes in a ski resort and cleaned off tables in a fine dining restaurant.
Arapahoe Basin

I worked on Lazy Hay Farm feeding and raising bulls and Twylum Farms herding cows. I still twitch at the memory of being shocked by the electric fence and it knocking me on my ass in New Zealand.
Feeding the calves on Lazy Hay Farm

I worked for Slim (he was shady, not skinny by any means) in Carrollton and Douglasville developing property.
Pete was my boss at the Marietta Housing Authority. Pete genuinely cared about how I was doing. He asked about me, my friends, church, my family. I have found that to be rare in the working world.
I worked for a construction company and played a part (very small part) in building a 7 story condo. It's great to look at that building and know how much time I put into it.
Unfortunately my working status starting my 30's is the same as my 20's - unemployed.

In my 20's I lived...
In a 2 bedroom apartment in Athens, GA with Joseph, Ben, and Harris
Whit's house on Polk St. and Joseph's house on Rockford Township.
My own on Hickory Walk
A 4 bedroom apartment with Ben and then a three bedroom with Kailey and Paige in Eagle-Vail, CO.
A farmhouse with John and Lisa in Winton, New Zealand
A 'piso' on the fifth floor in Sevilla, Spain

Spiritually in my 20's...
I worried too much about things that don't matter and not enough about the things that do
There were times I was too cautious with my actions and other times too liberal with my words
I can still remember some of the faces of the people whom I didn't treat as I would have liked to have been treated
I denied God when I should have boasted about Him and also pushed Him on others when I should have waited patiently
On the other hand I praised Him in times of sorrow and persevered in seeking His guidance
I served God's people in the Czech Republic, Peru, and Mexico

I had fun in my 20's...
Skiing in: Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wisconsin, and the Swiss Alps
Big Sky Montana with good friends
Snorkeling in Hawaii and swimming off Coronado Beach in San Diego

Playing soccer on the beach in Cadiz, Spain

Visiting my sister in Seattle and Albuquerque
16 day, 12 city tour of Europe by train
The Coliseum in Rome

Spring Break in Germany and Switzerland
Legally blind in New Zealand hiking on Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand (one of only 3 places in the world where a rainforest leads to a glacier). Joe had to tell me where I should and shouldn't step to get through it
Learning the culture and meeting the people of Sevilla, Spain
Plaza de EspaƱa

Relationships in my 20's...
I was in and out of love
I went on good dates and bad ones
Sometimes I was inconsiderate in dealing with women and other times I couldn't possibly give more of myself
I was a good friend and a bad friend
I wasn't as close to family as I would have liked. That's a combination of me being lazy but also just that we are so spread out. My second decade was a tumultuous time for my family. My 20's ended with me being closer to my dad than ever, my sister and I being 3000 miles apart but never closer in spirit, and my mom living a comfortable distance away which makes our relationship better.

I got Badger when I was 20 and he will be 10 on February 4th. I can't believe he has been in my life for a decade.
Badger dragged the flour into the living room and dug into it

The friends that were closest to me at 20 are still my best friends at 30 as well as many more people I have met over the last decade I now consider to be great friends
I have friends that know how I thrive being around others and they invite me to dinner and even offer me a place to live. You know who you are. Thank you and love you all.

I can sit here and honestly say I don't have any regrets (except not taking enough pictures). And for those of you that knew me in college when I put peroxide in my hair I was 19 so that doesn't count. Yes I would like to be married and I would like to have kids. But I haven't been dealt those cards yet. And I'm not going to sit here and whine about the cards in front of me because I happen to love the way my last 10 years have turned out. I can't wait to see what is in store for my 30's. It's going to take a lot to top my 20's but I'm eager to try.

It's been quite a ride. Thank you to all that have been a part of it.

Does the Common Man Actually Have a Voice Now?

I have not been religious about following every update out of the Iranian elections since the vote took place, but over the last 48 hours I have been shocked by reports coming out of Iran. This has nothing to do with the fact that they are protesting or even what they are protesting. The shock value for me comes from how I am able to get up to the minute updates on the current situation. I will check out Google News, the AP, CNN, and FoxNews, all online, and think that I am getting the latest. Then I search #IranElection on twitter and realize that the major news networks are far behind what is going on over there.

The only thing I know about this whole situation is that Ahmadinejad has not exactly made friends with the US. I don't know enough about Ahmadinejad or Mousavi and their campaign to be President of Iran. I really haven't done enough homework into the conflicts to give an educated opinion. So, I will talk about one thing I have noticed in all this.

It is very common for us as Americans to cry out against the government for pushing our values on other countries. Iran is not a European country where the government and religious ideals are like ours. Free speech is not something that the people are used to even if it is a "right" to the people on paper. Iran tried to shut down blogs during this time of protest. Fortunately, for the Iranians, they forgot to shut down Twitter and Facebook.
The beauty in this situation is we are not pushing our ideals on them nor are they asking to be more like the US. The free speech and protests (our right of assembly) has been natural. The Iranians are doing it on their own. Again, I am not advocating forcing our way of life on other countries. But the argument of our ideals not being for everyone are falling by the wayside in the gutters of Tehran.

Check out these pictures from supporters and opposition to Ahmadinejad's victory. The pictures show bravery, community standing up for one another, and the ugliness of protesting.

An aside to this: A few days ago CNN got blasted on their website for not having anything about the Iran elections on the main page. Twitter members started including the tag #CNNfail in their tweets. Today, they have a special Iran Updates section right on their main page. In the years I have been to their website I have never seen them do anything like that. I'm not endorsing CNN here so don't go there just take my word for it.

Look at the power and voice of the common man. In one instance Twitter decided to postpone scheduled maintenance and in another it affected a major news organization's web site. Could this be the way the silent majority finally is heard?

Grace - Explained by someone smarter than me

I'd like to say that recently I have been struggling with the idea of grace. To be perfectly honest I can't say in the dozen or so years I have known Jesus that I have ever been comfortable with grace. I just flat out don't get it. I am sure there is some kind of psycho analysis that tells me why this is, but for the time being I cannot wrap my arms around it. As you can see over the last few sentences I am not good about explaining myself, so I am going to let a someone else explain what I feel.

Donald Miller has been one of my favorite authors since I first read his "Blue Like Jazz" book back in 2005. He seems to be able to capture Christianity in a way I see it but cannot explain it. So instead of fumbling around my thoughts on grace I am going to copy his words. When I read this excerpt this morning it jumped out at me and I read it a number of times to make sure it said exactly how I feel.

Rick is described in the book as Miller's pastor and one of his best friends. When Rick had just become a Christian at 19 years of age he was struggling with the idea of being given this new life and "yet couldn't obey Jesus in return." After telling God how sorry he was and how he wished he could be obedient Rick then tried to overdose on muscle relaxers. [to be clear I am not in any way saying that I am considering Rick's options to get away from my anguish of not being obedient to God]

This is Donald Miller's explanation, from "Blue Like Jazz", of how Rick saw grace:

"Rick tells me, looking back, that he was too proud to receive free grace from God. He didn't know how to live within a system where nobody owes anybody else anything. And the harder it was for Rick to pay God back, the more he wanted to hide. God was his loan shark, so to speak. Though he understood that God wanted nothing in return, his mind could not communicate this fact to his heart, so his life was something like torture."

Sorry to completely rip off someone else to explain my view of grace, but he says it so well. It is torture to know that someone can give me a gift and there is no way for me to pay it back. Miller struggled with grace as well until his heart was open to the idea at a grocery store of all places. When will my enlightenment come?

Miller goes on after the grocery store/grace enlightenment occurrence and says, "I love to give charity, but I don't want to be charity. This is why I have so much trouble with grace." There it is. I am given way more than I deserve already: family that care about me, friends that invite me to eat dinner or watch TV or go to their farm/lake house/skiing lodge for the weekend, a construction job in an economy where the industry has never been worse (and this is the short list). What I shouldn't need is God, on top of all the aforementioned blessings, to forgive me of my disobedience to Him.

But he does.

He did yesterday.

He does today,

And He will tomorrow. (ssshhhh...don't tell anyone, but it's true...I am going to commit some sort of sins sometime after today)

And I just don't get it.

I know that only a couple people read this, but I really would like to hear of other people's views on grace. Maybe by God's direction He will send someone to this post with insight. How did you realize to just accept it? Do you totally disagree with me? Maybe you don't believe in grace or Jesus for that matter. What are your thoughts?

Like I was saying...

Read my previous post on IRS problems (I know, it's my only other post) and then read a letter to the editor that was reprinted on Neal Boortz's wed site. I don't prescribe to everything posted on Boortz's site, but this is good.

Where are the checks and balances?

I realize that in the world of news by the nanosecond this is old news by now. For a couple weeks now I have been shaking my head about the three cabinet selections by President Obama that owe the federal government taxes from years before 2008. I have been waiting for the news giants to pound Obama on this, but it is just not happening. Why am I forced to pay taxes when no one forces our elected officials to do the same?

Tim Geithner is Obama's selection for treasury secretary. As you know the Treasury Secretary takes care of the financial aspects of our country. Geithner owed $34,000 in taxes. This means that at minimum he had $100,000 of income that he did not report on his taxes. Geithner is touted as the best man for the job. That's fine, but he has already proven he will cheat the government given a chance. What are the odds it happens again?

Tom Daschle owes $140,000 to the US government! That is maybe $450,000 of income that he did not disclose. In case you didn't know, Daschle is a senator in the United States Congress. To me this is a lack of respect, not only to our country, but to the people that elected him that pay their own income taxes.

Ron Kirk is the latest to come out. He ONLY owes $10,000. If you didn't pay your taxes the last couple years what would you be able to do with that money? It would make it a lot easier to get through this economy. I wish I had that option.

Why can we not get the media to take Obama to task on this? It shouldn't be a liberal bias, because ultimately these people are cheating the citizens of this country.