Tuesday, August 8, 2006


If I haven't mentioned yet how much auditors annoy me, let me just say - THEY ANNOY ME! There. I've said it. Part of my frustration is that, being from an accounting background, I can understand the need to have an explanation for everything and need to show that the numbers match what we say they match. This means, of course, that I go over my work with a fine tooth comb before handing it over to them to review. I take great pride on being able to give them exactly what they need. So when the auditor comes into my office with, "I have a problem," and what she really means is "YOU have a problem, I want to find exactly what it is and how to fix it. I've just spent the past 45 minutes trying to find a discrepancy that, as it turns out, is non-existent. The problem was in her calculations. Grrr.

And so it goes. Breath in, breath out.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Another day, another blog

This week marks the return of the auditor!! [insert creepy music here] Part of my responsibilities at the newspaper is being the point person for our annual circulation audit. This is my first time going through an audit in this position and seeing as I’ve only been in this position about 2 months, I’m a little nervous. But so far so good, which means the worst is yet to come. I’ll just be glad when it’s over.

Okay, book review time again. Late last year, I picked up Ted Dekker’s Black, book one of the Circle Trilogy. Suffice it to say that I was hooked and had completed Black in about a 48-hour time frame. I was given the other two, Red and White, for Christmas and made short work of them. I highly recommend these books to pretty much everyone.

So recently, I picked up another one of Dekker’s books called Showdown. [Warning!! Possible spoilers ahead, but I’ll try to keep them at a minimum.] It was a good read, albeit definitely not as good as the Circle Trilogy. Dekker has a pretty good grasp on the art of allegory, in my non-professional opinion. In Showdown, you have the classic struggle of good versus evil, but Dekker has a way of mixing it up a little bit. The story centers around two locations mysteriously interwoven– a town called Paradise (oddly enough) and a monastery in the mountains where a special project has been under way for the past 12 or so years. Half-way through the book, Dekker introduces a key element that anyone who has read the Circle Trilogy will recognize immediately. (As a side note, if you’ve not read the Circle Trilogy, read them before you read Showdown.) In the end, there is an allegorical element of redemption and a very stirring portrayal of just a tiny bit of the agony that must have ripped the heavens when God willingly sacrificed his Son, Jesus.

The other main take-away from this book that I had was the graphic depiction of the blackness of the sin nature. As the actions and thoughts of the townspeople rapidly degenerate, through the first half of the book it appears that they really have no control over what they do, but are seemingly under the power of a hallucinogen. However, it is later revealed that while there is some outside influence, all the choices made by the townspeople (even down to the seemingly untouchable minister!) are completely their own, and almost without exception everyone chooses the wrong, all the while thinking they have been “freed.” That’s a pretty good description of the sin nature, in my opinion.

Overall, it was a pretty good read.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

My sons understanding blows me away yet again

Tonight, something special happened. Each evening ever since we were united with Carlos and Jeremiah, we've read a section from our children’s Bible, which includes illustrative pictures. Carlos would quite often ask me to read about the one that had a small picture of Jesus on the cross, but I would always tell him that we had to read other things first (we are reading from beginning to end). Well, tonight we finally got to the chapter that told about Jesus death on the cross and Carlos was listening intently. After we finished, I asked him if he understood what we read and if he knew why Jesus died. He replied, “Because people do sins.” When I asked him what sins were, he said “Disobeying.” I helped to clarify a little bit with him that sins were bad things that everyone did – Carlos, Jeremiah, Mama, Papa, Abuela Oma – everyone! He pointed to the picture and asked, “God disobey?” “No, in fact, he is the only person who has never, ever disobeyed and sinned.” Carlos: “Why castigar (punished)?” Me: “What if when Carlos disobeyed, Mama and Papa punished Jeremiah instead? Would that be very fair?” At this, Carlos got this look in his eyes that seemed to say “Hey, that’s not right!” He shook his head and said that he should be punished. “Well, even though Jesus never, ever did anything wrong, God punished him for our sins. He did this because God loves us very much and He knew that if He punished us, we would need to be punished forever and ever.”

This seemed to satisfy Carlos and then it was time to pray. What happened next surprised me very much. In his broken English, Carlos prayed: “Thank you God for this day. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for dying on the cross and no punish us. Please help Carlos and Jeremiah and Mama and Papa and Abuela Oma and everyone to always obey. Thank you God for love. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Okay, WOW! As I prayed after him, I couldn’t help the tears in my eyes (and even now as I type, they’ve returned!) Jesus said we should come to Him with simple, child-like faith. I’ve never really and fully understood what that meant until tonight when Carlos prayed. I pray that his understanding and faith will only continue to grow through and even in spite of my poor examples and teaching.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Date Night!

Woo-hoo! Sarah and I got to go out on a date this evening ON OUR OWN for the first time in a while. We have sort of an arrangement with another couple in our church to trade off babysitting for one another so that the other can go out for the evening. So far, it's worked pretty good! We've created a "date jar" where we've put some different ideas on a piece of paper and draw one out whenever we have a date. This way it keeps things interesting and not just the same old dinner and a movie routine. This evening we went to Thunder Valley (our local go-kart track) and raced a couple of times. And, I must admit, Sarah beat me fair and square. And she says I drive fast?! Afterward, we went to Brusters and got some ice cream then talked while sitting on the back of my truck. It was so nice to be able to have a conversation without having to interject "Carlos, please don't interrupt when Mommy and Pappi are talking" or "Jeremiah, stop howling and eat your food."

It's actually pretty cool that we were able to go out this evening because on this date 7 years ago, Sarah and I went on our first date (out in the "real" world, that is - ie., not at PCC). Wow, I can't believe it's been that long ago. Even though I moved to Roanoke for her, it's hard to believe that it actually worked! Oh me of little faith. Sarah, I love you very much!! Happy 7-year Real-date-not-including-PCC-dates Anniversary! (Okay, that was corny, but who cares when you're in love, right?) Stay tuned for more blogging this week.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Here we go!!

Since I’m relatively new to this whole blogging thing, I don’t guarantee anything exciting, earth-shattering or deeply philosophical. Every now and then I might have a book review or share a news article or whatever. And even if nobody’s reading this, it won’t be the first time I’ve talked to myself. So here goes.

While getting ready for work this morning, I noticed it was unusually warmer than it should have been in the house considering the A/C had been running. I felt the vent and sure enough, there was lukewarm air coming out. Not exactly what you want to find out during the hottest part of the summer. Fortunately, we were able to have a repairman come that afternoon and fix it. Sarah and the boys breathed a sigh of relief for that one!

All this week, our church has been having VBS. Sarah is teaching a class and Carlos is going as well. Both seem to enjoy it, but Sarah is definitely looking forward to the end of the week. Believe me, so am I! It’s just been Jeremiah and me in the evenings since Sunday. Although this has been a pretty good father/son bonding time. Not quite sure what he thinks about it all, but he seems to enjoy having his daddy all to himself!

I’ve just recently finished two books – one fiction and one non-fiction. (Yes, I have the bad habit of reading more than one book at a time.) The non-fiction book was Surprised By Joy by C. S. Lewis, and I must say I came away rather disappointed. I’ve heard a lot that Lewis is a great writer, interesting to read, etc., ad nausem, so I purchased two volumes containing eight of his books. I finished Pilgrim’s Regress a few months ago and actually enjoyed that one. Surprised By Joy on the other hand was rather difficult to wade through. Lewis has (and even admits in one book) a rather bad habit of assuming the reader knows exactly what Lewis is talking about, whether the subject be French, Latin, philosophy, or Norse mythology. All through the book, he is trying to convey his lifelong search for Joy by chronicling his journey through philosophies in an autobiographical sort of way. On the one hand, you could almost throw out the entire book except for the last two chapters and still get the idea. On the other, however, I wonder if the point would be made if Lewis hadn’t wrote about all the other worldviews he went through to arrive at Christianity.

Lewis very rightly states “There was no doubt that Joy was a desire….But a desire is turned not to itself but to its object. Not only that, but it owes all its character to its object.” Our joy as Christians should be found or rather culminated in God, and to seek after God is to seek Joy itself! Yet even though Lewis hints at this, he doesn’t really directly make this point entirely clear, even in his closing paragraph where he states: “But what, in conclusion, of Joy? For that after all, is what the story has mainly been about. To tell you the truth, the subject has lost nearly all interest for me since I became a Christian…. [Joy] was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer.” Overall, he seems obsessed not with defining Joy or how it relates us to God, but painstakingly detailing his intellectual pursuits. I would rate the book a 4 out of 10 and probably never read it again.

Wow, that was a long first blog! Hopefully if you’re still reading this, you haven’t fallen asleep. I’ll blog more later on the other book I read of one of my favorite authors, Ted Dekker.