Archive for April, 2007

I love the beginning of a new week. Each new week carries with it the promise of a fresh change, a new start, a chance to get over the day you ate two donuts- the chocolate kind that are covered in chocolate frosting. But ideally, my view (our view) of each day should be the same. Heck, why not each minute?

All of us would transform and grow at a more rapid pace if we could put our shame behind us quicker. Too many of us wallow in our mistakes and end up repeating them over and over. We bear shame that is far too heavy for our shoulders and as a result we keep our faces in the same dirt that brought us shame in the first place.

For some it is that day they went overboard and had a whole pizza, with BBQ wings, regular (not diet) Coca-Cola, and half an apple pie with ice cream on the side. After that day they (possibly you) say, “Why bother? ”  That voice of shame says, “You’re not going to be able to control your appetite.”

For some it might be the lies they told or the sheer weight of their own sin, that bears down on their back. That same voice of shame whispers in our ears, “You’ll never be good enough. You don’t deserve (insert here whatever your goal might be).”

Luckily, that voice of shame is wrong. You don’t blow a whole diet by eating poorly one day- heck you don’t even blow it by eating poorly one day a week. Step back and look at the totality of your choices. You might blow it one day a week, but what about the other six? None of us is perfect. So if your life is marked (for the most part) by positive movement toward your goals you haven’t blown it.

Because it isn’t that one day, that one mistake that ruins our diet, that ruins our walk with God, or our career. Most often it is the inordinate amount of time we spend dwelling on that mistake, refusing to learn from it, and consequently repeating it over and over.

Leave your mistake(s) behind you. Don’t forget them, but learn from them, and move on with your life or your diet. There is something at the other end that is well worth the pain and self-denial. I can tell you from where I stand, right about half-way, I am so happy about all I have achieved. I am also so excited about all the mountains left to climb.

Country Property Dirt Cheap: How I Found my Piece of Inexpensive Rural Land…Plus my Adventures with a $300 junk tractor. Ralph C. Turner. Fairfield, Iowa: Legalis Publishing Comp., 1996.

This book is an excellent and quick read- I finished it in one day. Although not directly suited to my purpose, the book contains great advice on finding a small acreage (8-12) property in the country.

Most of all the book made me feel even better about our opportunities- as the writer repeatedly commented on how much easier his search would have been if he was looking to buy 40 or more acres of land. Wouldn’t you know it, that is what we are looking to do.

The author has a flowing and folksy writing style, that doesn’t get bogged down with too much technical real estate jargon- and footnotes are provided in the rare instances where technical terms occur. This book is in many ways much more than a book about how to buy property cheap, it is the author’s life story- his dreams and aspirations for a place in the country since his boyhood.

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to purchase land in the country.

It is easy to dream.  The hard part is making your dreams come true.  One thing that is certain, no dream comes true while you sit on the couch watching Lost- unless your dream is sitting on the couch watching Lost.  So how do we accomplish our dreams and goals?

**Warning: All endeavors should be undergirded with MUCH prayer.  Do not follow the steps below without also taking time to seek God’s will and His assistance.****

I find it easiest to achieve goals when I set up a staging process.  As an example, here is “Steps to Achievement” for the ranch I am looking into purchasing, starting, and running.

Stage 1 (Things that can be done in the first 6 months)

  • Research– Research land purchases (financing, pricing, etc.), ranching, raising livestock (alpacas, goats, sheep), and taking care of horses.
  • Savings– All extra funds are directed toward a savings account set up specifically for the future ranch.
  • Location– Look at regional locations for the ranch.

Stage 2 (Steps that can begin between 6 months and 1 year from this date)

  • Narrow down location to specific area(s) (in conjunction with universities that might offer employment).
  • Move money from savings account to a money market account.
  • Talk with experienced ranchers and farmers.  Ideally with men who started their own establishments.

Stage 3 (Steps that can being between 1 and 3 years from today).

  • Pick top 3 locations, make offers.
  • Start ranch corporation (non-profit?).
  • Look into purchasing necessary livestock.

Stage 4 (Steps that can begin 3 to 5 years from this date).

  • Close on land
  • Finance new home to be built on the property.

As you can see this list is still pretty skeletal.  Over the next few months, as I complete more research, the list will grow and expand.

As you look toward accomplishing your own goals, make your own list.  Learn what must be done to make your dreams a reality.  When you have an outline it is easier to stick to your path.  Following a dream without an outline is like hiking without a compass- you are almost guaranteed to get lost.

Best of luck in pursuing your own dreams.

179.6!  How awesome is that?!

But I guess I should catch you up.  Day Four I worked all day and only had time for a short ab workout.  Yet I still went to bed at my lowest night time weight yet, 182 lbs.

I didn’t have any great hopes about this morning- I assumed I would weigh in slightly over 180 lbs.  So when I saw that the scale read 179.6, my first reaction was disbelief.  I weighed in three more times to be sure.  Yup, I got 179.6 every time.  I said a prayer of thanks and proceeded to get multiple high-fives from my daughter.

Thanks to everyone out there.  Your support has meant and will continue to mean a lot.  Keep my transformation in your prayers.  I am aiming for 165 lbs.  And today I am more than a pound closer.

I must apologize though for getting off track with my running. Today, we have company over, so I am not sure whether I will have time for my run- this would be the third day I have put it off.  If I don’t run today then that means I will run and resistance train this Sunday.  Although, I am hoping to fit at least one of those two activities into my day today.

Change is difficult, change is hard on the nerves, and change is perhaps the single most important incentive to growth. Sometimes the only certain thing in our lives is change. We can encounter that change and cower in fear, we can simply roll with that change (letting it overpower us), or we can use that change to transform us for the better.

When I started this process in early February, I noticed a change in myself.

I had become intellectually lazy (I had almost stopped reading completely), I had become spiritually empty (my prayer life was practically dead), I had become financially lazy (engaged in a cycle of spending beyond our means on non-essential items), and of course I had become near hopelessly fat (my stomach jiggled when I brushed my teeth).

These things hadn’t happened over night. Each occurred gradually, the result of a long string of poor choices and bad decisions.

I took a look at myself that February day and said, “This need stop now.” I haven’t been perfect since then, I have spent money I shouldn’t have, missed bible study dates, and eaten deep fried food and calorie dense snack food. However, for the most part, 95% of how I live my life in all those areas has changed. Why did I do that?

Because I looked ahead and I saw an unwanted change coming. I looked to my financial future and I saw bankruptcy; I looked to my spiritual future and I saw the wide path that led to destruction; I looked to body’s future and saw heart attacks and diabetes. I didn’t like any of what I saw. So the choice was clear, wait for change, or begin the process of change (transformation) myself.

The process has been at times a bumpy road and at times quite difficult, but it has also been rewarding. I would advise anyone else seeking to transform their life that the change is worth it- the chance is worth it.

It turns out I could use some prayer.

Once again (since this happens without fail every year) my financial aid has been messed up- through no fault of my own.

I only found out because I bothered to check on my loan status, only to find that all my Stafford Loans had been canceled. I called the financial aid department at my future university to see what the problem was. As it turned out, the university where I obtained my Masters had allocated me more subsidized Stafford funds than they were allowed to.

So now the complicated dance begins between me, my lender, and my previous institution of higher learning. Apparently N.C. State now has to send the funds back to the lender who needs to issue some kind of new unsubsidized loan before UNC-Greensboro can grant me a financial aid award letter. All of this means I am highly unlikely to get my financial aid in August- when I need it to cover the costs of my 4 hour round trip drive back and forth to campus.

AND since this problem involves the financial aid office and my lender the problem (in their words not mine) could take “several months to resolve.” I need that loan in August- I could use it before then actually.

So please keep me and this situation in your prayers.  Thanks.

Grits was nice enough to present me this award…

thinkingblogger.jpg Looks fancy, don’t it?  Well I am supposed to turn around and present this award to five other folks whose thoughtful and witty posts impress me.  Hmmm…

Well I know five, but two come to mind immediately.

1. Helvidius, a Pachyderm-Intelligent, funny, and a law student- who could ask for anything more in a blogger.

2. Queen of Swords-She is much like Helvidius, but much more caustic.  Currently she is engaged in an attempt to have  a Fatwa issued against her.

3. Lose-Weight-With-Me– His tips and suggestions for weight loss are spot on.

4. Daddy’s Little Girl–  An intelligent and beautiful young woman, her blog is always insightful and moving.

5. Vintage-Christianity–  His blog is always insightful, deep, and thought provoking.

Congrats on the excellent blogging all!