About ME

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Mansfield, Texas, United States
Mr. E is a Christian, Husband, Father of 2, former Army Officer and Texas Rangers Baseball fan.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reading is Fundamental

I was talking with some of the students at school today and the topic of reading came up. Some of the students were talking about what kind of books they read, while others were saying they haven't read a entire book in over 2 years. Wow! You mean there are people who don't read books; not even little ones. When I asked about "not reading an entire book", they said that other than a couple of children's books, they actually haven't read a book over 50 pages in over 2 years. I was stunned. I thought even those who claim to not read, at least read 1 book a year. I guess I was wrong.

It is interesting to note that the few students who admitted to not reading a book in over 2 years, had the lowest averages (not necessarily failing) of their classes.

As a reading addict, I am closing in on 50 books (at least 100 pages or more) in 2009 alone. (This is not counting children's books) I am reading one now and have one more I plan to read before the end of the year, (If time allows). It just shocked me about the number of students who hate to read.

Here is a list of books I have read in 2009 (in no particular order)

1. The English Standard Version of the Bible
2. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Frances Chan
3. Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado
4. Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado
5. The Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot by Max Lucado
6. Dracula by Bram Stoker
7. Chosen (The Lost Books # 1) by Ted Dekker
8. Infidel (The Lost Books # 2) by Ted Dekker
9. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
10. Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz
11. Sinner by Ted Dekker
12. Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz
13. Eagle Strike by Anothony Horowitz
14. Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz
15. Ark Angel by Anthony Horowitz
16. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller
17. The Pawn (The Patrick Bowers Files: Book 1) by Steven James
18. The Rook (The Patrick Bowers Files: Book 2) by Steven James
19. The Knight (The Patrick Bowers Files: Book 3) by Steven James
20. Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
21. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
22. The Appeal by John Grisham
23. Brisinger by Christopher Paolini
24. Deadfall (The McAllister Files) by Patricia H. Rushford and Harrison James
25. Twilight by Stephanie Myer (Started in 2008)
26. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
27. Anchor Man: How a Father Can Anchor His Family in Christ for the Next 100 Years by Steve Farrar
28. Eat Mor Chikin', Inspire More People by S. Truitt Cathey
29. John 3:16, The Numbers of Hope by Max Lucado
30. Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy
31. The Chronicles of Narnia: the Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
32. The Chronicles of Narnia: the Final Battle by C.S. Lewis
33. Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back by Josh Hamilton
34. 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Weis
35. The Apocalypse Code: Find Out What the Bible Really Says About the End Times...and Why it Matters Today
36. The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ by Lee Strobel
37. Comes a Horseman by Robert Liparulo
38. Enjoy the Silence: A 30 Day Experiment in Listening to God by Maggie Robbins
39. A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia by Christin Ditchfield
40. Germ by Robert Liparulo
41. Get Out of That Pit: Straight Talk About God's Deliverance by Beth Moore
42. The Great Taos Bank Robbery and Other True Stories of the Southwest by Tony Hillerman
43. Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality by Rob Bell
44. Deadfall (A John Hutchinson Novel) by Robert Liparulo
45. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
46. Renegade (The Lost Books # 3) by Ted Dekker (Currently Reading - should be finshed by end of the week)
47. Becoming One: Emotionally, Spiritually, Sexually by Joe Beam (Currently Reading -- May not finish until early 2010)
48. Chaos (The Lost Books # 4) by Ted Dekker (Next on my list -- should finish by end of the year)

So close to 50!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Reason For the Season

A phrase I am growing to dislike more and more is the phrase, "Jesus is the reason for the Season." Now, I realize that if it wasn't for the birth of my LORD and Saviour, Jesus, that we would not have this wonderful holiday called Christmas; however, isn't Jesus the reason for ALL Seasons? Did he not create the universe and all that is in it? What about Easter? Isn't he the reason for that season as well?

I know good minded Christian folk are just trying to remind people to remember the origins of Christmas and how it was created to focus the world's attention on Jesus and his teachings, instead of the greed promoted by retailers around the world; yet I can't help but think that if Christians really wanted to remind people about the love of Jesus we wouldn't be putting trash bags full of wrapping paper and empty boxes from all our new "luxuries" out by the curb the day after Christmas. Instead shouldn't we be give up giving gifts to each other and giving to those who are really in need. After all isn't Christmas the season of giving, not getting? Since Jesus is the reason for ALL seasons, shouldn't we be giving to those in need throughout the year, not just for Christmas?

So as we put out our trash the day after Christmas, remember that Jesus really is THE reason for this season and remember those who have would be grateful to have what we just replaced with more stuff we probably really didn't need in the first place.

What's More Important Golf or Marriage (Oh Wait, It's Money)

I'm sure if you have even sniffed at the news recently or read the tabloid headlines in the grocery lines, you know all about Tiger Woods, his admission of adultery and his decision to take a break from golf to focus on rebuilding his marriage. You would think from all the news agencies that Tiger's decision to take a break from golf would end the sport forever.

First of all I applaud Tiger's decision to focus on rebuilding his marriage. Second, I applaud his wife for forgiving him and choosing to rebuild her marriage. Adultery is, of course, a very damaging sin that takes down many a marriage; however, it is only a symptom of things that were already going wrong in the marriage. Both of them have to take some of the blame for those failures.

Golf will live on with or without Tiger Woods. Yes, it may take a dip in the ratings, but I think a small shrinkage of income for professional golfers and their sponsors is worth saving a marriage. Tiger and his family deserve to have their privacy and the chance to save their marriage. After all isn't marriage sacred to God? Oh wait, I forgot, it is the power of money that controls what others think. No wonder they would rather focus on how Tiger's "problems" will impact golf and his mega-sponsors than on how Tiger and his wife are taking a noble step to rebuild and strengthen what is most important.

Just in case Tiger or his wife ever read this blog... I will be praying for you and your family (not golf). May God be with you!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thoughts From ME!

Since "Thoughts From ME" is the name of my blog, I thought I would actually share what thoughts are actually going through my head...at least for the next few minutes anyway.

Even though I am currently running a fever (100 last time I had it checked) I am still trying to finish out the day as a substitute teacher for a history class. Sadly all I can think about is how I need to get the Christmas lights up when I get home.

I am moved by the generosity of my church, who left a message on my cell phone telling me they have a $300 check to help my family make it through the Christmas holidays. They know I am still looking for full-time work and they figured we could use a little boost to help since I can't sub at school while they are out on break.

I am wondering if the Texas Rangers will signed or trade for a better catcher to play for them next season. It seems they are at least working on improving the pitching, but will it be enough for my Rangers to win the division next year?

I am sad that several of the students I sub for have expressed that "Christianity (and other religions) are for people who are afraid of death and want something to believe in to give them hope." As for me I am a Christian and I do not fear death; anxious about it maybe, but I am not afraid. I wish they could know Jesus like I do, or even better.

I am sad that the television show Monk will no longer be with us. It was one my favorite shows. It did become a little predictable in the end; but, it was fun while it lasted.

I wish my wife was going to be home tonight. She is in Dallas at a training/conference and won't be home until tomorrow. I need someone to pamper me while I am sick and the kids shouldn't have to do that. Maybe the cat will?

I have been told the Principal at the Jr. High School at Pine Tree wants to interview at the end of the school year to replace a teacher who is going to retire. I think it is for a Texas History spot, but he can't say "officially" until the job is posted. Yeahh!

I wonder if anything good is coming on TV tonight?

Gotta go, my next class is about to start. I hope I feel better tomorrow.

I'm Still Here Somewhere!

Hello to the few folks who do read my blog. I have been lost for a while in the shuffle of trying to stay busy working and other family related activities. Here is a short recap of what is going on with me.

I am working as a substitute teacher for Pine Tree ISD in Longview. I am currently filling in for a teacher who has had some neck surgery and will not be back until after the Christmas break. That's good for me ($) but bad for the teacher. I am also still working part time at Mardel Christian books and Education. It seems I am mainly working weekends at this point, but maybe I will get some more hours in during the last minute Christmas shopping sprees. Other than that I have been staying busy around the house, putting up Christmas lights (gonna do that this afternoon), going to the kid's Christmas concerts or just keeping the cat out of the Christmas tree.

I may be on and off again until the end of the year, but I promise I will be back full-time after Christmas with new, interesting, fun and informational blogs. Until then "Have A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Spaghetti-Tacos and Other News

Thanks to the Nickelodeon television show iCarly, my family tried a dish called Spaghetti-Tacos last night for dinner. They were actually pretty good. You just make spaghetti, like normal, then put in some taco shells. Yummy and crunchy.

It seems my Texas Rangers are working hard to make the playoffs. Thanks to some great pitching and (cough, couch...gag....) the New York Yankees, the Rangers are tied for the wild-card spot. They are even making a race out of the Western Division by being just 3.5 games out of first place. If we could just keep beating those dang Angels.

My son Caleb, just got back from High School band camp last week. I can't believe he is a Freshman in High School this year. Just to drive the point home, he picked up his schedule for his Freshman year, along with his textbooks and school ID.

My search for a full-time job has yet to bear much fruit. All of the local schools filled their staff positions for the upcoming school year; and I have yet to get an interview with any other place I have applied for. I sent in an resume today to work with the Texas Department for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Abuse today. Keep praying that something comes up soon.

Also I have two books to recommend for reading. The first is called Crazy Love by Frances Chan, the second is called Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. Both books will challenge your thoughts about how you view Christianity in today's world.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More Commercials That Are Getting on My Nerves

In my last blog I listed 6 commercials that are getting on my nerves a lot lately. I ended at 6 because the Rangers were coming on. So here are 4 more to round my list off at a nice even 10.

7. All of the male enhancement commercials. Not only are they an embarrassment to most men, they are not appropriate to show when any kids are in the room.

8. The Kids Bop Commercials. What number are they on now, number 524? Actually I think it is 12, LOLOLOL (you know what I mean if you have seen the commercial.)

9. The Fruit by the Foot commercial with the two karate dudes yelling and very, very, very slowly moving towards the face of the kid eating the fruit snack.

1o. The Dannon Yogurt commercial where the pretty young lady, suddenly becomes very not pretty by sucking the yogurt container dry (without using hands, which is sort of impressive) and yet not getting a single drop of the yogurt on her face anywhere. How does she do that?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Some Commercials That Really Get on My Nerves

Currently there are a few commercials that really are getting on my nerves recently. If I could link them I would but I bet you can figure out which ones I am talking about.

1. The commercials for Scientology...I don't like these for two reasons. a) Scientology is a load of lies and leads some people away from Jesus. b) It runs every break between innings of the Ranger game of Fox Sports Southwest. Ahhh, I'm so sick of it.

2. Any commercial for Burger King with the creepy "Burger King." I didn't like him when he first appeared in their commercials and I still don't like him, especially since he has been doing some mean things to people lately. I did like the commercials where the women in the van were trying to run over the King though.

3. The Sketchers shoe commercial where the kid runs like a pack of rhinos when he playing football. Like some pair of shoes is going to make other kids, with obviously more talent than you, run away in fear of you.

4. The McDonald's commercial where Ronald McDonald "creates" stars and galaxies in the sky for the kids to see. Like he is God! Some day that clown will go to a place that is not so funny!

5. Commercials for the Best D... Sports Show Period. They shouldn't be allowed to say that word, and many other words, on television, much less name a television show that. Sadly it also shows every break between innings of the Ranger games.

6. The Chucky Cheese commercials that mislead kids into thinking if they have just one quarter, they can have a heap of fun of the house of the rat. All the games may be quarter each, but if you want to eat some pizza, you better bring much more than a quarter.

I would name a few others, but the Rangers are about to play the Royals. Time to brace myself for some Scientology and some Best D... Sports Show commercials.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Apologies to God

Most Awesome GOD, Creator of all things and LORD of my life;

I come to you begging for your forgiveness. I have been a selfish and evil man. I have been praying for my will to be done and not Yours. I have lied to myself and to you about what I want for myself. I have stolen from You, by taking the time and income You have provided for me, and using them for personal gain or selfish desires. I have put other things before You and that is idolatry. For these things I offer no excuse except my apologies.

I want to be in love with YOU, O' MY LORD. I want to obsessed with YOU. I want to do YOUR will not mine. I want YOU to be first always. I want to give YOU my best, not what is left over at the end of the day. I want to trust in YOU more than I do my income or my own personal security. Help me to be the person YOU want me to be, not what I want myself to be.

Thank you Father for the blessings you have provided for me and my family. Thank you for my bride Jamie and my two wonderful kids, Caleb and Rachel. Thank you for the job you provided for me at Mardel. Thank you for Jamie's jobs at Presbyterian Children's Homes and Services, Children's Connections and now for the teaching opportunity at Stephen F. Austin. Thank you for the opportunity to help marriages grow stronger by allowing Jamie and I to lead a Dynamic Marriage class. Thank you for my home. You have blessed my family abundantly and I Love You.

Your adopted son,
Mark

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Feeling Puny and It's not Fun

I'm not feeling to well today. I am feeling nauseous and dizzy when I'm either sitting up or walking around, and I get a really bad headache when I lay down to rest. I hope I feel better tomorrow.

On a more hopeful note...I had a job interview with Marshall ISD yesterday and I have a pending interview with Gilmer ISD later this week. (I hope I feel better).

Being out of full-time work is not fun either. I keep getting these e-mails regarding working from home by doing work on-line. I have gotten e-mails regarding selling weight-loss products, processing rebates and advertising on Google or Facebook. It is really tempting to invest the $50-$150 initial investments and try to do those jobs. I have tried a couple in the past and it did not work out so well. The ads can be very deceiving and you must all of the ad, including the extremely small print. I would ask if any of you have tried these types of at-home jobs to let me know if they really work, but since I do not know you personally, it would be hard to believe what you said anyway.

Last random note...I hate the commercial where Ronald McDonald "creates" stars and galaxies for the kids, visiting his home in the Golden Arches, to see. Who does McDonald's think that clown is, God? I don't think so.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Prayer Request for Jamie and the Family

I am requesting prayer request for my wife, Jamie. She just got word from her doctor that she is going to need surgery to remove some fibrositic type cells from one of her breast. It is not cancer, it is just a mass of cells that if left untreated could turn into pre-cancer cells. We are pretty sure insurance will cover most or all of the cost, but we would like prayers for all of this just in case.

Also, I filled out two more applications for local schools who have positions I am qualified for. I am waiting to hear back from them. I need another full-time job soon especially since I may be getting a small cut in hours from my part-time job at Mardel.

We also want prayers for our upcoming Dynamic Marriage class starting in Sept.

I know God is Sovereign; however, I am starting to get frustrated (especially since I am causing the rest of my family stress, because of my lack of a full-time job. Come on God, isn't enough, enough.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

To Arkansas and Back Again

Yesterday my family and I returned from our last summer vacation at Hot Springs, Arkansas. (The childhood home of former President Bill Clinton.) We had a wonderful time and we can't wait to return again sometime.

We started our Hot Springs vacation by taking a Hot Springs National Park Duck Tour . This tour gave us an entertaining tour of the Historic Downtown Hot Springs area as well as a short cruise around St. John's Island on Lake Hamilton. Our "Captain/Guide" was nicknamed "Bubba" and he was very interesting and funny as he gave us an education about the history of Hot Springs.

As part of a package deal with the Duck Tours, we also purchased tickets to The Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum. The wax figures of many famous Americans and world figures are on display here. Although the tour of the museum was very interesting, many of the figures look like they have been slowly melting over the years without any upkeep. The figure of former President Jimmy Carter was especially scary looking. The best two figures in the museum were Jack Sparrow, from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and President Barack Obama. They are the two newest figures on display. I'm not saying, not to tour the Wax Museum, but just be prepared for what you see. (see the above link)

After visiting the wax museum we visited the last part of the package deal we purchased with the Duck Tours. We did wine tasting at The Winery at Hot Springs. Their locally blended wines can be shipped to any address in the U.S. that has a state that allows alcohol to be shipped by mail. We tasted 8 local wines and almost purchased a bottle or two, but alas we were limited on our vacation budget. I had never tasted wines before and it was a treat for me to so. I will have to do it again sometime.

We then went back to the hotel (Howard Johnson) to swim a while before heading up for me to watch Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby. Although I fell asleep watching it, I found out the next morning that the Rangers own Nelson Cruz finished 2nd. Way to go Cruz!

The next morning, I went to one of the only two active Hot Springs bath houses to take in one of the famous baths Hot Springs is famous for; The Buckstaff. I got the Whirlpool Mineral Bath package and enjoyed it very much. While I was soaking in the relaxing and healing hot mineral waters, that God and I had a talk about my current job hunt and some other life issues in general. I think I left a lot of worries in that water. I have been very relaxed since then. I hope it lasts. (Jamie, my lovely bride, took her bath the next morning.)

After the hot bath and spa; we visited Magic Springs/Crystal Falls. All of the large roller coaster rides at Magic Springs were out of order during our visit. They were waiting on parts to come in so they could finish the maintenance they needed to operate properly. Oh well, the kids came to swim anyway. We spent most of the afternoon at Crystal Falls enjoying their wave pool, lazy river and a few of their water slides. (Their wave pool had nothing on the waves at some of our more local water parks in Texas.) Surprisingly no one was sunburned despite record temperatures in the low 100's.

We returned from Magic Springs/Crystal Falls and decided to eat some local Arkansas Bar-B-Que. Sadly we overpaid to eat at a place that made almost all of us a little sick to our stomach. I would mention the place by name, but maybe it was just a bad batch of Bar-B-Que and I hate to bash a place over one bad visit.

That evening, we went to see a local magician called Stonehenge. He provided us with a great show filled with amazement. All of his magic was up close and personal and his show was very family friendly. He (or at least his sound guy) was a Christian and Christian music played before and after the show. He called several members of the audience up to the stage. Caleb, my son, was called to help with a pretty nifty card trick. The two hour show was worth every dollar spent and we will definitely go see him again next time we visit Hot Springs. I'm still not sure how he cut his nice assistant in half! He and his assistants provided autographs and photo opportunities after the show and seemed very interested in learning about the audience and where they were from, etc.... Sadly I missed MLB's All-Star Game during the magic show, but it was worth it to see a magician who did not have all the cult references many magicians have today. I recommend Stonehenge as a must see if you go to Hot Springs any time soon.

Wednesday morning, we went to visit a local rock dealer who sold a wide variety of locally earthed volcanic rocks and crystals. We got a free "Arkansas Diamond" (a polished crystal) just for stopping by. After the rock dealer we went to tour Garvan Woodland Gardens. This would have been so much better if it were not for the intense heat and our still slightly upset stomachs from the previously mentioned Bar-B-Que from the previous day. Still, the gardens offered many beautiful examples of waterfalls, local plants and wildlife and we enjoyed our shortened visit, before heading back home to Longview, TX.

We did drive by the boyhood home of former President Bill Clinton and did see the High School he graduated from; however, I think we enjoyed swimming the hotel pool more than we cared to stop and visit these historic sights.

I am glad to be home, although I could use another hot mineral bath.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hot Springs Here We Come!

My family and I are about to embark on our last vacation activity of the summer. We are going to Hot Springs, Arkansas. I actually look forward to finding a place where we can relax in the healing waters of the natural springs. We plan to visit Magic Springs/Crystal Falls, Amusement/Water Park, a Botanical Garden and maybe do a few other things together as a family.

I hope I get a chance to watch MLB's All-Star Game at the hotel Thursday evening. I might just set it to record at home and watch it when I get back. Go Texas Rangers; they still hold a slim 1st Place lead in the Western Division. Maybe, just maybe, we will make the playoffs again this year.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sad News From the Job Hunting Front

It seems that Pine Tree ISD has decided to go with a different someone instead of hiring me to teach 9th Grade Algebra. I got the call this morning around 10:00 a.m. letting me know the news.

It is very hard not to loose a little faith during this time of non-full-time work. I thought for sure I had the job, but I guess God has a different plan for me. I wish he would let me know what exactly that plan is!

On a little bit of good note, after returning to work from my lunch break, the manager informed me that he had accidently overstaffed the workers for tonight, and asked if I wanted to take the rest of the day off. So here I am at home starting to prepare for my family's last mini-vacation to Hot Springs, Arkansas next week.

I will fill out a couple of new job applications tonight to mail before we take off. The Job Hunt continues. Pray I keep my chin up and my focus on God. It's getting tough.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Waiting with the Fleas

It has been six days since my interview with Pine Tree ISD about teaching 9th Grade Algebra. Last time I spoke to the Principal, she was still trying to reach a few more of my references. It seems even references like to take vacations. She assured everything was still looking good though.

Sigh....

I wish I knew if I had the job for sure before my family goes on our last vacation of the summer next week. We are going to Hot Springs, Arkansas. We plan to soak in some the hot springs, visit Magic Springs/Crystal Falls and go to some kind of Botanical Gardens (I'll get back with you the name later). I'm saying this now because I might forget to blog again before we leave on Monday.)

Meanwhile we are trying to get rid of some fleas in our home. Our dog, Schnitzel, has found some fleas. We have sprayed the yard with chemicals, given the dog baths with anti-flea shampoo, we have vacuumed the furniture and carpets (and got rid of the bags), and sprayed the inside of the house. Still they persist. We could bomb the house, but we have to find something to do with the cat. We will prevail!

Monday, July 6, 2009

That Darn Cat and Other Stuff

Our wonderful pet cat, Scout, (aka: Fuzzball) was a bad kitty last night. For some reason last night he was into everything. He kept waking the wife and I up about every two hours starting around midnight. He would play with his "jingle mouse", jump on our end table and knock stuff around, or just jump on the bed and want some petting. I am so tired. I don't go to work today until 10:00 so I can maybe try to rest a little bit before heading off.

In other news: The World needs to move on from the death of Michael Jackson. He was just a man people get over it. Are we going to have to endure crazy fans who will celebrate his birth and mourn his death, just like the crazy Elvis fans? He is/was not God you know.

In my attempt to read the Bible in a Year (for the 2nd time), I have just finished Ezekiel and am starting Daniel. I am behind and hope to get back on course soon. I just finished the last book in my pile of books to read, so I will read the Bible in place of my other reading.

I am hoping to hear from the principal at Pine Tree High School today regarding my possible job as a 9th Grade Algebra teacher. I guess reaching my references was tough over the Independence Day weekend. Keep Praying For Me!

Friday, July 3, 2009

I'm Back For Good - I Hope!

Once again it's been awhile since I have been blogging.

My search for a new full-time job may be almost over. I had an interview with Pine Tree ISD to be their new 9th Grade Algebra teacher. Considering I barely pulled off C averages in Algebra in High School, I have come a long way. I thought the interview went well & I was told not to take another job until the Principal calls me back, so I'm taking that as a good sign.

I took the test to become certified to teach 4-8th Grade Math a week ago Saturday. I am waiting on my score to come back. I plan on taking the test to get certified to teach 8-12th Grade Math before the end of the year (August at the earliest!). It is my lack of knowledge in the fields of upper-level Trigonometry and Calculus that I'm worried about on the 8th-12th Math test. I am going to have to study hard and take some teacher help classes at the local Education Service Center to get ready for that bad boy.

My Texas Rangers fell out of first place since I last blogged. Maybe it's the stress about their owner, Tom Hicks, who is trying to sell his majority interest in the club. I am still routing for my team and hope they can pull it back together soon and pull off a playoff spot.

In the meantime, I am still working part-time at Mardel and trying not to get to addicted to Facebook's Mafia Wars.

I am glad to be back...I missed my few blogger friends I follow and who occasionally follow me as well.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

June Update

It has been a busy time around the English household recently. 

Still looking for full time-work. I am taking a test to get certified to teach 4-8th Grade Math on the 27th of this month. Wish me luck. 

In the mean time, my family and I went to see the Texas Rangers take on the Los Angeles Dodgers last Saturday (the 13th). We were watching a great pitching duel until a bank of lights failed to turn on and the game was delayed for an hour and a half. We left the game and went back to the hotel and watched the rest of the game on television. The Rangers lost 3-1.  

The next day, Jamie and I took the kids to Abilene for ACU Summer Camps, specifically - MPULSE. We are going back to Abilene tonight so we can watch the closing activities Friday, then we are bringing them home (sort of). Actually, we are dropping them off at my sister-in-law's house so they can spend a week with their cousins. We will actually bring them home sometime late next week. 

In the meantime, Jamie and I are spending some quality time together. After dropping the kids off at ACU camps, we spent the night at a motel in Dallas and then went to visit the Dallas Holocaust Museum. It very informative, yet a little depressing. It is hard to believe that humans can treat other humans in such terrible ways. This visit was part of my early Father's Day present. We have also been trying, (I have been trying, Jamie is doing a great job), to eat more healthy. We visited a couple of Whole Foods Markets to try and buy some healthy alternative snacks and foods for the family to eat. It is a great store; to bad there is not one in our area. 

Not much else going on and when I do find time to blog, I end up spending it either reading or playing Mafia Wars on Facebook. One day things will go back to some sort of normal and I can blog some deeper thoughts. In the meantime, I have not disappeared, I have just been busy. 


Friday, May 22, 2009

I've Been So Busy I Haven't Been Able to Blog

It's been a crazy month of May for my family and me. 

I am still looking for full-time work after budget cuts cost me my former full-time job, back in April. I am working near full-time at Mardel Christian Stores; however, at just over minimum wage, it is just under half of what I was making per month at my last job. 

I have signed up to take an additional Teaching Certification in Math. I took a practice test today and only got 3 out of 30 correct. Oh yea, forgot to tell you I signed up to take a Math 8-12 Grade test. I didn't even understand the question on the questions concerning upper level Trigonometry and Calculus. Because of my poor showing I changed the test I am taking from Math 8-12 to Math 4-8. This only covers levels up to Algebra and Geometry with a hint of basic Trigonometry. I take the test in late June. Wish me luck. 

I have filled out applications for three school districts; Kilgore College, and at least 4 other places that are not education institutions. So far no takers except I do need to write an official letter of interest for the Kilgore Collge job and mail it to them. I will do that as soon as I finish this blog. 

My kids start their last week of the school year next week. They only go three days (not counting Monday -- Memorial Day) then it's Summer fun. Next year Caleb will be a Freshman in High School (is he really that old?) and Rachel will be a 7th Grader. We have already been given the speech about how we should join the Band Booster Club and support our Band students. The fun is just starting. 

I have also been feeling sick and puny a lot recently. I missed Monday because of an upset stomach and general aches and pains. Today, I went to work only to throw up in the customer bathroom. I hope it is not the Swine Flu. Today's illness I am going to blame on some bad food. I hope I am feeling better and back to work on Monday. I have tomorrow off anyway. 

I also need to make some major life-style changes. I have been watching my beautiful bride, Jamie, do a total nutritional/diet change over the past few weeks. She is healthier, and loosing some excess pounds she has been wanting to get rid of. I too need to take charge of my food addiction and change my life-style. Getting older is not easier and I need to take care of myself before my blood-pressure and cholesterol take care of me for good. 

Out of my recently posted list of movies I want to watch, I did watch Star Trek. It was good. I am interested to see what they do with the new time-line they established. Oops, did I ruin the plot?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

There Goes My Social Security & Medicaid

Hmmmm! It seems that Social Security and Medicaid will run out of money during my lifetime. This is hardly a surprise. I wonder where all the money has gone? Can you spell government bail-out and other misuse of our tax money over the years? When you spend our hard earned tax dollars on crappy programs and give it away to failing companies or individuals who don't deserve it, what do you think is going to happen. I wish I could tell the government not to take Social Security or Medicaid taxes out of my pay checks. If they are not going to spend my tax dollars correctly then they don't deserve to have it. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day - 2009

Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful and beautiful bride, Jamie!

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD." - ESV


Thank you for being a great mother to our two terrific kids! I love you, Always! 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May Day Update

As most of you know I have been working part-time at  Mardel Christian & Education Stores for about two weeks now. 
We were supposed to open this coming Monday, but due to God's blessings 
and hard work, we actually opened on Friday at 4 p.m. In the 4 hours we were open
we made over $3,000. Wow!

I am still looking for full-time work and am hoping to get back into the public 
schools if possible.

I am still waiting to see if my former student, and Dallas Cowboy draft pick,
Manuel Johnson, was injured or not in the recent collapse of the Cowboys

Around the house, not much else is going on with English family. If I had a
little more time, I might actually write something of profound thought and
meaning; alas, time escapes me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Congratulations Manuel Johnson

With the 229th pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, The Dallas Cowboys selected Wide Receiver, Manuel Johnson from the University of Oklahoma!

Why would I care about the 229th pick of the NFL Draft? Manuel Johnson is a former student of mine. I was his 8th Grade U.S. History teacher at Bruce Jr. High School in Gilmer, TX. Manuel is a bright student and a superb athlete. As with almost all of my former students, I sort of think of Manuel as being an extension of my own family. I watched the NFL Draft in its entirety for the first time ever, just looking for his name. Finally he was chosen by the Dallas Cowboys.

Manuel has grown into an excellent young man. I pray that he continues to work hard and that he doesn't forget his small town roots. I am proud of him. 

Maybe he can get me some tickets to watch him play at the new Cowboys Stadium. Tickets there are very expensive.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

In the Mafia & Job Update

As a member of Facebook, I am often asked to join many of the application games that Facebook & Friends has to offer. I have turned down many of them, but one I joined recently is Mafia Wars. It is yet another very addictive game, much like Mouse Hunt. Currently I am at level 13 and trying to fend off various mob attacks from rival mobs. I have 14 members in my family, counting me. 

I am still working part-time at Mardel Christian Stores in Longview and I have put out several applications at local school districts. I am hoping to take the Math certification test in June so I can teach Math. If I pass that test, I will almost certainly be able to choose which school I wish to work for, as all the local districts are looking for good Math teachers. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I am so Sore

I started my new, part-time, job yesterday. I now work for Mardel Christian Stores. We are in the process of opening a new store in Longview. We hope to open the doors on May 4th. We are currently putting together and setting up all the display shelves and unloading large heavy pallets from the supply trucks. It is a lot of heavy lifting. My poor muscles haven't worked that hard in a long time and they are sore. It is a good kind of sore though; after all I am working for the Lord in all that I do. 

I still hope to get a job in the school district my kids go to, but until then I am working hard for Mardel. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

10 Upcoming Movies I Would Like to See

The blockbuster movie season is upon us and there are just a few I would like to see before the end of the season. Here is my list of the Top 10 (so far)!

1. X-Men Origins: Wolverine -- I have always like the character Wolverine; plus the special effects of the three previous films were great.

2. Star Trek -- Yep, I'm a Trekkie or Trekker, depending on which one does not wear Star Trek costumes to the film opening in the theaters.

3. Up! -- The 10th Pixar film. I love these guys, they make great movies.

4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- This movie was on my list last year but the release date was postponed due the successful release of Twilight.

5. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen -- I loved them as a cartoon and I loved the first film. I hope this one is as good as the first one.

6. Terminator Salvation -- I've watched all the other Terminator films, I might as well watch this one; plus it's does good to see humans beat up on machines.

7. Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian -- The first film was a great family movie, I am hoping this one is just as fun and great as the first one.

8. Land of the Lost -- I loved this television show when I was a kid. I am sure that Will Farrell will do it some justice anyway.

9. Earth by Disney -- I love these documentary films about our great planet God has created. I just wish they would give God a little more credit in the movies.

10. Where the Wild Things Are -- Such a cool kids book, now (I hope) a cool kids movie. Go Max!

Which movies do you want to see this summer season?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Moving On

Yesterday, the family and I returned from visiting Jamie's family and the LTC competitions in Dallas. The kids did very well. 

Today, I have my first job interview after leaving my previous job. Wish me luck. 

It seems while I was away the Rangers lost badly to the Detroit Tigers. The bullpen needs to support the great outings of the starting pitchers if they want to reach the playoffs. I will have to watch them take on the Orioles tonight. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Am Now Currently Unemployed.

I went to work this morning expecting to do what I always do, make as many contacts as possible to try and fill marriage education classes with couples waiting to get married or couples who seek to improve their marriages. I came to work despite the fact that on Monday I found out that I would no longer be a full-time employee for Twogether in Texas, or the Longview Wellness Center (soon to be called Wellness Pointe), at the end of the month. 

At 8:50 a.m. I was called into my Program Director's office and told that I am being let go NOW. Why? The reason I got was that I had just shown signs of "losing heart and the desire to finish out my job in a proper fashion." What the .....? What do you mean I have lost heart. I just added three more couples to a class yesterday. I even spoke to another potential provider. 

They said because I had started organizing my files and e-mailing them to my Project Director, with more than a week left before I was supposed to be let go, it showed that I was already showing signs of trying to let other people do my job for me. I thought I was just being courteous and trying to give people a "heads up" to things they may want to be aware of after I left. I was still keeping those files updated and correct and I would have until the last day I was working there. Apparently that day was today. 

They were also upset that I had already taken some steps to start trying to help myself find another job. They found out that I had signed up to take a test to try and get certified to teach Math and that it played a part in me not accepting a part-time paid consultant job they offered me in lieu of not being able to keep me full-time. You were letting me go right? I do have the right to try and make myself as marketable as possible to help me find another job, right?

So, I turned in my computer, cell-phone, and my last pay-check will be mailed to me next week. They at least told me they would not contest me filing for unemployment and they would write letters of recommendation for me. I am waiting to fill out the exit-interview form before I write something very ugly on it. 

I still think very highly of marriage education and what the mission statement is for Twogether in Texas. I, at least at the moment, do not think very highly of how the past few days have transpired. I never lost my desire to do my job to the fullest, I think they just couldn't stand to see me there taking any more money than I had to when they could use it somewhere else.

Now I am sitting at home, looking over job openings in the Longview area and beyond. I plan to make job hunting my new career after I return from the Easter weekend visit to my in-laws and LTC in Dallas. Wish me luck! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Great Start to the Baseball Season

The Texas Rangers had a great start to their 2009 Baseball Season by dominating the Cleveland Indians 9-1 on Monday. We will see if they can continue that level of play tonight, when they play their second game of the season.

I really need to work it into our, now very limited, budget to go a game and get me a Josh Hamilton Shirt.

Go Rangers!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wondering What God has in Store for Me!

Yesterday, I found out that I will be looking for a new job at the end of this month. It appears the budget cuts for Twogether in Texas, by the State Legislature, has affected my job faster that we planned. 

I can still work part-time, teaching marriage classes until August (if I wish), at a rate of $100.00 per couple; however, they want to me to work in counties that require much travel time, which I will now no longer be reimbursed for. I am giving myself until Thursday to decide if I will accept that offer or not. 

So now I go back to the beginning. When I started this blog, I was starting the process of looking for a new job, after leaving teaching in the public schools for eleven years. Who knows maybe God wanted me to learn a few things from my last two jobs and get back into the public schools where I belong. 

I refuse to be sad, because I know my God is bigger than anything the world may throw at me. I will do my part to apply for new jobs and be open to any changes; I just can't wait to see what God has planned for me next. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Marriage Education and the Church

As you know, my wife, Jamie, and I are trained to teach a variety of marriage education curriculums. We have been trying to get a class started at our church for a few weeks now and it has been highly suggested to us that we hold off until August to start our class. The reasons given to us are:

1) It will be too soon after the last marriage class was taught.
2) You will have trouble getting enough people to commit to the class.
3) Church couples don't believe they need the class because they already have a good marriage. and
4) Couples don't want a class that is to personal and will possibly cause them to "air their dirty laundry" in front of other church members.

How sad I felt when I heard this. Especially after one of our elders told me he personally knows of three or four couples whose marriages are in trouble. He also told me the elders support the idea of the class and they know it is needed but they won't take the class themselves. Again that made me very sad.

Divorce rates among active church going people is almost exactly the same as the those who do not attend church or claim any religion at all. People in churches struggle with the same issues as people outside the church and they are just as afraid to seek help for those struggles because of self pride or because they are afraid they will be "embarrassed" and "shunned" by their peers.

What a sad state of affairs when your church family will not act like a church family and support each other when we struggle. We are so afraid that others will look down on us because we are not "perfect" that we let our marriages fail, to attempt to uphold an image of perfection.

Elders, Pastors and other church leaders need to not only support strong marriages with their lips but support it with their actions. They need to take the classes so they can see "first-hand" how these programs can make their flocks stronger and better able to help the communities they serve.

What do you think?

Friday, April 3, 2009

America's Two-Faced Stance towards the Unborn!

When it comes to the rights and liberties of the unborn child in our nation, America has two faces. One face says it's legal to kill an unborn child, with the expecting mother's consent; the other face says it's illegal to take the life of an unborn child. Much like the famous villain Two-Face in the Batman comics, the government of the United States is having a hard time deciding just when to determine that an unborn child deserves the right to live.

In Oklahoma there is a bill before the state legislature that would allow a pregnant mother to use deadly force to protect the life of her unborn child. It seems to me that this is a recognition by the Oklahoma legislature that an unborn child deserves the right to life. We also have other laws in the United States that allows a person who murders a pregnant mother and it also causes the death of the yet unborn child, they can be charged with double-murder. Doesn't that imply that life begins at conception and the unborn child has the right to life?

If a person can be charged with double murder for killing an unborn child and a mother can use deadly-force to protect the "life" of the child within her womb, then why do let mothers make a decision to kill the unborn child because it the conception was "an accident" or the fetus has been determined to have a "birth defect" of some kind, or the child will cause a "disruption to the life of the mother?" Why do allow doctors to perform an abortion when any other person who causes the death of an unborn child to be charged with murder? Why do allow agencies such as Planned Parenthood, even suggest that the termination of the life of an unborn child is even OK at all?

Is the only difference between a murderer and a mother/doctor who chooses to abort a unborn child's life, is the signed consent of the mother to terminate a life. That my friends is a very fine line between plain murder and conspiracy to commit murder. What about the rights of the father? He helped create that child and it is as much his child as it is the mother's. Doesn't he have a right to decide if child should die or not?

Life is Life, and every American, born or unborn, deserves the Right of Life! Protect it!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Someone Needs to Explain the Family Rules to the Cat

Every since our cat Scout, aka: The Fuzzball, had come into our home, he has been acting like he owns the place. He drinks out of your water glass. He sticks his head in the sink while you are shaving, getting in your way. He jumps on the table just to sniff at what you are trying to eat. He climbs into any lower level shelving space, if you happen to leave the door open just a little bit. He will hide in the closet and attack your feet as you are looking for clothes. He moves socks and wash rags all over the house and leaves them in the strangest places. Finally, he sleeps in our bed, right in between my wife and I. Someone really needs to put him in his place.

It certainly won't be my bride, Jamie. She loves that cat, almost as much as the me and the kids. In fact, that cat has awoken a whole new side of her, that I haven't seen in a long time. Her affection for the cat has spilled over into more affection for me and the kids and she is not as cranky. She will let that cat get away with almost anything.

It certainly won't be my daughter, Rachel. She loves that fuzzball and would actually let him eat her cereal, if it just wasn't too gross. She builds play toys for the cat out of cardboard boxes and other materials she finds around the house. Several months ago she used almost $80 of her own allowance money to buy the cat a "tree house" for him to play and sleep in.

It won't be my son, Caleb. He has been trying to lure the cat into sleeping on his bed with him since we have owned him. The cat even tore up one his favorite video game guides and Caleb didn't even care. After all the cat was just being a cat.

It won't be our dog, Schnitzel. The dog will end up blowing out his back trying to play with the cat. Plus, I think the dog is a little scared of the cat, even though Scout does not have any front claws.

I guess it will have to be me. I set the law down with the dog, and Schnitzel loves me more than anyone. I am the only one who puts the cat back on the ground when he jumps on the table or into our sink. I have always heard that dogs have owners but cats have staff. Maybe this cat needs to learn who is the real boss around here.

What...? Oh wait, I will have to finish this thought later, the cat needs his litter box cleaned and changed. Coming....Kitty.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This and That Wrap Up for the last few days of March!

There is nothing really exciting going on at the English household at the moment, so I will just wrap up the past few weeks.

Jamie and I are now, Dynamic Marriages certified and hope to start teaching those marriage classes soon at our church.

The Texas Rangers and the rest of Major League Baseball is about to start the 2009 season and I cannot wait! I think the Rangers will field a pretty good team this year, if their pitching holds out.

Apparently there is some sort of government stimulus check coming to us soon. Not sure where this money is coming from except from our own taxes. If that is the case, then we are paying ourselves a bonus from our own pocket. How nice. I can't quit figure out how the government has any of our tax dollars left to give back to us after giving it all to failing banks and companies.

Twogether in Texas, my current employer, is fighting to keep its funding from being eliminated in the Texas Legislature. Apparently the Texas House of Representatives wants to increase our budget, but the Texas Senate wants to cut it or eliminate it. It seems at the present time, we will still have some sort of funding but how much is the question. It is possible I might have to look for another job teaching school again. I am about to sign up to become certified to teach Math.

My bride, Jamie, had a surgical procedure performed on her last week to prepare her for taking a new drug that will help to prevent her from getting breast cancer. She is still a little sore, but recovering.

My kiddos are tired of school and my son especially is worried about Band Camp. He has heard stories of certain kinds of "hazing" or other mischievous play, and he is worried it might happen to him. There are some older band kids that attend our church who have assured him they will do their best to look out for him. That made him feel a little better.

LTC, Leadership Training for Christ, is coming up Easter Weekend. The kids will be competing in various "competitions" that help them develop their Christian characters. Caleb is competing in Art/Photography, Bible Reading and Puppets. Rachel is competing in Art/Drawing, Daily Devotional & Prayer Challenge and Puppets.

I will try to come up with a good devotional or deep thought soon! Until then, I have been very busy and haven't had much time to do anything, including spend time with my family. I need a solid weekend off.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Marriage Partners for Life

Jamie and I are now trained facilitators of two highly effective marriage education courses; Dynamic Marriages and Prepare & Enrich! We can also teach other marriage curriculums as well, but we don't have to be "certified" to teach them.

Jamie and I are dedicated to helping save and protect marriages in our community. God saved our marriage several years ago and we plan on doing our best to help save other marriages as well. We hope to start a marriage specific ministry at our church, where we teach others important skills that they need to keep their marriages strong or get new and future marriages off to a great start.

Divorces happen in our nation at a rate of once every 45 seconds. The "Enemy" is out there and he is out to destroy us one marriage at a time. We hope to thwart him whenever possible.

That being said, pray for our marriage as well. We can not help others if our marriage is not strong itself. Satan will definitely try to take us down.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Son, Caleb!

14 Years ago today, I became a Father! I was holding a little alien looking kid, who had just peed on himself. 

Now, I am the proud father of a brilliant young man, who makes me happy every day. He gets good grades and loves his God. He watches James Bond with me, and he even makes  his own weird videos to send to his cousins, (as the picture shows).


I love you Caleb! -- Dad

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Presidents Quiz # 4 of 4

As before there are a series of statements you need to match up with the President they belong with. The answers are in the comment section. Good Luck.

# 34. The Compromise of 1850 was passed while he was president, which allowed California to become a state. He also sent the U.S. Navy to open trade with Japan.

# 35. He was President of the United States during the Spanish-American War, which resulted in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines becoming territories of the United States. Hawaii also became a U.S. territory while he was president. He was the third president to be assassinated while in office.

# 36. He was president when the first of the Confederate States left the Union and the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Ft. Sumter. He was also the only president who was never married.

# 37. He was Commander of all Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. He established the Interstate Highway System and started funding for the U.S. Space Program. He was president when Korean War ended.

# 38. A former actor, who appeared in many movies, he is oldest person to have ever been president. The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster happened while he was President. He survived an assassination attempt shortly after becoming president. His tough stance on terrorism led to the U.S. invasion of Grenada and the bombing of Libya.

# 39. The heaviest person to ever become President. He is the only former President to later become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the last president, to date, to wear facial hair.

# 40. This president is most famous for the passing of the "Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act" while as president.

# 41. Hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe, he was the first president who was a member of the Whig Party. He was the first President to die in office. He caught pneumonia after making the longest inaugural speech in presidential history, while in the rain. He died one month after taking office.

# 42. Commander of the U.S. Army during much of the Civil War, his presidency was marred by many scandals and Reconstruction after the Civil War. The Transcontinental Railroad was completed while he was president and he established Yellowstone National Park as the first national park in the U.S.

# 43. Known as the "quietest" president, he was president during the "Roaring Twenties." He helped pass the "Indian Citizenship Act of 1924," which made all Native Americans living in the U.S., citizens of the United States.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Baseball Season is Coming!

The 2009 Major League Baseball Season is almost upon us and I am excited. I have been keeping up with the Spring Training games and my Texas Rangers are looking good. They may not be division winners (or Wild Card contenders) yet, but I think they have enough to hold onto their 2nd Place finish from last year.

They have an exciting crop of young pitchers waiting to make their marks on the team. If the "recovering wounded" pitchers heal completely, then we will have a pretty good pitching staff this year. Of course our offense will sizzle, and I can' t wait to see how Josh Hamilton does this year. I read his book, Beyond Belief, in three days last week. I highly recommend it to others.
For as long as I remember, I have always loved baseball. I wish I had the talent to play professionally, but alas I do good to try and play softball on occasion or throw the ball around with my kids. I am seriously considering using the money from a travel reimbursement check to to have a Rangers Weekend with my best friend, and buying tickets to a 3 day weekend series at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. We would stay at a hotel nearby and just soak up the Rangers for a few days. (I still need to bounce this idea off my bride, Jamie, first.)
I am so ready for Baseball!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Presidents Quiz # 3 of 4

As before there are 11 statements for you to match up with the President they belong to!
The answers are in the comment section.

#23. He was elected in the first Presidential Election that allowed women to vote for President. His administration was mired by in controversy and scandal, including the "Teapot Dome Scandal," because of which several of his cabinet members and advisers were arrested. He died in office after returning from the first Presidential trip to Alaska.

# 24. While president he wanted to create a "Great Society" and encouraged Congress and the U.S. to "Declare War on Poverty." He helped pass laws that strengthened Civil Rights and that created Medicaid and Medicare. Despite these accomplishments the pressures and demands of the Vietnam War caused him not to seek another term as President.

# 25. Sadly, this president is best known for his "extra-marital" activities more than what he accomplished as president. He helped pass many social and economic reform bills into law and was had one of the highest approval ratings as a president, despite the fact his term of office was marred by many scandals. He was the second president to be impeached.

# 26. Although he only served four years, more states were admitted to the United States while he was president, other that George Washington. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was also passed while he was president. He was also the grandson of a former president.

# 27. Considered by many to be the "greatest" President in U.S. History. He was president during the U.S. Civil War and the first Republican President to be elected to office. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which abolished slavery in the Confederate States. He was the first president to be assassinated.

# 28. A General and hero of the Mexican-American War, this president died in office from complications due to probable food-poisoning.

# 29. He was the first son of a President to be elected President. A failure as President, he returned to the House of Representatives, where he fought to end slavery. Years later, he died at his desk in the House chambers.

# 30. He was the only person to serve as President of the United States without being elected to either the Vice-Presidency or as President. He pulled the last of the American troops out of Vietnam and pardoned the previous president for any crimes he may have committed during the Watergate Scandal.

#31. He was the only person to be elected to four terms of office as President. He was president during the majority of World War II. His sweeping economic and social changes, called "The New Deal" helped bring an end to the Great Depression. He was limited to life in a wheel chair while suffering from the effects of polio. He died while sitting at his desk in the White House, shortly after starting his fourth term of office.

# 32. He is the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and was partly responsible for the addition of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. He purchased the Louisiana Territory from France and sent the famous "Lewis and Clark Expedition" to explore the newly acquired territory.

# 33. The "hero" of the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812, he was the first Democrat to be elected President. He effectively destroyed the Bank of the United States and forced march many Native Americans from their homes in the Southeastern United States to reservations in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma in what was called "the Trail of Tears." He also prevented a civil war in the U.S. by his strong actions during what was called the "Nullification Crisis."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dynamic Marriages and ME!

This weekend, Jamie and I are going to take a class to become certified instructors for Dynamic Marriages. We get to spend 3 days together getting to know the curriculum from the inside out to better serve marriages in our community. Because Dynamic Marriages is primarily religious in nature, I cannot teach this curriculum as part of my job with Twogether in Texas, but I can teach it at my church or offer the classes to the community as a whole, on my own time.

Despite the fact that the Texas Legislature, is seriously considering cutting the funding for Twogether in Texas, I think it is a great thing for me to become a certified facilitator for Dynamic Marriages. Even if the State takes funding away for marriage education, my wife and I will continue to support healthy marriages anyway.

About 4 years ago, Jamie and I went through a Dynamic Marriage Class, while we lived in
Gilmer. It was a great class and we have wanted to teach it to others since then. Now we are getting our chance.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reply to Comments Made About My Recent Wal-Mart Blog

So what you guys are saying is that we just accept rude and unacceptable service just because they are helping our economy, or that poor service is everywhere?

I was taught by the majority of my former managers to be courteous to the customer, to know where to find products in the store (didn't matter if it was my department or not), how to count change back to the customer (not just quote the register or receipt), and the managers are directly responsible for the behavior of their employees.

None of this is happening at Wal-Mart. If an eating establishment gave you bad service you would not wish to go back, because there are plenty of other eating places out there; however, with Wal-Mart quickly becoming a monopoly, there are few other places to go to for your general merchandise.

Big business will never learn, if the consumers do not stand up for themselves. Just like the government will slowly take away our rights if we keep allowing them to do so. We have to start standing up for what is right somewhere, and I am starting Wal-Mart.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Am Not Setting Foot in Wal-Mart Again!

I have finally been pushed over the edge. I am boycotting Wal-Mart, even if it cost me more to buy my products elsewhere!

Wal-Mart has been known in recent years for not only offering products and good prices but also for their lack of customer services. It is this lack of customer service that is causing me to shop elsewhere. 

This morning, before church, I went grocery shopping. At least 5 times I walked down aisles with employees working and I was never acknowledged. Three times I had trouble finding specific products and when I finally found someone who recognized I was there and asking them a question, they just looked at me and said, "I don't know." and went right back to work. One nice lady did finally help me, but I cannot give her any credit, because she was not wearing a name tag. When I finally reached the check out lanes, I started to walk up to an open register. The employee was starting to walk off and when she saw me coming, she let out a big sigh and said, "Crap, my relief shift should have been here by now, and I need to go." She reluctantly started to ring up purchases, the whole time letting out signs and complaining that she, "really needed to go." (Go where? to the bathroom, home, on break?) When I paid for my purchases, she just slapped the change back into my hand, after looking on the receipt to make sure she had the correct amount, and said in a frustrated tone, "Come back." 

No! I will not go back! I am tired of being treated like an "Untouchable" to be looked down on. I am tired of waiting almost an hour, at times, to check out, when there are lanes that could be opened. I am tired of being ignored by employees, that is if I can find one to even help me when I need help. I am tired of managers making excuses about why, "they have a hard time finding good employees." I am tired of Wal-Mart and their crappy attitude. 

I am taking my business elsewhere. I don't care if it cost me more money, I will not step foot in another Wal-Mart until I hear a public announcement that Wal-Mart, Inc., is making steps to improve customer service nation wide. 

Join me in my boycott! Wal-Mart will never improve unless we take a chunk out of their profits. 

Presidents Quiz # 2 of 4

This part 2 of my 4 part quiz about the Presidents of the United States. As before their are 11 statements that you need to match to the President. The answers are in the comment section.

12. His nickname was "Old Dough face." The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by Congress during his term, which led to much bloodshed and helped cause the Civil War.

13. He was President of the United States during World War I. He pushed, unsuccessfully for the United States to join the League of Nations after the war. His "Fourteen Points" served as a guide to create the treaty that ended the war as well. He suffered a stroke late in his presidency, during which time people felt his wife "assumed" many of his presidential duties.

14. Famous for his quote, "The Buck Stops Here," he was president at the end of World War II and authorized the use of the atomic bomb on Japan to end the war. He was president during the start of the Cold War, the creation of NATO and the recognition of Israel as an independent nation.

15. He is the only President to date to have resigned from being president. He won his first election by one of the largest land-slides in Electoral College history. He is known for his famous trip to Communist China, during which he opened up U.S. trade relations with China. He was president when man first stepped on the moon and he negotiated the treaty that would end the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. His involvement in the "Watergate Scandal" almost resulted in his impeachment, but he chose to resign instead.

16. The first African-American to become President of the United States. He is also the current President of the United States. While president he has increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to help fight terrorist and signed orders to close the U.S. Military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has also signed legislation authorizing Congress to give money to industries, businesses and taxpayers to help "boost" a struggling economy.

17. During World War II, he was the youngest Navy fighter pilot to serve in the war. He was head of the CIA before becoming president. He organized a coalition of military forces from the U.S. and other countries to liberate Kuwait from invading forces from Iraq, during what is called, "Operation Desert Storm." He also authorized a military operation in Panama. He was president when the Berlin Wall was torn down in Germany, signaling the end of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. He also helped create the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

18. He was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms of office as President of the United States. He was the 2nd president to marry in the White House.

19. As president he issued a foreign policy that bears his name which said that, further efforts by European governments to colonize land or interfere with states/countries in the Americas, would be considered as acts of aggression that require U.S. intervention. The Missouri Compromise was also passed by Congress while he was president.

20. He helped write the Declaration of Independence and was the only Federalist to serve as president. He signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which severely limited the rights of foreign citizens who lived in the United States.

21. He was the first president to assume the office after the death of the sitting president. Known as the "Accidental President," he failed to accomplish much while he was president. Texas became a state three days before he left office.

22. He was chosen as President by the House of Representatives after the contested election of 1876. He ended Reconstruction in the United States, bringing the last of the former Confederate States back into the Union.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SAVE TEXAS MARRIAGES! YOUR CALLS ARE WORKING!

Just to let you guys know, phone calls have been pouring into the offices of Texas Legislators all across Texas supporting the continued funding for the Twogether in Texas Program.

I just got a phone call from the office of one of our elected officials wanting to clarify some of the information in my previous blog. According to him, the Texas House of Representatives authorized and increase in the funding for our program, and it was the Senate instead who cut our funding!

Due to possible misquoting of some information, I will remove my previous blog; however I do recommend you continue to call your State Elected officials to support marriages in Texas.

Presidents Quiz # 1 of 4

In the wake of the past election and just because I am a History sort of guy, I thought I would challenge my fellow Americans to see how well you know our U.S. Presidents. I will present the quiz in 4 parts (11 presidents each)!

Below is a series of statements about the Presidents. On a piece of paper write down which President you think the statement is referring to. I will give you the answers in the comment section. If you don’t know the names of all of the Presidents, shame on you (just kidding) look them up somewhere; however, try not to cheat and read about them until after you take the quiz. (Hint: Grover Cleveland is only listed once in my quiz even though he was elected twice.)

Good luck!

1. Known as the “Father of the U.S. Constitution”, he was the shortest president and President of the United States when the British burned down the White House during the War of 1812!

2. Promising to fulfill America’s “Manifest Destiny,” this president served during the Mexican-American War, which resulted in the United States gaining control of California and much of the western United States. After threatening to go to war with Great Britain, he also gained control of much of the Oregon Territory.

3. He was president during the early years of Reconstruction, after the Civil War. He was the first president to be impeached. The 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery in the United States, was passed and Alaska was purchased from Russia while he was president.

4. He was the youngest person to ever assume the office of President of the United States. A hero of the Spanish-American War, he was the leader of the Rough Riders. He was known for his “Square Deal” and for being a “Trust Buster.” He won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War. He also authorized the building of the Panama Canal.

5. He was president when the Stock Market crashed in 1829, which started the Great Depression. He has a famous dam named after him on the Colorado River.

6. While President he negotiated a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. He also saw American’s taken hostage in Iran, and the Soviet Union invade Afghanistan. He later became a leader for Habitat for Humanity after leaving the Presidency.

7. Shortly after he became President, a group of terrorist attacked the United States, which resulted in the death of thousands of Americans in New York, when the World Trade Center towers were destroyed, and in Washington, D.C, when the Pentagon was attacked as well. Congress authorized him to use the U.S. Military to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq in attempt to create democratic governments. During the last year of his presidency, economic problems resulted in Congress passing legislation to “bail-out” failing companies and financial institutions to try and boost the economy.

8. Although he was the youngest president ever elected, he prevented the Soviet Union from establishing missile bases in Cuba during the “Cuban Missile Crisis.” He also supported a failed attempt by Cuban Nationalist to overthrow the Communist government of Cuba during the “Bay of Pigs Invasion.” He was the first Roman Catholic president and saw the building of the Berlin Wall in Germany and the start of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. He was assassinated in Dallas, TX.

9. He was the only sitting member of the House of Representatives to be elected president. He was ambidextrous, able to write in two languages at once with both hands at the same time. He was shot shortly after becoming president and died 3 months after taking office.

10. He was the first “natural born” citizen of the U.S. to become president. The Economic Panic of 1837 defined his Presidency and he failed to win a second term in office.

11. He was Commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and the first President of the United States. He helped create the U.S. Constitution and created the Judicial System of the U.S. He was the only President not to live in the White House. He is commonly known as the “Father of our Country.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Last Thirteen Books I Have Read (As of March 10, 2009)

Normally, I would post links to all of these books, but I just don't feel like it this time.

In case you really want to know what I am currently reading, want to read or have read, you can go to Goodreads and look me up!

Going in order;

1. Same Kind of Different as Me -- Ron Hall & Denver Moore
2. The Love Dare -- Stephen and Alex Kendrick
3. The Appeal -- John Grisham
4. Brisinger -- Christopher Paolini
5. Deadfall -- Patricia H. Rushford & Harrison James
6. Twilight - Stephanie Myer
7. The Poisonwood Bible -- Barbara Kingsolver
8. Anchor Man -- Steve Farrar
9. Eat Mor Chikin', Inspire More People -- S. Truitt Cathy
10. Sinner -- Ted Dekker
11. John 3:16 : The Numbers of Hope -- Max Lucado
12. Kiss -- Ted Dekker & Erin Healy
13. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair -- C.S. Lewis

I am currently reading -- Get Out of That Pit -- Beth Moore
Next on my list is -- Beyond Belief -- Josh Hamilton

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Newsboys Concert Report

Wow! What a great concert! We saw four great Christian Bands who uplifted us and praised God with a great Rock Concert!

The first band to perform was Bread of Stone. Their four songs got the concert off to an excellent start. My favorite song that they sang was called, I Want.




The second band to perform was called VOTA. Their "alternative" rock sound really pumped us up. My favorite song that they sang was called, Hard to Believe.




The third band to perform was DecembeRadio. According to my bride, Jamie, "This Band ROCKS!" Caleb saw this band recently at Winterfest in Dallas. They were a perfect set-up to the Newsboys. My favorite song they sang was, Better Man.






Finally, the moment I was waiting for the most, the Newsboys. All I can say is WOW! They were every bit what I expected out of them. They sang several songs from the past, recent songs, and some from their new album coming out later this year. The show was a sight to behold. Duncan, the percussionist, had a tilted-roatating drum platform. It was cool. When they sang the song, Breakfast, people started to wave boxes of Captain Crunch cereal around in the air.
All the bands quoted scripture and praised God through out their performances. All of them are touring together as part of the Join the Tribe Tour.
We bought the latest albums from all the groups and got autographs from all the band members, except the lead singer from VOTA and the Newsboys. The line was to long for the Newsboys and the kids were getting tired. Their were to many girls around the lead singer from VOTA and he didn't have a pen handy to sign the CD cover.
It was a great night!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kings and Chronicles & Newsboys

In my daily Bible reading I am plodding along through Kings and Chronicles. I just finished 2nd Kings and I am about to start 1st Chronicles, which is basically a recap of Kings.

I really shouldn't say plodding, it makes it sound like these books are boring. They are not boring at all. In fact several of my favorite Bible stories come from these books.

The story of Naaman the leaper general of Syria.; the chariots of fire taking Elisha to Heaven; the 2 bears killing the 42 kids because they called the Prophet of God a "bald head"; The Angel of Lord killing thousands of Sennacharib's soldiers during the night; Josiah finding the Word of the Lord while restoring the temple and rededicating his life to the God of Israel.

All these stories are great stories; however, I get very sad when I read about the kings of Israel and Judah turn, time and again, away from the Lord their God.

It is much like going to "church" every Sunday. We celebrate the victories God works in people's lives and we mourn or get angry when we hear of those who have turned away from our Lord, Jesus. Imagine that!





Tonight, my family and I are going to watch The Newsboys in concert! I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My First Snowcone of 2009!

We have a local snowcone stand that is just a couple of blocks away from our home in Longview. They make the 2nd best snowcones that I have ever had. (The first is Cajun' Cones in Abilene, TX) This snowcone place has become a Spring/Summer tradition. Because of the early warm weather, it has opened early this year. My daughter Rachel always gets the flavor "Silver Fox." While that is a tasty flavor, I tend to go for several flavors. My favorites are Butter Cream w/Cream, Strawberry w/Cream, Georgia Peach w/Cream or Blueberry w/Cream. Notice I like my snowcones w/ Cream. My boy Caleb likes the sour flavors such as Lemon-Lime, or some other bitter flavor that makes my mouth pucker up. Jamie tends to stick to the traditional flavors such as Blue Coconut or Strawberry. Sometimes she will try something new.

Today I tried Strawberry-Banana w/Cream. It was yummy, but it has upset my tummy! I might have to wait a few days before my next cone.

Just one more sign that Spring has arrived in East Texas. The Robins have been singing for a while and now the Snowcone place is open! Hurrah!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Am Iron Man!

To read this blog go to http://penguinsandladybugs-allrolledintoone.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-am-iron-man.html

Thinking I was posting on my blog, I accidentally posted on Jamie's blog. So go there to read my latest blog.
I couldn't cut and paste it so I'm leaving it there!


Monday, March 2, 2009

Nothing to Blog About

It seems that I am having trouble coming up with something to blog about recently. I don't want to create another list and I don't want to blog just because; even if this is what this blog is about.

I could blog about the economy and our government's efforts to handle the current economic crisis, but do people really want to read about how I think our governent is moving towards Socialism very rapidly by taking over the business of America, or hear me complain that our government is giving my tax dollars to a bunch of idiots who cannot run a business.

I could blog about the kids, but other than the average run-of-the-mill days, not much is going on with them.

I could blog about my wife, Jamie. I could alsways say something nice about her!

I could blog about my pets. The dog still poops on my daughter's floor at night, despite best efforts to stop him, and the cat thinks he is the boss of the house.

I could blog about the Texas Rangers and the upcoming baseball season. I might do that tomorrow!

I could blog about what I'm reading in the Bible. God's word is always powerful, but I don't get many comments when I blog about my Bible Reading. Hmmmm!

There is always dumb stuff in the news! I could blog again about what I do at work, but I've already done that!

Hey guess what? I blogged today after all. I promise to have more meaningful blogs the next 4 days! Get ready for 4 good ones in a row starting tomorrow! I promise.