Sunday, June 28, 2009

Quit digging!

I was listening to my financial advisor guy on the radio the other day during my lunch hour when he took a call from another listener. The person calling in said something in his introductory remarks that they had dug themselves into a hole (financial). When he said that, immediately I thought...."Quit digging". Then I thought...hmmmm - sounds like a great sermon title to me!
Sometimes when we've found that we've dug ourselves into a hole - it is at that point we need to tell ourselves to "quit digging". Tamala and I "quit digging" the summer of 2007. We stopped borrowing money and started "back filling the hole". We had to stop spending money like the politicians in Washington and create a whole new paradigm shift regarding how we thought about money, handled money and "seeded" money.

To date, we've paid off several thousand dollars of consumer debt and just this past week, we paid off one more credit card. We are "DISCOVERing" financial freedom and peace. That balance was just over $4,000 a couple of years ago; but it is $0.00 today!

Into the Crosshairs of our financial SCOPE -
Chase Bank has fallen into our crosshairs at this point! If all things remain constant we should completely retire this debt by September of this year, and, if we can keep the MOMENTUM, all of our consumer debt, Student Loans, etc will be completely paid off by April of next year! That's ten months my friend! That means we won't have any debt except our home in ten short months. I told Tamala yesterday - finally we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Let me tell you friend we have delayed many things while on our present journey. I can't tell you the number of times it would have been easy to go out and borrow money to do the things around our house that we have wanted to do. But that would have been just digging deeper into the hole of debt - so we didn't. We had to remind our ourselves that if we wanted different results than what we had been getting, we had to stop doing what we had been doing and try something else.

It seems almost trivial now, but 2 1/2 years ago we had some small doctor bills that we had to pay off. We were paying about $30.00 a month or so on three or four of them. So what we learned was when we paid our first one of those off, we took that same $30.00 a month and began applying it to the next payment and guess what? TRACTION baby - we got TRACTION!! Today, that $30.00 has grown exponentially!

That was what the billboard said here in Kansas City back in early 2007. When I read that... I thought "could that really be possible"? Today, I can really see that it is possible. What is really cool to realize is that when you don't have any debt no one can come along and take anything away from you.

Stay tuned - we hope that next April we will be able to post - WE'RE DEBT FREE!!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Adoption- a quick word!

I realized that I haven't said much lately about the adoption process. Well, we have been told that we will be considered in a Best Interest Staffing on two little brothers as soon as their Guardian Ad Litem returns from a trip to another country. Then a Case Manager for a sibling group of four is currently looking at our homestudy and will make a determination after that if we will be considered for a Best Interest Staffing.
Our Adoption Worker just emailed us a new picture & profile of two little brothers, 7 and 4 years old that Tamala and I will look at and begin discussing.
So, that's it! Short, sweet and to the point.

Friday, June 19, 2009

a time to GROW favorite time of year. I really enjoy when things begin to grow and bloom. First it seems to be the Daffodils that pop up and greet us. Then I begin anticipating seeing Tulips with their dazzling display. Although my Tulips haven't done much thse past two seasons - I think I'm going to move them.

A couple of years ago, we had a wonderful neighbor who gave us all kinds of plants, bulbs and shrubs; some of which I still haven't been able to identify.

I do enjoy growing the Hostas in the back yard. You'll notice they are under a black mesh. The last two years, my hostas were up and going great and then...overnight...they were gone! Something obviously was eating them. My neighbor across the street was having the same problem. I knew slugs like to eat Hostas but this was way too much for slugs to eat overnight! I started looking online for other culprits. I learned that deer have a taste for Hostas. That made sense to me at that point because I've seen deer crossing my lawn more than once. That is why this year I decided to put the Hostas under something - to protect them. I found this black plastic mesh at a hardware store - surrounded them with it and then laced the top shut with some twine. It has worked so far.

Friday, June 12, 2009

and then there's always....."HOME" by Joe Diffie

This one has been rollin' around in my noggin' for some time now. This is one of those posts you may want to take "nature break" now, grab your favourite beverage, prop your feet up - cuz we're liable to be here awhile.

Singer/songwriter Joe Diffie debuted "Home" back in 1990 and it has been my "anthem" ever since. The guitars, dobros, gentle rhythm and great vocal harmonies blend together to make "one hallmark" of a country song.

"Home" for me wasn't literally the place where I resided, but a very special place that lie in my past. When I was a child, it was a magical place; when I was a young teenager it was a place of warmth and love. "Home" was a 240 or so acre farm my grandparents owned near Newkirk, Kay County, Oklahoma. There were three different livestock ponds, hay meadows, wheat fields, cattle pens, barns, chicken coops, an out-house, yes I said out-house and yes I did use it, and a junk yard complete with old combines, 1940s autobmobiles, old abandoned farm implements, etc (a world full for exploration for a young, inquisitive mind). There were cows to milk, calves to feed, hogs to slop, yards to mow, ridin' on the tractor for endless hours while Grandpa plowed or disced, cows to milk again, beans to snap, taters to dig, chickens to kill and prepare, weldin' to do, feed to scoop, and did I mention-cows to milk.

What one of us grandkids couldn't think of to get into, well it was a sure bet that another could. I think one of the most memorable moments was one afternoon a group of five or six of us was lookin' for somethin to get into and sure enough that's just what we did. Now, remember I told you earlier there was always cows to milk? Well, where there's cows there guessed it....cow pies! Now I don't zactly recollect whose bright idea it was but we found ourselves out in the corrall where the cows gather before milking and someone picked up stick and... watch out -here's where it gets messy - they stuck it into one of those fresh cow pies and flung it at someone! Well, that was all it took....the fight was on! Everyone was grabbin' sticks and started flingin cow manure everyhwere. My brother Mike got hit in the ear! I think the grown ups made us git into the stock tank to wash most of the manure off before comin into the house. That was probably 40 years ago and we still bring it up at family reunions to this day!

In the attached video, someone is drivin around shooting the local scenery. Well, it might as well have been shot from my Grandpa's 1951 Studebaker pickup truck! I think over one winter he pulled it into the barn and repainted it red, white and gold if I recall. We started callin it the "Coke" truck. I am sure that if that old truck were around today and it could talk it would have some tall tales to tell.

Also in the lyrics of the song it talks about.... "the feel of a muddy role between your toes". Well, I remember a bunch of us always like to go down the "East" pond and go for a swim. Yup, I remember all too well the "feel of a muddy role between my toes". Of course, we always had to keep a wary eye out for "rattlers" and water moccassins but no one every got bit. My family and I were down at the East pond fishin one time and I thought I'd walk around to the other side where my Mom was "wettin' a hook", as I was walkin' around the waters edge I wasn't payin close attention and all of the sudden I looked down just as I was takin another step, I almost stepped on a water moccassin curled up right by the water's edge. Well I let out a war hoop and nearly peed my pants and the snake shot straight into the water. I started bawlin and carryin on! They sent me up to the house, I guess cause of all the racket I was makin after being scared spitless!

Not much left of "the ole place" these days except the milk barn my Grandpa built with his own hands back about 1969. I am told he didn't have a blueprint or any plans - 'cept in his head. It was a wondrous building back in that day! Just a few years ago I made a friend back down near Joplin and he had milk cows. I'd visit him every now and then and when I walk into his milkbarn, it had the ole smells of milk, feed, manure and must that my Grandpa's barn did and instantly - I was back "Home" again. Memories are a powerful thing!

They sold the "old Home place" back in about 1989 and it was like an "era" came to an end. I believe there had always been a Graham farm of some kind or another since the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1907. Both of my Great Grandfathers were in the Land Rush! But I've got some old milk cans, steel wagon wheels, milk strainer and a few other mementos that I wouldn't take anything for 'em. To me...they're priceless!

I wish I could go back but I can't. But every and then, I catch a whiff of, that smells just like Grandma's fried chicken, bread bakin' in the oven, or a wheat field just after a rain, freshly cut alfalfa... and instantly it takes me back and.....I'm "Home" again.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

$1 Trillion dollars - just what does that look like?

All this talk about "stimulus packages" and "bailouts"...
A billion dollars...
A hundred billion dollars...
Eight hundred billion dollars...
One TRILLION dollars...

What does that look like? I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I'd take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.
We'll start with a $100 dollar bill. Currently the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slighty fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go.

A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2" thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for week or two of shamefully decadent fun.

Believe it or not, this next little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet...

And $1 BILLION dollars... now we're really getting somewhere...

Next we'll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we've been hearing so much about. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it's a million million. It's a thousand billion. It's a one followed by 12 zeros.
Ladies and gentlemen... I give you $1 trillion dollars...

you can't hardly see the man standing beside the pallets but he's in the very far lower left hand corner- it simply dwarfs him!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My newest blog - has to do with Missions/Outreach

It is so amazing - I now have two blogs to keep up with! You can check out my newest blog my clicking on the link - Launch Pad Studios to the left just under Tamala's picture. Don't forget to check out my brother's blog - The Extended Table too!

I've been on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Academy of Theatrical Arts for the last couple of years now and Launch Pad Studios is our latest endeavor. As you will read on the Launch Pad Studios blog - our first project is helping to educate Africa's young people.

A couple of years ago, I began to feel that there may be a missions trip to Africa sometime in my future. As a young person, I almost had a fear that the Lord would ask me to go to Africa. Now, I have a completely different mindset. It seems that since we are in the very beginning stages of this whole new endeavor - there may actually be a trip to Africa in my not too distant future.

Anyway - check it out and please.....leave comments!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Flinthills of Kansas, Dances with Wolves and The Man from Snowy River

What an incredible experience! Last Friday, Tamala, her cousin and myself left the hustle & bustle of big city life to travel to Lindsorg, KS (little Sweden of Kansas) in order to attend a wedding of one of Tamala's other cousins.

The Flinthills of Kansas -
We also travel through the Flinthills of Kansas when making a trek down to Tamala's family in Winfield, KS. Some may find them dull and boring because trees are not plentiful at all. I find the Flinthills an awesome spanse of land - rolling hills with lush prairie - thousands and thousands of acres of them. On some of the upper plateaus you can see for miles! I can almost picture a vast herd of buffalo grazing on the slopes or see a wagon train moving lazily "high atop the rim rock".

Of course my experience was heightened because I had downloaded the soundtracks from Dances With Wolves and also The Man from Snowy River and was listening to these magnificent musical compositions while moving throught the Flinthills. I must say it was a sensory euphoria to say the least......beautiful music and spectacular scenery. Behold the handiwork of the Lord!