I will be posting updates on this blog as they arrive. Those of you who read this blog will be among the first to know when the book is released. I am developing more information that I will share soon, so keep reading. - Tim
It has almost been a year since I told people that I was going to publish a book. Since that time, the book has undergone three edits, two critiques and one complete rewrite. I sent the entire manuscript to the publisher yesterday. Based on their timetable, we are looking at 4-6 weeks before The Night Terror hits the shelves, Kindles and Nooks!! I want to thank everyone who has helped make this dream a reality: my family - especially Julie (who painstakingly edited it twice) and my parents for helping provide financial support, Donna Youngblood for editing / critiquing, the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, H.L. Hussmann, and all of my friends who have supported me through this venture. You are wonderful people.
I will be posting updates on this blog as they arrive. Those of you who read this blog will be among the first to know when the book is released. I am developing more information that I will share soon, so keep reading. - Tim
There are times that I sit and write out an entire article and then decide to not post it to the blog. It’s much like those times that you think about something you want to tell someone but wisdom tells you otherwise and you say something much different. Today has been one of those days. I was penning a juicy political article and even researching my facts to make sure I knew what I was talking about. After reading it, however, I just felt it doesn’t belong on this blog. The purpose of this blog is to represent my business and support the talented people for which Stratosphere Networking advertises. My blogs are primarily meant to focus on social marketing, book writing, technology, social responsibility and the Christian faith all sprinkled with an occasional personal account. I do write on controversial subjects at times but just feel that focusing on politics just does not meet with the mission of the organization. I need to be careful that I don’t turn into a political machine so I decided to not write about politics. Speaking of political machines, did I mention my focus was on Chicago politics in the White House? Ok, I had to put something in since I worked so hard on the article.
When you are writing a blog, it is necessary to define what your blog is going to be about. Will it just be random and based on your opinion or what is currently happening? Is it subject oriented? An example would be a blog about golf or mountain climbing. Does your blog fit within a specific niche? It is important that if your blog is designed to operate in the realms of a certain focus, you maintain that focus. You don’t want to lose your readers by constantly switching gears. This is where blogging can get extremely complicated. It can be a rather mundane task to keep focusing on a particular area. This is why I allow myself some flexibility and sometimes just talk about what is going on in life. Where I am often mistaken is in that I will stay on that wheel of randomness and, consequently, lose readers in the process. I will soon be taking my own advice and advancing ideas about writing fiction. I also have some big news to announce in the next couple days, so keep reading. - Tim
Eons ago teens would fake running away from home as a way of protesting a rule their parents had enforced. Billy would dial his parent’s telephone, which was located in the kitchen next to the refrigerator, and call Tommy. Billy and Tommy would then hatch out a devious plan where Billy would pack an overnight bag and secretly stay at Tommy’s house. Billy would then leave a note to his parents describing how awful they were and how he could no longer live under the same roof. Since Tommy lived across the street, Billy would be able to watch everything from Tommy’s window. The plan was foolproof except neither Billy nor Tommy assimilated the fact that Tommy’s parents would call Billy’s parents to ask why Billy was staying overnight at their house. The plan was quickly foiled and Billy and Tommy were grounded. I think this may have been on an episode of ‘Leave it to Beaver’ or ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ but I’m not sure.
The point is this was the way people threw fits when things didn’t go their way. Fake running away was a difficult task in those days because a person was required to develop a plan so as to not be forced to actually spend a night on the streets. Today, however, things have become much easier. There is no need to run away from home and stay at Billy’s house; there is actually no need to even write a letter. If someone gets offended or upset today, he just closes his Facebook account. He then logs in on a friend’s account and watches the frenzy as everyone attempts to find him. He relishes in the comments stating, “Where has Frank gone? Did he defriend me? Has he closed his account?” Just like Billy, Frank gets to watch all the action from a nearby window.*
This really seemed to work when we were all new to Facebook. People would close accounts or de-friend each other as a way of saying, ‘Gotcha.’ Today it’s not so bothersome. With increased numbers of ‘friends,’ many people don’t even notice when they have been de-friended or when someone closes his/her account. We go on about our business of posting about our day’s experiences while fewer and fewer people actually read them. (This is a side note, but it seems to me that as our number of friends increase, the number of people who read/comment on our posts decreases.) Also, everyone has become aware of the trend and feel like you are just trying to get attention by closing your account. This means they may pay less attention to your posts when you reopen it two days later.
Heed my word of advice ‘friend,’ if you plan on fake running away, don’t close your Facebook account or start de-friending people. You may find out that no one notices and that may make a bad day even worse. Instead, do the more popular act of posting all your complaints on your status for the world to see. Make Facebook your voice!! (That was a bit of sarcasm – we really do get frustrated by reading constant complaints on posts – did I just complain about complaining?) You get the point. – Tim
*(By saying ‘window,’ I am presenting a metaphor for Windows – the computer software used on PC’s. I am stating that Frank is watching the action from his computer, not staring out an actual window at Facebook. If you really need this explanation, go back to school.)
As some may have noticed I recently upgraded from a .weebly.com account to a .com. A business with a .com address just seems more professional than one piggybacking off another website. In addition to the update I also added the sidebar Google ads. I know this is annoying to most of us but it is a way for my site to generate income. When you see it through the eyes of the person maintaining the website you realize it’s needed. I did set it to where nothing questionable should pop up as this is a family friendly website.
I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t just blog because I have so much knowledge that I feel I need to share some of it with the world. I blog for two reasons: 1. I love to write and 2. I want to generate traffic on the website in order to promote my books and the bands, authors and public speakers I represent. If you haven’t done so in the past, take a moment to click on the other links and see what I am talking about. You might just find something you are interested in. Thanks for your time. - Tim
I hate washing the dishes, I really do. I also hate folding and sorting laundry. These are not tasks I enjoy and they don’t give me great pleasure. I hate doing the dishes and laundry but I love my wife. Because I love my wife I help out around the house. I wash dishes, wash, dry, fold and sort laundry, vacuum, sweep, mop, wipe down toilets, sinks, tubs, and the kitchen table (with different rags), and I dust. I also organize, pack and store items. I am no super husband but I do contribute to the housework.
I have not always been such a prime example of husbandry but when Julie began working fulltime I realized I had expected much from her in the past. I also recognized that there was no way she could maintain a career and our home, so I began helping significantly more than I ever have. I’m not as good at doing chores as she is but I can do them. I am no longer one of those inept husbands who claims he can’t figure out how to turn on the dishwasher but has no problem operating his computer or ATV.
I’m not saying all this to brag on myself but to make a point, I love my wife. Love is not about feeling gushy and getting chills – that’s the flu. Love is putting someone else’s needs above your own. Love is making sacrifices because you desire to bring joy to the object of your affection. Many marriages don’t last because people do not understand what it means to love one another. A couple makes the commitment in their wedding vows but never truly comprehends what that commitment means. I think on their wedding days most people can’t imagine life past their honeymoon. Love on a honeymoon and love in marriage are two totally separate entities.
Love involves sacrifice and those sacrifices must go both ways or you have a master/servant relationship instead of a marriage. If a wife does everything for her husband but he never treats her with respect, she loves him and so does he.
Also, two people will not always see things the same. This is when it is important to find a way to respect one another. An example is for us has been guns. I really like guns and I am a pro-gun aficionado. Julie, on the other hand has not been too keen on the subject. When we were first married she really did not want a gun in the house. I did. Out of my love and respect for her, however, I did not bring a gun into our house and I did not beleaguer her about it day in and day out. Over the years, however, she has recognized my inclination toward firearms and has allowed me to teach her to shoot and has most recently agreed to have guns in our home for the purpose of protection. I would not say that Julie has become a pro-gun NRA card touting momma bear, but she has recognized that guns are important to me and acted in love by accepting that part of who I am. I have assured her that I will keep our firearms where the children cannot access them and have already been teaching both children about gun safety. Caleb and Rachel both know that guns are not toys and are to never be treated as such. Caleb is a cub scout and had already undergone some formal gun safety training.
This is one of many examples where Julie and I have worked through areas of differing opinions. We haven’t always handled every situation correctly but when we do it is because we love one another. We both make sacrifices so the other can be happy. The crazy thing is that it brings us joy when we make each other happy. Even though we set out to enrich each other’s lives, we end up enriching our own as well.
If you want your marriage or relationship to succeed, learn to love. It won’t last or at the very least will not be any fun if you don’t learn that one important truth.
The gas tank worked loose from the Ford Bronco and propelled off the road into a nearby yard. I quickly stopped the vehicle, assessed the situation and called my insurance company. They called a tow truck and the local fire department because it was considered a hazardous spill. This is a true story and one of many collected during my days of off-roading.
I recently wrote about how my friends and I enjoyed caving a few years back. Another adventure we greatly relished was off-roading. This was another hobby that we set aside when we started expanding our families. It was mainly due to the expense. Owning and maintaining a vehicle for which the main purpose is to abuse it in mud and dirt can be quite taxing. I have personally owned thee vehicles that I used in my adventures: a 1988 Jeep Comanche, 1989 Ford Bronco and 1999 Toyota 4Runner. I still own the 4Runner but rarely take it off road anymore. Of the three, the best off road performer has been the 4Runner which barely ranks above the next contender. The second best was quite surprising due to the fact that it was a two-wheel drive truck. The Jeep Comanche was a monster and quite the brute. I took it places people would never dream of going in a two wheel drive pickup truck and it never let me down. As a matter of fact I took it just about everywhere my friends took their 4wheel drives and I don’t recall ever getting stuck or in a situation I couldn’t get out of. If it had been a 4wheel drive, I could have conquered almost any obstacle. It was a gem.
The Bronco on the other hand was a nightmare on 4 wheels. Its 4wheel drive continuously quit working and at the worst times. I had the automatic locking hubs switched to manual and still experienced problems with it. It was tall, wide and super heavy. It may have been a great work vehicle but was the world’s worst off road vehicle. I couldn’t even take it to the same places I drove the Comanche because the Bronco continuously let me down. One time I got stuck in it so bad that when my friend Joel tried to pull me out he got his Blazer marred up as well. If memory serves me correctly we had to have someone get Joel unstuck and then pull out my Bronco. It was that bad. I think that everyone hoped I would not bring the Bronco on an expedition because we all knew it would just mean that we would spend most of our time pulling it out of something everyone else went through with ease. I honestly think my Camry would have outperformed it.
The biggest adventure we had with that vehicle was the night I lost the gas tank after off-roading. The screws that held the gas tank were apparently rusted through and the constant joggling of driving through ruts loosened it from the frame. We had left our off road site and were in transit to my friend Stephen’s house. Joel was behind me and called my cell. “Tim, you are leaking gas and need to pull over,” he said. As soon and I pulled to the side of the road the gas tank dropped off the Bronco, and rolled into someone’s yard into which it continued to empty itself. I contacted my insurance company and they contacted a tow truck and the local fire department. The fire department came and sprayed fire retardant on the road and in the person’s yard and the towing company hauled the jalopy away. We were reminded of that night every time we went to Stephen’s house for a year because that was how long the grass stayed dead and brown.
Off-roading was an adventure and I do not regret those days. If you have a knack for exploring places, enjoy getting jostled around in the cab of a truck and don’t mind the possibility of getting stuck, buy an old truck, SUV or Subaru and have an adventure. Be warned, however, that it will cost you some serious money to keep that jalopy going. Also, don’t buy a Bronco for the purpose of off-roading unless you enjoy watching everyone else have fun. - Tim
The cavern was so dark that once I extinguished my flashlight the only thing I could see was the dancing orbs created by my eyes due to the extreme change. It was also refreshingly cool in contrast to the humid hot summer air outside. The cavern was a welcomed change from the rat race of life. In case you haven’t figured it out I greatly enjoy spelunking or caving. I love crawling into a crevice in the ground and following an underground stream into a vast array of solitude. A few years back Joel, Jason and I were caving partners and we explored together and sometimes led groups on endeavors into the world of darkness. My joy for exploring hasn’t ceased but it has been temporarily replaced with above ground exploration. This is mainly because my children are young and I reserve my adventure time for them. We currently camp and take nature hikes but I will one day teach them the art of spelunking.
In case you have never been in a cave I encourage you to do so. Face your fears and crawl under the dirt. If you are claustrophobic, try a tour cave out first. There are a number of caverns you can visit where there are lights, sounds and a person that explains the territory. It’s a different experience but a good way to get your feet wet.
If you are more adventurous, find some friends who explore caves and have them take you on a journey of your own. If you go caving bring two sources of light. You can carry flashlights but I prefer to have a headlamp and flashlight. By using a headlamp you free your hands for those times you need to crawl. It is always good to wear a helmet because you will bump your head often. You can purchase a helmet with a headlamp included or do what I did - make your own. Always have a least one secondary source of light. I typically carry two waterproof flashlights. I wear military cargo pants and put the flashlights in the cargo pockets. You will want good pants with sturdy material at the knees. You should also wear two shirts – a short sleeve and a long sleeve. You will need the sleeves when crawling and you may get chilly at times. I chose to wear wool socks because they keep your feet warm while wet. You can wear waterproof boots but some caves will have water deeper than your boots so know your cave beforehand. You may destroy whatever shoes you wear so bear that in mind when preparing. Some people who know they will be crawling opt to wear kneepads and gloves. No matter how tough you are your knees can take a beating when crawling on rock for a few hours. Some advanced caves will require climbing rope and an understanding of climbing and rappelling. If you have never been spelunking, stay away from those caves on your first journey. The best rule of thumb is to go with an experienced leader in a relatively simple cave. If you are with an experienced leader they should know to carry a first aid kit and necessary tools.
When carried out safely, caving can be a fun and rewarding experience. I encourage you to try something new and go underground. Have you ever gone spelunking? -Tim
A Man with a Shoe Fetish (TOMS, Chaco, Birkenstocks, Sketchers, Adidas, New Balance, Saucony, Nike, Dr. Martens, Etc.)
It’s embarrassing really to admit that I love shopping for shoes… mainly because I am a man. There is an unwritten code that states all men should be macho and only own three pairs of shoes – athletic, work and some type of boots. It is like my wife and I are in a competition to see who can buy the most shoes. I have shoes that most men and some women have never heard of. Let me take a moment to mention some that come to mind… Sandals: Many men don’t even own sandals but I own one pair each of Birkenstock, Sketchers, Nike, and Croft&Borrow. Athletic shoes: 1 pair each of Adidas, Saucony, New Balance and Avia. Casual shoes: 1 pair each of Chaco, TOMS, Shaun White, and 2 pairs of Rocket Dog. Dress shoes: 2 pairs of BASS and 1 pair of Rockport. Boots: 2 pairs of Dr. Martens. These are not all the shoes I own, just the ones I can currently remember the names of. I have listed 18 pairs of shoes and have at least 3 or 4 pair more. I am sure there are women who can totally rip me apart but I doubt few men can or even care to.
I’m not sure why I love shoes so much but I do have a theory. My parents both lost their jobs when I was young and we had to cut back to get by. This meant that I had to start wearing cheap ‘no name’ shoes – it was common for generic shoes to have no name and look extremely cheap when I was young. Other kids referred to those types of shoes as ‘buddies.’ I’m not entirely sure why they had that name but I wore buddies and other boys like to remind me of that fact. I remember wanting a pair of Nikes or even Reeboks so I wouldn’t feel so lame. I did finally get a pair of Converse but those weren’t very cool in those days. It was a step up though and I felt better. After my parents both found new jobs and our finances started turning back around I clearly remember my mom taking me to a local sports store and letting me pick out my first pair of Reebok athletic shoes. It was a huge deal for me and I suddenly felt different. I think that experience affected my connection to shoes and I still like the feeling I get when I buy a new pair of shoes.
There really isn’t any deep meaning to today’s blog except to say that we all have things that we attach ourselves to. It may be sports, cars, clothing, ATVs, fishing gear, purses or a combination of things but I think we all collect something. It may be due to some type of emotional attachment or past experience. For me it’s shoes, what is it for you?
What would your life be like if you had made a different decision when you were younger? Have you ever thought about this? I know I have. The decisions we contemplate may be different but I think most of us reflect on our past at times and imagine what life would have been like if we had or had not… I want to start off by saying that I live my life with no regrets. I am very happy with the decisions I have made and love the life I live. This does not mean that I never ponder where I would be had I made different decisions.
One of the decisions I think the most about happened 13 years ago. Julie and I had spent three months as missionaries in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and were preparing to return to the U.S. We had a very rewarding and difficult journey. We had experienced tremendous blessings because we had lived with two wonderful hosts. We first shared a home with a growing family and later lived with a widow. We were both extremely thankful for their hospitality but it was still a struggle. The family that hosted us was exceedingly nice and included us as part of their family. The main problem was we really felt we were a burden on them because their space was already limited and they lived on the outside the city which meant they were our means of transportation. Our second living arrangement was also somewhat of a struggle. It was the polar opposite of our first living arrangement. Etta lived in a large home in the middle of the city. We were able to walk to the school for which we volunteered and walk into the city for shopping and food. We almost never saw our host and spent much of our time in the house in solitude. We missed the family but enjoyed the freedom. It was bittersweet.
We had originally planned to stay for only three months and our time of departure was quickly approaching. Prior to leaving we learned of the Columbine tragedy and were actually quite disgusted with our own country. People always talk about how unsafe third world countries are but at that moment we felt more safe there than at home. A missionary family picked us up one day and took us out. Their purpose for taking us out was to ask one simple question: would we want to take their place while they embarked upon a sabbatical? The missionaries had built quite a life in Honduras. They lived in a very nice home that was surrounded by a security fence and gated driveway and they owned a car and SUV. They were offering to allow us the use of their home and vehicles in their absence. The only catch was that we take care of their stuff and continue the work of their ministry. We were already helping them so it would have been a ‘dream come true.’
We were set to leave and had already made arrangements with family in the US to pick us up because we were leaving within the week. The tickets were bought and we were packing our things. Had they approached us a month earlier, we would have agreed in an instant but at that point we had already switched our brains to home-mode. After discussing the opportunity we decided it was best to return to the U.S.
Ever since that day I have wondered what our life would have looked like if we had decided to stay. Would we have become fulltime missionaries? Would we have been safe the entire time or would have some unforeseen danger befallen us? Would we still have ended up in Illinois but just later? I don’t know the answers but I do think about it on occasion. I don’t regret the decision to return but I do ponder on what the other side of the coin looked like. I think it is because of that decision that I still often wrestle with the idea of one day returning to the missionary life. It still lives somewhere deep within my soul and stirs on occasions when I least expect.
I love the life I chose because I have wonderful children and great friends. I live a fulfilling life and am surrounded by many sources of joy. That one decision may or may not have changed the entire course of my life but I am glad we came back. I am also glad we were given the option because we were able to leave Honduras knowing we had positively affected others. It was an honor to know that the missionaries trusted us enough to make such an offer because we were very young at the time.
Do you ever think about how your life would have been if you had made a different decision? - Tim
In Illinois our primaries are tomorrow. We have several local races and get to vote for our choice of who will take on President Obama in November. I have been inundated with propaganda over the past week. The mailbox has been stuffed with political opponents slinging dirt at one another. My cell phone, which is supposedly on the ‘Do Not Call’ list, keeps ringing with computerized commercials about the candidates. It’s all pretty confusing to say the least. I do know who I am voting for in the presidential primary, Rick Santorum. I am not going to write a letter about why I think you should vote for Rick Santorum because many of you have already voted.
Regardless if Santorum or Romney wins the primary, either one will be able to do a better job than Barack Obama. I’m not really sure how we ever elected Obama in the first place. All I can figure out is the ‘Hope, Change’ rhetoric rang true with many people. Being a resident in Illinois who had corresponded with Obama while he was a junior Senator, I already knew he was not presidential material. I tried to tell others but they were just enamored with his hypnotic expression. In case you are still mesmerized by our current president, here are some facts:
Our national debt has skyrocketed under his presidency and has made the amount Bush accumulated look miniscule. The national debt has increased nearly $6 trillion during Obama’s reign. One of his largest complaints against Bush was how the debt increased nearly $5 trillion in Bush’s eight years as president. Obama has broken that record in only 4 years. If you say it’s unfair to judge a president based on the national debt, then explain why it was alright for Obama to do it four years ago: “The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years… added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay …That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.” – Barack Obama in his 2008 campaign.
Despite the White House’s spin, unemployment has skyrocketed over the past four years. They have been touting about how it has recently dropped below 9% - calling it a four year low. Really? It was 5.8% in 2008 and only 4.6% in 2007. I can’t speak for the nation but where I live businesses are still shutting down. It could be because I live in Obama’s home state of Illinois which happens to be one of the worst financially handled states in the US.
President Obama managed to make a big mess much worse. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would claim that Obama’s healthcare bill has been successful. For me personally it caused my insurance rates to skyrocket. I also happen to work in a small rural hospital and his policies are threatening to close down many rural hospitals across the nation. I can post many facts about his how his healthcare plan has only made a dysfunctional system even worse but I don’t think I really need to convince anyone of this plain and simple fact. If something doesn’t change access to healthcare will be more crippled in the US than at any point in recent history. It’s all crumbling as we speak.
Obama’s foreign policies have been dangerous and his overall job performance very poor. Things were not great under George W. Bush but they have only become worse over the past four years. If we continue on our current path I fear the United States will be unrecognizable in four more years. It’s time for real change.