Sunday, December 28, 2014

DIY: Rubber Band Ukulele Toy

A few days ago, I wrote about the Wood Five Pointed Star Coin Bank that I made for our new granddaughter. Now, here is the toy I made for our grandson.

Our grandson enjoys seeing his dad play the ukulele. He also likes to see me, "grandpa", playing the ukulele and guitar. So, it was no surprise that our daughter put a ukulele (or guitar) on his Christmas list. He's only 1.5 years old, so it would have to be durable. I had already been trying to decide what to make for him for Christmas and already had an idea, but one day while looking at ideas for variations of what I had wanted to make, I saw a piece of wood cut out in the shape of a guitar. That's when a "light bulb" went on in my head and I realized that I could make him a toy rubber band ukulele!   If the rubber bands broke, they could easily be replaced with a new set.

The first attempt at cutting the wood with a Dremel tool went bad.  It went out of control and even with the routing attachment, I couldn't hold it steady.
All my scroll saw blades for my sabre saw were broken (another story for another day), so I went and bought some more. I was able to easily cut out the shape now. I traced the shape of a soprano ukulele (the smallest type of uke) and cut it out of a thin piece of luan plywood.
I cut the same same shape out of a 1 inch thick piece of pine stock. I also cut another piece of luan plywood for the back of the uke. I then hand traced a line on the inside edge of the 1 inch thick pine. This line was about a half inch inside the "body" of the uke.
I then used a drill bit to make a starter hole in the 1 inch thick wood and then cut it out with the sabre saw. I used a hole saw to cut out the sound hole on the top piece of luan plywood. You can see in this photo how the pieces overlapped to make the uke. 
Then it was time to carefully glue and clamp them together. 
clamps, clamps and more clamps. 
Next, I needed to cut out two "bridges" for the "strings." I used a piece of oak trim that would normally be used as a transition between maybe two oak floors. It was beveled on the edges. You can see in this photo how I kept it attached to the big piece of trim so that I had something to hold onto it with while working on it. After it was cut out, then I made a groove in it with the dremel tool and a knife (more on that below). I also marked and cut slots for the "strings" (which would be for the rubber band strings).
Here is a close-up of how I made the groove underneath in each of the two bridges. The groove allows the ends of the rubber bands to wrap underneath.

 I glued the two bridges on with wood glue and more clamps.  
Here you can see how two rubber bands went around.


Then I sanded it, stained it with wood stain, and painted it with polyurethane.  I then used a permanent marker and a paint marked to make the frets and the nuts. The finished project is shown at the start of this post.  

What do you think about this project? How would you improve on it? Please comment!

Friday, December 26, 2014

DIY: Five Pointed Star Coin Bank

Our daughter was due to have a baby girl around Christmas. I wanted to make a present for the baby. My other daughter gave me an idea. While I was considering how to make what she suggested, I came up with another idea: A wooden coin bank! We have a wooden duck shaped coin bank that we've had since our children were little. My daughter who was expecting (she had the baby yesterday on Christmas day!) has been using "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" as a theme (see my earlier post about the sign I made with that theme). So, I decided on making a star shaped coin bank for the baby.

I looked around on the internet for some tips on how to make a 5 pointed star and came across a post about a "DIY Wooden Star" by the Rouge Engineer. That post gave me a good idea about how to make the wooden sides of the bank.  I was going to cut an outer and inner star shape on a flat board, but this design was simpler and looked much nicer!

It called for using a 1" by 2" board and cutting angles of 36 and 54 degrees. It called for cutting them using a chop saw (aka trim saw), which I don't have. After lots of trial and error trying to do it "by hand", I realized I needed a better way to get it done. Both of the angles were just a bit different than a 45 degree diagonal and I had a mitre box with 45 degree angles. I also had a DeWalt Hand saw that cuts faster than most. (The saw was a recent birthday present from my son-in-law. He has a similar one and I admired it for it's fast sawing ability.  ) I used a tool to measure and mark the two angles and then cut them as new angles in the mitre box.

Now, with the ability to hand cut those two angles, I clamped the 1" X 2" board into the mitre box and cut the angles as explained in the post. Note: I also wanted this star to be smaller, so my cuts for each point were 2" shorter than the measurements described in the post that I linked to above. 
  After cutting all of the pieces, I laid them together and saw that I indeed had a star!
Now I had to figure out how to connect the pieces. The post calls for nailing them, but I decided to glue them. First I glued the points together, then I glued the points into the star shape. 
Next, I had to figure out how to cut the acrylic (aka plexiglass) that would go on the front and back of the bank. I picked up 2 pieces from Home Depot. Each one was 11" by about 15" and .093" thick. Each one costed a bit less than $5. I read up on how to cut it on the internet (and watched some youtube videos). I marked the cut lines using a grease pencil (but later had a difficult time getting the grease off the edges of the wood). You can see that I also marked an A and B on the acrylic and the star so I would get it back on the same way (the star didn't come out exact since I cut it by hand).  I also marked where I would put screw holes at each point).
I used a power "Sabre Saw" (mine is actually "Skill" brand) to cut it. After a failed attempt that resulted in the acrylic breaking into many pieces, I went back to the internet and youtube to learn some more. I realized that I needed to keep it from vibrating and go slow with the saw. I also learned that I needed to clean away the little pieces of cut material because if they got under the saw, they would scratch the surface (even through there is a protective film that is on both sides of a new sheet of acrylic). So, I used a horsehair brush to clean everything off between each of the 40 cuts (two cuts per point and two sides of the bank). That slowed things down so that it took a long time.

I also learned that I needed to clamp down the material so that it didn't vibrate while cutting because that vibration causes it to break.
I realized that my saw table has a slot which allowed me to hold down the material with boards on both sides to minimize vibration. Here, in the photo below, you can see all of the pieces of material left after just one cut; they all had to be cleaned off after each cut.

To drill the holes, I started with my smallest drill bit and slowly worked up from there. I held the material in my hand so that if the bit jammed in the material, the material would spin instead of breaking in pieces. It was maticulous work. I also cut a slot for putting the coins into. The slot was made by cutting many holes near each other.

Here you can see the finished project.
Let me know your thoughts. Let me know if you try to make something like this! 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I'm Thankful to the Lord for What I Don't Have

On this day of Thanks, I'm most thankful to the Lord. And, I've realized that rather than be disappointed by what I think is missing, I'm thankful to Him for what's missing. Why?
Because I trust Him.

You see, when I was confirmed, my mom gave me a bible and in the front she wrote Proverbs 3:5-6:

Proverbs 3:5-6New International Version (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

So, I trust the Lord, that although I am missing people today, I believe he's got it all taken care of and he knows what's best for me.

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 And, I'm thankful for what  (and who) I do have!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DIY Sign: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

My wife and I made this sign for the baby's room to give as a present at the baby shower this past weekend for our daughter and son-in-love. They are decorating the room in a beach motif.

Here are the photos of how we made this.

First, we took the recommendation of one of our friends who has the popular blog: The Thinking Closet and used a pallet.  You'll find more information on the two links I just gave you than I'm willing to copy here. I just used my God given (and father trained) know-how to pull the wood I needed.

Then we cut them to the size we wanted. In this case, we wanted them to be as wide as the 3 starfish we selected.
Then we placed them together and flipped them over and connected them together in the back. Make sure not to use screws that are so long that they come out the front: just hold the screw up to the two boards laid on top of each other and you'll see if they're too long (no measuring ruler required).
We placed a paper over it and creased it to get the layout of the boards so we could design the lettering
Then we used carbon paper to trace it to the sign
So, then we could see the placement of the lettering
Then we lettered the front with permanent markers and put a message on the back 
Here's a close-up of our message to the baby
Then we glued on the stars with hot glue! (just a little bit of glue, starfish aren't all that heavy)

Yes, that's a quick tutorial. Our daughter and Son-in-love really like it. We were able to contribute something we made together, by hand, to the baby's room!  They hung it over the changing table soon after we got home from the shower! Hooray! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Great Cell Phone Expedition: In Search for the Best Carrier

We are no longer under a contact, so I've been looking for a cell phone carrier.
We currently have Verizon Wireless, but we're trying Republic Wireless (the photo above is their "welcome kit" that came with the moto X phone I'm trying out). We've also considering Straight Talk and Consumer Cellular.  Here below is the run down so far. We invite your comments and suggestions.

First, let me say that there are 3 of us and we currently use about 3GB of data a month. We are restricted to 700 calling minutes (which we rarely use) and unlimited text. Two of us have the iphone 4 and one has a simple phone used only for texting and calling (without a desire to necessarily have a smart phone).

I comparing prices by computing costs over 2 years.

Verizon wireless:
This is the carrier we currently use. If we renew for a 2 year contract, they currently offer free upgrades to iphone6 for the two iphone4 models. The other phone could be an iphone 5c for free or a 5s for $99.  There is a $35 per line one time activation fee.
Monthly costs:
$60/month for 3GB data (I would get 22% discount on this with my employer)
$40 per phone 
this comes to about $167/month with discount
So, cost over 2 years is $167*24+($35*3) = $4108

Republic Wireless
This carrier makes calls over wifi to reduce costs. It has high satisfaction ratings. They offer only 3 phones, all Motorola phones. No contact is required, but you need to buy their phones up front. We are currently trying it with the Moto X phone for 30 days with a trial moneyback period. We've found a few issues with the service:
  • One app we loaded said it wasn't compatible with the phone
  • It doesn't seem to sync to the bluetooth in our Hyundai Tuscon car (2012)
  • We found out that they don't yet allow us to send picture messages (MMS) to Straight Talk which a few very close family members have
  • the network they use is Sprint which doesn't appear (on the coverage map) to have as much coverage in some areas we travel (there's no coverage for data in some areas from what I understand on the map)
Monthly Costs:
  • $25 for unlimited talk and text and data (throttled back after 25GB) (note: there is a plan for $10 that might be used on one phone - that plan offers unlimited talk and text and data only over wifi)
One Time costs:
  • They have a limited selection of 3 motorola phones (owned by Google, I understand)
  • I like the phone except for the issues above, but it's not as versatile and doesn't have access to as many apps as the iphone)
  • The Moto X (the one I'm trying) is $299
  • The Moto E (this is a smartphone with not as many "bells and whistles" that could be used for one of the phones -it's supposed to be available on Oct 15): $99
 So, worst case over 2 years (note: no contact is required)
(3 * $25) * 24 months + (2 * $299 + $99) =   $2500 (might be $15*24=$360 less if use the $10/month plan)
This is a savings of $1600 over 2 years compared to verizon, but the coverage may not be as good and the phone does have the issues I listed above.

Consumer Cellular
This carrier is highly rated for customer satisfaction. We can get a AARP discount of 5% off the monthly fees. The use the AT&T network. There is no contract. They offer many various phones.

Monthly fees:
  • 1200 talk minutes, $30 (with discount $28.50)
  • 15,000 texts 2.5GB data $30 (with discount $28.50)
  • 2 extra phones $10 *2 = $20
  • If we continue to use 3GB data:  1.5 cents per MB * 500 = $7.50
 One time costs
  • iphone6 $650 (times 2)
  • iphone 6c $450 
So, costs over 2 years:
($84.5*24)+ ($650*2)+$450 = $3778 (I'm not certain this is enough of a savings over Verizon to make it worthwhile) - cons: AT&T coverage may not be as good as Verizon from what I'm hearing and we would have to watch data use and voice minutes

So, who is the winner?
There isn't a clear winner here. I'm leaning toward Verizon only because of the great coverage and ability to get an iphone6 (I'm already familiar with the way they work), but the $1500+ savings of republic wireless is still keeping me from making the decision too quick.  What do you think?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

5 Good Questions that Project Managers Ask the Team

I recently had someone ask me for some tips on getting a project executed.

I learned this (and relearned this) on projects I've worked on. These are important questions to ask those who are performing the tasks on the project.

  1. Schedule: Here is your lists of Tasks. Will you still be able to get these done in the durations listed and in the timelines scheduled?
  2. Dependencies: For your tasks that are listed here, is there anything that would prevent you from starting (or finishing) on time?
  3. Risks: What types of events might occur that could prevent you from getting these things on time or at an acceptable level of quality?
  4. Scope: Do you know of anything that might increase the amount of work that these tasks represent?
  5. Quality: Do you believe you can get these all done at the expected level of quality?
 If you, as a project manager, can ask these questions (simplified here to help make them easy to remember) on a regular basis of each of the team members, then you'll find that it will help you to get the project executed.

Of course, there are many more questions that Project Managers need to ask, but these are important ones to ask of the team members who are performing the work.

Please share the questions you like to ask when trying to get a project done.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to get CPR Certification

We have someone in our family who has had some heart issues and I recently read on the IBM Healthy Living "Active Track" website that we could obtain "points" for getting CPR certification. And, our daughter's are both in the "mommy" stage of life and encouraged us both (my wife and I) to get some CPR and choking training. So, we both took an infant CPR course a few weeks ago. Then, I took a CPR course last week and received my certification card yesterday.
It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  The instructor was very nice and thorough.
I took mine at the local hospital.
You can also find courses through the Salvation Army, American Heart Association, The Red Cross, and other organizations. Sometimes the local fire department will offer classes as well.

I suggest you consider taking a class as you may save a life. After the class, I was talking to a young man in the parking lot. He mentioned that his grandfather had died just a few months earlier. He said if he was there and had CPR training, he may have saved him. He was very close to his grandfather.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Issue the Important "Call to Action" in your Communications

This is a simple ones folks:
When you need someone to do something, include in the communication (email, chat, phone, text...) a "Call to Action" - usually it's included at the end of the communication (this way, it's fresh in their mind)
A "Call To Action" is you telling them what they need to do.  A few pointers:
  1. State clearly what is expected of them
  2. If more than one person is involved, state clearly who you expect to do the action
  3. If possible, give them a due date or ask them when they can have it done or at least tell them what the priority is
In an organization I used to work in, we used to laugh when someone asked for something "As Soon As Possible (ASAP)."- that meant nothing to us. We were all so busy that ASAP meant "some day" (which meant "no day").  We had an agreement that if it was needed immediately, then use the word "Immediately."  And, there better be a good reason why it was needed immediately (hopefully it wasn't because you didn't realize you needed it until the last minute).

A very important point: End the communication with the call to action. You can also start the communication with it, you would even do good to put it in the subject of the email, and ending with it is important because it leaves the receiving person with the most important reminder to do what needs to be done.

So, my "Call to Action" for you is: please post some comments below :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to "Get all the Liars in One Room"

At a previous employer, I had several project managers reporting to me. One of them had done Project Management for decades and was well seasoned. He knew a lot and I learned a lot from him.

One day he had an issue on his project: there were several people who had a different viewpoint on a big project issue. Everyone had a different story about how they got there and what needed to be done to address it. This issue was big enough that we all knew about it at my level. He came to me and told me what he was going to do. He said that the best way to solve issues when you have conflicting viewpoints is to "Get all the liars in one room!"  In other words, he was going to pull together everyone into one meeting so that everything could be aired and come to a consensus.

Sometimes this seems like a simple way to solve things; it seems like a straightforward answer: just get everyone in a meeting. But, sometimes this just isn't for the faint of heart. It can be very difficult with various passionate viewpoints to get everyone to work together to a consensus. A few pointers:
  1. Let everyone know the goal: to come to a consensus on how to address the issue at hand
  2. Let everyone know that we're not here to point fingers at people (i.e. to blame people). We will only discuss how we got here if it helps to determine a solution
  3. Use the G.R.O.W. technique: Identify the goal, the Reality (where we are), Options (let everyone air their suggestions to resolve it and the pros and cons of their proposal), and What Will We do! (i.e. let's all decide on a solution we can all live with, maybe not all agree with, but all of us can concur on the solution.
  4. You may also like to get input from people in advance, especially those who can't make the meeting, who are not invited, or those that are more quiet (less likely to chime in when there are strong personalities in the room)
  5. If there are people who have strong personalities who are re-stating their points and monopolizing the conversation, restate the ground rules and mention that we want to hear all viewpoints.
  6. If possible, share the notes real-time in a way that is shared with all those involved in the meeting: share a screen where you record the main bullet points, or use a white board.
What suggestions do you have for using a meeting to gain consensus on a team?

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

How to Be Valued by Maintaining a Positive Attitude

One of the people I worked with for a while was seen as a valued contributor to our project. I stepped back to ask why.

One thing I learned from her was that she always had a good attitude no matter how stressful or frustrating or complicated things got.

She would always have a laugh or giggle her way through these times.  People valued her contribution of a positive attitude to the project team.
This is something I can learn from.

A positive attitude in the difficult times helped those working with her to be lifted as well. A good laugh in the face of these difficult times made the job a bit lighter.
Just as a negative attitude can poison a team, a positive one can also spread to the team and encourage a team, lifting their spirits.
It also frees people up to see new possibilities, to joke around, and to put things in a bigger perspective.

How have you seen a positive attitude of someone on your project spread to others?  How has it helped you to be positive? How have you helped the team to be positive? Have others with a positive attitude helped you?

Monday, September 08, 2014

Are you Fighting Battles or Are You the Messenger?

Sometimes we have big battles to fight; sometimes we have small battles to fight. Sometimes we fight battles that are not ours to fight.

Always keep in mind who has the battle to fight. Ask yourself who owns the fighting of the battle.

Many times it's not you, you're just caught in the middle.

Let those who are fighting and those who have the authority to make (and enforce) decisions be the ones to make the decisions and fight the battles. Realize the times when you are "only the messenger." And, when you are the messenger, remember where your allegiance lies.

What are your pointers of fighting battles or when you find yourself fighting a battle that isn't really yours to fight?  What about pointers on being the messenger?

Friday, September 05, 2014

The Benefits of Spreading Your Questions Around When You Are in a Learning Situation

I've had some great managers and some challenging ones, but I always try to learn from each.

One thing a past manager taught me: When you are in a learning mode (trying to learn things quick), don't always go to the same person all the time, spread your questions out.

This way, people don't see you as not knowing much, their perspective is that you're picking things up faster because you are learning (but they don't realize you're learning from others), and you don't always bother one person, and you get various viewpoints which is also good.

Another point to keep in mind: When I was in college for engineering, one of the things they taught me was that I didn't always need to know all the answers, but I needed to know where to get the answers. So, you might want to make a list of people and places you can go to for answers on various topics.

So, to reiterate, here are some benefits of going to various people with your questions:
  1. It spreads it out
  2. you're not always going to one person and interrupting them
  3. You're not always taking time from one person
  4. People perceive that you're learning quick because they don't realize how you're getting answers from others
  5. You get various perspectives which is always helpful in understanding things
  6. You can build a list of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to go to for answers and reuse that list when you need specific answers
What other benefits do you see from spreading your questions around?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

How to Increase Client Communication Quality Using a "Second Set of Eyes"

I was recently reminded of a practice we had at the consulting company I worked at (before my current employer)

We realized that by having a "Second Set of Eyes" look at every artifact that went to the client, we could increase the quality of communications with the client.
By "Second Set of Eyes" I mean to say that we would have someone look at emails, documents, artifacts, and deliverables before they went to the client. One or more persons would create the "artifact" and someone else would review it. It was that simple. Yet, the payoffs were huge!

In some organizations there are business controls that dictate that at least two people are involved in a transaction. This is especially true of financial transactions. For example: an invoice isn't created and sent to the client by one person. Of course, this is to ensure that financial improprieties are not carried out by one individual (or a group of individuals), but it also does add a certain amount of quality to what is sent to the client. These controls are certainly an attempt to prevent financial misconduct, but as an additional benefit, having a second person review an invoice (for example) might cause them to catch that the amount is incorrect or an address is incorrect.

So, we can see the benefits of a "Second Set of Eyes" on everything we send to a client.  This holds true even for just proof-reading: is the English grammatically correct, did we use the correct references, are the links good?  But, it also takes on more value when a Subject Matter Expert (SME) is involved and reviews the item with a deeper understanding: Are we using the correct terminology, is the technical explanation valid, is the quote reasonable and accurate, are the formulas in the spreadsheet correct, are our assumptions stated and valid?

Please comment below with your thoughts about the value of a "Second Set of Eyes"

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Global Leadership Summit 2014

I didn't attend the Global Leadership Summit this year, but only volunteered and listened to a few sessions.

The Theme seemed to be around establishing a "Grand Vision"

One speaker mentioned: "Challenge and confidence = courage"
If you have a challenge without confidence, that's frustrating.
If you have confidence without a challenge, that's frustrating.
but, if you have both a challenge and the confidence, that's courage.
I also heard that we should "Walk to the need" and we should "Find our calling"

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What's So Important About Church?

What's So Important About Church?

Tony Campolo spoke at the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium on Aug 17, 2014
Here is a recording of the message 

He has spoken to Christians who tell him that they believe in Jesus, but don't go to church. He tells them that you will loose your faith unless you come together with like minded people. The church is important!

If you don't go to church, you will take on the beliefs of the secular society around you.

Characteristics of a secular society:
*Temporality: life is only in this world. The church provides the answer for eternal life
* Relativity: no absolutes, no moral absolutes. 
* Contingency: everything has an explanation, based in science, provable.
They assumed up until 2 years ago they believed that the Big Bang would wind down due to entropy. But, whenever science answers a question, it raises more questions. The Hubble telescope shows that the expansion of the universe is speeding up. Scientists now have new questions to answer.

The secular mind doesn't know how to handle death. The church has the answer. The church takes death and makes it a celebration. When this life is over, there is a life to live with Christ!

There will be a new heaven and new earth. We will have a new body. 

Though you die, still you will live!

You can have a personal relationship with the resurrected Jesus today. You will be transformed.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Tears of Jesus: message by Steve Brown

Rev. Steve Brown spoke on this subject on Aug. 10, 2014 at Ocean Grove NJ. The recording is available here:

Matthew 23:37-39 tells the story (read it)
(Another viewpoint of Jesus going into Jerusalem: Luke 19: 41-44)
Do we shed tears?
Some go to the shopping mall and cry for those who don't know Jesus.
Steve shared that he doesn't care about the souls of those he doesn't know. He prays that Jesus will give him tears like his.
Not only does Jesus hear our tears, but he comes into our lives and our darkness and mixed his tears with ours. 
1. Jesus showed mercy with tears. What is Mercy without tears? (Listen to the recording for more). Pray that God will give you tears, not to be mad, but to be merciful
2. Matthew 23; after he spoke his truth, he wept.
We have the truth. It's difficult to be an atheist; you have to be careful about what you watch, who your friends are, and careful when you go to a funeral. It's tough on them. 
We've been commissioned to spread the truth. But, we need to speak it in humility, caring, and tears. God doesn't need our help and our self-righteousness. 
3. Jesus gave himself with tears.
The cross is a magnifying glass that emphasizes God's tears. Jesus gave himself. We are all good at messing up and Jesus died to take it all away. When we realize it and understand it, then we can shed tears for others and tell others the story. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Free Goovebook of 100 pics for YOU!

We received our first Groovebook today!
And, if you want one, you can use our code to get the first one free!

"What's a Groovebook?" you ask.
We saw this on Sharktank on TV. Groovebook is a monthly subscription. For $2.99 (postage and handling included) each month, they send you a book with 100 of your photos. You upload you photos using their free app. Check it out at and use our promo code (WILL109) for your first book free!

The photos came out really good. The book is perforated, so you can tear them out if you like. And, they have the date and time on the edge of the photo. I am surprised how well the photos came out considering I took them with my cell phone. I also uploaded some from our camera and they came out good too!
If you use our code, let me know!
I'd like to hear what you think of it too!

Monday, August 04, 2014

Are You a W4 Follower of Jesus in a W4 Church?

Here are my notes from yesterday's church service:
Are you a W4 Christian in a W4 Church?
Rev. Jorge Acevedo speaking at Ocean Grove NJ on 2014-08-03
Sermon Audio available at this link

1. Whoever will come - Mark 2:2
When we read about Jesus, he always had a crowd 
Luke 7 tells the type of people that Jesus hung out with. Would we allow them in our church?
They pray in his church "Lord, send us the people who know one else wants."
We need to hold out a welcome mat for everyone

2. Whenever they chose
Mark 2:2-3
People in need are ready for Christ.
Spiritual malpractice is Offering Jesus to heal, but not offering the people, places and processes to help them get well.
Barbarians don't have a decoder ring; they don't know what the doxology is, they don't know what the gospel is. 

3. Whatever it takes
Mark 2:4
They dug a hole in the roof! They were willing to do anything to get a hurting person in front of Jesus. What are we willing to do to get people to Jesus?
Hear the story on the recording.
Have you decided that nothing is sacred when helping others?

4. Without compromise - without compromising the Gospel
Mark 2:5
When you have issues, you'll have 4 friends who will bring you to Jesus!
Jesus healed him spiritually before physically.
Rev. T.D. Jakes said "Would God give you a chair in your church without wanting someone to fill it?"

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why and How to Start A Blog of Your Own (Blogging for Fun, Profit, and Knowledge Sharing)

Just like many of you, at one point I wondered about starting a blog of my own. 
I wanted to start a new blog and be somewhat intentional about it.  I had questions and others have also shared their questions with me.
  • Should I just start a blog of my own or just comment on other people's blogs?
  • Should I just start by being a "guest blogger" on an existing blog?
  • And, my biggest question: should I start separate blogs for various topics?
As for the first two questions, sure, you can do those things, but if you really want to be known for who you are and get yourself known, I encourage folks to start their own blog. You can still do the other things (commenting and guest posting), but having your own blog gives you lots of freedom to be yourself.

I discussed the last question (my "big" question) with someone I talked to regularly who was (and is) a prolific blogger: Sacha Chua - She encouraged me to start one blog and cover all the various topics I was interested in. If you view her blog, you can see that's how her's is structured. There are various topics listed that seem unrelated. She made the point to me that people can always pick the topics in your blog they want and ignore the rest. And, who knows, they might read about something that you're interested in that they had never considered and therefore open up new horizons for themselves.

So, I intentionally started this blog. I saw recently that I've had 33,000 hits on it. So, someone must be interested in the topics I share.

You can start a blog on (google) or and it's free to get started.

 Start writing about what interests you. You can always start your first post with your new journey in blogging

Next time, I'll cover: What topics should I blog about?

In the meantime, please share your thoughts about starting a blog.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Father to the Fatherless

This will be my first Father's Day without my dad.
This morning, my ipad happened to open today's daily devotion by Max Lucado and there it was, Max was remembering his first Father's Day without his dad

It was just too much to be a coincidence (that I happened to see that this morning) because I don't usually look at his devotions. It was God's gift to me.

It was odd though that Max didn't use a scripture in the meditation. I never seen him not start with a scripture. I guess the subject was just so heavy.

Father to the Fatherless
The scripture that was brought to my mind was this:
Psalm 68:5  A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

My Dad Prepared me for This
Years ago, at a men's meeting at First United Church in Dover NJ, my dad told us how when his father died, he had to look to his father in heaven: God the father.  Now, here I am doing the same.  I have my Father God to look to for guidance and help.

So, if you're one of the many who are fatherless this Father's day, remember your Father God in Heaven, the father to the fatherless.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Handmade First Birthday Present for my Grandson

The finished project!  Three toy cars (or two cars and one truck) for Matthew's first birthday!

The other day was our grandson's first birthday and the party was today!

I've been working on these wooden cars as a surprise for him.

Here he is sitting on my lap today. He's playing with them at the party after having opened them.

He knew just what to do with them, roll them back and forth!

 I made three cars:
  1. His Dad's 1988 Ford Mustang (limited edition "T-top" model) (Black on top, red on bottom)
  2. His Uncle Blake's 2003 Ford Mach 1 Mustang (all Red)
  3. His Uncle Jon's 1991 Toyota Land Cruiser (all white) (nicknamed "Holly The FJ" (FJ is the land cruiser model)
Here are the three cars (well, I guess Uncle Jon's is more of a truck) that I copied the toys from and the original wooden cut-outs I made of them.

Matthew's Dad's 1998 Ford Mustang

Uncle Blake's 2003 Ford Mach 1 Mustang

Uncle Jon's 1991 Toyota Land Cruiser "Holly" #hollytheFJ
Here's when I was cutting them out. The board costed only $2.04 at Home Depot (on the clearance cart). I used a jig saw to cut out the shapes (which I drew on them with pencil using free hand from looking at photos of the cars) - I cut the wheels with a hole saw (you can see it in the photo) and just sat them on the cars for this photo. You can see the wood with the holds cut out of it. The tires on the Land Cruiser were slightly bigger and set so the "truck' was higher off the ground than the Mustangs.

The cars with Wheels on them (I used some wooden dowels for axles). They are ready to be painted. At first I was thinking about drawing some windows on them after painting, but later decided it wouldn't add anything to the toys. Sometimes simple is better.

Black tires painted and part of 1988 Mustang (note the masking tape on the Mustang to keep the black to just to top of the body)

Painting the other bodies

Now the red with the top of the 1988 masked off so I didn't paint onto the black

I did write messages to Matthew on the bottom of them and dated them (with a permanent marker). It was a Happy Birthday message from Grandpop with love. I also wrote "Jesus Loves You!" And, I made sure to put who's cars they were copied from along with the make, model and year!

Funny related photo: While taking the main photo for this Blog Post (the one at the top), Toby (i.e. #TobyTheWonderDog who has his own blog) started playing with them! 

Here I am with #HollyTheFJ back in March when I visited my son
I had fun with this project. It was a fun surprise for everyone (especially his dad and uncles) and Matthew liked the cars. Now, hmmm, what should my next project be?