Frustrations of a Highly Educated Man

I am currently 35 years old, married with 2 children, and a dog owner. I have two degrees: the first a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems, the second an Master of Business Administration in Management. I have more than 15 years of experience in business technology and information systems as well being very managerially perceptive. I am a natural problem solver and solutions finder.

I have read more books than the average man. I know Dave Ramsey’s principles as well as many sound personal finance principles. When it comes to business finances, I am really good at managing money and can whip a budget into shape and make it dance.

However, when it comes to personal finance, I suck. I have sucked at it for more years than I have been an adult.

When I was in my mid-20s, I owned a house and made more money from work and renters than my parents combined and then there was the ovetime I made. I would estimate that my free cash flow was well over $1200 a month at a minimum. I’m 35 years old and have no money to show from that time.

I have used several different systems to help us manage our budget from an Excel spreadsheet when I was single, a Google Calendar, open-source accounting software, Microsoft Money, and now a new budgeting tool that I LOVE. In looking over our budget tonight and going over our spending from the last several days, I have found myself upset. All of these years, knowledge, experience, and education and I still have the ability to royally fuck up. I won’t ask you to pardon the language as sometimes, it’s the only way I have for saying what I feel. So, I fucked up in our planning again this paycheck and an unexpectedly large refund was a well-timed gift from a Good God which saved our butts last month and this week. That’s great.

I am no Israelite in the desert needing daily supernatural provision and I am tired of living like one, needing a miracle just to survive. In the modern vernacular that would translate to, “I am tired of living from paycheck to paycheck.” This is ironic having listened to Dave Ramsey for years and still agreeing with his principles. I am no Israelite in the desert. If you look at what the Israelites basically became, after getting into the Promised Land, they became EXCELLENT money managers. In a lot of ways, it’s become ubiquitous with the culture of the Jew as most of you know. In fact, being excellent managers of wealth is very much an Eastern thing as many Asians are excellent at this as well. My mother is from the east, and no offense to my western father, she is far better at managing wealth than my he is. It’s an interesting contrast in cultures. However, all of that is a side-point.

My main point this fine evening is this: I am a stubborn man and I refuse to give up until I become a master of wealth in the making of it and managing of it. I believe this to be a mark of a mature Christian, actually. Whether or not one has billions in revenue or a few dollars, we are to be masters over the income and outgo, not under the thumb of the whole process.

I am still frustrated but less angry now than when I started writing this but I am resolved.

I am 35 years old and I will be a master of money.

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Kendall Earl Yoder

Kendall, my brother-in-law… I confess that I didn’t know him very well. Cherie and I got married and then we were off to Texas and then California. We moved to Virginia and we were all super busy and trying to get settled in. We were so stressed and tired and still healing from a diffucult transition. I never really got a chance to talk with him and have a Kendall-encounter like so many others. I was too busy holding myself apart from family I didn’t know.  I was busy being a husband and a dad. 

It is to that point that I write this. I hold very true that in order to truly make a father feel honored, love on and treat his kids with respect. In that, Kendall shone. I look at these photos and I tear up because I feel so honored and respected. My children absolutely loved their Uncle Kendall. I don’t know that they will ever know how great of a loss they have suffered because they are so young. 

Before I was a father, I was an uncle. Still am. I used to spend quality time with my nephew, Daniel. He’s my first.  Before Cherie and I moved to California, Daniel at the very tender age of about 3 years decided he wanted to spend more time with Uncle Sam after a bit of a gap due to life. My brother, Andrew, had to break it to Daniel that his beloved Uncle Sam was moving away. Daniel was devastated. To be honest with you, Dear Reader, that hurt and devastation is something I deeply regret to this day. All of that time lost with Daniel and the others…

Now, all of Kendall’s nieces and nephews are going to miss out on a man that loved them deeply, no matter how stressful and tiring they can be to us parents. And they will never understand how deeply I will regret this. 

As a father, I can’t be any more honored. 

  
    
   

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My Attempt at a “Scrubs” title.

So, I screwed up today and I am very thankful that the damage wasn’t long-term or serious. Or, at least as far as I can tell. I was roughhousing with one of my nephews and it didn’t end in the way I thought it might. He got hurt and no one was particularly pleased. What hit me, apart from my own mental slap of myself, I had the thought that, “It would be better if I had just gone in to work today:. I stayed home in order to not risk my life on snowy roads and I am now fine with that decision. What I don’t like is the fact that I still seem to view work as a refuge from the rest of life.

I really don’t like that I find home a refuge from work and when things get rough at other places, work a refuge from those places and situations. How is that a healthy way to live? I think part of it is due to my heart just being raw and my “skin” being tender from years of being beaten up emotionally by myself and others. I am still not good at wearing my full armor or having a thick skin to protect my shape.

What I’m getting at is this: my refuge should be no place other than Christ and Him crucified. In Him, I am in complete unity with the One who holds the whole universe in His hands. How much safer could I be? While, in reality I am already in that Place, I don’t always live like it. I take many things too personally or not personal enough. I take on responsibilities that were shouldered by Him on the cross.

I live life as if He isn’t the keeper and sustainer of me. How ridiculous is that?

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Catchy title.

Just because it’s in the Bible, doesn’t mean it’s true…

In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul says that he is the chief of sinners. Well, that’s not true because he was just like myself; my own worst critic.

I had a hard afternoon today. I “fixed” something that didn’t need fixing and that change tangentially broke something else in a production system. I spent and hour and a half fixing something that should never have broken. I also spent an hour and a half, more wound up than a top and lacking any discernible peace. I was all wound up over the fact that I made a mistake, several customers were down, and so on and so forth. After it was all said and done, service restored, and myself on the drive home, I complained to Jesus yet again, that I can’t do this job like this. Either I have to change how I handle self-initiated emergencies, outages, blah blah blah, or I have to change careers.

Now, I am not opposed to changing careers as my personality type is not a fan of the work that I do but that’s not even close to the point. While I am doing the job God very obviously placed me in, I am going to be shaped, molded, and refined. I know that this job is temporary in nature for me because it doesn’t line up with my dreams, prophetic words, long-term interests, etc. Again, that’s not the point. I reacted today, as I have many times before, in a way that does not match how Jesus would have. As far as comparisons go, that’s a hard one to make. It’s also one filled with tension as I have the same DNA, same Spirit, and same created mandate as does all mankind. However, I have not yet grown up into the fullness of the head of Christ. His Body is still a bobblehead and not fully mature yet. I am not fully mature yet. Most days I feel like a 15 year old and that’s an improved age to how I felt a few years ago.

I discussed this and some other thoughts from the drive home with my beautiful and wise wife, Cherie, and have come to this conclusion: comparison can be a gift but taken too far, it can be a killer. Over comparison has killed so many things for me: goals, dreams, jobs, peace, finances, relationships, and so much more. I have very little ability to just enjoy an activity if it’s something I want to be good in. If I want to excel, I have to be the best. Literally, the best. How in God’s name is someone supposed to be the BEST in anything out of 7+ billion people who are completely different from each other? It’s absolutely illogical and reeks of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (To be good is to be better than anyone else.) The Fruit of Life says that I can enjoy doing something without even thinking of degrees of difference between myself and someone else. I can enjoy playing music without having to be better or worse than someone else. My inner-drive to self-improve can be just that, self-improvement, and measured only against the mark of my last goal.

This is a big deal for me. There’s so much of my childhood that I don’t remember for so many reasons. There are some parts I do remember, and I have always like performing better than others and coming out on top. I have no idea why that is. Watching my two and a half year old daughter, it’s surprising how early these ideas and thought patterns are learned and habits are formed. According to the MBTI and the Strengthsfinders test, I was built with that inner-drive to improve. However, somewhere along the way, the drive to be better than I was before turned into being better than other people at things that cannot be compared equally. There is no ceteris paribus (all things being equal) in most things because life is not lived in a vacuum and although we are all born of the same seed, we are not all surrounded by the exact same scenarios, circumstances, or environments. We are all shaped and bent differently from the time of our forming. We are not meant to be the same.

I will NEVER be the best uilleann piper in the world but I can enjoy listening to true masters of the pipes as much as I can enjoy playing them.

I will NEVER be the best Cisco engineer in the world but I can enjoy working with those who are excellent at it and learn what I don’t know from them.

I will NEVER be the best father in the world but I can love my children with my life.

I will NEVER be the best husband in tthe world but I can strive to always let my wife know she is the best wife in the world and love her accordingly.

I don’t know how to end this post so…

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The Pull

I feel pulled in different directions and I get the sense that my life is top-heavy, so to speak. Now, after this last year and a half, I am very thankful to have a job, a job where they pay me to do something I am pretty good at and usually enjoy. That’s not the problem. The problem is that my life feels out of balance. From June 2013 until June of 2014, I had no job and it was by choice. I wanted to spend time with my family and follow after Jesus in the only way I knew how; unhealthily. I spent a lot of time with my family with no resources to pursue any other goals or dreams, nor did it seem that there was much provision for those goals and dreams. I am pretty sure that experience of joblessness and no income stream happened because I asked, and Papa God was wise in letting me learn a very uncomfortable lesson: if you have a family and live in the modern world, income is necessary more than not.

How is life out of balance? I have a dream of living my life free from my resources of time and money being constrained. How will that look? I want to work with technology part-time, when I want to, probably as an independent contractor. I want to garden and do permaculture things for myself and others. This will free up money and I get to play with interesting systems and efficiency solutions. I am finding this dream of permaculture design/implementation and gardening is a growing dream that becomes more interesting the more I look at it. Heck, I even want to dabble in blacksmithing and rustic cooking. And let’s be honest, I want to play Minecraft too.

From our trip to the Redwoods and the north Pacific coast.

From our trip to the Redwoods and the north Pacific coast.

I have a need to be surrounded by beauty and the natural shapes, smells, and sounds. I want, as my friend Jeff Symons once said, “I want to be able to eat my backyard.”  Ha! Cherie, wants me to eat more fruits and veggies and I don’t want to pay for them. Truthfully, I want to eat them too but I cringe at the cost. And I very much want to be able to spend time with my family and spend money without worry if we can pay on debts (or pay them off) or buy diapers.

I am starting to feel this pull and these resource-contraints on a daily basis and I am starting to ask questions of Papa God about how to go about this. I feel this pull every time we go to the grocery store and the fruits/veggies look old and waxy. I feel this pull every time I see a hill and think of how to trap water runoff to solve drought/deserts. I feel this pull every time I pay rent, knowing I am not rooted and established in that place. I feel this pull every time my daughter asks me not to go to work in the morning because I can’t hold her. This morning she asked me, “Why you go out all da time?” The question froze me and in the mere seconds it took to reply with, “Because I have to,” she curtly gave me a kiss and said bye so she could watch TV, in what felt like a dismissal. She’s barely 2 and a half years old.

I want to slow my life down because the life of  full-time technology worker is fast-paced and I am finding out, I have NEVER been fast-paced. No wonder I am tired since there never seems to be enough time to do the important things at home. I feel like the rhythm of my life is out of sync and too fast. This problem BEGS for a solution because my heart and spirit craves the natural rhythm of hearth and home, natural problems to solve.

Thankfully I am wired into the One who has the solution because I know I have written about this before and here I am yet again.

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From Novice to Master, and Back Again

So awesome.

D-Mac's Stuff

In 1985, I was a freshman at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. The college had a VAX 11/780 running 4.2BSD and a PDP-11/70 running v7 with some Berkeley and local code hacked in. It was my first experience with multi-user systems other than dialing into an MS-DOS BBS or two.

The college’s Academic Computing Center had printouts of the 4.2BSD manuals, plus some home-grown documentation, available for sale so students could learn how to use UNIX. One week I sat in the Science Center terminal room and started going through the alphabetical list of the commands available on the VAX, trying each one and reading its man page to learn what it did.

Eventually I got to “su”. “Become the super-user”? What’s that? Does it involve wearing a cape? Sounds interesting, so I tried it. To my disappointment, it just asked for a password, and wouldn’t do anything.

Shortly thereafter…

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Midnight ramblings of a spiritual feeler.

So, I am a spiritual feeler. I am not as sensitive as some people that I know, but I am sensitive enough to have to learn how to control my reactions to what I feel. If you are not a spiritual feeler, learning to control reactions to feelings is a foreign and maybe even completely ridiculous concept. For me, this is such an important skill, that my inability to communicate how I think on the subject is super-frustrating.

In my mind, part of learning to control reactions to feelings, is the understanding that my emotions can be played with. The spiritual atmosphere in an area can cause me to feel a certain way or a spirit being of some type can produce emotions of different varieties. These emotions and feelings do not originate from within me so I must learn to differentiate them from my own. Being able to discern what is my emotion and what is enacted upon me is HUGE. When I recognize that an emotion I am feeling is not my own, I, being a son of God, and in full control of myself, have a choice whether I let that emotion affect me or choose a different emotion.

Unfortunately, emotions are connected to EVERYTHING. I feel my own emotions DEEPLY. So, when I am seemingly unfeeling about something, I have consciously or subconscionsly chosen to do so. That can be healthy or unhealthy.

And that is the key: choice. God created us with the ability to choose, and I believe choose almost everything as it pertains to our own sphere of control, which in reality, is just us. We get to choose how we feel, how we react, if someone else gets to affect our emotions, our responses to their actions, etc… The most fortunate part of being a “spiritual feeler” is that, if we want our sanity then we can choose to learn to choose. The unfortunate part of not being a spiritual feeler is that most of you think I am crazy in thinking that I can choose how I feel.

Example? We all seem to have hot button topics that really set us off and make us angry. If I set out to purposefully push your buttons, you have, in that moment, a choice to make. Do you let that button-pushing make you angry or do you choose to not get angry? If you do let it make you angry, do you choose to sin in your anger or not sin in your anger?

I believe the order of the Fruits of the Spirit as listed in Scripture is key to self-control being possible. Jesus told us about the first and second greatest commandments and those boil down to love. Love is also the first Fruit of the Spirit listed and I believe making the choice to love in all things and at all times enables: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And that. of course, ties into 1 Cor 13 but that is a whole other sermon.
I think that it is our God-given right and responsibility to learn how to control what we let affect us and I believe Jesus modeled this for us; He did it by the Fruit of the Spirit of self-control. If Jesus did that as a baseline, then we can do at least that. After all. the same Spirit is in us as was in Him.

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