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How Observant Are You?

I remember years ago after I prepared my house to be painted. One of the tasks was to remove the street numbers from the house, allowing for both home and numbers to be easily painted.

The street numbers were above the garage door and easily viewable from the street. They weren’t always there, however. Initially, they were above the front door, but as the trees in the yard grew, the numbers became increasingly obscured. So one day I moved them from the front door to the garage door.

When our daughter came home, she inquired, “Didn’t the numbers used to be over the front door?”

When our son came home, he plainly asked, “When do you move the numbers?”

My bride made no such query and when the topic arose, she seriously asked, “We have numbers on our house?”

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Go Green By Stopping Unwanted Mailings

Twelve years ago, I made an effort to cancel the delivery of a free weekly newspaper that I have been receiving for years—and never read. It turned out to be an easy thing to do and they happily took my cancellation.

The delivery of that paper immediately stopped—until I installed my new mailbox!

I understood the confusion because my new mailbox sports a self-contained paper box. The week after I installed it, not only did I receive the newspaper that I wanted, plus the one that I didn’t want, but also a third paper that I’d never seen before! The third paper never showed up again, while I called again to halt the second paper. Now things were back as they should be.

After I canceled the free newspaper, I was inspired to tackle all the free magazines that I received but didn’t want.

I’ve canceled about ten of them, with more still to do. Some have been easy to cancel, be it a call center or via the Internet. Others were a bit more challenging but glad I did so as my part to help the environment.

Whenever they include a prepaid envelope, I take their offer, write ‘not interested; please remove me from your mailing list’. Click To Tweet

Another technique that gives me gleeful pleasure is dealing with the unsolicited offers I receive, especially for credit cards. Whenever they include a prepaid envelope, I take their offer, write “not interested; please remove me from your mailing list” on it, and return it in their envelope, at their cost.

Generally, that quickly stops the unwanted mailings. (Plus, it provides additional revenue for the post office—which they desperately need. As I recall, they’re projecting a 2.1 billion dollars loss for that year.)

Next was the catalogs. There was a Website to make it an easy and painless task.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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An Engaging Situation

Candy and I have two children; she reminds me that she always wanted four. Years ago, her wish had come true. No, we were not expecting—get that thought out of your mind right now. And we were not adopting, either. We were doing this the easy way: our kids were getting married!

Laura and Chris got engaged spring of 2007 and a summer wedding was in the works. Dan popped the question; Kelli said, “Yes.” Neither of these betrothals was unexpected and we couldn’t be happier.

As I shared the news of Laura’s engagement to those who didn’t know Chris, I often received curious queries:

“What do you think?” they asked with careful caution. “I think it’s great,” this beaming dad replied.

“Well, do you like him?” they probed a bit deeper. “Most definitely,” declared the father of the bride.

“So, then you’re okay with this?” They’re becoming assured, but sought confirmation. “They’re a great match,” I testified, “and I couldn’t be happier.”

Now, with another engagement in the works, I expected the same sort of questions from those who don’t know Kelli. Happily, my answers will be the same.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Preparing the Peeps

Like other holidays with historical religious meaning, Easter has been significantly skewed by both custom and commercialization. Over time, the risen savior has been superseded by bunnies and eggs (reportedly symbols of fertility).

Notwithstanding, Easter egg hunts and chocolate candies of all variations are delightful traditions—as long as the true focus of Easter is retained.

One such staple of Easter tradition in our household is peeps—those mouth-watering creations of colored marshmallows and sugar. There is often debate as to the optimum timing in the consumption of these delectable treats: fresh or aged. I prefer my peeps to be aged in order to maximize my noshing enjoyment.

As most peep connoisseurs know, there are two methods of aging peeps. The preferred, yet painfully slow method is to leave them packaged in a dark place. Using this approach, aging takes between 6 to 12 months. The other technique is to remove them from their package so that they may “air age.” Though this takes only days, great caution must be exercised to protect them from environmental elements.

Regardless of your holiday focus or traditions, I hope that you had a wonderful Easter! Click To Tweet

Either way, care must be taken to keep them from becoming stale. There is, after all, a fine line between properly aged peeps and stale peeps.

Seeking instant gratification, some of our peeps were consumed “fresh” while others are being air aged; I seriously doubt if any will make it beyond a few days.

Regardless of your holiday focus or traditions, I hope that you had a wonderful Easter!

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Spring Has Sprung

Whenever I see a robin, I become gleefully excited—really, I do! No, I am not particularly a bird lover, but I am quite affectionate for a new season, when spring has sprung.

The connection is that returning robins (which are a migratory fowl) mark that spring is right around the corner and warmer weather will soon be upon us. The males return first to stake out a territory and the females follow later when the temperatures climb a bit higher.

Spring is an almost spiritual time for me, signaling reinvigorated life and a fresh start. Click To Tweet

Spring is my favorite season. Yes, summer is grand and fall is enjoyable (while I view winter as something to be survived). However, spring is the most splendid time of the year.

Springtime is when the cold dreariness of the winter fades, the dirty snow melts, and plants that were seemingly dead push forth green and are revived. Spring is an almost spiritual time for me, signaling reinvigorated life and a fresh start, a new birth of sorts.

Already I am starting to see which plants have survived the harshness of the winter months: the tulips and daffodils are just poking through.

Soon the grass will green and with it a slew of yard work will follow. But that’s okay, because it’s spring and I want to get outside and do something other than shiver.

I can firmly cheer that “spring has sprung!”

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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The Box

Several years ago, Chris, our soon to be in son-in-law (at that time), was quietly amused by many of the things that he witnessed in our home. A prime source for his merriment was our flexible usage of the word “box.”

In our vernacular, box can be virtually any device that is electronic in nature:

  • The answering machine was the box.
  • The garage door opener was the box.
  • The VCR was the box.
  • The DVD player was the box.
  • The DVR (digital video recorder) was the box.
  • Each of our 5 remotes was the box. (We needed all 5, because the universal remote was actually only semi-universal.)

I want to give full and deserving credit to my wife for initiating and propagating this simple, yet curious naming custom. Yet, to be sure, I had easily and unknowingly adopted her minimalist identification convention.

Strangely, there was seldom any confusion as to which particular box is being referenced at a given time or situation.

Sometimes, my bride was able to skillfully use “the box” twice in the same sentence, but referencing two different entities, as in:

“I need the box (universal remote) if I am to turn on the box (DVR).”

Yet with all of our boxes, we seem to get along just fine—and give Chris a reason to smile.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Daylight Saving Time and Other Temporal Nonsense

This past weekend, most of the United States switched to “Daylight Saving Time” (DST). This is a major hassle and source of many personal irritations:

First, why does our government call this charade “daylight saving time?” Do they really think that it saves daylight? Or do they just think that they can dupe enough people into buying their deception?

Regards, this makes one wonder about other more pressing matters, like the coronavirus, economic recovery, the tension in Iran, healthcare and so on.

Next, regardless of how diligent I am, I sometimes miss setting at least one clock. These non-adjusted timepieces often cause me consternation upon the first glimpse, either in the form of sheer panic or temporal disorientation.

Why do we do “daylight savings time"? Does it really save time? Click To Tweet

There are technological means to mitigate the time wasted in adjusting our timepieces so that we may save time. It would be a relatively simple matter for our utilities to embed a time signal into the power lines that enter our homes and businesses. 

Each time-device that is plugged into an electrical outlet could read that signal and adjust its time. This would help greatly after a power outage as well.

True, that would require a bit more electronic circuitry and programming, thereby slightly increasing the cost of each device, but it would definitely be worth it. 

That would leave cars and battery clocks to be dealt with, both of which could be addressed via satellite feed, as is the case with my “atomic clock” that syncs with an orbiting satellite.

Lastly, adjusting the time, especially in the spring, throws me off my biological sleep balance. This usually lasts for up to a week and is much more disconcerting than jet lag.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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The Long and Short of It

I remember before, there are times after a day at work, my bride comes home and remarks, “It’s been a long day!”

Being the supportive and understanding spouse that I am, I quickly concur with appropriate empathy. Unfortunately, I am seldom content to merely agree, so I sarcastically add, “Yes, I heard on the news that today was 35 minutes longer than yesterday. Today, was, truly a long day.”

That rarely wins me any points but does garner an irritated glare.

When you say “It’s been a long day!”, what do you mean? Click To Tweet

What she may mean is that work lasted—or seemed to last—for a long time. Alternately, it could convey that work was very frustrating. I know what she means, but she doesn’t say what she means. Instead, she insists that the day was somehow longer than normal.

It like fashion, some people quip that yesterday was the longest day of the year. But that is not correct either. 

It was the same length as all the others; it merely contained more daylight minutes—and correspondingly less nighttime minutes—than any other day of the year. That is, for those of us north of the equator.

For those in the southern hemisphere, theirs was the shortest day of the year. Not really. It just had the least amount of daylight and the maximum amount of darkness.

What about those on the equator? I understand that they enjoyed an even 12 to 12 split of light and dark, just like every other day.

So whether your day was long—or short—or the same length as all others, I hope that it was a good one.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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“I Heart You” Day

My wife and I aren’t romantic types. I’m not sure if I’m just bad at the planning and execution or if it’s not all that important to her.  Nevertheless, I do put forth a futile effort from time to time.

Years ago, it all started a couple of weeks before that, she asked for a new printer. Teasingly, I suggested it could be a Valentines’ Day present. She readily agreed—seriously, she did—with the stipulation that it includes spare ink cartridges. So, a plan begins to emerge—a good plan!

Step 1: I ordered the printer and hooked it up the last week; it was an arduous task, but that’s a story for a different time.

Step 2: Then I presented her with a box of her favorite chocolates-Trinidads from Fannie May. Unfortunately, she still had some left from her birthday; maybe she didn’t like them all that well after all.

Step 3: And then, I made a special dinner—chicken stir-fry with sweet and sour sauce. (I wonder, if I always make dinner on Thursdays, do I get bonus points for Valentines Day if I was going to make it anyway?)

My plan was for a candlelight dinner, but it wasn’t really dark enough for candles and she opted for the more convenient invention, called electric lights. The meal was topped off with Valentine’s cupcakes that she made that morning.

Step 4: Waiting at her plate was her ink cartridges. She was pleased—at least I think so. Or perhaps she was just amused.

Step 5: To conclude the evening we went and saw the romantic comedy, “PS I Love You.”  I’m okay with chick flicks, but I’ll only give it three stars (out of five). I think my wife was less impressed.

It's the effort that counts. Happy Valentines! Click To Tweet

So, wrapping up. I think it was a good Valentine’s Day—I think.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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No Power Means No Heat

I remember years ago, I was wrapping things up and ready to start a blog entry when the power went out. This was peculiar as there were no storms and it was not windy—the two prime reasons for us to lose power.

Our power outages were usually a few seconds to a couple of minutes, so I kept working for a while (I had a small UPS for my computer). When power wasn’t restored quickly, I began an orderly shutdown.

Once I turned the monitors off, I was in the dark. By the time I felt my way to the main floor, my bride had found and turned on a battery powered-lantern. We used it as a reading lamp for a couple of hours, hoping for the quick return of electricity. Alas, it did not happen.

Although we had gas heat, electricity is required for the thermostat to function, to ignite the pilot, and to power the blower fan. No power means no heat. The weather forecast was for a low of zero (it actually hit 5 below), so I knew that a prolonged outage, would mean a cold house.

I piled more blankets on the bed, put on extra clothes, including a hoody, and climbed in bed. Snuggled up in my cocoon, I pulled the hood over my head, with only my face exposed. It reminded me of camping out as a kid.

My thoughts returned to those good times and I happily drifted off to sleep.

My sleep was short-lived as the power was restored a half-hour later. I got up and did a cursory check to make sure things were okay—and to turn off the couple of lights whose switches we had mistakenly left on when we lost power.

I also checked the temperature. In the two and a half hours without power, the temperature had dropped 5 degrees. At that rate, had power remained off, it would have been quite cold by morning.

Thankfully, the power did come back, saving us from that experience.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.