Stealing $10

Along with 100-plus degree temperatures, August brings birthdays for both Conner and Cody. Being eight and six respectively, that means lots and lots of Legos. Legos as gifts, and when the gift is money, the opportunity to go buy additional Legos.

This means as soon as the final presents are open they are consumed with the Lego catalog, planning out their next purchases. This goes on for days because with our schedule it will probably be a while before we haul them to the Lego store.

Through the course of these days I hear snippets of conversations from the two boys about the sets they want and the amount of money they have to spend. It’s like a constant background noise in my life. During one of these snippets, I hear Cody say he found $10 and needs to put it in his wallet. My brain, consumed with a thousand other things, just assumed it was $10 he already had but lost at some point. My brain dutifully filed that fact away somewhere so I didn’t have to really focus on it.

It wasn’t until later that evening that it came up again. I walked into my office and saw my wallet laying there. A five dollar bill was sticking out at an odd angle. I don’t normally carry much, if any, cash on me but I remembered I had a ten and a five. Sadly, only the five was still in my wallet. My brain (I’m still amazed at how it works) immediately dredged up the memory of Cody saying he “found $10″.

I went to him and asked if he had stolen it out of my wallet. After a few weak denials, he admitted it. He wanted as much money as he could get before we went to the Lego store. Here’s the really sad thing, though. Every time we go to the Lego store, they find a set that’s just a little more expensive than what they have. Every time, I buy it for them and cover the extra cost myself. Every time. But he didn’t trust me. He didn’t realize that I love seeing their eyes light up when I do things for them. He didn’t realize that it brings me joy to do that. He didn’t trust that I would make sure it was an amazing trip to the Lego store. So he took matters into his own hands. That path led to sin and punishment and away from the joy I had prepared for him.

It’s times like this that I picture God with a look of satisfaction on his face. My kids are here as much to teach me lessons as anything else. You see, the “thousand other things” my mind was focused on that weekend was actually just one big thing. I was worried about my business. Why? I’m really not sure to be honest. We’ve had an amazing year and I have enough work lined up to last me a while and new clients signing on. But, none of those projects is of the “hey, that’s an entire month’s salary in one project” type. We’ve been very blessed to have a lot of those this year. Suddenly, for the first month I didn’t have anything like that on the books. Just your run-of-the-mill “string these all together and we make a great living” type projects.

Was that really cause to freak out and worry? No. The fact is I didn’t trust God to take care of me. We’ve had some rough years and the shadow of those years always seems to be at the periphery of my vision. I fear that business will dry up and we’ll be back to worrying about paying bills. The fact is, God has provided, even in the lean years. He stayed close with us and gave us exactly what we needed at the time. I’ve produced the same high-quality work for years but people are finally starting to really notice. That will continue for as long as God wants it to and I have to trust that he knows best.

Like Cody stealing $10 to take care of his wants, I steal time. Any time spent worrying is a demonstration that I don’t trust God as I should. Worrying steals quality time from my family and, ironically, from my business itself. When I’m worried I don’t function in any area like I should.

I need to acknowledge that God wants nothing but my joy in him. He has me on a path to experience that, either through good times or bad. I just need to trust in that. And Cody needs to know that I love him (and Legos) and will always do what I can to bring him joy.

The comeback

For the first time this season it looks like the Rangers can actually come back late in a game to win. It seems like this entire season if they get down by a few runs it’s over. Now in the past week they’ve done it several times.

The comeback is my favorite brand of baseball. Sure it’s a blast when your team wins 20 to 5, but I would argue the comeback is a more exciting to watch. The problem is, utter disappointment is also a possibility if they can’t complete the comeback.

Up until last week, an opponent’s lead late in the game, no matter how small, seemed an insurmountable wall. Now we’re getting key hits when we need them and it feels good. This is fun baseball to watch.

Note: Why the picture of Nolan teaching Robin Ventura a much-needed lesson? It doesn’t really have anything to do with comebacks, but it is Rangers related and makes me smile.

An honest economic question

I’ll admit I’m not an economist, or even close to one. So please forgive the naivety of the following question:

I understand the downgrade of America’s credit rating could have a negative effect on Americans’ ability to borrow money, but isn’t spending a lot of money we don’t have part what got us here in the first place? Could an America emerge from this where credit is harder to come by but we still do just fine?

Maybe the televisions are smaller and the luxury yachts less numerous, but maybe our blood pressure level as a nation is somewhere in the survivable range. Debt can bring a some positives if handled correctly (like taking on debt to expand a business, thereby generating more income), but we haven’t really proven to be good at handling it.

I realize it’s a deep issue with lots of facets that most people don’t understand and it can’t be boiled down to such simple levels. I’m just saying maybe there is an America in the future where everything isn’t about material goods and is more about living a better life without crippling debt. Over the last few years we’ve been tremendously blessed in the getting-rid-of-debt department. Our life today is a far cry from what it was even a year ago when we owed a lot of money. Life didn’t get any better until we turned off the debt nozzle and decided we didn’t need any more of it. It wasn’t easy and there were some definite growing pains over the years as we’ve come to this point. Is the same thing possible for an entire country?

Related: Rob Delaney bought some U.S. stocks.