Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On Planning Your Work and Working Your Plan

It's been a couple of days on the road with my thoughts. I often drive with no radio or CD, just the steady hum of the road and traffic. I don't generally think about anything in particular, nor do I seem to stay on any thought for very long. All-in-all, I like the mindless interlude that a long drive provides. I'm not one to look at the surroundings too much. I'm happy to just drive along with the back window down (even in freezing temps) and pay momentary attention to what ever fleeting thought graces me with its presence before giving way to something else.

I often make use of the road time by catching up with somebody on the cell phone. I avoid talking on the phone in heavier traffic or in unfamiliar areas, but cruising down the interstate offers little distraction and a phone conversation does pass the time.

Mostly, I just think of some things that I need to do--write more often is one of them.
Not blogging, more serious writing. I've said that I need to write more as I study the Bible; even prepare sermons for a future date that I may get to actually preach them. Book--yeah, that's still on the table, too. I would also like to look for an outlet for just some simple articles or something like that.
Just thoughts...

I also have some specific magic that I'd like to work on--close up stuff. With that, I need to develop a forum for presenting it since most of what I do is more of the stand up variety of magic.
Again, more thoughts without a specific plan...

Maybe I should just get started by writing out a plan...

Okay! That's what I'll do.
Time to go now. I've got a plan to write a plan!

John <><

Friday, January 25, 2013

UFC on Fox 6

I've been told that it's out of character for me to be a UFC fan. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's because I'm old and fat and could never actually participate in a mixed martial arts competition of any kind. Maybe it's because it's such a violent sport and a preacher shouldn't have anything to do with watching or promoting that kind of brutality. Maybe it's just the most base level of human competition and we should have managed to evolve past the point of determining the best hand-to-hand combatant.

What ever the case may be, I happen to enjoy watching the fights.

It has been different since Aaron moved away. We used to enjoy fight nights at Buffalo Wild Wings. Sometimes Jenny would join us. Later, Hannah (and maybe a boyfriend) would watch the fights with me. I'm not sure that they really wanted to watch the fights with me, but it was a cheap date with dad buying all of the food, soft drinks and desserts for the several hours of the fights!

Maybe I'm just too old to be a fan since none of my contemporaries are ever interested, just the younger guys.

Well this weekend, I'm in Chicago to go to the UFC on Fox 6 with Aaron! It was my Christmas gift from Aaron and Jenny and I am really looking forward to it. I drove from Springfield MO to Chicago today and made it in time to go to the weigh-ins with Aaron. I left right after working the mid and grabbing a quick breakfast and a Starbucks Americano with an extra shot of espresso. I stopped for gas and White Castles (that's fuel for the car and ...well, if you're familiar with White Castles...) in St. Louis, caught a 20 minute nap and another Starbucks about an hour into Illinois, topped off the tank again before hitting Chicago and we made the 4 o'clock weigh in just before the first fighters came out!

We'll catch all of the preliminary fights tomorrow, too! The Facebook fights, the Fuel TV fights and the main card on Fox! I am really looking forward to this!

I don't know if I'll be blogging any more this weekend or not. I didn't bring my computer and I'm using one of the kids' computers while Aaron is out to pick up Jenny from a work party. I may text a status to Facebook from my dumb phone...then again, I may not.

I hope that you have a great weekend. I know that I will.

John <><

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Self-Promo Time!

I know that it seems to be the habit of many church organizations to wait until the last minute to think about booking preachers/entertainers for their annual events, but you'll have a better chance of getting the persons you want if you start early. Plus you'll have the added benefit of the person you call being better able to meet your specific needs by adapting to your theme and you'll be able to better promote your event.

I've booked several events for the coming year, but most in the winter/spring.

I know that I will get calls for an Upwards Awards Night or two as that season ends and AWANA closing programs in May. I generally tend to get these just a couple of weeks before the event even though the events are on the calendar now.

The same is true for summer camps. If I can be of service for an daytime program or evening service, please call as early as possible.

In addition to revivals, crusades or other evangelistic events, I can teach classes on sharing your faith or beginning classes on apologetics. For preachers that already have vacations planned for the summer, now would be a good time to schedule a supply preacher for the Sundays that you'll be gone.

It's funny how my calendar fills up. I can be heading into fall with nothing scheduled and end up being as busy as I can stand to be. And that's okay. But I feel like everybody is happier with the end product when I have more time to plan and prepare and I have a better chance of being able to make the date when I have time adjust my work schedule.

My contact info is in the "About Me" section to the right.

John <><

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Radical Christianity: What does it look like?

I recently read an article about radical Islamists and started wondering what radical Christianity might look like. I'm not talking about the crazy, Westboro, Crusades or Inquisition kind of radical. I'm talking about the follow the teaching of Jesus kind of radical; the Mother Teresa, give your all for love kind of radical.

How much would the daily life of today's church going Christian have to change to be a radical follower of Jesus? What are the changes that I need to make to become a radical follower of Jesus? Does it mean that I tell everybody what Jesus teaches in the Bible? Or does it mean that I need to learn and practice what Jesus teaches in the Bible?

As a radical follower of Jesus, how much would my Facebook posts have to change?
Would my blog posts need to change?
What about my everyday speech, language and conversations?
How would my financial habits need to change?

I think of what I have saved towards retirement. Though it is not a great amount, it is a nice little nest egg. Somehow that story of the rich man that built bigger barns to hold his wealth when his life was about to be taken comes to mind and I wonder if I should have been doing more about sharing my blessings with those in need and less about storing up my stuff for the future.

I look at how we treat those around us that have different beliefs and behaviors that model their beliefs; how we treat "the sinners" and the "unclean" around us, and I see Jesus forgive without condemnation and touch a leper.


It's been a few years since What Would Jesus Do? was a popular question to ask. Maybe we should get serious about asking it again.
The book In His Steps was written more than a hundred years ago and examines what could happen if we became such radical followers of Jesus that we experiment for a year, always asking, "What would Jesus do?"
It's a good read. You can download it for free here.

Even if you are not a follower of Jesus, I would encourage you to read what He teaches in the Bible. Just read the first four books of the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; these are the books that follow His life and record His teachings. (The links take you to chapter 1 of each book. Use the next arrow > at the bottom to advance to the next chapter.)
If you have questions, feel free to e-mail them to me. My address is in the "about me" section to the right.

Let's start being radical followers of Jesus!

John <><

Monday, January 21, 2013

So Much in the News This Weekend--But Not Here

It's been a couple of days since I've had time to sit and read the blogs that I usually follow. Naturally, that also means that I haven't had (or at least taken) the time to post on my own.

It's been a big weekend for things in the news: Inauguration weekend, MLK Day, Sanctity of Life Sunday, Gun control protests on a day when 5 are injured from gun accidents at gun shows, the NHL opens its long delayed season, Baseball great Stan "The Man" Musial dies--so many things to write about. If you've done much reading of news articles or blogs over the past 48 hours, you've been reading about these things.

Personally, I'm more interested in writing that I had a great visit with my daughter this past weekend and am looking forward to visiting with my son and daughter in-law next weekend. The weekend visit with Hannah wasn't an exciting time or anything. It was a pleasant time to see her in her college environment. The campus was quiet. Due to the long weekend, many students went home. The visit was short but we managed to replace a headlight on her car, eat out a couple of times, visit the bookstore at the mall (and buy her a book, of course), catch a movie, go to church together on Sunday and even managed a stop at Starbucks. One more year and my baby will be out of college and on her own.

Wow! How did that happen?
My baby is a great young woman.

Next weekend I'll be in Chicago with Aaron and Jenny. I am really looking forward to going to the UFC fights with Aaron. I'll get to go to church with them at HTC and I always look forward to that, too. I'll stop and visit my folks on the way back home and am hoping and praying for good travelling weather.

I write about these things because life matters and life goes on.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't be concerned with political or social issues. I'm not saying that we shouldn't feel free to voice our opinions on gun rights, pro-life, pro-choice, gay rights, taxes, spending, or the state of our country.

I'm just saying that we all have lives to live in spite of what happens in Washington D. C.

In many ways the above discussions have divided us and pitted us against one another. But in spite of the things that tend to divide us, we are not so different. We want what's best for our kids--and our parents. We want opportunities for them. We want to live in a safe environment. We want to live with the freedoms that citizens of The United States are supposed to have.

I know that there are people that have to be more passionate about social, political, religious or environmental issues because they are directly impacted on a daily basis. I know that there are activists that stand for them that would say that I'm making light of those issues when I choose to ignore them in favor of writing about personal things because I'm tired of reading about, writing about the things that are dividing us.

I'm not ignoring them with the expectation that they will go away. I'm ignoring them here, today--to give you a break, to give myself a break. It is only for a moment, I know. But it is a break.

Breathe deeply.
Whisper a prayer for a loved one.
Call a friend.

I enjoyed the weekend without TV. I missed having my computer handy (remember, I don't have a smart phone) but could get used to less of it. I can see that I didn't miss anything important by not reading Facebook for a day.

Maybe I'll see you again tomorrow.
Maybe tomorrow will be your day to take a break.

For today, be well. Be kind. Be a blessing to somebody.

John <><

Friday, January 18, 2013

Out of My Hat(s)!

In an internet meme that was going around my blogging circle four years ago calling for Ten Honest Things About John, I wrote that I like hats--not caps, hats.

For post number 800, I thought I would write about my hat--my favorite hat. The idea for a post about my hat came to me last Saturday at our Writers' meeting.

I stopped for a coffee at Starbucks on the way and the girl at the drive-up window made a comment about how she liked my hat. When I arrived at the meeting, one of the members also made a comment about it. Of course, I like getting compliments on my hat--especially from strangers, and I get them pretty often. Maybe the compliments are extra nice since Chris doesn't really care for my hat.

It is unusual in that it is a whole-hide leather cowboy hat. I bought it in Mexico over a decade ago and I have never seen another hat like it--even on subsequent trips to Mexico.

It is not a summer hat. One of the few things that I look forward to as fall approaches each year, is breaking out the "awesome hat" (a name given to it by one of Hannah's friends).

I have a variety of summer hats, too. They range from the rough, wear to the lake (and in the lake!) hat...

...to the everyday keep the sun off my face...

...to a little nicer straw.

I also have a winter felt dress hat.

And of course, the show prop wool top hat!

As always, thanks for stopping by at Out of My Hat.
And now you know what my hats look like!

John <><

A Good Habit; A Not so Good Habit

Many years ago (about 25), I had a standing monthly order of cigars from the Thompson Cigar Co. While I have always enjoyed a good cigar, over the past many years I have very rarely had one. Sometime before Christmas I saw an internet ad for a sampler pack of 12 cigars, a small cherry wood humidor, lighter and cigar cutter for $19.95. It was a pretty good deal--about $90 worth of stuff for 20 bucks...and it was from Thompson, a company with which I was familiar.

It became one of my presents...and an old habit was renewed.

On the more positive side of that habit, I don't smoke them in the house and a good cigar takes about 45 minutes or more to smoke. So I've been walking while I enjoy a cigar. I can't say that I've had one every day or that I've had one every walk, but I have been walking nearly every day and usually it's to justify smoking a cigar.

Is that a bad thing?

On the down side, it does add a cost to the otherwise economical exercise of walking as the price of a decent daily cigar can start to add up. Thompson usually has some good deals and I've discovered their auction site. I managed a $126 retail buy at $39 and an $18 deal for $3.

I'll keep up with the walking. I guess the cigar smoking will continue for a while, at least. Below are pics of the humidor and the current cigar stock.

John <><

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Growing Old...er

I'm not old...right? Just older...right?
Rats! When did that happen?

Before the end of summer, I'm going to be the "Old man" of the facility. The new supervisor that has recently arrived at SGF was born the year I was a senior in high school. The one that arrived last year, after that!

I used to respond to people that addressed me as "Mr. Hill" with "I'm John. Mr. Hill is my dad."
Now I'm starting to realize that I AM Mr. Hill!

With the erratic hiring practices of the FAA, the controller workforce is nearly divided into two groups--one that is eligible to retire and one that averages five years or less experience with only a few that fall in between the two. Because I came into the controller work force at the age cut off, I am pretty far down the seniority list. I think they should give seniority points for age, too!

In any case, I am now older than the parents of most of the new kids coming into the controller work force!

Sacre bleu!

John <><

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On Facing Tough Times...

How do you react when faced with adversity?
I read this and copied it from a Facebook post.
It's pretty good. Which are you? The carrot, the egg, or the coffee?

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.
After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. "What's the point,grandmother?"
Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity--boiling water--but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her granddaughter.
"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?
Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

John <><

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

John Hill (age 32) meet John Hill (age 52)

If I was to meet the man I was 20 years ago, I wonder if I would like him. I hope that I have changed (for the better) over the past couple of decades. Heck, I'd like to think that I've learned a few things in just the past couple of years.

I know that I have learned to be more forgiving and less judgmental. I believe that I am much slower to anger than I once was. I think that I am more willing to try to understand somebody else's view point and less likely to insist on everything having to go my way.

I firmly believe that the fifty something John would think that the thirty something John has said some foolish things and believed that he would never back down from whatever stance that he made at the time.

While it is certainly possible that there are people that are very much the same as they were twenty years ago, I would hope that we have learned a few things along the way and, at the very least, become better versions of our old selves. Some of us may have been more foolish in our younger years than we care to admit. Most of us have said and done things that we wish we hadn't. I have learned that it isn't always important to say what's on my mind. Some things are hurtful and nobody really benefits from hearing them. Chance are pretty good that I would think that thirty something John is an arrogant, outspoken, foolish jerk.

This is a good time to apologize to the people that I may have offended in the past. For saying things that didn't need to be said (even if I believed it); for saying things in a mean-spirited manner; for not listening to your side of the issue/argument; for just being a jerk--I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please excuse that insensitive, immature person of my past.

I bring this up because it would seem that there are people that are judging people based on words that were spoken many years ago. Whether it's war hero and former Senator Chuck Hagel or preacher Louie Giglio or any other public person, can we get beyond their past and look at their character today? Can we accept that we are not the same as we were in the past and they may not be either?

As much as our news media condemns our politicians for catering to the money of big donors, it is the media chasing the money of advertisers and huge ratings that inspires the sensationalizing of the news and the exploitation of people and events that have no real bearing on truth or ability. They play on our need for news and they abuse our trust. Politicians that we've elected to office are more interested in running for re-election than they are in doing the job we've elected them to do. There is so little integrity in these two fields that it is absolutely bizarre that they are the ones that are always crying foul on one another!

Sometimes I just have to shake my head and sigh.
(Fifty something John shakes head and sighs)
(Thirty something John pauses for a moment...then he also shakes head and sighs)
Maybe he's brighter than I thought.

John <><

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Awesome Artwork!

I saw this on Google+ and had to find the YouTube link for it.
The artist has several other videos that are equally as impressive.

I have a hard time just drawing letters to write a legible note!

John <><
(If you click the title at the top of the video rather than the play arrow, it will take you to YouTube and you can see the whole screen.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Writers and Writing ... and Wow!

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, today was our monthly writers' club meeting and it was our "Lightning Writing" challenge.

After listening to many of members and a few of our guests read what they had written in the short time that was given to us, I am forced to ask myself, "What am I doing here?"

As impressive as the fiction stories were, even  more impressive were the stories that came from personal experiences. I hope to be able to publish a few of them here in the future. We also have several members with newly published or about to be published books and recently magazine articles. As I have the opportunity to read them, I'll be sure to write about them here and let you know where you can purchase them. Getting to be a part of this fellowship of believers in Jesus is inspiring.

I wanted to share an upcoming event for any local writers that have published books they are wanting to promote. The Kimberling Area Library is having an Authors Book Signing Day. My understanding is that you can contact the library to reserve a table. There is no participation fee, but the library will accept donations. It sounds like a great opportunity for you to promote your book!

I guess I need to get back to some real writing...

John <><

Friday, January 11, 2013

It's Friday (that's the day before Saturday)!

I'm reminding you that it's the day before Saturday so that you can be planning for our Be Nice to a Stranger Day. I do hope that you will participate and maybe even share your experience. I've made a couple of plans that involve people that aren't exactly strangers (and that's okay--you can, too), but I also plan on targeting a random stranger or two for an encouraging word or act of kindness. Let's have a great Saturday and make a few people smile!
If you haven't already shared this post with your friends, please do! The more people being nice, the better our world will be -- for a day, anyway!


Saturday is also the day for our Ozarks Chapter of American Christian Writers' meeting. This is our "Lightning Writing" meeting which will challenge your creativity. If you are up for the writing challenge and live in the Springfield MO area, please consider coming to the meeting. You'll get a few starting sentences to choose from and about 45 minutes to write. This is always a fun meeting! Please come and join us.


Wow! I had a voice mail today from my Congressman's office! I sent an e-mail with some suggestions for budget cuts and they actually called to talk about them. I'll call them back today. I encourage you to share your reasonable ideas with your reprehensatives, as well. Who knows? Maybe they're to the point of actually listening to their constituents!

Have a grand weekend!

John <><

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Saving a Little Money...

In our household budgets, we can often find ways to save a few dollars here and a few more there. By saving a few dollars in a few places, we can often finds ways to save a significant amount of the total budget.

For example:

At Starbucks you can go green and buy a reusable plastic cup for a dollar. Not only do you help save a tree, but they will give you a $0.10 credit each time you use it. After 10 cups, you're money ahead. Or you can buy your beans there (assuming you go there because you happen to like their coffee) and brew your own at home, saving many dollars over a daily stop. (I have a friend that refers to them as Four-bucks, because he says that's what it generally costs him to stop.) I've done both of these and am enjoying some home brewed Starbucks Anniversary Blend as I write.

A short time ago, we purchased a Soda Stream soda making machine. Using it over buying sodas saves enough to offset the initial cost, saves our earth by using refillable bottles, is better for me because my drinks use sucralose instead of aspartame, and I end up drinking less soda and spending less on a daily basis.

I know, I know. we're talking a few cents here and there. Even in a small household budget it's small. But, it does add up.

A few days ago, I wrote about our legislative reprehensatives kicking the fiscal can further down the road and asked for some cost saving measures that we could share with our fellow countrymen and minders of the federal purse. A few of my fellow federal employees have managed to find $500k to 750k that could be saved in our small facility by following some simple common sense. I've forwarded these to my Senators and Congressman along with a few other cost savings or income producing ideas. While that may be a mere drop in the bucket, somebody once said, "...a million dollars here, a million dollars there, before long you're talking about real money!"

Maybe the US Army doesn't really need to sponsor a NASCAR team at a few million dollars a season or own and maintain 234 golf courses around the world at an undisclosed amount of money that is estimated to be in the billions of dollars. These would be cuts in the defense spending that would have no impact on the mission of our military. Certainly there are areas that everybody can look at and agree that these are not good uses for our tax dollars.

The other day I saw a man that had just cashed in two plastic coffee containers that he had filled with loose change. The total was a few hundred dollars!

What if our government officials quit kicking the can down the road and instead used it to collect a few dollars of savings here and there. It really doesn't take much to start to add up to some serious money.

To illustrate:
A friend of mine recently posted this picture. It doesn't sound too difficult, and the  rewards seem to be well worth the effort.

I know that we need more than baby steps to solve the monster of a problem that we have created. But we have to manage to slow this train down and get it turned around without bringing it to a crashing stop. Why are there so many reasonable cuts that nobody wants to look at?
Let's look at everything.

Tweet your Senators and House representatives your ideas. E-mail them. Call them. Hold them accountable.

John <><

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Avoiding the People that Need the Gospel

Our Bible study last Sunday came from John's gospel. In the fourth chapter there is a story about an encounter that Jesus had with a woman at a well in Samaria. Traditionally, Jews would not have traveled through Samaria because the Samaritans were an unclean part of Israel's past.

Samaria was a part of The Northern Kingdom and during one of the conquests of the Old Testament, they were taken as captives and ended up intermarrying with their captors and became a mixed culture of Jews and gentiles. When Jesus and his disciples were making their way from Jerusalem to Galilee, the normal route would have taken them to the east side of the Jordan river near Jericho, then north through the cities of the Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee before crossing the Jordan westward to Galilee.

In today's world, adding 40-50 miles to a trip is an inconvenience. When you consider that Jesus and his disciples were walking, you're basically adding two days to a three day journey...and yet Jews would do this regularly to avoid the Samaritans. They would not use the same utensils that Samaritans had used nor anything that they had touched. They would treat them as they would the gentiles; as lower class citizens.

And yet, here we find Jesus in the middle of a Samaritan town, talking to a Samaritan woman (even lower than a Samaritan man!), asking for a drink from a Samaritan vessel and treating the Samaritan woman with compassion, offering her eternal life!

As I was preparing this lesson, I was struck by the thought that we (today's church) often go a great deal out of our way to avoid encounters with people that need to hear the truth of the gospel. And we often treat people that need the gospel as a lower class citizens, speaking to them in condescending tones and with judgment and disrespect. We often do what the Jews regularly did.

We need to do what Jesus did.
We need to see the spiritual needs of the people that we would rather avoid.
We need to stop going around them and take a direct route to where they are.
We need to talk to them with a heart full of compassion as our Savior did; as our Savior desires to do today--through us!

Maybe there are people that you have been avoiding. Maybe it's time to stop and ask the question --
What would Jesus do?
Are there people that you look down on? People that you have judged to be unworthy of your time and compassion?
What would Jesus do?

The woman told the townspeople that she believed that this man was the Messiah. They came to see for themselves and later proclaimed that they also believed--not because she had told them, but because they heard and believed for themselves. They believed because they had their own encounters with Jesus! We cannot make believers of others. We are only called to introduce them to Jesus so that they can have their own encounter with Him.

How about we learn from Jesus' example and just share God's plan of salvation with the people we encounter on our way?

Good stuff, eh?

John <><

Be Nice to a Stranger Day

Just a thought...

How about if we make Saturday, January 12th, Be Nice to a Stranger Day?

It doesn't have to be a big deal. You don't have to spend any money. You don't even need to take a lot of time. It could be something as simple as returning a grocery cart to the store or placing it in the designated area for somebody that has kids in the car, or is older or just because you want to be nice.

Maybe you know of somebody that is lonely and could use a visit or a phone call. Maybe you could send a greeting card in the mail ... or greet your letter carrier with a treat of some kind. A kind word, a kind act...it's only one day. This coming Saturday. It doesn't even have to be a stranger. You can be nice to people you know, too. How about we just make it somebody that isn't expecting it. Let's just look forward to a weekend of being extra nice to people.

Who is up for the challenge?

I'm even giving you a few days to plan for it. You can buy your cards and get them in the mail to arrive on Saturday. You can plan to take somebody out to lunch or invite them over for dinner. You can watch the young children for a couple that doesn't get to go out often and can't afford a babysitter. Lots of ideas to share.

You can share your ideas here and commit to participate.
You can share this link on your social networks or e-mail it to your friends.
Saturday is the day!
Let's make people smile!

John <><

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Benefits of Regular Posts

I am not a regular blogger. When I started Out of My Hat, I thought that it would be nice to post something a couple of times a week or so. Looking back, there have been only three months that I have posted everyday--the past two months (Nov. and Dec. '12) and August of '08.

A noticeable benefit of daily posting is daily readership. (Imagine that!) For the first time in all of these years, I've manged to reach 4,000 hits in a one month period. I realize that's nothing compared to several of the blogs I read, but none-the-less, a mile stone worth mentioning.

Now that we are one week into the new year (how long is it acceptable to call it the "new" year?), I hate not to post for fear of dropping below the 4,000 count. The Google counter drops a day every day and then adds the hits from the current day. At the beginning of Saturday I was below 4,000 but made the climb on the daily hits. As soon as the counter rolled over to Sunday (6pm CST), I dropped back below the mark only to climb back during the day.

Really, it's not all that important. I suppose that if I allowed Google to run ads and I actually made money when people clicked on the ads, then it may be more important to keep readers coming back and to hope for new readers. As it is, it's just a personal best that the competitive person in me would like to keep improving on.

There were no political or controversial posts in December, but there were a couple of Christmas posts that received more than the usual number of hits. I guess I'll have to keep looking for interesting things to post about.

That's it for the first week of 2013. How are you doing on your resolutions? Still working out? Still dieting? Still reading the Bible? Still doing whatever it is that you resolved to do?

I'm just glad that you're still reading!
Have a great week #2 of 2013!
36 days 'til pitchers and catchers report to camp!
And the Cubs are still undefeated in '13!

John <><

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Sunday! Sunday! SONday!

There is something about Sunday.

I look forward to Sunday mornings. This day, the first Sunday of 2013, was no exception.

Sundays are more than just a day off of work. Sundays are days set aside to express our love for God and to worship Him. Most Sundays I am at Hopedale. I am privileged to be to able share the Bible with our high school boys during our Bible study time. I am honored to be able to worship our God with a few hundred other believers. And I am humbled that God chooses to speak to me through the preaching of His Word.

Sometime this week I will share with you our Bible study lesson. I think it's a good lesson and needs to be shared with more than a dozen or so teen aged boys. But that will be for another post.

One of the things that made today an exceptional day was that I got to hear a second great message preached--another one from my son, Aaron.

Click here to take you to the link and on the speaker icon to hear the message (or arrow to download it).
Please take the time (a whole 24 min) to listen.
Where is your heart? Where is your treasure?

John <><

Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Curse of the Bambino...

It was January 5, 1920 when the New York Yankees purchased Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox for $125,000. This was after The Babe broke the major league home run record in 1919 with 29. As a Yankee, he broke the record again in 1920 (54) and 1921 (59).

After the deal, the Yankees went on to win 26 World Series titles and the Sox went 86 years before beating the St. Louis Cardinals for the Series Championship in 2004, thereby breaking the long lived curse.

Pitchers and catchers report to camp in 38 days.
Cardinal Season Opener is April 1st in Arizona--no fooling!

I'm getting baseball fever.

John <><

Friday, January 04, 2013

Because We're Still Waiting for His Return...

This Advent message was delivered several weeks ago. Because I didn't listen to it immediately, it managed to find its way to the bottom of my "things to do" list and was eventually forgotten. Because I am familiar with the young preacher, I should have been more attentive to getting around to listening to his message.

Bad Dad!

After being reminded of it (by my daughter in law), I did finally listen to it.
And she was right--it is a great message.

I hope that you have the twenty minutes (or so) to go to the link and listen to it.

John <><

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Kicking the Can

As much as I hate to start the year with another political commentary on the ineffectiveness of our elected reprehensatives, I have to say that I am thoroughly disgusted with the non-work that has been done in Congress in regards to taxes and spending.

I am interested in compiling a list of government expenditures that can be cut to reduce spending. I know that everybody has their own ideas--some well thought out and reasonable, some not so very much. If you have an idea, please suggest it here. Even one idea that saves a measly 1 million dollars is a helpful idea--really less than that if the expenditure doesn't outweigh the benefit.

Be nice.

Here we go!

John <><

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult

Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult by Ada Brownell is a soon to be released book that is written by one of the leaders in our Christian Writer's club.

Even though it is a teen novel, I'm looking forward to its release.

Today's post just takes you over to Ms. Brownell's blog for an early look at Joe the Dreamer.
More on the book after its release!

John <><

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

And the Streak Continues...

It was after having posted for the first week in November and attending our monthly meeting of the Ozark Chapter of American Christian Writers' (OCACW) meeting that I felt challenged to write more often. I started by setting a goal to write something every day.

I did a little free writing and stored it in my Google Documents (now Google Drive). I also started something that may work itself into that elusive book. At first, I thought that setting daily writing time aside would mean that I would be blogging less. As it turned out, I decided that this is as good a forum as any to write if I am going to be writing a little bit every day.

...And after having posted something for the past 62 straight days, it's a little bit difficult to just not post something.

January 1 offers the opportunity to post about the grand plans for the coming year. I imagine that many are making their annual resolutions and even resolving not to have any New Year's resolutions. I'll make a later post about some of my personal decisions for the coming year--writing will be a part of them.

I know that at some point a day will pass that I won't post something here at Out of My Hat. When that happens (and it could be tomorrow), it won't be a big deal--not to me or to anybody else. But until then...

I am enjoying some subtle encouragement by receiving an invitation to join a writer's circle on Google +.
I am planning on bringing some of my writing to the OCACW critique group following the January meeting.
I am planning on writing better notes during my personal Bible study time so that I can develop sermons from them as the opportunities are presented this year.

I think that reading is a big part of being a good writer, so I really want to be more purposeful about reading this year. I read a lot. But in 2012 I found myself reading more of the daily articles, blogs and news stories on the internet than books of fiction or non-fiction. I rarely enjoy a book of fiction anymore; I need to do that once in a while this year.

I hope that you find enough interesting material at Out of My Hat that you will continue to read during the coming year. Hopefully there will be the occasional inspiration to share this post with your friends or leave a comment here or at on of the other forums where you might find Out of My Hat, like Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn or Twitter.

For now, duty calls and it's time to set this aside and get ready for work. I hope that you have a relaxing holiday recovering from your New Year's Eve celebrations.

I wish each of you a joyous and prosperous 2013!

John <><