27
Feb 11

Reflecting On An Amazing Journey

I grew up in a very strict and conservative home. My Father was the pastor of a small independent church, we were all homeschooled, and we weren’t allowed to participate in worldly things such as viewing television.

For many years, my family didn’t even own a TV. However, due to the fact that many people had been sending my Dad informational videotapes, he needed a method to watch them. Eventually, he made the decision to buy a television, but it was for videos only, and there was no antenna hooked up to the unit.

When I was about nine years old, my brother somehow managed to negotiate permission from my Dad to watch sports on TV. We were allowed to watch basketball, football, and the news on rare occasions. I didn’t care about the news so much back then, and basketball was sort of fun to watch. However, watching football with my brother and my Dad was always very special to me.

I tend to believe that my Dad always liked football more than he let on. Not only would he watch many of the games with us, but every winter during our break from school, he’d take us up to Green Bay to visit the Packer Hall of Fame. He loved to talk about the great players from when he was young, such as Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Boyd Dowler, and Ray Nitschke.

My Dad was always an extremely busy man. Between his preaching, his writing, and his other ministerial duties, there wasn’t a lot of time for us to spend together. During his later years, he didn’t always have time to watch football with us. But on my Sunday afternoon visits, my dad would always ask me how the Packers did that day.

On June 8, 2010, my Dad passed on. When the football season began in September, I couldn’t help but think of my Dad every time I watched a game. I missed having him sit on my recliner that he liked so much. I missed hearing him talk about all the old players from back in the day.

In the months following the passing of my Dad, I would often have a horrible time trying to fall asleep. I would spend many nights lying in bed awake and just talking to God. I remember one night, I was in bed and I said to the Lord, “Lord, it would really cheer me up if the Packers won the Super Bowl this year.” No sooner had I made that statement, I began to feel a bit silly. I then said, “I’m sorry Lord. I know that’s stupid. I know you don’t care about football.”

It was around that time that things began to look rough for the Green Bay Packers. Not only did they lose to the Detroit Lions (a team which has been considered one of the worst in the league for over a decade), quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion and was unable to play against the New England Patriots the following week. Although backup quarterback Matt Flynn made a valiant effort against the Patriots, the Packers fell by a score of 31-27.

But two things happened that day that altered the course of history. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants, despite being down 31-10 with 8:10 left in the 4th quarter. The game ended with the Eagles beating the Giants 38-31 as DeSean Jackson returned a punt 65 yards for a game-winning touchdown as time expired. In another important game, the Detroit Lions defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime after their kicker kicked a 34 yard field goal to win the game. At the time, the Buccaneers and the Packers were battling for the last NFC wildcard spot.

Because the Giants and the Buccaneers lost, the Packers still had a chance to make the playoffs. All they would have to do is win the last two games of the season against the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears and they would be in. Of course, that’s not an easy feat, since the Giants and the Bears are considered two of the better teams in the NFL. But the Packers prevailed, first defeating the Giants, and then defeating the Bears, a team that fought like mad to keep the Packers out of the playoffs.

The Packers earned the sixth and final seed and barely squeezed into the post season. At the time, it seemed unlikely that they’d win the Super Bowl. After all, they would have to win three playoff games and they would all be on the road. That had never been done in the NFC before!

In the Wild Card game, the Packers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 21-16 after Tramon Williams intercepted Michael Vick’s pass to preserve the lead with 33 seconds left.

In the divisional playoff round, the Packers defeated the number-one seeded Atlanta Falcons 48-21. This was notable because the Falcons were at home, and they rarely lost home games.

In the NFC Championship game, the Packers faced off against their bitterest division rivals, the Chicago Bears. It was ultimately the defense that won this ball game, as nose tackle BJ Raji intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. (It is extremely rare for a 300-pound plus nose tackle to get an interception, much less return it for a touchdown.) This interception would end up being the difference in the game as the Packers won 21-14. The game was sealed with another interception by Sam Shields.

As everyone probably knows by now, The Green Bay Packers went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl 45. Although everyone knows that the Packers were there, many may not realize how they got there. When we take a look back at everything that transpired, the journey almost seems miraculous.

After the Super Bowl ended, I just sat and pondered for a while. I thought about my Dad and wondered if he knew what happened. I thought about that night in bed when I made my silly comment to the Lord. Many would argue that what I asked didn’t make any difference. And you know, maybe they’re right. I still don’t think God cares about football. But I know He cares about me,  so maybe, just maybe, he nudged some of those interceptions a little.

There are many types of blessings we receive from God. Sometimes we’re not even aware of them when they happen. Sometimes God grants us silly things, not because we deserve it, and not because a football team deserves it, but because He’s just a good Father. Maybe my silly little request didn’t actually have an impact. All I know is that the Packers won the Super Bowl and it cheered me up. A lot.

As wide receiver Greg Jennings repeatedly said after the game, “To God be the glory!”

:)


31
Dec 10

$100 Food Budget – Day 31

foodbudgetchallenge

My $100 Food Budget Challenge has nearly reached its conclusion. It’s going to feel weird to go back to spending however much I want on food again. Maybe now that I’ve gone through this I’ll exercise a little restraint instead of just throwing whatever tickles my fancy into the shopping cart. I feel like I’ve learned a lot.

Although I made it through the entire month spending less than $100 dollars on food, I feel like I could have done better. There were certain things I bought that I didn’t really need. I bought a lot of soda, and had I not done that, I would’ve had more money available for important foods such as meat and produce.

In fact, affording meat is probably the biggest challenge I faced. Yes, you can buy meat or products that contain meat, but the quality of the meat isn’t going to be the greatest.

An interesting side-benefit of the budget was a huge decrease in waste. In fact, I don’t think I ended up wasting anything except some cheap cheese that I bought and discovered to be disgusting. I ate pretty much everything that I bought.

In summary, it was an enlightening month, and if I ever find myself in a position where I must drastically cut my grocery bill, I feel like I’ll be more equipped to handle the situation.

As for tomorrow, I think I want to get a cheeseburger.

I didn’t buy any food today.

Total Spent: $99.10

Remaining Cash: $0.90  


30
Dec 10

$100 Food Budget – Day 30

foodbudgetchallenge

Today I made my final grocery shopping trip of December, 2010. I bought the following items:

  • Bread
  • Tomato Soup
  • Peanut Butter Cups
  • Generic Kool-Aid

Total Spent: $99.10

Remaining Cash: $0.90

I’ll have more than enough food to eat tomorrow, so I think it’s safe to say that Mr Nethead’s $100 Food Budget Challenge is going to be a success.

*pats self on the back*


29
Dec 10

$100 Food Budget – Day 29

foodbudgetchallenge

With only a little over four dollars left, some people might wonder if I’ll be able to survive until Saturday. I should be fine, because I actually have more than enough food to last over the next few days. I have three boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, two pot pies, a can of baked beans, several cans of corn, and some cheese in my fridge that only gets better with age. So don’t worry about me. I have plenty of food!

I didn’t buy any food today.

Total Spent: $95.61

Remaining Cash: $4.39


29
Dec 10

Midweek Thoughts – Part 34

midweekthoughts

It’s the final Wednesday of the year. Therefore, this will be the last installment of Midweek Thoughts in 2010. It’s been quite a year, and if this had been a perfect year, I’m sure I’d be writing “Midweek Thoughts – Part 52” instead of Part 34.

The year 2010 was a year of extreme peaks and excruciating lows. I’ve made this graph to represent my highs and lows of 2010.

graph (1)

January seems so long ago now. I barely even remember anything that happened. I’ll give this month a baseline score of 50/100.

My year peaked in February when I went to visit my girlfriend for the first time ever. Score: 100/100.

My dad started to get sick in March, and I started to worry, so needless to say my state-of-being wasn’t quite as great. I was still riding a high from my visit with my girlfriend though, so I was moderately happy. Score: 75/100.

In April my dad was hospitalized. After that things were never the same, even though he came home again for a short time. Score: 30/100.

I visited my girlfriend again in May, and while I was happy while I was with her, my dad was very sick and I couldn’t stop worrying about him. To make matters worse, I got into a car accident in South Carolina. Still, despite the adversity, my spirits were pretty high. Score: 80/100.

In June my dad passed away. Life as I knew it crumbled forever, and it was the saddest time I’ve ever experienced. I still miss my dad more than words can even describe; it’s as if there’s a gigantic unseen hole inside me. I often find myself hoping that my dad knew how much I loved him, even though we hardly ever talked about that sort of thing.  Score: –100/100.

In July my girlfriend came to visit me. We had a lot of fun together: such as the zoo, the circus, various parks and beaches, and so on. She lifted my spirits, and I loved having her here, but I was still in great agony over the loss of my dad. Score: 70 out of a 100.

August was not a great month. In addition to grieving over my dad, I now had to deal with the fact that was girlfriend was once again a thousand miles away. Score: 30/100.

September was sort of a blur. While it wasn’t a horrible month, it wasn’t great either. I spent most of my time working, and have done so continuously since that time. My life revolves around my work now. I highly doubt that I’ll ever again be able to say, “I have nothing to do.” Score: 40/100.

October was another hard month. We started out being forced to deal with some drama at church which ultimately resulted in some people leaving. It was hard to deal with. My birthday came along on the 13th, and it was certainly a day of mixed emotions for me.  It was my first birthday without my dad, and he had always gone out of his way to make birthdays special and fun. I couldn’t but think of all the things he had done for me over the years, and all the thoughtful gifts he had gotten me. My family threw me a party, which was nice. My momma bought me a Kindle from Amazon which was totally unexpected and cool. I had wanted one for a long time. Score: 30/100.

November was an average month. The highlight of the month was sending my girlfriend presents and flowers for her birthday.  Score: 40/100.

December was a month of personal growth and challenges. I’ve been inundated with work, which is fine, although I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be able to get it all done. I also challenged myself to spend only $100 on food this month and it looks like I’m going to be successful. I’m sure that when Saturday gets here I’ll be brimming with a sense of accomplishment. Score: 40/100.

Yes, 2010 was quite a year. It is full of memories that will last forever and some I’d rather forget. As this year comes to a close, I can’t help but think about how it was the last year my dad was alive here on earth. I wish I had spent more time with him. I’m always going to miss him.

I’ve also realized that I am completely and utterly helpless without God. These days I’m often up late at night, unable to sleep, and I just lay in bed and tell all my thoughts to the Lord. I know that it is only through His strength that I’ve been able to get as far as I have and accomplish the things I’ve accomplished. I’m trusting that He will continue to mend my heart and that 2011 will be a great year.

Thanks for reading.


28
Dec 10

$100 Food Budget – Day 28

foodbudgetchallenge

Well, I’m getting closer to my goal every day. I now only need to survive through Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and I will have lasted an entire month spending only $100 on food!

I wanted something substantial and meaty for supper, so I stopped off and bought a can of beef stew. It’s a very strange feeling to walk into the store with such a small amount of money knowing that the credit/debit cards are off limits.

I think I have enough food at home to last me the rest of the month, although I would really like to get a loaf of bread yet.

Total Spent: $95.61

Remaining Cash: $4.39


27
Dec 10

$100 Food Budget – Day 27

foodbudgetchallenge

Today whilst trying to decide what to have for lunch, I realized that I had four slices of bread left. So naturally I decided to make a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches. I have to say, the grilled cheese is one of my all-time favorite foods. I might have to go out and buy another loaf of bread so I can eat more grilled cheeses this week!

I didn’t buy any food today.

Total Spent: $93.82

Remaining Cash: $6.18


26
Dec 10

$100 Food Budget – Day 26

foodbudgetchallenge

Well, we’re definitely getting down to the wire here. I had a pretty bad craving for chocolate today, so I decided to head to the store and see if I could find a deal. I ended up buying:

  • Kit Kats
  • Chocolate chip ice cream
  • Candy fruit slices
  • Sandwich meat

At this point there is very little money left. I do think I have enough food to last me through the rest of the week, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be glad when next Saturday finally rolls around.

Total Spent: $93.82

Remaining Cash: $6.18


25
Dec 10

$100 Food Budget – Day 25

foodbudgetchallenge

I found a bag of Smarties hidden under a pile of mail the other day. They’ve served well as my sugar fix. This particular batch of Smarties was manufactured in Canada. Ironically, this type of candy is not known as Smarties when sold in Canada; they are called Rockets instead. Of course, Canada does have Smarties too, but they’re a different type of candy. Canadian Smarties are a chocolate candy similar to m&ms.

I didn’t buy any food today. 

Total Spent: $89.87

Remaining Cash: $10.13


24
Dec 10

$100 Food Budget – Day 24

foodbudgetchallenge

My pantry and refrigerator were looking a little desolate today, so I decided to go buy some food. I bought:

  • 2-liter of root beer
  • 4 Turkey pot pies
  • Generic Swiss Rolls
  • Cheese
  • 4 packets of Kool-Aid

In all likelihood, I’ll only be able to go to the store one more time before I run out of money.

Total Spent: $89.87

Remaining Cash: $10.13