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My birthday was this past week. Many people sent me wishes of a happy birthday, hoped that I had a good birthday, and things like that.

Well, the truth is, I didn't have a great birthday. Why? Well, for one, I worked all day, and had a business meeting that night. If you're not in a traditional Southern Baptist Church, you don't know why that's a problem. It's not that bad things happen, at least not all the time. It's just that a business meeting is either as exciting as straining peas, or is filled with people that claim to be Christian enough to handle the business of running a church, but can't speak civilly to each other or won't show up except to make trouble. Business meetings are like that lovely field you see the soldiers walking into in World War II movies. I was watching Band of Brothers on the History Channel, and could swear that field was a minefield in Saving Private Ryan. But it wasn't. Field really looked the same, though...that's a business meeting, it's like that open field. Often times you just walk right through, and if you're blissfully ignorant, you enjoy the walk. But, after you have seen someone discover a minefield, to the detriment of themselves and others, you dread the open field. And knowing that, even if this one's clear, there is another one just a month away...

The other thing is that, since we moved, and, well, since 75% of our friends moved in the last 3 years, we don't have people that we're really close to, people that we can celebrate things peacefully with. It's a slow process building new relationships, and harder in a small town, where everybody already has friends, thank you...So, while Ann and the girls did their best, I felt, somewhat acutely, the distance from friends like Aaron and Joanna, Jason and Charlene, Conor, Dawn, and a few others. I don't want the big 'party' atmosphere. The close, quiet chance to sit down, and spend time with people who really know me would have been nice. Of course, Conor and Dawn are at UPS in Memphis (4 hours), Jason and Charlene in Atlanta (probably 10 hours), Aaron and Joanna are in Honiara, Solomon Islands (which will be a bit of a swim), so those folks weren't available. Meanwhile, other friends from now and ages past are as close as the internet, and as far as the internet. It's nice, but it's not real communication. So, I felt strongly the burden that Ann gets, being the one person around here I really like to talk to. (so far. I do have some growing relationships with other ministers, but they've got their own issues.)

The last thing that was difficult is the lack of change for me. Lack of change? Last year, Doug, you were working at UPS in Memphis, pastoring in Joiner, Arkansas, and living in a house you owned. This year, you live in Monticello, Arkansas, pastor in Monticello, Arkansas, and rent a house someone else owns while you rent out the house you own, in hopes that someone will buy your house so you can buy one! If that's not change, what is? The change is efforts toward life goals. Another year finds me still not making progress on my Master's degree, still in debt from previous attempts, still struggling to take care of the family because of the lingering debts from trying to follow my dreams. I'm still very far from where I should grow spiritually, and very far grown from where I should be physically. Last year I was blessed to buy new suits, that now I almost can't wear, my knees hurt, my asthma kicks up, all because there's more Doug than ever before. So, on the introspective side, the day wasn't a real winner. Add to that the only one I can blame for those things is me, and frustration blends over with guilt.

So, my hope and plan, my actions are going to try and make a difference on some of those things this year. I can't really attack the education without getting rid of the debt, but we're making progress. The end of one round of student loans is in sight, the end of car payments, in sight. When that happens, out-go and income should actually match up! If insurance hadn't gone up, we'd actually make progress. We're prayerfully optimistic that our renters will be able to get a mortgage and buy the house (hey, banks make money off interest, eventually they've got to get back to lending so they can make a profit. ), when they do, whatever equity exists will help us deal with a little more debt.

And, someday, the $250 worth of UPS stock I bought when I worked there, that's now worth $180, will be past its hold time, and I can sell it. If anybody wants it....


  1. Sounds about like my birthday - only add a flat tire. Love ya, little brother!


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