Two Dreams

I had two separate dreams about heaven last night. In the first one I was with some of my family and friends, and it was just like my life down here, except there was no more pain, no more worry, no more sadness, no more fear. But the overlying sense was one of relief, because there was no more sin. No more struggle to do what is right, no more wondering what other people might do to me, no more trying to avoid temptation. It was amazingly restful for that fight to be over. I remember thinking briefly, “I wonder where the other people are” and realizing that they were either still on earth or in hell. But it didn’t bother me.

My second dream was much like the first, but much shorter, and involved me walking into a room to play some card game with my wife. There were a bunch of other people there, and it had the same sense of relief that sin was no more. We didn’t know what was going to happen next, but we KNEW it was going to be good. We KNEW there was nothing to worry about. As we sat there, a woman commented to me, “I shouldn’t drink this Mountain Dew until later because I have to work tonight.” I remember thinking, “You’re never going to need caffeine again. You’re never going to be exhausted again.”

I woke up with the aftereffects of that feeling of peace that the dreams gave me. I told God I was ready for that peace. And then I remembered that there are people out there, people I know, people I love, who do not know Christ. People who have not asked for God to forgive their sins through the death of Christ. People who, if the world were to end today, would not be with me in that wonderful place. And while, in my first dream, the thought of these people living in hell for eternity didn’t bother me, it bothers me now.

To those of you who are not trusting in Christ for salvation: I believe this is a personal choice that exists between you and God. I believe there is nothing I can do to force you into heaven. But I also believe that there are things I can do to help you get there (such as remind you about the choice, talk about it, just like I am doing right now). And I want to make absolutely sure that, at the Great Judgment when you stand before God and He asks you why He should let you into heaven, you will not be able to say “I didn’t know how.”

I want to make sure you are there in heaven with me. And if you’re not, I want to make sure I did everything in my power to help you choose God. Everything else I leave to God. I love you, and I want you there. Please don’t choose hell over God.

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Liam Neeson Doesn’t Like Guns

According to this article, Liam Neeson thinks there are too many guns in America.  He thinks it’s ridiculous that there are enough guns for almost every person in America.

I can understand if you are anti-gun. I can understand if you believe violence is not the answer.   But if you truly believe those things, Mr. Neeson,  then why in the name of little green apples are guns featured prominently in almost every movie you make.  And why are those guns frequently the answer to whatever problem your character is facing?  Should not you in good conscience refuse to take roles that demonstrate the appropriateness of firearms in various situations?

Here are the movie posters from Mr. Neeson’s last six movies in which he played a main character.

Neeson 1 Neeson 2 Neeson 3 NST_31_5_Promo_4C_4F.indd Neeson 5 Neeson 6

Notice anything?  In all but one movie he is holding a gun.  So Mr. Neeson, if you want to tell us to stop defending ourselves with guns, maybe it would be a good idea for you to stop sending mixed messages, and stop profiting from the glorification of gun ownership, eh?

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Francis Joseph Picray Jr.: 1926-2015

My grandpa died, and so I came back home to bury him. Though we did not agree on many things, he was still my grandpa. He lived a full life in his 88 years. He was a Seabee in the Navy in the South Pacific in World War 2, had four children, ten grandchildren, great-granchildren, and one wife, and he was a pilot. I remember being most impressed by that last one as a child, since I think he was the one that got me hooked on planes, flying, and the possibility of becoming a pilot. The fact that I never have is not from lack of desire, but lack of resources and time. Someday…

Anyway, I came back, knowing that most of my family would be here from my dad’s side. I got to meet my uncle for the first time, and I also got to meet my grandpa’s sister (and her children), who most of the family didn’t know existed. I told one of my cousins who I was to her, and she didn’t even realize we were related. We had the visitation tonight, and the funeral is tomorrow. But the highlight of my trip has been seeing most of my family on that side together in the same place.

As Garrison Keillor once said, “They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad that I’m going to miss mine by just a few days.” It’s too bad that we couldn’t have gotten together before Grandpa died, but that is how life is, I guess: Funerals turn into mini-family reunions.

My family can be cantankerous, argumentative and rude. They can be kind, helpful, and generous as well. Whatever they are, they are my family, and I love them. Hug your family today. You don’t know how much more time you have with them.

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Doomsday?

One of my family members recently mentioned the term “doomsday preppers” and it got me thinking.

I know what a “prepper” is.  It’s someone who keeps 50 gallon drums of potable water, a year’s supply of canned goods, etc, etc, just in case our society collapses.  I know she was referring to that type of doomsday.

But traditionally, there is another definition of doomsday, and that is the last day of the earth, when the earth is destroyed.  The only people that will be prepared for that doomsday are born-again Christians (a redundant term, but one I find is necessary).   You see, when God destroys the earth and judges all of mankind throughout history, the only people prepared for this are the people who have trusted in Christ as Savior (including me).  Everybody else is sent to the lake of fire.

So, in that sense,  I guess I’m a doomsday prepper.  ;-)

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Wind Energy: Boon or Boondoggle?

Wind TurbinesI’ve been driving back and forth across the Midwest several times in the past year. I’ve noticed that HAWT (Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine) farms are cropping up all over the place. I remember hearing Jan Mickelson on WHO Radio call them a “boondoggle” several years ago, and I’ve kind of held that opinion ever since. I found three definitions for boondoggle, and all of them apply: Merriam Webster’s Dictionary says it is “an expensive and wasteful project usually paid for with public money.” Google says it is “work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.” And Wikipedia says it is “a project that is considered a useless waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to extraneous policy or political motivations.”

So I commented to my family that these wind turbines were a boondoggle, and my wife challenged me to explain why. I stated that I believed they cost more money to build than the energy they produced. She asked me if I had proof. I did not. So I went looking.

Do you know how confusing energy is? The first obstacle is finding out how much one of these things actually costs. As I searched through Google, I kept coming up dry, because every website was pro-HAWT, and wouldn’t reveal the actual cost in dollars, but only in MWh (megawatt hours). This is kind of like when you go to the car dealership and say “How much for this Mustang?” And the used car salesman says “This Mustang costs $200 per month.” Yeah, but for how many months? I want the cash-on-the-barrel price.

Finally I found one website that told me that these turbines cost about half a million dollars to install, and cost about 1 million dollars per megawatt the turbine can produce. So a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine will cost about 1.5 million dollars, plus the 500K for installation, so 2 million dollars. I also read that most of the new wind turbines are 3 MWh HAWTs so that’s $3.5 million each for start-up costs.

Then I looked at my energy bill. I don’t know the energy source of my electricity (probably coal), but I pay 10 cents per KWh (kilowatt hour). That means I pay $100 per MWh. Another website I found states that a 1.5 MWh wind turbine (costing 2 million to build and install, remember) actually produces about 3285 MWh per year. At my current cost of energy consumption, that is $328,500 worth of energy per year produced by this wind turbine. That means that if we installed the wind turbine and left it to run with no maintenance costs or upkeep, it would take six years before the wind turbine generated enough power to pay off its own installation. I’m guessing it probably costs about 100K in upkeep per year, so when we subtract that from the $328K, that makes nine years.

My next question was: how long do wind turbines last? And the average answer I got was “about twenty years.” So for the first nine years these things are operating at a loss. Then for 11 years they make $230K per year profit. That’s 2.5 million dollars of profit at the end of 20 years. Just enough money to build another one. When you take the profit and divide it by the total number of years in operation, these things only produce $125,000 worth of energy per year. So they DO produce more energy than they consume.

My conclusion: I don’t know. I am all for renewable energy sources, but I have all kinds of questions that I think I would have to go back to college to figure out (and that’s not happening). For instance: how much fossil fuel had to be used to make each of these wind turbines? In other words, are they really “green”? If we ran out of fossil fuels, would we be able to manufacture one of these things? Does the amount of energy expended to produce one HAWT exceed the amount of energy it produces in its 20 year service life? How much tax money in incentives is being used to pay for these wind turbines?  In other words, how much of OUR money is being used to build these things?

Is it worth it? I’m still not sure.

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My Status

Cold.  Yes, it’s cold.  I’m sure this is no newsflash to most of you, since most of my readers live in the Midwestern United States, where temperatures are below 0° F right now.  For the record, it is currently -9° F (-22° Celsius, for those of you from countries that haven’t landed on the moon).   We lit off our fireplace last night, which was nice, not because it made it any warmer in here, but because it made us THINK it was warmer.   The pipes froze in our downstairs bathroom again.  They do that every year when the temperatures approach zero.  I should probably rip the drywall off and throw in a bunch of insulation, but I haven’t gotten to that yet.

Which brings me to what I’m doing currently.  For those of you who missed my last post, I did not pass my Pediatrics class (got a B- average instead of a B on the tests).  Since my university only offers that class once a year, and since these classes are cumulative (not the right word, but it’s where you have to take the first one before you can take the next, and so on), I have to wait until this September to retake Pediatrics before I can do my residency in the spring of 2016 and graduate in May 2016.

What does this mean?  It means a couple of things. First of all, it means I need a job, because I’m only PRN (as needed) at my old job, and I would really like to find something full time that is closer, better hours, etc.    Secondly, it means that for the first time since 2011 I am not enrolled in classes, because this program I’m in is an around the calendar program (we have classes in the summer, in other words).  I actually get a break.

And what am I doing with this break?  Well my plan is to work (obviously), study (so it’s easier the second time), and fix up my house so I can sell it.   I worked my last regular shift in December, celebrated Christmas in Indiana, and then we went on an 8 day trip to Iowa (including 2 travel days) to celebrate Christmas with our family and friends there.  That was a really great time. We got to do a white elephant gift exchange with my Iowa family, spend a few days playing games with them and just hanging out, and then we spent a few days with my best friend and his family.  I got him a few, small Christmas and birthday gifts, and he got me something too (which I wasn’t expecting).  He got me a set of targets that have bags of explosive powder attached so that when you hit the target, there’s an explosion (kind of like this, but not as dramatic.

On Thursday we took the targets to a local shooting place (i.e. some guy’s soybean field) and got the targets ready. The first thing you do is mix these two powders together,which the packaging stated made us “explosives manufacturers” according to the law, so if we blew our legs off, they would not be liable for giving us explosives because WE were the ones who manufactured them. Whatever. We set up the targets and only one of the eight actually exploded. It was worth it, though.

We said goodbye to Iowa and came home. And I think we brought the Iowa temperatures with us.

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You LOSE! Good Day Sir!

I have been going to school since 1979 when my mom took me to kindergarten. I spent all those years in elementary school, junior high, high school, then four years of Bible college, three years of seminary, then I took a few classes each semester because I was having difficulty finding a church so that I could start working on pre-med. While I was doing that, I found a church to pastor, so I switched over to nursing school, which I would use to supplement my pastoral salary. I graduated from nursing school in 2005, and had a three year hiatus where I was not taking any classes at all. Then I started taking classes to finish out my BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing), which I finished in 2012. Then my MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) program began the very next month. I have been in that program ever since. All of this means that aside from the three years after I became an RN, I have been constantly enrolled for the past 35 years.

Suffice it to say I am sick of school.

I have really looking forward to finishing this MSN program. I have told people, “As soon as I finish this program, I am never going back to school again!” My instructors have tried to get me interested in getting my doctorate (either a DNP “Doctor of Nursing Practice” or a Ph.D), but up to this point I remain firm that this degree will be my last. I will walk across the stage wearing that stupid square hat one more time, and one more time alone.

I told someone last month that I was glad it was getting cold, because that meant that the next time it gets warm (next spring), I will be almost ready to graduate for the last time.

God works in mysterious ways.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

All that to say that I received notice on Saturday that I did not pass my class this semester. I was shocked, because I knew that before the final exam my grade in the class was 93%. I studied as much as I could given my busy schedule (working and doing clinical hours) for 60 hours a week for the past two months, and when the time came, I took the final exam. I knew I did not do well on the exam, and my final grade on the exam was 74%. That’s a C, people. But in graduate school, anything less than a B is failing. So I “failed” the final exam.

This is a summary of the phone call Saturday night.

But, I factored the test in with the rest of my grades and found that it only brought my average down to 91%, which is an A minus. But that’s not the end of the story.

Evidently this semester my school instituted a policy that states if a student does not get an 84% average in their test and quiz score for the class, then the rest of the stuff they did for the class isn’t counted, and their test/quiz average is their final grade. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but there it is. So my 74% on the final exam made my test/quiz average….83.4%.

Yes, that’s right folks. If I had another 0.6% I would have passed. That means if I had just gotten ONE MORE TEST QUESTION correct, I would have had an 84% average on the test/quiz grade, and I would have had that A minus.

My reaction when told I didn't pass.

My reaction when told I didn’t pass.

But I didn’t. And so now I have to come to terms with the fact that, for the first time in my life, I have failed a class. The fact that my overall grade in this “failed class” is 91% does not make me feel better, because I still have to sit out of school for the next eight months, waiting for the next opportunity to take this class, which starts September 2015. This pushes my graduation date back to May 7, 2016.

I was ready to be done with school. Now I am more ready than ever, but unable to stop any time soon. I will simply keep trusting in God that He knows what is best for me, and push forward in faith.

I plan to study my textbooks from the past several classes to make sure that I know this stuff forwards and backwards. Maybe this is God’s way of helping me pass my board exam the first time, and making me a better nurse practitioner in the long run. In any case, I bow to His wisdom and will continue to trust in Him to guide and direct my steps.

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