How’s your faith these days?

Ephesians 6:10-20 (New International Version)

The Armor of God

 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

What are we doing?

Do you ever look at your life and wonder what the heck you’re up to? 

I’ve been doing that a lot lately. 

I mean, overall I think life is good – but every so often reality raises its ugly head and looks you in the eye, and then what are you supposed to do?  These last few weeks have been a little introspective for me; perhaps Grandpa’s passing spurred it, or maybe it was just time.

What is the point?  Of life, I mean?  We’ve definitely made some interesting choices.  Choices that in a lot of ways have cost us a lot, and in other ways have given us much.  But sometimes I wonder where we would be if different choices had been made.

If we didn’t own the store, would we still be working over 100 hours a week, barely meeting our own bills, dealing with each emergency expense by the seat of our pants?  Would we (one or both) have a “real” job, a steady income, benefits, a less insane work schedule – or would we now be laid off with nothing?

Sometimes I feel like I’m swimming backwards.  When do we start to stand on our own two feet?  Right now, without parents to help with the bills, we’d be screwed.  That’s not a cool place to be.  How will this affect our retirement, and our lives down the road?  What would God have us do, if indeed there is a path we are to walk?  When does life on the edge become obscene instead of adventure, irresponsible instead of hopeful?  How can we possibly make a valiant effort to live within our means when our means are almost non-existent and change every month?  When do we look at life and say “it’s not working, we have to figure something else out?” 

Why do I care all of a sudden?  Are we doing what we’re supposed to do, or are we just doing because we don’t know what else to do?

The Passing of Time, and Life Goes On.

Yep, it has officially been … at LEAST forever …. since I posted anything.  I don’t know that that’s healthy for me – I don’t have a lot of outlets for pretty much anything at the moment, and blogging at least makes me slow down for a bit.

It’s pretty amazing to me the speed that life can reach.  I feel like all of last year was a strange combo of being in a meat grinder on fast forward.  I’ve told a couple of people lately that life has handed me my ass on a rusty platter, and I think that about sums it up.  It’s been a very VERY tough stretch (and we’re nowhere near out of it yet), but there have definitely been some truly high points among the days.

For one, Ben is fast approaching 3 years old.  THREE FREAKIN’ YEARS OLD.  Where the Hockey Sticks has the time gone?  But BOY is it fun.  He’s in to everything.  Exploring and learning new (and complicated) words every day, slowly learning to master his emotions (he’s quite emotional, actually – and I’m still deciding if it’s a good thing or not), and seeing the wonder in every day life that I have seemed to have lost.

Having Ben around 24/7 has been a unique challenge.  Janene pretty much lives at the store trying to keep that afloat, and with my parents taking care of Grandpa Ed (before he passed) and Grandma Esther, they haven’t been able to watch Ben like they used to.  Interestingly enough, I’ve learned quite a lot about myself – and definitely not all of it happy.  But that’s what change is supposed to be for – find the things that suck and turn ’em on their heads.  We’ll see how that goes.

Janene and I have been married 6.5ish years now.  We’ve been together almost 11.  11 years.  That’s seriously crazy – makes me feel old.  I think, despite all the stress and crap of the last year, and everything we’re dealing with – and how rarely we truly SEE each other – that our relationship is doing amazingly well.  She puts up with a lot, let me say.  In looking back, there’s certainly things I would change – but more that I wouldn’t.

Ok.  Enough of this looking back crap for now.  If anybody actual reads this (doubtful) you’re now caught up.  Maybe I’ll post again sometime, something besides boring.

Times of Change

Life certainly has been crazy this last year. I can’t believe Benjamin is already over 10 months old; that’s just crazy talk! But he is, and he is absolutely – as the cliche goes – the light of our life. Also a bit of a terrifying thing, since I can’t imagine it’ll be long before he’s all out walking…

So let’s see. Where are we now?

Janene has quit her job at Children’s Hospital in order to be home full time, work at The Weed Patch, and get back into her art. Everybody is benefiting from this (have you SEEN the dinners I’ve been eating? Holy crap!) in so many ways. What finally made this all possible was several big, long term contracts coming through for Chris, including working for a friend doing design and development work on a “as much time as I can” basis. This means I get to learn all kinds of new things, from getting much deeper in to css than I ever was able, to .NET, .php, Actionscript, Javascript, Silverlight… for anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about – pretty cool stuff (there, wasn’t that helpful, and deep?).

We’ve purchased a house in Everett, and while our hearts belong in the farmlands of Snohomish, the house is a really incredible gift from God. We’re in the process of finishing the basement, which will become my office and Janene’s art studio – not to mention one of the nicest rooms of the house. 🙂

It’s interesting, but since I’ve stepped away from the store I’ve found my brain working overtime on thought processing again. The Weed Patch is far more than a full time passion and job, and it left (apparently) very little room in my tiny brain for deep thoughts. And it certainly didn’t leave any time for me to gather what thoughts I did have. And, as my close friend Holly mentioned in her blog, I’m finding myself thinking again. Very strange. So, maybe – just maybe, I’ll actually revamp my page and blog again. I have a billion photos to upload, which I’m going to manage and do via Lightroom, so hopefully those’ll come sooner rather than later, but no promises.

Here’s my thought for the day: Slow Down.

Mad World.

So for my first blog post in almost a year… I’ve very much been enjoying Gary Jules’ version of Mad World (Video) – I really like how haunting this version is. Particularly paired with the visuals of Gears of War (regular / extended). However, from just a totally bizarre standpoint, here it is in techno version – complete with breakdancing animals. Yeah, I laughed – hard.

store, exhausted, family reunion

I’m so weary. My body aches, my energy is drained, I’m not sleeping well, and I just can’t seem to move over this bump in the road.
It has been quite some time since I did ANYTHING online, much less my personal site. The store has kept me extremely busy – more so even than normal due to all our big expansion items. Things are “coming along,” as I’ve started saying. There’s still a lot of finish work that hasn’t yet happened, but things are mostly functional. It will be very nice to get things finished up, though – if nothing else to have them off my plate.
Hopefully that will help reduce my stress load some, and also hopefully maybe I’ll be able to catch up on sleep. Or, since that’s technically not possible, I’l be able to sleep enough to be rested.
The Johnson family reunion is this coming weekened – just a few days away. It’ll be over in Toppenish again this year, where we gbot married. Should be a blast – I really love Janene’s entire family. Gonna be hot, though – predicts highs near 90. Hopefully there’ll be a nice breeze. Janene and I are planning on camping again, out on the lawn under the big Willow tree, assuming it’s still there. I’m not taking ANYTHING – other than my digital rebel – that’s work related. I need to get some good “country” style scenery, and there’s a bunch there (and on the way!).
Anyway, bottom line: The store is doing very well, and we’re exhausted. Janene’s doing a bunch of art stuff, on top of everything else. I’m working on Jon’s website for Jewelry Resource & Supply, as well as a print catalog for him. I’m in the midst of redoing the store website as well, in addition to writing our newsletter and all the other things that must continue at the store.
And with that, good night!

Happy Birthday, America!

Today is the 4th of July – the holiday celebrating America’s Independance. I’d just like to take a moment and recognize those men and women who have, from times past to times future, stepped up to the plate and sacrified to protect our way of life here in the great USA. Whether the sacrifice is time or more substantial, I cannot express enough how much I appreciate everything that they do.
So thanks, to all of you who have served so selflessly. Spouses, significant others, parents and kids, friends and family – you too.
I, at least, salute you today.

a REALLY boring entry.

Wow – it’s WARM today. It’s a beautiful, rainy day – and it’s gotta go and be all warm. Why is that? I don’t like muggy – everything sticks to everything else, it’s uncomfortable and gross, the air is thick and hard to breath… ugh.

You know, it’s really an interesting thing to have a store. To have to deal with all the bills, marketing, business decisions, partnerships – there’s so many things to get done it’s just mind boggling – and a WHOLE lotta fun.

Just had to throw that in.

So today I put up my dad’s blog for him – on – there’s nothing there yet, and we’ll see just how long it takes to get stuff up. He’s absolutely swamped. But he keeps sending emails with fun links and things, so I told him he should just use blogger. I mean, I do. Sometimes. Yeah.

It’s too muggy to think.

Sporadic is better than nothing….

What a ride the last few weeks have been. We’ve moved – finally got out of our apartment in Northgate at the very end of April (geez…don’t EVEN get me started!). Janene went out of town to California for her annual World at Work Conference. I remodeled the store (with the help of a contractor), so we’re now twice the size – and it looks really freakin’ cool. We’ve added tons of product (and there’s so much more on the way!), and people seem really happy.

The Country Village Merchants Association (CVMA) is up and running – the board (of which I am a part) meets once a week, and we’re really starting to get things rolling, even if it IS a little tough to gain momentum. We’ve got ALL kinds of projects on our plate that are just gonna be insane – but insanely cool, too.

Our house is starting to come together – this weekend we’ve done a bunch of unpacking and organizing, as a start. There’s still a whole bunch left to do, and then the fun starts as we actually get to make it a home and decorate and such.

We’ve moved Jon and Alia to their new place up north (by Mill Creek), and attended Jon’s Grand Opening at Jewelry Resource Supply – his store down in Fremont.

We’ve hired Holly Moe to do our books for the store, so that I don’t have to try to keep up with that. I’m SO excited – I HATE bookwork, and I never have time to keep up with it (or, if I did that, I’d never have time to do anything else…)

The next big projects that are coming up are also really big. We’re fencing in the back patio and putting tons of plants out there, as well as a seating area for the guys. We’re rebuilding the counter and rearranging the upper level of the store, and adding several pieces to the counter area. I will be finishing up the website and getting the ecommerce side of things working, as well as getting a photo gallery and perhaps a forum up. I need to finish Jon’s site, and get his import utility figured out so that he can import products directly from his existing Point of Sale software. I am working on a website for Country Pleasures Magazine, and need to finish that immediately (it’s coming, guys – I promise!). I need to get some pieces working for Janene as she starts prepping her site to sell her art and supplies.

There’s more, but oh well.

This coming Wednesday, the 31st, we’re going to see Les Miserables at the 5th Avenue Theater – I’m very excited, and I THINK Janene’s excited…. It’ll be a REAL LIVE date night, one where we’re not sitting here at home doing whatever – although that’s usually nice, too.

Ok. We’re off to meet my parent’s for breakfast at The Hub here in Snohomish, and then we’ve got massive things to do today. But that’s ok – that’s how it goes! 🙂 Soon we’ll be moved in and unpacked, there will be places for people to sit and relax and eat, and life will be good.

Almost There….

But not quite. We’re finally, as of like 8pm last night, out of our apartment in Northgate. One things off the overfilled plate, but now we actually have to find a place for all that crap – get it organized, garage sale a bunch of it, get it moved in and put away… That’s gonna be a huge project.I know it’s been a long time since I updated – particularly since I want to do it regularly – but holy crap, there’s been so much going on. Bob, I’ll try not to slack so much any more. 🙂

Got a newly formed Merchant’s Assocation at Country Village, which is a lot of work but I think will be a really great thing, once we get it rolling and gain some momentum. I’ve been elected to serve on the first board, which is fun; lots of responsibility and all, but fun too. We’re looking forward to making a lot of good, positive changes.

The house is still awesome – in fact, it’s REALLY awesome. Except for the drunk sing-alongs down at the FOE building and the bar that seem to go all night friday nights. Those kinda suck. But, on the plus side, they ARE funny!

Janene leaves town on Sunday morning for her trip to Cali for her World at Work Conference, which means I’ll be working STUPID insane hours at the store trying to get the expansion going. We’ve got SO many cool new things, and it’s gonna kick some serious donkey once we’re done – but getting there is gonna hurt.

In other VERY exciting news, Bob and Grahame are pregnant again! Fiona is going to be an older sister! We just got the news late last night, but it’s very exciting – congratulations you guys!!!!!! 🙂

Ok. Back to paying bills, so that they’re at least caught up!

The Commuting Experiment, Day Three

We left about the same time as yesterday – unfortunately, I had forgotten that we DESPERATELY needed gas in the Cruiser, which threw a bit of a wrench in things. Enough so that Janene totally missed her bus – and since she had to leave work at 3:30 this afternoon to get up to Kenmore in enough time to get home before people showed up at our house, I took her in because a) it was my fault, b) it really helped her out, and c) it was an unusual day, time-wise.
It’s looking pretty much like tomorrow we’ll be working from home, as Janene has a “nasty” survey that she must get done by day’s end and she’ll (I think) be less distracted here than at the office. Which means that a) I won’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn, and b) I won’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn.
Tonight Grandma Cec and Grandpa Harry came out to see the house with my parents, and then we all went up to the Country Club in Mill Creek for dinner – which was, of course, excellent.
Now we’re home – Janene’s in bed reading and falling asleep, and I’m blogging when I should be trying to get her stuff for tomorrow working. Problem being that I need to call IT at Children’s Hospital to get the token up and running, so that she can tunnel in.
And if you don’t know what any of that means, it probably looks really funny!
Anyway, I can’t believe how tired I am at 10:15 – something about shifting my hours all to earlier to bed, earlier to rise. So far I’m tired and poor, and not healthy / wealthy / or particularly wise. If I was wise I’d be in bed right now, instead of writing this amazingly stupid blog entry.
Ho Hum.