Friday, October 28, 2011

A Mere Mortals Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

It certainly is interesting times that we live in.  Sometimes, when I talk with my Dad, he mentions that what is occurring right now seems similar to the late 1960's to early 1970's.  Given that I have noticed so many landmark historical local and global events and protests, I decided that I should write down my thoughts about them, namely, Occupy Wall Street (OWS).  I believe that the philosophies, ideologies, and sentiments that are occurring right now in our own country and around the world are fixing to radically change the world.  I don't know how, or in what direction, if it all, but I think I should write down my thoughts, so that when my kids look back in history about the social unrest that is occurring in our day, I can give them my thoughts as it was occurring.

A brief history leading up to the start of the OWS protests on Sept 17, 2011, which has now spread across the country and the globe includes revolution sentiment stemming from the middle east in the recent overthrows of Egypt, Libya and other countries.  Add that middle east sentiment of anger at corrupt governments, to the collapse and sustained depression of the US economy with a corrupt government that no one trusts...and we arrive at a perfect storm.  A perfect storm and a perfect opportunity for a large scale protest, largely organized by people in positions of power and influence in our country that idolize the recent overthrows in the middle east.  Oh and even as I say "largely organized" I understand that some will still contend this is grass-roots sentiment.  The jury is still out on that one based on your political ideological position.  So what is the big deal about this protest?  Why would I take time to comment on it? What is it all about?  Many different answers are out there but here's what I see and hear.

First of all, there seems to be a sentiment of hatred towards corporations and the profits they make.  The argument is maintained by signs that explain the top 1% of America is neglecting the other 99% of Americans.  Essentially, this appears to me to be a "collective" argument.  That the wealthy are not paying their fair share into the system for everyone to benefit and because they are wealthy they are obligated to prop up others.  Now understandably, in recent American economic history, I can understand the disgust towards some of these financial corporations, because many of them were crooks and did take advantage of the disenfranchised.  But this argument does not excuse hatred towards the top 1%.  Also, the "collectivism" argument has led many in recent days to discuss the question "would Jesus approve of the protest?" citing individual scripture that lend support to social justice.  There are also other reasons that people are protesting like proposed cuts of government pension plans, etc.

So what do I think?  I think these protests are interesting and I think if they continue and gain momentum, they could potentially change our country and the globe forever.  But, I have to say, I don't necessarily agree with or support the protestors.  Many of you will shut down right now and say "He's just a heartless conservative who doesn't care about people!" But let me explain my thoughts.  First of all, if you live in America, you are already in the top 2-3% of the world's wealth.  In fact, in an article recently published in the Washington Post, the poorest American is still in the 62 percentile globally.  In other words the poorest American is till better off than nearly 2/3 of the world.  So I don't think the "99%" are suffering.  Are their disparities? Sure.  Has the history of man ever been fair? No.  Do I believe that we should help those in need and take care of the poor?  Absolutely.  Especially as a follower of Christ. We'll get to that in a minute.  Another problem I have with this is that fact that the people essentially want the government to "fix" the disparity through taxation.  When you look at the tax brackets in the IRS tax booklets the wealthy are already paying a higher percentage.  But the answer, if social justice is the goal, should still not be to have the government steal your money and decide how to use it.  I don't trust politicians or government agencies to actually take care of the "99%" effectively.  It can't do it.  That is not the role of government from a biblical perspective.  We've all been complaining about government waste, so is the answer give more money to wasteful people?  Would you continue to give toilet paper to child who just kept flushing it for no reason?  Also, I think that government is currently in support of these protest because they know that if it is successful they will have much much more power to wield.  And they will have the consent of the people to wield it.  The final disagreement I have with this protest dovetails on the taxation issue.  My wife and I, because we are follower's of Christ, already impose a "self tax" to support the homeless/needy in our community, country, and globe.  So we are doing our part actively.  I hope those protesting are doing the same things.  It is one thing to support and chant for social justice and collectivism, it is quite another to actually do it and help.  I'd rather be a champion of actuality versus a champion of rhetoric.  PS if you're rich and want to pay more taxes...you can!  You can donate money to the IRS/US treasury.

Now, I've also seen the epic battle arise trying to answer the question "Would Jesus support the protesters?"  And of course there is an answer for both sides of the ideological coin.  Stated simply, the question becomes "Is Jesus a liberal or conservative?"  What a heinous, self absorbed question.  Do we actually think that we can align the Almighty God with our political ideology.  If you are a Christian and have used this argument for political affirmation, then shame on you.  You know what this shows us?  We have an idol...called ideology and we want to fit God into our way.  The answer to this question is simple.  No!  Jesus is neither a conservative or a liberal.  He is the Son of God made man to provide redemption for a fallen, undeserving people out of God's infinite mercy.  Period.  So I don't know if Jesus would support this protest or not.  Clearly, God has a heart for the poor (Ps 113:7, 140:12) and clearly Jesus taught to take care of the poor around you (Mt 19:21, Lk 14:13) especially for a true follower of Christ.  But scripture also teaches against slothfulness and laziness (Prov 10:4).  It even goes so far as to say that if you do not work, you shall not eat (2 Thess 3:10, 1 Thess 4:11).  Scripture teaches we are to respect the officials over us because they have been placed by God (1 Peter 1:13-17).  Is the rhetoric of the protesters in which they actively attack and berate police officers character of respect?  Is the language they are using respectful (Eph 4:29)?  That is why Jesus can't fit into this box.  He transcends the box and in doing so points to our selfish depravity (Sorry Maslow, we are not inherently good beings).  Jesus and the Gospel is the great balance.

It comes down to this.  I think the crux of this protest is greed.  Greed all the way around.  Greed from the top 1% and greed from the 99% that don't have what the top 1% has.  Greed and pride are the motivators.  We are seeing right now the effect of a people who exchange the truth of God for a lie, and think the State is god, but we don't know the outcome yet.  All I know is that every "successful social revolution" has ended in mass murder and tyranny.  Just look at the French, Russian, Chinese revolutions or the rise of the Nazi party coming out of the Weimar republic in Germany.  Even the recent revolutions in the middle east!  There is no free republic that has emerged yet and I doubt we will.  We will wait and see what the world looks like when all of this is said and done.  In the meantime I will continue to love Jesus and obey his commands.

 

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's Blogiversary Time!

It's been a full year since we started blogging! The date is easy to remember since I started posting when I turned 25 years old - and yup, I am now a entire year older and had my 26th birthday yesterday! My how time flies!

So what have we managed to accomplish in one year? 

  • 121 Posts (so about 10/month)
  • 32,548 Page Views (!!!!!!)
  • 37 Blog Followers 
  • 54 Feed Subscribers 
  • 15 of the Original 30 Day Blogging Challenge Posts completed.... 

How Blogging has changed Jason and Me:

  • I feel like I have to blog about everything we do - or else it will be forgotten and it's like we never did it...This is the reason why I constantly feel like I am behind by approx. 15 posts. 
  • Jason loves to check our blog stats :) 
  • We get really excited when someone tells us that they read one of our posts! :) 
  • We want to think of cool projects to do so we can "blog" about them 
  • I'm actually going to be held responsible for my News Years Resolutions, because they are posted on the blog. 
  • Whenever I cook something that hasn't already been blogged about, I feel the need to take photos for a blog post. 
  • I have much more respect for my favorite bloggers - I mean HOW do they post SO OFTEN!?!
  • We take photos so we can put them on the blog 
  • We take videos so we can put them on the blog 
  • You get the idea....
In Honor of our Blogiversary, I'm going to do something I have never done before..post every day for an entire week! Get Ready for Blogiversary Time!!!!! 

Thanks for Reading!!!! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to Make A Rustic Fall Wooden Wheelbarrow

Well, it's Fall Y'all!  And such a wonderful time of year it is because the blazing heat of the summer is subsiding for cooler temps.  Fall is probably one of my favorite seasons...the crispness of the cool air, bonfires, county fairs, tasty apple and pumpkin treats from the kitchen (which I'm sure that Laura will tell you about in the near future), and of course outdoor fall decor!  Last year we showed y'all some ideas we had for indoor fall decor, well this year we wanted to take y'all outside for some great outdoor ideas to create that warm inviting fall entry way.

I had the idea for an outdoor fall mini-display, but I was trying to figure out a unique and rustic way to do it so that it didn't look like pre-made things from China were just stuck in the front of our house.  I wanted something with character.  So, since fall is kind of indicative of harvest time, I thought to myself, "Self...what if I make a wooden wheelbarrow to put some fallish things inside so that way I can contain the decor design and create an outdoor space."  Fortunately myself agreed.  The problem I was running into was that everything I found online was like new designs and I really wanted something rustic.  The online plans were not satisfying my mental plan so I decided to design me own.  The first step was finding some wood.  I called some lumber yards to see if they carried re-claimed wood, but no one carried it in Augusta.  So after a trip to Lowe's with my creative juices flowing, I found all of my supplies and got to work.  The following is a description of what I did with step by step pictures so you can capture a quaint rustic harvest at your porch.

Supplies: 2 pieces of cedar split rail fencing (found in the outdoor section of Lowe's), 4 rough cut fence slats (also found in the outdoor section of Lowe's), an 8 foot pressure treated 2x2, an oak dowel rod (either 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch diameter), 1 steel wheel with a 12" diameter (you may not be able to find one in town so I had to order mine from this website), 1 box of 4D 1 and 3/8" long, 10 2 and 1/4" wood screws, a box of 1 and 1/2" wood screws, and some wood glue.


Step 1: The "A" Frame
So to start, you will need to make the frame for the bucket portion to sit on.  This is where the split rail cedar fencing comes in.  Look at your split rail to determine a good piece to cut 2 pieces that are 44" long.  The cool thing about split rail is that it looks really rough cut but usually at least one side is fairly flat.  Split rail fencing also already has a pre-cut notch where the rail is supposed to go in the fence post.  I made sure those ends lined up at the front so there was a good area to mount the wheel to eventually.  So after you cut your to pieces to serve as the main beams, it is time to make the "A" frame.  I did this by deciding on a 10 degree pitch from the midline of beams.  Next, you have to cut your cross beams out of the split rail cedar.  I decided to put my first cross beam 13" from the front tip of the foundation beams.  This allowed me to have enough room for the wheel and the slight 10 degree pitch of the bucket.  So since the first cross beam is 13" from the front, that meant that the length of the cross beam was 9".  Measure out 9" on the split rail and the cut each end at the 10 degree angle.  Remember...the front edge will be 9" and the back edge will be longer due to the 10 degree angle!!  Next, cut the second cross bar.  I placed my second cross bar 22" from the rear of the first cross bar.  This made the front edge length of the second cross bar 15 and 1/2" with a 10 degree angle cut on both sides.  Next place the pieces out and just fit them together to see the fit.  When you're satisfied with the fit, drill pilot holes from the side into the cross beams and the drive the 2 and 1/4" screws through.  I used 3 screws per cross bar.  2 on one side and 1 on the other.  In the pictures you can see how I try to line up the flat surfaces of the split rail to make a smooth top to attach the bucket.


Step 2: The Bucket Base
After I completed the "A" frame, I measured across the entire length of where the first cross beam was attached.  That was 12 and 1/2".  That was the front edge length of my first base piece which was cut out of the rough cut fence slats.  Disclaimer...where work gloves and save your fingers.  I learned this the hard way! Splinters = no fun.  Anyway, so the first base piece front edge is measured at 12 and 1/2" and is cut with a 10 degree angle outwards on both sides to follow the angle of the A frame.  The rest is easy.  You use the back edge of the first piece as the measure of the front edge of the next piece so you don't even really have to measure. After 4 slats have been made, use the nails and just nail them straight into the A frame to create the base.  That part was easy!


Step 3: The Bucket Side Panels
Now comes the tricky part.  Making the actual bucket.  To start, I made six 10" high pylons with a 10 degree cut on the bottom and a 45 degree cut at the top to taper it down.  Then I did some test fittings to determine that the pylons must be place 3/4"off the edge of the base all the way around to allow space for the side panels.  So I measured 3/4" all the way around the base and drew a line using my long level.  After that I placed the pylons where I thought they needed to be, drilled some pilot holes, and drove 2 of the the 1 and 1/2" wood screws through each of the pylons into the base.  Finally, I added some wood glue to the joints for extra strength and stability (let it completely dry before moving on.)


Now I had to create the panels.  This took me awhile to figure out, but it will be easy for you because I can tell you exactly how you need to cut the wood.  The math is done.  You're welcome.  Since the A frame is at 10 degrees and the pylons are angling out at 10 degrees, you must use a compound angle cut.  Now if you have a table saw or power miter saw it will be a piece of cake.  If you have a circular saw it will require a few more line measures but it is still pretty easy. (I did it both ways trying to crack the code).  Here's what you need to know.  The side base panels will each (left and right) be 21 and 1/2" long at the bottom (where the panel will meet the base).  From that mark you will have to cut a compound angle of 10 degrees and 40 degrees.  You must do this because the bucket is basically going to be a like a pyramid and if you don't the joints won't quite line up.  Which even if it doesn't, it doesn't really matter, because this is all rough cut wood for a rustic feel!!  So the base front panel then is 11" long with the same 10 and 40 degree compound cuts.  This means that you turn your miter saw to 10 degrees at the base and then tilt the actual saw blade at 40 degrees.  You'll see in a picture.  The good news is you only need to cut the base side panels and then you can use the same copy over method as described in making the base.  Once the pieces are cut, place them to see how they fit, then just nail them into the pylons.


Step 4: The Wheel and Feet
Now the hard part is over and you're almost done!  You just have to attach your wheel.  Use a 1/2" or 5/8" spade bit depending on the diameter of wooden dowel rod you got.  I gave you two options because the inner diameter of the steel wheel is 5/8" but mine had some soldering bulges so I had to use a 1/2" rod to make sure it would go through and still turn.  Drill the hole for dowel rod straight through both front ends using the spade bit. Then cut the a piece of dowel rod to 9".  Push it through the beams and the wheel till the rod runs all the way through everything.  I anchored the wheel in the middle using to little screws that I drove into the rod at the edge of the wheel axle on both sides to create a boundary so the wheel doesn't go everywhere.  Finally, add a little bit of glue to the dowel rod joints to reinforce it.  Last step is cut some of the remaining cedar split rail fencing into 2 pieces that are each 12 and 1/2 long.  Place them just under the bucket and just in front of the back cross bar on the bottom.  Drill some pilot holes and then drive 2 of the 2 and 1/4" screws through them into the main beams.  Add a little glue to reinforce them and let it dry.


Ta-Daa!! You've finished a very rustic wooden wheelbarrow!  Congratulations!  Now you can fill it with whatever kinds of fallish things you would like.  Laura and I used hay, mums, and pumpkins.  This created a very harvest rustic/welcoming fall porch!  And it's pretty affordable too.  The cost of the all the material was around $50.00 and all of the fall foliage was about $50.00.


Let me know what you think and if you have any questions feel free to post and I will answer them!

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Best Friend's Wedding - Amy and Justin Get Hitched!

Amy, my best friend from way back in High School got hitched way back in August. I'm glad I am just now getting to blog about it, because now I get to include some of her amazing professional photos! Her wedding was absolutely beautiful and very "Amy & Justin" in every way. Here's a recap of the day (and day before...)


DAY BEFORE WEDDING

After our Bachelorette Adventures in Breckenridge (that I already wrote about), Colleen, Amy, and I headed drove back to Denver to drop Colleen off at the airport. Sadly, due to her job as a Meteorologist in Dallas, she had to head home to be back on Saturday morning. The drive was absolutely beautiful!

Our first stop was Becca's house and where we took some pics in her garden outside.

The rest of the day was spent meeting up with people, getting ready for the rehearsal dinner, last minute wedding preparations, etc. At one point, we ended up grabbing lunch with Justin and Steven and Amy's parents at a cool place near their new apartment. 


That night we had the rehearsal for the ceremony at the venue (a really beautiful park in Denver). Here's Amy and Justin getting some instructions from their pastor.
 And the bridesmaids, Becca and Heidi, hanging out in the HOT sunshine!
 Me, Justin's sister Courtney, and MOH Katie 

 Aren't the garden's beautiful? 
Thank goodness Courtney took some photos of the rehearsal dinner - I have none! Thanks Courtney! The rehearsal was held at their church near the ceremony venue. We had delicious BBQ and enjoyed toasts, and an adorable slideshow full of  photos of Amy and Justin.

Cute little board with clothespins for us to write our advice to the Bride and Groom! 


 A special seat for the future Mr. and Mrs. Murphy! 
 Courtney set up this really cute photo collage with pics of Amy and Justin's engagement: 


 Our table - we spent lots of time preparing for our toasts! 
 Bride and Groom! :) 
That night, the Wedding Party got to hang out in downtown Denver before we all crashed at Becca's place and got our beauty rest for the next day!


 WEDDING DAY! 


On the wedding day, we all got up, had breakfast, and started working on the flowers and other last minute wedding items. Katie, Courtney, and I went with Amy to get her hair done and got lunch at Subway. together.

The rest of the day was a blur with getting ready and the wedding itself. Here are some of the beautiful photos that her photographer Lauren Perkins captured
 Helping the bride get ready... 
Getting her veil on was easier said than done!  




 The Beautiful Bride! 

Getting ready at the venue included setting out the aisle runner. 

Here are some photos from the ceremony. It was super hot and sunny, but also super beautiful! She got our adorable dresses from Ann Taylor on clearance and they only cost around $60!!! 



First Kiss!
Amy and Justin danced down the aisle = Super Cute! 
 Me and Steven (friend from college)
 All of us :)



 Awe! So happy to be a part of your Big Day Amy! :)

 Cute shoes...that goes for both of you...


 Best transportation to the reception I've seen yet!
 First Dance - I capture this on video and had to share!

Mother-Son dance, you can see me in the background faithfully catching all this for the blog!
Seriously, the BEST DJ ever! We partied hard that night and had a blast! 
Katie giving her MOH toast 
Best Best-Man speech I've heard in awhile, made everyone laugh...
Especially Amy and Justin (and Steven)
Here's the adorable flower girl and ring bearer a little tucker out...
Cutting the cake 
Having fun ;)



Getting Amy ready for the garter toss - with her hand-made garter
\
LOL!
And, the last dance, before...
Riding off into the sunset! 


We love you Amy and Justin! Congratulations and God Bless Your Marriage! We wish you many long and happy years ahead! 

Love, the Baaremans 

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