Don’t Be Deceived By The Sun

Hey people, let’s not deceive ourselves – it’s brutally cold out there!

My wife, Lily, opened the blinds this morning and was very cheery. “Ah, the sun is shining”, she said, as if that made everything alright.

She made her comment like she was ready to take a magazine out to the deck and catch some rays as she relaxed in a lawn chair.

“It’s minus 22 Celsius out there”, I said.

Lily’s rebuttal was that it reminded her of Edmonton winters where the sun was the consolation for surviving weeks on end of needing a balaclava when you stepped outside the front door of your home.

She went as far as saying she would rather have -20 C and sunny than -4 C and dreary.

Give me the dreary! If we have to go another week with these temperatures, I’ll be done with winter big time!

I’m not sure why Lily has been so hypnotized by the sun’s power, or it could have nothing to do with the sun at all.

It may have more to do with the old coat she rediscovered last night.

We went out for dinner and Lily decided to wear a fur coat – that’s right, it’s fur, and it’s probably seal too.

But don’t get too upset at her owning a fur coat. It’s a hand-me-down from my grandmother. I figure that coat is probably between 70 and 90 years old.

When I was just a kid, I remember my grandmother wearing it to church when she came to visit us on weekends. My brother, John, and I made sure we sat on either side of her during church.

Besides the little purple candies she would give us, it was really sitting beside that coat of hers that was the treat. It was, and still is, the softest coat you will ever touch. It’s unbelievable. We would snuggle right up to her just to feel that fur.

You can’t stop touching it.

But I digress. Maybe the reason Lily doesn’t mind the cold is that this coat is the warmest coat she’s ever put on. She didn’t care how long it took us to walk from the car to the restaurant; she was toasty.

… I, on the other hand, was freezing and couldn’t wait to get inside.

Maybe she thinks she is impervious to the cold with this coat, I don’t know.

All I’m saying is let’s not be deceived or brainwashed by the sunny days, thinking that it’s okay that we are living in temperatures that would make a polar bear want to travel south for a vacation.

We weren’t planning on taking a winter vacation but now I’m entertaining the idea … and the longer this cold snap – sun and all – stays with us, the more the price of the trip doesn’t matter to me.

Let’s just all agree on one thing: it is crazy cold out there, and there is nothing good about it.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes we can get fixated on one thing so that something else doesn’t seem to be that bad. Maybe you struggle with a certain sin but, instead of dealing with it, you look to something good you are doing as if that cancels out the sin. To God, sin is missing the mark and, no matter how close to the mark you are in another area, you’re still missing the mark. Deal with the sin in front of you. Don’t mask it, justify it, or ignore it; just confess it and turn from it.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you need to deal with? Leave your comments below.

Tempted With Files On My Desktop

The other day I wrote about cleaning up my computer desktop. Just a few days in, I’m already tempted to leave files on my home screen.

When I cleaned my desktop, it looked so good I just had to admire it for a while. I never wanted to leave another file on the screen again.

But a few days later, I find that my desktop is the natural, easiest place to put files.

For example, I had just downloaded a recording of my sermon from Sunday and it landed on my home screen. The recording needed editing before I could post it on the website. Naturally, I wanted it right in front of me to remind me I needed to do that.

Fortunately I had time right away, did my editing and then posted it to our site.

But then I had two files on my desktop – the unedited version and the one that was posted. I could have trashed the original download, but I thought I’d keep it just in case, while the edited version needed to be uploaded to an external hard drive for storing.

That involved another step which I wasn’t sure I wanted to do right then.

But as I looked at my clean screen, I didn’t want it to be blemished so I quickly put the file where it was to go and trashed the original.

My desktop was pristine again.

But for how long? How long will it be before I’m in a hurry or won’t know where to put a file or folder, defaulting to let it just sit on my desktop?

And when one things sits there, soon there will be more. The more there are, the harder it is to clear that screen.

It’s like the episode of the “I Love Lucy” show where Lucy was working on an assembly line in a chocolate factory. Her job was to move chocolates from a conveyor belt into boxes.

The machine started off slowly, but quickly sped up. The chocolates started coming too fast for Lucy. She was frantic and tried different tactics to keep up.

She first put her arm down on the conveyor belt to pile the chocolates up but that just made a mess. Then she started to dump them into her apron to clear the conveyor belt and catch up.  And then she started to eat the chocolates.

In the end, she was doing everything. She had chocolates backed up, her mouth was full of them, she had chocolate all over her face and her apron was overflowing.

What a mess!

It was an chaotic scene. … But that’s also how my desktop gets filled back up.

I love how it looks right now. But I just know the conveyor belt is going to speed up with all those files.

Here’s the thing: Sin works like that in our lives. When we sin once, it’s easy to confess it before God. But sometimes we sin and are not prepared to confess it, often because we are ashamed or still upset. So the sin remains. Then we sin in another area and let that go as well – more unconfessed sin. Pretty soon we are looking like a scene out of “I love Lucy” but with our sin instead of chocolate. Keep short accounts of your sins; deal with each one right away. Don’t let sin build up in your life and hinder your relationship with God.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you do to keep your desktop clear, or your soul right with God? Leave your comments below.

I Just Renewed My Muscles

I finally have some life back in my muscles. I am feeling better than I have in a long time on the ice.

It’s sort of like Popeye in reverse. Remember that cartoon character? Popeye would get beaten down, usually by Brutus, and just when it looked like Brutus would finish him off, Popeye would say, “That’s all I can stands; I can’t stands no more.”

Then he would pull a can of spinach – yes, a can of spinach – right out of his shirt.

It’s only through the magic of television that he could hide that spinach there.

But once he ate that spinach, he got new strength and “he was strong to the finish cause he ate his spinach. He’s Popeye the sailer man (toot toot)” … You have to see the cartoon.

I did the opposite. I didn’t eat anything to give me renewed strength; I cut something out.

Back in November, I wrote a post about how my muscles were really giving me some pain when I played hockey. I was trying to figure out what was causing it – maybe medication, maybe my heart, maybe sugar. You can read that post here.

I decided to try cutting out sugar … well, not cut it out entirely; we were just about to head into the Christmas season.

My plan was to reduce sugar by cutting out snacks and junk food.

It’s been two months, and I said I would report back on this topic. This is what I discovered …

I dropped some weight over these two months – about eight pounds to be exact – and I didn’t do anything other than reduce my sugar intake.

Yes, I still have my hot wings and a can of Dr. Pepper on Saturday nights, but that’s pretty much the only time I have pop or fried food all week. … I’ve tried to cut out french fries as much as possible.

I purposely didn’t try to exercise any more than I had, so the weight loss is due solely to the diet change.

Here is something else: I feel good. I actually want to remember how I feel right now because that might keep me going when I get tempted to get back into sugar.

The other thing that seems to have changed is my hockey playing. I was experiencing muscle pain and fatigue in a huge way. That pain and fatigue is gone.

Now, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not ingesting sugar like I was or if it has to do with me having a few less pounds to carry around on my skates.

But I will take that mystery and live with it.

The last several times playing hockey have been a treat for me. I don’t feel like an old man out on the ice.

I feel more like Popeye – strong to the finish. I like how this feels, and it’s way better than the momentary enjoyment of a chocolate bar.

Here’s the thing: After you have confessed your sin, take a moment to think about how you feel, how close you feel to God, how grateful to God you are, how you want to please Him with your life. Then remember that feeling because you will be tempted to sin again. And when you’re tempted, remember how you feel pleasing God with your life. That may keep you from falling to sin again.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you need to add to or cut out of your life? Leave your comments below.

The Grass Is Not Greener Over There

We are having a pretty dry summer so far and that has good and bad side effects.

brown grass lawn

On the good side, there are not many days my outdoor activities get rained out.

I can get my golf game in and my mountain bike rides in without worrying if I’m picking the best weather days; most days of the week the sun is shining.

In the spring, when it was raining a lot, the soaked mountain biking trails would often be closed so we wouldn’t destroy them. Now if it rains, the trails are so dry that they suck up the rain and we never have to miss a day of biking.

Another good side is I don’t have to cut the grass that often. With the little rain we’ve had in the last month, my grass is not really growing; it’s turning brown … except for the part where they installed a fibre optics cable junction!

Last fall Bell Canada made a mess on my front lawn doing their installation. They finally re-sodded the little area this spring and have been faithful watering it ever since. That’s the only really green part of my lawn now.

… Which leads me to the downside of not having any rain. The grass doesn’t grow but the weeds are in fine form! They seem to be able to stay green and flourish under these drought-like conditions.

While I may not have to cut my grass every week, I still need to cut the weeds if I want to keep the lawn looking even.

So we’ve been thinking maybe we should look into putting a sprinkler system in our yard so that we can give the grass a fighting chance against the weeds. (One year we came home from vacation and our lawn looked completely brown except for thriving, foot high cactus-like weeds, spastically placed all over it!)

 

If we were getting a decent amount of rain, I’m sure we wouldn’t be looking into underground sprinklers at all. But in order for the weeds to not completely take over, we did a little investigation.

After we completed the online planning guide from one company, we looked at their end cost and started wondering if a green lawn was worth taking out a second mortgage on the house!

I’m leaning towards considering that brown is the new green.

We’ve already had to make adjustments like that. When they banned the use of chemical weed control in our city, dandelions became a beautiful yellow flower of spring.

Almost every home sports them and they’re cheap – you don’t have to buy them and they come up every year.

Maybe I just need to look at that brown grass and think of how nice it looks that way. Maybe I just have to ignore the green weeds.

For sure, I can embrace brown grass if it means more time in the sun and less interruptions from my outside activities.

Here’s the thing: You can get used to allowing a certain sin in your life. If you live with it long enough, you may even get to the place where you think it is perfectly fine. But don’t fool yourself! Grass is supposed to be green and you are to confess your sin and turn from it. There’s no other way of looking at it.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What in your life have you come to accept but instead should cut out? Leave your comments below.

That Project Left Me Feeling Incompetent

The project I worked on yesterday left me feeling fairly incompetent, until I watched a program that changed my mind altogether.

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I was replacing some wall sconces at our cottage … we had four, all the same, but Lily decided she wanted some more modern-looking ones.

She found the perfect fixtures and, a few weeks ago, I had the task of changing them.

The amazing thing was I didn’t get electrocuted!

Unfortunately, the new fixtures didn’t fit very well. I tried to modify the attachment plates but they still didn’t fit snugly to the wall. They didn’t look quite right but I ran out of time and left them.

Yesterday I took another stab at it, trying to find a better solution. I was just about to drill a couple of new holes to make it work, when I got another idea.

This idea involved a hacksaw and cutting through a metal plate.

Now, in the past I’ve had some issues with saws of various kinds. There was the time I was trimming off the bottom of a door and I made a nice starter cut at the base of my first finger on my left hand.

That manoeuvre sent me directly to the hospital. The doctors were amazed I didn’t cut a nerve. That finger still feels a little funny to the touch, however.

It wasn’t more than about six months later that I was trimming a panel for a sliding door in our basement. I was using a utility knife to slice the fine board, only I got slightly off course and sliced into myself.

And you can guess, it was my first finger on my left hand. This time it was at the top of the finger.

Well, that was all in the past because this time I didn’t cut anything … well, except the metal plates.

My problem this time was I kept doing things out of order and then would need to take everything all apart to put in a couple of forgotten screws or to trim some insulation.

I had four sconces and it wasn’t until the fourth one that I was able to do things in the right order without having to attach and unattach it from the wall two or three times.

Oh yah, I was able to complete the job unscathed but I still felt like never doing a home project again. I made so many mistakes, the time it took wasn’t worth it.

Feeling like I was done with home repairs from now on, I settled down to relax. Lily was watching some reality TV home show where contestants had to compete against each other, doing things on a construction site like manoeuvring a wheel barrel, hammering nails, painting panels.

After watching how pathetic those people were at doing their tasks, I was feeling like a professional!

I looked over at the wall to see my handiwork and thought the job looked great. I immediately forgot about my frustration and thought I could take on another project some time.

… Well, we’ll see.

Here’s the thing: When you find that sin has tripped you up, maybe for the umpteenth time, and you’re feeling pretty bad about it, with self talk like, “What’s the matter with me?”, remind yourself how God sees you. He does not see you as a failure who falls to sin; He sees you as a son or daughter whom He loves and picks back up after you fall down.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How do you rebound from being down on yourself? Leave your comments below.

I’ve Had Too May Birthdays – That’s Enough!

I guess you could say I’ve had a lot of birthdays – so many in fact, I can’t remember them all.

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I just had one the other day. This one I will remember – actually, I would like to forget it, but I’ll remember it because it’s one of those birthdays that ends in a zero.

The day before my birthday, I went mountain biking. I almost crashed into a tree, but instead grabbed it and scraped my arm a bit.

Someone asked me if I’m going to stop biking because of the injuries. I said, “No. I was in my 50’s when I crashed; now that I’m 60 my co-ordination and balance is way better!”

Most people were very nice to me on Facebook, wishing me a happy birthday. The odd person rubbed the age thing in a bit, but not too much.

The thing about it is, on the one hand, I’m proud that I reached a milestone like 60. I’m pretty pleased that at sixty I can still play hockey, ride my bike, and beat my son in golf.

But the downside of turning 60 is that it sounds so old. When I turned 40 or 50, those were ages that sounded like maturity. Even if I lacked a little at times, at least my age gave the appearance that I was a mature adult.

It’s different with 60. It just sounds like you’re an old man. Who cares if you’re mature? You’re old now and that’s all people think when you say, “sixty”.

They think, and may even ask, “Where are you keeping that cane?” “You driving a Buick yet?” “Did you hear me or do you have your hearing aid in?”

I know that by next year I will probably get used to being sixty, but right now it has a strange ring to it.

I hope things don’t start to change automatically at this age. Tonight my wife, Lily, took me out to dinner for my birthday. After dinner we went for a walk downtown and I could feel a little tightness in my hip.

… I’m hoping that was a result of my bike ride way back when I was in my 50’s, and not some age-inherent arthritis I was feeling.

As we walked, I did see a number of senior citizens who had some pretty significant limps. I was hoping I wasn’t fitting in with them.

They say you are only as old as you feel. I don’t feel that old … I certainly don’t feel like I’m 60 – that’s an old guy! My dad was sixty once, and I thought he was old then; I’m not that old.

I might have to take this next year and prove that I’m not an old man by doing things old men wouldn’t do.

… I’m not sure what those things are, since I don’t know what sixty year olds won’t do, but this year when I feel like I don’t want to do something, I’m going to do it just in case it’s one of those things!

Here’s the thing: If you’ve put your faith in Christ, when you sin, sometimes you don’t feel like a Christian. But the truth of the matter is you still are a Christian, whether you feel like it or not. Confess your sin and get on with living up to who you are.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you found to be a difficult adjustment to make? Leave your comments below.

I Got Sick Anyway

I did everything right and I still got sick! Has that ever happened to you? Well, that’s where I ended up.

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My wife came down with a flu of all flu’s. I’ve never seen her down for so long before. It hit her quick and it hit her hard.

Lily was in bed for two days, and dragged herself around the house for over a week. She even said that maybe next year she would get the flu shot … that on it’s own tells me just how sick she was!

This was not something I was going to catch if I could help it. So I did something I haven’t done often in our 30 years of marriage: I slept in the spare room.

There was just no way that I was going to breathe in what she was breathing out. I would get infected as I slept, completely unaware of what was happening to me.

It kind of reminds me of two guys back in college who decided they were going to prank their neighbours next to them in our dorm.

Their room was just on the other side of the wall and there happened to be a hole in that wall … on one side anyway. The guys made a small hole in their room at the same place.

During the night as the neighbours slept in bliss, the guys blew baby powder into their room. The neighbours next door never knew what hit them.

In the morning they woke up to their room covered in what looked like fresh fallen snow. The white powder was everywhere, on the beds, in their hair. … I think there was retaliation the next night.

The thing was the powder was silent. It came over them when they slept; they never noticed it at all.

And there was no chance I was having my immune system hijacked by Lily turning towards me and breathing flu germs in my face all night.

She realized this flu was not something that should be passed on and volunteered to sleep in the spare room for another four nights.

That’s five nights we slept in separate rooms while being in the same house. That has never happened before!

We did all the right things. I stayed away even when she desperately wanted a hug, just some human contact … well, I sort of hugged her at arms length. I was also washing my hands like a surgeon – I hope surgeons wash their hands as much as I did.

In the end, she slowly came back to the land of the living, yet still low on energy. She seemed to have recovered enough for me to let her back in our bed.

And then it happened. I was drinking lots of water – tons of it – getting plenty of sleep, exercising and taking care of myself. But I woke up one morning with a scratchy throat.

I didn’t end up as sick as she had been, but for all my purposeful, proactive prevention, the sickness didn’t escape me. I’ll be okay.

Here’s the thing: Sin has this kind of ability to sneak up on us. We can do all the right things, stay clear of triggers, give a wide birth to temptation. But when we are not looking, when we least expect it, sin can creep in when we thought we were in the clear. We can never let our guard down.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What has snuck up on you, even when you took precautions? Leave your comment below.

The Weather Conditions In My Home Are Changing

We are starting to enter the in-between season and it’s an appropriate time to deal with temperature change.

thermostat and human hand

I have been told that this year we may be a month behind in our weather. Because of our slow start in the spring, we got June weather in July and July weather in August.

That means September should be more like August … that’s out of the norm.

Though the temperature outside is changing, that’s not really the temperature change I am writing about.

I have to tell you that the temperature inside our home doesn’t hold to conventional, seasonal measurements either.

Here’s my problem: my wife likes the heat; she likes the heat outside and she is happy if it’s hot inside as well. So I come home from work on a sweltering summer day, and enter our house through the garage which is even 15 degrees warmer than outside. I’ve gone from hot to hotter.

Then I come into the house to the cool, refreshing air conditioned air – no, that’s not what happens. I come into the house that is just a few degrees cooler than my garage was!

I look at the thermostat to see if there is something wrong with our air conditioner, only to find that my dear wife has set the temperature to 25 degrees. When we add in the humidity, it’s probably closer to 30 in the house.

By next year our hardwood floors will probably be curling up.

I turn the thermostat down to 21 degrees because that apparently is the perfect temperature – at least, that’s what I’ve heard. There is a company called 21 Degrees Heating and Cooling and their motto is “Everybody is happy at 21 degrees”.

I want to be happy. I want the temp in our home to be 21 degrees.

After making the adjustment to the thermostat, an hour later it’s back up to 25 … she’s sneaky.

Sleeping is very uncomfortable, and Lil will admit it too, but it doesn’t convince her to lower the thermostat.

Now this is the thing I can’t understand, the thing that doesn’t make sense to me. And if anyone can help me with an answer that I can comprehend, I would be greatly indebted …

In the winter months, she doesn’t keep the thermostat at 25, or even at the perfect temperature of 21 degrees. In the winter, she keeps it at 20 and at night she lowers it to 17 degrees!!

In the winter I’m afraid to get out of bed for fear of frostbite.

What I don’t understand is, if you like it cool at night, why not make it cool at night all year round? I like to sleep in the summer just as much as I do in the winter months.

Here’s the thing: Temperature may not be conventional in my house, but it has the same beginning letters as temptation and temptation isn’t conventional either. As the apostle Paul said so well, “I do what I don’t want to do and I don’t do what I want to do.”

I don’t have a definitive answer for my house temperature other than standing guard at the thermostat to be sure it’s set at the right degree. And for temptation, we must be as vigilant in standing guard to turn it down when it starts to rise.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: When do you find you have the hardest time with temptation? Leave your comment below.

Mistake After Mistake

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a new project Lily and I are working on at our house. We’re putting new closet doors in our bedroom. (You can read that blog here.)

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At that time, it was mostly an idea to follow through on. I had taken the old closet doors off, and since then ordered new doors and begun the work of widening the closet opening.

It was going pretty well … up until last Saturday.

Our new sliding doors arrived and all I needed to do was set the door jams in the frame to make the finished opening the right size.

… It sounds pretty simple, but this is the very reason why I would never make it as a carpenter.  You see, I’m just not that good at getting things level and square and … precise.

I’m more of a rough estimate kind of guy. I also am much better at demolition than I am at construction. I had no problem taking off the drywall (though Lily didn’t like the mess), and I was pretty good and creative at removing a couple of 2×4 studs on either side of the opening.

That part went so smoothly, I even thought I kind of liked doing this project …

… until I remembered my mother’s words to me and my brother when we were young and had just broken another one of her Hummel figurines: “You two should go into the demolition business when you get older because you’re really good at it.”

… until Saturday. That’s the day I needed to put the door jams in. All that required of me was to make sure my opening was large enough, nail three pieces of wood together (two sides and a top piece), and shim it in level and square.

That’s it. It sounds so simple but it took so long! I had to call in the cavalry (my son, Mike), and even between the two of us, we worked all afternoon on it.

When it was done, the sides were pretty level and square, but the joint at one of the corners was splitting. I didn’t care at that point. I figured we could cover that up some how.

So we put up the tracks for the doors to hang on. That part was easy. But when we went to hang the door panels, we realized I had not calculated enough for the height of the doors.

They rubbed on the carpet so that it took a little effort to slide them back and forth.

I was pretty discouraged and didn’t know what to do. I really didn’t want to take that jam out after spend a whole day putting it in.

But by the next morning, I realized I needed to do it. So I did what I do best … I demoed the door jams and took out a 2×4 at the top and replaced it with a 1×4.

Now all I have to do is put in the new jam, and shim it level and square. Sounds simple, right?

Oh brother, here we go again!

Here’s the thing: When you make a mistake, the last thing you want to do is correct it. You try to cover it up, make do with it, even blame someone else for it. But the only way to really fix it is to correct the mistake. This applies to sin in your life too. Don’t cover it up; don’t make do with it or blame someone else. Go to God and correct it. Then you can move on.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How have you dealt with mistakes you’ve made? Leave your comment below.

Why Keeping Secrets Can Hurt You

I need you to keep this blog a secret … at least from my doctor. Today is my birthday and there are probably going to be a few surprises. But there will also be a few things that I am sure of today.

Paul's Birthday cake

While I have no idea what presents I will receive, I do know what cake I will be eating on my birthday. It’s the same every year. And just to confirm my already confident prediction, I saw Lily baking it.

Now the reason we have to keep this from my doctor is because of the sugar and fat content of this cake. All cakes fall into the “not healthy” category of food groups, but my cake probably ranks up there higher than most.

The ingredients are simple: angel food cake, whip cream and raspberries. When the cake has been baked, it is cut in half and both halves are hollowed out just a bit. Then in a bowl you mix the raspberries into the whip cream to make the “icing”.

Once that’s done, you put a ton of the “icing” into the hollowed out parts of the cake and then put the two halves back together.

Finally, you slather the outside of the cake (and I mean slather it on thick) with the whip cream mixture and you’re done.

Now is your mouth watering already? . . .  Mine is, and it’s only 7:30 am when I’m writing this piece.

So, you see, this is not the kind of thing you share with your doctor.

When he asks how you are feeling, you say, “Very well, thank you.”  When he asks, “Have you been getting your exercise?” you say, “I’ve been biking three times a week.” When he queries how you have been eating, you DON’T mention the cake. You just say, “I’ve been trying to eat more vegetables lately.”

Now I only get this cake once a year. It’s strictly a birthday cake, not an “I thought I’d bake your favourite cake Friday”. But this year I got a bonus.

For the first time in six years, Karlie was home for her birthday and Lily, like usual, was all geared up to bake her a cake. But to everyone’s surprise, and my delight, Karlie asked for my birthday cake.

So I’ve had a couple of pieces already this year; just as good as ever, and double reason not to let this leak out to the doctor.

By the way, it’s not all bad. I’ll be working that cake off today by stripping the paint off my deck at the cottage. It will be like I ate only vegetables today.

Here’s the thing: In life we can keep things from others. We might do it to look good or because we would be embarrassed or ashamed if others knew. But just like my birthday cake will contribute to clogging my arteries and adding on a few pounds, keeping things from others only hurts yourself. You can try to keep things from God, and try to ignore the fact that He knows everything. You can even pretend that it’s all a secret. But you are only hurting yourself. Admit your sin to God; don’t try to hide it from Him. He knows anyway … just like my doctor will probably get wind of this blog.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How has keeping something from others hurt you in the long run? I’d really like to hear from you;, you can leave your comment below.