Pensées

Thoughts on the Meaning of Life…..by Todd Helmkamp

Good News!

Posted by Vogeler on August 15, 2011

We just got word that our application to our international agency has been approved!  Now comes grant writing and loan applications!  😀

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Posted in Adoption, Announcements | 4 Comments »

The Financial Side of Adoption

Posted by Vogeler on August 15, 2011

Usually, I take care of most of our family’s finances.  Once every couple of weeks or so, Bethany and I sit down to talk about our budget, where we’re (ok, I said “we” but its mostly “me”) overspending, where we are on our debt payoff, etc.  With the adoption though, things are different.

I’m really proud of her.  She’s really taken control of the adoption process, making sure all of the paperwork gets filed, the checks get mailed where they need to go, and investigating different countries and agencies.  We’re at the point now where it starts to get expensive (an internation adoption can cost over $20,000!!), so she’s applying for interest-free loans and grants.  I’m amazed by how many organizations are out there to help people pay for adoptions.  One that I really like is called the Both Hands Foundation.  Both Hands seeks to match widows who need help with home maintenance and or repairs with parents who need help paying for an adoption.  People come together to help the widow and get sponsors to donate money that is then used for the adoption.  One thing I really like about it is that a widow gets helped in the process.

We haven’t decided if we’re going to explore Both Hands as an option.  But I think it’s a great idea and wanted to get the word out.

Posted in Adoption, Things I'm Doing | 2 Comments »

Amazing Love

Posted by Vogeler on August 10, 2011

“And three days later, the Father raised him from death. And the Son now looks at you and says, “The wage for sin is death. Since I died, why don’t you tell me you’re sorry and I’ll have my death count for you? So that the Father won’t be angry at you, so that you won’t be eternally condemned, so that I won’t be the stone that crushes you. I’ll be the cornerstone that helps you rebuild a whole new life that glorifies God and bears fruit that will last.”

So the Son looks at you today and he says, “How about your murder of me counts so that it would be my death in your place?” And then the Father looks at you and says, “If you will take that kind offer from my Son, here’s what I’ll do. “I’ll adopt you into my family called the church. I’ll give you my name, the family name of Christian. And I’ll call you my beloved son as well.” You say, “But I hated your Son and I murdered him.” “I know. But he’s willing to allow his death to pay for your forgiveness. And if you will receive that, I’m willing to adopt you into our family. Not only that, because you were greedy and selfish and all you wanted was stuff, I’ll give you an inheritance. I’ll give you an inheritance that begins with the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit and it culminates where one day you will rise like the beloved Son rose and you will spend forever with me in a kingdom of lavish provision feasting, laughing, free of sin and suffering forever.”” ~ Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church

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We’re Adopting!

Posted by Vogeler on August 9, 2011

In case you haven’t heard the news, we’re in the first stages of adopting a little girl, most likely from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We decided to adopt because we knew we wanted more children, and since we already have two wonderful boys we wanted to be sure we got a little girl. But the main reason we chose adoption is because there are literally millions of children around the world who live in horrific conditions. And although we can’t rescue them all, we can at least offer a loving, safe home to one child.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing the details of our journey, and also opportunities for you to help if you desire. We will also share ideas on how you can help orphans all over the world.

We hope you’ll join us on this exciting new chapter in our lives. God Bless, and thanks!

Love,

Todd & Bethany

Posted in Adoption, Announcements, Things I'm Doing | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

The American Way

Posted by Vogeler on March 16, 2010

Good grief, has it really been almost a year since I’ve posted anything here?  My apologies, Dear Readers, Life has a way of distracting me (for example, I am eating lunch while I type this and just very painfully bit the inside of my cheek.  Very distracting).

Anyway….a lot of things have changed since last April.  I started a knife-making business/hobby, Man Group (the men’s group from my church I lead) has gotten larger, shrunk, then gotten larger again, the boys are older, I’m older, Bethany now has a job….lots of changes.

But the biggest change has to be my dissatisfaction with the way our lives, and American culture, revolve around Money and Stuff.  It seems as if everything we do is aimed at either getting more Stuff or making more Money so we can buy more Stuff.  My sons have a giant box of toys they don’t even play with, I have stacks of books I have yet to read (my wife is the only who doesn’t have piles of Stuff, but that’s only because she hates to spend Money on herself).  I firmly believe that the clutter and upkeep from all of this Stuff is having a negative effect on our family financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  We have to store it, we trip over it, we spend Money on it, we spend time on it.

Now, I’m not saying that having material possessions in-and-of-themselves is bad; I just think that, especially in our culture, our reliance on and reverence for Stuff has gotten out of hand.  Do I really need 8 pairs of shoes when I wear 3?  How many shirts can I wear at once?  How many toys can my children play with at any one time?  My garage is so full of junk that I can hardly move in it.  I can’t WAIT to have  a garage sale and hopefully get rid of some of this Stuff.  But that’s only half of the equation.  Getting rid of all this extra Stuff will do no good if I simply go out and replace it with other Stuff.

What it all comes down to, in my opinion, is mindful spending.  Before I buy something, I need to stop and truly consider the purchase.  Do I actually need the item?  If so, can I get it for cheaper elsewhere?  Is this the best balance between quality and value for the item, or would another one work better?  If it’s not a need, why do I want it?  Am I trying to fill some need or void with this item?  Is this desire a symptom of something deeper?  Am I just bored and seeking an emotional thrill from buying something new?

In my battle with Stuff, I’ve learned a TON from 3 men in particular,  JD Roth from Get Rich Slowly, Leo Babauta from Zen Habits, and Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar.  Although JD and Trent focus mainly on personal finance, a very large part of managing your finances is managing your Stuff.  Leo from Zen Habits focuses on simplifying your life in general.  All three are well worth the time to read daily, and all three offer email subscriptions so new articles are delivered directly to your inbox.

I am also on a quest to change the way I eat, the way I think, and the way I treat others.  I am tired of not being the man I desire to be, the man God created me to be.  For too long I’ve talked, thought and dreamed about how I wish I or my circumstances were different.  Well, I didn’t quit smoking cigarettes by talking, thinking, and dreaming about it(cold turkey baby, 4 years-smoke free!).  Action is everything (thanks to Action Girl for a great article, and thanks to JD for pointing it out!).  I will chronicle my journey here, and encourage you to embark on your own journey to a life lived with purpose!

What are some changes that have come about in your life recently?

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Haircut

Posted by Vogeler on April 3, 2009

I got my haircut yesterday.  Because summer is coming, with warmer weather, and because I’m tired of wasting time messing with my hair, I got it cut pretty short.  Really short.  Full Metal Jacket short (ok, not quite that short).

Bethany gave Brennan a haircut this morning.  She used a shorter guard than normal because summer is coming.  She didn’t realize quite how short the guard was….

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So now we have the same haircut.  He looks so much older with his hair short!  My baby isn’t a baby anymore.

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90% of Guns in Mexico Come From US? Not So!

Posted by Vogeler on April 2, 2009

Recently there has been a barrage of politicians, reporters, and public figures spouting a statistic that 90% of firearms used to commit crimes in Mexico comes from the US.  Hilary Clinton, the assistant Director of field operations at the ATF, and Senator Diane Feinstein have all used this statistic in anti-gun speeches.

There’s just one small problem:  it’s not true.

What is true is that 90% of TRACED guns originate in the US.  Did you catch that?  TRACED is the key word.

According to an article on FoxNews.com,

…a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.

Out of 29,000 guns recovered by the Mexican government, 11,000 (38%) were submitted for tracing.  Of those 11,000, only 6,000 could be traced.  Of those successfully traced, 5,114 were traced to the US.  5,114 is only about 18% of 29,000.  The 90% statistic comes from the fact that 5114 or 6,000 guns successfully traced were from the US.  The others were from who knows where.  Yes, it is possible that some of the untraceable guns were from the US.  Let’s say that even all 11,000 guns submitted for tracing were from the US.  That’s still only about  38% of the total guns taken by law enforcement in Mexico.  The rest are from China, Russia, North Korea,the Middle East, and South America.  Yup, the fact is that over 80% of guns recovered in Mexico DO NOT originate in the US.

Obviously, this is just more political propaganda against the 2nd Amendment by those who are avowed gun-haters.  Because they have a gun-hating president, they’re stepping up their efforts to sway those who are undecided on the gun issue.  A populace that cannot defend itself is a populace that is at the mercy of it’s government.

I have not ever, and do not, advocate violent overthrow of the government.  In fact, as a Christian, I believe that I have a mandate to live under the laws of the duly appointed authorities God has placed over me (Romans 13).  But I believe that as long as Americans are armed, the government will still stay in check.  If Americans lose the right to possess weapons, there will be nothing to hold the government in check but the integrity of those in power.  And from what I’ve seen in my 30 years, I have little reason to trust those in power.

To sum up, here is a quote by British politician Benjamin Disraeli that is well worth remembering:

There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

So, be careful what you believe.  Politicians are typically only out for one thing:  control.  And people without the means to defend themselves are much, much easier to control.  How many Jews in Germany had guns?

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A True American Hero

Posted by Vogeler on March 26, 2009

This morning I received an email forward (I can almost hear you groaning, “oh no, not one of those!”) from a friend of mine.  R. typically sends out good stuff, and today was no exception.

Today’s email was about a man named Ed Freeman.  Ed was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam (and some other conflicts too) who was awarded the Medal of Honor (the highest military honor in the US) for conspicuos bravery above and beyond the call of duty.   Here is an excerpt from his Medal of Honor Citation (excerpt taken from Wikipedia.com):

Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November 1965 while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The unit was almost out of ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force. When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone due to intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his own life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water and medical supplies to the besieged battalion. His flights had a direct impact on the battle’s outcome by providing the engaged units with timely supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, without which they would almost surely have gone down, with much greater loss of life. After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area due to intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing life-saving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers — some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements. Captain Freeman’s selfless acts of great valor, extraordinary perseverance and intrepidity were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

Captain Freeman passed away on August 20, 2008.  He was the epitome of the American soldier: brave, selfless, heroic.  He, and the courageous men and women who have served in the past and who are serving in our Armed Forces today, are examples to us all of what it means to be an American.  And for that, and for their many sacrifices, I offer my deepest thanks.  Because after all, like the old saying goes, “Freedom isn’t free.”

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The Tough Get Going

Posted by Vogeler on February 6, 2009

You know, times are tough right now.  A record amount of people are laid-off, my wife included.  Companies are folding left and right.  The President wants to push through a “stimulus plan” that’s really little more than a huge, nasty, stinking barrel of pork.

I’ve spoken with several people over the last several weeks who are having a hard time finding jobs.  They’re understandably frightened about the future.

But something that really bugs me is the lack of will to do what is necessary to survive this crummy economy.

So many of them, rather than using this time to learn new skills that will make them more marketable, sit at home and mope.

Rather than taking a second job if necessary to cover the gap in expenses, they charge things to credit cards, sabotaging their financial future.

Rather than realizing that most of the “needs” we have are actually wants, and cutting everything that can be cut from their expenses, they refuse to take responsibility for their finances.

Listen, people, when things are this bad, you have to live a different lifestyle than when everything is humming right along.  That means making the hard decisions to do what you have to do.

I encourage you, if you are facing financial difficulties, take a step back and look, really look, at what you can do to stabilize your finances.  It may not be fun right now, but I promise that, in the long run, you’ll be glad you did.

If you need specific advice or suggestions, or want some resources, shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to help.

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Looking For a Reputable Garage-Door Company

Posted by Vogeler on February 4, 2009

Hey all,

This year we finally get to install a new garage door and opener so my wife can actually park her car in the garage.  Anyone have advice on where to go or who to call?  I’d like to stay below $700, and probably won’t need installation (my dad is cool like that!!).

Thanks!

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