The Road to Riches

2011-12-07 11.04.54 HDRThis is the most money that I’ve ever held in my hand at one time. $10,000. It was a deceptively small stack on $100 bills. A stack of 100 $1.00 bills seems much thicker and heavier.

What would you do with $10,000 cash?

I got to pay the IRS. Again. As I did every year.

Owning a small business, in our case, a Christian school, is very expensive. The federal tax rate was 40%, on top of Social Security and Medicare, both the employer’s and employee’s portions for the owner. But it never seemed like enough. I always owed them between $6k and $10k. I don’t know why. Every year the person who did my taxes came up with something else that I had to pay for.  It wasn’t for a lack of planning, as far as I can tell. I’ve already told you about my experiences with CPAs and “professional” tax preparers (Lions, and Tigers, and Feds. Oh My!). If I’d have had any brains I would have bought Turbo Tax for each of those years and redone the taxes to see where they may have screwed me and I actually overpayed.

The previous year, I had to take a $8k loan on my 401k. The year before that I did some work for my brother-in-law that gave me what I needed.

I asked my wife where we were going to come up with $10k. She said, “It’s sitting in the driveway.”

avalanche

I loved my Avalanche. It was the first, and only, truck that I’d ever owned. It was my chariot. It had four doors and could carry five people. Or two people and a couple of dogs. The bed had a removable cover so we could shop all over town and fit everything in one vehicle and keep it protected. If I folded down the back seat and the back wall I could fit 18 large buckets full of glass, crystal, silk flowers, and other things we needed to decorate the gymnasium for a graduation reception for over 300 people, along with a bunch of other tables a banquet of that size needs. It took three trips to get everything there. My wife knows how to throw a party. It was big and aggressive looking, and more importantly, my wife loved it too. It had been paid off a year ago and it was really nice not having a car payment.

But all three of us, me, my wife, and my mother-in-law, were having increasing difficulty just getting in and out of the thing. It was seven years old, had 70,000 miles, and never had a problem. I knew I could get top dollar on it as a trade-in. The dealership manager put up a valiant fight, but I walked away with $10,000 and a substantial down payment on a new car.

100_5381.jpgThat Dodge Avenger lasted all of about two years.

It was Christmas Eve 2014. We found ourselves suddenly hosting the family and in order to have everything we needed, a trip to Von’s was necessary. So off my wife went on an errand of culinary mercy.

On the way home, she ran into the rear end of a Dodge Durango with a trailer hitch. Unfortunately, there was a Honda Civic in front of that, both stopped at a stop sign. The Durango looked like it hit a fly in the front and got hit by a rumpled up piece of paper in the back. The back end of the Civic had some obviously preexisting damage. I’m reasonably certain it had no real new damage from that particular crash.

Nobody was seriously hurt. My wife had seatbelt and airbag bruises, but that was the extent of it.

Someone gave me a ride the 5 blocks to where the car sat leaking radiator fluid. The ambulance, fire department, tow truck, and police officer all came and went. We loaded up the groceries and went home.

Where we ended up not using a single thing she went to buy.

Yea, I thought that was pretty funny to.

It took the insurance company three weeks, but they eventually totaled her out. When they finally did, they were talking about a $9,000 settlement. I was dumbfounded. When the adjuster starting outlining the justification for the paltry amount, he stated the car had over 35,000 miles on it. When I corrected him and proved that it had less than 20,000 miles, I got much, much more – $1,000 more than I owed on it, and I was happy.

In truth, the only thing my new car lacks that the Avenger had was the 30 gigabyte hard drive that  had all my music on. Fortunately, I had that backed up. A word to the wise for anyone considering an Avenger. Unless they change the design a bit, visibility through the back quarters sucks. Backing out of a parking spot is as dangerous as running a red light.

2014-07-30 13.25.35I don’t miss that car. It had to be my least favorite of all the vehicles I’ve owned. My favorite is the black 1986 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. When I bought it, the paint was so thin that you could see the primer underneath. I bought it under the condition that they repainted it. The dealership had a full body shop on site and the arrangements were made. When I took the car in, I asked the body shop manager to keep all of the badges off. Which he did. It was a beautiful car. Too bad I don’t have a picture of the actual car. They gave me the option of waiting a short time for the new 1987 model. It had an intercooler for the turbo and they thought it was much sleeker looking. I didn’t. The few horses weren’t worth giving up this kind of style.

This all happened years before I met the one who would be my wife. Years after I married her, the body shop manager married her sister. Small world, eh? Oh, and he’s the guy that gave me a ride out to my wife’s wreck.

Img_2764

But I got this beauty as a replacement for the Avenger. My wife says I look good in it, and the turbo charged 4 banger has a sufficient combination of power and gas mileage to suit me. The black paint is metallic, so it hides the dirt really well, as long at it stays even.

I got a good deal on it. I was the finance manager for the largest dealership in the county. I know how to play the game. But I violated the first rule: I got tired and let them wear me down a bit. I know I could have gotten the alarm thrown in too without much of a fight.

Who is to say what is good fortune and what is bad? Had we not had to sell the truck, might my wife have rear-ended the Durango in it? Someone might have actually gotten seriously hurt.

Do you think that some misfortune has befallen you? Consider what happened, or didn’t, happen down the road. Maybe minutes, maybe years. Did you make a wrong turn, but miss a pileup down the road because of the extra miles? Did you break up with someone you loved to learn later that he was a felon or a wife-beater?

Tell me here. Share with us. And give us courage to examine our lives.

 

 

 

 

The Near Death Experience

In coming posts I’m going to discuss my views on things supernatural. These topics tend to generate a lot of disagreement, and therefore some vociferous debate. Fine, I can deal with that.

My first subject is the Near Death Experience (NDE).

If you do a search for near-death experiences on Amazon, you’ll get over 35,000 hits. Granted, some of those are going to be duplicates of one sort or another, but even if you remove those, it’s still going to be a whole lot of matches.

Raymond Moody, MD was the first to coin the phrase near-death experience in 1975 in his book Life after Life.

The International Association for Near-Death Studies describes an NDE as follows:

iands

near-death experience (NDE) is a distinct subjective experience that people sometimes report after a near-death episode. In a near-death episode, a person is either clinically dead, near death, or in a situation where death is likely or expected. These circumstances include serious illness or injury, such as from a car accident, military combat, childbirth, or suicide attempt. People in profound grief, in deep meditation, or just going about their normal lives have also described experiences that seem just like NDEs, even though these people were not near death. Many near-death experiencers (NDErs) have said the term “neardeath” is not correct; they are sure that they were in death, not just near-death.

Near-death experiencers (NDErs) have reported two types of experiences. Most NDErs have reported pleasurable NDEs. These experiences involve mostly feelings of love, joy, peace, and/or bliss. A small number of NDErs have reported distressing NDEs. These experiences involve mostly feelings of terror, horror, anger, isolation, and/or guilt. Both types of NDErs usually report that the experience was hyper-real—even more real than earthly life.

The IANDS web site is very informative and worth exploring. www.iands.org. There are many others that also deserve a look.

Opponents of NDEs say that they are just a natural part of the dying process. The neurological connections and chemicals in the brain going haywire and everything that the person experiences is an elaborate hallucination. This is an easy thing for someone who does not want to believe in a life after death to grab and hang on to. Especially for non-Christians.

proofofheavenI’ve read a lot of books on NDEs. The best one I’ve come across is by Dr. Eban Alexander, MD. Doctor Alexander is a neurosurgeon who did not believe in God. He thought that NDE’s were not real. Not that the people who experienced them were lying, but that their brain was simply enduring the dying process. He was a scientist and a surgeon. He specialized in the body’s brain and neurological systems. When you say, “It isn’t brain surgery!”, to him, it is. He knows how everything works. He knew for a fact that NDE’s were not out of body experiences of the realms of heaven and hell and encounters with angelic and demonic beings.

His own NDE changed his mind.

The name of the book is Proof of Heaven. When you search Amazon for NDEs, this book is at the top of the list. It’s well worth the read. There are a lot of video presentations and interviews of Dr. Alexander available on YouTube. His web sit is www.lifebeyonddeath.net.

Now, before you go expounding on Esquire’s article by Luke Dittrich debunking Dr. Alexander, read this rebuttal to his editorial by Robert Mays. Mr. Dittrich is less that honest and forthright in his own treatise of Dr. Alexander’s experience. He is someone who is so biased against NDE’s that he will resort to the most underhanded methods in an effort to disprove them and discredit Dr. Alexander.

Near Death Experiences aren’t all light and love. Some of them are dark, tormenting, painful, dismal, and utterly hopeless. Proof of Heaven is the story of one such hell experience. One of many. Some of these are saved from their torment and a heavenly experience follows before they return to their bodies. Others are brought out of hell and only experience the light and God’s love before their bodies are reanimated.

Some of the most interesting and convincing accounts are called veridical NDE’s. These are accounts of NDErs who see and hear what is happening on the earthly plane during the out-of-body experience, can remember what they experienced, and their stories can be verified. Some of them are outlined here at IANDS. These most dramatically prove that an NDE is not just the brain hallucinating while it is dying. Maria’s Shoe is Kimbly Clark Sharp’s story. She was a nurse in Seattle and one of her cardiac patients in CICU had died for some time and returned. She told Sharp she had experienced an NDE and told her there was a shoe on a ledge outside of the hospital on one of the upper floors on the other side of the building. Clark’s own NDE account, as well as Maria’s Shoe story, are described in her book After the Light.

On the other side, whether in heaven or in hell, time has no meaning. Some people are out of their body for only a few minutes, but reading what happened to them, you would think that it could not possibly take place during that time frame. Others are gone for an extended period of time, but their experience seems to last only moments. They arrive in heaven, are greeted, and immediately sent back. The spiritual realms exist outside of our own time and space, or dimension, if you prefer.

Although the details vary widely, the one thing that is common throughout them is that God’s ever-present, unconditional, greater-than-ever-experienced love is pervasive throughout. God knows our sin and loves us anyway. He doesn’t judge us, He lets us judge ourselves, and we are honest about our own condition. The love God has for us is expected to be practiced by us towards everyone else. Not just people we think are worthy, because we are not worthy of God’s love. To everyone. That’s consistent with what Paul tells us in I Corinthians 13:13, “The greatest of these is love.” Without that, you have nothing.

This is a very light touch on the subject; much more could be written.

I believe in them. Why? I see sufficient evidence to show that they are exactly as they are presented – Out-of-body experiences and subsequent journeys to heaven and/or hell, complete with encounters of heavenly and demonic beings. I do not have any reason to doubt the veracity of their claims.

What do you think?

My journey began with DEATH, and the road less traveled.

This is an amazing story. I pray that Johnny’s experience will serve as a reminder as to what can happen when you mix alcohol and cars. I wonder, however, what he experienced, if anything, during that time when he was clinically dead. You might think that he wasn’t “gone” long enough, but on the other side, time has no meaning. I’ve read accounts of people who were dead for many minutes, but their experience lasted only moments, and stories of those who were dead for only a few moments and their journey lasted for hours.

thesportslocker

The road to become a part of professional wrestling as been a long struggle to say the least. 9 years Before I walked in to the New Moon Rising Wrestling office to speak with Jake Bishop about hopefully becoming a manager with the company, I had already overcome my fair share of adversity and physical obstacles.

On the evening June 26, 2004 I was involved in a serious car wreck I was 23 years old. I flipped my three week old jeep wrangler three times end over end after colliding with a parked car. I was thrown 75-80 feet out of the driver side window. The roll cage on the jeep was completely collapsed. On the way out of the cab the steering wheel snapped my right femur like a twig. I also had the right side of my head ripped open by the doors frame. When I landed I…

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