Jun 26 2007

Priorities: Were we spend our money

Jamie Barrows


I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day. It was all about what we put our money into after paying for our basic needs. And that got me thinking about what I do with my money as opposed to my friends.

I have a tendency to live with older, not as nice things, so that I can always have spending money for trivial things when they come up. For example, I drive an older car. A lot of my friends have new cars and trucks. Many of them quite nice. All of those cars are on payment plans. Which is not really a problem. I could afford the payments on a new car, I just would rather have the extra money for trivial and non-essential things.

So any time I’m out with people and they want to do something, I can always afford it. I don’t have to ask myself if it is in my budget. Many of my friends cannot. Clothes, electronics, computers, are all things that I have but that aren’t the best or the latest. All things that my friends spend their money on, but I make do with what I have. I wear last years fashions, use an older computer, have an older TV. My friends don’t. They buy all the latest. They also have to watch their budgets a lot closer than I do, just to be able to pay all their bills. Of course, they have the benefit of having nicer stuff than I do, but I have the benefit of a freer budget.

I don’t really think my method is better than theirs, it’s just different. I end up spending as much money on trivial things as they did on their new cars, clothes and electronics. So I’m not really saving much more than they are, or using the money in a wiser way. Just differently.

Jun 18 2007

Punctuation and spelling are optional

Jamie Barrows

Test Answers on a hand

Got this exciting email from my brother today. The email is in reference to an insurance dispute that we are having with our agent. I’m not sure how this happened. It seems that while we took the same English and writing classes in college, he doesn’t seem to have gotten the same content out of them. LOL The text below is exactly how he sent it to me. The only difference is that I replaced names of people he referenced with pseudonyms. But I left capitalization of those names as he sent them.

spoke with jane who eventualy gave me john smith the owner he faxed me something saying sorry and that he was doing everything he could also he included the name of rep with insurance company that said we had a 15 day grace period past that date of the 20th before coverage is interupted were gonna file a complaint and switch insurance companys and im gonna check my business law book because we had a reasonable expectation this would be taken care of and this happened due to there error so we might have some legal standing to sue ethier way we’ll call tomorrow and make sure our mortgage company overnighted it jamie don’t bother emailing back don’t get yours and dad I also spoke with your lady and we setup time on Friday to talk and then im gonna listen to some calls I still tonight am gonna apply and submit my resume which if you have time later tonight maybe you can help me

I had to read it a few times, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. There isn’t a single period or punctuation mark in the entire email. The only word he capitalized, was “Friday.” Just had to laugh when I read it. What makes Friday special?

Jun 13 2007

What is Tolerance?

Jamie Barrows

Peace symbol with hands

What is tolerance? Am I tolerant of other peoples beliefs? These are questions that have been running through my head since I had a disturbing conversation with a friend of mine. She accused me of being intolerant because I told her that I believed her belief system was wrong. The accusation caught me completely by surprise.
To understand why I was so surprised, I need to give you a little background about myself and about the conversation we were having. I’m an extremely non-confrontational person. So unless I know the person very well, I avoid having conversations with people about religion, politics, and belief systems. I avoid them like the plague. I have definite opinions and beliefs, but am much happier agreeing to disagree with someone than I am arguing them with. If I think that voicing my beliefs to a person will cause conflict, I usually just stay quiet.

So back to this particular person who thinks I am intolerant. I’ve known this person for several years. She has a rather forceful personality and is just about the opposite from me when it comes to conflict and voicing her opinions. So needless to say, I’ve known almost as long as I’ve known her, that her opinions and beliefs were strongly in conflict with mine.

Anyway, she and a few other people were having a discussion about the existence of God and hell. Everyone present, including her, knows that I’m a Christian. But I was mostly keeping out of the discussion. Unfortunately this time, I was not allowed to keep out of it. She started pressing me about whether I believed non-Christians would really go to hell. I didn’t really want to tell her yes, because I knew that would upset her. So I tried to deflect the question, but she wouldn’t let me. So I finally told her that yes I did believe that. She then said the following, “Well I don’t believe that. Are you saying you think I’m wrong?” Since I had already put myself into hot water with her, I figured I might as well go all the way. So I told her that yes, I thought that her belief was wrong. That is when I she accused me of being intolerant of her beliefs.

So back to my original question. What is tolerance? And am I intolerant?
Well, I don’t really think I’m “intolerant.” I strongly believe that everyone has the right to believe what they want to believe. I don’t think anyone should, or even can, be forced to believe in something that is contrary to what they “believe.” I have no problem accepting people who believe differently from me, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve been friends with this person for several years. So why did she tell me that I’m intolerant?

I think it is because she, and much of our current culture, has redefined the meaning of tolerance. Tolerance to me means that I put up with and “tolerate” beliefs I don’t like, and that I think are wrong. In her mind that isn’t true tolerance. She has equated tolerance of beliefs with acceptance and equality of beliefs. In her mind, in order for me to tolerate her beliefs, I must also accept that they are equally as correct as mine. Which is impossible. Since they are contradictory, they cannot both be right. One or the other must be wrong.

I personally am incapable of taking that strange middle ground that she wants me to. A place where somehow both views are right at the same time. I simply can’t do that. I either need to abandon my belief and take hers, or I need to believe that her belief is wrong. One or the other is wrong. I’ve taken the position that her belief is wrong, but I’ve also taken the position that she has the right to be wrong. Does that make me intolerant?

Jun 9 2007

Taking a lazy day

Jamie Barrows

Coffee mugSometimes you just have to take a lazy day to get clear of stress and frustrations. Saturday was one of those days for me. I slept in, got up around 10:00 AM. Took a long relaxing shower and wandered down to the kitchen for some coffee. Got my coffee and just relaxed on the couch with a book.
I had planned to get a lot of work done Saturday. I was going to get up early and try to get some yard work done before it got too hot. I needed to mow my yard and do some trimming of the bushes and trees on my property. But the night before, I realized just how tired I actually was. I had been running and doing “things” all week. So I just decided that I was just going to relax and take it easy. Hence the sleeping in until 10:00. Which just goes to show how tired I actually was. I usually can’t sleep past 8:00 even when I’m trying.
After waking up I ended up spending the remaining portion of the day just relaxing on my couch reading a good book. Stress and frustration just melted away.

Jun 4 2007

Focus, and my life

Jamie Barrows


Sunday at my church the pastor preached a message on knowing God’s will for our lives. One of the points of the message that really hit me, was, focus. He said we need to focus on using the specific gifts God gave us to further his kingdom, rather than worry about what God’s plan for our lives will be. In doing so, we will naturally fall into God’s will for us. He also said we shouldn’t assume that the plans we want for our lives are God’s plans for our lives.

That really got me thinking about where my focus should be. I’ve been really depressed lately. Well, to be honest, I’ve actually been pretty depressed for several years. I have ups and downs, but lately I’ve been in a down spiral. For years now I’ve felt like I was running in place. I’m always doing something, and I’m always working hard at it. but I never seem to get anywhere useful. And what I do accomplish, never seems to be enough or seems to give me what I wanted.

Before I went to college, I had my life all planned out.
I chose a Christian college, so that I would be able to meet Christians. The plan was to find a Christian to marry to raise a family with. While that seemed to work for most of my friends, it never worked out for me. Relationships always seemed to fail long before they got anywhere near that serious. Since college, it’s become even harder to meet and form relationships with Christians in the local churches. Consequently, I’ve been basically single for quite a long time.

I picked my major in college partially because I enjoyed it, but also because it seemed like a field that was growing. A field where demand and pay would remain high. All things to consider, if you want to support a family and have a rewarding career. Again, it didn’t work out like I planed. The year I graduated, was the year after the tech stocks crashed. Jobs in IT were hard to find, unless you had experience. I did find a job, but the pay was not what I would have wanted. Even now, with the industry having recovered, pay scales are not what I had planned for. And as much as I love my current job, to be honest the pay is not great.

For the past few years, I’ve basically gone nowhere. My pay is higher than when I started working, but still pretty close to entry level. I’m still single, and currently have no prospects for changing that. Even my close friends are drifting farther and farther apart from me, as they get on with their lives and begin raising their families. No matter how hard I’ve tried to change things, I never seem to get any closer to my goals.

I’ve begun to think that my focus has been wrong all along. I’ve been focused on trying to accomplish my goals for my life, but maybe those goals aren’t God’s goals for my life. Maybe that is why I am not satisfied and at peace, even when it seems like I am accomplishing things towards my goals. That isn’t to say that God doesn’t want me to get married and have a family, or that he doesn’t want me to have a successful career. All I’m saying is that maybe my focus shouldn’t be simply working towards accomplishing those goals. Rather, it should be on being open to what God wants me to do.

I’m not exactly sure what I should be doing, but I’m going to try to change the focus of my life toward God’s focus as much as I can. A good start would probably be to see where my skills and abilities can best be used in my church.

Jun 1 2007

Motivation: What motivates you?

Jamie Barrows


Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation. What motivates you to do the things you do? Specifically what motivates you at your job? Is it money? Recognition? Perks? The work itself? What exactly makes you get up every morning and go to your job?
You say, that’s easy. I get paid to work there, and I wouldn’t go if they didn’t pay me. And that’s true. None of us would go to work if we weren’t getting paid. After all, we all have bills to pay and we need to eat. But that isn’t the whole picture either.

So aside from being able to pay bills, why your current job over some other job? When you are at work, what makes you more eager to do certain jobs, rather than other jobs? What makes you feel satisfied with the work you are doing?

Everyone has different things that motivate them. For some, the motivation is money. They work harder in anticipation of bonuses and pay raises. For others, work needs to challenge them. If it doesn’t challenge their abilities, then it becomes a drag. They always need to be learning or trying something new. For still others, it’s the work environment. Interacting with their fellow coworkers and customers makes them feel alive and excites them. Some people, like my brother, need for things to be a competition. They have to be the best, and will work as hard as they have to in their job to “be the best.”

For me, it’s not any of the reasons I listed above. Sure, money is important, and it’s nice to have a challenge. And who doesn’t want to be the best? But for me it’s responsibility. I need to be “needed.” Knowing that people are depending on me pushes me to work harder. I have to know that people are counting on me to be there on time, and to get things done on schedule. It’s having people come to me for help and assistance, that really motivates me to try harder and do a good job.

So I ask again, What motivates you?

By the way, the picture above is from Despair.com They have a lot of other un-motivational posters and calendars that are pretty funny.