Dear Jack: Our 1st Time Driving Our Jeep to Your Soccer Game

8 and a half years old.

Dear Jack,

Just in time for you to turn 8 and a half years old, and before your spring soccer season came to an end, we were able to drive our Jeep to one of your games.

Our Jeep has the ability for just the front half of the top to come off (as well as the whole thing). Your game was during a 3 day stretch where I just left off the “Freedom Panels” the entire time; even when I left the Jeep in the parking lot at work.

Needless to say, we all enjoyed our drive to your soccer game.

You don’t have a soccer dad. You have a Jeep dad!

And that’s good for you, because you get to be a Jeep son.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: You Should See Me in a Crown

3 years.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend for your brother’s soccer game, as we watched from the field, you discovered a toy crown that apparently someone had left behind.

Your response was pretty much immediate. You started trying on the crown, inspired from our nightly bed time stories about Anna and Elsa.

You never access to such a realistic looking crown before. So as simple as it was, you had a lot of fun putting it own, as I happen to take several pictures of you having fun with it.

Sometimes it’s those completely unplanned pictures than actually turn out to be the best!

 

Love,

Daddy

2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport 4WD 6 Speed: Family Ride in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tennessee

It’s been two weeks now that I finally obtained my dream vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler. As part of the fun for Mother’s Day for my wife, I announced we would be going for our very first family leisurely drive through the not-so-faraway Jeep-friendly spot: Percy Warner Park in Nashville.

This weekend’s drive confirmed what I always believed about owning a Jeep Wrangler; that you don’t simply own a vehicle, you own a mobile amusement park.

Automatically, anywhere you drive is suddenly more exciting. The view is undeniably better. Whenever you see a road you want to go down, or go up, that you wouldn’t normally be able to… well, now you can.

And we did. Many times.

There is no fear of getting stuck in the mud, because now we have 4 wheel drive.

There is no fear of not being able to turn around if we get to the end of a narrow dead-end road, because the Jeep is so short.

There is no fear of boredom, because we are ultimately riding in a mini monster truck.

Something really crazy about my 7 and a half year journey to finally getting my Jeep Wrangler is that I never ever drove one until I had already bought mine!

That’s how much I knew I was destined to own one.

I can’t remember the last time I bought anything for myself that made me so happy.

When you’re the husband and the father, you just sort of go along with whatever is going on with your family. There was honestly nothing I needed or even wanted anyway.

Except for the Jeep, which I couldn’t afford until now; and was able to pay cash for. (My wife and I are very serious about Dave Ramsey!)

But this Jeep isn’t just for me: My whole family enjoys it.

It’s simply more fun to drive now; even in bumper to bumper commuter Nashville traffic.

That’s how good a Jeep Wrangler is.

Choosing to Be a Church Pastor as a Career Path, Not as a Calling

I am currently fascinated by this concept in America: In theory, a man who is not actually a believer could choose the profession of being a church pastor; not because he believes in the teachings of Christianity or that he is being called by God to do so, but instead, simply because he sees being a church pastor as a promising career path.

Church pastors have to make a living, too, you know. They have families to support. The tricky part is this, though: The salary that a pastor earns is often directly related to the size of his congregation.

Not only is there a salary to consider, but often, the church members’ tithes cover the pastor’s insurance, as well as a housing stipend.

Here’s what the career path looks like:

This man goes to seminary. This man graduates seminary.

Man starts pastoring a small country church and remains there two years, as he builds a reputation as “an engaging speaker and a strong leader, just what this church needs” (largely due to the fact he simply has the right personality for the job and is a good communicator); while using clever social media posts to build his reputation. The money isn’t amazing, but it pays the bills.

Word gets out, and now this man is offered a position at a larger church in a bigger town just an hour away: This one even has two church buses and even a humble sized “life and recreation center”. The money is definitely better and there is now basic insurance available.

He puts in three years at this one before his reputation (and his congregation’s perception of the Lord’s calling) sends him to the suburbs of a decent sized city; like Atlanta, Indianapolis, or Houston.

His church now has a dozen members in the worship band alone. His sermons get thousands of views on YouTube. The pastor even has a popular Instagram account which regularly features his high dollar sneaker collection; even if most of those shoes were given to him as publicity by the shoe companies to promote their brand.

By this point, it’s hard to speculate exactly how much money this pastor actually makes; but given all the perks with his career, it doesn’t matter as much anymore.

For example, he gets paid thousands of dollars per event, to travel and speak at other churches.

He even has his own book out, which he earns all the royalties from. So even without depending on the church itself, his side hustles help provide an extra cushion for him and his family.

As long as this man is smart enough to invest in his marriage, ultimately by avoiding cheating on his wife or getting divorced; and as long as he never involves himself in official financial scandal, like embezzlement or tax evasion, his career remains strong.

He retires in his mid 50’s and lives happily ever after. He totally gets away with “serving” as a church pastor for his entire career. Then, he peacefully dies in his sleep at age 78; having lived quite comfortably the past 30 years on his financial investments. Not to mention, he still has millions of dollars in the bank to leave for his family.

But then what?

I bet there are more of these “career path pastors” then we realize. In the end, though, we all answer individually to God at the end of our lives for our own actions:

For how we cared for the poor, the widows, and the fatherless.

For how we treated our neighbors as ourselves.

For how we made the decision to forgive, even when it didn’t make sense from a human perspective.

For how we worked out our own secret sins (gossip, judging others, apathy for the hurting), as opposed to focusing more on the ungodly tendencies of other people who have didn’t temptations than we do.

But I suppose that is a risk these career path pastors are willing to take; given that they don’t actually have to believe in order to successfully pastor a church.

Uh oh… I think I just accidentally wrote the concept for a screenplay for a Christian movie starring Kirk Cameron, Sean Astin, or Nicolas Cage.

Dear Holly: Your Gymnastics Lesson of a Birthday Party

3 years.

Dear Holly,

For your official 3rd birthday party, we booked you a gymnastics lesson at the rec center right around the corner from our house.

You loved being able to get an idea of what gymnastics is like; alongside your party friends.

The lesson actually took place while the parents socialized in the room down the hall. Then, when it was time, we all came in to see you and your party friends individually trek through the obstacle course.

I’m glad we chose this for your birthday party. It was so appropriate for a 3 year-old little girl!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Were the Court Jester at Your Sister’s Birthday Party

8 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

This past weekend we celebrated your sister’s birthday at the rec center near our house. You weren’t too excited by the idea of a gymnastics lesson with a bunch of 3 year-old girls.

Instead, you appointed yourself as the court jester of the party.

You discovered that you could successfully wear 5 pink birthday party hats all at once.

Looking back on every photo I took of you during her party, I realize there wasn’t one normal picture of you.

Every single photo is of you showing off your ability to wear all those party hats.

But if that means I was able to capture some shots of you actually being you at this age, I’d rather have that anyway!

Love,

Daddy

5 Reasons Why Men Born in 1981 are Unapologetically Obsessed with Making Money, Saving Money, and Investing Money: The Firstborns of the Millennial Generation are Financially Woke!

Exactly 20 years ago, just a couple weeks away from my high school graduation, my plan for a career was quite humble:

To become a school teacher, to marry a school teacher, and to live in a small house in my small hometown.

That’s all I wanted. I specifically didn’t care about money. For those of us born in 1981, the firstborns of the Millennial Generation, we were led to believe that “money isn’t everything” and that “all you need is love”.

But by the time I began my career, I saw the world in a different light. And I imagine many other men who were born in 1981 also experienced the same culture shock, and therefore, a rewiring of how we perceive money.

What makes us this way? I have compiled 5 reasons why men born in 1981 are so much more woke when it comes to personal finances. Consider this to be my comic book villain origin story:

1.      The average American man gets married at age 27; which for those of us born in 1981, coincided with the Financial Crisis of 2008. Needless to say, I got married just a few months before the recession hit.

2.      Most of us attended college compared to previous generations, which meant more competition in the work force in addition to starting out our careers with heavy student loans.

3.      We were told we would be the first generation to actually make less money than our own parents; who themselves didn’t necessarily need to graduate college like we did in order to be successful in our careers.

4.      It is common knowledge that there should be no expectations for my generation to actually get social security when we retire.

5.      Thanks to the Internet, we have so many opportunities to have multiple online side hustles; to add passive income in addition to our salaries from our full time jobs.

Both at my office as well as my online persona as a YouTuber, I am referred to as Slick Nick.

If you know me at all, you know I am a person who is unapologetically fixated on making money, saving money, and investing money:

In addition to my full time job at a Fortune 500 Company, I also handle my 5 online side hustles: running two YouTube channels, managing the SEO for a majority university here in Nashville, plus selling guest blog spots and planting Amazon links here on my website.

As opposed to the excess culture of the 1980s and 1990s as people went in debt to impress people they didn’t care about by buying McMansions and brand-new luxury cars, I am from a generation where the goal is to impress people by how much money we save and invest; not how much we spend.

I feel like men from my generation will be like those who survived the Great Depression. We will spend our lives finding ways to independently fund our own retirements; assuming there will be no social security left for us.

If we’re lucky, we’re wrong. But if we’re wrong, we just might be rich.