Controversy of Faith

I’ve already shared some personal details here, like my health condition, but one big area of my life I was planning to hold back on is my beliefs. Nothing stirs up people more than agreeing or disagreeing with someone on a religious matter, and a business does best if it’s completely secular, right? Well, I don’t actually believe that for an instant, and it’s time to let my fears go and just be forthright.

I am a Christian.

I’m not perfect.

That’s the whole reason why this started in the first place. I’m still a work in progress, and that’s a core tenant of Christianity. It’s right out of the Bible in the book of Philippians, in fact: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (That’s the New Living Translation.)

Why was I scared to say this on the blog so far? Well, Christians have a couple reputations I wanted to avoid, some for good reasons and some not so good.

The first is that Christians are pushy. They tell you you’re going to hell, or that you should believe, or just tell you about God constantly. This isn’t actually a bad thing, btw. If I truly believe that God is who He says He is, it’d be the most uncaring and evil thing I could do to not tell others, since the consequences are so serious. But it is a dangerous thing in this world sometimes, since all of the baggage of other Christians and those who claim to be Christians come with that, including those who are pushy in evil ways, like Westboro Baptist Church or abortion clinic bombers. Those aren’t representative of true religion, true Christianity, but they are something we have to contend with. Well, I’m an introvert, so I won’t be pushy at all, but there’s that one out in the open.

Second, Christians are anti-science, right? Actually, that’s ridiculous. Science is the study of the physical universe. God is the creator of the physical universe. Science, therefore, is the study of what God has created. There’s absolutely nothing more compatible than science and Christianity, despite what you’ll hear screamed from all sides of every debate on either subject, but it does require a willingness to explore every possibility. Evolution, creationism, and everything else that people will use to divide religion and science must be reconciled, which is best done by having a truly open mind to the possibilities. That said, I’m not an expert, despite all the science jokes I’ll put here, so I’ll usually defer any actual arguments to the experts.

Third, Christians are cheesy. This is hard to escape. Creating a t-shirt design with a Christian joke is exceptionally difficult because all the jokes are just so cheesy. That’s ok, though. I tell plenty of bad jokes. I can tell some bad jokes that talk about Jesus instead of llamas.

On that note, I’m going to begin incorporating a new line of designs into Still In Beta. I’ve been calling it Proskuneo, which is a Greek word usually translated as devotion or worship. You can see the designs that fit into it at shop.spreadshirt.com/proskuneo, and I’ll try and include them into my main store soon as well.

I’ll also have another big announcement coming soon, so keep your eyes on the blog, and you can follow me on any of my social media platforms to be alerted!

Fantasy Worlds

I’m halfway through re-reading the fantastic book Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson right now. Yes, I regularly read books again, sometimes dozens of times eventually. Good books are worth it. This world Sanderson has created in particular is so alien and yet so real that it’s particularly engrossing despite how incredibly long the book is. Hundreds of thousands of words (479,080 to be exact). According to the internet, the average reader needs almost 32 hours of reading time to finish it, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t take me quite that long. If you’re into fantasy, check out the first book in the series, The Way of Kings, or his incredible Mistborn series first if you’d prefer a less wordy start. 

Time for a change

275.5

There were plenty of points before that when I knew I needed to change, and times when I tried. My weight. It’s fluctuated a lot, and this isn’t the heaviest I’ve ever been, but it’s time to see it go down for good.

275.5 is a lot of weight for one man to carry around. The number of problems that come with it are even worse. So I’m planning and beginning a change.

Many of you know some of my story, and that the health issues I have and haven’t talked about here make it difficult to exercise, but I’m planning to make sure I get on my exercise bike at least 5 minutes, 5 days a week. That might not sound like a serious workout, but it’s a lot more work for me than it would be for someone without my issues.

I’m also letting go of sugar and wheat. Those are hard to give up for me, although I don’t eat handfuls of candy or anything like that, but nonetheless it’s a non-trivial improvement.

And then to help give me a boost, I’ve ordered the Slique oil and tea from Young Living. The Ocotea and other components help make fatty acids ready to be processed out of the body, so hopefully they give me a boost in clearing out my backlog of fat.

I’ll check in here regularly, hopefully posting a bit more than I have been! This is the time. I won’t give up until this weight is gone.

I’m Listening

I posted about this on Instagram and Facebook, but I wanted to take the time to expand on it here as well. There’s a radio show that’s happening as I start writing this called “I’m Listening” that has really inspired me to speak out about mental health and my own experience, and the core idea is that we need to break the stigma of talking about depression, anxiety, and other mental illness and especially suicide and the risk of taking your own life.

I said on Instagram that you know someone who has considered ending their life, and I wasn’t just saying that because I figured most people knew me.  Statistically speaking, every person in this world probably knows someone very well who has considered it. You might not realize it, you might never know who it is, but someone you know has considered it. You may have even saved their life.

I have struggled with depression for many years, but it became a huge problem in my life following my health issues hitting a peak a few years ago and becoming seemingly unbearable. I truly felt that I had nothing to continue living for, and ending my life would just be an improvement, but I wasn’t willing to tell anyone else that.

I’ll get into the details of that in another post, but for now, just know that the reason I’m still here is that someone (my wife) showed me that she was listening, and that she cared. Medications have helped, sure, and were probably instrumental in keeping me from continuing to return to that point so far, but what turned my life back around was her. Listening. Even when I wasn’t talking.

If you know anyone going through a rough time, or going through happy times, or just know anyone (and yes, that intentionally includes every possible demographic, because anyone in any life circumstance can be suicidal), let them know you’re willing to listen. That’s being a good friend even if there isn’t a mental health situation going on, but it’s a lifesaver if there is.

If you’re interested in the show I referenced or in knowing what you can do to help, check out imlistening.org

Hope Repaired or Hope Unbroken?

Is is more powerful to have a hope that has never died, never been broken or abandoned, or to have hope that has been thrown out the window, beaten up and left behind, and then picked up and restored? I’m not quite at either place anymore, but if hope is to be found during troubles, does it need to be pure and whole, or do we find hope most powerful when it’s already been lost and found?

Hope was a lost thing for me for several years now. I’m not sure it’s back. But if hope can’t be restored, then it isn’t really hope at all, is it?

Advertising

You may have noticed that there is now some advertising on the site here, and I wanted to call attention to it because it’s all affiliate marketing, which means one important thing: I chose every ad you’ll see, and I chose them for good reasons. Not all of them are for services or products I use, like with the ads for Weebly, but they’re ones I feel I can reasonably and solidly recommend.

One in particular I like is Pure Therapeutics. I use their Methyl-B Complete capsules, which give me methylated B-12 along with folate and the other things I need because I have a mutated MTHFR gene (that’s another story, but it means without those little capsules, my energy levels drop off to pretty much zero), and they’ve been a great value and are safe ingredients for me.

I also made sure to become an affiliate marketer for Malwarebytes, because their Mac adware and malware software is the only one I really truly trust, and I love sharing software that has saved my bacon before.

I could go on, but just know that when you see an ad on my blog, it’s because I selected them and trust them, so you can feel comfortable clicking on any of them. I have to copy the code by hand, and I’m not going to put anything up here that’s not worth that effort.

Amazon Prime Day Begins at 3PM!

It’s just about here!  Amazon Prime Day is the single biggest day for Amazon Prime signups in the company’s sales each year, and it’s no surprise, since you can’t get their biggest deals without being a member.  Better yet, you can get it all with the free trial, so you’re not even stuck paying $119 for the year if it’s not a good value for you.

Amazon’s own devices are some of their biggest sellers, with the Kindle Paperwhite being an incredible deal right now, especially if you have a previous Kindle to trade in.  It’s on sale for $79 right now, down from $119, and then if you trade in a previous generation Kindle (super easy if it’s on your Amazon account!), you get an additional 25% off plus up to $25 for the old device itself as an instant gift card, before you’ve even actually sent it back!  Take a look here:

While you’re at it, sign up for Kindle Unlimited and get yourself some free reading, and again, cancel the 99¢ trial if it’s not worth it!  Amazon makes it super simple to cancel, and I’ll be upfront about getting a great bonus for each person who signs up for Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited, or any other Amazon services, in addition to buying anything through these links!  Thanks for reading!

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An Intolerant Gut

Let’s talk about something most people don’t want to talk about.
The bathroom.
The ins and outs of digestion and excretion aren’t a subject for public discussion usually. We talk about the subject mostly with euphemisms (if we’re trying to be polite) or overly exaggerated euphemisms (if we’re guys trying to get a laugh). If we’re being serious about the subject, there’s a lot of meaningful pauses and empty spaces, or phrases like “not feeling regular”.
I get it. It’s not a subject I discuss openly either. But maybe it should be.
I’m someone who has struggled with a disturbed gut (not a medical term) for years. When I was about 16, I started having big problems that grew and just never went away. If you’re interested in knowing the types of problems without me going into great detail, let’s just say you have two extremes when it comes to bathroom problems, and I swung back and forth between them like a pendulum. I rarely could identify any type of a cause, and I wasn’t the type to dig into an issue, so I just accepted that was the way my body was working and let it go at that.
My wife, however, isn’t so keen to let something go, so when she finally found out about these issues that I was so delicately trying to keep from her (out of love and mercy, mostly), she started prying, and searching for the cause. Good thing, too, because she managed to succeed at finding some relief that I never could.
See, it turns out my body can’t process corn, in any of it’s forms. Or, I guess I don’t know that it’s a matter of not being able to process it, but it hates it. Corn syrup, corn starch, corn meal…doesn’t really matter, though the sugars are definitely the worst culprits.
I suspect this issue is more common than many people would guess, especially with the rising numbers of sufferers from issues like Crohn’s and Celiac’s, which have similar symptoms from a different grain (or often from many grains), but corn isn’t getting the same type of attention, probably because it’s ridiculously hard to identify in most of it’s forms. In order to eliminate corn from your diet, you have to look out for at least these items (and a laundry list of hundreds of others, potentially):

  1. Corn syrup
  2. Corn starch
  3. Corn flour
  4. Cornmeal
  5. Modified food starch
  6. Cellulose
  7. Dextrose
  8. Maltodextrin
  9. Caramel color
  10. Citric acid
  11. Smoke flavoring
  12. Vegetable oil
  13. Glucose
  14. Fructose

Incidentally, that means that while you obviously know to avoid Coca-Cola and Krispy Kreme (or would you?), you also have to watch out for table salt (iodized salt has dextrose, which is a process form of sugar usually derived from corn), baking powder (which usually has cornstarch in it), and many forms of alcohol.  At least I can still have most of the good beers, so maybe it’s been a good thing there.

Even without corn in my diet to the greatest degree we can manage, I’m not exactly sailing through my bathroom visits with all of the pleasantries most people enjoy, but it’s much better, and I no longer feel ill after having a slurpee, mostly because I don’t have them anymore (ever, that stuff is nasty).

I mostly started writing this just to bring some awareness to the issue, and to the fact that we mostly ignore these types of discussions, but it’s worth noting as well that I have been having some success more recently with enzymes from Young Living, and I’m going to be experimenting more with other gut-healthy things as I can (kombucha is good, but start slow, please!), so I can maybe even provide some updates.

If you know anyone experiencing issues like this who hasn’t found a cause, though, suggest they look into going to all fresh foods for a while, without corn or really most other grains, and keep an eye out for these types of nasty little surprises.  It was amazing how long it took us to discover some of these sources of the one thing my body hates above all others.

The Why Of What I Do

Many people want to know why a business exists, or why a person decides to start selling a product or service, and I imagine many of you feel the same.  It’s a good question, and if you’ve wondered about me, wonder no more!

Still in Beta Designs started from a simple idea I had: I’m not fully functioning, so as a human, I’m still in beta testing mode, not ready for public release but okay for some purposes.  That idea spiraled though my mind and turned into a trickle of ideas, which has become a tornado of wild and crazy concepts, some of which have shown up in my designs.  Other ideas get rejected eventually or are sitting in my long list of ideas that have yet to see fruition but may at some point in the future.

Why actually take these ideas beyond just thoughts and try to sell them?

Why not?

The simplest explanation for any business is always to make money, of course, but that’s a poor substitute for the actual main purpose of making money: to provide for yourself or your family. Many of you may know that I have not been able to provide for my family the way I’d like because of a variety of problems, some of which I’ve either already talked about or will talk about on this blog. When I discovered the idea of using print-on-demand services, at first it just felt like a low-risk way to make some passive income, but I’ve begun to see great potential in the business, because of one simple fact:

I’m not alone.

I don’t think I’m the only one who realizes they’re not perfect.

I’m not the only one who knows they still need help, or time, or work.

And I’m not the only one who needs to be told that’s ok.

So I started sharing my designs, and while I will continue to push the idea that it’s ok not to be perfect (which is good, since no one is), I’ve also continued to broaden my scope.  I’ve added a second storefront (without it’s own dedicated site for now) called Proskuneo to my Spreadshirt and Teespring stores, as well as a few Amazon listings, featuring Godly designs and quotes, many of which will be coming from the works of church fathers like St Augustine, St Francis, Sir Thomas More, and others, as well as Bible verses and inspirational or motivating quotes. You can see those at these three links:

shop.spreadshirt.com/proskuneo | teespring.com/stores/proskuneo | amzn.to/proskuneo

So the answer to Why I do this?

Because I’m not perfect.

And that’s ok.