Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I am in the process of combining two blogs and my personal website. I'll leave this blog up for a while, but will no longer be creating new posts. New blog/website is:

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Today was a milestone that was 4 years in the making. Actually, it started back in 1996 when I first became interested in cycling. Several friends from church had started riding and encouraged me to join them. I struggled to keep up with them on my off brand mountain bike with a "fat-boy" seat. After a couple of brutal rides, I headed to the local bike shop and purchased a Schwinn hybrid.

Over the next four years, I continued to ride, logging 50 to 70 miles on most Saturdays, shorter distances during the week, and trading up to a Cannondale road bike along the way. During the same period, I rode Oklahoma Freewheel (week long ride from Texas to Kansas across the Oklahoma) twice, did the MS150 once and participated in a number of other organized rides in the area.

In 2000, my oldest son and I were training for Oklahoma Freewheel--would have been his first--when I "wrenched" my knee about half way through a 60 mile ride. The pain was horrible and worse yet, my bike riding days were over for that summer. We didn't do Freewheel, either. I hung up my bike, started physical therapy with the idea of getting back on the road as soon as possible.

Weeks turned into months and months into years and before I knew it, the bike had been hanging in the garage for a little over 10 years.

Backing up a bit to 2007, I decided I needed to get myself in shape. The bike was still in the garage, but I was in no shape to jump back on it, so I joined Owasso Fitness Zone, a local gym. I told Paul, the gym owner, "I want to get back on my bike." I changed my eating habits--a little--worked on building some much needed muscle...and I started riding the stationary bike.

This Spring, I took my bike down, took it to 360 Sports in Owasso for a tune up and I hit the road. At first, just a few miles at a time, then 10 miles, then 15 miles. It was was frustrating not being able to go the distance I once had, but I kept at it. I set a goal for myself: I wanted to ride 30 miles in less than three hours. Days and weeks passed and I noticed my time/pace was getting better and I was riding more miles. I also sold my old road bike and bought a new Cannondale CAAD 8 105. I have been averaging 12-14 MPH on most rides.

This morning, I decided was THE day. I checked the air in my tires, turned on the GPS and set out...and 2 hours and 15 minutes later, I had ridden 31.5 MILES!!! That's an average of approximately 14.0 MPH! Not a world record, but for a 53-year-old that hasn't ridden in 10 years, I thought that was pretty good. I've also lost a little over 10 pounds and I definitely feel much better. Next month, my youngest son and I are register for a 55-mile ride. I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Little More Time

We moved our youngest son into his apartment at college this weekend. All of his worldly possessions were neatly packed into boxes. His books, iMac, TV, CDs/DVDs, electric guitar, clothes, a few pots and pans, toiletries, and a hand-me-down bookcase case were all loaded into two vehicles for the short drive. He's attending a college within half an hour's distance, but the program he's in requires he live on campus the first year.

Our oldest son moved out a couple of months ago, but due to the economy and severe cuts in his hours at work, he moved BACK home this weekend. He has one year of college left and hopes to get married next summer, so he decided it would be better to be somewhere a little cheaper (free rent) so he can save some money. I'm good with it.

At the end of the emotional day--on several levels--I was thinking how fast the last 20+ years had flown by and how things were going to be quite a bit different. The youngest will come home most weekends; how much we'll see of him during that time is still up for debate. The oldest already had a pattern of coming and going as he pleased before he left, and I'm sure that's how it will be now. They don't depend on us near as much as they used to. They have grown up; they have very distinct personalities, talents, beliefs, etc. They are--and have been for a while--pretty independent fellas. They are both quite talented musically. Both of them have a warped/unique sense of humor (don't know where they got THAT!), and they inherited the "height" gene that apparently missed their mother and I.

We're proud of them both. The youngest told us once: "You guys got off easy," and you know what? He's right. Both of them have participated in their share of mischievous acts, but for the most part, they have been really "good kids" young men.

Yep. It'll be different not having them both around all the time. Not hearing them laughing in their rooms at some stupid video or post they've read on the internet. It will be quieter; it could become a little unnerving when they both broke out the guitars and keyboards and began two separate rooms and two completely different tunes!!! I'll miss having them come into the living room, paying no attention to what's going on and immediately just start talking, reading something THEY think is funny, or playing a new tune they've figured out without any regard for the fact their mother and I are in the middle of a conversation or trying to watch something on TV.

I'll miss waiting on them to show up for dinner on time. I'll miss telling them for the 1 millionth time to "pick that crap up and put it in your room." I'll miss hearing them say: "Mom, I'm gonna be in college and you won't know what I'm doing all the time there. Why do I have to text you, now?" There are lots of other things I'll miss, but you get the point.

I'm also going to miss the things I wanted to do with them, but never got around to. I got busy, they got busy. We didn't have the money. We didn't have the time. The oldest and I planned on riding Oklahoma FreeWheel together, but it never happened. I planned on taking them both white-water rafting. I planned on taking them both deep-sea fishing. I planned on us renting an RV and just getting away for a week. I wanted to take them to a Shepherds' Conference. I meant to spend more time with them, doing things they enjoyed, talking about all kinds of things, picking their brains, giving them some "fatherly advice." I meant to do all that stuff and more...but it didn't happen.

I wish I'd had a little more time...

I did what I could within the time I had, and all-in-all, they didn't turn out bad. They don't seem to be too upset about the things we didn't do, so just maybe, things will be alright. And you know what, God willing, we still may get the opportunity to do some of those long as it doesn't interfere with school!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

During the Time You Read This...

During the time you will read this, your heart will beat approximately 60-70 times per minute, pumping nearly five quarts of blood through your body with amazing efficiency. At 70 beats per minute, that equals over 100000 beats per day and the equivalent of 2000 gallons of blood! It is estimated your heart will beat about 3 BILLION times during a 70 year lifetime.

During this same time, you will take anywhere from 12 to 20 breaths per minute. In taking those breaths, you will pump almost 10000 quarts of air through you lungs in a day! The air contains oxygen which is added to your bloodstream and carried throughout your body—at the same time, carbon dioxide is extracted from the blood and expelled from your body.

You will have gazed at a computer screen with eyes that send signals to your brain as you scan thousands of dots, representing words, sentences and images, which are instantaneously processed and converted into comprehendible ideas and thoughts. Some of those same thoughts/images will be stored and retrieved with amazing recall and accuracy until the day you draw your last breath.

You can pick up a flower or cradle a child's face with hands that respond to your impulse to do so---in NANOSECONDS! You put one foot in front of the other and effortlessly walk or run to wherever you desire. With your mouth and tongue working in concert, you speak and communicate you love for your wife/husband/child/friend. You express yourself with words, facial expressions, and body movements all controlled by mere thought or emotion.

And the most amazing thing…all of these things you do, your body does without your having to remind it, to program it or to teach it! Where did this incredible thing we call the human body come from and how does it have the abilities it does? GOD. God planned it, created it and HE sustains it. Life is no accident. Look around. Look beyond the wonder of the human body and see the amazing world we live in. This planet sits at exactly the right spot in the universe that it's not too cold or too hot. It sits at the EXACT angle and spins and travels about the sun within a precise timeframe and path. Consider the "laws" of gravity, force, etc. All constant. All designed and implement by God. Evolution?! Hardly.

God is REAL. He is not "mother nature." He is THE God of this universe. THE CREATOR.

Friday, May 20, 2011

End of the World

In spite of Jesus' own words, "no one knows about that day or hour..."(Matt 24:36) 89-year-old televangelist Harold Camping has figured out that May 21,2011 is THE day the world will end. Actually, according to Camping, following what is referred to by many Christians as the "rapture," i.e. believers suddenly disappearing:

That will be followed by five months of fire, brimstone and plagues, with millions of people dying each day and corpses piling in the streets. Finally, on Oct. 21, the world ends exactly as the Book of Revelation says it will — with a bottomless pit, a lake of fire and, at last, a new heaven and new earth.

This view (in a nutshell) is commonly known as a Pre-Millennial view of the "end times" spoken of in the Book of Revelation. Basically, the Christians disappear, there is world-wide famine, wars, etc. and a new world leader known as "the Beast" who requires everyone to take a mark--the number 666-- on their forehead and hands in order to buy or sell goods. After seven years--during which time the Jewish temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem, Jesus Christ returns, the world-leader is deposed, Satan is defeated and God creates a new heaven and earth.

I tend to lean toward what is know as an Amillennial view: one day Jesus simply returns. Christians go to heaven; non-believers don't. No "beast." No rapture followed by pestilence, no 666, etc.

Regardless of what you believe, or don't believe, about the Book of Revelation, Jesus is coming back. I believe that with all my heart. The how and when, could and has been argued from multiple angles, but it doesn't change the end result. Frankly, I don't think Camping has guessed anything. What I do believe is that life on this earth could end for me--for any of us--at any given moment, whether it's "the Rapture" or an accident or my earthly body simply breaking down.

I have a friend that got up one morning, ate breakfast with his family and went to work. The rest of the family went to work and school, just like they had every day before. By noon that day, his entire life was turned upside down. One of his family members was involved in a horrible accident which left them with an irreversible condition for the rest of their life. As I sat with him in the emergency room that evening, he said: "Life can change so fast. I never imagined I'd be sitting HERE when I left for work this morning."

He's right. There are no guarantees in this life. Tomorrow may be our last day on earth (whether Camping says so or not). Tomorrow may be the day life deals us an unexpected blow. That doesn't mean we live with a "doomsday" attitude, though. In fact, it should spur us to live each day as it it were our last, making the most of every opportunity.

So today, say "I'm sorry." Say "I love you." Hug. Laugh. Enjoy. Thank God for the gift of another day. Consider where you will spend eternity. Tell someone about Jesus. Pray. Read God's promises. Keep the faith. Call an old friend. Revel in the fact that God is a God of grace who saves those who put their faith in Jesus Christ.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I'll just warn you from the beginning: I'm probably going to tick a few people off with this post.

I recently saw a news story where a mother had gone back to school and earned her Bachelor's degree. She was obviously excited about that achievement in her life, and rightly so. However, her celebration was short lived when she learned her graduation ceremony fell on the same day as her son's. She was now faced with a decision: attend her own graduation and miss her son's or miss her own graduation and be there to see her only son cross the stage to receive his diploma. She made the decision to attend her son's graduation...his KINDERGARTEN GRADUATION where they both were their cap and gowns!!!

I have two sons, one in college--the other headed there this Fall. I am very proud of them. They are both very intelligent; both scored low 30s on their High School ACTs and both had 3.5+ GPAs. The youngest will be attending college on a full-ride, academic scholarship. But, one thing they never did was "graduate" from kindergarten.

I'm sorry, but I think Kindergarten Graduation is just silly. And it doesn't stop there--there's Sixth Grade Graduation, the Sixth Grade Spring Dance (Prom), the Eighth Grade Spring Dance (Prom), the Junior/Senior Prom, and finally High School Graduation. Seriously, by the time a kid actually graduates from High School, it's become old hat. None of the things we used to look forward to as kids (I'm talking back in the 70s) are any big deal today. Nothing special.

What is it with us as a society? Why can't we wait to experience certain special events? "It's cute! They look like the big kids," some will say. Buffalo bagels, I say! Most of them won't even remember it.

Kids grow up fast enough as it is. And, frankly, they don't need to "graduate" from every stinkin' grade they pass. What's wrong with having just one or two special formal/type events IN YOUR ENTIRE schooling, i.e grades K-12? What in the world is there to look forward to if it's a yearly event?

I was talking with an individual the other who volunteered at a clinic some time ago. She said they actually had an ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD come in for a pregnancy test...and she was!!!
(It wasn't a case of rape or incest, either) Let that harsh reality sink in for a moment.

We push our children to grow up too fast. Consequently, they sometimes do "grown-up things" (like get pregnant at 11) and then we're all upset, wringing our hands, hollering "how did this happen?!" I'm not saying that every kid that goes through Kindergarten Graduation is going to get pregnant, but you know what, maybe if we just let kids be kids and quit dressing our grade-school daughters like two-dollar hookers, maybe...just maybe, we'd be dealing with fewer situations like the 11-year-old Mommies.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Your Tax Dollars At Work

I am on the Board of Directors for a local "crisis pregnancy center." The center began over 20 years ago as a ministry/vision to help young girls who are pregnant. When we started, we did pregnancy tests, counseling, etc

Today, we are a certified medical facility offering FREE ultrasounds, as well as information, counseling (obviously pro-life), baby strollers, clothes, diapers, formula, parenting classes, car seats, etc. ALL FREE!!!

Not once in 20 years have we received a single penny from any government agency. All of our operating expenses have been covered by the generous donations of individuals and churches in the community who believe in what we are doing. We have a small paid office staff, including a registered nurse and over 40 volunteers who help with everything from organizing the clothing and answering phones to mentoring the girls who come in to the center.

So can someone explain to me: If Planned Parenthood is such a much needed, necessary organization, why haven't people/private citizens stuck a crowbar in their wallets and funded it?!! Why do Democrats/Liberals feel it's the government's responsibility to provide a service like Planned Parenthood with MY tax dollars, but expect those of us with an opposing view (i.e. pro-life) to pay own own way?

Democrats/Liberals/Pro-Choice advocates need to put their money where their mouth is! If you fall into that category and believe it is a vital, necessary service, then support it. The idea that the majority of the people (taxpayers) should finance YOUR ideology, but not support MINE makes absolutely no sense. What I think they really fear is that, without forced support, aka TAXES, the pro-abortion services will not be available...and just maybe that is a more accurate opinion of the American people.

If the pro-choice side wants these services and feels they are necessary, then pay for them yourselves. Find the donors. Raise the money, pay your own rent, solicit your own donations. (Maybe you could persuade people like Al Gore and Joe Biden to be a little more generous with their charitable giving). We did it...and continue to do so after over 20 years.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Visit To Mayberry

For as long as I can remember, I've been a fan of the The Andy Griffith Show. Growing up, I never missed an episode. Then came cable TV, and I was in "hog heaven". I've read somewhere that since going into syndication, there hasn't been a single day The Andy Griffith Show hasn't been on a channel somewhere.

Once Barney Fife (actor Don Knotts) left the show, I lost interest. It was also about that time the shows went from a black and white format to color. (That's right kiddies, TV hasn't always been in color.) I don't care for the color versions because:
• Barney isn't a main character
• Helen Crump--Andy's girlfriend--is much grumpier than her black and white version
• The episodes lost their small town charm as Opie became a teenager and got all caught up in trying to be groovy and impress the girls with his cheezy band and mock turtlenecks...sorry, kinda rambled there for a second.

I recorded all of the B&W episodes (seaons 1 through 6) on VHS years ago. Some years later, I received all of those episodes on DVD for Christmas. I purchased and received as gifts several books about the show and it's characters--including one of Aunt Bea's recipe books. I also have an Andy Griffith Trivia board game, but no one in my family will play with me. To quote Barney: "He's a NUT!" (referring to myself) when it comes to Andy Griffith.

Well... a few months ago, I received an email about a business related conference to be held in February 2011. I kicked around the idea of attending, but really got excited when I noticed, looking at a map one day, that the conference was in Hickory, NC. Now there's nothing that really grabs me about Hickory, NC...except the fact that it is just south of MOUNT AIRY, NC which just happens to be the boyhood home of Andy Griffith, as well as the Andy Griffith Museum! Mount Airy also hosts Mayberry Days each Fall, the first weekend after Labor Day, but I've never been able to attend. Dana and I have talked about it, but it's just never worked out.

By now, I'm sure you've figured out where all this talk about Andy Griffith is headed. I registered for the conference, and with my boss' approval, booked my flight for a couple of days before the conference--turns out I got a cheaper ticket doing so--and made plans to visit Mount Airy!

Mount Airy sits at the top of the state, just east I-77 and about an hour north of I-40 and is the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry where Andy Taylor--played by Griffith--is the town's Sheriff. I landed in Charlotte, rented a car and drove to Mount Airy this past Saturday. I arrived in town too late to eat at the Snappy Lunch diner--famous for their pulled pork sandwiches, but I did have a little time to walk through the "historic downtown district." Floyd's Barber shop is there next to Snappy Lunch; and down the street is the Blue Bird Diner, businesses immortalized on the AG Show. Many of the street names in Mount Airy were also used in the show, as well as names of locals Andy grew up with.

As dumb as it may sound, it was a thrill to be walking on some of the very same streets that Andy may have walked on while growing up. The museum was closed by the time I arrived in town, but it was open on Sunday afternoon. I stayed the night and planned to hit the museum the next day.

Sunday morning, I made my way back to the downtown area where I found a couple of old buildings that appeared to have been restored and modeled after some of the businesses in Mayberry. Obviously, a lot of the town's appeal is Andy Griffith and many of the businesses have capitalized on that appeal, including "Mayberry" in their name or advertising Mayberry souvenirs. I also went by Andy Griffith's boyhood home. It has been purchased from the family and offers the opportunity for visitors to stay there! Wish I had known THAT in advance.

The highlight of the trip was the museum--filled with photos from the Andy Griffith Show, as well as promotional posters from movies and other television productions which starred Andy Griffith. Barney's suit, the "salt-and-pepper" complete with his hat, is there, as well as Otis Campbell's (played by Hal Smith) frumpy jacket and tie. One of Sheriff Taylor's uniform shirts is on display, as are the original signs from the Sherriff's office doors--SHERIFF and JUSTICE of the PEACE. Several items that sat on the courthouse desk are on display, including Andy's gavel. There are also items donated by Goober (George Lindsey) and Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn), Barney's on camera girlfriend, in the museum. Newspaper and magazine articles chronicling The Andy Griffith Show line the walls along with many other items either used in the show or related to Andy's time living in Mount Airy.

I imagine I was grinning from ear to ear as I looked at each display, recalling particular episodes and/or memorable lines from the shows characters. My favorite episode is when Barney buys a new car. Barney and Andy are sitting on the front porch of Andy's house, waiting on the car's owner, Mrs. Lesh, to arrive.

Barney: This is just about the biggest thing I ever bought.
Andy: It's a major step.
Barney: Last big buy I made was my Mom's and Dad's anniversary present.
Andy: What'd ya get ‘em?
Barney: Septic tank.
Andy: [amazed] For their anniversary?
Barney: Yeah. Oh, they're really hard to buy for. Besides, it was something they could use. They were really thrilled... 2 tons of concrete, all steel-reinforced.
Andy: You're a fine son, Barn.
Barney: Well, I try.
I laugh every time I see that episode as if it's the first time I've ever seen it. The only thing that could have made the trip any better, was if Dana could have come with me. Of course, she probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as I did.

I left the museum,and snapped a couple of pictures of the statue of Andy and Opie that sits out front. And for just a moment, I think I heard somebody whistling the "Andy Griffith theme song"(It actually has a name--The Fishin' Hole and lyrics, though I don't recall hearing them on the show.)

One more thing to I can check off my "Bucket List". Thanks Andy, Barney, Aunt Bea, Opie, Gomer, Goober, Floyd...and all the others for the memories/laughs.

More Mt Airy pictures here

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Yesterday, I was a Senior in High School and I had big plans. As long as I can remember, I have been able to draw just about anything. I also have a love of type/fonts. And finally, I LOVE music, especially music from the 70s. My plan was to graduate, pack my stuff and move to Macon, GA --home of Capricorn Records and most notably, the Allman Brothers Band. Other artists recording at Capricorn were Wet Willie, The Charlie Daniels Band, and The Marshall Tucker Band--I loved them all. I was going to walk into Capricorn and ask for ANY job they might have. ANY JOB! I just wanted to be in the building and I didn't care if I had to work for free and sleep on the floor. I wanted to be where I thought the center of 70s Southern Rock was happening. During that same period, there was an artist by the name of James Flournoy Holmes that had done several album covers by the aforementioned artists. I hoped to meet him and maybe be able to show him some of my stuff. I just knew he would look at my work and say: "We gotta hire this guy!"

I graduated from High School and never made the trip to Macon. Seems like yesterday, but it was 35 years ago.

Yesterday, I graduated from OSU-Okmulgee with a diploma in Commercial Art. There were 75 of us that began the program; 12 of us finished. There were three of us that quickly became friends and throughout our time at OSU, it was a contest to see who could outdo the other, whether it was our class assignments or the pranks we pulled on each other, as well as our classmates. We graduated at the top of the class--I was number three--with very high hopes and prospects. Two of us made the decision to open our own design studio rather than working for someone else. We were going to make it big and we were going to make a LOT of money.

We did pretty well for a while, but making a long story short, we weren't very good money managers and ended up closing the doors to go our separate ways. It seems like yesterday, but it was 32 years ago.

Yesterday, I met this girl. I was painting a window sign on one of the businesses in the town where I grew up. She and some of her friends stopped to watch. "Did you draw that freehand?" "How do you make those lines so straight without a ruler" "Are those special brushes?" I answered all their questions, but the whole time I'm thinking: She is CUTE!! I've got to get a phone number.

I got the number; we dated for a couple of years. We got married in May of 1980--over 30 years ago--but it seems like yesterday. (She's still cute!)

Yesterday, we went to the hospital for the birth of our first son, Ryon. A few days later, we were back at the hospital for the birth of his brother, Alex. Ryon is now in college; Alex graduates from High School this Spring. It seems like yesterday...

Yesterday. It goes by pretty quick. Actually, it FLIES by! There were a lot of things I intended to do, but never did. Some of them, I'll get around to; some I'll never have the opportunity to do again. The things I did accomplish--those are good. I wouldn't trade them for anything. That's yesterday.

I still have today and tomorrow, which opens all kinds of possibilities. Sometimes I take on too much and get bogged down in the details of all the stuff to be done. But all that stuff is really surface.

One of the most most important things I need to work on is Yesterday, I got married, and became a father. Those things are way more important than all the other stuff. Sadly, I don't do those jobs very well sometimes. Today, I'm going to try to do better, but I better get busy...because tomorrow, today will be yesterday...

Monday, February 07, 2011


We've been remodeling our house. Until recently, we've never really had the time or money to do anything major, but in the past couple of months, we've embarked on a fairly large project, i.e. new wood floors in the living area and hallway, new carpet in the master bedroom, and new paint throughout the house.

Still on the list is new trim and baseboards throughout (I'm making most of that), refacing the kitchen cabinets-including replacing the existing cabinet doors, replacement doors throughout the house (the builder's used a cheap hollow-core door; we're upgrading to a craftsman style 5-panel door), new appliances in the kitchen, and replace the tile in the entry and one of the bathrooms. I'm still deciding on what I may or may not do to the master bathroom. Now, don't get the wrong idea--we're not loaded and we're not spending near the money on these projects we could, mainly because I'm doing a lot of the work myself. And, we're pretty simple people; none of the changes/additions we're making are extravagant.

We live in an older neighborhood, the houses are all close to 20 years old or older. When we moved into our house, the neighborhood looked pretty good. Now, there are several rent houses on the block and people haven't kept their homes up like they could, so it looks a little worn in places. We stay because we like the layout of our house and it's CHEAP. You'd die if I told you how low my mortgage payment is. I'm pretty sure that we've over-built for the neighborhood, but we're not doing any of this to sell the house in hopes of getting more money for it. We just want to fix it up the way we like.

So, this past week we've been confined to the house because of that huge snowstorm that has hit the Midwest United States. Our town received 21 INCHES of snow in 24 hours! We sat in the house for several days...thankful we had heat, plenty of groceries, and a dry roof over our heads. During that time, we watched a bit of television, especially DIY, HGTV and A&E--all of those channels that show the "How-To" shows, and people flipping houses, etc. What really gets me about those shows is the amount of money people spend on some of their remodels. "We've got a budget of $75,000 to renovate the kitchen." Geezo-PETE! That's more than I paid for my entire house!

When the TV remodelers are asked about their projects, they say things like: "We entertain a lot, so we really needed a large area for friends...because we entertain a lot!" What does that mean, we entertain? Do they juggle? Have a trapeze act? Do a little standup comedy? It must be something like that because they just added 5000 square feet to their 4500 square foot house! And just how many people do they entertain that they need so much space? Since moving into our house 19 years ago, I can safely say that there's NEVER been a time we needed that kind of space. In fact, I can't remember there ever being a time we've had more than 10 other people in our house at a time!

Maybe we're just not very entertaining people...but we do have a nice, new floor.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

DISCLAIMER: I'm eating a Baby Ruth candy bar as I write this.

I'll be the first to admit I'm not the epitome of health. I mean, I know I could stand to lose a few pounds...actually, about 20-25 would be about right. Is that still considered a "few"? But, and you knew there would be a but, I gotta tell ya, all this obsession with losing weight, cutting calories, trying to keep track of what's good and what's bad for your cholesterol, etc. gets a little overwhelming at times.

There are all kinds of books on weight loss, weight-loss programs, e.g. Weight Watchers, and even reality TV shows about people losing weight--Biggest Loser, Heavy, I Used to be Fat, and Obese to name a few. Tulsa area Youth Pastor, Sean Algaier, lost 155 pounds on The Biggest Loser. That's a PERSON!

Now, I know that some people really struggle with their weight; some have medical conditions that cause them to put on extra weight, but let's be honest--the reason most of us are on the "chunky" side is that we don't do enough push-aways, i.e. PUSH AWAY from the table! That's me. I love to eat...and I love to eat stuff that isn't good for me.

I went in for a physical not too long ago and the doctor told me my cholesterol was a little high and that I could stand to lose a few pounds. Oh, and I don't have colon cancer either, so I guess that's the good news. "Do you work out or anything like that?," my doctor asked. I told I did (and I do); I try to make it to the gym three to four times a week. Nothing overly strenuous--I get on the treadmill or stationary bike for about a half hour, then go through several different sets on some of the weight machines. I'm not trying to bulk up, just trying to stay fit.

"That's good," he said. "Keep that up --(he paused)-- and why don't you give up a double-meat cheeseburger a little more often, maybe eat some low-fat yogurt rather than the ice cream, okay?" I can do that, and I've been doing pretty good. It never hurts to eat a little more healthy, but honestly, I'm not going to knock myself out, 'cuz here's the deal: I'm 52 (soon to be 53) years old and I'm NOT going to be as thin as I was in high school...EVER. I'm in pretty good shape other than the "love handles" and I can't wear 32-inch-waist Levis anymore. I'll cut back (and have been) on the bad stuff, but from time to time, cholesterol be danged, I'm going off the wagon!

The way I've got it figured, this life ain't a practice run. It's the real deal and you've only got one shot at it, so I'm going to enjoy a little bit of it while I'm here. I'll keep going to the gym. I even got my Trek road bike out this past fall and started riding again; even talking about doing Oklahoma Freewheel again (I've done it twice) or some other ride, maybe Hotter 'N Hell. And every once in a while, I'm going to stop by Coney I-Lander!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

God Has to Follow the Rules?

I am a Christian, a Christ-Follower, Believer, "religious", "Bible-Toting-American"...whatever label you wish to put on me. I believe in ONE God, the only God of the universe. I believe He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present. I believe every word of the Bible is true. I also believe that God hears our prayers and actually does something about them, i.e. answers them. Sometimes the answer is "no;" sometimes the answer is "wait;" and sometimes the answer is "yes." God is God; I am not. HE is the one that determines how things will be.

Prayer is not about ME getting what I want--it's more about me submitting my life to God's authority/direction. Putting my trust in Him to know what is best for my life. But I still pray. I still ask. And I still believe that, even when things don't go the way I think they should, God knows what is best, He knows how His answer fits into His perfect plan much better than I ever could.

So, to my point, I got a phone call the other day from a friend who also identifies himself in much the same way as myself. The reason for his call was to ask me to pray for a friend of his that was having some serious medical problems and would be going through surgery that week. "Sure," I said, "I'll pray. Let me know how things go." I hung up the phone and prayed. (I find that if I tell someone I'll pray for them, and I don't do it right then, I tend to forget. That may be an entirely different post.)

A few days later, my friend called to let me know the surgery had been a success. His friend was recovering nicely and should be able to return to a lifestyle they enjoyed prior to the surgery. We both commented on how good God was/is to answer our prayers and how grateful we were that we believed in and served a loving, healing God.

As we continued to talk, the conversation turned to the Bible, specifically Creation. I am a 24-Hour Creationist, i.e. I believe God created everything in six, 24-hour periods ("...there was evening and there was morning, the first day...", etc.) by simply speaking it into existence. That's how I read the account in Genesis and it seems pretty straightforward to me. My friend doesn't believe that way. He believes--in a nutshell--that God did indeed create "the heavens and the earth" as it states in the Bible, but he believes God put things in motion over a period of millions and millions of years, having put into creation all of the DNA/molecular structures and allowing men, animals, sea creatures, and plant-life to evolve into what we see today. He reads the "days" in Genesis as being figurative, long periods of time.

I asked him why he believes that way and he explained:

I believe God created everything, but there are things in Genesis that just don't add up or make sense to me; things that appear to be figurative in nature. I also have a hard time believing that on the first day (or period) of creation, God created light, but it wasn't until the FOURTH day He created the sun, moon, and stars. Now how is that possible? The Bible says God created light and darkness on the first day and called them morning and evening. That's just not possible without the sun!

I knew a rebuttal would be fruitless, so I just commented something like, "Well, we will just have to agree to disagree on that one, " and we finished the conversation with some small talk and a promise to get together some time soon.

Later in the day, I was thinking about what he had said. His explanation sounded good, if you contend that God HAS to do things in a particular order. But that puts limits, i.e. human limits if you will--on God. If God is God and capable of CREATING an entire universe, who says HOW He has to do things? And what really got me to thinking was the prayers we had prayed. We both believe that God is all-powerful. We both believe that God is capable (not because we prayed, but because He is God) of healing someone, whether it be through the skillful hands of a surgeon OR by reaching into our human realm and completely removing a cancer as if it had never existed!!

If God can make cancers disappear, not to mention intervene in the courses of human history, direct the actions of men, cause events to come about, that from a human standpoint, seem totally insurmountable...who says He can't create LIGHT without a sun?! If you believe Jesus could take five little barley cakes and some sardines and feed over five thousand people, I don't believe it's that much of a stretch to believe God can create an entire universe, instantaneously having all the laws of physics, etc in place, capable of sustaining life and do it simply by saying "it is so"...and do it in any order He sees fit.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Not A Fan

I've lived in Oklahoma all of my life and I've never been a fan of the University of Oklahoma, aka OU, aka "Sooners" football team. I just don't like them and haven't for a long time. In fact, my disdain for OU goes back to the Barry Switzer days.

Actually, part of my dislike for the team is due to their fans; many of them I am acquainted with are down-right obnoxious. Their team is the best team in the ENTIRE NCAA! Their team is definitely better than your team. Their team has won this and Their team has won that! And God forbid you don't love their team as much as they do.¹

Here's the deal: I enjoy watching a sporting event from time to time. I played baseball from the time I was six years old until I entered High School. Like most every red-blooded American boy in the 60's, I dreamed of growing up and playing in the "big leagues". So I'm not against sports per se; I just don't put them in a place of prominence in my life.

Many sports fans live as if their team, its existence, its wins and [gasp] losses, its coaches, it players...are THE thing that makes or breaks their very own existence. Everything they own has their team logo on it. Their dog, cat, horse and parakeet (if they have one) are all named "Sooner" or "Boomer" (OU fans).

I watch NCAA baseball, basketball and football WHEN I HAVE TIME. I don't plan an entire weekend around it. I don't go into a manic state of depression when "MY team"² doesn't win. I watch the game. If the team I like wins, great. If they don't, I go out and mow the lawn or whatever activity/chore I've got lined up. I don't have entire team rosters memorized. I can't tell you who won the National Championship last year...or the 15 years before that. I can't tell you the names of the Offensive and Defensive coaches. In fact, I can rarely recall the final score of a game the next day. It just doesn't matter to me.

Sadly, some of these same fans, when asked, couldn't name their current Senators or Congressman. Some won't be able to tell you the names of the three branches of the Federal Government. Some won't be able to quote the books of the New Testament...but ask them who the starting defensive tackle or quarterback is for their team and they'll be able to tell you his age, weight, GPA, color hair, where he went to high school, his major, his stats from the last three seasons, his jersey number, and his celebrity girlfriend's name!!

It's just a game people, and in the total scheme of things, it really isn't that important.


¹ The Sooners have amassed an impressive number of National Championships in football, seven to date, I believe. All together, they have won 26 NCAA National Championships in baseball (2), football (7), golf (1), gymnastics (8), wrestling (7), and women's softball (1).

² For the sake of full disclosure, I graduated from Oklahoma State University (OU's in-state rival) and that's about the only team I'll make an attempt to follow. During my time in college, I don't recall actually attending a football--or any other sporting event. I have an OSU sticker on my vehicle, but again, my life doesn't revolve around the OSU Cowboys. The "Pokes" haven't won a football national championship, but the OSU does have 50 NCAA National Championships in wrestling (34), golf (10), basketball (2), baseball (1), and cross country (3). They have the fourth highest number of total NCAA Championships:
1. UCLA (101 titles)
2. Stanford (94 titles)
3. USC (84 titles)
4. Oklahoma State (50 titles)

Does that mean MY team is better than theirs?