Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What's Your Excuse? 10


We all have them. EXCUSES! Reasons why we can't accomplish something.

Reason why we can't:
  • Travel
  • Lose Weight
  • Earn More
  • Have extra time
  • Vacation
  • Improve our skills
  • Better our situation
  • Eat right
  • Exercise
  • And many more...
This series exists to hopefully help you and I both stop making excuses. For today's post, I present an amazing athlete by the name Adam Bender.  A malignant tumor was discovered in his thigh and by age one doctors had to amputate his leg.  Unwilling to ever sit in a wheelchair, Adam has not only managed to continue life in upright position, he is excelling in all kinds of sports.  Below is a clip from his most recent baseball season and as you will see, nothing slows this young man down.  For more about Adam CLICK HERE for the ESPN article.  Enjoy and STOP making excuses!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Heroes & Hope 11

We live in trifling and uncertain times. I tend to highlight the more concerning topics fairly often. So in effort to be fair and balanced, it seems appropriate for me to present another series that highlights people, events, accomplishments, and the rays of light God gives us for encouragement sake.

This week I have fifty-five year old, homeless man Billy Ray Harris who mistakenly became the recipient of a woman's very expensive engagement ring.  She had put the ring in her coin purse but forgot about it when dumping it's contents into Billy's cup.  He had no idea it was there until he counted his contributions at the end of the day. Figuring it was a fake, he took it to a jeweler to have it appraised.  That's when he realized someone must have made a mistake.  The jeweler offered him $4000 on the spot for it and he refused.

Billy admits to considering the temptation especially in his circumstances of poverty but instead he held onto it hoping to run back into the owner.  Sure enough, realizing the mistake she'd made Sarah Darling did indeed return to him in hopes that she would be able to reclaim her sentimental prize.  He handed her the ring, much to her delight and felt so compelled to express thanks that she gave him every dollar she had.  But it didn't stop there.  Her soon to be husband, Bill Krejci set up a donation page and set a goal to raise $1000 dollars for their good Samaritan.  As you will see by following THIS LINK, he reached that goal and then some.

I submit that we actually have three heroes in this story.  Billy Harris may be the focal point but I think the grateful couple really came through as well.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Finding His Niche

My eldest son Michael has presented me with a daddy challenge when it comes to organized sports.  It never occurred to me that my offspring might not take to such activities in the same way I did, which was very competitively and aggressively.  What I may have lacked in talent could usually be masked by this inner desire to never quit and die trying.  I sort of thought that was an innate part of being part of the male species but he has proven me wrong.  Mackenzie has that kind of hunger but Michael is more cerebral and wants to understand why aggression is useful before he even considers harnessing it.  So in other words, he is much smarter than me.

Thankfully he has improved season by season in soccer.  He has decided football isn't for him and is now participating in Karate.  I had always believed that individual sports might be an area where he would excel but hadn't ever had the opportunity to test the theory.  So we started with the Red Tiger program in Denton about 9 weeks ago.  The first half of the semester was spent learning the five white belt moves.  Michael had trouble with a few moves, especially getting his leg up high when doing a round house or side kick.  But for the most part he understood the mechanics and was getting a good workout each week.

Then sparring started.  I was worried because he is my non-aggressive kid and let's face it, sparring is a nice word for fighting with pads on.  So I coached him like it was a video game (something he excels at) and we talked about various strategies that would give him an advantage against his competitors.  Everything from making the first move to putting together combinations that would close the gap between him and the opposing fighter quickly so he could land a scoring strike.  I knew if he would listen to me that it had the potential for a good result.  But I had no idea just how effective our plan would be.  His first sparring practice he won 5 out of 5 matches.

The next week he excitedly asked me to help him come up with a few more strategies to add to his already effective arsenal.  I thought it was a good idea since some of his competitors might be picking up on his methods and adjusting to them.  So we hatched a few other options so that he could change things up as needed.  He officially ended this semester with 20 wins and 1 loss and even took home the first place trophy at the tournament.  I really could not be more proud and I certainly believe we've found his niche.  Karate for as physically demanding as it may be is a very cerebral sport.  It requires you to analyze your opponent and always be looking for a weakness or point-scoring opening.  All of which Michael is well suited to take on.

There is something very rewarding beyond trophies and ribbons when your child finds a place and activity to plug their God-given abilities into.  I highly recommend you take the time and let your children find their niche as well!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back On The Horse

And by horse I actually mean bike.  And by bike I mean my Motobecane Record road bike not the BMX variety I might have piloted as a child.  This is the steed that has taken me across several MS150 finish lines and 30 to 50 mile workouts over the last decade.  But I will admit both me and the bike had to shake off some dust due to prolonged periods of neglect.  I am, despite having lost 30 pounds last Fall, back to my squishy state and poor cardio fitness level.  I haven't gained all 30 back but close to 20 which is just sad really.

So I decided to load the bike into the minivan and the entire family went to the in-laws for a swim.  The plan was to ride home which I originally calculated to be around 8 miles distance.  That kind of distance is nothing to brag about when most cyclists do a minimum of 30 per workout but closer to 60 if they have the time.  But I figured between the extreme summer heat and my conditioning this would be a good way to break my body in slowly.  So I took off and kept a pretty decent pace getting out of Bridalwood with an average MPH of 18.  I figured this should only take me about 30 minutes to get to the house so I left a little bit ahead of my wife hoping to arrive at the house about the same time.

Overall the ride was a good one.  It was good enough that I will excitedly look for another opportunity in the near future to venture out again.  But I underestimated three factors that ultimately made this first trek out a bit more miserable than it needed to be. (1) The heat.  This was around 4:30PM which is when the hottest part of the day is finally giving way to some cooler temps but in Dallas that can take hours.  It was like riding through warm butter.  It was stifling and made me constantly have to gulp water down, which in turn filled my stomach too fast and created a bit of nausea.  (2) The hills.  All cyclists have their love/hate relationship with hills.  When we are in top form, we love to conquer them and imagine we've just won king of the hill in the Tour De France.  When we are in squishy form, like I am, they are the bane of our existence.  This ride home had two really tough hills that almost brought me to my knees.  (3) The distance.  Thankfully I didn't underestimate this one too bad.  But I did end up travelling 10 miles instead of 8.  Despite all these factors and a five minute roadside break to catch my breath the total ride time was 40 minutes.

The endorphin's soon took over and I caught the bug to start working out again.  Let's see if I can't get back down to fighting weight again.

But no more riding in the heat!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Photo Friday Frenzy - 117

Category: It's Portable

Vote closed.  Winner: Baby not included.

Instructions: Vote on your favorite two photos. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection. Mobile phone users must scroll down and click on View Web Version to vote.



Click on images to enlarge them.


Or a laptop might suffice.


Port-a-Puppy


Baby not included.


So you can go on-the-go


Comes with 100% effectiveness guarantee


Because you've always wanted to walk your fish!


Military budget cuts.


Wet-bar Bike

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Escaping the Slump

I have been in a slump for a while now.  I've barely managed to make any Youtube videos and even this blog has suffered from less frequent posting.  I've been going about my day in an almost depressing manner waiting for something or someone to inspire me.  Its not a constant state of sadness or anything...its just a gnawing ache in the soul that things are not completely good, or as they should be.  And I am not talking about the knowledge or understanding that this world is fallen.  I am talking about what is for me, these occasional time periods where I feel sidelined by God.

This morning, after what seems like months of this, I had clarity on what was wrong and how to fix it.  God very clearly communicated with me that I had my priorities out of whack a bit and how I have made something in my life into an idol.  That sounds very pagan and evil of me, doesn't it?  Perhaps those labels do fit in some fashion but all one has to do in order to have an idol is to elevate said item beyond its proper importance.  You can make an idol out of your family, out of your job, out of success, and out of your wife.  All of those things are wonderful but if you value your job over your family you've made the job an idol.

Perhaps the strangest thing about these times for me is that I recognize when I am in them but have almost zero motivation to do anything about it.  I am sure I could have reached this point of clarity weeks ago if I had done some soul searching and actively pursued resolution.  But like a pig wallowing in his mud, I made excuses about why I needed to lay there a little longer. "Oink. Oink."

Thanks be to God for helping me turn the corner this morning.  I challenge you to get out of your slump if you're in one and STAY out of them if you're not!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Photo Friday Frenzy - 116

Category: Royal Baby

Vote closed. Winner: Double meaning FTW!

Instructions: Vote on your favorite two photos. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection. Mobile phone users must scroll down and click on View Web Version to vote.



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Double meaning FTW!


"YOU will be changing the diapers!"


Amazing, isn't it?


Dave has a nice ring to it.


Doh!


Further congratulations on having nothing else
 to accomplish for the rest of your life.


Lion King parallels


Great goal!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I'm Unimpressed with Celebrity

Unimpressed
I must be strange.  I don't get excited about celebrities, royal babies, politicians, athletes, or any well known public figure.  I have nothing against them mind you.  I just never stop understanding that they are just people.  Granted I don't run into many of them in Dallas but I have had a few run-ins with various Cowboys and even an actor or two at the mall or DFW airport.

But even when I spot one, I don't make a fuss.  I don't run over and ask them to sign something for me, take a picture with me, or any favors that will interrupt their life.  Partly out of respect for their time and partly (as the title implies) I am not impressed.  I don't mean that to sound arrogant although its possible this is a pride issue at its core.  But more than anything I think it stems from the fact that people are all God-breathed creations that are special and worthy of our attention.  I don't see much value in giving extra attention to certain people because they are in the public eye.

And maybe that is why I just can't figure out why there is so much flurry and excitement over the birth of Kate and William's baby.  Their child is a wonderful blessing.  But so is the one that my close friend and his wife are about to have.  And in all honesty, I am much more excited about their baby than one located across the pond, who stands to possibly be the King of a country where that is only a title and holds no actual power.  That said, even if he had power, I still say..."Meh!'

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Let's See Some Credentials!

I am not sure Jonah's motives for running away from God's assignment was purely motivated by fear.  Sure the Ninevites were a scary bunch.  Sure they were heathens and in Jonah's mind didn't deserve the opportunity to change their ways this late in the game.  But I wonder how much of his running away was due to his own insecurities, his own qualifications being doubted?  Perhaps what scared him most was thinking he couldn't possibly be the best man for the job.

Just recently but also many other times throughout my life I am put into a position that is unexpected.  In that position I am a leader, counselor, helper, or consultant of some sort.  There is an expectation that I will have an answer and some wisdom that will benefit a person, group, situation, or organization.  After I bask in the glow of the honor that comes from such opportunity, I kind of freak out. Who me?  They must not realize what a kid I still am.  They must not realize that I'm not as put together as they think.  They must have me confused for someone else.  Don't they check credentials?

Reality is, we are broken people serving broken people.  If we wait to be qualified to help or take a leadership role, we may never take it.  That mentality landed Jonah in the stinky belly of a whale.  No thanks.  I am a firm believer that God only gives us what we can handle.  Granted, I think He must have more confidence in me than I have.  Granted He has pushed that envelope further at times than I ever thought possible.  But He is at work, He is guiding the way, and who am I to run?  My credentials are in Christ Jesus.  He more than makes up for what I lack.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Photo Friday Frenzy - 115

Category: First World Problems

Vote closed. Winner: Oh the humanity!

Instructions: Vote on your favorite two photos. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection. Mobile phone users must scroll down and click on View Web Version to vote.



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At least they didn't get her unicorn!


Time to purchase the 2-in-1 formula


Santa's slipping.


Somebody call 911!

Might as well be Mount Everest

Serious error in judgement.

Think of all the windows he has to close first.

Oh, the humanity!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

That One Thing...

Recently I watched a Youtube video of Magnus Carlsen.  By age 13 he had forced a draw in a game of chess against the number one player in the world.  Now in his twenties, he is number one...big surprise.  Chess is a game that I respect highly but do not play.  I can play, being that I know the rules and how each piece is able to move.  But there are way too many factors involved for me to even become what I would describe as "a decent player".  On easy-mode on my PC, the computer stomps me.

The game requires that you not only focus on the particular piece that you are moving but on all of the pieces your opponent has in place that could attack you and all of the other pieces you have that might be in better or worse shape based on the move you are now making.  Furthermore, good players are able to see several moves ahead, knowing all of their options and all of their opponents options.  My head spins just trying to describe it.  So again, much respect, but clearly not a game that I will ever master.  But as I watched this biography on Magnus a certain question plagued my mind.

What is the ONE thing I have an equally AMAZING talent for?  Do I even have an equivalent?  Am I asking myself this question because I am jealous and only wish I was that good at something?  Or do I have a God-led desire to be so talented but just in a different field of industry?  I cannot say that I have figured any of this out completely yet.  I think I've concluded that I am not at his level with any particular talent.  You will always be able to find a person or groups of people that are better than me at any one task, game, skill, or talent.

But I don't think that negates the challenge for me to actively seek the one thing that God might want me to hone and craft.  Perhaps that one thing turns into a ministry or helps encourage others.  Perhaps I am already doing it with this blog or in another area of life.  But I think the question is worth asking. And I think the answer is worth pursuing.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Community

I know this is a buzz word these days, especially in churches.  We want a sense of community, we want to create community, and I think there is even a sitcom by the same name.  I tend to roll my eyes with buzz words but I've never thought the idea was necessarily a dumb one.  I just acknowledge that its nothing new.  It's just a modern way of describing groups, friends, and networks of people that are hopefully supporting each other in some valuable way.

My July 4th experience from its rather horrific beginning to its amazing end is best described as a lesson in community.  It all started at the breakfast table.  We were trying to get the family fed so that we could load up and go to the small town parade in Double Oak, where our parents live.  Instead my seven year old son turned pale, became unresponsive, almost passed out, and began convulsing like he needed to vomit.  This all happened without warning and it scared us silly.  His grandma is a type one diabetic and we feared that he may be having an insulin reaction of some kind.

We rushed him to the ER where they began hooking him up to IV's, EKG's, Pulse Ox monitors, as well as taking samples of blood and urine.  Having been able to get him to sip some juice he returned ever so slightly to the land of the living while the medical staff was attempting to diagnose the problem.  Relieved that we were now in capable hands and seeing him responsive again I took a picture of him in the hospital bed, posted it to Facebook, and commented that this was not how we expected to spend the holiday.  Almost immediately, the loving responses began to flood in.  Granted it was an online community but of those that replied were neighbors of mine across the street and some friends of ours that live a very short distance away.

Thankfully the diagnosis was dehydration and low blood sugar combined with a vagal nerve sensitivity which is what caused him to go pale and almost faint.  We were released and did what we could to reclaim our holiday, keeping him relatively inactive and hydrated.  By the days end we were on a grassy hill just outside of the college football stadium in our "community" waiting for the fireworks.  We met one of those two aforementioned couples intentionally and just happened to run into the other couple while carving out a spot.  Both families asked about our son and our day and how scary that must have been to go through.  In the meantime, kids from the elementary school that my children attend walked up and began playing with each other.  I was overwhelmed.  In a crowed that numbered in the thousands we proved how small the world was and how great it feels to be part of each others lives.  Community was exemplified.  Buzz word or not, I highly recommend surrounding yourself and your family with people like these!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Liberal Madness

Let's pretend for a moment that I have no opinion about the issue of Abortion.  That I am sincerely looking at both sides of the debate and trying to figure out where I land.  One side is claiming to preserve life and the other is claiming to preserve women's rights.  Both sound like worthy causes.  Life and women are two of my favorites!  I wonder though how antics like what I've witnessed in just my news-feed on Facebook might sway me if I were actually neutral on this subject?

First of all, the majority of the posts I am witnessing are from Liberals who are quite passionately posting things like this:



Now I am not a big fan of slick Rick.  Don't trust him, don't like him, and believe he is just another puppet in the game of politics.  So this is not a defense of Mr. Perry or his foot-in-mouth syndrome.  He is George W. repackaged and just as dim-witted if you ask me.  But this kind of marketing is disgusting and insane.  Really??  Rapists is where we are taking this?  And not only are we saying rapists like it when their victims scream (which I'm quite certain is the opposite of what they want) but we are intentionally making the pro-life stance equivalent to rape?

But let's say I just chalk that one up to ignorant conflation and move on.  How in the world does one get by this?:

Texas Capital Abortion Supporter chant "Hail Satan" - Article link



It's a bit difficult to hear until the girl at the end of the video appears.  She clearly chants "Hail Satan" with her friends and then (as if to emphasize the point) engages in a demonic gesture.  Twitter was quite a frenzy with tweets like these shortly thereafter:




I really wish he was lying too.  And I realize that this reaction was directly aimed at the Christian's singing Amazing Grace rather than some overt and intentional worship of Satan.  Chanting for God's enemy will surely get under the skin of those that are singing to Him, right?  But naively embracing evil does not excuse it.  At best, even if none of these people believe in God and even if none of them think it might be dangerous to side with Satan, it is VERY disrespectful and offensive.  It's madness at its finest.

I cannot even begin to imagine the justification one might attempt in order to explain this to me!


Monday, July 01, 2013

The EXCEPTION Pledge



I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America...

...EXCEPT I don't know what that means anymore.  Are we talking about the original USA with the Bill of Rights and The Constitution or the current USA where the 2nd Amendment is under attack and the president can order American citizens deaths without due process and can even send a drone strike in order to carry such a desire out?

and to the republic for which it stands...

...EXCEPT we are a very obvious Oligarchy posing as a Democracy, neither of which is what we are supposed to be pledging allegiance to.  Benjamin Franklin said it best when asked what kind of government had been established by a curious doctor when he left Independence Hall at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  Franklin's reply was, "A Republic if you can keep it."  Regretfully, we've done no such thing.

one nation under God...

...EXCEPT this part was added in 1954 in response to the Communist threat of the times by President Eisenhower and we have done everything we can since then to take God out of our government institutions.  And which god are we under anyway?  The one that uses this symbol on our money?  No thanks!

indivisible...

...EXCEPT by religious beliefs, political stances, gender lines, sexual preference, news network, radio personality, and the Red VS Blue mindset which is an intentionally divisive strategy to keep us distracted while our government continues installing their next puppet, hoping we never unite.

with liberty and justice for all.

...EXCEPT those that use free speech to organize & protest, those that believe in Biblical values, or those that carry legal firearms, or those opposing what our government is up to, and EXCEPT in such cases when we must sacrifice Liberty and Justice for Protection and Security against terrorist regimes that were originally formed and funded by our country. 

Happy Slavery Day...er...I meant Independence Day!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Photo Friday Frenzy - 114

Category: Christian Humor

Vote closed. Winner: For The Win

Instructions: Vote on your favorite two photos. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection. Mobile phone users must scroll down and click on View Web Version to vote.



Click on images to enlarge them.


In case there's any confusion...


Who let Woody out of his cage!?


Better than Christian bail. 


Yikes.


For The Win!


Let's pray about that.


Maybe we SHOULD eat more chicken!


He may have a point!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Is It Gossip?

Today my men's discipleship group met and discussed judging others and gossip.  The first I am guilty of as most of us are.  The second is usually associated with women so I was interested to see what the guys thought in regard to that issue.  Ultimately we all admitted that at least with our wives and possibly elsewhere we do end up talking about people that are not present in negative ways.  That is not to say we don't also talk about people that are not present in positive ways too but you get my point.

As I read the chapter in the book that goes with this topic, I kept wanting to see the author give an exception clause for marriage.  I mean, are my wife and I gossiping when we discuss our siblings, parents, home group members, and mutual friends in both positive and not-so-positive ways?  The line is hard to distinguish sometimes because you are not spreading rumors and you are not seeking other parties to share these opinions with.  But you are judging those in your life and conversationally injecting these thoughts into conversation with your spouse.

If that qualifies as gossip, I am very guilty.  And to be even more transparent, I have felt guilty many times in the midst of doing it.  I suddenly become aware of the elite and hypocritical stance I am taking and then begin wondering if the person I am discussing is also discussing me right now?  I also let thoughts like, "would I want God to show this person this particular conversation in heaven one day?"  If the answer is No, then I think re-framing the conversation might be warranted.  One solution this author offers and I've seen it work for me personally is to pray for the person you are gossiping about.  Soon your heart for them, their situation, and their struggles will soften and you will become an ally instead of judge and jury.

Where is the gossip line drawn and do you think husband and wife are guilty of it when discussing the people in their lives?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Doing Nothing

There is a magical bliss in doing nothing.  One can certainly master it beyond a point of healthy balance and instead embrace an extreme laziness that borders on the absurd.  But more often than not, our society supports an over active lifestyle.  The whole reason people "need a vacation from their vacations" is because they jam pack these week-long excursions with activities.  A certain amount of touring the new locale is warranted.  It would be a shame to sit in your hotel room the entire time when there is exploration to be had and you could have sat in a hotel room much closer to home.

But over-activity is a problem.  Yesterday my wife and I took our three kids to the neighborhood pool with no other plans what-so-ever.  We lounged, we chatted, we swam, we took snack breaks but otherwise we did nothing.  We talked about how much fun it was going to be to go to Galveston this summer and do more of the same...nothing.  Just enjoying the scenery, the water, the good weather, and the company is all that is on our agenda.  We may find a restaurant, we may take just ONE day to venture out for a tour.  But ultimately this vacation will not be one that we need a break from when its over.

I am not sure if we fear boredom for ourselves or our children. I am not sure if adventure around every corner has been overly marketed to us.  But for some strange reason, doing nothing has earned a negative connotation and I believe undeservedly so.  What are your thoughts and feelings about doing nothing?  Are you good at it or is it a struggle?  How will you and your family take time this summer to do a whole-lotta-nada?


Friday, June 21, 2013

Photo Friday Frenzy - 113

Category: Bumper Stickers

Vote closed.  Winner: Crazy times!

Instructions: Vote on your favorite two photos. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection. Mobile phone users must scroll down and click on View Web Version to vote.



Click on images to enlarge them.



So that's what we call it.

Crazy times!

Probably true.

But loves irony

Sounds reasonable.

Acronym explained

Pood Goint!

Ha, ha, made you squint!