Saturday, January 5, 2013

High Expectations

In my youth and early adult life I learned many lessons and made many mistakes. Like many others, many of those mistakes were in my dating life. I didn't necessarily always make mistakes in who I dated but at the time I didn't put God first and pretty much put me first. Through that, I was much less than honorable toward the fairer sex. I also didn't always make great choices in who I dated. I was just dating. What a train wreck.

For years I went through life leaving a trail of disaster in relationships, leaving hurt feelings, regret and resentment in my wake. I probably owe more apologies than I can remember. About 20 years ago I met a young lady that inspired change in me. In short, I fell in love and became a better person for doing so. While at the time I still didn't know God was involved, I know today that through true love He was guiding me to be honorable because I had found something that I truly cherished. I found something that was more important to me than my own selfish agenda. I grew to love her more than I knew you could love, dangerously walking the thin line of idolization. I married her and we started a family. Today I have put God in front of everything and my marriage and life flourish for doing so.

A little over 17 years ago we had our first child, a beautiful a baby girl that would grow up to be a beautiful young lady. A blessing for me and my wife and a nightmare at the same time because the sea is full of self centered jerks like I used to be. Four years later we had another child. Wouldn't you know it another girl, also beautiful and also a blessing. Load the shotgun Babe, the savages are circling the covered wagon. Two girls and both of them pretty as a peach.

A little over 5 years ago my wife was pregnant with our third child and I was sweating bullets, which is a good thing because I needed them. This time we were blessed with a son. I realized at this time I had an obligation to raise him to be something that I wasn't. I pray for God to be at the forefront of all he does and that when he does start dating he will be honorable, kind, considerate and take pride in being as such.

Obviously I want my daughters to be honorable as well but I'm equally if not more concerned with who they date. This is where my expectations and my message come into play. I'm not naive and fellows I know who you are and what you are. Here is what expect if you are to hold my girls hearts. You are to honor her. I expect you to cherish her. I expect her to be before your selfish agendas. I expect you to love her like I love my wife or leave her alone. If you can't do that, you aren't good enough for her. I'm watching you. Don't tell me how much you love her - show me.

This message isn't just for those young men but for my daughters as well. If a young man isn't loving you to my expectations don't give your heart to them. I won't be honored if you do nor will God. I don't expect this for my happiness. I expect it for yours. And make sure you love him in the same way.

I pray to God you will take this to heart. Just in case, the shotgun will remain loaded.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sometimes You Have To Park The Boat

I'm sitting here this morning in what I call my man shed. It's my place for grunting, chest beating, and all things man. My fortress of solitude of sorts you might say. My tools, my smokers, my lawn mower, and most importantly, my boat. My boat was my fathers before he passed just short of 4 years ago. I suppose that's a short time in some measures but to me it seems like an eternity as I would do near anything to spend some time with Dad.

It is the dawn of the 2012 College Game Day season kickoff . As I've written in past posts, this takes me to a place of fond memories of my father. Our love for football was a special bond and we spent a lot of time in the fall watching the Georgia Bulldogs or listening to Larry Munson rant on the radio in the heat of a dove field on this opening day. Often we would cook up a feast of tailgating splendor and spend the day watching football until we fell asleep in the living room under the glow of ESPN highlights.

This morning at 4:30 AM I rose and set out to the shed to start the smokers in traditional fashion. Boston Butt, beef ribs, brats and my should be famous HWY 41 Smoked Beans are on the menu today. Kickoff is shortly after noon and I'm anxious to see the Dawgs sharpen their teeth on Buffalo to get our first look at the 2012 Georgia Bulldogs.

As the Butt first starts to rise in temperature the sun hasn't risen yet. I'm enjoying my second cup of coffee and reading some scripture with my chair leaning back against the boat.

Aside from football my father and I spend countless hours fishing whether it was in a pond, river, lake or ocean. We loved it and my father spent the last few years of his life doing as much fishing as he did anything else. When he passed I figured I would continue where he left off with the possession of his boat and a lake a few miles down the road. For the first 6 months or so I did exactly that. Then in a time of being lost in mourning and desperation the best thing that ever happened to me happened. I became a Christ follower. When I did, I dropped everything and went head first into my walk with Christ and I'm still there today. I got involved in a satellite church launch and I'm very passionate about the church and it's success to reach lost souls - People that are lost just as I was less than 4 years ago.

With that commitment, the boat doesn't leave the shed that much. I often feel like I'm letting my father down with that boat sitting there in the shed collecting dust, fuel going bad in the tank, and the fishing line dry rotting on the reels. Aside from needing to be serviced in a big way the boat's still in good shape but boats even sitting in a  shelter still require lots of care and I do a pretty poor job of doing it properly.

As I am sitting in the shed this morning pondering on that almost shamefully, I start reading the following scripture:

Mathew 4: 18-22

The First Disciples

18 As He was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. 19 "Follow Me," He told them, "and I will make you fish for people!" 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them.
22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.

 Immediately after reading this I am given both confirmation that I should have no shame. Because my Father is certainly pleased with my actions. Which father I speak of here doesn't matter. I too have become a disciple and I thank my Lord for favoring me with the ability to do such. Feeling tired and even bitter sometimes because I don't get to do all of the things I love as much as I used to, I am sure and steady in the right path.

The butt is starting to drip and the last stars are starting to fade with the imminent rising of the sun. There will be Smoked pork, ribs, beans and boiled peanuts today in typical Webb tradition. Father is here in spirit and it is a good day.

GO DAWGS!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SHAZAM!

Anyone that had a childhood that resided in the 70's may remember a TV show on Saturday mornings called The Shazam Isis Power Hour back when cartoons and kid shows didn't have their own channel. In those days Saturday was about the only time to see a cartoon other that the occasional reruns right before or after school. This particular show was a cheese filled hour that I indulged in every Saturday.
 
It's been some time since I've posted so I thought I'd update what's up in the cave with a little 70's flare and see if I can make it relevant.


My walk with Christ continues to mature and as I serve more, study my bible more, testify more and love more, I find less time to do other things such as Blog. I find myself spending much less time on Facebook as well. At the risk of revoking my man card I will admit I have discovered pleasure in a little on-line entity known as Pinterest. It is a source of visual inspiration, nerdy humor and endless recipes. Many evenings have been wasted giggling over Geektastic humor or salivating over some sweet dish posted by other users. In the heart of "football winter" it is easy for me to come up short for blogging content.

There has been one thing in my world that has humbled me, inspired me, blessed me and bewildered me. I am for all realistic purposes still very young in my walk with Christ.  However, the people at my church have nominated me and thus I was selected, to serve as an elder for my church. I didn't generally consider myself elder material and often I wonder what are they thinking. However I am greatly honored just to be considered and will serve to the best of my ability with everything I have to offer. Some may wonder what an elder is as did I early on. The term alone reminded me of Shazam. young Billy Batson would call upon the wisdom of "the elders" to teach some moral lesson with each episode. The elders of my church are leaders to uphold the moral values of our church vision and protectors from anything that prevents anyone from encountering Christ. So as I strive to overcome my own sinful nature I also pray upon my Father to give me the strength to be a church leader. A champion if you will. Me............wow!


The elders on Shazam were portrayed as animated representations of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. I'm not sure how Solomon fits in with the rest of those monkeys but I suppose something had to represent wisdom as that was his "superpower". So what is my super power as an elder one might ask? Obviously I don't have any super powers ( other that my uncanny ability to smell fire ants and hymnals) but as an elder I am able to bring some things to the table even as green as I am in my walk with Christ.





First, I am no stranger to leadership and I am comfortable in that roll. I am more that happy to use my experience there to serve Jesus and His church. Sometimes elder meetings for church business are very much like meetings in the corporate world. However, job security with the Boss at church is much better as I will get to serve Him forever!


Second, I am one who will speak the truth and what is on my mind even when it isn't easy. I'm counting this as a positive although it has the potential to be a double edged sword.

Third, I have a genuine love for Jesus and His church. I am very passionate for it and will fight for it.

Fourth, I have a strong sense of people and their intentions, good or bad. I know when someone is genuine, fabricated, good or bad. Not sure if this is so important for an elder other than the protection element. This too can be a double edged sword as it could prevent me from spending time with those that NEED Jesus.

I very much dislike fake people or people who identify themselves with items or monetary value. I don't like bragging at all. Now I'm not talking about bragging on your favorite sports team. I'm talking about self idolized bragging. Sometimes good deeds are bragged on. I can understand being proud to a degree but some folks just love them some "me". Ughh!! disgusting. Makes me want to punch them in the forehead! However, these are the very people that need Jesus. They seek recognition. They seek to belong. They lack the contentment of being the adopted child of Christ. Many of them are right there in the church disguised as
Christ followers. I call those the "look how much I'm putting in the collection plate-rs". They may be the hardest nuts to crack. They might read this and not know I'm talking about them. "Amen" they might say. Amen indeed.

Nevertheless I'm an elder and I hope my God and church are well served by what I do. I often think I'm in way over my head. Am I worthy? People voted me in. Does Christ not validate me? When I go to an elder meeting I am surrounded my some of the most Godly, admirable men I've ever encountered. I can't believe I stand among them. One thing I feel very inferior about is prayer. I never prayed in front of anyone before a couple years ago. I know God hears it all the same when from the heart but man when we go into prayer these guys can pray! Immaculate flow!( for you gangstas that means Mad Flow) If they were rappers I'd be in the company of Snoop Dawg, Tupac, Easy E, etc.  I get fired up listening to them pray and then when it gets around to me I make whoopee cushion sounds and spit all over the person in front of me. What an honor to be with these men. Praise Jesus for putting a bozo like me among them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ghosts Upon the Earth

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing my favorite band live for the second time. Gungor is a band hard to classify as any genre, yet it is deeply rooted in Christianity and their music is an ode to the Christ follower in every sense.

I saw them first, last year in Franklin, Tennessee with a group of guys from church and everyone of us left a fan. I do think many people won't get what they are about without seeing them live. The music is so diverse as 14 or more musicians blend blues, bluegrass, classical, and funk into a melody so sweet that literally anyone can be soothed, moved and comforted by hearing it.

The visuals in the video and light production is every bit a part of the presentation as the music. It sets the mood, the tone, and the perspective of the composers core. When I say composer I am referring to Michael Gungor. He is a master of his craft and he leads his band with love and precision to create what is nothing short of amazing musically. The percussion is demanding and complimentary to every string of every instrument. The audience is mesmerized as if their ears are touched by the velvet wings of angels. Vocally Michael Gungor has a silky smooth and vulnerable falsetto that is mesmerizing and he is complimented by his wife Lisa who's angelic voice is sweet, haunting and unforgettable.

I was accompanied by my friend Eric and his wife Alisha who were not as familiar with Gungor. On the way down we listened to the new album, "Ghosts Upon the Earth". Their reaction was that it was "OK" and they were puzzled by why I am so nutso about this music. I must admit that I wasn't sure if I liked this new album as much as "Beautiful Things". Before the end of the opening song they understood and immediately they were captivated and I fell in love all over again. It also helped me understand why I liked it so much. You really must see them live. I have seen many concerts in many genres of music and there is NONE I would rather see than Gungor. Yes, it's that good.

"Ghosts Upon the Earth" is a journey through the scripture. It should be listened to as a whole. It is the Christian equivalent to Pink Floyd "The Wall". I think if you found a hammock to lie in on a comfortable breezy day and listened to this album from front to back that you could literally experience a morsel of heaven. It is not only some of the best music live ever but it is one of the best worship services you can attend. You certainly don't have to be a Christian to love this group, but if you are a Christian you will certainly feel the presence of God. The love this band has for Christ is undeniable. They are IN LOVE with God and because of it they make you fall in love with them.

You can find tour info for Gungor here. Go see them and you will never be the same.

If there is "Elevator" or "Hold" music in Heaven, I bet it's playing "Ghosts Upon the Earth" today.



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Devastated

I've been reading a lot about Georgia's football program this week. Many in the media are asking the question of when did the program go south and what started it. There were several good answers. For the most part they hold true. The loss of Van Gorder as Defensive Coordinator, Richt turned play calling over to Bobo, loss of physical players at the line of scrimmage, etc.

I want to lay out one thing that I see wrong and I'll describe it with an example.

Saturday evening right before Murray fumbled to give up a SC defensive touchdown the camera panned the Georgia sideline after SC had just scored on offense to take the LEAD. Our offense was about to take the field again and the camera settled on our O-line. They were on the sideline smiling and hamming it up a bit. Suddenly Richt appears and looks them each in the eye and says "DO YOUR JOB". Each of them nodded in confirmation as they cleared their faces of smiles and smirks. As they took the field I felt good because I saw Richt doing some direct and intentional coaching. He called his guys out directly. On the first play from scrimmage on that drive, two defensive linemen broke through our defenses seemingly untouched. Crowell was left alone to protect his quarterback and slowed down one of the two. SC's Clowney however was free to have Murray for dinner and he did. Murray didn't handle the situation well. He didn't protect the ball at all and we gave SC another Touchdown. There is a lot wrong with that scenario. The biggest problem to me is that we have players that don't mind losing.

I didn't have the size to play ball at this level. But I did have the privilege of playing for one of this states winning-est programs. Winning meant something to us. Strangely enough, losing meant more. We didn't know how to cope with losing. We won 95% of the time so when we did lose we didn't take it well, coaches or players. I can tell you this: if the other team had just scored on us I'd like to have seen someone on our sideline smiling so I could clean their clock. I would have laid them out on our own sideline and not a darn soul would have said a thing to me about it. ESPECIALLY if we just lost the lead when that team scored. Losing was absolutely devastating. It is NOT OK to lose. It is NOT OK to enjoy yourself in losing. A winning team should be unified in the agony of defeat. I'm not even a player on this Georgia team and it takes me days before I can even talk about it. I think a lot of this Georgia team is OK with losing.

When I see the players post on twitter the next day it is evident to me that some are devastated and some are not phased by a loss. Not surprisingly it seems to be the new guys that are used to winning that are the most devastated. So I would ask coach Richt why aren't we devastated? I don't want to hear that you're working really hard to get better. I think we are already good enough. The gut wrenching agony of defeat should fuel determination to prevent that pain from returning EVER! I think we lack the heart, the desire, and the determination to do what it takes to win. We lack the will to "not lose". Ben Jones sir, you're the big nasty on our offensive line. Why were Dallas and others grinning on the sideline after the opponents score. What could possibly make a Georgia player smile after that. Why are your team mates talking about nonsense and foolery on twitter? Why isn't our team devastated. As a friend of mine put it so well Sunday afternoon, "Why is this team so content with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?"

Understand that I bleed red and black. I was born that way and will die that way but I call it like I see it. Unlike the image above I don't want to get used to it. I don't want our players getting used to it. I want us to be devastated by it and use that as  our fuel not to get better, but to BE better. That is all we need!

I am devastated. Are you?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Ox Is In The Ditch

It has taken me all week to get past the pain of the Boise State game to even think about putting some thoughts down in a post. I will lay out my thoughts of the Game in hindsight and moving forward into this weekend and beyond.

First lets look at last weeks game. What we saw in it's purest form is a team prepared to play and a team not prepared to play. Obviously we were the latter. We started out in a fashion that made me feel great, especially on defense, that the hype of the summer was legit. Then the offense exploded with the big play by Boykin. as awesome as that was it was quick and put our defense right back on the field and Boise continued to manage the field position battle and the time of possession. Our Bigger, Faster and stronger didn't stack up to the methodical, strategic and fundamental approach of Boise. Ogletree went down and the defense quickly began to lose traction. We were owned by a prepared offensive entity.

Our offensive line is the root cause of our offensive woes. We were manhandles by a smaller but disciplined defensive front. Their no huddle was quick and merciless. Ours looked like an open field huddle as we had to look to the sideline for instructions for every play once the defense lined up.  Murray overthrew the receiver several times. Several passes were dropped.  They were WELL coached. We, in my opinion, were not.

There were some bright spots. Boykin played with the heart that I wish the rest of the team would play with. Our young guys played great, including Crowell, who just needs somebody to block and open a hole.

I love this team. I love Mark Richt. However I have been in a funk of depression all week because we NEVER play to our potential. Things don't look good right now going into the South Carolina game. With the loss to Boise we have been exposed to several weaknesses. I never realized how fragile we are in depth in several areas, particularly Inside LB. We will potentially start a 210 lb walk-on that was cut from the team last year. That sound pretty darn desperate to me.

When I see the players on twitter they sound like losing is not a big deal. I know what it feels like for a winning team to lose and it's devastating. I want these guys to be devastated and move forward with that energy to get better. I don't care for the "oh well we will work harder" spill. It takes more than hard work.

Here's the skinny: Richt and staff have to coach UP this week. We have young and inexperienced players going up against upperclassmen with good experience. They are physical. We are loaded with talent but it won't get us anywhere if our team doesn't play with heart. We didn't play with heart last week. We didn't play with heart last year. The same ol gameplan will not work Saturday. It's time to GATA! If we don't we must end this and not waste time doing so.

I'm going to say a prayer for my Georgia bulldogs. I pray that they dig down deep. They grasp their hearts, and that the Lord will make them mighty. I don't mind losing if I felt like we were doing all we can. Leave it all on the field boys. Be champions in your heart. Your coach needs this. The Bulldog Nation needs this.
The Ox is in the ditch boys. Get down in there and push him out.....ALL of you. 

Go Dawgs!

By the Way -  Vols Suck!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Things That Make Me Medicate

Driving to work this morning I was reminded of several things in life that are obvious contributors to my anxiety. I thought it might be good to list some of those things here although I won't be able to go into the details of some of the more severe instigators.

During the last 10 years or so of my fathers life, I saw evidence of my fathers irritability getting more severe and the triggers sometimes seemed to be small stuff. I never understood his behavior as it manifested itself as anger, rage at times and even hatefulness which is not at all what my father was about. As I am getting older I am starting to experience some of those characteristics and with understanding and logic I am able to cope with it along with some meds. Most importantly I can feel it coming on and address it up front.

Today I'm going to talk about some of the obvious triggers for me:

  • Inconsiderate driving - Things such as failure to comply with the "Slower Traffic Keep Right" rule. I've ranted a couple times in this blog about this so I won't delve into it in any detail here today. In addition when one slowly pulls into 3 lanes of traffic into the lane with the fastest moving traffic. If someone has to slam on the brakes because of you doing this you're a jerk, particularly as you are talking on your cell phone without a care in the world for what you just did. There are people that will just as soon slap you for that as look at you. Now everyone makes a mistake driving from time to time including Moi but when I do I tend to at least acknowledge an apology with a hand up as I mouth the word "sorry". There IS a difference between inconsiderate and mistaken.
  • Unbridled Stupidity  - Once again people do stupid things including myself. However, I think most people tend to learn from their mistakes. George Santayana is credited with one of the most simple but true statements:  "Those Who Forget History Are Doomed to Repeat It". I can't go into any detail here because this applies VERY often to people I care about. I can't stand to see people do the same stupid stuff over and over again. What cooks my goose even more is when these people are so clueless that the actions are handed down to their children that make the same mistakes as though it is acceptable. Obviously, the kids are my big concern here and this one more than anything just tears me apart. I'm sitting here gritting my teeth as I write this. When my wife and I have discussions about these folks I have to ask her to stop talking and change the subject because it drives me ape........well you know where I'm going with that. This also applies to people in the workplace. I'm no rocket scientist but I get by on simplicity and common sense. On a DISC Profile I am an extreme high "D".  I think knowing I am a high "D" also helps me understand that I have a low tolerance for stupidity.
  • Stress Mirrors -  sometimes the stress of others is mirrored onto myself. This is particularly true of my wife. She's an awesome gal and when she gets stressed it sends me into a tailspin. Not much can be done here for stress is a part of life and we have to cope with it. Still, understanding how this effects me helps me deal with it.
  • Politics - This one goes hand in hand with the second bullet but warrants it's own mention because it is so specific. I despise politicians. These are not the kind of people we can trust to run our country or particularly turn our nation back over on it's feet as we are currently in a pickle. Historically I have been a Republican but the reality of today is that I despise what they have become almost as much as Democratic leadership. Republicans care about the empowerment of the Republican party, Democrats care about the empowerment of the Democratic party and NO ONE cares about the betterment of The USA. We as a nation tend to pick one side or the other and divide our nation. We are MORONS! We need a PATRIOT party that's ONLY concern is to restore our country and it's core values. Core values to me INCLUDE bringing God and Country back together. Here is how you fix our country AND our economy: First you instate the flat sales tax. This means a larger sales tax but no income tax. This way illegal aliens, drug dealers, unethical big business owners and everyone else is paying taxes and doing their part. We can't get this passed through now because those that vote on it aren't paying their fair share( or their constituents are not) and don't want to. This alone would give us cash flow to run our government and work on that deficit a bit. Second, I would start a Federal Lottery where ALL proceeds would go toward the deficit and to reinforce social security( baby boomers are about to milk that bad boy DRY!!). Third, get gasoline to $1.80 and leave it there using OUR oil while getting focus on alternative fuel resources such as hydrogen. At the same time create the future infrastructure of our oil business to use remaining oil to produce polymers we need to make plastics, etc and save as many jobs in the oil industry as possible. STOP LETTING OIL COMPANIES RUN OUR COUNTRY! ECONOMY FIXED!! Fourth, we should stop being world police and only address real threats to our nations security. Love the world and aid in disaster but quit with the free security services. Now what kind of politician speaks like this?? NONE!! A Patriot does though. A President cannot dig us out of this hole folks, it takes a nation and that means YOU! I want to vote for something other than Republican or Democratic. Can somebody show me my mark?
That is all. I'm going to take a pill now.

This weekend UGA plays Boise in the opener and we have a lot to prove. I say we do it big time. GATA!! Go DAWGS!!!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

College Football is ALMOST HERE!!

I'm pretty exited about the coming football season as my expectations for UGA are perhaps overly optimistic. Nevertheless, I have a special feeling about our upcoming season. As I have said before, our players have turned into men in just a few short months.

This season I'll be doing something a little unorthodox. Living close to our great states northern border, the UT Vol rivalry is a pretty big thing. Vol fans are faithful and clueless but when things go their way, there's not a more difficult bunch to live with.

Recently I ran across an old Vol fan who is a pretty good representation of what they are all about. I'll be sharing with you his weekly SEC Absurd Gameday Predictions for your entertainment. Here is a small sampling of what is to come. GO DAWGS!! GATA!!

 

And a reminder to any Vol fans that might happen upon this BLOG!

 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Almost Time - Sic Em!

It has been a long off season for UGA football fans. 2010 ended as a reflection of what it was: a disapointing summary of a less that expected effort. In short it was nothing beyond disgusting. Most called for Mark Richts head and at times, so did I. And for good reason. I like Coach Richt a LOT!! I just like winning better. I don't mind so much getting beat by a better team. But I despise getting beat by an inferior team.

This has become a trend over the years even reaching back before Mark Richt. In particular, we tend to start the year off out of shape and sloppy. Bad stupid sloppy! This is the ONLY reason the Cocks have put up wins on us in the last decade including last year. Yes I said it. Last years Dawgs were better than last years Cocks!! And so on and so on. This year is no different.


I like what I hear out of Athens with our strength and conditioning as I think this is KEY to get to where we need to be. That along with execution puts us in a position to be undefeated this year. I don't think that's absurd at all. If we go 2-0 the nation better look out. If we win one of the two I'll be disappointed but it will probably start a season good enough to save Richt another year. I expect great things this year. I like what Richt is doing. I like what the players are saying on twitter. I think we are mentally and physically a different bunch. Summer Camp hasn't started yet but here comes my prediction for game 1. I think the UGA DAWGS are going to whip the living bronco dung out of Boise State much as we did Shockley's last year. College Game Day will wrap up going "Oh My God !! Who is this Georgia team??" Mark my words......The Junk Yard Dogs are back!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Firecrackers and Bones

The Fourth of July is always special to me in my neighborhood. It takes me back to my childhood when kids could play in the streets after dark in the summer. Fireflies and spitball fights reigned supreme in my activities at night and my days we spent in the pool, lunching on PB&J with Kool-aid. No worries right? Very similar at my house. A culdesac street with sidewalks and the high school just up the road. The high school is where the fireworks are every year and for such a small town, it is usually quite the show.

Traditionally we walk to the high school area and unfold blankets, lawn chairs and a cooler  and just relax, watch people and wait for it to get dark for the show. We then have a short walk back to the house afterwards and don't have to grind it out in all the traffic like most others do. When we get home, Zeke (my black lab) is usually in rare form and is completely freaked out by the fireworks. He will always tear the gate to the backyard down and be waiting trembling on the front porch. There's no getting him back in the fence for the night as the neighborhood stays alive with firecrackers and bottle rockets long after I've gone to bed. He acts mad at me as if I had something to do with it. I think he usually tends to be forgiving when he gets the bones from the BBQ ribs afterwards. Nevertheless, there is no mule gate man made that will hold that dog during fireworks or a thunder storm.

Unfortunately, the fireworks this year didn't have the same ring to them. Zeke is 14 years old and not doing well this year. Friday, July, 1st, I drove him to the vet for what would be his last journey and had him put to rest. I hugged his neck and looked him in the eye as he took his last breath and his massive frame collapsed to the floor. It's such a hard thing to do. The hardest part is wondering what they are thinking of you as it's happening. This was the most gentle dog I have ever encountered. We couldn't stand to see him suffer any longer. I hope he understood and it's what he would have wanted.

Saturday night when we got home after the fireworks , the porch was vacant and for the first time in 14 years, the rib bones went in the garbage can. Goodbye Zeke, my loyal friend. We love you and miss you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Run for God, run with dog, Redux

A few months back I had a post about Run for God in which I was pretty enthusiastic about running and possibly not quite humble enough. During my second week or so, I sustained an injury or two that I had problems overcoming while continuing to run, therefore I stopped until I could heal up and start again. I watched my Run for God class move on and eventually run a 5K in the end. I was very disappointed that I didn't finish that. Nevertheless, I'm starting over with week one.

I've always said there's no way I'm going to run in the heat of summer. The other night at 7:30 PM it was 96 degrees and I ran. I'm going to let God push me this time. I'm just no good when I push myself. I was reminded of his presence this morning as I ran.

I started out just after 6 am. I made a peanut butter and sugar free jelly sandwich on double fiber wheat bread and started a brisk walk as I ate my breakfast. I recently got an iPhone and use the Nike+ app as I run, which measures my route and pace. In addition, it allows me to listen to my music playlist as I run. With my earbuds in I set out and occasionally look back to make sure my dog Zeke isn't following me. As I rounded the corner I could still see him on the porch, out of sight, out of mind.

After 5 minutes of brisk walking and some "Third Day" on the playlist, I start running: One minute running, 1.5 minutes walking, alternating between the two. At about a mile out, "Hells Bells" ends on the playlist and with the silence between songs I hear panting that isn't me and feel hot breath and slobber on the back of my leg. It seems Zeke decided to go for a run after all. I'm pretty sure he knew he had to sneak up on me for me to allow him to go. Nevertheless, halfway across the river we were so I had no option but to grind on.

Zeke is a big black Labrador Retriever. More significantly, he is just a couple months shy of 14 years old. This is a breed with a life expectancy of about 10-11years. He is OLD and we have been very seriously contemplating putting him down because he just doesn't get along well. The summer heat and the winter cold are getting really tough for him and arthritis is finally settled into his hips. Therefore, when I saw, heard and felt him behind me I thought, "Great, I'm going to *Old Yeller* this old boy, this morning, with a heart attack. However, every time I finished a run pace I would look back to check on him and every time he was still hanging in there. He did start to lag behind a bit in the end and as we got close to the house I caught him taking a short cut through the neighbors yard on the corner. What A sight the two of us must have been. After we got home Zeke seemed to be happy to lay on the concrete slab front porch and I went in to get ready for work.

As I reflect on this mornings run I am reminded of God's grace. The company of Zeke reminded me that God determines what is possible. This dog that shouldn't even be alive matched me in a 5K. With that I learn to run at God's pace. He will tell me when to slow down, stop or pick up the pace. He will determine what this old vessel is capable of and I'll come along for the ride.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

14 Words


A couple of weeks ago my daughter Blake had a dance recital at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center. Although surprisingly entertaining and in many cases impressive, it's still a dance recital and unless my daughters on stage I'm not too disappointed in missing an act. During my first trip to the bathroom I saw something interesting as I approached the urinal. It was a statement of sorts, possibly a riddle, that peaked my interest. In addition, it was very neatly placed and written in comparison to other crap house graffiti I have seen throughout the years. Neatly written red letters on a sea-foam green wall with one short phrase: "14 words". It grabbed my curiosity while simultaneously drawing me in with the imagery. With my camera around my neck, I took the opportunity to snap a photo of the interesting composition.

 This evening I was going through those photos from the recital and came across the image and once again became curious. "14 words", what does it mean? Perhaps some reference to a bible passage left behind by some presumable religious fanatic? Some sexual reference left behind from a stall jockey? I simply had no idea but I had to find out. Hello Google! What I found out was simply astonishing. This phrase and imagery that I had found so alluring and so interesting meant something I absolutely despise. Wikepedia defined it for me quickly and clearly:

"The Fourteen Words is a phrase used predominantly by white nationalists. It most commonly refers to the 14-word slogan: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children",[1] and it can also refer to another 14-word slogan: "Because the beauty of the White Aryan women must not perish from the earth."[2] Both slogans were coined by David Lane, a member of the white separatist organization The Order. The first slogan was inspired by a statement, 88 words in length, from Volume 1, Chapter 8 of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf:"

Holy bat-snot Batman!! I had encountered the most hateful gesture known to mankind in a restroom at my daughters dance recital!

 Now on to my rant. I despise racism. I can appreciate an off colored joke aimed at any race including my own, but I cannot tolerate pure hatred or suppression of a race at all. In my honest opinion, the only true solution to racism as we know it today is interracial relationships leading to the the blending of races. Then, when there is only one race, discrimination becomes geographical in itself. We are not a peaceful species and never will be. Right now, there are friends and family members alike steaming a little by what I am saying. They will have to get in line to whoop my tail because the Freemasons are in line first. Racism in today's world is something embraced by ignorant back woods inbred jackass thugs who can't rise above their own pity. They are uneducated, pathetic, unruly, and the prime candidates of the Jerry Springer Show.  They are cowards, they are Satan's minions and they exist only to hate. If you're reading this and you fit the bill, I ask that you pray for God to wash this burden away from your heart and soul. Otherwise, I hope your hell surrounds you with the very people you despise. 

 

 How does Racism work within a persons heart? Let me tell you how it works on mine. Is it fear? Yes. Is it fear of a certain race? No. It's fear of my own race for the most part. In addition it's fear of my loved ones getting consumed by some of the undesirable cultures of other races.

Let me give you and example of how both can apply to me. Suppose my daughter is starting to date a black gentleman. My first and biggest fear is what will my family and friends think. This is my first thought even before "What kind of a young man is this at heart". Second, I think, "Is my daughter going to become engulfed in the dangerous culture that is so commonly associated and statistically true in black community?" In addition, does my daughter now become the target of racism within my own race. No, I don't fear the black people of our nation. I love them! All I have is fear of racism and a desire for my daughter to be safe. Therefore, I don't become a racist but a coward faced with the fear of what racism can do to my family. Racism will die if we let it. And there are no innocents here as I believe there are more or as many racists in other races as there is my own.

I'll tell you this ( Listen up Mr. KKK ) you cannot be a Christian and a racist.

Let me give you my "14 words":
 James 2:4 - have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 

 I still think this is an interesting image. It just needed a little color. So, to whoever so cleverly wrote that phrase of the urinal wall at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center, God bless you. Yes, God even loves an ignorant backwoods turd such as yourself.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Have we become what we have condemned?

Flashback with me to September 11, 2001. Do you remember where you were when the World Trade Center was attacked? Do you remember the images you saw? Do remember the images that invoked the various emotions you experienced.? Which image spawned the most rage? Which images made you want to drag the bowels of those responsible down the streets of NYC in protest??

For me, the image that angered me the most were those of the people around the world that were celebrating our misery. I remember seeing children dancing in the streets in celebration of the thousands of American lives taken. I remember the lack of remorse and wondering how anybody could be so thoughtless. I remember wishing I could run over those little dancing bastards in my pick-up truck. I was mad. I had some very unhealthy anger. I didn't have a relationship with Christ at the time.

Now, almost 10 years later we have breaking news during the night that Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind those attacks on our nation has been killed and justice has been served. For that I am grateful. I am not proud of how Americans have responded.  All over television news I see American dancing and celebrating in the streets chanting "USA....USA....". We don't even look like Americans. We are acting like.......THEM! Where are the American patriots? Where is our class? Where is our Christianity?

My friend Jake "the Bear" McGill put it best today in a Facebook post. He said " As much as it is in our hearts to celebrate, a soul was lost that didn't know Jesus". This is a time for quite reserved celebration of justice. Not a pour into the streets celebration like we just won World Cup Soccer. Much of the southeast US is currently pulling together to assist storm ravaged areas in one of the biggest natural disasters I have ever been witness to. The response is overwhelming as big hearted Americans put life aside to aid those in need. This is the America I am proud of.  I am not proud of the disrespectful blood lust I am seeing in response to Bin Laden's death. Am I glad he's dead? Yep. Was Justice served? Partly, yes but there's more to go in what is now and endless struggle for us in the war against terrorism.


I am ashamed of some of our nation today. When did we lose compassion, respect, honor, dignity and the overall appreciation for human life, even the lives of our enemy? Indeed we have become what we have condemned. It makes me a bit sick. There's something to pray about.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Secret Societies, Broken Hearts

Sometimes my curiosity gets the best of me. Sometimes I have discoveries that I wish I never knew. Sometimes these discoveries make me feel obligated in my responsibilities as a citizen, a father, and most importantly as a Christian.


In my very first post on this Blog I stated the following:

I love people and I never want to offend or hurt anyone. However, understand that I have the potential to do so. I love Jesus, my family, and the Georgia Bulldogs. I am a 42 year old kid and love to play my x-box. If any of these things might offend you in any way, please leave now and know that I'm praying for you. 

 This is very well likely to be one of those posts and I wouldn't be me if I didn't sling it on out there anyway. So here it goes.

I have often wondered with curiosity about fraternal orders, secret societies and of all things hidden in plain sight. Particularly I have wondered about freemasons because they are everywhere. They are in our workplace, our church and even in our families. I have wondered what they were about, what they did, what they believed in and what their "secrets" were. At the same time something in my heart told me to beware. I'm not going to claim to have discovered the whole truth of all they hold private but I have discovered enough to know that it isn't for me. I hope after reading this you'll decide it isn't for you either. If you're reading this and you are a mason I hope it makes you question why. If you're a mason and you don't believe what I say is correct that is fine as well but I would ask that you ask your own brethren. Ask at a higher degree and test it to disprove it.

Before I sling the guts out of this possum let me tell you how I came upon this information. Twitter - a fantastic social media tool where I simply asked "What the heck are masons about exactly?" I got several answers in reply ranging from "parade shriners" to "old man's club". But one answer revealed what I have not been able to find on Google but confirmed much in what I long suspected. It came from someone who I have never met but online encounters lead me to believe it is a Christian source that let me make my own perception. This person posted a link to a website that gave me the ONLY answers I've been looking for. No, I don't believe everything I read but I have all the evidence I need to know what I read is true. Now it's time for the guts.

You cannot be a freemason and a Christian at the same time.( I'm going to come back and re-phrase this later - That's pretty harsh)

I cannot confirm what is stated on this website is true for all fraternal orders of free masons or any for that matter. However I have has mason current and removed, confirm parts are correct.
I'm going to quote some of what I read on the website:
Question: "What is Free Masonry and what do Free Masons believe?"

Answer:
Freemasonry, Eastern Star, and other similar "secret" organizations appear to be harmless fellowship gatherings. Many of them appear to promote belief in God. However, upon closer examination, we find that the only belief requirement is not that one must believe in the True and Living God, but rather, that one must believe in the existence of a “Supreme Being”, which includes the “gods” of Islam, Hinduism, or any other world religion. The unbiblical and anti-Christian beliefs and practices of this organization are partially hidden beneath an outward appearance of a supposed compatibility with the Christian faith.


Salvation from Sin:

The Bible’s View: Jesus became the sinner’s sacrifice before God when He shed His blood and died as the propitiation (payment) for the sins of all those who would ever believe (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:8, John 3:16).

Mason’s View: The very process of joining the Lodge requires Christians to ignore the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. According to Freemasonry, a person will be saved and go to heaven as a result of his good works and personal self-improvement.


MOST importantly I read this: 
Mason’s View: There is no exclusivity in Jesus Christ or the Triune God who is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; therefore there is no doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ. It is deemed to be un-Masonic to invoke the name of Jesus when praying, or mention His name in the Lodge. Suggesting that Jesus is the only way to God contradicts the principle of tolerance. The name of Jesus has been omitted from biblical verses that are used in Masonic rituals. Jesus is on the same level as other religious leaders.

This is where some of you reading this are thinking "you can't believe everything you read" and this is true in many cases but you can believe everything you read in the Bible without question. This is tough to swallow when we have friends and family that are masons. Still, I believe much of this to be true. 

As far as what I read on this website I offer this as confirmation that some of what is stated may be true:
When I read this I immediately remembered an old friend who revealed many years ago he was a mason when I asked him what the symbol on his ring was. It was the event that started my curiosity years ago. That friend today is a pastor in a Christian church. I immediately thought "how could this be possible?".


I didn't hesitate to text him and here is EXACTLY the conversation we had.


Me: This is Vic - I have a question. Are you still affiliated with the free masons?

Him: No my luv for the Lord will not allow me to.

Me: Praise Jesus! I just read what they teach and it broke my heart.


Moments later he called me and told me to stay away from that. He said he didn't know what he was getting into years ago and when he got saved he found out the truth. He said to tell anybody thinking about it to stay away. He said he would call me later to discuss it further. I look forward to that call this evening. That folks is all the confirmation I need to validate what I read on that website. 

I also suspect they support not only a unified god but a unified world government as well. A true sign of the end of times straight out of Revelations. However it will take a mason to confirm that. (not happening)

I remain deeply troubled by this because I have numerous friends and even family that is affiliated with the free masons. Some of them may be reading this now taking great offense to it.  Let me be clear that I think Masons are good people doing good deeds. But scripture is clear in Christianity that good deeds don't get you to Heaven. I have no ill will to the free mason, only love. They need saving too!



After posting this if anything should happen to me, my family or the Georgia Bulldogs I ask that you look for blood on the rings of freemasons. Maybe I've seen to many movies about secret societies.


In Christ - 
Vic


Same day 6:21 PM 

I have indeed ruffled feathers and have had a few contacts, some phone calls from friends and loved ones. In all cases every mason was a gentleman and presented themselves in a respectful manner. Some were however more upset than others. Those closest to me seemingly were hurt the most. I do regret hurting anyone.  I don't regret stating my Christian values.  Therein is my conflict with this whole matter. 


First let me re-phrase what  I stated above in a more respectful manner:
"You cannot be a freemason and a Christian at the same time."

I should have said that there is conflict in being a freemason and a Christian at the same time. Offended by this statement or not I do believe that to be true.

Out of the current or ex-masons I spoke with I got an array or reactions and replies. One current lodge member confirmed it is forbidden to refer to Jesus in prayer. One stated it isn't even about what religion you are.  Another said most of what the website said was garbage and that free masonry is full of Christians who openly speak of Jesus in prayer . This fellow also acknowledged you can pray to any other deity you wish to pray to openly. I was informed that they believe that Jesus is indeed the son of God yet denied Jesus is Lord(God) I asked a couple to provide me with correct documentation of what exactly their belief is and they could not because is is sacred and secret. There is nothing sacred and Secret in being a Christian and that is why I believe there is a conflict.

What is it to be Christian? It is to follow the teachings of Christ, to be Christ-like, to be a disciple and to SHOUT it from the mountain tops and to the ENDS OF THE EARTH! That is hard to do in a secret fraternal order where it is frowned upon to utter his name in prayer. I was told there are Baptist preachers who are masons(I know) as if that validated a Christian affiliation. I know of Baptist preachers that are anything but Christ like. I grew up Baptist and if I had to go to a Baptist church today I'm not sure I would go to church regularly at all. No- I'm not condemning  Baptists as I don't intend to condemn free masonry either. I am trying to try to shed light on Biblical truth supported by scripture. So let me put Christianity at the forefront. That's what a Christ follower does.

Jesus is God in the Holy Trinity. In the great Commission he tells us to shout it out to the world.
Matthew 28 The Great Commission
Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 10 32-33
"When a person stands before other people and says he believes in me, then I will say that person belongs to me. I will say this before my Father in heaven. But when a person stands before people and says he does not believe in me, then I will say that person does not belong to me. I will say this before my Father in heaven."

In closing for now, I want to stress this. I don't intend to condemn free masons but I do believe that in being a freemason you may sacrifice a large part of being a Christian. I don't claim to be the authority on freemasory nor do I know what they hold dear and what the truth is within that secret society. Further through discussions I have had today with masons there are discrepancies from lodge to lodge OR they are not all well informed on what expected practice is within that society from one lodge to the next.

I have said some things that are very unpopular to some freemasons, many of who I love dearly. On this very weekend, Jesus said some things that were very unpopular to Roman society and the Pharisees alike and he was crucified for it. I AM not comparing myself to Christ here but I AM trying to be Christ like. I've said some unpopular things and gotten roasted for it a bit. But what I say is supported by the scripture and it's no secret. If you are a freemason and can openly praise Jesus at your lodge then right on brother praise on. If you are restrained in your worship of Jesus Christ the living God, then you have a very big conflict in being a Christian. I'm not perfect but I am correct here because the Bible tells me so. And I'll shout it to the ends of the earth.
 
Psalm 71:15
My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all.


Easter Sunday Evening Afterthought 4/24 -

Often when I write an entry here I have a thought, idea, or feeling that I want to get documented as it's fresh on my mind. So I lay this stuff out often without always thinking of lasting impact. Often after a few days I might even reflect back and feel differently. In this case I still stand with what I've already written but I want to add some additional thoughts.

Four years ago I thought I was a good Christian man. I was a good guy who did good things and treated people well. I believed in Jesus, I prayed(every now and then), and I went to church (hardly ever, sometimes years passed before I did). If someone asked my religious beliefs I would tell them without hesitation. ( I believe in God).

The truth is that I knew nothing about being a Christian. I was not a Christ follower. I did nothing to step outside my comfort zone to pray with, to or in front of others. I never read the Bible which is the true document that validates Jesus is God. I never lifted a finger to tell anyone about Christ. I didn't go to church, in fact I hated it and resented those that did. I felt judged. Bible beaters made me sick. I partied......a lot! I used profanity.......a lot! I didn't serve my community at all. I didn't set a good example for youth or anyone else. I was selfish. I was wrong to think I was a Christian.

Why do I say this? Because I do want to give credit where credit is due. Freemasons do set good examples for others. They are generous, help feed the hungry and get help for others. They help heal sick children. They are doing much good in the community. In short, they do many Christ-like things and they are good people. Many of them I suppose are Christians. Many of those that are Christians carry on and don't even consider the conflict I have mentioned mostly because it hasn't been brought to their attention. I strongly suspect ( I stress SUSPECT) that in old south, there are many lodge's where every member is Southern Baptist and they pray to Jesus because they don't have to worry about offending brethren that worship another God. I also know that generally they don't allow the name of Jesus to be spoken during prayer. Neither do our schools. It's frowned upon where many of us work( I still work).

So today I want to add more clarity that each individual must determine how you feel about this secret society. it depends on your walk with Christ and how or if that walk is restrained my freemasonry. If you don't have to sacrifice ANYTHING from your walk with Christ to be a freemason then you don't have a conflict. If you do have to sacrifice anything from your walk with Christ I beg you to consider what your doing and ask yourself where you Christian values are here.

There is another fraternal order I want to mention. It's where I have brothers and sisters that I know (with as much certainty as any secret society ) will rush to my aid if I am in need of assistance. We do every bit of the good deeds that secret societies do. We have times just for the men. we have times just for women. There are no secrets. No one has to wonder about the intent of our purpose. Obviously I'm talking about church and when done right you can't get enough of it. You live it. You're a better person for it. Most importantly, you ALWAYS glorify Christ when you're doing it. I think I am done with this now. I hope it meant something to someone.







 












Monday, March 28, 2011

Prepare for the losing formula of divorce.

I write this entry today not to shame anyone who has gone through divorce or those considering it. I will try to tread lightly as to not offend or hurt anyone's feelings but I will speak the truth and sometimes that can be painful. If I cause anyone any grief I apologize in advance but understand that it is not I that brought you grief, just a reminder.

Unfortunately divorce happens. I learned recently that I live in the divorce epicenter. It has become part of our culture and in my opinion it has become way too easy and too acceptable. However each one has it's own set of circumstances and I acknowledge some are warranted. I also proclaim that some are not. I know a little about this subject because I have been through nine divorces. However, I have only been married once and am still happily married thank you Jesus! Yes - I have been through nine divorces through the eyes of a child. I have endured my parents divorces. My wife can say about the same. We are the poster children of dysfunction and by all logic our lives should be a mess. But they are not. Our lives aren't perfect but they are pretty darn good. We turned out pretty good but we did take our bumps and bruises along the way. I was inspired to write this after I spoke with a child whose parents were divorcing. As I looked in his eyes I could feel his pain. As I tried to think of things to say to him to give him some peace, I could only tell him this: "I totally get what you're going through because I've been there and it sucks - I'm sorry".  Anything else I say to him is hog wash and he would know it. The thoughts of what goes through a child's mind rushed through me as I too vividly remembered processing it as a child and not being able to make sense of it.  Let me tell you what happens inside a child when parents divorce.

A child generally has two parents in our traditional thinking. Generally that marriage consist of the dynamic duo of parenting we call Mom and Dad. However, I believe these two are much more than a duo. Marriage is between two people, Man and Woman. This is God's plan. Yet, marriage is designed to align with another holy relationship: The Blessed Trinity - Father , Son and the Holy Ghost(spirit). Lets consider marriage in that same context: Man, Woman and the Marriage as defined by God.

So if we consider a marriage as a trinity it takes three parts to make it whole. Take any part out and the marriage is dissolved by death. Let's consider the child here because after all that is our subject. The child has three parents in the trinity. In divorce, to a child, it means the death of a parent. Not literally of course but spiritually. To a child that is what it feels like to go through divorce, particularly the first one with primary parents.

The emotions a child goes though in divorce, although different, are not entirely unlike the death of a parent and in some ways can be worse. The biggest factor emotionally is guilt. Some kids may even feel guilt and responsibility for the divorce although that was not the case with me. However, I think ALL children of divorce will suffer unwarranted guilt and there is no means for prevention. They will feel guilt over feeling like they are choosing one parent over the other even when the choice isn't theirs to make. They will feel guilt over seeing their parents suffer through the pain of divorce. They will feel guilt seeing siblings upset. It's just  part of straying away from God's plan.

They will feel unwarranted anger. They will be mad at one parent for leaving and the other for not trying harder. They will be mad because the disruption it causes in their life. They will be mad because they are embarrassed.  They will be mad because the only thing they can understand is that what you are doing is stupid and selfish even if it isn't. These feelings will happen and again it is the result of straying away from God's plan. The age of a child can have varying effects as can multiple divorces. I will tell you this, even as an adult, when my parents divorced, it had impact on my life because I am still that child. I have had step parents that I loved that are no longer in my life. I have ex-step parents that are still in my life and I still love them today. Still- It's not God's plan.

Other emotional instabilities can be created by divorce as well, however, a happy, healthy child can be raised in a broken marriage. Just know that some degree of damage is done. The risk of a troubled life are greatly increased in a divorce. It is the equivalent of exposing your child to spiritual cigarettes hoping they don't get cancer. If you are a divorcee, I know this is hard to hear if you have children. I'm sorry if it hurts but I won't apologize for saying these things.  I will tell you this - "It sucks - I'm sorry". If there is no option but divorce, just be aware of the storm your kids will have to endure. Let them know you understand and that you agree that it sucks. It's OK to point out silver linings and anything positive but don't try to deceive them into thinking things will be better because they will not be. Most importantly make sure they know they are loved.

I thank my Mom and Dad for loving me through the storm.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Letters to Dad

Dear Dad -
It has been well over two years since we last spoke and a lot has changed since you left to go home. No matter what, I don't think I can get used to the inability to call you every other day. I don't like communicating to you this way at all.

I went fishing with Pops(Ernie), Robbie and Kameron this past weekend and they all send their regards. I think Ernie misses you as much as I do. The weather was awesome but the fish were being stubborn. We caught plenty and should be thankful for that and the time together but I think we all had bigger expectations. I still love to fish as much as ever but it isn't the same when you aren't with us.

Sidney is fifteen now and has her learners license. She gets to drive quite a bit but it still scares the hell out of me and the thought of her going solo scares me even more. She's on the MCHS golf team and seems to really enjoy playing. I wish you could help coach her. I think she can be really good. You would be so proud. I am. More importantly, when she isn't fighting with her sister or mother she's turning into a fine young lady. I don't know that I could ask for more. She does have a boyfriend and yes I keep a shotgun loaded.

Blake is eleven and she is a complex young lady and is growing WAY TOO FAST right now. She is really doing great with dance/gymnastics and I am amazed at all the new stuff she can do. She's had a few issues coping with feelings and anxieties but we are proud of her all the same. We are waiting for her to open up a bit so we can love her even more. When it comes to Blake I often feel like I fall short of loving my kids like you loved Windi and I. I know I love her no less but her actions make me feel like I don't do it enough. I don't think she KNOWS she's loved like I knew I was. Solidifying that understanding is where I feel I fall short.

Carter is growing fast and will soon be four. He's smart, witty and just as much a handful as you last saw him. He has no lack of energy. Only time will tell where his interest lie in the future. For now it's superheros and dinosaurs and I'm OK with that. He also shares my love for video games. I'm OK with that too. It tears me up that he doesn't know you like I do. I can only try to show him the love you would  - same as the other two.

Alisha is doing great and you were right when you said I "picked a fine one". She's been a great wife and mother as always. We are both stressing a bit over the buying a car deal right now. Never really did this without your input and involvement and in most every case your help through wholesale. This time we are on our own. We plan on paying cash for Sidney a car and although I suspect you may object we are considering KIA's and Hundai's because the reviews have been so good. Also against what I've been taught in buying a vehicle, I'm considering a new truck rather than buying it used. It's hard not to consider the option with zero % interest hanging over your head. Nevertheless, I grew up in the car business and a salesman has a bad day trying to run me through the gauntlet.

Mom reminds me that I forgot to tell you how much she misses and loves you. She just had hand surgery that's keeping her out of work and all over the rest of us. She didn't make any cake for our fishing trip, probably because of her hand. Since I'm still in weight loss mode, I was thankful for that. She drove to a woman's conference this past weekend which is a sign she is feeling much better. Pops says that means she can start doing the cooking again. We'll just have to see how that goes. I suspect Pops will be wearing an apron for a few more weeks.

My walk with Christ has never been stronger. Yea, I may say an unsavory word or statement every now and then but there is no denying I'm serving the Lord and hard at it. I'm also loving every minute of it. So I guess you could say everything is going well aside from the fact you aren't here. I love you and miss you and really wish we could just go fishing. That will likely be a while however. Cancer sucks and I feel like I've waited long enough now to talk to you. What a bunch of horse shit that I cannot!

Until then keep the boat gassed up and the bait bucket full.


Love you Dad -
Vic

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pushing the Christian buttons - The Adjustment Bureau

Ah....... Saturday night........ even better, date night with the wife! After a nice meal, my wife and I set out to take in a movie. It isn't often we get to have "alone" time with three kids. I'm sure anyone with kids knows what a treasure date night is.

Nevertheless, with the time of arrival and desired movie choices, the obvious pick for us was The Adjustment Bureau. From the previews it looked like a nice thriller and appropriate for what the wife and I enjoy for a date movie. Also from the previews one is given the impression that it is about some government agency that intervenes in the happenings of an individuals life. In particular, the life of the character played by Matt Damon in the movie. The impression you're given is partially right. Someone is certainly intervening into our lives but it isn't the Government. As a Christian, I struggled with the magnitude of the movie at its core for nearly the entire movie. Before I get into why, let me give you a SPOILER ALERT now. I simply cannot write what I need to say here otherwise.

Damon plays the title character David Norris, a playboy US Congressman from New York who loses his bid for Senate as the movie opens. On this election night as he prepares his speech to concede in what he thinks is an unoccupied men's room, he meets the character Elise and almost immediately falls in love. It was a short introduction as they are interrupted from a kiss by Norris's campaign manager. In the interuption, Elise scurries away as David is pulled away for his speech. Although they exchanged a kiss, David never caught her name.

By chance, a few weeks later they meet again on a bus. This is where the "adjustment bureau" comes in as this meeting was never meant to take place. At this time I have to identify what the  "adjustment bureau" is. They are the minions of God. Some might refer to them as angels but they don't call themselves that and God is referred to as "the chairman". They are "agents" if you will. Their purpose is to ensure the chairman's plan is carried out and if the plan is interrupted or gets off course, the agents interfere to make "adjustments".

The second meeting of David and Elise was never supposed to happen but it did because an agent fell asleep and missed his cue to interfere by spilling coffee on David, sending him to the dry cleaners rather than the bus. With that, David not only met Elise and obtained a phone number but also arrived to work on time as agents had frozen time and were making head adjustments to Davids campaign manager/law firm partner.  This is where the agents came clean and revealed the truth to David only to threaten wiping his mind clean of everything if he uttered a work or tried to pursue Elise, who he never should have met.

By chance, a few years later the couple meet again by astronomical odds. The chemistry between the two is undeniable and the tormented love story begins. The viewer is led to pull for the couple to get together. The villain keeping them apart is none other than the chairman. None other than God! As a Christian and as a sinner we are always tempted through sin to stray from Gods plan, yet I struggled with the magnitude of God being the kingpin bad guy here. In addition, I know that when God reveals himself to you it never leaves you in misery. When the Agent's revealed the truth to David, he was in misery. and eventually despite the adjustment bureau's warning, he continued to pursue the woman he loved. In turn, he is pursued in a "The Matrix" like fashion against hopeless odds.

I was also upset that the movie suggested God's plan could be upset. A timeless God, my God, doesn't need an adjustment bureau. His plan is unbreakable and if it can be changed, it can only be done so by his will. I was very uncomfortable about the position the Christian viewer is put in here. As the end of the movie  was wrapped up nicely to make me feel better about it, I still was left struggling with my thoughts. When God is revealed to you, he doesn't leave you to suffer and his plan IS the only plan and he has already won.

Overall the movie was pretty good. I simply don't have a vast imagination for how God operates. I also don't have much tolerance for how my maker is portrayed in any form of media. That's because the plan of God and his means of operation is layed out pretty darn clearly in scripture. So, if you're going to make a movie where God plays a part, at least do your homework.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Run for (rather than from) God.

In February 2010 or somewhere in that vicinity I set a goal to lose 100 lbs in two years. After an onset of rheumatoid arthritis and a pathetic attempt at Weight Watchers I found myself in August where I started in February.  Since the Tuesday after Labor Day 2010, I have been on a weight loss plan popular in NW Georgia called "Thrive". I have stuck to it with good results and in just a little over 4 months I have lost 50 lbs. Knowing that the first 50 lbs would be the easiest and the fastest, this time I told myself that I would start running/exercising after I lost 50 lbs. I knew I would pound my arthritis ridden skeleton into a pulp carrying that much weight. So, I hit the 50 lb mark and it's time to hit the pavement.

Motivation hasn't been easy since I am still a good 50-60 lbs over weight. Somehow I have to do this. Besides, when my awesome wife offered to buy me running shoes rather than video games, it was a good sign that my loved ones were in favor of me finding the motivation. Besides the obvious benefits to my health, I found the extra motivation I needed in Christ.

I have begun a Christian based "Couch to 5K" program called Run for God.  It basically takes your typical Lazy-boy Ogre like myself through a slow progression of running to a 5K in about 12 weeks. In addition, it is an awesome time for Christian fellowship and/or time with God himself through prayer and meditation. The author also happens to be a local fellow from Dalton, Georgia. Week one workout goes like this:
  • Stretch well.
  • Start with 5 minutes of brisk walking.
  • JOG for 1 minute(not run).
  • walk for 1.5 minutes and then run 1 minute repeating this for a duration of 20 minutes, ending a 30 minute workout with a cool down brisk walk.
My group met our first Monday this week and I am accountable for this workout 3 times before we meet this coming Monday. With a busy week including a very sick wife and kids activities I didn't find time to run ...er walkish run, until Friday. Running 3 days in a row isn't the optimum way to start and I think it's frowned upon quite frankly. Nevertheless I want to fill my obligation and I feel a bit determined.

So Friday I took a vacation day because a kid was home sick. As she napped, I decided to give it a go right before noon. I have felt pretty darn good recently having shed 50 lbs. However, when I hit the first 1 minute stride of jogging the ugly reality of gravity grabbed me, squeezed my cheeks and called me chubby. I am  not a gazelle. The minute although humbling was not horrible and I made it no problem through the first three regiments of alternating paces. It was about 34 degrees that morning and this is about the time asthma ran out from under a house like a doberman and bit me right in the chest. The cool air hitting my lungs suddenly made it impossible to draw a full breath and it felt like my chest was expanding about 33% capacity. For the next 10 minutes it was all I could do to continue walking. I certainly wasn't prepared and didn't bring my inhaler. I started praying as I remembered why I was doing this and slowly began to get by breath back. I stretched the workout to 45 minutes and finished with the alternating paces I started with. My ankles and feet were killing me particularly in the arches of my feet. It was time to cash in on that birthday gift and go get fitted for some decent running shoes. My foundation really took a beating.

Today my wife Alisha and I, along with our 3 year old terror Carter, loaded up and drove to Chattanooga to one of the only reputable "running" stores where you can actually get fitted with a shoe that is right for you. I got a pair of Nike running shoes and the difference from my old shoes is amazing. Click here to see my new shoes.

I stayed up till 3-4 AM Friday night playing PS3 with some buddies and after waking up around 8:30 Saturday morning, I had a busy day of cleaning house with Alisha, shopping and cooking dinner. After dinner I was still determined to get my run in and this time with new shoes! In addition, I dosed up with Albuterol to prevent any asthma attacks. I listened to my favorite contemporary Christian group Gungor on my Blackberry as I set out. WOW what a difference a good pair of shoes and some asthma medicine can make. I did the workout as recommended with ease and felt as though I could have done more. I didn't because it isn't recommended and I could still feel the pain in my feet from the beating they took the day before. Praise God it was an amazing experience and I can't wait to do it again. That will be tomorrow I hope.

I have another year to lose another 50 lbs. I can do this. God and Nike willing, I can do this. God can do this.