Sunday, May 24, 2009
Last week was "Field Day" at my kids school. That is the day when all of the children participate in several different events such as Jump rope, Sneaker Find, Tug of War and "the 60 and 100 yard dashes". I put those in parentheses becuase that is where my story will concentrate. First of all, I have 2 kids participating in this glorious day of events. Scout is my 1st grader, who goes out and just has fun. She could care less if she gets first or last. She just like to have fun. Strange enough, she recieved all 1st place ribbons. She was very proud of them, but really will forget about them in a couple of days, becuase that's the type of kid she is. She just loves life and enjoys living it whether its by being the best or not.
Nik, my 5th grader, is a bit different at this time in his life. He is VERY competetive and wants to win. He gets so "keyed" up before any competition, that he almost gets sick. Field Day was no exception. Although he didn't get sick, he did have a horribly hard time going to sleep the night before. I'm not sure if I was that competitive when I was that age or not. I'm sure that I was, but don't want to admit it.
Friday morning, the kids of OC Taylor Elementary converged on the fields to start the competition. If you have never had the privilege to attend one of these competitions, I highly advise that you do all you can to make it to one some day. Anyway, without going through all of the events, I will concentrate on the one that prompts this blog - the Dash! The 60 yard dash to be more specific.
Nik ran the 60 yard dash against his school mates and received the Blue ribbon. He was so proud and yet he seemed to be humble. The race was a photo finish. There were 3 boys who crossed almost at the same time. Nonetheless, Nik got the ribbon.
I do my best to teach him to be humble when he wins and a good sport when he loses. I'm not sure that it always comes across that way when he is in those positions, but we do work on it. Moving on - one of Nik' friends dads happened to have videotaped the race. I didn't know until the following day that he even put in on youtube for the kids to see. Nik pulled it up and watched it several times, and, to his defense, without slowing it way down, you just can't see a clear cut winner. But, being a terrible dad, I did slow it down. I wished I wouldn't have now, but I did. The video showed that Nik was edged out by another boy. Here is where it starts to get a bit sticky. Nik was sitting beside me when I saw this. We looked at it several times and he insisted that he still one. But, unfortunately, it just wasn't so. I could see the complete fear in his eyes as he saw this, but he would not admit it.
Anyway, the evening went on and this really ate at me. Not the fact that he lost, but the fact that he saw the tape and still instisted that he won. After the kids got to bed that night, I stayed awake for several hours. I rolled around in bed asking God for a way to approach this delicate situation. All I knew for sure is that, as a dad who wants his kids to learn integrity, that this was a time to try and instill some of it.
See, I heard a long time ago, someone say, "You Ooze what you are." This means that, what is inside of you comes out of you. No matter how hard you try to cover it up or how hard you try to hide it, that who you truly are will come out eventually. This has been one of the most life changing phrases that I've ever heard. This has helped me change the way I do life in so many ways. I'm not saying that I am a man with character that is above reproach and full of integrity, but I am aware of what is inside me and work like heck to make it as good as I can.
This morning, I got up and discussed this with my son. I told him that I can't tell him how to feel or what to do about this. I simply asked him to pray about this and ask God to guide him through this and reveal to him how to handle it. I have to remember that he's 11 years old and this may never get any further than our conversation on the couch. Nik is a wonderful boy with a tremendously soft heart. I can only pray that he takes this to God and asks for his guidance and conviction.
I love my kids so much that I can't stand it sometimes. But, sometimes I have to ask for God to help me with their discipline and change their heart when I can't.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
If you are not familiar with the fine work of this hospital, it is where most "less fortunate" and homeless go for care. It is a great place to watch people and, if you are so inclined, to look for good stories.
I just so happened to meet a woman yesterday that provided me with a fairly entertaining few minutes and would like to share my visit with her.
I was sitting in the main lobby waiting for the others in my group to show up. I had been there for about 15 minutes, when a woman in her late 50s or so walked up to me. She was holding 2 plastic sacks full of clothes and looked like she was homeless (I cannot confirm this through my conversation with her). Here's how it all went down:
Woman: "Sir, I just got discharged from here and don't have money for bus fare. Can you help me out?"
Me: "How much is bus fare?"
Woman: "Three dollars, but anything you can give is fine."
I open my wallet and all I have is $3, but I pull it out and give it to her anyway. She takes the money and continues to talk to me:
Woman: I" know you from somewhere. How do I know you?"
Me: I work down at the Union Gospel Shelter. Have you seen me there? Are you a resident at the shelter?"
Woman: "No!" Looking at me like I'm crazy for asking. "New York City?"
Me: "No. I've never been there."
Woman: "Brooklyn? I think it was Brooklyn."
Me: "No Ma'am. I live here and never been to New York."
Woman: "I know your parents. Who are your parents? I know them."
Me: "Well, my dad passed away and Mom lives in Amarillo."
Woman: "Your mother is a famous actress, isn't she? I know your Mom and she's a famous actress."
Me: "Sorry. No, she's a retired school teacher."
Woman: "Are you in ministry? Are you a minister?"
Me: "No, Ma'am. I'm not in professional ministry. I do like to think that I'm in ministry, though."
Woman: "I knew it. I can tell that you know God. Can you do me a favor?"
Me: "Sure. What is it?"
Woman: "Please pray for the children. Just pray for them."
Me: "I sure will."
Woman: "Oh, and when you talk to God, tell him to give me a call."
With that, she turned and walked out the front door.
I have to go now. I have a call to make.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
For most people who know me, they have heard me on my "Cigarettes out the window" rant. But, just in case you missed it, let me give it to you via blog.
Where to start, Where to start...
...Oh, how about that I think every person who throws cigarettes (lit or not) out the window of a vehicle should be strung up and put on public display to show the world their "Butt". I feel so much stronger about this than I will write in my blog because it will damage my witness and may not put me in such a glowing light, so I'll try to scale this back while still attempting to get my point across.
First of all, I don't know how anyone can ever be dumb enough to start to smoke, but that is everyone's perogative and I will not even attempt to go there. However, when those who do smoke think that the world is their ashtray and can drive all over God's beautiful earth and flick cancer sticks out their window makes it mine and everyone else's around business. What can they be thinking? I have tried many times to put myself in their shoes and gone as far as actually rolling down my window and pretending to throw something out of my window to see how it made me feel. It just doesn't compute in my tiny little pea brain.
Do they think that we don't see this red hot, smoking filter with fire oozing from it hit the ground and bounce across the pavement? Do they think that, since it's just so dang "good"for them and makes them look so "cool" that they need to bring even more attention to their themselves? Maybe. Does the fact that they may very well be the reason that these raging fires are mysteriously popping up everywhere? Do they care that animals are choking on them thinking that they are food? Do they care that its illegal? Do they care that most people look at them like they are (as my Dad use to put it) "Low Rent?" Probably not.
I have to make a confession that very well may put me in a "crazy" category all my own. But, its not a place that I'm not already familiar with. So, I'll go ahead and tell you that I have taken my complete rage for this act to a new level. I have found 2 websites that allow you to report litterers to them, and they, in return, will contact the litters by mail telling them that they were witnessed littering and enclose a bumper sticker and auto trash bag. It's a very kind letter, but it will let them know that they are being watched. At one point, I was reporting 4-5 week, but my wife said that I had become obsessed and to give these people a little grace. So, I've scaled way back.
Please know that I do not hate these people. I make plenty of mistakes every day myself. I simply get angry seeing others have no regard for others around them. I must also admit that I grew up in a family (in the 70s) where my Dad thought that it was perfectly fine to throw out anything not nailed down inside the car. I remember when we'd pass through a town and pick up food at the Dairy Queen on our way to see our Grandparents. After everyone in the family was finished my Dad would say, "Wait until we get outside of town to throw that out". Then, my brother and I would try to hit a highway sign with our stuffed DQ bag. So, I am also guilty of the littering thing. But, something happened after I grew up and I realized that I don't want to be the guy who make the Indian cry or cinge Smokey's Bear fur. All I ask is that smokers will think about others before tossing smokes out the window. It's not that hard to wait until you get home to throw them away.
If anyone wants to re-Butt on this and tell me how shallow I'm being, I'm willing to listen. However, if you are on board with my thoughts and want to report litterers as well, here are the links:
Friday, February 27, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Anyway, I thought that I'd try to reconstruct a conversation that I witnessed at 7-11 with a less than fortunate cashier and a somewhat mentally unstable customer. I was 3rd in line yesterday waiting to pay for a drink refill. The gentleman in front of me was in line to buy a paper.
The customer at the register was a 50 something woman who had seen better days. She was wearing "mom" jeans. You know, the pleated pants that are pulled up about 4 inches above the belly button. She had no socks on and wearing Kaepa tennis shoes that were once white, but now more of a brownish gray. Her sweater was a bit worn and covered with what I assume was an animal hair of some sort. She also seemed to have problem keeping her teeth in place when she talked. I assume that her dentures may have belonged to someone else, but that's not for me to judge. OK. Stage set. Here's the conversation:
Woman: "I'll take two packs of Merits and 5 of those scratch offs. Wait, I'll have 3 of the "Texas Tornado's" and couple of those new ones there."
Cashier: "That'll be $XX.XX."
Woman: Pays the cashier and then says, "Honey. I said I want a carton of Merits, not 2 packs."
Cashier: "We don't have a carton of Merits. We don't really sell many cartons here. Mostly packs."
Woman: (As she is scratching her lottery tickets) - "What do you have in cartons?"
Cashier: (Gets on his hands and knees and opens up the locked cabinets and proceeds to name all of the cartons that he does have).
Woman: "Is that all you have? Why don't you sell cartons? Oh, Here's a winner. OK. cash in this ticket and give me my money back. I'll just go somewhere that wants my business."
Cashier: Returns her money and cashes her lottery ticket (for $5).
Keep in mind that the two of us are standing behind her waiting to buy 1 item each. The guy looks at me and says, "This is freakin' ridiculous!".
Back to the story:
Woman: "Give me 5 more scratch offs. Hey, what about "Basics". I'll take a carton of "Basics"."
Cashier: "Ma'am, we don't have a carton of Basics. I told you what we had in cartons."
Woman: "I can't believe that you don't have anything in cartons. OK. I'll just get my gas and go.
Cashier: "You haven't paid for any gas yet. How much do you want?"
Woman: "Just use the money that I got for my scratch off."
Cashier: "You bought more tickets with that."
Woman: "Oh, OK. Let me scratch these off and I'll see how much gas I can get."
Man in front of me: "For the love of God, can you just ring me up for this #$%&$#@ Paper?"
Woman: Scratches off tickets and doesn't have any "winners". "I don't have any more money. Now I can't get gas".
Cashier: "What about the money you had for cigarettes?"
Woman: "Those are still for cigarettes?"
Man in front of me: "This is unbelievable! Lady, either pay the man or just go?"
Woman: Storms out of the store and says, "If you're in that much of a hurry, why don't you just leave lunch?"
I looked at the cashier and said, "What does that mean?"
He shrugged his shoulders and told me that the drink was "On the house". I left with a free drink and great story.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
First of all, for those people who drive around for a living, making calls from appointment to appointment, this message is not for you. I can certainly understand the need for something like this. If I had a job where I spent a lot of time driving around and unable to make calls from an office (or if I had a job...), I could see using this shiny, spectacular, wireless gadget. But for the average person who wants around the mall, grocery store, gym, walking track, or any other place where people can see you - Stop it! You look ridiculous! Can't you go 10 minutes without having to talk about your doctor's visit or what you should have told that guy in the office when he crossed you. Can't it wait?
Let's look at the "Blue Tooler" from two different perspectives - 1) The actual "Tooler" and, 2) everyone around you. First, let's look at what you probably are thinking about yourself:
- "Man, Everyone is checking me out. They know that I'm a mover and a shaker."
- "I think that girl over there thinks I'm making a very important business deal."
- "I'm going to walk around the mall and act like I'm famous. Maybe someone will stop and ask for my autograph."
- "I'll bet everyone thinks I'm a movie star/secret agent.
- "I'm sorry. Are you talking to me? Crap, it's another "Bluetooth Idiot".
- "Look at that guy. Who's he foolin'. He's probably talking to his "Mama".
- "Well, well, well. If it ain't Mr. Gadget and his pacifier."
- "For the love of everything holy - Please leave that "ear appendage" in your car!"
Until next time...
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I never really thought of Obama as black. Throughout his entire campaign, I thought of him as a Democrat. I don't vote Democrat because I am pro-life. That is why I don't vote Democrat. See, I told you that I'm not very political. That being said, I think that the best man won and he is the best man (at this time) for the job (regardless of color). He represents change. He has some great ideas and I pray like heck that change will happen. I'm not so dumb as to think that one man can change a nation, but I do believe that he can surround himself with the right people so that change can begin to take place.
I do have one major concern with Obama as president, though. It has nothing to do with color, political party of beliefs. It has to do with the love affair the nation has with him. I feel like many people believe that he is our nation's saviour. That, he is going to turn everything around and make it all good. I hear people talk about how things are going to be great now that he is President. Don't get me wrong, I'm praying for big things from him, too. But, we have to remember that, he is human. He is not God. He is not our Saviour. He is not superhuman. He is a man. We have to remember that. It's OK to expect change and to look for good things with the changing of the President's, but we have to remember that he can't do it all. And, he can't do it overnight.
We need to pray for our new President. We need to pray that God's will is done while he is President and that our President will listen to Him.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I heard a comedian a long time ago say, "Well, at least I know you're not 2-faced, because if you were, you wouldn't be wearing that one." That's how I feel sometime. Like I need a new "face". This one is old and tired and has seen better days.
I never signed up to be in Sales. It just happened. I got out of the Army in 1995 and sales seemed to be the first job I took and I never could recover after that. Now, its 14 years later and I'm still trying to sell something. When I look back, I realize that the problem is that I was successful! I found a job that I did very well at and made a lot of money. But, after that job played out, it seemed like I've been chasing that "Sales High" ever since then. Sure, I've been able to have success in other positions, but nothing like what I did at first. Is that God telling me that I need to get out of sales? Am I just not that good? Maybe!
But, if not sales - what then? What else can I do? What else will provide for my family and give them a decent roof over their head? Whatever it is - I haven't found it. Others have given advise like, "Think of everything you like to do and find a job that fits it." Or, "What would you do, if you could do anything in the world and the pay was not a factor? Then go and find that job." That's great! But, I'm afraid that would involve playing on the computer and watching a lot of TV. Any jobs like that out there?
Seriously, what I love to do is help those who can't help themselves (ie. children, homeless, abused women...). I also enjoy working in the yard (ie landscaping, yard work). I do believe that I could make a living doing Social Work or starting a landscape business. But, there's a big hurdle to overcome - Debt and all that it implies. Its sad when we are prisoners to debt. The Bible tells us many times that debt is not good. But, unfortunately, "I've fallen and I can't get up." I would love a "Do over" and be able to wipe the slate clean. How cool would it be to be able to apply what I know now about money (or the lack of it) and do life a little bit differently. I was talking to Cindy the other day and said, "Why are we afraid to pray for miracles? Is it becuase we're afraid they won't happen? Or, is it becuase we think God can't do whatever we ask?" Whatever the reason, we find it hard to pray specifically for something miraculous to happen. So, I said, "What's so crazy about me asking God to wipe out my debt and start living a more frugal, efficient life?" God can certainly do it. There's no question about that. Of course, He also knows that most of us would just re-accumulate debt again and get right back into the same situation. Maybe that's why we can't ask Him - becuase we also know that we'd get ourselves back into trouble. Anyway, I'm diligently praying for God to show me how to eliminate my debt so that I don't have to be a slave to debt any longer. Then, maybe I can spend more of my life doing His will instead of the World's.
Hey, here's a great idea! I'll send out flyers and letter to everyone I know and in all the mail boxes in the neighborhood telling everyone that I need XX dollars to pay off debt and ask for donations. That just may work! Nah!
Sunday, January 11, 2009
For many years of our marriage, I would bump up against a bad situation and would come home and talk to Cindy about it. If she reacted with panic or have the attitude of "what are we going to do?", I would immediately go into "Panic" mode or stress out because the "air" at home was heavy with doubt and hopelessness. This blog is not to bash Cindy or wives at all. I am only making a point that the attitudes of the home hinge primarily on how wives process the good and bad things in life. Is this fair? Probably not. That's a big responsibility for anyone, let alone for someone who has the be the caretaker, the nurse, the maid, the cook...
The reason I say this is because, my wife's attitude throughout my unemployment has set the mood for the family and for me in my search. When I came in and told her that I'd been laid off last month, she looked at me with a puzzled look on her face at first because she thought I was kidding. When she realized that I was serious, she looked at me and said, "OK. It's going to be OK. We just need to make a plan. Let's sit down and cancel anything that we can. Any money we don't need to spend, let's cut it off. I'll email my friends and asked them to pray for us and I'll help you look for work." She was amazing! Immediately, I felt somewhat relieved that I didn't have to go through the crisis of a job hunt as well as trying to keep my family from thinking the world was coming to an end. What a powerful testimony of her faith.
Cindy has always been very good at putting Bible verses in front of me that were timely as to what is/was going on in our life. This time is no different. Yesterday, she handed me a note card with Psalm 33: 18-22 on it. It's reads:
18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.
You don't find a better partner than mine. She is with me in good times and bad. How can someone like me, be so blessed to have her here to help me through times like this? God is Good, that how.
I don't want to talk bad about how others do life or some of the wants and needs of other wives because they are no my responsibility or concern. However, I see so many wives who are always dressed in $200 jeans, $500 shoes, jewelry running out their rear ends and wonder, how in the world does the husband make enough money to pay bills, raise a family and support the lifestyle of some of these women? God bless them, they look great! But, I always realize how stinkin' fortunate I am to have a practical wife who could care less about jewelry, name brand bags, expensive shoes... As a matter of fact, she prides herself on just how inexpensively she can dress and still look good. Men, I know that the "trophy wife" is cool and all. Believe me, I thought that I would marry one myself. And, I a way I did. She is worth much more than any worldly possession I could ever want. Now, you guys who make a begillion dollars, this is not for you. You have enough to worry about with other things I'm sure. I'm talking about the average guy, like me, who has to try and keep the household running and caring for his children. Blessed are the Practical and Frugal. Amen!
Now, briefly about my last interview. It could be a great opportunity! I interviewed with a company called "Texas Driving Experience". An opportunity that is out of the IT industry which is awesome becuase I never have understood anything I was selling. It would give me a chance to actually learn about something and be able to discuss it intelligently without feeling insecure about the knowledge of the product or service.
The interview was with 3 ladies: The CEO/Owner, the HR Director, and the Recruiter. They were all very friendly and easy to talk to. My concern was that they were too easy to talk to. I may have seen overzealous and anxious to go to work there. But, I prayed before I went in to allow God to take over and to let the words flow out of my mouth as He saw fit, not me. That way, if I don't get the job, its becuase I wasn't supposed to. There is a job for me and God knows where it is - I just have to trust and follow His lead. It's exciting!
Last thing that I want to say - Go out and bless someone with a random act of kindness. It will make you feel great!
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Since I've been out of work - my family and I have recieved letters, emails and phone calls offering to help. We've also recieved checks and money from anonymous people wanting to help make ends meet. CRAZY! Let me tell you about last night - After dinner, we were playing games with the kids and the phone rang. It was my pastor, Ross. He said that someone came by the church today and said that they wanted to pay for me to go back to school. (Just a little side note- I had been working on my Masters in Professional Counseling until I started the new job, but haven't returned becuase of the lay-off). Ross said that someone wants to anonymously pay for the upcoming term and to pick up the check the next day. I was overwhelmed with gratitude, joy, love and humility all at the same time. I got up this morning and immediately registered for school (as today is the deadline to register). Holy Cow God continues to bless me and my family. Lord knows we don't deserve it! To whomever is out there and sending me to school - Thank You!
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Life has been moving along quite swimmingly since my last post. A new year has come along and with it brings great hopes for me and my family.
I am still looking for work, but know that God will put a great opportunity in front of me soon. I've interviewed for a couple of companies since my last blog. I have had to turn down a couple of them because they were not what I really wanted, they didn't pay what I needed to make and/or they were way too far to drive to each day. Does that sound too picky? I hope not. I realize that, with today's economy, it's hard to be choosy. But, I also don't want to "settle" and be unhappy. I'm too old to take any job. God has given me certain gifts and talents and I want to be able to use them in my job.
Mom had major surgery on Dec. 27th. This is the first time in my life that someone needed to take care of her. She has ALWAYS been the caregiver. She is the single most selfless woman that I have ever known. She took care of my father for many years and watched him die slowly. But, you never heard her complain or even say that she needed a break. She will have many rewards in heaven - that's for sure. Anyway, Holly (my sister) was with her for the surgery and took care of her for the first several days. I must say that she did a fantastic job caring for her. I was supposed to go and relieve her last Saturday (3rd) and stay until today. I did make it to Amarillo and helped out where I could. Holly's plans were to fly back on Sunday while I took my turn with Mom. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't do as good a job as Holly. But, was ready to give it a shot.
Well, God had different plans for me, Mom and Holly. I got up on Sunday morning and Cindy called to let me know that Scout had been up all night throwing up. She was really worried about her, but was just going to keep an eye on her. Great! Now, I'm away from home with a sick girl and about to be left with Mom not knowing how to take care of her. Holly got on the plane to return to Amarillo and was on her way back. In the mean time, Cindy called and said that she was taking Scout to the ER because the Triage felt like she needed to be checked for possible Appendicitis. So, they were going to do a CT Scan on her. I planned to just call Holly to let her know about Scout and to see if she's check on everyone when she landed. But, as fate (or God) would have it, she was stuck on the airplane in Amarillo because their was a "Weight and Balance" problem on the plane and they were asking for volunteers to get off the plane and take a later flight. Holly immediately agreed to de-plane and come back to Mom's so that I could get home to the family.
I made arrangements to fly out that afternoon. I packed up and got to the airport as fast as I could. However, when I got there, I called Cindy before boarding the plane and she said that Scout was released from the Hospital and that we needed to keep an eye on her. I was still glad to be going home. I couldn't stand now being there during a crisis. When I got home, Scout was asleep in a chair (sucking her sweet little fingers) while Cindy and Nik watched TV. I hadn't been in the door 2 minutes when Scout woke up to a Night Terror. She has had these for years, but all the trauma seemed to intensify this one. She had several more that evening and into the night. Night Terrors are horrible for a Mom and Dad because we are so helpless because it's next to impossible to wake the child up and comfort them.
The next morning we took Scout in and the doctor said that he felt like she had a bad virus that inflamed her appendix but there was no reason to take it out. Praise God! She is still recovering and very weak, but she is coming around and will be ready to play "Monster and Tickle" (a game that she and made up years ago that she still loves) very soon.
Funny how things like this happen when you don't have insurance. I have no idea what a day in the ER and a CT Scan will cost, but it doesn't really matter. I'm happy that my little girl is OK. When things like this happen, I can't help but think about the phrase "A faith untested is no faith at all." God knows my needs, my concerns and prayers. He is in control completely. He wants me to rely on him wholeheartedly. So, I do. He will provide for me and my family. God is Good! He wants me to rely on Him, to trust Him, to love Him and for Him to be my best friend. Sometimes my tiny little brain has a hard time processing that. Thank the Lord that He is patient and forgiving.
Well, back to looking for work. Be Blessed!