Thursday, August 31, 2006

Never Assume...

I think this is close to the mark. Some of us who think we've got it made may be in for a shock!

(Received from my Brother-in-law Skip)

I was shocked, confused, bewildered,
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics, the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, "What's the deal?
I would love to hear your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake."

"And why's everyone so quiet,
So somber? Give! me a clue."
"Hush, child," said He, "they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you."


Favorite things...

From Laura

1) What was your favorite thing about being a kid?
Wow...lots of things. Playing football through the years. Growing up in a small town next to a big city with lots of urban forests. It was like growing up in the country almost. We had raccoons, bobcats, foxes, you name it, all right here in the city. Especially in the summer we would hit the woods and trails on our bikes and not be back until after dark.

2) What was your favorite subject in school?
English and, later, journalism. Building with words always fascinates me.

3) Who was your best friend when you were 10?
Had to be Mike Bacon. He moved down the street when I was 10. We played on the same little league football team that year. We were buddies until graduation. He had a really cute sister too...

4) If you could be any animal what would you be?
A wolf. Despite popular belief they stick to themselves and don't go looking for trouble. They mate for life and as a rule only take what they need to survive. I wouldn't mind being that beautiful either.

5) What would you change about your school, occupation, life right now?
Not much. I'm really happy and very blessed right now with my job. I believe I'm where God wants me right now. The only thing I would go back and change would be to have listened to my wife and finished college after Dad died no matter how long it took.

6) What's your favorite color?
Black, shades of gray, and gold (can't you tell from the template?)

7) What's your favorite type of crust and favorite topping on a pizza?
Thin crust, any sort of supreme. Since no one in my house like olives, mushrooms or peppers though, I'm content with cheese and pepperoni.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Change on the wind...

The other day when my beautiful wife went to feed her horses after work she said that even though it was 103 and the wind was hot like a blast furnace she could tell there was something different...she could tell there was a change coming. Well, as usual she was right. Looks like the back of our relentless heat wave has finally been broken. Monday was a heavenly 83 with showers, Tuesday was 90 and dry. What a relief! After 40+ days of 100 degree weather and humidity it feels almost like fall, just like Russ talks about in Denver! According to the guys at AccuWeather the holiday weekend and the next couple of weeks look just as good!

The drought, however, is raging on. We received about a half inch of rain on Monday but are still behind over 10" for the last 16 months. My beautiful wife is having a hard time finding hay for her babies. It's really been tough on the farmers & ranchers and all the others who rely on the rain for their livelihood. Remarkably my yard has survived the heat & dry weather pretty well. The main thing has been letting it grow LONG and cutting it REALLY tall (Highest setting on a Snapper commercial mower). I've noticed I don't have to worry about the roots scalding and the ground getting parched and cracked as much as some of the neighbors who cut theirs really short.

The way Autumn goes around here during October and November, right up to Thanksgiving, we are liable to have another heat wave getting to the upper 90's for several days. Maybe this year we will have a REAL Autumn with all the colors. We had one about 5 years ago...the days and nights gradually cooled down, no sudden heat or cold waves, not too much rain but not bone dry. That year was the most beautiful I remember here. Reminded me of the October I took my wife and daughters to Vermont for a few THAT was beautiful!

Autumn...from late September until New my favorite time of year. While the earth is getting ready to sleep everything else gears up with a new school year, all the excitement of new sports seasons (school that sports don't get me turned on anymore), renewing friendships, the Holidays coming, the State Fair of Texas and all the carnivals and's just a real special 3 or 4 months to soak up time with freinds and family as the weather passes through the 'comfortable time' on it's way from one extreme to another.

Maybe this year, too, we will have a REAL winter and not 5-8 days of cold and ice sometime in early December then some sort of 'non-winter limbo' until everything starts sprouting again in late January or early February like it's done the last couple of years. We are way past due for one. The last bad winter was in about 1986 when it stayed below freezing for over 30 days and we had 6 days it didn't get over 20. That was really unusual. I remember in December of '74 we had a terrible ice sleeted for 3 days and we had 4-6 inches of ice on the ground. We missed 8 days of school. Stunk having to go on Saturday to make it up, though! The long range forecasts that I've seen call for slighly cooler and a litte wetter than normal through February. That would be nice!

Well, what's the change of season like in your part of the world? Allison - Cory - Laura - Jeremy - David? Anybody?


Friday, August 25, 2006

From my Beautiful Wife

Everyone gets a little tired of those MEME's [Spelling?] where you list your favorite or most precious whatever. My beautiful wife sent me a different one today. I liked what she put so much I decided to post her answers:

[8-30: edited to take out the 'H' word...Laura say's it's 'obviously not classy'...well, that might be me but I don't want it reflecting on my wife]

FRUIT: None...I love fruit
CANDY: None...I love candy
COLOR: Slime Green
TOWN/CITY: I'm beginning to hate Irving, TX
TV SHOW: All of those stupid "reality TV" shows...I've got enough reality to deal with!
Movie: Anything "blood & guts"! Or if any animals are hurt!!!I [do not prefer] old yeller!!!
ASPECT OF MYSPACE: Never used it
ASPECT OF AOL INSTANT MESSENGER: When I don't notice the box pop up, and I realize I've just sent the latest item I'm typing as a response.
ANIMAL: Snakes
INSECT: Mosquito
BIRD: Emu....ugly little suckers
SEASON: Winter
AGE OF KIDS: 12-20 When they think they know it all

DRIVING: People who don't use a turn signal. How lazy can you get.
WATCHING TV OR MOVIES: When kids yell and scream and the parents do nothing about it. I want to slap the parents and then slap the kids
GOING THROUGH DRIVE-THRUS: When the person in front takes 20 minutes to place their order and another 20 minutes checking it.
YOU'RE AT THE MALL: People who don't pay attention to where their going and walk into you. (also see above)
SLEEPING (OR TRYING TO SLEEP): When my cat bites my nose
SHOWERING: And the door bell rings
YOU'RE AT THE BEACH: People who think they have a gorgeous body and think for some reason I want to see it.
YOU'RE AT THE GROCERY STORE: And their out of what I need.
WHAT'S THE MOST ANNOYING HABIT(s) IN OTHERS: Being rude and inconsiderate
WHAT FASHION TREND (past or present) HAVE YOU HATED: Guy's wearing pants so their underwear show. How stupid!!!
WORST POPULAR SONG (past or present): Time Of The Season....I [do not prefer] that song.
WORST HATED PICK UP LINE: Can't remember (does this mean I've been married too long?)
WORST THING ABOUT WORK: When my computer screws up!
WHAT IS THE MOST ANNOYING THING ABOUT GIRLS: When they go to extremes to get guy's (any guy's) attention.
WHAT IS THE MOST ANNOYING THING ABOUT GUYS: When they go to extremes to get girls (any girl's) attention.

WHAT IS ANNOYING YOU TODAY: Nothing so far...having a good day. Amazing seeing that today is Friday!

[[WOW!! I feel blessed! I'm not on her list anywhere!!]]


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Between You And Me: Part 2

Back on June 22 I addressed part of Cory's comment where he said church seemed like a country club to many. I want to address another part of his comment as well:

"Church, and God, to some is a matter of keeping up with the Joneses."

I'm afraid I have to agree with you on that one, Cory. While many people today don't go to and never would go to or claim affiliation with a church, there are some who, unfortunately, go because they think that's what your supposed to do. Either they go out of habit (that's what they've always done), they go because they want to be looked on favorably by neighbors and the community, or they go literally like you said to try to keep up with what everyone else is doing.

The real tragedy is that many of the ones who come for the wrong reasons won't see any change because they have a closed heart. They expect the wrong things to happen in their lives. Some expect all their troubles to vanish like magic. Some expect to achieve great wealth and prosperity because they are 'doing the right thing' by going to church or they are 'doing a good work' by helping, volunteering, and giving money.

These are the ones I want to reach out to. Try to make them see the true purpose for coming.

Let me try to explain: you know how you go to work, make the money, pay the bills, fight the battles of day to day life? Do you ever feel like screaming out "ENOUGH! I just want to get off the merry-go-round! I'm tired of fighting! I just want to quit! I just want to be free! I need some help. I can't do it on my own any more." THAT's the reason for coming. To find freedom. To find rest. You're tired of fighting the world. You don't mind working but in the world today there's just too much pressing down on you and too much that just doesn't make sense.

That's where Jesus says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

"...I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls..." Anyone who will take the time to read my past posts (Lauren) and the brief story of my life will understand why those words mean so much to me. I have surrendered my heart and my will to Jesus. I know that might sound hokey to some of you but I can testify that by giving up control of my life I have gained more freedom than I could have ever imagined.

What is the burden Jesus wants us to take up? What are we expected to do in exchange for giving Him our burden? Jesus said in Matthew 22: 37-39 that the two greatest commandments were to 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' and to `Love your neighbor as yourself.'

That's our burden: Love God with all we've got and love our neighbors like we love ourselves. If we do that there's no jealousy, no envy, no worry, no burdens, no chasing after the 'stuff' of this world. There's just love. I can't say it any better than Matt Redman:

The Heart Of Worship
When the music fades
All is stripped away, and I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart

I’ll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you
All about You Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about you
All about you Jesus

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much You deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is Yours, every single breath

I’ll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you
All about You Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the thing I've made it
When it’s all about you
All about you Jesus


Friday, August 18, 2006

There and Back

Joe over at Cycler's Life has an interesting post about traffic and over crowding in general. He and I were through Baltimore-Washington International airport (BWI) at about the same time but his experience was the opposite of mine. When he left the peace and tranquility of his home in Missoula to travel to Maryland, near the heart of the east coast Urban Jungle, he was reminded of a world where you almost have to use public transportation and cars to get around. Although they are about the same geographical size BWI dwarfs Missoula County Airport for traffic. I totally understand why Joe was so happy to be able to walk out of the terminal when he got home, unlock his bike and take off...**sigh**.

I left Dallas Fort Worth International and flew into BWI. Understand, at 8 miles long by 5 miles wide DFW is like a medium sized city with 1800 flights and almost 162,000 people a day going through it (more than the entire population of Montana in a week!). When I get to BWI I am greeted with a quaint, attractive little 1-square-mile facility where I am able to be in my rental and on the road in less than an hour. The loop around Baltimore had half the traffic of the Dallas Speedway loop more commonly known as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Freeway (every time I hear that it makes me think of the 'William J. LePetomaine Thru-way'). Within 45 minutes I am heading north into Pennsylvania through rolling hills where I discovered that grass really is supposed to be green in August...not brown. Who-da' thunk'!

My entire time in PA, just outside of Hershey, the weather was heavenly: upper 80's to low 90's (not the 102-plus we have had for the last month straight back home), upper 50's to low 60's at night and I was missing my bike terribly...both the TREK and the Honda. Things have changed since I was here last years ago. In the past I had always felt that people from this part of the world weren't as friendly as they were back in the Lone Star State. I was wrong. I didn't see one instance of aggressive driving, road rage, short tempers or prejudice & bigotry in people's attitudes towards each other, including my day trips to Allentown and Philadelphia. The people in the stores and restaurants and on the streets were extremely polite and pleasant to talk to. The last time I experienced a pleasant time like this while traveling was in 2000 when the company I worked for sent me to Kalispell, MT for 3 months...the people there were just as friendly and the scenery took my breath away. I dreaded coming home. When I exited the plane and felt the blast-furnace breath hit me on the jetway I said "...welcome home..."

I try hard this time of year to commute or just ride for fun but it's tough when it's over 100 by noon and still 97 at 10 pm for weeks and weeks on end. So, I've been doing most of my riding at the gym...I know, a very poor substitute but we do the best we can under the circumstances. I know that my friend Jeremy in Tucson has it hot but I'm tellin' ya! I've been to Tucson in July and August and I prefer the desert! Here we have Tucson's heat but Houston's humidity...a deadly combination.

Also it saddened me to have to come back to the horrible traffic we have here. The DFW area has a distinct lack of meaningful bike trails. There are a handful of pretty nice dedicated trails-to-nowhere but there is no provision for commuters and driver knowledge of road laws and the rights of pedestrians and bicyclists is non-existent. I don't know how many times people yell for me to 'get on the sidewalk' or I get forced off the road. Then, there's the road rage and general lack of attention to the road (talking on the cell phone while drinking coffee and looking for an address) by drivers that kind of takes some of the fun out of riding. Here everyone seems to be in a giant rush to get somewhere,then when they get there they are tired and worn out. People don't seem as friendly or as happy here as they used to be.

I don't wonder. When I was growing up here the whole DFW area only had about 1.5 million people. Now, 30 years later, that's swollen to nearly 7 million. If I were to ride like Joe on a 25-mile-out and 25-mile-back loop in ANY direction from my house I would never get out of the city...I'd have to go 40 miles north or south and about 60 east or west to see the horizon of urban sprawl.

Still, when the weather finally starts to get civil in October, it's pretty nice riding and I enjoy it along with the 10's of thousands of other cyclists in our area. Despite the traffic and terrible road conditions I am amazed at the number of dedicated road cyclists in this area. One advantage here is that we can ride comfortably from fall until some time in June without too much weather worries.

In the meantime: Thanks, Joe, for your ride logs and stories of the road. You are the eyes for many of us who don't have the same opportunity as you. Until the day I can live someplace like that I will rest in your testimony.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Roaming Beast

This week and early next I am on the road. I am in Allison's and Cory's neck of the woods visiting family in Harrisburg PA.

Be back next week and hope to get back on track.