Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Locked and loaded...

At the risk of jumping into the firestorm of gun control, let me first say I'm not here to say I support the gun lobby, nor am I here as a left wing proponent of total gun abolishment for our citizens.  I'm that guy, right smack dab in the middle of this insanity, who's had enough.

To be honest, I'm REALLY tired of the 2nd Amendment folks saying it's their God given right to bear arms.  Yes, I get it, it's a right, per our Constitution and I'm very much behind all that.  Hey, just for full disclosure, I own a gun and very much enjoy having it.  Not just as a means of recreation but also as a little sense of security, given this day and age where home break-ins are more and more prevalent.  But gun people, rights require responsibility!  As I've said before, when it comes to authority and responsibility, you can't have one without the other.

So to start, how are we defining "arms"?  For me that's a HUGE issue in this whole war on guns thing.  Personally, I think of it as owning a pistol or a rifle.  But for others it means owning military grade assault weapons.  For the last few decades politicians and lobbyists from both sides of the aisle have spent millions fighting for an against a ban on guns, or a ban on certain guns, or a ban on guns with the letter "U" in it.  Whatever.  I just don't get it.  Be honest, gun people, why do you think you need a military grade weapon?  I really can't think of one logical reason for it.  You aren't going to hunt with it and I suspect in some places it would be considered illegal if you tried.  And besides, I don't think there would be much left of Bambi if you shot her with several rounds from a .50cal machine gun.  I don't believe we have any state or federal militias that would require you to have one.  I know there are those out there that insist the "government" is coming after them so they need to be able to protect themselves.  Ah, yeah.  Kids, let me tell ya, if there was money to be made in taking away everyone's guns, the politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, would be all over it.  So relax.  And besides, I have it on good authority the zombie apocalypse won't happen for some time.  At least I'm pretty sure.  So seriously, stop pissing about background checks and limitations on the types of guns you can have.  The more I hear about how someone needs an assault weapon the more I think it's an issue of what's lacking between their legs.

Now no matter how many mass shootings there are we ALWAYS attack the issue from a single vantage point and that's more gun control.  We definitely don't need more gun control but we sure need better.  I'll leave it at that.  But until we realize there is more to these incidents than the availability of guns we'll continue to watch our children die and people rage with nothing being done.  To coin AL G's phase, the "Inconvenient Truth" of the matter is that we also have to address the mental health issue that's the constant in nearly everyone of these horrible acts of violence and that's the point I think the gun control lobby misses.  Until we have the courage to create enforceable laws and programs that prohibit "at risk" individuals from having guns, we'll continue to see carnage on our public and school grounds.  So, my friends on the left, I know it sounds like I'm suggesting we sacrifice our personal privacy and freedoms but really I'm not.  Folks can go on living in deep, dark caves, ensuring their privacy, however, getting back to my "responsibility" comment, if an individual feels they have the authority to own a gun, then they have the responsibility to be transparent.

So what's the solution?  Just off the cuff, perhaps there's a national data base that captures names of individuals that doctors identify as being "at risk" of owning weapons.  Ok, I think half of you probably screamed "NAZI!", but hear me out.  There are no specific details provided in this database.  Just a flag, perhaps in an existing national database, that says "yes" or "no" to the question "Is this person able to buy a gun?"  Now, between you and your doctor(s), you can have assessments and discussions about your mental health and the doctor can make an assessment as to whether or not you're fit to own a weapon.  The doctor would be required by law to tell you that they intend on putting your name on this "no buy" list and you as the patient would have X amount of days to contest it before your name actually goes on the list.  I would expect there would be methods to adjudicate assessments as well as ways to get your name off the list, but the details I leave to career lawyer/politicians to figure out.  I know, I know, it seems heavy handed and a major invasion of our privacy but if an individual today can be denied a drivers licenses due to medical or mental health reasons, why not owning a gun?  

So you folks on the Right, you can't keep going on squawking about your rights to own a gun without owning up to your responsibility of being transparent and being reasonable in what you think you should be allowed to own.  And you folks on the Left, stop squawking about gun control without owning up to the fact that mentally disturbed people are the constant in every one of these shootings and it has to be dealt with just as much as changing laws.  We can't fight only the battles we feel like fighting.  This is one battle we ALL need to be on the same side.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Choices...

I gotta admit, I was a little apprehensive about getting back on social media but I felt my hiatus had run its course and I kinda wanted to see how things were among my circle of friends and family.  I have to tell you it was a bit disappointing.

To be honest I was still on social media but I had created an alter-ego with very few friends or family and I seldom engaged in much of anything going on across the internet.  So for the most part I was off the radar, or as some would say, I was in stealth mode.  I eventually reverted back to my actual name and was overjoyed to find I was able to reconnect with many of my old friends.  The reason I left social media was the same reason many other people have left – constant bitterness, anger, pettiness and bullying.  Now I pretty much attributed that to the elections but when I resurfaced I found all those same negative attributes to still be flowing in abundance.

So clearly there are a lot of unhappy people in the world.  I get that.  Faith in our government and our society has dropped to an all time low.  It seems most every day we hear of another pillar in our society come crumbling down in the midst of some scandal.  Throughout the 2016 elections as well as the years that followed, the pure hate that was and is prevalent throughout social media points to a realization that people have lost their joy in life.  Perhaps it’s hate mongering by the media or perhaps its constantly seeing good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.  After all this consternation it finally occurred to me that WE are still expecting our happiness to be provided to us by something or someone.  I think we need to be honest and accept the fact that we’ve been conditioned to expect our happiness to be provided by our elected officials and community leaders.  Folks, this isn’t a rant over party affiliations, political or social dispositions or playing the blame game. This is an appeal to our humanity.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”  The preponderance of posts on social media is negative in nature.  I guess I don’t understand.  Are those folks who constantly spew hatred and rage really of the mind that the more angrier they are on social media the better our world will ultimately become?  Gotta tell ya, I know I wasn’t all that great at math but this really doesn’t add up.  I suppose someone might look at me and say, ”This guy has his head in the clouds.  Another religious fanatic.”  Oh well, not much I can say or do about that except to plow through with my convictions that it is better for me, for you, for our country and for God that I devote myself to being a more loving, generous and compassionate person.  I know we all get angry at times and I’m one of the biggest offenders.  But consider this, our thoughts lead to feelings and our feelings lead to action.  I can’t help but feel that if our actions are motivated by anger then we’re likely to produce negative results.  But if our actions are motivated by a loving heart, the results will most likely be a positive one that lifts up rather than tears down.  Remember, each day is a new day to do things better. Each day is a new day to feel blessed and fortunate to have another chance to be something positive in someone’s life.  Each day is a new day to choose to see the beauty within the muck and mire.

Folks, I do get it. There’s a lot of crap going on in our communities, our country and throughout the world.  I can’t really control much of any of that.  But I do have some say in how I approach each day and I do have choices that no person or government can overcome.  For me, for now, through God’s good graces, I choose to try to be a good person.  I choose to put my heart towards those who are struggling to find joy in the midst of circumstances that have knocked them down.

Join me, won’t you?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Nuggets...


Complaining of our circumstances without doing anything about it is like being that guy in line who can’t decide what he wants. Just order and move on.



Over time those wonderful memories begin to fade and eventually become like dreams that we sometimes wonder whether they actually happened. Were it the same for pain.



Don’t pray for something to leave you without praying for something to fill you. Remember power abhors a vacuum. Praying away despair without praying for joy only brings back despair in greater abundance.



In the great race of life, it’s not how you look when you finish but rather by the grace and character in which you lived it.



Have you served someone today?



The greatest treasures are found not in the things we obtain but in the depths of the generosity of our own hearts.



If you believe in a universal balance in life, just remember when you choose to take you make someone have to give.



Authority and responsibility, you can’t have one without the other.



Life is like a bacon and egg breakfast. While most people want to be the chicken only a few will stand up to be the pig.



If you never doubt your convictions or beliefs, I submit you have neither. Doubt instills a desire to pursue our beliefs beyond our own capacity to understand.



Praise in public and punish in private. To do anything else breeds resentment, distrust and discouragement.



If it’s not worth resolving it’s not worth discussing.



If your faith creates barriers between you and others then all you’ve really done is build a wall between you and God.



Replay your favorite songs over and over, not your greatest disappointments.



No matter what you might think or believe, you are NEVER alone. 



Everyone believes in something, even the belief there is no God. Because no amount of science or reason can prove them.



A smile is one of the most powerful weapons known to man.



Greet with praise and a kind heart those who do the small and seemingly menial tasks, because it’s upon their shoulders that our society rests.



When I tell you I’m a Christian please don’t hear “I’m going to heaven and you’re not because you suck and I’m better than you.” All I’m really saying is “I’m a flawed, broken person that is struggling through my sinful nature, that I believe Jesus died to redeem us, that I’m on a constant journey to understand and grow my faith and that I’d love to have you come along with me if you’d like.” Really, that’s all. 



Whether positive or negative, any experience that doesn’t come with a lesson probably isn’t worth remembering.



Remember, when we pray to be more courageous, compassionate and loving God will create situations that will require us to be just that. Careful what you pray for. :-)































Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturdays....

As a kid they were filled with hours of unabashed fun and adventure, especially in the summer.  My folks had only two rules for us, "Don't make us have to come look for you" and "Be in the house before the street lights come on."  That was the greatest sense of freedom I would ever have.

As a young adult I spent years indulging my athletic desires, swimming, biking and running for hours along the Southern California coast.  I had ambitions of being a competitive triathlete so I would convince myself that all those hours and miles were really "hard work" but in all honesty it was another form of freedom.  A bit tortured but I was free to do whatever I wanted.  Unfortunately genetics dealt me a harsh hand and running down the Kona coast as part of an Ironman race never came to be.

Today, on the B side of my life, most of my Saturdays are anything but freedom.  Living on a small ranch I find myself a slave to the demands of a ranch life that for every one thing I fix, I find three more things that just broke.  And with a handful of equines, there's no rest for the weary.  Sure, I could be like those trailer trash folks that are so lazy they just let their properties disintegrate around them, but when you have animals one does not have the luxury of putting off responsibilities such as feeding, watering and "mucking".
 
So this Saturday was no different.  Up before the sun for a little "me" time consisting of coffee, some scripture reading and a couple of quick video games.  "Brain games".  Trying to stay ahead of dimentia but it's a close race.  So after all that, it was feeding time for the horses and then off to pick up about a half tun of wood slabs to finish our fence.  Yep, a long section of fence line that I've been installing these tall pieces of wood.  I call them "tree crust".  They take the tree and cut off the edges, like how kids have mommy cut off the crust of their sandwiches (I never got that).  They're about 8 feet long and can be kinda heavy.  So I take these bad boys and cut them down to about 6 to 7 feet and then wire them to our existing fence.  Seems straight forward but keep in mind we're talking sharp objects here, circular saw, wire cutters, pocket knives and the curse of my father that any manual labor begets blood.

So in between putting up the fence I stopped to help my wife with mucking the stalls.  Now for you suburbanites and city folk, that means cleaning up HUGE piles of horse manure.  It's like a giant kitty litter box but on EPIC proportions.  But let me tell ya, nothing says "love" like his and hers muck rakes and wheelbarrows.  A couple that mucks together, .....  Nah, I better not finish that.  Oh, by the way.  It wasn't until I became a rancher that I learned it was "wheelbarrow", not "wheelbarrel".  Yep, learning something new all the time, like septic tank, leech field or well water.

So back to the fence.  By this time the wind started to kick up.  Keep in mind we have very sandy soil so it was definitely kicking up a storm.  I could hear the scarecrow guy saying "It's a twister!!"  Believe it or not I actually turned to see if Dorothy and her dog were running down the road.  A small chuckle to myself and it was back to work in Dust Bowl.  Eventually I finished the job.  I'm not sure if it was stiff muscles or the layer of dirt that mixed with the sweat of my body that made every movement a task unto itself.  The thought of a hot shower sounded nice but the most effective thing I could've done to clean myself was to soak in a bath of CLR and polish off a bottle of ibuprofen.  I opted for the hot shower and the glorious thing about them is they have an amazing way of reminding you where ALL the cuts you levied on your body are.  That lovely stinging sensation as the dirt and scabs are washing away by soap and water is something to be treasured.  Well, that shower was the last of my suffering.  Now it's wine and Netflix.

So, sure, maybe life has a lot more demands on me then it had in the past but I will say the tasks that consume my Saturdays are far more gratifying.  Don't get me wrong I do

miss the child's play and it would be great to be able to do an "easy 10" again but I don't think I'll turn in my shovel just yet.  Ranch life is quite an adventure.  I thank God He wakes me up every morning to see the sun rise and to discover new things.  I just wish those things would STOP BREAKING!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

And miles to go....

You know, when it comes to hiking up mountains there are many paths that lead to the top.  Some are long, others short.  Some are relatively easy while others are downright terrifying.  Some paths make you feel serene and in touch with your spirit while others will make you shout every expletive known to man.  When attempting a new mountain, common sense will say we should reach out to others who've previously summited that mountain in order to get a better sense of the challenge that lies ahead.  You know, kinda like seeking the wisdom of an elderly person who's been around the block a few times.

Well, it's interesting when you speak to a hiker about the various paths one can take to get to the top.  Not once will that person describe a path in terms of it's virtue.  Nope, it's all about what's hard or easy, what's safest or the most dangerous.  There's no judgement, no assessment of some innate value.  They're just paths that have different consequences depending on what you choose.  Really, it's just a matter of whether or not you make it to the top.  Not how you got there. Well, ok, unless you're dropped off by a helicopter.

So why is life so different?  There are infinite number of paths in our lives, some easy, others challenging.  Certainly no matter what path you choose, each will have their own rewards and consequences.  Remember, they're just paths.  We really can't say one path is better than another.  Each path will present it's own share of hardships and victories depending on the person who travels it.  What may seem easy to one person may be more challenging to another.  The same path that provides great success to one may bring devastation to another.

To look at someone and cast disparaging judgements on them for the path they've chosen is simply ridiculous.  You could have a young person, slow on the uptake, that seems to be frittering their life away on an aimless path when in fact that path could be leading them to a life alternating experience they wouldn't otherwise have known if it wasn't for that one particular path.  Now that same path may not work for me but it certain did for that one person.

Instead of judging the paths people take in life, how about just encouraging them along the way on their journey?  We're all on a journey.  We're all on our own respective paths and not one is really better than another.  Sure, I may periodically fall into the trappings of jealousy over the person who seemingly has it easy and is enjoying the fruits of very little labor but I don't know where they've been nor do I have any idea where they're going.  They're just moving along, just like me.

So here's to everyone who's still on their journey.  May it always be a long road to the top.  Why, you say?  Because the real joy in life is not where we're going but how we get there.

Love you!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fresh set of eyes

In the work environment when we struggle with a problem sometimes the best solution is to get a "fresh set of eyes".  When we've stared at a problem for days, months or even years with little to no progress, a new perspective from someone else may be just the thing we need to get over the hump.

When it comes to achieving joy in our lives we may feel like our problems just perpetuate, that there's no real solution in sight.  Why am I not really happy with my life?  What can I do to get the kind of life I want?  No matter what we try or what we indulge, there's still that nagging emptiness that we just can't seem to fill.  I bet most of us will reach out to a close friend or that one family member who may be able to provide us all the answers, a new perspective if you will.  But how often are we frustrated when that go-to person can't make any more sense of our lives than we can?

As a child I saw the world in a particular way.  All things were fresh and new, as if they had never happened to anyone before.  The joy and excitement found in life's adventures filled me up and sustained me through my childhood.  But as I grew into adulthood it was easy to become disenchanted with life.  The same old same old didn't do it any more.  It was easy for me to fall into that trap of trying to grasp that next big thrill in order to fill some perceived hole in my life.

But along came fatherhood.  As a new father many of the same things I experienced as a child I now had the opportunity to see through the eyes of my daughter.  Disneyland, Christmas, days at the beach or the park - they all brought back distinct memories for me as a child.  But when I had the chance to experience them all over again through the eyes of my daughter it brought a whole new unique experience for me, a different, more fulfilling joy than I ever experienced as a kid.  Maybe it was maturity but most folks that know me would laugh at that conclusion.  I believe God opened my mind and my heart to see, "with new eyes", the life I was actually blessed with.  

Now with the arrival of my second grandson I'm experiencing the thrill of life all over again through the eyes of my two precious little boys.  Seeing my oldest grandson play with an empty box, pushing race cars across the floor, or just tossing a ball have filled me with an incomprehensible joy because I'm seeing life through his eyes.  The joy I feel is his joy in experiencing all things new.

Perhaps that's the trick.  Maybe we just need to put a fresh set of eyes on the life that's being experienced by the ones we love.  I'm not going to say I'm an old guy but I am old enough to know I've been around the block a few times and that REAL joy isn't necessarily found in my own personal pursuits but in the adventures of my little grandsons.

So this Thanksgiving season I wish to say that I'm so incredibly grateful and so incredibly blessed that I've been given new eyes to see the beauty and joy that's in this world.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Pursuit...

Mighty strange times we live in, huh?  First the Cubs win the World Series, and now a reality TV star has been elected President.  When the Chinese came up with the proverb, “May you live in interesting times”, I don’t think they could’ve imagined this. 

So, what’s next?  I tell ya I’m at a loss as how to process this.  If you’ve read any of my blogs you’ll know I’m pretty up front about things and can be a bit “TMI” at times.  So what I’m about to share is just my observations and thoughts on current events here in the US of A.  The honest truth is I’m conflicted, disappointed and very much concerned over the welfare of this once great country.

First things first, I didn’t vote for the Donald.  Now before anyone gets twisted in one direction or the other hear me out.  The only reason I voted for the other candidate is simple – from the sage advice of Michael Corleone, “Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer.”  Right or wrong I figured that Clinton was a known entity.  Reprehensible in so many ways – honesty, integrity, moral character, you name it.  But it was my, perhaps naive, belief that someone like her in office could be contained by other elements of government.  I even entertained the idea that she would eventually get impeached and that I was really only voting for the Vice Presidential candidates. 

I suspect most Clinton supporters will rant about how horrible things will now become, that Armageddon is at hand and our dogs and children are no longer safe and male bosses will go back to slapping their female secretaries on the ass.  To them I say, “What did you expect?”  Plain and simple, Trump is a freak show on wheels.  But you have to ask yourself a question, what has happened that the natural, most logical course of action by the majority of the people of this country was to elect an ego-maniacal, self-serving, unqualified sycophant?  How bad have things become that electing Trump made sense?

I will say “we” have become so delusional over the last eight years about the condition of this country.  We had a black President, yes, I’m pointing out color, who convinced many of us that he was going to bring the country back together, that it was all about inclusion and harmony among all.  But these past eight years have been nothing but divisiveness, segregation and finger pointing.  Just look at last night’s election reporting.  It blew me away how the media focused almost entirely on the color, gender and intelligence of the American voters.  If you have two people with opposing views on a topic and you start by labeling them by their color, gender, orientation or whatever, the issue has now taken a back seat.  Through the manipulation by the media these voters will look across the table at each other, not seeing a person, but rather a black, Hispanic, white, male, female or whatever label that’s been applied.  To point out that women without college education were voting for Trump was one of several ways the very liberal media created bias among the population.  Should anyone really care who voted for whom?  I personally don’t.  So why the need to make that discrimination?

Although I’m not a fan of Trump I will say that I believe he’ll bring back some form of accountability.  Being a business man and understanding that performance is what affects the bottom line I think he has the potential to force people, businesses and government to step up and take accountability.  Last night’s election was a tremendous backlash over the way this country has been run over the last eight years.  We would do well to keep that in mind.  Now is not the time to finger point or make idle threats.  It’s time we all get involved in our communities and live righteous, upstanding lives.  Stop looking for handouts.  Stop seeking favor because you’re different or feel entitled.  Own your own condition and stop blaming others for your lot in life.  YOU are responsible for you. 

The only thing this government is responsible for providing us is life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness.  Many have tried to remove that word “pursuit”.  But we create our own happiness.  It is not given to us.  Until you learn that and embrace that you will continue to live a miserable, self-centered life.  Remember, the strength, character and will of this country was founded in that word “pursuit”.   If you honestly believe that the world is coming to an end, that there’s no future to be had for any of us I suggest you at least do this – pursue integrity, righteousness, compassion, service, honesty, good will and above all, love.  If we are really going to “make this country great again”, we have to start from the bottom up.    


Just my two cents.



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