Thursday, December 19, 2013


When I push myself, I can still feel the effects of the wounds of the battles of the past in my arms, my legs, my side, my heart and my soul.

But the pain doesn't hold me back. It pushes me on and helps me reach my potential.

But I don't seek the wounds. Having them has helped me know better how to dodge the blows that will come my way and not face some of the same pain again.

I have learned how to avoid the wounds.

I can only hope that I will one day learn not to inflict them.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Another Reader

For a little different look, here are some of the latest that Diane has been reading. Enjoy taking a look at some of her recent reading list. Click on the book to get a link to some more info.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Petition this

Have you seen the info about the petitions where people promise not to shop on Thanksgiving? We drove by Walmart yesterday, and I don't think they worked.

I also went to see a movie last night. And yes, it reminded me that I am thankful that we do not live in a totalitarian regime where children are randomly selected to kill one another every year.

I did have a great thought though. If we could get a petition going where people would promise not to be all sick on thanksgiving, and not hurt themselves and promise not to get into drunken family brawls and traffic accidents, then maybe many more policemen, firemen and nurses could stay home with their family on the Holiday.

So, what do you think. I will get it started. Will you sign it?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


This year, at the family Thanksgiving dinner, we were assigned Green Bean Casserole. None of us even like green bean casserole, but we will make it anyway.

An informal poll had revealed to me that most people don't care for this dish at all, if they have even heard of it. I have also learned that everyone who has heard of it and doesn't like it also happens to have the best recipe for it.

I don't know where the idea for a bunch of green beans in a dish with mushroom soup on them came from and who ever thought it would be a good idea, but we have learned not to mess with tradition.

One year, we were assigned potatoes. Not wanting to be so dull, we opted to go with a potato casserole dish that we all really liked.

One would think that we had betrayed our family to the Normans or something. We got scowls of disappointment and disapproval from all and someone had to run out and buy potatoes so they could be properly mashed and served in the way God intended them to be at Thanksgiving when he told Moses to write it down in the Torah.

Our casserole was finished completely, cause it was delicious. But that was not the point, was it? And at least we weren't asked to throw marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes, or something dumb like that.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What I was trying to say.

I won't let info about my daughter's upcoming trip co-op my blog forever, but here is another.

At her fundraising party, she talked a little about what she would be doing, then I tried to share a little too.

Here is what I was trying to say:

Not everyone gets a chance to go to the poorest parts of the world and help make people's life better. Not everyone gets to touch the life of children. Not everyone gets to share God's love with the others in other culture's. Or do they?

The work we do takes up a big chunk of or lives. And the money we make is a tangible piece that we get from the work we do. When we are able to give money to those that go and do stuff like that, then we are not only sending them, we are sending a part of ourselves as well.

So when we give to projects; the hungry, the downcast, the stranger, we are not only sending them, we are sending a part of ourselves too.

So, thank you for all that you do to support the work of those that do go and thanks you for sending a part of your life towards the good things that still happen in our world.

And here is the organization that Emily is going with: Go International

And if you want to help, you can check out her fundraising page at:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What can a day do?

Here is another one about Emily's upcoming trip.

So far, she has raised around $3,600 for her 7 month mission trip. Her goal is to raise a total of $8,000*.

The remainder of the money she needs is to cover her lodging, food, transportation and other living expenses. It works out to right around $25 a day she will need.

I would like to ask you to consider a monthly donation to help her cover these expenses. Our family is unable to pay all of that, so we are hoping you will see the value of paying for just one day ($25) a month from November through August.

Here is what a day can do:

- One day can mean an orphaned child seeing that they have a loving family for all eternity.

- One day can help some school kids see that someone cares about them and is even concerned about how well they do in the classroom.

- One day can show a delinquent kid in the Quito ghetto that he can be forgiven, and is life can mean something.

- One Day can inspire an Ecuadorian college student to devote their life to helping others and making their world better.

- One day can encourage a Pastor in Ecuador to continue keeping his hand to the plow and to continue to love and care for his city.

- One day can help someone from the U.S. to realize their dream of reaching across cultures to share God's love.

Will you be a part of that?
Go to her donation page and click the donate button. Fill in the details and remember to indicate that you are giving a monthly amount. We will be sure to remind you when you need to stop it in August:

Emily Allerton

$25 a month = 1 Day a month
$50 a month = 2 Day a month
$100 a month = 4 days a month

Thanks so much for all you do.

* Note: We found this trip to be very reasonable. Many short term mission trips last 1-3 weeks and are in the range of $2500-$4,000. For the amount this one will cost, she will be there for 7 months, giving her a real chance to learn the culture and make a real difference in people's lives. In addition to this, she will be helping others plan and serve in their short term missions.

Notwithstanding other donations we get from now til she leaves, we need around 30 people that will donate a day a month. Or 15 to donate two days a month. Or some that will give half a day and some that will do 2. You get the idea. Thanks for being a part of this.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


When I was a Pastor, it is probably accurate to say that I was better at some things than I was at others. For instance, I am an exceptional speaker and do quite well in front of groups....when everything turns out as it should.

However, I wasn't always as good at attending to some inter-personal issues and I wasn't always as good at working through some of the details and minutea of the "business" aspects of the work.

I just realized that I am in a season of learning that might help me shore up those areas a little.

I have two new volunteer positions that I was asked to serve in and I am trying to do my best with both so I will have something to bring to the table. But I think I will learn more from them than I have to offer.

The first is with Northwest Fire. I am now a volunteer Chaplain with them and I did my first ride with a crew last night. It really is the life. We hung out, had dinner, ate dessert, lounged on the patio smoking pipes and conversing before moving to the TV to play some XBOX.

I wondered why everyone didn't sign up for this job, until we had a call. After we all rushed out and they worked on a dying patient, I realized that it took some different kind of people to do this job. And it is my role to figure out how to connect with them and support them in what they do.

I will tell you about my other new role later.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013



noun \ˈhyü-brəs\
: a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence

 A few years back, Diane and I returned home from an outing to find our oldest on the phone and the others looking quite frantic. We ask about what's going on and we are told that the girls saw someone prowling around outside of their window and our son was on with the 911 dispatcher.

I did what any normal Dad would do and grabbed my shotgun. I did have the presence of mind to tell the eldest to let the 911 operator know that I was going hunting, and if the cops ever did show up, I would prefer not being shot.

They, of course, told me to put the gun away. I then got on the phone and told them to never mind. I would rather deal with it myself than lock up my guns and hope that help got there in time. And I don't like being told that I shouldn't have my gun out when I am protecting my kids.

When the police finally did arrive, some time later, I had already figured out that no-one was there. At least not anymore. And I had already put my guns away.

I know the police don't like showing up where someone has a gun and I know they don't want to have to wonder who is the homeowner and who is the prowler, but I don't like just laying there hoping that help will come in time.

Who has the greater hubris here? Me, for thinking I can deal with it myself, or them, for thinking they will get to me in time to help?

Sunday, October 20, 2013


This weekend has seen it's share of ups and downs.

After an illness lasting weeks and some heroic efforts (Including subcutaneously hydrating him with needles and IV bags) to help our family cat, Indiana Jones, he died. He was 14 years old and even though I am not a cat person, he was probably one of the best cats ever.

That was on Friday. Later on the same day, we got to head up to Phoenix to visit with some old friends that we haven't seen for nearly ten years and we have missed them that whole time.

Last night I had to spend some time at the hospital after a terrible tragedy in the family of one of our department members. I also got news that the loved one of a friend passed away suddenly.

This afternoon, I will be officiating at the ceremony of some good friends and neighbors of mine.

I think I am learning that life is........

Sunday, October 13, 2013


 Cyrano De Bergerac: Small, my nose?! Why, magnificent my nose! You pug, you knob, you button head! Know that I glory in this nose of mine. For a great nose indicates a great man: genial, courteous, intellectual, veritable, courageous!

 There are some people that seem to be defined by a feature they have. Like the guy with the big nose. When talking about him, everyone will say things like, "You know, he's the guy with the big nose."

Other people are defined by a less visible, but no less prominent, feature. By that they do, what they believe in or what they are trying to accomplish.

Many are defined by what happens to them.

What is it that you are being defined by?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Keeping up

We have been busier than we should be the last several weeks, but I am still working on keeping up with my reading. Here are a few I have taken in. Maybe something will interest you.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cause Everybody loves them!

The other day, we attended a luncheon that a local Church put on for First Responders. They were great! The food was actually very tasty and the staff that served us was friendly, helpful and expressed their appreciation over and over. It was nice to be appreciated like that.

So, the following is not in any way meant to take away from what they did for us and how much we appreciated the lunch, but it does show that, once again, everyone loves firemen.

The first wave of eaters was cops (oh surprise). Some ten or fifteen minutes after I arrived, a crew of firefighters came in off of their truck. And no, even though they walked in like they owned the place, we didn't have any fights.

As soon as they came in, one of the ladies serving us said loudly, "Oh Yay! We have Firemen!". At this point, the rest of the staff erupted in cheers.

Yes, we appreciated the lunch. And yes, everybody loves firemen.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Laying it down

For a soldier, it can be one of the hardest things you can do.
Yes, you have cursed it as you have humped it over countless hills, miles of trails and cleaned it endlessly,
But it has more than saved your life, it has come to define who you are and what your life is about.
And when it comes time to lay down your rifle, it can be the hardest thing you've ever done.
For a student, putting down your books and stepping out of the classroom can feel like your life will never be the same again.
Yes, you have learned some of the most interesting things, challenged yourself to do more than you thought you could and come to love the life of learning.
And when it comes time to set aside your books, it can be the hardest thing you've ever done.
The performer doesn't want to step away from the microphone.
There is something about the attention you get when all eyes are on you, hanging on your every word and swaying along with your every chord.
So when it comes time to step away from the microphone, it can be the hardest thing you've ever done.

But sometimes the call is higher, the fight is greater, the things we need to learn are far more real and the audience might be smaller, but is more important than ever.

When the time comes, are we ready to lay down our rifles?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Low Point

"Since you have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas." - Davy Crockett

And another bit from the life of the Honorable congressman from Tennessee. Right before he left for Texas, he was defeated in a re-election bid by a one legged lawyer with a peg leg, and this quote is what is said to have been his response to the good people of Tennessee.

I suppose it sometimes takes us reaching a low point before we get up the gumption to make that life-altering change that we have been thinking about for years.

On the other hand, sometimes we can make dumb decisions on the spur of the moment simply because we are unhappy about something.

Which do you suppose Davy did?

And pictured above is Billy Bob Thornton's portrayal of the man himself in the 2004 film, The Alamo.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Psalm 127:4 (NASB)

It is a privilege that we as parents have to send our children to places we may never get to go to do things we will never get to do. The accomplishments and impact that they have, while done on their own, can be a part of the legacy we leave the world and the impact we have on the world.

With that in mind, we are excited about our oldest daughter's (Emily) recent decision to be a part of a missions trip/training program to Quito, Ecuador this coming year. This seven month program combines  spending time working with local Churches and community groups to make an impact in the lives of the people of that City while spending time learning about leadership, culture, language and more to invest in learning to make an impact in the future.

As with many "mission" trips, she will be raising support for this program, so I am sure you can expect us to ask you to participate in this endeavor. But in the meantime, take a look at some of what the organization hat selected her to be a part of this team is about and what she will be a part of with the SUBMERGE program:

Go International

Monday, September 2, 2013

When he was only three.....

I was recently at work driving around in my truck and looking for evildoers, when I saw some members of the U.S. Border Patrol frantically waving me down and two ladies standing beside their parked car talking to them.

I have learned from past experience that the one thing Patrol Agents fear is talking with journalists. As far as they are concerned, talking with a reporter is a worse fate then being interviewed by an attorney. They are even forbidden by their policies from giving interviews, etc., etc.

Sure enough, their frantic waves were because they were dealing with a local television reporter and her camera person.

I was able to save them by taking the reporters to the likely spot where a man had recently been shot in the backside by his three year old while they were spending some quality time at the range.

When the reporter asked me if I had ever heard of a three year old involved in any sort of shooting. Of course I have, and I let her know about it.

Davy Crockett ".... 'kilt him a b'ar' when he was only three."

Here is a link to the news report:

A Tucson toddler accidently shoots his father on a shooting range

And here is Fess Parker, Davy Crockett to generations of Disney viewers, singing all about it:



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Who shot first?

I was recently reminded of some of the controversy surrounding the scene in the movie Star Wars where we first meet Han Solo. He is in the Cantina  in Mos Eisley and is being confronted by Greedo.

In the original theatrical version, Han shoots Greedo first with his blaster as Greedo is leveling a blaster at Han's face. 

Many felt that this gave Han a bad boy, murderous anti-hero image. Good guys don't shoot first, do they? So, in later versions, George Lucas changed the scene so Greedo fired first and Han followed up with a deadly shot of his own.

But is it really wrong for Han to shoot first?

 Our laws make it perfectly legal for a person to use deadly physical force when they reasonably believes it is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person from the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.

In other words, if you think you are going to be killed, do what you need to to save your life. And definitely shoot first, because the first one to shoot might be the only one that gets to.

Greedo had a deadly weapon aimed at Han, signifying his intent to use it and he further verbally indicated that he planned on killing Han. Han was perfectly justified in shooting first. At least in a free society like ours.

The only court of law that would convict Han would be some Empire's kangaroo court that filed some sort of trumped up charges, which is exactly what he would have been facing if he stuck around in Mos Eisley.

Apparently those that were concerned about Han's shot have a legal theory more like the Galactic Empire than ours.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Wedding Parable

We recently attended a wedding in Lake Tahoe that was simply beautiful. Since I didn't get permission to tell this tale, I won't identify any of the guilty participants, such as the guy who performed the ceremony. But since it is a wedding themed day for our family, I thought I would share this story.

The Bride had every detail planned. Specifically, it was planned for a hill overlooking the Lake. It was a short hike up to this spot, which was special because it was the place where the groom had proposed.

When the time came for the ceremony, the snow, cold and physical limitations made it impossible for the ceremony to be held at the desired location.

Plan B was down on the shore, on the dock of a private beach, surrounded by the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe and loving family and friends. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever witnessed and the bride thought it was perfect, even though it wasn't what was planned or envisioned.

When we face of life, whether it is our plans for our marriage, our careers or whatever, we often have some very specific places we want to be and things we want to have happen.

Things never work out quite like we hope.

But, if we can trip through life surrounded by loving family and friends, and if we can be resilient in spite of troubles and setbacks, maybe things can turn out just as good with Plan B (or C, or D or E), as they ever would have if things worked out exactly like we wanted.

Maybe even better.

Some Unsolicited Thoughts

This seems to be the wedding year for the sons of long time friends. First up was our friends in Sacramento that had a gorgeous wedding on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Today is the big day spent celebrating and exchanging vows in front of their family and friends for the son of some long time local friends and his lovely bride.

So, with the 20 plus years (21 years, 3 mos and 13 days, to be precise) of marital bliss that I have experienced, I thought I would share some unsolicited advice for newlyweds. Hope fully this might help some of you just a little in avoiding some of the myriad of mistakes that I have made. This could even be helpful for, not just newlyweds, but those that have been married for just a little longer. Maybe even for me.

****** Interlude******
Sometimes when people ask how long we have been together, I let them know that we have been happily married for 7 years now.......which means that we have now been married for 21 years.
Now, here are those unsoliceted thoughts:

1. Decide to stay together.
Sometimes not separating is as easy as that. Just saying that we are going to stay together and work this out together no matter what happens. Obviously, there are exceptions. But too many people are too ready to entertain the option of giving up on each other if they are unhappy, uncomfortable, unexcited about their relationship. usually those feelings have more to do with you than with the other person. Work through them. Stay together.

2. It's not always as fun as you planned.
Our first year of marriage was just about the worst. Mostly because I was used to living alone and living with and for someone else was kind of a culture shock. If things seem less fun than before, that is ok. Just refer to item number one and things will get better.

3. Read the book Love and Respect.
Early and often.
Their are plenty of good books on marriage, relationships, etc. This is a great one about the differences, needs and how to motivate and care for your spouse and have an exceptional relationship. This one is one of the best, in my opinion.

4. Find some things you like to do together and do them.
When we first get married, it is hard to even fathom that we will ever be apart. But as time passes, we find that work, other people (friends, family, kids) and even differing hobbies can interfere with that time. Find things you like to do together and make sure you make time to do them.

5. You two are now your primary family.
As important as parents are, when you get married, the relationship with them is supposed to change. They are no longer your primary providers, emotional support, immediate family members, etc., etc. That is now the role of your marital relationship. It is better if you figure that out early. You probably won't tho, and it will make things more difficult until you do.

6. Communicate
I have heard that communication is 80% listening and understanding (and probably active type listening), 40% sharing your thoughts and feelings, and 20% being patient. Whatever the formula, learn to do it and do it well. My inability to do this has caused untold difficulties in our marriage.

A corollary to this.....try to make your communication polite. People with manners are more fun to be around. Even if they are your spouse.

7. Stay Fit
Healthy people are happy people. Happy people are better to live with. Some health issues are beyond our control(refer to item #1), but do your best by eating right and exercising regularly. Exercise is a great stress reducer that God gave to us. Take advantage of this gift.

8. Remember Item #1

I know, I am supposed to say put God first in your relationship and things will be dandy. Yes, he is important. But I didn't say that because - everyone else will, - you should be doing that anyway and - without taking some practical steps (see items #1-8) things will be worse than they have to be, whether or not God is with you while you are miserable.

So there you go.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

From Some Friends

It seems to be the season for writing. Or at least publishing. Here are some offerings from some friends of mine in the Tucson area:

These ones, The Root of Christianity and And God Created Woman, are only available locally from our friends Gannon and Rebekah McGhee.I got them lined up and on my to read que very soon. Maybe I will tell you more.

 Building on Jesus’ prayer and Paul’s analogy, Jesus’ Surprising Strategy, by a valued local ministry leader Dave Drum,  examines five levels of unity, each building on the previous one, and each providing a practical, biblical means for the roles you can play to fulfill Jesus’ prayer in our day, in your relationships, and in your city.

My friend Yves Johnson recently moved to Tucson and has written this book, There is No Gray in Moral Failure, and is working on his next.
In There Is No Gray In Moral Failure: A Practical Guide In Preventing Sexual and Financial Misconduct, we discuss two troublesome but seldomly confronted issues in Christianity today--financial and sexual misconduct. We look at how both the clergy and Christians failure in these areas damage Christianity's image.

By way of a little more fun change of pace,  my Friend and co-worker, Jay Korza, has recently released this one. By the way, when I finish this, it will be the first book I have read electronically. Expect a review when that is done.

 In a small portion of the galaxy, Earth is joined with many other worlds to form the Coalition. The Coalition and its member species work together in an attempt to mitigate the inevitable conflicts that arise as more and more of the galaxy is explored and its riches claimed. Daria is a Marine Corps Corpsman assigned to one of the many Coalition’s combined species units............

Since this is an e-book, I will give you a few ways to link to it:

Extinction on Kindle

Extinction on Smashwords

 Extinction Reviews

Everything Going Wrong?

Ever feel like everything is going wrong? Like whatever you try to do seems to go south? That nothing is working like it is supposed to? Like you just keep getting hit with one problem after another?

A few years ago, I had the chance to hear a talk from Doug Stanton, the Author of Horse Soldiers, an account of the Special Forces in Afghanistan right after 9/11.

It was a very interesting recount of the book, filling in some details and bringing the events to life, but one thing in particular struck me and stuck with me.

He said that what Special Forces Training is all about is "Learning to recover quicker from multiple failures."

Most of us can deal with a problem or two, or even a few. But when one problem after another smacks us in the face, it is easy to dive into a shell and do nothing, or freak out and do dumb and damaging things. But the Green Beret has learned that each problem needs to be prioritized and dealt with appropriately even when they seem to keep coming without a break.

So, when you get hit with the troubles that you are sure to face, do what the Special Forces do. Adjust your hat, so it looks just right, figure out what you need to do, get busy doing it and don't be afraid to make adjustments as the inevitable new challenge comes your way.

Here's a little motivator:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sweaty Toothed Madman

Ah poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats,
Ah you foes that in conflict have overcome me,
(For what is my life or any man's life but a conflict with foes, the
        old, the incessant war?)

You degradations, you tussle with passions and appetites,
You smarts from dissatisfied friendships, (ah wounds the sharpest of all!)

You toil of painful and choked articulations, you meannesses,
You shallow tongue-talks at tables, (my tongue the shallowest of any;)
You broken resolutions, you racking angers, you smother'd ennuis!

Ah think not you finally triumph, my real self has yet to come forth,
It shall yet march forth o'ermastering, till all lies beneath me,
It shall yet stand up the soldier of ultimate victory.

- Walt Whitman

Friday, August 16, 2013

Running (or slow jogging) man

Hey, I finally found my results from last December's Half Marathon. Well, I hadn't really looked before. Should I try again this year? Maybe pick up the pace a little bit?

The challenge is finding time for those longer training runs.
Tucson Marathon 2012
Tucson, AZ - Sun, Dec 09th, 2012
Final Time & Place (A/G/O)
09:36 / mile
Place (A/G/O)
James's Stats:
1/2 Mara

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tell Me A Tale

Tell Me a Tale

Or How Storytelling Helps People Learn

Ever been in an interminable lecture where the teacher drones on and on about something? They often spice it up by reading words off of the screen, or asking you to read the words off the screen. From time to time, they even throw in a few pictures to grab your attention. Then end result is, you are glad when the class is over and you retain very little of the information that was presented.

The sad thing is that the information was probably useful and applicable, or even vital, for your professional or personal life.

How does a presenter or teacher overcome this and help your listeners to learn. Or, even more importantly, not get a reputation as "boring" (because if you have that reputation.....)?

The best way I know, is to tell stories.

Remember those learning styles?
  • Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary(intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study
Storytelling can address the styles that are not addressed in a typical lecture.


 Listeners can see their imagination to see, hear, smell, taste and interact with the stories. And the parts of the brain most vital for learning and retention often cant distinguish between what really happened and what we imagined. Yes, our rational brain knows we were not there, but, as far as other parts of our brain knows, the story could have been us doing the tasks, talking to the people involved, feeling the emotions the person in the story felt.

A good storyteller will help us see the story. A great storyteller will put us in the story and help us engage with it. And that is where we learn.

And, much to my discredit, you could have got this concept much better had I told a tale.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A few pages more

Here are a few more currently on my bookshelf that I am working through.

One of them has some people and events that I am familiar with. Can you guess which one?


Today would have been Louis Armstrong's 112th Birthday. Take a listen to this as a tribute to his life and music.

And here is one for my love:

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Here is an insight into my brilliant mind:

 I will often take short notes when I think of something that I want to write about. That way, I will have a few things in the pot to put to share and I can remember what it is that I wanted to say. The more obscure of a thought or the longer I think it will be until I write it, the longer of a note I make to myself on my notes ap.

While I was on our recent family vacation, I decided not to post anything on here so I could focus a little more on doing stuff with the family. I did write down a few notes that I am sure you will reap the benefit of in the coming days.

One note was a little different. 

It says, simply, "White fences on Friday".

I have no idea what it means.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Expeditionary Titles

Just got back from a family trip, which included a stop at the Calaveras Big Trees State Park (Did I send you a postcard?).  Here are some titles I looked into while we were away. This list is purely for your edification and possible interest. Maybe you will find something you like.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Was it worth the tears?

"Life without liberty is like a body without spirit"
- Khalil Gibran 

About 25,000  Americans gave their lives to death and disease defending our liberty in the revolutionary war.

We lost around 600,000 soldiers during the American Civil War, confronting our shame of depriving liberty from so many.

Our nation has fought more wars that any other and has given the lives of many of our best. Some 400, 000 in WWII, at least 7,000 in the current war on terror, and many more in many other conflicts and wars.

 As they lay sick and hurt, bleeding and dying, did they wonder, "Was worth the pain?"

As their mothers and wives and brothers and sisters and children mourned their loss, did they wonder "Was it worth the tears?" 

What is the liberty and independence that we celebrate on this day? What is the price we are prepared to pay for it today? And what about the price that those that have gone before us have paid?

Was it worth the tears? 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I like this

I recently shared briefly at the Tucson Ministry Alliance's monthly luncheon on behalf of the Tucson Refugee Ministry. They asked me to come and tell about the experiences that a small group of us, including my family and I, had while befriending a family that came to Tucson as refugees from the Congo. I shared a couple of stories about that experience, but here is one story I did not share.

One night, we went to visit our friends apartment with our family and another young lady and her children. Another lady and her daughter, who had also come here as refugees, were also visiting when we arrived. After we talked for a little bit, the other lady looked at us skeptically and began to question us.

"Who are you?"

"Why are you here?"

"How do you know these people?"

It became clear to me that she was very suspicious of us and she did not seem to want us there at all. Then she said something that surprised me.

She said, "I like this. People. Will you come to my house too?"

Sadly, we never did. In fact, the majority of the over 1,000 refugees that will be coming to Tucson this year will have no-one to come visit them and be their friend. But they are asking, "will you come to my house too?"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I have noticed that when children travel or are having fun, they tend to believe that natural laws are suspended.

For instance, they seem to think that no matter how far out they go in the water from the shore and no matter how strong the tides are, there is no way they could be swept out to sea.

They also think the Law of Gravity is suspended just for them. I am sure that they think that they can't possibly fall off the edge of the steep precipices they run up to, and if they do fall, they seem to believe they will just float back onto solid ground or something.

I used to ridicule children for being this dumb, but I just discovered that I have the same tendencies.

If I haven't shared, we have been trying to eat better and be a bit more healthy, trying to take in the kinds of foods that we were designed to eat, not the kinds that were designed to cheaply feed the masses and make someone somewhere their fortune(and no, I am not opposed to cheap food. Or even free food. And I am certainly not opposed to people getting rich from selling stuff. I just am trying to eat better.).

I have discovered that when I eat better, I feel better, have a better outlook, and more energy, etc., etc. All the cliche things you hear about why you should eat better.

Based on this last weekend, it seems that, when I travel, I think that the cause and effect of eating well goes out the window. Since I was out of town for the weekend, I loaded up on pizza, ice cream, soda and more. No, I didn't load up as much as have might have in days gone by, but it was still enough to make me feel absolutely awful most of yesterday morning.

It seems that my belief that certain natural laws were suspended were no more true for me than it is for all those thoughtless little children. I have another trip to California coming up soon. Someone make sure that I do better on that trip.

Friday, June 21, 2013

I saw Stu Grant

I seem to have an uncanny ability to do two things. The first is to win drawings. This might sound exciting, and it can be, but it gets annoying for my friends and family.

When they called to let us to know that we won a big American Girls jewelry box in a drawing, the caller was sure to let my wife know that it was my one entry, not hers or the girls numerous entries, that won the grand prize. When I won a trip to India in a drawing, my wife (the same one) let me know that I was not to enter the drawing to Columbia the following year.

Our youngest son is constantly irritated when he does not win drawings. I think he figures he should have inherited that trait. Perhaps he has to wait until my death and then argue with the others about who gets that.

The second super power I have is to see people I know in random places. A couple of examples: When we were driving through Idaho, we stopped for sandwiches and ran into some friends from Sacramento. In Saudi Arabia, I happened across my recruiter. He looked like it was his worst nightmare to see one of the troops he recruited in a full combat kit. Maybe I shouldn't have called him out as my recruiter in front of everyone.

I have numerous other examples of these, my only super powers, in action. But I am far too modest. Plus, the title of this post is, "I saw Stu Grant". So I will stick to that.

Last summer, I was hanging out on Coronado Island with the kids. After a brief pit stop in the bathroom, I looked over and saw Stu Grant with his boys looking just like Stu Grant.

This is unusual because I hadn't seen Stu Grant since the day we graduated High School in 1988. That makes for a 24 year gap. And, since neither one of us live anywhere near there, it seemed uncannily random, although hardly surprising, since that sort of thing happens to me fairly regular. That and winning drawings.

In any case, tomorrow is Stu's Birthday, and I am in the San Diego area for the day, so I thought of him and his family. If you get a chance, tell him Happy Birthday.

And here's one from me: Happy Birthday Stu! Glad I got to see you and I really do hope you had a good one!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Something to do.

As some of you may know, I grew up in the quaint little town of McCook in Nebraska.  As others of you may know, the word quaint, when you are too young to drive, often means having nothing to do.

As ingenious as I was, I was often able to come up with remedies for this condition.

Tonight, since it was Father's Day, I thought it would be appropriate to inflict some memories of my younger days in this quaint little town on my children.

I told them how I used to ride my brother's motorcycle around town from time to time, during this pre-car, pre-drivers license stage and how I was threatened by the 20's plus year old boy friend of a girl I knew when I was maybe 13 or 14. Yes, he was a loser. But at least he had his own motorcycle and motorcycle license.

And, I told them about when Russ' Dad lived in the second floor apartment across the street from the Ben Franklin store. The Ben Franklin side of the street also had a phone booth with a pay phone. Remember those things!

I think one of the best forms of entertainment we found in that town was to go find the number to that phone, then wait for unsuspecting locals to walk by and call them up. I really don't think anyone ever figured out we were right across the street from them.

Yes, this counted as entertainment for 13 year old boys in a small town.

And yes, if you are lucky I will tell you about the haunted mansion that ended up causing two consecutive owners to kill themselves. It is currently for sale, if you are interested. Over 5,000 square feet, and all of them guaranteed to be haunted.

Happy Fathers Day!

Thursday, June 13, 2013