Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

I'm glad I went tonight...

Though I wasn't feeling festive, I got out of the house tonight to do our annual get-together with friends and family (my brothers live next door, so it's a two-for-one shot). It wasn't personal. I just didn't feel like going, mostly because I tend to get down during the Christmases where I'm going through a time of personal struggle. It's just difficult some years. But, my wife committed us to go, and I didn't want to make her go alone. She already attended the Christmas program at my church the night before without me for the same reason (I stayed home to watch my 49ers get thrashed on television - major fail).

But, I overdid it on the food and drink - mostly food (I had some awesome cheesecake tonight), and I needed something to do in order to keep me from hitting the hay earlier than necessary, in order to avoid a Pepto-Bismol moment as a result of assuming the supine position too quickly. I figured I'd do something this.

So, it's reflection time...

For many, Christmas is a tough time, particularly if the year has been a struggle. My battle has been about health and making a living. Throughout this year, we had relied on God for our provision, and while we fell a bit short each month, we hung in there. We believed it was only a matter of time before the floodgate of blessings would open. Sad to say, the floodgate hasn't opened - well, sad in the proverbial sense. It's a work in progress, as the floodgate hasn't opened YET. It is what it is, and it could always be worse.

We all know of families that are splitting up, friends with illnesses, people with failing businesses, parents with kid problems, and on and on...including 27 families in Connecticut who are suffering this Christmas, and Christmas will never be the same for them again.

This is not to compare ourselves with those who have it worse off. I don't like to compare myself with anyone, better or worse, because the struggle I have is my own. Our struggles are just that...our own struggles. I would just suggest that we should take the time and evaluate our struggle for what it's'll find it's not so bad sometimes and it'll allow you to pray for and think more clearly about a solution.

Years ago, I worked with a lady who approached me at work via email (even though she worked 20 feet away), telling me that she wanted me to keep the happy holiday talk down because of the depression that sets in with her during this time of year. Now, this was a person who enjoyed working where she worked, lived in a lovely new home, was debt-free, happily married, with wonderful kids and grandchildren, took a nice vacation trip every year, which is the stuff that a lot of us hope for. She didn't like Christmas because it just made her blue.  

My response:  "Get over it.  A lot of us have it worse than you."  

And that blew any chance of happiness in that person's life over the next few weeks.  Ho ho ho.

So, what's my point?  It's this:  

When God answers my prayers with a resounding "no," He still loves me.

When I think that people are judging me because of my situation, there are friends that love me.

When I have family driving me nuts, I have two brothers that love me, who do their best to make their big brother laugh during the dark times, like tonight, and I don't know what I'd do without them.  The story my brother David shared this evening about a mouse in the house was epic.

When I feel that there is a growing distance between me and my kids, I know they love me. More often than not, they'll do something or say something to remind me why they're special and why I love them.

When my wife comes over to me while I sit at my desk and hugs me, "because I just love you," that's all I need to keep me going.  It's even better when I tell her "I don't need presents, and I don't need Christmas dinner...all I need is you."  That tends to make everyone happy, happy, happy...

So this year, we won't be buying presents, and this year we won't be having a Christmas dinner...but this year we still have each other, and that's all right with me.

By the way, if on Wednesday (the 26th) you need to complain about returning your presents, don't email me about it....just read the red line above.  

Merry Christmas...and one other thing...

Thank You, Jesus, for coming to this earth to be our Light and our Eternal Hope.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Up The Hill

Just a real quick post...

I went up to a friend's cabin up in the mountains,about an hour north of here.  After a time of eating and fellowship, it came time for a time of worship and prayer at an outdoor chapel 100 yards up the hill.

I made it up the hill.

Ten months ago I couldn't say that because I was laid up in bed, unable to make it to the next room.

There are just some things that we take for granted that we should be grateful for.

Me and my friend of 22 years, Tim (left), attempting to scare away bears

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Donkey Haughty

A story about habits...

When my dad was about 7 years of age, he went to Mexico and met his grandfather (my great-grandfather) for the first time.  One day, he took my dad for a ride in a wagon, pulled by a donkey.  The only problem with taking a trip in the wagon was that the donkey had one bad habit:  It didn't like to go anywhere.  It was happy in its corral, eating, sleeping, and doing what donkeys do when they're not pushed to go anywhere.  

Fortunately, my great-grandfather was always able to get the donkey to move, but he had to motivate it by using a switch on its backside.  After a couple of swats, the donkey would give in and begin its march away from home, much to its disdain.  So, away they went, traveling down the dusty road, with my great-grandfather enjoying the rare company of his 7-year-old grandson, in a wagon pulled by a bummed-out donkey.    

After reaching their destination and taking care of business there, the time came to turn the cart around and point the donkey toward home.  Once that happened, the donkey suddenly became energized and took off happily down the road, trotting, without a need for a switch, as if it had a carrot hanging in front of its nose.  The donkey realized that it was finally able to go home, back to its corral, to once again eat, sleep, and do what it is that donkeys do.  

In much the same way, we can be like the donkey.  Our bad habits will cause us to return to the place where we're most comfortable.  Unless we use our own version of a "switch" to prod us along in our personal development, we will take off trotting back toward the bad habits that keep us from moving forward.  We will be the slave of bad habits until we make a conscious and sincere effort to replace them with good ones!  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

50 Pounds

As of yesterday, I lost a total of fifty pounds, equivalent to that bag of sugar on the left.  It took me just over a year to do it.  That's okay though.  At least I have something to show for my investment of time.  Nothing else in my life has panned out like I hoped, but at least this did, and even though I say "at least," it's probably the most significant.

I looked at my last entry here, and I noticed that it's been four months since I last made an entry, and I said that it was getting time to get back to the gym, although I really didn't get started for about another six weeks.  My back was just hurting too much and I was pretty demotivated.  Once I did start, I became even more demotivated.  There was a lot of pain and it was very difficult to move.  I was so moody that the author from Twilight was thinking about writing a book about me.  If anything, I would title it "Breaking Down."

The good news is that I didn't gain any weight during my hiatus (nine months which includes two months of confinement to my bed and bath, but not beyond) and so I was still on track to hit some kind of mark.

My wife had recommended trying the swimming pool and using the buoyancy to help minimize pressure on the joints and muscles, even though it might be a tad bit humbling for a big guy to saunter out into the pool area with my Impeedo (big person's version of Speedo), but I had put that off for the most obvious reason - this big guy didn't want to saunter out into the pool area with his Impeedo.

But I did it anyway...and it wasn't so bad, aside from the people trying to harpoon me.

I started by just moving around in the pool, eventually learning some aerobic maneuvers in the water, and now can do about twenty lengths of the pool, using a "don't worry...I'm not drowning" stroke.  It takes me about fifteen minutes to cover eight lengths of the pool, or as my daughter calls it, "the slowest 200 in history."

Fortunately, I've made some friends - another big Mexican guy who had lost nearly 100 pounds in the past year just from cruising around in the pool, an elderly Czech gentleman who had a bypass three years ago, and was swimming for his own conditioning and has been an encouragement to me each time he sees me, a very nice lady in her 80s who swims in a two-piece bathing suit (use your imagination) just about every night, an enthusiastic nurse who has a passion for helping people live healthy, and a few young Armenian guys who enjoy the Jacuzzi at the end of their workouts, and are always good for a funny story or two.  These are just a few of the many I've met so far.

When I'm done in the pool, I relax in the Jacuzzi with the other big Mexican guy, the Czech, and some of the young Armenian guys talking about girls (in their own language - the gestures are still the same).

The neat thing about this is that while I walking the treadmill I talked to very few people. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't talk anyway because I was huffing and puffing so hard.  Floating in the water is enabling me to get the same result without killing myself and I'm making a few friends along the way.

That's how it should be done.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Hey! I'm still here.

It's time. My wife was telling me the other day that I should take a look at my blog and read it, hoping that what I wrote in the past might inspire me. Frankly, I was just too nervous to see how long it had been since I posted anything.

Well, I looked and, well, the title explains my reaction.

I don't know whether to be inspired, embarassed, or mad. Maybe all three. It's funny (or sad) how life can get in the way and, before you know it, seven months have passed. Most people who read this know what I've been wrestling with over that time, so I'll spare you the details.

So, for now I'm going to keep it brief, but it looks like it's time for me to get back to the gym. I think it's going to hurt...that along with giving up the Hostess pies and donuts.