Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Drug

Many times over the last four years I have often joked about needing to go take my drugs.  Life with a continuous headache will cause you to take meds frequently.  Sometimes it was a prescribed med, and yet other times it was just a quick dose of some OTC meds I have sitting in my desk.  It was during those times that I often joked with Janda and coworkers that there was, "Better living through pharmaceuticals."  Yes, I said, and at times still say this in jest.

I am fully aware that many people suffer addictions to drugs.  Street drugs, prescription meds, OTC stuff.  Friends and family alike have nearly died and/or destroyed families because of these addictions.  I have an uncle who is a trained counselor who has dealt with the healing of said addictions.  So yes, when I make that statement, I'm fully aware that reality isn't a better life with pharmaceuticals.  Yet, at these times, it does help deal with the headache.  Or, it can help relieve pain, cold symptoms, allergies, etc.  Used correctly, pharmaceuticals are great.

Anyway, this post is not about pharmaceuticals.  Actually, it is the drug that I consume daily through my ears.  Music!  Music is my drug of choice.  To me, it heals, soothes, encourages and basically anything else you can think of.  It elicits emotion.

I don't care the genre, mostly.  I'll listen to just about anything.  My mood depends on the genre or even artist.  Even the genres I don't particularly care for I will listen to if there is something meaningful in a song I've heard.  Yes, that even means country, and if really desperate for something different I'll pull out the classical genre.

I've been like this my whole life.  I drove my parents nuts with some of the stuff I listened to.  And yes, I drive my wife and kids nuts as well.  But, as with most drug addicts or alcoholics, it doesn't matter what the intake is as long as it is entering my system.  Thankfully, the music is not destructive (I know for others it has been recorded it can be).  It is not something that takes over my being.  It is a relaxer and encourager.  I can share and not feel guilty about sharing.  I can play it loudly or quietly, listen alone or communally.

So, if you ever need a good pick me up, change of pace band, encouraging word, calm down tune, something to bang your head to or get a little hood into you head, hit me up.  I'll help as much as possible.  If I have to, I'll even get my brother involved in your quest to discover what to listen to if I'm not able to help.  Yes, growing up I somehow passed my love of music to him.  His love of music and variety of music is even greater.

Good night world, and may you enjoy your favorite song while you read this.  See, not all drugs are bad.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Worship - When, Where, or is it?

A couple weeks ago I challenged some friends to tell me what worship was.  The responses I got were great.  Mind you, I was a little bummed that I didn't get some of the answers I was expecting and some people I didn't expect to respond did.  I guess, that is just the cynical side of me desiring some confrontation (only for the sake of discussion) from some and that is probably not good.  Oh well.

So, after some much needed and necessary thought, discussing it with a couple people, I decided I should probably get a few things off my chest.  What better way to do that than to write.  Besides, I haven't posted a blog lately, and writing is something I need to do more of.  I also need to exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables and a few other things, but that is not the meaning of this blog. No, worship is why I write.

Before I get to far into the blog, what is worship?  Where should we worship?  How should we worship?  Most importantly, when should we worship?  Believe me when I say, there are some really good opinions, but then there is also the right answers.  Somethings here may blow your mind, because when presented to me, they blew my mind.  So, here goes.

How many of us were taught to take our hats off when in the church?  I know I was.  Raised in a very conservative church that was admittedly more conservative than the denomination itself, I took my hat off the second I entered the door (not that I wore a hat that often).  But the Bible doesn't mention anything about hats, does it?  Well, not exactly.  At least in the manner of whether to wear it in a building, despite the courtesy of keeping it off while indoors.  What the Bible does say in 1 Corinthians is that man should not cover his head when worshiping God.  I guess then that removing my hat when in a sanctuary, or during prayer (organized or personal time), or during the worship music at church is indeed necessary.

As for where and when to worship, Romans 12:1-2, Hebrews 12:28-29 and 1 Timothy 2:1-3 all state what worship is.  I add that worship is an anything item, anyplace time.  Additionally, we are to pray as our worship, pray all the time and pray with all we have.  We are to honor God with all we do - be it driving, work, school, sports, home, etc.  Well, who can say they are giving everything to God and doing so in an honorable way?  Yeah, me neither.

My next question is, does your worship focus only around music?  Are you focusing your worship time as being only at church?  Either way, according to scripture, we are doing it wrong.  I think we have done things an injustice to the word and following as the word says.

So, please do yourself a favor.  When you discuss worship, think about all of what worship is, not just what you think it is.

In my next post, I might just ask about when your day of rest is.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cancer Can Ki$$ my @$$

There, I said it!  It is something I had to say.  I don't usually say stuff like that, but today I just had to come right out and say it.  Heck, let me say it again, "Cancer, ki$$ my...."  Okay, I've said it, but I don't feel any better.

As a cancer survivor, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about cancer.  My thoughts aren't the type that throw me into a pity party.  They don't depress me, scare me or anything negative.  More over, they encourage me, astound me and leave me in disbelief that I have actually gone through a fight and come out on the other side ahead and better than I was.  I stand in awe of how God has taken this disease, allowed me to endure what I have and used it to somehow encourage others.  I don't get it, and probably never will.  Typically, these thoughts stay in the background as I carry on through each day.  Some days they are more prevalent, but I try to limit those days (simply to keep my sanity).

Today, my thoughts took front and center stage.  Usually, I accept cancer news with grief, but as a part of life.  I have to in my line of work.  With the number of patients I see diagnosed with cancer, or fighting it, I can't let cancer toy with my emotions like a cat with a ball of yarn.  Yet, today I let cancer defeat me.  No, not my own cancer, or that of a patient.  Rather, news from a friend.

Jim is a great guy.  He and his wife became very dear friends during the time Janda and I were in Jacksonville.  While I was in my treatment room, strapped to the table like a convict awaiting a death cocktail, Jim and his wife would sit in the waiting room chatting with Janda.  Jim would go receive his treatment at some point in time during their conversation and return within 15 minutes to continue where he left off (he was battling prostate cancer and didn't have to spend 60ish minutes on the treatment table like I did).  It wasn't long before we started going to a meal here and there with Jim and his wife.  I went on the Budweiser Brewery with Jim, his wife and a couple other friends.  Janda and I were both excited and disappointed when his graduation date came and they went back home to Georgia.  BUT, when we went back to J-ville for my 1 year follow up, we stopped there in Georgia and enjoyed a great BBQ meal with them.

Since then, Janda has done a great job of keeping in touch with them.  The bond between care takers (ACS and the treatment center calls them) is a beautiful thing and one that can't be explained.  Jim's wife usually keeps Janda up to speed, and Janda reciprocates regarding me.  We looked forward to seeing Jim and wife last summer, but a flare up of cancer caused them to postpone their trip out here for Frontier Days.  This year, we were hoping to see them out here.  But, Frontier Days came and went.  Then, today happened.

Today Janda received an email from Jim himself.  Usually, Janda will just relay news while we are talking in the evening.  Not today.  Today, she sent me the email from Jim.  It has returned...again....and worse....with unbearable pain.  He had to return to J-ville again...for more treatment - 10 rounds this time...with new meds that might help.  Sure, he has noticed minimal relief, but isn't assured of success.  And, he also confirmed that he believes prayer works as he prayed for strength to go to church.  Not only did he go, but he sat through the service without pain.

Today, my thoughts of cancer haunted me.  I wound up in tears at work.  I sit here now, in tears.  The pain of cancer has made this day a very long day.  I hurt for Jim and his wife.  Yet, in true Jim fashion, despite the grim outlook in his email, I saw a glimmer of hope.  He was positive.  It is something that I respect in him the most - being positive for his friends and family.  It is something I strive to do, be positive for my friends and family.

So tonight, I'm okay with the tears.  Heck, if Jimmy V championed it and Stuart Scott encouraged it, and Christ can shed them, then cry I will.  If you think of it, or remember to, please join me in prayer for Jim and his wife.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Noah - A Flood of Disagreement

Have you ever had that one movie you just have to see?  You can't wait to go see it.  You have waited for months to see the song.  You follow the movie Twitter page so you don't miss the newest preview.  Then, you see something posted about how awful the movie is.  Your heart drops as if you just had your job review and it wasn't as positive as you had hoped.  Now you are conflicted if you should see the movie or not.  Never mind that your favorite actor/actress is in the movie.  This review isn't what you expected.  Then you start seeing others praising and condemning the movie all the time.  "Great movie that takes liberty and portrays everything it should," to, "Awful movie that fails to capture the true essence of the plot."  So what do you do?  Toss caution to the wind and go see it?  Or listen to the detractors?

This is what I see happening with Noah. The critics in Hollywood are raving about how amazing the whole movie is.  The actors/actresses in it can't stop raving about the writing, the plot and how fun the project was.  On the other side I see/hear people complaining about how awful the movie is because it isn't true to the Bible.  It isn't a "Christian" movie because it was written by an atheist.  The list goes on from both sides.  Me, I say who cares!  Okay, that might not be true.  Maybe I do care, but not the way you would expect me to care.

My take on Noah has nothing to do with the movie itself.  I don't care if there is artistic liberty (which I've heard has happened) or if the movie is true to the Bible.  Heck, I don't even care if the women speak or not (which I've read they do and some have had issues with this).  I have no desire to see the movie, simply because I just don't want to.  I have nothing against the movie and nothing that supports going to see the movie.  It is one of those movies I look at and think there are better things to spend my entertainment dollars on.  Anyway, I'm not here to encourage or discourage your attendance at the theaters.  Rather, why the disagreement?

Over the weeks I have read and heard many Christians discuss the merits of the film.  Most don't agree with the premise of the movie nor do they agree with a movie being made that doesn't represent the Bible correctly.  Even fewer have stated they want to go see the movie simply because they feel the movie is blasphemy.  Okay....Where, may I ask, did you see that this was a "Christian" movie?  Did you not know the movie was a Hollywood production?  Again, not the purpose of this blog.  I've also seen and heard people voice their disagreement with the movie yet still believe, "If someone eventually discovers the truth..."  Yeah, okay, if that is your take, go for it.

My biggest observation is that none of these Christians see the bigger picture.  Sure you can recognize that God can use anything to bring people into a relationship with him.  Just as he used an ass to speak to Balaam, he could use this movie to speak to people.  I'm not one to discount that outlook and hope.  BUT, why argue about this?  Why argue about this Hollywood movie at all?  What if this is all a grand design of those that wrote and made the movie?

I'm of the firm belief that Christians have gotten so distracted by the fact that this is, "A disgrace of Biblical representation," that we are forgetting the point.  Because of our disdain for the film and the constant arguing and bitterness involved those that aren't Christians would rather go see it simply to distance themselves from Christianity.  They see the arguing and believe us to be the same hypocritical people we always are.  They see us as hating anything that isn't in agreement with what we believe.  What reason would they have to discover the truth after the movie when all they see is hate and bickering before they attend a showing?  Additionally, if you think that your values, beliefs and faith are going to be swayed just by seeing a movie, then maybe you are the one needing to discover what the Bible really says just as much as the ones you believe need to know the truth about Noah.

If you want to go catch a matinee showing of Noah this week, by all means, do.  Enjoy a couple hours away from the pressures of life and indulge in a big old tub of popcorn and large soda with the movie.  If you have no desire to see a movie of any sort, then chill at home.  All I ask of you is to remember, not every Christian you meet hates this movie and some of us are just as fed up with all the bickering just as much as you are.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Change or Not Staying the Same

What is worse?  The fear of change?  Or, the fear of things not being the same?  Aren't these really the same?  Maybe at the surface they are.  But, when you dig into the differences, I see these as similar, but very different.

We have all heard the famous quote from Heraclitus, "The only thing that is constant is change."  I heard it a lot when there was a shake up in management at my office.  Why then do some fear change?  I believe this to be simple - change is an immediate thing.

All of us fear change at some point in our life.  Maybe it is a fear of moving across the country, your pending wedding vows or even a change of jobs.  Despite looking forward the challenges of these changes, the fear is real and unsettling.  Typically though these fears are short lived.  We soon find comfort in our change.  There is that newlywed period we find a bliss with everything we went through to get to where we are.  Then, after a time, we find the small things routine, mundane and at times annoying.  Complacency has crept back into our lives.  We see things so much that we no longer fear those things we did way back when.  Suddenly, many of us find a need for change again.  That which was once feared is now craved.  Sure, we know that once change occurs again, we will run head on into our fears once again.  Maybe, just maybe, this is our need for an adrenaline rush.

But what about our pining for the days gone by?  The days where things maybe weren't simple, but they just flowed like the spring melt off from the mountains.  These days weren't so much completely controlled by anything we did, but we could rely on everything working the way they should.  Even if there were the slightest change, we could rely that nothing much would really change.  All of those you relied on were there to support and aide where needed to make your day go by.  Be it a death in the family, coworkers moving on or friends moving across the country and losing touch with them, you just don't have things like they were.  Now you fear that things will never be the same again (which you know they never will be, but you still fear it) and you are now reluctant to see or express excitement over the future.

So what is it that drives these fears in us?  Why do we have a hard time with change at any level?  And why do we fear the change that is beyond our control?  One is short term and one takes months or years to recognize and build up before we acknowledge it.

God comforts us in Isaiah 41:10 and assures us that he is with us.  Again, in Matthew 6:25-34 we are instructed by Christ to not worry.  If you are a person of faith, then what causes our fear of change?  I'm just curious.  As for me, I don't fear change I just can't say I always enjoy it.  I do indeed miss the days of old but I'm not inclined to allow them to change the way I go about my day.  I work hard at rolling with the punches life throws at me no matter how battered and bruised I might end up.

What about you?  What causes you to fear change?  What do you struggle with the most?  Is it the fear of change, or the fear of things not being the same?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Music of 2013

Happy New Year!!!  Of course, that is what everyone is saying this time of year.  Rightfully so.  Each new year bring the hope of new and better things.  A chance to refresh, set again or push the restart button.  Many not only restart, but they also set resolutions.  Not only do many start a new, but the start by setting goals to help achieve their perceived utopia.  Sadly, by the time the calendars flip to February, these goals fall by the way side and some have already had their entire year ruined by life events.  Not for me!  Nope, no resolutions, no lofty goals, no hopes for a year without challenges or anything else that could destroy my optimism.  Simply stated, I'm gonna let the cards fall where they may and trust the God has everything under control.

I figured what better way to bring in the new year than to recap a few of my favorite albums of 2013.  I thought about going with the Top 10, but everybody has a Top 10.  From David Letterman to Sports Center, Top 10 lists are a plenty and I didn't want to copy everyone.  So, I'm doing a Top 6 list.  Yeah, cutting a list in half seemed cheap and unimaginative...and I like to be a little different. 

The list will comprise of some many people would not expect from me (especially since I listen to mostly Christian based music).  However, as a person who prides in liking music of mostly any genre, I figured why not include music from multiple genres.  Along with the albums, I'll provide a little quip or two about the albums.  And, if you're like me, I trust you'll enjoy the picks and take a listen to the albums.  Now, to the list and in no particular order.

1. Five For Fighting - Bookmarks
    I've not been a huge fan of FFF's music but have respect for what they have done - especially honoring hockey through their name.  But, in September I read a great article from John Ondrasik regarding this album.  Then, I went and listened to it.  BLOWN AWAY!  In particular, "What If" and "Rebel" stand out to me.

2. Righteous Vendetta - The Fire Inside
    I'm a huge fan of hardcore.  I've seen these guys live a few times and have always loved their music.  Then, back in August they show up in Cheyenne for a last minute add to a concert.  WOW! They KILLED IT!!!  This album solidified their presence in the hardcore music scene and proved to the world that they weren't playing around.  In particular, "Defiance" and "Fire Inside" get my blood moving.  Now I just need to upload these to my gym music and I'm good to go.  A great way to start 2013.  Another bonus with the RV boys, they are from Wyoming and I consider them friends.  Any band from Wyoming that brings it like these guys do get moved near the top of my list.

3.  Icon For Hire - "Icon For Hire"
     This self titled album was on my list of must haves.  Sure, some of you may question my sanity...or my age (considering it is a female fronted power pop rock group), but one listen to this album and you will understand why.  I really liked their first album with hits like "Make a Move" and "Get Well."  Upon hearing they were coming out with another album on Tooth & Nail I figured they would pull off a couple more mega hits.  YES!!! I was right!  Not only did they live up to my expectations, but they topped the expectations.  Indeed it is still power pop rock sounding, but Ariel and boys mixed in a little early Red Hot Chili Peppers sound as well with her fantastic semi rapping/talking in the middle of songs like "Cynics & Critics."  Simply put, this album was a great way to end 2013.

4. Love and Death - Between Here & Lost
    Fronted by former/now reunited Korn member, Brian "Head" Welch, this was an album I was gifted.  It pays to have friends in the industry, and this album was one of those blessings from someone in the industry.  Head shows his musical abilities are more than just playing guitar.  His vocals are pretty darn sweet too.  Anytime someone begins an album the way he does on "The Abondoning" should be recognized for genius.  By the way, if you do not like loud obnoxious music first thing on a Sunday morning, do not listen to this album.  Oh, and "I W8 4 U" is another great song.  One thing is for sure, Head does NOT hesitate to share his life or his faith.

5. Andy Mineo - Heroes for Sale
    I'm also a huge fan of rap.  Having a list of albums that included Lecrae seems a bit simplistic.  Yes, Lecrae usually lands on any list I could think of.  Adding somebody else to this list was a must, again just to be different.  Andy Mineo is the benefactor of being different.  If you have never heard Andy Mineo, you need to.  This whole album is pure lyrical genius.  As with any rap album, there are a lot of guest appearances (Lecrae, KB and Trip Lee to name a few).  Favorite songs so far on this album are "Uno Uno Seis" as he give props to the 116 Clique, and "Wild Things" providing a challenge to live where you aren't comfortable (and to share Christ to everyone no matter their social standing).

6. Foreverlin - Long Lost
    Their freshman album on Red Cord Records not only put them on a label, but has garnered them some serious national attention.  From regular rotation on Air 1 radio to playing in front of Thousand Foot Krutch at Lifest this past summer, or opening for Disciple, these four young men are primed for a huge 2014.  Their college rock sound resonated with everyone that heard the title track "Long Lost."  If you haven't heard of these guys, you need to.  Such great guys and some great talent.  Oh, and did I mention that if your band hails from Wyoming you get moved to the top of my list?  Yeah, these guys are from Cheyenne and Laramie and are personal friends over so many years. 

Well, that is all for now.  I look forward to more great music in 2014.  If you desire, hit me up with some of your favorite music of 2013.  If you do, please make sure you DO NOT include Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga or Robin Thicke.  You might get moved to the bottom of music friends list. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

As many of you know, I love food.  Some of my love for food has subsided, both during and after cancer treatment.  Though I still love some pizza, I haven't had a lot since I have regained my taste.  I am thankful I can taste everything.  I was able to drink OJ again, and I loved every second.  This post, however, is not about what I can taste.  This post is actually about one particular food, and the firestorm surrounding the actions of the venue that makes said food.

I REALLY LOVE the chicken the Chick-fil-A provides.  It can be the strips, sandwich, nuggets, or even the chicken salad sandwich.  Though not big on the fries, I can understand how people like them.  Their brownies are fantastic as well.  I am not sure how there are those in this world who have consumed food there that does NOT like their food.  But, to each their own and I will not complain about those who choose to dislike their food.

This also is not a blog about their food.  This is however about the statements they have made regarding their beliefs.  As many of you know, I support their right to express their beliefs.  They indeed have the right to express their beliefs.  Regardless of their belief, they are ensured the right to speak as they believe.  Why would I believe this?

First, Chick-fil-A is a business, founded here in America.  The first amendment right is freedom of speech.  Every person, no matter their social status/faith/age/race, is guaranteed this right.  Currently, this right has not be taken away from anyone.  This right is not exclusive to the right or left side of a political agenda, social movement, or anything else.  If you believe something, you have the right to speak your mind on that belief (even if it is just between you and a friend, or in public for the whole world to hear).

Second,  CFA is a private business.  They have no public board of directors dictating how they run their business.  Their board is made of up those hired by the owners.  Their is no public stock, no shareholders to answer to, and no federal regulators dictating their funds.  Even if this were a publicly held company, they still have the right to say what they desire, and spend their money as desired, as long as their profit/loss statement was reported as mandated by law.

My beliefs aside, here is what is puzzling me with this whole thing.  Why is everyone up in arms about this whole statement?  Both parties, left and right, are up in arms over the statement made by CFA.  The left is upset because they don't agree with the stance made.  The right is upset because the left is upset.  The left believes there should be some form of punishment administered to CFA for showing a hate towards others (which they did not do).  The right is upset because there are mayors blocking CFA from building in their cities due to hate (a double standard).    What is going to make anyone happy?  When will either side come to an awareness that there can be a happy medium?

Let me put this "controversy" into a different light.  Take Perez Hilton, or the Muppets, and have them say something anti right beliefs.  Sure, there are those on the right that will boycott those 2 entities.  If by chance someone squaks loud enough, maybe the whole right will here.  Again, this type of situation will create anger on both sides for the very reason seen in this CFA instance.  Perez and the Muppets are private entities.  They too are afforded the right to say as they believe.  Though they believe differently than you may, it doesn't mean they are hating anybody on the right or left.  It only means they have an opinion.  One does NOT have to agree with their statements, but the do have to afford them the decency of being a company (or person) making their business in America.

All this said, could someone please have a level head and accept the fact that, agree or not, Chick-fil-A has the right to state their business principals.  Just because they believe differently than you may, does not mean they hate you.  They are glad to serve people who believe differently than they do.  They do not have a sign out front limiting who they serve.  They only stated a belief.

Please, for the sake of those who think rationally, and logically, listen to the words being said and not what you desire to hear.  I am not saying you have to agree with any one belief, but at least be civil enough to respond better than people currently are.  Remember, we do live in America, where we have the right to speak as we believe, and there are people fighting for us for that right.