Friday, September 28, 2012

Still Kicking...

To paraphrase Twain:  The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

Sure, I know there were probably no reports out there, but I also know I have been pretty much delinquent lately in posting on a regular cycle.  Since I have been back to work, my day is filled and it hinders my creative flow.  It also saps my brain to jelly since it is usually a very mindless 10-12 hours.  Seriously, if PETA wouldn't throw a fit, they could train orangutans to do my job sometimes.

About the only "excitement" lately was this treatment session today.  Well, that is a misstatement.  Due to a drastically reduced platelet count, there was no treatment.  My Dr. rescheduled for next week, in hopes that my count will increase.  She claims it is from one of the meds in my chemo, but I can't help wonder if it is exacerbated by the side effects of the blood cell augmentation med she prescribes which causes spontaneous nose bleeds.

These nose bleeds cause a lot of blood loss, and not your basic little kid nose bleed, either.  If I did nothing to quell the flow, I could come pretty close to filling a shot glass with my blood.  Not trying to be gross, just telling you what is going on.

So, my research today has been into natural solutions to bolster platelet production.  Basically, it boils down to Vitamins K and B9 and B12, along with calcium.  K is hard to come by in supplement form, so I will be including a lot of leafy greens into my diet.  The Bs and calcium are easily supplemented; however, I want to use this experience to change my SAD (Standard American Diet) so I don't have to keep buying and taking pills.

My research also led me to several documentaries about the SAD and how juicing and/or a plant-based diet is much better for you.  And, by the way, one exposed the bogus reasons behind the USDA food pyramid recommendations ( is about money for the agricultural industry; specifically, meat and dairy producers).

Thus, the topic of my upcoming 31 Days project has now, out of necessity, shifted.  No longer will it be 31 Days of running, though I plan on doing a good deal of that.  Now, it will be 31 Days transitioning to a Juicing and Plant Based Diet.  I anticipate errors on my part and several hiccups and challenges along the way (I do have a trip planned to Georgia during October to visit my (x)wife and kids).

This transition is NOT about weight loss, though I do anticipate some of that occurring.  It is about health.  I want to get off (slowly and with advice from a physician) all the meds I take daily.  And, based on the research of several scientists who appear in the documentaries, a plant-based diet can slow or stop the progression of cancer, with there being many reports of "spontaneous remission."  That would be nice, these treatments (and the 170 mile one way drive) are getting old fast.

So, above all else, please pray for me on this journey and if you are up to it, send a little note of encouragement along the way.


Friday, September 21, 2012

To Boldly Go...

Zefram Cochrane, we need you now!

During some down hours of inane boredom (yes, I was at work), I was reading through news articles and came upon this one which refers to the increasing possibility that Faster Than Light (FTL) travel may soon be a reality.  To my fellow Trekkies, 2063 is not that far off and perhaps the Phoenix will, in fact, arise to the heavens and capture FTL (or warp speed).  (Though I doubt that subsequent to this action, the Vulcans will reveal their presence and invite us to the party.)

As a Trekkie (somewhat, I have yet to hit a convention and do not speak Klingon), I am enthralled by the possibilities.  Neptune and back in 6 minutes (at warp 4.5, of course).  Imagine the possibilities for exploration.

While the "hard science" of it all needs to be worked out and tested, the theory is interesting.  Sure, this country currently has other, more important, issue to work out first, such as eliminating debt and actually coming together instead of dividing, but perhaps all we really need is this kind of scientific advance.  It worked for the world of Gene Rodenberry.

The Star Trekkin' life would be difficult (unless the starships were more Next Generation family friendly), as extended absence from family is difficult (especially for a 5-year Mission).  But, still, the possibilities have my mind wandering.

I am not really a proponent of the possibility of life on other planets, my Judeo-Christian world view does not necessarily preclude it, but it does make it seem more unlikely.  In order for there to be, the life would also need to be "created in God's own image."  And there would have had to be a Jesus event there as well.  I can't image that occurring, since Hebrews 10:10 (KJV) states:
"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
So perhaps I am a bit anthropocentric in my views, but it is my belief system.  Of course, there is also the view of the late, great folk-rock artist and early artist in the contemporary Christian music scene, Larry Norman.  In his song U.F.O., he sings:

"and if there's life on other planets
then I'm sure that He must know
and He's been there once already
and has died to save their soul"
In closing, all I can say is Thank You to Gene Rodenberry, whose imagination has inspired many generations of scientist and much of humanity as well, to reach for the stars and dare to "boldly go where no [one] has gone before." [Brackets included to reflect the more gender neutral verbiage from The Next Generation, in lieu of the original verbiage from the first Star Trek series, in which it states "man".]

So get ready...Engage!!

As it is.

I encourage others to state their opinions in order to better foster open communication. I don't mind when people disagree with me. I actually like a good spirited discussion.

What I do not like is people who refuse to allow a dialog and prefer a soliloquy. I haven't been lectured outside of school since I was a young boy.

You are entitled to your opinions and I, mine. I know I won't change your mind as I am sure you will not change mine. But I don't mind listening to yours.

So, the question came up: Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago? My reply to that would have to be a reserved and hesitant. I don't really think so.

Explanation: 4 years ago I was still married. I had my family with me and though it was a fractured relation on the brink of crumbling, we were together. I had more expendable income and less debt. I wasn't paying as much for gas, groceries, and necessities. In my career, I was in a place and doing a job I believed in and fully supported.  And in a location I liked.

Now, I live less freely financially. I am in a location I do not particularly enjoy. I am alone.   Now, at work, while I still fully support the mission, I am not as fulfilled

So my answer would lean more to the no side.

But, the reasons I am where I am and all the other conditions I considered boils down to one thing only; choice.

I made the choice to not attempt reconciliation with my family. I chose to incur debt. I choose to no longer spend more than necessary. I chose to come to my current career position.

I can not look to either political party to lay blame or give praise. I built this.

I can also make choices to correct all of this. I can try to return to my dream job. I can renew my relationship with my spouse. I can pay off my debts. I have the power to fix my condition. Sure, others will be necessary along the way to make decisions in support of my goals, but I need to do the leg work.

Maybe my pessimism has faded and I am no longer jaded, but I believe in opportunity.

Everyone has the opportunity to pull themselves out of whatever condition they find themselves. I takes discipline and will. That is it.  It all boils down to choices. Make your choice: will you stay on the muck and more of self pity, or will you make a decision to fight for what you want?

The choice is yours. Not the government's. Be true to your desires and make the effort.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Love Letters

I am guilty. I was like a dog chasing cars when it came to "courting" my (x)wife. When I caught her, I didn't know what to do with her.

In the courtship phase, I was very attentive to her. Telling her she was beautiful (very true) and that I loved her. Surprising her with tokens of my affection.

Once she was my wife, all that faded away slowly. At the end, there was a point where we did not really speak to each other for nearly a month. We were separate people loving together and not the "one flesh" the Bible describes for man and wife.

During this current time of separation, as we try to renew a broke relationship and bring "beauty from ashes," I am once again attentive. While the media has changed, text messages instead of letters from afar, the message is the same: I love you.

My goal is to tell her every day that I love her, and more importantly, when we are together, to SHOW her.

Every day, I am reading through an old love letter. No, it is not from my (x)wife, it is from God.

God loved me enough to compile a long love letter toe which took 4000 years to write. He tells me of His love for me in words that touch my heart.

More importantly, He shows me how much He loves me. John 3:16 "For God SO LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth on Him shall have eternal life."

I don't know about you, but THAT means something to me.

So take some time, today and read through the greatest love letter ever written and know He wrote it just for you. And His love will never fade.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Watch and Pray

From my (x)Wife (Cheri) about the Deaths of American Embassy employees in Libya:

Let's say your child is at school.

The school is raided and your child is killed.

Your child is dead along with three of his classmates.

The principal goes to a dinner that evening to raise money for the PTO and blows off pursuing anything regarding the incident.

As a would you feel?

Christopher Stevens went to work and was killed...
Along with other Americans.
Supposedly over an anti Muslim video.
He is dead.
And President Obama went to a fund raiser in Las Vegas with Jay Z.

Pray tell.
Where are all the people that were spinning around on their heads when George W. didnt run out of that classroom, but instead finished reading the story. AND was reamed.

I am not asking you to argue...
I am asking you to think.
Just reconcile the facts...NOT what Fox News spouts or what CNN reports.
What is the difference?

And no Republican has the answer...nor Democrat.

Both parties are swallowed up in money and power and general deception. Inept to lead and lacking courage to make change.

Here is my rant. 
Peg me as you wish. 
Watch Israel. 
Read the Prophets. 
A lot.

A political party or affiliation is moot. Fight your battles, sling your mud, condescend with you smug retorts ( both sides...both sides)

Mark my words.

It's about to get real up in here.


I know, I know.  I am not speaking about the wonderful meat candy, but the actor, Kevin Bacon. In which case, I guess it makes the title of this post extremely creepy.  But I digress.

Are you aware of the "Oracle of Bacon" also known as the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon"? It shows that nearly every actor in Hollywood can be connected to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less.  For instance, name any actor.  Ok, thank you, Don Knotts, good ole Barney Fife it is.  His "Bacon Number" (or degrees of separation) is 2.  Don Knotts was in "Big Bully" (1996) with Faith Prince, who was in "Picture Perfect" (1997) with Kevin Bacon.

The theory has been presented in Sociological circles for years, and additionally expressed in other disciplines.  It is a really thought provoking idea.  All of humanity is connected by (on average) six degrees of separation.

How can this be? How am I connected with a Masai goat herder in Africa?

Well, the answer to that is through my Sociology Professor (Dr. Herb Butler) at Western Illinois University.  If you really break it down, unless you live in an extremely insular society, you know people who know people.  Having lived in several different countries, and having met many people while I was in those countries, I think I can easily imagine a six degree separation with a very large population.

Look at it this way (and the math is extremely simplified).  Say you know 10 people.  Each of those 10 people know 10 people, and each of those 10 people know 10 people.  From this 3 step example, you are connected to (10+100+1000) 1,110 people.  It is an exponential explosion.

Now, I am sure you know more than 10 people if you think hard about it.  As an instructor, I have influenced hundreds of students.  In Law Enforcement, I have had contact with thousands of people from many nations.  There are many areas of connectedness.  You could easily see yourself in the millions of people if you could remember everyone you ever met and knew everyone they had ever met...

This conversation reminds me of the old Fabrege Organics shampoo commercial.  "I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on..."  Remember that one?

That is what Christianity is all about.  Jesus knew what He was doing.  He handpicked His disciples.  He would send them out to reach others, and they would create disciples, and so on, and so on...

If each of us could witness successfully to just 2 people, and each of those 2 did the same, and so 30 steps, that would result in over a BILLION new believers based on each of us.  So what are you waiting for?  Get out there and share your faith!

Dear Heavenly Father, help me be an effective witness of Your grace and love.  Give me the words You need spoken to influence another to You.  Father, help each of us open our mouths for You and speaking lovingly into the lives of those You are drawing to You. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tomorrow is a new day...

...with no mistakes in it yet.  That is a phrase my (x)Wife uses. It is a quote from the series "Anne of Green Gables" by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  It really touches me because I know I am very mistake prone.  It feels good to wake up and know I have yet to screw up my day.  Sadly, it rarely lasts long.

I am a "Big Plan" guy.  I usually spend the final hour or so of my day, when I should be falling asleep to think about what I need to do the following day.  I make plans to get up early and read, go for a walk/run, clean up around the house, and prepare for work.  Never so much to burden me, and just enough to occupy my chemo-riddled mind from having to think too much.

Unfortunately, fatigue from the poisons coursing through my body usually cause me to oversleep and everything heads south from there.  Today, I still managed to get up before 7, which lately is a big step.  Since I have to head to the local hospital for out patient Neupogen injections two days a week following chemotherapy in attempt to bolster my blood cell counts, early is usually better for me.  These injections also contribute to my fatigue, as it is a side effect.

Another side effect of these injections in a bloody nose.  Living in the high desert, during the dry time of the year, I was doing pretty good getting dry nostrils and a bloody nose without assistance, but now it just gets worse.  Mostly it occurs at night when I am asleep, why? I don't know.  But I wake up and can't breathe through my nose.  And the morning clearing...well I will leave that to your imagination.  Needless to say, it is getting old fast.

I am thankful that one of the plans that my (x)Wife and I made for our current time apart began today.  We are participating in The Bible in 90 Days reading challenge.  While we are not associated with any formal group also going through this program, we are holding each other accountable.  Of the two of us, I have it easier, since my days are not filled with responsibilities as hers are: home schooling, tending to animals, tending to children, assisting her parents...she amazes me with all she does.  She is my hero, now and forever.

Today's reading is the first 16 chapters of Genesis.  I am a fan of the Old Testament, mostly because I am a history and law fan.  Sure, I understand that now we have grace so the law is no longer in place, but the law is still out teacher of right and wrong.  From nearly the very beginning, man has been corrupting God's law.

For example, in Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV) God gives man and woman one law:
"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
And in just a couple verses, it is corrupted when the woman is tempted by the serpent in Genesis 3:2-3 (KJV):
"And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die."
The woman added to the command of God.  This gave the serpent a little wiggle room to persuade her.  When we do not remember fully the commands of God, we can change them in our interpretations to mean what they do not.  We need to be vigilant in our understanding.

While the Bible gives us no context as to the amount of time it took for this corruption to occur, I don't imagine it took very long.  I know how I am with some things, applying the Spirit of the Law over the Letter of the Law.  Mostly with man's laws, and not so much God's, but the concept still applies.

I wish I could remember exactly a quote I once heard about God's law.  It was something like God gave man one law, and it was broken.  So God clarified things and gave man 10 laws.  Man in his wisdom turned these into 3,700 or so laws that made it nearly impossible to heed the original 10.

All I can say to this is I am very grateful for Grace.  I have no chance of remembering 3,700 laws and have a hard enough time with the 10.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bird vs. Windshield

Today (well, basically all weekend) has not been so good.  It is a chemo weekend which in and of itself means I had low hopes for it.  But it sunk even below what I felt would have been acceptable (or even tolerable).

Chemo went well, I guess.  I don't remember much of it since I slept for most of it.  I even slept through several moments of chaos (a fall right in front of me).  After I was cut loose with my pump, I started experiencing the irritation of hives again.  Thankfully I had some Benadryl  with me, so I was able to take care of that.

Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do about the Peripheral Neuropathy which kicked in hard this week.  It still has not faded and I am over 48 hours since it kicked in.  I slept all day (and I mean all day) Saturday.  I would wake up for about an hour at a time and try to keep up with some SEC college football.  I watched Auburn play and Alabama. Finally, I watched Stanford beat USC which means LSU will probably move up to #2 in the AP poll.  I like it when the SEC dominates this poll, because they do have the best teams (IMHO).

After finally getting disconnected from my pump today, I started heading home.  That went poorly too.  As I was pulling in to fill up my gas tank for the long drive, I hit a barrier at the WalMart gas station.  Minor damage, but enough I will have to get it taken care of one day.  And about 40 miles from home, a bird committed suicide against my windshield.  So it is well and truly shattered.  It is basically dead center, so I still had decent visibility to drive with.  There is just no place here locally to address the situation, so it will have to wait 2 weeks until I am back in Midland.

My PN is hurting (yes, even as I type this).  I have a sore throat and the cold intolerance is making it very difficult to drink anything.  I tried to eat yesterday, but could barely get anything down so I just quit trying.  Still haven't eaten anything today, but will try some rice later.

Sorry there is not much to this post, just sharing my bad weekend.  I feel bad about missing a daily post for the first time yesterday, but I was less than motivated to post and probably unable to put things coherently either.

I will not dwell on this weekend, it is gone.  I look forward to better days in the future.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Into Every Life...

"Into every life  a little rain must fall."  After reading a post from Miss Riki at Refreshingly Riki yesterday morning, her weekly "Thankful Thursday" post where she mentions the things for which she is thankful, this phrase came to mind.  One item she mentioned was the rain.  Knowing how wonderful rain can be, having lived in the high desert the past 4 years, I must agree.

After the rains, the desert comes alive: new growth, beautiful flowers, a celebration of life.

Thinking about the phrase, I began to wonder about the origin (as I am wont to do). After a quick Google search, the best source to which I can attribute it is to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem, "The Rainy Day."

THE day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains,and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
  And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains,and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
  And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
  Some days must be dark and dreary.

A very similar line appears in the second to last line of the final stanza.  Sure, it is somewhat of a dark and dreary poem, but it is truth.  Some days are dark and dreary. Into every life some rain must fall.  But look to the second line of the last stanza, "behind the clouds is the sun still shining."  There is always hope, just waiting to shine forth.

The message behind today's post is short and simple.  Weather the storm.  In every life there will be dark and dreary days, but the sun is still shining behind the clouds.  Sometimes we need the rain in our lives for the new growth to occur.

So, enjoy the rain and expect to blossom when the sun comes out.

Dear Lord, thank You for providing that hope.  You bring rain to the just and the unjust, just as you cause the sun to shine on us.  Thank You for the storms, and for the growth that follows.  Lord help me to weather the storms and blossom into my full potential for You.

P.S. For not really being a poetry guy, I sure seem to reference it a lot.

Apart From Me...

Kudzu vine envelopes everything
in its path.
I was reading John 15, and verses 4 and 5 stood out to me today (KJV):

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
It really struck a chord. I realized how often in my life I did not "abide" in Christ. I would hit the road block or suffer some sort of emotional turmoil which would cause temporary blindness. Not physical blindness, mind you, but spiritual blindness. I would depart from the narrow path and do my own thing. This would eventually turn south and I would repent and struggle back to where I needed to be. Sometimes it would go so far south, I would be running back.

I have no excuses for my actions. Really, are there any? It ALL comes down to choices. I, when left to my own desires, will make poor choices. While I do not know what the actual statistic to back this up is, I would put it in the high 90% range. I, when living my life for me, am powerless to do otherwise.

Trying to 12-step my way back to "normal," behavioral modification theory, self-help books...nothing works for me.

Notice the last seven words of the passage above, "for without Me, you can do nothing."  THAT is the solution to my dilemmna.  That is the missing puzzle piece. 

Without God, I will ALWAYS fail.  There is nothing in my life I can "handle" by myself.  I ALWAYS need help, either a subtle push in the right direction, or a boot to the head screaming "What are you doing!!!"

"I was lost, but now I am found, was blind but now I see."  Such blatant TRUTH in the words to the hymn "Amazing Grace".  I WAS lost, but now I AM found.  Like the lone, lost lamb that the Good Shepherd went out of His way to recover.  Like the blind beggar which had his sight restored.  I WAS blind, but NOW I CAN SEE.

I am ever thankful that I have been recovered, that my eyes have been opened.  I can never repay that, but I will spend the rest of my life (and after-life) praising God for His mercies.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me that I am powerless in my own ways.  Thank You for finding me and giving me Your sight.  Thank you for clearing the pathways to Joy.  Father I am very thankful for ALL You do for me,  Without you, my life is selfishly meaningless. Help me to live my life for You, now and everyday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Psalms in Metre

I am FAR from a poetry snob. (No offense anyone) Generally, I just don't get it.  Sure, I enjoy Whitman, Blake, and my personal favorite e. e. cummings.  But one collection I truly appreciate is the Psalms of David in Metre.

It is a truly obscure collection to lay your mitts on, but, thanks to the wonders of the internet, it is available online (link above).  It brings a new appreciation to the Psalms.  It reads like poetry (yes, it rhymes), but it stays very consistent with the Psalms.  It was originally published in 1775 and includes the author's (John Brown of Haddington) notes on the individual Psalms.

I first found this work when I was using the program e-Sword for Bible study several years ago.  I have never forgotten this particular work and off and on have referred to it when I have been in the mood to sing (poorly, I might add) the Psalms.  While the original tempo and rhythm of the psalms in Hebrew are unknown, I would just go with how I was feeling and the "message" of the psalm.  Psalms of praise are usually much more up tempo than the pleas for help (at least in my shiny little world).

At times I often wish I was more musically talented (yes, I was a musician-ish in my younger days and did turn down a music scholarship out of high school since I realized I would end up stuck teaching music which is NOT my forte), because I would really like to set them to music.  So if any of you are gifted in this manner, PLEASE do so and let me know.  I would gladly purchase this work.

I find this work a wonderful companion to any study in the Psalms, as the author's notes are very good and help to set the mood of the work.  And knowing the context surrounding the individual Psalm and researching that instance helps complete a study.

I hope this little tidbit encourages you to look up this work and dig into the Psalms.  It is truly one of my favorite books in the Bible, as there is always something there when I need it.

By the way, I received my course work for this "term" from the Seminary I enrolled.  I was VERY excited to see a course in the Psalms included.  I will let you know my thoughts when I start digging into the courses.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

31 Days

This year, I am planning on participating in another 31 day challenge.  The first one I did, in July, was sponsored by the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and involved posting daily for the month, so 31 posts for July.  I started this blog July 15th, so I played catch up and finished the month with 31 posts.  Of course, I can usually find something to say even when things are not so exciting in my life...

The upcoming challenge is sponsored by the Nesting Place and involves picking one topic (or challenge) and posting about it everyday for the month.  I have chosen the topic/challenge of Running everyday in October and posting about it.  My main goal is to "force" myself into activity, and writing about it especially after letting you all know I am doing this will help me be accountable.

I have always desired to be a runner.  Sure, I understand that my frame is just not designed to ever be a competitive runner, as I am short legged and heavy, but I do enjoy running.  Mostly after I have been doing it for a while.  The starting is never fun.  I have been attempting the starting on and off again for the last several weeks, but always get distracted or sidetracked.

This time, all efforts are aiming at this goal.

Last October, I completed the Duke City Marathon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I had trained since March and finished without needing an ambulance at the end, so it was a victory for me.  A "Bucket list" item checked.

I have not run consistently since that time, with winter weather (even though it is very temperate in the locations I lived this winter, I am calling it an excuse...Shhh!), a move, and rotating shift at my new job.  Even though I am still on rotating shifts, and have the added burden of chemo therapy appointments with the fatigue it brings, I am out of excuses.  I read stories of inspiration of people in far worse shape than me accomplishing great things, so I need to get with the program.

If you are willing, join me on this Odyssey and either run everyday in October, or check in on my progress and encourage me daily.  I need it!

I hope to continue the regular daily posts as well.  I would hate the hit a theme which is not similar to the general premise of this blog and ignore my original purpose (to share insight-positive and negative-from my journey towards the important things in life).

Thank you for reading, and  help me make October a success.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Still looking for Guest Posts

On August 25th, I put out the welcome mat for Guest post submissions to this blog.  I am still hoping for a bit of assistance, since I have the feeling I will be off-line for a while in the near future.

If you would be interested in submitting, please read the guidelines here, and submit away.

I am thankful for having encountered so many wonderful writers on this journey, and look forward to your contributions in the future.

Thank you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back to School

It's that time of year again.  Students of all ages are returning to school.  Here locally, that day was August 27th; in Georgia much earlier August 6th.  My children, who are home schooled by my wonderful (x)wife, are starting September 10th.  In the full spirit of this time of year, I made the decision to get busy and accomplish another of my bucket list items.  I enrolled in college.

I graduated high school in 1987 (yes, I know, I am old...).  I attended Western Illinois University immediately following.  That attempt only lasted 2 years.  I admit I was too immature at that time.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  I had 4 declared majors (Biology, Psychology, Special Education, and Parks and Recreation) in those 4 semesters.  And my grades reflected this; I pulled whopping 2.01 GPA.

Since I was hapless and wandering, and since I had jokingly mentioned to my mother that I guess I would just join the military-to which she told me I could never get through Basic Training, wrong answer, it became a challenge-I enlisted in the Army and spent 8 and a half years there.  Once I got out of the military, I made a second attempt at college.

About 3 and a half years after leaving the military, I enrolled in West Georgia Technical College majoring in Computer Information Science.  The courses were interesting and I enjoyed them, even going to school full time and working at least 50 hours a week.  It was a busy time, with 2 babies at the house and one on the way, but I excelled in my courses and had a 3.99 GPA and was one course short of my degree when I left school to take a job which offered better opportunities and required relocation.

I took a hiatus due to the new job, though did take some courses just to keep me busy.  I always desired to complete my degree, any degree, just to have a since of accomplishment.  In 2008, I enrolled in Andersonville Theological Seminary, a complete distance learning school.

The Associate's Degree program in Biblical Studies is not that much of a challenge, but there is a good opportunity to learn, if you apply yourself.  I took my time and absorbed the coursework.  Since I was living life and working, and took a break for a while due to my head not being in the game, I finally completed my Associate's Degree in the summer of 2011.  I was happy to have that under my belt (after only 24 years, an Associate's!).

Well, since the novelty has worn off some, I have decided to again enroll and pursue an Bachelor's Degree in Christian Education, again with the fully distance learning Andersonville Theological Seminary.  The curriculum for the Bachelor's Degree looks more challenging and I hope to get this started soon.

Will I ever use this degree? Probably not.  Not from lack of desire to use it, but rather more from lack of opportunity.  I have a minimum of 10 years and 9 months until I can retire, and a Dr. stated life expectancy of much less, so there you go.

I will just be happy to have something that keeps me engaged and challenges me a bit for a while and the added bonus of a degree will be nice.  Who knows, if I stick around long enough I may even keep going in pursuit of my Master's and Doctorate.  I would even make people address me as Dr.  Why not? I earned it. LOL.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Artist Masaccio
"Adam and Eve Expelled
 from the Garden"
At some point or other, we have all either actually been embarrassed by our nakedness or have had the "Pants free dream" which has caused a bit of stress in our lives.

I was reviewing notes in one of my well-read and marked up Bibles and came across John 21.  While this chapter is FULL of hope, grace, and promise, there is a section which acts as the precursor and is sad to me.

John 21: 1-7 (KJV)

"After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.  There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.  Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.  And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.  Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea."
To set the stage a bit, if you are unfamiliar: within the past several days, Jesus was arrested, Peter had denied the Lord three times, Jesus was crucified and buried, Jesus resurrected, the disciples found the grave empty, and the disciples gathered together to contemplate what to do next.

Notice how soon they return to what they used to do.  Peter and the others went fishing.  They were fishermen before their calling.  When they encounter an obstacle they do not understand or know how to deal with, they returned to their old ways.

Many Christians are like this (I, too, am guilty in the past).  They encounter a road block, so they return to the wide road with fewer struggles along the way.

While they were out fishing, and having no success, Jesus appeared to them unrecognized. (Powerful to me: when we return to our old ways, we can't see Jesus for who He is!!!)  It took a minor miracle (cast your nets on the right side and ye shall find...and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes) for them to see Him for who He is.  (Side note: my interpretation of Jesus's command to cast the net on the right side is what He is really saying is "Get right! Fix your eyes on what is truly important and you will see the bounties of my glory!")

Peter was reeling still from his denial, his disassociation with the Man he had sworn to follow even unto the grave (Matthew 26:35)  He had been told of the missing body and ran to the tomb to see it himself, and walked away "marveling to himself at what had happened" (Luke 24:12).

Peter of all the disciples, was the impulsive one.  He usually let his mouth and actions overshoot the goal.  Do a character study on him and you will find, time after time, he overreacts or gets ahead of Jesus's plans.  The main point I am hoping to make here occurs in the last verse.  Peter, after realizing it was the Lord, "girt his fisher's coat onto him (for he was naked) and did cast himself into the sea."

In this case, the parallel to Genesis 3:10 is striking, "And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."

Adam (and Peter) realized they were naked in the presence of the Lord.  This nakedness, both physically and spiritually, caused them to be embarrassed and to cover themselves.  But clothes (or leaves) can only cover the physical nakedness.  When our spirits are naked, they need so much more that only God can provide, for only God can cover up our true nakedness.

Dear Lord, when I hit a roadblock, help me to wait on your directions instead of returning to my old ways.  Keep me clothed in your Word so my spiritual nakedness is covered.  Father, thank you for allowing me to see You more clearly day by day. Keep my eyes open so I can see You for who You are. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

And the winner is....

And the winner of the Labor Day Week Giveaway EXTRAVAGANZA is...

Drum roll please...

The tension is building...

Becky from Plant Based Mom!!  She will be receiving shortly, the $15 Starbucks gift card to spoil herself in the warm, wonderful goodness of Starbucks products.

Thank you all for participating and stay tuned for future giveaways as I deem them appropriate.

Parallel Worlds?

From 1995-2000, I enjoyed watching the Sci-Fi show "Sliders." (As well as reruns in syndication). The general premise is that as a result of a quantum physics experiment (ironically enough conducted in the basement of his mother's home), Dr. Quinn Mallory (Jerry O'Connell), his mentor Dr. Maxillian Arturo (John Rhys Davies), his girlfriend Wade Wells (Sabrina Lloyd), and an unsuspecting passer-by Rembrant Brown (Cleavant Derricks) are transported in a vortex to a parallel world.  Due to an series of incidents, the group loses the ability to control their destinations and are forced to "slide" between these parallel worlds in their effort to get home.

It was a decent show in the first seasons, though towards the end, the plot and stories, as well as the replacement cast tended to get weaker (IMHO).  What I always found interesting was the premise of the parallel worlds.  Generally, imagine that at the moment of your birth, every moment thereafter, every action, every decision, causes a split in reality which plays out the results in different realms.  Picture if you will: You are standing at a fork in the road.  You decide to go left.  In your reality, you go left and follow through with that decision... In the parallel world, you go right and reality is then based on that decision.  Each choice causes a new reality to come into being.

The implications are staggering.  7 billion people on the planet making thousands of decisions and actions a day.  The amount of potential parallel worlds is incalculable. (For me at least)

I was reading through some news articles the other morning and came across this one.  If you have read much of my writing, you know I occasionally fall into "Geek" mode and explore topics which are a bit outside the realm of everyday life (and tend to be a bit obscure).  This article deals with a current "discovery" of the potentiality of parallel universes: is the Many Worlds theory realized?

While I highly doubt the truth of this concept due to my Judeo-Christian worldview which states that God is in control of all decisions and actions, I am intrigued.  (Yes, there is free will, but nothing surprises God as He is omnipotent).  Bible verses which support this view:

Pslam 37:23 (KJV)
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way."
Romans 8:29 (KJV)
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:30 (KJV)
"Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
Ephesians 1:5 (KJV)
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"
Ephesians 1:11 (KJV)
"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
The LAST conversation I would want to initiate here, due to the strong views on either side in a full on debate of Calvanistic views. (Linked to a concise explanation of TULIP).

I know God is in control.  He has shown that to me time and time again, especially of late.  Just to imagine the possibility of the parallel divergent worlds is intriguing, even though it is contrary.  I do not wish it to become a fixture in my mind which would lead to doubt of the truth I hold near and dear, but I would hope there is a world out there where I don't make so many poor decisions. 

I would like to see that world.

Dear Lord, You are in  control.  You have ordered my steps and allowed me to stray many times.  I have been chastened for these decisions and have been drawn back to You.  Your ways are not my ways, and who can know Your plans.  Lord, lead me and guide me home.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I admit it, I'm needy.

Total Honesty Time.

I am a sad, desperate, needy creature.

There, I said it.  Whew, what a relief getting that off my chest.

I am starving for love.  I get lonely in this home all alone when everything I love is many miles away.

As many of you are aware, I am undergoing chemotherapy for Stage IV colon cancer.  One of the wonderful (italicized to indicate sarcasm) gifts that come with chemotherapy is Chemo Brain, the semi-uncontrollable emotions and occasional short term memory issues the poisons bring.

I am usually an emotional wreck for several days post treatment.  Now that I am back to work again after 3 months off, I do my best to NOT think about things which could potentially trigger an emotional outpouring (usually manifested through crying like a toddler).  In order to assist me in combating this issue, I have started hand-copying the Psalms in a composition notebook to help my mind focus on something which calms and strengthens me.  Granted, I started at Psalm 1 and am writing them out in order as the need arises, but I tend to read Psalms often to help me focus as well.

Today, I was reading Psalm 86; in particular, verses 1-5 (KJV):
"Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.  Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.  Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee."
After reading this and thinking about it for a bit and how very applicable it is to my current condition, the inner voice in my head (the one which can actually carry a tune) was singing the hymn "I Need Thee Every Hour."
I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;Every hour I need Thee;O bless me now, my Savior,I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;Every hour I need Thee;O bless me now, my Savior,I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;Every hour I need Thee;O bless me now, my Savior,I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;Every hour I need Thee;O bless me now, my Savior,I come to Thee. 
Lyrics by Annie Hawks, Music by Robert Lowry

This song sums up my needs.

I need Thee, Lord.  I am powerless to do this on my own.  Only You can strengthen me to face this.  I am a small child crying for my Father to hold me.  I am lost and needing direction, and only You can light my way.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The First Commission

One of the current shifts in the Christian Church universe is the move from program centered to people centered.  Churches who are undergoing this shift have been dubbed "missional" churches.  But what exactly does this term mean?

Relatively short answer for a complex question:
"Jesus told us to go into all the world and be his ambassadors, but many churches today have inadvertently changed the "go and be" command to a "come and see" appeal. We have grown attached to buildings, programs, staff and a wide variety of goods and services designed to attract and entertain people.

"Missional is a helpful term used to describe what happens when you and I replace the "come to us" invitations with a "go to them" life. A life where "the way of Jesus" informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture. It speaks of the very nature of the Jesus follower."
---Rick Meigs
As Christians, we should all be familiar with the "Great Commission" in Mathew 28: 16-20.  Our command to "go therefore, and teach all nations..."  But the spirit of the missional movement starts at home. 

In Mark 5:1-20, we read the story of the Demoniac in the tombs of Gardarenes.  After Jesus had cast out the Legion, he commanded the man in verse 19 to:
"Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee."
This was a very missional statement.  Go home.  It has to start at home: with you, your spouse, your children.  Take responsibility for the spiritual well-being of your loved ones.  Men, lead your family!

From there, take responsibility for your neighbors and friends, be the example and do not pass on the opportunity to share the grace of God and the wonders He has worked in your life.  Pray for them daily and share their burdens.  Build a community around you of like-minded individuals, but not to the exclusion of the rest of the world.  While we are called to separate ourselves and be the "peculiar" people of God, we are never commanded to ignore the world around us and our spiritual responsibilities.

For more information on the "Missional Church," refer to Friends of Missional.

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for my inattention to your will.  Help me to reach those around me in a way meaningful to Your desires.  Help me start at home to be the man, husband, and father you desire.  Help me to care for and love my nieghbors and friends and demonstrate You to them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


The keyboard combination of Ctrl+Alt+Del is one of the most useful  key combinations you can know if you use a Windows based system.  It will bring you to a menu where you can lock your computer, switch user, log off/restart, change a password, or start task manager.

Windows used to have a pretty bad reputation (I know Apple people and others, it still does) as far as system reliability.  The dreaded Blue Screen of Death would surprise users out of nowhere causing them to apply the Three-fingered Salute as the key-stroke has also been dubbed, sometime multiple times during the day.  I know I mentioned much of this in my first post Reboot, so I will not rehash it too much more.

Today, I am going to discuss a different application for Ctrl+Alt+Del.  I have seen it titled the "Just Three Steps to Enjoy Life."
  1. Ctrl- Control yourself.
  2. Alt-Look for Alternatives.
  3. Del-Delete the situations which give you trouble.
Let's take a look at these "steps" one at a time.

1.  Control yourself. Titus 2:11-13 (NIV):
"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ."
Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

Are you seeing that? The grace of God teaches us to say "No."  We have a way out! The grace of God has our backs.  We can do this!!

2. Look for Alternatives. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV):
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

God will not allow you to face anything you can't handle, or if you do, there is a way out.  So look for the Alternative solutions, there is always one there, God IF faithful to provide one.  You just have to look for it.

3.  Delete the situations which give you trouble.  1 Thessalonians 5:22 (NIV):
"Abstain from all appearance of evil."
Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

If you are doing everything you can to abstain from/avoid  the appearance of evil, you will avoid the situations which would cause you to stumble.  God wants us to maintain a solid testimony for Him.  If we are hanging out in places we should not be (because it causes us to stumble), how are we keeping up our testimony? Even if we do not stumble, the appearance of our behavior will harm it.

Dear Lord, teach me to understand that I DO NOT HAVE TO SIN.  You love us and desire our holiness.  You have set us apart for You.  You have provided us ALL we need to know to avoid temptation, sin, and the very appearance of evil for Your sake.  Thank You for loving us so much that You would keep us from harm.

Rejoice and be glad!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Beautifully Human

I will readily admit I am not a "creative" type.  Sure, I have done some art, poetry, creative writing, and music, but it is always mimicry or license with the creativity of others.  I rarely come up with something creative which is of even mediocre quality.  I had to write out my "improvised" trumpet solos in High School.

Any way, on that note, I have had a very sensitive ear (or eye) lately and have heard (or read) a phrase or two, or heard a particular song, which motivates me to write something.  Today's post title "Beautifully Human" is a phrase which 'Chelle over at "Treat Me To A Feast" has used several times recently. The phrase comes from the title of Jill Scott's second CD "Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Volume 2."   I have told her I am greatly attracted to that phrase and will probably use it in a post.  Well, 'Chelle, here it is.  Hope I do it justice.

When I heard the phrase, I was instantly reminded of Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
New International Version, NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

As well as Job 10:8-12 (GNT):
"Your hands formed and shaped me, and now those same hands destroy me.  Remember that you made me from clay; are you going to crush me back to dust? You gave my father strength to beget me; you made me grow in my mother's womb.  You formed my body with bones and sinews and covered the bones with muscles and skin.  You have given me life and constant love, and your care has kept me alive."
 Good News Translation (GNT) Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

And also Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV):
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
New International Version, NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

I love these verses since they let us ALL know that God had an integral part in forming who each one of us is.  Without His input and creativity I can't imagine what I would be, nor do I wish to try.  I know I am flawed, but the flaws are a result of the choices I have made, and NOT due to the design God had for me.  God's design was perfect.

I must accept the fact that everyone was created perfect, and it is their choices which have made them who they currently are (for the good and the bad).  We were given free will for just this reason, to be individuals who have to choose to accept God's love, mercy, and grace.  God would have it no other way, he had previously created the angels and cherubim and seraphim which were not given the free will to choose this (though they could get prideful as we know Lucifer did).  But then, don't we all...

The angels and cherubim and seraphim were created before man, in the period of infinity past (before the creation when there was nothing but GOD).  He created them for one purpose, to give Him praise.  They were created only for that purpose so they were probably not created in God's image, but solely according to His purpose.  Once He created the earth and decided to populate it, He purposed to create something better than the angels and cherubim and seraphim: man and woman.  Wow!

I must see the Creator in the creation, regardless of the flaws which may be evident.  God loves that person, and so should I.  The choices we make, flaws and all, are part of what makes us beautifully human.

Rejoice and be glad.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Friday Scare

Left is an allergic reaction to peanuts as portrayed on the TV show "Big Bang Theory."  I have never seen nor experienced a full on case of anaphylaxis.  As an EMT (one of my collateral duties), I have been trained to deal with them and recognize them.

On Friday (8/31) I was undergoing my 6th of 12 chemo treatment for this cycle.

I am on a protocol of:

Modified FOLFOX6
Leucovorin 400 mg/m2 iv over 2 hrs before 5-FU d1
5-FU 400 mg/m2 iv bolus d1 followed by 2400 mg/m2 iv over 46 hrs
Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) 85 mg/m2 iv d1
Q2w x 12 cycles

Avastin, though I do not have the delivery info handy.

Anyway, when the Oxaliplatin started, I began to feel a little tickle in my throat.  It became steadily worse until I began having a hot flash starting from my chest and spreading to my arms.  Then the first nausea of my treatment started, but attempting to let that go would have been a disaster since my throat had closed a pretty good bit.

I tried to gut it out because I was not quite sure what was going on and thought I would be ok.  Well, I decided to tell my nurse, and she immediately stopped the flow of meds, and started 2 lpm O2 via nasal cannula.  After a few minutes of monitoring me (during which the hives began to develop on my arms and chest), she called my Dr to inform her and get a course of action.

I was maintaining my outward cool and calm, but inwardly I was scared and praying.

Long story short, I was administered Benadryl through iv and things cleared up pretty quick.  My Dr came out and explained to me that this was a possibility due to the fact Oxaliplatin may not totally metabolize and will build up in the system (usually around treatment 6 or 7).  A mild allergic reaction can result.

To me, this was  information I would have liked to have ahead of time.  Everything worked out, though my appointments will now be longer, since the delivery of the Oxaliplatin will be slower to help avoid the reaction.  Sigh, today I was among the first in and was the last out of treatment: long time sitting there getting poisoned.

Just keeping you all informed and letting you know I am not a superman.  I get scared.  I understand my mortality (and immortality).  I was not scared for my life, I was scared that I do not currently have anyone with me to assist if things go bad.  Sure, I could get assistance from work, but I would ultimately not want that. 

It also makes me realize I seriously need to get busy getting things in order for the contingency of me not being around or available to close out my affairs and NOT get messed over by state laws.  I need a will.  I need to reevaluate all my beneficiaries.  I need to make this happen for my (x)wife and children's sake.

Sorry the tone and message is not quite what I normally post, but I felt this was an important post to update you on my status.  I am working on several posts in the realm of my usual genre, so stay tuned (barring extreme chemo brain).  They will be out shortly.