Saturday, May 19, 2012

Welcome back, I think

I was going through some old posts from 2005. I used to write a lot. That was during a period of mourning and healing after my dad died. It's been 8 years now, and the sting is gone, and I cherish his memory in so many ways.
There are so many memories - the humor, the discussions, his obstinate expression at times, the arguments, the depth he had the last year of his life, especially after he found out his time was running out. He never stopped encouraging me, even when I thought he had no more. We had a complex relationship. One of the things he wanted me to do is start painting again. I wish he was here to see some of the work I've done this year.
I'm sick of Facebook, and will quit putting all my thoughts there. I have been thinking about shutting the whole Facebook page down, but I think instead I will create another page just for my art, and link it to an art blog. I think maybe BB&BS has run its course. Either way, I guess I need to figure out how to go.  For grins, here is a recent work.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dog Paintings

I have begun to paint dogs. Some of the dogs don't like paint on them, so I have to be careful. Ha! Actually, I have taken on painting dog portraits with oil paint. If you would like your furry friend's portrait, let me know and we can work something out. This started with a painting of Mr. B, my old beagle, because he is 14 now, and will not be with me much longer. Then a friend of mine's beloved hound passed away from an illness. I did a portrait of her as well. Anyway, feel free to look at some of my art at, as well as others.
dog paintings
pet paintings

Monday, February 27, 2012

What did you give up for Lent?

I have to preface this with letting you know I grew up Catholic. The Lenten season was almost a mystery to me, and my understanding was that the symbolism of "giving up" something, or "fasting," was to represent Christ's suffering for us.
I read last week about a woman who gave up Facebook for lent. According to the article, "Melendes thinks she will learn something about herself by going without Facebook until Easter.

“Probably how much I use it, and how much I use it to stay connected to my friends and my family,” she said."
Really? That's deep...sarc>
"Melendes is not giving up all social media, however. She says she cannot stop using Twitter along with Facebook. “That would be impossible,” she said."

I've heard of lots of different "fasts" from people. "I gave up chocolate.....soda, candy, sweets, pastries, cigarettes, etc." And let's not forget to fast "meat" on Friday, although fish is OK because Jesus ate it.
I thought this morning about some meaningful things one might apply to this season. Here are some suggestions of what some of my Catholic (and others) friends might want to think about:

Give up Unforgiveness. The end of the Lenten season is Easter. The whole focus of Easter is Christ's final act - the death and resurrection for the redemption of our sins. Yes, He died so that we would be forgiven. "It is finished," He declared. Forgiven - for all our crap, past, present, and future. No questions, no wavering, no doubts. No holding a grudge against us until he makes sure we are sorry - no...."It is finished."

Give up Judgment of others. Try some compassion. I heard it said before that we want mercy for ourselves, but judgment for others. Ask what might be going on in that other person's life. Do you like being judged by someone who doesn't have all the facts? Compassion - it's a value that's missing from most of us. Quit thinking the worst first. Things aren't always as they appear, and more often, there is more to the story than we know. Consider the fact that people have issues just like you do. And God made us all different for a reason. He gave you gifts, and He gave others gifts too. We're all different, so embrace the diversity.

Give up Anger. Ok, it's alright to feel angry, but it's not alright to let that anger fester and destoy ourselves and others. Feelings are just feelings. Process the feeling, and come to a conclusion to let it go. Life is too short. Christ's love can walk us through the anger and into peace - His desire for us. Ask yourself what the real issue is, and then resolve it.

Give up Arrogance. You're not always right. It's not always your way, and it's not always about you. Just as there are an infinite number of personalities, there are infinite ways to do things and have a good conclusion. You might even learn something if you let it go and watch how someone else figures something out. Be an encourager, not a criticizer. Everyone wants love and acceptance.

Give up Criticism. Everybody is different. Even you. Your critical spirit is like poison - not only to you, but to others around you. Find something good about someone and focus on that.

Give up Ungratefulness. Appreciate what you have - even your job. If you really don't like your job, why are you there? Find things to enjoy and be grateful. We live in a country that has everything we need for us to be successful and happy, and we spend too much time looking at the things that we don't like instead. Try writing a list of 20 things you are thankful for. Do it again. Love what you have.

Give up Ugliness. You like respect, right? So do other people. There's no reason to be mean. Smile when someone else is being rude. It's their problem, don't make it yours too. Refuse to let others' demeanor determine yours. Practice being nice. Be kind.

Give up Impatience. Sometimes things slow us down so that we can take time to see something new, or learn another way, or maybe keep us from something harmful. Enjoy the journey. Slow down. You'll get a more harmonious outcome.

Give up Intolerance. Again, we're all different. Get over it. Love.

You have inside of you love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness tolerance, patience, and self-control.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Social Networking, Blogging, and random thoughts

I watched in fascination the other day CNBC's program, "The Facebook Obsession." I realized that I, too, have become complacent about sharing bits of personal and private information on a public forum. It didn't happen overnight; just like the proverbial frog in the pan of water, it happened a little at a time, never enough to make me uncomfortable, until all at once, I realized I was in boiling water. Unlike the stupid frog, however, I was smart enough to hop out of the pot before I got boiled to death.

It took me all of an hour to purge personal information from my profile of Facebook. i have my doubts, however that all of that information has just disappeared into the air somewhere. There is still a nagging suspicion that somewhere in the belly of the facebook beast, my information still resides, at the beck and call of some techno-geek, ready to retrieve for some government agent because I am no longer sharing my information with the matrix.Call me paranoid, but there is something really wrong about a private company that is worth billions, and run by a young, liberal idealist (who had one of his key employees help Chairman Zero get elected), with no accountability. and this company stores information on over half a billion people!
I really don't want for something to happen to me, and the news media report,"...and he had recently written ________on his facebook page..."  And what business it it really, for a company to know my demographics that I voluntarily posted, so they can profit by allowing their advertisers to target me specifically? Why, like with any other company, are we not allowed to opt out?
So I think for now, Facebook will keep my account, but I will choose carefully what to share with them, and I will limit my demographic information to the minimum, and not use "Like," "Check in.," or any applications. I mean, who among us would allow a complete stranger to come to our door and say, "OK, I'm going to move in with you so you can stay in contact with all your friends, share your private life, and I'm going to allow advertisers to contact you based on what I know about you.?"
I am limited to a certain number of characters to post my ramblings on Facebook anyway. I have more room in my blog, and it's still possible to post comments, share pictures, etc. It's been a while since I used this forum, anyway. I always liked it better, I can edit easier, and only those who choose to come here can see everything I write anyway.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Best Mens Retreat Ever

This past weekend I was privileged to spend time with 8 other spiritual men at a private ranch outside of Belton, TX. This weekend began about 6 months ago at one of our Rachel's Vineyard retreats. Realizing the retreat is more geared toward women: even when men attend, the level of depth the men are willing to take is not as deep as when there are just men. God began to move on my heart to organize a retreat for men only. I took it to mean another Rachel's Vineyard or post-abortion healing retreat, but every time I thought or prayed about it, the door would shut to that idea.
I continued to seek the Lord, but by New Year's I knew it would not be an abortion centered type of retreat. From the beginning, I knew this had to be a different type of men's retreat. I knew we didn't need another weekend where someone would tell us all the things we weren't doing right and what we needed to change.
I finally sat down to put some ideas on paper, and over a weekend developed the whole plan - from who to invite, the venue, a menu, budget, shopping list, prayer partners, and even an agenda. I continued to ask the Lord how I was going to get all of this together. I'm just one person, and I don't have all the answers. There were 3 key areas where I knew God wanted to work in us: 1) Who am I, where did I come from, and where is God taking me? 2) My relationships and 3) How do I stay accountable?
How was I going to teach all that???!!! I kept hearing in my spirit, "Relax. Give it to me, and I'll do the work." Well, that sounds nice and comforting, but any man can tell you that nothing goes according to plan unless you have a plan. So I continued to work on a plan, even though I wasn't having much success.
So before anyone arrived Friday night, I had written down some introductory comments to make regarding the ranch layout, the sleeping arrangements, food, chores, and of course, the schedule and agenda. Basically, I needed to let everyone know what to expect and what we were going to do. As I wrote the bullet-point "Schedule" on my pad, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me, "No schedule." When I wrote the word, "Agenda," again I heard, "No agenda." EXCUSE ME?!?! I was reminded God had said many times, "Let me do it." So I did.
I had just a few rules for discussion - no politics, no preaching, and no doctrinal discussions. After I had covered the bullet points with everyone, I had an icebreaker question. It was simple, and it was based on a conversation I had with a co-worker a few months back. Since we were all connected in some way (I've known one of the men there for over 25 years, and my son was there as well) I asked everyone to tell the group one thing about themselves that nobody there knew.
It not only broke the ice, but it was like one of the icebreaker ships the Coast Guard uses to open a navigational waterway for ships to pass. Two hours later we had already gotten pretty deep. It was time to move the conversation outside, around the fire pit. What better way to get men talking and open? So one of the men appointed himself as Fire Minister, and we broke out cigars, the bourbon, and began the conversation again. We were up until 1:30 Friday night. And it was good.
I was wondering if everyone was talked out when I woke up Saturday morning. But when I came down to the main house, one of the men was cooking, and the conversation had already begun. I might mention again here, that the entire weekend, all we did was talk - and it didn't include sports, politics, or religious arguments - the things guys usually talk about. I did not tell everyone what I had planned to discuss - the Holy Spirit opened and led the discussion.
We had a couple of more guys arrive around noon Saturday, and we discussed "The 5 Pillars of Truth:"
1. God loves and accepts me
2. I have God's favor and blessing.
3. I have God's joy and peace
4. I live out of God's power and provision
5. I have God's guidance and wisdom.
We talked through the afternoon, through dinner and into the night. Again, we were up late into the night around the fire pit again. There were 3 of us that were out there until 2:30 am.
Sunday's discussion was exactly what I had planned to discuss, but again, it was not prompted by me - the Holy Spirit prompted a discussion on accountability around the breakfast table. Awesome.
So all of the 3 areas of discussion I had written down were discussed - without my prompting, and without me having to plan a teaching, or follow a study. The teacher was the Holy Spirit. We were his agenda, and it was on His schedule. I truly learned something God has been trying to teach me for 52 years - how to relax and allow Him to direct.
I'll upload some pictures in another post.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Life is a stress test

Well, I'm in my 50's now, and trips to the doctor lately have been frequent. Not because I am sick, but because they want to make sure I am NOT sick. In the last 3 months, I have had blood drawn no less than 5 times, I monitor my blood pressure daily, had my prostate exam, a poop test, urinalysis, an ABG (painful), EKG, electrocardiogram, saw a hematologist, and yesterday had my first stress test. And every test shows I have nothing wrong with me, other than I'm not 25 anymore. All my numbers are perfect, and other than having my blood pressure regulated by medication, I'm in great health for an old dude.
I was thinking of the stress test I took yesterday. It was a microcosm of life. Before the test, I was given some simple instructions: when the treadmill starts, get on and start walking. Keep pace - don't get ahead or behind. Tell the doctor if I feel dizzy, weak, or have chest pains. And if I have to stop, tell the doctor, and he will slow it down to a stop - don't try to just get off on my own.
When it started, it was a slow, almost-too-easy pace... appropriately, uphill. As time went on, gradually the speed and angle was increased. And each time it was increased, the doctor was there, asking how I was doing, letting me know what was about to happen, and making sure I was OK. He also let me know along the way that my heart was functioning fine, and the readings he was getting were normal for the activity level. The last part of the test was the hardest, and had me breathing hard, my heart rate was up, and I started to break a sweat. It was a little bit of a challenge, but he got me up to a speed that was necessary to get my heart rate to the level needed, for the time needed, and then gradually slowed it down to conclude the test. "Perfect," he said, "You're right where you should be, and you have a healthy heart. Looks good."
Do you ever think, through the stress of life, that God is right there with us? Just like the doctor, he gives us instruction (we have to be ready and listening first, though) before we begin, and along the way (if we're listening) he lets us know what is happening. He asks us if we're doing OK, and wants us to tell Him if we're not, or if we're dizzy, weak, or have pain. And if we do, he'll stop us before we wreck. All dependent on our communication, though - we have to stay in touch with Him or it won't work.
And then he takes us to the point of just enough exertion to get us panting,sweating, and breathing hard - but only as much as we can stand, and for only as long as we can stand it. When it's over, He's there to tell us, "Perfect, you're right where you should be, and you have a healthy heart. Looks good." He never fails us. He'll just give us another test until we pass.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

First ride of the season

I have a confession. I love to eat. Too much. Last year when I was training for HH100, I was logging about 100 miles a week on my bike, and eating like a dingo. When I stopped training, I continued eating. I am now 12 lbs. heavier than I was when I did the HH100.
Tha good new is, the season has started again, and I have some rides to train for. The first road ride I'll do is March 28, the Salado Smokin' Spokes. I think I may start with a 50 miler, if I can log some miles by then.

Today I did 26 very slow miles with a couple of other 50ish guys. I was painfully slow, but they were out for the excersize, not a race. I like riding like that, even though they still pushed me some. So here I am after returning home:

And here's our ride:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Chihuahua Farm

I see the weirdest things sometimes. I passed this the other day on a group ride, and didn't have my camera. I decided today since I was riding alone, I would stop and document this evil place.

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July Club Ride

There's nothing like getting up early on a holiday morning and heading out for a 7:00 a.m. ride with 30 or more other people. Then after the ride, having breakfast ready outside with a bunch of crazy riders who want to start the party early.

I had a blast - and got home in time for family time.

Here's our ride:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I must be freaking nuts

So here's what I do on my Sunday afternoons. Instead of staying inside, watching TV and drinking a beer, Pauly's out there in the 100 deg. heat, drinking GU2O and burning 1033 calories. We had a short ride today, only about 21 miles since no one wanted to go the extra 5 or six miles.
Actually, I love testing my body's endurance, and there's always a sense of accomplishment when I'm done. Here's my ride: