Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Balance", by Nik Wallenda with David Ritz

I said at the beginning of this year that I wanted to read more.

That’s kind of been an epic fail; however, it isn’t something to be totally depressed over either.

The last time that I bought a book at an airport book store was last summer (2012) in Anchorage, Alaska.

Sure, I’ve heard of things such as and, but I just thought it would be cool to buy a book – to read on the plane – on something that was unique that happened in that region.

That book was titled, “The Spill”, and was about the Exxon Valdez oil spill from March 1989.

(As a side note, I’ve always been a current events, history, sports and biography type of bookreader.)

Last Friday, December 12, I picked up Nik Wallenda’s “Balance:  A Story of Faith, Family and Life on the Line” at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

I was flying to Raleigh-Durham where Waverly met me to help her drive home from her first semester at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

I had quickly forgotten watching Wallenda’s walk across a gorge near the Grand Canyon online less than six months ago.  (If you read the Wikipedia entry on Wallenda, you’ll see there’s a little bit of a debate.)

There’s a certain amount of excellent history in the book of Wallenda’s famous family in the circus and with high-wire performances.

It wasn’t enough to bore you, and there was a certain period of time in the family’s history that the life of the circus caused many personal problems in the lives of Nik’s grandparents and great-grandparents.

Yet beyond the great Wallenda name, family itself is clearly portrayed as being tantamount to the most recent Wallenda, Nik.

It is an interesting, yet breezy read, especially relating to his relationship with his wife, Erendira.

It openly speaks about how a controlling spirit was a major challenge in their marriage at one point.

And through it, he shared something that resonated with me about my faith.

He wrote, “We tell people that we’re born-again Christians, and we are.  But being born-again isn’t a one-time thing.  We’re continually being reborn with new insights about our struggles and behavior.  God is always revealing Himself to us, always opening windows and doors that shed new light.

I believe this, but it is often hard to articulate this to people that I know this succinctly.

He also talked a lot about ego.  Obviously, to accomplish all that he has, his comes in mega-doses compared to mine.

I really, really either don’t have much of one myself or I suppress it very well.  Maybe a little of both.

There are things that I enjoy doing well – writing and announcing, among other things – and for me to do them, there’s a certain amount of ego that I must possess to accomplish them.

Yet, to over-sell or over-hype myself are just things that I won’t do – and I’m turned off by people who do.  That, to me, is an unhealthy ego.

As far as race announcing goes, for example, I receive many, many kind compliments on my abilities and God-given talent of knowing what to say right at the right time.

Wallenda addressed it this way:  “My ego-driven vanity is not going to disappear.  I can’t wish it away and I can’t entirely pray it away.  But can I accept it without indulging it?  Can I say, “Hey, I’m a human being.  Human beings, mired in insecurity and assaulted by uncertainty, look for all sorts of validation.  There’s nothing wrong with it – as long as I don’t ego-trip myself to a spiritual death; as long as I realize that my spiritual growth, set against my high-profile career, is always going to be a work in progress; as long I continue to do that spiritual work.”

Well, I don’t have a high-profile career.  And all of my announcing gigs aren’t necessarily high profile.  Maybe to the event producers, they are.

Actually, I won’t take many of them if offered.  I have a certain style that I like and there are certain roles that I believe that I would have to compromise it – and I won’t do that.

I just like to say this, “I like to think that I’m in the top ten in Texas.”

Here’s the catch, though:  It is just that there might only be a little more than 10 that do as much as I do.

Beyond that, Wallenda’s book, ghost written by David Ritz, is just a good enjoyable read of a little more than 200 pages – recapping an interesting, yet non-drama filled life -- that can be tackled in a couple of hours.

Let me know if you’d like to borrow it.  - Jon

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Drive Well-Taken; December 10, 2013

Anybody that really knows me – and probably most casual observers too – know how much that I enjoy the chances that I get to spend time with my daughter.

Really, though, what parent doesn’t?

Yes, I know.  Every parent-child relationship out there isn’t what I’ve been blessed with.  And I’m very thankful for what I have.  Every single day.

In a couple of days, I get the opportunity to help my daughter drive home after she finishes today her first semester in college – and away from home.

I was able to make it there twice to see her during the semester and, of course, she came home for Thanksgiving.

By our summer vacation standards, this will be a short drive.  Just 17-18 hours.

I also know that some of you reading this would rather have a root canal than to be in a car for that length of time.

We’ve had some epic – not to use a recently overused word by an area marathon race director – drives over the years.  Here are some that readily come to mind:

1.       Alaska (Summer 2012; Anchorage to Fairbanks; Denali Highway – Paxson to Cantwell; Seward Highway)
2.       Canada (Summer 2013; Pittsburgh to Erie to Toronto to Ottawa to Montreal to central Pennylsvania)
3.       Hawaii (Summer 2011; All over the island of Kona.)
4.       St. Louis to Las Vegas (Summer 2002:  Five state capitals in five days.  Waverly, MO and Waverly, NE to boot.)
5.       Utah, Montana and Idaho (Summer 2010:  Glacier National Park.)
6.       New York, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts (Summer 2004)
7.       California – San Francisco and Los Angeles (Summer 2008)
8.       Monticello, Mount Vernon, Washington Monuments and Pennslyvania (Spring Break 2004)

I’m sure I’ve missed a few notable ones, but these are some of the ones that standout the most.

With the exception of Hawaii, I’m pretty positive that these were all a minimum of 1,000 miles in the car within a week’s time (or 9 days – a bookend of weekends – at the most).

She’s already promised that she would set a new standard in our travels:  that she would probably talk my ear off.  And, honestly, I’m looking forward to every minute, every word.

We’ve talked “at least” once a week since she’s been away at school, typically every Sunday evening.

The conversations are usually anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and they replace the usual weekly dinners that we would have out, especially the year that I was working week-in and week-out in California.

Therefore, I know that the conversation isn’t one that will include things that need to be solved – or needs input – immediately.

Rather I expect it to be one that has the chance to be transformative for one or both of us.

I think I learn a lot about myself as a parent and especially as my role in that assignment changes more to being a coach than the enforcer to boundaries which are set.

I have different inputs and influences to evaluate now and realize too that she has grown (incredibly, I might add) as a young woman – especially being on her own for much of the last four months.

There were some things that I could have done better as a father, but some of those inputs to do those I didn’t specifically have in my toolbox – and I wasn’t encouraged or bold enough to develop them.

However, I tried to make up for that in the area of time – and unconditional love.

And I did the best job that I could – and doing so genuinely, without smothering or being a helicopter parent.

What is the one thing, starting today, that you can set out to do to create a lasting memory of with your child?

Maybe even something that really isn’t tangible at all.

If you’re reading this, please keep us in your prayers on Friday and Saturday as we drive back to Texas so Waverly can enjoy her Christmas and Holiday break and completely recharge for the Spring semester at Liberty University in January.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Random, Late Night Thoughts; October 16-17, 2013

My mind is going 180 miles a minute.  How do I slow it down?  I get my thoughts out on paper (or online).

I’m kind of a walking paradox.  I’m “out here”, but I like – no, I enjoy -- being “under the radar” at the same time.

I like being able to do things – which benefit others – that nobody knows that I’m involved in.  It is because I don’t want the attention focused on me.

I’m very open, if you take the time to get to know me; however, I’m also very private and prefer that many don’t know certain things.

Not that I have anything to hide, but more so that I’m not comfortable – at all – with praise.

So where am I at tonight?

At some crossroads, I would say.

I’ve recently asked a friend to pray for me to have discernment on what “road I should walk” and to “help me find it”, as the words of a current, popular contemporary Christian music song states.

In essence, God’s perfect will for my life.

God has given me talents that I believe are pretty neat and incredible (although to some they might not be that impressive).  On the surface, actually, they’re not, I suppose.  Yet I want to make sure that I’m using them right – and for the right purpose.

For those that don’t have a faith that they place their trust and belief in, they wouldn’t understand that I prayed before I announced a recent race three weeks ago on a Sunday morning in Katy that I did well – not for me – but that perhaps one participant might be in need – of something - that morning of being recognized as they came to the finish line.

It has never really been about me.  It has been about those people who – in road races, for example – have paid their discretionary income to participate in an activity that is of physical and emotional value to them.

When I do a high school cross country meet, such as Nike South that I did recently, it is all about the kids.  All the time.  I want things to be perfect for them – not me.

And if the road that I’m on isn’t the one that I’m supposed to be taking, then I ask myself what will I do to replace that void that I may have.

For as much joy as I have gained over the years in being involved in many of the endeavors I have, there has been much pain too.

That pain is NOTHING, though, compared to others that I know – or have known -- who have lost a child, spouse, relative or a close friend or have overcome disease or another tragedy in their life.

I say “have” because I have experienced the pain of losing friendships – or what I thought to be friendships.  Maybe they were acquaintances, at best, that I misperceived to be friendships.

If they’re friendships, both parties go all in, right?

I have walked away from situations – taken the high road, if you will, and with great private pain (that few of my best friends have even understood) – because I just didn’t see any value in fighting out what I perceived to be a wrong approach on the other parties’ part.

Because of social media and what pops up right in front of you (without even looking for it), I steer clear of people that I consider a friend because you can see the value they place in people who I have been wronged by.

That’s a huge challenge and minefield.

And, at the same time, there are people who “window shop” and announce that they are (think “following” on Twitter), but they never engage.  I admit openly that I have bumped those people from my “follow” list, especially when I encounter those people in person and they never engage in either setting.

Back to this “athletic” world that I’m currently immersed in.  What do I do?  Does God want me here?  Is there a Kingdom-driven purpose for me to be doing what I’m doing?

Like I said, it has brought me great joy.

A run.

I get discouraged by folks whose world seems to revolve around it.

When I had a “running” blog, which was more of a “media outlet” that I updated regularly six or seven years ago, I got taken to task because I didn’t train – or do things – via the textbook.

I learned over time that those who did were seeking recognition – or credit – because they thought their approach and work was “right”, or people have deeper issues that they’re dealing with.

But some of my greatest joys have come from a simple run.

I recently got to do that twice on my recent visit this past weekend with my daughter, who is a freshman at Liberty University.

And one of them was a makeup run that we missed before her Mom and I left her there to start the semester.  It is something that I prayed as the week leading up to my most recent visit that nothing would come in the way of because I didn’t want that “miss” to be “the” memory.

I had desired some “us” time the morning before we needed to leave.

All the while, I’ve been trying to teach her to plan things out and I’ve tried to also treat her like an adult.  She’s earned that respect, but as a parent, I’ve also learned that sometimes it is OK that they still be a child – especially, at heart.

I had expected her to remember the plan, but the night before, at dinner, she had forgotten about it.

I was hurt.  And selfish.

Here I was in what was one of the biggest challenges in her life wanting something for me.

Only because I loved her (at that moment) – and love her (now) – as much as life itself sometimes.

It caused for some hurt feelings, angst, unnecessary drama and not as perfect departure the next morning that I think we all envisioned it to be.

I was glad that God provided me the opportunity this past weekend to make up for that.

We shared a 40-minute run (20 out and 20 back) on a trail – starting from the riverfront part of downtown Lynchburg – that I wouldn’t want her running on unless she was with a group of other runners that she knew and trusted.

It was a simple, yet awesome time.

The next morning, we got to do something that we’ve done many times – and that is run a race together.

There were no expectations, I suppose.  It was to be fun.  And it was.

It was a race that was on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson’s family retreat called Poplar Forest.

A few weeks before, she ran a race that started and finished on Liberty’s football field.  And I wasn’t able to be there.  That had only happened one other time when our church put on a 5K the same day that I was announcing another event.

As I’ve done many times, I asked if they had anyone to do the National Anthem.  The race production company, which was the local running store, asked the race director and they made time in their timeline for her to do so.

She stepped up, not having done so since the Fourth of July, and did a superb job singing, but then she did so running too.

She has been going out for runs a couple of times a week in the heat and on the hills of the campus.  More so that she wasn’t running at night by herself, from a safety standpoint.  (I was surprised, even near the campus of a Christian university, the number of young women who were running alone with headphones – oblivious, perhaps, to the world around them.)

And her efforts paid off.

She went through the first mile in 10:51.76, and the first mile wasn’t flat.  It had a downhill and a couple of rolls on the way out and you got the rolls on the way back to the first mile marker.

The second mile had a nice uphill, but by the middle of it, we were on asphalt-covered streets – the best, in my mind, to run on.  Especially for rhythm runners, which we both are.

She got to the second mile marker in 11:17.86 and it was then that I knew that if she could hold it together for another mile that she would be staring at a nice PR.

And she did.  We covered the last 1.1 mile in 12:08.83 for a PR of 34:17!  (34:18.45 on my watch, but that is because I let her cross before I did.)

She also outkicked a girl at the end that ended up a spot behind her in the same age group, making her second instead of third.  And if the overall winner hadn’t been a 14-year-old, then she might had been out of a medal if she hadn’t pushed it at the end.

I feel a bit better, but I still am challenged by what do I need to be doing down the road and how do my hobbies fit in with that – if at all.

Two verses on the daily Tony Dungy “Quiet Strength” inspirational calendar sit in front of me crossing October 16 to the 17th.

October 16 – “God’s grace is all I need; His power works best in my weakness, as 2 Corinthians 12:9 says.”

October 17 – “We live in a lost and hurting world, and God wants us to get beyond ourselves, whether it’s to help hurting kids or grieving parents or artistic inmates or striving fathers.”

Get beyond ourself.  Indeed.  The line is still appropriate, “If there’s a road I should walk, help me find it.”  I’m here.  I’m trying my best.  And I want to find the right road that I should be walking.

I know that I’ll probably make some mistakes along the way, but I want peace to know that I’m doing the right things, in the right way and for the right purpose.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Good Day; August 25, 2013

The last two months I've been wanting to go out and do the Run For Wellness 5K at George Bush Park in west Houston.

The alarm was set for 5 a.m. as I would need to be on the road by 5:30 a.m. for the 7:00 a.m. race start.

Things came and went.  I slept in.  I don't know that I needed it, but it felt good nonetheless.

After coming home last Sunday evening from leaving Waverly at Liberty University and the week-long tour of minor league ball parks, I had plans to be at North Park Baptist Church on Sunday morning - regardless of whether I ran the race or not.

But not until after the song service.

I even had told my parents that Saturday night after I picked them up at George Bush Intercontinental (IAH).

I've handled everything pretty well so far; however, there were many Sundays that I was in church just to watch her sing - even when she wasn't singing a special.

I walked in the vestibule area at about 10:45 a.m. and the song service wasn't yet over.

Speaking to Ruth Lucas for a couple of minutes, my voice cracked a little and she reached out and rubbed my arm in loving consolation.

Pastor Randy Harp had an excellent service with evidence from scripture about how that we're living in the last days.

The video at the beginning of his sermon was one of the most powerful that I've ever witnessed in my life about what it will be like - and how quick - when the rapture occurs.

You can witness it here.

We were also treated to Chris Stone singing Casting Crowns' song, "While You Were Sleeping", in the middle of the sermon.

The story behind the song from the group's lead singer and songwriter, Mark Hall, can be found here.  It is an interesting and insightful read.

After church, I went home, changed and went to the gym where I ran 60 minutes on the treadmill.

I came home, showered and then went to Meyer Park - near Steubner Airline and Cypresswood - to visit with a very good friend of mine, Edwin Quarles, as we watched his youngest daughter, Jenna, play soccer on an 11-Under team from the Beaumont area.  (She's 10.)

I was there for about an hour and 15 minutes and I enjoyed visiting with Edwin, who I've been friends with now for seven to eight years.

I stopped to get a bite to eat before arriving home to be able to talk with Waverly for about 45 minutes in recapping her first week-plus at Liberty.

It was an awesome conversation.  I think one of the greatest privileges - and challenges - I've been given by God is to be the parent of a Godly young woman.

I hope when things are all said and done that she'll realize that I've loved her unconditionally with all of my heart.

When she went to Liberty last week, I also lost my barber.

So it was my mother who nervously agreed to take control of the clippers and in her first effort in 45 years since my father was in the Marine Corps, she did a pretty good job.

I've been blessed the last two evenings of spending approximately an hour or more with my Mom and Dad at their place and when I left this evening, their time, respect and love never meant more to me than it did now.

Today was an example of a day that was simple, yet very meaningful.  I sure hope there are many more like this to follow.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A New Start 1,300+ Miles From Home; August 19, 2013

Last week, her Mom and I left Waverly in Lynchburg, Virginia for her to start college today at Liberty University.  We - and a host of other wonderful people (family, friends, church members, classmates and others) - are incredibly excited for the latest chapter in her life.

I sit here at my desk and look at the picture frame that she left for me before she departed the Thursday before last.  It is one where she is surrounded by seven (7) young men and women that live in the slums of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.

The smile on her face is infectious.  It is hard not to smile back at the picture.

And I want to say that the picture frame came from the Bishara women there with the beads that they string together to make jewelry and other products for sale - and their own self-sustainment.

On Thursday of last week, I would say that we all were able to see God's hand at work in a visit to the Student Accounts Office.  Now, this isn't to say that she magically received a discount on her tuition or room and board.  Rather, I believe that God showed the first of many reasons why He has led Waverly to Liberty.

I wanted to make sure that amounts were getting drafted from my bank account correctly as the amounts that I thought were on the original plan at the end of January weren't what was coming out of my account.

Once we confirmed what was going on, the advisor shared with Waverly that the best thing that she could do - as an incoming freshman - was to get plugged in somewhere - church, small group, etc.  Waverly indeed has a well-thought out plan for this.  However, he went on to share that he transferred in after his first two years.

He said that he went to a small school in Springfield, Missouri, Baptist Bible College.  We all looked at each other and smiled as our church, North Park Baptist Church, and its founding pastor, Dr. John Gross, and current pastor, Randy Harp, have been heavily involved in - and are graduates of - BBC for parts of 50 or more years.

The advisor went on to say that he was aware of Randy and North Park.

He offered for Waverly to reach out to him or his wife, who was on staff at Thomas Road Baptist Church, whenever she needed.

The other two instances were stories that Waverly related to me over the past three days.

The first was making a connection Friday night at an incoming freshman function at Williams Stadium from a couple of young adults from our church who traveled this summer as part of the Lift Ministries team.  They had told Waverly to be on the lookout for a particular individual with a distinct name.  She didn't believe that she would encounter them so quickly.

The second came on Sunday when she visited Heritage Baptist Church in Lynchburg, which is pastored by the son of the missionaries that she visited in Tanzania.  However, it was the woman who greeted her - upon noticing that she was new - who revealed in the course of the conversation that her parents were friends of more than 25 years of Karen and Sandy Baird.

To me, that is just God revealing Himself to Waverly that she is where God wants her to be right now in her life.  As a parent, that's exciting.

If you read this, please keep Waverly in your prayers.  While she's prepared for today for quite some time, it is still an awesome, new and empowering set of experiences for her.

I think she's up to it, but isn't that what a Dad is supposed to believe?  :-)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday to Grow On ... and From; August 4, 2013

Today is Waverly's last Sunday to sing as part of our church's Praise Team before she heads off to college in Lynchburg, Virginia later this week.

As you can imagine, a flood of thoughts are racing through my mind as I make a best effort to contain my emotions this morning.

I think anybody that reads this and knows me - even a little - has gotten an understanding by now of how proud I am - as well as her entire families - of Waverly.  Yet she will tell you herself that she is thankful that I don't overdo it in communicating it with the world.

She is a delightful, pleasant, thoughtful, educated, talented and beautiful young woman that many people are inspired by and drawn to.

As a parent, that is what you hope for in a child.  Not that they are well-liked and well-loved, but that they are respected and admired for who they are - not necessarily the things that they do.

I saw a friend last Sunday at Houston's Intercontinental Airport, upon arriving back into town from vacation, and he asked, "How did you produce such a beautiful young woman?"  My only reply was, "God!"

As much as I have a hard time accepting praise for the things that I do well, I'm even more challenged in actively taking credit for things.

Of course, I've had a lot of people give me credit - as well as her Mom - for doing a good job in parenting Waverly, but I guess I just view that as something that we're supposed to do.

We're never going to be perfect as parents.  I'm sure that I've made mistakes with her, but the fact that we have an incredible line of communication makes me think that if I have she has forgiven me for them.

On the Fourth of July, Waverly and I were invited by some very good friends of ours to go to a beach house on Jamaica Beach with them that was owned by a junior high classmate of one of them.

In the short six to seven hours that we were there, and as we were getting ready to leave, the wife who owned the beach house told me, "You did a good job in raising Waverly."  One can think that any young person can act well for that short period of time, but if you know Waverly - even a little - you know that it isn't an act at all.

It is those instances where I'm just in awe of who she has become.

Yet at the same time, I'm careful not to try and project what she will become in the future.  I firmly believe that only God knows that.  Therefore, I choose my language carefully when discussing her future - or mine, for that matter.

Absolutely, I would be very proud if she earns her degree and teaching certificate at Liberty University, but I also understand - as a believer - that God may have other plans for her down the road.

I simply think that I understand what her potential is and that I just try to be cognizant of where opportunities may arise for her to be able to reach that potential.

Her Mom and I both have been spending the last 18 years preparing her for what will be a major change in the next four months as she begins her first semester at Liberty.

I'm confident that she'll be successful and that she'll grow, learn and get a better grasp each and every day where she believes God's perfect will is in her life.

On Friday, we went to open up a checking and a savings account for her at a bank that is local to both here and Lynchburg.  Of course, I placed money in there, but it is now where she has the money that she earned from working and some that she was given as graduation and birthday gifts this past May and June.

When we got back to the house, she wanted me to make sure that I showed her how to balance and keep track of what was in the accounts.  Of course I would, but as I told her, I've been guilty of just believing that it would be something that she would easily be able to handle.

I guess that is the kind of confidence that I have in her.

As she sings a special in church today, something that I requested of our church's music director before they left to go on their missions trip to Kenya and Tanzania in June, I think there are three specific memories - aside from her accepting Christ as her personal Savior at youth camp five years ago - that I will remember.

1.)  Sitting in the pew and quietfully and carefully having the conversation with her about starting to go to Sunday School on a regular basis in the Junior High department.  She's much like her Dad in that she's pretty shy until you get to know her well.  Having known that, I didn't "hard sell" it to her, but I knew the type of leadership that we have in our church for our youth.  (Her junior high teachers were mine as well!)

2.)  After a couple of years of being in Sunday School on a regular basis and having watched her grow in her faith and her singing ability, the same type of conversation in the pew took place about perhaps singing in our church's choir.  It took her about a month to warm up to the idea, and for a year she was a dependable member who was there for every practice and worked on her skills (as she was also taking choir in high school at Spring).

It is hard to think of it as a reward when other people leave one church over something that takes place, but Waverly was given the opportunity by our former music director to be one of the three or four who sang in front of the choir during the worship service.  Not only did her confidence continue to soar, but she also embraced the responsibility and the understanding that there were many, many more eyes on her - watching to see that her walk was consistent with her talk.

3.)  The third memory is, well, I guess almost every week.

Yes, I remember her first solo in church and I'm thankful to say that I only missed one in person - because our Pastor wanted her to sing at the last minute when I was already scheduled to be away.  Yet because of technology, I was able to watch it having been recorded on her iPad by my oldest niece.

I have been more committed to be regular and consistent in my church attendance because I haven't wanted to miss too many opportunities to watch Waverly sing and serve God.  My eyes rarely leave her while she's on the platform singing.

And today she'll sing the current song  - #3 on the Christian music charts - by the group Sidewalk Prophets called, "Help Me Find It".

It is a powerful song about seeking God's will in our lives and I think that it is my hope and desire as a parent of a young believer is that she'll constantly live the chorus of this song:

If there’s a road I should walk
Help me find it
If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will
Whatever Your will
Can you help me find it
Can you help me find it

A funny aside, through the tears in writing this, is that this is probably the first time in my life that I can tell you - and/or know of - most all of the songs in the top 20 of the Christian music charts as opposed to the Country music charts.

That seemed to change after we attended a Third Day concert during my trip with her to Liberty University this February.

Especially when life can get a little rough, it is better to be filling your head with uplifting, encouraging music then some or much of the others.

It is a big day for all of us, especially Waverly.

If you happen to take the time to read this, I know that Waverly would covet your prayers for her as she embarks on a major, new chapter of her life in the months and years to come.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Close to a Successful Vacation; July 27, 2013

It is late Saturday evening and Waverly and I are in Pittsburgh ready to fly home in the morning.

It has been another great vacation.

It is hard to think that one can top another when we've done some neat things over the years (Hawaii, Alaska, Glacier, New York City and so on).

I'm very thankful that everything worked out as well as it did, and that I get the opportunity to spend the kind of time that I do with Waverly.

When I was just a little bit older than her, my Pastor at the time, Bro. John Gross, told me about the value of time and the impact it has on having the attention of kids at church youth camp.  He explained to me that the seven (7) days - or 168 hours - is more in volume - and in concentration - than the 1-2 hours per week of Sunday school and church.

I think the same applies for a parent and a child in this situation.

While we drive from place to place on some of our whirlwind adventures, we have the opportunity to share situations that are occuring in our individual lives and I have the chance to share the hopes and desires that I have for her - especially as she heads off to college in less than three weeks now.

In case you weren't paying attention at home, our schedule looked like this:

Sat, July 20 - Fly from Houston to Pittsburgh and drive to Erie.
Sun., July 21 - Run the Presque Isle Half Marathon in Erie and drive to Toronto.
Mon., July 22 - Spend the day in Toronto.
Tue., July 23 - Drive to Ottawa.
Wed., July 24 - Drive to Montreal.
Thu., July 25 - Spend the day in Montreal.
Fri., July 26 - Drive to Tipton, Pennsylvania.
Sat., July 27 - Spend part of the day there and drive to Pittsburgh to fly out.

Parts of nine (9) days.  Eight (8) nights.  Six (6) different hotels, all Marriott properties I might add.  Two border crossings.  Two states.  Two provinces.  Two Halls of Fame (Hockey and the Montreal Canadiens).  Two towers (CN in Toronto and Montreal).  One CFL game.

It actually isn't - or didn't seem - as crazy as it looks.

We did cover a lot of ground on foot in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, though.  I'm guessing on Monday that we probably put 13-15 miles on our feet.  Easy.

When we visited race director Alan Brookes of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in his office in east Toronto late Monday afternoon, we thought about asking for a medal for our performance!

We made a change in plans and saw my grandparents a day earlier than we had planned.

Originally, we were going to drive from Montreal to Toronto, stay at the Renaissance that is at the Rogers Centre, attend the Astros and the Blue Jays game and then get up early, cross the border in Buffalo and then drive in surprise my grandparents.

They are 90 and 88.  My thought was:  the Astros, the Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre will all still be there in ten years, but my grandparents - and Waverly's great-grandparents - won't (or it would be very unlikely for them to live to be that old.)

Even though we spent about three and a half hours or so both days, it was very quality time and is something that they greatly appreciated - and enjoyed.  As did we.

[We also made a run to State College, visited the stores on College Ave. (even buying our first Christmas present), tried to get a picture at the Nittany Lion Statue (but there was construction around it) and ended up getting ice cream at Penn State's Berkey Creamery.]

[And ... we also made it to Texas Hot Dogs at the Park.]

I think Waverly and I figured out that she has been "home" seven or eight times over the past four years.  I'm certainly thankful that I have the time and the resources to be able to make sure she gets back to see them as much as she has.

She'll be closer when she goes to Virginia (and Liberty University), but it will be a little bit of a ways for her to drive right now and visit.

I'm very, very blessed, and I try not to ever lose sight of what opportunities that I've been given and that Waverly has been able to experience over her first 18 years of life.

If you're reading this before Sunday morning, please pray that we can get on the earlier flight tomorrow morning so that we won't be rushing to church.  Our original flight is scheduled to land at 9:15 a.m., which should give us time to get there before 10:30 a.m. so Waverly can sing on the platform with the Praise Team, but prayers for safety, of course, and free from delays would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, July 19, 2013

On The Cusp of Vacation; July 19, 2013


The word itself generates a smile just thinking about it - even before the planning and the execution of the time spent takes place.

I look forward to this time every summer.  It means that Waverly and I get the opportunity to explore some part of the world.  Well, North America, for me, thank you.

She's already had a busy summer as she prepares to head off to college at Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia) in three to four weeks.

A church missions trip took her to Kenya and Tanzania in early June after her high school graduation, followed by church youth camp at Le Tourneau University in Longview this past week.

We've taken an annual trip pretty much every year since she was in grade school.

It has landed her in 45 or 46 different states, I believe.  (Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and North Dakota have eluded her, but she has British Columbia to her credit.)

If all goes well, she'll be able to add Ontario (Toronto and Ottawa) and Quebec (Montreal) to the mix this week.

We'll fly in and out of Pittsburgh, stop in Erie Saturday night for me to run the Presque Isle Half Marathon there on Sunday and then on to Toronto through Buffalo.

We've been up in the Buffalo area in the past while taking in Niagara Falls many years ago.

That was an epic trip where we flew into La Guardia, drove out there to see the Falls and then hit every northeastern state with the exception of Rhode Island over the course of the week.

The last two summers it has been Hawaii and Alaska.  Very thankful to have been able to have the time and resources to be able to make these trips happen.

If you're reading this, please keep us in your prayers as we travel.  Just simply for safety.

As I was driving into work on Thursday, I was listening to KSBJ and they were talking about children's most vivid memories were those from summer vacation.  Of course, it put a smile on my face - in the midst of a bunch of A.J. Foyt wannabes - to think of all of the great times that we've been able to enjoy.

We keep our schedule pretty fluid.

We have hotels booked in particular cities, but the details we hammer out day to day.

We're also going to try to run each day while we are in the various major cities.  Let's hope we succeed.

I'm going to get the opportunity, I hope, to see both a Canadian Football League game Thursday night in Montreal and then a Major League Baseball game - involving the Houston Astros even - on Friday night in Toronto.

It will be my first time back in Canada in six years after working a year and a half in Vancouver, British Columbia, and I'm very much looking forward to the week ahead.

I'll try to blog a little each day.  I hope that you'll follow along on the journey.

- Jon

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Thoughts; June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day.  It was indeed happy, but a bit sad too.

As I've mentioned many times here, my desire is to write more, but it seems like life gets in the way.

However, I enjoy taking the time to document my thoughts, including the struggles and the joys.

I'm a very blessed man, even though there are things that have happened in my life that may indicate failure.  I didn't say I was perfect or not, but still - through it all - blessed.

I think what today has taught me is the importance of openly communicating how you feel towards people who take the boldness to do the same unto you.

That seems to be the theme which resonates through the day.

My day started early, as I couldn't sleep.  And I haven't been sleeping well this past week with Waverly gone on her missions trip to Kenya and Tanzania, but it isn't because I'm worried about her in any way, shape or form.

Sure, there are many risks, but that is why I trust God and those who are making decisions on my behalf these two weeks while she is gone.

And perhaps that is it -- that I know that I'm not able to fill that role of being ready to meet her needs, regardless of the day or hour.  Or maybe God is trying to tell me to take a well-deserved rest.

I'm sure that God will continue to reveal it to me, and draw me away from some of the time that I wasted earlier in the week.

I was able to communicate with a high school classmate very, very early as well as watch a Christian friend of mine from the triathlon community as he was delivering a keynote speech at a major IT conference.  I sent him a tweet that I would gladly yield the microphone at a race to him, but just now I also realized why a friend - who lost a loved one about this time two years ago - entrusted him to communicate on their behalf.

A class act and even a classier man who has been supportive and encouraging to me and my daughter while I was villified by a few in a mutual athletic community.

(As I was writing this, at this juncture, I checked my e-mail and I had something in my box that brought together what I just wrote above.  Wow.)

I went to church this morning buffeted by online communications expressing my thankfulness of being given the opportunity to be a father as well as receiving public praise from my daughter.  Very humbling, yet very thankful.

My parents have had a challenging week and my Dad wasn't able to make it to this morning's service, but my Mom was there.  While communicating with Waverly the day before, I asked her to pray for them both.

My prayer and desire for both of them is to put their faith in action with a POSITIVE spirit that only they both can initiate and make happen.

The rest of my day was one of rest and reflection.  I took a nap mid-day.  Does that mean I'm getting old?  I hope not.  I don't feel my age.

Reflection, however, in that I feel as if I'm losing one of my best friends.

There's a distance that is coming into play in that relationship, but because of an extenuating circumstance that is in the middle of it that I feel like I need to let things play themselves out.

I saw a family member of theirs in my church this morning getting up from the altar and I stopped - during the invitation - to take the time to pray for this individual as well as the person that is part of that circumstance.

It's all good and I'm just going to give that situation to God and let Him have it.

Twice within the last month with more than one person I've reached out to people and have been very open and heartfelt with no expectations other than an acknowledgement of the communication or perhaps a statement that they understand.

Yet I received neither.  Could they have not received those respective communications?  Possibly, but I just sense that they have and haven't reached out to attempt to respond to them.

As I shared with a mutual colleague, I'm made to feel on the defensive even though I was the one who reached out to bring clarity to an awkward feeling.

I will stand down and walk away.  I will never force anything again with people and, of course, I try here to make sense of it all in a language that is loving and not destructive.

I'm trying to learn from God to be even more patient and reflective, yet there are pangs of loneliness.

However, a Third Day song, "Call My Name", this evening reminded me that He provides me what I need when I need it:

It's been so long since
You felt like you were loved
So what went wrong
But do you know
There's a place where you belong
Here in My Arms

When you feel like you're alone in your sadness
It seems like no one else in this whole world cares
And you want to get away from the madness
You just call My name and I'll be there
You just call My name and I'll be there

The pain inside
Has erased your hope for love
Soon you will find
That I'll give you all
That your heart could ever want
And so much more


You just call My name
You just call My name
Call My name say it now
I want you to never doubt
The love I have for you is so alive
Call My name say it now
I want you to never doubt
The love I have for you is so alive

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

I think one of the greatest things that has helped me the past four months is having the boldness to attend a Third Day concert at Liberty with my daughter.

I can honestly say that I don't think that I've heard any more than 20 country and western songs since then.  I've decided to try and fill my head - and heart - with more positive and uplifting music and messages.

Coming back to Waverly, it was such a treat to talk with her one-on-one on Face Time from Tanzania.  Wow!  She inspires me.

As I shared with a very good friend of mine later in the evening, who has two precious young girls of his own, that it is great knowing that your children are working to pursue God's perfect will in their life.

I actually had the boldness - and I'm sure she understands - to say to her that I didn't "miss" her so to speak because I was so excited for the life she was choosing to live out.

Yet I can't wait to spend hours and hours with her hearing about everything that took place on the trip and for her to decompress all of the things that she has had the opportunity to witness.

I've even encouraged her to blog, in a sense, because I believe that she has - and will in the future - so much to share.

Her heart is incredibly big and I'm so honored to have played a small part in that.

One of the things that I know will sustain me when she is off to college are the praise and worship songs that she has sang at church - as well as the special music.  When I hear those songs on the radio, my eyes get moist and my heart wells up in pride.

That one song this evening was Matt Redman's "You Never Let Go".  It took me ten minutes to look it up to remember.  What's this about short-term memory again?

I'll close with this:  it was not lost on me today of those who have either lost their children or their parents, particularly their fathers.

I thought about a number of folks specifically and communicated directly with a couple of those people who had lost a dear loved one in their life.

I'm thankful to have both my father, 66, and grandfather, 90, alive as well as my 18-year-old daughter.  To have that makes all else small in the grand scheme of life.

I'm also thankful for those in my life who love me - as family or friend - and make the effort to either reach out and/or reciprocate what love was extended to them from me.

That's being blessed.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Reflections; May 26, 2013

It is quiet here.  It is Sunday night and my daughter is at her Mom's parents spending the night.

It is how it is going to be here in three months as she heads off to college.

It is exciting and bittersweet, all at once.

I'm a very simple man.  I will not apologize for that.  I'm not for everyone - and sometimes I wonder if I'm for anyone - other than my parents and my daughter.

Some days life, emotionally, that is, is pretty challenging.

This weekend, though, has been good.

I had the chance - by race announcing - to support a new race in Montgomery on Saturday morning for a community that continues to mourn the loss of a second sister to a single family.

There were some minor hiccups, but nothing that ruined the spirit of the day.

I got to work with some great partners - the individual who supplied the sound (who has taken care of me at a number of other races and made me sound good) as well as the race timing company.

I believe that we were all able to provide a level of support that the new race director didn't have to worry about.

Today, our church had its graduation ceremony for its high school and college seniors.  My daughter was part of that group and she was asked by our Pastor to sing a solo.

She chose Francesca Battistelli's "It's Your Life", which was very fitting, given the day.

It is very satisfying to see how decisions you've made as a father - and where your heart's been led - have influenced your child and their decision-making.

However, I try not to force one day ahead of what she is experiencing today - other than to plan, of course.  Which is an appropriate exercise; however, I'm still excited about what God has in store for her in the years to come.

Me?  It is going to be a little bit of an adjustment.  I certainly have to get stronger and I believe that I have.

I've had to make some recent decisions that may have a reprecussion in a community that I'm a member of, but I can't leave myself unreasonably vulnerable again like I once did.

I once cost myself precious time with my daughter and I can't allow that to happen again.

When I meet people, right or wrong, I consider them a friend and I attempt to extend to them the same type of friendship that I have with my best friends.

Why shouldn't I attempt to give them - or everybody - my best?

Isn't this what God would want for us to do?

Is it risky?  Could I get hurt?  Yes, on both counts.  But at the end of the day, there's absolutely no regrets.  I get joy of being able to make that attempt to be everything I could, if they accepted it.  And that's the key point:  if the other person accepts it.

I had one situation where my daughter asked me, "Dad, why do you keep going back to that situation?"  And I think I remember my response to be, "I hate to feel as if I'm giving up on people."

Most people will - and reciprocate it appropriately.  A few won't, for whatever reason.

I just don't want this most recent situation to endanger my friendship with the person that knows the most about me short of my daughter.

We'll see.  I just have to pray that God takes care of everything.  In the meantime, I'll remove myself from some situations and just accept that it is what comes with the territory in trying to bring clarity to a situation that was troubling me.

It seemed that a person was seeking out my friendship perhaps, but when I tried to reach out, verify and act upon it ... I've been met with absolute silence.

Disappointing, for sure.  Expected?  Yes, kind of.

Without sounding like a braggard, it's their loss.  There's a lot of things that I'm not, but I have some admirable qualities about myself that are part of a healthy friendship.

I'll continue to look for ways to serve other people as God wants us to do.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day; May 12, 2013

Today’s Mother’s Day and I had the opportunity to honor my Mom by being in church with her.

The last time that I remember not being there was totally by accident.  I scheduled the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, which I think was in 2004.  It was in the first year or two that I started to run and it, of course, was a new high for me.

It was my fourth half marathon in five months (Houston, Little Rock and Columbus, Ohio being the other three).  She understood, often as a Mother does.

She was also there when I had the courage to run my first race – the four-miler at the Houston Marathon more than 10 years ago.  My daughter got sick so Mom stayed home with her and like a small child, I wanted my Mom to go with me to ensure that everything would be all right.

It was, of course, and I was able to take in an activity that has brought much into the world of my daughter – physically, emotionally, developmentally and eventually, spiritually.

Back to today … being there with them is the least that I can do, even though I fail daily in other areas in my life.  (Things, of course, that generally only God knows about.)

The greatest thing that my Mom gave me is the ability to love.

It is a great ability, and one that I’m thankful for, but what hurts is when that love that I offer to others is rejected or not fully reciprocated.  And that love isn’t necessarily a relationship type of love, but one of a deep, meaningful friendship.

Those times are the most sorrowful in my life and I’m thankful that God’s love is what allows me to function from day to day, when those times occur.

The love that my Mom imparted in me is what has allowed me to love my daughter unconditionally, and I’m thankful for it.

My Mom didn’t have a lot materially growing up.  Her older sister, who passed on way, way too soon (1990, I think), raised her the last two years before she married my father, and then had me.

I think this is why that I’m generally happy with what I have and that I don’t have to have the next big thing.  (Heck, for the moment, I’m still operating with a flip phone.  That generated a fun conversation yesterday morning with friends who are runners, but there are other practical folks still around like me.)

While in church this morning, I thought, though, how my Mom hasn’t had her Mom since she was a sophomore in high school – coming up close to 50 years.

I guess there’s one thing that I’m thankful for my parents for having me really, really early is that it is likely that I won’t live that long after she has passed on to have to endure such a loss.

I know that there was one other situation that troubled my Mom today, but it went unspoken although I could see it in her eyes.

It hurt me a little bit too.  However, there are things that I can’t control nor do I have complete knowledge of.

I thought of others whose mothers have passed on as well as those who have lost children before their time.  Our pastor also asked everyone to pray for those who couldn’t have children – and enjoy that gift from God.

Society, I suppose, says that I shouldn’t be as sensitive as a man as what I am, but I would like to think that it has given me a fighting chance of being a decent father to my daughter.

There are areas that I could have been more Christ-like, and it isn’t that I didn’t have the boldness but that just trying to remain happy and stable over the years – of having love rejected close to home – I loved her with everything I had.

Our pastor’s message today – “How to say, “Are you worth it?” - was the second on parenting and I’m thankful that I believe that I got some of it right.

Introduction:  Every child has four basic needs that should be met by their parents – Security, Self-Worth, Significance and Love.

Reality:  If they don’t find these at home, they will find them somewhere.

Principle:  Boys and girls have these needs fulfilled through one basic question they need answered by their parents.  A boy’s question, “Do I have what it takes (to be a man)?”  The end result is that “he is looking to impress.”  While a girl’s question is, “Am I lovely?”  With that she is trying to capture your attention.

Biblical Truth:  God’s greatest desire for parents is to raise Godly children.

“Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife?  In body and spirit you are his.  And what does he want?  Godly children from your union.  So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.”  Malachi 2:15 (NLT).

How to Bring Out the Best in Your Kids

Accept their uniqueness.  (I Corinthians 12:6; Galatians 6:4)

Affirm their value.  (Psalms 139:13-14; Proverbs 12:25)

Correct them without condemning them.  (Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 13:24; Ephesians 6:4, 4:29)

Love them unconditionally.  (Ephesians 4:32; I Corinthians 13:7)

Final Thought:  More of parenting is caught than taught (meaning that children pick more up of what they see behavior that a parent models as opposed to what a parent teaches a child.)

I would like to think that I was able to provide those four needs and that my daughter only augmented those through her involvement in our church’s youth activities and choir – and didn’t go seek them in the world.

I think the question of whether she knows that from her parents that she is lovely or not is easily answered.  She’s lovely inside and out.

I think God’s desire was met, through His will, but that the production of a Godly child was done separately by her parents not together.

I believe that I definitely got the last of the four points correct and that I did the other three reasonably well.  I’m sure, though, that I could have improved in those three areas.  It is likely that all parents can.

Since I don’t publicize this blog, there are many that will never read it – and actually that’s OK because it is another way for me to try and survive in this world.

I can’t take time to individually wish every Mom out there that I know Happy Mother’s Day and I think – for me – posting a blanket “Happy Mother’s Day” Facebook status would go over like a lead balloon and to some seem insincere.

However, there are those that I wish it was appropriate for me to hope that they have had a good Mother’s Day today because I know how much they love their children – in how much they talk about them without necessarily bragging on them.  To me, that speaks volumes.

I'll regret not doing so because I fear that they'll take it the wrong way, but I -- and God -- know(s) what was in my heart.

So all I can do is pray that they’re getting all of their needs met by God through the love of their children.  I suppose it is the least that I can do.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Keep Slugging Away; April 25, 2013

Yes, Mr. Anti-Social has become even more so in the last week.

I have kind of gone on a self-imposed social media blackout (as stated earlier) -- with the exception of signing on to either Facebook or Twitter to deliver information that I have a responsibility to for particular clients, such as RAS or TRT.

Otherwise, I just choose not to interact for awhile.  I think at times I've become co-dependent (via these mediums) upon (or in) the lives of others -- and in the long run, that isn't healthy.

I believe that I expect people to reciprocate on my terms - and often they can't, won't or don't know (or care) what the expectation that's to be met.

And, of course, the fear is (for me) that people won't; therefore, it is easier to simply remove myself from what I believe to be an even unhealthier situation -- and just focus on taking care of me.

Sounds selfish, but I believe it to be more self-preservation than anything else.

Some of it also emanates from watching what transpired in those mediums (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) as it related to the tragedies in Boston and West, Texas.

There was a lot of great humanity displayed.  That's for certain.  However, there were a few things that disappointed me too, which was surprisingly disheartening.

Oh well, time to keep slugging away!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Dollar Short; April 23, 2013

Since I've gone into a self-imposed social media blackout, I've really limited my online exposure to checking e-mail and doing the things necessary to support me!  :) 

It has already proven to be a needed mental break and one I need to figure out how to continue into the future.

Having been gone for most of four days (Friday-Monday), I took the opportunity to take Waverly out to dinner Monday evening.

We went to one of our favorite places to eat, BJ's Brewhouse in Shenandoah. 

I think that this time is what I will miss the most when she goes off to school in August at Liberty University.

I think taking - and making - time like this is what has made our father-daughter relationship as special as I believe it is.  Some might say it is what I should do regardless.  That may be true, but I cherish the time nonetheless.

We had a chance to visit about what was left to transpire during her final six weeks of high school and talked about many things as she continues to prepare for her first semester at Liberty. 

It is an exciting time in her life and she's doing an excellent job in planning for those next stages in it.

The exchange with the server, though, was quite interesting, and I didn't get a good vibe from the beginning.

She was one of those that gives you the impression that it is "just a job" to them. 

Nonetheless, we were well-waited on even though we didn't have an appetizer, dessert or drinks (not that Waverly can or would - and I can, but don't).

The bill was $26.20 and I gave the server two 20-dollar bills.  My plan was once I got change back was to tip the server $5 - more than 20% of the amount before taxes.

When she brought the portfolio back, there was $12.80 in change and not $13.80. 

I looked over it for awhile to make sure that a dollar bill didn't slip out somewhere and even had Waverly look at it to be sure that I didn't mess anything up (and that I was counting it right!)

After a minute or two of considering my options, I said to Waverly that I wasn't going to worry over a dollar and that if there was an irregularity that it would be on the server's conscious, not mine. 

So I placed my tip ($5, as planned) in the portfolio, closed it and just as I was beginning to move out of the booth, the server asked, "Did I not give you the right change?"

It wasn't, "Is there a problem?" or "You look troubled, 'How can I help?'", but rather the aforementioned question.

I informed her that it was short a dollar.  She offered to give it to me, but I refused and we politely left (but also didn't look back). 

Maybe I was weak and should have pushed the issue, but it wasn't worth the drama and the uneasiness that went with it even though I know that it was short.

Perhaps it was an honest mistake.  And if so, maybe she needed that dollar yesterday more than I did.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Social Media Timeout ... Again; April 22, 2013

Although it doesn't tell everything, social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) can tell a lot about a person. 

Yes, me included.

The biggest challenges that I encounter, especially on Facebook, are the associations that people have. 

And based on some encounters I've had with just one or two people (maybe throw in a third), Facebook, without even making a concerted effort, yields a road map of exactly 1.) who you can and can't trust and 2.) who else you need to distance yourself from - and why.

The thing is:  None of this will ever change.  And honestly, there's nothing that I can do about it.

So what am I to do?  Unplug for awhile, and as often as necessary to maintain a level of sanity.

So I'll try it again and see if the outcomes are any better.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bumping Off Twitter; March 12, 2013

Yes, I just went ahead and deactivated the Twitter feed as I suggested that I might.

I had thrown some general, open-ended questions out there to maybe drive a little discussion.  Nothing.  The birds are still chirping.

I don't want to just be known for what interesting information I can come up and publish.  I've actually felt that for a long time.

While I might be a very simple person, if people can't make an effort to relate on more than that then maybe there are some situations with particular people that need reconsideration.

I guess I just didn't recall signing up to be in a fishbowl, and, at the same time, I wasn't comfortable with people just lurking out there and me knowing who they are.  Like I said, I normally didn't look to see who was following me, but the last couple of additions left me rattled a little bit.

I could have "bumped" them off, but that just starts all kinds of talk about me - which is something I don't want.

Even though my Facebook page and Twitter account is wide-open, if somebody is going to check it out without engaging me, don't friend or follow me.  Please, that is.

It is all tempered, I believe, by a bad situation where it seemed that somebody was quietly and closely watching my status updates.  Especially when I received a note that said, "I was just worried about you, and missed reading your posts on FB."  Then, and in the end, they never really engaged much to a level of friendship beyond that.

And it isn't something that I want to invest energy into again and have similar results. 

Maybe a flawed approach, but it is safer - emotionally - to find something - as opposed to somebody - to throw myself into then as opposed to trying to deal with people that can't or won't engage.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Facebook vs. Twitter; March 4, 2013

“Facebook is where you find the people you know.  Twitter is where you find the people you should know.”

I heard this said – or something very similar – this past Saturday afternoon. 

Or rather put, the latter may also be – as I read in an article where I found that quote above – “to follow people you find interesting or have the same interests as you”.

There was a time, under another handle (my original @walksports), that I used it to “anonymously” vent to respond to and deal with some hurts that I believed had been levied against me. 

That was, of course, a major, major mistake. 

Now I do much, much less of that, because the individuals who caused the hurt have gone away, but it still makes me curious why people choose to follow me there.

I guess the reason that I’m even writing about this is because somebody that I know in person – but not too well – started to follow me on Twitter Sunday evening (after being around them in person two consecutive days a little bit more than before), but did not send a friend request on Facebook (which is really OK).

And it was that same person, when speaking directly to somebody that I consider a friend, who referred to the quote above.

So is it that you can look inside somebody’s fishbowl on Twitter and not become emotionally attached, but with Facebook it is as if you’re addicted – hanging on their every movement?

Well, maybe not that involved, but you get the idea of the difference between the two.

I kind of know, and this is what the article states, pretty much everyone that is a Facebook friend, but I’d have to look and really see who was following me on Twitter.  The only way I even know sometimes is if I go to the associated e-mail account to see who states that they are starting to follow me.  That is actually how I discovered this individual.

I guess I feel like I’m auditioning to be a friend to this individual, which is a bit odd.

I hope I don’t scare them off. 

Why?  Because I’m actually a little bit more raw – and random – in Twitter.  If I see a funny license plate, I’ll tweet it.  Or a church sign with a funny or thought-provoking message.

My Facebook is just as open, though, as Twitter is.  (In fact, some of my Facebook statuses flow right over to Twitter.)  There might be 1 in 1,000 status updates, etc. that is hidden to “friends” or “friends of friends”.

In closing, I will say this about Twitter:  I typically get more useful information from Twitter than I do Facebook these days, but it seems I follow much more on Twitter and therefore don’t get to everything that I want to see.

And the things that I post there are more flippant whereas I post with intention on Facebook.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cautiously Excited Father; February 17, 2013

I can't begin to describe what an humbling feeling it is to see the incredible growth a beautiful young woman has had in her life.

I can certainly tell you that I've been the one that has been blessed -- and I'm the one that is supposed to be leading her.

I remember a time not too long ago -- just less than five years ago -- when Waverly shied away from singing the National Anthem.

This was in the middle of nowhere (figuratively, of course) in Groveton, Texas at a marathon and half marathon that numbered no more than 300 participants.

She had sang it once before in October 2007 at the Huntsville Half Marathon, when she was a sixth grader.

Since then, as many of you know, she has performed the Anthem countless time in crowds numbering five to six thousand and has done so flawlessly.

So I am just in awe - as her father - that she will put herself out there in front of a skilled evaluator and audition for one of Liberty University's Ministry Teams on Friday when I travel with her to for me to take a look at the campus in Virginia.

Even though I'm not looking too forward to August 14, 2013, the day I have to leave her there, I know in my heart - and I truly believe - that this is where God wants Waverly to be.

My prayer is that, regardless of the outcome, God will continue to show her exactly where she needs to be to accomplish His perfect will for her life.

Please keep her in your prayers that she settle on a song that she's comfortable with and that she enjoys singing -- and that she'll walk away from the audition with a positive experience to continue to learn and grow from.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spring, Texas; January 22, 2013

It has been awhile since I've been out here.  Life has gotten in the way a little bit.  So back to making an effort to reflect and challenge myself going forward.

Since the last time I checked in, I've turned a year older.  46.  Can't be all that bad, right?  Let's hope not.  I don't feel it at all, and I'm thankful for that.

As I have mentioned before, this devotional from Tony Dungy, "Uncommon Life:  Daily Challenge", is what I've been using to guide my writings and thought processes.

Today's heading was this:  "Just say a simple, "Yes, I will," or "No, I won't."  Anything beyond this is from the evil one."  Matthew 5:37.

Dungy is talking about honesty in his book, but I read further down in my King James Version Bible to verse 44.

It says, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;"

That's tough to do, but sometimes it is the only way to combat those feelings of anger and disappointment overwhelm you.

In church this past Sunday, I continue to pray for somebody for what they have experienced in life and asked God to show His love to them.

So an interesting mental sidebar, but back to honesty.

I've struggled with this only in the areas of being fearful and when I think others won't fully understand my actions.

Dungy wrote, "Honesty is a component of a person's character that is remembered far longer than an individual's words, talents, or accomplishments.  All those things can carry a person to a point, but ultimately, without honing that deep core of honest, they will all be for naught."

In the "Uncommon Key", Dungy added, "Being less than honest with others will permanently mark your character if you don't change."

I'll say that there have been a few people that again I didn't think at the moment in time would understand where I was in my life and why I was where I was in that instant that I was communicating with them.  Therefore, I didn't tell the story as it was.

Yes, it was wrong of me.  One I eventually told.  The other I have distanced myself from - and it isn't anything that they've done wrong.  They're a great person and one that I clearly don't measure up to.

This past Saturday, I had lunch with a friend who I think may have had a question in their mind about me personally.  When they had asked me questions in the past, I had answered them truthfully, but very, very narrowly in such a way that they interpreted my life status as one thing because that is actually how I lived my life day to day.

However, the paperwork was something that was still actually different.

Situations in our lives allowed us to spend a little time together getting caught up and in an earlier e-mail communication, I had told them that I wanted to clear up any "grey areas".

I did.  I sat across the table from them, looked them in the eye and told them the truth.

They're more than willing to ask me any question at any time in the future because I have nothing to hide from them, nor do I want to.  I want this individual to trust me the way that they originally did.

As I do with others.

The end of Matthew 5 (verse 48) says, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."  That's the standard to strive for.

And when we fall short, God gives us another chance - if we choose to exercise it - to be honest with Him in seeking forgiveness for our sin.