Friday, February 25, 2011

Keeping Your Eye On The Ball

I started writing this blog in November, 2010. My "New Years" resolution was to write this blog and expound upon issues that dealt with life, love and addiction. One year. Well, I kept it up now for about 15 months and I've gotten some good feedback from folks, which I appreciate.

I started the blog to promote my new CD, "12 Steps And A Winding Road"... and also, to try and "make a difference" in someone else's life. I hope I have succeeded, at least to a small degree.

My first blog was called, "Barn Building". It was inspired by something my son Nate told me about the Amish and how, whenever adversity strikes in the community, or if they simply need it, they get together and work together to make a positive difference. A lot of the time they get together to "build a barn" for someone in the community. Nate told me that he was taking a year of barn-building,... just making himself available to anyone who needed a hand, if he was able to do it. I thought that was pretty admirable. It motivated me to try and do the same thing with my music.

So, this past year I've sort of "put myself out there", making myself available to people, especially as far as my music ministry goes. I've had some good response, but I must admit, for the most part, as I mentioned in a previous blog, I've also had a lot of doors that simply didn't open. Am I disillusioned? Yea, I am somewhat. But, I made a commitment to at least try, and I'm still as willing as ever to be of service.

I wrote a blog called, "The One Thing Rule", about having one thing that you make a commitment to accomplish. That "one thing" might be accomplished in a day, or a week, or a month, or even a year.... but, it is something that you keep on your radar and try to do. If it's a year then you have to handle it in bite-size chunks so it doesn't overwhelm you. That's the way it was the year I recorded the 12-Steps CD.... a bit here and a bit there until I finally got it done.

This year my goal is to get rid of "stuff" in my life that doesn't need to be there. The baggage that somehow all of us acquire that sort of "weighs down" our lives. I want to live a bit more "clutter free".

Do you know what your "baggage" is? Most of the time it's simply "stuff", but, it might even be a relationship with someone who is dragging you down. People can do that. Addicts are told that they need "new playmates" and a "new playground". This is important if they are to achieve any success at sobriety. But, even if you don't consider yourself an "addict", there might be the possibility that, at least in some regard, you might want to consider changing playmates or playgrounds, just for the sake of good health or sanity. This doesn't mean necessarily that you desert your friend(s) altogether. It might simply mean that you need to distance yourself from a particular relationship that is hindering your physical or mental health. Something to think about anyway.

So,... whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, whether it's building a barn, keeping sobriety, setting any particular goal,.. it's good to remember to keep your eye on the it doesn't knock you in the head...

If you know of someone who might be interested in my 12-Step music CD, I have made it available on Ebay and plan to keep it on there as long as it seems feasible to do so. You can go to ebay and simply type in the words: 12 Steps And A Winding Road

Thanks again for all your good comments over the year. You've been an encouragement to me.
I may change things up a bit and, though not altogether stopping the blog, I may just limit it to times when I think I have something useful to say and not simply put it out there every week.
If you have some suggestions I'd love to hear them....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Easily Offended?

Offend...Defined as:

"To affront, hurt the feelings of someone; to arouse feelings of disgust in; to act contrary to law, moral principal etc; to cause resentment. (Websters)

"A brother (or sister) offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle".... Proverbs 18:19

I think I offended someone recently.

I got an email from one of my readers telling me to "take me off your list" for 12stepsandawindingroad.

My immediate reaction was, "Well... fine then... done!".... And I simply deleted their name.

A few days later, as I thought about it a bit more, I wish I would have handled it differently. I wish I would have gotten in touch with this person and asked them exactly what I had said in my blog that offended them. I thought the particular blog that weekend had been pretty innocuous, nothing controversial about it at all (I thought). But, there must have been that one line or two that they read which somehow triggered this reaction.

It's easy to offend someone, even when it's not our intention to do so. There have been cases where I have purposely offended someone just because I didn't like them or their position on a subject and I really didn't care whether they were offended or not. I'm not proud of it, ... I think it's just part of the human (fallen) condition.

A few years ago I had a casual business relationship with a company I did a small amount of work for. One day, the business owner was dealing with a customer in a particularly unhelpful way. I thought I was going to be "helpful" and so I told the business owner that there might have been a better way to handle the situation. Bad move. I offended him. His only thought was that I was trying to tell him how to run his business. I thought of it only as a suggestion,... he took it as a hostile takeover.
A couple of days later I called him and apologized for interfering. His response?... "Yea,.. O.K."... And he never called me again to do any work for him. So, obviously, as King Solomon said in Proverbs 18.... The bars to the castle were locked and in place. There was no winning this person's favor.

The longer I travel down this road of life I see how easily our words, and especially, our motives, can be misconstrued. Even though we may mean well when we say certain things, most of the time trying to be helpful and offer what we consider "constructive criticism", we end up simply offending the other person. Sometimes it seems like life is like walking a tightrope across a great chasm... one small slip and it's, as the old saying goes,... all over but the shouting.

I'm sorry that I offended this particular reader with something I said in a blog. I really wish I had pursued it and found out exactly what it was. Perhaps I could have explained things better, or at least had a dialogue.
I guess when one says more than most about life, love and addiction issues, there are going to be some points of contention. I just hope that next time the person writes me a personal note and we can discuss it in an open, honest fashion. I can always be reached at this email address:

I hope this email address doesn't offend anyone;.... you know... coloring "Moses".
(Could I be belittling a beloved Bible Character?)....

One never knows ....unless they ask.....

Monday, February 7, 2011


Stuff...(stuff)..stack it on, stack it on up

Stuff...never gonna ever get enough stuff

Oh it's treasure til' it's mine then it ain't worth a dime

It's stuff (stuff) spreading like weeds

Dragging me under in an endless seas of stuff

(Stuff) There ain't no end

Got to get a bigger place so I can move in...

More stuff...

From the song: "Stuff" by Diamond Rio

People love collecting things.

One of my favorite television shows is called, "American Pickers". It is a show about two guys who travel the country looking through old barns and building where people have spent a lifetime collecing "treasure".... old toys and cars and signs and some really crazy stuff. It's interesting to see all the stuff that people accumulate over a lifetime. The "pickers" try to buy the various items so they can re-sell the stuff at their own flea-market type of store....
It seems most of the collectors are older guys and gals, coming to the end of their lives, so they are ready to part with some of their things. Some of their things,... not all.. just "some". It's still amazing to me the stuff they just can't let go of.

I remember when Beanie Babies were the big "collectible". Folks were trading them, buying them, making showcases for them in their homes. They were all over the place,.. and they weren't, as I recall,.... cheap.

Now you can go into about any thrift store and find them. Pitiful little things,...lambs and frogs and squirrels and bunnies and lobsters. Once dearly treasured and loved,.. now abandoned by their owners on the ash-heap of history.

Then there was the big baseball card bonanza. I particularly remember that one because my kids were at the age when they just "had" to have that Jose Conseco rookie card. The one that sold for about 70 bucks. I think it's now worth about a nickel, especially since that game where Jose tried to catch the outfield fly with the top of his head. And Mark McGwire. Well,... his card used to be on steroids. Now it's just a skinny little cardboard reminder of the once heralded superstar.


I collect (collected).... record albums. You probably remember the old, black vinyl records with all the cool artwork and inserts.... and clicks and pops and "white noise".... being "spun"on the old turntables. I still love the smell of the old vinyl records, and, occasionally will rummage through an old stack at a garage sale, searching for that elusive "Butcher Cover" album. (Google it, young'uns).


As I've gotten older I've had to take a serious look at the time I spend on this planet. It's gotten a lot shorter,... and, I hope I've learned to value it a bit more than I have in the past.

I am finding that I no longer have the desire to collect "stuff".

I can just picture my kids or grandkids sitting around sifting through my "stuff" after I'm gone. They're saying things like.... "What is all this junk!"... "What in the world is THIS thing?....and why did dad keep holding onto it?"....

And finally.... "Hey, can you grab another trash-bag? I've gotten these three filled up already?"...


It's sort of an indication of the human condition. We're always trying to fill our lives with "something" that hopefully will give lives some meaning. I think it's our attempt to fill this God-sized hole in our souls.

Whether it's Beanie Babies, old records, baseball cards, cars, old clocks, old lunch-boxes (the list is endless),.... or the next "big thing", whatever it may be, I think it helps to take a step back and look at our lives and what we're doing with our time and talents.

One reason I started writing this blog is to share some of my feelings about life, love, and addiction issues. It's sort of my way of "journaling". When I write about these things, in a lot of ways (most ways), I'm simply preaching to myself or venting, and trying to fumble my way down this road of life the best I know how. I don't want "stuff" to get in the way, as it usually has a way of doing. I want to get the "junk" out of my life so I can move about more freely, have more time to give back a bit of the God-given life that I've been blessed with.

I don't want my grandkids filling up trashbags and thinking....that's my life.

Stuff..... How much of it do we need....really?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Well, Aren't You Special?

If you were to go back ten generations, or 250 years, which is just a blip on the historical time clock, the chance of "you" being born at all is:
1 in 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,00000000000000000000000000000000

That's 6 with one hundred zeros behind it.... (6x10 to the 100th power)....
That's just if you go back a short 250 years.

If you are reading this you've already beaten the odds of being born... which are basically so astronomical that you could simply say.... "zilch"....

But, that's a bit overestimated. These figures simply follow the "father's" contribution to the person you are. They don't take into consideration:

Your mother's contribution....

The men and women who died in war, famine, disease or without offspring... in some generations, 50% of humanity....

men and women who died of natural causes.....

Children who died before reaching reproduction age....

Fetuses and fertilized eggs that died and were naturally aborted....

Remember that particular distant relative of yours who was killed during the Revolutionary War?...Of course you don't. Besides, he DIDN'T get killed. If he HAD been killed, you wouldn't be reading this today.

An average man, age 25 to 30 years old, produces 300 million sperm per day. (Is this the part of the story where you send your children into the other room?).....

An average man, age 30 to 50 years old produces 230 million sperm per day. (Did I mention this was per "day"?)....

Age 50 to 75... 50 million per day. (sorry, old guys... that's life)...Still, 50 MILLION is nothing to sneeze at!)....

Only 1% of all sperm produced have the chance of possibly fertilizing a woman's egg, if they ever arrive at their destination at all...(99% have already dropped out of the race).

Since the average man will have 2 to 3 surviving offspring, (keeping "Octomom" out of the equation).... the fraction of one male sperm (at one given moment in history), resulting in the birth of another human being (that would be "you').. is 1 in ten trillion.

If you consider almost any time in the past and try to calculate the probability of "you" coming into being, even going back just 2 generations, your possibility of existence is so low that it is almost not worth thinking about.

So... why are you thinking about it?... Perhaps because you're reading this blog at a certain date, at a certain time in history, in a particular country, in a particular part of the country, in a particular city, from a particular family.... and you, really, ...given the odds,... shouldn't be.

Now... to get the the point of all of this....

When you wake up every morning, just remember, that you've already beaten astronomical odds just for the opportunity to open your eyes, to take a breath, to live, to pursue a career, to fall in love, to have children... to use your unique opportunity to either be selfish... or self-less. You can run rough-shod over the the amazing grace of God and walk all over other people, ... or you can use the opportunity to serve and really make a difference in someone else's life; Someone who has also beaten the odds of showing up in your life at some point.

So, ... go and hug your wife,... your kids... your husband... your friends... maybe even have a kind word to say to a co-worker.... maybe someone you don't even really like.

They are all special. You're special. Let's try to make the most of what we've been given. If you are reading this, the odds are, .. miraculously... in your (our) favor today...