Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’


I was talking this morning on the phone with an insurance lady that remarked how her grandmother told her that when she was older that the years would just fly by.  Now in her 30’s, the lady was realizing her grandmother was telling the truth.  This year, I turned 53 and time is moving quickly enough that I may soon have to have a conversation with Mr. Einstein about relativity.

Yes, we have come to another end of year.  However, please don’t look forward to my resolutions.  I resolve not to resolve.  After several mistakes as a younger person who said he would never do such and such, just to find out that later he very much was going to do such and such, I no longer try to test God‘s patience, nor my own.  I have a rough idea of the path I should be upon, only enough to see just a few steps in front of me, and there I will go.

No, instead, I am going to reflect a little on this past year and how it has and will shape my new year.  I am learning many new things and realizing that I am not that younger person any more (and my sweetie most likely says, “Thank the Lord!”).  I still haven’t become the person I wish to be, but as the apostle says, “I am daily straining forward to earn the prize”, or something very close to that any way.

This year marked seven years of cycling and five years of running.  Though I was only able to participate in one organized ride and my half marathon this month was cancelled due to the weather, I still ran and biked (and swam) for most of the year.  The discipline I have learned from both is invaluable.  No matter what may occur in daily life, I know I can get up most mornings and either run or ride off the dross (hope I used that word correctly).

In addition, the patience and sometimes just plain fearlessness learned from running helped me to do something I never thought I would be able to do.  I play in a band now.  OK, it’s a church band and I play bass, but it’s music and it’s worship, so there.  In response to a felt need, I started working at the first of the year to put my lackluster efforts at learning guitar into playing bass instead.

I worked with the band leader at our church, who was the bass player also.  I borrowed my daughter’s bass and started to relearn my scales and try to put those to good use in keeping rhythm.  I had the mistaken belief that this was simple since I had less strings and less complexity (4 instead of 6, and country bass).  I did not know what I was thinking. There is so much more to playing bass than just personal proficiency.  Yet, I did not quit.  Learned that one from running.

About May, the band leader said I needed to get ready because in the Fall he would be out some and I should prepare for an audition.  OK.  No problem.  I just needed to get serious.  In September, I started sitting with the band during their Wednesday practice to work on live playing (they played, I struggled to keep up).  I kept my bass unplugged and sat in a pew and followed along.  After a few weeks of this, it was time to put things to the test.

The band leader asked me to plug in and play with them.  It wasn’t the greatest of beginnings, but it began.  The band leader loaned me his bass since it had better tone.  I do think my daughter’s Dean Metalman V-shaped bass still had a little to do with that decision, but I’ll just say it was tone.  The next Sunday, I played for real, on the stage, plugged in, and everything. Very scary, but I survived the audition. My band leader said I could fill in the next Sunday when he was out.

While I survived the next Sunday with the band leader out, I brought back his bass to practice ready to be just the backup bass player.  Nope, not happening.  The band leader had his banjo out and ready to work.  I was in another week, and then another, and then another.  By now it was time to start working on Christmas music.  After a meeting and answering some serious questions, I was accepted.  I became the new bass player. Now, every Sunday it is my responsibility to keep the beat and help with the rhythm so that others can worship as well.

However, I was still playing on a borrowed bass.  Affording a new one was pretty much out of the question for some time.  I wasn’t sure just how to accomplish obtaining a bass that I could call my own.  But, following God and learning to be a runner and a cyclist taught me to rely on God, and determine what was really important.

I had two good six-string electric guitars.  One was a mid-1980’s Fender Stratocaster.  After a lot of thought and more than a little prayer, I sat down one Wednesday after Thanksgiving and put both of them on Craigslist in offer of a trade for a bass.  Within an hour or so, I had an offer of a trade on what looked like a great bass.  I called the guy up and we arranged to meet at my church before starting time.  He looked over both my guitars and even though the Fender had a little cosmetic damage, he was happy to trade.  The bass he traded hadn’t seen play in a year.  I now owned a bass.

Christmas concerts are over.  Candle light services are over.  But, every Sunday comes and I have to be ready to anchor my spot and know my music.  It takes work, like running.  It takes patience, like running.  It takes struggle and endurance, like running.  It takes making mistakes, like running. It takes learning new things and being fearless, like running (and learning to embrace the lycra in cycling).

I have a great year coming in 2014.  I get to get up every morning I wish to and run.  When it warms up, I will get up on Sunday mornings and ride, ride, ride.  I will continue to learn, and practice, and train so that I will be able to “take hold of the prize” as the apostle says.  It’s all a work in progress.  Happy New Year, and Happy Running!

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


Today is Thanksgiving and I am sitting on the couch at my wife’s parent’s house enjoying being around everyone.  Our kids and grandkids will be here later to enjoy food and family.  Yes, this is a cliché Thanksgiving post.

Not everyone is here though.  There has been loss and there is also separation. So, it is not always as easy as it seems, but then for many, holidays are never as Hallmark-y as they make it out to be.

In our bible class at church we are studying John’s gospel.  He’s that “other” guy in the group.  The one that didn’t write like all the rest.  One of John’s repeated motifs is the “I AM” statements from Jesus.  “I AM the Light that has come into the world,” Jesus says.  “I AM the Bread…”, “I AM the Good Shepherd“, and “I AM the Resurrection and the Life”, are also statements of Jesus.  I suppose these hearken back to when Moses was at the burning bush asking God what His name was so that the Hebrews would know whom it is that Moses is talking to them about.  God’s only answer was, “I AM THAT I AM“.  He needed nothing more.

I think that at this time of year, it is good that we see that same simple statement in ourselves and the kind of spiritual power those small words have.  I am…

I am…thankful.  That is the biggest thing for this year.  It has not been easy for me or my family.  Since losing my former job in 2012, I was finally hired after five months of searching by a nearby hospital.  I am thankful for being able to keep a roof over our heads and food upon the table.  My new situation doesn’t allow for much more than that, but we have still been blessed and cared for every day of this past year.  Regardless of how little we had in our pockets, God provided for us all year.  I am thankful for these blessings because I know that others have even less and are still thankful.

I am…a runner.  Didn’t think I would stick that in here, did you?  No matter what has happened this year in other ways, I am still a runner.  I still get up twice during the week to run before the sun is up, and every Saturday I still go out for my long run.  My only race of the year will be in a week at the Dallas Marathon, where I am running the half.  I was fortunate to register back in the Summer and I am looking forward to the race. Yes, I am still a runner.

I am…a cyclist.  Well, we have to keep it going don’t we?  Cycling  is an expensive sport.  However, it can also be simple.  I managed one organized ride in May, but I have still been riding.  I have friends that have gotten up early on Sundays to ride a few miles and when they aren’t available, I realized I could still get up early and ride for myself.  While I don’t ride as many miles as in past years, I still ride and have made a few good routes around town.

I am…a triathlete.  Well, this one is just on faith.  I stopped swimming about a month ago just because it got very boring.  I did manage to make my distance up to a mile a week for a while this year from mid-Summer until Fall.  However, 1800 yards in a 20 yard pool can get very old.  So, I will just sit out for a while until I just have to go back.

I am…still in ministry.  I thought that when we started over at a new church that I would just be “around”.  That isn’t the plan I see.  There have been opportunities all year for ways that I can serve and I have been glad of the opportunities.

Yep, it’s been quite a good year after all.  And, just think: Christmas is just around the corner and many new adventures await.  Happy running, and happy thanksgiving!

 

Read Full Post »


Yes, I know.  I haven’t written a post in a couple of weeks.  It’s been a little hectic around here.  So, I’ll make up for it today.

I have a job, finally.  After a little more than four months of searching, I got a call this week.  However, even that turned out to be a little weird.

Back at the end of November, I interviewed at a nearby hospital.  Most of my experience is doing facility work (electrical, air conditioning, mechanical, etc) in hospitals.  After really striking out looking for IT work, I turned to my old faithful.  However, even that proved to be slightly difficult.  Yet, this job that I applied for seemed to be a bright spot.

It didn’t take them long to call me after I applied on-line and set up an interview.  I went out and met the engineering manager and his foreman.  We talked for a good while.  I say “we” talked.  They did most of the talking.  I just responded when needed.  They seemed fairly impressed with my experience and the three of us got along well.  They were looking for someone to handle the HVAC systems (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) for the hospital as well as the refrigeration needs.  No problem.  That’s right up my alley.

My little area of the crew would consist of myself and another technician.  They were interested in someone that could help mentor and train the other tech as he was fairly new to the trade.  There is also a tech that takes care of the preventive maintenance.  It’s a small-er hospital so there is a good deal of cross over in trades and work.  I kind of liked the environment and walked around with the other tech and got to know him.  It sounded like a very good fit.

The only drawback to the job was that it was at a much lower pay rate than I have had.  But, I was willing to work there and see how things went.  I waited for them to make a decision and even called back a few times.  The manager said on my last call that he thought I was number two for the job, but he wasn’t sure if the other guy would take the job.  Since I heard nothing more, I blew it off and kept looking.

Near the end of December, I applied at an electrical contractor I knew of and another local hospital.  The other hospital job sounded promising and would have been a better paying job.  I was hopeful, but wasn’t hearing back.  I received a call from the electrical contractor last week to come in and start orientation.  With no other prospects, I decided to start.  I went in and did the paperwork, safety training, and my physical.  I would be assigned to a project manager the next day.  When I got home, I put all my tools together that I was going to need and starting getting ready to go back to construction.  Then the phone called.

The lady on the phone was from the first hospital I applied for, the one with the HVAC job.  She wanted to offer me the job and it was a little better pay than the contractor.  I said yes and called the contractor back that I wouldn’t be able to work for them.  There is nothing wrong with electrical construction, but when you haven’t done it for about 30 years, it’s not the best idea.  I was glad to be called by a hospital.  I hoped the other hospital would call back, but I checked their on-line employment thingy today and the other guy had been selected.

I believe that’s just how God has answered my prayers.  I needed a job and wanted to be where He needed me.  Though I don’t know what or how that is supposed to turn out, I know now I am going to work where He has ordained.  It will be hard.  New people and new places.  New things to do.  The finances will be a struggle, but that’s nothing new either.  I know He will provide what I need.

My racing and rides for this year might be off.  There doesn’t seem to be a way those are going to happen just yet.  However, I’ll still be out most days doing my runs and riding as many Saturdays as possible.  I’ve become too accustomed and too obsessed with those two things to just give them up.  During this past four months, they’ve been very important to have as part of my regimen of keeping things as “normal” as possible.  So, your just going to have to put up with me coming up with other things to write about for running and cycling.

I’ll keep you posted on how the new job is going  and how I’m fitting my riding and running into all that.  I’m already thinking of how can I work out a route to the hospital.  It’s further away, but it’s still possible.  Thank you all for your thoughts and concerns while this period of my life had to happen.  I sure hope that it doesn’t have to happen to any one though I know it happens every day.  It’s a new year and there are new things to do.  Happy running and cycling, ya’ll!

Read Full Post »


With only two weeks until the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon, I had my second to last long run this morning.  I think that my timing was perfect.  I elected to begin a half hour later knowing I would have to deal with traffic on a Saturday morning, but the extra sleep would be nice.  However, to my surprise, it seems that Black Friday shopping turned into my blessing.  The roads were pretty sparce.

My goal today was just 12 miles.  It seems odd to be using the word ‘just’ along with ’12 miles’, but it’s true.  Four years ago, I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) have said something that sounds so weird.  In any case, rather than running my regular 12-miles-at-a-go route, I thought I’d just run my 6 mile loop twice.  That shouldn’t be hard since I’ve been doing loops all Fall for my long runs.

I took off just after 6 AM.  The streets were still dark for about a half hour.  I expected the traffic to be low at that time.  What I didn’t expect was that after running for more than an hour, the streets were still empty.  Even down near the finish of the run at close to 9AM, traffic was still very light.  So, I suppose that since so many folks must have worn themselves out shopping on Black Friday, today should have been a boon to most runners.  I wonder if any other runners also had a great run with little traffic today?

Also, I thought I’d throw in an update on the BikeIrving.org website.  It is getting closer to reality.  I have worked with owner’s domain and been able to point it to my server to see how it works.  I’ve also gotten WordPress loaded and set up for the pages that won’t have something to do with mapping.  It is looking a lot more like a web site now.  I’m also down to the last real mapping task and that is to be able to save and recall routes.  I have a plan on how to do so and now just need to implement it and make it work.

I guess there are folks out in the real world that can probably put sites out like this in a heartbeat.  I would probably be further along as well, but my full time job right now is finding a job.  Probably the other slowness is the way that I work.  I’m a hacker.  No, not the kind that tries to break into the CIA, or the DOD.  A hacker is a coder; a programmer.  I just really enjoy writing code and seeing it work.  I like even more seeing my code do things for people.  There are probably lots of faster ways to make web sites, but I still like mine.  Except for what I do with WordPress, I use a text editor for the special stuff.  Yep, that’s right; a plain old text editor–no drag and drop, no point and click.

But enough about such foolish things.  You didn’t stop by here to debate the pros and cons of text editors.  Thanksgiving is a great time of year.  It is time to be thankful for all the things we have.  I am thankful that I have my family.  I am thankful that I am blessed by God with so many things.  I am thankful that I get to get up in the morning and run or ride or whatever.  There are so many in our world with so much less and they are still thankful for what they have.  We are blessed beyond measure for things we probably don’t deserve.  So I am glad that on this Saturday, I get to get out and run and do some work that will help others.  Happy running!

Read Full Post »


As originally promised, I will sometimes talk about things other than cycling and running.  Today happens to be one of those days.

While watching the Jon Stewart show the day after the election, I heard remarks from Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin that were just completely out of line, even for Fox News.  Bill O’Reilly told us that those that voted for President Obama did so only because they want “free stuff” and believe he’ll provide that.  Folks, those are his freakin’ words.  He went further into a diatribe that really cut down the American people, in my view.  Mrs. Palin was no better since she declared that the voters would rather elect a President that didn’t follow the Constitution (despite the fact she has no proof of that).

In addition, I have also listened to friends  discuss the outcome of the election as if it means that everything just went horribly wrong.  I will also say that many of my friends are also believers in God and followers of Jesus Christ.  I do not doubt in any way their sincerity or their faith.  However, I do not doubt mine either or my faith in the American system of government.

I’ll start with the outcome of the vote.  The electorate (that’s you and me guys) chose to return a Democrat President to the Whitehouse and maintain a split Congress (majority Republican in the House, majority Democrat in the Senate).  The day after the election, I listened to a press briefing from House Speaker John Boehner on the subject.  I agree with his assessment that the American people were quite clear in maintaining things as they are means that we really intend for these two parties and the two branches of government to work together.  Those are the wisest things I’ve heard from Speaker Boehner in the last two years.  The electorate has slapped the hands of both branches of government for their ineptitude in serving the country.  Now, we mean for them both to get off their high horses (of political special interests and issues) and go to work for goodness sake.

Second, I empathize with many Christians that feel it is a moral imperative to seek out political candidates that believe as they do about certain issues.  Yet, respectfully, I submit they are being fooled.  I turned away from supporting the Republican party two years ago when I heard the same Speaker Boehner say that the Republicans would refuse to compromise with the Whitehouse.  We see what that ill-advised plan has accomplished.  I continue to not support a Republican party that believes we can fix our economy with less regulation and less taxes for those that can afford same.  I will not support a Republican party that wants to do away with Obamacare because I believe that only lowers the quality of healthcare instead of raising it for all people.

Since much of this discussion hinges on a couple of moral issues, let me clarify something.  I am pro-life.  I believe in the sanctity of life and that abortion for no good reason is wrong.  I believe that marriage should only be between one man and one woman.  I also believe that homosexuality is wrong as well.  I believe these things because I believe in a living God and His Christ and that the Bible is important to the doctrine to which I ascribe.  However, that last part is very important, this is my belief and I am obliged to follow it.  I cannot use the rule of law (or political power) to try and enforce those beliefs on others.

Allow me to go further.  I believe in the freedom we all have as Americans.  Despite my beliefs, many people believe differently.  I am required by my own faith to respect their beliefs as I want mine respected.  I am still called to love everyone regardless of what they believe.  As such, I believe that the issue of marriage should be decided at the state level, not the federal.  This is actually what we are seeing.  Since there is no law against folks being homosexual, it’s our responsibility to treat all people equally regardless.  Since the legalization of abortion was determined on the issue of right to privacy, I am called to leave it where it lies.  It may not be turning out the way I like it, but that is not my issue to fix, even by my vote.  Chief Justice John Roberts already admitted that Roe v. Wade is “settled law” in his mind and that of many.  We need to get over these issues folks and turn our attention to being better witnesses and better parents if we want our morals to be respected.

Now, to apply those statements.  I personally chose to vote Democrat this time because I did not like the choices put forth by the Republican Party.  We have much, much bigger fish to fry than whether or not we have a marriage clause in the constitution or whether we can overturn Roe V. Wade.  I do believe there is a great separation between the wealthy and the poor (and the middle class too) in our nation.  I do believe that there is a sequestration of wealth going on at some level.  I also believe that Obamacare is a necessary step in the right direction for healthcare in our nation.  I want to see all levels of our society make the same impact and the same sacrifices to correct the poor economic situation.

Since I do not know the mind of God, I cannot see that it is “His will” to vote for one party over another.  Though all sins are equal with God, I think it a much greater sin for us to allow people to go without good paying jobs or without adequate healthcare.  Since it is clear from the Bible that we are to take care of God’s creation, we need to realize that climate change is happening and take adequate steps for our grandchildren’s futures.  Pardon me for not believing that maintaining healthy tax breaks for those above $250,000 per year in income will increase the financial security of the middle class or the poor.  Pardon me for not believing that less regulations upon financial institutions and manufacturers makes them more inclined to follow the rules and play fair.  Pardon me for thinking that a good path for poor immigrants towards work and responsibility is a good thing.  I think it appalling for us to blame any segment of our society for our problems, especially when many of our problems relate more to greed than anything else.

To sum all this up, I am calling for both parties involved in governing to grow up and learn to both get along together and work together for the common good of all the people.  Leave the issue of morality where it belongs, at home and in the pulpit.  Deal with the big issues of financial security and national security, like the Constitution actually says.  I am calling for all my friends that lament the choices made by the electorate this election year to also grow up and realize that God is still great.  I believe that the outcome represents God’s will for our nation and we should act accordingly.  Influence others by actually being Christian to all people.  Act like Jesus wants us to act. Quit worrying about which party believes what or if it is in power.  Learn to see through some of the rhetoric and listen to what is really being said.  I think you’ll be surprised.

If you’ve managed to stay with me this long, I’ll just get off my soapbox now.  I promise the next post will be about running or something much more enjoyable.  Happy running and cycling.

Read Full Post »


It seems that this new cold front is getting here just in time.  Tomorrow is the Cool Run 10K/5K in my town.  It’s held each year at the end of October by a local foundation to help raise money to fight cancer.  It was the first race I ran four years ago in 2008.  I have run the 10K each time and have improved each year.  Last year was my best at 1:06:10.  I’m still looking for that 1 hour or less 10K.

It’s a really fun race and the organizers put on a good one for the runners.  It’s local, but it does bring out some of the better runners from around the area as well as a good showing from the high school cross country teams.  I run it with a group of runners called Jo’s Team which honors a person we all knew that we lost because of cancer.  In addition to good running, it’s got the best food I’ve been to for any race of this size.  A local pizzeria named I Fratelli’s is right next door to the race and always brings out some of their great pies.

I’ve been fond of this race for a number of reasons.  It was my first and that is special.  It is also a good benchmark for where I am at in just running improvement.  I’ve been able to observe that I have gone from someone just barely able to finish the 10K to actually thinking I can compete, sort of.  Finally, it is also a good warmup for whatever I’m doing in December, whether it be a half or the full as I’m doing this year.

bikeirving screenshot

Test Site for the new BikeIrving.Org web site showing first tests of Google Maps API

However, I want to take a little while today to talk about a large (I mean really) project I am working on with a friend.  We are trying to build a web site for our city that will help us provide road and path data to the city on where cyclists are riding and commuting.  With this data we can help inform the city on where infrastructure and enhancements are needed because of known traffic patterns.  It will be a little similar to a site like mapmyride.com except that it will focus just on our city and we’ll be able to pull reports out of the database for presentation work (we hope).

To do this site, I had to start learning some new skills.  I had to begin learning the Google Maps Javascript API.  It is a geomapping extension born out of Google’s work on it’s maps.google.com site.  Though it’s free; easy it isn’t.  I’ve had to really extend my knowledge of Javascript in order to just make this small test work. And, I’ve still got a lot to do.

Currently, the only thing you can do at the site, which you can access here, is to select a starting address, plot a route on the map, and you can print out a list of the latitudes and longitudes from your route.  Probably none of this will be quite the same in the final version.  But, I am interested in getting folks’ reactions to it.

Though there are still many things to do just on this portion of the mapping, I will have to turn it aside for a bit to start working on the database portion.  The concept is that cyclists will be able to come to the site, register and provide a little bit of demographic data, then map the routes they often use for commuting or other reasons.  Then, on the back end, we can pull up common maps showing multiple routes and where these intersect with roads.  To do that, I will have to build a database of users and a database of routes, plus a content manager to help us use the site.  It will also be a place to post events about and for cycling in our city.  Because it’s a public site, we’ll also need to put a privacy notice in place and establish means to keep folks information private.

I have no idea how long it will take to finish such a site, but I am making progress.  I’m going to be getting some help on it soon, I think.  Currently, I have it hosted on my own server.  I don’t yet know where the final location will be, just yet.  In the meantime, I’m still job hunting.  Still trying to be patient and wait upon God‘s timing for how things will go.  I am encouraged by seeing where He is working in the process this week.  So, this afternoon, I’ll spend some more time on the web site and tomorrow, I’ll just go and have a Cool Run in the morning.  Happy Running (and Cycling)!

Read Full Post »


This week, I finished reading Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins.  I admit that without the hoopla, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.  However, since I respect Rob Bell as a preacher and prefer not to disparage any book without first reading it, I knew I would have to do so.  Thanks to Pam for loaning me the book so I could read what it’s all about.  The following is my assessment of whether or not the book’s detractors are correct or not.  In my opinion, though there is much in Bell’s book that Christians and others should be thinking about, his conclusions raise as many questions as it provides answers.  In addition, I’ll make this caveat before going forward: I am doing this from memory.  I gave the book back to its owner, so if I don’t state things correctly, don’t shoot me for it. (more…)

Read Full Post »

janice writes fiction

Come into my mind with me!