Saturday, December 31, 2016

Final Weigh-in for 2016

 There's a reason so many people at my day job are going "Caveman" with their food program in the New Year – it works.  From the first lab rat (me) to the most current (Paige), the experiment has helped friends, family members, and co-workers achieve amazing results.  I've been tracking my weight digitally since I signed up for my cousin's experiment in late August, 2015.  The 34 pound weight loss appears to be permanent.  I was surprised when I compared my final weigh-in of the year with the last Saturday of 2015 and the difference was only two ounces!  The entire year looks like one giant flat line.  It's like being on cruise control.  The real shocker was the first 45 days of the experiment.  That part of the weight chart looks more like an expert downhill run at a ski slope.  I was losing a pound a day until my body found its sweet spot.  Now it's smooth sailing into the New Year with a fresh group of volunteers.

If you would like to join the Caveman Food Experiment, come back tomorrow on New Year's Day and I'll connect you with the next group of volunteers.  If you're taking any medications, please make sure you consult your physician first.  I want you to be fully prepared for that big downhill run ahead and you may encounter a few moguls at the beginning.  Some have reported withdrawals from the processed foods.  The first week of the experiment is the most challenging, like quitting smoking.  There are two possible flat line experiences ahead for you – the one most Americans will encounter because they're eating all the wrong foods leading to heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or obesity, or a flat line experience like mine from consistently eating like a caveman.  Why not make 2017 your best year ever?  My hope for you is that you will join our group and make permanent lifestyle changes that shock your friends and family.  Thank you, cousin.  I know you always try to keep your patients from flat lining when you put them under anesthesia but as your first lab rat in the Caveman Food Experiment I'm hoping to change the definition and make flat lining more fashionable.  Have a great day.

Friday, December 30, 2016

What You Fail to Do

We have a prayer we say at every service in our house of worship.  The idea is to reflect on our weaknesses.  Most of us concentrate on our transgressions – the things we do that hurt others.  The other side of the coin is where weaknesses are identified having to do with the things we fail to do. This is perhaps my biggest area of concern – the things I fail to do.  These are the missed opportunities.  It's the failure to make an action plan and make a difference in the world. 

Is there something you may be overlooking in your life?  Are you failing to do something?  Think about it for five minutes and decide to concentrate on this during the New Year.  Take out a calendar and write 12 ideas on the first day of each month.  This will remind to stay focused throughout the year.  Have a great day.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Your Area of Influence

We all have a space we occupy.  Depending on the talents we were given at birth and the amount of time we invest developing them, our area of influence may appear small or large to others.  Size doesn't matter.  The people around you are the important ones and they're relying on you for something.  I don't know what that something is – it's different for each individual.  You already know in your heart what it is.  What are you going to do with the space you occupy?  Are you ready to make a difference?  This is a good time to reflect on your area of influence.  Talk is cheap.  Just go out and get the job done, the one you're uniquely qualified for.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It's Decision Time

There it is.  Another clean slate.  Are you ready?  Do you have any idea what your New Year will be like?  Everything you've done in past years leading up to today and the New Year ahead are strong indicators of what will happen next.  The sad truth is that if you were overweight in past years you will most likely be overweight in the New Year.  Sure, you'll hit the gym hard in the first two weeks of the year just like all the previous years, but then it's back in the recliner waiting 11.5 months for the next clean slate.

Don't let my clean slate fool you.  It's already filled with 365 of predictable daily rituals I will most likely keep repeating until there's a disturbance in the force and I'm no longer here.  Every morning when I wake up I'll check in with two cents worth of thoughts for this blog just after my morning weigh in on my digital scale with Wifi for tracking results.  I'll make enough morning smoothies for everyone in the household.  I'll park my car far enough away at my day job to get in a brisk run and I'll consistently arrive ten to fifteen minutes prior to my shift.  My shoes will be double knotted to prevent any mishaps.  I will refuse to let any negative people influence my peace.  My lunch will consist of a spinach salad sans the dressing.  Depending on what day it is, I will be swimming in the pool while using my triathlon watch to record every second of laps or I will be on the tennis courts with the same regulars from prior years.  If people ask why I push myself so hard I will tell them the same thing..."it beats having to deal with heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, being overweight or sitting on a couch all year waiting for another New Year to come along."  That's my clean slate story.  The reality is that a New Year is filled with 365 days.  Decide today you will fill your slate with 365 days of positive behaviors that will make 2017 your breakout year, even if this may seem odd to the people around you.  My bet is their slate will always be clean.  How about you?  Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How to Avoid Going the Wrong Way

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  If you're feeling the heat, it's not too late to avoid going the wrong way.  Promises and plans must be put into action or else they're useless.  No, this is not a dream.  It's not a nightmare.  This is your wake up call to get busy and make an action plan for all those good intentions you have.

Last week I experienced the coldest temperatures of my lifetime but the heat was on from the stack of goals simmering on my back burner.  I thought about what would happen if I left them unattended in the frying pan and it frightened me.  What good is a half-baked solution?  Think about what you have inside of you that you can contribute to the world.  Make a list.  Label it good intentions.  Decide which road you're going to pave with these good intentions.  If you're still sitting on the couch I'm warning you that you're going the wrong way – even if you're not moving.  Acknowledge.  Move on. Wink-wink.  Have a great day.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Your Goals are Target Practice to Discover Your Destiny

Aim. Set. Fire.  Reload. Repeat.  The more often you set goals, the more clear your destiny becomes.  You don't do this by sitting on the couch watching mindless TV.  You accomplish this by dreaming, acting and discovering.  Your destiny will find you at the shooting range.  The minimum target practice you need is once a year at the the beginning of the year.  I prefer setting goals before the calendar flips and then regular target practice monthly.  The bigger your dreams, the more target practice you need.  Your destiny is worth it.  Have a great day.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” ~ Luke 2:8-12

One of the first people I greeted at my day job yesterday morning was an older gentleman with a scraggly beard.  "How are you?" he asked.

"I'm awesome," I replied.  The response startled him and he probed deeper.  "I never hear that," he said.  "May I ask why?"

"I'm a believer," I said.

"I'm not," he said.  He added that he once sold Christmas trees in his younger years and he remembered how many people came to him at this time of year who were stressed out.  I focused on his eyes and listened intently.  He told me he was leaving later in the day for a trip to Arizona.  I wished him well and told him I look forward to seeing him again in the New Year.  He smiled and wished me a Merry Christmas before walking away.

My Christmas wish for you today is that the glory of the Lord shines around you.  I bring you good news that will cause joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.  Merry Christmas.  Have a great day.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

One Day to Go

Christmas is one day away.  On a one to ten scale, I already know where this one ranks.  It's not even close.  Yes, this one is a ten.  What makes it so special is being surrounded by all of our adult children.  I'm going to savor it from start to finish.  May you feel the joy of Christmas in your heart and may you be surrounded by loved ones on Christmas day.  Have a great day.

Friday, December 23, 2016

How to Catch a Dream

Caught any dreams lately?  It's like fishing.  You start with the right bait.  Each person has their own unique blend.  If you try using dreams that belong to others, you won't ever catch anything.  Fish for your own dreams and be patient.  Don't scare the fish by being loud and obnoxious.  Be still.  Allow time for your dreams to nibble and once you get a strong bite, use everything in your power to reel 'em in.  Believe in yourself and remember this:

You can't catch your dreams if you don't fish.  Your destiny lies in the deep seas.  Today is a a good day to go fishing.  Have a great day.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why the Road Less Traveled is My Preferred Route

Why do you do the things you do?  Do you ever reflect on why you make the choices you make?    Are these choices in some kind of familiar pattern that never changes, like planes circling above in the same holding pattern?  What would happen if you decided to fly in a different direction?

I'm discovering something amazing about my new life which began nearly five years ago when I departed the West Coast in favor of a small town in the Midwest.  My California friends placed bets on when I'd be back.  Most had no clue what motivates me.  I admit if my path had a road sign it would read:  Warning! This road is not for normal people!  Turn around, fool!"  Here's the discovery:  Others around me are curious.  They're asking questions about life on the road less traveled.  Some are joining me.  They aren't paying attention to all the warning signs posted by the status quo.  The idea of living debt free and eating processed food free is catching on.  One of my closest tennis buddies told me last night he is now twenty pounds lighter because he's modifying his eating habits.

If I could make one recommendation to those interested in the road less traveled, my suggestion is to ignore road signs.  Take the first exit of the congested highways and commit to a simple life.  Try it.  It's not a long shot.  It's a safe bet to a better life.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Shortest Day of the Year

Photo credit:  Elod Pali /

It's officially Winter today, although I felt it's presence earlier this month when Mother Nature blasted in some ice cold Siberian air via the North Pole.  It's a great day for me because I'm one of those optimists who likes to see the silver lining in every situation and today means I can now look forward to earlier sunrises every morning and later sunsets every evening.  Life is a pendulum.  It's a series of high tides and low tides.  Some may joke they would rather skip the ugly seasons and simply enjoy mild conditions year round.  Not me.  I see beauty in every season.  My senses are awakened by the full spectrum of vivid colors revealed in extreme conditions, like exploring the sand bar in Kino Bay only seen at low tide.  There is an awesomeness in the quiet stillness of a morning sunrise fifty degrees below freezing.  The sun may appear out of reach when it barely ascends the skies on a day like today but it reminds me change is coming.  May you find peace and tranquility on this Winter Solstice day and may your heart be warmed by the sun.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Next Step

Parenting instincts never die, even when the last child reaches adulthood.  I realized this yesterday when I chatted with one of our daughter's friends, a recent college graduate.  "What's the next step?"  I asked.  She told me she was going to ponder it and get back to me later.  I'm always thinking of the next steps.  It's a part of my DNA.  I know what my next step is – to make sure everyone in my life who is a wife, parent, brother, sister, cousin, son, daughter, neighbor, friend, classmate, co-worker, boss, spiritual advisor, teacher, or any other influence in my life, know one thing – I'm thankful for you.  And to the invisible one, the one who sometimes carries me when I have trouble standing on my own two feet and feel uncertain about the next step in my life – the one who I pray others may see if they look past my own weaknesses, I say thank you.  Thank you for teaching me your ways.  Have a great day.

Monday, December 19, 2016


Mission accomplished.  The family is officially reunited and all is well.  The sun is shining and the spirit of Christmas is upon us.  There's nothing better than family time.    I'm keeping today's post short in order to maximize my time with loved ones today.  Thank you for keeping our family in your prayers.  The last 95 miles to connect with our son were definitely the most challenging.  The photo above is from the location where the rollover occurred along I80 about 12 miles from our home.  This is the spot where we decided to abort our mission on Monday night and wait for the storm to pass before picking up our son in Des Moines.  He was one of the few to make it out of Chicago during the storm.  Unfortunately, the interstate was dotted with scenes like this one and many lives are disrupted due to the dangerous conditions and extreme low temperatures.  The roads are much better now and we are excited to spend time together.  Have a great day.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

It's a Beautiful Morning To Wake Up To

I can see things with a higher degree of clarity this morning.  That's what happens after the biggest storm of the year moves out of town leaving behind a fresh blanket of snow partially covering abandoned vehicles that slipped off the frozen interstate in the middle of the night.  Thank God I listened to the voice of an angel seated directly behind me who said, "turn around and go home."  Today is a new day and I'm thankful to see the most amazing sunrise ever.  Yes, it's cold outside – the coldest I've ever witnessed in my life.  There's a certain beauty that I really appreciate, especially this morning knowing I have a clean slate.  We will be leaving soon to help our son complete the last 95 miles of his journey home.  And we will have much to celebrate.  Thank you for keeping our son in your prayers.  He's safe and we'll be seeing him soon, one day later than expected.  Have a great day.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Arctic Blast Expected Today

Do you know what happens when the thermometer dips to -12º and the winds are above 20 mph?  The windchill makes it almost impossible to be outside.  I'm headed to my day job this morning at sunrise and it will actually feel warm at 18º but that won't last very long.  We may seem some new records later today as the biggest storm of the year hits our area.  We have a secret weapon to warm our hearts today – a visitor from the east.  He's been granted a two week leave to be with family for the Holidays.  It appears his prayers for a white Christmas have been granted.  Mother Nature loves exclamation marks.  I just hope she stops blowing kisses.  Have a great day and stay warm.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Another Day Job Coworker Seeks Caveman Help

My friends at my day job don't want to wait for the book to be released on May 1, next year.  Word is spreading that the experiment is helping others to reduce weight without going to the gym every day.  The latest volunteer for the experiment asked how the program works.  I spent ten minutes with her during a break and outlined how it works.  This is important for her because her doctors refuse to give her the surgery she needs for a health issue until she loses weight.  She tried dieting on her own and this experiment could end up saving her life.  I can't wait for her to share her success with her doctors.  There is nothing in the caveman food experiment that is unhealthy.  In fact, what the experiment reveals is what happens to the human body when one eats what he or she is supposed to eat and what happens when he or she avoids foods that are man-made or processed using artificial ingredients.

I'm looking forward to sharing success stories from friends and family members who gave this food experiment a try.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.  Have a great day.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Plant Your New Year Seeds Now

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now." ~ Chinese Proverb

Take a few minutes today and count all your blessings from this year.  I bet most of them come from seeds you planted in previous years.  How are your farming techniques?  Now that this year is coming to a close, think about what seeds you want to plant today and cultivate in 2017.  Dream big.  The more seeds you plant today, the better your chances for an abundant harvest next season.

I would like to thank all the people in my life who helped me with some great tips.  I promise to pay these ideas forward with others so they too can have better lives.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Are You Acting Your Age?

I don't have a full grasp yet of how you're supposed to behave when you're in your mid-fifties.  The one thing I do know is your age shouldn't be defined by unwise choices.  I know too many people in my age group who are no longer active because of health issues.  They are acting the age of your typical American.  It's not too late to knock it off.  I'm referring to the extra pounds around your waistline.  Or that sedentary lifestyle.  When was the last time you treated your body to a real workout?  For those of you who are blaming the weather on your cancelled workouts, please stop making excuses.  I admit it's harder to stick to an exercise program when it's below freezing outside but it's not impossible.  Go for it.  I challenge you to change your ways.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

-40º Wind Chill Ahead – Yikes!

This weekend will be a record breaker.  Expected windchill will drop to -40º by Saturday.  One of my California friends posted this picture recently...
My favorite part of life has nothing to do with watching.  For me, it's all about doing.  I love a good challenge.  -40º happens to be five degrees more interesting than my previous record.  This is where character is refined.  It's where you discover what you're made of.  I signed up for this.  I already know one thing – this is going to be my best Christmas ever.  Have a great day.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Today is a Good Day to Make Repairs

Is there anything broken in your life?  A relationship?  Your heart?  A promise you made?  Make a list.  Check it twice.  And get busy.  Yes, I know – the Holidays are here and you have a full plate.  It doesn't get any easier.  That's why today is a great day to fix all things broken.  I'm going to do my best today to fine tune my attitude.  It's especially important this time of year to be prepared for icy road conditions and bah-humbug types who have nothing better to do than complain.  Be prepared.  They may be unwilling to change their ways but it's not too late for you.  Be diligent about your repairs.  Have a great day.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Turn the Light On

Winston Churchill once said, "if you're going through hell, keep going."  Sometimes that's not easy.  The one thing that gives me hope when I'm in a dark place is seeing a light.  Without naming names, I would like to share how I survived the darkness.  Yes, it came from loving people around me who were willing to turn on the light switch.  I saw the light of Jesus shining from within these people and they gave me a sense of hope to keep going.

Be the light today.  Turn on your light switch.  Thank you to the people in my life who did this for me.  Have a great day.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Caveman Tips For Holiday Joy

Mrs. Caveman and I are enjoying another amazing family day today.  We've already opened most of our Christmas gifts to each other...unfailing love, continuous encouragement, positive affirmations, cuddling and quality time together.  It doesn't matter how cold it is outside.  The temperature inside is warm and inviting.  We both like to keep things simple – like spending time together in front of our fireplace while the music of Christmas fills up our spirits.  Our greatest joy will be spending Christmas day with all three of our adult children.

If you're having trouble finding your Holiday joy this year, consider simplifying your life.  Go primitive.  What I mean by that is turning off the TV, cutting down your schedule and going back to that time in your life when you appreciated the real reason for the season – Jesus.  Ponder how the Holy Family spent their first Christmas together in a tiny manger.  It doesn't get more primitive than that.  And that's when everything changed.  Jesus is the best gift we can ask for.  Invite Him into your heart right now and you will have the best Christmas ever.  Have a great day.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Can Weight Loss Be Permanent?

My thirty something pound weight loss from over one year ago appears to be long-term.  I'm betting it will last a lifetime.  The irony here is that I didn't enter the food experiment to lose weight.  It was set up to see if I could reduce my blood pressure without medication.  So far so good.  Real good.  No more high blood pressure readings or out of control cholesterol issues either.  The bonus of sustained weight loss comes from keeping my food choices simple.  I simply refuse to eat foods with labels on the package.  Those fancy ingredients I can't pronounce are probably what wreaked havoc inside my body.

If you're considering making changes to your food program, here are some ideas that I believe will lead to permanent weight loss:
  1. Skip processed foods.
  2. Avoid any foods with a label on the package.
  3. Load your grocery cart with mostly fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds.
  4. Skip the dairy aisle.
  5. Stop eating bread.
  6. Keep your red meat servings to 8 ounces or less.
  7. Replace your beer with one or two glasses of red or white wine per day.
  8. Exercise 3x per week for thirty minutes.
  9. Invest in a high speed blender for morning smoothies packed with celery, spinach, avocado and your favorite fruits.
  10. Minimize outside dining.  If you must eat out, stay away from the free chips they serve as appetizers and skip the bread.
Have a great day. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Do Something

It's easy to criticize.  Blaming others seems to be the mantra of our modern times.  The challenge is to recognize what we can do to make a difference.  Do you believe you can do something today to make this world a better place?  Check out the YouTube video below by Matthew West for some inspiration and become a part of the solution.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Bone-chilling Weather Arrives Today

It's 17º outside this morning and the weather is expected to get even colder.  I'm ready.  It's all about the layers and the attitude.  What works best for me is planning my daily routine in advance so I have a plan to stick to when Mother Nature is giving me the cold shoulder.  I'm thankful for indoor tennis courts and an indoor swimming pool.  It's also a great time of year to refine my indoor cooking skills. May your day filled with cheer no matter what Mother Nature may be doing in your neighborhood.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Quote of the Day from Einstein

How well do you know yourself?  I admit I have trouble looking in the mirror sometimes, especially on days when I'm dealing with a challenge.  Adversity is that pesky mosquito who won't leave you alone.  He's the debt collector who calls you day and night when your funds are in the red zone.  Adversity is the maitre d' who seats you at a hole in the wall restaurant where everything on the menu appears out of reach because your boss handed you a pink slip.

I know adversity very well.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to become acquainted.  It didn't start out that way, maybe because I wasn't fully prepared to explore the depths of my heart.  I am who I am today because of what adversity taught me.  Don't be afraid to answer the door if adversity comes knocking.  Have a great day.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Are You Real, Jesus?

My sister asked me to watch a five year-old video about the Shroud of Turin.  Many believe this is the the burial garment discovered in the empty tomb by Peter and John, followers of Jesus.  There are actually two parts to the garment, the Shroud– used to wrap the body, and the Sudarium for the head.  After watching the video,  I traced the whereabouts of the Sudarium to Oveido, Spain.  The location seemed mysteriously close to the place where Braña 1 was excavated.  This is the 7,000 year-old skeleton found by hikers and he happens to be the inspiration for my front cover of The Caveman in the Mirror.  I did a mapquest search and was shocked to learn just how close these two locations are – 54 miles!  Call me crazy but these two characters have been haunting me for ages.  Every day these two are becoming more real for me.  Outsiders may get a sense I'm losing my marbles.  So, here's the question of the day:  Are you real, Jesus?

Before you answer the question, do me a favor and put aside all your thoughts and ideas about religion.  Set aside 52 minutes and watch the video my sister sent me.  When you're done, we can discuss the question of the day.  It doesn't matter to me what side of the fence you're on.  I'm okay if you're skeptical.  Perhaps my crazy dreams are meant for you to discover something hidden away from all the "normal" people.  Here's the link to the video.  Enjoy...Click here.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Let it Snow

We're having our first snow of the season this morning, just in time for Christmas.  Now it truly feels like the Holidays are here.  The outside temperature is holding steady at 32º but it will be dropping fast as the new week unfolds.  I'm ready.  Friends and family members have been sending me their favorite healthy recipe ideas and I'm testing them in my caveman kitchen.  One of my readers suggested I share my favorite recipes in my next book.  If you have any food tips to share, please email me and I'll do my best to include them.  Have a great day.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Braña 1 Ancestor Update

Braña 1 is the name given to the 7,000 year-old blue-eyed, dark skinned caveman found in Northern Spain by hikers.  He's from the hunter-gatherer time period.  The story has personal significance for me because I learned earlier this week that the town of Rubalcaba is only a stone's throw from the excavation site where Braña 1 was discovered.  This is where my ancestors on my mother's side of the family once lived, possibly alongside Braña 1 and his brother, Braña 2.  Scientists are still analyzing the DNA, the oldest recoverable ever for modern man.

Related or not, Braña 1 is a part of me.  He first appeared to me in a dream while I was writing my first novel.  I searched the internet for a picture resembling the image haunting me and found my match in Braña 1.  He is the artist rendition created from the skull of the ancient caveman.  We are forever linked.  I'm just waiting to know if Braña 1 was left-handed.  We appear to have much in common.  That's my caveman update for the day.  Have a great day.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Please Cue the Twilight Zone Music

This is a follow-up to yesterday's story about my ancestors on my Mom's side of the family from Northern Spain.  Last year I visited my cousin Mary, the oldest member of our generation, and she told me about an upcoming family vacation she was taking in Europe.  One of my relatives told her there was a town in Spain named after our ancestors and asked if Mary might be able to check it out.  That's a needle in a haystack.  Mary found the needle on the map but she and her husband had a full itinerary and opted not to do a drive by.  They hit a detour while driving through the country and came upon a road sign indicating Rubalcaba was just minutes away.  They snapped pictures.  Here's where the story gets interesting.  Please cue the Twilight Zone music...

I had a very clear picture in my head about what the main character from The Caveman in the Mirror was supposed to look like.  It was so clear that the image was haunting me every night in my dreams.  I scoured the internet for an image of a dark-skinned, blue-eyed scraggly man who was supposed to be a distant relative.  I found him.  Click here for a link to the story about the 7,000 year-old caveman they excavated in Northern Spain.  Here's the kicker – the excavation site is only 149 miles away from Rubalcaba!  This caveman is very special.  The DNA extracted from his molar  is the oldest ever to be recovered.  I'm stunned by this revelation.  I'll write more about this in future posts.  Have a great day.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Cross of Rubalcaba

I would like to thank my cousin Mary from my dad's side of the family for sharing her vacation photos related to my ancestors on my mom's side of the family.  The photo above was shot during an unscheduled stop while Mary and her family were traversing the country side in Northern Spain.  She joked that her detour was God's way of planning her trip to Rubalcaba, a tiny town with a population of about 2,300.  A sign at the entrance to the town reads, "Cruz de Rubalcaba," meaning "Cross of Rubalcaba."  This is very personal for me because my faith can be traced back to this place.  I recall my grandmother's never-ending prayers for all of us to be under God's protection.  It all goes back to the cross.  This is my daily reminder of what's really important.  Thank you, cousin Mary, for thinking of us on the Rubalcaba side of the family.  What a wonderful Christmas present you have given us.