Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse Today


Don't look up today.  As tempting as it is to view solar eclipse, it's not worth permanent damage to your eyes.  There will be a 90% eclipse in my area and my friends in Omaha will be experiencing a total eclipse.  I'm curious to observe how the animals behave and maybe I'll try the pinhole method for viewing safely.  Have a great day.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Go With Your Strengths


One of the most important lessons I learned in life is to ignore weaknesses and focus on strengths.  I believe there's a reason why this works so well – you can spend a lifetime trying to fix your weaknesses without accomplishing much because that's not why you're here.  As soon as you identify your strengths everything appears easy and your quality of life improves.  So does your peace of mind.

You may ask, "what about the void in my life if I ignore my weaknesses?"  I'm referring to specific tasks that need attention you are not cut out to do.  This is where teamwork comes into play.  Find others who can do what you struggle with and ask for help.  Keep concentrating on your strengths and go with it.  Have a great day.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fit In or Stand Out?


Fitting in has its advantages:  invisibility, mediocrity, no pressure, no conflict and no change.  There is one problem I can't seem to escape when I'm doing my best to fit in and it's that nagging feeling inside that won't go away.  Deep down I know I'm hiding when I attempt to fit in.  That's what blending in is – hiding from the person you really are.  You know what I'm talking about or you wouldn't be reading this.  Yes, you were born to stand out.  There are disadvantages:  pressure, conflict, change, and ridicule.  The crowd will do everything to force you back into mediocrity.  Be yourself.  Listen to that voice inside guiding you to the path you were born to follow.  Ignore the crowd.  Have a great day.

Friday, August 18, 2017

How Many Permission Slips are in Your Medicine Cabinet?


We don't have a medicine cabinet in our home.  If we did, it would be mostly vacant.  There aren't any high blood pressure pills.  No high cholesterol medicine.  Nothing to control aches and pains.  Not even any sleeping pills.  The truth is we don't need permission slips to cover up the real problem in America – eating all the wrong foods that cause trouble.  These pills give you permission to keep making food mistakes.  The symptoms are covered up temporarily until higher doses or new prescriptions are needed.  Why not just stop eating all the foods that are causing health issues?

Your body has everything it needs to fight disease.  If you eat too much of the wrong foods, your body gives up and stops fighting.  Your doctor offers prescription medicine and everything appears to be okay for a while.  Eventually, your medicine cabinet isn't big enough to hold all those permission slips.  Give healthy eating a try for 45 days without artificial ingredients, processed foods, dairy and sodas.  Concentrate on mostly fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds.  You may no longer all those permission slips in your medicine cabinet.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

An Important Food Lesson from Your Ancestors


Do you know how much sugar your ancestors consumed 10,000 years ago?  20 teaspoons per year.  That's the equivalent of one big gulp every two years.  Never before in human history have we consumed so much high fructose corn syrup and sugar – 140 pounds a year!  Is it any wonder why we are so sick?

The food industry will do everything to convince you high fructose corn syrup is not harmful.  My bet is that if a caveman ate and drank what we drink, he would be forced to give up hunting and gathering because his body would no longer be able to function.  He would die.  So will you if you keep it up.  Do yourself a favor and learn one food lesson from your ancestors – cut out high fructose corn syrup for 30 days.  Check all the labels.  Don't buy any product containing high fructose corn syrup.  The first week may be hell but don't give up.  If your ancestors can do it, you can do it.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pursue Excellence


Excellence isn't a sometime thing.  Excellence is a series of lifestyle choices you make in order to fulfill your dreams.  Your attitude plays a big role in attaining what you desire.  So does your self esteem.  Consider excellence as a recipe you are constantly refining until the taste is just right.  The bigger the goal, the more complicated the recipe and the more time you will need to fine tune it.  Most people give up because they believe they're lousy cooks.  This is a self esteem issue that needs adjusting or you may leave the kitchen and never come back.

I'm dealing with a train wreck in my life and it's a huge mess.  I don't mind sharing this with you because it may help you understand the process of pursuing excellence.  Sometimes this happens when you have a lot on your plate.  I can relate.  My train wreck began when I missed my deadline to release my third book.  There were warning signs but I ignored them because I was so focused on the deadline that I couldn't see out the window and I was headed smack into a wildfire with no way out.  The book stunk.  By the time I finished self-editing, there wasn't much left except a cup of soup that tasted bland.  The one thing I had going for me is my own self esteem which was refined from dealing with years of rejection.  I kept telling myself, keep working on this, you're close, you just need to find the missing ingredients.  Then the train crashed.

Pursue excellence.  Even after train wrecks.  Even if you have to throw out a project you've been working on for what seems like a lifetime and start over.  Stay in the kitchen.  Keep a fire extinguisher handy for the really bad days but don't give up.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Be in the Moment


Imagine for a moment you're on your death bed about to breathe your last breath.  There's a person in the room with you who longs for you to share the most important lesson from your life.  Think carefully about what you would say if you were in this position.

I have no idea how much longer I'm going to be on this planet but I do know if I found myself in the scenario described above there would be one overwhelming feeling inside my heart – gratitude.  Having another person with me during my final moment on earth would mean I did not die alone.  For me, every moment is an opportunity to learn or to teach.  It's also a moment to savor.  Living in the moment requires practice.  It means letting go.  Don't wait until your last breath to learn this lesson.  Your moment is right now.  Seize it.  Thank you for the opportunity to share this moment with you.  Have a great day.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Iowa Wild Card Team Ends Dream Season in Oklahoma

Iowa City Men's USTA 4.0 18+ Tennis Team.

We added one more exciting chapter to our Iowa Men's tennis adventures this last weekend in Oklahoma.  Our first round in the USTA 4.0 18+ Midwest sectionals against St. Louis, MO started out strong with a 4-1 win.   We faced Oklahoma next in the second match of pool play in a round robin format.  Every match was close but we came up short, losing 4-1.  In round 3 we faced an undefeated Kansas team in a must-win situation which was moved indoors due to incessant rain.  We prevailed 4-1 and finished in second place in our pool.  One more match win in any of the first three rounds would have given us an automatic bid into the semifinals and a chance to play the other Iowa team who edged us out in the state championship match 3-2 in June.

Our quarterfinal match against Nebraska was a rematch from one year ago.  My partner and I were still battling late into the evening long after all the other matches were completed.  We had a couple of match points with my partner serving and both times the ball narrowly missed landing in.  Our team gave them everything we had.  The other team came back and beat us 9-7.  Final score:  Nebraska 4, Iowa 1.  We were really hoping for a chance to redeem ourselves in the semis against the other Iowa team but the ball didn't bounce our way.  The Des Moines team held off Nebraska 3-2 in the semis and advanced to play Heart of America in the finals.  Des Moines won 3-2.  They will go to Surprise, Arizona in October.  Congratulations to Des Moines.  I would like to thank my teammates for an amazing season.  Tennis is alive and well in the great Midwest and our dreams will never die.  We'll be back next year for a third attempt against the best players in the region.  I'm grateful for the wild card entry and the opportunity to represent the great state of Iowa.  I wish the Des Moines team well in the National Championships.  Have a great day.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Today is the Finals

This story was written just before I kissed my wife good-bye and headed off for our next great adventure.  If all goes well, we're still playing today.  Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story.  Have a great day.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Day 2 of Our Regional Championships

Today is day 2 of our regional championships and this is the final day of our round robin.  Loser goes home.  Winner gets an entry into the semis and 2nd and 3rd play one more round in the quarterfinals this afternoon.  Last year we made it to the quarters and got beat in a close one.  There is rain in the forecast.  We're ready for whatever comes our way.  Have a great day.

Friday, August 11, 2017

On the Courts Today

This is day one of our regional tournament and we're on the courts twice today.  I'll be giving updates on Monday about our tournament.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Reaching for the Stars


I'm on the road again.  Our team is reaching for the stars and soon we'll be meeting in Oklahoma to finish what we started one year ago.  It won't be easy.  That's okay.  We're giving it everything we have.  The practices have been intense.  I can't remember the last time I ate something that wasn't good for me.  I'll be out of touch until next Monday morning but these stories will keep coming every morning while I'm away.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I'm a Lab Rat for a Bone and Joint Study


When researchers sent out a notice seeking volunteers for a two year bone and joint study, I decided to become a lab rat.  They want to learn how physical activities and other factors affect the health of your bones and joints, specifically related to the knee.  I'm especially curious because I'm on concrete eight hours per day, I play competitive tennis and I don't consume dairy.  Most people give me a funny look when I share my daily routine with them.  Some think I'm going to have health issues related to my food choices.  The one thing I know for sure is that becoming a lab rat for my cousin's food experiment saved my life.  I'm willing to go through another round of experiments in order to help researchers learn more about our bones and joints.  Stay tuned for progress reports.  The final results will be available in published reports.  Have a great day and don't forget to bend your knees.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What a Difference a Year Makes


One year ago today on 8/08 at 8:08 AM I was headed into surgery to repair a sports related inguinal hernia.  I had a date with Davinci, a robot my surgeon used to restore my health.  I promised my teammates I would be back for another shot at the regional championships after we came up short in the regional tournament that ended the day before my surgery..  I feel stronger than ever now, thanks to Dr. Nicholas Kuiper.  I would also like to give credit to my teammates.  They pushed me hard this last year.  We are departing tomorrow for Oklahoma for another shot at the Midwest championships.  Keep us in your prayers.  The conditions will be challenging and the competition will be the best we've ever faced.  In order to win it all, we will need to find a way to get past the Iowa team that edged us out in the state championships.  There are 8 teams vying for a spot in the national competition to be held in Surprise, Arizona in October.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.  Have a great day.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Awestruck


My pastor told our congregation Sunday, "the word awesome is overused."  Back in his day, awesome was reserved for talking about God.  He went on to say people who were awestruck were filled with wonder of God's presence.  "Every Sunday Heaven and earth meet at the altar," he said.  His words were sinking in as he walked away slowly from the pulpit. 

I hope I never overuse the word awesome.  Yes, I do feel God's presence in my daily life.  It's in the people he places around me.   It's in nature.  It's in the Holy Spirit.  Mountains are moving.  All of this is for God's glory.  I'm awestruck.  May your day be awesome and may you feel God's presence in your life.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Look Back Without Staring


Does your past haunt you?  Maybe you're staring at ghosts.  Perhaps the skeletons in your closet are rattling you.  I like to think of my past as a rear view mirror.  As long as I use the rear view mirror for an occasional glance when I need a reminder about how I dealt with a difficult situation while keeping my eyes focused on what lies ahead, I can avoid living in the past.

If you find yourself staring at a past memory, ask yourself why.  Find the lesson and learn so you can move forward.  I'll give you an example from my personal life.  Someone close to me hurt me deeply and this caused some terrible pain.  The hurts turned into grudges.  The grudges weighed so much  I couldn't move forward.  I refused to turn around because I didn't want to relive the pain so I just kept looking forward, trying not to acknowledge what happened.  "The past is the past," I would tell my brain.  My body knew otherwise.  My body could feel weight, like an anchor attached to a slab of concrete.  It wasn't easy but I finally let go of the grudges.  It was the day I learned the meaning of forgiveness.  The past no longer had any power of me.  Every now and then I glance in the rear view mirror to make sure I'm not dragging anything along that might slow me down.  Give it a try.  Have a great day.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

How to Deal with Intimidating Situations


That's my inanimate friend and traveling companion, Bro, pictured above with the bear.  Fortunately for Bro, the bear is stuffed and Bro won't be on the dinner menu.  There are times, though, when we may find ourselves in unfriendly territory or intimidating situations and we don't know whether to choose fight or flight.  That surge of adrenaline kicking in is meant to help us no matter which option we choose.

I find one of the best ways to get out of trouble is to understand why the person in front of you is so angry or upset.  If you look closely at the photo above, you will see the bear is trapped and he can't escape.  Wouldn't you be angry if you were in a similar predicament?  The next time you encounter an unfriendly bear, ask questions to determine where the anger is coming from.  A little empathy goes a long way.  You may find a solution that frees your bear from the source of all the frustration.  You may even become friends with your attacker.  Give it a try and see if you can bounce back from intimidating situations as well as my buddy, Bro, did with our day job mascot...

Bro is a champion at bouncing back.  If he can do it, you can do it.  Have a great day.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Next Adventure is 7 Days Away


It's the moment my team has been waiting for ever since our loss in the quarterfinals at last year's regional tournament.  I returned home and went in to surgery the following Monday at 8:08 AM on 8/08 to repair a sports related inguinal hernia.  Thanks to modern technology, my repairs were easy to recover from and I was back on the courts three weeks later.  Our team captain drew up a plan to come back stronger and better one year later and that time is now.  We're ready.  I feel better than ever.  Last year's defeat was painful because it came down to just a couple of points.  It's time for our mulligan.  Winner goes to Suprise in October.  I'll keep you posted.  These next seven days are going to be super busy leading up to our trip to Oklahoma.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Mind, Body, Spirit Connection


If you're feeling off balance today, perhaps it's a good day to check your alignment.  It's similar to the wheels on your vehicle.  When the alignment isn't right, you have excessive wear and a bumpy ride.  Your mind, body and spirit need to be on the same page.  Pay attention to all three.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Happy Wednesday


This blog message, like the other Monday thru Friday messages this week, has been prerecorded so I can complete my temporary out-of-state assignment without missing my daily connection to you.  I'm sitting in my walkout basement right now with my loyal companion, Roxy, a six pound Chihuahua from Mexico, while my wife is upstairs washing the dishes.  She's cranking up the volume on my Best of Styx CD, a gift one of my sisters gave me for my birthday last month.  Fooling Yourself is blaring.  This was my go to song I played in my bedroom as a teenager.  Forty years later, the music still inspires me.  The one thing that's changed since I first heard this song is I managed to let go of all my anger.

The next song just came on – Show me the Way.  "Give me the strength and the courage to get there some day", the lyrics plea.  And that's what I'm asking for right now.  There's so much work to be done on this Happy Wednesday.  Song 3 is playing now – Renegade.  "Hangman is coming from the gallows and I don't have very long."  It's time to close out this story and complete the "honey do" list before I depart in the morning.  It's only appropriate that the final song playing during this message is Come Sail Away.  "A gathering of angels appeared above my head.  They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said, 'come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me.'"

Sail on, amigo.  Have a happy Wednesday.  And if your anger is anchoring you, cut it now.  It's time to come sail away.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Why Detours are Okay


I'm officially one trimester late with my third book and this pregnancy is nowhere close to being over.  I'm okay with this.  Yes, it's true... I'm a type A personality with a broken compass.  Jesus took away my road map and told me to enjoy the detour.  I am.  I'm going places I never imagined I would visit in my lifetime and I'm meeting some rather extraordinary people along the way.

Thank you for being patient with me.  God is still fine tuning me for his purposes and this next book will be released when all the pieces of the puzzle are in place.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tribute to David J Easterling


If you've ever felt as if you've been touched by an angel, then perhaps you crossed paths with David J Easterling, a husband, father and scout leader to many who represent the future of our country.  Yes, the world is a better place because of this man who, together with his wife, Candace, opened his home to the homeless and uplifted others who needed hope.  He did all this with his warm smile and his kind heart, a heart he gave to Jesus.  Sadly, his heart no longer beats on this earth.  David has been called up.  His job here is done.  He will be missed greatly.  I'm thankful for the time I got to spend with David.  Please join me in offering prayers for his wife and children.  RIP, David.  God bless the Easterling family. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Modern Day Conveniences

I'm showcasing an accessory I found at my day job the other day and it's one of most impressive designs I've ever seen.  For those of you who own a Vitamix or are considering purchasing one, this gadget is a must have.  Think of it as a happy marriage between the original Vitamix and the Magic Bullet, a nice option for those who like to blend something for one person only.  Priced at $129.95 on the Vitamix site,  it won't break your budget.  Click here for the link.  And if you want to save even more, visit your Vitamix rep at a road show.  They travel all over the country to demo their products and I saw them at my day job.  The package was value priced at $99 during the road show.  The rep told me they can't keep this gem in stock on their web site because it's so popular.

One of the best features of the blending cup is that it won't leak or spill.  I'm taking these cups with me on road trips and to tennis tournaments.  I'm using my Vitamix daily and this new accessory makes it even more heavenly.  Give Vitamix a try.  It's one of the best modern day conveniences you'll ever own.  Have a great day.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Have a Ball


That's Thomas Jefferson in the photo I captured above.  Most people don't know he had a severe wrist injury to his dominant right hand.  He could have complained, could have stopped writing, could have given up.  The author of the Declaration of Independence chose a different path.  He chose to adapt and learned to write left-handed.  This man died on the same day we declared our independence and it happens to be my birthday – the 4th of July.

So what does this crazy picture have to do with today's story?  It's rather personal for me because it's about my own past, present and future.  My hope is that it's also about yours.  How well do you really know the people around you?  If you pause for a moment and get to know them, you may find they have a story to tell, just like Thomas Jefferson.  And if they happen to walk around carrying a tennis racket named Wilson and a tattooed soccer ball named Bro, make sure you ask why.

Yes, I'm having a ball.  You should too.  And please don't ever let others stop you from being yourself.  Have fun.  Do not ever be afraid to be yourself.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 28, 2017

You Don't Need to Find God – He'll Find You


Stop searching for God.  He knows exactly where you are.  He knows every hair on your head.  He knows what you need before you do.  And if you try to hide, He'll find you.  If you run, He'll run faster.  He knows the best way to reach you.  Forget the email.  No cell phones are necessary.  Just call his name.  Have a great day.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Here's a Great Daily Challenge for You


I joined Daily Challenge by Meyouhealth over a year ago and find it easy to use and motivating.  It's fun.  Click here for the link and give it a try.  It's a social network of people who are committed to improving their health.  The daily challenges arrive in your inbox and you always have a choice to accept or decline.  I hope you like it.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

First Fish


My "blue zone of happiness" keeps expanding.  After five years hearing everybody's fish story, I finally gave it a try at a pond just three miles from our home.  My mentor, Avery, a grandchild of some close friends who built the pond, showed me her techniques and they paid off.  The first bite was too big for my line and it snapped.  I caught four blue gills in a row while sipping an imported wine from Spain.  My wife captured this shot before I released my first fish.  Thank you, Avery, for the lesson.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Why Judging is Best Left to the Judges


One of the biggest benefits of my day job is the time off I'm granted to attend weekly church services.  I'm often asked by others, "did you get a good message today?"  My pastor is an ex-school teacher and he has a special way of making his talks easy to understand.  Here's a summary from his last talk:
  1. Evil exists.
  2. Don't judge others.
  3. There will be a judgment day.
The "other side" is really good at distorting, confusing and manipulating.  They try to convince people Hell doesn't exist, hence, there's nothing to worry about – like judgment day.  Clever marketing, I must say.  Sorry, I'm not buying.

For me, the highlight from Sunday's service is the point about judging others.  My pastor said only God can properly judge because he has all the facts.  We don't.  I'm going to do my best from now on to leaving the judging to the judges.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Your Talents are Like Seeds

Talent – Natural aptitude or skill


You don't have to worry about your talent – you were born with it.  There's no need to acquire it because you already possess it.  It starts out in raw seed form.  Not all seeds sprout at the same time and that's okay.  What's not okay is refusing to nurture your seed.  You are responsible for the watering, the weed abatement and the pruning.  Keep in mind why you were given this talent.  It's really not for your benefit, although it will bring you much personal satisfaction when you develop it.  Your talent is meant to help others. 

In case you think your talent is insignificant, ask yourself what happens when your TV loses a pixel on the screen.  Yep.  One missing pixel devalues the whole picture.  What good is 4K technology when there's a line thru the screen?  Water your seed.  Take care of your pixel.  Don't worry where you are or what the others are doing.  Your role is important.  Let your talent shine.  Have a great day.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

God Speed


Godspeed, when used in a sentence, is an expression of goodwill for someone beginning a journey.  Today's message is about splitting Godspeed into two separate words:  God speed.  This alters the meaning.  I must admit to you I often rebelled against God speed in my younger days every time the speed limit dropped because I didn't really know it's the best way to make every endeavor in life turn out according to God's will.  You see, not only does God have a plan for your life, He's also designed a complex time line for your plan.  Often times, there are periods where nothing appears to be happening.  I have a lot of trouble with the 15 mph traffic zones but there are important lessons and sometimes God needs us to slow down.  Other times, everything appears to be moving at the speed of light.

Jesus tells us in Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.  If you truly want to understand God's speed, read the Bible.  Take it slow.  There are hidden gems in every chapter but if you go too fast, you may miss these treasures buried between the lines.  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God's plans and God's timing for your life.  I wish you Godspeed today and God speed.  Have a great day.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mother Nature Gives Respite


The heat index in my part of the world hit 110º yesterday while I was driving home.  The wall of black clouds near my destination looked ominous and threatened my plans for a barbecue with my wife.  My wife urged me to be careful driving since there was yet another tornado watch in my community.  What happened next was like watching the parting of the red sea.  I caught up to the tail end of the storm at my exit on I-80 and noticed a sudden temperature drop of over twenty degrees.  The outside temperature gauge showed 79º which couldn't be any more perfect for barbecuing wild salmon. 

Mother Nature has been so fickle lately.  My best friend in Arizona notified me about a family who was wiped out by a flash flood that struck our favorite watering hole in the mountains.  He told me a ten foot wall of water instantly killed all ten people who were trying to cool off.  He was hiking in the area just 48 hours before the tragedy and warned visitors heading to the watering hole about the dark clouds in the distance.  "A flash flood can come out of nowhere," he said prophetically.  The hikers seemed unconcerned.  Please take a moment today and pray for this family and all others who may be struggling with adverse weather conditions.  My wife and I are thankful for Mother's Nature's respite and her timing couldn't have been any better.  During my prayer of Thanksgiving, I included my gratitude for all the new friends I made during my time away.  God is good.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Moving Mountains

My youngest brother gets all the credit for his ability to move mountains.  He's been doing it all his life.  He's the guy gracing the front cover of all the magazine shoots for the world's largest producer of heavy duty construction equipment.  He's really good at what he does.  There's another kind of mountain we have in our lives that Jesus talks about.  These spiritual mountains won't budge no matter how big the tractors are.  I know the secret. The nonbeliever will never find it.  The believer must be willing to give up everything in order to discover it. Are you ready?

Let go of everything taking up space in your heart that was meant for Jesus, open the door and let him in.  Expect his remodeling and his renovations to be painful, even humiliating at times. Your friends may think you've lost your marbles. The truth is you may lose everything including your marbles. Whatever you do,  make sure Jesus remains in your heart.   And when others see you moving mountains,  don't ever take the credit.  Acknowledge the one who is doing all the work.  Have a great day.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Remember This When You Get Knocked Down

Jesus fell three times. The Son of the Most High God fell three times. I believe he wanted to be an example for all of us.  Someone close to me took a couple of spills recently and broke a couple of bones. I felt powerless.  Falling down stinks. What's important to remember is what Jesus did every time he fell.  He got back up. He knew what was ahead on his journey and he got back up to face it. The last time he needed help.  Isn't that true in most of our trials?

If you're facing a crisis today and you feel like you can't get up,  ask for help.  Reach out to Jesus. He hears every prayer. He may not give you what you want or expect, but he will give you what you need.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wilson


If Wilson could talk, he could share an unbelievable journey.  I'm glad he can't.  Wilson has seen it all. I keep telling him the best is yet to come. There's a reason Wilson dominates our family photo albums. He's protecting my family's privacy.

There is one secret I hope my opponents never learn and Wilson knows first-hand.  It's the thousands of hours of practice that nobody sees. I'm far away from my teammates at a critical time and right now it's just me and Wilson.  He serves me well.  If you find yourself struggling today, keep practicing.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

2 Thumbs Up Today

Just wanted to let my loved ones know I arrived safely.  Today's post is brought to you via my two thumbs and they're both up because I'm surrounded by some really special people at my day job. I rarely comment about this part of my life because I'm not an authorized spokesperson for the company,  but what I can say publicly is I feel blessed to be surrounded by peers who genuinely want to make a difference in other people's lives.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Long Distance Blogging Ahead


My boss at my day job summoned me to go out of state for a special project and I'll be away from my laptop during the week for the next four weeks.  I left it behind for the Mrs. and I'll be blogging with my thumbs while I'm away.  It will be a bit challenging to answer emails during my road trip.  I'll do my best to keep in touch and plan to keep blogging during my road trip.  Thanks for keeping in touch.  I'll share more once I'm settled.  Have a great day.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Inspired by the Age-defying Greats of Tennis


I'm getting this story in under the wire.  Roger Federer is the 2017 Wimbledon champion.  That's not easy when you're 35 years old.  This is the second time this year an age-defying player won it all.  Nadal did it last month in the French Open at the age of 31.  These guys are my heroes.  It's hard to imagine a player can last long enough to win Wimbledon eight times.  Federer said after winning today, "as long as you keep believing and dreaming, it's possible."  He hopes to come back again next year and defend his title.

Congratulations, Roger.  Thanks for inspiring us to reach for the stars.  Don't let anyone tell you you're too old to compete.  Have a great day.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Celebrating 28 Years of Marriage Today

I've known her more than half my life.  The best way I can describe my life before her in one word?  Incomplete.  Jerry Maguire said it best in the movie clip below...

I feel like we've gone full circle now.  In fact, we now live just five miles north of the town she grew up in, the same town where I watched her walk down the aisle in her wedding gown on this day, twenty-eight years ago.  We had each other at hello.  It's a wonderful life.  Happy anniversary, my lady.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Adventure Ahead


I remember those family road trips on summer vacations when the kids favorite question was, "are we there yet?"  Times have changed.  These days we can respond, "check your navigation on your phone."

It's been almost a year since my tennis team lost a close match in the quarter finals in Oklahoma.  It was a tough loss.  We rallied after the defeat and made a decision to return to Oklahoma and give it another shot.  The state championship match in Waterloo last month was a nail biter and we came up short.  It appeared the roller coaster ride was over.  Before we unbuckled our seat belts, our captain got another call from the tournament director offering us a wild card entry for a return visit to Oklahoma in August.

I don't need binoculars to see how far away the adventure is.  It's at every mile marker.  I simply refuse to leave the ride, even when it's not moving.  The real adventure is in the preparation – the weekly practices, the equipment upgrades, the food experiment.  I'm doing everything I can to maximize the dream of going to nationals in Arizona in October.  My sidekick, Wilson, got a facelift earlier this week and he's sporting bright green strings from Solinco that may add a new spin to our fairy tale story.  If I were a pirate, this would be my buried treasure...
No, we're not there yet, but the adventure has already begun.  If you have trouble spotting me, look for Wilson.  He's hard to miss with all that color.  Hope to see you soon at a tennis court near you.  Have a great day.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

If My Bones Could Talk


Researchers will be studying my bones for the next two years.  I volunteered for a bone and joint study that involves activity monitoring, X-rays, CT scans and other health monitoring.  The gentleman handling the screening interview told me I'm a good candidate and asked me to come in for a second round of questions.  I'm volunteering because I think my bones have a great story to tell even though they may not be able to talk.

My favorite Bible story is from the prophet Ezekiel.  In Ezekiel 37:1-14, Ezekiel is led to a valley with a bunch of dried up bones.  The Spirit of the Lord asks, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

God asks Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, telling the bones breath will enter them and they will come to life.

I'm certainly no prophet, but I do know something about my bones – they're "muy viejo," meaning very old.  They're on concrete 40 hours a week at my day job and they don't get any rest when I'm with my tennis buddies for another 3-5 hours per week on the tennis courts.  The dairy gurus preached about how my bones would become brittle and dried up if I didn't load up on milk but I walked away and tried an experiment based on eating more like the people of Ezekiel's time.  If my bones could talk, they would have something to say to the milk advocates.  Numbers don't lie and my bones are about as dense as they come, even sans the milk.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.  I'll be sharing what the researchers learn from their research project.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Close Call in Our Hometown Yesterday


A tornado touched down in our community last night a couple miles from our home.  It narrowly missed the retirement center pictured above and the outlet mall filled with shoppers seeking shelter.  Now I understand why basements are so important in the Midwest.  Storms like these are common.  I'm thankful everyone in our community is safe.  More storms are expected today.  I'll be on the indoor courts tonight getting ready for our adventure in Oklahoma City next month.  The heat index is expected to reach 100º and the winds will be swirling.  Looks like Mother Nature is doing her best to toughen us up for our tournament.  Yes, the wind is my friend but I prefer not to get too close scenarios featuring tornadoes.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Do You Know Why You Do the Things You Do?


Do you prefer tranquility or chaos?  Do arrive early or late?  Are your relationships rocky or long-lasting?  Here's the question of the day: why?  And the follow-up question:  are you willing to change?

Most people won't change unless the perceived reward is greater than the pain.  Change is a struggle.  I consider pain as the price of admission for something better in my life.  The good seats always sell at a premium.  I'm certain about one thing – no matter what, I want my wife sitting next to me on the fifty yard line until time expires.  She knows I will do whatever it takes to maximize the rewards of a strong marriage.  For me, that means always seeking ways to improve.  Ask yourself, do I know why I do the things I do?  Think about your answer.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Who Do You Trust for Spiritual Wisdom?

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. ~ Revelations 3:15-17

 
One of the reasons I like Sundays so much has to do with worship time.  I'm often asked at my day job, "did you get a good message today?"  They know where I've been before I arrive for my shift.  That's what the first followers of Jesus did – they got the message and then they spread it.  I'm always careful how I respond because I know very well how the Evil One works.  He's all about dissension, confusion and fighting.  There are three specific types of people – hot, cold and lukewarm.  One group is the most dangerous to deal with – the lukewarm believer.  He or she believes there is a God but doesn't see much value in following on a regular basis.  Jesus says, "I would rather that you are hot or cold."  The hot believer is all in.  The cold person either does not know God, has a confused perspective about who God is, or had a bad experience from others who didn't do a good job sharing the message.  It's as if they've been living in a dark cave all their lives and they need someone to turn on the light.  The lukewarm don't really care if the light is on or off.  The world is full of these people and the Evil One does a really good job of keeping the temperature setting in the proper range so these people never get too hot to become full-time believers.

There is really only one person I trust 100% for spiritual wisdom – the source.  This Holy Spirit knows my questions before I think about asking them.  He knows what I need before I do.  He knows the trouble I will find before I wake up.  And he has all the solutions.  Jesus gave us this gift before departing over 2,000 years ago.  The Spirit shines brightly in the "hot" believers who find their connection and their purpose.  He is ready to turn up the heat for anyone who wants to have God in their lives.  He will help the lukewarm as well but they are a tough crowd and they appear content living in mild spiritual temperatures.  If you really want spiritual wisdom, go to the source.  Ask Jesus for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Warning!  Your life will get red hot and you will never be the same.  And if someone asks you, "did you get a good message today?"  you will know exactly how to answer as long as the Spirit is guiding you.  Have a great day.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

How's Your Supply of Osteoblasts?


Please pardon my lack of awareness about how our bodies function.  The older I get, the more I realize how much I don't know.  In fact, some of the most important lessons I learned in grade school appear to be based on false information, like the fake "food pyramid."  I'm doing my best to get to the source and the journey is as circuitous as my intestines.  Today's message is inspired by yesterday's bone mineral density screening and risk factor assessment at my day job.  The first test rattled me a bit when it came up with an error message.  They took a mulligan and the second reading was quite revealing, especially because I gave up dairy almost two years ago and I was curious to learn if I might be at greater risk for developing osteoporosis.  I was almost off the charts – on the positive side.  My T-score was +1.6.  What does that mean? I decided to put on my detective hat and dig deeper.

Please never mistake any of my ramblings for medical advice.  This is only a layman's attempt to understand how my body works and what I can do to maximize my useful life.  Please see you doctor before you make any changes.  One of the interesting tidbits I uncovered during my morning reading has to do with osteoporosis.  It appears that places in the world where high amounts of milk are consumed do have higher bone density rates.  Milk advocates cheer about these numbers.  Before you paint a milk mustache on your face, here's another tidbit. The bone fracture rates are also higher in places where large quantities of milk are consumed.  There is a theory that excessive calcium causes the body to exhaust its supply of osteoblasts at a faster rate.  This is like premature aging.  When the osteoblasts are gone, bone density decreases rapidly.  Maybe that's why we are seeing so many broken bones in our elderly in America.  Ask your doctor and see what he says about this subject.  Have a great day.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Are You Ready to Change?


The man in the mirror is a reflection of all the choices you make.  If you're sick and tired of seeing the same face every day, perhaps you're ready to do something positive that will enhance what you see in the mirror.  Remember, nothing changes until you change.  Everything changes once you change.  The image in the mirror is only the first step.  Put all your energy into the first step and don't give up.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Stress Busters


Stress kills.  Recognize what it's doing to your life and do something before it's too late.  Think of stress as a "hot tater" and don't hold on too long so you don't get burned.  Try these stress busters to avoid the danger zone...
  • Avoid toxic people
  • Avoid toxic situations
  • Be prepared before entering any challenging meetings
  • Exercise regularly
  • Sleep 8 hours per night
  • When someone hands you a "hot tater," throw it back with a quick solution attached for them to try.  Sometimes the solution may be a question, such as "have you asked John what his opinion is on this matter?"
  • Set up mine fields for repeat offenders.  If toxic people insist on meeting with you, limit your availability and stick to your calendar.  Give them each 15 minutes on "Toxic Tuesday" and make sure to schedule something fun after you're done so you can quickly return to normal.
Remember, stress in small amounts won't hurt.  Avoid long-term exposure for a happy, healthy life.  Have a great day.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Do You Have Something to Look Forward to?


What's on your calendar?  I find having something to look forward to keeps me motivated.  It doesn't matter if it's a vacation, an athletic competition or a reunion.  If you're having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, think of something special you would like to do in the future and put it on your calendar today.  Then, do something every day to prepare.  Good luck in your future endeavors.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sometimes it's Better to Sing it

I found this YouTube video this morning from one of my favorite people.  Rich Mullens shares some words and a prayer song.  I hope you like it.  Have a great day.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July


Happy 4th of July!  May you day be filled with fun and your evening with fireworks.  I'm headed to the tennis courts for a morning practice with my teammates and then some great family time.  We'll be having a barbecue on our patio deck.  The weather couldn't be any better.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Does This Ever Happen to You When You Feel Lost?


Today's post may seem a bit strange.  Humor me and see if my ramblings make any sense.  I need to backtrack to yesterday's post ("Stay the Course") in order to set the stage for something really special that followed.  I penned the blog message just before rushing out the door to my House of Worship and arrived just as the opening song was ending.  Our pastor talked about what it means to put Jesus first.  I managed to pay attention during his talk even though I was somewhat distracted about my own direction in life.  It's those pauses that get me every time – those times when your mind drifts.  During a silent moment, I was questioning myself about the story I had just written and the self doubts were creeping in big time.  I thought, how many baby steps is it going to take to get this next book done?  Maybe I'm veering off course and I'm lost?  Before I knew it, the service was over and I was on my way to my day job.  That's when it happened.  It wasn't a baby step in the right direction.  It was a Holy Spirit leap frog that electrified every cell in my body.

I have to keep the names and places anonymous here for privacy reasons but what happened next made my day and cleared up any doubts I had about my direction in life.  I met a family from a small town outside my state.  Most people don't drive that far to shop at my day job and they were curious if we could meet their needs.  They hesitated when I asked what they were interested in.  The wife whispered, "do you have any gluten-free products here?"  I wanted to hold hands and sing Kumbaya with them.  The husband shared how he's had stomach issues almost his whole life.  The doctors never could find anything wrong so he just lived with his health issues.  He noticed a change when he switched brands of beers.  The stomach issues subsided.  They returned when he switched back.  He studied the ingredients to see what was up.  He decided to quit beer for a while to see what would happen.  He started feeling better.  He dug deeper, dropping wheat from his diet.  His stomach problems got better.  He lost 30 pounds.  He asked his friend to join him.  This man is a farmer.  He told me he would be the last person to try something so strange as a wheat free diet.  The man's daughter also visited the doctor for stomach problems.  The parents thought her issues were maybe emotional since the doctors couldn't find anything specifically wrong.  They decided to cut out wheat and dairy from their daughter's diet.  She got better.  The whole family discovered they felt better when they eliminated gluten.  No one told them to do this.  This was something the husband did because he thought the gluten in his beer was making him sick.

Once the family committed to the food changes, they shared their story with their local grocery store.  The owner offered to bring in some gluten-free foods but the choices were limited to one shelf and the family needed more.  They drove over two hours seeking a solution.  They found what they were looking for.  They shared how challenging it is when everyone looks at you thinking you are weird because you don't eat what they eat.  I know the feeling well.  That's okay.  I'm no longer lost.  Neither is the family I met yesterday.  The meeting was a leapfrog moment.  This is my calling – sharing my story with others who are suffering from food related health issues.  Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to ramble today.  Have a great day.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Stay the Course


Life is a series of small steps.  Those who wander and veer off the path lost something.  Perhaps they forgot how important it is to stay the course in order to reach their goals.  Or they got distracted by something more enticing.  The Evil One is very clever at deception.  He makes us think those baby steps aren't worth it.  Ask yourself if the path you're on is the right one.  If it is, stay the course.  If not, find your way back.  Have a great day.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why You Need to Go Against Your Gut


All you need to do is look around and you'll see why you need to go against your gut.  Obesity is everywhere.  People in my age group are dropping like flies from food related diseases and they have no clue what's causing the problem.  Why?  Because they trust their gut when it comes to food cravings.  The people at the top of the food chain figured out that certain ingredients induce the brain to want more.  These ingredients guarantee higher profits.  Your gut can't nudge you in the right direction when it's under the influence of substances in your food that are similar to cocaine.  The only way to break free of your food addictions is to go cold turkey until your gut and your brain both recover.

You may be under the influence if you find yourself always hungry.  If you really want to succeed, you must be willing to eliminate the foods causing your addiction.  Start with anything artificial.  Throw it out.  Give up dairy.  Processed foods are your enemy.  Concentrate on fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds for 45 days.  Introduce red meat, chicken and fish in small amounts after 45 days and monitor how your body responds.  Consult your physician, especially if you're taking prescription pills.  Whatever you do, go against your gut until you break free from your food addictions.  Have a great day.

Friday, June 30, 2017

There are Two Kinds of People


You don't have to answer this publicly.  I thought it might be fun fuel for thought.  One of my biggest pet peeves is tardiness.  The real challenge is dealing with others who may have an opposite view.  If you can understand why they behave the way they do, you may find a greater sense of peace.  It's also a good idea to share why you do the things you do so others know where you're coming from.  If they understand you place a high value on promptness as a sign of respect, maybe they won't be an hour late at the next family gathering.

For the record, I like to fill up just under the 1/4 tank mark.  I consistently fill up at the same place and prefer not to refuel any sooner for time management purposes.  For me, refilling at the 1/2 way mark means gassing up twice as often – no way Jose.  Whatever your daily habits are, take a look at what you might be able to do to improve.  Think about this the next time you look at your fuel gauge.  Have a great day.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Hope is Your Advantage Against Adversity


Your actions are a dead giveaway.  They speak loudly about your beliefs, hopes and dreams.  Choose wisely.  And whatever you do, don't ever give up.  Not ever.  Fear cripples.  Hope inspires.  You will always have adversity.  That's okay.  It's part of life.  If adversity were a language, I'm fully bilingual.  In order to overcome it, I needed to expand my vocabulary.  Here are some words embedded deep within my soul that may be helpful.  Make sure to add them to your resume...

aspiration
craving
desire
eagerness
energy
enthusiasm
initiative
longing
love
passion
spirit
striving
vigor
yearning
zeal

Have a great day.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Men's 18+ 4.0 Team Offered Wildcard for Oklahoma

We're in the regional playoffs in Oklahoma for a second straight year.  Our hopes faded earlier this month when we lost our state championship match in a thriller 3-2, but it looks like we're getting a mulligan.  Our team captain reminded us after our loss that last year's regional champion entered the playoffs on a wildcard entry. 

There are seven other strong teams we must overcome in order to earn a national berth in Surprise, Arizona in October.  Don't count us out.  This is a gritty team that plays with heart.  The practice schedule will be rigorous and that's the way I like it.  I would love the chance to go to nationals and be reunited with friends and family members in Arizona.  Stay tuned.  Our mulligan is in play.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What's Behind Door #1?


Congratulations!  You just opened door #1.  Here's your prize...

"May joy and peace surround you,
Contentment latch your door,
And happiness be with you now,
And bless you evermore."

I keep this on my nightstand to remind me the door is always open.  Have a great day.