Wednesday, March 31, 2004


Psalm 63:2-3

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

It's been's been good.

I'm overwhelmed.

The Waco job, which was going to start Monday, was fast tracked this afternoon. I start tomorrow.
I was sort of hoping to have the weekend to adjust my sleep schedule a little, but daylight saving time hits Sunday anyway and that always messes up my internal clock...might as well dive right in.

I really have been in a daze for a week as these new opportunities have literally been tossed into my lap. I know it's taken some stress off Amy and her worries about money. That may be the best medicine she's gotten in some time. Despite a lingering infection and the added wearisome need for I.V. antibiotics, she had two good days in a row this week, the most she's had since January. I can't help but believe knowing our cash flow is going to increase played a role in that.

I also have to admit the job stuff has been an ego boost of sorts too. I really haven't competed for a job - with the exception of a brief fling with the concept of abandoning our sanity and running away to a somewhat ill defined low paying position at a Christian college in Ohio last year- in 20 years. A little validation apparently goes a long way.

The new opportunities, the money, the small signs of health improvements, and the ego boost are all good things...but that's not what has overwhelmed me.

I was struck by it this afternoon while walking - a heavy sense of the presence of prayer. I know that friends, family, and complete strangers have been praying for us for some time, but in these past two days I have literally felt it: the energy of hope.

I am convinced our fortunes are turning, but no matter what lies ahead, for today at least the burdens seem lighter.

It's been invigorating.

It's been humbling.

I'm thankful.

I'm blessed.

I'm overwhelmed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


The title of the final "Left Behind" series book out today is The Glorious Appearing. Yes, I actually purchased it today.

But that's not what this post is about...I'm already a self-confessed Left Behinder.

The glorious appearing I'm talking about is the job in Waco. The job I was certain I didn't get.

On a whim this morning I sent a polite email to the folks at WACO-FM saying since I hadn't heard from them I assumed they had made another hire, but I appreciated the opportunity. They emailed me back immediately saying no decision had been made, except to narrow the list of candidates from 35 to 4. I was in the final four.

I took that as a good sign, since San Antonio is hosting the NCAA Final Four by the way.

Moments ago, the morning team called and hired me.

Call it the glorious reappearing job.

God is good and it's a good day.

Monday, March 29, 2004


If you have no interest in the latest political blatherings, and I suspect that's probably true of most folks, this post is something you can skip. However if you're caught up in all the latest fingerpointing in Washington and trying to keep score, the following is taken from the London Telegraph. It is, in my opinion, an excellent synopsis of what is going on, and has gone on in our country in recent days and in recent years.

Bush has nothing to fear from this hilarious work of fiction

By Mark Steyn

In January 2002, the Enron story broke and the media turned their attention to the critical question: how can we pin this on Bush? As I wrote in this space that weekend: "Short answer: You can't."

So Enron retreated to the business pages, and, after a while, the media and the Democrats came up with an even better wheeze: how can we pin September 11 on Bush? Same answer: you can't. But that doesn't stop them every month or so from taking a wild ride on defective vehicles for their crazy scheme.

The latest is a mid-level bureaucrat called Richard Clarke, and by the time you read this his 15 minutes should be just about up. Mr Clarke was Bill Clinton's terrorism guy for eight years and George W Bush's for a somewhat briefer period, and he has now written a book called If Only They'd Listened to Me - whoops, sorry, that should be Against All Enemies: Inside the White House's War on Terror - What Really Happened (Because They Didn't Listen to Me).

Having served both the 42nd and 43rd Presidents, Clarke was supposed to be the most authoritative proponent to advance the Democrats' agreed timeline of the last decade - to whit, from January 1993 to January 2001, Bill Clinton focused like a laser on crafting a brilliant plan to destroy al-Qa'eda, but, alas, just as he had dotted every "i", crossed every "t" and sent the intern to the photocopier, his eight years was up, so Bill gave it to the new guy as he was showing him the Oval Office - "That carpet under the desk could use replacing. Oh, and here's my brilliant plan to destroy al-Qa'eda, which you guys really need to implement right away."

The details of the brilliant plan need not concern us, which is just as well, as there aren't any. But the broader point, as The New York Times noted, is that "there was at least no question about the Clinton administration's commitment to combat terrorism".

Yessir, for eight years the Clinton administration was relentless in its commitment: no sooner did al-Qa'eda bomb the World Trade Center first time round, or blow up an American embassy, or a barracks, or a warship, or turn an entire nation into a terrorist training camp, than the Clinton team would redouble their determination to sit down and talk through the options for a couple more years. Then Bush took over and suddenly the superbly successful fight against terror all went to hell.

Richard Clarke was supposed to be the expert who could make this argument with a straight face. And, indeed, his week started well. The media were very taken by this passage from his book, in which he alerts Mr Bush's incoming National Security Adviser to the terrorist threat: "As I briefed Rice on al-Qa'eda, her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard of the term before, so I added, 'Most people think of it as Osama bin Laden's group, but it's much more than that. It's a network of affiliated terrorist organisations with cells in over 50 countries, including the US.' "

Mr Clarke would seem to be channelling Leslie Nielsen's deadpan doctor in Airplane!: "Stewardess, we need to get this passenger to a hospital."

"A hospital? What is it?"

"It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now."

As it turns out, Clarke's ability to read "facial expressions" is not as reliable as one might wish in a "counter-terrorism expert". In October the previous year, Dr Rice gave an interview to WJR Radio in Detroit in which she discoursed authoritatively on al-Qa'eda and bin Laden - and without ever having met Richard Clarke!

I don't know how good Clarke was at counter-terrorism, but as a media performer he is a total dummy. He seemed to think that he could claim the lucrative star role of Lead Bush Basher without anybody noticing the huge paper trail of statements he has left contradicting the argument in his book.

The reality is that there is a Richard Clarke for everyone. If you are like me and reckon there was an Islamist angle to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, then Clarke's your guy: he supports the theory that al-Qa'eda operatives in the Philippines "taught Terry Nichols how to blow up the Oklahoma Federal Building".

On the other hand, if you're one of those Michael Moore-type conspirazoids who wants to know why Bush let his cronies in the House of Saud and the bin Laden family sneak out of America on September 11, then Clarke's also your guy: he is the official who gave the go-ahead for the bigshot Saudis with the embarrassing surnames to be hustled out of the country before they could be questioned.

Does this mean Clarke is Enron - an equal-opportunity scandal whose explicitly political aspects are too ambiguous to offer crude party advantage? Not quite. Although his book sets out to praise Clinton and bury Bush, he can't quite pull it off. Except for his suggestion to send in a team of "ninjas" to take out Osama, Clinton had virtually no interest in the subject.

In October 2000, Clarke and Special Forces Colonel Mike Sheehan leave the White House after a meeting to discuss al-Qa'eda's attack on the USS Cole: "'What's it gonna take, Dick?' Sheehan demanded. 'Who the s*** do they think attacked the Cole, f****** Martians? The Pentagon brass won't let Delta go get bin Laden. Does al-Qa'eda have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?'"

Apparently so. The attack, on the Cole, which killed 17 US sailors, was deemed by Clinton's Defence Secretary Bill Cohen as "not sufficiently provocative" to warrant a response. You'll have to do better than that, Osama! So he did. And now the same people who claim Bush had no right to be "pre-emptive" about Iraq insist he should have been about September 11.

As for Clarke's beef with Bush, that's simple. For eight years, he had pottered away on the terrorism brief undisturbed. The new President took it away from him and adopted the strategy outlined by Condoleezza Rice in that Detroit radio interview, months before the self-regarding Mr Clarke claims he brought her up to speed on who bin Laden was: "We really need a stronger policy of holding the states accountable that support him," Dr Rice told WJR. "Terrorists who are just operating out there without basis and without state support are a lot less dangerous than ones that find safe haven, as bin Laden does sometimes in places like Afghanistan or Sudan."

Just so. In the 1990s when al-Qa'eda blew up American targets abroad, the FBI would fly in and work it as a "crime scene" - like a liquor-store hold-up in Cleveland. It doesn't address the problem. Sure, there are millions of disaffected young Muslim men, but, if they get the urge to blow up infidels, they need training and organisation. Somehow all those British Taliban knew that if you wanted a quick course in jihad studies Afghanistan was the place to go. Bush got it right: go to where the terrorists are, overthrow their sponsoring regimes, destroy their camps, kill their leaders.

Instead, all the Islamists who went to Afghanistan in the 1990s graduated from Camp Osama and were dispersed throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, where they lurk to this day. That's the Clarke-Clinton legacy. And, if it were mine, I wouldn't be going around boasting about it.


So it goes. I haven't had any contact with the radio station in Waco since I was initially approached about doing some work for them. If things were going to fall into place, I was expecting I'd probably get the word today. I got my hopes up a little high for that one, it did seem like the answer to prayer, but if it's not to be that also means I won't have to adjust my schedule too dramatically which is certainly a plus.

Since radio people are associated world wide with adjectives like lazy and procrastinating, there is still the chance that the deal could work out, but I'm going to let a little more realism creep its way into my normal sunny outlook and figure it's most likely not to be. It's a shame, the work would have dovetailed perfectly into what I'm doing now and the money could not have come at a better time.

On the upside, I've about worked out the kinks with the new duties for the Corpus Christi stations and today I realized that may take even less effort than I expected. I think I can do what I'm being asked to do there by merely adjusting the process of what I do at the office, instead of adjusting my alarm clock. That would be a very good thing.

Sunday, March 28, 2004


It's a sad truth I suppose that there are extremists in every faith. Yet, when I see stories like this I can't help but wonder why we don't hear an outcry from moderates in the Muslim faith.

If a fundamentalist Christian leader were to say that "God declared war" on Yasser Arafat, or that Muslims were enemies of God, other Christians would be falling all over themselves to distance themselves from that position.

Perhaps moderate Muslim leaders don't issue press releases. Yeah, maybe that's it.

Abby dribbles.

This would not be an unusual phenomenon were Abby an infant, a doddering fool, or a basketball player...but Abby is a schnauzer.

She's the dog of one of Amy's clients. Since Amy is not really able to drive these days I go along whenever Amy makes a service call. Sometimes I'm able to be of use, updating virus protection or installing software, but most of the time I simply wait for Amy to resolve the current computer problem and then return to my role as chauffeur, although Amy prefers to refer to me by my formal title: lackey.

As with most dogs, Abby has her own peculiarities. She barks incessantly at every new arrival, she bites some folks, and saves virtually all of her affection for the people nearest and dearest to her, those who feed her.

For whatever reason, Abby and I have always gotten along and soon she taught me the game of Abby's rules.

If you only have one ball and throw it, Abby will scamper after it, snatch it...and then never give any consideration to the concept of returning it to you. This in itself is not unusual. I've seen this particular form of canine greed with our own dogs quite often. It makes for a very short game of fetch, not to mention a less than satisfying way to pass the time. However if you have an extra tennis ball, Abby puts a whole new spin on the game.

There's no real trick to it - you throw the first ball and once Abby has full possession of it, you toss the second.

If I did this with any of our dogs they would either drop the first ball and grab the other, ignore the second ball completely, stand there confused, or in the case of Winston our special needs dog, sit down and howl.

Abby dribbles...literally.

I don't mean she drools, although there is a component of that I suppose. Abby will clutch one ball in her mouth and then very deliberately and with great accuracy she will kick the second ball. She moves it a few inches at a time using alternating paws until it rolls to a point where she deems it's close enough for you to pick up. Then she waits for you to throw it again. She never loses possession of the first ball, but she'll dribble that second ball back to you every time.

This is Abby's style of fetch.

Maybe this isn't so uncommon, but I've never seen any other dog do it. I find it amazing.

I enjoy this game with Abby. It passes the time, but it also serves as a good reminder to me.

That little game of fetch admonishes me to be open to new ways of looking at things...most especially those things I presume I already know.

Saturday, March 27, 2004


Two weeks left of Lent. It seems like this time has flown by. I don't know if I've accomplished my goals of looking inward less, although I've held steady in my pledge to fast and walk.
I've about decided to maintain a very similar regimen even after Easter. I generally feel better. I've lost weight. I think I need the disciplines for more than 40 days.

Tonight I'm heading to an appreciation dinner for the church's lay ministers with mixed emotions. Amy is not feeling well enough to join me, and since I'm fasting I'll be limited in my food choices, but that's not truly the reason I am a bit reticent about this event.

I consider what I volunteer to do at our church a form of worship. In what amount to very small ways, I hope I am serving God.

Although I am thankful that the church leadership wants to make sure people understand they are appreciated, it still feels a little strange to me to be given recognition for honoring God.

Yeah, I'm still looking inward too much.

Friday, March 26, 2004


This story is my pick for news story of the week.

Thursday, March 25, 2004


I spent a good portion of this afternoon at the dentist, who is quite obviously too busy. I'll be going back because the crown I was supposed to be receiving today doesn't fit.

I spent the rest of the day having Amy's van cleaned and made ready for sale. I hope to put it on the market by the weekend.

I came home to an unexpected email from my boss mentioning that yet another radio station is looking for someone to do their morning news. This one is in Waco, about 180 miles north of San Antonio. Would it be possible for me to add this station to my list too?

My first thought was of my dentist who has too much to do and isn't doing it second thought was of our finances.

The Waco station is offering to pay a decent amount of money and it's a job I can do if I'm willing to adjust my schedule and work slightly longer (and earlier) hours.

There's no guarantee by any means I'll get it, but I quickly decided to send an email response saying I was interested.

I'm stunned at how rapidly this is evolving and I'll admit I'm a little concerned about the additional workload.

However, it would seem rather silly to spend time on my knees praying for answers only to neglect to get up to open the door when opportunity knocks.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


I'm sure if you're like me when you read this story only one question comes to mind.

Does this guy's middle initial, "W", stand for Wayne?

I'll have to admit I'm in the dark about a lot of things...those of you raising your hands saying "Amen" can lower them now I didn't ask for affirmation. However I have to confess that I'm not certain as to what the purpose is of these 911 hearings going on in Washington.
I've seen all the finger pointing. I've listened to the political posturing from Republicans and Democrats. I've watched the speechifying. I've seen our Intelligence agency officials admit to the world that we have intelligence failures. I've heard apologies and promises. I've seen the sorrow and outrage from survivors and relatives of survivors.

But, what are we expecting is going to come out of this? Is a light going to suddenly shine down on someone to blame? Does anyone really expect that?

Again, maybe I don't get it, but it seems like all we're doing is prostrating ourselves for the entire world to see, including our many enemies. We're displaying our divisions and our flaws all at a time when, unless I missed the headline, the war on terror is still very much continuing.

I can't imagine anything coming out of these hearings beyond a final report acknowledging what everyone on earth already knows: The U.S. was vulnerable to attack on September 11th. The officials in charge wish it hadn't happened and have taken every step they can think of to prevent it from happening again. They, like everyone else, fear they haven't done enough.

That report will be released six months before the Presidential elections so it will become political fodder, further dividing the country...and the terrorists will still be out there.

Who benefits from this again?

Maybe we should hold hearings on why we held these 911 hearings. Personally I want answers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


A couple of deals went through today.

First off, I finally made an insurance claim on the dented fender on Amy's soon to be sold van. That process, which I envisioned being tedious and involving going to various shops and getting estimates, in fact took one phone call, a 5 minute drive and about a 10 minute inspection. It resolved a number of things, the most of important of which was formalizing the decision of whether to have that dent repaired before putting the van up for sale. There's about 677 dollars in damage, and our deductible is 500 dollars. The van's blue book value in good condition, i.e. no major dents is 5,335 dollars. In fair condition, i.e. with the dent, it's valued at 4, 645. That's a 690 dollar difference. By my calculations, if I pay the 500 bucks to get the van fixed, I might make 13 bucks on the deal. I'm no math major, but for me that adds up to the words "as is" on the for sale sign.

The insurance agent cut me a check for 177 bucks on the spot.

The second deal involves my on-air duties for radio stations in Corpus Christi. For two years, thanks to what my father-in-law might refer to as "Luciferian technology," I have been the morning news anchor for a news talk station in that city by the sea, even though I don't live there or anywhere near there. Today, I was formally offered and accepted the job of doing news for four other radio stations owned by my company in the same city. Much of it will be smoke and mirrors, two stations will use the newscasts I produce for the news talk station and edit them, while I will produce several additional newscasts which will be shared and aired by the other stations. The net effect is I will be doing newscasts for a news talk station, a top forty station, a rock station, a Tejano station and a country station all located in a city 150 miles away.
That's in addition to the news talk and country stations I work for in San Antonio.

In addition to a promise of free swag (radio station t-shirts, caps, etc.) I did exact a tiny amount of money out of this new arrangement. It's certainly not much, the radio stations are getting a heck of a bargain, but considering they were paying me nothing, getting any amount of real money for only a small amount of additional work seems like an improvement.

I'm sure when the dust settles a bit, our car insurance rates will go up and the new work duties will probably be a headache on occasion, but for right now...I feel like I'm walking away from the tables a winner.

Monday, March 22, 2004


I don't like to write about work, but it's that season again. The season when I pick up the phone at the office and the caller will immediately say something cryptic and snide. I've learned over the years to decipher these calls as meaning that we've aired a story that somehow offended this person. They invariably assume I automatically know what they're talking about, and without fail I never do. It usually takes several minutes for me to calm them down enough so they can explain what they heard and why they are upset about it. Almost always the gist of the situation is that they think we made their favorite political candidate look bad, or we made the candidate they hate look good.

Over the years I've often been accused of being an extremist. Depending on the caller I'm either an extreme liberal or an extreme conservative. I figure the calls usually balance out so I must be doing a fairly decent job of presenting equal viewpoints.

Yet, whenever I'm asked if the news media is biased my answer is, "Yes, of course."

I'm a member of the news media. I'm biased. I'd be biased if I were a trash collector, or a shoe salesman too. Journalists who claim they are unbiased are either robots or they're fooling themselves. Everything I write has to come from my perspective because as far as I know, and psychiatrists have checked, I'm the only one occupying my brain.

I'm a parent, a Christian, a taxpayer, a homeowner, a dog owner, and a Texan. All of these things, and many others, influence my writing. So yes, I'm biased.

What I try not to be is deceitful by injecting my opinions into news stories I write either overtly or by omission. I wish I could say the same for members of the media who are far higher up than me on the journalistic food chain, but I see it every day.

Last week ABC news ran results of a poll . For the most part, I refuse to run poll results as news stories because we're rarely given the methodology used or more importantly the wording of the questions asked. This particular survey was taken in Iraq in conjunction with the 1 year anniversary of the beginning of that nation's liberation. It asked Iraqis if they thought the U.S. military presence was still needed in their country. I forget the exact results, but the overall response without breaking the numbers down by geographic or religious associations showed 48 percent of Iraqis said yes, and 39 percent said no. I ran the story, but I had to edit it because the reporter framed the results - and I'm paraphrasing a bit - this way, " The responses show 48 percent of Iraqis are thankful for the U.S. military being in their country, with 39 percent disagreeing....hardly the overwhelming support U.S. military and White House officials would like the public to believe." I edited out that last part, since it seemed to me to be opinion, not fact or even analysis.

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but it's not. When President Bush started his campaign in earnest a few weeks ago, ABC consistently referred to expectations that the President was going to start targeting John Kerry for criticism as "negative remarks in the President's stump speech" Yet, each day when I receive audio bites of John Kerry invariably there is one included where he is exhorting a crowd of supporters to chant, "Bring them on!". It's always a different city, a different crowed, but it's the same speech each time. Although that's exactly what it is, ABC has never framed it as Kerry's "stump speech."

Now, former White House counter terrorism advisor Richard Clarke is getting a lot of ink with his criticisms of the Bush administration. 60 Minutes ran a lengthy interview Sunday. ABC and the other networks dutifully tagged along today.

ABC radio couldn't run audio from 60 minutes (CBS), so it did what it apparently considered the next best thing. The network ran cuts of Wesley Clark, the former Democratic presidential candidate commenting on the allegations. This is the most unbiased person they could find. I couldn't stop laughing. I also couldn't air the audio.

Quite frankly, I'm hard pressed to call it journalism when news people put a microphone in front of someone so they can make "new allegations" which coincidentally are also being released in their book hitting store shelves that same day. I'd prefer we make these people buy commercial time to advertise their books instead, but I'm probably showing my bias as a capitalist. If so, I'm sure someone will call to berate me for it.

Having brought up the topic the other day of crass marketing, I noticed this story today about Abercrombie & Fitch, which has flourished with similar techniques, most notably selling a catalog that was pure pornography. They took heat for a while, generated a lot of press and then withdrew the catalog. Now they're purposely offending West Virginia with t-shirts reading , "It's all relative in West Virginia."

The state's Governor has taken the bait giving Abercrombie exactly what it wanted...outrage exposure.

I'm wondering when we're going to catch on to this type of stuff...although I have to admit I love the quote from the one West Virginia resident in the story who said she wasn't offended, "This shirt, the shirt itself, doesn't offend me. It covers more than most of their stuff."

Sunday, March 21, 2004


During this season of Lent, as we have every year since we built our small church, the cross which adorns the main wall of our sanctuary is draped in purple cloth.

Purple is the color of Lent. I'm told this is because purple is associated with mourning and also with royalty.

It symbolizes the anticipation of the suffering of the crucifixion while also reminding us of the pending celebration of Christ's resurrection and sovereignty.

There is a certain beauty to it; a certain sadness too.

Inside our sanctuary that story is told with a small fragment of cloth.

Outside, God has been far bolder.

There is virtually no where you can look on our church property this Lenten season without seeing the glorious purple blooms of the mountain laurel.

As always, God's timing is perfect.

As I walked the church grounds this morning before services, I shared the beauty of the day for a brief moment with an unexpected guest. He wandered onto the path much as I did and appeared to be appreciating the resplendent surroundings including the wonderful aroma of the mountain laurel blooms.

He stretched his nose into the air and raised himself up on two legs.

And then he caught wind of me.

In an instant my little armadillo friend quickly scurried into the underbrush.

I felt sad that fear intruded on us, but such is the nature of nature.

Saturday, March 20, 2004


"Kill them all and let God sort them out" - attributed to Arnaud-Armaury, the Abbot of Citeaux, and "spiritual advisor" to the Albigensian Crusade

I read with interest today this story about the Reverend Max Lucado whose church is in our city.
In brief, the article states that some members of the Church of Christ are upset with Lucado and or his theology.
In recent months Lucado has allowed musicians during certain services to play instruments.
His stance on baptism also apparently differs from traditional Church of Christ teachings.

I'm certainly no theologian and I'm sure there are stout biblical arguments for many of these divisions. However I have to wonder if God is nearly as concerned by them as Christians seem to be. I know I'm not.

I've never felt compelled to speak in tongues, but I've been in churches where folks did it. I'm fairly reserved during worship, but I've attended churches where a lot of the congregants raised their hands, swayed and nearly swooned in showing their affection for God. I've never attended a church where people handled snakes, but if that's how you communicate with God, I'm certainly not going to get in your way...assuming the snakes are kept at a distance.

I know there are people who attend my church who do not believe exactly as I do on all sorts of issues. We don't spend our time debating those though.

I know we all agree on one thing: We love God.

Despite our differences, we've opted to journey together in hopes of growing closer to Him.

As I read the bible I see a constant quest of God forever trying to establish a true and loving relationship with man

Yet as I read articles such as the one about Pastor Lucado, I see the familiar story of Christians working feverishly at separating themselves from each other.

Am I alone in wondering if the net result is that we're only distancing ourselves from God?

Friday, March 19, 2004


I suppose we found an honest transmission repairman...however honesty still doesn't come cheap. In any case, I'm one step closer to having Amy's van ready to sell. There are still several factors to consider including whether to make an insurance claim for her fender which was dented years ago and we never bothered to fix, not wanting to pay the deductible.

If I make the claim, I must also decide whether to actually get the fender repaired or pocket the insurance settlement and sell the van "as is".

I'll have to run the numbers and then we'll see.
I was offered another opportunity at the office today. It would dramatically expand my role in another city where I do some on air work. There are some kinks to figure out, but unlike many of the other things I've suddenly found on my list of duties, this one could result in a small increase in pay.

I suspect my boss in this city may be a little reluctant, but I think I can make it work.

I also have a few reservations, but I'm fairly certain God is screaming at me right now not to turn my nose up at any chance to legally earn a few extra shekels.

We'll see.
Amy's health, for those of you keeping track at home, has not made great strides. We had another visit with her surgeon. We're still running into walls communicating with other doctors supposedly involved in her care. Amy is still having pain when she eats and she's still having pain from her last surgery. The specter of another solution to her situation has now moved a little closer to the forefront. That step is one we're hoping to avoid.

But, we'll see.

Thursday, March 18, 2004


I spent a good portion of the morning spreading grass seed around our new church classroom building. It's buffalo grass, which means eventually it will require little maintenance, but to get it going it has to be raked into the soil.

I was joined in the seeding project by Roy and Charles. They're two of the more elderly members of our church, both being about 30 years my senior. I enjoy their company and their work ethic. However, I must admit these two fine men don't share my sense of urgency.

Roy and Charles have lived active and interesting lives. They are retired now, but they stay busy. No one would accuse either of them of being lazy, but they're also in no hurry.

On days such as this, conversation is a key component.

Every so often I would stop long enough to wipe away the sweat and simply watch them. They would spread some dirt around, and then their thoughts brought them pause. They'd lean on their rakes, and share their stories.

The conversation knew no boundaries. I heard them discussing skinning feral hogs. I listened as they mused about whether the Koreans were catching up to the Japanese in the production of quality automobiles. I stood fascinated as they compared heart bypass scars.

Occasionally I offered my opinions, but mostly I listened.

The grass seeding project took a little longer than I anticipated. In truth, I probably could have finished it in about the same amount of time had I done it alone.

But I was thankful for every moment of today.

Few seedlings are blessed with the opportunity to see the season ahead.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


I see another company has opted to try to get advertising by offending people rather than by selling quality products.

Urban Outfitters is selling a dress up Jesus paper doll where you can adorn Jesus on the cross in a tutu or beanie.

The quote from the company that it doesn't sell the item to provoke or offend but to reflect diversity is perhaps more repugnant than the doll itself.

A check of the company's website shows they also sell this t-shirt.

I'm sure they'll get the press they want and then they'll stop selling the stuff out of a sudden sense of moral obligation.


Lisa and I were driving back from the transmission shop today after dropping off the van and I said, "I don't know, maybe I'm becoming an old fart, but it sure seems like drivers are increasingly less courteous these days."

She replied, "I think it's both".

Yeah...I've had an influence on her.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people.. --F. M. Hubbard

I'm in search of an honest man....or rather an honest auto mechanic.

Part of the Main family financial reorganization plan is likely to involve selling Amy's van.

Our goal is simply to rid ourselves of the car payment, not to actually make money. The flaw in the scheme is that the van has a rather obvious mechanical problem: whenever you drive it up hill it shudders like a crack addict who is 18 hours into the realization that his cash, credit and connections have all disappeared. It also makes a grinding noise reminiscent of a bad burrito interlude.

For many months Amy and I have opted to address this problem in a manner that makes complete sense to us....we've turned up the volume on the radio.

Unfortunately, that tactic probably will be a bit transparent to prospective car buyers so I took the van to the shop.

Amy and I have used the same mechanic for a number of years. He likes us very much. He should, I suspect we've financed two or three of his children's college educations. Truthfully, it's been a one sided, less than fulfilling relationship with him getting our money, and us getting quasi-competent but always costly auto repairs. I've never questioned his honesty, but I will admit it has crossed my mind as he's totaled our bills that he seems far more adept at math than mechanics.

This time, I decided to take the van to a different auto repair outfit, one used by our friend, and Pastor. Amy actually wanted me to bring our Pastor with me, or at least cleverly drop his name into the initial conversation.

"This van belongs to my wife, who by the way has been quite ill recently, and it has a rather noticeable mechanical problem. I've discussed it with my very close friend and Pastor, and we've prayed about it together and I felt led by the Lord to bring this heartfelt burden to you. I think you may actually know my Pastor by the way..."

Perhaps I'm overly optimistic, but I decided against that approach. I like to think honesty is a trait that, once instilled, is applied universally, not exclusively to known members of the clergy and their devotees.

In this case, that appears to be true. After some trial and error - why is it whenever you go to a doctor or a car mechanic the ailment/disorder you're dealing with suddenly stops? - the mechanic was able to give me a rough idea of the likely problem. The bad news is that it's not something he can repair and will require a trip to what I believe is universally considered the dark underbelly of car repair - the ultimate satanic sanctuary for evil mechanics: the transmission shop.

I've had a number of cars in my life. Several have had transmission problems. Without exception, I've never been to a transmission shop where the conversation didn't end with the same words, "That'll cost you 18 hundred dollars".

My new mechanic offered the name of someone he said he trusts, so I'm hopeful this newly found chain of honesty might continue.

I did my part. I called the transmission guy and admitted that my goal was to make the needed repairs so I could sell the vehicle in good conscience. I also told him outright that I didn't want to hear the words, "That'll be 18 hundred bucks."

Whether it works or not remains to be seen. For now though, I'm going to remain optimistic.

The transmission guy seemed nice on the phone....but then again I suppose Satan probably does too.

It's easy to get caught up in the latest political blusterings, it's not as easy to find the truth in them.

Anyone whose seen the stories about how there is this huge outcry over President Bush's recent campaign ads, should take a moment to read this very insightful column from John Leo at U.S. News & World Report.

Monday, March 15, 2004


You've got to love folks in California. They provide such good comedy.

We have a somewhat weird tradition in our household. At Christmas, we label gifts in various fashions. Sometimes it's biblical - From: Adam. To: Eve. Sometimes it's nonsensical - From whatshisface. To: whatshername.

When my youngest stepdaughter, Lisa, was little and I was still positioning myself in the awkward role of stepfather without a clue, she once labeled a gift to me: From: Lisa. To: You're Mean.

She didn't intend it to be hurtful and it wasn't. She doesn't even remember it now, although I bring it up occasionally.

Back then Lisa used to say, "You're mean" in a playful manner whenever I denied her anything. If she wanted to go to a movie, or wanted me to buy her something and I refused she would say, "You're mean". She always smiled when she said it. It was cute and endearing.
In truth I denied her as little as possible...there are few weapons in a stepdad's arsenal. Spoiling kids is one I recognized early and found it easy to master.

I saved that gift tag. For years I carried it in my wallet to remind me of the delightful, happy child I was blessed to know, love and hopefully help mold in some small fashion.

I destroyed the gift tag by leaving my wallet in a pants pocket during a laundry cycle - I have a habit of doing this with various items, though we needn't dwell on it here - suffice it to say it was the only thing in my wallet that I was truly saddened to lose.

I still hold onto the memory though.

These days, Lisa is more of a woman, but she'll always be that happy child to me.

Today she turns 19 years old.

Happy Birthday, Lisa.


You're Mean.

Personally I'm in favor of giving more rights to animals... as long as we take those rights away from members of PETA.

I wish I was a fly on the wall when the discussion was taking place on this form of protest.

"So Molly will go to Times Square in a fur coat and drink from a toilet...everyone up for that?"

Sunday, March 14, 2004


This morning I was feeling disillusioned and I prayed for strength.

Amy led singing in church today, realizing moments before we got started that she didn't have the pain medication she thought we had brought. Our Pastor had taken today off and that meant church wasn't quite as organized, not that our church is ever very organized, but that also put an additional strain on Amy. I watched her cry quietly moments before services started, and then I saw her do what had to be done. She sang to God as she always does with heartfelt gratitude.

After church I watched Amy collapse as we rushed home to the medications she needed and the rest she deserved.

My friend Claud was in church today. Claud has a booming voice and a loving heart. I didn't notice he was there until services were underway and I heard his voice. After church I went over to greet him. I shook his hand and joked that I always liked to introduce myself to visitors. It's been a while since Claud has been able to attend. He told me, "Michael, you know how you and Amy have struggled physically this past year...I have struggled the same way mentally." I held onto his hand and tried to assure him I understood, and that having him in church on Sunday was inspirational to me. Claud has wrestled demons alone for far too long.

Our friend Tim preached today. Tim was a pastor of his own church until recently when his marriage fell apart due to those ill defined reasons that cause marriages to sometimes fail. He has struggled, and he has survived. Leaders of the church Tim had been pastoring told him one thing and then did another. It left him hurt and angry. Our church has done its best to offer a place to heal. I didn't think Tim would ever preach again and I'm still fairly certain he will never return to the ministry as a career. Today though, Tim was strong enough to recognize the gifts God has given him and to share them. It couldn't have been easy.

I prayed for strength today.

God showed me courage.

Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law
- Psalm 119:17-18

It was in September when Amy's ongoing pain became so severe she required hospitalization again.

Six months have passed.

Today, in truth, I remain unconvinced we are any better off than we were back then. Oftentimes I feel the situation is actually worse.

I am praying for optimism today...and for strength.

Saturday, March 13, 2004


I am eating very little these days, and it's been surprisingly easy. My Lenten fast has limited me to fruits, veggies, a few nuts, and a small portion of fish. I've found I'm rarely hungry.

The exception is when I smell food.

When the fragrance of food is in the air, the battle begins for real. My belly squawks, my mouth salivates, and my mind wanders to fanciful places where the plates are piled high with rationalizations about why I should break my fast.

Last night a friend gave me tickets to the Spurs game. I ate before I went, but when I got into the arena and smelled the popcorn, the cotton candy, the nachos, and the various foods of which I am now deprived, my stomach started to roar.

I did without.

It helped knowing the only things I could permit myself to have were salted peanuts and water which would have set me back 8 dollars. The cries of my stomach were not loud enough to overpower the ring of insanity in that.

I'm sure it's a biological reaction that our sense of smell activates the desire for food - an instinctual survival trait.

I suspect it extends farther than our bellies.

I asked my friend, Ben, to come to the game with me last night. I invited him in part to thank him for helping me recently, but also because I needed to be around Ben's inherent Christian wisdom.

Our visit sparked a hunger in me as well.

I am grateful to know of the abundance available to feed that craving.

Psalm 17:14
O Lord , by Your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life. You still the hunger of those You cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children.

Click here to fight hunger.

Friday, March 12, 2004


I almost made it. I was halfway through my daily march when the rain started falling. It came down quickly - drenching me.

It was a good feeling though. I was beginning to feel winded when the cool water blew across my skin. I was refreshed and invigorated.

I have to admit, it's a God thing how this works out some days.

Today my assigned bible reading was again a short story from Acts where Philip met an Ethiopian eunuch on the road to Jerusalem and baptized him.

As I relished the cooling rainfall I thought about that story, and of the other times in my life when renewing waters have come at exactly the right moment.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


I cry at kindness.

Before our Pastor begins his sermon each Sunday, someone from the congregation often will pray. They'll pray for God to help us listen, and to soften our hearts to accept His word. They'll also pray for our Pastor's ability to convey the Lord's teachings.

Occasionally, the youngest daughter my dear friend, Ben, will deliver that prayer. Each time she does, she makes a point to put her hand upon my Pastor's shoulder and offer up a heartfelt request of God to strengthen, embolden and cherish the leader of our small flock. Whenever that happens our Pastor's eyes well up with tears.

I start to cry too.

I cry at kindness.

In truth, there is nothing that can get me blubbering quicker.

I have experienced hardships, I have witnessed horrors, and I have grieved at deep loss. Certainly many people I know would consider me a fairly hardened individual. The term "jaded" might crop up occasionally...deservedly so.

Yet, more than anything else, I choke up at the simplest signs of sincerity.

Last night at church, Amy and I left a little early because Amy wasn't feeling real well. I asked her to wait for a moment while I went to thank Ben who offered his services as an attorney recently to expedite the land sale I've mentioned previously. Ben refused to allow me to pay him, and I wanted very much to tell him how much I appreciated not only his help, but his leadership and love for me and Amy. I barely was able to choke out the words.

Ben understood.

Another friend walked with me out the church door. We hadn't really had a chance to talk all evening and he wanted to see how Amy and I were doing. He asked if we needed anything, and I said simply, "Prayer". He replied something to the effect of "I'm always doing that for you guys, believe me." My eyes welled up instantly.

This is not a new phenomenon. When my parents died I cried as one would expect, but the hardest thing for me to handle was the love and concern I received from friends. I still tear up when I think about the outpouring of affection bestowed upon me during that hard time...and it's been 32 years.

Long ago I came to terms with this somewhat sappy side of my sensibilities.

I've also come to understand it a little more.

You see, I believe these seemingly small signs of benevolence from people are really glaring examples of the Holy Spirit at work.

I cry at kindness.

I cry when I feel the presence of God.

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."
Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!
- Acts 8:18-24

I received a comment on the blog today and it was spam. Someone posted a benign comment along the lines of, " I really enjoy your forum..blah blah blah". It was signed "Cash" and then there was a link to a some get rich quick website.

I deleted it and blocked the IP address from commenting here any more.

I had heard that this was a new form of advertising intrusion, but I figured it was only the bane of really popular blogs. How desperate do you have to be to spam this tiny corner of the world?

I guess I should be feel flattered...but in truth I feel invaded.

Please tell me this story wasn't really in the Wall Street Journal.

Our church has prayed for family pets before...I have no problem with that. It's our calling to care for animals. And make no mistake, I love our pets (at least most days..okay some days).

However, I don't let them share our bed ...much less communion.

Lord, if all dogs go to Heaven please assure me they stop barking.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


"I'll make him an offer he can't refuse"

I couldn't help but think of that quote from the Godfather as I watched an attractive blonde woman on CSPAN explain how her new political group was going to work. They call themselves the Godless Americans Political Action Committee or GAMPAC.'s a bunch of atheists who want to demonstrate the clout of nonbelievers to politicians. Here's the catch though. They know that politicians want nothing to do with them, so to get their attention they're going to threaten to endorse them.

It's true. I swear.

They're off to a slow start. So far they've gotten one contribution. A thousand bucks from a guy in Massachusetts.

It looks like their cause could use a few more believers.

Oh. Nevermind.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


A dear friend of mine has a serious issue in her life and I laughed at it.

How horrible is that? Yet, when I detail it here you may very well laugh too.

My friend's mother is dying, and my friend's sister is in control of their mother's health care and funeral arrangements.

The sister told my friend that their mom would be cremated.

She added that her remains would be "put in a cookie jar for burial."

Yes, a cookie jar.

This is not a decision that was made due to some streak of eccentricity or because Mom was famous for her cookies. It apparently is a crass cost cutting move.

It's hard not to giggle isn't it? Even my friend had a difficult time keeping a straight face when she told me about it, but still I know it hurt her deeply. It was a very emotional and substantive concern for her. She doesn't want her mother buried in a cookie jar...who would?

She can laugh a little about it now, because my friend is a strong woman, and she eventually took matters into her own hands. She made arrangements for something more proper. When the time comes her mother will be dealt with in a dignified manner.

Still it got me thinking. How easy it is for us to look at others and laugh at their situations. We don't feel their burden. We are not scarred by their pain. Usually we don't even know their stories.

I hope to remember this story to remind myself that at times we are all very fragile and we should be treating each other gently.

Like little jars of clay.

I've lost a lot of sleep lately and spent a lot of time figuring out ways to extricate us from our current quagmire and reduce the general stress level in the household. I've got a plan and I'm hopeful we'll be able to make some progress. That's the good news. The bad news is that I've been so obsessed by it that I haven't had time or the inclination to write.

Simplifying your life can take up a lot of your time.

Monday, March 08, 2004


We had crashers at our Deacon's meeting tonight.

A herd of deer. Perhaps as many as 15 suddenly wandered up to the front of the church. We have deer on the property, but they're usually skittish and we certainly never see so many in one place.

They strolled up as we were asking for God's guidance to help some of our small body of believers with the trials they are facing.

It was only a momentary distraction, but a valuable one.

We bow our heads in prayer, and close our eyes.

Tonight it seemed like we received a gentle nudge to remember that sometimes we should keep our eyes open too.

God may surprise you.

I've only got about two minutes to write. I've been running around this afternoon, and have a Deacon's meeting in 35 minutes. My fellow Deacon's would probably appreciate it if I showered first, since I finished my walk about 5 minutes ago.

I did want to get down a quick thought.

At the first of the year I mentioned that my true goal for this year was to simplify our lives. I felt our lives had become cluttered and confused. I asked God for help.

This weekend, the financial storm we had been dodging landed on our doorstep and we've had to enact some emergency measures. The storm has far from passed but no one is going to be threatening to break our legs either. I had to arrange the quick sale of some property, which I've actually wanted to do for sometime. I'm blessed to have a brother who has a real desire to help and also an honest wish to own that portion of land outright.

Today I also cut the cable. We had talked about this before and Amy finagled the cable company into reducing our bill substantially, in fact they actually gave us more services than we had before at a lower price. That was enough, especially while Amy was having so many medical problems. Today though, all of the cable boxes went back to the company and we are keeping only the minimum service which the company is required to offer. It's 11 bucks a month. I'll pay that for clear reception.

For Amy it means no BBC America...for me it means some Spurs games and other sporting events I will no longer be able to watch at home.

This is only the beginning. There are more harsh steps to come I suspect.

Yet, right now I feel so much better about our lives.

I also remember that I prayed for a more simplified life...

Isn't it funny how God sees the paths we overlook so often?

I'll admit I haven't always seen the humor in that....but it's hard to miss the paths once He points them out.

Sunday, March 07, 2004


I wrote a lot today. You'll never read it.

I wiped out the thoughts each time.

The words never came together adequately.

Here's the basic message: Yesterday I was overburdened by life.

Today very little has changed, but those same burdens seem easier to carry.

I asked for prayers today in church.

Prayers for perspective.

Saturday, March 06, 2004


It's a gorgeous day today. The sun is shining. It's perfect spring weather.

Yet our world clouded up a bit. I started to detail it all here and then thought better of it.

It's stuff that can't be minimized. Some new health concerns...some money problems which no longer can be ignored.

But none of those things are going to get better if I let a gorgeous day go by unappreciated.

So for today I will cherish what I have...and have faith in what I cherish.

Friday, March 05, 2004


I took a couple of days off work this week, my original intent being to get out of town for our anniversary. Since that plan didn't work out, Amy and I decided on the next best thing: we took the two little dogs to the groomer and asked that she take her time with them - about two and a half days. It's a lot quieter in the house.

"I'm still here."

"I was getting to that."

Klondike, our oldest and biggest dog didn't get sent away because he's low maintenance.

"And for the cost of kenneling me you guys could have gone to a motel."

"Did I ask for your comments?"

None of our dogs are what you would call obedient, although all of them went to obedience school. Dog training classes are a lot like private driver's education classes. Pay the money and you graduate. Whether you should be unleashed on society is debatable at best.

"Could I go running without my leash sometime? Huh? Huh? Please?"

Klondike was the class clown in obedience school some 9 years ago. When we were told to walk our dogs in a circle, Klondike would try to drag me to the front of the line of dogs, never realizing that there is no lead dog in a circle.

"We could have won that race if you would have only kept up."

When we'd take a break at obedience class, all the dogs would be walked out to a big trough filled with water for a drink. Klondike would bypass the other dogs and plop himself down in the middle of the water.

"It looked like a pool to me...could we get a pool?"

Inside the house, Klondike is perfect.

"Aw...thanks...can I slurp on your face?"

"Save the slurp, I'm not finished."

But the instant you put a leash on Klondike any sense of compliance is immediately erased from his peanut sized brain.

At that point you have only two options: go for a run, or stock up on bandages because he's going to drag you down the street.

"You wanted exercise right? If you didn't want to run we could have gone in the car. Could we go for a drive in the car? Huh? Huh?"

We've tried a variety of things to break him of this habit including harnesses that were guaranteed to work: the guarantee only applies if you have a dog that allows you to put the harness on him.

"I'm sorry, you can't train me to walk, but you think I'm going to let you put a harness over my face? Which of us has the brain the size of a pecan again?"

"I said peanut, don't flatter yourself."

We've even bought ominous spiked collars that hark back to ancient torture chambers....or San Francisco gift shops.

None of them slowed him down at all.

"But the next time it snows you've got nifty chains for your tires!"

"It doesn't snow here."

Despite that, for some reason today I thought might be different. I figured now that Klondike is getting up in years, he'd be easier to control, so I opted to leave my ten pounds of hand weights at home and instead take 85 pounds of mania on my daily walk.

The leash wasn't even attached to him before we were off and running. He propelled me down the road like we were late for dinner. Forty minutes later we were back at the house. Panting, sweating, and barely able to stand.

Klondike, on the other hand, was fine.

"I'd have made a great sled dog...could we get a sled?"

The adage is true... you can't teach an old fool new tricks.

"That was fun...wanna go again? Huh? Huh? Could we?"

Thursday, March 04, 2004


The world will always welcome lovers...
As time goes by.

Amy and I had a small wedding. It was the second wedding for both of us so we knew that all we desired were our friends and family to witness this brief and personal moment...pledging our love before God.

We rented a small chapel; Amy designed and printed the invitations herself. For our reception we rented a meeting room at a small hotel. We served chicken, beans, rice and tortillas from El Pollo Loco. There was no band.

I remember the ceremony soon to be stepdaughters wore green dresses, and Joey asked me for help in tying his tie.

Amy surprised me by stopping mid-ceremony and bursting into song. She stared into my eyes as she pledged her love saying no matter what should befall us, she would always be there for me.

Amy's voice was strong and the song overpowered me. I held back tears as best I could.

I seem to recall an audible sigh of relief when our family and friends realized I wouldn't be bursting into song in return.

Today, ten years have passed. Those little girls in green are all grown up. Joey can tie his own ties now. People are still relieved when I don't sing.

Our lives remain relatively simple.

We continue to share a deep and abiding love before God.

Now it is a love that is stronger.

It's been tested.

It's been refined by life.

I desire nothing more, than more of the same.

Happy Anniversary darling.

I love you.

And when two lovers woo.
They still say, "I love you."
On this you can rely.
No matter what the future brings,
As time goes by

Wednesday, March 03, 2004


I didn't feel like writing today. In all honesty I was a little disillusioned. Tomorrow, Amy and I celebrate our tenth anniversary but our original plans of a weekend getaway have had to be scrapped due to her slow recovery and our rapid depletion of finances.

I prayed a lot today. I prayed for a small sign that Amy is making progress...I prayed for reassurance.

As I was getting ready for church I noticed Amy was getting ready too. I hadn't expected that. Amy still is not feeling well, but she decided on her own tonight she would accompany me.

Thank you, God. As always You've provided all I really needed.

A red umbrella...set free somehow.

The strongs winds carrying it along.

It wedged against a fence as I came walking by.

I left it to the winds to free again.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer--at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.
- Acts 3:1-2

I am tempted to have a t-shirt printed up with two words on it....SLOW DOWN!

Each day as I walk I find myself shouting those words as I flap my arms up and down like some sort of mutant strain of ostrich when cars, trucks and minivans go speeding by me down residential streets. Today was no exception. The streets are wet making it all the more dangerous. I'm sure I'm gaining a reputation in the neighborhood as the crazy walking guy who yells at passing cars.

Yet my desire for these passing motorists to slow down is rooted in more than simply my own sense of self preservation. These people are missing a lot.

During my walk today, I looked, and saw a man with an airplane in his garage. It was an unusual sight. I don't live in a neighborhood where many people have propeller driven aircraft in their garages, in fact I'm willing to wager he's the only one.

I listened, and heard children laughing.

I marveled at seven blackbirds on the crest of one roof.

I smiled as a young boy explained to his even younger brother about the hand weights I was carrying, and tried very hard to carry them with authority so as not to minimize his brotherly expertise.

I breathed - deep breaths, smelling the hint of rain.

I tasted the moisture in the air.

I'm glad I didn't miss these things.

I'm reading the books of Acts over Lent, a bit more deliberately than in the past. Today I read chapter three, the familiar story of Peter healing a crippled beggar. I'm pleased because it reminded me of God's healing power and the need to repent.

But I'm thankful also that I slowed down enough in my reading to be reminded that at one time there was a gate to a Temple... an entryway where people must have paused and admired the wonder of it all...a gate they called Beautiful.

Monday, March 01, 2004


A few moments ago, a friend sent me an email talking about a variety of things and, in passing, mentioned a typo in one of my blog entries.

I had read that particular entry at least a dozen times, but never saw the flaw...and it was egregious (it's fixed now).

Amy can read what I write and almost instantly come back with a list of typos, grammar and punctuation problems for me to fix.

I don't obsess over what I write, but I do use a meager spell checker. I read over each entry at least several times looking for mistakes or ways to phrase things more clearly. I'll admit to giving myself some leeway when it comes to punctuation...I will fall back on the catch all of "poetic license" in that regard. Yet, big mistakes- typos, duplicate or dropped words - still slip by me....all the time.

Please, make no mistake about this; I'm thankful when people point them out.

I make my living in part correcting other people's writing. Each morning when I arrive at the office, the first thing I do is go through perhaps 50 news stories and spot the errors. This is a process that normally takes me only a minute or two.

Why is it when it comes to what I write, I can read the same thing over and over again and not see the glaring mistakes?

I suppose it's because I know what I mean to say and my mind overlooks the mistakes because it's more focused on the message.

Still it got me thinking how true this is in other areas of my life.

I am often quick to see the faults and failings of others.

I am too often blind to my own.

My mother in law, Priscilla, left a comment a while back encouraging me on my Lenten pledge to get off my lazy rear and walk each day. She remarked how she had recently resumed her exercise regime and has also struggled getting started some days, but whenever she completes her exercise class she is so thankful for having done it.

I thought about that today as I added a little extra torture to my walk. Hand weights.

I've had this same set of hand weights for 12 or 13 years. At one time in my life I was a walking fanatic and used the weights regularly. They weigh 5 pounds each and are designed to be carried during walking or jogging.

I realized about 2 blocks into my walk that the weights were going to make the journey a lot tougher; however there was no turning back, I completed the entire trek.

Upon my return, I went back and read Priscilla's comment again and saw in it slightly different wisdom.

I couldn't help but be reminded of the old joke of the man who was spotted banging his head against a wall....BANG! BANG! BANG!

A woman walks up to him and asks, "Why on earth are you banging your head against the wall?"

The guy looks at her incredulously and says, "Because it feels so good when I stop!"