Transitions . . .

Note: This article is from 2012

Sorry for the long delay in posts, my biological father passed away last week and I was waiting to finish that processing before I typed an article about the experience.

I got to say goodbye sorta and I got to say hello.

I was able to call him Dad for the first time in 30+ years (I will admit it still feels weird but I am ok with it now).

I got to say I love you and hear him say the same.

He got to have his last scotch and water.

And then I got the call from my uncle that he was making the “transition”. I will admit at first I was not sure how to take that word but now I understand. He had finally said “I am done with this mess, time to go home.”

And so within a couple of hours, he was home.

Transitions are a part of life and obviously death. It is the grace in which you handle those transitions that define a person often times.

How do you miss someone you never really knew?

How do you handle knowing that there are things about yourself you will never know because the one of the persons who influenced your genetic makeup is gone?

How do you reconcile that perhaps if I had made a stronger attempt to connect that the connection could have been made?

So those are all transitions that I will experience. And perhaps in there if you find yourself in the same circumstances, you can find the grace to handle the transition.

And do not let those questions go unanswered for yourself. Reach out, ask the questions, and risk the things you are afraid of. If not, you may never know and well which is worst?

Now for the next transition, what will it be?

Not waiting for death . . .

NOTE: This article is from 2012

Do not wait for death to talk to people!
My grandfather died a number of years ago and I was always too busy to go visit him. I was somewhat hurt a bit that after my parents got divorced they kinda disappeared. He was my favorite grandfather as he taught me fishing, hunting, camping and I loved being around him. But I waited too long to visit. I did see him once before he passed but it was not enough.
Well now my biological dad is potentially coming to the end of his days and the story is close to repeating itself. But what makes this hard is that I have not had a “relationship” with him per-se as he and my mom got divorced early (less than 5 years old) and so never really got to know him.
He and I look identical and I have a lot of his same interests (cars, computers and other things) but I cannot really say that I know him well. We talk now after connecting again when my Grandmommie (his mom) passed and it was great for her to see he and I standing at her bedside.
So it made me think about how selfish I can be when it comes to sharing with others. So for those that read this blog, do not wait for death to be knocking on people’s lives before you talk with them. Nothing is more precious than the lives we share in this world and nothing is more important than connecting people to Jesus.
So do not wait for death because it sure is not waiting for us . . .
P.S. Satan: I so look forward the fulfillment of Revelation 20:14 “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire . . .” Essentially when God kicks your arse in the pit and you NEVER get back out.

Eat Together . . .

NOTE: This article is from April 2012.

True Confessions: We did not eat together as a family ALL week!

Monday – Sharon had an event at church. I hung out with kiddos.

Tuesday: Soccer practice and I went to shoot my bow.

Wednesday: No idea what we did! Yes I do realize that was just last night!

Thursday: Sharon went out. The kids and I watched a movie together while eating in front of the TV.

Friday: Has not happened but I can tell you we will not eat together as family due to schedules.

Saturday: Come hell or high-water (which we might get) we WILL eat together at our dinner table!!!

NOTE: Usually it is me that is the one at fault for being gone. Sharon just happened to be the victim this week.

INSANITY! Let me share some stats with you. In 2003, only 28% of families at dinner together 7 nights a week, this was down from 37% in 1997. (Read full study here)

But it gets worse, students who have two or fewer meals together are 3x more likely to smoke marijuana, 2.5x more likely to smoke cigarettes and 1.5x more like to start consuming alcohol. (Read more here)

So what is stopping us from spending time together as a family? We are busy! Busy with stuff and activities. I know families that kids have so many activities going that the parents are rarely at their kids events together because they have some many different activities going at the same time. But being busy is an excuse, we as the parents need to prioritize what is important. If we do not set the example for our children who will?

And let’s not get me started on kids and over-competitive sports! Kids in junior-high   do NOT need to be on a traveling sports team! Take a look at this article from US News in reference to the total number of sports scholarships available in the US (less than 140K!).

But let me get back down from the soap box. Bottom line, is families need to spend time eating together! At least 4 times a week if not more. What is more important? The game, the event, the activity or the family?

This is the time to have family conversations and time for parents to talk with their children about their day. To share stories, laugh together and just enjoy being together. Family time is absolutely critical and what better time than to sit down and enjoy a meal together.

As for me and my house, we WILL eat together!

For further reading check out these links:

Family Meal Time

8 Reason to Make Time For Dinner

The Magic of the Family Meal

Hard . . .

So some folks may have noticed that I try to title my posts with a single word or phrase followed by an ellipse. And then I try to end my post with that same word or phrase. No particular reason but just a style thing for me.

Writing a blog everyday is hard stuff. As a writer, you struggle with “do people really want to hear this stuff?” or my personal favorite is where I sit down to write and NOTHING! I mean nothing comes to mind. My typical answer is not to post anything but I need to get past the writers block and just put down the topics that I have running around in this head.

Now for the real topic of this post, hard.

Life is hard. Love is hard. But nothing is more important that living a life full of love. I still remember how hard is was for my wife to carry three babies and give birth to our wonderful children but she did it well and full of love.

When something is hard it typically means it is worth doing. Not always but still worth evaluating.

Living a life full of love is our main job. Jesus said it best (kinda helps that He is God) “Love your neighbor as yourself”. When you live a life full of love, everything changes!

No more selfish behavior . . . You know most of our bad behavior is simply because we are selfish. If we love then we cannot be selfish. If we look for opportunities to love others, we cannot fail.

But let me put one thing into absolute clarity, love is NOT acceptance! Love is not looking the other way when evil happens, love is not avoiding conflict and so many others things love is not.

The choices are not always easy but to make those choices in love is the right answer.
Life is hard but live a life full of love and watch what happens!

Hard . . . yes but so worth it!

Why I Hunt . . .

NOTE: This Article is from 2012

As I prep the upcoming site with content and thinking about what new content will be featured on the site, I ran across a great article by another great hunting/outdoor site (WiredToHunt). Specifically Mark Kenyon wrote a great ‘manifesto’ that I believe every individual should read (Virtues of the Responsible Hunter) as it outlines a lot of what I believe about hunting and how it should be treated.

The only improvement would be to move the “Hunter Safety” section first but honestly that is just nitpicking.

But regardless, this is about why I hunt (or at least supposed to be). But again Mark nails it right on the head for me and so here I swipe from his site with a little editing for my own flavor:

  • To bring my family together with a common passion
  • To become a part of nature for a short time
  • To harvest meat for my family
  • To carefully manage the populations of deer throughout the country to prevent an overpopulation that could lead to mass starvation, excessive car deer accidents and spread of disease
  • I hunt because of the process. The months of hard work, scouting and preparation that all leads up to one heart pounding, nerve shattering moment.
  • I hunt because the need to hunt dwells deep inside each one of us, it pumps through our blood and it is part of what defines humanity and the survival of our species
  • It brings us back to a primal, natural state of peace and selflessness in nature
  • I hunt because it is natural

You see hunting is not about killing. Or else it would not be called hunting. The animals I hunt typically have a much better chance at getting away than I do of getting them. I firmly believe in “fair-chase” hunting and will NOT hunt on a high fence ranch which in my mind equates to shooting fish in a barrel. As I once read, the animals I hunt have more of a chance than the lettuce a vegetarian eats!

Hunting is a part of my heritage. My grandfather hunted and taught me how to shoot both a .22 and a shotgun. I loved my Grandaddy and there is often times I wish he were around to hunt with me now. He taught me safety, how to be quiet, and just to enjoy being out in the woods.

But I also have a side of my family that is VERY against hunting. My aunt probably despises that I hunt. She is a wonderful woman whom I love and cherish very deeply but on this we just disagree. But you know what is amazing about her? She still loves me in spite of it. I understand her points and unfortunately there is some logic to her angst against hunting due to the number of irresponsible hunters that are in the field.

I know that I am doing my part for conservation as well. I used to get Ranger Rick, Audubon and a number of other wildlife magazines from my aunt and my Grandmommie. It was my Grandmommie that taught me to respect the wildlife along with my aunt. I have hand fed deer and squirrels before and still marvel at their beauty. My heart still races just seeing the deer in the field and looking at their grace.

So hunting to me is more than the kill. It is about life and enjoying the creation that God gave us as well as taking care of the creation by proper wildlife management.

Mark said it best “I hunt because it is natural”.

Being a Dad . . .

As I watch my children grow and change before my very eyes, I marvel at what God has given me in my kids. I watch my girls love attention from me and want me to “see” them. “Daddy, look at me dance” or “Daddy, watch me do this” and my son just wanting to punch me in the arm and have me punch him back!

But what has really hit me recently is watching my son slowly become more interested in being with me. I got home earlier than the rest of the family tonight and my wife told me how excited he was to see that I was home. He came right out to the backyard where I was shooting my bow and he talked non-stop the whole time! It was awesome!

I also reflect on the fact that I must BE an example to him. I must show him how to love a woman by loving my wife. I must show him how to work by exhibiting a strong work ethic. I must show him how to be a man by being a man. It will not be enough to talk about it and say “do this or do that”. Instead I must BE the man I want him to grow into.

And my girls! My littlest one is absolutely becoming a daddy’s girl. On our vacation, she got up early one morning and wanted to do nothing but snuggle with Dad and watch Bone Collector together. How awesome was that?!

My oldest, NG, actually scheduled an early morning date with me over vacation to do the same thing! She said “Daddy, can we have a date tomorrow morning and get up before the other kids and watch Bone Collector together?” What Dad in his right mind would turn that down!

Being a Dad is an awesome job but filled with lots of peril if we try to do it outside of a relationship with Jesus. So I must focus my efforts on BEING a Dad by BEING a son of the heavenly Father.

I love my kids and being with them is the greatest honor God could ever have bestowed on me.

God, please help me to BE a Great Dad . . .

Give me a reason . . .

I have a firm belief that a small business can effectively compete against a large retailer all day every day! Is it hard? You bet! But it can be done.

You see the small business owner has to give me a reason to shop at their store. Maybe the reason is a friendly atmosphere or maybe a fellow community of people who share a common interest. Or maybe it is the only place where they actually know who I am and are actually happy to see me! Or maybe they carry the best products (not the cheapest) and know how to use them!

But there has to be a reason. It is the responsibility of the small business owner to give me that reason. And I can tell you now that PRICE is NEVER a reason. As a small business owner you will never win the price war and I mean NEVER. Competing on price is pure insanity and best left to the big retailers to duke it out over low margins. I often hear “that is the market price” in many business discussions and so I say get out of that market!!!! If the market you are in can not provide your business with healthy profit margins, then change markets!

I have owned three small businesses in my past. Two of which was successful and one was not. So lets talk about the one that wasn’t. There were four other competitors in town in the same market. After I started it took about 6-8 months before one of the others left the market place, probably due to his own business practices. But one store in particular was regularly kicking our butt as well as the other stores. What did they do right? Who knows! But I can tell you what I did wrong. I did not give customers a good enough reason to come to my store! I failed not because of my customers but rather I did not provide considerable value for the customer to make a switch. I was successful for a while but I failed to continue to provide that value and never provided a good enough reason to come to my store.

Really just to prove a point, you as a small business owner have to give me a reason to spend my hard-earned money at your store! And if you give me a reason, I will spend it with you versus somewhere else.

So what is your reason? What are you going to do to give me a reason to be a customer?

I am waiting . . .