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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Things about Christmas

I love the holidays. All of them. 4th of July...love it. New Years...love it. Easter...love it. Halloween...love it. Thanksgiving...really love it. Christmas...my favorite!

A few years ago I wrote a blog about my fondness for the Christmas season. I talked about family and friends (and Christmas parties). I talked about all the good food that is cooked up and consumed during this time of year. I talked about traditions (the shot of whiskey that me, Wes, and Brandon take every Christmas Eve). I talked about the birth of Jesus. All these things are wonderful and Jesus certainly is the Reason for the season but today I chose to reflect on something material and something we all love...THE PRESENTS!
We love presents. We love to give and boy, do we love to receive. Some of us love Black Friday. Others of us hate it. Doesn't matter much. Sooner or later you'll jump on the shopping band wagon. This year I've done a pretty good amount of shopping online. That helps keep me out of all the crowds and lines. I know some people who go out early and stand in line for the stores to open up so that they can jump in there and fight to the death over toaster ovens and stuff like that. Maybe Black Friday shopping can become the next new reality show...or even the new sport like MMA. Full contact shopping! That would be awesome.
My point in all this is that I think the commercialization of Christmas...or the "Holiday Season" as is more politically correct (which is another blog topic that I would like to address at some point) has gotten just about out of hand. Now, I am sure that there are many of you out there that still hold Christ as the focus of the season and if that's the case, well then God bless you and your family. Seems to me that the past few years my family has more and more gone overboard with the presents. I think last year it took all of us over 4 hours to get through all the presents. It's unreal. My wife and I said that this year we were going to take it easy with all the presents. Nope...we got to the mall and destroyed that agreement and that was just on stuff for the kids. Like they need all that stuff.
If this trend continues, we'll have to spend all Christmas day just opening up gifts. I digress...
We love presents. Do you love giving or receiving more? It's an honest question and there's no shame in answering honestly. I love to give. At this point in my life, I don't really need much. Sure, there are plenty of things that I want but not many things that I truly need. I have found that I get most of the things I want and need during the year. So, my wife and I spend much more on getting things for the kids than we do on each other.
I have gotten some really great presents through the years though. A shotgun, a rifle, my Saddleback Leather briefcase, and other items of that caliber (no pun intended). I have given some really good gifts too. I've given books, games and gaming systems, bikes, clothes, Saddleback Leather items, boots and shoes, jackets, and all sorts of household appliances.
My question to you is: What is the best Christmas present you've ever received? What is the best you've ever given? Have you ever given someone their all time best Christmas present? This is something that I've been thinking about recently. It's hard sometimes to remember the things you get for Christmas. It's even hard to remember the really good things we receive. Next year I am going to spend some time really studying the people I give gifts to. I'm going to seek out what they really need and want for Christmas. I am going to cut back on the number of gifts and concentrate on giving really great and memorable gifts. Things that stand out in memory...not fade. I challenge you to do the same.
Christ gave us the greatest gift that was ever given. He gave his life for our sins. If you don't know Him as your savior, then I pray that you will come to know Him and ask him for that gift. The bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The bible also says that all you have to do is call on the name of the Lord and you shall be saved. This is a gift that you must ask for but it's also a gift that can never be taken from you and you cannot lose it. You cannot do a single act on earth to earn it. All you are required to do is believe and ask.
If Christ gave his life for the world, how difficult would it be for us to give the ones we love a great and memorable gift. Not quantity but quality. Give an awesome gift to someone you love and give that gift in the name of Jesus. Tell your loved one that you give it because you celebrate what God has done for you. They'll never forget it.
In this Christmas season, may the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bless you and your families. May you find peace and joy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Artistic Things

     I should preface this entry by saying that I am not an artist.  I cannot draw worth a flip.  I can't sing nor play a musical instrument enough matter.  I can't paint or sculpt.  I can't sew anything but a patch on my jeans.  I'm not a very good writer and I can't tell stories.  I can take pictures but I'm by no means a photographer.  In other words, I'm not very artistic...at all. 
     Now having said all that, I do enjoy some of the things that I mentioned above and I certainly do appreicate good art.  I've always wanted to be a real writer or poet.  I have from time to time written things and even started on a few book ideas.  I've written poetry but not very well.  I'm by no means a writer or poet.  I can sing...as much as anyone else can sing...but I'm no singer.  I can strum a guitar about as much as a monkey knows how to properly use a hammer.  I've wanted to be able to sing and play a guitar well and I've even written a few songs occasionally.  I love photography and feel that I have an eye for the craft but I've never had any formal training nor do I know anything about the technical matters involved with it.  I have an interest in leather working and would like to be able to do some leather working but that's an art that you have to just about be trained to do...kinda like woodworking. 
     Are you an artist?  What is your art, your craft?  Is it a passion?  Is it a hobby for you?  How does one with an interest in such things actually persue it?  I'm interested in so many things that it's hard for me to settle on one thing.  I'd like to be able to have an artistic hobby as an outlet.  Whether it's writing, photography, or leatherworking, I'd love to be able to express myself in a creative way. 
     I think it's human nature to be creative and I think that I'm creative by nature.  I've just never developed a way to practice that creativity.  At least not in any meaningful way.  Artists, in my opinion, are workers of their craft.  They have a passion and they have a need to express it creativly.  How does one get to that point?  Is it natural to be interested in many artistic persuits or is it more normal just to have one passion and focus on that?  I don't know.  Maybe you do...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Job or Career?

    What do you do for a living?  Is it something that you are passionate about?  Is it something that engages you mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually?  Are you satisfied with your work?  Do you have a job or a career?  I have asked these questions to myself often through the years.  I will admit that I have had many ups and downs when it comes to work. 
     Some of my jobs were horrible.  Jobs where you get paid a very low wage by an unappreciative employer just to spend 12 hours a day slaving away doing repetitive to increase the company's profit margin.  Some of the jobs I've had were great.  Diving in a crystal clear and calm lake up in S. Carolina.  I enjoyed my days on that project...didn't matter about the money because I was doing something that I would have paid to have been doing. 
I enjoy the work that I'm doing now.  Working as a consultant in the sub sea oil and gas industry.  I get to travel a lot and I get to see and experience new and interesting things.  I get to be out on the water some.  I do a job that is important to our society and it is challenging.  I am well compensated for the time I spend away from my family performing this work and I work with good, intelligent people. 
     I do enjoy my work.  I hate that I have to be away from home so much though.  It's a shame that you have to be gone so much just to earn a good living but that's the way it is.  You take the good with the bad.  A man has to do something for a living.  You have to make money doing something to support your family and have nice things.  Unfortunately, there's not much of a selection of jobs around where I live.  As a result, I have missed birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries.  I have missed family vacations, cookouts, and crawfish boils.  I missed the birth of my daughter and my Papaw's funeral.  As we say in this business though, "It is what it is.".
I sacrifice because I love my family and I want to support them.  I want them to live a good life full of things that they not only need but things they want.  Things we want.  This work though is not just a job.  It's my career.  A job is just work that I could easily walk away from.  Nothing lost but a day's wage.  My career is something that I've put blood, sweat, and even tears in to.  I've worked hard to earn my good reputation in this business.  I've stressed out over deadlines, tests, drawings, design issues, money, schedules, logistics, quality control, fabrication, and production.  I've enjoyed it all. 
     I enjoy it because it engages my mind and challenges me to be the best at what I do.  I don't have a boss that stands over me requiring me to perform.  It's all up to me.  I love that.  I wake up each morning and say to myself, "It pays to be a winner.  The only easy day was yesterday".  That motivates me to to go out and tackle each day and confront the day's issues with the respect and tenacity that each day deserves.
     This job allows me to follow a structured system yet allow me to be able to think for myself outside the box.  It's a job that not a lot of people do...it's exclusive and I like that.  I don't get to do all the things that I have an interest in though.  I guess that's what hobbies are for.  That's another blog topic though. 
     In conclusion, is you work just a job that you work just in order to pay the bills.  OR, are you one of the fortunate ones who get to make a career doing something that you enjoy?  Whatever you do for a living remember that as long as you do it well and to the best of your ability...it's honorable.   

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Things I like

I love my wife, my kids, and my family.  I love Jesus.  But this blog isn't about what I love...it's about the things that I like or enjoy and why.

I like food!  Old fashion cheeseburgers...the good greasy kind.  I like pizza...old school Johnny's Pizza, please.  I like homemade ham and cheese sandwiches...with cheese melting out the sides...cheddar cheese that is.  All these have one thing in common...CHEESE!  Man, let me tell ya.  I really, really like some cheese.  I'm indiscriminate.  I don't care what kind of cheese it is...I'll dig in.  Cheese may be one of the world's most perfect foods.  Other foods I like...ribs!  I can eat my weight in ribs.  Two words...BANANA PUDDING...enough said.  Ice cream...I mean really?  Does my liking ice cream really need explanation?  NO.

Football!  I really, really enjoy watching football.  Whether it's the Saints, LSU, or the Texans, I'm ready!  I will holler at the TV until I can't talk the next day.  We all get into the spirit around our house.  I've even seen my wife down in the floor on her knees praying that we'd win a game to make it to the playoffs or a championship game!  Now that's funny...I don't care where you come from.

The ocean...which, by the way, also includes the beach, boats, diving, fishing, and other related activities.  There is almost nothing I'd rather be doing...strike that...THERE IS NOTHING I would rather be doing than spending some good quality time laying on the beach...just chillin.

Finally, and this by no means completes my list, airplanes.  I dig me some airplanes.  Ever since I can remember I've wanted to be able to fly planes.  I bet I've spent hundreds of dollars on flight simulators over the years...including flight sticks and throttles.  If I could only choose one airplane to own and fly for the rest of my life it would be an Antilles Super Goose...it's so awesome.  It's an updated version of the old Grumman Goose which is a sea plane.  It has floats on the wings that retract and it has landing gear so you can land the plane just about anywhere...land or sea.  I would get in my Goose and fly to the islands...land in the water...pull up to the beach...and post up.  Daring somebody to mess with me. 

Anyway, these are just some of the things that I really like.  Maybe you have some cool things that you like too...comment and share!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Lost Things

A gold chain with an anchor, my high school football jacket, my stuffed teddy bear "Fluffy", some favorite hats, my mind at times, a cool collection of Zippo lighters, a shotgun, rifles, and 2 compound bows, and so forth and so on...these are just some of the things I've lost over the years.  A few of these things were truly lost to the sands of time.  Some of these items were stolen from me (I hope you're reading this cause you know who you are, Sucka!).  Some of these things have just been misplaced and now I don't know where they really are so...I'm just kinda like "ummm, i dunno where it is". 
The point here is that I'm sure we've all lost some things that were valuable to us through the years and it hurts that we still don't have them.  Why do we feel such attachment to these material items?  Is it because of the good times we had while using them?  Is it that these attachments conjure up memories from our childhood (Fluffy)?  Was it because of a family heirloom given to you in trust and honor (rifle...you know who you are, Sucka!)? 
Whatever it is.  We do feel or at least I do feel a great regret for not having these items in my life anymore.  Some of the things I could share with my kids and tell them stories about the good times using them.  They could touch and feel history.  I could share with them something that my family passed down to me.  I could eventually pass some of these things down to them and so forth and so on.
I miss my things...the lost things.  Maybe it's not the "things" I miss.  Maybe I miss the memories and history and the promise these things brought to me.  In the end, they are just material things and I do have my memories but there's just something about certain items that can transport you instantly to specific points in time.  Our things are time machines!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Local Flavor

I travel.  Work tends to take me to different places often.  My family and I travel for vacations.  I'm sure you (whoever you are) do some traveling from time to time.  At some point in all our lives most of us will have a chance to visit a completely different and new place from that which we were born and raised.  Even if it's just going to spend the night in a town just an hour down the road, most of us will have that opportunity.  I use the word "opportunity" because traveling presents us with an "opportunity" to see, do, and experience new things.  I've had the opportunity to travel all over the US and I've even been to Africa. 
One thing I've learned in all my travels is that if you really want to get to know how the locals live...go eat with them.  I don't mean go out to eat at a Pizza Hut...not that there's anything wrong with Pizza Hut.  What I'm talking about is going out to eat at a local favorite spot.  Some of the very best food that I've ever had was at local places on my trips. 
Here recently, while I was traveling through West Virgina, I stopped at a little town called Bridgeport, WV.  Bridgeport is a little town which seems to be overshadowed by the larger town right next door, Clarksburg.  Bridgeport is a nice little town with more churches than banks...always a good sign.  The downtown area is a little...diminished...but not because of lack of businesses or money.  Downtown Bridgeport is just aged.  Not old...AGED.  Like a well seasoned steak.  Bridgeport has probably been on the map for close to 150 years or so and the town just has a broke-in feeling to it.  A "home town" kinda feeling to it.  It's a charm of the area. 
So, I found myself in downtown Bridgeport and as I drove slowly through the town on W. Main St I spied a little corner coffee shop called "Almost Heaven".  Immediately, I whipped the FJ into a public parking lot right next door to the coffee shop.  I stepped out of the truck and took in the cold mountain air and stretched my arms to the sky.  It was good to be out of that truck.
As I walked toward the coffee shop, I could see that the building was made from what appeared to be ancient brick and stone.  Walking through the door, the scent of freshly baked muffins mixed with the seductive aromas of the different coffees lingering in the air.  The brick and stone walls continued to the inside of the building as well.  The floors were original hand laid wooden floors.  My boots made that unmistakable thud and pat sound as I walked across the room and the floors creaked and groaned as if to remind me that they had been here longer...much longer than I'd been alive.
A couple of older gents were huddled up to a table in a corner...they eyeballed me.  I was a stranger...a anomaly in their otherwise normal routine.  I tipped my hat to them and said, "Howdy".  They just nodded.  I smiled and turned toward the bar.
I was there greeted by what I guessed to be an 18 or19 year old girl.  She was friendly and said good morning to me and asked me what I would like.  I placed my order for a mocha latte and a blueberry muffin.  Then I took a seat in the corner.  After a few minutes, the young lady brought my order and said "Enjoy".  I did.
The muffin was one of the best blueberry muffins that I've ever had...and that's saying a lot.  The mocha latte was awesome....so I had two of them.  I spent an hour or so just eating and drinking slowly.  Soaking it all in.  The big glass jars filled with homemade cookies...the counters filled with pastries of all sorts...cakes...pies...oh my lord at the pies and the cheesecakes.  The menus on the wall were chalkboards with all the menu items written in chalk...not because it's trendy...that's just how they do it.
In all, Almost Heaven was just that...almost heaven.  There's not much that they could do to improve their little business.  I can't imagine that they make a killing running that place but I don't think they need to.  They obviously love what they do and I'm sure the local community loves them for it.  It was my pleasure and good fortune to happen upon Almost Heaven and it's an experience that I will not soon forget. 
So, if you're ever traveling, take the time to stop and check out the little family owned places along the way.  Whether they be eating establishments or little shops.  Visit with the people there and spend some money.  You'll be contributing to their local economy and just as important you could gain something that you can't put a price on...memories. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Launch!

This is the official launch of my blog...

It use to be that in order to be heard you had to use a public forum like a town hall or church.  Maybe you spoke at a school and if you were seriously lucky you might get in a newspaper or possibly get published somehow.  Nowadays, with the invention of Internet blogs, anyone can become a writer and be heard.  This could either be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.  When writing this blog I could possibly gain either thousands upon thousands of followers or my writings could just get cast into the sea of other random and obscure electronic filings.  Thing is though, I'm not really doing this to gain a certain number of "followers".  I'm just writing because I have things to say...things to say about the things I see or experience...things that happen to me.  I intend to write about everything...about anything that I take interest in and I think might make for a good blog entry.  I hope you read it...I hope you enjoy.