Saturday Nights
January 29, 2017

alcohol

 

I remember Saturday nights when I wore a younger man’s clothes. As I sit here at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, I began thinking of those times.

EVERY Saturday night was a party night. Sometimes we didn’t go out until eleven p.m. and still it was a rowdy night. Let me tell you of those days.

Let’s start with the big one. Saturday, October 2, 1976. My best friend at the time was Chuck Jones (who I haven’t seen in 40 years. Funny how life does that.) My birthday was October 1st, his was October 3rd. We would both be 21. October 2nd was a Saturday, so it seemed the most logical day to celebrate.

My cousin Don Lacey, Chuck, and I decided to hit every bar in Sharon, Pennsylvania or maybe the Shenango Valley. Now, I’m going to tell you about this night, but I don’t remember all of it.

There were many bars in the valley at the time, and I don’t honestly remember where we started. Now, we weren’t rookies as we both started drinking on a weekly basis at the age of 13. We would go to the bars in Ohio every Saturday and they would serve us, usually, as we used fake ID’s to get in. Sometimes we would just get quarts of beer and ride around, or sit on the side of State Line Road  and listen to Yankees games on WGAR out of Schenectady, New York. Night time was the only time we could hear the games. But I digress.

We thought, rather foolishly, we would stop at every bar and have a shot and a beer. I never cared for alcohol, but beer was always good. Alcohol made me angry (except Rum) and beer made me “happy”.

We immediately realized that after the 5th or 6th bar, we had consumed a lot of alcohol. But there were so many bars left, we trudged on. A couple bars didn’t serve Chuck as it wasn’t officially his 21st birthday, which we thought was petty.  So we moved to the next bar.

It gets a bit fuzzy now, but somewhere along the line, Chuck was getting sick. We pulled off, actually, not too far from where I now live, so he could vomit. Don asked us if we wanted to quit and we said no.

Then, Chuck couldn’t walk. We were in the parking lot, and Don and I carried him. Unfortunately, we dropped him two times, with each time he hit his head on the pavement. We had to explain the excruciating headache he had the next morning to him.

I then was told that our final stop was at the Lube downtown, our usual stomping grounds. I was told that my friend Bill bought me a beer, and as I was talking to him, i apparently put my hand down to the side with the mug in my hand and spilled it on the floor. He said I looked at the mug and said, “Oh, that was quick. Guess I better go.”

And we did.

That was Saturday, October 2, 1976. At the time I thought it was fun.

But today is Saturday, January 28,2017. I think this Saturday was more fun.

I stayed home most of the day and read a book that’s been on my shelf for two years. It’s by Tim Keller called “Jesus The King”. Keller has become one of my favorite authors, and I actually got to meet him.

I helped Bonnie make three different soups for what we call our “Super Soup Sunday”, for church, held the Sunday between the Championship games and the Superbowl. Everyone makes a bunch of soup and desserts and crackers and breads and it’s a blast. Actually, she made the soups, I just cut up onions, carrots, etc. I really enjoyed working in the kitchen with her.

I had to pick something up at Jo Jo and Josh’s house and got to see Haniah. She cracks me up, and I love how she greets me. Enjoyed the visit there and came home. Because we were busy, we got a pizza from Francescos, my favorite quick Italian place.

I had ginger ale. No beer. No alcohol. Ginger ale.

I am so thankful that I no longer have to drink like that to have fun. I don’t have to get drunk to get away from my problems. I don’t have to get high, try to pick up a girl, or get into a fight for my entertainment. Jesus Christ took that desire from me. There is no other way I could stop drinking. It was Christ.

When my dad was my age, he was still a heavy drinker. He didn’t have Christ. Thankfully, I do.

Sitting at my computer, am I missing anything out there that would benefit my life? Nah, I’m good right here. I tell people that what I have, I could never give up. My life is very, very, good. Besides, I have church in the morning.

I don’t need a vacation. My life is a vacation, and it’s all because of Christ Jesus.

 

 

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Bucket List
December 12, 2016

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It’s funny but recently people have been posting on Facebook and even talking at work about having a “Bucket List”. It intrigued me as I thought about it because I realized I don’t have a bucket list. I used to have a bucket list when I felt certain things were important, but realize now that they’re not that important. It’s not that I “don’t have” a bucket list now, but rather I “don’t need or want” a bucket list.

I look at my life and think, “what do I want to do or where do I want to go before I kick the bucket”? The answer is nothing and nowhere.

I guess that makes me an odd kind of creature, but in analyzing it all, its because of a couple things. First,  I think that the Apostle Paul had it right when he said, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”. (Phil. 4:11). I feel good about that. I guess I’m content.

Second, whatever God has planned for me is ok with me, either plenty or lack. The things I really want to do and go to are whatever God has planned for me to do or go to. It’s all in the Lord’s hands. See, because the things I want to see and places I want to go are all up to what God wants of me.  Let me explain.

I want to see Benny married. I want to see my grandchildren. All of them. I want to dance at their weddings. I want to help them with their homework. Have them call me when their mommy or daddy is “mean” to them. I want to see them at their prom. I want to take them to McDonald’s, take them fishing, see the Yankees or Browns play, walk with them at Buhl Park.

I want to play in the snow with them. Walk on the beach with them,  whether it’s Lake Erie or Maui. Lay in the grass with them at night and count all the stars and tell them that God has given all of them a name. I want to teach them that their really is a heaven and Jesus is the only way to get there, and when “Bapa” is gone, they will be with me there.

I want to teach them about God. His faithfulness and His purpose He has for their lives. I want to teach them to honor their parents, be a good sport when they lose, be a graceful winner when they win. Teach them that there is nothing more important than following God, finding out about Him, studying His Word,

I want to teach them about purity, that celibacy isn’t just a good idea, but it’s following God’s laws. Teach them that the teachings of this world about right and wrong most likely don’t line up with the Word of God. Teach them that their secular teachers and professors aren’t as smart as they think. Show them about respecting and loving spouses, fighting through tough times, and enjoying the good times.

I want to teach them that alcohol doesn’t make you braver and drugs don’t make you cooler. Swearing doesn’t make you distinguished, smoking is a stupid habit, and faithfulness is all that God asks of us.

I want to explain to them that Bob Dylan is a literary genius and he was the best songwriter of their grandfather’s lifetime, that the Beatles are the best band ever, and that it’s ok to be different.

See if this is a bucket list, then this bucket list isn’t about going or doing, but it’s about being. I want to live. A quiet, peaceful, life that causes no harm to anyone. I want to positively impact my grandchildren’s lives.

I watched “Elf” with all my kids and their spouses and my grandchildren tonight. I don’t think I could ask for anything more than that. I’m perfectly content with my life and in need of nothing.

Although seeing a World Series game with Ben in Yankee Stadium would be pretty cool.

273.6/257.3

The Sound of Silence
April 8, 2016

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I’ve just recently discovered a song by “Disturbed” (no, not my favorite band as actually I wasn’t familiar with them) shared by my son Luke. It’s a remake of “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. Now I am told “Disturbed” is a screamer band, and they didn’t scream this one. It is phenomenal. Here’s why I like it, maybe even better than the original.

It’s an angry song. A protest song.And Dan Draiman sings it like an angry protest song.  Not so much of a war that was raging (it was written in 1964), but how their voice was not getting heard. Nobody was listening to them. And by them, I mean us, my generation. We had a president who was young and for the youth, and he was murdered. A war was increasing. Hopelessness for young people set in. A war that drafted us to go there, whether we wanted to or not. We were angry.

Nobody listened? We got drunk or high. And nobody seemed to care. Teen years are confusing enough about what you want to do, but add a war to it, and it multiplied. We were “hippies”.

We were rebels with a cause. Boys hair got longer (Thanks Beatles) and girls dresses got shorter (Thank you very much, Twiggy).

I like young people as I used to be one 40 years ago. I work with kids today and they’re angry. But they don’t seem to know why they’re angry. They’re confused. They don’t know what they want to do, what sex they want to be, what is right or what is wrong. At least we had a war to keep us focused to be angry about.

The twenty/thirty somethings are also angry. Their American Dream is fading. They went to college, did everything right, and are drowning in financial debt. They make the amount of money I made in 1974 in the steel mills, but then I could raise a family on it if I wanted to. Buy a new car? Good luck. A new house? So many of them, married or single, live with mom and dad.

These kids got nothing. Except the one thing that my generation was angry at. See, we thought it was the war, but it was more than that. And this song hits it right on the head.

We didn’t have a voice. And nobody listened if we did speak. And this generation is the same. They realize the government isn’t for them, they make it harder to get big loans for houses or cars, but will let you use credit card debt to bring you to the poorhouse. Of course they’re angry. As George Carlin put it, “It’s a big country club, and we ain’t in it.”

The song says, “And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made and the sign flashed out its warning int the words that it was forming. And the sign said, “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls.” Back then, I believed that. I believed we had all the answers, just as the current generation goes with what the rock bands or rappers say as truth.  Truth is something that the generation doesn’t believe in, at least an absolute truth. That’s because of weak churches, weak parents, and weak minds that don’t want to reason. But there is an answer to all of this.

God.

The same God they’ve kicked out of schools, courthouses, and public buildings is the answer. The words of the prophets are written in the Bible. And these people running this country  have raised a generation that doesn’t believe in God, particularly Jesus.

But that’s the answer.

 

 

Homeward Bound
March 31, 2016

 

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I love where I live. It’s a pleasant little home, in the city, and I really like it. I lived in the country for over 20 years and then was “transplanted” back to my hometown of Sharon, Pennsylvania. It’s not a bad place.

But my house, I love it. I find that I don’t like to leave it. It’s “homey”. Now my other house was homey too, but I found we liked to leave it to do things. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s complacency, or maybe it’s that I like being home. Either way, I like it.

When Paul McCartney left the Beatles, he had difficulty talking about the Beatles. When his new band, Wings, was playing, many times the interviewers were asking about Beatles times, and he didn’t want to talk about it. In fact, many of his concerts featured zero, or only a couple Beatles songs. It’s like he didn’t want to remember his time there, as he isn’t THAT GUY anymore. He couldn’t embrace what it was because it ended badly.

I thought about that when I got out of high school. I didn’t hate high school, but I didn’t love it either. I was into alcohol pretty regularly my last two years, and discovered pot my senior year.  I had two sets of friends, actually three. Those I drank with, those I smoked with, and those I didn’t do any of those with. Obviously, I had NO relationship or awareness of Jesus Christ at this point in my life. I’m beyond thankful that I do now. And so do my kids.

I was a pretty friendly fellow, had lots of friends.  I had a good relationship with my classmates. I was the class vice-president for the Class of 1973. It was fun. I didn’t run for president, too much work. We’d drink a lot, spent a lot of time drinking at a doctor’s house where his wife would actually serve us drinks. His son was in my class. Drank a lot with my friend Chuck and would be with him at Francis’s house, where his mother never minded if we drank there.

I was unbelievable slow with girls. Only had a girlfriend or two during the high school years. Even though I was popular, I was never pushy with them. Had tons of crushes but, believe it or not, was actually too shy to pursue them.  I was a virgin when I graduated high school. Never went to prom as I didn’t want to go. I’m still not much of a dancer.

We started a group called “Bleacher Bums” and we’d travel to all the basketball games. We started chants and choruses of songs.  Chuck, Frank, Scott, Tom, just a bunch of us having fun. What a great time that was. Usually drinking. One game Chuck and I arrived late, and there were no seats so we sat in the New Castle section. This was back when we were a big school playing big teams. For some reason that I don’t remember, we were kindly escorted out of the gym by two of Sharon PD’s finest. The principal, Mr. Bennet told us to meet him in his office on Monday .

We went to our usual parties, and my buddy and I  were at the party imitating Mr. Bennet, saying “Get your hat and coat son, you’re going home”.  We thought we’d be expelled. Well Monday comes, and no call to meet with Mr. Bennet came……..until 10 minutes before dismissal.

Well, a bit nervous, we approached Mr. Bennet and he was as cool as could be. Said he was disappointed with us, hoped we’d represent the school and team better, and if it happened again, we’d be expelled. Well, from that point on, we made better decisions. Just one beer before the game ( a 42 oz. beer), then party afterwards.

With all that being said, I loved THAT part of it, but couldn’t wait to get out of Sharon. I remember running into Nick and I told him I was living in West Middlesex and he said, “Couldn’t you find a house in Sharon?” as if that was THE place to be in the valley.  I wanted no part of it. Until I came home.

I felt like Paul McCartney (I wish), and being completely sober for 30 years, I am fond of my time in Sharon, and I fell like I really am at home. I embraced who I was then and who I am now. As Paul began doing Beatles songs and embracing his past, I too have embraced those times and celebrate my past. I’m so thankful to be home. The saying is, ‘home is where your heart is’. Well, I guess I’m home.

I really don’t know what I would have done if the principal told my kids, “get your hat and coat, son you’re going home'”. They were better kids than their father was a kid. But I think they had a better father than I did.

 

Old Friends
January 27, 2016

Reflective mood tonight. (Notice how I’m avoiding the weight issue? Yes, astute readers, you are). I was reflecting earlier today and re-reflecting tonight about Old Friends. Probably because of listening to Simon and Garfunkel.

I always thought I’d have boyhood friends forever. Just like the song “Old Friends/Bookends”.

Old friends
Old friends
Sat on their park bench like bookends
A newspaper blowin’ through the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
Of the old friends

Old friends
Winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders of the old friends

Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy.

My buddy growing up, Keith, was my next door neighbor. Heck he was class president and I was vice-president of our class. Actually, before I got into counseling, I worked for him in his construction business. He lives in the area. We speak to each other twice a year. I call him on his birthday and he calls me on mine. Funny how that works.

I had a friend Chuck who I was real close with throughout high school. He introduced me to underage drinking. We went to concerts together, ball games, and drove around a lot just drinking and trying to tune in the New York Yankees on WGAR from Schenectady, NY. (If we found the right place at night, we could listen to the whole game). We spent so much time together. He’s in Chicago or somewhere. I was in his wedding, haven’t seen him or talked to him in over 35 years. Funny how that works.

I lamented not having that, but then realized I have four or five people in my life I would call close friends.

Lon is who I see more than the others. Him and Janet, I’ve known for about 20 years. I actually communicate more with them than with other friends. It’s a beautiful friendship, but it will change as eventually they move to North Carolina. Not soon, but soon enough. Funny how that works. I love him.

Jim has been my friend for 40 years. He lives in Florida. We lived together for awhile there. It seems that when we get together, it was like we were just with each other. We have had more experiences than you can imagine, and as he is a CEO of a non-profit organization, we’ll leave it at that. Concerts, parties, girlfriends, video games. We went through break ups with our girlfriends and more Tony’s pizza than you can shake a stick at. I love him.

Cindi, my cousin, who also lives in Florida. We have experienced so many things growing up, and it was always good to bounce things off her when girls drove me crazy.  I was the same to her. I spent summers at her house when she lived near by. So many stories, and we have verbally agreed not to blackmail each other. I love her.

Johnny, my cousin. He lives near by and we don’t see each other near enough. Nobody made me laugh like him, and my goal has and continues to be, to get him to pee his pants. He’s 60, so it shouldn’t be hard. His mom was like my second mother. He’s a chubber like me, and even now, deep down, though we struggled to lose weight by dieting and exercising together, we both hope the other stays fat. I love him.

Bonnie, my wife. We have been married over 30 years. We’ve known each other closer to 40. She knows everything about me. She is my biggest critic and my biggest fan. When I’m down, she builds me up. When I feel full of myself, she brings me down. She didn’t know me when I was going through my struggles, but has kept me from going back to them. My best friend. I am blessed. I love her.

The song continues:

Old friends
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear

A time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you.

But I can see myself at 70 sitting on a park bench with Bonnie or Jim or Cindi or Johnny. In fact I do that now because it’s actually “terribly strange” to be 60.

“Old Friends/Bookends” by Simon and Garfunkel.

 

 

 

Winter
January 7, 2016

Well, week one into 2016 and winter has arrived. I’m ok with that, as apparently, I’m a northern kind of guy.

Christmas Eve and Day was like 60 degrees, which is kind of nice. See, I like cold and cool weather. So 60 is cool and lovely. I guess that at my age, I’m over a white Christmas. If it happens, cool, if not, I’m very ok with it.

We’ve had just one snow, less than an inch. I find I like snow also. Not a “Oh boy, it’s snowing”, but more like a “oh, it snowed”. I’m learning to adjust to life. So let’s throw a bit of Bob Dylan in here, which is to no one who knows me surprise.

This song I discovered is called “It’s Not Dark Yet” off his “Time Out Of Mind” CD (in case you want to buy it……). Fascinating song as I am approaching the winter of my life. I’ve learned to accept things that are. There are a few things this song says, and I’ll quote it without permission and hopefully not infringe on copyright laws.

I have come to the conclusion that western Pennsylvania, maybe where I’m at in Sharon or somewhere near by, is where I’m supposed to be. This is where God has me. This is where God wants me. I had wanted to move to California with the kids, but they moved home. I had wanted to travel, but that desire has left me, also. If I travel, I want to do it as a family. I’ve also discovered that I love it here. Maybe that’s the Lord helping me, but I do. My desire is to live where my kids and grandkids will live. I have a friend Bill Jones who picked up and moved with his wife to eastern Pennsylvania because it was between where his two kids lived. I get that.

I never understood why Paul McCartney always dreaded his “Beatles” years after they broke up. He rarely sang Beatles songs, mainly doing his solo work. I’ve noticed as Paul’s aged that he has embraced that the Beatles was a part of who he was, but not who he was. Now he does a nice mix of both in concert, so I’m told.

I’ve found that out about me. I hated the high school years. I think that’s why I drank so much in high school. Started drinking at 13, just hated Sharon. Moved to Florida twice, and came back to the area and when I got married we bought a house in West Middlesex. Not Sharon. As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed that I’m embracing my high school years as a part of who I was, but not who I was, just like McCartney. It was a part of who I am, but does not define me as who I am.

I was popular in school, but it didn’t satisfy me. I look back on the drama of high school and some of the crazy things I did and I should be dead. But God spared me and here I am. Friends who betrayed me, friends I betrayed, relationships that ruined me and relationships I ruined, poor decisions that I made. This brings me back to Dylan.

Always was a Dylan fan. He spoke for my generation, but it wasn’t until lately I’ve encountered some of the songs he did, especially off the Bootleg Series 1-12, that really speak to great depth in my life. Songs that I go, “Yeah, that’s true” or “yeah, I believe(d) that”. As I’ve turned 60, it’s becoming clearer to me that I have become older and wiser. Things don’t bother me like they used to, (well, except the Browns, but I’ve been working on that for years), and I really don’t care what people think. I believe if I had that attitude in high school I would have enjoyed it more. But back to Dylan.

The whole song “It’s Not Dark Yet” is so good and speaks so much to who I am. The one verse goes:                “I was born here and I’ll die here, against my will. I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still. Every nerve in my body is so naked and numb. I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from. I don’t even hear the murmur of a prayer. It’s not dark yet. But it’s getting there.”

I guess as I’m in the autumn of life, late October I’d say, that’s where I’m at. I’m in Sharon, at first against my will but now my will is lining up with God’s. I’ll probably die here. I’m ok with all of that. Heck, I got cemetery plots here.

This is where I’m to be. I like it here. Everything I need and want is here. My wife, my kids and their spouses and their kids, all here. I’m a blessed man. I don’t need a vacation. My life is a vacation. It was 12 degrees this morning and I walked in the Park. Crazy? Nah, enjoying home.

My home isn’t gorgeous or in the greatest neighborhood. I’m not a “fixer upper” kind of fella, so things need done. I get to things eventually, although I’d rather pay someone to fix things because, hey, that’s why we work, don’t we? Ain’t got a whole lot of money (“but I’m so in love with you honey”)But I love where I live. I do. I’m home. People say you can’t go home. You can, but it’s not the same. It’s different only if you’ve changed.

I absolutely have only one regret. I wish I’d married Bonnie earlier in life instead of 30 so I’d be around for the grandkids longer, but who knows? God’s timing is perfect.

Winter is here. It doesn’t last long. I’ve embraced it. Life is very good, and I’m realistic about life and the outcome. It’s Not Dark Yet. But it’s getting there.

The Day the Laughter Died
August 14, 2014

Of course everyone is fascinated with the death of Robin Williams. The tragic reality of all this is that this great comedian, possibly the greatest, has done the one thing he tried to spare us from. That is, he made us feel sad.

The world has enough sad. I think that is why comedians are so desperately needed in this world. The George Carlins, the Bill Cosbys, the Richard Pryors, and lets go way back,  Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Jonathan Winters, Carol Burnette, the great comedians all brought us to a place of being disengaged from this crazy world for a few seconds, a few minutes, a few hours.

I heard someone say that all comedians have a dark side, demons that they fight, and this causes the great comedy they produce. I also heard that Seth Myers said that you don’t have to have those demons to be a truly great comedian. I agree.

Robin Williams suffered from depression. If you look at the drug abuse of John Belushi, Chris Farley, and others who have died from an overdose, I’m sure they were self medicating their depression. And I understand also that Robin was raised Episcopalian and others said he became atheist. I would be suicidal too if it wasn’t for Christ. This world is nuts.

The point, the tragic reality, the painful bright spotlight that his death has caused to shine on is that our enjoyment of life is not based on others making us happy or our trying to make others happy. 

I have worked in the mental health/drug and alcohol field for thirty years. I have yet to fully understand the magnitude of depression. I have yet to get a grip on the depressed feeling that causes one to kill themselves, or at least attempt to. I have yet to lose hope that life will get better. I have yet to understand also how people use the depression to excuse their behaviors. I have yet to feel insignificant in someone’s life.

When Robin died, Jack died. The Genie died. Peter Pan died. Popeye died. And all this comedic genius that portrayed these characters died. And it left us with the thought, “how could this guy who made so much laughter now cause so much pain in others”?

But see, that’s what we think about in these times. We think not so much what he did to himself, but look what he did to me. And when we think about it, what did he do to us that would make us so mad?

He took with him some of our innocence of our childhood. And we can never get it back.

Angry Young Man
March 8, 2014

Well, another week under the belt (that’s a sick expression for a guy trying to lose weight).

It’s been a weird week, eating habits were out of whack (amazing how old habits can come back like a pimple). So, on the good side, I worked out 3 times this week. So that’s good. But the weight this morning is 149.4.  Up 1.4 pounds. (I was upset, until I remembered, “I’m in the 240’s).  So, I figure I’ll have weeks like that. Good advice from my son Ben and my good friend, Vinny in regards to weight training. I got this!

I’m really excited spiritually, which leads to excitement physically. If I’m good spiritually, I’m good physically. I’ve begun to memorize Scriptures, a hearty task I might add. I read this book by Jerry Bridges and he said about memorization, so I thought I’d try it. He said to figure an area you need to work on (I narrowed it down to 15), and came up with anger.

I’ve always had an anger problem. I tell everyone that I can beat anyone in a “chainsaw throw”. I’ve thrown mine many times, and with quite accuracy and a distance of many yards. There’s also the “lawnmower kick”, but that doesn’t make the lawnmower go  very far.  Then there’s the “rip up the outside Christmas lights”, where they become so tangled, you just start ripping them apart and then throwing them away. More expensive than tearing up a phone book.

So, anger it is. We all have issues, don’t we? Overeating, swearing, anger, lust, hate, bitterness, prejudices, being a Steelers fan. We all do. It’s funny how we can easily point the finger at someone else, but not take to heart what we do. I guess it’s that sinful, human, nature we inherited. Stupid Adam and Eve.

But it can be overcome. The problem is that nobody wants to fight for it. Nobody wants to change. We become used to it, befriend it, and declare, “It’s just how I am! My daddy was this way, his daddy was this way, so it’s in the genes.” But it doesn’t have to be. Scripture tells us, for those who believe, “sin shall not be master over you  because you are no longer under sin but under grace”. (Romans 6:14).   That’s pretty thrilling.

I used to be a drunk, but not anymore. I used to do drugs. But not anymore. It’s because of God’s mercy and grace, and that very grace that brought me out from under the stronghold.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m still an idiot. In many ways. Too many to list. But I find that I make smarter decisions, better choices. Because of God. Yet, I’m still fat.

But I’m defeating this giant of weight. It’s being knocked down. I no longer live to eat, but eat to live. It’s because we, if we’re believers, we are more than conquerors. Able to do all things.

So how you doing with your giants? You can slay it, you know. I believe it. Do you?

Weight 249.4

How Deep Is Your Love?
February 22, 2014

Well another week has come and this Fast Metabolism Diet is fantastic. I’m at 252.4, loss of 20.6 pounds since I started this blog in May, but a loss of 30.6 since last March. Yeah, this diet and exercise is a great idea. I’d prefer a pill and a donut, but that’s not how it works. To think that I could be at 222 next year at this time blows me away. With God, all things are possible.

It’s been a unique week. I’m not hungry, eat more often, have exercised a bit less, and the weight keeps coming off. People are asking me, ‘how do you do it’? I tell them the basics of this eating plan, and they aren’t interested. I get it. I was there. But thank God, I’m not there now.

It’s work. It’s dedication. It’s, as I read in “In Pursuit of Holiness”, making your body your slave instead of your master. Your body tells you to stay in bed, but you master it by getting up and exercising. Your body tells you you’re too tired to read the Bible, but you tell your body you’re going to read. I totally get it when people don’t want to do it. Just hoping that it will drop off. That would be so nice. But it’s not realistic.

It helps that I’m not doing this alone. My wife, son, and daughter-in-law are doing it, which makes this a lot easier. My niece Barb has started all this. She’s lost 60 pounds in 6 months. It’s a healthy diet, and with the ladies doing the cooking and my wife Bonnie always looking after me, this is so doable. (Is that a word? do-able? It is now). It’s an exhilarating feeling to get control over something that has plagued me for years. The only time I was thin was when I was drinking and drugging. I quit that and the weight came back on.

However, God, the biblical God of the Bible, through His Son Jesus, delivered me from the drinking and drugging and is helping with this “Battle of the Bulge”.  It’s tough at times, but well worth it.

This winter has been wicked. For the first time in months I’m able to see my yard. I’ve also noticed since the snow has melted that my dog has been eating well. Time to clean that up. But back to winter, it’s here. March is around the corner, hopefully spring too. It just feels better when it’s warm.

So, what’s your battle? Alcohol? Drugs? Weight? Anger? Fear? It’s all beatable with God’s help. Pray and work. You have to face your fears. But sometimes we need a wake up call. A DUI arrest. A heart attack. A panic attack. Now’s the time. Fight this before a doctor tells you  that you need surgery or drugs to fix it. You can do it.

Seriously, if a stooge like me is able to battle this life long war, certainly you can. I’ve got faith in you. But more faith in God.

Weight: 252.4 (and dropping)

Finding Jim Paynter
November 29, 2012

I worked in central Florida for a few years in the late seventies. It was run by a bunch of “born agains” who promoted Jesus continually. It was a family run business, and they talked a good game, but didn’t necessarily live it (except my friend Ray Williams, but that’s another story).

I was never impressed by “born again Christians”, because they were so “mousey”. By “Mousey” I mean timid, meek, quiet. At this place it was “Jesus this” and “Jesus that”. And their focus was on Jesus and money, although, by how the place was shut down, I think the order might have been money and Jesus.

I worked side by side doing construction with my supervisor, Jim Paynter. Jim was a simple man from Maryland, and I’m not quite sure how he ended up in Eustis, FL. But we worked together. Jim never preached to me. Never kept pushing me. He worked beside me, and worked hard.

Jim was married to Judy, a sweetheart if there ever was one, and had seven boys, all their names beginning with “J”. I never asked him why, but it was a blast watching him call his son, and running through the list of names before he got to the lad’s real name.

I knew Jim was a Christian, because we always had devotions before work. Jim would ask me to pray, and as a non-Christian, I got to praying pretty good, not the canned Catholic prayers I was taught. And Jim loved Judy. I remember he would chase her around the kitchen always trying to kiss on her or hug her. I still laugh when I think about it.

He was a strict disciplinarian with his kids. I’m not talking physical discipline, but like “Andy Griffith” discipline. Groundings, taking away privileges, and the one line he used all the time with his kids when they messed up was “what ails you, boy?”

Jim never swore. One time he smacked his thumb real good with a hammer. He jumped down from the scaffold, yelling, “dang, dang, gosh darn it” with blood dripping down his hand. He later apologized to me for losing his temper. I laughed and told him the words I’d be saying instead of what he used.

He lived his life beside me. He never cheated at work, was never mean to people, and was a willing worker. He never brought up Jesus, but his life made me question him about this Jesus he served. Looking back, it was him imitating Christ, and I just wanted to be like him.

My friend Jay and I would go to the Christmas parties drunk, and Jim sat with us and never mentioned it. I thought it would be cool to “show them” by coming drunk, but Jim’s response to us made me embarrassed, because it was an insult to what Jim believed.

I moved north and lost touch with Jim completely. About 3 years later, I accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, and people asked me who inspired me to become a Christian and two names came to mind. My Aunt Mary, and Jim Paynter. I’ve been able to thank, and continue to thank Aunt Mary, but have never seen Jim since. I’m sure he’d be totally shocked to find out I’m a preacher.

So to Jim, I just want to say “thank you” for loving Jesus with your life. Thank you for investing in me. Thank you for imitating Christ. Thank you for loving me as the drunk and the druggie I was. It wasn’t all in vain. I love the Lord with all my heart, and you are a big reason why with the seed you planted.

If anyone ever runs into Jim Paynter, tell him I said hi, but I’m not sure he’d remember me. Or maybe he’s been praying for me everyday. Either way, there’s only one thing I need to do.

I want to be somebody’s Jim Paynter.