Budy
June 16, 2017

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That’s Budy. With one “d”.

Ten years ago when he was in 6th grade, Ben said he wanted a dog. My response? “If you want a dog, pray one in”. So he prayed. I thought if God wants us to have a dog, which I didn’t think He did, he’d send one.

God responds to the prayers of young boys. This young dog shows up in my driveway and immediately Bonnie and Ben fell in love with him. I thought he was really adorable, but didn’t really want a dog. As Bonnie drove away to take Ben to school, the dog starts chasing them down the street. Tears running down their faces, Bonnie and Ben say they want this dog. My thoughts? If he’s meant to be ours, he’ll hang around here.

Ben comes home and all he can talk about is this dog. Bonnie and he talked about the dog jumping up on them, following the van, and now it was gone. I have to admit, I was hoping he’d be there when they came home.

A few days go by, and Ben’s grandma, who had a house on our property, calls Ben and says, “Guess who is here?”. My mother-in-law was not much of an animal lover, even though she fed two cats for 10 years or so. So we go running down the driveway to see this dog, and of course Ben says “God answered my prayer”.

I didn’t want Ben to get too excited, so we checked around and couldn’t find an owner, so we’d decided to keep him until we heard there was an owner looking for him. There wasn’t one.

Ben said he wanted to name him “Buddy”, but with one “d”. We asked why, but a sixth grader doesn’t necessarily need to have a reason. So “Budy” it was.

He was really easy to train so as to go outside to do his business. He didn’t have many accidents until toward the end.

We worried, I worried, about how he’d get along with the cat. No problem. They slept together, sometimes laying on the other ones belly. They became great friends.

Budy was always a kind dog. Never bit anyone, even when grandchildren would lay on him or hit him. But he was very gentle, sometimes just walking away from them. At times he would run away, from room to room to avoid the little ones who didn’t know better. He never snapped at them.

My favorite Budy story was when we would come home and we would find the garbage can knocked over, and we’d follow the trail to where he was. I would yell, before I even saw him, “What did you do”? And would come slinking by, refusing to make eye contact because he knew he was bad.

He had his share of injuries. He had “Cherry eye”, something caused from being in grass where there was a huge reddish welt on his eye. We took him to the vet, and with medicine eventually was ok. It seemed like if anything could happen to a dog, it would happen to Budy. Remember, dogs are expensive.

He was such a baby. The littlest thing and he acted like he was shot! I  was told beagles are pretty much babies. He was definitely a beagle. But his bark also revealed a little basset hound in him also.

He was such a good dog. He was Ben’s best friend, as he always said. Budy helped him through the death of his grandma and the breakup with a girlfriend. When all else around him was collapsing, Budy remained a constant source of comfort. He never failed Ben.

Budy, though, rarely slept with Ben. He slept with Bonnie and me. Almost every night. Bonnie, being the kind spirit she is, let him lay right against her. Me, not such a kind spirit, would scoot him over with my foot so he would lay against Bonnie. But don’t tell anybody. It’s Budy and my secret.

When it was time to go to bed, he waited until one of us went to bed. He wouldn’t go up on his own. We’d let him out, then say, “Budy, time for nite nite”, and off he’d trot up the stairs. Now apparently he slept in our bed when we were at work because we’d come home and all the blankets would be messed up and pillows on the floor. He may have had a party or two.

Ben was always worried that Budy would run away, or sneak out, or have something wrong with him. Ben is the sensitive one, like his mom.  About six weeks ago Ben felt lumps on Budy’s body. Bonnie said to just keep an eye on it. We did  for a couple weeks and they got bigger.

We took him to our vets, Dr. Miller and Dr. Uzarski. Dr. Miller said it didn’t look good. He had lymphoma. We asked what is the prognosis and he said he had no idea. So he decided to put him on steroids. He said to check back in a week.

We brought him back, and they hadn’t got any larger. But that also meant they didn’t get any smaller. I asked the doctor what to look for symptom wise, and basically was told that you’ll know it’s time when he stops acting like a dog.

This past week or so, he stopped acting like a dog. He laid around a lot, we felt the lumps getting bigger, he didn’t want to eat his dog food. So we gave him new food, rice, meat, treats, whatever he wanted.

Two days ago he started to lose control of his bowels. He was getting up in the middle of the night and we didn’t hear him. He would let loose at the door, all of it diarrhea. In the morning he wouldn’t eat. Anything. He barely moved. We knew it was time.

We made an appointment with the vet for yesterday. It’s a long drive to the vets when you know the dog will not return. Ben sat in the back with Budy, just petting him and telling him how much he loved him.

The end was peaceful. I told Budy, “Budy, its time for nite, nite. One shot and it was over in seconds. He had a tumor on his leg and who knows how many inside. But now he was at peace.

Budy wasn’t my dog. He was Ben’s. For 10 years, he helped my boy grow from childhood to manhood, which I am very grateful for. Did I cry? You bet. It’s hard to be strong when you hurt so,  but you need to help those around you. The family all gathered last night and had a tribute dinner to Budy. That’s what family does.

Ben decided he wanted him cremated so he will always be with us. I’m cool with that.

People without pets may not get the hurt we experience. Maybe not get the agony or as Ben says, “My heart hurts”. People without pets may think it’s ridiculous to feel this way about an animal. “He’s just a dog”.

But he was Budy. And always will be to us.

 

 

 

War (What is it Good For?)
November 12, 2016

img_4610Well hasn’t this election been crazy? The campaigning seemed longer than most wars. I’m particularly glad that the advertisements are off the television. I’m glad we’re moving on with life………oh wait.

People decided they didn’t like the democratic process, so, as the Doobie Brothers put it, they’re “taking it to the streets”. Riots. Damaging cars and stores. Because. They. Lost. The. Election. Think about that for a moment.

They’re not rioting because the poor aren’t being fed, the veterans can’t get services, the homeless are sleeping on the street. It’s because. They. Lost. The. Election.

I got to admit, I never cried when the candidate I wanted didn’t win. I remember though, being 12 and crying when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.  I had great hope for him. But I mourned a death, not a lost election. OK, I’m old, so humor me and answer me this question?

What the heck is wrong with this generation? Cornell University had a “cry in”. Seriously, a “cry in”. Students who couldn’t handle that Hillary lost, all met together and cried. Now wait, there’s more. The school gave them chalk so they could write their feelings on the sidewalks. I’m talking COLLEGE kids, not elementary school kids who had their crush move to another school, but this is college age students.

So a couple schools made tests “optional” because how distraught the students were that their candidate lost. Seriously. The phrase “Nutty Professor” is making more and more sense. What is wrong with these kids? But its not just the kids.

Adults, on Twitter, hoping someone would assassinate Trump. A black woman tweeted about how a “brother ought to take one for the team” and kill Trump. This is the tolerant, kind hearted, liberal people who feel Trump is going to “destroy the country” while they are burning buildings and cars? Does anyone see the absurdity of all that?

When I was a teen, I got involved in a campaign to have a Lt. Kelly be released from going to trial. His crime was during the Viet Nam war, he killed innocent people because of orders given to him. He did kill them, no doubt. But he was under order to. I started a petition in high school, got hundreds of signatures to release him and to arrest the commanding officers who ordered this. My teachers thought I was crazy, and my friends were stumped why I, a long haired hippie, would support a soldier instead of being against the war. I just felt it was the right thing to do. I sent it to President Nixon. I never heard anything, he must of been busy. Did you know he was a Quaker? Quakers are against war of any kind. I guess we can say he wasn’t a very good Quaker.

I hated the war. It was long already, but back in 1973, it was winding down. Nixon ended the war and the draft. I don’t care about Watergate. He ended the draft. Thank you “Tricky Dick”.

The war made no sense. (I say this with the realization that some wars do make sense). I knew people that came back in a box. People came back horribly addicted. Some people came back with mental problems as well as physical issues  because of “Agent Orange”, a chemical we used that ended up hurting our soldiers.

I was 18, not ready to run through the jungles of Viet Nam or Cambodia and try not to die. I couldn’t imagine how different I would have been if I went. For those who went, I salute you. You are better men than me. But as Billy Joel said in his liner notes for “Goodnight Saigon”, a terrific song of the fear and horror of Viet Nam, “To those of you that didn’t go to Viet Nam, you didn’t miss anything”.

But I didn’t loot or riot. I didn’t want to kill the president. I didn’t want to go, though. I wanted to stay home and listen to the George Harrison, Moody Blues and Dylan. Heck if Muhammed Ali could avoid the war, I could (although he went to jail for awhile). To this day I don’t know if I’d had gone or went to Canada like all the liberal Hollywood liars said they’d go if Trump won, but are still here. I honestly was a scared kid who didn’t want to die.

So, yes, I was young once. And as far as I remember, I was against a lot of things, but I never rioted to make a point. I guess my parents were better parents than I thought. I was raised better than these college kids, I guess. Values do that.

 

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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.

 

Already Gone
March 1, 2016

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Not trying to copy Bob Dylan (as if I could do it justice), but time is ridiculously quick. As I type this, it’s the end of February, and I can’t believe it’s gone, even with an extra day.

I remember my dad used to tell me how fast it goes as you get older. And now February 2016 is gone.

It doesn’t seem long ago it was New Years Eve 2000, and we all feared the planes would fall from the sky, the computers would crash, we’d have no food, not water, no gasoline. And here we are 16 years later.

It’s funny how things go as time passes. I’m not going to have the body that my head said I could have when I gained weight back 30 years ago. Still overweight, but realizing that I won’t have the “beach body” I thought I’d have. It’s that realization that is overwhelming now. I can probably lose some weight, diet the right way and exercise, pray that God gives me the strength to do that. But “beach body”? Nah. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get good at the guitar. I’ve had a guitar for 15-20 years. Oh, I can pick a few songs, but not where I can look at the music and play any song. It was hard to reach some of the chords. I don’t even touch it now. I practiced some for a few years, said I’d pick it up again, but it won’t happen. Not that I’m old and going to die, but just because that desire has pretty much left me. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get Bonnie the house she deserved. We lived out in the country for 21 years, 4 acres of land. Always wanted to get her a wrap around porch. Put a rocking chair out there, sit back and drink coffee in the evening watching the sunset, and strum my guitar. Sort of like Andy Taylor in Mayberry. I live in the city now. That porch isn’t going to be built out in the country. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get to England. Always wanted to walk Abbey Road, check out where Apple Studios was, visit the Cavern, go to Liverpool. Oh, and some other non-Beatle things are there I hear. But I’m not going to spend money on that now. Time went too fast.

I’ll never learn Italian. Bought an Italian course, never kept up with it. It’s a hard thing to learn a second language. At least for me it is. It’s too much work for now, and seriously, what’s the point?  Time went too fast.

I don’t want this to sound depressing or “woe is me”, like I’m old and ready to die, because I’m not. I suppose that if I desire, I can get back with the guitar or learn Italian. The key is “if I so desire”. The beach body and house with a wrap around porch in the country just ain’t going to happen. But see, it’s like John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Dylan is right on with this. Time flies, we grow old, our views change, and nothing stays the same. But like he says, “you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone. Oh the times they are a changing”. Everything changes. But here’s the good news.

I am writing blogs. I am studying the Scriptures more than I ever have. I’m mentoring young guys at the church. I know God better than I ever have. I’ve learned how to pray, not how a book tells me to pray, but how God tells me to pray.

I play with my grand kids and spend more time with Bonnie and my kids. I enjoy the sunset and sunrise. I’ve rediscovered Buhl Park. I stop and smell the roses. I don’t drink, smoke cigarettes or pot. I remember “the night before”. I have deeper relationships with friends that are deeper than any I’ve ever had. I have a love for my wife that can’t compare to what it was 30 years ago or with any other type of love I’ve felt. Before I used to care what people thought of me. Today, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff and discovered that most everything is small stuff. I don’t worry like I used to. I have learned to keep expectations low on people and high on God. I’ve learned to lean on Christ more and me less.

Actually, life is good right now. The past is the past and it’s already gone. But today? Man, I really am digging it. And tomorrow? Can’t wait……..but let’s not go so fast!

 

 

Give Peace A Chance
February 12, 2016

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Why is everyone so angry? When I watch TV, they say, “America is angry”. The debates are angry, the moderators are angry, and apparently, the voters are angry. Why so much anger?

When I was a young lad, let’s go back 50 years, it was 1966. We were in the midst of a horrible war in Cambodia and Viet Nam. There were racial tensions, there were gang fights, there were fears. Today the racial tensions are more severe, the gangs are REAL gangs, and there are fears.

Fear of not having a job, fear of ISIS, fear of “the other guy”, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of the unknown. I remember people protesting the war.  JFK was killed, fear of Russia dropping nukes on us. I remember in grade school having “tests” where an air raid siren would go off, and we’d hide under our desks. Fear.

They gave us dog tags in school so that if there was an attack, they would be able to identify us when our bodies were charred like overcooked burgers. Want to talk about PTSD? Fear.

Everyone is angry because they are scared. Those on one side say that the presidential race will determine if we go to socialism which will lead to communism. They say that “those people” don’t like the United States. They made deals with Iran and they will nuke us when they make their atomic bombs.

The other side says we’re in the midst of global warming. Everything will melt, we’ll all die. They say that “those people” hate everyone different than them. They want the rich to succeed and the poor to stay poor. They want you to remain quiet and they hate minorities.

Fear. Nothing divides us more than fear. Nothing makes us angry more than fear.

The 12th of this month (today in some parts of the world) is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. I remember he used to be a hero. We had the day off of school, that and the 22nd for George Washington. They now combine all the presidents into one, this year celebrated on the 15th.

Lincoln used to be a hero. So did Washington. Jefferson. Columbus. Franklin. But because of fear, which produces anger, people start slamming these men, stating they were either murderers, rapists, or slave owners.  There’s a great divide in this country. We have a separation. Just like “those in charge” want it.

Can we decide not to be fearful? Not to be angry? Can we choose to love people? Maybe I’m just an old hippie, but can’t we look past the differences and look for what we all have in common.

My dear friend Rich is my former boss. He’s liberal, I’m conservative. He’s Jewish, I’m Christian. He’s a Steeler fan, I’m a Browns fan. There are only three things we have in common. The Yankees, the Beatles (he saw them at Shea Stadium), and a common respect.

I just talked with him tonight as he lives on the other side of Pennsylvania. He’s a good man with a lovely family. We continue to laugh and love on each other, with a genuine concern for each other and their family. We talked tonight about how great it would be to go on the road together and to maybe bring a little peace into the world. It’s a nice thought.

Are we ready for peace? Are we ready to not get angry? Are we ready to forgive and come to the point where we feel we are owed nothing? If we are, then we are ready to give up fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

How about I start. If you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, gay, straight, Republican, Democrat, atheist, transgender, male, female, tall, short, skinny, tall, then I choose to love you. We will have differences and that’s ok. But how about we do what John Lennon said. “All we are saying is give peace a chance”.

Death of My Heroes
January 22, 2016

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The deaths of Glenn Frey and David Bowie have me remembering about my old heroes. Glenn and David weren’t “heroes”, but definitely “influences”. But I have several heroes whose deaths have affected me greatly.

The first one was on June 5, 1968. I remember it clearly. I was 12 years old, and for the first time was getting involved in politics. I remember watching him give speeches on TV, always was told his brother was a great president, and firmly believed he’d end the Viet Nam war, cause I didn’t want to go be a part of that mess. But when Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Bobby Kennedy, it just shook my world. I barely remembered his brother John getting murdered, and was fully aware of the murder of Martin Luther King on April 4th, and here we are, two months later, and another senseless killing. I like the term “senseless” killing, as if some killings make sense. I realized, at the age of 12, the world was mad. He was 42. And I wanted nothing to do with politics for a very long time.

Oh Captain, my Captain! August 2, 1979 I got a call from my brother-in-law Tom. He said “Did you hear the news”. I said no. He said, “Thurman Munson died in a plane crash”. Now Tom was a die hard Red Sox fan and I’ve been a Yankees fan all my life. I told him, “This is sick if you’re making a joke”. He said, “It’s not a joke. Thurman is dead”. Thurman was a great guy, learned to fly a plane so he could go back and forth to his wife and kids in Cleveland. He should be in the Hall of Fame. I got to meet him after a ball game in Cleveland. I asked if I could shake his hand. He kept walking but his wife talked him into it. I shook his hand. I wish I wouldn’t have let go. He was 32.

I was living in Florida and on Dec. 8, 1980, I was watching a Monday Night Football game, I believe. Howard Cosell comes on with breaking news. John Lennon was shot outside of his apartment in New York City. He was 40. I couldn’t believe it. Of all the Beatles, he wasn’t my favorite (more on that later), but he was THE BEATLES. There would be no reunion. A part of my childhood died. I cried. It reminded me the world was mad.

On July 16, 1981 I heard that singer/songwriter Harry Chapin was killed in a car accident. He was driving his VW with the emergency lights flashing and was hit by a semi truck. The impact killed him instantly, with the police saying the truck driver pulled him out of the burning car. He was a great humanitarian and was on his way to perform a free concert. He was 38. Cats in the cradle with a silver spoon.

August 13, 1995 was when a big part of my childhood died. Mickey Mantle, my first hero, died at the age of 63. Growing up, I became a Yankees fan because of him. My entire house loves the Indians, and my dad said that it was because of Mickey Mantle I became a Yankees fan. Thanks Mick. He had a lot of issues and if he was alive today, they would smear him because of his issues. See, nowadays, you can’t have heroes. Not sure why that is. Through all the injuries, through all the pain, there was something about him that made me want to be a Yankee. I got to see him play, but I’d love to have met him.

On November 29, 2001 the rest of my childhood died. George Harrison died at the age of 58, succumbing to cancer. I was devastated. Of all the Beatles, he was and is my favorite. I had tickets to see him on his solo tour in 1974 in Cleveland at the Richfield Coliseum. A blizzard cancelled the tour, and they never rescheduled it. He influenced me in an almost hypnotic way, to the point I read the Bhagavad Gita. It’s a Hindu book, with a forward by Harrison. I was searching philosophically at the time for the answers. I had a million questions, but the answers were out there somewhere.

Now I talked of Bowie and Frey, but also Chris Farley, John Candy, Peter Sellers, James Cagney, Jim Croce, Leslie Nielsen and others were all influences. Not heroes.

But no day has affected my life like January 19,1984. It was on that day that I realized who my greatest hero was. He died around 33 A.D., and His name is Jesus Christ. Of all my heroes, He was the only one who knew me. He was the only one who knew I existed. He was the only one who lived for me. And He was the only one who died for me. I didn’t have to pay to hear Him sing. I didn’t have to pay to watch Him play ball. And I didn’t have to vote for Him for president, because He is the King of the Universe.

When my other heroes died, I was sad. But when I realized that Christ died for me, it brought tears of happiness. Joy, inexpressible joy. Peace, a peace that goes beyond human understanding.

I may never see my heroes again. I know everyone doesn’t go to heaven. But I know that I will see Jesus Christ, face to face, soon. Because He’s my hero. And He knows me.

 

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

My Girl
March 1, 2014

In my “Walking To 199”, I am so blessed to have the helpmate God gave me, Bonnie Bateman Marzano. Without her help in helping me make smart choices, cooking, and encouraging, my walk would be a stand still. To her, “my girl”, I’m grateful. Eternally grateful.

This week has been amazing in that I find that I am able to do this new way of eating rather easily. It’s been a struggle at times when I get discouraged, particularly in the beginning of the week, and find my weight either is up a pound, or I am breaking even. But, in spite of discouragement, we push on. That’s what conquerors do, right?

I had a foot problem and haven’t walked at all this week. I’m not sure how I injured it, but it went from the middle of the ball of my foot, up my middle toe, then over the top of my foot to about the middle. I walked with a limp for a while, but it is getting better. I can probably walk, but am choosing to be wise and let it heal.

I’ve tried many things over many years to help me lose weight. Actually, I was rather thin, mid 150’s, when I moved back here from Florida in 1984. But I was a smoker, drinker, and druggie back then. I quit all that and food took over. I never was a good eater anyways. That’s the Mistretta side of the family. Cake eaters.

I’ve always loved sweets, and though the taste is what I liked, it was the convenience that was truly attractive. I was and still can be fairly lazy. So much easier to grab a donut, a pastry, a cookie, than take the time to cook something. It’s sad, but that’s how I’ve been. My whole life. Until now.

This Fast Metabolism Diet has changed my life. It’s changed the way I eat, the way I drink, the way I think. I’m a devout Christian, a pastor as you may or may not know, but there is a Zen saying that makes sense to me. It was “when the mind is ready a teacher appears”. That’s how this dieting thing went.

My mind was ready to lose weight. I had not wanted to diet, and the Fast Metabolism Diet isn’t really a diet, but it’s a way of life. Eating right, taking time to succeed, avoiding failure, giving myself a chance to succeed. Is it like that in your battle? You try to do what you know you need to do, whether it’s stop smoking, eating poorly, drinking excessively, or drugging. You think you can do this by tapering off.  You’re kidding yourself. you can’t. You need to change. You need to change drastically. You need to get radical.

If I can kill this Goliath of weight, then you can too. Whatever your Goliath is. You can do it. I do it with God’s help. You may choose not to use God for help, but it is truly a much harder road. Christ is my strength, a never ending source of help.

God uses people. God uses diets, books, music, to reach us, to help us, to motivate us. You don’t always have to be overweight. You don’t always have to be a smoker. You don’t always even have to be a thief. Pray. Ask God to inspire you.

I’m seeing crazy numbers on this scale. Remember this all started with me at 273. Actually, the doctor told me that last March I was 286.  Today’s number on the scale blew my socks off. This is working. You can beat your Goliath. Do it. I’ll be praying for you.

Weight: 248.0 (Isn’t that freakin’ crazy?I only have 49 pounds to go.)

Stand Tall
January 4, 2014

(Stand Tall is a song by former lead man of the Guess Who, Burton Cummings)

Old habits die hard.

I heard a saying that if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. For example, eating healthy, or exercise. Well I’d been doing pretty good, but since December 13th, haven’t taken any walks toward the 199 I want.

I’ve been eating poorly and not exercising. Weight is at 164.2 this morning. But, although I’ve lost ground, maybe have lost some battles, the war still rages. There are two options: quit or fight. I choose to fight.

Hopefully you’ll learn from my mistakes, and that’s what this is about.

A mindset can be molded, but it must be maintained. It can be solidified, but can also became liquified. But even though I consider this a huge setback, I know that through Christ’s help, I’ll do this.

Isaiah 50:7 says “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” So I will set my face like flint. I know that God will help me.

Reading over the pasts posts on this blog, there are lots of failures. Many screw ups.  I should be further along than I am. But, as the saying goes, “it is what it is”.

This blog will hopefully encourage those who are struggling with not just weight, but other issues. This is a book about life. The successes and failures, ups and downs, good and bad.

The holidays kicked my butt. I got lazy, and I got sidetracked. I admit my mistakes, now lets move on. We can’t lay in self pity and have a party. Acknowledge what we’ve done, don’t make excuses, don’t be a victim, admit our weaknesses, and move on. I will, and hope you will do.

This is not the end of the story. It’s a chapter. We will look back on these instances, and do what we’re called to do. That is to succeed.

This is all part of what my goals are for 2014. No excuses. Take responsibility. Not have a victim mentality. Not to complain. Be a doer of the Word and not a hearer.

You with me?