Bucket List
December 12, 2016

img_4610

 

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

Thanks For The Memories
March 24, 2016

192,585 miles.

Bought in 2005, my Dodge Caravan finally had to be taken down. It was a great van, bought it new and probably is the only car I bought new and paid off during my married years. A lot of family history was in that van. It was more like a covered truck than a van.

It had 192,585 miles on it. It had the original motor and original transmission. And it’s a Dodge, so you know how amazing this van was. We had the van checked at 40,000 miles and they told us that this transmission will be lucky to go another 40,000 miles. They were wrong. Way wrong.

“Blue Thunder” moved my eldest boy Luke to and from Allegheny College. Actually, I think all our trips were in that van. We’d take the seats out and fill it up. In fact Bonnie’s “Allegheny Mom” sticker was still on it.

The van also moved my daughter Jojo to and from Kent State University. Again, take out the seats and load it up.

The van brought me home from Pittsburgh after my back operation. Lying down on the middle seat with my brother Bob trying to avoid all the potholes on the way home. This is Pennsylvania, remember, land of taxes and potholes (but not necessarily in that order).

The van was part of the funeral procession for Bonnie’s mom, Nadine.

The van took us to and from church every Sunday. Drove us to Parkside Church to hear Alistair Begg preach, or go to the Pastor’s Conferences.

It drove us to North Carolina.

It drove us to the airport on numerous occasions for flights to California.

It drove us to Buhl Park so Bonnie and I could take our walks.

It took us to concerts, Browns games, Yankee games, and Cavs games. It took us to see the Scrappers play, as well as kid’s softball, soccer, and baseball games.

It caused Bonnie to be very angry at me because she got pulled over by the police because the registration had expired. I think she is over this, however, it’s mentioned annually, sort of like a holiday.

The kids needed furniture moved. Blue Thunder to the rescue.

The kids needed to borrow it for whatever reason. It was always there. But, like a human body, it began to break down. The body was eaten away by the salt from the 11 winters of western Pennsylvania. The window on the driver’s side didn’t work. The latch to the hood was broken, the air conditioner didn’t work, it needed an exhaust system, the horn didn’t work, and the material on the ceiling was starting to sag with age. (I said, just like a human body).

Finally, today, the decision was made to put the old girl down. So much history, and although I don’t get attached to material things, it’s kind of sad to me.

Not even for all the times I used it and the stories mentioned above, but it was a part of me. Not like a human or a pet, but I loved having the windows down and blaring Dylan out the window. I didn’t need or want a fancy car because I’m not a fancy guy. I just wanted something reliable and faithful. And it was each of those.

So Blue Thunder, thanks for all the great times. Thanks for all the times we counted on you and you didn’t let us down.

Dang, thanks for all the memories.

I hope my Honda does just as well.

One Year Later
May 23, 2014

It has been two months almost to the day since my last blog. Various reasons, but most importantly, I didn’t want to. How terrible is that? I was going along pretty good, then “Boom”, desire left me. Not just desire to write, but desire to set boundaries in my eating habits. Not sure why, but as that famous saying goes, “It is what it is”.

I was moving along famously, particularly following the Fast Metabolism Diet, and it was good. But it was expensive to follow it how it should be. I’m no doctor, lawyer, etc., just a poor little preacher, so as it started costing more and more, I decided to follow my own plan, which is really the Metabolism Diet with different types of food, or cheaper foods. Also, I got off the routine of eating snacks, sometimes going 8 hours between breakfast and dinner. I know that is not the way to lose weight. But I wasn’t focused.

And I fell into the trap of “No need to measure out a cup and a half of oatmeal, you can eye ball it”. Well, I think my portions got a bit out of control or I got one crazy eyeball. It’s being lazy. So as I was 247 two months ago, I am 255 this morning. Up 8 pounds.

I’ve found that I’m anal in some areas, (which I’m glad for this area),  so I went back and reviewed my “Walking To 199” statistics. It’s funny when you write things down, because in your head, you’ve done much better. So how did the walking go? I am so glad you asked.

Since today, the 23rd, is the one year mark, I discovered that I have walked, or have taken walks on 99 days.  I’ve walked 200.9 miles this past year. Some days I walked twice or three times in a day (rarely). Now, this doesn’t include walks on the beach with Bonnie, walking around Lake Eustis with my sister Kathy, walking at the Outlet Mall at Bonnie’s ridiculous pace , or other walks that I’ve forgotten to log, but there aren’t that many. So I’d say to be safe, the 99 serious walks is pretty accurate. I think that is lousy, especially when I live near this gorgeous park (Buhl Park) and belong to Planet Fitness, about three miles from my house.

I lost 10 days to a rib injury in August, took two weeks off over Thanksgiving, 25 days off over Christmas, and the entire month of April off. Why? Lazy or liking that Easter chocolate. So, like, I’m looking at this and thinking, “well that explains a lot”.

When I started this blog, I figured I’d be like the guy on YouTube who lost a zillion pounds in a year, had bloody nipples from running, etc. I guess my self motivation isn’t very motivating.

During this time, I went to North Carolina and later to Florida. Vacations are excuses to not exercise. I certainly did not, except for working out a day in North Carolina.

A lot’s happened since the last blog, which I’ll relay later. Got to meet dear friends that I haven’t seen in 35 years. The big one is I found Jim Paynter. Got to meet him and spend 5-6 hours with him which was totally a blessing for me. More about that later.

So here we are my friends. Sorry it’s been so long. Am I disappointed? Yeah, I wanted to lose more. Encouraged? Well, yeah, because I’m 18 pounds lighter since I started the walk, and 28 from March of 2013. But right now, I’m counting the 18 only. So, 18 in a year, which is 1.5 pounds a month. I can do better. My goal is to lose 24 pounds this year. That will put me at 232. And, I want to walk 200 days this year. That’s the plan.

The Lord will help me. He’s the only reason I’m back on track.

 

Looking At The Rain
December 21, 2013

With Christmas and New Years Day approaching, it’s very easy to get distracted from your weight loss goal. My goodness, I mean cookies, different dishes, all sorts of things that make you forget that you have a goal.

The Christmas season is the best time of the year, but it could bring on a flood of emotions, some good, some bad. Memories of childhood, lost friends and relatives, a “simpler” time.  And we can use this as an excuse to delve into some “comfort foods”.

There’s a song by Gordon Lightfoot, old but new because I never heard it, called “Looking At The Rain”, a reminiscing song about times past. And it got me to thinking about how we reminisce about things that make us happy and sad. This time of year I think of when I was a young boy and the family would all be together and we’d have get togethers. My mom and dad were still alive and I was a young boy who didn’t know about the cares that my mom and dad may have had, or any world problems. Heck, we were in the middle of Viet Nam and the threat of nuclear annihilation was very real.

I miss my mother-in-law Nadine Bateman. She lived on the property we had in West Middlesex. Christmas Eve was when Santa would arrive at her house and my kids and Bonnie and I would “go down the lane” to her house after church and the kids would be opening up their presents. Oh, we would eat! She always had plenty of goodies. Good memories.

I got a realization this past month, well, since Thanksgiving. The old saying goes, “You can’t go home”. I never understood it. Of course you can go home. You can visit there, take vacations, trips, whatever, but you can go back home. But I’ve just understood that you can’t go “home”.

“Home” is the way things were. I can go back to my house I grew up in, but there won’t be uncles, parents, the player piano, the Italian cookies, the booze.  Ok, you can buy cookies and booze, but I think you get my drift.

Nadine isn’t here. My kids are grown. We can’t go down the lane. We don’t live there anymore. We may seek comfort foods to help deal with the losses, the reminders of good old days. The food won’t bring back those times.

But we have memories. Even though we can’t go back to those times, we always have to remember the times that brought joy, and the times that brought sorrow. These times are what make us what we are. Now we have to handle the past, and live for today. Today we are making memories for our children. Today will be our kids “good old days”.  It’s ok to look at the rain.  We can visit there.

But we can’t live there anymore.

I’m So Excited
October 23, 2013

Ok, an update.

I went to the doctor for my checkup and since last visit, I’ve lost a pound. I thought, “wow, all that work and it’s a pound”. The doctor said I’m not eating enough. She also said to stay away from the scale. Where have I heard that before? (Trainer, Bonnie, Emily, my kids, etc.)

So a bit discouraged, but glad the report is good, we went to buy me another pair of jeans as we’re leaving for North Carolina this week with friends. Before I started “MY Walk To 199”, I was size 48. Currently in 44’s, I wondered if I was losing inches, because that’s what everyone says, but not weight. I’ve added a weight lifting program to my routine, and my legs are more muscular from all the walking, but I don’t want to kid myself.

My son Luke hands me a size 40 and said to try them on. I grabbed a size 42 and said I’d be happy if that fits. Well I put on the 40 and they actually fit. They didn’t fit bad, a little tight in the thighs. The 42 fit perfectly. I decided on the 42, and hopefully will get into the 40’s when I’m back from Carolina.

I can’t believe that I fit into the 40, and am now, quite comfortably, wearing a size 42. I understand that is still big, but it is 3 sizes dropped. So don’t lose hope. It works if you work it.

My weight is obviously shifting, as I’m losing my belly and gaining muscle. I’m very motivated to continue working out and getting in shape. Even though the weight is at a standstill, I’m losing inches.

Weight: 262.0, but it doesn’t matter, does it?

Wasting Time
September 1, 2012

I feel, as I get older, I spend too much time on silly things. Now I’m not opposed to silly things, but I think there needs to be a balance in my life.

I can watch football 16 hours a day. I love football. I love being entertained. I can play games on the computer, on my I Phone, on any device that has it. Obviously, entertainment is what God has placed here for us to be, well, “entertained”. But where is the balance.

Can I be on Twitter and FaceBook for hours on end? I can, but is it a waste of time? For example, It’s 5 a.m. and I’ve been up since 3. Now I was productive, transferring pictures from my I phone to my computer, but could I have done other things?

What if we knew exactly how many days we had left in our lives. I talked to my nephew Bud and his pastor wants to live a to a certain age. He figured out how many weekends he has left to live to that age. So he got a jar of marbles, and at the end of each weekend, he takes a marble from the jar.

Great idea. Now think about it. Each marble represents two days of your life, and each marble taken from the jar is gone, never to be retrieved again. Pretty humbling, I guess. CS&N have a song called “Wasted On The Way”, and it’s so true. So much time wasted.

Scripture tells us to number our days. That’s a good idea. We are visitors here, passing on to another home when we breathe our last here. What have we accomplished? How have we impacted the world? Has my time been spent on helping people or just entertaining myself with hobbies, vacations, games, and such?

What if judgment day was this……face to face with God, and He shows a movie of your life. On one side of the screen was the world around you, with all its hunger, hopelessness, shame, with people that are lost, cold, hungry, homeless, struggling with marriage or addiction, dying, or hurting. The other side was you, sitting at a bar, or laying on the beach, or reading trashy novels, or listening to music, or working overtime to buy a boat, or sitting in front of your tv or computer for hours. And God says, “man, I could have really used you to help these people.”

Humbling. God, help me to get beyond myself. Help me to look at other people. Like Brandon Heath says, “give me your eyes for just one second”. Help me not to be so lazy. Help me to not seek entertainment above You. From what I’ve read about the crucifixion, it didn’t seem to be very entertaining.

Flying, Airports, and Adam-12
May 22, 2012

Well, here it is. Heading to California again to visit Luke and Amanda. Bonnie, Ben, and I. I love California. I love LA, Moorpark, Simi, etc.

I love airports. I love the planes, the look, the signs, running through Houston airport because my flight was late, arriving at Gate 2 and my connecting flight in 10 minutes is at Gate 52. Yes, I really like airports.

Everytime I’m at the airport, Jimmy Buffett’s “Changing in Latitudes, Changing in Attitudes” comes to mind. “Reading departure signs in some big airport, reminds me of the places I’ve been”.  Brings back many good memories (and a couple bad ones).

I was flying into Pittsburgh from Orlando, and the pilot says, “We will be weathering some disturbance”. The plane dropped 2000 feet (ok, maybe NOT that much, but enough to make me wish I’d written a will) immediately. The lady next to me had wine, it hit the ceiling and spilled on us. Two rows back someone was puking. I don’t believe the pilot “weathered” it very well. So that’s the bad experience. But I still love to fly.

 

I like the display of “confiscated weapons” that Cleveland airport has. Makes you feel safe that they confiscated a BUTCHER KNIFE and HAND GRENADE before they boarded. That was, of course, all before 9/11.

 

Now when I travel, I love to see the security let the man in the turban pass without notice, while they frisk an old lady like it’s their first date. Ah, political correctness, but that’s for another post.

 

One of the greatest views I had was flying into Newark, NJ and the sun was just beginning to set. We flew out over the ocean to circle in and I looked out and there was the Statue of Liberty. It was humbling and I  wondered how my grandfathers felt when they came over from Italy and they saw that beautiful lady. They came through on Ellis Island and became US citizens and got jobs to support my parents. They didn’t sneak over a border and get welfare, but again, political correctness is for another post.

 

I remember flying into LA at night, with all the lights. Gorgeous. Flying above the clouds from Ft. Lauderdale to Pittsburgh and going through the clouds to snow and overcast. Taking off over Detroit and getting a Goodyear Blimp view of the Tigers and Lions stadiums. The Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Home.

 

Flying over Pike’s Peak and thinking how small it looked. Seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Saying, “wow, those people look like ants” and Ben saying, “Dad, they are ants, we haven’t taken off yet”.

 

Being on the plane and Bonnie telling me to turn down my I-Phone music because it was bothering the other passengers. This was with my headphones on. I may have hearing issues.

 

I don’t travel much. That little Facebook thing that asks, “how many states have you been in” came in at about 25, which includes Texas because of the airport. I’ll add Arizona for the home flight. That’s 26.

 

I hope I can travel more. Maybe I’ll get lucky and meet famous people at the airport. My niece Dee Dee meets presidents, singers, etc. My claim to fame was meeting the two guys from Adam-12 when they flew into Youngstown to perform in a play with their spouses. Cool at the time. To everyone under 50, Adam-12 was a cop show on TV. Yes, it was in color.

 

My wife met the Yankees in Toronto airport back in the 70’s. Lou Piniella tried to hit on her. Too bad “Sweet Lou”, I got her. I’d love to meet someone famous at an airport.

 

I’m heading to Haiti in September and January for a mission trip. I look forward to this so much. I’m sure “African Friend” by Jimmy Buffett will go through my mind at the airport in Haiti.

 

So we’re going to California. I love California. (Did I say that already?) Maybe I’ll meet someone famous. Either way, I’ll see someone who already is famous to me but is going to be famous to everyone else. Luke. And that works for me.