Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Brief Break for Renewal

I am out of here for a few days in the mountains -- cold, clear water with a cutthroat or rainbow is calling....

"For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills;" __ Deuteronomy 8:7

Monday, August 25, 2008

Home Away From Home

Just for grins I am posting the poem below that I wrote back in March, 1990, when I thought I was something of a cowboy poet....

Home Away From Home
A one-ton club-cab pickup
Parked out front of Joe's cafe,
Guarded by a surley pup
That keeps the world at bay.

A thirty-thirty on a rack
That hangs behind the seat
Almost covered by spare tack
Just thrown in, none too neat.

A brass spitoon sits on the dash
That years back held a shine,
But, now is filled with mouldering mash
And covered up with grime.

Sale receipts and tally sheets
Are piled up here and there;
Flyers from the auction meets
Just thrown in without care.

A stray left glove lays on the floor
Among the ground-in dirt
With empty snuff can lids galore
And a once-clean extra shirt.

The left rear fender's dented in;
The imprint of a cow
Who battled rope but didn't win
And into it did plow.

Speckled mud from grill to ball,
This master of the road
Never even threats to stall
While pulling heavy load.

Lived-in, sure, and much abused
Made for one to roam;
O'er many a hard mile it has cruised,
This cowboy's second home.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

When Did You Start Living?

Our pastor asked the question this morning, "How long have you been alive?"

He was actually quoting from the writing of Tony Campolo.

The first and obvious answer from most people is their chronological age. Even that might be debatable based on the phrasing of the question. It could be argued that life begins at conception. Therefore, we each must add the length of gestation to our normal measure of chronological age to arrive at the answer.

The second answer, it being a church service, might have to do with our Christian life. After all, as born-again believers in Jesus Christ, it could be said that we have only been alive since the point of our acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior.

In fact, he was referring to neither of these. His point was, are we just going through the motions, or are we experiencing life to its fullest? Are we really engaged in living our life to the maximum for which God designed us, or are we just getting by?

I think most of us are just getting by -- with the possible exception of the occasional rare moments when we suddenly look around us and say, "Wow, my life is great!"

Living life to the fullest requires getting out of our comfort zone. It requires risk. It sometimes occasions ridicule. It asks much of us but returns much more. It might mean leaving a lifelong career doing what you thought you should and diving into what you really want to do. It might mean selling the trappings that tie you down and moving to Africa as a missionary. Whatever it is, pursuing what God has called you to do is real life. It is living at a level that few ever experience.

So, when will you start living?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fertile Fields

Whew, home! I just got home from a big swing up through the Plains. I had a couple of things to attend to in Western Kansas and a meeting in Nebraska. Lots of miles -- but they seem to have been productive. I won't really know for some time though. Part of it was planting seeds. The ground seemed to be pretty fertile though.

Speaking of fertile ground, the crops in Nebraska looked fantastic. The corn looked great and the soybeans were picture perfect. The pastures were green and the cows were slick and fat and all seemed to have a calf by their side. It certainly was a pleasant sight for the eyes. There was even water in the creeks! Sorry -- I'm not used to seeing that in the Texas Panhandle.

We did get some good rains here this past week and weekend. You could almost hear a slurping sound coming from the ground as it greedily sucked in the much-needed moisture. It came at a good time for a neighbor of mine who had sowed some late hay grazer. It was beginning to shrivel but it jumped a couple of feet within 5 days of the first rain. It's amazing how the crops respond when they get what they need.

It has been a cool summer here -- unlike our Spring. We seemed to have gotten all of our really hot, hot weather back in June. It has been pleasant since other than a dry 2-3 weeks in July and the first week of August. If this is Global Warming, I think I'm for it!

"I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit." __Leviticus 26:4

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Crucible of Silence

Silence is the crucible
In which our heart is revealed.
It can be peaceful
Or filled with terror.

When our heart is at peace
We find rest in silence.
Its friendly, enveloping reflection
Mirrors our self-awareness.

For those who do not accept
That which is self,
Silence is filled
With the terror of that same reflection.

It pounds with

Peace is found in knowing
That you are never alone
If your heart is filled
With the One who saves.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Managing Stress

How do you manage stress?

That was a question asked of me yesterday. It came from someone who understandably must deal with stress. The organization for which he is responsible employs over 1100 people.

He commented, "there is just so much that has to happen at just the right time that I don't know how to keep from worrying about it constantly!"

I asked him if he had competent people in the key positions. He replied that he did -- with the exception of a couple of spots. I then asked him if those couple of spots created most of his worries. He hesitated and then said, "well, yeah, probably."

That is the key -- and the difficulty -- in managing large organizations. Getting competent people in the key spots that you can trust to do their job well. Not perfect -- well.

I then asked if he had a good accountability structure for his organization. "Are your key people accountable for the job that they do? Is there a clear monitoring process and consequences for poor behavior?"

He said, "Yes, but...."

That little word "but" spoke volumes. It contained excuses, past failures, personality issues and myriad other reasons why those employees weren't truly accountable.

The result was worry.

Ultimately, worry is our own failure -- not the expectation of someone else failing. If we do our part well, what is there to worry about?

Many worry about things that are out of their control. That kind of worry is just wasted energy. We should plan, prepare and create backup plans to deal with those things we can't control. But, why worry? They are out of our control.

The only answer to that kind of worry is faith. Faith can be in many things -- but, if they are humans or man made things, they will fail. The only faith that can truly alleviate fear is faith in the eternal. If we place it all in God's hands and trust that He has our best interest in mind, what is there to worry about?

Friday, August 15, 2008

August Storms

The golden grasses
Crackle under foot
As dusty odors
Rise from my passing.

Even the insects
Are silently waiting
As the tiny dot of promise
Builds on the horizon.

A gentle breeze stirs
The drooping leaves
Of plants not native
To the arid clime.

Hope springs
In the blossoming white puffs
That appear mysteriously
In the blueness of the sky.

The whiteness turns gray
And then the deepest blue
As it hangs curtains on the horizon.

The breeze strengthens
And even the hard stems
Of golden grasses
Begin to shiver with excitement.

As the curtain approaches
A brown smudge appears
Rising against the darkness,
Swelling to a rolling wall.

The odor of dust
Permeates the rising wind
And the first stinging particles
Assail upturned faces

As dollops of moisture
Splash muddy blotches
On greedy surfaces
That quickly absorb.

Brown gives way
To greens and whites
On the backdrop
Of deepest blue-black.

Whack, whack!

Peas and marbles
Golf balls and baseballs,
The roar grows
And overwhelms.

The horizon moves nearer
As objects fade
Beneath the torrent
Rolling across the plains.

Prayers answered.
More prayers said.
Fear and thanksgiving
Together swell.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Food and Energy for Texas

The whirling blades turn

The cattle graze

The horizon stretches

Energy Flows
Food Grows

#1 Installed Wind Energy Capacity
#1 Beef Production

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Road Trips and Fellow Bloggers

I am finally back in the office for a day
After a good while on the road.
As usual after such lengthy trips
Accumulated items make quite a load.

I've spent the day just trying
To whittle down the pile
But finally reached a point
Where I needed a break for a while.

It was a very productive trip
These few days I was gone
I watched my son give a speech
And visited with the in-laws.

But also there was work
Which was one purpose of the trip.
A Trade Show and some meetings
That went by at quite a clip.

The highlight was a visit
From a fellow blogging friend
Who dropped by to say hello
And I'm truly glad he did.

He brought along his children
And introduced them as well.
That they are a solid kind of family
Was quite easy to tell.

If you have a little extra time
While browsing on the web
Stop by his blog and say hello
I think you will be glad you did.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Howdy, Y'all!

For those few of you who are continued loyal readers of Panhandle Poetry and Other Thoughts, I thought that I should let you know that I haven't fallen off the end of the earth, I've just been out of pocket for a few days. I've been to Houston and then to Bellville, Texas, and am now in College Station, Texas. For most of the time I haven't had Internet service.

Hopefully, I will have a chance to do some posting while I am here in College Station for the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short course. This afternoon I was able to get in and set up our Trade Show Booth. I will be manning in through the end of the Short course on Wednesday. If any of you happen to be in town, stop by the Gold Standard Labs booth at the Trade Show in G. Rollie White Coliseum. I'd certainly be interested in meeting you.