Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Forgetfulness

It seems occasionally I
Have flashes of inspiration.
Insights worthy of saving
For some future generation.

They frequently seem to happen
At times most inopportune,
Like two o'clock in the morning
When I should be snoring a tune.

You'd think after all of this time
I would have learned to prepare
And keep a pad and pencil
On my bedside table there.

But, no, I think I'll remember
Anything worthy of claim
But, when I wake in the morning
I can barely remember my name!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's a Process

What I am
Is not what I was.
It is not what I will be.

Inside I'm still
What I've always been.
But, there's been change in me.

Why am I
Dissatisfied?
There must be something more.

Or, why would I
Keep seeking
What I haven't sought before?

Is something deep
Inside of me
Desiring the unknown?

It must have started
As a kernel
And with time became full grown.

I think that we
Are wired
To rise above our self;

To seek a thing
Much greater
That draws us to Himself.

Matthew 11:28-29

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Monday, December 27, 2010

An Impulse for Resolution

As we approach the New Year, the thoughts of many turn to Resolutions.  Such resolutions often include things like losing weight, exercising more, saving money, or any of a million other things directed at "better" behavior.

What drives this impulse for Resolutions?  Is it a knowledge that we are less than our best?  Is it a result of fear that our unchanged behavior will result in unpleasant consequence?  Is it something deeper?  Is it an impulse ingrained deeply within that tells us we can rise above our current nature?

Beyond the drive for improving oneself, however, must be a force in opposition to that impulse.  Why else would we almost universally fail in our endeavors?

That isn't to say that there aren't victories.  But, it has been my observation that a victorious resolution is almost always accompanied by failure in a new and often unexpected area.

Is it merely human nature that gives us both the impulse to improve and yet causes us to face new and unexpected challenges?  I don't think so.  I think that we are so absorbed by "ourselves" that we fail to see a much bigger picture.  I think it is part of the cosmic battle between good and evil, right and wrong, growth and decay, God and Satan.

Could it be that God plants in our human nature a desire to be like Him?  If so, it is only expected that Satan would oppose that desire. 

Some belief systems would have us accept that there must always be a balance between opposing forces.  I've never been one to accept the status quo.  I believe in victory.  I believe good will ultimately defeat evil.  I believe that right will overcome wrong.  I believe that each individual can grow as long as they are nourished properly.  I believe that life can overcome death.  Fortunately, the Author of Life has provided the way.

John 14:6

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me...."

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Preparing for a New Year

I looked into the future
And I DID NOT like it.
There was no kicking and screaming;
Merely a sedentism leading to decay;
The narcotic of success
Draining the energy for survival.

The chains of choice
Constrain the captive
Whose life lies entwined
With the sticky web's deception.
Truth's tarnished reputation
Enslaves unaware.

I choose a different path.
I choose the light.
I choose the burnished armor
And the whetted sword.
My Captain leads
THE WAY
Into a future changed.


Psalm 25:4-6 (New International Version, ©2010)

4 Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dunny Saves Christmas!

Sammy Kershaw did the song "Up on the Housetop."  I have modified it for a Cowboy version of the song.

Out by the Barn

Out by the barn the horses pause
'Cause here comes good old Santa Claus
Draggin' his reins and makin' noise
But, no sight of sled all filled with toys!
Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?  Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?

Reindeer antlers go click, click, click
Now, Santa's afoot and lookin' sick.

It seems he was flyin' across the sky
Makin' his rounds and feelin' spry
When along comes a big ol' jumbo jet
It spooked ol' Comet, he's runnin' yet!
Ho Ho, Ho, how could he know?  Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?

Reindeer antlers go click, click, click
Now, Santa's afoot and lookin' sick.

So, he saddled ol' Dunny with a borrowed rig
Who was feelin' his oats and dancin' a jig.
Then he headed south, a sleigh to catch
Hopin' ol' Comet had met his match!
Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?  Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?

Reindeer antlers go click, click, click
No longer afoot, Santa's on the stick.

Over the hill with ears layed back
They spot that sleigh just layin' a track!
With Dunny a flyin' the loop he lay,
Dallied his rope and stopped that sleigh!
Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?  Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?

Reindeer antlers go click, click, click
Christmas is saved by Santa's rope trick.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Shopping is not something that I do well.  Buying, yes.  Shopping, no.

If I know what I need and intend to buy it, I go do so.  I hate going and looking without knowing what it is that I am looking for.  You know, that perfect gift for someone who really doesn't give you any clues about what they want.

I'm never satisfied.  I find something and think, no, surely I can do better.  I agonize over it.  I second guess.  I procrastinate thinking that I will receive some revelation.  Arrrrghhh!

Why do I do this to myself???!!

But, when it comes to what I want for Christmas it's easy.  I just want some small something simple or, honestly, I'm happy with nothing at all as long as everyone else gets what they want.  But, if you have to get me something, a book is always good.  Or, a shirt.  Maybe some new guitar strings.  Or, best yet, something homemade.  Hmmmm.....that's about it.

But, the best gift is for family to be together.

Some of the best memories are going to Grandma and Grandpas's for Christmas.  We would play dominoes or Spades half the night.  Sometimes the guitars would come out and we would sing.  The house was always full and the smell of Grandma's cooking would fill the air.  The kids would run wild and Grandpa would get onto them.  But, best of all, was Grandpa, like a kid, anxious for the Christmas Eve gift exchange.  The kids would hand out the packages and Grandma would always apologize that it "wasn't much" but, it was always good.

Everyone is scattered across the country now.  Some aren't around anymore.  The younger ones now have families of their own.  It is harder and harder to stay connected in spite of the "connectivity" of this technology filled world.  Maybe it's time to focus on real connections again.

God in His infinite wisdom knew the importance of connections.  That's what Christmas is all about.  God connecting with His creation in a way that bridges the gap between us.  Keep your focus on that connection and the rest will be OK.  After all, this world is only a temporary stop on our way to something better.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Do You Decorate Your Tree?

I enjoy seeing the different ways in which Christmas trees are decorated.  There are even contests held to see who does the best job of decorating their tree.  Some trees are extremely elaborate and most have distinct themes.

One version of the tradition of Christmas trees is connected with Martin Luther.  It seems that he was walking in the forest one starlit evening and looking up through the trees he noticed how the stars appeared to twinkle among the branches.  He sought to immitate that glorious sight by placing candles in a fir near his home.

There are other legends and stories surrounding Christmas trees.  Some go back to pagan practices long before Christ came to earth.  It seems that evergreen trees were worshipped by the Egyptians during winter solstice as a symbol of life's triumph over death.  Ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Saturnalia at the winter solstice.  It was in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture.  They used evergreen branches as decorations for the festival.

Christmas trees probably came to the United States along with the Hessian troops who fought in the American Revolution, or possibly as a tradition of early German immigrants into Pennsylvania and Ohio.  The practice was slow to spread and was even banned in parts of New England as late as 1851 by the Puritans.  The trees were thought to be a symbol of pagan rituals.

Whatever its origin, Christmas trees are now common.  How they are decorated is a matter of taste and personal expression.  For some it is show.  For others it is more personal.

Our tree is among the more personal.  Each year the number of decorations grows.  Some have adorned trees since our very first Christmas.  Others commemorate special events.  Many are handmade by our children.

Each year one or two new ornaments are added.  Sometimes they are removed.  When our daughter married and set up her own household she was given her ornaments -- those that commemorated special events in her life.  They now adorn her tree.  Some day my son will take his ornaments to his home.

I'm curious.  How do you decorate your tree?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It Might Be All It Takes.....

It is interesting to me how Christmas has such an impact on people in so many different ways.  For some, the world more-or-less stops between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.  The holiday is an extended period of little work and much play.  For others, nothing seems to change but possibly their frustration level with those in the first group.

There are those who, through a sense of joy, take on the Christmas season with gusto.  They purchase and wrap presents, they cook, they clean, they make special things, they are constantly buzzing with activity.  They are the ones in charge of the Christmas pageant at school.  They make the costumes.  They select, address and mail the Christmas cards.  They are activity personified.

There are others who feel a burden to do all of those things but, it comes from a sense of tradition and the expectations of others.  The tasks are the same but, the joy is somehow muted by a feeling of obligation.

Then there are others still who want the benefits, but, expect others to make everything happen.  Husbands are frequently accused of this particular attitude.  We usually are lousy shoppers.  We are nearly worthless in the kitchen.  We expect someone else to wrap the presents -- except possibly that one that we feel obliged to wrap ourselves.

There are those whose jobs don't stop for Christmas.  They work in grocery and department stores, gasoline stations and restaurants.  They are out feeding cattle and milking the cows.  They are doctors and nurses, policemen and firemen.  They are the ones who keep the lights on and the other services working.  They are the people who are on call in whatever industry, making sure that the world runs smoothly in spite of the holiday.  They are expected to do their job while others go blindly about their celebrations with no thought for them.

Christmas is about service to others.  Think about it.  Why did Jesus come to earth?  He came to pay the bill for our selfishness.  He was the ultimate gift.

As you go about your Christmas activities, pay attention to those around you.  Be a gift to them.  Give yourself that they also might experience the joy of Christmas.  It might be that all it takes is a hug and thank you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Carols Behind Bars

Yesterday, I went with my friend Bob to do Prison Ministry.  I have a lot of respect for Bob.  He's a rancher and works hard.  He is very involved in the community.  He does a lot of things behind the scenes of which people aren't normally aware.  He also does Prison Ministry.

Last Sunday, Bob asked me if I would bring my guitar and go with him for Prison Ministry the following week.  He wanted to do some Christmas Carols for his group.  I went.

I had been to Prison Ministry with Bob before, but, not to sing.  He had previously tried to recruit me to be a part of the Prison Ministry group to which he belongs.  I didn't feel that it was something God was calling me to do.  So, I had not been back.

That first visit, several years ago, was very rewarding.  The inmates who came to the brief Bible study were very appreciative.  They also shared their prayer requests.  Some of them were heart-wrenching.

This time the format was a little different.  We started off with me playing the guitar and leading them in singing "Jingle Bells."  Interesting.  Some of these guys were pretty hard cases.  Some were in on drug or alcohol related issues.  I don't really know and it's not something that you can ask.  But, to see this dozen plus guys in their stripes and tattoos singing "Jingle Bells" was something.  They were a little tentative, but, almost all of them joined in.

Bob led them in a lesson about the Christmas story as related both in Luke and Matthew.  He didn't pull any punches with them.  He pointed out that Mary's "crime" of being pregnant out of wedlock made her an outcast.  It also was something that was punishable by death in her culture.  But, Joseph stepped up and handled it like a man.  He did the right thing.  He encouraged them to be man enough to "do the right thing."  He told them that they could bring cheer to their families at home by how they handled being locked up behind bars.  He also encouraged them that when they got out, they could change.

Bob does a great job telling these guys like it is.  They seem to respond well to him.  You could see them visibly relax and open up to the message.  Oh, there were a couple that weren't as open, but, you could tell they were listening attentively.

One individual in particular caught my attention.  He sat at the back of the group -- as far away as he could.  He seemed to have a scowl on his face and he kept his arms crossed in a guarded position.  He didn't smile.  He just stared intently at the floor.

When Bob finished the lesson he had me lead them in "Away in a Manger."  Think about the words to the song.  It's about a baby -- "the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay."  Those big old rough guys sang.  They sang from their heart.  There were a few embarassed grins around the table but, they sang.  All but one -- the one who sat at the back of the room.

We then sang "Joy to the World."  They sang even louder.  There in that prison -- Paul and Silas come to mind -- they sang.

Some of the prisoners who had not joined the group for Bible study were in the "commons" area adjacent to the room in which we met.  You could see some of them looking through the glass at this group of guys singing Christmas carols.  Some of them were puzzled.  Some looked as though they wished they had joined in.  Some turned away.

Then Bob prayed.  He prayed that they would find peace this Christmas season.  He prayed for their families.  He prayed that they would know Jesus as their Savior.  Finally, we sang "Silent Night."

"Silent night, Holy night,
All is calm, all is bright.
'Round yon virgin mother and child;
Holy infant so tender and mild;
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace."

There was a lot of emotion on the faces of those guys -- even a few glistening eyes -- and not just the inmates.  It was a very special moment.

All but one of them came up to me afterward and expressed their appreciation for the music.  All but one of them had a smile on his face.  All but one of them had experienced a brief moment beyond the bars.

But, you're wrong.  It wasn't the one who sat at the back with his arms folded, staring at the floor, that missed the joy of the moment.  He was the first one up.  He came to me and hugged me with tears in his eyes.  It kinda made mine glisten a bit.  No, it was one that I hadn't been able to see from where I sat.  Bob mentioned him as we walked out.  He said that he thought he was a new arrival -- still a little strung out on something.  He probably missed the whole thing.  Maybe his buddies in that room will get him headed in the right direction.

Jesus can reach right through the bars of that prison.  He can also reach through the bars of a hardened heart.  He's knocking at the door even now.

Revelation 3:19-20 (New International Version, ©2010)


19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Christmas??!!

Monday night football has become such a part of our culture that when the question was asked earlier, "Are you ready for Christmas?", I couldn't help but hear Hank Jr. singing the theme song to Monday Night football!  Seriously though, how many times do you get asked, "Are you ready for Christmas?"

I suppose it is just an idle way to start (or make) conversation when we have nothing particular on our mind.  But, what if we responded differently?  What if our response was, "Of course I'm ready for Christmas!  Aren't you?"

Christmas is a season of joy! (Hint: It's not about the gifts.)
Christmas is a time of celebration! (Hint: It's not about office parties.)
Christmas is a time to be thankful! (Hint again:  It's still not about the gifts.)

Christmas celebrates the middle of the beginning.

Hmmm....

Just think about it.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Jesus is the author of creation.
Yet, he didn't join us here on earth until much later.
But, His coming to earth was only a part of the story.  He had to live, to teach, to die a human death, and then to overcome that death in order to fulfill his purpose for coming to earth.

Wow!  The God of the Universe came as a baby to save us from ourselves!

Christmas should be celebrated in our hearts and in our lives no matter our circumstances.  Whether we have completed the "obligatory" shopping is irrelevant to our preparedness for Christmas.  After all, it's not about us!

I can't wait to see the end of the story!  Are you ready for some Christmas?

Monday, December 13, 2010

High Finance

Pluses
Minuses
Transpositions

Quickbooks
Checkbooks
Dirty looks

EFT
Paper
Image

Statement
Ledger
Computer

Totaled
Balanced
Reconciled

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Conundrum

I puzzle, I wonder,
I don't understand
How some things can happen
Completely unplanned.

I stay in the lines,
I follow the rules
Though sometimes I wonder
If they're made by fools.

I stop and I think,
I stick to the plan,
I look for the pitfalls
And avoid where I can.

But sometimes things happen
Quite out of control
That cause controversy
And disquiet the soul.

And just like the moth
Drawn into the flame
The flickering phantoms
Are so hard to name

That I don't try to do so
And go with the flow
For otherwise how
Will I ever know?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Wishes

May your focus be outward
To all the good things in your life.
May the love of God
Fill you with a sense of awe.
May your table be full,
And your family be well.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Priorities

Saturday -- the Sabbath -- spent worshipping college football.
Sunday -- Son Day -- will there be worship?

Fully devoted followers of -------???

I wonder how many starving children could be fed with the money spent on athletic tickets and the advertising on televised athletic events?

"...feed my sheep."

"My Own Little World" -- Matthew West

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Herd Responds

Driven by instinct, the herd moves as one, away from the perceived danger.  It is not a reaction born of reason, merely an action conditioned through the millenia and deeply ingrained into the genetic cloth of their being.

Complacency quickly returns.  A moment of response followed by lethargic routine.

The predators regroup.  Their seeming disgust at failure a cloak disguising the cunning plan.  After all, it was only the first phase.

Yep, we just had an election.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Relevant Reminder

Relevance is something we all seek but, very few find.  We all want to make a difference -- to be noticed -- recognized.  Most seek it in their accomplishments.  It's like the little kid on the bicycle saying, "Look at me!"

What makes one relevant?  It truly is making a difference.  The trouble is, most seek to make a difference by what they do.  The truly relevant make a difference in those around them.  They pour their lives into others.

I was reminded of that today.

http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/freddy-stockdale/2010-11-04/theres-reason-why-mr-mcclure-doesnt-remember-me

Belonging to the Facebook Community

Facebook:
Re-connect the dots
Of times past
With friends
Not forgotten
Just neglected

Community:
A belonging
In times past
With friends
Now neglected
Or forgotten

Belonging:
Desired
But missed
Because friends
Forget
In our neglect

Is the cyber-age the answer to a lost art?
I don't think so.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shaken and Stirred

In my dream
I was alone in a crowd;
Laughed at and scorned.

In my dream
The building shook;
It rolled down the hill.

I stood looking up
And told of my ride;
I was not believed.

I walked away
Dazed;
Confused.

Was it just a dream?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This Dust of Fall

Fall has been slowly making its presence known for some weeks now.  Perhaps football is the earliest harbinger of this season, but, cooler nights and turning leaves are the more official notices that summer is gone.

I enjoy the changing weather of Fall.  No longer is the heat oppressive -- although in the Texas Panhandle, the heat is almost never oppressive.

In past years Fall meant hunting.  It seems that opportunities for hunting are few and far between for me anymore.  I still enjoy it, I just don't have much chance to participate.

There is one aspect of Fall that I dislike intensely -- the dust and "beeswings" from the local grain elevators.  It is inescapable.  It makes my eyes itch.

I suppose I shouldn't complain though, it is a sign of harvest.  Producing food and fiber is what keeps our local economy humming when much of the country continues to suffer from a dependency on "higher level" industries which currently are struggling.

So, bring on the dust of Fall.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Logical Creationism

If I decided to play God and build life, how would I logically start?

One thought is that I might start with a simple protein.  I could then replicate that protein with slight variations until I had a number of them that could be combined for a particular function -- much like modules in a computer software are developed.  By continuing the process of replication and alteration, I could begin to build more and more complex organisms.

In order to shortcut the process, it would be logical to build proteins that were capable of multiple functions depending on specific coded switches within them to determine how they would act.  Again, software is built similarly.  Over time, various modules could be "plugged" together to create a wide variety of organisms/biological machines that would display a huge variety of characteristics.

It would also be logical for simplicity sake to make the organisms self-sustaining through the ability to feed themselves and to reproduce.

If, at the end of a relatively long period of time, the knowledge to create these organisms was lost, it would be a matter of examining the wide variety of then living organisms to begin the process of analyzing them for clues of how they were made.  From the evidence available, it would appear that an evolutionary process occurred that involved tiny mutations at the most basic structural level (the protein) in order for such variety to arise.  A "Theory of Evolution" from an unknown source (primordial soup) of the original proteins would be a logical conclusion.  Although incorrect, such a theory would be "intuitively obvious" because of the minute differences in the makeup of various beings.  In fact, the genetic makeup of organisms as different as chimpanzees and humans would vary by only a tiny percentage.

Suppose the purpose of the creation process was ultimately to create a thinking being that would over time grow to a developmental level that would provide companionship for the original creator?  Suppose that to enter into such a relationship required the "leap" into a realm beyond the physical limitations of the created order?  Suppose that a "roadmap" was created to provide guidance to the created, self-replicating, thinking beings to find the "keys" to make that leap into the next realm which was in itself a "sifting" process?

Hmmm....like in most things, I won't get the patent on this one.  It seems to me that it has already been done.

If you are interested in what the current scientific thought on this might be, try the article linked here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Leaping Beyond Knowledge

Occasionally, I will take on, or at least attempt, the debate of some topic or statement made by those who fall into an atheistic or agnostic category.  Such individuals are usually highly intelligent and highly educated.  Almost without exception they are highly self-focused.

Debating atheists/agnostics is difficult. They all have a set of canned arguments that generally end in some form of calling you ignorant/uneducated, etc. I try to stick to a reasoned, educated, informed argument but, there are many times that I run out of answers. There almost always comes a time though, of complete rejection by the person with whom I am "discussing" the topic with my position. I suspect such an abrupt end comes for one of two reasons; either 1) I hit close to home or 2) they become frustrated with my unwillingness to "cave" to their position. 

Again, most who are in the atheist or agnostic camp are highly educated. I don't see their belief system as a result of their education, I see it as a part of the same makeup that drives them to a higher level of education. Perhaps it is a drive to know and understand, or maybe just a rejection of that which can't be explained. It seems tied to a high level of intelligence. But, along with that intelligence comes a sense of reliance on self-understanding. A sense that if I can't touch it, feel it, understand it, it can't be real. It is a rejection of the concept of the unexplainable. It is the idea that if "I" only had more information, "I" could understand it/repeat it/whatever. It is the placing of "self" at the pinnacle. Yet, those same individuals are the first to believe that man evolved from a "primordial soup" into this "high" being of which they are among the elite highest.  And they are often the first to place mankind in general on the same level as animals or even inanimate objects.


(Aside:  It is tempting at this point to state that one of the distinguishing points between Liberals and Conservatives is a "humility" toward self, but, some of the most arrogant individuals I have ever met are Conservatives.  It just seems there are a greater number of arrogant Liberals.)

The placing of "self" above God is where it all started.  Satan thought he was just as smart as God and set himself up in opposition to Him.  In the Garden of Eden man thought, through the prompting of Satan, that he knew as well as God and chose to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree in opposition to God.  Hmmm....seems to me to be the same disease -- self in opposition to God.

To me, our very existence requires a Creator.  The Creator must lie outside the created.  That which is within the created cannot know the Creator except as the Creator reveals Himself to us.  Trying to understand the creation by looking from the inside out is like the blind men and the elephant.  One sees a rope, another a tree, another a wall, yet none see the totality with any sense of understanding because they only see a part of the whole.

I believe mankind has tremendous cumulative knowlege of the created order.  I also believe there is tremendous misunderstanding of that knowledge.  Wisdom is the proper understanding and application of knowledge. Do I claim wisdom for myself?  Only to the extent that I understand that my knowledge is incomplete and therefore imperfect.  I also realize that perfect knowledge lies beyond the scope of human understanding -- either individually or cumulatively.

Belief in a Creator requires a leap of faith.  It is a leap to something that defies explanation and is by definition greater than self or the cumulative knowledge of man.  It is a leap that seems especially difficult for some.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A New Website

I've set up a new website.  It is for sales/business consulting.  It's still pretty basic but, it's a start.  Check it out at C Bar M Enterprises!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blog Struggle

I've really been struggling with blogging lately.  I began with lofty ideals as well as ideas -- but, it seems the heights have eluded me.  Perhaps it is my illusion of self-importance or, merely a misguided approach.

I've considered changing the direction of my Panhandle Poetry blog -- you know, something of an "extreme blog makeover" which would change the look and feel as well as the content.  But, as I examined what was contained within the present content I realized that there is no direction currently.  That brings up an excellent point.  When you don't know where you are going, how are you gonna get there?

So, lofty ideals aside, maybe I just need to choose a destination and then I will know in what direction I should travel!  Or, will I?

My favorite professor at A&M once told me, "There's a lot of truth in that old saying that there's more than one way to skin a cat."

I have found many times that the wisdom in those words knows few boundaries.

So, I will continue to struggle with blogging until revelation strikes.  Of course, if there are any remaining readers out there in Blog Land, I would relish your input and opinions!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This Got My Attention

I recently read The Last Jihad (Political Thrillers Series #1) by Joel C. Rosenberg.  A little history on the book:  It was written pre-9/11 but uncannily predicts a major terrorist attack and war with Iraq.  It was not published until after a "moderating" period and then with minor changes because of the recent history.  One of the centerpieces of the story is the discovery of major natural gas reserves off the coast of Israel and Lebanon.

Natural gas could lead to new Lebanon-Israel war

Eerie.....

The book was one that I couldn't put down.  I now have to read the rest of the series.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Visit to the Mountain Oyster Club



This past Wednesday, I was one of the presenters at a Cattlemen's gathering at the famed Mountain Oyster Club in Tucson, Arizona.  It is a private club with limited membership.  The gathering was tremendously successful.  It's too bad that I couldn't take photos inside the club.  Of course, all I had with me was my Blackberry.  I've GOT to start taking my camera with me when I travel!

There is beautiful Southwestern Art throughout the club as well as historic photos.  Of course, the theme of Mountain Oysters is evident about anywhere that you look.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

God in the Science Classroom

First, let me say that I believe that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them.  That is not to say that I understand how he did it.

Science, the study of the natural world, arose from man's desire to better understand God's creation.  Most early scientists had a strong belief in God -- whether Muslim, Greek, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu or Christian.  However, over the years, as scientists gained greater understanding of the created order, they began to subscribe to the idea that there was no God.  This is a logical conclusion when one accepts the concept that what is knowable cannot be of something beyond comprehension -- i.e. God.  In order to be God as Creator, it must be accepted that he exists as a being greater than man.  Therefore, if man can understand what is, then there must be no being greater than man.

The problem that scientists run into is that in spite of their great knowlege and ever increasing understanding of the created, there is always something more -- something beyond their understanding.  The fact that they continue to understand more, however, leads to the conclusion that they can understand all.  This, I believe, is one reason so many in the scientific community have rejected God.

The article linked below was written by an atheist science teacher.  It is a very thoughtful essay.

God in the classroom
All science teachers, whatever their specialism, have to deal with questions about God. We should be prepared

Friday, July 16, 2010

Reactivation

Not that I ever really completely gave up maintaining multiple blogs, but, I did take an extended break from doing so.  But, so that you know, for those 2 or 3 of you who might be interested, I've gone back to posting (at least for now) regularly at "Panhandle's Perspective."  It is a bit more political than "Panhandle Poetry and Other Thoughts."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Break

I've been enjoying a short break from travel for a couple of weeks now. It has taken some readjustment!

There have been plenty of things to keep me busy though. I have a presentation to a group of cattlemen next week that I've been preparing for as well as a convention/trade show where I will have a booth -- both in Tucson, Arizona. The following week I will be doing a half-day training session for a large ranch in Central Texas. They sell genetics in various forms and employ several full-time salesmen. Their manager asked me to come do a Sales Training seminar for them. I am excited about it but, it has taken a lot of preparation because that is not the type of training that I normally do other than for my own staff. This will be a more formal type of program.

You never know what life will throw your way! The Sales Training request came "out-of-the-blue". The thing most interesting about it to me is that lately I believe God has been impressing on me that I need to spend time passing on what I have learned to others. The timing of the request was, shall we say, attention getting!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Arizona: The Catalyst for Leadership?

I'll be out in Arizona the week after next.  Do you think I'll need my passport?

There are no Statesmen in leadership positions in our government anymore, only self-serving, power seeking, vote hungry politicians.

There have been people of that caliber in local, state and national politics since the founding of our country.  I think the difference today is that there are so few who do not fit that description that they are not only ineffective but unnoticed.

Is the "Tea Party" the answer?  Maybe it is the beginnings of one.  It is a symptom but, likely not the cure.  It is a symptom of the dissatisfaction of a large portion of the American public with politics as usual.  It lacks cohesiveness.

It is time for a strong leader to step forward and energize not only the dissatisfied, but also the rational thinkers who would restore sanity to our government.  I believe that people like Sarah Palin and Jan Brewer will play a role in shaping the resistance to the drift toward failure of the Republic, but, it will take someone completely outside the system to provide the type of leadership needed.

Big government is not the answer.  Individual, corporate, media and government accountability for their actions is what is needed.  We require a properly informed public willing to throw the "bums" out.  Therein lies a valid reason for limiting who can vote.

One step in establishing qualifications for voting would be to adhere to the requirements for obtaining citizenship.  If voters were required to pass the test for citizenship as well as to endure the required waiting period provided by law for those aliens following the proper steps for naturalization, the number of voters would be significantly reduced.  (You can see a sample of study questions here.)

The road we as a Nation are traveling is similar in many ways to that traveled by the Romans.  We have traveled it much faster than they did.  I wonder if Charlie Daniels will still be around to "play the fiddle" while we burn.

As we examine the shaping battle over Immigration, let us not forget that we are all descendants of immigrants (that includes so-called Native Americans).  Most of our ancestors came legally.  They earned their citizenship.

The Southern border of our country has been in turmoil through much of our history.  It has seen incursions from Mexicans and it has been crossed by U.S. troops (and Texas Rangers) in pursuit.  It has a rather porous history.  In those times when the violence of criminal elements became excessive, the citizens usually stepped up first and the military reluctantly followed much later.  With the possible exception of the administration of George W. Bush, Washington has always lacked the political will to take preemptive, proactive steps.  It has always been slow to act (with very few exceptions in history) until the people rose up in anger at their inactivity.

The border is part of "flyover" country.  The rich and powerful (this includes the majority of national elected figures), living in the isolated luxury of the suburbs on the East Coast or certain sections of the West Coast see no urgency to our problems.  Until they begin to feel the "sting" within their protected environs, they will not act.  Money still drives political will in our national Capitol.

I suspect there are those among them who profit from the drug and human trafficking.  It wouldn't be the first time in history that wealth was built on illegal trade (Rum Runners and Slavers).  Globalization of such enterprises has followed a general globalization of big business.  It also makes interdiction more difficult.

The way we vote is a beginning, but, political activism must go beyond voting.  We need to sound a steady drumbeat of pressure on Washington to address the problems we face.  Those problems go far beyond the issue of Immigration, but, perhaps it will be the catalyst for action.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why Do We Do What We Do?

Why do we do what we do for a living?  This is a question that I believe we all need to ask ourselves from time-to-time.

I think the answers would surprise those who know us.  I think that if we are truly honest with ourselves, the answer might surprise us.

I look back through the years at my "raising" as well as my education -- both formal and on-the-job -- and at my career(s) and can see that where I have been has shaped where I am.  I suppose that is only logical and is true for pretty much everyone.  But, what I really mean is that there seems to be a definitive "shaping" of who I am that prepared me for what I am doing.

Such a view obviously implies a belief in Divine Guidance.  Yes, I do believe that God actively works in our lives to shape us into what He would have us to be.  Does that include our career?  Perhaps, because it is such an integral part of our life and exerts tremendous shaping influences on us.

I become frustrated when I hear someone talk about how bad it is that when we visit with others the conversation almost always turns to work.  This occurs with friends, acquaintances and people that we have just met.  It is especially common in men.  Women often turn to the topic of family rather than career.  But, I believe God designed them uniquely for a nurturing role.

Our career is often a place where we can serve others.  Yes, many are very self-serving in their jobs, but, it doesn't have to be so.  Whatever we do -- unless illegal, immoral or unethical -- can be done in a way that others benefit.

If a person is unhappy with what they are doing, it is likely that there is something about their reason for doing it that is not right.  I suppose that some belief systems might refer to it as being in harmony with ourselves.  I think that it is a result of either not being in the job that you are made for or doing the job for the wrong reason.  Which brings us to attitude.

If our attitude is one of service to others, any job can take on a completely different complexion.  If we are sweeping floors and cleaning toilets, it can be with the attitude that I am providing a clean environment for others and therefore making their lives better.  However, if it is just for the paycheck, I will likely feel that it is a demeaning job.

I believe that God designed each of us with a purpose.  We are shaped by Him to serve others.  If we find what it is that He has designed us to do and pursue it with all of our heart in service to Him and to our fellow man, we will find joy and happiness in our life.  And, we will be successful.

I think that it was Sam Walton who said something to the effect that, "Success is achieved by serving others.  The greater the service, the greater the success."  -- and if he didn't say it, my apologies, he should have!

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.



15 My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,



16 your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me

were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Getting It Together

You would think that after all of these years of writing I could get my act together.  I have things that I have written in about a "jillion" locations -- and nothing organized.  I have files of research that I would have to hunt half-a-day to find and then by the time that I found it, I would have forgotten why I was looking for it in the first place!

I've had a number of articles published through the years and many more that should/could have been.  It seems strange that I don't recall ever having one turned down for publication.  It could be because I'm picky about what I submit.

I've never written for the money, I write because I feel compelled to do so.  But, I have been paid for things that I have written.  Occasionally, pretty good money.  So, I ask myself, "Why don't I write more?"

That's a tough question to answer.  I guess it's because I've never depended on it for a living.  I've never had to write (except of course in school).  I've always supported myself in other ways.

I am working on a novel -- well, that could be a bit misleading.  It would be more accurate to say that I occasionally write a few pages in a novel that I've been working on for years.  I have about five chapters completed -- OK, that's probably not accurate either -- I have five chapters that will probably go through multiple revisions before I am satisfied with them.  I even have the outline of the complete story worked out in my head.  Sometimes, I think, that's the hardest thing -- a good outline.  If you don't know where you're going, how can you get there?

Back to my original thought -- I have files upon files, in multiple boxes, of things that I have written.  Everything from poetry and music to short stories and journals.  I think this is blog post number 545 on this blog and for awhile I maintained two other blogs.  So, why don't I do something more with my writing besides just accumulating it for posterity?  If you know the answer, please share it with me!  In the meantime, I will relieve the compulsion to write with blog posts such as this.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Backlog

One of the things that I face after a long bout of travel is to deal with the things that seem to accumulate on my desk while I am gone.  I handle most of the crucial business tasks from the road but, there are some items that end up in various piles on my desk that require my attention when I can.

One of those items is to go through the seemingly endless pile of trade publications for items of interest.  I suppose that I could leave this task for someone else, but I've found that I pick out things that others deem irrelevant.  It isn't that my eye is any better or worse than theirs, it's just that I have things in mind that items occasionally fit that aren't obviously related to my job.  One thing that might fall into this category is things that illustrate points that I want to emphasize in a presentation.  They don't have to be directly related to the specific subject -- just good illustrations of a point.

Some of the other things for which I look when scanning the publications are 1) articles directly related to my business, 2) articles written by others in my business, 3) articles written by or about friends, 4) advertisements related to our business, 5) advertisements of competitors (mere pretenders), or 6) items referring to customers or prospective customers.  Hmmm....that doesn't leave much.

I sometimes will cut articles out of the publications and put them into 3-ring binders.  This is primarily reserved for articles specifically related to our business -- especially research.  Occasionally I will scan a particular article and e-mail it to others.  I sometimes will cut out an ad from a competitor and place it in a file.  I will visually scan or sometimes read thoroughly, any articles about customers or prospects.

It doesn't seem like a big deal until you consider how quickly the publications pile up.  I faced an eight-inch stack this morning.  It took about one hour to get through them.  That included all of the activities in the previous paragraph.

The key is to handle them once, then "chunk" them.  Don't put them aside for later; deal with them now (although now sometimes gets delayed).  If you have to pick them up more than once you are wasting time.  I don't know about you, but I never seem to have enough of that!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Drinking Gene

If you’ve got any “westering” blood in you, you probably also carry the “drinking gene.” Just think about it. Why would men leave the cozy safety of fireside and feminine company for the wilds of the unsettled if they didn’t have something that drove them to it?

You might respond that they were looking for opportunity. Well, that’s all and good except there’s opportunity about everywhere one looks. It’s just a matter of hard work and stick-to-it-ness that turns anything into success.

I suspect many a lazy drunk headed west because his wife drove him to it. Can’t you just hear the conversation?

Her: “Get your lazy rear up and get to work. You won’t never accomplish anything settin’ there with that jug!”

Him: “Ain’t nothing here to accomplish! All the good land is already taken and so are all the good jobs.”

Her: “We got land that could be cleared, wood that needs cuttin’, huntin’ to do and hogs that need butchered and here you sit, sippin’ from a jug and complainin’. All it takes is some industry to turn it into a pretty good livin’!”

A few days go by during which he makes a trip to town where he and his buddies share a jug and a little conversation. They hear tales about the glorious west with furs for the taking, gold for the plucking and land that stretches clear to the horizon. So, filled with liquid courage, our good man goes back to his young bride and says, “You’re right honey, you deserve the good life. I’m gonna head west and make us a fortune and then send for you to come out and join me.

She responds, “You just do that. It can’t be any worse than what I’ve already got. I already do most of the work around here. Don’t come back ‘til you’ve made your fortune.”

That was one scenario. Here is another.

Lewis and Clark are putting together an expedition to map the Louisiana Purchase. They scratch their heads in perplexity at the daunting task of finding a group of men to go with them. They realize they will face hardships and hostile Indians. They know that many of them won’t return. Finally one looks to the other (I’ve no idea which) and says, “Jefferson gave me a good bit of money to get this expedition going, why don’t we head down to the waterfront to one of those bars and see if we can make us a few friends. We’ll get ‘em drunk and then get ‘em to sign on. We need lots of booze because we may have to keep ‘em drunk ‘til we’re half way there. It will need to be far enough out that they will be safer sticking with us than heading back on their own.”

So, they went to the bar and ordered drinks for everyone. Then they issued a challenge: “I’ll bet there ain’t a one of you sorry cases that’s tough enough to join us on a little expedition out west. We only want the meanest, toughest, orneriest types to go with us. We’ll cross some of the wildest lands and fight some of the deadliest Indians on the continent until we get all the way to the Pacific Ocean and I’ll bet there ain’t a one of you that can handle the trip!”

Well, you know that courage pours out of those bottles right along with the colored liquid they contain. Nearly every man in the joint took offense at the challenge and signed on immediately along with belittling and bullying any laggards into doing the same. It only took one stop to fill the quota of men needed and the expedition was ready to go. It only needed two wagons of rotgut booze to make it to the Mississippi and another boatload to start west.

Or, let’s try another scenario.

This one occurs in the Deep South in the early 1800’s after a round of drinking that impaired the judgment of the participants.

“You have impugned my honor for the last time, sir. I challenge you to a duel at 30 paces!”

After the challenger and the challenged have raised their level of courage to a point sufficient to the event by sipping from the little brown jug, they meet at the appointed time and place. Such events were generally considered outside the law even in those perilous times, yet they occurred nonetheless. The trouble was, often the victor became outside the law but was in a better position than the loser who was perhaps, dead. Hence, the victor often traveled west where his past could easily disappear into, well, the past, and no questions were asked.

So, you see, many of the ancestors of us folks out west had a little of the “drinking gene” that drove them beyond the borders of civilization and into the wilds. It makes you wonder if the West would ever have been settled without the little brown jug.

[The idea for this brief piece came from the 1927 book, “Trails Plowed Under” by Charles M. Russell.]

[Since this was published I came across the following linked article:  Genes Influence Your Response to Others' Drinking Habits  -- hmmmmm......]

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

We frequently hear celebrities on the "bandwagon" about some cause or the other.  They typically are poorly informed about their subject but believe themselves to be experts.  The article linked below is an exception.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/ynews_ts2851

I appreciate the fact that Costner put up $21 million of his own money to develop the system.  I wish him well as it is deployed.  It is a worthy use of some of that box-office cash he has raked in.

Now, if we could just get a few more of them investing their money intelligently instead of putting it in the hands of a bunch of lawyers under the guise of a benevolent charity such as HSUS (which is probably the worst wolf in sheep's clothing out there in my opinion).  They play on the heartstrings of gullible people with their appeal for money using images of pitiful dogs and cats that have been mistreated.  Less than 1% of their $100 million warchest has been spent on rescue efforts.  In fact, their stated goal is to eliminate animal agriculture in the United States.  They use deceptive practices to raise that money.  It mostly goes to advertising, lobbyists and for huge salaries for a handful of individuals.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Difference in Viewpoints

"Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." __ Alexis de Tocqueville

Therein lies the difference between Democrats and Republicans of today.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Craving Relevance

Blogging is often an expression of one's desire for relevance -- to be heard -- to believe that one's opinion has value.  It can be a record of events in one's life that says, "I was here!"  It can be an expression of views on politics, religion or other subjects that says, "Look at me, I have something to say!"

Everyone wants to have "followers" of their blog.  Otherwise, all blogs would be set to private.  That is also an indicator that bloggers want others to see their opinion.

Bloggers like to respond to comments.  Instead of meaningful dialogue with one's friends -- or, perhaps it is not meaningful dialogue with one's friends -- the commentary dialgue on a blog offers a degree of anonymity that allows the expression of opinions that might not otherwise be voiced for fear that others would look down on one's views.  Maybe that is why so few truly engage in meaningful dialogue on a face-to-face basis.  Comments also allow the freedom to be rude, mean or denigrating to other commentors -- at least within the "rules" allowed by each individual blog owner.  Venting is a therapeutic release, I suppose.

Why is there such a craving for relevance? -- to be noticed?  -- to believe that one's thoughts and opinions have value?  Is it part of the survival mechanism of our species?  Sounds a bit anti-survival to me.  After all, it is the one out front waving the flag that tends to get shot first.  For most species survival means blending into the background and not being seen -- except during courtship.

Are we courting others?  Seeking followers?  Why are so many people uncomfortable as part of the "herd"?  There is safety in the herd.  Yet, we risk exposure by allowing ourselves to become vulnerable to others through what we write in our blogs.

It reminds me of a little child who craves the attention of a parent.  "Look at me!" is the cry -- just before the bicycle crashes and the knee is skinned.  Is it a remnant of the infant's need for care because it is helpless to care for itself?

Just suppose that the craving for relevance is part of our design.  Suppose that our physical life is in fact a period of gestation for our spirit.  We crave relevance because we are made for a purpose.  If we don't know our purpose, we are programmed to seek it.

Only through God is our purpose revealed.  Until we seek Him we cannot find the purpose for which he made us.  Without Him we continually seek and strive for "success" or "recognition" that says, "I'm relevant."  What we truly need is to realize that we ARE relevant to God.  He has called us to Himself.  He justified us through His sacrifice.  He gives us purpose when we submit to Him.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." __ John 3:16

Monday, May 17, 2010

Queen of the Missions

The Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo is considered the "Queen of Missions" and was the second of the missions founded in what grew to become San Antonio, Texas.  On our recent trip to San Antonio we spent some time touring the mission complex.


The view above is of the restored entrance to the mission which was founded in 1720.  The compound is very large and from outside the entrance we were unable to see the church.

Once we entered the gate I turned around a took this photo from the inside.  Notice the platform and gun ports above the gate.



In the first photo you should have noticed the round structure to the right.  The photo above is the inside of that building.  Note the cannon ports as well as the gun port at the top.  A platform at slightly higher than head height encircled the room giving the guards a place to stand from which to fire through the ports.  This mission was more than just a church.  It was a fortified city able to resist attack by Comanche and other tribes.



The above view is from the gate, looking toward the church.  In the foreground you see the foundation of another structure -- possibly officers quarters for the troops stationed at the mission.



The interior of the walls was actually a continuous series of apartments that housed the Indians (native Americans if you prefer) that had been converted to the Catholic faith.  In many ways, these Indians were slaves in service of the church -- tending fields, digging the system of acequias, and providing labor for other tasks as needed.  There were also compartments used for storing arms and ammunition and store rooms of other sorts.  Note the oven for baking.


As we approached the church complex we began to realize the size of the structure.  Again, note the oven on the right and the foundation of another building ahead.


This is another view of the church complex.  The mission was constructed over a period between 1768 and 1782 using the labor of the Indian converts.



Most people would call this yucca -- I grew up calling it Bear Grass.  Yucca is generally a broader leaf.  The showy blooms on these caught my eye.


I like the arches.  The contrast beween the greenery and the stone of the ancient structure emphasizes the "Old World" look of the church and attached buildings.


The different layers of this perspective were interesting to me.  Note that there are three rows of arches.


This was a rare moment that the walk beneath the arches had no people in it.


Water is always a necessity.  There were a couple of wells within the property as well as the acequia flowing just to the rear of the church complex.  An acequia is an irrigation canal.  If the inhabitants of the fortified city were cut off from the San Antonio River and irrigation canals, they would always have a supply of water at hand within the walls.


Behind the church complex were the Friars quarters and beyond them, a flour mill.  The mill you see in the photo was probably the most intriguing part of the mission complex to me.  What you see is a guess as to the way the original mill appeared.  This is a restoration that was done in the 1930's.  The grindstone is a monolithic block of chert.  The short post on the left supported a beam beneath the floor which in turn supported the water wheel and grindstone mechanism.  The wedges driven through the slot in the post were used to adjust the tolerance of the grindstone by slightly raising or lowering the mechanism below the floor.  The taller post was a crane that could be pivoted and used to lift the stone for cleaning or replacement.

This mill could produce about 50 lbs. of flour per hour -- more than enough to supply the approximately 300 residents.  The wheat was poured into the hopper at the top and the flour caught in a bucket.  This mill house has a stone floor.  It is more likely that the floor was made of wood so that in the event the grindstone was dropped it wouldn't break.  Such stones were prized possessions and difficult to come by -- likely being imported from France.

The wooden arm protruding through the window controlled the water flow by raising and lowering a gate.  The water fell approximately 9 feet to turn a horizontal waterwheel attached to the shaft which in turn rotated the grindstone.


Above is a photo of the church and you can just make out the Friars Quarters on the left edge of the photo.


Stonework above the entry to the church.




The Madonna and Child.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mission Concepcion, San Antonio, Texas

The Mission Concepcion in San Antonio, Texas, was another stop on our recent travels.  Established in 1716, it was re-located to its present site in 1731 and is the oldest un-restored church in America.  The mission is located at 807 Mission Road.  At its height, around 1762, the mission boasted a population of 207 and had seen 792 baptisms.  It had ceased to exist as an independent mission by the end of the century.




Mission Concepcion


The ruined area to the right contained the living quarters of the Franciscans.


I'm always facinated by arches which were critical to the strength and stability of the structure.  It's too bad the park service finds it necessary to place modern benches and garbage containers in the structure.


The orginal paintings on the interior are very interesting.  Note the steel supporting rod at the top of the photo -- not original equipment.


The church continues to be used today.  It is interesting to see the contrast between the modern greenery and rug and the painting on the plastered walls.


The seating is very old although not, I'm sure, as old as the structure itself.  Note again the arched ceiling necessary for strength.  The dome that can be seen in the first photo covers the altar area at the front of the chapel that you see in this photo.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Enchanted Rock

This past weekend my wife and I took a brief trip to Central Texas.  We just needed to "get away" for a few days.  We left home with no specific plans but did have a general idea of the various "opportunities" in the area where we were headed.

One of the places we visited was Enchanted Rock State Park.  I have included a few photos.



Enchanted Rock is one of the largest batholiths in the United States.  A batholith is an underground rock formation that has been uncovered by erosion.  It consists of the distinctive pink granite which is the same used to build the Texas state capitol building.

The rock rises 425 feet above ground and covers approximately 640 acres.  The view from the top is outstanding.



If you click on the picture it should open in a larger size so that you can get an idea of the view.  The photo above includes an interesting feature of the dome.  There were a number of places where enough soil had collected in "low" spots on the batholith that plants have become established.  There is enough rainfall (about 28 inches per year) to maintain the plants.  This was a thicket of dewberries.  You can see the berries in the photo below.



Enchanted Rock is located a few miles north of Fredericksburg, Texas.  It, like many other batholiths throughout the world, was considered sacred by some.  The Tonkawa tribes believed that it was the home of various spirits.  This was likely due to the flickering lights that they claimed to see dancing on the giant dome of granite.  There are many legends about the rock.

The first well-documented exploration of the area was in 1723 when the Spanish sent parties to the area northwest of San Antonio for the purpose of establishing missions in the Apacheria.  Although the area that was to become San Antonio had been explored at least as early as 1691, the city was not established until 1718.  It quickly became the heart of Spanish Texas.

Many areas of Enchanted Rock are enjoyed by rock climbers.  We observed a number of individuals rappelling on the west face.  Following the trail, the hike to the top doesn't take long and is a fairly smooth walk.  It will give you a workout if you aren't used to climbing.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Insolent Weakness

"Insolence is the armor of the weak.  It is a device to induce courage in the face of one's own panic."  __ Henry Kissinger

When I first read the above statement it caught my attention.  It was spoken by Henry Kissinger during the period in which he was attempting to negotiate an honorable settlement to the Vietnam war.  Nguyen Van Thieu, Chief-of-State of South Vietnam, became insolent toward both Kissinger and President Richard Nixon in the weeks prior to the 1971 Presidential election when he felt he was being forced to accept a settlement with North Vietnam that left Communist forces within the borders of the South.  He was in a powerless position and yet used the U.S. election as a lever against giving in to the terms of the agreement which had been negotiated bilaterally between the U.S. and the North Vietnamese in the Paris talks.  He saw that Nixon was vulnerable to opposing Presidential candidate George McGovern's "peace-at-any-cost" position in the election.

Upon reflection, I saw that the statement was applicable beyond the context in which it was spoken.  My first thought is that it sometimes applies to teenagers -- especially those who are attempting to flex their "independence muscles" and are rebellious to their parents.  They fear leaving the nest and yet feel instinctually driven to do so.  They become belligerent toward first one parent and then the other.  In a two-parent household there is usually at least one parent that retains some level of communication with the teen.  In a single-parent household the result is often disaster for the teen and the already broken family.

I have also seen the quote to be an accurate description of situations encountered in business.  It is usually manifest in posturing within a company meeting -- perhaps a planning group or committee.  It is an attempt to overcome powerlessness and inadequacy with a bluff.  When one is in a true position of strength there is no need for the bluster.  It is frequently the quiet one in the room that holds the power.

Insolence appears to be just another expression of insecurity.  When one is confident in one's place in the world there is no need to either lash out at others or to attempt to dominate them -- either physically or in conversation.  Such confidence can only come from the security of a relationship with Jesus.  Through His power we can experience a quiet peace that comes from His Spirit within us.  In Him alone is our strength and confidence.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."  __ Phillipians 4:13
Google