7:00 am

I got up before the rooster this morning. My mom’s car had a safety recall so I drove her to the nearest dealer to have them take a look. The nearest dealer is about 90 miles from us so the 7 am appointment meant an early departure from Ridgecrest, and also from my slumber.

As a general rule, I don’t like mornings. And several hours with a pessimist is also not my favorite thing to do. Last night, my prayers included petitions for patience and peace.

It didn’t take very long for the diatribe of negativity to begin. Not even a mile from her house she began to check off all of the bad things that happened just this morning. It was only 5:30!

Within the first hour she turned her attention to things that could have gone wrong. She never really pointed out that they didn’t go wrong, just that they could have. Things like “If I hadn’t caught that error in Dad’s retirement (15 years ago) I would have lost thousands of dollars.” There was also a warning that the Base Retirement Office was closed. Having never been an employee on base, I wasn’t sure how this pertained to me, but I dryly thanked her for the information.

Now we are sitting at the car dealer and the sign reads “Service Hours: 8 – 5”. Wahoo, at least we made it for her 7am appointment.

What’s the point? Life happens, and it doesn’t always go the way that I want it too. So here I sit, tapping away on my iPad screen to give you this little nugget. Sometimes we need to sit patiently and wait in order to…

Oh look, the garage door just opened! I guess it’s my turn to…

—Rise Up!!

Time to roll!

I Can’t…

How often have I said “I can’t…”? Probably way more than even I think! This weekend we had a lot of time with “I can’t” when we took our grandsons hiking in the Sierras.

Our oldest grandson is a kid with boundless energy. His younger brother is a bit more laid back. These character traits expressed themselves as soon as I called to invite them. One was all in, the other…not so much.

The morning of the hike was not too bad. We had a great car trip up to the mountains. We stopped at a store and got a bit of lunch to take on the hike. Smiles and laughter was plentiful. Then we headed up into the mountains and still, all was good with the world.

It wasn’t until about one tenth of a mile into our hike that things turned sour for the younger guy. Yeah, one tenth of a mile into a four mile round trip. Oh boy, this was gonna be great!

As always, there were a lot of option on the table. I could let him quit and just sit in the car, but that was not really a good choice. Several hours alone in a parking lot in the mountains would be worse than the hike. He didn’t know that, but we all did. Next option was to just push forward and let him catch up. Again, leaving a kid in the woods seems to be a bit of bad judgement. I decided to let Grammy and the oldest boy go on ahead while I stayed back with my daughter and him.

It was slow going. He absolutely did not think he could do it. Every 100 feet along the trail he was ready to quit. He tried reasoning with us that he would be fine all alone and we could get him on the way down. He tried pleading with us to just turn around and be done. He got mad and said mean things. He cried and looked for pity. Basically, it was like dealing with a person in recovery! Funny how that works, right?!?

So my daughter and I played the role of good sponsors and helped him see how he was going to make it. We set short term goals and met them. Then we started setting longer goals. We stopped and looked at how far we had come. And we didn’t let him give in to the temptation to quit.

Eventually (3 hours later!) we made it to the lake where we were going to eat. He did it. He knew that he had done something difficult and that he had overcome his desire to quit. He was proud of it too.

Onion  Valley
We made it to the lake!

Then, just like recovery, we had to keep stepping. The trip down was just as much “fun”.

No one said it was going to be easy in this life. In fact, it’s pretty common to hear the opposite. Just remember that you can do it, with the help of your people and God. Don’t quit before you…

–Rise Up!!

Snap

My grandson recently discovered Snap Chat. He’s 5. They have crazy effects. That should tell you most of what you need to know!

He loves to make funny faces and send them to Papa, because “Papa is funny”. It’s good to have a “thing” and with Luc, my “thing” is being funny. Now he wants to be”funny like Papa”.

We are all emulating something or someone at a certain point. We try to follow in someone’s footsteps. For Luc, he’s trying to follow in mine. What he doesn’t realize is that I am trying to follow someone else, which means that there are far more feet than just mine and his in those footprints.

My question is who’s feet are you following and who is following yours? These are important questions as we make our way through life. We need to be sure that their feet and our feet are worthy.

It’s like having and being a sponsor in recovery. Before someone chooses a sponsor they should watch and observe to be certain that the walk matches the talk. We also need to see if those footprints will lead us too close to the cliffs in life. The difference from an amazing view and a horrible accident are often just a few steps.

That’s it for this week. Enjoy your walk, and…

–Rise Up!!

Spicy

I did something new yesterday: I made some barbecue sauce for the first time. My friend Dan makes his own sauce and on our last night at his house he wanted to have me make some of my own. It sounded like fun, so I was all in.

Dan had me start with his base recipe and then I started the “creative process”. I knew that I wanted something with a bit more of a kick so I began to add different peppers and such. Even though Pastor Dan has traveled this road many times before, I decided to go with my own ideas. As a sponsor, I have seen this same process work itself out. We have a proven path, yet people want to shape it to their own “needs”.

As I began to add things, the chemistry of the sauce changed. As that happened the flavor profile started to go all over the place. It didn’t take long for me to get lost.

Thankfully my “sponsor” was able to see where I had gone astray and was able to help me get my sauce back on track. In everything, it’s a great idea to have someone to show you the way. And not just the way, but also the way back. I’ll always have opportunities to fall down, but my friends and Forever Family will help me to…

–Rise Up!!

The Time it Takes

This morning has me thinking about the time it takes for change to happen. In my own recovery it took years to get me to where I am. That being said, I also need to add that I most certainly have not arrived as yet!

As I read the morning headlines I see a mountain of misunderstanding, outrageous slants, biased takes, and the like. I find it hard to believe that there is any justification for looting and the wanton destruction of personal property that we are seeing across the nation. I do, however, see some of the reasons that we have gotten to where we are.

Several years ago, a football player named Colin decided to take a knee during the national anthem to peacefully protest what he saw as unfair treatment of certain people by some police officers. Some applauded his protest, some joined in, but many decried it as treasonous activity. The Vice President went to a game for the sole purpose of being able to take part in the theater of reverse protest by walking out when the players took a knee.

Words were bandied about, names were called, people boycotted the NFL. And while it was quite acrimonious, it was all relatively peaceful. and nothing really changed.

Now, several more brutalities and deaths later we see buildings on fire and curfews in place. People are asking why people can’t protest peacefully. It appears to me that some people have been pushed to the brink and are now reacting in a way that is decidedly not peaceful. That leads to another group of people who are simply looking to capitalize on a bad situation.

I guess this all comes back to my recovery like this: it takes time to heal and to change. Even though progress is made in some areas, that does not mean that it becomes universal. The turbulent 1960’s gave us a lot of social change. Some people thought it was enough and that the systemic racism in our nation was a thing of the past.

As I began to heal through recovery my life looked better, but there were still numerous places that still needed work. I will always need work. I will always be “in beta.”

I hope that our country will begin to heal soon. I hope that we will take an honest look, rather than an antagonistic look, at the issues that still abound. I hope that we will all act in love. Because u til we do, it will be difficult to…

— Rise Up!!

Family

I’ve felt this way for years, but this week has really reenforced it: family does not need DNA. Let me explain.

We are still traveling and in the past 3 days we’ve been with three different parts of our family. We spent a few days in Utah with our youngest daughter and her family. It was great to see our granddaughter who is just a touch past her first birthday. What a joy to hear her laugh and babble, including something that I am taking for “Papa”!

When we left her house we went to visit people in Idaho that we just adore. I had visited as recently as last year, but Bev had not seen them for about 20 years. You’d never know. We just fit right back into each other’s hearts. We only had a day together, and it was not even close to enough time.

Now we are in Portland with more family who isn’t genetic. Being in the Paxton Pantry is like being at home. No one is a stranger here, but I like to think that I am a little bit more special than everyone else.

If I was small enough to think that a family required a biological link, I would be cheating myself. I am absolutely blessed to have family almost everywhere cause I allow people to be family everywhere I go. It can be so easy to get down in life, but my “family” allows me to…

—Rise Up!!

Well Dang!

You can file this under best laid plans of mice and men…

On our trip across this beautiful land yesterday we encountered some snags. Go figure! We had taken a side trip to visit “Carhenge” (read more about it here) which was awesome. We then proceeded to drive through the Nebraska and Wyoming night toward our final destination of Casper, Wyoming. Everything seemed copacetic until we got about 8 miles outside of the hamlet of Lusk, then it all went off the rails.

I supposed of the pavement is more precise. There was road construction and it began, as it usually does, with a sign announcing said construction. No problem, we’ve been seeing this a b unch on our trip. It’s actually a great idea to fix the roads while the traffic is so light. Bravo, Departments of Transportation! However, even though the “Road Work Ahead” was accurate, the “Grooves in Pavement” sign was a straight up lie! The pavement was gone. We drive over 5 miles on a dirt bed that came factory equipped with huge holes, nasty ruts, and occasionally a massive ridge in the center of the lane. I winced as I heard the bottom of the car scrape that ridge several times. It was all unavoidable.

So is life. And recovery. Sometimes you are cruising along wonderfully and then life throws you a curve. Life tends to not stick to the script. It likes to ad lib. Life thinks it’s a comedian, but often times, I don’t get the joke.

That’s ok. Actually, that’s life! I try to enjoy those quirks and foibles and find some benefit or lesson from it all. Yeah, it’s bumpy at times, but it’s also beautiful.

Keep your wheels on the road and continue to…

–Rise Up!!

Family Photos

We just celebrated another Mother’s Day yesterday. Our family gathered together for brunch to celebrate the moms. It was a fun time and we had a pretty good sized group. Of course there was plenty of food. My Favorite Niece Named Beverly hosted at her house, and being a master planner, she made sure that we would not go hungry. From biscuits and gravy to her famous breakfast pizza, anyone who left the table hungry had only themselves to blame. It was kind of like Thanksgiving in May!

After we finished our meal we sat and chatted. Small pockets of conversations could be found across the room and throughout the house. The kids broke away from the adults and we monitored them through the sound of laughter coming through the windows. It was beautiful.

And then the time came for the first family group to need to leave so they could go to celebrate another Mom. That meant we needed to capture a group photo. Everyone tried to squeeze together as I tried to finagle a way to get the iPhone to mount on a piece of wall art. Furniture was moved as was wall art! Eventually we got everyone to fit. We even got those camera averse folks to pose in frame. Smiles were put on and the timer was set from my wife’s watch. 3, 2, 1…..done.

We were pleased that the shot came off well. Remarkably, everyone was smiling and everyone was in it…well, not everyone. A couple of Moms were not there. Their presence was sorely missed. Gone was Marks Mom who passed in March. Also missing was Betty, who normally sat a Wayne’s side. She too has recently passed away. But even though we missed them being there, we still found the strength to laugh with and love one another. That’s what family does. Even in hard times there is joy. If you’re missing your Mom now, or perhaps another family member that you’ve lost, think about the good times shared. Think about the hugs and the laughter. Allow yourself to feel the pain and the joy. And as you do…

–Rise Up!!

Islands in the Stream

Back in the 80’s there was a schmaltzy love song called Islands in the Stream. It was a duet by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. At the time of it’s release I was an avowed Ozzy Osbourne fan, so these two country icons were not going to be in my playlist. Today I am more tolerant of different genres and even enjoy both of the aforementioned artists, but I really couldn’t tell you about the lyrics to the song. I know this though, the title comes into my thoughts after the day I had yesterday.

At long last we had a Celebration of Life service for my Mother in Law. She passed at the end of March and we had been hoping to do something in the church once things began to ease up with the pandemic. That still hasn’t happened and Grandpa just wanted to get some much needed closure. One morning last week he woke up to tell us that God had given him the revelation that he just needed to do a Facebook service.

We strung together lots of different video segments and streamed them to a family account for the whole world to see. At first, there were issues with people trying to find the correct account. We tried to figure out the whole “Watch Party” thing and had to call in my daughter Kristen to explain things to the old folks. As I managed the broadcast software that was doing the actual stitching and streaming I was fielding texts from various folks asking for help. My wife came over to tell me that they weren’t having success streaming next door at my sister in law’s house. Things were a bit frantic more a while.

Then we all became islands in the stream. People from all over the country began checking in and offering kind prayers and thoughts. People from Hawaii to Florida, up into Indiana and over to Oregon greeted us. As we continued our little stream, more and more islands popped up watching. The view count is now up to several hundred and climbing.

We weren’t sure how this whole thing would work out and we weren’t thrilled at the fact that we wouldn’t have the church service we had all expected, but these are strange times. All in all, it was a huge and wonderful blessing. Many people who would not have been able to attend even if the church was open got to watch. Most importantly, Grandpa gets to see how many lives are still being touched through his sweet Betty. Those islands in the stream really helped us all to…

–Rise Up!!

Bleach

No, I’m not going to go political here, it’s something different than that. I’m about to get to work on a project for my father in law. He has a log home in the country outside of Nashville. After they build a log home, you need to wash, then bleach the logs (and the boards on the porch and railings) before you can stain then seal them. A few years back, when the home was finished, things piled up and they never got around to completing the job. Now there is a stretch of about 10 or so feet at the very end of everything that is a different color.

Sometimes I get busy in life and I forget to complete the jobs I set out on. I feel good about where I’ve come and I declare it to be “good enough”. There are areas that still need bleach (not my veins!) God’s always got bleach, even when WalMart runs low!

If you need to finish something in your recovery, perhaps an amend or just getting that inventory done, get some bleach and start working. It’s never too late to…

–Rise Up!!