Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Absence of Conflict (My Trussville Tribune article)

I had an article published online by The Trussville Tribune today entitled, "Absence of Conflict", based on a recent Boston trip.  You can view it online at:


Friday, May 24, 2013

First Responders

The Moore, Oklahoma tornado on May 20th, 2013 was a horrific tragedy.  I watched in horror as the television coverage provided continuous updates of the viciousness of this storm.  As news reports unfolded during the evening, it became apparent that this was a major killer storm, having slammed into two schools, a hospital and additional structures in the area.  I grieve for the many who were affected by this cyclone.

In the aftermath of the death and destruction, many people rushed to the afflicted areas to help remove debris and look for survivors.  However as the magnitude of the devastation was being revealed, it was broadcast by local authorities that only "first responders" should come to the area, that is , those people specifically trained to deal with emergencies such as medical crews and law enforcement officers.  In other words, trained professionals would be best equipped to deal with the residual effects of the storm.  First responders were welcome whereas the general public was gently chided to keep its distance. 

First responders.  Great people to have in the community when disaster strikes.  Yet, on a larger scale, who are the "first responders" in my life?  Put another way, whom would I contact if disaster struck in my life?

First of all, I would imagine I could certainly trust in the assistance of my family and extended family to assist when an unthinkable tragedy occurs.  My father, wife, siblings, children and in-laws would be a great resource to possess in time of my greatest need.  However, their assistance may be somewhat limited due to lack of resources.  For example, if my house ever caught fire, I imagine my family would do their utmost to try to extinguish the fire and salvage my property.  Yet, ultimately only a trained firefighter could adequately do the job. Another limiting factor might be my family's location.  My brother lives in another county whereas my sister lives in another state.  My children and stepson are a considerable distance away.  So, ultimately, my family would mean well, but there would be limits to what they could do.  My house would probably have burnt to the ground by the time some of my family arrived.

The second type of first responders would be the members of my church.  This may be one of my greatest resources.  I'm honored to be a part of a body of believers with many talents and gifts.  Although I am certainly unworthy of their generosity, I would probably contact them without hesitation in my hour of need.  Whether financial difficulties, family problems, spiritual concerns, whatever, they probably would be a well equipped responder in times of crisis.  Of course, another beneficial aspect of being a member of a local church is the proximity of the members.  My fellow church members are just a phone call, e-mail, or text message away.  Some church members even live in my neighborhood.  Consequently, I would venture to mention that if a person doesn't have a local church, it would be like trying to put out a massive fire with a small garden hose.  It might would help some, but it wouldn't be anything compared to the massive equipment and skills of a professional firefighting team.

Finally, I am delighted to describe the greatest first responder of all, the Lord God Almighty.  In Isaiah 43:2, He proclaims, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you."  What a great relief to know that God is close by when horrendous disaster is upon us.

You can learn more about the unthinkable tragedy that occurred in my life and the first responders who came to my aid in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer'.  It can be accessed at:


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Character Hill

I went running on an off day over the weekend and ran about two miles on a fairly busy road close to where I live.  It's a straight road with one big disadvantage:  the farther you run, the farther you have to run back.  Hence, if you run too far, you have to run an equal distance back to the starting point, sometimes in the hot sun.  I usually park at a local gas station and from there commence my journey. 

Yet, running two miles like I did was not overly difficult but it was relatively insignificant compared to the distances I used to run.  As a matter of fact, on this road, I used to run four miles on occasion: two miles to the bridge over the Cahaba River from my starting point and two miles back.  Mind you, this type of run was always very challenging, especially on the way back to the gas station.  The reason?  There is a huge hill I would have to climb as I was coming back.  It's a tough hill to run, especially after running a couple of miles.  But, due to its impressive size, I gave the hill a name, "Character Hill", because of the challenge it presented in conquering it. To run up this hill and then make my way back to the gas station was quite a feat.  Running up this hill demonstrated that I was a serious runner, not just one out for a lazy stroll. 

Come to think of it, we all have "character hills", so to speak.  These are formidable challenges which approach us every day and come in a variety of venues.  It could be cancer or major illness as occurred in my life.  Maybe going to school.  Perhaps difficult work or family situations to endure.  Whatever the case, we have to decide whether to run up these character hills.  It may be taxing, it may be difficult, or maybe even exhausting, but somewhere along the way, we'll be rewarded for our efforts.

On your mark.  Get set.  Go!