Archive for the ‘mentoring’ Category

Adventure, we swear to you. Adventure: our story’s true. We had an adventure today. So goes a Sesame Street tune dating way back in the lives of my mountain compadres from last week. Some may have grown up singing this tune, but it’s unlikely they’d remember in this distraction filled world. Therein lies one of the reasons for taking a mountain escape. While you don’t have to watch the imbedded music video to follow our tale, it may help flavor the theme…

Luke 9:1-3: One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes.

OK, we took a bit more than that in the packs on our backs, and while not much, it still felt like a ton. But, who were these 12 disciples, you might ask?

W, of Moor, our Sherpa.
D, Reigning Queen of Belchlandia, our Sherpette.
James, the one they called “Steve”.
Bing, “no trail gluten” Bingie.
Katy, of Lobsterfest fame.
Robin, the gloved one.
Leslie, the Honduran refugee.
Kyle, aka “Wild Man”.
Jordan, the crew chief.
Dawson, the “bow-ser”.
Dan, Dan, the Gadget Man.
And, yours truly, Bing Sr. Just call me the Diesel…

So, we packed in a little gear. But, who were our outfitters for this journey into the woods?

The inspiration? #1 son, and Little Frau, despite her late arriving, father-in-law inspired, fears.
The packs and bags, along with our Sherpas? The good folks at Wilderness Expeditions. Good catching up with you, Tommie. What is 36 years between friends?
The music? The Traveling Waughberry’s, of course.
And the boots? We can’t forget the boots. Columbia Sportswear: thanks, Ma.
Last, but not least, the strength. My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

It was a 5 day window unlike many I’ve lived before. It was the hardest thing I have ever done physically (successfully). No coffee. No watches or clocks. No news. No Thunder scores (mercifully). No bathing. Did I mention, no stress, other than the physical test? Thanks to some planning and permits, we were the only human feet on this mountain this week. But don’t worry: we were not alone. The moose stood her ground before yielding. The morning howls told us the coyote pack was close. So did the large cat footprints we saw a time or two. We may not have seen the mountain lion, but he no doubt was watching us. Good thing we had Wild Man with us. No self respecting predator would take such a risk as attacking with Kyle on our side.

Revelation 21:10 So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain…

Day 1: rappelling on Mt. Shavano, and the journey to low camp on Ptarmigan. Did I mention that rapel is the French word for stepping off a perfectly good cliff?

Mt. Ptarmigan: a Ute Indian word for a bird. We learned to fly, indeed. The mountain was an hour or so drive from base camp, and the summit was a short 12 mile hike from the car. A 25 mile round trip hike over 5 days, and I thought Tommie was kidding when he inferred such a trail. As we neared the jumping off point, a sudden wind and sandstorm kicked in. Have you ever tried to lug a pack uphill with a mouth, nose, and eyes filled with sand? It is almost as if someone or something was trying to discourage us before we even started.

Mercifully, low camp was but a few laborious miles up a road laden with sand and loose gravel. That, and a momma moose and her calf stood between us and our first night’s camp site. Thankfully, she moved on, and papa bull did not show up to root us out. After a welcomed meal, some Sunday communion time, and a lovely sundown, we called it a night.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord. So goes the song.

Day 2: Galatians 6:2: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.. The real work began this morning. The grade was steep. The surface was rocky. Our packs grew heavy. But, maybe you should call me the Duramax Diesel. You see, the kids are the sleek, fast sportster models. Light, colorful, and nimble on their feet, but they have no torque. Diesels are large, loud, and clunky. They put off a lot of thick smoke. The better ones have a lot of miles on them. But, when the going got tough, the old diesel got going. By the time we reached the ridge on this day, guess who was first to the top? Along the way, some of the sportsters showed great leadership in lightening the load for their “more accomplished” or “gentler” counterparts.

I believe it was the noted philosopher Julie Andrews who crooned “Climb every mountain, ford every stream”. We didn’t know the water could be that cold…


Day 3: high camp, 11,000+, was ours, and we rested. Solo time took on a meaning all it’s own. The summit attempt would come soon enough. Study. Song. Prayer. Some sun, to dry the boots and warm the soul. And visiting. Lots of visiting. No watches. No smart phones. No video games. Such was this day, and little more.


Day 4: the Summit attempt. Attempt? As I learned in a conversation with the Sherpa on Day 3, the success rate for Summit attempts is only about 50/50. The reasons for such odds? Weather (ours had been impeccable this week). Physically unable hikers (our crew had made great time each day). Injuries. Quoth the Sherpa: “it can get dangerous..a woman fell on a summit last year, hit her head, and died…but, don’t worry, she was not in one of our groups”. I felt so much better…

So, we hiked up and out of camp before the dawn, day packs laden with mountain stream fed water bottles, Vienna Sausages (a true oxymoron), and rain gear. And flags. We had our flags. One small step for man. Summit attempt began at 4:45 with the hike out (after a 4:15 wake up call from the Sherpa), and touching the pole at 9:20. The air was thin, our feet were heavy, but it was all worth it. As we neared the top, I really had not thought about the view “from the other side of the mountain”. Nearing the top of the ridge, I saw #1 Son’s red windbreaker. Then, I saw the snow capped peaks of the western range behind our Continental Divide peak. And I cried. Don’t worry, I was wearing sunglasses, so no man card points were deducted until you read this just now.


After lunch and leading us to the top across a perilous and shaky boulder field, the Sherpa and Queen D formed a ceremonial arch through which each of us passed as we stepped onto the Summit. Wild Man began leading us in a spontaneous rendition of “How Great is Our God”, and I cried again. Deduct points to your liking, if you must.

Hebrews 12: 1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Day 5, and we made record time breaking down camp, loading our gear, and hiking out to the cars. Maybe we were just motivated by the thought of those “ham and cheese sandwiches” awaiting us at the bottom. Seeing the cars waiting for us across the final half mile of prairie? You guessed it. Deduct man card points again here.

So, we made it back home, with the help of Someone Greater than super Grover. This was our adventure; too bad it’s over.

Or is it? It doesn’t have to be. As the Queen of Belchlandia likes to say, or more appropriately sing:

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray.
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning, burning, burning.
Keep me burning till the break of day…


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Great goal for a lifetime: B-Complex. Not complicated. Not complaining. Not cantankerous. Not critical. Complex.

B it. It’s energizing. 🙂

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It’s graduation weekend in Edmond, America, and you know what that means: hitting the reception circuit. So many kids, so many cake/punch/hors doerves opportunities, so little time/so little stomach space. And memories: so many memories. How could they have all grown up so fast? It seems like just yesterday that Baby H graduated; I think it always will. Babies A and B start HS soon, and you can only wonder where the years are going.

After completing our Saturday reception circuit (there are more to come on Sunday), we stopped at one family’s house to drop off a little graduation gift. As the young lady turned to go back into the house, it hit me: I had coached this girl as a 6th grader on H’s basketball team, way back when. It could only have been yesterday, it seems.

A basketball coach, I am not, and yet this time afforded me the first of several opportunities to coach each of my kids in the fine sport of round ball.

This was a small church based league, with only about 4 or 5 teams total, 6 girls on each team. Accordingly, we played each team at least twice in a simple 8 game season. As those teams go, we were OK. We had a couple of decent players, and then just a few girls who wanted to have fun. We won a game or two, and we lost a couple of games. One of the losses was quite one sided, as that team had set up an elaborate (for this league) half court line screen offense. This was a “color wrist band” man defense only league, so the screen effectively freed up the point guard to go shoot a layup almost every time down the court. “Help Defense”, as it is referred to, was a foreign concept to these girls as they chased their matching color around the court, and I was not sure the rules would even allow it.

In a “let’s have fun and grow in mind, body, and spirit” league, this loss still hurt. It felt like the other team took unfair advantage. So, I did what any red blooded American male would do in that situation: I appealed to the league office! My question was simple: can we “switch” defenders when running up against that type of offense? After some discussion, the answer was yes. It was game on: time to begin preparing for the upcoming rematch.

This league only allowed one practice for an hour a week, and you only got a half court for that. But, the girls seemed to understand the concept of our new defensive strategy. At it’s heart was one word: “SWITCH!”. Simply put, the girl whose color match set the screen would pick up the ball handler and stick with them until the other girl could get free and they could switch back.

The date for the rematch arrived, and my girls were practiced and ready. As the game began, the other team complained “they can’t do that”. But, the ref/commissioner explained to them that, with the type of offense they ran, we could. “Do that”, we did. It worked beautifully. As they game wore on, we were behind, but began a comeback in the last few minutes of the second half.

With only seconds remaining and the game tied, we picked up a turnover and began to run back down the court. The gym was packed, as many had arrived for the game that was to follow. Every person was on their feet cheering, and the roar felt almost deafening, relatively speaking. My heart still races today when I think about the moment, 6 or 7 years later. As the clock fell below 10 seconds, we passed it to the girl on the right hand lower block (her name was Morgan, I think), she shot and scored, and time expired. We won, and had beaten the only undefeated team in the league. That team finished the year with only one loss: the one orchestrated by us.

We finished the season at 4-4, but that moment was our championship. Parents rushed the court and hugged their girls, and there were huge smiles all around. But the look on the opposing coach’s face as we shook hands was my “Lombardi” moment. We had changed our ways, we had adjusted, and we had overcome in a “that’s not fair” scenario.

So, back to graduation weekend. If I had any advice for Alex, that all grown up girl who just graduated, or anyone else, it would be that one thing: “SWITCH!”. Take what life throws at you, but don’t give up and accept it. Respond. Get advice (and buy in) from important friends. Adjust. Change. Quit the things that are holding you back. Develop new habits. SWITCH.

As you have those late game moments in life, your heart racing, may this simple philosophy serve well. Make it a great life. The “cloud” crowd is cheering for you.

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I’m home sick today. Not fun, to say the least. You wake up, stumble around wondering how to go about your day, and then it happens. You hit your knees. Bowing, yes, but not in prayer. Offering sacrifices to the porcelain throne is more like it. Hours of sleep, sweating, and bad hair. The protein adorning the top of my head looks something like that belonging to a cheesy bad televangelist. Mr. Nasty, indeed.

So, aside from sleep, I do what every red-blooded American male does during a flat on your back illness. I watch movies on DVD. Not just any movies, mind you. Guy movies, like Jason Bourne, James Bond, John Wayne, and You’ve Got Mail. Yes, you read it correctly. The Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan Classic of the late 90’s is playing as this is written. It is a classic. Internet history, New York, imagery, great quotes, and a cute co-star all rolled into one flick.

“Do you ever feel you become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora’s Box of all the secret hateful parts — your arrogance, your spite, your condescension — has sprung open. Someone provokes you, and instead of just smiling and moving on, you zing them. Hello, it’s Mr. Nasty”. – Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in You’ve Got Mail.

Great quote, and great acknowledgement of the bad stuff in life, and not just those thing we sacrifice when bowing before the great porcelain throne…

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Proverbs 22:6-7
Direct your children onto the right path,
      and when they are older, they will not leave it.
Just as the rich rule the poor,
      so the borrower is servant to the lender.

That works for math, among other things…

I was lost in the middle of “the math” with my son the other night, and while I remain unclear as to whether it was new math or old, it was hard nonetheless. So aside from helping check homework, maybe I should be teaching him a few lines from Jabez’s song (as sung by Mercy Me) as well when it comes to the acquisition of deeper analytical skills (and progressing on to high school):

Bless me indeed
Open wide my horizons to share your name
Bless me indeed
Let your hand keep me
from harm and pain
Bless me

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Failure to move to non adjacent lane for an emergency vehicle: that was my crime.    The layman’s term for it is sometimes referred to as “failure to yield“.

In the immortal words of Hannah Montana, aka Miley Cyrus:

Everybody makes mistakes
Everybody has those days
Everybody knows what, what I’m talkin ’bout
Everybody gets that way

Sometimes I’m in a jam
I’ve gotta make a plan
It might be crazy
I do it anyway

Nobody’s perfect
I gotta work it…Nobody’s perfect
You live and you learn it
And if I mess it up sometimes
Nobody’s perfect

I was fortunate, but also prepared.     I had my proof of insurance card.     I had my lovely wife up front and two of our three beautiful children in the back seat.    What could have painted a better picture for one of Oklahoma’s finest?   I was respectful.    I said “sorry”.   I said “sir”.    I said “thank you”.    And, I had a squeaky clean driving record for him to pull up on the old’ DPS mobile computer…and yet, I still messed up.    It seems that my opinion about the short distance between where he was parked on the shoulder and where I was going to get off the toll road (which I had just paid to drive on, BTW) and his opinion were quite different.    But, he was right, and I was wrong.   The rules are there for a reason, namely, his safety, and mine.    No short distance to my goal excuse or hall pass is good enough.    But, he just issued me a warning, thankfully.

I slowly signaled, pulled away from his souped up Dodge Charger, and took extra time to stop and turn right at the next red light.   “Good, he’s not still following me”, I thought.   I pulled into a gas station to fill the wife’s Honda, and I gave some thought to what had just happened, and what I could learn from it.    I then paid for our gas (and the imbedded state and federal highway taxes, which helped pay for the souped up Dodge Charger, and probably also go to help pay for the toll road (which I had just paid to drive on, BTW).

I then was reminded of a timeless tune sung by The Back Street Boys:

I don’t care who you are
Where you’re from
What you did
As long as you love me

No, it wasn’t the highway patrolman singing to me in my mind.   I’m not that strange.    No, it wasn’t my wife, or even the kids in the back seat.

In all seriousness, I was thinking about Jesus, of all people.    You see, I did not intend to do anything wrong.   I did not intend to put anyone, or anything, at risk.    And yet I did, mostly by just going thru the motions, and getting in a hurry.   

But it doesn’t matter.    I’ve been pardoned, both by the powers that be, on the toll road (which I had just paid to drive on, BTW) or the road of life, which is governed, and protected, by a Higher Power.

John 14:15-17:  “If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

It’s good to know that I can be forgiven, even for failure to yield.

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Hanz und Franz? No. Ralph and Gladys. “Ma and Pa”, to some.

It was 1988, in West Germany. Yes, Germany was still divided into two countries, and Arnold had yet to ever consider politics. Even then, he still made for great comedic banter. Saturday Night Live made sport for years of men with “powerful muscles”, “girly men”, and “we’re not here to talk; we are here to pump (clap) you up!”.

As immature young adults traipsing around a foreign country on a mission campaign, a group of us who were students from OC would often slip into bad fake German accents and talk about our powerful muscles and “bowing up”. After 7 weeks on the European continent, just before time to come home and while standing in front of the famed Neuchweinstein “Disney Castle” in southern Bavaria, we got our sponsor Ralph Burcham to “bow up” for us. Meanwhile, Gladys was behind the scenes doling out cough drops, encouraging “Pig Notes”, and wiping our tears with her own brand of candor and wit.

Almost 23 years later, Ralph and his wife Gladys are still very much a part of my life, and the lives of my children and other people’s children who are much younger. And they have been doing this for generations. I currently teach a 2nd grade class at church and use a picture of Ralph and Gladys as an example of servants, and these young kids know who they are.

Who they are, or what they are, is encouragers. Saturday afternoon, Gladys called to say “your twins have a birthday tomorrow”, and that she would find me at church with cards for them. She found me in the hallway to deliver the cards, and as the kids read them with great enthusiasm, I could not help but look over their shoulder. The card concluded their words with “have a great life”. Here is a couple in their 80’s sharing love, wisdom, fun, and $5 bills with young teens.

From their remembering kids birthdays, to shepherding the MRCC flock, to teaching Bible class, to sharing their experiences as missionaries in war torn Vietnam, to being faithful Boosters and attendees to OC basketball games (even on nights when many others stay home), and the list goes on and on, Ralph and Gladys are humbly pumping their “spiritual muscles” for the rest of us to want to emulate. I love them both, and hope to be in some small way more like them as I continue thru life.

As the mythical “Hanz und Franz” idolized and emulated “Arnold”, in real life, Ralph and Gladys quietly go about reflecting Jesus.

So, my challenge is to not be a girly man. I don’t need to be here to talk. No, like Ralph “und” Gladys, I need to be here to pump (clap) you up!

Let’s bow up!

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