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I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around

And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Till the landslide brought me down

As mentioned yesterday, we had an adventure, and a story yet to tell. That will come, in time, but as #1 son and I hoofed our way home yesterday, a flood of tunes library memories were conjured up as the music kept me alert and winging our way back home. Mark Shultz reminded me of the Sherpa. Fleetwood Mac, courtesy of Stevie Nicks’ songwriting, reminded me of our mountain trek team.

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too

The Sherpa told us on the mountaintop Wednesday how nothing can live up that high. Jesus went to the mountaintop to be close to God, but came back down to minister and to serve.

As I have been home today and dealing with the return to daily life, a landslide of sorts is in motion. I suspect my younger trek companions are feeling the same as they awoke in their own beds earlier today. Laundry, cleaning out the car, or maybe mowing the lawn was in order? Or, was there even more? A loved one’s illness? News of a family in trouble? Knowing that you go into an office full of week old tasks come Monday?

As a child, camp was always an emotional time: good emotional. Coming down off that high was always tough. This week’s mountain experience has been much the same. As an adult, coming down from the Rocky Mountain high is bittersweet, but not all that hard. I’ve been down this road before, and there are potential rewards around every turn, even at 1,000 feet above sea level.

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I, I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too
I’m getting older too

So, take my love, take it down
Oh climb a mountain and turn around
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide will bring you down, down

And If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well maybe the landslide will bring it down
Oh oh, the landslide will bring it down

Landslides can be good. Emotional landslides can bring us back to a level where the air is richer and the living is fuller. Take heart. Mountaintops are going nowhere fast. You will ascend once again. God promises just that. John 14:1-3: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

So, take my love, take it down
Oh climb a mountain and turn around….

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East meets West: Better versus the best? Such are the musings of the morning, for today we are Living On Tulsa Time.

They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. The same could be said of Broken Arrow. Some artists are purists, others are hard core. Some are true to the discipline, others let it all hang out, so to speak.

It is indeed a tale of two cities, OKC and Tulsa metro areas, respectively. Some bands reflect a cross section of their less than ginormous schools; others are the carefully selected few of the masses. Some march to the beat; others move about the staging on the field.

We are proud of our Bulldogs, and our neighbors from the West. Yes, what happens in Broken Arrow stays in Broken Arrow. Sadly, so do the trophies. 😦

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…must have Little Frau’s number on their speed dial. Real life inspiration, indeed. You can’t make this stuff up.

The cute:

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And the sad, but true:

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Thank you, DRD, for the morning inspiration…

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This summer has been hot; almost as hot as it has been busy. The family soared together for a quick vacation immediately after the school term ended, and then it seems as though the “Baby Bing Eagles” all took flight and fled the nest. Church camp, work camp, “Cage” camp, jobs, trips to friend’s, midnight outings with the Green Lantern, Harry Potter, Captain America, and the like, and various and sundry other sorties have populated the skies around the Aerie on our street. Even Papa Eagle has soared away a time or two this summer, although he did return with talons full of trout after the most recent expedition. All the while, Mama Eagle has faithfully guarded the nest, waiting for her fledglings to return.

Last night was just such a moment. When I realized that “Say Yes to the Dress, Bridesmaid’s Edition” would command the brood’s flatscreen for an hour or more, I fled into the sanctity of an unfinished audit report spreadsheet. You probably did not know that a “bird of pray” could do accounting work on a Friday evening, but I digress. But as I looked up from my work near the midnight hour and saw everyone in the family asleep and scattered together about the family room, it dawned on me just how rare such future occasions might be.

Fall 2011 will be the first time all three eaglets will be in a different school from a sibling. One will even be across the left coast pond we call the Pacific for a few cycles of the moon. I wonder if little eagles like sushi? Another will have “been to London to look at the Queen” before 2012 is official. I wonder if little eagles like tea and crumpets? As time goes on, band, basketball, books, boys, babes, bonsai trees, and British monarchs may separate us from our young, but they know they can always return to the nest to rest their weary wings.

Only, next time we are all together, maybe something better than “Say Yes…” will be on the tele. I hear there’s a good NCIS marathon due out some time soon.

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I’ve spent a lifetime involved with educational systems, and I don’t just mean as a student. My dad was a school teacher and administrator for over 20 years, and I have worked in higher education administration for 13+ years. Suffice to say, I’ve seen some of what goes into trying to make it all work; making the sausage, you might say.

Few things are as important to a society as their educational systems. And yet, it is an area where American society does not always invest as much as might be optimal or even necessary. Good school systems or bad, it comes down to personal commitment and relationships.

Commitments at home.

Commitments at school.

Commitments to learning.

Commitments to discipline.

Commitments to the kids.

As constituents of our educational systems, we don’t always agree with decisions, directions, and disciplinary actions by the schools and their agents. Or, maybe we agree with many policies, actions, or individual decisions, BNFMK: But not for my kids?

Regardless, when the smoke clears and another school year is in the books, we should be thankful for those in the trenches with the scores of energetic and hormonal kids for a day, a week, a month, a year…or even 39 years (the Edmond years of service record, I believe) It is a higher calling. Commitment indeed.

So, thank you, teachers. Thank you, principals and administrators. Thank you, parents. And thank you, kids!

And now, school’s out for summer! Enjoy! The learning opportunities may be temporarily ending for some…, BNFMK.

Vicksburg, here they come!

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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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Life is hard. You don’t have to be a wise man, or a wise woman, to figure that out.

Like the home town boys, the Oklahoma City Thunder, sometimes you find yourself in a triple overtime slugfest, just hoping that last shot will carry you to victory at the final bell, and that you can escape to the safety and security of the locker room, and a respite before taking on the next round’s foe.

Not a lot of wisdom to share tonight, except that being a teenager is tough, especially in the world of hard knocks. It was tough in the 80’s, and it appears to be no easier 30 years later.

But, despite the potential overriding sense of Doom, not everything is the train wreck that it may feel like, at the time.

In the words of the beloved poet Ogden Nash:

O Adolescence, O Adolescence 
I wince before thine incandescence . . . 
When anxious elders swarm about 
Crying “Where are you going?”, thou answerest “Out,” . . . 
Strewn! All is lost…

But, take heart, young ones. All is not lost!

1 Timothy 4:12-13:

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.

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