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Archive for the ‘Wicked: Changed for Good’ Category

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When you look in the mirror, what do you see? I wonder what he saw? Did he look below the surface? Did he ever think he might be wrong? More on that in a moment.

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Touring a museum has only given me goose bumps twice. Once was in Europe in 2008, while viewing relics of history from an event that changed the world. The other time was today when I accompanied my kids to the 45th Infantry Division museum here in OKC.

I’ve always wanted to visit this museum, thinking it to be a nice collection of old tanks and airplanes. Little did I know how much more was there to be seen. As I was looking in a mirror hanging in the Germany exhibit room, a museum docent approached and said the chilling words: “That is the mirror that Hitler groomed himself in on the day that he killed himself in the Berlin bunker”.

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What did I see in the mirror today? A guy wearing an OCA t-shirt, an EMHS hat, and an OC jacket. Each piece reflected something about me, but were largely just a uniform of externals. What is going on inside the man? What is he about? What does he say? What does he do? If history remembers him, will it be for good or for bad?

How about the mirror’s previous owner? What did he see? What did he think, delusional though he may have been? While it was chilling to look at myself in his mirror, a mirror simply reflects what is currently before it.

What about the lessons of history? I love studying and examining history, and I love the veterans that remain with us and were recently honored during their day a week or so ago. As I have visited other lands and met the generations of citizens who call their home something other than the USA, I wonder what they are thinking. What do they see in us today? What do they think? If we look in the same mirror, do we see entirely different views? Who is right, and who is wrong? Absent an obvious moral issue, do people really see that clearly?

The following pairings of pictures reflect images of the time, the mid 20th Century war to end all wars. The second of each pair is an image from today in the museum in middle America, a reflection as we see it in the mirror of history. The first of each pair of images is from the museum in Europe, albeit not from Germany itself.

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When you look in the mirror, what do you see? I wonder what others see? Do we look below the surface? Did we ever think we might be wrong?

Touring a museum has only given me goose bumps twice, and today was one of those days.

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It’s almost football season again, and you know what that means…another team is upgrading their uniforms! Oklahoma State U has achieved love interest status with Nike’s own Phil Knight, and they now have 48 possible uniform gear combinations to prove it. Slate gray? If it worked for the Confederacy, it must be good for…oh, wait a second.

Another “suburban cowboy” I know changed uniforms in recent years. It seems like just yesterday that we attended the 2002 showdown between OSU and UCLA at stately Lewis Field in Stillwater. The unkempt condition of the grandstand in Stillwater was not the only thing that stuck out like a sore thumb. As the Bings strolled into the stadium, dressed in blue, yellow, white, green, and (gasp) crimson respectively, it suddenly dawned on us that most fellow ticket holders were wearing orange. It was our first family football outing anywhere, much less north of the Red River. Who knew there were so many deer hunters in this state, and that they all came out to watch this game in their goodbye Bambi forest gear? At halftime, our little urban cowboy asked if we could leave, buy something orange to wear, and come back.

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Buy some orange, we did, and he loved that shirt. He wore it everywhere. It was as bright as his personality. He even wore it to this “gluten fest” potluck supper at our church one evening, and I think he sampled a little bit of every breaded dish available before the meal even started. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the BCS bakery….

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I don’t recall exactly how the change came about. The football fandom, change, that is. The old saying says “Mo(mentum) changes jerseys fast”. Seems that our boy did as well. He is now arguably one of the world’s most die hard loyal Sooners fans. Even his room is painted crimson and cream.

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If only his diet, and his parent’s knowledge of the winning team in the Digestion Bowl, had changed as rapidly and as early. You see, such eating was rapidly becoming as poisonous to his system as would donning an orange shirt be to his psyche today. If only it had always been as it is today. But, would that not be revisionist history? Sometimes living thru the hard times make us stronger.

OSU fans may have needed the rust bucket grandstand to truly appreciate the new digs at Boone Pickens’ State University. Likewise, by experiencing the wider dining array and experiencing first hand the knowledge of what the pain of Gluten contamination really feels like, the boy was quickly on board with a change for the better.

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As for Dad, I am still an equal opportunity diner/occassional fair weather fan, Admittedly, I am a Sooners guy, and a transplant to our fair state. To say anything different would be revisionist history. I once had Texas (gasp) gear in my closet as a younger man. But, my son and Bob Stoops taught me the error of my ways. Crimson and Cream now actively populates my wardrobe, whether planning for the cold or the hot that befalls the most loyal fans around.

But, I cannot purge all things orange. You see, I have friends, specifically friends of my employer who are bankers, who support both schools, and I am seldom one to leave incremental progress on the sidelines, so to speak. If I get invited to watch Gundy and Company sling the pigskin down the field, I can probably be there, just so long as they are not playing OU.

And those 48 combinations?. Well, not to brag, but when it comes to dining, I can eat just about anything served in large gatherings, especially when it is good. That includes gluten.

Like Paul, maybe I have become “all things to all men, that I might save some”. If that includes wearing a little orange with friends from time to time, so be it. If that means dining gluten free, I can go there as well.

Im ready for some football. So, for this Bing, pass the remote, and pass me the hidden stash of non gluten free pizza and crackers. I think I’ve earned it….for now… 🙂

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Isaiah 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me,

The tune lyrics below from The Sidewalk Prophets has been following me around the past few days.

Isaiah was quite the “walking path” prophet in his own right and day, and his words, ultimately those of the LORD, have been before me this morning.

May we be strengthened this morning, and acknowledge and worship Him
fully. He loves us, anyway…

The question was raised
As my conscience fell
A silly, little lie
It didn’t mean much
But it lingers still
In the corners of my mind
Still you call me to walk
On the edge of this world
To spread my dreams and fly
But the future’s so far
My heart is so frail
I think I’d rather stay inside

But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known

Yes You love me anyway
Oh Lord, how You love me
How You love me

It took more than my strength
To simply be still
To seek but never find
All the reasons we change
The reasons I doubt
And why do loved ones have to die?

But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known
Yes You love me anyway
Oh Lord, how You love me

I am the thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway

I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway

I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway

I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway

See now, I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then, I turned away with a smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night, I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life

But You love me anyway
Oh, God… how you love me
You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known

You love me anyway

Oh Lord, how You love me

How You love me

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“God is subtle, but He is not malicious. I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world.” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve long thought that to be true, but now wonder if He is not often times speaking to us more directly. Take a random walk with me, and see if you agree.

Many of us recall the “Rocky” movie franchise. He started his saga in the slums of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The movie details him out running past a group of likely unemployed young men standing on a street corner singing “Take it Back”. Four movies later, some good, some less than good, and Rocky is back in the same neighborhood, a rags to riches to rags scenario, but he is still “Rocky Balboa” at the core, albeit changed by time, experience, and the impact of money.

I have experienced in the past 24 hours what I’ll dub “the day of diatribes”, polite though they may have been. This may or may not be considered just one more of the same by the time you finish this reading.

The first diatribe was by a Facebook friend protesting the use of the American flag as a form of forced advertising by a local realtor who placed them in every yard as far as the eye can see.

The second diatribe hit a little closer to home. It was written by a youth minister in Texas about the problem of increasing costs in higher education, specifically private faith based education, and the amount of debt it takes for many to get an undergraduate degree. The university for which I work’s mission statement is “Transforming Lives for faith, scholarship, and service.” Trust me when I say we do not intend for that to be “debt service”, and are listening and seeking solutions to the broad based problem of the higher education industry making our experience affordable and relevant. Pardon my digression from the topic at hand.

The third diatribe dealt with the problem of sensationalism and desensitizing in our mass media, all to get attention and “viewership”. It is a well written piece about things that are good and true, and you can read it at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/rdc-editorial-whatever-is-good-true-beautiful/

The fourth piece, more a reflection than a diatribe, was a personal look at living a purposeful life, and not a life of “Shadow Purposes” as we are so prone to do in this rich society. It can be read at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/chasing-my-shadow-purpose/

The final referenced piece in the “24 hours of diatribes” was my own, preceding this one, mind you. I read an article this morning about the NBA lockout and some of the quotes in a war of mega millionaires fighting mega millionaires over who gets the bigger share of the billions being offered by the masses at the alter of modern day entertainment. I love the NBA, but this article made me mad, and I suspect it will do the same for many fans as what promises to be a protracted labor negotiation fight plays out.

To paraphrase author Donald Miller, I think we all have forgotten that we are just trees in a story about a forest. The forest may be on fire all around us, but we are too focused on the near surroundings and our own concerns to notice.

The global economy appears to be badly broken. We have “stored up treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19) and need to be prepared for a different day and age, even within the lifespan of some current generations. The economic storm is raging as we speak in benefit rich European society, and the tsunami is racing toward us across the Atlantic even now. Societies are in debt up to their eyeballs; we are soft; we are spoiled. And fundamental societal things are changing. We are aging. The balance of trade and who makes and who buys is evolving. Health care is a concern. The U.S. Government won’t be able to pay for it all or fix all that ailes us. All the while, I fear we are standing on the beach arguing over who gets the bigger share of sandbags while we should be moving to higher ground to stay safely out of the coming wake.

Our societies often have found themselves in these moments in history, and it seems they are often ultimately resolved by fighting a war. The U.S. War for Independence; the French Revolution; the U.S. Civil War; WWI; WWII; the Middle East conflicts. Its about a groundswell of the masses when they can’t get what they want and need, and when the establishment is out of touch. We may be entering another “let them eat cake” moment, I fear. Get the picture?

I think the establishment may be catching on. One of the more telling advertisements running on TV today is “More Saving: More Doing; That’s the power of the Home Depot”. We need to realize that David Stanley (OKC auto dealer) does not really lead the way. The Mathes Brothers may have “our style at our price”, but they will never know us by name.

As I began to pour these random reflections down and try to tie them together cohesively, I looked through the “categories and tags” section of my blog site, and a huge percentage of those previously used seemed strikingly relevent. Take a look at all those listed at the end of this and see if you agree.

After an early morning of pondering these thoughts, I got into the car to come to the office and was immediately presented with “Awakening” by Switchfoot playing on my car radio. God is subtle, indeed, and He was speaking right to me.

Face down with the L.A. curbside endings
In ones and zeros
Downtown was the perfect place to hide

The first star that I saw last night
Was a headlight of a man-made sky
But man-made never made our dreams collide, collide

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

Last week saw me living for nothing but deadlines
With my dead beat sky
But this town doesn’t look the same tonight

These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And all my life I don’t know
That I’ve ever felt so alive, alive

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, I’m bleeding

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna live like I know what I’m leaving
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, it’s beating, it’s beating, I’m bleeding

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
But you’ve been talk, talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening
Dream, we’re awakening

So, where do we go from here, in this digital community, and in each of our own “cities of brotherly love”? Maybe we are a little like that prizefighter who has gone one or two rounds too far, and needs to reset. What is our task? More saving, more doing? Maybe. Less spending, more doing? Likely. More sharing, more caring? Absolutely. Heightened attention spans are in order. We’re awakening. The bar is raised. A groundswell is happening all around us, and a tsunami may (or may not) be headed are way. Let’s move to higher ground and be ready.

Take me back.

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Last July, I listened to Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years” while on our road trip to the Grand Canyon and Colorado. Kudos and thanks go to Little Frau for buying me that membership to Audible a couple of years ago. It has been one of two or three major life habit changing events over that time frame.

I began to listen to Miller’s book for a second time as we hit the road on Saturday for another trip, this time southward to elevations much closer to sea level. Correction, make that, at sea level!

The book has prompted me to “tell a better story”, and is prompting me to work on “living better stories”. I’m bookmarking some of my favorite quotes, and home to take some beach balcony time later in the week to share them here. In the interim, here are just a couple to chew on:

“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, it’s like that with life. People love to have a lived a great story, but few people like to work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”

“And that’s the thing you realize when you organize your life into the structure of story. You get a taste for one story and then another, and then another, and the stories will build until your living a kind of epic of risk and reward, and the whole thing will be molding you into the actual character whose roles you’ve been playing. And when you live a good story, you get a taste for kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. The more practice stories I lived, the more I wanted an epic to climb inside of and see through to its end.”

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Circa 2007: “All is well; buy our stuff”.

Circa 2008: “Dumb question: that won’t happen”. (new BearS chairman speaking to yours truly, 2 months before their doom).

It’s Friday the 13th. The CNBC prognosticators are talking about the Fed, inflation, the SEC, and “the reason it’s different”. And, of course, Goldman is always in the background: the circa 2011 version of Bear, I would contend.

I’m beginning to think the whole lot of them is corrupt with self interest.

Cynicism expressed, I’m cheering for my retirement account. Go baby, go….

:/

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March 15, 2010 to March 15, 2011: spring break to spring break – it’s been a good year. In many ways, it’s been a difficult year. And it’s been a growth year.

Here’s a twist on a proverbial question of old: If a tree falls in the woods, and I don’t post a link about it on Facebook, will anyone still read my blog? Hmmm.

About this time last year, I needed to change some things in life. I was letting stress and events drag me down. Admittedly, I was depressed, and it was not a healthy thing, for me, or for those around me. With advice from friends and Frau(who, I might add, is also a friend), I began to exercise regularly, and I began blogging. It felt good; it still does.

But there’s something about myself that I must admit: I don’t do well with moderation. No mater the subject, shopping for clothes on clearance sales, buying golf clubs on eBay (thankfully, I kicked that brief habit years ago, for I don’t really play golf), to eating the kids candy at Halloween, I am not good at practicing moderation. It’s a good thing that I don’t drink.

The same goes for blogging. In the past year, I have blogged over a hundred times. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that, but I am beginning to feel a little like Tim Hawkins as he describes a funny experience in this video:

You see, when I write a blog entry, I usually (almost always) put a link to it on Facebook, and it has drawn in over 2,340 reads so far.

“Go forth; preach the word; tell them about my…problems”. Maybe it’s all a little skewed for context, here. I don’t know. Just thinking out loud, again.

I wrote a lengthy entry about all of this, how my mind was racing, and the question of narcicism in an entry about a vacation drive thru Wolf Creek Pass last July. I had just read the Don Miller book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and I wanted to tell a better story, as well as live one. I still do. But, maybe, just maybe, I don’t want to keep being quite so vocal about it? Facebook link, vocal, that is. Just wondering.

I posted some song lyrics, as I often do, a few weeks ago from a Broadway musical tune from Wicked: Changed for Good. Here is an excerpt again:

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…

I’d like to agree with those lyrical sentiments. But I also want to be careful to avoid becoming “noise in the machine” of life, or ever move toward talking, just to hear myself thinking…

Paul had something to say about gongs and clanging cymbals in 1 Corinthians 13:

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

I want to avoid such, at all costs, and be one who truly loves others.

So if, while digging away at the root of the problem, something I think and write is helpful to another, great, but the broadcast will likely be toned down, even if the frequency happens to go up.

With apologies (or not) to my current subscriber base of of Frau, Fabio, Mom, etal, “let the bad analogies continue”.

After all, it has been a Good Year, but instead of sharing it from an altitude of 30,000 feet, I might just be content to circle above the stadium full of closer friends, instead.

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