Thursday, March 11, 2010

WARRIOR is His Name

"The Lord is a WARRIOR, the Lord is his name." Exodus 15:3

As many of my readers know, I became a published Christian author in August 2006, when my book, A Warrior Culture was released. That was a huge turning point in my Christian life, because I put pen to paper and wrote what God had given me. I didn't do it to get rich, gain fame, or make Oprah's book club. I did it for every man on Earth to take and use to grow stronger as a man of God, and surround himself with other like minded individuals.

In the past 3 1/2 years, I've received many positive messages from as far away as South Africa, and as nearby as my own hometown, from men that have used the book to build a men's ministry. I've had my book translated into three languages (that I know of) by a group of scholars at the Christian Communication Center in India. These are just a couple of the things that reinforce the fact that this book is a God-Thing. And even today, I am humbled by how God has used an average Joe like myself to turn something out that can have an impact around the globe.

About 3 months ago, I got an email out of the blue from this Bill guy in Virginia. He sent me a nice note thanking me for writing it, and went on to tell me that he had bought a ton of copies, and he loves to give them away to guys as he travels the country. I thanked Bill for being my "Johnny Appleseed", so to speak, and offered to buy him dinner should he ever be in my area. He said he'd take me up on it, but he also wanted to know if he could carbon copy me on the emails he sends out to his group of Warrior Men. I told him I'd love to be included, and shortly thereafter, started getting the emails.

After about a week or so of emails, I started to notice that what I thought was just a few guys getting together to study, was actually a growing, thriving Warrior Culture of hundreds of men that he is leading. That's when I was humbled, blown away, and wishing I lived closure to his hometown so I could be a part of it.

Today, I received a video link from Bill and I've posted it below. Bill is the dude waving the Warrior flag at the beginning and the speaker at the end. So, if you are struggling and don't think you have what it takes to build a powerful group of men to lock arms with and fight for your families, your church and the Kingdom, then watch this video:





Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dad! Dad! Daddy! Daddy!!!

For the past three years, I've been trying to teach my now 7 year old son, how to ride his bike. It was pretty easy at first a la training wheels. BUT, since I am a cyclist, I decided last Saturday was the day he would learn. I had even cooked up a grand scheme to take him to a huge parking lot, and have the glorious Dad's "Push Off" moment that you see on tv. Well, I did have that moment, sort of...


I took my son Will down to the local community college parking lot and unloaded his 16" Tonka Truck Bicycle. The first thing I noticed, as I hastened him to jump aboard, was the fact that the bike was too small for him. But not only was it too small, it was a bit young looking for him as well with all the Yellow paint and Tonka Truck stickers. I made sure not to say anything about it, but I think he was thinking the same thing.

Putting all of these things aside, I raised the seat up as high as possible and put him on it. The first problem he had was getting started. No problem I thought, I would just run beside him with my hand on his back pushing him around. This worked great for the first hour. Then it started to get a little tiring.

That's when I told Will, "I'm going to give you a push and run beside you, but I'm not going to hold you up".

He told me, "But I'll fall Dad".

"No you wont"

"Yes I will"

"NO you wont!"

"YES I Will!"

We argued like this for about five minutes, with such furor that hasn't been seen since Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck held the famous Duck Season/Rabbit Season debate. But ultimately, I caved in, and told him I wouldn't let go of him Even though, in the back of my mind, that was exactly what I was going to do.

To give Will some credit, by this time, he had the basic pedaling, steering and braking down pat. However, the whole starting and stopping thing needed some help. I knew this and was ready to catch him if needed, but then again, I knew that if he fell, he really couldn't hurt himself too bad, and it would probably be a valuable lesson.

The moment came... I lined him up, gave him a rolling start, ran behind pushing him, then I lightly let him slip away on his own. I don't think he noticed I had let go until he was about 100 feet away and I heard him say, "Dad, what time is it". When I didn't answer, the panic button went on in his head and he started screaming:

"DAD! DAD! DADDY! DADDY! I'm GOING TO WRECK"

He was screaming his head off, but the funny thing was, he was riding and doing really good!

I stood there calmly and watched until he came to a stop, jumped off his bike, and threw a little fit about how I shouldn't have let go. As soon as he was finished with this little tantrum about how he could have wrecked, I simply said,

"But I had faith in you that you wouldn't, and you didn't wreck."

Ain't that just like God? He runs beside us, cheering us on, pushing us as needed and when we are ready, he lets us go on our own. We may get angry and argue with him, but he ultimately knows best for us, and does not give us more than we can handle.

So, He is there cheering for you, watching out, and will help you by His will. The problem most of us have is that we are too used to playing it safe and afraid to let him give us the push off into somewhere we may have never been, or may not have ever wanted to go to before. If we'd just trust in Him, He really does know best. But the thing most of us miss, is the fact that even though we may feel like he is far away and won't see us when we fall, he's actually right there ready to pick us up, dust us off, encourage us, put us back on our bike, and get us going again.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Branded...

I wrote what I like to call my, "Come Back Post" the other day for the whole world to see.  Today, I re-read it and realized that all of it is true!  But, it was more or less a big pity party for myself.  So, I'm trying to break out of that state of mind, and write about something a little more uplifting. 


I first thought I'd write about my experiences in the Emergency Room yesterday after my son ran his head into a steel pole at school.  But after deciding that is about as uplifting as feline leukemia, I thought I might talk about my life as a runner.  BUT, who wants to hear about that?  I already talk about it so much that I should probably just let that one lie.  But just then, I was reminded of the lifestyles that we take on, when we get into something new and let it consume us like running has with me.

When I first started running, I had an old pair of shoes, some shorts from the 90's, and an old Army t-shirt.  But as time went on, I started changing my wardrobe to reflect the character of an athletic person.  First, I bought some $120 high tech shoes, then some sweat-wicking clothes, and then I had to have the Oakley running shades.  But it didn't stop there... I even bought a bike (for off days from running), a hydration belt, and the piece d' resistance, a $350 GPS watch.

But was all of this stuff necessary?

Sure, it helped with the comfort level of running.  Also, the watch helps me with training.  But necessary or not, it was just the stuff that I needed to brand myself as a runner to the world.  When I wear my running attire, I feel as though I stand out as a runner, and thus other runners can identify me and we can be friends and meet up for runs around town!

How stupid...

Can you think of any other ways people brand themselves?  Did you ever see a big guy that was wearing Under Armor and think, "Wow!  He must be a professional football player".  Or maybe you saw a person wearing a Callaway Golf Hat and you almost went up and asked them if they knew Tiger.

But what about in the Christian-branded merchandise?

I've seen it time and again, how certain people will come to know Christ and immediately go out and buy the shirts, necklaces, and the ultimate form of Jesus Merchandise, the JESUS FISH on the back of the car.  But does this make one more spiritual?  Does it make one closer to God? Does it advertise in a positive light, the God of the Universe?  I answer no, no, and maybe to all of these questions.

So, what are you branded as?  Or better yet, are you POSING as an athlete? A fashionista? A Jesus Freak?  Is it a positive vibe you're shining on humanity?  Or, are you blinding them with a fad?

"Lord, Help me be a simple person that keeps his eyes on you and not the world."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Drifting...


I've been drifting along in a vast ocean... 


At least that's the way I've felt spiritually for the past year, and it's taken me until now to really see it.  

In January 2008, I started to drift off, away from the comfortable shoreline that I was so accustomed to and into the rougher, colder waters.  The worst part about it is the fact that the waves keep getting higher and the raft I'm riding (which was once a mighty vessel), is starting to come apart and take on water.  I don't like it... And something has to give or I'll be eaten by the sharks that are circling.

In January of last year, I lost my spiritual leader when God called him to another Church.  Then, a few months later, I lost another one when he too was called away.   The first was my Pastor, the second was one of my best friends that was our Youth Pastor, but I considered him my rock.  Sure, you may say that Preachers come and Preachers go, and that's just the way "Church" is.  But I beg to differ.

When I lost my Pastor in January, I lost the first person that showed me there was more to this "Jesus Thing" than simply going to church.  He showed me that it's a lifestyle, not just a Sunday/Wednesday tradition.  And in his tenure, I came to understand what it means to love God, and let Him love you.  But most of all, what I learned from him was the fact that there is a HUGE difference in being "Spiritual" and "Religious" and sadly, the majority of the people I know don't have this figured out yet.

But you might be saying to yourself something to the effect of, "A man cannot save you," or "Don't place people (even Pastors) on pedestals," but I have to say that

  I miss the guy that taught me more about having a RELATIONSHIP with God and not simply a religious fear of the Almighty. 

I miss the person that taught the Word and not a feel good gospel like so many are spewing today.  

And, I miss my friend and that hurts, really bad.

When I look back on the past few years, I smile by the enormous amount of spiritual growth that  took place in my life.  I learned more, wrote more, and studied more than any other time in my life.  If you don't believe me, just read some of my posts from 2006.  Or better yet, I even wrote a book and became a published Christian Author!  I was on top of the world and felt God's presence in my life as though I was being used in a mighty way by Him for Him.  And we were close man, real close.

That was then...

As I think about my spiritual life today, I am sad.  And it's a deep sadness that I've never felt before.  Don't get me wrong, I love God and I'm not saying I'm "Lost" or anything like that.  And I'm also not saying that I'm gonna' drop Christianity and go chasing after the world.  No, not all.  What I'm saying is that I HATE the fact that I've allowed myself to place distance between my Saviour and I.  

It's uncomfortable... Heck, it's becoming unbearable and I don't like it one bit.

I want my spiritual life back...

I'm tired of all the Churchy Crap that I've been through...

I want my Pastor...

I want more of God.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Rylan's Miles to Miracles Fondation


I'm back at Man Coming Alive after an extended hiatus with my family. I am back, and ready to write again, with a new direction as I will be blogging about the foundation that Marci and I have established: Rylan's Miles to Miracles Foundation. Oh sure, I'll be writing all the spiritual stuff that I'm known for, but there will also be more writing about what we are doing at the foundation, AND my ongoing training. Anyway, more about the foundation..

Rylan's Miles to Miracles Foundation was founded by Marci and I in December 2008, as an attempt to give back to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and it's workers that were instrumental in saving our baby Rylan's life. If you are unaware of what I'm talking about, you can read Rylan's story or if you want you can click on the the link at the right titled "Rylan the Miracle Baby".

At the top of this post, you'll see our logo. This logo signifies that we are a Christ-centered organization and the road is symbolic of the journey we have taken and are yet to take. You'll also notice that there are two tiny crosses at the bottom corners. These are symbolic of the cross-shaped scars that Rylan carries on each side of his chest from the chest tubes that pierced his side after his lungs collapsed when he was 3 days old. He carries these scars for life, and every time I wear the logo on a shirt, I do the same as a reminder to what he went through.


What we do is raise money to purchase clothing such as onesies, blankets and the like, and also toys for siblings of the babies in the NICU. We also plan on providing equipment as needed to the NICU and also to help the families of the children in the NICU. In addition to this, we will also donate 25% of all proceeds raised to the Cincinatti Children's Hospital because we have witnessed what they do first hand, and are still in amazement.

You may be wondering why we would want to give clothes, blankets, etc. to a NICU??? Simply put, on the first day we went to visit Rylan in the NICU, we were a little shocked to see that he was dressed in a onesie, lying on a blanket and he had a small stuffed teddy bear in his bed with him (We expected the simple hospital white clothes and a generic blanket). We asked where these things came from and the nurse told us that the girls in the NICU often buy clothes and things for the babies because they feel so sorry for them. This touched us because we had never really thought about how when a baby is born, they have nothing. Sure, there may be clothes at home from showers and presents, but what about at the hospital? Also, most parents are afraid to attempt to dress their child in the NICU because babies usually have wires, leads, tubes and the like hooked to them. This is where the nurses can help because they know how to dress the babies, since they are the ones who hook them up to the machines.

If you are wondering how we raise money, here's the answer: From donations by people like you, fundraising events, and our annual 5K Road Race (October 10, 2009). As you'll see on our website, the Miles to Miracles Foundation is geared around raising money through athletic sponsorship. For example, I'm going to run in a bunch of races this year, and I'm seeking people that will give me "Money per Mile" for a race or races. I already have a commitment from one family that has offered me $5 per mile for every event I participate in! This is exciting, and motivating as well.

We have also opened it up to other athletes that want to participate and race to raise money for the Foundation. Anyone can enter any event anywhere, and raise money by finding sponsors. We provide all participants with a running shirt that has the Foundation's logo on the front and "I RACE FOR RYLAN" on the back. We'd love to have you on our team and if you're interested, click here.


With that said, I'm in training to run, swim, and bike my way to raising money for NICU's and the miracles they serve. I'm going to be writing about my training here, but more importantly, what God teaches me along the way. The NICU's are often overlooked and unsupported by outside donations. We look forward to changing that. So stay tuned and On On!


Friday, May 16, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy...

I just realized it has been two weeks since I last posted. The funny thing is that the last thing I wrote about was how I almost burned down the house. Since then, I've received a ton of emails asking me if everything is OK and not smoldering in the ashes. Good news is, me and the family are doing fine and I haven't burned down the house... or even come close to it...yet.

I've been really swamped lately at work and I've been busy with my new running schedule that I have enacted. I try to run every other day and I usually spend about an hour "out and about". I've written about my new fitness obsession on my my other blog and I really have no excuse for not writing here.

This weekend, soccer season comes to a close and we start looking forward to a couple of vacations we have planned for this summer. Also, I've been filling my calender with upcoming golf tournaments. Can't wait to get out and swing the sticks. This summer should be a great one!!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Two Cooking Failures in Two Weeks...

I used to like to cook,
I fancied myself a master,
But now I could write a book,
About my own kitchen disasters...

They say the reason country music is so popular is because it's about real life experiences. That said, the above lines are the opening stanza of a song I am penning about my own real life experiences with cooking and the failures I've had.


I almost burned down the house...
We had to fumigate for five days...

Two weeks ago, I multi-tasked my cooking. While Marci was gone, I had two things going at one time. I was grilling Kabobs on the grill and frying vegetables on the stove. The problem occurred when the grease got hot enough to ignite and a flame ensued on the stove. The flame burned a plastic handle on the spatula I was using and made a pretty good deal of smoke.

I put out the fire, but the house was now full of an acrid smoke that set off not only the inside smoke alarms, but also the alarm tied to our security system. This alarm not only calls some office in New Jersey that monitors our house, but it also announced my conundrum to the entire neighborhood with a loud siren in the attic. I could feel a few sets of eyes watching me as I opened all the windows and doors, and turned the fans on full blast in order to rid the house of the smoke. It probably looked like a scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High when the van pulls up and all the smoke pours out.

Since we have an infant, we had to leave and stay at my mother-in-law's until the house was given the OK from my wife. That took five days...


Then I cooked some peppers,
And we felt like we'd been maced.

Last night I decided to fix up something different for dinner. Will and I got home from soccer practice at 7PM so as you can imagine, I was starving. For some reason, I've had this desire for red beans and rice, so that was what I would fix. I got the water boiling, dumped in the rice and beans and heated up a skillet to sear the vegetables. But not just any vegetables... I found the best looking Jalapeno Peppers at Kroger yesterday and decided to fry them up and add them to my concotion.

I got the butter in the skillet hot, threw in the sliced up peppers and started stirring. It took about 10 seconds before I got my first whiff of the peppers. I guess the combination of the hot skillet and the wet peppers instantly created this evil steam cloud that made my eyes burn, and after breathing it, I started to cough. Then, I heard Marci coughing in the other room. Within two minutes, all of us had burning eyes, throats, and a cough. With my eyes squinting I grabbed the skillet, ran outside and threw the peppers over the hill.

When I came back in, it didn't take a genius to realize that we couldn't stay here and breath the acid fog I had created. So I turned the stove off and we quickly gathered up what we would need to spend the night away from home.

So, I'm a failure at cooking twice now. In the past two weeks, my failures in the kitchen have resulted in 6 nights away from our house, inflamed mucus membranes, a burned spatula, a false alarm to the local fire department, and a son that is terrified whenever he sees his Dad pull a skillet out of the cupbord. It's humbling to admit that I am a failure in the kitchen. From now on, we'll leave the cooking to th experts at McDonalds, Wendys, and Taco Bell...


Monday, April 28, 2008

Grinning from Ear to Ear...

I woke up to something beautiful on Sunday morning. It was early... real early... bottle time to be exact. But, it was worth it.

After I fed Rylan his morning breakfast bottle, I placed him in his little glider seat. I noticed he was staring at me so I started to talk to him. Then, he started to really coo and smile. So I grabbed the camera and took about 57 pictures of it. One of which is shown at the right. Good news is, Rylan is doing great! Thanks for all of your prayers and kind words. As you can see from the picture, they worked and God is good!

A little while later, Will wandered into the room and started playing Webkinz on the laptop. I took this opportunity to teach him how to babysit his brother. And as you can see, Rylan was pretty content watching big bro' type away. God has been so good to Marci and I.

Thank you Lord for allowing me and giving me the honor to live this life!!!




Friday, April 25, 2008

Getting Fit...



I used to be in good physical shape. Actually, I used to be in great shape and could run and not get tired. But, then I got out of the Army (1999) and it all went to pot. So, 9 years later, I am embarking on a journey of mythical proportions as I seek to recapture the fitness of my youth... well, when I was younger.

I was inspired by my friend Will that is also seeking to regain his military form. He started training and even started a blog to chart his ups, downs, and HOOAHS! over at Help Will Train. Because of him, I am also charting my journey to fitness at a new blog over at:

Gotta' Get Fit to Keep Coming Alive

So, I'm off and running! But I warn you, this new blog will be really, really, really, really boring...



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Death is Precious...

Today, I attended my friend Grant's funeral. I still can't believe that he is gone... 45 years old, 4 year old son, beautiful wife of 18 years, and the world by the coat tails... It doesn't make since why, but I know where he is and that when God called him home Sunday, it was his time to go. Everyone is missing him, but heaven is a whole lot richer today because of his presence.

What struck me right between the eyes was the message the Pastor carried from God and gave to us today. He lingered on the verse that simply says:

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" --Psalm 116:15

Sure, I've heard this verse before, but I don't think I have ever really thought it through, or ruminated over it. Actually, I don't think I'm alone when I say that I've never thought about death being "Precious". I've always associated death with bad things such as loss, pain, suffering, etc... but never precious. That is, until God spoke to me through this preacher today.

When we see death, we see a person that leaves us forever. There is no more interaction with them. No kisses, hugs, handshakes, conversations, or any other thing that we can call person to person sharing. All that our brain can see is the fact that the person is gone and we will never see them again. As Christians, we know that we will see them again (if they were a Christian), but our own petty little psyche is hurt and missing them. I guess we are selfish that way. Anyway, that's how we earthly humans see it.

God on the other hand, looks at the death of one of his children as precious, because of His holiness. You see, when we die, we shed our dirty, stinking earthly body, and our pure spirit leaves it behind to be carted off and buried. Since God is Holy and He can't stand sin, He is overjoyed when our spirit leaves the filthy bag of bones and flesh that it once lived in, and goes to be with Him. The only way that I can even fathom how God may feel is that when a child of His dies, He feels much like a new parent that has just witnessed the birth of their child. Our spirit has been given a new realm of existence, and all new level of holiness that is pleasing to God. We've finished the race and been rewarded with a new holiness with our creator.

Today, I'm missing my friend. But I know that I will see him again one day. I also know that he would not come back for anything in the world. His soul is in communion with God and all of those that have gone on before. There is no more pain or suffering. So long my friend until I see you again one day...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Losing a Friend...

Early Sunday morning I got a call from a buddy of mine. Sadly, I missed his call because I didn't hear my cellphone ringing. When I saw that a call had come in, I picked up the voicemail and was kind of bewildered as to why he called me so early on a Sunday. But when I heard his voice, I could tell something was up by his tone...

"They found Grant Johnson dead this morning... We don't know what happened to him but he told his wife he felt bad and she went to get him something to drink. When she returned, she found him unresponsive. Call me..."

Within about five seconds, I experienced shock, horror, sadness, sorrow, and about ten different memories of the friend that Grant was to me. When I told Marci, I could see it on her face that she was experiencing the same feelings. All that we could say was simply, "Why?".

I met Grant last Spring when I led the men's group at his Church through a study of my book. We instantly hit it off and became friends. We both had boys that were about the same age and both were interested in soccer. One of the things that I admired to the utmost about him was the fact that he and his wife had adopted their son Carson from Central America, brought him home, and become his mom and dad. I got to coach Carson in soccer and Grant helped me out. He was a great guy...

So today, I'm still asking a plethora of "Whys?". Why did he have to go so soon? Why did he have to leave this wife and little boy? Why him? Why? Why? Why? Sure, I've been through this before, but I still don't have the answer. I don't understand God's ways, but I do know that His are much higher and mysterious than any human's could ever be. It just hurts...

In a couple of days, I'll say my goodbyes to Grant. I know that he wouldn't come back from heaven for anything, even though that is what we want. His memory will live on in his blog though. It's over at GIVE ME BOLDNESS.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Inheritance...

SABLE, THREE WOLVES' HEADS, ERASED, ARGENT.
ON A CHIEF OR, LION PASSANT OF THE FIRST.
CREST: A PEGASUS COURANT, SABLE, DUCALLY GORGED


If you know me, you know that I have an affinity for English and early American history. I guess this interest grew from my childhood when my Dad researched our family tree. What he found was that our tree does fork.. several times to be exact! But seriously, he traced the Prater family blood line from me, all the way back to the time of the Norman Conquest of England (circa 1066).

What my Dad found is fascinating. His discoveries indicate that my ancestor (Grandfather) came to England with William the Conqueror and was one of his subjects, most likely a knight. He was a Norman that had descended from a group of Vikings that settled in the Norman peninsula in 911. After William conquered England in 1072, he gave my Grandfather a large amount of land in western England where my ancestors lived and prospered for many generations.

So back to the Prater Coat of Arms...

A coat of arms is also known as a family crest. Crests were used at one time to signify the person or family that carried them. What's even more interesting is that these crests also signify where the family came from and accomplished. For example, the wolves heads on the bottom of the Prater Coat of Arms signify that one of my Grandmothers was a direct descendant of the Yscitheor Prince of Powys because the black (sable) field and the three wolves heads are his symbol. SO, that's my claim to Welsh Royalty.

BUT, the greatest claim is the fact that my coat of arms contains a lion. But not just any lion... This lion is the same style as signified in the Royalty of England. The "Lion Passant" means that it is simply walking and it was the symbol of William the Conqueror that had to give my Grandfather permission to use it. What's neat is the fact that this Lion appears so often in todays world because three lions in the symbol of England. SO, that's my claim to English royalty.

And, to cap it all off, there's a really cool knight's helmet and a winged Pegasus wearing a crown on top of the shield. The Praters must have really been something in Middle Ages England.

But what about your spiritual ancestory? If you think about it, all of us have a spiritual crest that is written on our heart showing where we've been and what we've inherited from our spiritual forefathers. Each is unique and each one tells our story as written by the author of our faith. And what's really cool is the fact that all Christians are royalty because we are a child of the King! What a pedigree!!!

So, I have earthly royal blood from Welsh and English/Norman stock running through my veins. Maybe I should give Princes Harry and William a call sometime...

Nah, what's more important is the fact that I have spiritual royalty from God. He is above all kings and kingdoms on earth, and his inheritance is one that cannot be matched in worldly things.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Feeling Words...


"I wish I could just go somewhere and cry."

Marci said this to me just after we crossed over the Ohio River, leaving Cincinnati behind. It's not that we had a bad experience, but rather they were tears of joy because of the AWESOME news we had received.

On Monday, we loaded Rylan up in our truck and headed for Cincinnati Children's Hospital. This appointment had been looming on the horizon for a month, and I have to say, we were dreading it. After all that we have been through with our little miracle baby, we were scared that we would take him up there and would be told he was sick, needed surgery, or any other number of things that we could imagine. But we went...

The first thing I noticed as we walked through the facility was that it was unlike any hospital I've ever been in. First of all, there were kids everywhere and in all different states of health. I saw bald headed kids, kids with masks, kids with IV's, and kids with no outward appearance of any medical treatment or sickness. As I carried our baby through the hospital, my own level of anxiety began to rise. I was scared...

The Doctor we went to see is known as the "guru" of Ear, Nose, and Throat Pediatric Surgeons. Dr. Robin Cotton is his name and he has been at the hospital for over 35 years and has done everything from airway reconstruction to cleft pallet repairs. His list of Medical Boards he is a member of is substantial, and he is world renknowned as the best of the best for kids with breathing problems.

When he walked into our room, he was a pleasant enough guy and he examined Rylan very carefully. He told us he wanted to do a scope and see what was going on. Obviously, the word "SCOPE" hit our panic button because that is what caused Rylan's lungs to collapse in the first place. We asked if there was a chance of this happening again, and he told us absolutely not because he would be going up through the nose and only looking at the top of the trachea. I think he was a bit confused as to why Rylan was scoped to begin with...

As I held Rylan, he inserted the scope into Rylan's nose and began looking around. Obviously, Rylan threw a fit and turned as red as molten steel. While I watched the doctor look through the scope, I'll never forget him saying,

"He's got Laryngeal Malasia but only a mild case"

Within 3 minutes, the scope was done and the Doctor had told us this great news. He sent us for Xrays and then reviewed them with us. Dr. Cotton told us the Xrays were normal and that Rylan would grow out of the malasia within a year, and that he didn't need to see him again, EVER!!!!!

As you can imagine, we were all relieved/happy/walking on air. We had just gone from scared at 1:30 to driving home on air at 3:15!!! Which leads me up to the title of this post:

When Marci told me she wished she could go somewhere and just cry, what she was saying was that she felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders. We had been told by others that Rylan was OK and even some of the Doctors we know have told us the same thing. But it wasn't until we heard it from a true expert in Pediatric Airways that we actually FELT it.

There is a huge difference in hearing words, and feeling them...
Especially when it comes to God.








Friday, April 4, 2008

Getting God...

I love to read, but I read really, really, really slow. Sometimes I feel as though I can write a whole lot quicker than I read. I don't think it's because the cogs in my brain turn at a lousy rate. It's simply that I like to read every word so that I can take in what the writer is saying, and have ample food for thought to digest later. Well, this morning I'm digesting heavily on something I read in the book 'Amazing Grace' last night.

'Amazing Grace' is the story of an Englishman named William Wilberforce. It was turned into a major motion picture and was released in February 2007 (I need to go to Walmart and buy it). If you haven't heard of Wilberforce, you have really missed out on a remarkable person and man of God. He was the one single person on earth that God used to take a stand against the slave trade and lead a campaign against it. But what makes it interesting is that he completely changed the minds of everyone for a practice that had been around since earliest of times. Up until his time (late 1700's), slavery was just something that happened and slaves were no more important that any other piece of property one could own. It was actually viewed as vital to the economy of not only England, which was the greatest colonial power in the world, but also to every nation on the planet

Wilberforce realized that slavery was quite simply put, wrong. And, he devoted his entire life to making everyone else realize it too. He took a stand for what was the right thing to do and eventually he fought his way through the toughest of MP's (Members of Parliament) to see that slavery and the trade of slaves be outlawed throughout the British empire. This is one of, if not, most monumental changes that has taken place in the last 400 years.

As you can imagine the tentacles of slavery caused the fallout to be enormous. Slave trade was outlawed in the Empire, so all countries (including our own) found it tougher to get slaves. And, it wasn't until our nation's Civil War that slavery was once and for all put to bed under the leadership of Abe Lincoln. Actually, Abe Lincoln considered Wilberforce one of his idols.

The thing that jumps out at me is that Wilberforce didn't go on his crusade against slavery until after his conversion. Like many of us, he had a Christian upbringing, went to church, played the part, and he was a good person... but not born again. It was not until he spent a few months in the summer of 1785, riding across Europe in a stage coach with the great theologian Isaac Milner that he "Got It". Here's the line I read last night that gives a peek into what he "Got":

"What madness is the course I am pursuing. I believe all the great truths of the Christian religion, but I am not acting as though I did. Should I die in this state I must go into a place of misery... Yet I may become religious. Has God not promised His Holy Spirit on them that ask Him?"

Obviously, he was under conviction that made him realize where he stood with God. And with the help of a great man of God like Milner, who never rammed Christianity down his throat, only discussed it, Wilberforce was changed. He went on to work out his salvation and make a complete 180 degree turn and start living for God rather than of his own desires. This was his Damascus Road conversion and also the day he took the job that God had written on his heart when He created him. On that day, he realized that all men are created equal and that slavery must be abolished. He worked tirelessly and had set back after set back but finally, he saw the vision God had cast before him come to fruition 1807 with the passage of the Slave Trade Act.

So, let me ask you this: Do you "Get God"? If anything, most of us simply go through the motions without asking God what He wants us to do, and do what we desire instead. William Wilberforce listened and allowed himself to be used and he changed the world.

Are you getting what He's telling you?

Or are you just spinning your wheels?

Are you a good person playing the part?

I'm listening God, speak...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

TMI Post of the Year...

"I'm growing older but not up,
My metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck,
Let the winds of time blow over my head,
I'd rather die while I'm living,
than live while I'm dead"

--Jimmy Buffett



-It's not that I'm 36 years old...

-It's not because a friend of mine asked if it seems possible that we are coming up on 20 years out of High School...

-AND, It's not that the kid at the gas station calls me "Sir"...

This morning, I saw something that scared me. Actually, it put "THE FEAR OF GOD" in me and has caused me to reevaluate my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health status. And when I saw it, I began making a list of "I GOTTA's" such as:

I Gotta' loose weight, take vitamins, pray more, get that life insurance policy, make out a will.....

STOP! All of this over the fact that I noticed something poking out of my ear and waving at me like a passenger on a ship pulling out of port. Was it a mole? No... A Tumor? NO!!!

What I noticed this morning was that I have a couple of tiny little clear hairs sticking out of my right ear. These hairs are not the little hairs that are "Cute" like the ones around my infant son's ears. Not at all... The ones that I'm talking about are 2" long and snow white!

Should I be scared? Should I get an AARP membership? Should I wait until I look like this guy, even though I already feel like I do?

Well, I can already tell you that I am not going to try to set a record for the longest ear hair. From the looks of things, this guy would be pretty hard to beat. So I simply took the scissors and snipped them off one by one to get a better look at my new enemy. Upon closer examination, they are thin and probably no one would even notice them because of their color... But I did snip them, and I added them to the list of "Things to Do When Looking in the Mirror".

So there you go! This is my official TMI (To Much Information) Post for the year. However, it's made me realize that it's always a good time to reevaluate and take inventory of everything physical and spiritual, to make sure you're getting the care and exercise you need. I know that I need to do a whole lot more conditioning and I'm starting asap. I'm going to start a physical fitness routine that involves walking my dog a few miles each night. I'm going to incorporate spiritual fitness into it by using this time to walk and talk with God too.

AND, I'm buying one of those fancy little trimmers as well...


Monday, March 31, 2008

Tiny Little Prayers...

About every three months, our dog runs away from home. Coincidentally, every three months, the battery in his invisible fence collar runs dry. AND, every three months, I forget to change the battery. With these facts in hand, Napoleon the 70 pound Golden Retriever disappeared between 9-11:00 AM Saturday morn. This always adds extra stress to the Prater household because Will takes it very hard. He always cries and we always tell him default answer: "It'll be OK, we'll find him."

I began searching for Napoleon at 11:45 by driving slowly up and down each street in our neighborhood, scanning every porch, driveway, and fenced in area for any sign of him. I really hate looking for him because I always feel like people are looking at me as if I'm a burglar casing for my next plunder. Anyway, I always try to stop and ask people that I see out, if they've seen a big golden ball of energy rumbling around the neighborhood. Sadly, I struck out on Saturday... and then again on Sunday...

Last night before bed, Will started crying because he missed his "Doggy". I told him that if he wanted Napoleon to return, he needed to go in his room and say a little prayer that God will send him back to us. Through his tears, he said, "OK" and retired to his room. About thirty minutes later, he came back into the living room and told Marci and I that he had said a tiny little prayer for Napoleon. I told him that was great, but deep down, we both doubted that the dog would ever show up again.

This morning I called the local Pound to see if anyone had reported our dog to them, but as you can imagine, I struck out their too. Then, at 12:05, my phone rang. Marci was on the other end and told me how two girls had showed up at our door and asked if we were missing a Golden. They went on to tell her how they knew we had one because he barks at them every time they walk by and they thought they saw him about a block away from our house. I rushed home just after the girls had gone up the street and brought Napoleon home! It seems that our dog had spent the weekend with some neighbors that live about a block away.

As you can imagine, Will was ecstatic! And this was a perfect time to show him how God answers prayers. I took Will by the hands and asked him if he prayed for Napoleon. He told me that he had prayed that Napoleon would come home and he did. I then went on to say that God loves to answer prayers. Will was smiling from ear to ear and he simply said, "I Know!!!".

What a great lesson for Will that God answers prayers and that He answers them on His time. What a great lesson for Marci and I... Oh We of Little Faith!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Entitled to Nothing...

When I began this blog, I made a vow to myself that I would never discuss politics. Today, I break that vow, but I promise not to rant about any particular party and try to sway you one way or the other. Heck, by the end of this we may decide to form a new party altogether. So here we go...

I don't know about you, but my brain feels like it is being squeezed by the daily onslaught of rhetoric being spun by the potential presidential candidates. Its not that this is , its some new thing that I've just noticed. It's actually the usual for this time in the electoral cycle.

The problem I have that really makes my head hurt is that all of this political mumbo-jumbo makes me like all of the politicians really do think we are stupid, mindless people that are wandering through life carelessly. I also get the feeling that every candidate feels like they want to become our own personal savior that will step in and save the day by providing the vehicle that we can use for the Government to take care of us.

First things first, I have a savior and He is the ONLY one.

Second, I do not want my Government taking care of me, I can do it myself.


I doesn't matter if it's Obama, McCain, Clinton, or any of the others, every time I see them giving speeches on the TV, there numero uno topic is how they are going to solve all of our ills and fix things so that the Government can extend it's hand to all citizens and give them what they need. Everything that is currently being proposed such as increased aid to the poor, tax incentives to businesses, gasoline concessions, and of course universal health care all sound great, but doesn't anyone out there realize that all of them have one common denominator:

THEY ALL COST MONEY!!!

I don't know about you, but I am tired of all the spending that is going on already and is not working. And, I know that whatever "New" program that is implemented by whomever wins the election is going to steal more from the little box on my paycheck that feeds my family. There is already enough stolen and given away simply because of an entitlement attitude that has been bread into our culture through the redistribution of wealth that goes on everyday right in front of our eyes. So, if you think you are entitled to get something for nothing simply because you are an American, you are wrong and should be arrested for receiving stolen property. This stolen property is the money that I worked my tail-end off to provide for my family, it's not to be handed out to you!

So, I urge everyone to take a look at who's running and find out just what it is that each one of them wants to steal more of your money to spend on what they think are the magical cures for our country. Remember, these are the same people that put the lottery into action to save our schools... Just because they are running for President doesn't mean that they are smart enough to fix things. Anyone can throw money at a problem, even a monkey...


AND, from the recent onslaught of junk mail from a few organizations my wife and I belong to, it's obvious that we are supposed to vote for whomever they tell us too. Just keep in mind that just because a candidate is backed by a group that you side with, doesn't mean that they believe as you do. For example, if you are a member of the "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi Society" and they endorse a particular person, you should do yourself a favor and see if the "Save Nagaina the Cobra Foundation" endorses them as well. I've learned through experience that endorsements have more to do with donations than with core beliefs and values.

And one last thing, stop telling people they are going to hell for voting for one particular party! This actually happened to my Aunt at a bible study of all things. My Aunt is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat that firmly believes in her party, and it is her right (FREEDOM) to do so. You can imagine how she felt when a lady at the small group got onto the issue of politics and told everyone something to the effect of, "If you vote Democrat, you're going to hell because you support abortion, homosexuals...." and a whole other laundry list of items. This breaks my heart because it hurt my Aunt that has since dropped out of the small group. All I can say to this incident is

"...Lest Ye Be Judged..."

Finally, I just want some common since and not a bunch of promises of things the Government is going to give me, that I don't want in the first place. I just want my freedom. I want freedom to think for myself, take care of myself, and conduct myself in a manner that does not infringe on anyone else's rights to do the same. I want my sons to grow up free, with a promise of life, liberty, and happiness in which they will have to make decisions for themselves, and live with the consequences, both good and bad. I want them to prosper and I know that they will also have times of failure. But I don't want them expecting to get some Magical Government Bail-Out when things get tough. I don't want them to think they are entitled to anything!


I guess I've come to a junction in my life, or a three-way fork in the road where I have to decide on something. I've taken the left fork before when I came of voting age and registered as a Democrat simply because my Dad was one. After college, I took the right fork in the road and changed my registration to Republican after I found out I agreed more with the conservative policies. In the past 18 years of being voter eligible, I've seen the good and bad from both parties, and lately, it seems as though they've all gotten worse.

I recently filled out a new voter registration card and designated "Independent" as my party. I know that many would see this as a moderate, middle of the road kind of designation, but I do not. I see it like I'm sitting at the bus stop in the pouring rain, waiting for a bus load of friends going the same way that I am to stop and pick me up. I've already passed on the first two because they weren't going my way. Each bus driver told me I was entitled to a free ride, but I declined. But... Wait a minute... I see one coming from off in the distance... I just wish it would hurry up...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two Jeeps at a Red Light...

I realize that I am very weird... I've known this all my life, and even been told this before, but today at approximately 8:11 AM, I admitted it to myself. During my morning commute, I was driving along and realized that there was a Jeep Wrangler like mine just ahead of me. Since we were in town, we ended up side by side at a red light. While I was sitting there, I looked over at the other Jeep and started taking inventory of the differences between it and mine.

Mine's red / His is green...

Mine has hard doors / His has the half doors...

Mine is a Sport Model / His is a Sahara...

Mine's cleaner / His is dirty...

Mine has running boards / His doesn't...

Mine's licensed in Kentucky / His is Ohio...

Mine's better!!! / His Stinks!!!

IT'S GO TIME!!!!!

The light turned green and I floored it and sped off like a top fuel funny car driver. All the way to work, I kept checking the rear view mirror to make sure he wasn't gaining on me because, Dag-Gonnit I was going to WIN!!!!

This is the part that made me realize I was weird. It was when God spoke to me and asked:

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO WIN? AND, WHY ARE YOU SO DEAD-SET ON WINNING IT (Whatever "IT" is)?

My answer to God: "I Don't Know for sure... But, I think is has to do with the way YOU wired us men!"

As you can see, I like to blame this sort of behavior on my competitive nature. BUT, I'm starting to realize that there is more to it than that. I know that when God created man, he created him in His image. I know from the recent miracle of my son Rylan that God loves to come through. And, he created man to "Come Through" also and be the hero. This is hardwired into our nature and was written on our hearts (Women are competitive too so don't think I'm being sexist, this s just a post about guy's egos). But when does our competitive nature fuel our egos? Obviously, it does it anytime we size up our opponent and set out to defeat them just like I defeated this other Jeep driver this morning.

The problem is, our egos can grow, and GRow, and GROW until they are unbearable to everyone around us. When this happens, it shows up at red lights and I've seen it rear it's ugly head most often at sporting events. But whenever it does, we have to be ready to realize it and squash it before someone wants to squash us. Because that's the other thing that a strong ego does:



It arouses other strong egos and mobilizes them to go to war against each other

And when this happens, you end up with two grown men rolling around slapping and kicking each other like little kids. AND, the few times I've seen this, I've felt the worst for the men's children that have a front row seat to the action. Of which, they will NEVER forget and it will become a part of them.

So, thanks be to God for giving me a reality check of my ego this morning. I wonder if he talked to the guy in the other Jeep and told him something to the affect of:

"Just ignore that idiot egomanic in the red Jeep, I'll take care of Him later."


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Five Crucial Meetings...

This morning, I realized that there are five very important meetings that I must attend if I plan on making through the day. Four I go to consistently and one that I neglect often. The sad thing is, the one I neglect is the one that is most vital to my existence and this morning, I finally realized it.


Every morning, I get up and go through the motions getting ready for another work day. More often then not, the first person I talk to is my wife and we normally just look at each other with blank expressions because neither of us are morning people. This is my first meeting. And even though it's not a perfect, made-for-TV kind of husband and wife exchange of pleasantries, it's OK. Marci and I are on the same wavelength... Imagine if I were to spring from the bed smiling, grab her hand, spin her around, shout "Good morning my darling", and plant a big fat kiss on her! I'm pretty sure she'd call the men in white coats to haul me away. So like I said, we understand each other's morning tendencies, and even though our first meeting would seem unfriendly to an outsider peeking in, it's not that way to us.

The second meeting I have is a new one! It's when I check in on our new baby boy Rylan. This is a fun one and it usually involves a big smile across my face, followed by a "Good morning big guy," and then a kiss on his little head. This is a meeting that I am looking forward to developing...

My third meeting is with Will. It either comes when I tell him it's time to get dressed for school. Or, it happens in the kitchen as I am leaving for work. This morning was one that I will cherish forever. He came into the kitchen while I was making coffee and asked me to explain the story of Paul Revere to him. I guess it had to do with the fact that he and I watched 'National Treasure' last night and he was intrigued by the signal lanterns hung in Old North Church. I spent about fifteen minutes talking with him, answering his questions, and loving on him all I could before I had to go out the door to my job. It was a great meeting...

My fourth meeting comes every morning at 9:00. This is our daily Operations Meeting at work which is comprised of all the Department Managers updating the CEO about what's up in our little realms, answering his questions, and communicating information to the other departments. Since I am over Safety and Environmental, I always kick off the meeting first. So, this is one meeting that I can never be late for, nor can I miss. It usually lasts about an hour and a half and then I retreat to my office to get moving on my projects that keep me busy for the rest of the day.

At the end of the day, I go home and we all eat dinner and debrief each other. We catch up on everything that happened today, and plan our future events. Then the day winds down and we get ready to do it all over again.

But wait a minute... that's only four meetings!

The fifth meeting is the one that I neglect the most. It's also the most important one of all. It's my daily meeting with God. Sadly, I seem to skip this meeting sometimes. I make it to all of the others, but I have trouble meeting with the God of the Universe even though He is the most flexible when it comes to scheduling. He's there whenever we call on Him, and if you think about it, He will drop everything to hear us and spend time with us.

I sometimes picture God in His throne room, with the angels and elders about in such a Holy scene. Then, a voice softly comes from just outside the throne room that says something like:

"Father..." or "Our most gracious heavenly Father..." or even simply "God..."

It's at that moment that God stops the heavenly host from their angelic duties and clears them out of the throne room because one of His children wants to talk to Him. It's pretty humbling to think that He will do that so that He can hear and focus solely on us.

So, my fifth meeting of the day, really needs to be my highest priority. This morning, I met with God in the shower and we talked... Well actually, I talked, begged, and praised Him for all He's done for us. I also apologized for neglecting Him and asked Him to forgive and strengthen me. I know I can do better because He is worth it! I also asked for His help in making me a little more of a morning person for the sake of my wife. Praying for another one of His miracles, even if this one seems a bit hopeless...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Unfair but Necessary...

I have always heard people say things like, "What a great testimony", and "Wow! Did she testify!"

When I was a kid, I thought that to testify, you had to stand up and shout about God, Jesus, and the Spirit until you were red-faced and pouring with sweat and gasping for breath. I wasn't raised in a Church where I had seen anything even remotely familiar to this type of thing happen. Rather, I grew up is a strict and linear Southern Baptist congregation. But, for some reason, I thought this was what testifying was.

Then, I matured and learned that your testimony is simply that:

IT'S YOURS

And, It's not about shouting and spitting like a Spirit-Filled preacher, hankie in hand to wipe away the residual fluids that keep bubbling up. Rather, testifying is simply telling your story.

It can be about anything from your salvation experience, to how God helped you make it through a tough time. But one thing is clear, it is a never ending story and you are the only one that was born to live it! So take a deep breath and realize that the God of the universe chose you to do what it is you will do in your lifetime for Him. That's why you are important, and even if you don't believe it, you matter. You matter to Him. If you didn't, He wouldn't have knit you together into the miracle that you are.

Marci and I were talking the other day about why things happen? For example, why did we have to go through what we did with Rylan? We whined around for a little while and really felt sorry for ourselves. We finally agreed that it was just not fair for us to suffer like that and that we got the shaft. AND, it sure as goodness didn't seem fair that our little baby had to suffer the way he did.

But if you were to get in a hot air balloon and go up to 10,000 feet and look down at the bigger picture of our story, it'd be easier to see that if we hadn't gone through what we did, we wouldn't have seen the miracles occur, witnessed the union of Saints praying for our baby, or seen God show up like He did. But most of all, had we not experienced what we did, we would not have the testimony that we can now share with the world about how God Came Through!

FAIR??? No, but this world and life in general are not fair.

Necessary??? You bet'cha....