Saturday, July 29, 2006

What's the Worst Job in the World?

It's Saturday and I am taking a break from work to write this post. I don't mind coming out every now and then on Saturday, but it is not my favorite thing to do. However, this weekend is a very important one in the life of my company and I have to be here to smooth out any of the problems that may arise. I love my job and it sure beats having the guy in the photo's.

Thoughout my career I've had my share of shall I say, lousyjobs. You know the kind I am talking about; mindless, crappy, and everyone is constantly taking shots at you. It's been a long road behind me and more trail still left to blaze but, I am happy and satisfied with my career path I have chosen. Sure, I've heard myself say things like, "Man, I should've been a insert job here (i.e., banker, farmer, teacher, lifeguard, etc...)" but I can truly say I have a pretty good life that is highlighted by my relationship with God and the blessing of a wonderful family. Like any career, mine has come at a price that included college costs, military life, lots of extra hours on the job, and time away from family. But, it was/is worth it.

Today, I am reminded that the Bible tells us to work at your work (if that is grammatically ok to say) as if working for the Lord. Just like the guy in the photo that is doing what he is told and holding up the target, take pride in your work and the Lord will bless you. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is in Jeremiah 29:11-14 that tells us:

"I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you."

So, if you are down today and feel like the guy in the photo, remember that God has plans, big plans for you and he intends on you to prosper and be succesful. It all starts with us when we realize that it is all about Him and not our bank account. It's about bringing glory to Him and not us. And, it's all about building His kingdom not our castles. Always remember "Fried Chicken and Potato Salad". Or, if you have no clue what I am talking about read it here.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nanny's Quilt

Today is July 27 and it's my Grandmother's birthday. "Nanny" as I called her passed away earlier this year and today I am reminded that I miss her more than I thought. The thoughts of her departure started coming to me earlier this week but they climaxed last night. Since we are having our family pictures made this evening and it is a picnic theme, the photographer told me to bring a favorite blanket to sit on. That's when it happened: While digging in a closet, I found the quilt Nanny made for me in 1994. I had completely forgotten about this quilt and about when she gave it to me. Nanny spent each winter making one quilt by piecing scraps of material together into works of art. This quilt is a Bear Claw pattern (shown in the picture) and she even sewed on one corner "Nell 1993-1994". What a treasure that I will keep forever and pass on to my son.

Both of my Grandmothers were special to me but I was the closest to Nanny. She's the first person I ever spent the night with and she loved to take me camping and fishing. In fact, when I was seven, I spent an entire week with her. In that week, we had a different pie every day that she made at my request. Man, could she cook! Her kitchen was always the happening place to be and you could count on it that no matter what time you showed up, there was always something on the stove that she would gladly warm up for you.

She was born the oldest of six siblings on a tobacco farm in Bath County, KY and her mother passed away from breast cancer when she was only 14. When that happened, she had to quit school and raise her brothers and sisters. Because of her tough upbringing, she was strong willed, tough, and very smart. She had a beautiful smile and blue eyes. My Papaw and her raised six kids and praise the Lord, one of them turned out to be my mom. She loved the Cincinnatti Reds and she taught me to say, "Pete Rose is the best" when I was only four years old. Dad quickly got involved in this little incident by teaching me, "Reggie Jackson is the best". But out of all of these things, she was a Christian and she loved the Lord

Today in my morning meeting, I looked at my watch to check the time and saw the "27" in the date window. Nanny would have been 85 today and I miss her. However, I smile to think that heaven is a little bit richer today because she is there.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I Submitted My Final Manuscript Today!!!

Whew!!!! A few minutes ago, I clicked the send button in my email and forwarded the complete and final manuscript of my first book to the publisher. Boy am I relieved! It's like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders because over the past month, I have been going over, revising, proofing, revising, proofing,etc..... (viscous cycle!) and now it is over. But if I were to guess, no book is ever finished in the eye of the author. There is always something else to add or some other correction to make. But anyway, it is out of my hands and in the Lord's now.

If you are wondering, the title of the book is "A Warrior Culture - Surrounding Yourself with Dangerous Men of God" and here is the back cover synopsis:

What’s the pulse of the Men’s Ministry at your Church? Is it struggling, dieing, or long dead? Maybe it’s nothing more than a monthly supper club, if you have one at all. Isn’t it obvious that today’s Church doesn’t need another social event for men to attend? What the Church is dieing for are dangerous men, to band together with one mission: To take back what the Enemy has claimed by engaging together in spiritual warfare.

A Warrior Culture fills in the blanks where most men’s studies and ministry attempts have left off. Donny Prater draws on his personal experience to show you how to break through the dividing walls and unite men as warriors for the Kingdom. What you hold in your hand is both dynamic and revolutionary and it breaks from the norm of how the Church has long viewed the spirituality of its men.

The next step will be playing the waiting game with the publisher. If all goes well and everything clicks, the book should be printed in October and available just in time for Christmas. Everyone that has been praying for me, a big thanks! I ask that you continue to lift up this venture for me, I need it!

Friday, July 21, 2006

How Dirty is Your Carpet?

I had the carpet cleaned by a professional steam cleaner yesterday. We didn’t think the floor was that dirty but wanted to make the house a little cleaner. In fact, we really just wanted to have a few spots here and there touched up before we have company tonight. Boy were we ever shocked by the results! When the guy had cleaned half of one room, the floor looked just like the one in this photo. Yuck! I told him I couldn’t believe there was that much filth under our noses the whole time. He went on to tell me that carpets get dirty over a long period of time making it harder to notice because you get used to the color and don’t recall what it looked like when it was clean. I had never thought about how dirty carpet is a chronic condition.

After all of this excitement was over, I realized that God was speaking through this event. I kept thinking about the scripture 1 Cor 11:28-29 that is often used during communion that says, “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself”. We need to examine ourselves daily for sin, expose it, and ask for forgiveness. We are going to sin, that is inevitable, but we can’t let it build up or even worse not realize we are sinning in the first place. Just like the carpet that I thought was pretty clean, only later did I realize that we had just grown accustom to and accepted it. Thank goodness the Stanley Steamer guy exposed it for us.

So, have you examined yourself today? Is there a sin that you have become numb to and you accept as part of your life? Maybe you should ask a close, and I mean close, Christian brother/sister if they have noticed anything in your life that may be holding you back spiritually. But by all means, spend some time with God today and ask him to expose it so you can begin the healing process. He is the great steam cleaner in the sky afterall!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm Growing Older but Not Up...

Well, I’m 35 today……..crap I’m getting old! Oh well…. The good thing about it is that Marci is throwing me a birthday party tomorrow night that should be a blast. This morning I was feeling proud of myself, so I sat down to post about all that I have accomplished/done in my life. I soon realized how cocky I was acting and also that reflecting upon the last 35 years would be too tough. So, once I got my pride in check, I decided to think back to what all has happened in the past 15 years. (Trust me that I’m not getting the Big Head here, there is a point to this.)

In the last 15 years, I have: Graduated from college, landed my first job using my degree, drove/fired/commanded an M1 Abrams Tank, gotten married, become a father, traveled to 5 third world countries, been to Vegas twice, coached basketball and soccer, ridden a motorcycle, eaten oysters on the half-shell, realized my health is more fragile than I thought, built a boat, co-piloted an airplane, run a business, visited 21 states and 2 US Territories, been shot at (unintentionally), wrote a book, been on two cruises, been to Disney World three times, been in a wreck, become scuba certified, seen Jimmy Buffett twice, lost my job out of the blue, been to the NCAA Tournament, met a few famous people, made/spent a bunch of money.

In a nutshell, I’ve had a lot of fun over the past fifteen years and made many good but some sad memories. But, out of all of these things, the greatest of all is that I have developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. With that said, all of these other things become meaningless! Happy birthday to me and thank you God for allowing me to experience all that I have even though they have no eternal relevance. Thank you most for sending your Son to die for me so that I may be forgiven and come to You through Him.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Anger Management and the Salty Dog

Here is the latest and greatest photo of Will’s Golden Retriever Napoleon sporting his Salty Dog scarf. His full AKC name is “Napoleon Air Bud’s Dynamite” and as you can imagine, a two year old little boy named him. I’ve learned a lot from this dog including the fact that I used to have no patience. When we first got him, I used to get so angry at him for little to no reason. Oh sure, there were times when he puked, peed, and pooped in the floor during house breaking that infuriated me, but other times, I would fly off the handle at him over the slightest little thing.

I was praying one day about this anger I was acting out toward Napoleon and God convicted me in a big way. He made me realize that I was taking out all of my rage that I held in on this poor dog. I felt horrible because this defenseless and loving animal never asked for it and didn’t do anything to provoke it. I looked for the root cause of this anger and found that it was my job. I had a real problem at work with telling people when they were wrong and making them correct their actions. Many times when I noticed someone doing something that violated company policy, I would duck my head and go on like I didn’t see it. Well, all that has changed. I came to realize that although I was only taking anger out on the dog, it would probably be a matter of time until I started snapping at my family. So, I did something about it. I started speaking up at work and making people deal with me by attacking instead of running. And guess what, I feel stronger today at work than I ever have and I seem to be easier to deal with at home too (at least Marci thinks so).

I know the poor dog is happier too, and I love him greatly now and enjoy his company. I even bought a bumper sticker at Hilton Head and stuck it on my jeep that says, “My Golden Retriever is smarter than your honor student”! So guys, if work is causing you to act out violently toward animals, dogs, golf clubs, or whatever it may be, do something about it now. Don’t wait until you do something stupid that you will always regret. If you are afraid to speak up and have aggression bottled up inside, it’s high time that you let people know: This is me, deal with it! When you do this, you are dropping just one more of the pieces of the puzzle for abundant life that Jesus promised.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Happy Anniversary Marci!

Wow time flys by! Seven years ago today my bride and I "Got Hitched". It seems like it was yesterday that we were making vows to each other and off on honeymoon. This is the most recent picture of us that Will snapped in Hilton Head. When we got married, I would have never dreamed that four years later, we would have a son that would take our picture. Funny isn't it?

Anyway, I appreciate that she has put up with me and I look forward to growing old with her. I praise God for causing our paths to cross and I love her deeply and with all of my heart.

Oh yeah, if you didn't know, the seventh anniversay is the golf anniversary. I bought her clubs, a bag, and some other essentials. I'm hoping for that new Big Bertha Driver if you're wondering....... ;-) And, since my birthday is Thursday, the irons that go with it would really complete the circuit nicely...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Beds, Bugs, and the Gregg Russell Show

If you have ever been to Harbor Town at Hilton Head, you have no doubt heard of Gregg Russell. He has spent the last 30 years performing in the evenings for the kids under a two hundred year old liberty oak. Also, he is a very accomplished song writer, actor, and all-around great guy. Well, Friday night’s performance was taken over by a three year old from Kentucky named Will. Before Gregg could even start, he called Will over to the mic by saying, “There’s a little fellow up here that is just dying to tell me something, come here little guy!” Marci and I didn’t know what was going on until we heard Gregg ask the child what his name was, and we heard loud and clear that little voice that we know all to well respond with “Wee-uhl”. Oh know we thought and I snapped the picture at the right. Will went on to tell Gregg (and three thousand other folks): “Last night, my dad tripped over a bug and hurt his self and he had to go to the hospital.” Gregg asked Will if I was here tonight and he made me wave at him. He went on to ask me about the bug and if that excuse really worked with my wife. I was embarrassed so I just gave him the thumbs up. Of course, at the time, Marci and I had no idea what he was talking about because I had not injured myself at all, nor had I even seen a bug big enough to trip over.

The show went on to the part where Gregg lets three of four kids come up and sing. So, you guessed it, he said “Let’s get Will back up here to sing for us!” Will ran to the stage and after some funny talk jumped on Gregg’s lap. Gregg asked him, “How old are you?” Will said, “I’m three and when I’m four I get my boosters and when I’m five I go to big school.” Gregg said, “What are boosters?” Will told him, “When I’m four, I go to the Doctor and I get my boosters in my arm and my butt.” As you can imagine, everyone is rolling in the floor laughing. Then Gregg asked Will, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “A baseball player,” Will replied. “Who’s your favorite player?” Gregg asked. “Brandon Webb.” Puzzled, Gregg asked, “Who does Brandon play for?”. “The Arizona Diamondbacks,” Will replied. Then Will went on to sing a soccer song about Manchester United (of all things) that only him, me, and people from England would know. After Will sat back down in the crowd, I thought it was over, but Gregg had Will come up two more times during the show. After it was all over, the first thing Will said to me with a huge smile was, “Hey dad, I got up on the stage and sang and talked to Gregg Russell!” I told him I was very proud.

So, thank goodness my child is not shy. The only thing I was worried about was the fact that he made up a story, or in other words, lied about me tripping over a bug. I asked Will what he meant when he told that story about me tripping over a bug. He looked up and said, “Remember dad, when you were a little boy, you tripped off the bug and hit your head and had to go to the hospital for stitches?” That’s when I realized that earlier that day, we told Will to stop jumping on the bed because when I was three, I jumped off the bed, cut my head open, and had to go to the hospital. Oh well, whether it’s a bed or a bug, it’s all the same to a three year old… But, this time it was in front of a huge crowd. Anyway, thank you Lord for blessing Marci and I with Will, our little showman and wildman!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Elvis and the Real King

I’m an Elvis fan and have been all of my life. I remember watching the news on the day that he died, I dressed like him once on Halloween, and I even tried to talk the Doctor into delivering Will on January 8th (Elvis’ birthday) instead of the 9th (Nixon’s birthday)! On Wednesday night in Hilton Head, we came across an Elvis impersonator singing on a patio at a restaurant called Skillets. We stood in the parking lot listening to him and were really impressed. This guy could hit all of the notes and even looked the part (Elvis circa 1976)! My Mother-in-Law and I enjoyed him so much that we made plans to return Thursday night, eat dinner on the patio, and let “Big E” serenade us.

Thursday night, Big E performed and we enjoyed it thoroughly! Will danced around the table and I even had him go up and request “Burning Love” that Big E gladly performed. Marci wasn’t as impressed as I was so she opted to shop at the local outlet mall while we enjoyed the music.

Later that night, Will asked me, “Dad, who was Elvis?” I explained to him, “He was the King.” That’s when it hit me like a lightening bolt and I quickly corrected myself by telling Will that he was a singer that had an awesome voice. I went on to tell him that some people call him the King of Rock n’ Roll. I told Will to always remember that the real king is Jesus.

Looking back, I always referred to Elvis as “The King”, and never gave it a second thought. Now, I have removed that illustration from my vocabulary because as I told Will, there is only one king and that is our King Jesus.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Good Guys Wear Tattoos

I flirted with getting a tattoo one time when I was in the Army. I wanted the Armor symbol of a tank and crossed sabers on my shoulder but I didn’t go through with it. I don’t know why…… Anyway, much to Marci’s chagrin, Will and I got airbrush tattoos at a kiosk in a Hilton Head shopping center. I had always been a fan of the barbed wire look so I went first. Will on the other hand, had a hard time picking one out because of the vast number of choices. At first he wanted a soccer ball but it was sold out, his second choice was a baseball that was sold out too, but his third choice was a shark. But it was not just any shark, it was a great white shark painted Kentucky Blue!

After we were “painted”, the guy assured us that it would last for three days. The next day at the beach, we found out that three hours of sun and surf reduce the life expectancy of these tattoos by 2 ½ days. Mine completely washed off and only a remnant of the shark remained on Will’s arm. We were sad and Will even shed a tear when we washed the last speck of blue from his arm that day. We probably should have gone back to where we got them and been repainted, but I figured why argue about a $5 tattoo?

However, the big surprise came the next day! Due to the fact that each tattoo acts as sunscreen in the area it is applied, and since we had worn our tattoos throughout the sunny day, when we woke up the next morning, we realized that we had a type of shadow where the tattoo once was that was lighter than the red skin around it. Even a week later, Will’s shark is still visible on his arm if you look for it. I guess we will be working on filling it in with suntan at the pool this weekend.

These tattoos are a lot like our spiritual lives. When we are first born-again, we show off our new found spirituality like a new tattoo for the world to see. I remember when I was saved, I wanted to share my faith with everyone and let everyone see that I was a new creation and the old Donny had passed away. However, after some time had passed it seemed like the newness had worn off and become more subdued. Oh sure, the imprint was still there (just like on Will’s arm the next morning), but it was not as visible. It’s like Christ’s imprint is on our arm but it is not as visible to the rest of the world as it once was.

Just like our el-cheapo airbrush tattoos that washed off and needed to be repainted on our arms, we need to return to the Savior and let him repaint us DAILY. He repaints us when we get in his word, communing with him, and in so doing, become renewed by him. His imprint is always on us but it is up to us to let the world see it by caring for it and keeping it spit-shined and polished. It is a day by day, bird by bird process....... I praise God he has the patience to put up with me!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Digging a Holy Hole

All of my life, the first thing I have to do at the beach is dig a deep hole. I don’t know why I have always been like this but it must be genetic because as soon as we arrived on the beach last Sunday, Will immediately said, “Hey Dad, lets dig a deep hole in the sand.” I asked him why he wanted to do it and he simply told me, “So we will have a place to keep our alligators and sharks!” DUH!!

So, we dug and dug and dug and dug until we had broken the shovel and then the handle off of the bucket. When we were finished, I stood back and admired the job. In just under one hour, I had dug a hole 4’ wide and about 3’ deep. Will immediately jumped in and played for the rest of the afternoon, or at least until it was time to go back to the villa for naptime.

The next day, we returned to the beach and set up camp in the same spot. The first thing Will asked was, “Where’s my alligator and shark hole?”. How do you explain the tide to a three year old? Marci simply told him that the waves had washed it away. He was puzzled but quickly found a solution to the problem by handing me the new shovel that we bought at the Salty Dog CafĂ©. And, you guessed it, off I went, digging again (with more soreness now). I dug another hole in the exact same spot, but now I was hurting in my low back.

Later, as I rested in my chair in the surf, I started thinking about these exploits and asking God to teach me. It’s pretty obvious now what the message was: You can spend your life digging (working) for the things of this world to play with and be really proud of yourself, but in the end (when you die) you leave with nothing and all of your earthly accomplishments are really meaningless and are swept away with the tide of this world. Jesus said it best when he said, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matt 6:20)

So, I’ll ask you today: Are you digging a temporary hole on the beach or are you working out your eternity in heaven?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sand and Salt Therapy

Ah the smell of salt air and the feel of summer's sting on my shoulders...............Back from the beach and refreshed! Man I needed that time away with my family to enjoy each other's company in conjunction with the therapeutic qualities of sand between the toes and salt water film on the skin.

God spoke to me several times and I journaled each night. I plan to start writing the different thoughts Tuesday. Today is "Catch Up" day at work and I am swamped. Hilton Head Island was wonderful! More to come.......