Thank you for visiting. Please feel free to comment on any of my blogs. Much of my discussion is political in nature - civil discussion only please! Enjoy!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Have You Ever Asked Yourself...

Is this all there is?

We all wonder sometimes how we impact our world. Is my impact helpful? Are people better off for having known me? Are my daily life, my priorities, my hopes, my dreams pleasing to God? Should I be doing something different, or should I be doing what I do in a different way?

We tend to forget that we are where we are for a reason. We touch people in some way each and every day. As we ponder our future with it's possibility for life changes, let us not forget about the people we impact today. Let's celebrate those opportunities! God has a plan, and that plan is coming to fruition, even as I write this post and you read it.

Take me for example: I work in corporate America. I also enjoy writing my blog, even though I don’t write regularly. I enjoy public speaking. I think it would be cool to publish a book – a book that people would find helpful and inspirational in some way. Could I make a living doing these things? Should I even try, or is this the proverbial mid-life crisis finally knocking at my door?

One of my favorite promises from God is recorded in the book of Isaiah:

People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” (Isaiah 30:19-22)

I stand firmly on that promise. At 51 I see lots of road in my rearview mirror and, God willing, I have much road yet to travel. No matter where we are in life, we all see that road, don't we?

Be open to change, but remember also that, right now, you are exactly where God wants you to be. Honor Him by making the most of today as you continue to explore the possibilities for future change. I see today's opportunities with a fresh set of eyes. With that clear vision I will explore the pursuit of my dreams. God will show me which road to take. Where is He guiding you?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome 2013!

I enter 2013 with emotions that are somewhat mixed. First and foremost, I am so very thankful to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon my family and me. We are doing well. We have our health, we are gainfully employed, and we have each other. The three people with whom I share my life are more important and dear to me than I have the ability to express in words.

I enter 2013 with a strong feeling of optimism for my family. We have much to look forward to, God willing. We’ll begin visiting colleges with Olivia as she contemplates the next phase of her life after graduating high school next year. Olivia continues to work hard through the audition process with the Crossmen drum corps. We’re cheering her on! Keith continues to focus on meteorology, as he has for the past several years. That means our college visit list for him will likely be quite a bit shorter – we may have a future Sooner in the house! Keith enjoyed his first year of marching band and continues to grow up into a fine young man. I am very proud of both of my kids.

DeLisa is truly a gift from God. A terrific wife and mother, she holds this troupe of four together while working full time educating a room full of first graders and caring for ailing extended family members. She sets a fine example of love and selflessness, and I'm thankful that God deemed me worthy of her partnership.

I enter 2013 with trepidation for our country. We have been lulled to sleep, and we seemingly doze peacefully as our government continues to lead us down the road to economic collapse. Barring significant changes, I believe our economy will fail us – possibly sooner rather than later. We simply cannot continue to spend money we don’t have while looking at those most successful among us as the perpetrators of our economic woes and as the source of resolution through draconian tax measures. Sadly, our government has opened the New Year bound and determined to continue down this path. Serious changes are needed – quickly. I resolve in 2013 to become part of the process instead of sitting on the sidelines with an attitude of lament.

With that said, I sit here this afternoon quite content with my lot. I look to my Savior, who is the Source of all that I am and all that I have and I am so very thankful. He is the Author of Life and the Source of immeasurable peace.  So as I enter the New Year with mixed emotions, I do not worry; for my life is in His hands. What a blessing that is!

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
 Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
 Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
 He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
 From this time forth, and even forevermore.”

~ Psalm 121

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Our Florida Beach Adventure - Conclusion

"I'm so hungry, I could each a sandwich from a gas station!" ~ Clark W. Griswold

As vacations tend to do, this one passed much too quickly. As I sit looking out at the lake, Naples and the Edgewood seem so far away. But we sure had a great time!

We left Naples in a downpour just after 7:00 Friday morning. Aside from a brief traffic jam for construction near Tampa, the drive was completely uneventful and we arrived at DeLisa’s aunt’s home in Lumberton, MS at about 7:30 Friday night. We enjoyed a nice visit and a good night sleep. Lanelle prepared a delicious quiche and some cinnamon rolls for breakfast and we were back on the road at 10:30. One stop in Ruston, LA for gas and Sonic was all we needed and we arrived at the lake house at 5PM – a bit road weary but happy to be home. DeLisa and Olivia took the van and headed to Keller; Keith and I stayed at the lake so I could mow. Mowing completed, Keith and I are ready to head home as well.

Although short, this vacation allowed me what I needed – a break from my daily routine to relax and unwind. I find myself this morning ready for “normal” – my church, my home, and my workplace. I will approach each with renewed energy as I replay the soothing waves and the beautiful sunsets in my mind’s soundtrack.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Our Florida Beach Adventure - Day Six

"And those harbor lights, Aw they're coming into view; We bid our farewell much too soon. So drink it up, this one's for you. Honey, it's been a lovely cruise." ~ Jimmy Buffett

I'm pleased that the weather forecasters in southwest Florida sometimes miss their mark as severely as their counterparts in North Texas. We awoke this morning to heavy gray clouds and rain - not an auspicious start to our final day on the beach. Having reserved our prime sunbathing spot, we prayed that the rain would stop and the clouds would break. So strongly did I believe our prayers would be answered, that when the beach concierge asked us if we still wanted him to set up our spot ("weather forecast is for 60% chance of rain, Mr. Strege," he said), I said "Of course!" We're going to catch some rays. And, thankfully, the day transformed into a clear, sunny, perfect day on the beach.

The day concluded with a dip in the pool, followed by one last sunset and a nice dinner on the hotel restaurant's veranda overlooking the pools and out to the darkened Gulf beyond. Upon returning to our suite, DeLisa gathered most of our clothes into bags for the trip home and we called "lights out" by 10:30. Tomorrow we embark on a 12-hour drive to southeastern Mississippi to visit DeLisa's aunt and plan to arrive at our lake house by late Saturday afternoon.

I'm a bit down about having to leave in the morning. Truth is, I needed this break and I would love to have a day or two more. I sometimes think that we Americans place too much emphasis on work, sometimes to the detriment of our families, our health, and our personal well-being. Hearing more than one European visitor talk about their 10-day stay here as a subset of their longer holiday in the US gets me to thinking that perhaps this aspect of American life offers room for improvement. 

The Edgewood exceeded all expectations, and I look forward to writing a 5-star review on Yelp. We are already discussing a possible return visit next year, but flying the friendly skies rather than driving which will allow us an additional day or two to enjoy this beautiful place in this wonderful part of our country. Fantastic: this gives us something to look forward to!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our Florida Beach Adventure - Day Five

"While the big crowd down the rivers are gettin' drunk on sea grape wine; I'm gettin' high watchin' eagles fly havin' myself a time. Wet my whistle every now and then with a sip of cool Gatorade; Watch the sun go down and let the world go 'round down in the Everglades." ~ Willie Nelson

Exhilarating! That is what came to mind as the airboat captain opened up the throttle and sped down a sawgrass trail to begin our tour through Florida's Everglades. I was both surprised and impressed at the maneuverability of the craft. Carrying 9 passengers (ourselves and a family of 5 from Germany) we were off to explore this swampy wonderland. After a short ride through the grassy trails we entered a mangrove forest. The water trails twisted and turned among the mangrove trees as we craned our necks in search of wildlife. The trees themselves are beautiful, exposed roots digging deep for the saltwater they need to live and waxy green leaves reaching towards the sun. Our captain stops the boat and tells us that the waters of the Everglades are brackish - usually salty enough to sustain the mangroves but not so salty that the alligators cannot live there as well. As if on cue, we see a large male gator floating in the water. The captain allows the boat to drift right up to him for some amazing photo opportunities. Once the gator tires of our company he slips beneath the water and swims several feet away. Captain then describes the other wildlife that can be seen in the Everglades: bobcats, deer & raccoons during dry season; gators, fish and snakes during wet season. "If a snake were to jump into this boat," he asks, "how would you know if it was poisonous?" We didn't know. "You know it's poisonous if the captain jumps into the water!" This guy is cool. After an hour-long ride we returned to the dock where we each got the chance to hold a baby alligator. I served as photographer; I don't do reptiles.

We were back at the Edgewater by 2:30 and opted to spend the remainder of the afternoon poolside. Having finished my first book, we stopped at Walgreens where I purchased a copy of John Grisham's "The Litigator". De'Lisa and Olivia ventured out to Barnes & Noble as Walgreens' selection was quite limited. Alternating between our chairs in the shade and the coolness of the water we wiled away the afternoon - my large Five Guys soda cup now contains a homemade wine spritzer.

Tonight offers yet another beautiful sunset, viewed this time from one of the Adirondack chairs near the beach. We talked briefly with a couple from Norway - they've been here five days and have four more to go before continuing on to Miami before heading home. "You don't get the long holidays like we do, do you?" my cigar-smoking new friend asked. "No, we don't," I said, taking a sad draw of my Bacarrat. If there is one thing Europeans got right it's their vacation schedules.

We have one more day at the Edgewater before hitting the road for home. As we head back to the suite we stop and reserve a beachfront spot for tomorrow. This is quickly becoming a favorite place.