Tuesday, September 19, 2017

9/11 - 9/17 (and The Shoulder)

I did it again. Or I didn't do it again. Another week of almost no training has passed, a week I cannot get back. Life is like that. You have one shot at a day, one at a week, one at a month, one at a life. When it is gone it is gone for good. Mostly. If we die in Christ, our works do follow us.

Monday I met John at the pool and swam 3,000 meters. The next day the shoulder was a gimpy and for that and some other reasons I was out of the water the rest of the week. 

One reason I was out was illness. I had a sore throat and a low-grade fever for several days. Then John and Gerald and I went to an Alabama football game. I will tell you about that trip later. For now, lets chat about the shoulder.

Yes, I have been visiting a physician, an orthopedist, in case you were wondering. I thought about going back to see my cousins wife, the one who put my left arm back on after it fell off. I chose to stay local because I am working now and deep down I believed I was going to require surgery to fix this one. The whole thing has been a little frustrating. Forgive me, Lord for that lie. The whole thing has been driving-me-crazy frustrating. On the first trip, the doctor gave me steroid shots in both sides of my shoulder. Ouch! I was six weeks after the injury when I had that first appointment. I did learn something on that trip. I learned that my shoulder joint is basically in good shape meaning I have no obvious arthritis. He gave me the shots and told me to come back in three weeks.

Three weeks later, I was back and better but far from healed. He said come back in three weeks, that we were only three weeks in, and most likely it would completely heal. That is where my frustration began, a frustration I have felt before dealing with medical people. When I reminded him that we were nine weeks in (I injured the shoulder on June 26th) he argued with me. That made me angry. In the past, I have had doctors display this attitude: nothing is official until you enter their examination room. So for him it was three weeks but for me, for reality, it was nine weeks. That's a big difference when you are an athlete and are lounging around depressed and growing fat. Then he told me to come back in three weeks. Who woulda thunk it?

The second three-week comeback was yesterday, September 18th. Before hand, I did lots of praying. I asked God to guide his mind. If I needed an MRI, let him suggest that. If not, well God, You are the Great Physician. This visit was better, and this time I left not frustrated but hopeful. He at least pretended to listen to me and he didn't argue when I told him I was concerned to be twelve weeks in and not well. He mentioned two options: 1) MRI, and 2) something else. Something else was, "What I want to do," he said, "is shoot you again, order four weeks of physical therapy two times per week, and see you after that. If that doesn't do it, I can order the MRI."

I liked that. It sounded reasonable and restrained. And MRIs are expensive. I have only had one and it took a year to pay off what the insurance didn't cover. He went on to tell me that when shoulders make significant improvement, they usually go all the way and totally heal and yes he was trying to save an expensive MRI. So I was happy and hopeful and I took my physical therapy prescription and drove straight to Advanced Fitness to set up the first session with Trey Hodges, a PT who has worked with my mom so I have good feeling about him. I am happy now and am praying and trusting God to get me there. 

That night, Monday, Penny and I went to an over 60s meeting at First Baptist in Itta Bena. We had a nice time and ate some good fish. After the meeting, which was mostly a social, I spoke with the pastor, Brother Harrington. He had mentioned diabetes and I told him it was an issue with me and I would be praying for him. I also told him about my swim and my shoulder. He prayed for me right then and there and I felt the Holy Spirit as strong as I ever have in any Pentecostal church. I left there determined to believe God that He would get me through this.

I am doing everything in my power to get it right because it is time to at least begin dreaming about Chicot Challenge VII. I apologize to You, God, for my lack of faith. But I needed some good news, a change of attitude, an upswing in my mood. I am there and by faith I will stay there. I will work like it depends on me and pray like it depends on You.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Need to Play

Yeah, the coffee is pretty good, and CC has been on my lap most of the morning. I just finished an hour of sermon preparation. I'll do more later. Right now, I want to peck on the computer.

I woke up this morning in the wee hours, and I was dreaming when I drifted from sleep back into consciousness. My subject was the motivation of my obsessive behaviors, or at least one motivation. I may have written on this before. Maybe, I'm not sure. Pecking on the keyboard is therapeutic for me so I will write without doing a search on former posts in EndangeredSwimmer. 

In years past, I rode my bicycle crazy distances. One year, 2010, I did 37 rides of 100 or more miles the longest being 174 in one day. For several years I did one day journey runs going the marathon distance or more over and over and over. Once, I did a five-day run. And then there is swimming, the all-day swimming. I have worked that up to sixteen hours, to 23.5 miles.

I really do have more than one motivation for this behavior, and I am convinced that it is part of my nature, part of the way God made me. But my dream this morning was about something I had previously identified and may have mentioned a time or two. Part of my drive to do these things lies in the face that I am attempting to regain something lost in my childhood. In short, I am trying to play and trying to recapture that feeling of freedom I experienced so much and always took for granted when I went out to play as a little boy. 

Do you ever have it? experience it? seek it? that feeling of freedom? For me it is delicious, precious, and rare, and the older I get the more rare it becomes. Part of becoming an adult, of course, is self-discipline and dependability. You have to do stuff, a lot of stuff, a lot of the time. There is always a schedule and staying married and remaining employed is contingent upon keeping schedules. Even now, on my day off, I have an index card on the bed beside me with a list of things I need to accomplish today. I'd rather tear the card up, put my running shoes on, and head out Money Road for the day. But presently, I am neither fit enough nor healthy enough to make the effort. And the list remains.

Sigh.

But I still want it, want that feeling that I am free, that there is no schedule, and that I have to answer to no one. I want the wind in my face, the sun in my eyes, and the long road under my shoes. I suspect it must have been much the same for Adam and Eve had after being exiled from the Garden of Eden. Only after losing paradise could paradise have been truly appreciated just like only after growing up do we realize how magically wonderful childhood was. So my yearning to play is really just the cosmic urge of mankind to return to his roots, to the Garden God made us for. But according to the Bible, it is not a Garden we will go to but a city. God will make all things new, remove the curse, and bring the city of God to earth. I suspect a big part of heaven will be the the incredible sense or our freedom, our release from sin, sickness, and death.

In the meantime, some of us keep trying to scratch an itch only God can cure with temporary fixes and that is OK. OK if we realize where the real answer is. The real answer is in Jesus, in his eternity. But meanwhile, he has "put eternity in the heart of man" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sam Slapping Haikus

171
Sam struggles hard 
trying to write a haiku,
one day I'll teach him.

172
truck stops on bridge,
morning glory grows to edge,
big gator goes down.

173
fresh turned ground 
borders pasture with tall tress,
lambs lie in shade.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Signs and Wonders

"It's a judgment from God."

I've heard this expressed from people as disparate as televangelist to liberal, atheist activist. Despite the words of Jesus that alerted us to signs and wonders, I paid little attention until recently. Jesus, speaking of the end of the age, uttered these the following among others on the topic: 

     And there will be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and          upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves          roaring. (Luke 2:15) KVJ

Sound familiar? We recently had a solar eclipse (sun and moon), over a hundred huge wildfires raging out West (distress of nations); back to back huge hurricanes made landfall on the US (the sea and the waves roaring), a few days ago, Mexico suffered a 8.2 earthquake (another sign Jesus gave of his return), and then it happened. IT happened. I was shaken, startled, stunned. 

I was supposed to meet John at the pool Monday afternoon at 3:30. I got out of bed and drove over to Twin Rivers to swim alone. Then it happened. IT happened. When I drove up, I saw John's car sitting in the parking lot. What?!?!?!?!? What is going on? Why is he here? Is something wrong? Does he have bad news? I looked up to see if Jesus was in the sky. I hope I don't sound sacrilegious saying that because that is neither my nature nor my intent. But my surprise was off the charts, off the chain, over the top. I think this is the first time ever in four years.

Notice John in the background.

The water was 78 degrees foreshadowing the coming fall feeling nippy starting out but wonderful once the body was warmed up. This was one of the few times I have swum with John all summer and it was nice. I just poodled up and down the pool for 3,000 easy meters, my best since the shoulder saga began. Both I and the shoulder felt good, but I still don't feel strong and fit and like a porpoise. It will return. If John can be on time, anything can happen. 

Meanwhile, I am in class, we are journal writing, and I am wondering what signs and wonders I could hear about if only I had access to the news right now. Oh well, praise the Lord anyway. Thank you Jesus for the rain. John and I are supposed to meet again rain or no rain. Will either of us show? Stay tuned.

Monday, September 11, 2017

For a While (9/11)

My mind tired of working through Hebrew flashcards and somewhere just south of Batesville, Mississippi, I put the cards on the empty passenger seat and turned the radio on. The little blue Nissan I drove that day had only an old fashioned push button radio, but instantly I was bombarded with the Twin Towers struck, the plane down in a field somewhere, the Pentagon attacked, and the White House on fire. Yes, I later learned that the White House report was erroneous, but that is the what I heard that morning.

My mind wobbled. I turned off I 55 and stopped at a gas station in Batesville. I went into the bathroom and heard two men come in. They were chatting about golf. To talk of such a trivial matter as that at a time like this, I thought, meant they had no clue as to what was happening in New York City and Washington, DC. I was almost giddy with the idea that I would be the first one to inform them. Still, I don't know whether or not to be ashamed of this or not. I don't know why I felt that way. The whole affair had me reeling and I couldn't wait to tell them.

Back on the interstate, my ear was glued to the radio as I heard the DJ talking live with someone in New York.

"The tower just fell down."

"What do you mean?" the DJ asked.

"It fell down."

"What do you mean it fell down."

"It fell down. It collapsed."

"What do you mean it collapsed?"

"It fell down."

He didn't get it and neither did I. The DJ couldn't comprehend the words he was hearing.

When I reached my destination, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Germantown, Tennessee, I flew straight upstairs as fast as my feet would carry me to the Doctoral Studies Room. This was our little cave of scholarship. As usual, my fellow students were engrossed in reading books, writing papers, prepping for class. I let it fly out of my mouth that the USA was under attack, the Twin Towers both had fallen by then, the Pentagon was on fire as was the White House itself. No one paid me the least bit of attention. That's the way it was when we were PhD students. We lived the a little cocoon of a world, a universe of Hebrew words and theological arguments and scholars no one else had ever heard of. We couldn't be bothered. But for a while I was. Bothered. Drawn out. Shaken.

            Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
                                                                  Hebrews 12:26b KJV

9/4 - 9/10

No week is nothing if it has God in it. But as far as training goes, two weeks ago was almost nothing. And that kind of nothing always leads to something: an expanded waistline. 

Since Monday was Labor Day, we had a much needed day off work that the wife and I spent at Hillbilly Heaven. I did a little bit of walking there (1.61 miles) and too much eating.

Tuesday I did nothing. ?!?!?!?

Wednesday I made my way to the pool at Twin Rivers and swam 1,700 meters and also snuk in a little bit of walking (.7).

Thursday I did the Delta FITT thing and got some leg work in there then went back to the pool for 2,100 meters. The water felt like it was 79 or 80. Nice.

Friday, Penny and I went to Jackson where we both ate too much and sat a lot. Then Saturday, beside mowing the lawn, I felt like it was time to attempt some very light upper body work at Plate City. On the bench I did

10 X 8 (dumbbells) Yea, you read that right.
10 X 45 (barbell)
11 X 45

The bench felt OK but I was just a little tight at the bottom. On the Swim Pull I did 

20 X 16.5
25 X 18

One Arm Bent Row

10 X 8 (yeah, that's right)

Lateral Raise

10 X 3
10 X 3
11 X 3

It wasn't much in volume or weight, but at least it was a start. I can no longer watch my right arm shrivel away. The wasting must stop.

Later in the day, I felt sorry for the dogs so we went to the pond. They haven't made that trip since late May and they have been begging to go somewhere. I called David and he said D10 would not be good to swim, but suggested PD 29 instead. Since that was the pond Randy Beets and I made famous, nostalgia pulled me out there in a hurry. When we arrived, they had just fed and the water was being churned like a bunch of piranha devouring a dead mule. I did some walking and thinking. Eventually, I did wade in to swim and took two strokes. On the second stroke, my right ram crashed into a fish causing a huge and sudden dose of pain in that shoulder that has been my obsession for two and a half months now. I stopped, screamed, and climbed out. Swimming for the day was done.

Bear and Pee Wee at the pond.

For the week, I 

walked 4.62 miles,
lifted weights two times (once upper body and once lower),
and swam 3,800 meters.

Better but still inadequate. Thank the Lord for that much.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Swam Again

The water was cooler when I finally made it back to Twin Rivers Thursday afternoon. I guess about 79 which is why when I drove up the first time, the ladies aerobics class was occupying my pool. Yeah, it's my pool. At least this time of year. I could have swum with them, but I drove back home to wait them out. I'd rather have the place to myself, especially since there are no longer any lane lines so swimming straight is a trick. Ordinarily, they meet at 9:00 a.m. I guess they couldn't take it then. Soon it will be too cool for them even in the afternoon.




Let me back up and tell you about another thing I did before I left work. The Delta FIT Wellness Center is getting ready to open and I jumped through all the hoops to get access to it. That is a small but new gym next door to Horton Building where I teach on Tuesday and Thursday. Why not qualify for access? Currently, I need all the help I can get. So I had to acquire a new ID which has a bar code that will open the door, had to fill out a bunch of paper work, and had to talk to someone-- you know how I am about names. After doing all that, I did some leg work on their nice leg press machine and some extension too. Then I went home. I had hoped to ride out and see Jr., but a text from my sister meant I had no night for swimming. That was later changed, but I didn't know that at the time. I napped a little, got up and drove to the pool only to be turned back by the water-dancing ladies.




At the swimming pit, I tried to take some underwater pictures. Penny gave me a plastic cover thingy for my phone which allows me to submerge the phone and take pics. For some reason, however, it did not want to snap a pic when submerged. I tried several times and finally managed to get a few. I swam

2 X 50
2 X 100
2 X 150
2 X 200
2 X 250
1 X 300
total: 2,100 meters.

My pace was quicker, most likely due to the cooler water. Just like hot days and running, cooler weather brings faster times without any discernible difference in effort.




The shoulder felt good. I pulled with a little more confidence. Thank you, Lord. Comeback number four is on track.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Comeback Four

Being determined not to have another nothing week and with things returning somewhat to normal, I went to the pool yesterday. I'm glad I did. I learned a few things.

One thing I learned is that the kids are done swimming for the year. They usually stop somewhere around this time, but last year it was closer to the middle of the month. How I know is I saw one of the employees stacking the pool chairs. That means the season is winding down. So I took the opportunity to stop on the far end of the pool where she was putting the chairs and ask her if the kids were done. Yes, she said they won't be swimming anymore after school. !!!YEE HAAA!!! That means I can go in anytime now when I get off work and swim without fear of being invaded by 75 screaming children who run and jump with reckless abandon and make lap swimming an impossibility.

I even took the chance to ask about Debbie, the manager, leaving the pool up year round. John has been telling me that she vowed to him that she is not going to drain it. Malia, a full-time worker there who was stacking chairs, said John is correct. Because of the new lining, the pool has to stay full (who knew?) "With chemicals?" I asked, my voice quivering in excitement. "With chemicals," she answered. Hot dog, God does love me.

So now I have more opportunity than ever, and if they get the new pool, the indoor one, built I will have the chance to build fitness to the twenty-four hour level. How about that, Team Centerville? 

Yeah, I know. I promised. But somewhere somehow, I have the inner desire to see how far I can push it. 

I know, I know, after last Chicot I said I found it. I said that I was satisfied and that I would never again swim for sixteen straight hours. But I think there is a little more, a little more in the realm of the possible and slowly the itch to go there is starting to build. Maybe I won't do it a Chicot. My wife has already told me that if I swim in the dark again, I will do it without her. But sometime before I get too old, I want to swim farther. It's nice to dream, at least.

But before I can build that kind of fitness, I have to get well and speaking of well, let me tell you about that. Yesterday was my first swim in, well, let me provide a grand review of my swimming after Chicot. This is the 14th week since I swam for 23.5 miles non-stop. Life has been trying since, but God is always good. Below is a list of weeks that followed Chicot and the number beside the week is the total meters swum within that seven day cycle.

week one - 0
week two - 2,200
week three - 10,100
week four - 0
week five - 0
week six - 0
week seven - 1,200
week eight - 0
week nine - 0
week ten - 2,400
week eleven - 4,300
week twelve - 8,400
week thirteen - 0
week fourteen (this week) - 1,700.

You get the picture. For me, training begins at 10,000 plus and seriously training, Chicot training, begins at 20,000 per week. A quick glance at the list above shows four attempted comebacks (three since injuring the right shoulder). People keep telling me to be patient. I want to Batman slap them. I have been patient. I have been very patient. I have been very very patient. Not only that, but I have been extremely patient. I have been more patient than anyone I know. In fourteen weeks, I could be fully healed and have gone through rehabilitation from having a bone sticking out of my arm. But instead, I am suffering in silence, trying to cope, trying to get my gift back. Maybe that is it. I will begin to quote, pray, and believe 

                 The gifts and callings of God are without repentance.
                                                                 Romans 11:29 KJV.

I believe this swimming is a gift and I have tried to use it to help others. It also helps me and keeps me from getting really crazy.

Yesterday did feel good. The water was cool, maybe 80 or 81. Cool? Yeah. You bathe at 95 to 100. Last time I swam, the water was probably 90 plus. With the rain and the cool nights, the temps have fallen and will likely stay down. When they get into the mid 70s, no one will get in not even at gunpoint.

I like to think this is the comeback that will work. I do know the shoulder is not right, that somethings in there are not fully healed. But I think it needs moving, working, exercising. I have lost strength, range of motion, and of course confidence. And since no one will advise me on rehabilitation, I have to do it myself. I have been moving it to the sticking places and holding it there. I have been doing weightlifting with tiny one pound plates. I have been patient. I have been very patient. Did I mention that I have been patient? I hope you believe me because the idea of Batman slapping someone has been in my mind for at least a month now. God has preserved me and kept me from that sin.

Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Poot and the Great Book Heist

Me an' Poot wanted to be famous but we didn't want nobody to know. That is we wanted to do something nobody had never done before, set a world record, but we wasn't anxious to go to prison which we would if they law ever found out about the stuff we done. We thought for a long time. Like weeks. It took that long considering what all we had already pulled off. Over the years, we had broken into Bankston School and wrecked the place, shot out street lights all over North Greenwood, burned down a dozen houses, and shot cars. That's not even counting sneaking out at night and stealing bicycles only to ride them around and leave them in a ditch somewhere. One time we throwed one off the Fulton Street Bridge into the Yazoo River.

Poot finally come up with the idea to break into a book store. He said, "Ain't nobody ever done that not never not nowhere."

I didn't know but generally I believed Poot because he kept up with stuff like that. We both read newspapers which looking back is kind of amazing since we never read nothing our teachers told us to. Greenwood had a small store downtown on Howard Street. I think it was called The Nook of Knowledge. Poot said if we could get in there and steal some books, the police would think they was looking for some geniuses, and they wouldn't never come anywhere near us. 

I liked the idea. I could just see the headlines in the Commonwealth:

     Evil Geniuses Make Book Heist

     Police Search for Intelligent Robbers

     Crime Has Taken an Upturn in IQ

Everybody would admire robbers like that. I bet the preacher at First United Methodist would even mention it in his sermon like he had Bankston School incident. He would say a mind like that ought to get saved and serve God. I couldn't wait.

This stuff had me staying awake most nights dreaming of how our deeds would baffle the police and the FBI and how TV shows and movies would be made about it, how all the girls in Greenwood would want to date the robber. But they wouldn't know it was me. That was the part that made me sad. It seems like all of me n Poot's stuff was secret and nobody knowd we was smart and had done big stuff.

Unless we got caught in the act, Poot said, we was scot-free for the rest of our lives. We was sure of that much. But how to get into the store without getting nabbed? Me an' Poot took to riding our bicycles down there and going into the store every day. "Casing the place," is what Poot called it. All good criminals do it. He saw it on TV so it had to be true. 

At first, the book store lady like to have worried us to death trying to find out what kind of books we was looking for. When I said, "Crime," Poot stepped on my bare foot and made me holler a little. Poot told her we was just gettin' ideas for a book report and Christmas presents. She said it was good we was already thinking of Christmas presents and it was only May. "Showed good raisin'," she said.

After that first day, we rode back to my house and talked things over in the back yard. I wanted to go to the river to do our plotting, but Poot said we shouldn't go down there because an operation this serious "couldn't be compromised." I didn't know what "compromised" meant, but I took it that Poot didn't want nobody else knowing what we was up to. He was secretive like that and he could keep a secret. That was one of Poot's great qualities. I said if there weren't no bikes down there we could talk freely, but he said you never knowd if someone walked and was hidin' behind a tree listening.

We talked it over and finally decided that the only way into that store was to knock the big front window out. That idea made me want to take a dump right away. I could feel my stomach churning and diarrhea was coming. Poot's ideas always give me diarrhea.

"Good gosh amighty, Poot. We'll get caught for sure. 'Specially with us hauling off a load of books in each hand."

Poot thunk awhile. Then he said, "We could knock the window out and then hide and see how long it takes for the police to get there."

"Hide where?"

"We gotta to do more casin'," he answered.

So the next day we was riding all over Howard Street again, and then we found it. There was a ladder on the side of the building in the alley across the street from the store. From there, we could get up on top of the building and watch the police from above.

"What about our bikes?" I asked. "If the police see two bicycles below the ladder, they'll know someone is up there."

"We gotta do more casing."

So we rode back to Howard Street. Again. I was beginning to wonder if people would get so used to seeing us that they would tell the police it was them boys on the bikes. But Poot said unless we got caught red handed, they would never think we could be that smart as to steal books.

We went up and down every alley and then we found the big green dumpster. The plan was to hide our bicycles in the dumpster, bust out the front window, start the stop watch, and climb up on top of the building. We would then know how long it took the police to get there. Poot said we could each get a pillow case full of books and be across the bridge in five minutes. If they took that long to get there, we would be the first folks ever to rob a book store.

So on the dark night of June 3rd, one day after my birthday and one week after school was out, Poot and I met up at Little Red School house at midnight for the Great Greenwood Book Heist as we took to calling it. We didn't even talk but cycled in silence down the Boulevard and across the bridge. We rode to Ramcat Alley and put our bicycles into the dumpster and then walked to Howard Street and to the Nook of Knowledge. Poot hurled the brick bat through the front glass and we run across the street, into the alley and tried to climb the ladder. The bottom rung was about eight feet off the ground. We though jumping up there and pulling ourselves up would be not problem. We was wrong.

We couldn't make it. I thought, Poot has done it to me again. He's always getting me in tight spots. I was so scared I was about to pee my pants. Then we saw some big cardboard boxes in the alley. Maybe they was what some refrigerators come in. We climbed in and hid under paper and pieces of boxes. 

Sure enough the police showed up and drove all over the place. They went up and down the alley and we could hear them talking over the radio as they cruised by at maybe one mile per hour. One officer even got out of his car and walked around. We could hear his heals tapping on the asphalt. He stopped a couple of times, but we couldn't see what he was doing. I thought for sure we was done, we was goin' to prison forever. It must have been a hours before the place cleared out. Well, at least thirty minutes. I was thinking they would be there all night and our folks would catch us gone in the morning.

Finally, they left and we climbed out of the boxes and run back to Ramcat Alley where we yanked our bikes out of the dumpster and rode as fast as we could over the bridge. Safely inside North Greenwood, we stopped at Little Red, and Poot told me it took the police six minutes to get there. I cursed in my mind because that meant Poot would think we had enough time to pull off the heist, and I didn't want to do it anymore. I went home, crawled back through the window, and didn't sleep for hours.

Like with all our other crimes, I was nervous for weeks. I kept thinking Poot would bring it up, want to go back and do the real thing. First time we got together after that, he come over and we shot basketball in the backyard, but he didn't say nothing about stealing books. School started back, and I never brought it up and neither did he. Finally, I come to see that we wasn't going to do it. I was awful glad 'cause I think they would of caught us for sure and sent us to prison for forty years or more.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

8/28 - 9/3

Nothing.

Almost nothing.

Monday I did nothing.

Tuesday I did nothing.

I think I walked a mile Wednesday, but I'm not sure.

Thursday I did nothing.

Friday I walked .97

Saturday I lifted weights (lower body) and walked .88.

Basically, the whole week was and is a blur of stress and business in my mind. I went to the hospital with Mom. Didn't I? I visited someone else in the hospital. Didn't I? I had a doctor's appointment. Yes, I did. I went to another doctor. This is a first for me, two physicians in one week. This made me feel weird, old, decrepit. I had a sonogram done at the hospital. I preached a funeral. My shoulder took a set back and I'm not sure how.

Whine, whine, whine. I know you think I'm a whiner, but I am. I don't want to be, but I am.

This week will be better. The Lord's mercies remain new every day. 

   17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, 
   neither shall fruit be in the vines;
   the labour of the olive shall fail; 
   and the fields shall yield no meat,
   the flock shall be cut off from the fold, 
   and there shall be no heard in the stalls:
   18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, 
   I will joy in the God of my salvation.
                                                              (Habakkuk 3: 17-8)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Seven Sentence Story

The teacher was running late after shooting posted signs on the back road while driving to school. He was short of breath as he piled out of his truck, the gun smoke clinging to his clothes. He shut the door at exactly 8:00 am and was nervous all day. During his planning period, he thought maybe he should shoot after work not before. Too many people drive the back roads that time of day. He was lost in thought when Principal Rake stormed into his classroom.

Six or Seven

I ran across Blog Nation a while back. This is a website that categorizes and catalogs blogs of maybe any grouping you could ever name, think of, or dream up. As a swimmer, I spent a lot of time in their swimming section and wading through (see what I did there?) dozens of my fellow simmers writing sites. I am always looking for good blogs to read and running and swimming are my cherished categories. As an English teacher, my eye was drawn to the Creative Writing tab. I clicked it. Then I began to scroll through page after page after page of lists of blogs devoted to fiction, essays, and poetry. Have mercy, I have not even finished a scroll through them all there are so many.

One title caught my attention, and I could not resist clicking on it and going to the actual blog. This one is called Six Sentences and is dedication to various authors posting short stories that are confined to only, you guessed it, six sentences. I thought I had either heard or seen or done or thought of everything but that had never so much as entered my mind. I found the concept intriguing for the same reason I find haiku fascinating. A haiku, at least in its classical form, is only seventeen syllables. If one chooses those syllable carefully, one can say a lot in those three short lines.  

A short story in six sentences? What an idea. It's sort of like prose haiku but just a tad longer. I read some of the posts and I liked a few and others I did not. What else is new? But now I am captured like a fox in a steel trap and will have to try my hand at this heretofore unknown-to-me genre. So now you know if you see a post title Six Sentences 1, etc. Or maybe I will expand it and do seven sentences. Yeah, that's it. On this blog, I will take a shot at writing seven sentence short stories. I bet you can't wait can you? Stay tuned.

Sam Superior Haikus

168
frozen grass lies still
while the flock feeds in the sun
warming the cold ground

169
large dog watches flock
turning aside the coyote.
shepherd sleeps inside.

170
coyotes run the ridge
from dark woods spying the flock.
door slam turns their path.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Weather

The weather. I don't know how many times I've written about it, but I'm at it again. Not because I am that interested, although I am, but I'm in my second English Composition I class of the day and we are fitness writing. About the weather.

Fitness writing you say?

Yeah. Sort of like journaling. Actually, it is journaling, but I like the concept of writing on demand as a work out, hence the name fitness writing. And the topic, well that comes from one of the most ubiquitous topics of conversation, complaining, and pontificating known to mankind. Everybody talks about it, and complains even though we can't do a single thing about it. We can't change the weather. All of mankind's technological, educational, and meteorological advancements have left us hapless humans still unable to cure the common cold or change the weather one tiny bit.

I know we like to flatter ourselves and think we have caused global warming. I know that some people believe this phenomena is settle science. I know some people believe this so strongly that they think people like me, global warming doubters, should be imprisoned.

Don't reject that last statement. I heard it on the radio. I thought the shows host had to be wrong or at least it was only some sort of crazy fringe who would dare suggest such a thing. So I asked one of my radical friends about it, convinced ahead of time that he would poo poo the whole notion and say it was fake news, made up. Yes, I have at least one friend who is pretty radical. To my shock, he did not call it fake news but rather agreed that it is better that I and people like me should actually go to prison to protect the earth so that mankind might survive. I promise, I am not making this up. He told me this over breakfast, at the Waffle House in Greenwood, Mississippi, looking me dead in the eye while he did it. I even paid for our meal. Tell me again who the intolerant ones in contemporary America are. 

Oh well, I am a keen observer of weather since I have been a hunter and an all-day swimmer and all-day runner most of my life. Weather is pretty important to those things. But your observations are just anecdotal evidence you say. First, anecdotal evidence is evidence, and second, I really became a hard core denier when I caught NOAA  falsifying records. Yes, I caught them. I did. I think I could again, but I let it slide. What can I change? It's only me.

Maybe I should explain. A few years back, we had a string of record lows in July. Five to be exact. We had five straight record lows and on the coldest of those nights, the mercury dipped to 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Let that sink in. I was blown away because 48 is cold any time of year. That experience shook me severely because first, I didn't have a clue it could get that cold in Mississippi in July, and second, I thought about Genesis 8:28 which declares: 

   While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and 
   heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (KJV)

Having a 48 degree low in July challenged my Christian faith like noting in life ever has. I finally concluded that we still had summer even though parts of it were actually cold, and the Bible was still true even though we had that cold day in July that I've heard people sing about and pontificate on as if it could never happen. You know, "It will be a cold day in July before. . . ." 

Fast forward to the summer of 2016. We had a record low in Mississippi in July. I saw the broadcast myself. The same meteorologist who reported the 48 degree record reported 58 as a new record low. I jumped out of bed in shock, called the station, and was sassed at and told if it ain't in NOAA it never happened. So I googled and searched and the official record is 58 degrees as the coldest ever in our state for the hottest of all summer months. That can only mean that they doctored the records, I assume, because the truth didn't fit the global warming narrative.

Another weather phenomena occurred a few years back that I haven't checked out but I bet if you checked NOAA, it never happened either. I remember this one well for two reasons. One, my wife's granddad used to tell me about a frost they had on May 4th that killed cotton. For the life of me, I could not believe him because I never saw anything close to it in my life. He must be mistaken, I thought. Then we had a very cool spring (they all are now) and we had "a record low of 34" on May 4th). This drove me nuts at the time because it was messing with my open water swim training. Now I have not checked NOAA to see what the all-time record is for May 4th in Mississippi, but I would be willing to wager that it is much warmer that 34. You do it yourself. Check it out. In fact, just start watching the weather on the local news. If you do that over several year, you will see that they have short memories.

That's all I'm saying about that.

Praise be to God who gives us good weather and promises us some stability, at least the seasons every year. 

8/21 - 8/27

I thought this was the week. At least it started that way. But what started with a bang ended with a fizzle.

Monday, I went to Twin Rivers and swam

1,700 at a shocking 2:11
6 X 50
total: 2,000 meters.

After that I did 7.1 miles of walking. Hot dog, I was busting it out.

Tuesday I swam 1,800 straight at a 2:12 pace. Ouch. But it was swimming.

Wednesday I went back for 

1,000 (2:09)
8 X 50 (1:52)
2 X 100 (1:56)
500 (2:08)

I also did a leg workout at Plate City that went like this:

14 X 80
13 X 100
12 X 120
11 X 135
  8 X 140

Thursday, Mom went to the hospital and although I spent the night up there, God still blessed me with the opportunity to swim. I did 2,500 straight in a dreadfully slow pace. That was pretty much it. I did something to my shoulder somewhere around this time that made it gimpy again. Friday I was tired and waiting for my sister to call and give me orders. Saturday, Trevor helped me work under the house. Sunday, I preached, visited Mom, visited the hospital, and took a nap. 

For the week I

walked 7.1 miles,
lifted weights one time, and
swam 8,400 meters.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Thursday

It was a busy day. First I had a rough drive to work. Then I taught three classes of English Composition I. After that, while eating lunch, I received a text from my sister that I needed to bust it home and help get Mom to the hospital. My boss graciously allowed me to leave so I found a high gear and went back to town just in time to see the ambulance pulling away from West Harding Street. 

I followed them to the GLH where I went inside and found Shirley, one of our sitters, there already and getting the paperwork done for Mom's admittance. My sister has found and hired some good help who make it possible for Mom to be well-cared for and for us to have a life at the same time. They don't do it all, but we have help.

Carol relieved me about 2:00 o'clock. I went home and after a bit Carol texted me that I could go swimming if I wanted to. Yahtzee. So I went to Twin Rivers for my fourth swim of the week. I didn't do any sets, but I just started swimming and kept on until I hit 2,500. I thought that was enough for one day. In fact, that is the most I have swum on the comeback. It felt good almost like I was a real swimmer again. But when I looked at my watch afterwards, the pace was 2:13 per 100. Oh well.

So today is Friday and my shoulder is feeling a little more gimpy than in the recent past. I had no bad sensations in the pool. Did I over swim? Should I swim today? Am I stretching too much? I wish I could get beyond all these guesses, questions, and doubts and go back to swimming as much as time and energy allows. One day. Thank you, Jesus.

Four Months

"How long has she had trouble breathing?"

"Four months." 

"No, I mean how long has she had the breathing problems?"

"Four months."

"No. How long has this acute breathing problem been an issue?"

"Four months. She has been examined by six physicians, five specialists, trying to find out why she couldn't breathe."

"Who?"

"I don't have the names, but I do have a list of the types of doctors she has seen in the last four months." I pulled up on my phone the record my sister had given me. "She has seen a Gastrointestinal doctor, a Cardiologist, a Hematologist, a Neurologist, and a Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist."

He turned away and looked at me no more.

This conversation (I use the term loosely) took place this very morning at the Greenwood Leflore Hospital between me and a physician attending to my mom.
The look on his face said he either did not believe me or did not want to hear what I had to say. I was nice, mind you. I spoke matter-of-factly. But he is the one who asked the question; I answered politely but truthfully. Maybe he was embarrassed. I am guessing anyone on the street could be given Mom's symptoms and immediately make a correct diagnosis so it is hard to figure how something like this could have happened.

It's my sister who wouldn't give up. She is the one who kept making appointments who kept pressing the issue who somehow (don't ask) managed to secure a simple chest X-ray that you would thing would have been done four months ago. Bingo, there it was and it wasn't socket rience, not complicated at all.

I am not writing this to bash anyone. Please, don't misunderstand my point. I am writing this to encourage you to always fight for the ones you love. This is at least the second time my sister has saved my mother's life. I had given up. I accepted the line that it was "global decline" and this was the new normal for her, for us. But Carol Terrell kept insisting that this had come upon mother all at once and someone should be able to tell us why Mom was struggling to breathe. My sister not only observes, but she makes notes, she writes things down, and she has a written record of Mom's ups and downs and changes and doctors' appointments and what was said. Remember these simple things. Make notes, ask questions, and be persistent. It could save the life of someone you love.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rant

Big rant. 

Usually I am just the mildest, meekest sort of fellow. I rarely become angry and when I do it is usually at inanimate objects. Yeah, I know how much sense that makes. This morning, however, was different. I became angry. I got pissed. I was ready to assault someone.

Don't drive in the left lane. Don't drive in the left lane. Don't drive in the left lane. Did I mention not to drive in the left lane? Really, don't do it.

The right lane is for driving in and the left one is for passing. If you follow that simple rule, the world will be a much kinder and gentler place.

This morning, on my commute to Moorhead, some jack face filled the left lane from the time I got onto Highway 82 in Greenwood until past Itta Bena. Unfortunately, that is not unusual. People going from Greenwood to Itta Bena routinely do this. It can be frustrating. It can be infuriating. It does cause tension and wild driving to ensue as people trying to get to work weave in and out of traffic and constantly change lanes looking for a way, an escape, a way around.

What made this morning's experience so bad was that an 18-wheeler was the offender. Normally, these are the ones who know about these things and avoid making this driving/social blunder. Since 18-wheelers filled both lanes, the numerous stop lights on that part of the road combined with the heavy traffic that is a constant that time of the morning conspired to create a real back up. Tensions quickly rose. People were getting pretty crazy out there. I was convinced I was about to witness some bad wrecks to go along with the tough and reckless driving that unfolded before me.

Unlike my normal self, instead of praying and praising a God like I usually do on my drive to work, I found myself fantasizing about rocket launchers and machine guns mounted under the headlights of my truck. In my mind, I pulled the trigger and pushed the buttons to blow cars and people to Hades and back. Not only that, but once the traffic did start to open up, the hormones coursing through my body continued to fuel thoughts of destruction and death. I imaginarily machine gunned every car I saw all the way to the parking lot behind the library at MDCC. Not good.

Now I am trying to write away and pray away all those bad feelings. God forgive me, and to you drivers out there, stay out of the left lane except to pass. I mean it. Stay out of the left lane or get machine gunned to death.

Wednesday

I was supposed to meet John at Twin Rivers at 1:30. In four years, if he has ever been on time, I don't remember. He is usually anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour late. Lately, he has been outdoing himself. He has failed to even show up the last two times. I worked extra late one day last week with the promise of getting some office hours off and then scheduled the time off to swim with him. I could have and should have used that time off to spend time with my wife. She will be off work in a couple of weeks, and I could have taken the time then. He not only failed to show, but he failed to call. Recently, he cut ties with someone who cancelled something on him and that person gave advance notice. And he does it to me two times in one week without notice. Such is the blindness of the human heart.

No, I am not cutting ties. If I demanded perfection from my friends, I wouldn't have any. But I am going back to swimming when it best suits me, and I am not making a schedule for the benefit of someone else ahead of time. I am tired of making commitments with other people when I am the only one who honors those commitments even when it is inconvenient for me to do so. Work and other obligations have me following a schedule almost all the time. When I am off work, the last thing in the world I need and want is a schedule.

I had the pool to myself, which is always a delight. Right now it is a necessity. Did I tell you about the time last week when someone got in and started swimming when I was in the pool? I know it did not matter if someone passed me. In fact I kept telling myself that over and over as I saw him getting closer and closer on each lap. What did I do? I sped up even though the shoulder did not like it. Pride I guess.

The water was warm, but I did not take a reading. I guess it was 85 or more, and I was glad no one was there to tempt me to go too fast. I swam

1,000
8 X 50
2 X 100
500
total: 2,100 meters.

On paper, it looks like a real practice. In the pool, it almost felt that way. The 1,000 warm up was swum at a 2:09 pace. Dreadful again. But at least this time I felt like warming up and then moving to something else. That's a first on the comeback trail. Then on the 50s, I didn't do then on a set interval and I didn't push hard, but I did push a little bit. I averaged a 1:52 pace. The 100s were done like the 50s and averaged 1:56. I then cooled down with 500 easy at a 2:08 pace.

I went home, mowed the lawn, and then did a lower body workout at Plate City. the leg press workout went like this:

14 X   80
13 X 100
12 X 120
11 X 135
  8 X 145

I did some other stuff, but the leg press is the heart of what I am doing now for the legs. They need all I will give them. I can tell a difference in how they feel just walking around since I picked up the machine and began using it only a few weeks ago. The legs feel stronger, more solid, and just sound. Now if I can lose this weight, maybe the running can start coming back.

I slept well. 

Now I am eager to get back to the pool today. I have swum three days in a row, something I have not done since the Chicot buildup. The shoulder is maybe 70%. Two weeks ago I would have said it is 30%. I'm still a little disturbed, however, that i am over nine weeks in and still nowhere near 100%.

Praise the Lord for the healing I have experienced.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tuesday

Tuesday was full from early to late. I left Moorhead about 1:30 after teaching three straight Comp I classes and keeping my obligatory office hours. Then I went to Mom's to take her to the hospital for a chest X-ray. After that I went home and crashed. Ever since Mom made me take naps as a little boy, I have had the need to put my brain in neutral for a few minutes each day. I don't get to do that at school. It doesn't take much, the neutral, but I need a short nap around mid-day. If I don't get it, I become extremely tired, cranky, and difficult to get along with. Not getting that break until 4:00ish, I went sound to sleep when I finally got the chance to slow.

At 6:05 I went the Twin Rivers still feeling tired to the bone. I had the pool all to myself. That's the way I like it. One problem though, that blasted robot was running. I hate it, but it is better than attempting to swim with kids in the water. I swam 1,800 straight in 39:46, a shockingly slow 2:12 per 100 meters. I know it really doesn't matter at this point, but that hurt my feelings and gave me great pause. Normally, a warm up pace is around 2:00 give or take a couple of seconds. This is the second day in a row that my pace has been about that. Will it come back? I have not had a long lay off like this before so this is new territory. I have been in new territory for a long time now and it wearies me. I am thankful, however, to be able to swim at all. I know I am not in shape. But 2:12!!! Monday's swim was 1,700 at 2:11. Is that the new normal?

After the swim, I went back to the hospital to visit a lady who has been attending our church. Then I went home and hung out with Luvie, watched a segment of Manhunt: Unabomber, and zonked out early.

It is now Wednesday morning and we are journal writing in Comp I. The plan today is to take my second reward of office hours off (for work late on Late Registration last Thursday) and meet John at the pool for an hour and a half of swimming. Want to bet he is late?

Praise God for imperfect friends. If I did not have less than perfect friends, I would have no friends at all.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Monday

Monday was a good start to a week of training and, I hope, weight loss. I have lost one pound for each of the last two weeks. That means I am down to only major fat now. Finally, I think, I am on the straight and narrow, getting my appetites under control, and doing what is necessary. Debbie Johnson continues to be an inspiration and a shining example to me because she has stayed on the straight and narrow with narry a deviation as far as I can tell. Penny and I eat with her and Gerald often and she always makes wise food choices.

Of course I viewed the eclipse. Without glasses, I went home after work to change clothes and get ready to head to the pool. Then I remembered I had some X-rays in the house. This was about 1:30. Already, the world looked like you were looking through some not too dark sunglasses. The light was dampened and everything had a blueish hue to it. I retrieved the X-ray, went outside, and took a peek. Dude, it was amazing. The eclipse was probably 80% or more. Then I held my phone up just above the X-ray and took a picture. All I got on the pic was bright sun. Huh! I looked again through the X-ray and once more saw the neat eclipse. So I took another picture. The photo only showed bright sun. I don't get it.

Anyway, I went to Twin Rivers where I was supposed to meet John at 1:30. We have swum together very little this year. Allegedly, he is not happy about this. I was twelve minutes late starting. I swam 1,700 and then did 6 X 50 for a total of 2,000. John never showed.

I worked late Thursday because I had the promise of two days of no office hours in return for handling late registration. I did this so John and I could swim together for two days this week. He didn't show. See why I stopped waiting on him. Next week he will want to know when we can swim together. I told him about all that already, but he thinks if he asks me enough times, the answer will change. I can't change the answer if I wanted to. He missed the chance. Maybe we can swim together in 2018.

The shoulder, by the way, is continuing to improve. I would say right now that it is about 60% well. My swimming is at a pretty leisurely pace and that is not causing it any problems. Slowly, I am able to do more and more and I yelp less and less. Actually, I yelp fewer and fewer times each day. Finally, I really believe it is going to be OK. I have believed this several days in a row.

After swimming, I took one of those walks. I slowed the cadence a bit and didn't do any shuffling. The pace of my recent walks along with some worn out shoes and the shuffling has been producing a bit of strain on my gimpy knee. After the 7.1 miles hike, the knee felt fine. I took a protein shake and an apple for supper and was not tempted to snack. That's how the weight comes off for me. If I can do this every day, I will drop two pounds this week instead of one. Only losing one pound per week was on account of me sneaking chips and cookies and stuff such as that. If I really push it, I can go down three.

Hope lives, hope grows, hope brings energy and motivation. Thank you Jesus.

Monday, August 21, 2017

8/14 - 8/20

After experiencing it my whole life, I am still amazed at how much better I feel when I am physically active. I am still way below average, but bit by bit, my activity level is coming up. 

Monday, I did my longish walk, going 6.69 with .15 of shuffling thrown in. in the yard i did another .28. not only that, but I went to Twin Rivers for a 1,300 meter swim. A good day.

Tuesday, I worked out at Plate City. The new leg press is palace. I did

11 X 50
12 X 75
11 X 95
10 X 115
8 X 130
8 X 135

At the pool, I swam 1,400. A good day.

Wednesday, I did another ramble/walk going 6.74 miles.

Thursday, I worked until past 4:00 at the Moorhead campus and by the time I got home, I was stricken with a severe case of laziness. I watched TV. I ate chips. I petted CC. I am no good. Jesus, save me from myself.

Friday I bounced back a little with 1,600 straight at Twin Rivers. Dog gone it, I feel like I am going to make it now.

Saturday, Trevor and I moved some plywood and concrete pads. Last i did 1.38 miles in the yard and hit the leg press for

13 X 75
12 X 95
12 X 115
10 X 130
10 X 140
 8 X 145

For the week, I swam 4,300 meters, walked 15.13 miles, lifted weights twice, and shuffled .37 miles. 

Better. 

Thank you Lord.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Morning Swim

After writing my blog post, I was supposed to meet John at Twin Rivers. He told me last week that he overheard the ladies water aerobics class say that they would not be there next (this) Friday. So, finally being off and with the shoulder improving, we decided to have a swim since we would have the pool to ourselves.

The plan was to meet at 9:00. I drove up on the hour to a pool full of ladies. I called John (who had not left home yet!) and told him I was coming at 10:00. I know I could have swum with them, but I am still getting used to swimming in general and swimming without the lane lines in particular, and I didn't want the added pressure of trying not to swim into one of them while being a mere shadow of my former self.

So I came back at 10:00. Actually, I was late because I knew John would be tardy. John is always tardy. I chatted with Susan Walker and Linda Gail Fondren a bit and then got into the water at 10:13. John was still not in sight. Sigh.

I started swimming and instead of stopping after the first 50 like I've been doing, I flipped and swam back. When I felt nothing in the shoulder, I kept going after the first lap. Since beginning the comeback, I have not gone over 300 straight and that only after a slow and deliberate warm up that starts with 50 at a time. This time I did two laps, then three. At the end of three I kept going and did four, then five and sixteen. Yeah, I kept going for 1,600. I began to be aware of the upper biceps tendons-- not pain or even discomfort, just awareness-- so I tapped out after a slow mile. I was pretty satisfied with that.

John came up when I was about 1,200 in. After swimming, I did 500 kick with fins, then chatted with John a bit and went home. My pace was a pitiful 2:08, but at this point, it doesn't matter. I am thrilled to be swimming at all. Hope grows. Thank you Jesus.

Friday

Friday morning. 

Those are the sublimest words in the English language.

Last week I had to work. I hate working on Friday. Ever since MDCC went on a four-day week, (2007 I think) I have counted the fifth day of the week as sacrosanct. When anything, and I mean anything, messes with my special day, I am not a happy camper. To understand how this day means so much to me, you need a little look back on life in the past. 

For a couple of decades, I never had any time off. Really, I never had time off, never had money, never had enough energy. All of it was used up. I worked a full-time job, pastored a church, raised children, tried to take care of a house, and went to school. I completed BA, an MDiv, a PhD, and an MEd. If I wasn't on the job or in the pulpit or in class, or meeting with teachers or taking a sick child to the doctor, I was studying and I mean studying. My play, sports, and health were all on the back burner. Scratch that, they were only a distant memory of a bygone day that would never return.

Once, as I drove around in that little pest control truck and day dreamed, I had fantasies of what life could be life IF. I wondered what it would be like to have some time off. I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have a real vacation? Wouldn't it be nice to have enough pay to cover the bills? Wouldn't it be nice to live close to work? Wouldn't it be nice to get off a little earlier than 5:00 o'clock? Wouldn't it be nice not to have to work everyday? Wouldn't it be nice to have a retirement? Wouldn't it be nice to have all that and still have a job? Wouldn't it be nice to have a job that was not so physically difficult? 

It sounds like a tale, but for thirteen years during that time, my personal vehicle was a 1971 GMC pickup truck that I purchased for $200. When my son was ten years old, I cleaned out the storage room of all the old house paint, gave him a brush and told him to have at it. Yep, a ten year old painted my truck with house paint. It looked better. I was in the library at Wesley Biblical one day when I, from several book rows over, overheard one student ask another, "Have you seen Zane?" The askee responded with, "No, but I've seen his truck." The normally quiet book house broke out into a round of laughter.

Life was a struggle then. I commuted in that old truck to Delta State in Cleveland, MS, to Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS, and to Mid-America Baptist in Memphis, TN. I had a propane heater I set on the floorboard in the winter time and I duct-taped the window up to keep them from rattling down.

That little mental wish list happened while I drove slowly down Montgomery Street in Greenwood, Mississippi about the year 1999. I had hope for a better day, but the things that ran through my mind then were only fantasy. What if? Ever play "What if?"

Fast forward to a Friday morning in 2008. I was doing what I'm doing now: drinking coffee, hanging out with cats, and pecking on a computer. God arrested my attention and caused me to think back to that forlorn day. "Remember?" He whispered to my soul. "Remember all those wishes? I gave you all of it."

Indeed, God's goodness is without measure. Life is more enjoyable now, easier, playful. I start slow on Fridays and play fast and long. Today I meet a friend at the pool and we swim. This afternoon a mow grass and lift weights in the back yard gym. Fridays are literally God's gift to me and that is why I feel like Satan is plotting, scheming, working when someone or something encroached even a little on my special day. Leave me alone world, or face my wrath.

Thank you Jesus for your blessings. In this case, you answered not a prayer but a wish list. May these answers always be fresh in my heart. May I always cherish them. May I always praise You for your goodness.