Not Always Together – But Never Alone

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Certain days have a way of falling into a special place, kept as memories, that are treasured forever. Yesterday was one of those days – filled with laughter, fellowship, brotherhood and determination.

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A week or so ago, a ride was put together to Cassoday Kansas, a small town that hosts bikers the first Sunday of the month during the riding season. The ride, suggested by my dear friend Gary Meadows, was to invite some friends to ride along with him to meet up with Soldiers For Jesus, MC – Kansas City Chapter in Cassoday. Gary has been fighting the fight with cancer, and this was his way of showing cancer the true power of the love and support he has behind him.

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I’ve ridden with Gary before. DJ, a mutual friend of ours asked if he and Gary could ride to the rally with me a few years ago, and since I was going by myself, I welcomed it. That particular trip was thrown together in what seemed like a matter of days, and not knowing Gary on a personal level, it was clear to me he is someone who’s path I should have crossed many years before. His sense of humor and his sincerity is as genuine as his laughter. DJ, Gary and I had a great time and everything about the trip was effortless. We met up with Dennis Webb and Roger Larmer at the rally which only added to the experience. Thinking about this ride always brings a smile to my face and will go down as one of my best memories riding to Sturgis.

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So as Sunday morning rolled around and the weatherman predicting favorable conditions, we gathered with Gary and his wife Charlene and Gary’s nurse Dee, who came along to offer not only moral support but also to monitor his condition for the ride. In this group that gathered, I realized the wide range of lives that can be touched by such a good guy.

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If you’ve read anything I’ve written before, you would know I do some of my best thinking from the seat of my motorcycle. I knew when we pulled out of the parking lot I’d have about 100 miles or so to pull some thoughts together. Sometimes these thoughts can be a mixed bag of emotions, some are reflective, but today it was about being present. Both figuratively and literally present.

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Gary, I can only speak for myself but it was truly an honor to ride with you once again. It was inspiring to see the love and support of your fellow bikers, but also your family. I witnessed the emotions and the power of prayer in the parking lot of a Casey’s. I saw the fellowship with the SFJMC-Kansas City as they wrapped their arms around you. I felt the bond between us when we embraced, and the lump in my throat when we spoke. These things I will never forget. The lives you’ve touched goes beyond the mechanics of the motorcycle – your church family and your community are living proof of that. I know I’m a better man because this path I’m on crossed yours.

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We ride – because that’s what we do. Not always together, but never alone. 

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The Storms of Life

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He watches over me, leading the way when the storms of life are coming. When there is no way around it and the only option is to put my head down and plow through it, He is there. I will not travel through this alone because He is leading the way, guiding me and protecting me from whatever this storm will bring. I do not have the strength to go it alone and He makes sure I do not have to face troubled times and stormy weather without Him. He gives me direction when I’m lost, and tells me when I should face the storm and when I should go around it. I trust Him.

When the dark clouds are approaching, our first instinct is to avoid them. We worry what might happen and wonder how we can get around it, because we get so caught up in what might happen we forget to have faith. The darkness and power of what’s coming makes us forget to appreciate the beauty in it. It is the experiences in our lives that made us who we are and we must remember that we will not go it alone. No matter how hard or bad it is, it too will end and a brand new beautiful day will dawn, giving us a better understanding of not only who we are but what we can handle. It always surprises me in how much we can handle.

When you are heading down that road in your life and you see a storm fast approaching, take a moment to look around and see who is going to ride it out with you. We hope that our friends and family will be there for us, and they will. But see who is leading, guiding and protecting you when it’s about to hit. It’s not always obvious, sometimes you have to look around for signs of His presence to see it for yourself.

My ride to work always gives me time to think about the day, week or life in general. As if I’m in some sort of meditative state, I can reflect on things and take a few minutes to figure it all out and put it into perspective. We all know our lives, as predictive as they may seem, are really unpredictable. It is this mind-clearing experience of riding to work where I do my best thinking because I’m alone with my thoughts and distractions are minimal. Sometimes it’s the obvious that we are quick to miss. I took this picture of the storm in the horizon unaware of the shadow being cast on the road before me. It may seem random to some and it may not even mean anything to others, but to me it was God telling me things were going to be alright. It is the open mind and open heart that hears the answers to questions we have, and today that question was answered.

 

A Letter to Miss Kylie

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My, how you’ve grown. It seems like just yesterday you were talking to us in sign language before you could put sentences together. Now look at you, smart, beautiful and all girl! And so this year you begin school and with that your life will slowly change and evolve into whatever and wherever you are destined to be.

You sure have a way about you. All “matter-of-fact” and funny, but you are also a very beautiful, independent young lady with an opinion and feelings that surface without warning. I look at you and I hear your mother saying the same things or acting in the same way – sensitive, compassionate and carefree throughout your day.  I also look at you and see your father. Stubborn and strong without a doubt, but that’s a good thing. You have the best of both your mom and dad, but you will also bring a little of yourself to the surface that defines who you are and who you will be. A head full of hair and big beautiful eyes with a hand that fits perfectly in mine.

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The one thing you don’t know about me is I can see the future. Very much like you are today, you will get through your worst days while every tomorrow gives you the chance to forget about what “has” happened and focus on what “will” happen. Nothing is so bad that you can’t get through it. Be yourself no matter what and do everything you can to make a difference in your life or someone else’s life. Some things you will have to find out for yourself and that is a part of growing up and you will never be alone even though some days it will feel that way. As you get older you’ll find that faith, family and friends are what really matter, and that a bad day at school, or the fight with a friend is temporary. And you will make friends. Lots of friends. You will find friendship in the most unlikely people, but more importantly, you will make a difference in someone’s life without even knowing it. You are that special. Like I always told your mother when she was your age, whenever there is a new student in school, always walk up and introduce yourself. If there is one thing they need at that moment, is someone to walk up and make them feel welcome. You might even make a life-long friend in the process. That also holds true no matter where you are in this life.

As you grow older, the answers to questions you have always had will be answered. Sometimes it’s not the answers you thought they would be, but realize that this is a part of life and we have all discovered it in our own way and our own  time. Don’t rush through it;  take your time to see the beauty of this world and witness all that God created. You will grow up fast enough and you will miss a few things along the way. But you will find as you get older, you will come to appreciate the wonders of this world and all the people who cross your path. It is a wonderful world and you are  just beginning your walk through it. When life gets hard to deal with, talk to your mother. She has an understanding of what things can be like when the world doesn’t turn your way. She’s had her moments, and still does, but she is funny and beautiful and only stronger because of it. Above all, keep a sense of humor.

I love spending time with you. You are very perceptive and it amazes me how quick you are with a smile and a laugh, and how much energy you have. When you are here visiting, it’s great to go for a walk to the park so I can bore you with stories of me growing up in this small town. I hope someday we can spend more time together, and we will, I know it. As you get older our conversations will change from “why” and “how come” to deeper talks about how you are doing at school and work, instead of me telling you about growing up in a small town. But I have a feeling in a few years you will again ask me how it was when I was growing up. Funny how that is.

There will come a time in your life when your daughter or son will become a living example of your childhood, and you will look back as a mother and realize how much your mom and dad love and care about you, even though sometimes it won’t seem like it. You can always come to me and tell me how you feel but I will always side with your mom and dad. I will do my best to listen, explain, hug and love you, because that is my job. I am here to give you perspective on things and life in general-all the while loving you with all my heart. You will understand when that day comes and you become a parent and grandparent.

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Just like your mom and dad, there is nothing better as a parent than watching your children grow. That’s where you and Casen come in – watching both of you grow is nothing short of a gift for an old guy like me. You have a way of making everything else seem a little less important and you give me the gift of allowing me to put my life into perspective. And when there is a smile on your face it puts a smile on mine. That is the difference you have made in my life, without even knowing it. See? I told you I could predict the future!

Miss Kylie, you are an amazing young lady with your life just beginning. You will do extraordinary things along the way, but first things first. Know that I love you and I always will and I am always here for you no matter how far away it seems. You are a joy in my life that nothing can replace.

Faith Hope Live Laugh

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Words to live by. I have always felt strongly about this phrase and many times I have needed to say these words out loud to myself. You see, there have been times over the years that one of the four has been missing in my life. Maybe not missing entirely, but lacking might be a better way of putting it. I’ve always tried to maintain a positive outlook on life and I have found rolling along with the punches does make life a little easier. But as humans do, we usually search for those inspirational sayings to help us through. One thing I have always said to myself when the day is going less than good is “this day too will end”. It tells me that no matter how hard it is or how hard it can be, this day is just that. A day. It will end just like yesterday did and how tomorrow will. It will be ok.

Faith for me has been something I’ve needed to work at. I haven’t struggled with it, but I have not been the person I have wanted to be when it comes to my spiritual side. My relationship with God is strong but as a man I can be better. God knows me better than I know myself, and He’s working on it. And so am I. Our Faith gives us strength and in my life when my Faith was on the back burner is when I felt the weakest. Thank you God for being patient with me, I will try harder.

Hope is really easy for me as I am an eternal optimist. Faith and Hope go together, and if you ever hear me say ” I Hope you have a good day” understand that this is my way of saying I care about you and I think about you and I want your day to be amazing. It just always comes out, “have a good day.” Simple words I know, but it’s all about sincerity. And of course being polite!

Live your life as if it is your last day on earth. I know it’s easier said than done, and I really don’t want to leave this world washing the dishes, but you know what? What’s wrong with that? If I die tomorrow doing the dishes I am doing what needs to be done. That’s who I am. I am not above it and I’m good with that. As long as I can leave with those close to me knowing how I feel about them then what I’m doing at the time isn’t important. To die saving a puppy from a well and making the local newspaper isn’t my style anyway. Although “Man dies washing a puppy” might have a nice ring to it.

Laugh and the world will laugh with you. If anyone knows me they will tell you that I think I’m pretty funny. I am usually laughing or trying to make someone else laugh all the while not taking myself seriously. Even on those days when most things don’t seem funny, I try to spin a little humor to lighten the load. We need to laugh. We want to laugh. And we will. Some days it might be harder than others and sometimes it comes from nowhere. But don’t hold it back. Laugh.

The one thing I’ve left out is this; As I go through my daily life and deal with everything that comes my way, good or bad, I rely on all of this to not only help me through but to make it more enjoyable. Surround yourself with family and friends and enjoy every minute.

Faith gives us Hope to Live our life with the ability Laugh about it.