Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Christmas Time in the City

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. I know "cliche" but for me it really is. I love decorations (even though Jessica and I haven't had time to put out as many as usual), Christmas carols (specifically "Carol of the Bells"), Santa Clause and Christmas movies. My favorite has always been Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer with Burl Ives. Just the other day Reed pulled it out of the cabinet and brought it to me. I almost cried. Okay not really but I did put it in and we sat down and watched.

So why is Christmas my favorite time of the year. Is it the spirit of giving? Is it the time of good cheer? Is it the celebration of Jesus' birth? Well all of the above. It's the time of year when everybody seems to be cheerful and happy. People are shaking off another year of hard work.
Most getting a week or so break before bouncing back in after the new year. People deck their homes with greenery and lights. Driving up the street you see wreaths dressed in bows and berries. What is not to love?

So I say for the next week we throw away our worries, forget about whether the government is going to bail out the automakers and make the United Auto Workers disband and just revel in the glory of Christmas. Yes, I know the economy is struggling, I know we all are having to cut back just to stay afloat and I know that we are now "officially" in a recession. We will have plenty of time to worry about that but society only gives us this month to act like kids in a candy store.

I'm turning off the news if I see President Bush dodging shoes one more time. If I hear one more thing about how the UAW are going to have to cut their effective rate of $75 an hour down if the government passes the bail out, well I think I'll just scream. I want to hear about Jesus' birth. I want to hear how Rudolph saved the day by flying Santa's sleigh through the thick fog. I want to hear about cattle lowing and the baby awaking. I want to enjoy my savior's birth and my family's good cheer. Will you please join me?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Those Who Give

According to philanthropy is defined as, altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons, by endowment of institutions of learning and hospitals, and by generosity to other socially useful purposes. Why does this matter? The apostle James writes in his book that we are not only judged by our faith but our works as well. In fact, he asks us to question our faith without our works. Philanthropy is one way we can provide our blessings in order to aide our neighbors who are less blessed.

Often we hear stories of those celebrities such as Oprah, and Angelina Jolie who often provide their time and resources to help those in need. I also like to find others who do the same. You see it is very easy to look into the mainstream media and see evil but we typically have to dig to find good , especially when the top stories are war and school shootings. So in a week when the top news story in Knoxville, TN was an unfortunate shooting in a school cafeteria, it was also announced that Pat Summitt also donated $600,000 to the University of Tennessee to be shared by the Knoxville campus and her alma mater campus UT-Martin.

My mother brought this to my attention the other day and it sparked me to conduct one of my searches to find more. Then I thought I couldn’t pass up posting some of these for those of you who take time to read my blog when Reed, Ada and Anna Kate all have much more interesting things to see. I also would like to hear about the ones you know, (it doesn’t have to be celebrity philanthropist). If for nothing else but to show that even though the economic outlook is bad we can face tomorrow because Jesus’ spirit lives within our works.

Boozer’s Buddies – Okay I have to admit I took a double take on this one but I quickly learned that just as we are not supposed to judge a book by its cover we shouldn’t judge a fund by its name either. This is actually a fund created by Carlos Boozer former Duke University basketball star and current member of the Utah Jazz. It supports families who have been affected by Sickle Cell Disease.

Shawn Marion Foundation – This one especially caught my eye because he is from my home town of Clarksville TN and graduated with my brother in the CHS Class of 96. Shawn currently plays for the Miami Heat. His fund supports single parent families. Something else that hits home with me. Although, I was young when Phillip came along I still remember the days of single parent living.

You can find many more just like these at However one that you may not find very easily is Dr. Jack Lupton, who is believed by some to be responsible for bottling more Coca Cola than anyone else in the world. In 2001, he donated $25 million to educational programs at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. However, this is only one of the many donations that he and his wife have made. The Lyndhurst Foundation founded by his family has made many contributions most recently helping to fund and plan the Chattanooga Riverpark. Read more about this at

Oh and one last story. My brother once felt compelled to purchase a coke for a homeless gentleman in downtown Nashville. However, before giving him the soda it dropped and rolled down the street. Without, any more cash to purchase a new one for him, Chris still gave him the coke. What Chris has never told me though was if he warned the gentleman of the possible surprise when he opened the bottle. Well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Yep, I did it.

Okay, taking a break from my normal style blog and sharing a little bit of me. I've been contemplating, or maybe procrastinating, competing in a triathlon for a while. There was a short (and I do mean short) distance race this weekend here in Chattanooga so I decided it was time to give it a shot. I've never been a strong swimmer so I was very nervous about my chances at doing well in triathlons. Since this race's swim was only 1/4 mile I decided to test the waters (pun intended). It wasn't all just me though. Jessica and her parents competed as well. We all finished which was our goal. Here are a few pictures from the race.

Also exciting my parents came down from Clarksville to show their support. They've traveled all various places from Miami, Florida to Stillwater, Oklahoma watching me wrestle so I trip to Chattanooga for my first triathlon was a definite. However, I think a chance to spend the day with Reed also had something to do with it. We are currently in the process of purchasing a new home so it was a great chance to show it off to them as well. After that it was up to the lake for an afternoon of watching Reed enjoy the water. Jessica swam with him as Gramma, Grumpy, Granna, Papa T and Auntie K all enjoyed the entertainment. Here are some photos of that too.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

(Sorry for the delay. My family has been relocating, which has taken a large amount of my free time.)

More often than not when engrossed in a conversation about Christianity I hear, "Why does God allow us to suffer?" If he is a loving god than why would he allow evil and anguish to exist? I heard a good analogy once (can’t remember from whom):

Minister – Do you love and protect you children?
Parishioner – Yes, of course. I would never let my children suffer.
Minister – Have they ever fallen off their bike and injured themselves?
Parishioner – Yes, but that is how they learn. By getting back up and trying again.
Minister– Well, just like you were letting them learn by allowing them to suffer, God does the same for his children.

At the day of creation, God did not intend for the Earth to be challenging and for his children to endure pain. However, in Genesis 3: 13 – 19 God explained to Adam and Eve how they must suffer for their sin. At that point the world was opened to evil. Sorrow became an obstacle we must all overcome.

You may now think, “But I’ve repented and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.” That is a fair thought but you must remember when Paul was speaking to the Romans he told them “We are all sinners and all have fallen short of God.” Each of us sin most everyday. It’s a fact of life that we cannot get past without Jesus. Jesus told us that we should take up our cross and follow him. Hinting that we must suffer as he did to fully understand the need for his loving care.

Paul was worried that his letter to the Corinthians had saddened and angered them to the point that they were shunning him. The Corinthians told him that it was not them that were shunning Paul yet he was shunning them by causing anguish with his written word. Paul responded that he did not regret that his letter caused them pain and sorrow. It is sorrow that brings us to the Lord and if his letter did that (which it did) then his job was successful.

A lot of biblical stories come to mind when I think of people who were brought to God through suffering. The leper, the lame and the blind came to Jesus for freedom from their illnesses. Jesus healed them and said, “Go and leave your life of sin. “ If they were healthy and prosperous would they have pleaded at Jesus’ feet for relief?

Revelation 21:4 says God will wipe every tear from our eyes; there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain. The old order of things will pass away. In other words, we will be freed from sorrow once and for all. If we trust in Jesus we will experience the peace and harmony God intended during the six days of creation.

So for all who are suffering, whether it is from disease, injury or just everyday struggles, rest assure, endless prosperity is coming.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tempted and Tried; Only with God did he Survive

“Addiction is a humbling experience. Getting it under control is even more humbling. I got better for one reason: I surrendered. Instead of asking to be bailed out, instead of making deals with God by saying, "If you get me out of this mess, I'll stop doing what I'm doing," I asked for help. I wouldn't do that before. I'd been the Devil Rays' No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft, supposedly a five-tool prospect. I was a big, strong man, and I was supposed to be able to handle my problems myself. That didn't work out so well.” Josh Hamilton (as told to Tim Keown, ESPN Magazine)

Most of my friends and family know I love baseball. In fact, some may say I’m addicted to it. I watch games in awe of the ability Major League Baseball players possess. I’ve played either baseball or slow pitch softball every summer since I was six years old. While except for what I call “The Black Summer of 2007.” (My brother and I were unable to get our church team together.) One thing is for sure, when I see a slow motion replay of an outstanding play or a hitter’s swing; I know why I only play slow pitch softball. However, tonight I was quite inspired but something other than a player’s baseball talent. I was inspired by his will to overcome a humbling addiction and desire to let the world know it can be done.

1 Corinthians 10:13 states “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Josh Hamilton knows this all too well.

I agree with when they say it is hard to tell Josh’s story without mentioning his faith. Josh is renowned for telling us not to. Josh’s story is one that, to me at least, is so inspiring I felt compelled to help him spread his message. People tell me all the time that athlete’s should understand, whether they like it or not, they are role models. They shouldn’t be menaces in society. They are right. You constantly hear of those who break the laws but what about the ones that are (stealing a quote Lindsay Nash) “being socially responsible.” Even though three years ago Josh would tell you himself he was not a good role model because of his faith that has changed.

After being a highly touted top prospect, Josh was drafted by Tampa Bay in 1999. Life was looking up after signing a contracted that included approximately 4 million dollars in signing bonus. His parents even resigned their employment in order to travel alongside. However, in 2001 that all crumbled along with his vehicle in an accident that left his parents and himself injured. Josh began a downward spiral into addition that included prescription drugs and numerous illegal drugs. Over the next four years he was entranced in a struggle that attributes to the devil. He was in and out of rehab however, never beating his addiction. Why? Well as noted in his quote above he was trying to do it alone. He even snubbed his wife when she would tell him that there was a bigger plan. Luckily she stayed be his side and continued to reassure him that he could beat it.

Josh sums it up best when he recounts a dream where he hit the devil with a bat continuously but the devil would pop right back up every time. Josh couldn’t put his temptation behind him. After finally breaking down at his grandmothers doorstep in the middle of the night Josh turned to God. He for once stopped making deals with God and just asked for help. Later after finally beating his addictions he had the dream again. Except this time Josh said Jesus was with him and the devil was not getting back up.

Josh has made an amazing comeback, one that I cannot effectively recount. (I encourage you to read the stories I’ve linked below to get a full understanding.) He has had one of the best seasons of anybody in baseball. Does Josh credit himself? No, he gives it all to God. In fact, after hitting 28 home runs in the first round of the Home Run Derby (a new record) when asked how he did it his response was quite astounding to me. “It’s amazing what God has done in my life over the past three years, and how quickly he did it.” A quote that shows what he consistently says to many reporters, “It’s not about me, it’s about something bigger.”

Josh now speaks to youth groups, orphans, and half way homes about not running with the wrong crowds. He spends time with kids inflicted by cerebral palsy and he consistently publically expresses his faith. He refuses to hide from his addiction both publically and personally. Even turning his cash food allowances over to his friend and mentor because in his words, “there is no reason for me to have $400 in my back pocket.” He admits at times the temptation from the addiction is still there but he tells the devil that they are only thoughts and he, with God at his aide, will never act on those thoughts again.

Josh tells his story often so that maybe someone can learn the lesson he did the easy way. It’s a great story for us all. One that exemplifies Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ; who gives me strength). One that although I obviously don’t want my son living out but I hope that he understands the lesson Josh learned from it. Josh sure wants him to.

Please read the sources used for information in this blog below.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

How Far We Have Come

Okay, I’m not the best writer so you’ll have to bear with me during these first few blogs. Grammatically they should be correct (thanks to Jessica) but interesting and enticing elements will hopefully get better with time. However, someone once told me, “What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger,” and I definitely need strength in the writing area. Now with my disclaimer out of the way, let’s move to the real stuff.

We are embarking on what could be the most historic presidential election in history. We have all heard of the race between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. Each was largely popular within the political arena during the mid 1800s. In fact, the presidential campaign was not even their first competition. In addition to the 1860 presidential election, the two squared off against each other in 1858 to become the U.S. senator from the state of Illinois. It was during that campaign that the two started what would lead to many heated debates carrying over to the 1860 campaign. What you may not know is Douglas actually defeated Lincoln in the senate race but Lincoln gained national notoriety for his antislavery views. Two years later when Lincoln was elected to office the south was not very excited. So began the southern secession and in 1961 our country entered into what might have been its lowest era in history, the Civil War. Five years later the war ended and slavery was abolished shortly after.

Over the years our country has been impacted by many African American leaders. Many of our citizens have gained inspiration from heroic people such as Rosa Parks to great speakers such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Books like Roots written by Alex Haley have helped to bring awareness to oppression. Laws have been enacted to ensure equality in the workplace and fair education across all races and cultures.

Now 150 years after President Lincoln began to publically speak against slavery, we have seen the nomination of the first minority presidential candidate of a major political party in history. Whether you are in favor of Senator Obama’s political views on abortion or how religion should be used when determining policy, he embodies change. America has changed from a point when Americans treated Africans as commodities and objects that we possessed allowing them no freedoms to trusting their descendants to lead the free world.

Senator Obama may or may not be forth right with his abilities to change how our country is governed. You may or may not agree with how he plans to implement that change. You may even not agree with the changes he wants to make or the changes he doesn’t. However, you cannot be disappointed that our country has come this far in its efforts for racial equality.

Information for this blog was pulled from the following:

Sunday, July 6, 2008

What is to come?

You may be wondering why I have chosen to write a blog entitled "Michael's Part." What do I mean by that and where do I plan on going with it? Well, I would like to say you have to check back and see and that way you don't turn running for the hills and you will come back from curiosity. However, let's go ahead and test the enevitable.

I was listening to a talk radio show a few weeks ago and the host said something that hit home. In response to the host saying we should not only look to our government for answers but look to ourselves for answers as well, a caller asked, "How can I help fix the oil crisis? I'm only one person." He responded by saying you can only do your part. Expanding he said that if every one bought into the "I'm only one person" theory we as a nation would not accomplish much. However, if everyone bought into the theory of "I can do as much as I can do" then we would accomplish a lot. Our country was established on the theory that everyone has the right to pursue happiness. Unfortunately somewhere along the way we have come to an attitude that it is not us that should pursue happiness but our government that should pursue happiness for us. He then went on to explain conservation of energy on a single household basis. That is irrelevant here, (perhaps a separate blog post later) but it was the first part that inspired me to blog.

In upcoming blogs I will be doing my part to spread awareness of current events and how they effect our daily lives. Political posts will be bipartisan in nature and related only to facts. Not further publizing the twists our candidate's campaign committees and the partisan media outlets publish, rather providing information on what is really at hand. Things such as how the Wyden bill ultimately develops an individual based health care insurance versus employer based,

Religious posts will all be based on the Great Commission (see Matthew 28: 16 -20). Hopefully writing about how God works in my life will inspire you to search for how God is working in yours. These won't be stories of how you should interact in society but how God has interacted. In not so many words it is a "lead by example" approach.

Finally, our pusuit of happiness would not be complete without family. The majority of my posts will be around my day to day events with my family and hobbies. Without relaxing family time and hobbies, stress can become a major obstacle to happiness. In an effort to keep a lighter side to the blog these posts should not only provide inspiration but humor as well.

I hope you check back often and find my blog interesting. After all, my goal is to do my part and I have to reach at least one person for that to be accomplished.