Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Is This Really What You Want Your Legacy To Look Like (Is Josh Feuerstein a Social Terrorist?)

The Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado was a tragedy. There are many liberal voices speculating about how a commentary by Josh Feuerstein may have created the whole issue. The word being tossed about so often seems to be Domestic Terrorism.   Looking at the definition of domestic terrorism I'd have to say that in most situations a case can be made for almost any controversial issue to be dragged into the venue of "Domestic Terrorism". During the Furguson riots there were several reporters that probably could have been called vehicles of domestic terrorism. The wording is so vague when it comes to the definition that so many of us could be called into question anytime we make a Facebook post.

Situations like this really make a guy who is a Christ Follower wish they could see the way that their words would be viewed and possible outcomes before they let them out on a YouTube channel.

My opinion on Feuerstein and his comments can be summed up quite briefly. I believe his rhetoric can be classified in the same breath as someone like Al Sharpton; neither of which are really doing anything for the cause of Christianity except to bring perception down on Christians.  Is it social terrorism? By definition perhaps, but did he incite murder? I believe like many others; if your words get into the wrong mind anything can incite a riot or plant a thought in one's head. Unless he pulls the trigger he did no more kill a person than Al Sharpton caused Michael Brown to attack a police officer. I don't feel Planned Parenthood is a good investment of Government funds and I disagree with their stance, but I know I wouldn't go about putting my view out there the way Feuerstein does.

I think the most important question is one we should each ask ourselves when we start to say something. Is that really what I want my legacy to look like? Do the words out of my mouth inspire people or are they intended to incite folks? Why is it so many people are willing to spit on a soldier or burn a flag than try to find a forum to truly make a difference?

Even Gene Simmons called out the media and their duality when it comes to who they are willing to offend. When it comes to Tim Tebow people feel like it's open season because he stands for something important to him. Like Simmons says, if he were Muslim or Jewish it wouldn't be tolerated. The thing that I never hear about Tebow is that he is a promoter of Terrorism. That's because he can get the message out without being crass. I like that in a person and the choice they make when they make a stand.

 I have little need for the tactics of Josh Feuerstein and I feel like his message is detrimental, but he isn't a murderer. I hold him in about the same regard as I would Jessie Jackson, or Al Sharpton. I feel like they take a very low-rent approach to how they approach controversial issues. I choose to try and handle my business a little more professionally. I tend to prefer Tebow's approach to things. However, that's me. If one of my sons were to look up to a public figure I would hope they would choose his persona over the ones of so many out there that breed hate and contempt in their words.

 We have to decide how we will leave our mark in the world . Even if you are a Janitor, Teacher, Pastor, or Server you are going to leave an impression on someone as to how you react to things in life. How is it you want to be viewed?

The choice is yours.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Patience Meets Frustration - Shouldn't Have to be This Way

I've seen it happen. I know it exists. I admire the way some folks can put aside petty differences to allow their kids to be involved with both parents. Kids need this to flourish and grow into healthy and mature adults. Kids stand a much better chance in life when they are involved with both parents after a divorce. Overwhelming amounts of research show how important both parents are to a child's life. With as hard as society can be on a person we need to give kids every chance they can get.

When I went through a divorce the first time I was so concerned with how it would affect my kids. I wanted to be a part of the lives of my children but not being able to drive made that a challenge. I was born with visual issues that challenged me in life enough to keep me from being able to drive. I knew this was going to compound the issue. However, when the divorce occurred I tried to make it the few hours I needed to so I could see my children as often as I could. The help of many friends made that possible. I am very thankful for those people.

Then I met her. We got together very early in a relationship and dragged a lot of baggage from our pasts into it as well. She made promises of how she would make sure I had the opportunity to see my kids and even said to my ex wife at one point, "You should be happy that there is someone in his life that cares about his kids now."

I thought she meant the things she said. I found out differently in time.

Logan and I
Unfortunately with the baggage we dealt with we both fell back into old patterns and made mistakes. We got deeper involved in our relationship and there were things I learned to live with that just continued to take small bites at my conscience as our relationship progressed. Part of that included her deciding at some point early on that she wasn't going to continue to help me pursue a relationship with my kids from my previous relationship. At that time in my life I felt bad enough about myself I felt I deserved to not see them. My youngest son Chuck was a toddler the last time my oldest two kids saw my youngest two kids - almost 11 years ago!

I was walking home from work when I got the text message from my soon to be ex-wife that she had found trucks and moved out. As we went through the separation period I was starting to get reacquainted with my oldest son Logan and the times we spent together were extremely precious. Seeing Logan play basketball in High School and then graduate. Spending time with him and Dylan, his younger brother, made me realize much time had passed. I wasn't going to get the past back but there was hopefully some future to restore relationships. As Logan and I got closer it became obvious that he wanted to get to know his younger brothers and that has become a desire of mine as well.

I was able to see my younger kids throughout the separation process. When she felt they needed a haircut or something she called and brought Brock and Chuck to me for a few hours. I knew what the pattern was here but I just wanted to see my kids. If she wanted something she allowed me to see the kids. None of that was more evident when she called one day shortly after she had moved out and told me she was going to bring the kids by. What I found out that day is that she was going to bring friends she had with trucks and was going to use the kids as an excuse to come clean out the rest of the house. She knew that if the kids were there I wasn't going to put up much of a fight. The approach that all of the pre-divorce videos that we were warned against became a real life scenario. The kids were indeed being used as a riot shield and there wasn't a thing I could, or would, do about it. All I could do was watch her and friends I used to have from a Church we both went to take things as if I had no say in the process at all. It was a frustrating day. I realized at that moment some of our friends would start taking sides without realizing what exactly had happened throughout the process. People just didn't seem to care what had happened in our split; I was simply the person that was in the wrong and my opinion of the process didn't matter.

There were so many things I have found out as the relationship split. Truths that were uncovered that I just didn't realize made me see why things happened the way they did. I have realized that the woman that hasn't allowed me to have time with my kids more than a handful of times since the divorce had a past of embezzlement and dishonesty. So, I suppose it's not a surprise that she would think it's okay to steal time that my kids and I should have together. it's just something else that she feels like it's okay to take. It's not money, but rather an embezzlement of time.  I don't blame God for any of what has occurred; I simply realize that some that say they follow Christ don't see some aspects of their lives as transgression. After all, Christians have started wars over things that God would never see as acceptable. When she left, it seemed a whole Church that I had tithed to for over 2 years never contacted me once to ask if I was alright. I suppose the Church had no real reason to hear both sides of a story. When you are a Mega-Church like James River you can discard a person here and there and not really miss a beat.
Logan, Brock, and Chuck

Good news is my oldest son has had the opportunity to see my youngest two sons shortly after Logan and Brock and I got together for the first time in eleven years.This has been a long time coming and I am so thankful for the opportunity. I was hoping to be able to spend more time with the youngest kids over the summer and hopefully get all four boys together because a friend of mine came to town for a couple months and wanted to help me with transportation. However, it seems my ex wife had other plans. It seems that every time I have tried to contact her she has either ignored texts, emails, and phone calls. Regardless of what the parenting plan states she has decided that what she wants in these situations is more important. She has even used my Son's phone to send a message telling me that they wanted to see me without the friend. However, it turns out that it wasn't my sons message at all- his phone wasn't in his possession at the time it was sent.

Logan, Me, and Brock. First time together in 11 years
I will say I am thankful for my opportunities in life and I am in a place now personally that is head and shoulders better than I have been in so many years. I am not perfect, and I have made mistakes. However, I am a Dad who has never stopped loving his boys and I look forward to every opportunity I have with them. I am hoping for the right legislation to fall into place for a Dad to have a chance to have a relationship with the kids. It seems like Missouri Child Services is much more involved on the money collection end of things than they are in the Father's visitation enforcement. I pray for the right people in my life that may be able to help pave the way for this. I love my boys and I want to know them and be there when I can be. A Father should have access to his kids and kids should have equal access to both parents.

I know this was a bit of a long winded post, but I had a lot to say. I would love feedback as well as your stories. I have seen that I am not alone in this struggle. I have come across many stories in support groups that simply break my heart. I also know that there has been a lot of legislation in places that Fathers have been assisted by. I look forward to the future, and seeing what my boys become. I pray for opportunities to be a part of that whenever possible.

Some of my favorite and most recent pics of Logan, Dylan, Brock, and Chuck

Sunday, June 7, 2015

It is What it is... True Inspirational Bravery Versus Something We Water Down

I remember back in the day when Charles Barkley did a commercial that got a lot of attention. Remember the Nike commercial where he loudly proclaims he is not a role model? I remember it really well. Back then I was working with kids as well as raising boys. I really liked what the short commercial has to say. Unfortunately, Charles caught a whole lot of criticism regarding this commercial and how he should be embracing his role. When in fact I feel like he had a really good handle on what his role was to be in life. In a society where so few parents are willing to take responsibility for their kids and rely on the "Village" to raise them for them we are more than willing to allow kids to follow whatever they feel is worth following. He said in a later interview on CNN that he knew he would take criticism for telling kids to listen to their parents. In so many cases parents just don't want to pick up that ball for many reasons. Unfortunately, we point our kids in some really strange directions to find inspiration.

English: Source:
Like Charles has stated, in many venues, there are many better places to find role models in the world. I was raised to value my freedom and those brave people that with great courage and valor have given that freedom to us. I had the opportunity to be involved with the Congressional Medal of Honor Convention in Branson, Missouri several years back, and I was able to meet some of America's true heroes first hand. Ladies and Gentlemen like John William Finn who did things that required such courage in World War II. In fact, the humility of these men and women is worth admiration as well. They did what they had to do to save lives. The stories of the men and women who received the Congressional Medal of Honor can be found on the CMOH Website.

Oklahomacitybombing-fema-1568I am also reminded of the bravery of so many men and women that serve in our Police Forces and Fire Departments that spend time each day giving of their  time to try and make the world a better place. Seems like we are so busy today pointing fingers in situations where some of those professionals abuse the system we forget about the countless many who are here to make our lives better by doing their best to protect our homeland.

I think the thing that has become definitively evident is that we have allowed the media and social media to dumb us down a little. They have taken a vernacular that was reserved for truly incredible individuals and made it a part of everyday society. Words like courage and valor and heroism have been bastardized and cheapened to lower the bar for truly special occurrences. Makes a person wonder if a lot of this is done to camouflage other things that really matter by a barrage of media coverage that is considered important by a not so silent majority.

Bathroom Doors at Eureka Springs Ale HouseIn the wake of the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner story I have seen examples of such a situation where catering to a not so quiet minority exists. I can not put myself in Jenner's shoes, I am not willing to join a society and cheapen words like bravery, and courage to apply them to Jenner. A personal decision that is made in the limelight of all of society is simply a personal act seeking attention - it isn't courageous. The fact that it is done out there in plain sight isn't heroism, it's a statement. I realize that some are going to accuse me of being a bigot for taking this stance, but that can't be further from the truth. The fact is, I see this differently than others. There is a difference.  An article by Christy Lee Parker does a better job defining the difference. Check it out.Regardless of whether or not ESPN recognizes Jenner of an award for courage doesn't make Jenner any more courageous for making a personal decision to receive attention. The sad part is, the amazing things Jenner achieved in the Olympics will simply become an asterisk in his life story. All I know is John's Hopkins speaks pretty clear about the issue.

Perhaps we should look at what is going on in society supposedly behind the scenes and see if perhaps there are things that are occurring that may be hiding real issues that might be real and potentially dangerous. While Bruce Jenner is making the news and several people looking for a little attention are stomping on flags there are real big issues that are being hidden from plain site. Do you realize that all of these items provided great camouflage for the Patriot Act to be reassembled in a more dangerous package than before? The DHS found that TSA has failed to find 95% of weapons smuggled through airports. In all of this it seems that NBC was found to be altering footage of the shooting of an unarmed college student. 

There is so much noise being made by folks of minorities that seek a voice we are losing track of real things that are going to truly effect our kids later. .I am certainly not asking you to agree with me. I would love any feedback you may have. I am always looking for new ideas to write about as well. Life is full of inspiration!

Interesting articles...

Why Bruce Jenner Could Never Truly Be a Woman

Monday, February 23, 2015

Branson Famous - Is Bad Press Really a Good Thing?

I try to reserve articles for this Blog to feature things that I am really inspired by and so I wasn't sure if this was something that I was going to want to place here or not. The more I thought about it the more I realized that my inspiration for writing this would be the things surrounding something I wrote last night and some events that I have been a part of the last several months. Hang with me for just a minute and this will all make sense as I wrap up.

I have had the opportunity to enjoy the Arts for most of my life. I have always enjoyed singing and I have always appreciated good Music and Literature and Art. As I was brought up I was always told by mentors in areas I pursued that a gimmick might get you attention but true excellence will create a legacy.

I work in the city of Branson, and I really like this town. I have been a part of it for over 20 years now and it has been home to me for a very long time. I have witnessed some truly inspiring things while I was here. Glen Campbell performing Amazing Grace vocally and with bagpipes was something I will never forget, and I know it inspired others as well. Jim Stafford, amazing comedy and guitar picking, makes the audience roar and and then sit in awe all at the same time. some of the things I witnessed him do with a guitar just blew my mind. I even had the ability to see Paul Revere and the Raiders in Branson, Missouri. Every time they performed a new song I found myself saying I didn't realize that it was them who did those amazing tunes that I remembered singing as I was growing up. No one will ever forget Andy Williams and what he brings to Christmas time. He will certainly be missed, and I know the Branson audiences miss him and the crowds he brought in to see him.

It's got to be hard for a family show in Branson to compete with a lot of this, I mean, these other guys made it big outside of Branson and have had the opportunity to bring that here. A family show like The Presleys or Baldknobbers don't have quite the same publicity pull to bring people to them. So, with that you probably have to do some things that are a little off the norm for some of these others. I believe the Dutton Family tried to get some attention on America's Got Talent, Some of the other shows have pulled some of their talent from American Idol performers in addition to other similar shows. Now it seems that the Baldknobbers has decided to come out with a show called "Branson Famous"

 This show follows the Mabe family as it struggles to fight for relevance in a new world of entertainment that is passing them by. It's been the fodder for review writers from Variety, AVClub, and the New York Times. They even seem to get attention from The Soup which definitely brings attention to Branson as a city. If we go back to the comment I made before about a gimmick getting attention this would certainly fall under that category. My question is, did they create a bad storyline because it's similar to the mediocre talent that the show truly reflects or is it just poking fun at the town in general? Either way I don't really feel like this negative attention is something that a struggling community of Family Shows really needs. Without real talent base this show has really drawn a lot of criticism, but the worst part is when people see this they see it as a reflection of what Branson truly is. Joel McHale compared the show to the "Stench of a Tire Fire".

I spoke pretty harshly on Facebook regarding "Branson Famous" and how the Oscars wouldn't be giving them any kind of award for excellence. I got a comment back inside of five minutes saying that they wished I hadn't picked on them because they represent our city. Frankly, I did let them have it for exactly that reason. The funny part is the younger generation of Branson folks came out and talked about how they are embarrassed to tell folks they are from Branson when that show is mentioned. This kind of sophomoric gimmick is the last thing a town like Branson, Missouri needs in it's corner.

One of the more vocal marketing reps for the city (The aforementioned Facebook post) also stated that the last thing Branson needed was someone like a Madonna or Lady Gaga to come to our town because it didn't represent us. Did anyone see the pure excellence at the Oscars last night when Lady Gaga blew up the stage in celebration of Julie Andrews? What Branson really needs is for our old way of thinking to pass to the side so that we can stop accepting mediocrity as a standard in Branson. Fabulous talent like The Presley's and Six don't need the reputation of a show like "Branson Famous" hanging around their neck like a rusty cowbell. When junk like that hits the airwaves it represents our Shows, Hotels, and Restaurants simply because they put the name of our town in it. The reason why shows like "Breaking Bad" and "The Simpsons" mention Branson is because people can connect that to the mediocrity that is reflected in the reputation. So, a show like "Branson Famous" is going to reinforce a standard that doesn't reflect that we have raised any kind of a bar for truly excellent performance.

Louis Darby, a Branson Musician who has been in the game here since 1987 states, "The more the better. Get Branson back on the map. It's been said that even bad publicity is better then no publicity."
 I think this "Old way" of thinking is exactly what is hurting Branson and its reputation today. To the marketer that screeched we don't need the likes of Madonna, Lady Gaga, or Miley Cyrus in our town needs to remember that Glen Campbell and some of our other great performers had less than perfect reputations at one time. Maybe it's time for some ideas that embrace what Branson is truly about and stop accepting vocals that resemble a cat fight in a nearby alley. When I walked down the Branson Landing today I heard a Madonna song playing probably because that is something that people tend to enjoy listening to. The majority of restaurants play songs that include artists that some of our marketing people thinks would be a bad representation of the community. It seems it's here because that's what is comfortable for people. I was in Vegas several months back while I don't think gambling is our answer here I do believe that the showmanship is of a whole different level and we have a ways to go to compare - Just Sayin'.

If a mediocre gimmick is all a family show has to offer anymore to the city perhaps it's time for that family to decide if it's really helping the community or if this is just something that is designed to be a last gasp of a dying show. It's not fair to hang that around Branson's neck. Too many of us really love this town and are inspired by what is really good and can be again if we focus on bringing excellence to the forefront.  

I'd love some dialog here, because I know I don't have the only opinion that counts in the community. As a Dad and a Marketing Professional I have interest in my community. I know others do to. I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Hypocrisy Factor - The Excuse for Apothy

I have been a Christ follower for quite some time. Through the early stages of my life there was a desire to be a Minister. I worked hard to get there, and I felt that I had something to offer because God had put something special inside me. It was where I belonged. As I continued other things happened in my life and I made mistakes - things I am not proud of. When that happened I stepped away from full time Ministry because it felt like the right thing to do. More than being considered a lapsed believer I thought it worse to be considered a hypocrite. I knew that whatever I did I didn't want to deal with consequences of representing him in that position.

I remember one time that a Preacher stated that people didn't come to church because there were hypocrites there. He said that was as silly as people not going to the Hospital because there were sick people. This is true in essence, but at the same time I really feel that the Church uses the same mindset to hide behind it's imperfection thinking that there is no harm for the fact that they remain where they are in certain areas. Even though they are so often quick to condemn those that aren't as good as they are in some areas.

I admire passion in someone regardless of what they believe or profess. I heard Glenn Beck say recently.

"Working with people is not bad - becoming what you fight against is. "
I meet a lot of people in the industries I am involved in and I hear a lot of ideas. I can appreciate where they come from regardless of whether I believe in their viewpoint or not. What frustrates me is people who hide behind a veil of Christianity but still think it's okay to behave the way they do. To be completely honest much of the reason I don't attend a Church service regularly isn't entirely laziness (I am sure that accounts for some of it.) I will also admit that my most recent experience with a Institutional Body of believers left me pretty burnt. A group I know I tithed to for at least two years. I attended a congregation that was recently credited with over 10000 members. However, it seems when the lady who was my wife at the time walked out on me (Granted it was time for us to split) not one member of that giant congregation in Ozark, Missouri cared enough to call or check on me once. I did get letters from them talking about things I could give money to, but never was I contacted. I am thankful for my kids that there was support for them. I was married to a woman that would talk about God and then find ways to keep my kids from interacting with their half brothers. Actually, to this day she still does. However, now they also aren't really able to interact with their Dad either. So much they just don't know and never seemed to care about. This is simply my experience of late.

English: Icon of Jesus ChristI realize that not all Churches are like this, and not all Christians are the same. However, there is a large group of people that deal with this aspect of things in Churches everyday that contribute to the reasons why songs like "Take Me to Church" by Hozier are written. Christians don't want their kids listening to songs like that and I am sure it's because often kids might call parents on their actions. However they will often tell their kids that they are protecting them from filling their heads with corruption. Music like this is probably not a product of one's imagination; their is usually a reason behind the message. If you don't know what corruption looks like how is it you can fight against it? I appreciate the passion in the lyrics of the song I posted, and it made me think. I like that.

The majority of Christians aren't doing anything intentionally to hurt the name of God. However little things happen that deteriorate that name on a regular basis. Are you blatantly out beating up people because they are different than you? Maybe not, but are you occasionally overheard at Starbucks taking jabs at people who may not be their to defend themselves. Often this conversation ends with God Bless 'em or let's pray for them. This isn't helping the name of the Church and you are leaning on the fact that you are imperfect to justify continuation of such a behavior. I wait tables all the time, and it's amazing what a guy with pretty decent hearing will hear in a restaurant.

Vasily Perov's painting illustrates clandestin...
Jesus was pretty clear in how important treating other people is. Luke 11 talks pretty clearly about social responsibility as opposed to just doing what is expected monetarily What you speak to others is a much more supportive message of where the condition of your heart is toward people.

I am not here to condemn anyone but it seems that people would view the Church differently if people would change the way they represent Christ. Maybe opening your mind up to something a little different might give you a different world view. Be careful of what you endorse as a Christ follower because people are always watching.

I would love feedback. please use the comment section or shoot me an email. I appreciate ideas and I would love to know if any of this is something other than an item to take up space on the Web.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

All the Right Chips Off the Ol' Block - Logan

I remember the day this guy was born. I was so prepared (So, I thought) for him to come into the world. I remember loading up the camera (Yes, we had film back them) so I could get pictures of him being born. Well, as the story unfolds, after the drama, I realized there was actually no film in the camera at all. I had forgotten to load it like I thought I had in all of my nervous attempts at preparation. Much of my life with this fella has felt like that a lot.

When I would pray for him I would always ask God for him to get all of the good qualities from his parents and for Him to fill in the rest with all of the grace and mercy He has shown me in my life. I always wanted him to have a good shot at everything that he ever dreamed or desired. I knew that much of that would mean for him to be left without many of the character traits in me that I felt so often held me back.

There are many parts of his life I wasn't present for. Divorce can always reap heavy burden son a kid.I never stopped praying for the best for him even when my life wasn't all that I wanted it to be nor was I the kind of Father I had envisioned being for Logan. As time went on we were able to make some good connections and have always been able to talk and catch up on so much that I missed. The more we talked, and spent time together I knew that so much about him was amazing. His heart for people and his smile was always something I have appreciated about him.

 Logan never ceases to find a way to make me laugh. It's almost scary sometimes about how similar his sense of humor dovetails with mine. When we are together there are a lot of moments just spent weaving through goofiness. People who are with us marvel at the way we seem to just finish each others or just know what the other is saying with either a look or a couple words.  It is a really cool feeling to have a person in your life that seems to understand you. Even more so when it's your kid.

One thing he and I have always had in common was basketball. The smile and the apparent love for the game has always been something that is quite evident when I was watching him play a pick up game or a competitive event. However, playing pick up games with him that always seemed like a competitive event as well. As I have grown older I still love to run with him on the court. My game never resembled his but it's just fun to soak up that energy when we get the rare opportunity to play together. It's like an NBA commercial because "We love this game".

Just last weekend we were going to go see a movie together. I gave him his choice and as usual he blew me away. He could have chosen a lot of things. He asked if we could go see "Selma". I asked why and he said that it looked interesting. He has always been the type of guy that likes to get to know people of all creeds and colors. I really enjoy that about him. He always tells me that he doesn't see people as colors or races. He just tries to see people as people. I have to say that I really admire his World View, I loved talking to him about the movie afterward. He talked about how he appreciated the fact that they didn't make King out to be a larger than life individual. He appreciated that it seemed like a real account. I suppose none of us really know that weren't there but I really liked his viewpoint. He cares about people of all kinds and I really like that about him.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am really proud of my Oldest Son Logan. I am proud of the Man he is becoming and I have enjoyed seeing the growth in his life It's not often that I get the opportunity to see him now that he is in college and working but nonetheless I am inspired everytime we talk, or play, or even text. I am very thankful for the role God has given me in his life and I look forward to the many years to come.