Monday, December 8, 2008

bra's


More than 60 years ago the United States banned child labor, sweatshops, long workdays and workweeks. But now we are subsidizing, encouraging and failing to criticize the enslavement of young people in the Third World. Many products we buy, use and consume each and every day here in the US are being manufactured in other countries, often at the expense of the children of that country. They are overworked and underpaid. It is nothing but child abuse.

Children are treated as slaves, forced to sew and sew and sew. They work at assembly line centers pushing out all of the products we take for granted. Children as young as 10 are worked up to 16 hours a day for no pay. One 10-year-old boy told reporters he was sold to the sweatshop company by his parents. The countries are so poor they do anything to survive.

Sneakers, jeans and all sorts of garments, but predominantly and especially bras, are being sewn and packaged and shipped to the US. I say, do what you can to help save the children. It occurred to me, if we quit buying their bras, they will quit making them. Save the children. Go Braless.


ya'll be good...Santa'a coming.....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is a
time of gratitude to God,
our Creator and Provider,
whose guidance and care
go before us...
and whose love
is with us forever.

Thanksgiving is a time
to reflect on the changes,
to remember that we, too,
grow and change
from one season of life to another.

Thanksgiving is a time
of changing seasons,
when leaves turn golden
in Autumn's wake
and apples are crisp
in the first chill breezes of fall.

Let us remember the true meaning
of Thanksgiving.
As we see the beauty
of Autumn, let us acknowledge
the many blessings
which are ours...
let us think of our families
and friends..
and let us give thanks in our hearts.



With warm thoughts and special wishes for a very
Happy Thanksgiving.
Ric, Michelle, and Family.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Old Friends


Old friends make good company.

Old friends are those rare people who ask how we are, and then wait to hear the answer.

Sometimes I view old friends as the medicine of life. Like the Beatles said, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

I once thought friends were the people we could laugh and talk to. Now I know that friends aren’t that, they are the people that touch our heart. We could spend hours with them doing nothing at all and it could be the best time of our life, just because it was with them. And they look back at us and see a great person, someone they love spending time with.

We share something in common, and we are tied together by memories, tears, laughter and smiles.

We are tied together by love for each other.

Old friends are one of the greatest things in the world.

I find my time with such old friends the best times of my life.



Wishing you the best....Ric

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hot Chocolate


During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives.

Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups - porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the hot chocolate

When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor said:

“Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.

While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

The cup that you 're drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups.

And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this:

Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and position in society are the cups.

They are just tools to hold and contain life.

The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality
of life you have.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate God has provided us.

God makes the hot chocolate, man chooses the cups.

The happiest people don't have the best of everything.

They just make the best of everything that they have.

Live simply. And enjoy your hot chocolate!!”


ya'll take care…. Ric

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beverly Underwood


Today, I pay my final respects to the memory of Beverly. Today, I remember with gratitude her life and I give thanks to God for those things she did to make our world a better place.
When I think about Beverly and the times I was around her, a couple of things come to mind.
The first is honesty. She was as honest as the day is long. She didn’t hide her feelings.
And I remember how she loved life. She loved people. She always made me feel special, and I think she had a way of making everyone she was with feel that way.
I know God blessed me when He sent her my way, for a few hours or a few days, here and there over the years. To just be around her for a little while was uplifting….energizing…she was going to make you smile.
I know she faced special health challenges these last few years. She knew her share of hardship, struggle and uncertainty. She tried her best to keep going in spite of all she endured. She always was filled with hope, hope for the best. She had a cheerful confidence that life would bring good things. She had an abounding optimism. She demonstrated great strength and courage. Today I say goodbye to a gallant lady. She never gave up and never gave in. Strong. Brave.
She always carried herself with a decency and attention to small kindnesses that also defined a good life. When I remember Beverly, I will think of a woman characterized by sweetness and the sincerity of a good Christian woman. All in all, I remember a lady, a good lady and a good person.
I’ll share with you a great quote I came across;
"One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been."
And in Beverly’s evening, her light burned bright with open and wise prescriptions for us all. Today, as we take her to rest, as we seek to measure her life, it is clear how truly splendid Beverly’s day has been.

I would like to share with you a reading about death. The popular passage comes from a sermon on death written by Scott Holland, delivered in St. Paul's Cathedral on 15 May 1910

Death is nothing at all. It doesn’t count.
I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no air of sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for our family. Let my name be ever the household word that is always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without a ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well with my soul. Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918, Canon of St Paul's Cathedral

____
I believe that. Ric

(I was going to close here, but on second thought, decided to add another of my favorite poems.
May you be blessed by it.)


WHEN TOMORROW STARTS WITHOUT ME


When tomorrow starts without me,
And I'm not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me;

I wish so much you wouldn't cry
The way you did today,
While thinking of the many things,
We didn't get to say.

I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know you'll miss me too;

But when tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand,

And said my place was ready,
In heaven far above,
And that I'd have to leave behind
All those I dearly love.

But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye
For all my life, I'd always thought,
I didn't want to die.

I had so much to live for,
So much left yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
I'd say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized,
That this could never be,
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.

And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.

But when I walked through heaven's gates,
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne,

He said, "This is eternity,
And all I've promised you.
Today your life on earth is past,
But here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow,
But today will always last,
And since each day's the same way
There's no longing for the past.

You have been so faithful,
So trusting and so true.
Though there were times
You did some things
You knew you shouldn't do.

But you have been forgiven
And now at last you're free.
So won't you come and take my hand
And share my life with me?"

So when tomorrow starts without me,
Don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I'm right here, in your heart.

Author Unknown

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Are you feeling lucky?


Is hard work really necessary?

We see in the media:

-politicians and beauty queens who get by on a smile and a wink

-lottery winners who turn a lifetime of lousy jobs into one big payday

-sports stars who are born with skills we could never hope to acquire

-Hollywood celebrities with the talent of being in the right place at the right time

-Failed CEOs with $40 million buyouts

It really seems (at least if we believe the media) that who you know and whether you get 'picked' are the two keys to success. Luck!

The thing about luck is this:

We're already lucky.

We're insanely lucky that we weren't born during the black plague or in a country with no freedom.

We're lucky that we've got access to wonderful tools and terrific opportunities.

If we set that luck aside, though, something interesting shows up. Delete the exceptions--the people who are hit by a bus or win the lottery, the people who luck out in a big way, and we're left with everyone else. And for everyone else, effort is directly related to success. Not all the time, but as much as you would expect. Smarter, harder working, better informed and better liked people do better than other people, most of the time.

Effort takes many forms.

Showing up, certainly.

Knowing stuff (being smart might be luck of the draw, but knowing stuff is the result of effort).

Being kind when it's more fun not to.

Paying forward when there's no hope of tangible reward.

Doing the right thing.

You've heard these things a hundred times before, of course, but I guess it's easier to bet on luck. I think we've been tricked by the stories of lucky people on the top of the heap. We see the folks who manage to skate by, or who get so much more than we think they deserve, and it's easy to forget that:

a. these guys are the exceptions
and
b. there's nothing you can do about it anyway.

While luck may be appealing, you don’t get to choose luck.

But you can choose effort. If you want to stand out, you will have to do more. Suggestions?

Exercise or get on a diet. Read relevant non-fiction (trade magazines, journals, business books, etc.) Send thank you notes. Learn new computer skills. Volunteer. Teach someone something you have learned. Spend time, make time, for being with the people you love. Spend less, save more.If you somehow pulled this off, then six months from now, you would be the fittest, best rested, most intelligent, best funded and motivated person in your office or your field. You would know how to do things other people don't, you'd have a wider network and you'd be more focused.

Or, then again, you can do like me and just hold out to win the lottery.

I am hoping for Good Luck! Good luck to you too! Ric

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Needs of the Soul


We do have a soul. Our souls have needs.

We human beings are not conscious of our souls in the way we are conscious of our bodies. The reason that there is a controversy over whether human beings have a soul at all is due to the fact that no one has ever seen or met a soul. No one can point to their soul as they can to their body and declare, "You see, there it is!" No doubt the soul can exist even if we are unconscious of it, but it is legitimate to ask, of what use is a soul that you are not conscious of?

To sum up the difficulty: The soul is the only part of us that survives death; our eternity is experienced through our souls.

Because we have no direct experience of our souls, there is no way for us to practically discover the soul's needs -- what sorts of activities make the soul sickly and weak, the inputs it requires to be healthy and strong, what sort of things will injure it or even destroy parts of it.

What can it do for you? What is its purpose? What are the soul’s needs?

All people have needs. There are physical needs of food, clothing, shelter. There are emotional needs of nurturing, acceptance, esteem, and security. And there are mental needs of intellectual stimulation and the use of imagination. Underneath the physical, emotional and mental needs lies a longing for wholeness, for union. These longings go beyond the time and space we experience in our outer lives and dwell within the recesses of our soul.

When neglected, life seems flat leaving the individual searching for more. You can have all the clothes of the latest style you can imagine. You can live in the greatest of homes and eat the best of foods. Yet there is still a gnawing hunger inside. What the soul pines for is something the best of foods can't satisfy. The most beautiful of clothes and rich jewels fade in importance when compared. The hungers and thirsts of the soul must be fed for life to have depth, meaning, and richness. They are what bring life to life.

The needs of the soul go beyond culture, time period, race, or sex. It doesn't matter if you are a peasant in Japan in the 1600's, a prince in Ethiopia in 1000 B.C., a pilgrim on the Mayflower or a world traveling executive today, the same inner urgings drive you to a sense of fulfillment.

So, what are the needs of the soul?

First is the need for structure and order. There is an order in the Universe whether we are aware of it or not. And there is order that Man has created to make his world predictable and stable. I noticed a glimpse of the order of the universe most profoundly one time while flying in a plane. As I looked down from the window there were perfect squares and rectangles separating fields and pastures from each other for as far as I could see. I was astounded at how perfectly straight and square the lines of the fields were. What I saw was an order to our world and universe. There is the need for order as man superimposes his own order above the plan of nature. So we have rules…laws. When there is an order in our lives we are secure; we know what to expect. What brings us order is discipline and love. The love of Truth, the love of the ideals causes discipline to come from within us rather than being administered from outside us.

Second there is a need for focus or vision. When you focus you have an aim, something to shoot for. Aspirations or ideals are examples of a visionary focus which cause your aim to be high and ever-expanding. A basic form of focus is goals, either short term or long term. A visionary focus offers a structure around which your life is built. It relates to how you form your identity.

In day to day life, the focus is the career, raising a family, what you want to do with your life. You go through school to prepare to be a well-rounded person and good citizen, but also to prepare for a career. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" is a common question adults ask children. When these children think about what they want to be they think in terms of a career. This is a physical role they will follow whether it's to be a nurse, banker, teacher, or computer programmer. For example, if someone says they want to be a teacher they will do teaching in order to build an identity around what they think a teacher is. This is a physical orientation to life.

Spiritually the focus will be the assignment or mission in life, an inner part of you that you need to give. This is not something that you need to do, or a role you will play in society but something you need to be in everything you do. For example, you can be forthright or steadfast as a friend, a parent, a student, a lover, a professional and so on. The physical role or situation doesn't limit your ability to express this quality. The answer to the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" will change to "What are you being?" The answer will be a quality of being such as patient, faithful, or joyful.

Our focus is formed from ideals, something to aspire to, something for inspiration. In day to day life that inspiration comes from people, places and things. Maybe there's a person who truly inspires you that you want to be like, and you want to have some qualities like, or there's a place you've been to that has a certain quality to it that you want to bring back to where you are. Or maybe there is an experience you have had that has changed your life, and you are a different person as a result of it.

With spiritual focus, we will be more aware of our inner urgings and the wisdom that lies within. That is not to say that we will no longer use our physical experiences for inspiration. We will, in fact, use them more for that purpose than ever before. The shift to an inner vision will come from the increasing desire for a direct grasp of Truth. Aspiring to know and live Truth is the catalyst for enlightenment and that means being a beacon of light for others.

Third there's a need to learn. As we grow and mature we use our five senses to gather information through a variety of ways. This can be by reading; it can be by a verbal explanation; it can be by watching, and so on.

Once the information is received the next step is to apply it in some sort of practical application. We cannot understand an idea until we have put it into a practical application in life. There must be a way to have an experience with the information, not to use it once, but many times and through a variety of ways. Children naturally use a variety of experiences to understand the information they receive. They may pretend with their animals or dolls; they may draw a picture; they may make up a song or a story.

All people, no matter what their age, need a variety of experiences to understand a concept. The more experiences we give ourselves and the more we repeat the experiences, the greater the learning. The more one causes his or her learning the more control they have over it.

As we move from believing to knowing, experiencing becomes very important. Believing is accepting the information. It is a function of one or more of the five senses, the brain and the conscious mind. Saying "I know that" when we have only accepted the information without the experience is a fallacy. Accepting information is the first stage of learning. Those who are reaching for more want to experience it for themselves in order to know. Applying the information is what births knowledge, through experiencing over and over again in a variety of situations and circumstances. The direct grasp of Truth comes from an inner knowing.

To truly understand and gain wisdom, you graduate from experiencing to teaching. After a certain point, the way that you learn the most is through giving what you understand to be true, so you teach it. And again, you don't teach it just once, you teach it many times to many people. By understanding, then experiencing, and finally teaching you find the universality of the idea --- that it works not only in your life in many areas but in many people's lives in many areas.

The fourth need is to belong, to be connected to something greater than the self. Our sense of belonging is with family and the lineage of the family, culture, country and so on. It is a belonging to something physical like clubs and organizations, churches, and school teams. As we mature, the sense of belonging becomes more expanded where you see that you are part of and belong to the planet, solar system and universe And beyond that, there's also a belonging inside us, that we are all spirit and come from the same spiritual parents, and that our home is not a physical place but a sense of peace within us that is rooted, solid and stable.

The fifth need is to create and to give. I think of creating and giving as synonymous. A true creation is a gift to the world. In the beginning the focus is the object of your creation. What is it you are creating? This is the result or product of the action of creating. These are ways we can give and create in a physical way. As a result of spiritual growth the shift is toward the process and purpose of the creation. The process of creation and or giving becomes more important than the actual result. How do you create? How do you give? What are the steps? The purpose reflects who you become as you create or give and how you are transformed through your creative and giving acts.

Sixth is the need for silence, reflection and contemplation. This is accomplished through prayer, through meditation, through thoughtfulness. It is more going into the silence, having a real experience of stillness and the silence, having a still mind even in the midst of activity. A still mind means you can have the direct grasp of Truth at any time.

The seventh need is the need for fulfillment which relates to sacrificing your energies to something greater than yourself. Early on, this is reflected in having a family so we have offspring to continue a bloodline. Once, it was important to pass on the family name, to have many children so your lineage would continue past your generation thus giving something physical to the world.

In wars people sacrifice their lives for something that's important to them such as protecting their country or to protect an ideal. That's why people fight wars. (That may not be the reason that wars are started and why people declare wars, but that is usually the reason why people fight the wars.)

In satisfying this need for fulfillment, through giving of yourself to something greater, you are sacrificing your ego in service to humanity. You recognize that your thoughts, your actions, your words penetrate the universe. They reverberate and have an effect everywhere. There's a greater sense of responsibility with what you do and the way you think.

These inner hungers must be fed through a person's life. At every age we must satisfy the needs of the soul. Adults have a deep and joyous responsibility to feed the souls of those young people around them, by offering structure and order, directing the focus and giving a vision, offering a variety of learning experiences, making a place to create and give thus giving them a place to belong, creating a space for reflection and contemplation. When these are given, young people will reach for fulfillment and their souls will be fed, producing much happiness and well-being and progress. When all are present, peace, contentment and security flourish.

So we benefit now, and in the hereafter. To the degree we are successful in nourishing the soul, we grasp Truth, we attain Wisdom and we expand our Loves to include, loving not just those closest to us, but the weak, the needy, the oppressed and even the enemies. God is Love, and as we mature spiritually, as we seek God and draw close to him (Seek and Ye Shall Find) we become more God-like and Christ-like in these ways. Again, the soul is the only part of us that survives death; our eternity is experienced through our souls. This experience will go one of two ways. We leave this body and this physical world behind, free at last and soar away in a soul, prepared and designed and nurtured to take us into the new realm, the spiritual realm, a soul that radiates the beautiful person we have become. And then of course, there is the other side of the coin, in which the soul is lost. It was never nurtured in life.

“He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”
Psalm 23:2

Often blinded by the business of life, we fail to stop and catch our breath. Psalm 23:2 reminds us to look to God to restore our soul. Personally, I feel closest to God when I’m around water of any form…rain, ponds, lakes, creeks, etc.. There’s something cleansing and refreshing about it. I do feel restored. I encourage you to take a step back from “life” and everything you feel that you have to do in order to “make ends meet.” Give due attention to the needs of the soul, find the “quiet waters,” reevaluate what matters most to you, and restore your soul.


take care…..Ric

"He who creates character in himself produces a masterpiece of far greater worth than one created out of paper, canvas, stone or wood. He who develops his mind and soul accomplishes the highest work of genius,—the loftiest achievement possible for man on earth or in heaven. Nobility of soul is the most valuable acquisition, and this is neither negotiable nor purchasable. It is obtainable only through moral, mental and spiritual endeavors."

(Frank L. and Lydia Hammer An Eternal Career, 1947)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn


The Fall season is here. I love the crisp air, the lovely rich colors…everything about Fall. Crisp, cool and absolutely beautiful. Here are just a few of the things that makes it the best season of the year for me:


1-The beautiful colors. It feels like our Heavenly Father paints a special picture just for me.

2-The smells. I don't know why but fall air smells different. At night especially. It has a crisp and almost smokey smell, almost like a fire is burning in the distance.

3-Of course football. I love our cowboys and I also love the sounds of a high school football game in the distance (especially marching bands and announcers on the tiny loudspeakers.)

4-The stores are always so fun with all their decorations and smells. It is a festive time. I like it.

5- I Love the cooler weather. It is so nice after a brutal Texas summer. But the Fall is so nice because we can wear our sweaters, jackets and sweatshirts without sweating. And my sweetie looks so good in her sweaters!!

6-And there are the fun holidays….Halloween and Thanksgiving. And although Christmas technically falls in the Winter, much of the parties and activities leading up to it immediately follow Thanksgiving and to me seem more a part of this season.

7- New TV shows are back! While summer gives us the goodness known as Big Brother, Fall brings us a plethora of new entertainment as well as the return of favorite shows.

8- PumpkinPumpkin flavors aboud - Pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumbkin bread - all of them are DELICIOUS!

9- I am reminded of the special Hope that fills my heart. As I watch things die, I am not dismayed, because I know they will return. The season reminds me that there is life after death.

10- Love. I’m not sure if it is just my imagination, but there seems to be more Love in the air. People are nicer, friendlier and just generally more pleasant. But who wouldn’t be with all the goodness in their lives at this time of the year.


May the new season bring you many blessings……Ric

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blind Boy


A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: 'I am blind, please help.' There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.

Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, 'Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?'

The man said, 'I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.' What he had written was:

"Today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it."

Do you think the first sign and the second sign were saying the same thing? Of course both signs told people the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people they were so lucky that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective?

Moral of the Story: Be thankful for what you have. Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively.

Have a nice weekend....Ric

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Red Raiders


The Red Raiders of Texas Tech are back with a dominant football team, currently ranked No. 10 in the nation. Texas Tech is 3-0 on the season, including Saturday night's 43-7 win over SMU in Lubbock. They have yet to be pushed by an opponent. They have picked up right where they left off last year, after winning the most thrilling bowl game victory in school history - a 31-28 win over Virginia in the 2008 Gator Bowl.

The Masked Rider is a mysterious and striking symbol of Texas Tech school spirit and pride. Mounted on a black quarter hourse and wearing a black mask, it is the oldest of the university's mascots still in existence today. Originally called "Ghost Rider", it was an unofficial mascot appearing in just a few games in 1936 and then becoming the official mascot with the 1954 Gator Bowl.

All the other teams had a mascot, and it is thought that TT Football Coach DeWitt believed creating a mascot for Texas Tech might aid the school's chances for admission into the SouthWest conference. Tech student Joe Kirk Fulton agreed to ride a horse named Blackie in the bowl game. According to reports from those present at the 1954 Gator Bowl, the crowd sat in stunned silence as they watched Fulton and Blackie rush onto the football field, followed by the team. After a few moments of stunned disbelief, the silent crowd burst into cheers. Ed Danforth, a writer for the Atlanta Journal and a press box spectator later wrote, "No team in any bowl game ever made a more sensational entrance."

Beginning in the early 1960s the Texas Tech marching band has played a composition written expressly for the mascot. "Ride, Raider, Ride" (commonly known as The Horse Music) is performed in quick time as the horse is galloped around the stadium sidelines. The highly spirited tune was composed by faculty member Richard Tolley, Professor of trumpet and Associate Director of Bands, 1959-1991.

In 1963, the horse, Tech Beauty, was kidnapped and spray-painted with the letters "AMC" prior to Tech's football game against rival Texas A&M.

In 1974, the selection of the first female Masked Rider, Ann Lynch, caused widespread controversy.

In 1975, the horse was kidnapped and received chemical burns after being painted with orange paint prior to Tech's football game against Texas.

In 1982 and 1992, The Masked Rider was involved in injuring an opposing school's cheerleader and a referee, respectively.

In 1994, an accident as The Masked Rider entered the football stadium resulted in the death of the horse, Double T.

In 2001, the The Masked Rider horse trailer was involved in a car accident. The horse, Black Phantom Raider, sustained serious injuries which led to his euthanization.

In 2006, The Masked Rider appeared as number twenty-four on the CollegeFootballNews.com list of "College Football's 25 Greatest Mascots".

The horse, Midnight Matador, has served as The Masked Rider's mount since 2002.

The Masked Rider is adorned from head to toe in black, including a black gaucho and a black mask like that worn by The Lone Ranger and Zorro. The only other color present is the scarlet rider's cape. The current horse is also black, although previous horses have been other colors.

Ashley Hartzog, a senior animal science and Spanish major from Farwell, dons the rider’s mask for 2008-2009. Riding Midnight Matador, Ashley will promote spirit within the university and goodwill for Texas Tech at athletic events, rodeos, parades, and many other school and civic functions across Texas. Ashley is the 47th student to serve as the Masked Rider as the program enters its 54th year.


Be good…..Ric

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hunkered Down


We battened down the hatches over here over the weekend. We were ready for the worst. We were stocked up on water and chocolate and nail polish, ready to ride out the storm. We had the essentials. We secured everything that might blow away and then we hunkered down. We were ready at any moment to go to the bathroom and lay down with a mattress over our head. Because we are prepared like that. Luckily we were spared this time around. We dodged another bullet. We are all safe. All is well and I hope you and yours are safe as well. But always remember…..in a bad storm, any port will do. In an emergency, when the storms of life come at you, always take and accept help from any source, in any place, even from an unpleasant person. Do what you have to do. There comes a time when we have to hunker down.

Be happy….Ric

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bacon


What you might ask, is the most powerful of all foodstuffs anywhere? It's the mighty meat with irresistible appeal that cuts across geographic, cultural and lifestyle boundaries. It's the early morning holy grail and the addictive equivalent of breakfast heroin.

I'm referring, of course, to bacon.

Bacon is, simply put, the most dangerously compelling -- and by extension, wonderful -- of all foods. Fried up to the firm texture of pork jerky or cooked until shatteringly crisp, the boldly-flavored pork product is usually relegated to "side dish" status in vain attempts to control overall portion size. Most of us, given even half a chance, could eat a pound every ten minutes – clogged arteries be damned.

From the first crispy bite, this deep smoked specialty caters to two of the most elemental nutritional urges -- heavy salt and comforting grease -- and comes in handy dandy "finger food" form. No need for serving utensils or complicated preparation techniques -- the only requirements are a frying pan, some kind of metal "pokin' stick," and a simple paper-lined draining plate.

Anyone who's ever cooked a full-blown "farmer's breakfast" already knows the power of bacon." Throw a pound in a hot skillet and within minutes, the most militant late risers magically stumble into the kitchen in search of coffee and a handful of post-hangover aspirin. Left unguarded, the paper-lined plate gets picked clean within seconds of being filled. (Every kitchen mastro knows the constant vigilance required to protect the bacon plate from quick-fingered pork snatchers.

When faced with the smell of pepper-cured slices sizzling in flavorful grease, who has the power to resist?

Some might try, especially if they've been meat-free for years. But even they can cave in. Once they smell the fumes rising from the black iron skillet, the confessions begin: "You know, that's the one thing I really miss..."

They then launch into Grandma stories and how she'd use the rendered grease as cooking fat for her heavenly cornbread or green beans. They wax poetic about the breakfasts that changed their lives before the Cosmo girls invented fat grams. And then -- just when they're sure I'm not looking -- they give into their deep longing and sneak a crispy morsel, escaping into a little world of pure bacon pleasure. We're all only human. "Behold. The power of bacon."

It does wonders to the human body. Protein for muscle growth and fat for the winter. And it just makes you a better lover, who would of thought it. A meal with bacon makes you happy, and a happy person is a loving person. Delicious and good for you. But as in all things delicious, moderation is the rule to follow.

Happy Sizzling……………Ric

Monday, August 25, 2008


It's school time again! After a summer of sleeping in or doing things on your time, the alarm bell announcing that first day of school can be a rude awakening. Heading back to school signals a time of transition: new classes, new teachers, new schedules, and a new social scene. You're probably feeling excited and maybe a little sad that summer is over. Some kids feel nervous or a little scared on the first day of school because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. Luckily, these "new" worries only stick around for a little while.

Dread it or love it, you gotta go to school.

What would life be like without an education? Many know the answer. And it is not a pretty picture. There are nearly one billion illiterate adults. Million of adults never had an education beyond elementary school. You probably know someone who cannot read. You may not know they cannot read, because they hide the fact. Many kids reached high school only to drop out, for one reason or another. We can be so smart at that age. Without an education, life has great challenges.

Knowledge is the key to success. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is the food of the soul.

To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to sand out in the cold.


Keeping it real.....Ric

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


We've all heard the saying that pride goeth before the fall. What is it about pride that is so attractive? What is it about pride that trips us up? Is there good pride and bad pride?

Pride is a conceited superiority. It is a part of our mind that tells us we are better than, greater than, more important than, more deserving than or more qualified than anyone else. It is an arrogance that deceives us and tries to make us believe that we don’t need God or others, we only need ourselves. Pride is all about "me, myself, and I." Pride is essentially self-worship.



Another face of pride is self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is the arrogance that says, “My way is right, no other way is right.” It’s setting oneself above others and proclaiming oneself as better than others. It is looking at the homeless person or the less educated or those with less money and thinking we are better than them.

I believe that arrogance and pride are the vain attempt to fill a hole left by a lack of self-worth. Self-worth is something much different than pride. It’s the comfortable knowledge that we have been gifted with talents that are useful and please God and other people. A quick wit or a gift for painting, a way with people or a knack for cooking, all of us have God-given talents that when practiced can astound. Self-worth recognizes these talents as having value with out the need to make them seem better than anyone else’s talent.

It's hard to stop and think for a minute, "No, I'm not worth more than anyone else, God loves us all the same and His opinion is the only one that really matters."

What is that thing that drives us to need to feel better than others?

For one, we listen to TV, especially the reality shows, where there is always a competition going on - and also advertisements that suggest if we buy a certain product we will be better than those who don’t have it.

But, I suspect it is an obsessive need to be loved. The very nature of pride says, “I don’t need you.” This drives people and God away, leaving the proud alone and lonely. Not just humanly lonely, but spiritually lonely, too. It is almost as if the proud spirit is crying out desperately for us to notice it is special when we already knew that it was. It’s the owner of the proud spirit that doesn’t know and can’t seem to understand that indeed he is special, but not better than the rest of us.

And before we all get a little puffed up with the idea that ‘we’re not like that!’ lets remember that we all are like that to one degree or another. No human has driven pride completely out. Many of us have our own little hidden prides. Hidden prides can be the most dangerous kinds of all because they are often disguised as what we believe to be virtues.

It is easy to recognize the big prides, the ones that say, “I’m bigger than, better than, more than, smarter than, wiser than anyone else. “ Inverted pride is a hidden pride that says, ‘I’m less than, worse than, uglier than, more useless than anyone else.” This kind of pride is disguised as the virtue of humility but it’s not humility at all. This too is a deflated self-worth but this one says that God made me wrong. God doesn’t do anything wrong. It is we that warp what He has made so perfectly. There are many kinds of hidden pride and our job is to sniff them out and be rid of them. They are no better than the visible prides and will do the same kinds of damage to our spirits.

Pride is a difficult thing. Pride manifests itself in selfish motives, an exaggerated ego, a low opinion of others, and disrespect for God. Most often we use the word pride where we really mean value. We tell our children, “I’m proud of you.” We really mean, “you have great value to me.” All of us want to be valuable and loved but when we become so desperate for these things, we often develop an unhealthy pride to mask our desperation.

What we really must understand is that no matter what anyone thinks of us, God loves us and made us just right. We are not perfect by any means but we are all gifted. He knows it; we must learn it and get beyond the need to let everyone know about it. Focus instead on thanking God for the great job He did.


Be cool…..Ric



"A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor." (Proverbs 29:23)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Froggy


Dexter, a big bouncy dog, was walking round in little circles with very stiff back legs. That could only mean one thing. He was mad. Very mad. He snorted and puffed and puffed and snorted. He did so much puffing and snorting and going round in circles that he began to feel sick, so he stopped.

Mattie, a rather large black cat, suddenly appeared. "Dexter, what on earth is wrong with you?" she asked. "I'm mad," he snorted. "A very rude frog has just come up to me and called me names." "That's funny," said Mattie. "He did the same to me yesterday." "What did he call you?" asked Mattie in a caring way. She liked Dexter and didn't want anyone to hurt or annoy him. Dexter didn't really want to repeat the names and so he gazed down at the grass for a long time. "Go on," urged Mattie. "I will then be able to judge how bad the names are." "Well," replied Dexter, "he called me a Biggy, Diggy, Doggy, Woggy." Mattie tried very hard not to laugh because she thought the names were quite funny. Trying to be helpful she said, "Well you are big and you do dig." "Stop," cried Dexter. "I do not wish to be called biggy or diggy or doggy or woggy." "Sorry," said Mattie still trying not to smile.

"Anyway, Mattie, what did the frog call you?" asked Dexter with a cheeky look on his face. Now it was Mattie's turn to look away. "I'd rather not say," she replied shyly. "Oh go on. Tell me, tell me, tell me," said Dexter who was pleased that he wasn't the only one to be called names. "Well," Mattie said, "he called me Scratty, Fat, Mattie, Catty." Dexter laughed out loud. He just couldn't help himself. Then he quickly stopped laughing because he could see how upset Mattie was. Trying to be helpful he said, "Well you are a cat, and Mattie is your name and...." he stopped here and gave a little cough, "...you are a little fat." "But I am not scratty," Mattie cried. "What does that mean?" asked Dexter puzzled. "I don't know, but I don't like the sound of it," said Mattie still upset.

"I have an idea," said Dexter. "Let's go and find this frog and tell him off." "OK," said Mattie, who wasn't sure if she wanted to see this rude frog again, The two of them set off into the forest and soon bumped into their friend Dusty the rabbit. Dusty had a clever way of getting out of her hutch, and none of the grown-ups knew how she did it, but that's another story.

Today Dusty was looking a little upset, so Dexter and Mattie asked her what was wrong. "I've just seen this very rude frog," began Dusty, and both Dexter and Mattie said at the same time, "and he called you names." "How did you know that?" asked Dusty. "Did you hear what he called me?" "No," said
Mattie, "but he has done the same to us." Dusty began to feel a little better, but she still wasn't happy.



Dexter, who always wanted to know everything about everybody, asked Dusty what she had been called. "Don't laugh," pleaded Dusty, She cleared her throat and said, "He called me a Dummy Bunny with a Funny Tummy." Both Mattie and Dexter burst out laughing and poor old Dusty just sat there in silence. "Don't worry," said Mattie gently, "he called me Scratty Fat Mattie Catty and Dexter a Biggy Diggy Doggy Woggy." This brought a smile to Dusty's face and she began to feel a little better. "We are trying to find the frog and tell him off," said Dexter. "Do you want to come with us?" "Yes please," said Dusty and the little party of three set off deeper into the forest.

It wasn't long before they came to the swampy part of the wood. Frogs like these kinds of places and sure enough after a few minutes the cheeky frog appeared and hopped up to them. "Hi," he said in a friendly croak. "Don't you try and be friendly with us," said Dexter. "You have upset us all with your silly names." The frog looked surprised. "Why have I upset you? I was only being friendly. Sometimes," said the frog, "when you have good friends, you call them names. Not nasty names, but friendly silly names. That's what I did with you," "Oh," said Mattie a little surprised. "Do you mean that those names were meant to be friendly? "Yes," said the frog. "I only call people I like silly names. That means I would like them to be my friends and play with me some time."

Dexter, Mattie and Dusty thought about this for some time and decided the frog was probably telling the truth. After all the names did make them all laugh. "Ok," said Dexter. "We believe you, and we will come and play with you, but first we have to think up a name for you." "OK," said the frog happily. He liked names. Mattie, Dexter and Dusty put their heads together and thought hard, and finally came up with a name. The frog waited by the swamp.

"We've got a name for you," said Dusty. The frog hopped eagerly back to the little group. "We are going to call you the Iggy Oggy Bog Frog." The frog hopped up and down in delight. He loved it and thanked the little group for such a fine name.

The four of them said they would all come back the next day and play games with each other. So Iggy Oggy Bog Frog, Dummy Bunny with the Funny Tummy, Scratty Fat Mattie Catty and Biggy Diggy Doggy Woggy all went home happy that it had all ended so well. Having silly names wasn't such a bad idea after all.

The forest went quiet for a while, and then the frog returned and sat by the side of the swamp. He'd never had so many different animal friends and he'd never been given a name before. He was so pleased that he began to sing to himself, "I'm the Iggy Oggy Bog Frog." All the trees whispered back, "He's the Iggy Oggy Bog Frog." Iggy Oggy sighed with pleasure. He was indeed a very happy boggy froggy.

Tricky Ricky

Friday, August 8, 2008

What Goes Around, Comes Around


The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like that she had never missed a meal in her life.

His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.

'Leave me alone,' he growled.

To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling --her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. 'Are you hungry?' she asked. 'No,' he answered sarcastically. 'I've just come from dining with the President. Now go away.' The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.

'What are you doing, lady?' the man asked angrily. 'I said to leave me alone.

Just then a policeman came up. 'Is there any problem, ma'am?' he asked.

'No problem here, officer,' the woman answered. 'I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?'

The officer scratched his head. 'That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?'

'See that cafeteria over there?' she asked. 'I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.'

'Are you crazy, lady?' the homeless man resisted. 'I don't want to go in there!' Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up.

'Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything.'

'This is a good deal for you, Jack,' the officer answered. 'Don't blow it.'

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table.

'What's going on here, officer?' he asked. 'What is all this. Is this man in trouble?'

'This lady brought this man in here to be fed,' the policeman answered.

'Not in here!' the manager replied angrily. 'Having a person like that here is bad for business.'

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. 'See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place.'

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. 'Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?'

'Of course I am,' the manager answered impatiently. 'They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.'

'And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?'

'What business is that of yours?'

'I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.'

'Oh'

The woman smiled again. 'I thought that might make a difference' She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. 'Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?'

'No thanks, ma'am,' the officer replied. 'I'm on duty.'

'Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?'

'Yes, ma'am. That would be very nice.'

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel . 'I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer.'

The officer watched him walk away. 'You certainly put him in his place,' he said.

'That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.'

She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently. 'Jack, do you remember me?'

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes 'I think so - I mean you do look familiar.'

'I'm a little older perhaps,' she said. 'Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.'

'Ma'am?' the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

'I was just out of college,' the woman began. 'I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.'

Jack lit up with a smile. 'Now I remember,' he said. 'I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.'

'I know,' the woman continued. 'Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register. I knew then that everything would be all right.'

'So you started your own business?' Old Jack said.

'I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.' She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. 'When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for
you to do around the office.' She smiled. 'I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet.

'If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you.'

There were tears in the old man's eyes. 'How can I ever thank you?' he said.

'Don't thank me,' the woman answered. 'To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus... He led me to you.'

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. 'Thank you for all your help, officer,' she said.

'On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,' he answered.

'Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget.
And... And thank you for the coffee.'




Wishing you well.....Ric

Friday, August 1, 2008


I am a word person, I like words, both written and spoken. There is nothing more powerful, I believe, than the right words spoken at the right time. Sometimes I write words, sometimes speak them publicly, which means they are either read or heard, they somehow go out into the air. I try to have words to share that are encouraging and uplifting and loving, but Remember: even if my words touch your heart, having said them or written them gives me no special credits in heaven. My life is what matters, as is yours.


My life is my word, and it is my choice to bring good or ill with it- with my life, and not just my words.


I hope, yes, I do, to be able to bring my little estate of goodness to the world to share it. And who knows, it just might prime a pump that starts a larger process, and things might begin to become what they ought to have been.


We have far too many words these days between blogs and newspapers and the Internet and TV and radio. Maybe a vow of silence would be in order. I've often wondered about communication without words. What if we could not speak? How would we communicate the timeless truths? How could we communicate affection? How could we tell people we are in love, or angry or hurt?


I use words, I have to, but I also have to live them. Talk is cheap. It is not enough to say I love you. If he or she really does love you, you will know by their actions, regardless of what their words say.


Wishing you the best....Ric

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Taking Time to Smell the Roses


I would like to share with all of you a thought that I feel is very important.

Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is a way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day.

So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, as you go along through your day, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn't have to be something you see, it could be a scent -- perhaps of freshly baked bread, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light breaks through the window early in the day.

Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the "stuff" of life - the little things we are put here on earth to enjoy - the things we often take for granted. We must make it important to notice them, for at any time...it can all be taken away.

Take notice of something special you see on your lunch hour today. Michelle came and had lunch with me and we spent some time talking about a butterfly we were noticing. Stop off on the way
home tonight to get a double-dip ice cream cone. Pay attention to the rain.

For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn't do.

“Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened. Enjoy your life to the fullest."

Wishing you well,Ric

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Consider The Cigar


"A fine cigar is the essence of life. The tobacco plant comes from the earth, from which we ourselves were created. Like ourselves, each leaf grows and is nurtured individually, acquiring its own characteristics, and is then graded, sorted, and matured according to their special abilities. As tobacco comes to its graduation in the making of cigars, as with the making of adults, some is left on the cutting room table and become ordinary, run-of-the-mill products. Some graduate into leadership and areas of responsibility, but a few achieve greatness, and even a touch of immortality. "

American humorist, Mark Twain, said, "If I cannot smoke cigars in heaven, I shall not go!"

Someone once said, "There are five things, above all else, that make life worth living: a good relationship with God, a good woman, good health, good friends, and a good cigar. "

A proverb states, "God made tobacco grow to put a smile on the faces of men."

"Blessed be the man who invented the cigar, the soother and comforter of a troubled spirit, allayer of angry passions, and comfort through life."

And, it has been said, "A fine cigar is like a fine woman. They come in all shapes and sizes. Treat them tenderly and lovingly. Caress their skin, admire their beauty, fondle them with reverence. Bring them slowly to your lips, enjoy their flavor, their aroma. Contemplate their essence, their dependability, and forgive them their weaknesses - if there be any. Revel in the rituals, their simplicity and their enduring meanings. Do these things, my son, and the blessings of life shall always be upon you."

To me, there's something about smoking a cigar that feels like a celebration. It just makes the day, the moment, feel special.


Enjoy, Ric

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day


My Dad is my hero.

He has always been there for me. There has never been a day in my life, when I couldn’t count on him being there if I needed him. If I needed advice, as I often do when hard or difficult decisions are to be made, I knew he would give me his best.

He has always there for me when I needed him. He listened to me when I needed him to. He pushed when I didn’t want him to. He taught be so many things.

I know that Dad had an important job. He was working to change the world, one sermon at a time. I learned from him about true religion. He has that quality that all heroes have in common. They have religion. By religion I do not mean the church creed he professes. But it is that we sometimes refer to as character. It is that which he truly believes. It is that which is the primary thing for him. And it has nothing to do with church or Sundays.

I learned that the thoughts we have are the parents of the actions we do. Our feelings are the parents of our thoughts. It is the unseen and spiritual within us that determines the outward and actual. My dad taught me this. And this was and has been his life, seeking to help us become the person we want to be, by showing us how to believe. Believe in ourselves, believe in others and to believe in something much bigger than ourselves, eternity, and to believe in the faith that moved him and sustained him in life.

When I say he is my hero, I mean that I hope to be like him. His love for others, his kindnesses, his great smile and disposition, are all things I admire.

He is not perfect. Who is? But he has so much that I Iong for. I try to be a dad myself like him. If I ever don’t know what to do, all I have to do is ask myself, what would Dad do?

He is technically, not my dad, but my step dad. My real dad died 4 months before I was born. He came into my life when I was two years old. He and my mom married then. They had two kids together, but they raised me with them, and he always loved me as much as his own. There has never been any difference, or ever any partiality shown to them over me, in all these years. His love for me is amazing.

I keep telling you how blessed I have been. This is just another of those many blessings I have known.

To all the Fathers out there, Happy Fathers Day…..Ric

Friday, June 13, 2008

Prayer


What comes to mind when you think about prayer?

Do you think of someone on his or her knees, eyes squeezed shut, lips moving and hands clasped tightly together? Do you think of the beautiful and carefully written prayers we hear at church on Sundays? Do you think of children kneeling by their beds with their mothers? Or maybe of the desperate prayers in the family room outside the Intensive Care Unit?

Regardless of the place or time, prayer changes the one praying because in prayer, you are in the presence of God as you lay before Him your complete self in confession and dependence. There is nothing to hide when we are reaching into the deepest part of ourselves and admitting our needs and failures. In so doing, our hearts are quieted and pride is stripped and we enjoy the presence of God. James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."


I am reminded of another benefit of prayer: peace. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus," (Phil. 4:6-7).

May you find time to pray. I urge you to pray everyday. I am putting in here my daily prayer. I use this prayer. I often add to the end any specific situations or people on my mind to pray for. I give it to you to use, if you will.




Let us pray to the One who holds us in the hollow of His hands.

Heavenly Father, Please help me pray. I pray with all love and faith and trust.


And what shall we pray? Let us say, "thank you."

I give Thee thanks Lord for all Thy mercies Lord, seen and unseen.

I give thanks for eternal life, for the heavenly joys of the Kingdom which awaits me.
Grant mercy to us who sing Thy praise, both now and in the time to come. Glory to Thee O God, from age to age.

Lord, I thank you for the privilege and gift of living in a world filled with beauty and excitement and variety. I thank you for the givt of loving and being loved, for the love, concern, encouragement, friendliness and understanding of the people in my life... for the purity and innocence in the children, for the beauty of the animals of the world, &
for the colors in nature around me and the sound of the water falling from the sky. Thank you for the life that is mine. I thank you for the delights of music and children, for other people's thoughts and conversation and for their books to read from to learn from and be enlightened and encouraged.

And what shall we pray? Let us say, "please forgive me."

Father, I am blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me. Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness. Thank you for your forgiveness.
And Lord, direct my steps in the paths of righteousness.

And what shall we pray? Let us say, "Lord Bless Us."

Please keep me safe from all danger and harm and evil in the world. Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Let me make the best of each and every day to clear my mind so that I can hear from You. Lord draw me closer to You. Reveal Thyself that I would find Eternal truth, Immortal love & The Christian way of life. Pleading, Lord, I come to Thee For all the things that I would know. But most of all, that I would know Thee.

I pray that I will always remember and trust there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than God. Every battle I turn over to you Lord, it is in Your hands for You to fight. I pray that these words be received into the hearts of every person who hears or reads this and may each person be blessed accordingly and have faith to release their battles to You willingly.

And what shall we pray? Let us say, "Lord fill me with your Holy Spirit."

Come Holy Spirit, fill my heart, Assist me in all the trials of life, enlighten me in my ignorance, advise me in my doubts, strengthen me in my weakness, help me in all my needs, Pour thy light into my heart, my soul, and my mind.

Father, I ask You to bless my family, friends, relatives and those that I care deeply for, and each and every person who has requested I pray on their behalf. Show them a new revelation of Your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them Your peace and mercy. Where there is self- doubt, release a renewed confidence through Your grace. Where there is need, I ask you to fulfill their needs. Bless their homes and families, their goings and their comings. Lord, Bless them richly, each and every one.

This I pray, In Jesus' precious name.
Let all who agree, say Amen

God Bless….Ric

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ducks in a Row


I have compulsive behaviors…


…I chew the insides of my cheeks, the backs of my lips. I bite my nails – I bite the skin around my nails.
…I often am obsessed with symmetry. If I step on a crack with my right foot, I often feel an irresistible urge to step on a crack with my left foot. If I have five chairs on the right side, I need to have 5 chairs on the left side. I need balance. I need my closet in order and correctly balanced. I need my books on the shelf to be in order. I need like things kept together.


These days my compulsive rituals are mostly hidden and do not cause me great problems. I still bite my cheeks. I still pick at the skin on my fingers from time to time, and sometimes I tap out a drumbeat in my head. No one knows that I do this because I hide my percussion instrument behind my closed lips.

I have rituals. I do everything in the same order when getting dressed each morning. I have a “arriving at work” ritual which involves about 30 minutes of stuff before I am ready to get started on the days projects.

It's funny because in many areas of my life I have found peace. I am at peace with the jobs I have and my direction and calling in the world. I am at peace with my small sphere of influence or power in the world. I am relaxed and at peace with my marriage and my friends and my children.

But I cannot deny that when I am alone, I'm still a nail-biting, cheek-biting bundle of tics and funny habits. When no one is watching, I see the signs that indicate I am a bit anxious and fearful about something. But what?

Doctors have suggested that compulsive behavior can be remedied with medications. It does not seem right to me. Our behavior tells something about us. But I don’t know just what this says about me for sure.


Maybe its because I still have some unbalance that needs correcting - Maybe because I am anxious to get some area of my life back in order again. A couple areas come to mind, and plans are in motion to restore that order. Maybe I need reassurance that you like me just the way I am. I know that, but not sure why I would need reassurance. With my eyes half closed and my defenses down, perhaps I can hear the voice of my Father in heaven, who loves me as I am and leads me along the winding path of this spiritual journey.

"Do not worry, Ric, when you realize that you have not yet arrived. After all, there would be no journey if you had nowhere left to go."


May all your ducks be in a row….Ric

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mexico


Mexico is a popular vacation spot with its beautiful beaches and warm weather. White sands and blue waters entice tourists from all over the U.S. A trip to Mexico can be an inexpensive vacation or honeymoon.

I have known many to go vacation in Mexico and done just fine. But I have known others who weren't as lucky. Many have heard horror stories of things that have happened to Americans traveling south of the border. This is not intended to be a deterrent from going to Mexico. As a smart traveler you need to aware of the danger.


Crime is a reality for American tourists in many places. But recently, things have become a lot worse in Mexico . Violent criminal activity, fueled by a war between criminal organizations struggling for control of the lucrative narcotics trade, continues along the U.S.-Mexico border. The conditions in Juarez, Mexico, have been serious for a long time as more than 410 persons have been slain in that city this year, most as part of a war between competing drug cartels. Many police have been killed. The warning to all residents, pleading actually, is just stay off the streets. They cannot stop the fighting and killing.


Americans have been raped, robbed and murdered while visiting Mexico. Many tourists who go to Cancun and other popular resorts are not often victimized. But veering off the beaten path even a little can be extremely dangerous. Widespread police corruption is a big part of the problem. Most all police are crooks. They do accept bribes. If fact, if you get stopped for something, offer them a $100 bill, and most times you can walk away.

An alarming number of Americans are being attacked in taxies, on buses, some even on the beach. Yet most visitors to Mexico know nothing about the crimes there or how to protect themselves. Mexico is in the midst of a massive crime wave brought on by a severe economic crisis. These are not the pictures you'll see in the travel brochures, but this is reality in Mexico these days.


Local news cameras last year watched armed bandits work in the open, using their guns to stop cars so they could rob the passengers. On another street, a team of muggers operates with apparent impunity, leaving a man unconscious in broad daylight. Just 15 minutes later, the same group attacks another victim, and during it all, a police officer stands just a few yards away. They have guns and it is illegal for you to have a gun.


Cab rides often result in muggings, robbing you of your cash and credit cards and severe harm if don’t give them your pin numbers to your cards. State Department now warns travelers to never hail a cab on the street.


Often tourists are forced into cars or vans, driven around and beaten and robbed, and kicked out in some unknown and often bad part of town, left with nothing but their clothes. No money, no ID, often injured and scared and no where to turn for help.

Carol Schlosberg was raped and murdered last month - just last month - on a beach just outside the resort of Puerto Escondido. Carol went for a walk on the beach shortly after noon. It was on of her favorite things to do. They believe Carol was attacked because she walked alone. Mexican women will never travel anywhere by themselves. They always go with a companion - another woman, a friend or whatever. You may notice they still do that when here in the US...a habit I guess. They know better than to do that because these things to happen. Lone women and even pairs of women should be very cautious about going to isolated beach spots.


Bandits occasionally hold up buses, cars and other vehicles on intercity routes, especially at night, taking luggage or valuables. Sometimes buses are robbed by people who board as passengers. The best ways to avoid highway robbery are to travel by day and to travel on toll highways as much as possible. Deluxe and 1st-class buses use toll highways, where they exist; 2nd-class buses do not.

Pocket-picking and purse snatching are risks on crowded buses, subway trains, at bus stops, bus stations, airports, markets, packed streets and plazas, and anywhere frequented by large number of tourists - especially in Mexico City and other large cities. Pickpockets often work in team, crowding in on their victims in already crowded places like markets or city buses; one or two of them may grab your bag or camera (or arm or leg), and while your are trying to get free another will pick your pocket. Or one may "drop" something as a crowd jostles onto a bus and, as he or she "looks for it," a pocket will be picked or a bag slashed. The objective is to distract you. If your valuables are underneath your clothing, the chances of losing them are greatly reduced.



Leave most of your money, credit cards, passport, jewelry and air tickets in a sealed, signed envelope in your hotel’s safe, unless you have immediate need of these items. Virtually all hotels, except the very cheapest, provide safekeeping for guests’ valuables.

If you have to leave money, cards or checks in your room, divide them into several stashes and hide them in different places.

Carry a small amount of ready money – just enough for the outing you’re on – in a pocket. If you have to carry valuables, avoid making your pockets bulge with them, and preferably keep them in a money belt, shoulder wallet or pouch underneath your clothing.

Walk with purpose and be alert to people around you.

Don’t keep cash, credit cards, purses, bags or cameras in open view any longer than you have to. At ticket counters in bus stations and airports, keep your bag between your feet.

Use ATMs only in secure locations, not those open to the street, and try to use them during daylight.

Do not drive if you can avoid it. Many bad things can happen when you are driving in Mexico.


Don’t accept lifts offered by strangers.

Be careful about accepting food or drinks from strangers, especially in resort cities and on buses; there have been cases of drugging followed by robbery and assault, including sexual assault.

Go easy on alcohol: it reduces your awareness and reactions and makes you an easier victim.

Be wary of attempts at credit-card fraud. One method is when the cashier swipes your card twice (once for the transaction and once for nefarious purposes). Keep your card in sight at all times.

The poverty is severe in Mexico. 20 million people in Mexico live on less than two dollars a day. Sixty million people, half the Mexican population, live in poverty, and 20 million of them live in extreme poverty. Most of the time, garbage is their food, and some days, they don't even eat anything. Folks, it is awful. And getting worse. And the worse it gets, the more tourists are at risk - at risk from those who are just mean and at risk from those just trying to survive.



The poverty in Mexico is literally “beyond belief.” That is why we have so many illegal’s working for so little here. It is way better than what they know back home.


For example, the lower middle class in Mexico cannot dream of buying a home because not only do they not have enough money to buy it up front ,no one will lend them money. The country doesn't enjoy the loan mechanisms we enjoy here. The minimum wage is so low that it is impossible to provide for a family on minimum wage alone. The unemployment is over 30%. Over 6 million unemployed workers and growing everyday. Services and sanitation are not very good. The adult literacy rate is only 87%. The mean years of schooling for a Mexican is only 4.7 years. Nearly half of Mexico's population lives below the poverty line. That is about 42 million people living in poverty. 4.5 million people in Mexico are homeless. This number does not include the millions who live in subhuman conditions with no services such as water ,electricity or sewage.

Conditions are very bad in most of Mexico. These conditions are not easily seen from the tourist location, but be sure they are there, and the criminals and those desperate to eat and survive will not think twice about taking what is yours. So be safe out there.



Hope this summer brings you a good vacation somewhere safe....Ric

Monday, June 9, 2008

The War


Evil tyrants, not war, are the real source of atrocities…. and war is the only way to stop them. When something is important enough, or you want something enough, you will fight for it.


War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The person that thinks nothing is worth war, that nothing is worth fighting for, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the efforts of better men than himself.

When you think of the Iraqi conflict, you either believe that Bush is just "crazy", or that we went there for legitimate purposes to free Iraqi people, or that we went there to protect ourselves from being attacked.

The problem with any of these points of views is that none of them adequately coincide with any event.

What I mean by that is that if you believe we went there to free Iraqis, there is no logical reason why we went there when we did. Iraqis have been suffering for years. When are we going to invade Mexico? The corruption in Mexico is disgraceful and that government needs to be toppled.

If you believe we went into Iraq to protect ourselves, there is no logical reason why we would have targeted Iraq because there are no obvious ties between Iraq and terrorism.

If you believe we went there because Bush is a sadistic loon, well, that also would have been consistent before 9/11, so there is no reason why the war would have begun in 2003.

Although there may be other reasons why you support or oppose the war in Iraq, I have yet to encounter anyone in either view that provided me with a premise behind why it happened when it happened.

But Consider this:

In November, 2000, Iraq began selling its oil in Euros, becoming the first OPEC country to abandon its ties to the US dollar.

What significance does this hold?

In simple economics, we understand that a country's dollar value is determined by the level of demand that exists for that currency. For example... if a country prints too many dollar bills and opens them up to the public via grants, higher interest rates, or by feeding the economy by hiring local companies, it floods the market with more of its currency. As with anything in business, the more supply there is, the less demand there is, hence the value of the dollar goes down.

As the value of the dollar goes down, the governmental body that controls a majority of the money, the interest rates, and the currency loses power, because the value of that money becomes less and less.

Well, on January 1st, 1999, 11 European countries joined together to form a joint currency called the EURO. Britain and Norway were two that were absent from this union of currency, and still trade using their own currencies.

These 11 countries were: AUSTRIA BELGIUM FINLAND FRANCE GERMANY GREECE IRELAND ITALY LUXEMBOURG NETHERLANDS PORTUGAL SPAIN .

The EURO is valued at approximately $1.30 US as of today.

Back to oil.

Right now Saudi Arabia and Iraq are two of the largest oil producers on the planet. Prior to the 2000 change to Euros by Iraq, most of the oil on the planet was purchased in US dollars, as 2/3 rds of the commonly traded currency in the world is US dollars. This is called a "Reserve Currency".

It is widely known and accepted that the US has struck a deal with the Saudis which provides them with US support in the Middle East, in exchange for their continued support of the US dollar by selling their oil in only US dollars. Iraq also promoted the value of the US dollar by selling their oil in that currency, but decided to sell their oil in only Euros in 2000.

What did that mean for the US dollar?

Well, what that means if you've been following me this far is that the demand for the US dollar would drop internationally, as many countries that obtained oil from Iraq would no longer convert their currency to US currency to obtain it. Instead, they would boost the demand for Euros by purchasing Euros.

This would benefit all the European countries utilizing the EURO, and affect the US dollar in a negative way. This is why it was countries like France, Germany and Russia that pressured Saddam Hussein into changing Iraq's trade currency.

Back to November 2000. So Iraq becomes the first large oil supplier in the world to begin trading in the EURO versus the US dollar. This, in itself, did not dramatically affect the value of the EURO or the US dollar. However, almost immediately following it other oil producing countries began toying with the possibility of following suit. Oil producing countries such as Iran, Libya, Venezuela, Russia, Indonesia, and Malaysia all began trading oil in Euros, thereby pushing it to become the world's second "Reserve Currency".

The repercussions of such a domino effect would effectively reduce the value of the US dollar by 20 to 40 percent v. the EURO, likely making the EURO at least equal to the dollar as a "Reserve Currency".

Following 9/11 and the incomplete invasion of Afghanistan, the US quickly proceeded to invade Iraq, the only OPEC country in the world to defy the US dollar. Their coalition of forces included Britain and Norway, two of the main European countries that did not partake in joining with the EURO. Of the 11 countries that were trading using the EURO, only Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands took part.

On the other side, France, Germany, Russia and China opposed the war, amongst others. France and Germany mainly because their currency was being threatened, and China and Russia because they also converted a substantial portion of their dollar reserves to Euros.

The US gained a few things by invading and occupying Iraq. Firstly, they sent a message to any OPEC countries that attempted to switch to the EURO, thereby devaluating the US dollar. Secondly, they now controlled the world's second largest oil supply. Thirdly, they almost immediately began trading in, yes you guessed it, US dollars, thereby maintaining its demand. Fourthly, they now have a military presence in the center of the Middle East. Fifthly, they struck a blow against the EURO, the main competitor to the US dollar.

It is theorized that if the Iraq war did not take place, and more oil producing countries switched to the EURO, the US dollar would crash, thereby causing a literal catastrophe in the US economy. Our world as we know it would have come crashing down.

This entire underlying purpose to the war in Iraq is not televised, nor is it well known amongst pro-war or anti-war enthusiasts.

It is important to note that almost every country that had a strong interest in boosting the EURO opposed the war, and every country that had a strong interest in preserving the US dollar supported the war.

Also important is the fact that the US abandoned the invasion of Afghanistan prematurely to focus on Iraq, certifying that Afghanistan was the foot in the door, but not the true purpose.

Interestingly enough, it is agreed upon by all parties involved that a "War on Terrorism" will never truly be finished, and that it is a very indefinite and lengthy process, as stated by the president himself. This does adequately permit the US government to protect the US dollar wherever it may be threatened, under the guise of terrorism for legitimacy and public support.

But the value of our Dollar and the strength of our economy is something that has to be protected. It is worth fighting for and It is the foundation of all we have and enjoy each day.


Wishing you the best ...Ric

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Iced Tea


Being born and raised in Texas, I am as familiar with drinking iced tea as my friend Joe is with ugly women. He says those ugly ones need love too.

While I suppose that most Americans have a glass of iced tea from time to time during the summer, we Texans couldn't survive without the brew on a daily basis 12 months of the year. We drink it whenever and wherever food is served, morning, noon, and night, and we drink it anytime just to be drinking it. We drink it at casual cookouts and formal dinners. And we drink as much of it in fancy restaurants as we do at barbecue joints. I sometimes drink it for breakfast. You will almost always be able to find iced tea in my house, morning, noon or night. Visit my house and don’t be surprised to hear me say, "Hey, how 'bout a glass of ice' tea?"

Iced tea is the sacred beverage of Texans and has been ever since ice became readily available some years ago.


The varieties are endless.

Plain old "ice' tea." But there's also sugar tea (highly sweetened), mint tea (with bruised fresh mint leaves), lemon tea, and sun tea (a gallon container of cold water and tea placed in the hot sun for three or four hours to develop ultimate flavor). I also like a squeeze of lemon or lime in my iced tea, but some wouldn't dream of destroying the flavor of their everyday brew with sugar or lemon or anything else.


So ingrained has iced tea become in our lives here in Texas, we too enjoy some satisfying and even legendary alcoholic libations based all around iced tea. Anyone for some Jack Daniel’s whiskey tea? How about a Long Island Iced Tea? Ever had tea punch?


We Texans love our iced tea. We are not fanatics about it, mainly because we pretty much take for granted being able to get a good glass of iced tea, properly served, 365 days at year at most any restaurant. And yes, we like it year round, not just when the summer days are searing. Iced tea – What a fabulous beverage! Your summer will go a lot better if you keep your place stocked with that delicious iced tea!


Wishing you the best. Ric

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mothers Day


The young mother set her foot on the path of life.
"Is this the long way?" she asked. And the guide said: "Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning." But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams; and the sun shone on them, and the young Mother cried, "Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."
Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, "Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come."
And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children, "A little patience and we are there." So the children climbed and when they reached the top, they said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you." And the mother, when she lay down at night looked up at the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today, I have given them strength."
And with the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth, clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: "Look up. Lift your eyes to the light." And the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the Mother said, "This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God." And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage.
And when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And mother said: "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them."
And the children said, "You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates." And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence." Your Mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well. Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every tear drop. She's the place you came from, your first home; and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you...Not time, not space...not even death!