Sunday, May 12, 2013

THAT was unexpected!

Hi everyone,

I just want to leave a quick note to say thank you to everyone who read, posted, shared and otherwise spread my last blog post around the web.

I wrote that piece late on a Friday night and went to bed just felling a little better that I got some concerns off my chest. While I'm used to thousands of people listening to me on the radio and watching me on television, I was not expecting the response that article received.

When I woke up on Saturday, there were several hundred views already. My midday, there were about 3,000 views. That's just the number of people who clicked on my blog. My understanding is that the article was copied and pasted on other blogs and websites and I received some notes that told me some talk radio stations (both online and over-the-air) read the article on the air.

Within a week or so, there were over 23,000 views on my blog page.

Many of you agree with my take on the whole situation, some disagree. Either way, thank you for viewing it and thank you to everyone who left comments.

I guess my late-night writing session contributed something, in some small way, to a discussion I think America needs to have about personal rights and personal privacy.

This blog is usually not political. Then again, I don't think my post was political. It was designed to encourage us all to look at our culture. What do we value? Can there be a balance between safety/security and our God-given, natural rights as enumerated in the Constitution?

That's the discussion I wish we had in a more robust way these days.

Anyway, the typical blog post here gets a couple hundred views so seeing nearly 24,000 has been an amazing thing to see.

I'll try to blog more often, although the things on my mind aren't always this controversial.

Again, thank you all for reading, sharing, agreeing or disagreeing as part of the life cycle of this article.


Friday, April 19, 2013

About that Boston thing: America, I have some questions.

This may tick off some folks. If that's you, I don't apologize but feel free to write your disagreement in the comments. As long as they aren't vulgar or threatening, I'll leave them in place because I'm a grown up and can handle criticism.

I've been in the media for many years now. Most of that time has been spent on the news side of the business. I've been a reporter, an anchor, a host and an interviewer. I've been in politics from time to time but got out of activism a few years ago. Since then, I've avoided making political comments on Facebook or Twitter and hope this isn't considered a political statement. It's designed to be something about culture.
In the news business, we often brag about our role that demands we ask the tough questions of those in charge. There's quite a bit of self-importance felt in newsrooms, to be honest. That's because we feel we're called to hold important people accountable for their decisions and we're supposed to be generally skeptical of things.
So, I want to question some very important The American people.
As I type this, the 19-year-old who is suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon has apparently just been captured. There are cheers out loud and cheers online over that.
If he did it, then I'm thrilled that he's in police custody.
But, America, I have some questions for you because I've been watching your decisions that I think deserve skepticism.
Maybe I was one of the few who didn't feel good about hearing that a "lock down" had been ordered for Boston, one of our nation's largest cities. Then, that lock down was expanded to surrounding towns. People were told to stay inside and only open the door for approved, uniformed government personnel.
Over a million people were ordered to not engage in commerce, not to earn money to pay their bills and deny their children an education that day. A few city and state officials (maybe just one or two) made that decision for them without any objection from what I could see.
That personnel went door to door, demanding unquestioned access to search homes without a warrant. Those teams exited their military Humvees equipped with machine guns and body armor, they demanded to be let in even if the homeowner knew for a fact the teenager they were looking for was not there.

Image from Yahoo
It was for everyone's own good, though, and access was granted. Maybe some didn't like it but, hey, all these guys have big guns and who's going to argue with that?
Yes, I know what the suspect is accused of doing. I am no less angry about it than you are. If the young man who was captured is guilty, then I hope he gets a speedy and fair trial, a just conviction and the harshest penalty possible.
Government even pleaded with media and individuals to not communicate in certain ways. Your Tweet or Facebook post might tip the suspect off as to where they are, so stop talking to each other.
You don't want the bad guy to get away, right? Just comply and give up your rights for a little while, people were told. It's for your safety.
I guess my surprise is at the fact those demands and those actions were apparently not at least controversial.
How did we get to a point where thousands of people, without objection or even question, comply with unilateral orders to not earn a living, not go to school, not go on vacation, not enjoy that day off and visit the coffee shop?
Well, America (not just Boston, because I believe the same response would have happened anywhere in this nation), this has been a long time coming and you've forgotten how you got us here.
After 9/11, we were told we had to be safer, so the government put blue shirt nobodies between us and our travel. They ordered us to stand down as they did things to our bodies that, in any other circumstance, would be prosecuted as sexual assault.
We complained. We asked "if we give up this portion of our rights, what's next?" We demanded to be treated like free people and not criminal suspects. We were told that safety required it. We were told how these objections were unreasonable. It's not a big deal, after all; it's just a little inconvenience and it's worth it.
You don't want someone to sneak something dangerous on the plane, do you? Now get rid of that shampoo.
So, the complaints eventually dissipated and what once made us angry is now hardly noticed. It's the new normal and we're conditioned to accept it.
But, it didn't stop there.
Government demanded that we submit our financial information to them when we open even a basic bank account. God forbid you deposit a large amount of money in it at once - that has to be reported as well, even when there's no suspicion of a crime taking place.
We complained. We asked "if we give up this portion of our rights, what's next?" We demanded to be treated like free people and not criminal suspects. We were told safety required it. We were told how these objections were unreasonable. It's not a big deal, after all; it's just a quick form on the computer. It's just a little inconvenience and it's worth it.
You don't want to allow someone to covertly finance something dangerous, do you? Now sign here so we can send your information to Washington's database.
The complaints lasted a short time and what once made us wary is now just accepted as part of doing business. It's the new normal and we're conditioned to accept it.
Government then decided it needs access to our personal communications. Our email, our social media, our movie and book rental history, even.
We complained. We asked "if we give up this portion of our rights, what's next?" We demanded to be treated like free people and not criminal suspects. We were told safety required it. We were told how these objections were unreasonable. It's not a big deal, after all; you won't even notice that someone else is looking in or tracking. It's not even an inconvenience and it's worth it.
You don't want a potential terrorist to be able to coordinate an attack online, do you? Or to learn at the library or on the web how to harm someone, do you? Now look the other way, snap that picture of your breakfast burrito, hit "submit" and stop worrying about it.
The complaints died down and what once gave us flashbacks to an Orwell novel is now just accepted as part of life. It's the new normal and we're conditioned to accept it.
But, America, since we demand safety, government wants to do more than just protect us from terrorists.
All over the nation, your purchase of a perfectly legal item must now be government approved and tracked.
Government in most states demanded that we turn over our identification to a complete stranger at a private business when we need medicine for our cold or allergies. That product is approved for sale on the shelves, but your purchase of it goes into a database even when there's no hint you have any part in a crime.
We complained. We asked "if we give up this portion of our rights, what's next?" We demanded to be treated like free people and not criminal suspects. We were told safety required it. We were told how these objections were unreasonable. It's not a big deal, after all; it only takes a second. It's only a small inconvenience and it's worth it.
You don't want a drug dealer to get another child hooked on meth, do you? Now let me see your I.D. for the tracking software.
The complaints washed away and what once insulted our very being isn't even noticed. It's the new normal and we're conditioned to accept it.
Oh, America, I could go on and on with example after example.
The pattern is generally the same. Something bad happens and We the People, along with a generally unthinking media, demand that government do something about it.
So, they do.
They respond with new rules, new demands for access to something about our personal lives and new requirements for government permission to do perfectly legal personal, financial, medical and even social things.
We complain. Maybe we toss in a quote or two from a "Founding Father", cite the Bill of Rights and demand our rights for a little while. Those who complain long enough are generally marginalized and eventually laughed at as "extremists" or as someone who is out of touch and on the "wrong side of history."
We're shown polling data that proves our demand for personal freedom and privacy isn't popular. It's really just a "common sense reform" to "close a loophole" so don't make a big deal out of it. Everyone else wants it after watching the cable news, so government is just responding to the will of the people. We live in a democracy, right? So just accept it because the majority wins (we actually don't live in a democracy- we live in a constitutional republic and there is a difference).
Still complaining? Then you must be alright with children being killed by bad guys. Those personal freedoms are out of date, anyway. Just give up a little and you'll get safety. Doesn't that make you feel better?
Oh sure, we trust you but you can't trust the guy next door and the rules have to be the same for everyone so, be a good citizen and hand over your bank account information, register your personal belongings and don't worry about what someone taps into and reads. It's just to make sure you're not dangerous and, well, you don't have anything to hide so don't worry about it.
In fact, don't even think about it.
These things happen during the tenures of both Republican and Democratic Presidents and at times when each party controls each chamber of Congress at some point. It's not about politics. I don't care if you are a conservative or a liberal or hold some other leaning.
This is about our culture. This is a mindset. This is about us as individuals within that culture.
So, America, here we are in 2013.
We've given up just a little bit of freedom over here for safety. We've given up just a little bit of privacy over there for security. We've given up a little more somewhere else because times have changed and that's just how things are in this age of terrorism, extremism, uncontrolled religion which could be dangerous and violent crime.
I ask you, America, where your decisions have led us. You can blame the politicians we elect, of course. I certainly do but we elect them. Ultimately, we are to blame if we have a government, once famously believed to be "...of the People, by the People, for the People...", that is no longer the servant but the unrestrained master.
Where has that led us? Well, from where I sit, it's led us to Boston in 2013. Ironically, the city that was the cradle of American freedom in the 1700's.
One or two government officials unilaterally ordered a "lock down" and hundreds - maybe thousands - of armed government personnel demanded complete access to homes, businesses and anything else someone had.
Image from the Huffington Post
What can reasonably be called at least a form of martial law was apparently not even controversial. Unquestioned compliance was demanded and given. It was maybe unsettling to some but it was accepted as just what had to be done. Everyone wanted to get the alleged bad guy.
No one seems to be complaining. But I'll ask: "If we give up this portion of our rights, what's next?"
I'm not directing this question to America's governments. That is not what the nation is. I'm asking for an answer from some important people. The people who are supposed to be in charge: you.
Are we conditioned to accept whatever we are told to do by someone in a uniform or with a political title? Have we accepted that trade of personal liberty for the promise of safety and security?
If so, the other end of the bargain was not delivered at the marathon several days ago. Is the answer to trade just a little more?
Or are we now at a point to question the direction we've gone thus far?
Remember, America, if you want to reclaim freedom and privacy, there is a risk. The world is a dangerous place. Bad people will still do bad things. With freedom comes responsibility and accountability for us all.
Do you want that or do you just not think about it and wait for orders?
I await your answer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Journey Continues...

...slowly. And in a way that frustrates me because patience is not among my best attributes.

Sometimes, honestly, it's not among any of them. Between my two jobs with two non-profit organizations, I work around 55 (and sometimes 60) hours a week. I like to get stuff done NOW and hate it when my time is wasted.

Sometimes, that helps keep things at work moving along and it's a good thing. Often, though, my impatience is simply...well...impatience and it's a character flaw.

Galatians 5: 22-23 (KJV) says "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering [patience], gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

I'm not always fruitful when it comes to patience, which is why I was anxious on Monday when I went back into the cardiologist's office for a follow up exam. It's been about six months since I survived a major heart attack. It was time to find out how the recovery is going.

I wanted to be "fully recovered". Now. Right now.

All the medical professionals I've spoken with say a typical recovery is a year to 18 months. I don't care. I have stuff to do and want to put this behind me.


When I should have been happy with the report that was mostly good, I was frustrated with the news that there are some lingering problems when it comes to cholesterol. The doctor is happy with the progress in my weight loss. My blood pressure remains good and my heart sounded good, I'm told.

But, I'm not fully recovered yet. I'm still on the path to a full recovery, though. And, sometimes, instead of just being grateful for that, I get mired down in my impatience because I have a tendency to let my personal priorities slip into first place instead of waiting to find out what God's plan is.

Oooh...there's that word again: waiting. Ugh!

Matthew 6: 19-21 says "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Replace the word "treasure" with "priorities" - I don't think that takes the verses out of context - and you get a good reminder of what too many of us do too often: assume we know what's really important and assume that our priorities really should be our priorities.

I wrote several months ago that I know there's a reason for both 1) the heart attack happening and 2) my surviving what, medically speaking, I wasn't supposed to survive. I still believe that. I've had several people, both in person and through the radio station, tell me they've learned something from watching me go through this heart attack and recovery.

If I can be used to help someone else learn, that's great. I feel blessed to be in that position. It also appears that I have a few things to learn personally. Now. Right now. If there's something worth being impatient about, it's learning what God's teaching.

I go back to the cardiologist in three months. In the meantime, I've been cleared to increase my cardio workout intensity. The goal: drop another 10 - 15 pounds (I've already lost over 20).  I still have the goal of completing the Insanity workout within a year of the heart attack.

Monday, November 19, 2012

On the road again, in style!

Many of the people in my industry are...not in my industry anymore.

When it comes to broadcasting, syndication has replaced your local DJ and your local program host. Budget cuts have reduced radio and television newsrooms to one or two-person operations. And that's for the stations that even bother with local news.

Internet technology has replaced production specialists and both audio and video editors. A radio station that's staffed with local DJs, local reporters, local news anchors and local program hosts is certainly a rare and special thing anymore. The loss of local media harms local communities, but it is a sign of the economic times.

I always try to keep these realities in mind because, for some reason, I'm blessed to have two radio jobs and one of those includes my producing and hosting a television show. I'm no more deserving than hundreds or thousands of others, but I have the opportunity and I'm taking it.

The television show is recorded in the St. Louis area, at Lindenwood University. It's just under four hours of driving, one way, from my Grandview home, twice a month (we record three or four shows at a time). That's a lot of driving. I crunched the numbers and it's actually cheaper in the long run for me to just rent a car for the trips.

I actually enjoy that because, in the wise words of Mama Gump: "You never know what you gonna git" when it comes to a car. Most of the time, I get a basic sedan. I always reserve the cheapest car possible: economy in order to save money. I've never been hung up on driving the coolest car. I like my '97 Camry because it's dependable and gets good gas mileage and I don't care what car I drive back and forth on I-70, as long as it has cruise control.

I don't need to impress anyone and my car is paid off. I REALLY like not having a car payment.

Today, though, I found myself falling into that guy stereotype. The one about guys and cars.

I walk in to the Enterprise office in Grandview and the rental agent says "Mr. Ferguson, we actually have an economy car this time. Or we can upgrade you, if you don't like this one. It's a FIAT."

I wasn't even sure what a FIAT economy car is and told them, it's ok, I don't need to look cool. I'll take the economy one.

That's when another rental agent offered (insisted) that I take a look at both. I learned what a FIAT economy car is: a box that is slightly larger and barely heavier than the Hot Wheels cars I used to race on little plastic tracks in the 1970's.

G.I. Joe would fit inside this thing.

I was worried that a bird would land on the roof and crush it. If that happened, the firefighters wouldn't need the Jaws of Life to save me; they'd need a can opener.

Then, he tells me " For six more dollars, we can put you in this..."

THIS is a brand new Dodge Challenger with less than 6,000 miles on it.

Um, yeah. For six bucks, I'll take the challenger and it's muscle-car looks, unnecessary engine power and cool factor in which I'm out of place.

I don't know what came over me. Mr. Save-every-penny and Mr. Get-the-best-gas-mileage who is also Mr. I-don't-care-if-I-look-cool suddenly jumped at the chance to, well, look cool. Hey, fake it till you make it.

Here's the funny thing: you don't just feel like you look cooler in a car like this. You do look cooler in a car like this.

It's really been interesting today. I pull into the gas station and get stared at, almost reverently, once I step out of the Challenger. I pull through the drive-through and the female employee, after looking over the vehicle slowly, thoroughly and almost sensually became the friendliest food server I've ever experienced.

There was a line of cars behind me in the line but she wanted to strike up a conversation. About anything. With a lot of eye contact and giddy smiles. As long as I didn't drive that car away...

I'm not used to getting much attention from women but that car and I sure caught some eyes today. I've even had complete strangers walk up in parking lots, praise the car while just wanting to talk to me. This is in one day.

Are people that shallow that a person's appeal is judged by the car they drive? Well, yeah, maybe, but I'm not going to harp on it because I'll admit I ate it up. Not only did a piece of machinery change how people looked at me, it changed how I projected myself to others, knowing they were looking at the car.

I don't know why, other that it's been fun. I know I'm not a high society guy and I'm never going to be rich (and I'm ok with that) but getting a little taste of what it's like has been a hoot.

The car goes back to Enterprise on Tuesday, and I go back to being just me, with an old car. I'm ok with that, too. The real Mike still doesn't need a car to define who I am.

But I'll take the Challenger for an extra six bucks again next time, if offered.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The only constant change, so they say.

Who are "they", by the way? "They" are quoted more than anyone else in history but I've never quite figured out who "they" are.

But, I digress, as they say.

Anyway, it looks like I haven't posted here in over a month and a half. Here are some updates:

My trek back to full strength continues, but I'm not there yet.

I've fallen off the wagon when it comes to my cardiac rehab workouts over the last few weeks. I haven't been perfect on my diet but I'm still eating alot better than I did before the heart attack.

Somehow, I haven't put back the weight I've lost over the past few months.

Here's me now. I'm about 198 pounds in this picture.

And here's me shortly before it all happened, at about 221 pounds.
So, there's that. That's some progress I'm happy about although I still have a ways (about 15 more pounds) to go. And I still plan to complete that Insanity workout program. It's not even so much about the weight loss and strength gains promised in the infomercial - it's about the principle of meeting a challenge I set out for myself and it's about proving that I am, in fact, back to full strength and recovered from the heart attack.

I think that I'll feel like that entire episode is behind me once I'm back to full strength.

In other news, the little project David White and I started in 2007 called "Missouri Viewpoints" may be coming to a radio or television near you soon.

My public affairs project that began as short interviews with camcorders in the now-defunct Hard Bean Cafe is not being recorded in an HD studio at Lindenwood University. That happened through the partnership with Missouri News Horizon, my other job, and the university.

We're making the show for both radio and television and already have one radio station on board in St. Louis. One cable channel in St. Louis has also agreed to air the program weekly as well. There's also been interest expressed by two other television stations in the state...and this has all happened before we officially launch the program and begin our marketing effort!

As I type this, three full shows are already "in the can" (completed) and we'll have three more done after I do new interviews this coming Tuesday.

The program will not be just political. We're going to also highlight health, economic and cultural issues that affect the state. Frankly, this project has been alot of fun so far. I should probably not have any more heart attacks for the time being, because I don't want to get behind on this one.

The target launch date for the show is December 1st.

I remain blessed to be able to work at KLJC in Kansas City as well. I'm now hosting the afternoon show solo (3:00 - 8:00) because my partner-in-broadcast crime, Leslie James, moved to the morning show after one of the hosts had to leave due to health reasons. It's turned out to be a good move for the entire station.

I'm now down to one kid in the house, as Austin has chosen to go live with my ex-wife in Florida. I covet your prayers for him as a result.

Otherwise, I am close to having a schedule as busy as before with the radio show in Kansas City (not to mention my role as Program Director here), a television show in the St. Louis area, anchoring news and directing a non-profit news organization as a part time job and even working in a little writing for Kansas City's Christian newspaper, the Kansas City Metro Voice, sometimes.

But, the change I'm struggling with the most right now: I now have a Mac.

Yep. I'm a Mac-snob-in-training, assuming I ever figure out how to work this blasted thing.

My FIRST night with the Mac? Election Night. So, I was trying to post news coverage of Congressman Todd Akin's election watch party on a computer system I've never used. Reporters from four different organizations took pity on my and showed me enough of the Mac basics to get through the night. One of them was a direct competitor of ours but media types tend to help each other out at times like this.

I couldn't thank them enough and I'm sure they appreciated the amusement of my staring dumbfounded at the contraption most of the evening.

That's about it for now. There are many things ahead for me and Amber that we'll be learning from and sharing here. Until then...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

To Beard or Not To Beard... that the question?

Right before I was about to start my Insanity workouts, I joked with my mom when she asked when I was going to shave my beard that I'd do it when I weighed under 200 pounds.

I was over 220 at the time.

Of course, that was shortly before my heart attack in late July that kept me in the hospital into early August.

I'm told that when I went in for the second heart stent, my folks tried to talk the doctors into shaving me while I was incapacitated. It didn't work.

I haven't started the Insanity program (yet!), but I have been losing weight. I'm doing cardiac rehab three times a week. That's basically supervised cardio workouts where nurses constantly check my vital signs and blood pressure.

I've got a couple months of that left.

I've also dramatically changed my eating - lots of vegetables, no more frozen meals that are loaded with sodium and lots of water. It's all coming together to work. This morning, my scale at home read 203 lbs. That's 18 pounds lost in less than a month and a half.

The funny thing is that I remember how excited I was when I finally got to 200 pounds. I was really into weightlifting and was trying to build muscle for baseball when I played in the Kansas City Men's Senior Baseball League in my mid 20's through early 30's. I hovered around a very lean and strong 205 to 210 pounds for the prime of my baseball playing days.

I drank protein shakes like they were going out of style and supplemented with sane amounts of creatine and glutemine. I also lifted some heavy weights. I wasn't the fastest guy on the base paths (hey, I was a catcher, so that didn't matter) but it was hard to bowl me over at the plate.

After I stopped playing baseball, I stayed in the gym (off and on) and went from being in decent shape up to 230ish pounds at one point. I've been in the gym regularly these last few years, which may be one of the reasons I'm still breathing and typing this right now, but I focused on weightlifting and did cardio just to warm up or as a break from hitting the weights.

That's not a way to slim down. It's a way to stay strong, but not a way to drop pounds. This new process has been a big change for me and, obviously, it's working.

So, I'm probably a week or so away from permanently descending below the 200 mark for the first time in over 15 years.

So, what do I do? Do I buzz the facial hair I've had for over a year now or do I keep the beard once I'm under 200 pounds for good? Here's a side-by-side comparison:

I'm nowhere near being done with the weight loss. I figure I can probably drop another 15 pounds over time in a healthy way. Since there's no permanent damage to my heart, I expect to be cleared to push myself physically - which means I may still take on that Insanity challenge.

If nothing else, it would be to prove something to myself.

The question it, will I prove it with or without my whiskers?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Progress and frustration

I'm now closing in on the one-month mark of my "cardiac event". That's a nice way the medical types use to refer to a heart attack, which happened to me on July 27th.

So far, both stents are doing what they are designed to do with no side effects and follow-up tests (EKG, ultrasounds, etc) indicate that there's no permanent damage to my heart. Praise God for that!

The progress is that the cardiac rehab is going well. I'm not back to the level of exercise I was doing just a few months before"event" but I'm far stronger than I was when I first started a couple weeks go. I guess I think I'm stronger than I really am, though.

More about that in a moment.

I did pack on some pounds recently. I was out of the gym for the most part from late May to early August. Before that, I was working out 3-5 days a week and working out pretty hard, focusing on weight circuits to both tone up and trim down after many years of weight lifting and little cardio.

But, that approach has changed this month. Now I'm doing almost all cardio workouts. It is working...check out this comparison:

I was just over 220 pounds the day of the attack. I'm now just under 210. It's not a huge difference yet, but it's a start.
I am eating better. I thought I was eating well before but now know that just because a frozen meal has the word "Healthy" in it's brand name doesn't make it good for you. I never worried about salt/sodium before - but those things are often loaded with it.

I've switched to fresh and frozen veggies and I'm now - ugh - cooking the meats myself and am trading out pastas for brown rice or baked potatoes. (side note - top the 'tater with plain Greek yogurt instead of butter & sour's really good...)

OK, now the frustration.

I never did go through the depression the hospital said I would after the attack. I guess I just recognize that this happened for a reason and God's doing something to me or through me with it. I'm not going to whine about it.

I have found myself frustrated with how far behind this has set me when it comes to being athletic and in terms of my personal strength. Remember, I was planning to start Shaun T's Insanity workout program just three days later when it all happened.

This morning, while trying to push myself on the elliptical machine, one of the nurses in the cardiac rehab center got on my case "You need to slow down. That's too many steps per're going to raise your heart rate too much."

She was cheating because she looked at the computer screen. They have me hooked up to that little electrical octopus-looking contraption that measures my heart rate and other vital signs in real time.

I felt fine and know that I'll have to go all out for three minutes at a time if I do ever get strong enough to try Insanity. I'm just trying to move forward and get back in shape.

"Slow down!"

Grrrr......fine. I'll slow down. A little. For now.

Then, after my cardio workout, she said those sweet, sweet words I've been wanting to hear from her for a couple weeks now: "Do you want to do some free weights?"

I thought you'd never ask.

I was so excited to get back to some weight training. I camped out at the weight rack area while she finished up getting blood pressure readings for one of the octogenarians on a treadmill.

When she was done, she came over and got me started on my "weight training" by handing me....two five-pound dumbbells.

Five pounds.

Seriously? I''ve got books at home that weigh more than that. Five pounds?

It's hard to concentrate on your arm curls...that I was doing with 30-pounders a few months ago...with little more than a Q-Tip on steroids as my resistance. She wasn't budging, though. If I wanted to do this, I was doing it with the dumbbell that she was ok with. Not the one I was ok with.

So I did the routine in all of three or four minutes and called it a day at the gym.

Patience is not my strong suit, obviously. This leads me to Romans 5:1-5.

1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulations worketh patience. 4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

So, my question for you: what trouble, trial or difficulty ("tribulation") are you experiencing that you may be viewing incorrectly?

God may not be punishing you. He may be strengthening you or preparing you for something later in life.

He may be putting you through a tough time because someone else needs to see you remain strong in faith and needs to learn from your journey through it.