We don’t talk about gun violence, no, no!

There are many things that the church is very vocal about like the value of unborn life and freedom of expression of our faith in public. However, our silence on gun violence is abhorrent. We will march and protest for some things, but when people are killed by the blight of guns in our society, we sit on our hands or label those who call for action idiots.

Let me provide some background for my belief that we must do something about America’s gun addiction. As a toddler, my parents had a hand gun in the home until they found me playing with it in the middle of their bed. After high school, I joined the Army and learned to handle multiple weapons. I also accepted the Lord while serving and lost all desire to take a life using those same weapons.

After leaving military service, I went to Bible school in Dallas, Texas. At that time, a lone gunman drove his truck into a Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen, Texas shooting fifty people and killing twenty-three. One of the survivors was our pastor. He became an advocate for gun ownership and still preaches with a firearm on his hip.

Five years ago, another gunman opened fire on a music festival from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada killing sixty and injuring hundreds. I walked by this location multiple times while attending conferences over the years in Las Vegas. Had I been attending a conference during that fateful night, I might have been a victim as well.

There are more guns in the United States than there are people. More guns is not the answer. Texans have more licensed weapons than any other state yet have five of the worst mass shootings since 1991.

Unless you are an ambidextrous marksman, owning multiple firearms and more than a dozen rounds is excessive. If you say it’s for hunting, recent numbers show about 15 million hunting licenses issued which makes up less than 5% of the United States population.

I ask these questions of all Americans and especially the church. How many weapons are enough? How much ammunition is enough? Why do gun manufacturers continue to profit from tragedies as gun sales spike? How many innocent lives must be lost to gun violence before the church says something?

Year end reflections, the 2021 version

In past years, we would alternate each year who would write the Christmas newsletter that would be included with our Christmas card. In 2017, that traditon ended as a result of two painful losses we suffered that year. They were always a great way to wrap up the year and look forward to the coming year. It is in that spirit that I write this blog post.

2021 began with us in Texas assisting Renee’s mom following major back surgery. I was able to telework from there for the IRS as a Contact Representative. That is just a fancy way of saying tax collector. At the end of the month, we returned to Utah for a few days before the family went back to help mom while I remained. February passed with us spending our anniversary and birthdays apart for the first time.

As Easter approached, the family would return and this time only Renee would leave to help mom. The rest of us stayed in Utah until Mother’s day when we would all remain under the same roof for the first time since January. Renee spent 6 months helping her mom and was happy to be back together in Ogden as was I.

Summer was filled with swimming lessons which Karri enjoyed greatly. In June, we met up with Jim as he traveled from San Diego to his new home in Colorado with his pups. We would pay them all a visit in July to see the new place and spend some time together. Summer ended and Karri began kindergarten.

As Fall arrived, changes began to occur professionally. Jesse and I would both start new jobs. I reapplied to the school district after the part-time job I had previously held was made full time. The position with the IRS which allowed me to telework was moving to the next phase where I would begin placing levies and liens against taxpayers. I was not looking forward to that and was grateful to be offered a position as Site Tech at a nearby high school.

In November, we traveled to California to attend San Diego Comic-Con after missing it for several years. It was the largest crowd we had been around since the onset of the pandemic. With all attendees required to be fully vaccinated and wearing masks, it was good to be back amongst the fans.

As 2021 comes to close, we hope the challenges we faced in the past year will not be repeated and that many new blessings await us in the new year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

Ending the year with a bang…er.. rather.. a baby!

Baby Isabella
Our granddaughter arrived to make our holiday all the more bright.

Our granddaughter arrived on December 5th to end our year on a high note. She is adorable and will be thoroughly spoiled whenever we have the chance. Our year end Christmas letter is available for your reading here. Once again, if you want more current information on us, friend us on Facebook as it is updated more frequently than this blog which has now been relegated to once a year posts.

Chasing his dream

Several years ago, Jesse related to his mom that he dreamed of openning a rescue mission and soup kitchen in the big city. This morning, we dropped him and two pieces of luggage off at the LA Dream Center where he will begin chasing that dream. He will begin a four month internship with the option of extending his stay after the four months are completed. We were introduced to his supervisor and learned a little bit about his initial responsibilities. He will be working for the kitchen and will be making runs to local grocery stores to retrieve food that will be used on site or redistributed to families that have no food for their children. He will also be working with feeding the homeless on skid row.

We helped him take his luggage to the room he will be sharing with another intern arriving today. They will both go through orientation before beginning work as part of the Dream Center. We exchanged a few hugs and left him to do the work that the Lord has laid on his heart. It is odd to come home and know that he isn’t living under our roof for at least the next four months and possibly more. You pray your child finds something that will ignite their heart and inspire them to greatness. We have done our part for now and we will see where his destiny carries him going forward. My lovely wife dedicated 18 years of raising him, training him and even homeschooling him as he grew. We shed a few tears upon returning home, not because we don’t want him to chase his dream, but because a chapter in his life and ours has closed. He launches out to let down his nets for a catch and we find ourselves with an empty nest.

If you would like to support him in his ministry, he has put together a sponsorship letter explaining how you may contribute to the great work he will be doing with the LA Dream Center. We will update you on his many exploits going forward and ask your prayers for him and us as we go through this transitional time in our lives.

February – One month to go for Jesse

It’s been a month since I started the year of thankfulness on Twitter. At times, it has proved to be challenging as I try to find something to be thankful for that I haven’t already mentioned. Some days are no-brainers as important calendar dates arrive and other days I find myself contemplating longer and posting later in the day as something happens or comes to mind. I am grateful I undertook this challenge as now I am searching for things to be thankful for which is a good thing in itself.

Jesse is a little over a month away from his trip to Europe with the other members of his senior class. He has one final payment due on the 14th of February and he is within $200 of the amount needed to make it. I am very grateful to all our family and friends that have helped him realize this goal. He still will be raising money up until the day he leaves to cover the cost of a camera for the trip and extraneous travel expenses not covered by EF Tours(tips, lunches, etc.). When he first approached us about the trip, I told him he would have to raise the money and trust the Lord for the finances to cover the trip as we were already paying his private school tuition for his senior year as well as all the additional costs associated with being a senior(ring, cap & gown, etc.). As he finishes his senior year, he will have a significant milestone going forward of how his needs were met and stronger faith in the Lord to supply his needs in the future.

February is always a month of celebration in our family. Renee’s parents celebrated their 45th anniversary on the 5th. Renee celebrates her birthday on the 13th with Valentine’s Day the following day. On the 17th, we celebrate our 21st anniversary. On the 22nd, we remember my parents anniversary which would have been their 47th if dad were still with us. On the 24th, I acknowledge another trip around the sun as well.

Hope that each of taking time out of your day to read this are well and that you know the love of the Lord and family in your life. We appreciate each of you and your presence in our lives.

Give thanks with a grateful heart…

I am so thankful to all who have offered a prayer or financial support to Jesse for his senior class trip. He passed 50% last week and continues to sell items online and through craigslist. He has another $586 due on December 14th.

This time of year always brings thoughts of family and holidays past. We are celebrating our 5th in our home in Apple Valley. Our 1st Thanksgiving in this home, we had our friend Julie visiting from France. Last year, we had my mom visiting from Florida and she will be joining us again this year. I remember other Thanksgiving meals in Oklahoma shared with Renee’s best friend Michelle or her co-worker Warren as we moved over the holiday weekend. Another time, we gathered Renee’s youth group at Tim’s house in Copperas Cove, TX. We used to travel to see Renee’s family or mine, but we seem to stay put nowadays. We are thankful to all our friends and family that have shared a Thanksgiving meal with us.

On another note, this past Friday we went to Knott’s Berry Farm to take advantage of their Veterans get-in-free special. I made the mistake of eating a steak and egg burrito before hopping on the many roller coasters there. Due to the cloudy weather and most of the schools being in session, we only had to stand in line for 20 minutes on the very first coaster. After that, we literally walked up and got on each of the coasters. In 2 /12 hours we had been all the way around the park and had been on each of the coasters we wanted to ride. We decided to leave and head back home as my stomach continued to protest. We stopped at Panera Bread Co. and my stomach forgave me for the burrito/coaster adventure after treating it to a Frontega Chicken sandwich and some black bean soup.

That’s about all for now. We wish each of you a happy thanksgiving and hope that your holidays are filled with joy and laughter. If you desire a newsletter and Christmas card, please send us your address.

Our 20th Anniversary trip

Renee and I at the Golden Gate Bridge on our 20th Anniversary
Renee and I at the Golden Gate Bridge on our 20th Anniversary
Last week, we took a driving tour of the California coast for our 20th anniversary. Accompanying us for the trip was our son Jesse and my mother Betty. We left Apple Valley on Monday morning and headed for Cambria/San Simeon. We stopped in Bakersfield for lunch at Mimi’s Cafe and then continued to follow CA 58 all the way to it’s end in Santa Margarita. We hopped onto US 101 until CA 41 and got on Highway 1 along the coast in Morro Bay. We arrived in San Simeon, CA and checked into the Best Western just before sunset. We ordered some pizza from Woody’s in Cambria after enjoying the sunset along the shore.

The next morning, we loaded up and headed to Piedras Blancas Lighthouse which is managed by the BLM and was celebrating its 135th year of existence. The BLM was offering free tours of the grounds surrounding the lighthouse. The weather was magnificent and we enjoyed seeing the flowers, wildlife and historical buildings at Piedras Blancas. After this, we drove Highway 1 north. We stopped for lunch in Big Sur and enjoyed a beautiful view of the coast. We drove through Carmel and toured 17 Mile Drive. We continued up the coast crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at night to stay overnight in San Rafael.

The next morning, we doubled back to take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge before returning to Highway 1 and continuing our trip north along the California coast. We stopped for lunch in Fort Bragg, CA and rejoined US 101 in Leggett, CA. We found a hotel in Arcata, CA for the night. Renee and I got our own room and let Jesse and mom share a room for our anniversary. We took Jesse to dinner with us to 6 Rivers Brewery in McKinleyville since mom wanted to stay in the room. We enjoyed some local cuisine before returning to our room for the night while Jesse hit the hotel spa.

The next morning after loading up, we headed for Redwoods National Park farther up the coast. We toured the Lady Bird Johnson Memorial Grove and then stopped at Big Tree State Park. We continued up the coast until Crescent City, CA and then cut inland to Grants Pass, OR. We took Interstate 5 south until we stopped for dinner in Medford, OR at Red Lobster. It turned out that our waitress Denise had been born in Apple Valley. That night we drove as far as Redding, CA before stopping.

Jesse wanted to tour a cavern during our trip so he picked Black Chasm Cavern in Volcano, CA as our next destination. We arrived and had our own private tour of the cavern with our guide David. We had a great time and mom decided to rest in the car. Next we headed to Yosemite National Park in hopes of getting some great sunset photographs. As we entered the park from the north, the weather turned bad and it started to rain. Temperatures started to drop and then the fog set in. At times, we couldn’t see past the hood of the car. We kept driving and exited out the south side of the park without ever seeing the grand vistas Yosemite is known for. We made it to Fresno before stopping for the night.

The final day of our trip included a brief stop in Bakersfield, CA so mom could visit with an old co-worker and then we headed for home. In all, we spent 6 days on the road and traveled over 1,800 miles. We saw sunsets over the ocean, towering redwood trees and amazing underground formations. It was a great trip that we will all remember for years to come.

Two months later…still going and going and going

Two months ago life was going along as normal. My Chargers were just beginning their season and the Angels were looking at making a run in the post season. Since then the Chargers fell to 2- 3 and have manged to climb back to 4-3. The Angels won their division, swept the Red Sox in the playoffs only to lose to the Yankees.

On September 17th, I recieved a call I had aniticpated one day recieving, but wasn’t entirely prepared for. My father, who had been in declining health for a number of years, had passed away of a heart attack at home. My family and I immediately flew to Florida to be with my mom and help her in any way we could. My younger brother arrived a few days later and we helped mom around the house as much as we could. While going through my dad’s workshed, we found his stash of cigarettes and laughed at the irony of us finding it after we hid so many things from him as teenagers. There were many tears as we reminisced about his story telling, refusal to ask for directions and his ability to fix anything mechanical. I brought home many souvenirs of my father and will always cherish his smile and laugh until I see him again in heaven.

Returning from FL, I had two days of work before leaving for Las Vegas to attend Photoshop World. I enjoyed the few days I had there with my son also attending. We left early as I had my 25th high school reunion that following weekend. I attended the Homecoming game on Friday night (which we won) and then toured the campus on Saturday before Renee and I attended the dinner. We ended the weekend with a family get together with classmates at Straw Hat Pizza. That evening we went to our friend Marilyn’s house to watch my Chargers lose to her Steelers.

The following Friday, I was on a plane to Columbus, OH where I met up with my brother Chris. We stayed the night there and drove to West Virginia to help my mom with my father’s memorial service. It was held at Leatherwood Missionary Baptist Chruch in hills outside Elkview, WV. An hour before the service began, mom handed me 4 pages of notes and asked me to speak for her at the funeral. I quickly composed an outline from it and gladly told of how they found love 45 year ago. I told of how my father always loved her and how he was a proud marine until his dying day. After the service ended, my brother and I cleaned up the church and reception hall before returning to Columbus and flying home the next day.

The last two weekends have been filled with music. We were invited by the owner of Open Grave Records to attend a CD release party in Fresno, CA. We drove up last Saturday and were glad to enjoy some great live music and the hospitality of the musician and his family as they BBQ’d and then performed. Last night, we drove to LA to see Stryper in concert at Club Nokia. It was my first ime seeing them despite having been a fan for 25 years. They played a really great show and it was cool to share it as a family.

As we head toward the holidays, I hope each of you cherish your family and enjoy every moment you have in life.

Another Barstow building becomes a memory!

This morning as I drove in from Apple Valley to work, I saw a plume of smoke over the hills as I approached Barstow and I knew that something big was burning. It turns out it was an old furniture store building that sat right in the middle of Main Street and changed names over the years before finally becoming vacant.

Here is the link to the Desert Dispatch story:

Here is a link to Steve Smith’s Flickr Photo of the mop-up: