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Lives Matter!

This is  “Re-Post” from May 27, 2015. In light of recent events it seemed relevant to post it again.

Lots of conflict on the news lately. It seems that racial tension is nearly as high as it was in the ’60’s. I remember that. I actually thought we had made some major strides in overcoming that in the last few decades but it doesn’t take too many like Al Sharpton egging it on to get everyone stirred up again. In my opinion he’s used up way more than his fifteen minutes of fame!

The cry from communities like we’ve seen in Baltimore and Ferguson, MO is that “Black Lives Matter”. I could not agree more! It’s kind of a ‘no brainer’, huh? I saw a sign in a yard in a nearby town that says that “Police Lives Matter”. Agree again! The truth is, and only an idiot would argue otherwise, that all lives matter!  I’m discouraged that in the greatest nation on the planet we’re even having this discussion. I don’t doubt that in many areas there are some strong prejudices and biases against minorities. I’m a country boy and I haven’t had to deal with that  much, so I don’t consider myself an expert in the least. I just know it doesn’t work….it doesn’t work for anyone! It’s the classic ‘lose-lose’ situation!

I think we’ve gotta stop making it a ‘white’ issue, or a ‘black’ issue and make it a human being issue! “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” still works! I agree that it’s a deeper and more complex discussion and that there’s at least dozen or more points to be considered. But let’s not make it any more complicated than it already is. 

If there’s anything positive going to happen, you and I should at least do our part. A good start is deciding that “Lives Matter”….. all of them! And anytime we see racial prejudices in our little world, we should step in, if possible, and be the voice of reason, righteousness and reconciliation. We should take the position of ‘peacemakers’ and see what happens. I know the Lord’ll bless the effort.

I doubt that many of my regular blog readers are racist…..hopefully none! So, in that sense….I’m preaching to the choir. But if you were to “Share” this post it might just hit someone that could make a huge difference. In the meantime, let’s all decide that “Lives Matter”!!

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A Lot Can Change in a Couple of Months!

If you want to get the full impact of this story then you really need to read my post from exactly 2 months back….and read it before you read this one. (Even if you read it before…you should re-read it) You’ll appreciate it a lot more. “Why I Say, “Thank You, Lord”, When I See the KOA Sign!” *(Click on the highlighted link)

That was a day I’ll never forget! Having a brand new grand baby on one side of the hospital…then having one of our sons coming into the ER on the other side. But to get the real crux of this story I need to go back at least a year from the day the wreck happened with the lift truck…and the KOA sign.

Our son, Cole had started his professional rodeo career a little over a year before. He had a great rookie season as a professional bull rider in the PRCA, winning over $45,000 in that year. He qualified for the Prairie Circuit Finals where he won the Finals average earning a trip to the Dodge National Circuit Finals in Pocatello, Idaho. In addition to his PRCA accolades he was also winning in the PBR’s Touring Pro Division and had just barely missed the TV cut for the Built Ford Tough Tour.

One of the common adages in professional bull riding is, “It’s not ‘if’ you get hurt,….it’s ‘when’, ….and how bad!” Well, because of an elbow injury that took him out of competition for a few months he had to miss the Dodge Finals. And, unable to compete in the PBR he lost his standing there, as well. He had worked so hard for his dreams only to have them snuffed out! Seemed like a lot of hard luck in a short period of time. But, Cole kept a good attitude about it all.

Then there was that fateful day in December of ’06! We still realize that it was a miraculous thing that he wasn’t killed that day. The initial surgery was followed by perpetual trips to orthodontists that would continue for a year or more.

One of the PBR’s premier events in ’07 was the Copenhagen Skoal Challenger Finals in Oklahoma City in February. A qualifier event was to be held at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma the week leading up to the Finals. Entry fees for the event were $800. Our youngest son, Clay, did his best to talk Cole into entering the event along with him. But money was tight for Cole & Kelly who’d just been married the year before. So, it was a flat out, “No”! Clay wouldn’t leave it alone and finally talked him into it. He and Kelly put just about all they had together for the $800 entry fees. I guess you could say that everything was ‘on the line’!

When the event rolled around Cole placed deep in three of the four go-rounds ending up in the top three and winning over $16,000! It also earned him a berth in the Challenger Finals on the weekend in OKC. All the top PBR Bull Riders in the world were there and the go-round winners would win a smooth $50,000!!

Cole got bucked off his first two bulls. His third and final bull, Rattler, was one that was very difficult to ride, and had a reputation for bucking off nearly everyone who’d been on him before. He was the first bull rider out that day. I left church that Sunday and made the two hour drive to OKC. I made it there to the Ford Center and up on the back of his chute just in time to pull his rope and give him some ‘big time’ moral support. The bull performed to his expectation and Cole rode as good as I’d ever seen him ride before. It was an incredible ride! His score, 90.5!  **(A little ‘side story’ below if you want to check it out!)

I can’t explain how intense it was for me as 45 of the best bull riders in the world competed….just hoping that Cole would win a good chunk of the money. When it was all said and done that day…..he won the go-round……..and $50,000!!

*That was exactly 9 years ago today!

**Exactly 2 months from the day of Cole’s accident at the KOA sign!

Cole was immediately put on the Built Ford Tough PBR TV Tour, made the PBR Finals and won well over $100,000 that year! 

A lot can change in a couple of months!!

**A little ‘side story’:

**Cole and Kelly were getting ready to leave the Motel 6 for the Ford Center when a couple of our great friends, Mitch & Sherrye Louis called Cole. They were sad that they couldn’t be at the event that day due to other obligations. Mitch said he’d been up praying all night and said the Lord spoke to him saying today would be a good day for Cole! Before the call Cole was discouraged to tears from bucking off his first two bulls…feeling like he had let himself,…and everyone else, down. *That phone call changed his entire attitude as he headed to the arena!!

Check out this blog from a week ago:*(click on the highlighted link to read!)

The Bible Does Not Have All Your Answers!

A month ago:

If He Can Fix My Life…..I Know He Can Fix Yours!

A year ago:

Lady Gaga, Little Monsters & Jesus!

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It Was A “Test” of Epic Proportions!

Well that might be exaggerating just a little bit….but at the time, ……and considering my ‘new’ standing in the Lord, it really was quite the test. It was in 1985 and my good friend, Danny Mason, invited me to judge his annual bull riding in Mineral Wells, Texas. It was a big event; lots of money up, and some of the best riders in the world were competing there. The crowd was huge. I’m standing inside the arena and Cade, my 2nd son who was about 3 at the time, was sitting in a box seat where I could do my judging job and also keep a close eye on him.

The first section of about 12 riders was completed, there was a 10 minute break and we were about to start the second section.About that time I hear a loud voice coming from the grandstands griping and cussing about the judging. Well , immediately, I assumed that it’s someone that I know just kidding, and giving me a hard time. But I finally saw the guy coming up the walkway to where I was…..and I’d never seen this guy before! He swiftly walked my way and into the box seat section where Cade was sitting…..still yelling and cussing at me. By now he’d drawn the attention of everyone at the event. If not for his yelling voice, you could’ve heard a pin drop….and every eye in the place is on us!

I said to him, “If you want to talk to me, you need to get down here and talk to me!” But he just kept on! Now, I’ve never considered myself a ‘fighter’ but I’ve also always had a resolve to not let anyone push me around, either. In professional rodeo in those days I had to ‘stand my ground’ many a time. And what made this situation even more difficult was the fact that my life had, just less than a year before, been turned around…..and I was growing in my relationship with the Lord. So I knew, to handle things how we used to handle them,….would not be the ‘right’ thing to do.

Still yelling and cussing at me, I told him again, “If you want to talk to me, you get down here and talk to me!” He’s by now leaning over the top rail on the fence and I somehow resisted the opportunity to knock him plumb out, like I would’ve done only a few years before. And without thinking….I grabbed the hat off his head and just whipped him over the head with it! I then pitched it behind him in front of the grandstand and most of the 300-400 people were laughing uncontrollably…..and all my friends….well, they were laughing harder than that! When I did that, I said to him, “Now, I’ve told you about three times….if you want to talk to me, you need to get down here and talk to me! You got anything to say to me?!” He pressed his lips together….shook his head “No”, picked up his hat (amongst all the laughter) and made his way into the distance!

Now that probably ain’t the best way to handle a situation like that….and I doubt that Jesus would’ve whipped him over the head with his hat…..but considering the alternative….I think I did pass the test!

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*If you like Rodeo Stories, you’ll enjoy these: 

*(click on highlighted link to read)

VIP #1 Booger Bryant

VIP #2 Sarge Cook

VIP #8 Monty Taylor

8378 Zulu…..And the Flight That Was Almost the Last One!

First Trip To Calgary

August 12….A Day That Lives in Infamy…..*at  Least For Me!

Avoid the Vending Machine, Microwave, Green Chile Burritos in the Albuquerque Airport At All Costs!

 

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I Hardly Ever Ask the Lord for Patience!

It’s the truth! I’ve learned my lesson and learned it well. Definitely not asking the Lord for patience! And, don’t get me wrong….I do need a good dose of patience. I’m doing so much better than in the past but still have a long ways to go. But years ago, I’d say about thirty to be more specific, I did ask the Lord for patience…….but not anymore!

There was this person who came into my life; a friend, although I didn’t know him well. *(but got to know him very well!) He was going through an extremely rough spot in his life with finances, family, health….and you name it, he had it going on. I wanted to help and did a pretty decent job for a good while. But he was relentless. He’d show up at our place mid-morning and be there all day….and sometimes on into the evening hours….and occasionally way into the night. When he wasn’t there he’d be calling me on the phone. It became apparent that he was putting all his trust in me….and not the Lord. I know better now but in those early days walking with the Lord I didn’t know much of how to point someone to Him. And in my strong desire to help, I often found myself in these kinds of situations.

After months of this, non-stop, daily, almost continual barrage of hearing this person’s problems I was complaining to a close friend. His reply to my whining went pretty much like this, “Well, Andy I remember you praying for patience.” Whoa! The light bulb finally came on in my mind. He was right….months before, and more than once, I had prayed for patience. I needed it….and I was sincere when I prayed!

My experience is that when we pray for patience, God doesn’t just hand it over to us. Nope, much to the contrary; he allows us to be in, and go through, situations where we’ll learn patience. I mean, it’s OJT (On the Job Training) at it’s best. I think, for me, the Lord knew what I’d be doing later (a life of ministry), and how much I would need patience. He never makes any mistakes that way!

I’m still a long ways from perfection where patience is concerned and for most all the years since I first asked for it, I’ve been in some kind of situation where I could learn it to a deeper level. And, to each his own…..but, as for me, I ain’t asking the Lord for patience any more!

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VIP #8 – Monty Taylor

I have an unlimited pool of people to write about when I write about VIP’s. There’s been so many people throughout the course of my life that have had a profound effect on me in one way or another. I’m grateful for the things I’ve learned from all of them and grateful for the deposits they’ve made into my life.

Monty Taylor, or ‘Mont’ as I’ve called him since we were little kids, is my brother (there’s just the two of us) but he’s been my best friend since the day he was born 59 years ago. Oh, we had our differences when we were growing up like all siblings do but neither one of us ever tolerated anybody else mistreating the other one. We’ve been ‘partners in crime’, so to speak, all these 59 years. We’ve had about every kind of ‘wreck’ with horses, cattle and bulls that you could ever imagine……and some you just couldn’t imagine no matter how hard you tried. We’ve even had a couple of car wrecks; one when we were headed to school in little Allison, Texas and hit a patch of black ice and rolled my pickup up on the side. Another the night before I got married. We’d had way too much to drink and ran off a bridge on the Oklahoma line. It was a miracle that me or Mont….or Ken Henry weren’t killed. Then there was the time when I was about a 3rd grader and  Mont hadn’t started to school yet. Dad had gone to shoe horses at a neighboring ranch and he didn’t let us go. We weren’t happy about that so we got on a big ‘ol tractor. We somehow got it started….and it took off. I bailed out! (Sorry Mont!) But Mont rode ‘er on out…until it hit a cattle guard and spun out ’til it died. It could’ve easily killed us both! And, let’s just say that Cliff Taylor wasn’t too happy when he got back to the ranch and the tractor had run through the fence.

We had no choice but to be cowboys and we took to it full blast. We started our bull riding careers on the arm of the chairs and couches in a little one bedroom ranch house on the Washita River 35 miles SE of Canadian, Texas. We graduated from the chair arm to riding on the back of our dad on hardwood floors. They don’t call ’em hardwood floors for nothin’! You learn early on to try as hard as you can to not get bucked off and bang your head off the hardwood. We went to our first rodeo when I was 8 and Mont was 5. We were determined to practice riding but we had no bucking chute….but we made do! When we’d see the dust from Dad’s pickup go over that last hill….we’d gather every cow, calf and bull we had and ride every single one of them. We’d run ’em in a big pen, rope ’em, snub ’em to a post, put our rope on ’em….and the rodeo was on!! Dad started gettin’ kinda suspicious when the cow herd wouldn’t even come in when he fed….and when he noticed how bad we were bruised and skinned up!! Rodeo was a pretty important part of our lives for the next 20-25 years. We rode in every major rodeo throughout the United States and Canada…..and won money at most of ’em! We were both inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008.

Mont Taylor is a ‘Man’s Man’! He’s a man of his word, treats every single person with dignity, hard worker, great husband and Daddy, has a thousand really good friends and I doubt if he has an enemy on the whole planet. He’ll ‘loosen up’ with the best of ’em….but wouldn’t ever cause anybody any harm. We live 300 miles apart but I talk to him a couple of times a week. I have a ton of respect and admiration for him. His impact on my life has been immeasurable…..Mont Taylor is definitely a VIP!!

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Check out some more VIP’s:

VIP #1 – Booger Bryant

VIP #2 – Sarge Cook

VIP #3 – Ronnie Chadwick

VIP #4 Paul Luchsinger

VIP #5  & 6 – Edith Yowell & Nellie Millar

VIP #7 – Rick Hudson

 

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There Is Such a Thing as ‘Extreme Sports’ ……But This Is Ridiculous!

I’d never heard the term, ‘Extreme Sports’, until about 10-15 years ago. Now you hear it all the time. If you look at the list of extreme sports you’ll find a pretty extensive list of things that any normal person really wouldn’t want to do. I mean, if common sense is involved, you just wouldn’t want to risk your life for this stuff. But there’s plenty of people out there who aren’t satisfied with just a normal existence….they have to test the limits! And nothing, it seems, can stand in their way.

I can relate to that, somewhat. I rode bulls for 20 years…..starting as a kid riding calves, then steers right on up to 2000 lb bulls. And there’s no denying to most that bull riding has to be counted as one of the most extreme of the ‘extreme sports’. Add to that, when we were riding in the ’70’s and early ’80’s there was no such thing as helmets and protective vests. And really, most of the guys back in those days wouldn’t have worn them anyway. It would’ve been wise, I guess, but those who are extreme sports enthusiasts have considered the danger…and the potential for complete disaster, and are still willing to do it.

There’s a growing list of extreme sports; hang gliding, base jumping, motorcycle jumping (flips/back flips, etc), snow skiing (I’m not talking about the ‘bunny slopes’! I’m talking about getting dropped out of a helicopter on a mountain with nothing but jagged rocks and snow!), white water rafting, mountain biking, etc. And, I’ve seen enough on TV of these guys attempting to climb Everest…..and I’m thinking, “Hell no!””. *(click on any of the highlighted links for more information/videos)

The list of extreme sports could go on and on….but of all of them out there this one chills me the most! Free climbing! And this guy, Alex Honnold, (You really must click the link and watch!!) who is the ‘poster boy’ for free climbing/free soloing, is one incredible guy. I first saw him on a segment of “60 Minutes” and could hardly believe what I was seeing. He climbs these ‘unclimbable’ rock faces, some of them inverted, with nothing but his bare hands. Being several thousand feet up with nothing but rock below means absolute ‘certain death’ should he make the slightest slip! But he still insists on doing it time and time again.

I don’t know what Alex would say about bull riding….but I do know what I’d say to an opportunity to do what he does…..NO!! Some would call it machismo, others like me would say, “it’s just crazy”! But it’s a shining example of the human spirit. We’re created to conquer and overcome…..and a few like Alex Honnold really, really believe it!

 

 

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August 12…..A Day That Lives in Infamy……*at least for me!

Well, maybe that’s a little overstated…Ok it’s way overstated. But it was kinda devastating for me in it’s own little way. It was 34 years ago today at about four o’clock in the afternoon in Sydney, Iowa. For those unfamiliar with professional rodeo Sydney, Iowa is a great rodeo. It’s one that all the cowboys like and about everybody on the trail tries to get to Sydney if at all possible. It’s a small farming town but several thousand spectators come from miles around to see the great rodeo there. The local, between performances, hotspot was Russ’s. A little, nothing special of a bar except during the rodeo you can get all the homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers and corn that you can possibly eat….and of course the beer was cold.

This was going to be my last year of rodeo. I had decided that before the season ever started. Clint was three years old and there were several times during the season that I’d leave the ranch knowing that I wasn’t going to see Julie and him for 3 or 4 weeks. I could hardly take that. When I’d be leaving on one of those month long trips there’d be all kinds of bawlin’ and squawlin’……and every now and then they’d cry too!

I was having a good year despite not drawing great for several stretches. It had been a dream since I was a kid to go to the National Finals Rodeo. (For the non-rodeo people….it’s like the World Series of rodeo) The previous two years I had been on track to make the NFR only to be derailed by injuries that kept me out of competition, once for a month and another for nearly two months. But this year was going to be different. I was drawing good and riding good and was about to be on a good roll. In the most recent PRCA Press Release I was ranked 10th in the world; I’d just won the bull riding at Yuma, Colorado the day before. I had a decent bull at Sydney that day and then I had about 5 or 6 good ones in a row. It’s a time of the season that you can compete at two rodeos a day for nearly a month. So everything was shaping up for me to make my move…and who knows maybe end up among the top 5 in the world…and pretty much a guarantee to make the NFR.

My bull that day wasn’t one of the best ones but one that I might be able to place on. He was definitely one that I should ride considering the confidence that I was riding with at the time. Well, anyone that knows rodeo knows that ‘what ought to happen’…..rarely does! Lots of variables to deal with, to say the least. The bull bucked me off extremely awkward and I landed hard on my left shoulder, dislocating it. Game over! Season over! Career over! (I laid off for a month and entered a couple of rodeos but the shoulder was far from being stable enough for me to be competitive) Interestingly enough, exactly 5 years before…on August 12, at the same rodeo a bull had hit me in the right shoulder, tore the main ligament, requiring surgery and ending my season.

It sounds strange and probably doesn’t make sense to most but I had a tremendous sense of relief as I boarded my plane in Omaha the next day. An unfulfilled dream was hard to reconcile but the reality of knowing that I was going home to Julie and Clint, for good, sure did feel good. It has bothered me some down through the years that I didn’t make the NFR. It does feel good to have the respect of the guys I rode with and against….but I never regretted coming home to be a Husband and a Dad! 

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