Why I Say, “Thank You, Lord”, When I See the KOA Sign!

To begin with, December 18, 2006 was not going to be anywhere near a normal day (none of our days are very normal!) for the Taylor family. Nope it was going to be a big day for us. Clint (oldest son) and Kristy were about to have their third baby. A C-section had been planned for about 8am that morning and, as usual, we were there to celebrate the arrival of Preslie Reece. One of the things I like about the Taylors’ is that when something like this is taking place….the entire Crew (there’s quite a few of us!) is there! Pretty amazing family trait if you ask me.

Kristy’s surgery had been postponed for an hour so we made our way down to the coffee shop in the hospital. While we were sitting there my cell phone rang and I could see that it was Cole (our 3rd son) calling in. He couldn’t be there at the hospital with us because of his job with a local sign/billboard company. I was sure he was calling in to see if we’d had the baby yet. When I answered the phone Cole’s boss was on the other end. he said, “Andy, Cole’s been hurt really bad and he’s headed  to the hospital!” 

Within just a few minutes they notified us that Kristy had been taken back for her surgery. So, here we were, having a grandbaby on one side of the hospital….and on the other side of the hospital our son was coming in and we had no idea what to expect…except that it was ‘bad’! It was almost the full range of emotions that we experienced at that moment.

Cole and a co-worker were working  on a KOA sign on Interstate 40 between exit 50-51. Cole was up it the lift bucket, 40 feet up….on his way up to 80 feet when the bearing assembly in the bucket broke and gave way. The lift which telescoped out came crashing down. When it finally hit bottom Cole’s face hit the railing around the bucket. He was knocked unconscious just momentarily. (Cole was as fit as he could possibly be, working out in the gym nearly every day. I’ve always thought that contributed to saving his life that day) His co-worker immediately called 911.

When Cole arrived via ambulance at the ER it was a terrible sight to see for Cole’s wife Kelly, and Julie and me. Eyes were pretty much swelled shut, face bruised and red….but the worst part of all was the absence of 6 of his teeth in the front. *It was only a few days before this that I told Julie how great a smile Cole had! …now….no teeth!

After a battery of x-rays the doctor returned to the ER and said to Cole, “Well, I found your teeth.” Cole answered, “Did I swallow them?” “No, they’re up in here!”, the doctor said, pointing to Cole’s face. All six of his front teeth were pushed completely up into his nasal cavity!

They stabilized Cole, loaded him in an ambulance and set out for the OU Trauma Center in Oklahoma City. We took a good look at our new grand baby girl, Preslie, grabbed some overnight clothes and headed for Oklahoma City, too.

The trauma team worked on Cole for nearly 8 hours that day. Most of that time was spent working in his mouth. We were home by the next afternoon and Cole was holding his brand new niece!

It was just one week before Christmas and we had so much to be thankful to the Lord for! ……and that’s why I say, “Thank You, Lord”, every single time I pass the KOA sign!


*There’s a great Part II to this story coming within the next couple of months. Stay tuned!



“Highly Credentialed”!

I had a speaking engagement recently in Oklahoma City. It was held at a huge, and elaborate, venue….and there were several hundred people in attendance….and I was the ‘Keynote Speaker’. When I arrived and assessed the situation I immediately text Julie and said, “This is kind of a big deal! I’m pretty sure I’m out of my league. You better be praying for me!” I could immediately relate to how Forrest Gump felt when he went to the White House!

After a very honoring introduction I made my way to the podium. And, I thought….“Well, I guess I should let this big crowd of bank presidents, doctors, lawyers…and professional people of every type know that my credentials as a ‘keynote speaker’ are definitely up towards the top of the scale of speaker qualifications.” You’re probably wondering by now what those credentials are. Here’s the ‘short list’:

  1. I was in the largest graduating class that ever graduated from Allison, Texas High School (I call it the Institute of Higher Learning…just sounds better to me! lol) There were 15 of us!! I was in the Top-15 in my graduating class! (*Barely)
  2. I have been the “Keynote Speaker” at the Sayre, Oklahoma Kindergarten Graduation...not once, not twice, but 3 times! And if my own kids will keep havin’ kids, I could have a ‘lock’ on that gig for a few more years!
  3. I’m the only guy I know of that has been ‘kicked out’ of the Canadian, Texas Moose Lodge! *via a certified letter no less (You might argue that it’s not a qualifying factor but either way….I do hold that distinction) *Keep in mind, that was in the BC (Before Christ) days
  4. Roger Mills County Jr Spelling Bee Champ (4th Grade – Winning Word – “executive”) What ‘ya think about that, huh?!!

I know a ‘goat ropin’, and a tractor pull or two on my resume would make my qualifications a little more legit but I just haven’t had the hankerin’ to go to either of them. I have, however, roped a few goats and driven a tractor a little if that counts. And I guess if you consider the fact that I’ve seen Ernest Tubb in person I’d pretty much be overqualified for about any kind of speaking engagement.

I hope you’re not intimidated by that stellar list of qualifications….and if you need a top-notch speaker for your Senior Citizens Dinner, garage sale or maybe your family reunion….I just might be your guy! ……..and don’t worry about my fee ………I ain’t cheap…..but I’ll work with ‘ya!


*You might like this one too:

You May Not Know This, But I’m Kind of a Big Deal

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!!



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

It’s ‘Atmospheric’, ……There’s No Question About It!

Some time back I taught 150 some odd messages on the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I saw, by teaching ‘systematically’ (verse by verse), so many profound and life altering things in the process that I’d never seen before. It changed me….obviously for the better and I believe it changed the entire Trinity Family.

One of those things that became apparent was in the way that Jesus related to people; how He talked to them and how He loved them. But I began to notice a pattern with Jesus. And as important as the ‘words’ were that Jesus spoke I became convinced that more often than not….it wasn’t His words that made the difference in many of the stories recorded in the gospels. There was something in the atmosphere that was the difference-maker!

One good example was when Jesus came by Matthew, the tax-collector. Jesus was just walking by and said, “Follow Me”. And Matthew dropped everything and did just that. What would cause Matthew to do that? It seems like an easy question for us, being that we know Who Jesus was….but Matthew didn’t have the advantage of knowing that like you and I do. Jesus was already a controversial figure and the entire population was ‘polarized’ as a result of Who He was….and how He did what He did.

My opinion on this is that the atmosphere wherever Jesus went was 100% charged with “agape”, unconditional love.  It was an atmosphere void of any condemnation, whatsoever! Everybody hated and despised the tax collectors. Could it be that the reason Matthew ‘followed’ Jesus is that he felt, not only ‘accepted’ in that moment, but ‘valued’ as well (probably for the first time in his entire life!)?? I believe so! His encounter with Jesus changed his life forever……just like a similar encounter will change your life forever.

The ‘atmosphere’ around Jesus was ‘inviting’. It ‘drew’ people in and that’s why He always had a crowd of sinners and tax collectors around Him. That’s what agape does! That atmosphere around Jesus is exactly the atmosphere that’s being produced around you!! But it can only be produced by our deepening relationship with the Father. It’s nothing you can ‘work up’. But it’s a natural by-product of our connection with the Father.


Quit Telling Me What The Problem Is!!

It was a bit of a rude awakening when we were informed that the ranch we had leased, lived on for nearly 25 years, made our homes, and were assured we’d be there forever, was going to be sold. I’ll never forget that day! Interestingly enough, the day before, I had written inside the cover of my Bible: “God, I want everything You have for me, no matter what it costs me.” I had no idea that the very next day He would begin to shift things in such a way that I could clearly see, at least a little of, what the ‘costs’ might be! It was, even more, the challenge because Julie and I had absolutely no back-up plan. As far as we were concerned we were going to raise our kids…..and grow old there. So everything was somewhat in chaos and we had no choice but to put our trust in the Lord.

That was in 1988, and we moved only 30 miles away south of Cheyenne, Oklahoma. I worked several odd jobs for a few months, everything from helping take care of cattle (which I was way familiar with), to some oilfield day work but nothing extremely stable or permanent. I saw an ad in the local paper and went for an interview, took an aptitude test….and was hired on the spot by Edgar Sellers (before he even looked at how I’d done on the test), a great guy who’d be my boss for the next seven years. I started with Western Merchandisers the next week!

The president of the company was John Marmaduke whose, dad, Sam had started the company on a shoestring a generation before. John was a brilliant businessman, in my opinion. He took a fairly small company and procured a contract with Wal-Mart that eventually enabled Western Merchandisers to supply all the music (Vinyl LP’s, 8-Tracks, Cassettes, CDs), all the books, all the computer software and most of the movies for the entire Wal-Mart chain, nationwide. After a few years, Wal-Mart purchased Western Merchandisers for millions.

John was an aggressive guy in our regional meetings. He knew the business and didn’t tolerate amateurism to any degree. Let’s just say he ‘ran a tight ship’! I remember several meetings with sales reps, district managers, and upper-level management when people would start to talk of all the problems out in the field. John would rip into them….no matter what level they were in…..and I can remember him saying more than a few times, “I’m tired of hearing about the problems; Anybody can tell you what the problems are!’, “I want to hear from somebody who has a solution!”

I’ve never forgotten those meetings and what I learned from John. And, it’s true; whether we’re talking about the Federal Government, the Little League Baseball Team, the Chamber for Commerce, your marriage or the Church; just about anybody can tell you what the problem is….you don’t have to be genius to figure that out! There’s just not many out there who are solution minded.

So, quit telling me what the problem is…….I want to hear from somebody who has a solution!


There’s Something To Be Said For Not Knowing Anything!

I know, when you first read that, it just doesn’t make sense. But I’m looking at it from a somewhat different perspective. We’re living in the ‘Information Age’ now, here in the 21st century. I kinda like the fact that I can go to Google, ask any question, and get a few hundred thousand options for my answer in a matter of seconds. You can find a video showing you how to do about anything you could possibly imagine. I mean, everything’s available from how to fix your refrigerator to building an ultra-light airplane that actually flies. My point is that knowledge is easy to access these days.

I remember well growing up and living on the ranch out in the Texas Panhandle. We nearly always had a hired-hand. We had a few good ones and there were a few who weren’t so good. The ones who knew pretty much everything, turned out to be the very worst ones we had. And some of those who actually admitted they didn’t know much turned out to be some of the best. I see that pretty often these days. Someone who doesn’t know much about a particular job or vocation, and is willing to admit that he doesn’t know, is actually in a pretty good spot. And from an employer’s perspective…..maybe a really good spot. Nearly all employers like things done ‘their way’! So you can take one of these guys who’ll admit he doesn’t know much and, if he’s willing, teach him how to do it your way. Some would say that it’s the best case scenario.

I think the Father works like that too. Some of these folks that ‘just know everything’ don’t seem to get much done for the Lord in the long haul. God’s not really looking for people who know everything….He actually never has! I’m pretty sure that’s why He picked Himself some fishermen and tax collectors to be His closest confidants. The religious people just knew way too much!

I was a cowboy; grew up on a ranch, and was a rodeo cowboy too. I still know quite a bit of stuff about ranching and rodeo, horses and cattle. I don’t use much of that info these days….but I could if I needed to. When the Lord picked me to do what I’m doing….I knew absolutely nothing about what to do, or how to do it. I’ve learned a few things in 30+ years, and still learning. But I’m positive, at the beginning, He wanted somebody who didn’t know anything…so He could teach him how to do it His way. So I think….from God’s perspective, ‘there’s something to be said for not knowing anything’!


We Oughta Get Our Ducks in a Row!! Part 5 – Our Job

Getting our ‘ducks in a row’….AKA, setting our priorities in order! 1) Our Spiritual Life; 2) Our Marriage; 3) Parenting;                         4) Relationships. Number 5 on my list of priorities is “Our Job”. #5 ….you say!!!? That low?? Yep, that’s right, #5. As important as our jobs may be they’re never more important than those four listed above. It’s important that we don’t let these important things get out of order. Life is simpler….and better if we’ll keep them rightly aligned.

We spend a huge chunk of our lives at work, that’s just the way it is. A few people I know are able to be working in their ‘dream job’. But most people I know are just trying to work toward that. It could happen; I wouldn’t give up the dream for that if I were you! As ‘kingdom’ people we should handle our jobs with the greatest degree of integrity. We should show up for work early….or at the very worst, on time. We should take care of the property and equipment of the company/people we’re working for. We should be diligent to do a good job and do more than is expected of us. We should do our best to promote harmony among other employees. The bible says, “Whatever we find to do with our hands, we should do it with all our might”.

There is a real tangible feeling of self-esteem that comes from giving it ‘our best’ on the job. It’s one of those things that, I believe, also brings glory and honor to the Father. In getting your ducks in a row don’t forget to give your job the attention it deserves.