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“Head ’em Up,……. Move ’em Out!”

I’d guess you’d need to be somewhere in the 50+ age group to remember that term. I remember as a kid hearing it every single week at least once. I’m talking about the TV show “Rawhide”. (click for Wikipedia info) It was a weekly series about a bunch of cowboys who were always moving a big herd of cattle from one place to another…..and the dilemmas they ran into along the way. They encountered everything from thunderstorms, tornadoes, and all kinds of inclement weather to stampedes, wolves, bandits, cattle rustlers, gamblers, gunfighters, no water….. and just about every other thing you can possibly imagine. We couldn’t wait each week to tune in to see what was going to happen next. Rawhide was the first big acting job for a young up and comer by the name of Clint Eastwood. You’ve heard of him, right?! Yep, he played the part of Rowdy Yates, the ramrod….and kinda the second in command to Gil Favor, the trail boss.

As a little ranch kid it was even more interesting to me and my brother. We could relate to the problems that the cattlemen were having because in our household we were experiencing a little bit of the same calamities…..most often to a much smaller degree, nearly always with cattle,…but it seemed real, and believable to us. We dreamed of being on those big cattle drives with those cowboys. Even as little kids we knew how to handle cattle. It’s just what we did, day in…and day out. And it was kinda funny when we watched Rawhide….we’d see some of those Hollywood cowboys do something that we learned to do, or not to do, years before. And we’d wonder….“Why did they do that?!” We knew a lot more about cowboy’n than they did! We never missed Rawhide.

At the end of the show each week, after the bad guys had been adequately dealt with, the herd was gathered back up, the storm had eased up,….and the cowboys were all accounted for Mr. Favor,….the trail boss, would give a holler, “Head ’em up, move ’em out!”. ……and off they’d go, again, with the big herd toward their destination.

2016 is behind us….it’s history. And 2017 is staring us square in the face. We’ve made it through some major trials. We’ve learned some lessons; we’re smarter than we were a year ago. We’ve, somehow, lived through the things that we thought were going to ‘take us out’! We have a greater understanding of the rescuing power of God. We have a brand new resolve to get the herd to it’s destination. We’ve learned that we can’t do it without the help of the Lord. There are some major challenges ahead, for sure, ….but we know we can do it!

“Head ’em up, move ’em out!”

More good reading:

Why I Think Cowboys Make Good ‘Hands’ For the Lord!

Heads Up!

Reflect – Refocus #1

Adios ’15

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“It’ll Ride” – Part 2

It seems to be a chronic ailment of mine. You would think that by now I would’ve learned my lesson. But when I look a situation over…and it looks good to me, why waste a bunch of time to try to make it better. In this case I’m talking about loading something in my pickup and not taking precious time to secure said things with a chain, rope, bungie cord or some other means to keep things from slipping out, falling out….or in some rare cases,….flying out of the back of my pickup. If you haven’t read “It’ll Ride”, (click on the highlighted link) you should do it now. You’ll get the picture!

Ten or twelve years ago when our boys were still involved in junior rodeo, the rodeo finals were held culminating with a huge awards banquet at the end of the season for all the winners. The all-around winners (best in overall multiple events) in each age group received a really nice trophy saddle. Those saddles cost upwards of fifteen hundred dollars and it’s the award that everyone really wants to win. That particular year Clay, our youngest son, won the all-around. Of course we were all excited about that and proud of him. He had worked hard and it was a major accomplishment.

After the awards ceremony I loaded up the horses, half a dozen trophy buckles that had been won in several events….and the saddle that Clay had just been awarded. It was eleven o’clock pm. I had only a twenty mile trip home. The saddle was placed back in the cardboard box that it had been shipped in. The bed of my pickup was full of all kinds of rodeo equipment so I looked the situation over and decided to put the box with the saddle in it on the top of my toolbox. It would be right up against the cab of the pickup so the wind wouldn’t be a factor. I took one good look at it, assessed the situation…..and said to myself, “It’ll ride”!

Driving down the Interstate alone and periodically looking over my shoulder at the ‘precious cargo’ on top of my toolbox, and everything’s fine. The big box with the saddle in it is riding like a charm. (just like I knew it would) I made sure to look back every half minute or so….just to make sure. I looked back and it was there…….but thirty seconds later when I looked back, …….you guessed it, it was gone!!

Oh, sweet Jesus!!! (as I reflect back on that night I’m pretty sure that might not be exactly what I said!! Let’s just leave it at that!)

I hit the brakes like nobody’s bidness! I pulled off onto the shoulder and was out of that pickup in a flash. There’s a dozen eighteen-wheelers (not counting the cars and pickups) going east and west and running at least seventy-five mph. I’m running back down the shoulder of I-40 as hard as I can…..and praying harder than I’ve ever prayed before. (and come to think of it, praying harder than I ever have since, too!!) I just know that one of those trucks has already hit the box with the saddle in it….and I’m imagining in my mind all the ugly things that might happen to a saddle when it gets hit by a semi!! And, on top of that, I’m agonizing about how I’m gonna break the news to the Fam! Can ya’ get the picture??!

I ran at least a quarter of a mile before I saw something in the center median of the 4-lane interstate. I only had the headlights of the trucks going east and west to see. I crossed over to the median and there was the box! I had this thought, “Do I really want to see this?!” It can’t be good! When I got to the box…the saddle was still in it! Between you and me…..I had a little worship service right there! It didn’t last long but it was definitely very vocal…..and heartfelt, if ya’ know what I mean!! lol

I carried the saddle back to the pickup, looked at it under the light…and it didn’t have a scratch on it!

I put it right up there next to me in the front seat, shut the door, locked it good, pulled that saddle over as close to me as I could…..and said,……

“It’ll Ride”!!

*Same rule applies with “It’ll Ride” Part 1; I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t mention this to Julie. She really don’t like to talk about it!

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Definitely Our Most Memorable New Year’s Day!

It was exactly 38 years ago today. That, I remember vividly. It was brutally cold, about 15 degrees with the wind blowing about 40 mph! ….typical Texas Panhandle winter night! Julie and I had gone into Canadian, Texas to meet two other couples for supper. The Stuckey’s, Don & Billie, and the Dickinson’s, Bud & Brenda have been great friends of ours for a lifetime (actually more like Family!). The plan was to go to the steak house for supper and then back to the Stuckey’s to hang out, play a few cards, drink a few beers….at least for the guys. Julie and I were expecting our first baby and she was already about two weeks past the due date.

We brought in the New Year and headed home. It was about 40 miles to our house. The we got home another of my good friends, Kenny Bass was there waiting for us. Julie went off to bed and ‘Catfish’ (his nickname) and I decided we’d have another drink or two. Before we even got the first one poured Julie called to me from the bedroom. When I went in there she was as serious as I’d ever seen her! She calmly said, “I think my water broke”! I don’t know if you can grasp the panic that I experienced at that moment. Julie, on the other hand, remained pretty calm. But here we were, 60 miles from the hospital, our car with less than a quarter tank of gas in it…and she’s having contractions only a few minutes apart. 

We were in the car in less than 3 minutes. And, since we didn’t have enough gas to make it to the hospital we stopped at the ranch headquarters, where my folks lived, to fill the car up. Thinking we didn’t have a minute to spare, I had visions of her trying to give birth in the car on the way. We made the 60 mile trip in about 35-40 minutes…and to be honest, Julie’s brown Gran Torino was never really the same after that!

Not sure exactly the time we arrived at the hospital in Elk City, Oklahoma but I distinctly remember Julie having regular contractions just a few minutes apart….and Clint Ryan wasn’t born until 1:35 pm the next day….New Year’s Day. It was a lot of hours of ‘hard labor’!! And, hey, Clint was the first baby born there in the New Year so we were given lots of gifts and certificates for gifts.

It was an experience we’ll never forget. Our lives were changed for the better that day, and made richer than we could’ve ever imagined. It was definitely our most memorable New Year’s Day!

Happy New Year from the Taylors’!!

*If you’re interested in visiting the ‘Archives’ and getting 2016 off to a good start, click the highlighted link and get started! Thanks for joining me on the journey!

Reflect & Refocus #2

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“The Way I See It” #200!

Yesterday was another milestone for me as a writer. My post, Weapons of Mass Construction, was the #200th one! That’s 200 since January 1 of this year. Sure seems like a lot when you look back from here. I’ve learned a lot of things by writing on a regular basis, not the least of which is that writing seems to help me figure me out. There’s something about writing down your thoughts that seems to be good for a soul. I’d recommend it for anyone…and I can tell you that the hardest part is to just get started. It took me a few years to write the first one.

I’ll say again that my main reason for writing is to help. Some of the posts are serious, some are funny but all of them are written from a perspective of a life that the Father has blessed immeasurably! My deepest hope is that something you’ve read has helped you to simplify your relationship with Him, and maybe get a glimpse of the Creator of the Universe Who I think modern religion may have grossly misrepresented. He’s better and more gracious than religion has portrayed Him to be…but you won’t find the full truth of that until you’re connecting relationally with Him. 

I appreciate your taking the time to read the posts. I look at every name that clicks the “Like” button. I especially appreciate your verbal feedback. I think it helps me to get better at what I’m doing. If you think they’re valuable in some way I’d appreciate you ‘passing the word’. Every time you click the “Share” button you make it available to an entire new, broader audience.

If  you’re new to the blog….take some time to go back through the “Archives” and play a little ‘catch up’. Best case scenario, go to the site, click the “Follow” button. You’ll get an email every time I make a post.

The posts that have garnered the most “Views” (nearly 41,000 total!) are not necessary my favorite ones. Below, I have listed my Top-5 Favorite Posts. Give ’em a read and let me know which have been your favorites, or ones that have really ‘spoken’ to you. Thanks a bunch!

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

I’ve Never ‘Led’ Anyone to the Lord……and I Ain’t Planning on Doing it Anytime Soon!

You’ve Gotta Quit Calling Yourself a “Sinner”!

Quit Telling Me What The Problem Is!!

All I Know Is, God Loved John Very, Very Much!

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What If I’d Said, No?

I didn’t….so it’s just theoretical. I’m not going to….so don’t get all uptight about it. But occasionally it does go through my mind…..mostly at times when I’m down or discouraged. Yeah, people like me have those times too. Most won’t admit it…fearing it to be a sign of weakness. And, without a doubt, there are those in every group that could start the ‘feeding frenzy’ when a spiritual leader admits he’s actually human, and vulnerable. And, from what I’ve seen by observing other leaders…church people can be some of the most vicious and mean-spirited of them all. Crazy huh?!

It was in 1986 that I heard the call of the Lord on my life. I remember the day well. I was training a horse in the big round pen at the ranch near Allison, Texas. I got off, tied him up and drove the 7 miles to town to talk to my Pastor, Ronnie Chadwick. *(click to read the account) As I remember, it was pretty clear from the Lord. And also, just as clear, was my response to Him that day. It was an easy, “Yes”! I had absolutely no idea what it all meant but I was ‘all-in’, whatever that was.

It was the same when we said “Yes” to the work in Sayre. I’d been asked a dozen times or more to take the little group (6-8) and be their leader. I hadn’t heard a single thing from the Lord that I should do it. But in one critical week the Lord spoke clearly to both Julie and me. We said, “Yes”, and the rest is history, so to speak.

I’m not sure what I’d be doing….or where I’d even be had I said “No”, on those two occasions. For me it’s kind of scary to think about. I doubt I’d be in Sayre, Oklahoma. I’d probably be doing something involving horses and cattle, or ranching. It’s what I knew best…and what I loved doing. On some of the really hard days that life, as hard as it can be too, looks pretty dang good.

But I think about the things that I’d be missing had I said, “No”. I’d have missed at least some of the amazing things the Lord has miraculously done in, through and around us in the last 30+ years. It’s almost embarrassing to admit the times down through the years that ‘quitting’ seemed the thing to do. But I’m not a quitter, never have been…it’s a family trait. I’ve noticed people down through the years who quit, knowing they shouldn’t have,…and it appears that they don’t like themselves much after that. Of course the call of the Lord is one very valid reason for not quitting. But the thing that’s kept me going all these years is my incredible family (best on the planet!)….and this amazing bunch of people at Trinity Fellowship that actually believe in what we’re doing…..and have bet their lives on making a difference!

So, yep…I’m human, and a pretty flawed one at that! But I’m on a pretty decent 30 year run of saying “Yes” to the Lord. My policy has always been to be ‘real’. I’m not of the, ‘fake it ’til you make it’, variety. I’m glad I said, “Yes”. And I still don’t know what it all means! But, I’m all-in for whatever He says!

If you like this one….You’ll like this one, too:

Thank You, Mother Teresa

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VIP’s #10 – Cliff & Charlene Taylor

Obviously my VIP Blogs are not listed in any order of importance. If they were these two would be right up there toward the top of the list. Cliff and Charlene….that’s my Mom & Dad. I wish you all knew them. They’re two of the most incredible people you could ever meet. They’re now in their 80’s and live only a few blocks from us. I like that. I’ll go there at least a few times a week and have coffee and visit with them. They amaze me in that they’re still telling me stories that I’ve never heard before….and they can do it with nearly total recall.

Now seems like a proper time to write them up as VIPs since just about three days ago they celebrated their 66th Anniversary! Pretty amazing when you think about it. That’s setting the bar up there pretty high for the rest of us Taylors’. Good job, Mom & Dad! There’s no way I could come close to telling all the good qualities they have…and the good qualities they’ve passed along to Mont and I. It’d take a good sized book to get that done. But for the sake of time and space, I’ll try to give you a little insight on ‘who’ they are.

They have been the hardest working pair I’ve ever seen. Dad has always been a cattleman so we learned at a very young age to handle cattle and horses with the best of ’em. Dad had Mont and I doing things that most men couldn’t do when we were just little kids. We learned how to do it right. When I was 12 I started riding colts for other people for pay. I did that successfully, at least at some level, for the next 25+ years. Most of our  lives were spent on a ranch. It was a great life. Besides handling every aspect of the cattle business (receiving, shipping, gathering, doctoring, buying and selling) we learned to build fence, repair windmills and water gaps and about every other thing you need to do to run a ranch the right way.

Mom was the best! I can remember as a little kid, her pulling broomcorn to help make ends meet. She’d come home tired, dirty and worn out but always managed to get us one heck of a supper cooked, without fail. Later on in our rodeo days there were many times we’d roll into the ranch in the middle of the night with a carload of buddies. She’d get up even if it was 2 am and cook us up some chicken fried steak, french fries and gravy. There are retired rodeo guys all over the United States and Canada who spent time at our house and who have the greatest amount of respect for my Mom & Dad. Oh, and incidentally, when we’d come in to the ranch in the middle of the night and have that great meal….Dad was always gracious to let us sleep in ’til 5:30 or 6 in the morning before we started whatever project he had planned for the day…….and there was always a project! Most serious ranchers work their cattle according to the Zodiac signs. Dad always said that when there were a couple of carloads of rodeo friends at the ranch……that the ‘signs’ were right!

They sacrificed, and went without, to haul us to junior rodeos all over Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. They gave us a ‘leg up’ that way and enabled us to have a successful career in professional rodeo. We were both inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008. And in our acceptance speeches we made sure that they got the credit they deserved. In all actuality……they’re the ones who should’ve been inducted.

I could go on and on with those kinds of things but they gave us far more important things than teaching us cattle and ranch work. In my 62 years I haven’t seen them do one person wrong. I have seen them wronged plenty of times but they always handled it with class. They’ve lived their lives with the highest degree of integrity. Their ‘word’ has been their bond in the truest sense of the term. We didn’t go to church but they somehow instilled in us that God was ‘real’.…..and that He was good!

All those things are important but the most important thing of all is that we were loved……in word…..and in deed. We let them down plenty of times with some of the dumb stuff we did….but they hung in there with us, always having our back and always believing in us, and never, ever wavering in their love.

In the final analysis I’d say if, when it’s all over, if I’ve been half as good a person as they have been…..I’ll have done pretty decent.

Cliff & Charlene Taylor, VIP’s to anyone who’s had the good fortune of knowing them!

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I’ve Never ‘Led’ Anyone to the Lord……and I Ain’t Planning on Doing it Anytime Soon!

And to be even more specific about it….I’m never going to, either! In fact I think it’s ‘flawed’ terminology….I mean, really flawed! Now, keep in mind I didn’t grow up in church but I had a handful of people down through the years try to ‘lead’ me to the Lord. Their methods were, 1)  to scare me with hell by convincing me how bad I was, and that I was going there…. or 2) Give me that speech, “Now if Jesus came tonight….” You’re probably familiar with both of those methods, and you’ve probably heard them both a few times yourself. I guess it comes from someone, somewhere telling them that they needed to get out there and start winning souls….and maybe, just maybe in their warped sense of religious thinking the ‘end’ would, somehow, justify any means to get to the bottom line! And the ‘bottom line’ is to get us to pray that prayer; you know, the Sinner’s Prayer. *(not in the Bible, by the way!) And it always left me thinking, that for me to pray that prayer,….was more for them…..than for me. So they could go tell their friends who ‘they’ led to the Lord and then carve another ‘notch’ in their Bible. Oh, yeah, and those ones who wanted to lead me to the Lord, ……it was those guys that kept me away from the church (it’s a bad excuse) for years! Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to go to hell but I really didn’t want to be in a church that made people feel like they made me feel, either!

Jesus didn’t do it that way! Everywhere He went sinners and tax collectors followed. There was something in the ‘atmosphere’ that made them feel ‘valued’! It was agape! …..that unconditional, unadulterated, unfiltered, raw kind of love…of which there is no comparison! 

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” – Jesus

So, nope, I’ve never led anyone to the Lord….but I have got to see a bunch of ’em when He ‘led’ ’em by!

 

 

 

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