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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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VIP #9 – Art Harris

I first met Art Harris in October of 1988, our last year on the ranch north of Allison, Texas. I had been taking care of 2500 head of cattle for Art’s cousin from Munday, Texas. Art came down that day that we gathered the cattle. We were busy weighing cattle all that day and I didn’t get to visit a lot with Art ……but enough to know that I liked him a lot. Art had grown up in Seymour, Texas and was one of the best athletes to ever graduate there. He played football and basketball where he was a standout in both sports. He’s still known, admired and idolized around those parts just simply as, Art Lynn.

When we moved across the line into Oklahoma and we needed to find a bank I looked for Art…..and after I found him he would be our banker for the next 27 years. In that time we became very good friends. I’ve said often that Art was the last of the ‘old time’ bankers. That kind of banker that believed in you as a person and loaned money based on that premise. In fact, he actually loaned millions of dollars on exactly that! We bought a several houses (rental properties) over the years and just called Art after the fact. It was never a problem.

By 1997 Art had become a VP and loan officer and was heading up the branch in Sayre. We started Trinity Fellowship in a home and then moved to a small building on the south end of town. When we grew to about 35 people (on a good day) we started looking for another place. We landed on Walter Merrick’s property two miles east of town on I-40. The Merrick family was gracious to allow us to use the property with no rent from ’92 to ’97…..which was a good thing because we had no money

The property became available for purchase and there were some very interested people who had the means to buy it. But we felt that the Lord wanted us to have the property. After a lot of prayer we decided we should try to buy. I remember vividly sitting in Art’s office and telling him that we wanted to buy the property. Art said “Yes”, and the rest is history.

Why do I tell that story?? I tell it because Art Harris believed in us when there wasn’t much to believe in. In two years we had the property (100 acres on I-40) totally paid off. Art started coming to church with us along about that time and our friendship deepened even more.

A couple of years ago Art was diagnosed with cancer. It was a tough diagnosis with the doctors giving him 6 months to live. I was there at his house when he arrived from Oklahoma City after getting the discouraging news. We prayed and he vowed to fight it…which he did. There was a mixture of reports from the docs over the next year, some good …..some not. Three of us went to Dallas in December to watch the Texas state football finals games. Art tired easy and didn’t have a lot of energy but it was a great trip, nonetheless. It was only a few months later that he was promoted to heaven.

When I look back over the years since I’ve known Art it’s very obvious how much he’s helped the Taylor family……and the Trinity family, as well. There’s hundreds of stories out there just like mine….of people that Art believed in. and gave them a ‘leg up’.

He was my Friend! There’s no question about it for me…..Art Harris is definitely a VIP! …….and you wouldn’t have to look far to find a lot of other people who think so too!

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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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If You See God “Wrongly”…….You’ll Never See Yourself “Rightly”!

There aren’t many discussions any more important than this one; Who is God? Big question, to say the least. And my fear is that God has been grossly ‘misrepresented’ in our world. Mainly by those who know ‘about’ Him…..but don’t really actually ‘know’ Him! It’s a huge problem if you ask me….and it needs to be fixed ASAP!…..not only for each of us as individuals….but for the whole world in general!

There are a hundred good reasons to connect with the Father relationally. It’s really what our lives should be all about. It’s the answer for everything that ‘s wrong. It’s the ‘cure for mankind’. When you ‘connect’ relationally with the Father you begin to find out “Who” He really is! But if we never do connect in that way we’ll always have a ‘secondhand’ perception of Him.

If you only see God as “Judge” you’ll always be somewhat ‘fearful’ of Him. You’ll always be mindful of your failures and all the things you’ve done to ‘let Him down’. And you’ll be scared about what He might say to you on that ‘final’ day! I have plenty of conversations with people who have made this their reality. They see themselves as not really ‘measuring up’. It’s a ‘wrong’ perception!! It’s not a little wrong, ……it’s a long way from the actual Truth! You see your self ‘wrongly’ ……because you are seeing God ‘wrongly’!

The only way we’ll ever see ourselves ‘rightly’ is when we start to see God for Who He really Is……and that is as a Father. The next step, then, is to begin to interact with Him at that level……as a son or a daughter. Now listen….it really does have to go beyond acknowledging Him as Father; it must be relational or we’ve totally missed the point. Don’t make it hard!! It’s the easiest thing there is for a child ………to naturally relate to his/her Dad. 

When you see God for Who He is, you’ll start to see yourself just like He sees you!

            You’ll see yourself ‘rightly’!!

            You’re gonna like what you see!

            I guarantee it!

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It Still Ain’t Over!

“It Ain’t Over Til’ It’s Over”; Nearly all of us have heard that quote. We know it’s from Yogi! Yogi Berra  (click on the highlighted link for full biography) died yesterday at age 90. To youngsters today he’s mostly known for his ingenious  and witty quotes….like the one above. But for a ’53 model like myself he stands for a whole lot more. As a kid I was an avid New York Yankees fan. I knew all the players names for the Yankees in those days. I’d call those the “Golden Years of Baseball’. That’s just my own opinion of course but I’ve never been as enthused about the sport since those days. Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were in a race for the most home runs. Two great athletes on the same ball club. For me, it was unforgettable. It was an era marked by….if you started with a ball club, in most cases you finished with the same club. Not a lot of trading around like there is these days. I liked it better.

Yogi was the catcher in all those great years for the Yanks. Not only was he a great catcher, he was a slugger as well. Five different times in his career he had more home runs than strikeouts (Thanks R Bea). Stop and think about that one for a minute! And get this: Besides being a Professional Baseball Hall of Famer, Yogi was a 3-time American League MVP…..and 10 times World Series Winner (played in 14)! At 5′ 7″ and 185 lbs Yogi hit 358 home runs and drove in 1430 runs in his stellar 18 year career! 

I thought it would be especially fitting on this day to post some of Yogi’s quotes:

“Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical”

“All pitchers are liars, or crybabies”IMG_0668

“He hits from both sides of the plate, he’s amphibious”

“Everybody pair up in threes”

“It gets late early out here”

“I usually take a 2 hour nap from 1 to 4”

“You can’t think and hit at the same time”

“It’s deja vu all over again”

“You can observe a lot by just watching”

“Even Napolean had his Watergate”

“Cut my pizza in 4 pieces, I don’t think I can eat 8”

“Never answer an anonymous letter”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it”

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else”

“Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”

“The future ain’t what it used to be”“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore”

“I never said most of the things I said”

“Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours'”

………and…….“It ain’t over ’til it’s over”

And in your case, Yogi…..it’ll never be over! A few of us’ll never forget!

Well done!

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$$$ – Being a “Thousandaire” Might Just Be Better Than Being a “Millionaire”!

It goes against logic, I know. But after 60 + years of observation….I think it’s true. Now, for starters, I haven’t yet had the experience of being a millionaire….but I’ve been a ‘thousandaire’ for years. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve dropped below the qualification limit a few times down through the years…..especially during my illustrious rodeo career. But for the most part I’ve be a steady thousandaire.

I’ve noticed the last few years as I’ve gotten older that I don’t need as much ‘stuff’ as I use to think I needed. All those things that we ‘needed’ and thought would make us happier……didn’t! I think it’s part of actually growing up and maturing and learning in part, what’s really important in life.

I’ve observed throughout my lifetime those who had lots of money. Even had friends growing up whose parents were very well off. There’s nothing at all wrong with that. In fact it’s to be commended in most cases. It’s America; we can do just about whatever we want to do. And for those who really find their niche and do well financially, it’s a very good thing. I did notice that some of the rich kids didn’t try near as hard at sports than some of the less fortunate.They had enough athletic ability, alright,…..but the ‘try factor’ was lacking. It really showed up during my rodeo career. It’s a broad statement,….and not always true, but the rich kids weren’t nearly as gritty as those who had nothing to fall back on. 

The human spirit is an amazing thing. We’re created to conquer and to succeed. Everybody loves the story of those who overcame extreme odds to succeed in life. It’s a very good thing to ‘have’ to get up and go to work and put in a good day…every day. It’s good to learn to manage our finances and resources and to live within our means. We can do a lot more than we think we can….but if it’s always been done for us….we’ll never know.If we never have to really ‘try’, we might just not ever do it.

I recently told a friend that, “This time next year I’ll have 9 grandkids”. He jokingly said, “You’ll never be able to afford Christmas”...to which I replied, “I’ve never been able to afford Christmas yet!”(We raised 5 of our own!) But, you know what?? We’ve had great Christmases for, going on now, 39 years! We have somehow survived….just being ‘thousandaires’!

Paul said it in the Bible. “I’ve been hungry and I’ve been full; I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. I’ve learned to be content in whatever state I’m in”. He’d found the ‘secret’ to true happiness and contentment. His ‘joy’ was in the Lord!

I’m only a thousandaire but if family and friends and relationship with the Father were measured in money……I’d be millionaire many times over!! I’m really, really rich in the things that matter most to me!

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