Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Guest Posting

I'm guest posting over on Shooting the Breeze today...if you're interest in knowing the 10 things I learned during the closing decade.

Happy New Year everyone and thanks for visiting Tony C Today!

Monday, December 28, 2009

2010 could finally be my year...(fingers crossed)!

I hope those of you who celebrated Christmas had a wonderful holiday. For the rest of you, I hope the time off allowed for more time spent with family and friends...and a few great shopping deals.

Please note that my posting frequency may suffer a bit between now and February 1st because I'm really pushed to help Mrs. Tony C with an application that is due on that date. She has graciously agreed to nominate yours truly for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee are sticklers for timely applications.

Tony C's 2010 goal

Excuse me?! What don't you understand?

After doing extensive research on the award (mostly in The Economist, Time Magazine, People and on Wikipedia), I'm convinced this blog, Tony C Today, has done as much or more than the most recent laureate in meeting Alfred Nobel's criteria that states the recipient:

'...shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.'

I submit to you that no where in the brief history of this blog (which is longer, however, than the current office occupied by the last person awarded) have I once: (a) called for war or started a rumor of war, (b) used my international influence via the internet to provoke ill-will between any nations, (c) advocated for more standing in our armed forces*, or (d) gathered/promoted a war congress.
* I know from personal experience there's already too much standing around in our armed services. It really gets old too.

Feel free to check my claim. It's all documented on this site in black and white...with a few pictures and an occasional diagram for aesthetic purposes.

Although it took a few weeks to convince Mrs. Tony C to take on the process (the application alone is over 300 pages), she was more than willing after I quoted a few excerpts from the most recent winner's acceptance speech just before Christmas. She was pretty fired up to hear a man speaking of war and the necessity for war wearing the coveted medallion around his neck. Although one quote in particular really got her going:

“At times, it even feels like we’re moving backwards. ... We see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint — no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or the Red Cross worker, or even a person of one’s own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but I believe it’s incompatible with the very purpose of faith — for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” Barrack Obama, December 22, 2009

Doesn't look like our Christian President and laureate reads the Old Testament.

She also thought that Arnold Schwarzenegger had previously won the award and was highly agitated that the man responsible for killing all those little smelt fishes in California could possibly be worthy of such a humanitarian recognition. I delicately reminder Mrs. Tony C that Arnold had won the Mr. Olympia contest years ago which has Joe Wider's image on the medal. It was Albert Switzer, the French medical missionary in Africa, that won the Nobel Peace Price in 1952 for for his philosophy of Reverence for Life .

Arnold is actually Austrian and has never publicly been linked to either Nazi or gay-Nazi organizations (source Republican Party website).

I love seeing the tree-hugger in Mrs. Tony C get fired up...most of the time.

Now, I've been ready for months to submit my application and just needed a front...excuse me...nominator to complete the process. Sometimes it just takes the right motivation to rally people to your cause.

Well, I can't take all the credit...she found out about the million dollar purse too. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Festivus...let's start with the Airing of Grievances.

It's no secret on Tony C Today...I'm a huge Seinfeld fan.

I think a big part of the appeal for me was the way the show captured some of the absolute worst traits of human beings and tossed them out there for all to see. We laughed because we related, but not in a looking glass kind of relate. Oh no...that button is only funny when worn by someone else. The show is vastly popular even today in syndication, so I must not be the only one who's relating.

'The Strike' aired in December 1997 and remains one of my favorite episodes. Here's a collage of clips from the episode dealing with the fictitious holiday on November 23rd of Festivus...

One of the more profound lines to me is Frank Costanza, played brilliantly by Jerry Stiller, describing his ordeal trying to buy a doll for his son George. Is this how we've come to view Christmas? As a battle royal?

If you look at the traditions of Festivus, the list seems to be the exact opposite of the traditions we cherish at Christmas. An aluminum poles versus a brightly decorated tree. The Airing of Grievances, which occurs during the Festivus meal and in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year versus a warm, loving gathering of family and friends. The Feats of Strength that pit someone against the head of household in a wrestling match that can only end the holiday if and only if the head of household is pinned versus being welcomed unassumingly into some one's home to celebrate and fellowship.

Festivus being a completely secular holiday versus...hmm, well...like I said...we laugh because we can relate.

Don't let your Christmas become like Festivus. Let's keep the fictitious holiday in a sitcom for comedy's sake....and ours.

May God richly bless you with feelings of love and charity this holiday season.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My theory: We might be needing a bigger planet...

I love reading and listening to podcast from The Economist...so call me a pompous geek. I get the magazine and comb through to find articles that I download to my iPod and listen to while driving to and from work. Makes Mrs. Tony C absolutely crazy.

My weekly reading isn't limited to the London based newspaper...but by far it's my favorite. I get a little bonus listening to the podcast by making fun of the Brits pronouncing Americker or Chiner. What a hoot! Two countries separated by a common language...I believe the saying goes.

Because of my job, I get to talk to a Brit almost weekly. Sometimes I have to call and repeat an instruction or direction I've already conveyed a number of times before to her, and needless to say, I'm a bit aggravated when the call is initiated. But as soon as she answers the phone with an accented How are you t'day Anthony. Good to hear from you...my aggravation seems to just melt away. She never calls me Tony, always Anthony, and she has a way of sprinkling the word brilliant enough in a conversation that I always hang up feeling a little better about myself. But I digress...

A recent cover article in The Economist focused on world population. The article surmises that world population will begin to decline soon due to the fact couples aren't having as many kids these days. The theory goes that in order to just maintain population levels, parents must produce 2.1 children in their lifetime.

Stay with me...this gets better...well at least deeper.

The magical number of 2.1 is derived from a number of variables including one that accounts for some females dying before child bearing years. Not a very pleasant thought, but number crunchers rarely are emotional about their theories and supporting variables.

Apparently this high school Science Fair participant didn't get the memo.

So the wheels start turning, and I immediately start calculating how my life fits this hypothesis. I apologize to a number of parties in advance.

I have two daughters. One from a previous marriage and one with my wife and soul mate (Don't even think I'm using the term current wife. She occasionally reads my stuff). My first daughter's mother doesn't have any other children, so within the parameters of this theorem, I'm already a negative contributor to maintaining the world's population. Two children from three parents...that math is not very difficult.

So, I backed up to a more macro view. My parents had two children. My sister and her husband do not have kids. So now we have a factor of five adults with only two kids. The outlook for civilization is growing more gloomy as I proceed. Let's take an even broader look at my particular genealogy.

My dad's parents had five kids. Those five kids married and produced nine grandchildren. My mom's parents had thirteen...yes 13...children who produced twenty-two grandchildren. So from four adults, we have thirty-one offspring (of course, I humbling admit to being the favorite...sorry cousins). Let's go another level. Those thirty-one grandchild have produced, to date, thirty-four great, grandchildren. It gets a little fuzzy here and at the previous level because there are a number of splits and mixed families, but I'm just counting the actually bodies in the bloodline at this point. So from four...we have thirty-four to date.

What does all this mean? Why is human fertility important enough to be the cover story material from my favorite publication? What does any of this have to do with economics outside of the obvious (which you understand if you're a parent)?

I have personally come to three separate conclusions: First, the Brit who wrote this article was far too selective in the countries he chose for data collection that lead to his 'world population in decline' hypothesis and maybe a little presumptuous. Second, I'm not doing my part personally to ensure I will collect Social Security after I've paid into the system my entire working life. Third, picking a favorite magazine based on accents is a really dumb thing to do, so my new favorite is Southern Living.

Maybe that second conclusion is off on a tangent and a bit too micro...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

If you can't sleep...don't blame astronauts or pagans.

After sleeping over 16 hours a day for nearly 10 days, I'm now stricken with insomnia. Ironic.

I'm up this morning after midnight watching the NASA Channel...that's right...NASA TV. You'd figure an hour of watching some guy float around on the International Space Station reading a procedure manual with very little dialog would be enough to send a person right to la-la land.

Didn't happen.

Up next...the History Channel International. Now we're getting somewhere. Surely my subconsciousness would cause a lapse into sleep from habit alone. I watched/slept through at least 100 hours of History Channel programming while I was sick...

Nothing. Not even a yawn.

But, I did catch a program on the history of Christmas with an emphasis on the holiday's pagan roots. No new information really, but it did make me realize how much the subject matter has come up lately in my own little circle. There are people who read this very blog that have very strong conviction about Christmas not really being connected to Christ...at all.
Even though I completely respect the view that Christians should have nothing to do with the holiday due to how it originated and what it has come to represents today, I can't say I'm in total agreement. In my opinion, it's a deeply personal issue, and I'm not comfortable trying to interpret the intentions or sincerity of how someone else celebrates Christmas. Only God has that ability.

For me, it all starts and ends at home. My role at my house is to be the spiritual leader. If I allow commercialism to overcome the celebration of Christ's birth...that's on me. Of course, that's really no different any other time of the year. Focus on God is a 365 day a year commitment. If a few twinkling lights and tinsel distract from that focus, I can't in good conscience blame Christmas or Christmas festivities. Besides, Christmas was always about the birth of Jesus in my home growing up, and I had absolutely no clue then about the pagan ties to winter festivals centuries ago. No...I have a formal, secular education to thank for that knowledge.

Still, I applaud those who have sworn off the tradition based on their belief and faith. They send a powerful message to their children and peers that a secular progressive world can be held at bay. It is not my place to judge them right or wrong...and it is wrong of others to do so too.

Christmas for me is mainly about a perception...a feeling that during the season people are just a little bit nicer to each other, that people are a tad more concerned about those with little or without, a time when families draw closer, when non-believers are forced to deal with those of us who rejoice in our belief, when lessons on being a joyful giver are at a prime, and an opportunity presented to tell on the largest of stages the greatest story ever told.

One of the best lines I think I've ever heard about Christmas came in a Seinfeld episode when Elaine says 'There's too much Jesus in the Christmas thing for me.'

If only that were always the case...

I feel a good sleep coming my way.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm a big baby when I'm sick because I don't like it...

13 days. It has been 13 days since my last post on Tony C Today...wow!

So what has Tony C been so preoccupied with for 13 days that he neglected his blog and blogosphere friends. Well, it's a nasty little four letter...word-like...okay, medical term...H1N1.

(Cue dramatic, revelation music)

It started on December 1, the birthday of my saintly mother. I went to work, came home, ate, and went to bed until the next day. I made like shampoo bottle instructions and repeated the whole process the next day. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I took Friday off work to get 3 full days of rest and recovery time. Chicken soup, hot tea, blue blanket and the History Channel when combined with just the right amount of NyQuil have never failed to knock most any bug out of me to date. Add in some TLC from Mrs. Tony C and it's darn near Carnival Cruiselines...

Unfortunately, come Monday my fever was still hanging around, and my cough sounded like something you would hear in Sea World hanging around the sea lions. Thinking I might have pneumonia, I caved into the pleadings of Mrs. Tony C and headed to Urgent Care. After a chest x-ray that revealed no pneumonia and the verdict that I had one severe ear infection with the other one not far behind, I was administered the 'flu test.' Those of you not familiar (like me to this point), the flu test involves running a foot-long, pipe cleaner looking device into each nostril, one at a time, to a depth that feels like somewhere behind each eyeball.

Nurse: (During procedure) I'll warn you, this is pretty unpleasant.

Tony C: Come on! I've had cancer...how bad...GEEEZZZ!

Nurse: Relax. The other nostril...

Tony C (tears streaming from both eyes): Unpleasant! I'm pretty sure that procedure is against the Geneva Convention!

Nurse: You can go back to the Waiting Room. (Noticing the tears) Do you need a few minutes?

Tony C: No! I'm fine. Stupid test. I would have been okay with your best educated guess you know...

An hour and a blood test later, the doctor comes in practically wearing a HAZMAT suit to tell me for sure I have the flu. Prescription: Rest and fluids. It wasn't until the next day they called to confirm it was H1N1. Prescription: Rest and fluids.

Mr. Tony C, your pipe cleaner says you do have the flu, but don't worry...so do a lot of other people. You'll probably be fine in a week, a month or so...I'm pretty sure. Don't worry and get some rest.

I did get an antibiotic for the ear infections, but today both ears are still stopped up and everyone sounds like the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon. After being quarantined inside the Tony C household for the past 10 days, I got to sleep in my own bed last night...which was very nice. Well, until about 3 am when the 2 year old decided to join us.

I'm glad things are finally getting back to normal...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's got to be true because it was on TV and in the newspaper...

And the winner is...(drum roll)...#5! So the Burkulater blogging over on It's Time for the Burkulater is the lucky first winner. I have to say the Burkster didn't throw up a list of her songs for us all to chuckle about (that's right Johndrow...I chuckled at BOTH your list), but I also didn't specify that was a prerequisite for winning.
I enjoyed my first give away and hope to do another one next month despite the ridicule I received on Facebook over my own list. Hey folks, I'm a product of the 70's...what can I say?

Okay...on to other business.

Is it just me, or do the rest of you find the current headline grabbing story on the White House party crashers a real reach for serious journalism? Come on! This is National Enquirer and TMZ stuff...not main stream news media. So a couple of wannabe reality TV nuts ran the gauntlet of security for what should be the absolute most difficult place in the world to breach uninvited and shook hands with the Prez and company. Big deal! It's not like he ran up and licked him or gave him a noogy. I mean come on! Now that would have been news worthy.

Are the Obama's upset? Sure! Was the Secret Service faced? Sure! Did India's Prime Minister feel insulted for shaking the hands of a couple of nobodies? Who cares!

...he was so late, he ran right over here without even drying his hair! (lol) What a funny little man! Did you say you know Bill Clinton?

Our country is fighting two wars and conducting who knows how many covert operations. I personally know several people who will be deployed away from family during the Christmas holiday. Our economy is far from recovered. Congress is debating a monumental Health Care Reform bill and trying to ram it down the American people's throat. Government spending is completely out of control and bankrupting our country. Churches and schools are hiring security forces to keep people in attendance safe. Thousands and thousands of people are sick with a potentially deadly flu virus. Iran and North Korea are constantly on the edge of creating a new world order.

These party crashing clowns are headline news?! Don't laugh...the media feeds us what we crave to hear as a society because it's all about the money these days...not journalistic integrity. JFK had an affair with a certain Monroe lady for who knows how long. Did the news media know about it? You know they did...but reporting such a detail would be beneath self-imposed standards. These days if your name has any luring power for readers or watchers, the news media will find dirt or create some for you. Just ask Tiger Woods.

So a couple of crashers slipped into a White House gala...big deal. Do they really deserve 15 minutes of spotlight for that fact? The funny thing is...with a name like Tareq Salahi...he probably would have been hassled by the Secret Service more if he HAD been on the guest list! I'm just saying...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving....my very first Give Away!

I'm giving the Guest Blogger Wednesday bus a short hiatus. Everyone is so busy this time 0f year that trying to keep up your own blog can be taxing. Not that there's not a ton of material that surfaces this time of year.

I'm in a giving and appreciative mood today. As a token of said atmosphere, I'm sponsoring my very first give away! What's not to like about free stuff during the holidays?

First, I'm going to bare a tidbit of my soul to you. There have been a number of post on this blog about taste in music...mostly because I think what you listen to says a lot about you. It's just a snapshot, mind you, but nonetheless it does give insight. Music is a common thread in our world and has been said to be the very soul of a society or culture.

So what does Tony C listen to most? Here is a list generated from my work laptop of the 15 most listened to songs (usually at work) on iTunes....

1. My Love is Alive- Steve Winwood
2. Beautiful Loser (Live)- Bob Seger
3. Doctor My Eyes- Jackson Brown
4. I Just Love You- Five for Fighting
5. It's Alright- Traveling Wilburys
6. Back in Love Again- LTD
7. Who's Got the Hooch- Everything
8. Outta My Head- Fastball
9. I Am- Train
10. Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World- Brutha Iz
11. I Go to the Rock- Aaron Jeoffrey
12. King of Glory- Third Day
13. Poor, Poor Pitiful Me- Linda Ronstadt
14. Give Me One Reason- Tracy Chapman
15. 100 Years- Five for Fighting

You can stop laughing now. I must say I was a little shocked myself when this list generated using Smart Playlist...I even went back and checked it a couple of times. Just so you know I'm being completely upfront, here's a snapshot of my screen...

Keep in mind, I actively use a dozen different playlist of the 18 or so created, and I also listen to podcast quite often and...okay...yes, I'm a little embarrassed. I wish the list had more Christian music and less older-than-dirt stuff...but hey...the truth sometimes hurts.

One explanation: The Hawaiian version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is my Serenity Now! song. It gets played when I'm most aggravated and need to lower my blood pressure back to somewhere near 120/80. I'm surprised it wasn't number one...

Now here's you chance. Leave us a short (5 to 10) playlist of your most listened to songs via iPod, iTunes, MP3 player, compilation CD or even cassette. No cheating! We obviously don't judge here at Tony C Today...or you wouldn't be reading this far down. Don't try to make yourself more cultured, hip or cutting edge than you truly are with a fictitious list. Bare it true, bare it all...we can take it.

From the comment list, I will randomly pick (read- have the teenager pick a number between...) someone next Monday to send either a $20 iTunes gift card or a comparable card if you're not an iTunes user.

Have fun sharing with us...and have a safe, wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The stuff is guaranteed for life...

I don't quite buy into a certain popular book's hyperbole that men and women are from completely different planets, but I do believe God did a little tweaking when He yanked that rib out of Adam to create Eve. Now before you ladies roll your eyes and sigh, Here we go again...please stay with me. (There's a baseball story later for you male readers...that should keep you reading).

I consider myself fairly in-tune with my lovely, adorable wife....ahem...maybe a delusion on my part. True...we have very distinct differences, but I chalk most of them up to the fact we are different species...I mean genders. There is, however, a concerted effort on my part to overcome the obvious disabling condition of having a Y chromosome. In my younger days while living in the chase, Cosmopolitan magazine was a favored research tool to try to gain some insight into the female psyche...and well okay...to gain an advantage over my fellow Y chromosomes.

Now in my settled years, I have traded the racier publication for a few dainty, estrogen-oriented blogs like Lulaville and Blah, Blah Blog. The educational effort on my part is still there...just refocused and refined... to better suit my environment. Sure I miss browsing articles like 32 Best Sex Tips You Wish He Knew or 27 Ways to Make Him Scream, but getting busted by Mrs. Tony C reading something like that today would bring on a whole new set of questions/problems I'd just rather avoid.

Here's a recent example to help illustrate my point and contention of perplexity. While sitting with my love watching television one evening, the toddler was climbing on and off just about everything vertical in the living room. After repeating you're going to fall and get hurt for what seemed like a hundred times, it happened. She tumbled off the ottoman right at my feet. I didn't budge and played witness to the whole scene. Mrs. Tony C frantically, instinctively leaped from her spot just a few feet away in a vain effort to somehow prevent the fall. There was a brief pause... then came the crying.

Mrs. Tony C: You didn't even try to stop her from falling!

Tony C: She's fine. It was only a foot or so. She needs to learn how to fall.

Mrs. Tony C: But you didn't even try to stop her!

Tony C: Sure I did. I warned her she was going to fall and get hurt.

Mrs. Tony C: (silent rage and nurturing simultaneously)

So obviously I don't get it. No, I didn't want my youngest to actually get hurt...I just wanted her to learn.

Let me move to another obvious point of disparity. Women gather for the oddest reasons. Now maybe it's only for a reason to get together and live it up...so to speak...but I don't get it. Mrs. Tony C hosted a Tupperware party just last week. Tupperware. You show me a group of guys willing to get together to see the latest in plastic containment, and I'll guarantee you there's female nudity involved in some shape, form or fashion.

Yet somehow, for over 2 hours, a group of mostly unrelated women sat attentively in my kitchen and swooned over premolded, sealable plastic. Tupperware, Thirty-One, jewelry or fake designer purses...I just don't get it!

I do recall the first Tupperware party hosted in my house though. The year was 1988, and I lived in Hawaii in officer's housing at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station. The party happened to coincide with Game 1 of the World Series featuring my beloved Dodgers, who were heavy underdogs against the Oakland A's. I was perfectly content to retire to the bedroom for Game 1 while the festivities consumed most of the rest of the house.

That's right... Game 1...1988. Dodgers vs A's. The guys in blue are down 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th. David Eckersley, Oakland's superhuman closer, was in to seal the deal. Mike Davis walked in his at bats putting the tying run on base. Somewhere from the shadows of the dugout, a hobbled Kirk Gibson is announced to bat. Gibson had not one, but two bad wheels and wasn't expected to play in the series. After struggling at the plate and fouling off several Eckersley pitches, Gibson faced a 3-2 count with 2 outs. As the backdoor slider crossed the plate, Gibson made solid contact and sent the pitch into the right field bleachers...Dodgers win Game 1! Dodgers win Game 1! As Gibson limped around the bases and gave his now-famous arm pump as he rounded first base...I literally burst into tears of joy and was overcome with a need to share this most glorious turn of events.

I charged into the living room to share the amazing, epic story...

Tony C: Kirk Gibson just blasted a 2-run homer, and the Dodgers won Game 1!

Tupperware Lady (obviously miffed at the interruption): That's great. Who's playing? Baseball?

Party Attendee: Is he crying?

Former Spouse (obviously embarrassed): He's a huge Dodger fan. Are you okay?

Tony C (babbling idiot): Gibson could hardly walk to the plate! He had a full count...Davis was on base...Lasorda's a genius...home run!! Dodgers win!

Another Party Attendee: That's so sweet he's crying about his baseball team. Men shouldn't be afraid to show emotions, but you know the big, bad Marines have to be so tough all the time.

Party Attendee: I know it. So stupid. A few tears doesn't make you less a man...

Sigh...I just turned around and retreated to the bedroom to the sound of group murmurings...knowing for sure when word of this got back to every one's husbands, I would take the riding of a lifetime. Stupid Tupperware parties.

As I predicted, I received a number of mocking tissue boxes and sniffing comments. I will say, however, the ladies who witnessed the whole spectacle started treating me different...they talked to me different, related to me in a different way...I still can't quite put my finger on it...but somehow different.

Here we are almost 25 years later, and I'm still apparently in the dark about a lot of things when it comes to women...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Guest Blogger- Michelle Franklin from Finding Michelle

My Guest Blogger today is barely a month old to the blogosphere, but she has certainly found a niche. Michelle Franklin writes at Finding Michelle about the transition and challenges of being a new mom. I've known Michelle most of this decade and knew her husband Nate before she did! Her approach is raw and real, and a great read that most any parent can relate.

Today's Best Of was only her second post. I hope you will link over and follow Michelle after you check this out...

I'm a virgin, you see.

It all started a few days ago. At this point, I’m a little blurry about how many days have gone by now. I mentioned to my dear friend, “Hey Tony C, I think I want to start a blog.” We have a bit of discussion... and I now hear his words echoing in my head, “You’re a needle in a haystack,” “it takes time.” Well me being me, (and that’s the whole point of this, right?), jump in head first. And this is me now…

After days of searching blog after blog, I found myself a bit overwhelmed. I mean really, two years ago I laid down the ol’ PC to ensure I was stimulating my baby appropriately; even had the Internet turned off. In the past, I would consider myself pretty technologically sound for the layperson. I was never into the newest gadgets or anything, but could handle my own. About a month ago, I finally got a Blackberry Storm and BAM! Here I am again. And let me tell you, I should have been stimulating myself a little bit. It’s true people, use it or lose it. I’ve done got damn near dumb. Period.

You see, I am a blogging virgin. Only by chance have I ever even looked at a blog. Blogs appeared occasionally when I was using a search engine to win an argument. So, here I am blogging. Granted, I just figured out, barely, how to use my phone and navigate Facebook. Now, I’m trying to keep up with Dashboard and MBC, all the while trying to create an attractive blog and find others to follow. That may not sound much to some of you, but like I said… damn near dumb with a 6 month old and 2 year old. AND I may be expected to Tweet! I think not!

I tell my dear hubby, Nate, I’m thinking of posting about a Blog Addiction and he laughs. He proceeds to tell me he knew this was going to happen. He says, and I quote, “Your OCD about this stuff. It’s either all or nothin’. You can’t do something just for the fun of it.” (And then reminds me of the hours I spent daily on BeliefNet back in the day, but that’s beside the point.) And he’s right. I cannot and will not thrive in chaos or disorder. If there is chaos or confusion, my brain shuts down and my alter ego, Shannon, takes over. Shannon is all about business and will not leave until things are under control. So, Shannon’s been hanging out for the past few days trying to get this blog thing under control.

But that’s fine. The dopamine is pumping!

I also want to say thanks to those who have left comments here or on MBC. I appreciate the support greatly and hope that once Shannon gets things in more order here I can network more productively.

Here's to Blogging!

Check out more from Michelle at Finding Michelle.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I wonder where I stored my old surfboard...

Watch out! Here it comes...Y2K plus almost 13!

The New Agers give me so much great material that I almost feel like an honorary member. Thanks...but no thanks.

The latest from the Brothers Zen (don't bother googling, I made that up) is yet another end of the world scenario. Imagine that. This one matches up with the end of a Mayan Long Count calendar cycle of 5,125 years called a b'ak'tun. The funny things is...the classic Mayans don't even believe that the end of the current b'ak'tun will bring the end of the world. It will just start another cycle of 5,125 years. As a matter of fact, most Mayans don't even refer to the b'ak'tun anymore and use a shorter, more ADHD-friendly 52 year calender cycle. Heck...the concept of apocalypse can't even be found in Mayan culture... no where. But now let's not let any of that stop pandemonium...

There are number of current New Age theories about exactly what will happen on December 21, 2012 (a winter solstice), with the most popular being presented by John Major Jenkins (click here...I'm not wasting my blog space on the trash). He was featured on a History Channel program Decoding the Past: Mayan Doomsday Prophecy which coincidentally came under fire from a number of respected institutes of higher learning for several historically inaccurate points presented in the show. Hmmmmm...

Random...but funny.

As the date has grown ever closer, more and more of the New Age theory has conveniently, however, drifted from a physical doomsday scenario to more a global, spiritual awakening event. It's really hard to get a lot of people on board for another Heaven's Gate scenario. Those never end well and some people just can't pull off that whole jogging suit look...

Hollywood, never one to overlook opportunity ($$$) when presented, has jumped on board with all four limbs and the release of a new movie and marketing campaign. '2012' is the latest end-of-the-world genre where the world doesn't actually come to an end...it just ends up with more water and a number of beautiful, anatomically-pleasing people carry on mankind. The director of the movie, Roland Emmerich, has plenty of experience with the end-of-the-world-but-not-really genre having sat in the same director's chair for 'Independence Day' (We will not go quietly into the night!) and 'The Day After Tomorrow', which by the way has been used to complete the following MAT graduate school admissions test analogy-

________:meteorology::Frankenstein:heart surgery (: means is to, :: means as).

So between the New Agers and Hollywood, I should wake up on December 22, 2012 with either a new found understanding of my place in the universe or the newly relocated Atlantic Ocean in my backyard. Either way I'm screaming...Winner Winner chicken dinner!

My bet though is if I live to see December 22, 2012...I'll wake up still owing a mortgage and still without a clue on how calculus works...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blogging friends are real friends too...

I don't typically post on Saturday, but the teenager's gone and mom and little one are into an afternoon siesta...so I've got a moment or so to enjoy to myself...well...with you.

I started writing a post every Friday over on Kingdom Bloggers which I really love. There are three of us currently writing for the blog, and we mutually decide on a topic for the week and write from a personal perspective. David Johndrow from Fire and Grace and Dave Tvedt for Woe is Me are my co-contributors. Both of these guys are serious about their relationship with God and take the verse about pray without ceasing to heart.

You've got to take time to visit Matt at The Church of No People. He has a fresh outlook on what it is to be a Christian in the world today. I honestly find myself laughing out loud and saying 'that's right' when I read his blog. The same goes for Kathy at Hey look, a chicken!, who also contributes on Fellowship of the Travelling Smartypants, and Bud at Bud Beverly.

Maybe surprisingly to some of you, I follow several blogs geared for the fairer sex. Leigh Ann at Lulaville is a complete riot, and I enjoy reading about Shauna at Blah Blah Blog who has a very touching family story that proves all does happen for the glory of God. A couple of new follows are Bridget at Bridget Crumbley and my old friend Michelle at Finding Michelle who is new to blogging but definitely has a knack. Oh...Sherri at Everything in Moderation has given me several kicking good recipes.

I often find inspiration and encouragement from Jennifer at Getting Down with Jesus and Mesha over on HE's the potter, I'm the clay.. MOLD ME. Tracy at Abundant Living leaves some of the best comments...along with NC Sue from IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING. No way I can forget the Burkulater at It's Time for the Burkulater or Nadia at narrow path home.

Misty Rice, who blogs at Wind Beneath My Wings, is great to follow. Her and Laretha at Beauty Unveiled have visually pleasing pages that also contain heart-felt, quality substance.

There are a number of you I read...but you don't post very often (Derek, Chris T, Dave, Luke, Julie, Lori, BethAnne just to name a few). I wish you wrote more because you each have great stories.

There are also way more of you that read and rarely, if ever, comment...unless I run into you at the grocery store. Most of you don't write blogs and just follow. I'm very thankful for each of you that take a moment or two to read the thoughts of a rambling writer with a passion for what God has done and will do in his life.

I ask you to take just a moment more and think about this...I don't personally know any of the people I've mention with only a few exceptions. Yet, I feel a connection with each and every one. The common denominator is pretty obvious...

I hope you each have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday Guest Blogger- Dave Tvedt from Woe is Me

I like to refer to my guest blogger today as the Emeril of scripture quoting. Dave Tvedt blogs over on Woe is Me and is also a fellow co-blogger on Kingdom Bloggers. His post are always fresh and at the heart of what God has laid upon him with ...BAM...a relevant passage or two from the Good Book.

A man of God, a prayer warrior and a new friend, be sure to show Dave a lot of love...

Team Spirit

I have talked to some buds about the 'hypocrisy' of being passionate for a football team and apathetic at church. So I know I aint the only dude out there that is challenged to be equally expressive for Jesus as I am for the Hawkeyes or the Vikings. Please don't misunderstand me; I am pretty demonstrative and uninhibited when it comes to my Faith. There have been several times that I have been the only person in a church of 200+ with my arms up during worship. And when someone with a microphone up front says "Let's shout unto the Lord." I will holler "I LOVE YOU, JESUS!" Sometimes startling the people in front of me. Now my enthusiasm may seem excessive to some, but in comparison to how some fans dress and act at a football game, I am still pretty mild in comparison. So below are a few suggestions that may make expressing your Love for Jesus as easy and fun as expressing your team Spirit. At the very least it will make Fellowship a little more interesting.

Are you a member of a large church that records its Sunday services so they can be aired on a local tv station? Make a sign that expresses your passion for the church you attend. As the camera operator pans the crowd jump and yell "Hallelujah! Number 1!" as you thrust the sign towards the camera. Be sure to use the station's call letters in your wording.

Face and body painting shouldn't be limited to the football fans either. If a 44 year old accountant, a father of four, can show his passion for a college he never attended or a professional team he follows, then a saved from death, Spirit filled, eternally loved child of God should do the do the same. By painting his face, bald head and hairy chest in specific colors, that accountant during the week lets everyone within a mile know which team he is down for. Go ahead and take the time and show your enthusiasm for Jesus on Sunday service in a similar manner. Don't limit the expression of your Joy to a big smile and a loud 'Good morning!' Let everyone on your way to and from church know your Joy by painting "Saved by Grace" on your chest in one color and "Jesus is Lord" on your back in another color. And if you are that 44 year old accountant, father of four who is also an eternally loved child of God, get the most value out of your time and effort by going straight from church to the game. Show off your Salvation at the game after you have shown off your team colors at church.

While watching a game, it isn't unusual slapping five or pumping a fist when something great happens. So why not do the same when a favorite verse is mentioned. Jump up and point to the sky when the speaker mentions a verse you read earlier in the week. Smugly state, "Oh yeah, that's what I am talking about," when your favorite verse is read from the pulpit.

Finally, show an equal amount of affection for your eternal brothers as you do for the brothers of the pigskin. Don't be one of those dudes that struggles to show affection for a BIC (Brutha In Christ) but can hug, chest bump and depending upon how much booze and how critical the game is, butt slap another fan. Show affection for each other with a chest bump, a bro hug or a slap on the backside. I would think that a quick slap on the rear would be better received than the usual greeting from back in Paul's day. I don’t know, maybe Tony C would be one to ask the question: Which is more awkward at church-a kiss on the cheek or a slap on the bottom?

I know what I wrote above is pretty goofy but honestly Church, is there any reason we can make ourselves look completely foolish for something as temporary as a football game and not be as unlimited in our passion for the Great Jesus? I know for me I can talk to anyone about sports but I can still get hesitant about sharing Jesus. I can jump up shouting as a 19 year old kid scores a touchdown, then why can't I do the same when someone declares Jesus as Lord or they get Baptized in Water or Spirit? Think about how great of Victory He has given you and those you are fellowshipping with on Sunday morning. This is my conviction, but I am willing to bet that I ain't the only dude Holy Spirit has gotten after about showing more of Holy Spirit? Ask Holy Spirit if you have been holding back on Him. Ask Holy Spirit how you can show more of your team Spirit.

Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! For the LORD Most High is awesome He is a great King over all the earth. Psalm 47:1-2

Read more from Dave at Woe is Me and Kingdom Bloggers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

'The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.' Gen. John Pershing USA

This week brings two heart-felt celebrations for yours truly on back-to-back days.

On Tuesday, the United States Marine Corps celebrates birthday number 234 in a history with significance. After 4 reserve years in NROTC at Vanderbilt and 5 active years as a Marine Corps officer, it has been 18 years since I've worn a uniform. But, the privilege to have done so and the memories that were created will forever remain with me and make each birthday celebration just as special as the first I celebrated back in 1982.

To all of my fellow Marines past and present...Happy Birthday Devil Dogs and Happy Birthday Chesty Puller...wherever you are!

We celebrate Veterans Day on Wednesday this week also. I will just simply say thank you to all who serve or have served in our Armed Forces. May God bless each of you in a special way on this day we remember your service to our great nation.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday Guest Blogger- Tracy Chiara from Abundant Living

Today's Guest Blogger is Tracy Chiara, who writes at the blog Abundant Living. Tracy's blog is both spiritually uplifting and visually stunning. I'm always challenged by her muses to look deeper into my own understanding of scripture and Christian theology.

Tracy is a wife, mother of 3 and lives in California. She leaves the most thoughtful comments on Tony C Today, and her love for God is evident in her writings, her humility and her love for others.

Enjoy this Best of Abundant Living post...

Fruit instead of works

It's always been difficult for me to hit that balance between grace and works. I know that it is a fact that God gave me the faith, the ability, to trust in Jesus' work on the cross on my behalf.

I know that because Jesus died on the cross in my place, and intercedes for me before God the Father, I am acceptable in God's sight. I did nothing to earn this great salvation that is mine. It was totally a gift to me; all I had to do was accept it. Ignatius of Loyola said it so well: "The direct experience of God is grace indeed, and basically there is no one to whom it is refused."

Yet, if my faith in God is real, there will be resulting actions. Real faith, a real choice to follow after Christ, leads to a different way of life.

That's where the whole debate comes in.

Recently I was commenting on the fact that James even says that faith without corresponding works isn't real. John, my husband, cautioned me that I need to be sure to differentiate between works and fruit. His comments have been ruminating around in the back of my mind for a few days now.

Fruit in my life is as a result of my connection to God. I can not produce fruit. Works are something I have produced on my own.

Jesus clarified it in John 15:3-5 (NKJV):

3You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

I know that I need to be changed from the inside out. Ways that I can alter myself on the outside to look good, are not genuine. It's only as I spend time in God's presence and in His Word, only as I choose to open myself up to Him, only as I submit to what He is telling me to do - only then does real change happen.

What have you been learning about grace and works?

Be sure to catch more of Tracy at Abundant Living.

Monday, November 2, 2009

You'd actually do that for just a Klondike bar?

Hope everyone survived Halloween...now let the barrage of Christmas advertising begin (sigh).

I know some of you, as Christians, have a problem with Halloween and the pagan roots it sprang from many years ago. That's okay by me, and I say you have every right to celebrate or not celebrate whatever you chose, and other people shouldn't be judgmental about your choice.

We do participate in the festivities at my house though. Mrs. Tony C and I normally attend a costume party with a number of our friends...which is always a hoot. We have a costume competition, eat great food, fellowship and play games. Of course, this year also showcased the Tennessee/South Carolina football game with the Vols surprisingly donning black jerseys to go with the traditional orange pants. College football is a way of life in the South, and game starting times have been known to affect wedding dates, birthday celebrations, and baby deliveries...I kid you not.

This year also marked the end of costumed candy collecting for our teenager but was the first year truly experienced by the 2 year old. She dressed in a lady bug costume to the delight of family (especially grandmothers) and friends. Her mom was also particularly excited about her costume that had been made by a talented local seamstress. Yes...I thought it was pretty cool too.

This Halloween must be serious stuff....

The prospect of adults just handing you candy...absolutely free...on this appointed day during the year at just the price of dressing in costume and speaking the magically phrase trick or treat must be completely astounding for younger kids. For 364 days of the year, parents and toddlers wage full-scale war over the balance between treats and overindulgence...then along comes this annual detente falling over the entire household, and chocolate is no longer the coveted goal of most all scheming and deception played out on a daily basis.

The youngest one was in the spirit early in the week after attending a couple of Halloween themed parties. The actual day of event looked like an episode of Entourage on HBO as no less than 7 people followed her around as she panned for sweet treats. The first house she approached was covered by what seemed like more film footage than Brett Favre's return to Green Bay this weekend. She had just awaken from a power nap, and the impending rain caused a hustling that doesn't usually work with toddlers. But the stage was set as my little ladybug approached the first house with basket in hand...

Mommy: What do you say?

Ladybug: (withdrawing) nooooaaaahhhh!

Mommy: You know what to say. Do you want candy?

Ladybug: (mumbling) Candy please.

Tony C: No, it's trick or treat...

Ladybug:(agitated) noooooooaaaaaahhhhh!

Tony C: Noah built an ark...do you want a piece of candy?

House Owners: It's okay cutie. Here you go.

Ladybug: Candy please!

Tony C: No, it's trick or treat!

Mommy: Really Tony...it's okay. (To Ladybug) Say thank you...

Ladybug (staring at candy in her basket): Can I have please?

Tony C: Not yet. We have more houses to go to first.

Ladybug (whining): I want candy...please I have candy!

Tony C: No. We have more...

Mommy: It's okay Tony. She can have a piece now if it helps.

Tony C (whining also): But she didn't even say the right words...'trick or treat'.

Mommy: No, she said 'please' which is much better.

Ladybug (chewing mouth full of candy): mahah maamaamhhamaa.

She holds up her basket to offer me a piece of candy...ouch...what a schmuck I am.

Now if I can just figure out how to get the video away from my sister before it hits YouTube...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Remember Jerry...it's not a lie if you believe it's true.

Well my guest post fell through today based on technical difficulties (read here: Tony not following instructions correctly), so I'll throw my two cents out on a subject that is in the news and breaking my heart.

Scientology has fallen on hard times.

(cricket noises)

I shutter.

Officially know as the Church of Scientology by people who don't understand the true definition and origin of the word church (from the Greek kyriakon which means thing belonging to the Lord), Scientology is...and I'll be nice...a made up belief system by science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard, started in 1953 as a continuation of the concepts found in his book Dianetics.

That's right. 1950's...Hubbard...science fiction...Dianetics. For those of you thinking the self-proclaimed, self-help book was a product of the 80's, think again. Hubbard died in 1986 and his book was repackaged and released by the now legally chartered Church of Scientology.

Same crap with new and improved wrappings...and an erupting volcano on the cover. uhhhhhhh

Now France is trying to rid their country of the cult. I normally wouldn't have a good thing to say about France...but bravo. The ironic part is the U. S. State Department is being critical of France for suppressing religious freedoms. The same State Department that branded Tea Party participants in the U.S. as possible domestic terrorist...

You read between those lines.

A French court ruled the sect (Scientology doesn't have legal status as an established religion in France) was guilty of organized fraud based on separate claims brought forward by two women. The sect was ordered to pay fines close to $1M and the organizations leader in that country was sentenced to two years in prison.

Vive la France! (God forgive me)

The cult...excuse me...sect has also seen an exodus of high profile members, a move which normally draws relentless, retribution from the Scientologist. Most recently, Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis defected. Rumors have Travolta leaving after Scientology spokesperson Tommie Davis stormed off a sound set during an interview taping of Nightline when he was asked if he believed in Xenu, the intergalactic warlord reportedly at the center of Scientology's theology. ABC aired the footage to the dismay of the group.

No...I'm not making this stuff up...they are. Click on the links.

The fact that the Church of Scientology is legitimized enough to actually be taken serious by anyone is beyond my understanding. Yet, the cult continues to recruit and promote for a fantastically outrageous system of beliefs that goes beyond the supernatural into the realm of extraterrestrial...fronting the likes of Cruise, Travolta and Alley to give validity to the organization.

The United States and Australia are the only two countries that recognize Scientology as a religion. France has gone on record in Parliament labeling it as a dangerous cult. Please tell me what kind of world we live in when France actually makes more sense than the United States?

There are some things much scarier than Halloween...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

There's no 'i' in team...but it takes one to spell 'win'.

Same story, different year.

My beloved Dodgers, yet again, won the National League West, swept the favorites to make the World Series, and then got bounced by the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS...back to back years. I like to think it's just as well because baseball's bullies, the New York Yankees, look unstoppable to win their 27th world title...and I'm not sure I could stand to watch the boy's in blue lose yet another World Championship to the Bronx Bombers. There have been 11 such match up since 1941, with the Yankees grabbing 8 of their 27 titles at the expense of the Dodgers. That includes the back to back years of '77 and '78 when Reggie Jackson personally convinced me I was really a football fan.

There's plenty of blame to go around as to why the game's second best regular-season record didn't make the final stage. Talking heads and blogging fans point to the overall youth of the team, the teams's lack of a true number one pitcher, the loss of focus by the team in the season's final month, and...of course...there's Manny.

Manny Ramirez. A God gifted talent when it comes to swinging a near 40 ounce piece of maple that can at a given moment change a baseball game with a single swing....as he has on a number of occasions over the past decade. Traded to the Dodgers last season as exile from his throne over the self-proclaimed Red Sox 'Nation', Manny brought his hakuna matata attitude to the land of laid back called Southern California. He was welcomed with open arms and immediately went on a hitting tear that literally pulled the Dodgers up the standing to the top of the West, past the Cubs in the playoff's first round before running out of gas against...that's right...the Philadelphia Phillies.

But 2009 started with a bang and lots of promise. The season opened with a record setting 13 straight wins at home before the first loss and the best start in MLB. Then, the first week of May brought the suspension of Manny for use of a banned substance...a women's fertility drug none the less...and the slugger was gone from the line up for 50 games. Not deterred, the team played hard and actually had the best record in baseball when Manny returned the first week of July.

Despite Manny's continued selfish behavior, he was welcomed back by baseball, teammates, and the fans who pay his $25M per season salary (which he forfeited $7M for the suspension). Manny just being Manny as the saying goes. A phrase coined by his manager in Cleveland, Mike Hargrove. A phrase that if I never hear again will be too soon for me.

There a number of Manny stories that either make you chuckle or turn your stomach based on what team you cheer for. The latest Manny-ism to make news was from the pivotal fourth game of the NLCS with the Dodgers up by a score of 4-3 heading to the bottom of the ninth. Manny was removed from the game for defensive purposes (because he stinks on defense basically and this is the National League where all nine players must play defense), and as he has been reported to do often, he headed for the showers while play went on. The Phillies rallied for a 5-4 win and a 3-1 series lead. It was all over but the crying at that point. I can't imagine walking into the locker room in complete dejection to meet Manny coming from the showers humming Take me out to the ballgame...

It would be easy to put all the blame on Ramirez...too easy. But baseball is a team sport, and games/series are won or lost by the collective effort of the entire roster. As I was writing this, my thoughts continued to point to the similarities in our churches. Yes...the mission of the church is by far more important than the outcome of any athletic competition, but metaphorically...there are parallels.

Do you know the 'Manny Ramirez' in your congregation? The talented attendee who flashes moments of brilliance in the name of God only to slide back to obscurity when pressed to do more. The ministry leader that feels there are no rules or standards if the means are justified by the end. The worship leader that forgets worship is about what God wants and finds pleasing and not about what makes them look best in front of the congregation.

I've been the Manny at my church at certain times...and it shames me.

We play God's game. He made the game, the field, the rules and all the players. Will you be ready when He calls your number to hit? Will you stand by your teammates when it's their turn to shine for His glory and your place to cheer for them? Will you put a supportive arm around a teammate if he strikes out and remind him there will be more chances to bat?

But when the last game is finally played and there are no more to play, will you be able to say I used the talents and gifts God gave me to play as hard as I could play each and every single day?

The last thing I want is for people to remember me as a Manny just being Manny. It carries a ton of negative implications that I just don't think God finds to His liking...and He deserves for me to give my best effort in living to His liking...to living in His will.

The day is coming for each of us when we will no longer be able to say... Just wait until next year!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Guest Blogger- Shauna Callaghan from Blah Blah Blog

Sometimes you come across a blog that you really don't fit the intended demographic...but you love the blog anyway. I follow a couple of those and love reading them. Today's guest blogger fits that category for me because I'm not really a North Texas mom, and I don't play one on TV.

Shauna Callaghan writes a blog (Blah Blah Blog) that I find warm, funny and down to earth. In my mind, she's the epitome of Texas with a personality and heart larger than life (also see Randi's Reality). Enjoy a Best of Blah Blah Blog and mosey on over and check out more from Shauna...

Once Upon a Taco

A husband came home from work with a bag full of tacos. He said to his wife, “These are the best tacos ever created. You will love them. I know you are dieting right now but I love your belly and you will love these tacos – eat one (or two)….(or three).” (ok, he may not have said this, but this is what she heard)

She ate of the tacos and LOVED the tacos. With all of her heart.

This morning, the husband said to the wife, “I bet that my taco place has some delicious breakfast tacos, let’s go get some”

The wife – reluctantly and regretfully – said, “Ok, let’s do it – I DO love those tacos.”

The happy family drove down the road.
They pulled into a gas station.

The husband said to the wife, “Here we are!”
The wife, in utter confusion, looked at the gas station and did not see a Taco Restaurant.

But the wife saw this:

She sat in shock.

The blessed tacos had come from a “hole in the wall” – literally – a hole in the wall of the gas station.

She threw up a little then proceeded to eat some breakfast tacos.

Read more from Shauna at Blah Blah Blog and be sure to check with her if you're looking for a site upgrade or redesign.

Shauna Callaghan
BurbMom.net - Website for North Texas Moms
SeeMyDesignsbyShauna.com - Custom Blog Design

Monday, October 19, 2009

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase...MLK

I've never done a post like the one you're about to read, but I'm afraid not to...

This past Sunday, I filled in for one of the Sunday School teacher where I attend church because he was travelling on business. It was the second time in the past three weeks he needed me to sub. No problem. The regular teacher is a very talented, Godly man who has been taking our college-aged young adults through the book of Genesis in great depth and with great enthusiasm. Good stuff.

Thinking it was best to let him finish Genesis when he could be there, I offered an alternative the first week I filled in on the history of the church (stop snoring please). Nothing ground-breaking by any stretch, but researched and informative to the best of my abilities.

Fast forwarding to yesterday, I had planned on sharing my personal testimony with the class. The teacher and I discussed that option along with one other that I had worked up, and I decided to share my journey with Christ that took a drastic detour when I was exactly the age of those in the class. Maybe they wouldn't make the same mistakes. No problem...familiar with the material (or better be)...easy gig.

In class, I took prayer request, we prayed for those request...amen. For a reason I only have one explanation, I told the class I was going a different direction than I had planned because I was feeling lead that way. We started discussing why people go to church, why people don't go to church, and a number of related issues. Everyone participated in the discussion...even the History Major who had sat silently a few weeks prior while I ran the timeline of the church through history (sorry to call you out Alan).


But it gets better my friends. We left class and headed to worship service. A little drumming, a little singing, and I'm posted up next to Mrs. Tony C ready for the message. Our pastor had just finished a series on the Beatitudes the week prior, so we were heading into new territory. He started by stating that two different Sunday School classes had lessons that morning that apparently tied in with his message. One was planned and one was impromptu. I was thinking how cool that was when he started his message...on church and why we go!

I immediately looked around and made eye contact with members of the class.

It was an especially spirited service...even for Baptist (I kid!). Things were said that needed to be said....things from God. I have no doubt whatsoever on that fact. I hope people were listening...really listening.

Still later in the day, I get a text message from David over at Fire and Grace that he had attended a new church and was part of a wonderful worship service. Earlier in the week, I got a text from Dave at Woe is Me that he was filled with the joy of Christ and just wanted to share... a first to me. I opened my blogroll this morning to find a number of post about church services on several different blogs. Unusual? I would have to say I've never noticed that number of comments before today.

I turned on my radio heading to work, and the Christian music station tuned in was asking people to share good things that happened in the worship service on Sunday. I had never heard them do that before. As I drove and listened to person after person call in and share what had happened in their churches yesterday, I was overcome with excitement, joy...and even fear.

God is trying to talk to us. God is trying to move in us. Not just me. Not just a select few. He's trying to move in His people. Please stop and listen...submit...follow His will...share with others what He is doing in your life! I've never been a believer in chance or coincidence, and I'm not starting today.

Psalm 46:10 (New International Version)
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Support bacteria...they're the only culture some people have.

My teenager has been playing on a competitive soccer team now for about 5 years. As for me, I never played the game much less understood the concept of running around for over an hour to win or lose 1-0 and never legally hitting anyone...but then again, I spent my teenage years banging my head into other teenagers playing the football spelled with two o's.

Point goes to the current day teenager.

Playing on a travelling team has allowed us to play in soccer tournaments in other cities and take in the 'best of' what the host town offers. This past weekend was a revisit to the city of Asheville, North Carolina. Our prior visit a year ago was somewhat limited by an eleven month old in tow, so this year Mrs. Tony C wanted to experience the cultured downtown area on a weekend evening and expose our girls to a taste of the artsy side.

Now, I know some of you are trying to wrap your head around the words North Carolina, cultured, and artsy all in the same sentence, but downtown Asheville has really emerged as a mixing grounds of artist, musicians, locals and tourist...at least according to a visitor website I looked up.

Mrs. Tony C (reading from tourist brochure): Asheville skipped the urban renewal process that stripped the character from many down towns...

Tony C: Sounds eclectic (eye roll).

Mrs. Tony C: I'll bet the buildings are really old and beautiful. Didn't you always want to be an architect?

Tony C: Actually that's George Costanza...I wanted to be an astronaut...

Mrs. Tony C: Astronaut...architect...whatever. Sounds like an excellent place to expose the girls to a different cultural environment.

Tony C: So is a NASCAR race, but...

Mrs. Tony C: Tony! Don't start! We have an obligation in the educational process of our girls. We'll go downtown after the second game and walk around. I heard there's a great pizza place called the Mellow Mushroom downtown....sound okay?

Tony C: Sounds fantastically stoner...

Mrs. Tony C: Tony!

Point goes to Mrs. Tony C.

After conducting a drive-by to check out the downtown scene, I found a relatively close parking spot because it was still early. Navigating the 'renewed' streets of the downtown area was quite interesting and using the GPS on my Blackberry was no help. Finding our dining destination would require my innate sense of navigation....good thing I was along.

So we wondered around aimlessly in the downtown area while I tried to orient my internal compass for over an hour. Along the way, our girls were definitely exposed to a new cultural experience that included new vocabulary words, public marijuana smoking, three exposed breast, an impromptu phallic sculpture, and a crack ho...well...okay, I didn't actually see the crack, but she left no doubt about the ho part.

Point goes to Mrs. Tony C. (for educational experience).

Teenager: Is that art dad? (Pointing at street performer painted white head to toe)

Tony C: That's performance art dear.

Teenager: Is that art? (Pointing to sculpture of old junk parts)

Mrs. Tony C: That's welding metal art.

Tony C: A.K.A. lowbrow... (Hateful glance from Mrs. Tony C)

Teenager: A.K.A? What's that? Hey...is that art?

Tony C: A.K.A...also known as...and no, that's a lady breastfeeding...don't stare.

It was about this time I gave up on my internal GPS and asked directions from a lady with more facial piercings than I would have believed humanly possible. We were actually only a block or so away from the Mellow Mushroom...which turned out to be a pretty good place to eat. I was just a little paranoid about the green on top of our pizza, but turns out it was actually just oregano.

Point to Mrs. Tony C.

The walk back to the car was a pretty quick pace...especially when stuffed with pizza and soda. The near two-year old was completely worn out from a day in the sun, as was the teenager from a day on the field. I suddenly realized there were very few other people with strollers...very few...and all of them had the same look of astonishment I'm sure that adorned mine and my wife's face. Just before leaving the happening downtown area, we crossed one last performing artist. A well proportioned young lady in only a golden bodysuit and bright, white wig frozen in place.

Tony C: Remember what that's called?

Teenager: Performing art?

Tony C: Yes it is...let's give her a dollar and see what she does.

Mrs. Tony C: Tony! (real hateful glare)

Tony C: Second thought, let's get to the car before it gets dark...

Shut out once again.

Wendy Bagwell is best remembered for 'Here Comes the Rattlesnakes'...

Driving to work Wednesday morning, I was listening to a local Christian radio station instead of a podcast or music on my iPod. I like to keep it mixed up people. Some mornings- radio, some mornings- podcast from The Economist or a Bud Beverly sermon, and even a little classic rock on occasion. Variety is the supposed spice of life...although vanilla is considered a spice....I'm pretty sure.

Anyway... the morning personalities posed the question if listeners were avoiding hand shaking at church due to the Swine Flu scare. Some of the responding calls were quite intriguing. One in particular resulted in my pulling over on the super speedway called Interstate I-26 to clean my inside window...

Caller (paraphrased for artistic liberties): I think Christians shouldn't cave in to the fear. We should shake hands in church as much as we want because we're under an umbrella of protection from God when we're in His house. You can't get sick in church.

...and there goes the last drink of my morning beverage spewing from my mouth all over my windshield...


The radio guys were really polite and thanked him for the call, as I'm sure protocol requires, but they had to be laughing their behinds off during the break. Did the caller really believe what he said? What scripture did he base his comment? Just what the heck does that mean?

Hears a newsflash sidebar...I'm a research fanatic. Those of you who know me are chuckling right now for sure. I'm addicted to Google Search, Bible Gateway and Wikipedia like Ronald Reagan to jellybeans. We can't watch a TV show in my house without my laptop or BlackBerry spinning into action to find some obscure fact. Is it really that important to know that the name for Oz in the Wizard of Oz was thought up when the creator, Frank Baum, looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N and O-Z... hence the name OZ? Most people would be perfectly content departing this life for eternity without knowing that tidbit of information...but not me. Please don't judge (and continued apologies to Mrs. Tony C).

So, I get to the office and immediately break into research mode on divine protection provided to people in church. Surprise! Nothing of any credible sourcing, and a few websites I most surely won't be visiting again. Where did the caller get that? Then the light finally went off...

Mark 16:17-18 (New International Version)
17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.

I know what you're thinking...and you're wrong. I'm not going to discuss snake handling in church at this point. Yes...I know it has origins in Tennessee, and for the record is not something done where I attend church or anywhere I would attend church, but I'm leaving the subject alone. The words in that verse were spoken by Christ to the disciples as a rebuke for not believing those who had seen Him alive after His crucifixion, and I have a personal opinion on the context it was spoken, but my intent is not to offend or portray a superior opinion. Moving on...

So, should we succumb to the threat of a pandemic outbreak and suspend the cultural tradition of hand shaking in and out of church? I've documented on Tony C Today that I'm not the most touchy-feely type anyway, so my vote is...what would a hiatus hurt? I'm going to conduct an experiment on human reaction, and I will report back when I have enough data to form a solid conclusion. That may only take one Sunday. I've ask the guy I work with from China to give me pointers on proper bowing techniques as a possible greeting alternative...this should be fun. Stay tuned.

By the way...vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron (Wikipedia)...just so you know.

As for the title of this blog, here's the classic bit...enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Guest Blogger- Mesha Wright from HE's the potter, I'm the clay...MOLD ME.

Today's guest blogger is a true inspiration. Demesha writes on her blog, HE's the potter, I'm the clay...MOLD ME, about her tremendous journey as a Christian woman on a mission of weight loss. Her blog is uplifting and never fails to give God the glory. She sent me this email on her way back from an out-of-state retreat with a group of ladies who met up initially on Facebook with the common goal of extreme weight loss:

"The last 8 months have been an incredible growing experience for me. The thing that is constantly on my heart is that scripture that says, 'a house divided CANNOT stand!'. We are so use to this referring directly to our homes or churches...but WE are called the temple of the Holy Spirit and as a temple made of body, mind and spirit, if we neglect one area, I feel we are allowing ourselves to become a divided house if we aren't willing to work on it. For years, I have either whole-heartedly pursued the spirit or pursued the mind (always throwing body to the wayside...lol), but now by God's grace I have been able to work on ALL areas. I'm losing A LOT of weight, but with every pound, I am regaining my life."

I hope you enjoy this post from Mesha that she posted right before hitting the 100 pounds lost mark. God bless you Mesha for your inspiration. You are a blessing...and keep up the awesome job!

Getting hotter...

TODAY'S WEIGH-IN: -1.2 lbs
TOTAL LOST: -96.2 pounds since February 2009

Have you ever played that game where you are trying to find something and the person who hid it tells you whether you are “hot,” “warm” or “cold?” You are usually wandering around a room while they sit laughing and saying, “you’re getting warmer,” or “cold, ICE cold…so cold you may freeze.”

WELL…the closer I get to reaching this 100 pound milestone, the more I hear this voice saying, “You’re getting hotter, you are so close…keep going, you can almost reach out and grab it.”


…at the same time it feels like I’m trudging through mud the closer I get and it becomes THAT much harder to just reach through and claim that milestone VICTORY as mine! I want it SO bad yet at times it feels so intangible. Ay! I remember last month feeling like I had it in the bag…and then I set myself back (notice I acknowledge that I, as in me and me alone, set MYSELF back) and it took a whole month to recover.

Does it sound stupid to you when I say that although I’ve lost over 90 pounds in 7 ½ months that at times it’s still hard to believe I’m really doing this? At times it’s hard to believe that I’ve REALLY come this far? At times I look in the mirror and feel as though I don’t see a change even though my old clothes can’t be held up even with a belt anymore?

This 100 pound mark has been like my “Goliath.” Every day it comes out to taunt me and bring accusation against me and whisper lies that I CANNOT defeat it. As crazy and bizarre as it sounds, at times I’m actually afraid of this 100 pound milestone because I don’t want to just hit it, I want to surpass it far enough that even if I had an “off” week I wouldn’t find myself back in the “90 pounds lost range.” Once I shed my tears of joy and REJOICE over that great loss – I NEVER want to find myself in that place on the scale again. I will be rejoicing over the accomplishment, not over the number on the scale though. 100 pounds lost is a milestone nonetheless, BUT, it’s also just a half-way point for me.

When Goliath (from the Bible) would DAILY approach the battle line and spew his taunts, insults and accusations against the troops of Israel, the people backed away in fear. NONE of them were bold enough and recognized the victory they had in the LORD…until…David saw the enemy and recognized that “HE,” yes “HE” who is in me is GREATER, yes GREATER than this giant that stands before me…and what did David do? He didn’t lollygag around waiting for some miracle to occur…the Bible says he RAN to the battle line and he defeated this giant who had become an embarrassment to the Lord’s army. The thing that was impressed on my heart most about this story a few years back was that anytime we sit and dwell on our circumstance, we dwell on the obstacle standing in front of us – the longer we look at it, the bigger and harder it seems to overcome. The more we entertain the thought of how “weak” I am and how “great” the issue is – the less likely we are to face it head on rather the accepting defeat. David didn’t allow time for that fear to sink in causing him to cowar and come running back with his tail between his legs, NOPE, he proudly proclaimed that TODAY he was going to defeat this giant and then he ran to MAKE.IT.HAPPEN.

TODAY…I’m proclaiming that the giant that has been standing before me daily and shouting lies of doubt and defeat…THAT GIANT WILL BE DEFEATED!!!

I will claim that 100 POUNDS LOST milestone as my own and I will keep pressing through, keep running, keep lifting, keep eating right AND keep trusting that by GOD'S STRENGTH, I will make it. I just need to keep doing the things I KNOW I need to be doing in order to run to that battle line and MAKE.IT.HAPPEN!

THEN…I will be dancing like David danced…but with more clothes on...lol (2 Sam 6:14)!!!

All of YOU…my faithful encouragers and supporters…keep checking back on my side-bar (weight tracker) – I WILL reach that 100 pounds and go far beyond that!!! Thank you for all of the love, support and encouragement you’ve given and shown me. I LOVE YOU ALL!!!

Verse(s) of the Day:

1 Samuel 17:48-50
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

Be sure to visit Demesha's blog at HE's the potter, I'm the clay...MOLD ME.