It isn’t often that we take the time to hear people’s story. Especially with most everyone sequestered in their homes due to COVID19.
It is even rarer to that an opportunity comes along where men share their journey.
Well, today is the day.
A collaboration of men have come together to author a book entitled The T.E.A.M. Character & Integrity of Manhood.
Each author contributes a chapter capturing their personal journeys into manhood. Each with a unique perspective, yet all with a common goal; to help other men (especially young men) understand we are not designed to go it alone.
This book also is designed to help women see what a man of character looks like and gives them a glimpse into the heart of men with integrity.
Amazon will release the book online today at a discounted rate of just $2.99 between the hours of 11:00AM and 6:00PM as a download for Kindle readers.
I am honored to be included in this effort. You will find my chapter titled Get Back In The Fight.
You can also purchase it in hard copy going forward.
The stories in this book are as varied as the men who wrote them, and yet their common theme defines manhood. Look within these pages to encourage yourself, or someone you know, to become the man God has created you to be.
Download The T.E.A.M. Character & Integrity of Manhood today.
Service Animals are generally dogs and sometimes miniature horses. Some of these amazing animals help with medical issues alerting their handler when their blood sugar is low or when they are close to having a seizure.
Emotional Support Animals calm their owners when they fly. In most cases, these animals are not trained for a specific need. They just love their owners. They provide comfort to help relieve a symptom or effect of a person’s disability.
Emotional Support Animals are generally dogs and cats. Other animals may provide support to their owners like guinea pigs or miniature horses, but exotic animals may not qualify due to risks of harm to others or potential diseases.
Most airlines will allow Emotional Support Animals, with proper documentation from a veterinarian and/or mental health counselor, and small animals such as cats and dogs can be held on the passenger’s lap during the flight.
Regarding airline policies affecting persons flying with animals that are not emotional support or service animals, most airlines charge fees and require the animal to be in a cage that can fit under the seat. If a caged animal cannot be placed under the seat, the animal flies with the luggage. You can find a lot of great information regarding traveling pets on the Department of Transportation website.
For example, American Airlines is not checking pets right now due to flight changes due to COVID19. In the past, American has been asked to transport an ant colony, a sloth, kangaroos, rabbits, lizards, pigs, crabs, wallabies and monkeys.
With Emotional Support Animals, on the other hand, they are not required to be caged, nor are people charged for flying with an Emotional Support Animal. In 2017, Delta Air Lines had a quarter of a million passengers who boarded flights with their Emotional Support Animals.
Peanut cruises along through O’Hare in Chicago
In my own flying adventures I had to ask myself, “Will our dogs fly well or not?” Our Shitzu-Bishon mix named Ollie is hyperactive and skittish around strangers. Peanut on the other hand is calm in most circumstances unless Ollie eggs him on.
Flying with your dog isn’t as ruff as you might think.
In the eagerness to attempt some semblance of normalcy, the airlines are really struggling. They are in a no win situation when it comes to new demands, yet their logic confuses me on a couple of fronts.
We are now into the second week of mandatory face coverage on airplanes. You cannot board a flight without one. This makes sense to me and probably is a couple of months late in coming.
The latest challenges come with regard to social distancing. The new standard we have all embraced is to stay six feet apart from each other to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus.
The airlines are currently asking passengers to not huddle in groups when boarding and keep separation between themselves and fellow passengers at the gate and on the jet bridge.
This is a tremendous help to ease people’s anxiety during the boarding process.
We are also recommending that passengers scan their own boarding passes which promotes some much needed comic relief.
It is fun to observe how differently people act to this request. Some are so conditioned they cannot help but try to hand you their pass, even when the Gate Agent motions toward the scanner.
Others stretch out as far as they can so as not get too close. They are bending over in an effort to stay six feet away from the scanner.
Once they get on the plane things change drastically. If the aircraft has less than 30 passengers they can be accommodated with proper spacing. Anymore than that, social distancing goes out the window.
On larger airplanes with six or nine seats in a row, it is easier by simply eliminating the middle seat. The distance between seats A and C are not quite six feet, but it is at least a sizable gap between you and your neighbor.
On smaller regional planes that accommodate 65 to 75 passengers, social distancing becomes impossible at more than half capacity.
With seating tighter these days, when you add people’s newest phobia to the mix, tensions will escalate. People’s paranoia is heightened, as well.
I had one woman the other day ask that the woman next to her be removed because she coughed. For all I knew it could have been an allergic reaction to her cheap perfume.
Sadly that type of reaction from people is becoming too common. People are paranoid because no one knows who is sick and who is not.
A great friend of mine just went off on Facebook about the lack of spacing on his CLT to DFW flight. His DFW to TUS wasn’t much better.
I agree with his point that social distancing is out the window once you board a flight. American Airlines’ current policy is to block the back row and the first row.
People do need to be aware of this in order to make their own decision on whether to fly or not.
Airports have been a ghost town since March, but passenger loads have been increasing the past two weeks.
Seems to me we are all getting a bit complacent about the possibility of contracting COVID19.
People are antsy and are now flying to vacation spots. Two weeks ago the majority were flying to see family members, most of whom were sick.
God calls us all to be good stewards in all that we do. That includes deciding if you want to fly or not.
If you do decide to fly, be aware that you will be closer to sitting on your neighbors’ lap than getting appropriate spacing.
Beware also that the newest trend (started by Frontier) is to charge you a $39 premium to get an open seat alongside your seat.
If you are flying internationally, please confirm first whether you will be allowed into the Country.
True story: Tonight we had a passenger flying to Toronto to get married in the morning. Because he is not a resident of Canada and he doesn’t work in Canada he is considered a “non-essential traveler.” Now he is stuck in CLT with a return flight to where he came from. Because he was getting married he no longer has a place to stay safely.
True story II: Another passenger was going to Toronto to buy a truck with plans to drive it back. This is not essential so he, too, has a return trip home in the morning.
That’s 37 days for; California, Oregon, Washington, Louisiana, Illinois, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Some living in New York City will tell you they have been home for 47 days or more.
As of April 20, there are 42 States asking their citizens to not go out in public unless they absolutely have to. There are a handful of other States were they are utilizing the directive in only a portion their territories.
I love working and appreciate the fact that I still can. I love helping people and many passengers are trying to get home to help ailing parents or loved ones. I just hope and pray that the airlines don’t crash and burn into bankruptcy in the process.
Many of the airlines are applying now for the stimulus money the Federal Government is offering. The sad reality is that some of them won’t survive even with the money Uncle Sam gives them.
Some financial experts say it will take at least a year and a half for the travel industry to get back to normal. I hope and pray we see an immediate pick up as States start to reopen next week.
At Piedmont Airlines in Charlotte, NC we have seen a very large drop off of passengers on flights. Current payloads are averaging about 1,600 passengers per day.
By comparison, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International is ranked the busiest airport in the world. With 2,600 flights per day they are down to 1,200. They have an estimated 104 million people come through their airport every year. That’s hard to imagine.
Even with 1,600 passengers a day coming through our airport that is still a lot of exposure to potential contamination. Boarding only five to ten passengers on a flight, I am still interacting with 20 to 40 passengers each day.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has estimated that 25 to 50 percent of cases may be asymptomatic. If that is true I may be exposed to a couple dozen contaminated people that are not showing symptoms. This does not include my coworkers.
The cruel reality is that I may be symptomatic and not realize it. That is true for any of us.
This is a real concern. How many are you exposing yourself too.
Airline workers are purposely placing themselves in harms way to insure people can get home to check on loved ones. If you do not have to fly right now, please stay home.
Some States are now adopting a wear masks in public ordinance to help the continued mitigation of the virus.
The airlines are trying to follow suit. This is a good thing.
As employees we have been asking for masks, hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes for weeks. Due to the worldwide demand the airlines have not been able to provide them until this past week. Note: Alcohol wipes are still not being delivered.
Because of the demand people are making their own masks.
One local woman has been making masks in her living room in exchange for a donation to the Humane Society. She heard our need and provided us a couple dozen masks. Thanks Ila.
A friend of mine posted the reality of this pandemic and how it can decimate families.
It has now been 24 days since North Carolina issued their “Stay at home” order that has quarantined more than 10 million people. (Stay at home orders by State)
My wife and I have been honoring that order even though we live just over the border in South Carolina.
Our church in North Carolina has been streaming every Sunday for four weeks now. I thank God for their service. It has been a technical challenge for the Pastors and the Worship Team, but they have been dedicated including Easter Sunday.
Communion Service at home. (Click on image and advance to see how the elements were administered)
Some would say we are attending the Church of the Living Room. Some of our friends may be going to St. Mattress of the Springs or Bedside Baptist.
Is it real? Yes… different, but this is our new reality.
Some folks are keeping their home groups intact by meeting on Zoom. Some are doing bible studies by way of video conferencing. That’s impressive.
Our home group hasn’t met since mid-March. I miss them.
This is a weird time. It is easy to become so isolated that you forget there are other people out there.
Our friends become characters on TV like; Hotch from Criminal Minds and the Reagan family on Blue Bloods.
Our perspective of the world is blurry. Our sense of reality is not real. It feels like we are living in a bubble.
How are you surviving your quarantine? How are you spending your time? Who are you connecting with?
Even my time with God has dwindled. You would think that since we are sequestered to our homes that we would spend more time with Him, but it is really easy to fall into the traps of the enemy through distractions like Netflix and games on social media or our phones.
A friend of mine put it beautifully in her blog entitled Call Waiting. A graceful reminder that God is always available through prayer.
My prayer today is that we all find time with God. He is not punishing us with this plague. He really just wants to spend time with us.
Easter Sunday is here and we are all in our homes… alone…due to the Coronavirus. Or so we feel.
Our church parking lots are empty, but remember, so is Jesus’ tomb.
Easter reminds us that He is alive and because He is alive, He is with us every minute of every day.
To help you with that reminder, here are a few songs that I find helpful to renew my spirit. Listen to my Easter Playlist or find your own mix. Just don’t let the enemy tell you no one cares that you are home alone. That is a lie. We are all here together… in Spirit and in His Truth.
Today is the most important day for a Christian. It is because He rose from the dead that we believe. Otherwise we are just another religion.
If you are not a believer that Jesus died for you and that he rose from the dead, please consider reading the Book of John. Here is a good summary in two parts (Chapter 1-12 and Chapter 13-21). If nothing else, remember that he loves you and always will.
These songs are not listed in any particular order. Enjoy these individually or listen to them on my Easter Playlist. Note: If interested, check out my Music Playlist for other great Praise & Worship music.
Twenty seven years ago today my life was changed forever. At 35 years old, and just six weeks from my 36th birthday, I married Lisa Burrell. To have and to hold.
Neither of us had been married before so this was brand new territory for us both.
The difference was that Lisa had Jesus on her side. I didn’t… yet. She had an eternal mindset. I was just jumping in the pool not knowing how cold the water would be.
Lisa had an amazing journey with God that started just 18 months earlier with an abrupt move from the suburbs of Chicago to the shores of Long Beach, CA.
She knew she was delivered and she knew God had a plan for her new life. It was apparent to Lisa that I would be a part of that plan shortly after I walked into The Reef.
Lisa just started working there a few weeks before and God provided her a hot meal everyday. He was showing her the He was her provider.
I was looking for a set to film an episode of China Beach and had no clue that my life would be changed the moment I saw her.
Three months after our wedding day we decided to move away from Los Angeles and after listing several cities we felt we could live in we settled in Charlotte, NC.
Less than a year later we were on the brink of disaster. Lisa was working and I was floundering. She had a support network with the friends she made at work. I was drifting through odd jobs including selling produce, Christmas trees and bar tending.
Lisa was praying for me every day while I was drinking. I was falling deeper into my demise which manifested into depression and self pity.
We were going to a small church with a handful of charismatics and with Lisa’s prompting, the men invited me to a men’s retreat. I reluctantly agreed.
Looking back it now makes sense why Pastor Geoff wanted to play tennis so much. Lisa was calling him asking him to reach out to me.
Neither one of us knew at the time, but Lisa’s prayers and her diligence in witnessing to me, God was setting me up.
The night before the retreat I was bar tending in a local pub. Lisa was back in California for a conference.
It was February 19, 1993. It was 17 degrees that night and God decided it was time to get my attention.
Most nights I would have kept my coat with all of my personal belongings behind the bar. This night I hung them just inside the back door.
At closing time I could not find my coat since someone took it home with them. It was 2:30 AM and the locksmith told me they could come now for $200 or come in the morning for $40. Even in my inebriated mind that decision was an easy one.
I called my drinking buddy Joe to stay with him. My keys were gone so I couldn’t get into my house. Joe said “Come on” so I walked a couple of blocks to the produce store he lived in.
Joe had a cot and a sleeping bag he used. Nothing more. I settled on the concrete floor in the 17 degree temperatures with no coat, no keys, and no identity since my drivers license was gone too.
God spoke to me at that moment letting me know that He gave me everything. My car. My comfort. My identity. My wife and my life. And He could take it ALL away in an instant.
I went to the retreat later that day. Hung over and humbled.
I have no idea what Peter Lord said in the opening session but I found myself surrendering my life to Christ. From that moment my life has never been the same.
God freed me from myself that day. Freed from drinking and depression. And with Lisa’s help, He saved me.
Now 27 years later I realize that I not only got married but I was given a wife who literally saved my life.
This past week my wife had a big birthday. She was so excited, she was sending me emails three weeks ago with suggested gifts. I was going to surprise her with a gathering of friends, but she found out early. Oh well, it was still fun and she was excited to see a large number of her friends. Thanks to all of you that showed up.
On Facebook and other social media sites I am reminded every day to send Happy Birthday wishes to all my friends and they’re all posting their thanks for remembering their big day.
I know I am always looking forward to my birthday. How about you? Even as the count of years gets higher I know this day is special because it is designated for the day I showed up. A part of me feels very special with every card and post I receive. I am reminded how lucky I am to have so many friends in my life.
Birthdays are a special day to celebrate yourself since it is the day you were born. They are also great days to celebrate the arrival of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and thanks to our moms for enduring the labor to get us here.
It is with that spirit of thankfulness and excitement that we want to remember the birth of Christ. God sent His only Son to bring hope into our world.
We tend to forget within the midst of all the hustle and bustle of Christmas that it is really all about Jesus’ birthday. He brought light into this dark world we live in.
So when we hear Merry Christmas this year let’s also share a joyous Happy Birthday Jesus and thanks for bringing Hope into a lost world.