Make Life About Living

As I walked through my crazy beautiful health journey, I was blessed to learn many amazing lessons. Here are just a few of those lessons:

*Try Something New: Go skydiving, snorkeling, do a road trip with friends, or feed the hungry. It doesn’t matter what you do, just take a step outside of your comfort zone.

*Time With Family and Friends: I know during this pandemic that can be difficult. Maybe you cannot meet in person, but you can utilize Zoom or FaceTime. During that time put away all distractions. You might find out how amazing your family and friends really are.

*Capture Memories: I know everyone wants to document their adventures with pictures and videos, but don’t forget to truly experience the moment.

*Say No: Stop adding things to your plate. If you continuously say yes, you are going to miss out on life. Plus burn yourself out.

*Take Time For Yourself: It might only be for a few minutes, but do it. Spend time in prayer. Go for a walk. Read a book. Do something just for you.

*Encourage Someone: Everyone needs some uplifting words. It takes just a minute, but can change a life.

*Call or Text: Take time to call or text a loved one. This simple act could make their day.

*Say I Love You: Don’t miss the chance to tell your loved ones how you feel about them. Life is too short. ~OC

My Prayer: Take Off The Blinders

As we witnessed the civil unrest at the Capital in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, there was a lot of discussion about hate groups and racism in America. Some in the white community (Breaking News: I am white), screamed on social media that racism is no longer an issue in 2021. Really?

When I engage some white people in the topic of racism, they often will challenge me to prove that racism still exist today in America. So I present them with a challenge. My challenge to them is to simply listen.

I am a storyteller, so I will share stories that my friends of color have shared with me about being racially profiled. I will share legit studies that have been done on the subject of racism. I will share videos showing racism happening to a person of color. I will encourage them to read articles or books on the subject of racism. Most importantly, I will challenge them to reach out to a friend of color and asked them if they have ever experienced racism. I think to myself, one of these suggestions will get through to them. Right? Sadly, a good majority of the time I will hear the following excuses:

*The data is biased.

*I don’t have time to read any articles or books.

*The person in the video was overreacting.

*My friends of color (if they actually have some) don’t want to talk about racism.

*I am tired of hearing about racism. Can’t everyone just get over it?”

I have had these types of conversations with my white friends and complete strangers too many times to count. But then after years of being frustrated by people who do not believe racism is still sadly alive and well, a beautiful freeing thought came to me. I don’t have to proof racism still exist today. The burden of proof is not on me. The burden of proof is on those who refuse to believe racism is still a major issue in 2021. There is no reason for me to walk away from these conversations feeling frustrated. The debate is over. This truth has set me free.

To those who continue to believe racism no longer exist, prove it. Show me some actual evidence. Show me some factual data. Just as my evidence proofs racism still exist in 2021, your evidence better support your argument against that fact.

As I close, my prayer is that God will change the hearts and minds of those who still deny racism is a clear and present danger in America. I pray these deniers will take time to read a book or article on the subject of racism. I pray they will check out the many videos that sadly show racism is still wide awake in our nation. My prayer is that my white brothers and sisters who still believe racism is a thing of the past, will reach out to a person of color and have a real conversation about this stain on America. I pray the blinders will come off. ~OC

I Am

As I was on my morning walk, these words came to me:

I am a white man. I bleed red.

My brothers and sisters of color bleed red.

I am a white man. I love to pray.

My brothers and sisters of color love to pray.

I am a white man. I love my family and friends

My brothers and sisters of color love their family and friends.

I am a white man. I love to laugh and cry.

My brothers and sisters of color love to laugh and cry.

I am a white man. I love to praise God.

My brothers and sisters of color love to praise God.

I am a white man. I want the best for my family and friends.

My bothers and sisters of color want the best for their family and friends.

I am a white man. I love to read and listen to music.

My brothers and sisters of color love to read and listen to music.

I am a white man. I love great conversation.

My brothers and sisters of color love great conversation.

I am a white man. I have the right to share my opinions.

My brothers and sisters of color have the right to share their opinions.

I am a white man. I love diversity.

My brothers and sisters of color love diversity.

I am a white man. I reach out with love to my brothers and sisters of color. I am blessed that my brothers and sisters of color have always reached back with open arms and love.

Why did I share this blogpost? Because We have more in common than we have differences. There is no Them. There is only Us. As a world we are better Together. Celebrate Diversity. ~OC

My Reading List

So many good books out right now. Here are a few I have read or currently reading:

Something Needs To Change by David Platt

Free Cyntoia by Cyntoia Brown-Long

The Final Race by Eric T. Eichinger

Me by Elton John

Wham! George Michael & Me by Andrew Ridgley

The Beautiful Ones by Prince

What Set Me Free by Brian Banks

~OC

Living Beyond My Limitations

Some days, I spend too much time focusing on my limitations. The things I can no longer do. I can no longer work. I have to depend on other people for rides. These days, I need other people to fill out my paperwork. I use a stamp to sign my name. These days, I need a voice amplifier to help me speak. I can no longer try and hit those Steven Tyler notes on Dream On. I realize, I will probably deal with more limitations as my crazy beautiful journey continues.

It would be very easy for me to get caught up in my present limitations. To focus on all that this health journey has taken from me. But what kind of life would that be? No, instead I choose to focus on all this journey has given me. What I can still do. Here are just a few things I can still do.

More Time for Prayer. Since I do not sleep much these days, I have so much time to pray for the needs of loved ones and complete strangers. I love praying.

Embrace Beautiful Interruptions. If you have been around me for a minute, you know I love beautiful interruptions. Those moments God blesses us with unexpected opportunities to encourage others. To listen to others. To help others. In the past, I may have been too busy to stop and notice those beautiful interruptions God was putting right in front of me.

Read. I have more time to read or listen to books these days. Most days, you will find me sitting in my recliner enjoying a good book. I love a good book.

Listening to Your Stories. Oh, how I love listening to other peoples stories. Finding out what amazing and sometimes not so amazing things they are facing. I just listen. Not to respond or fix. Just to listen. What an amazing honor that is for me.

Living A Life of Adventure. Today, I more time for adventure. Taking that last minute cruise. Jumping in the car with my wife and just driving until we find a place to stop. Making beautiful memories.

Encouraging Other. I can no longer go skydiving, but I can encourage someone else to take that adventure. I can no longer run, but I can help coach and encourage someone else to run their race.

I am sure there will be more days of dwelling on my limitations, but those days are becoming less and less. Today, I spend more time focusing on how much I can still do. ~OC

My Hero, The Hope Dealer

Last night, Laura and I had the honor of attending the first Inner City Innovators Gala to celebrate the young men who this amazing organization helps. It was also a time to celebrate one of my heroes Mr. Ricky Aiken. Let me tell you about my hero.

I met Ricky when he was about 14 or 15 years old. I was volunteering with a great organization Urban Youth Impact at the time. Ricky and I just hit it off. I think it was our mutual love for books and sports. You know God is real when he brings a Boston Celtics fan and a LA Lakers fan together. As happens in life, we lost contact for a brief period. When Ricky turned 18 we reconnected around his birthday. My wife had heard about Ricky and wanted to celebrate his birthday. Oh, did we celebrate. My wife had a blast taking Ricky shopping. I think Ricky might have been a little overwhelmed by Laura’s enthusiasm, but he indulged her. That day Ricky became Laura’s son. It is a relationship that has continued to grow throughout the years. Laura still loves celebrating Ricky’s birthday.

Back in 2015, one of Ricky’s friends was shot and killed. For Ricky that was the last straw. He could no longer sit around and watch his community be destroyed by gun violence. That is when Inner City Innovators was born. Ricky has become a leader in his community. A leader in his city. And I believe in time, a national leader. This from a young man labeled emotionally disabled by the educational system. How I wish the person who made that incorrect diagnosis could see Ricky now. To see the Man he has become. The Leader he has become. The Hope Dealer he has become.

I could go on and on about my godson and the man he has become. Laura and I are so proud of him. Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves when we see all that Ricky has accomplished in life. We are thankful God has blessed us with a front row sit. I pray that one day, Ricky will write a book and share his amazing story with the world. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to check out Inner City Innovators at http://www.innercityinnovators.org.

Current Reading List

I love to read. Reading is something I have been passionate about since I was a child. Here is my current reading list. These books are challenging me in so many ways.

The Color of Compromise: The Truth About The American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby.

Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice That Restores by Dominique DuBois Gilliard.

Southern White Ministers and the Civil Rights Movement by Elaine Allen Lechtreck.

Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice by Eric Mason.

I also just purchased a Bible that really discusses Social Issues called God’s Justice (NIV) by Zondervan. ~OC

Some of My Favorites

Some of my favorites:

Team:

Cincinnati Reds

Boston Celtics

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Florida Gators

Players:

Baseball: Johnny Bench

Basketball: Larry Bird

Football: Lee Roy Selmon & Derrick Brooks

Florida Gators: Al Horford, Danny Wuerffel & Tim Tebow

Coach: Tony Dungy

Movies:

Hoosiers

Selma

Brian’s Song (The Original)

12 Years a Slave

Woodlawn

Remember the Titans

Doc Hollywood

Facing the Giants

13th

America History

Any Jimmy Stewart Film

Music:

Kirk Franklin

U2

Michael Jackson

Prince

TobyMac

DC Talk

Bruce Springsteen

George Michael

Bee Gees

4Him

Queen

Elton John

Alisa Turner

Tasha Cobbs Leonard

Anthony Evans

Run-DMC

Lecrae

FC Worship

Lionel Richie

The Commodores

Stevie Wonder

Rod Stewart

Kenny Chesney

Truth

Michael English

Proverb

Kim Walker-Smith

Harry Connick Jr.

Michael Neale

Tenth Avenue North

Jeremy Camp

Journey

Earth, Wind & Fire

Hall & Oates

Def Leppard

Hillsong United

Jackson 5

Luther Vandross

Whitney Houston

Adele

Books:

Bible

America Story by Bob Dotson

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs

Moment Make by Carlos Whittaker

Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson

Just Mercy Bryan Stevenson

Unscripted by Ernie Johnson, Jr.

Living Out Loud by Craig Sager

I’ll Push You by Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray

Breaking Cover by Michele Rigby Assad

Love Does by Bob Goff

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Radical by David Platt

Transformed by Remi Adeleke

Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Drop the Stones by Carlos A. Rodríguez

Brave Surrender by Kim Walker-Smith

Comeback by Dave Dravecky

When You Can’t Comeback by Dave & Jan Dravecky

Quite Strength by Tony Dungy

Separate Peace by John Knowles

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Believe by Eric LeGrand

Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox

Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox

God & Football by Chad Gibbs

The Pact:Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt

Vulnerable by Raleigh Sadler

This Life I Live by Rory Feek

42 Faith by Ed Henry

The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores

Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes

Long Run by Matt Long

Forty Thousand To One by Ben Petrick

The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose

When The Game Was Ours by Jackie MacMullan

Catch You Later by Johnny Bench

Love Thy Rival by Chad Gibbs

This is just a short list of my favorites. I could go on for days. ~OC

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