31 October 2008

Creekboy

Since it's Halloween, I'm sharing with you a creepy piece of paranormal evidence. Around April 2001, I began researching for a local broadcast news investigative series to be titled "Unexplained" which would air on News Channel 12, the CBS affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi.

Reporter Darren Dedo, Photojournalist Rob Ruffin, Production Manager Ed Mazzone and I had produced the previous year a 4-part series called "Ghost Hunt" where we explored several local properties rumored to be haunted. The series was a blast to produce and we received an Associated Press award.

When we decided to do the series on a monthly basis, my first stop was the Civil War battlefield of Raymond, MS. It was a warm April evening and dusk had set in. I brought along a tape recorder and my digital camera. While recording, I began asking questions and snapping digital pics of my surroundings after each question: "Is anyone here?" "What's your name?" "How do you feel?"

After taking several more pics, I packed up and heading back to WJTV to review the recordings and images. Also, broadcast video cameras were recording various rooms in the Raymond Courthouse which had been used as a hospital during the war.

The audio tape yielded nothing more obvious than loud bugs and many of the pics had little to offer...until I came across one. In the video below, you'll see a reenactment of my technique and what I found.

video

Reviewing the video footage yielded no visual evidence of anything odd, however, banging sounds and what clearly sounded like a large wooden table being moved across the floor could easily be identified.

Soon, I hope to share all the evidence we collected on our numerous cases...

23 October 2008

Paycheck To Paycheck

It's a phrase you've either heard before but never experienced, you've been there/done that, or you're there now: living paycheck to paycheck. It's not something many talk about...whether out of pride or just that they know the season will pass.

For us, the financial squeeze came into play in August when we had to pay for both Georgia's then daycare at USDA and start paying tuition for her school at First Baptist School of Laurel. To add to the equation, I took a pay cut to work at AOL with the knowledge that at bonus and raise was in the future. However, instead of end of year, the bonus isn't coming until late February.

God always provides for your needs and even some of your wants. In our 11 years of marriage, Kim and I have never gone without. Maybe we've had to delay paying a bill, stop eating out, "brown bagging" lunch, or holding off on trips...but we've never gone without.

We make sacrifices for our families. For us, sacrificing a couple thousand dollars was worth a job change that has vastly improved our family life. Cutting back on things so Georgia can have a Christian education was also paramount. Like too many young couples, we have some debt to eliminate. It's a slow process but it is progressing.

The deadly snare is when some families refuse to change their lifestyle and sink deeper into debt because they have to have the trips, the entertainment, and more. I'm not boasting, since Kim and I have been a bit unyielding at times. But the blessing is how God continues to mold and shape and nurture us into what we need to become.

So, I'll enjoy my soups for lunch and anything else low carb as we press on towards better financial and physical health.

08 October 2008

The Innocence Of Being Her Prince

One of the highest compliments a dad can be paid is having their daughter to want them to be their prince at the ball. Ever since Georgia grew beyond Veggie Tales (she still enjoys Bob & Larry), she's had a fascination with the Disney Princesses. Cinderella remains her favorite but she must compete with Sleepy Beauty, Ariel, and Belle.

Coupled with her love to dance and the splendor of a ball, Georgia loves to put one of her "dress-up gowns" and go to the Ball. It's here, dads, that we can be amerce ourselves in the roll or skim through it. I've been there...you want to be a good dad and show her attention...you want to play the roll one more time. Maybe you even want to avoid the drama, so you half-heartily perform your duties and breathe a sigh of satisfaction when you can return to your agenda.

There's no doubt you'll be in that place, again. But I pray it's not too often. I've learned to cherish that request to dance with her. To realize that being her Prince is so temporary before she's off to other activities...other games...other friends. Before she has no time for me until I must give her away at her wedding...when she really will have her Prince.

Even as odd as it sounds, I've also learned how special it is when G talks about marrying me. It doesn't do much good to explain to her that Mommy and I are married and she can't me. In her mind, it's a great reason to wear a dress and do something really special with her daddy. It's the sweetest of innocent requests which validates where one is as a father with their daughter.

I'm blessed.

Enjoy the Steven Curtis Chapman video below and keep watching his explanation of the inspiration of the song which follows the video. Remember, dads, we only have so many dances.



05 October 2008

Change For The Sake Of Change

In an earlier post, my words reflected my disinterest with politics. This is a rather intriguing stance being as we're at the political hub of America. However, with the Presidential election looming closer and closer my interests have intensified. With this election, we as a nation are at a crossroads.

Never before has our country seen its morals so decomposed. After all, our focus today is completely on satisfying our selfish needs while never offending anyone. Women should have the right to terminate their pregnancy whenever they want. After all, Senator Obama thinks that when life begins is "above his pay grade" and House of Rep. Speaker Pelosi thinks this debate has been going on for years in the Catholic church.

Life begins at conception. Period.

On the same course, let's advance stem-cell research. Never mind that adult stem-cells are fine and don't end life. No, let's push for embryonic stem-cell research and continue to kill human life in the same of science.

Embryos are life.

Also, let's push for gays to have the rights to marry. Forget the fact that they already have civil unions and other partner rights offered by businesses. No, men should marry men and women should marry women. Last time I checked, a marriage is composed of a husband and wife. So, who's the husband and the wife in a gay marriage?

What's funny here is anyone feeling this way is dubbed insensitive, discriminative, or hateful. Because this opinion is different? Because I don't share your views? Because the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman? What folks seem to forget is that one can still love another person but disagree with their opinions, views and even their lifestyle.

That's right, being a mature selfless person means you can love and care for someone while disagreeing with their views, opinions, or lifestyle. You love the person not their choices.

Ah, but then we hit the real nail: gays didn't choose to be gay, they were born that way. I believe people are born with disabilities that either kill them or mature them into the people God designed them to be. So, can one be born gay? No. I believe this is a choice that grows out of one's surroundings: environment, experiences, experiments, faith, and conditions of their heart. Any one one of us could be gay but our surroundings helped define who we are.

Love is a choice.

Now, let's get back to how selfish we are as a country. Freedom means that everyone should have the right to do what they want, when they want, and how they want to, right? Sounds like an existence without discipline. Ever been to a restaurant or a store where children are running around wild doing whatever they want? There's a time and place for fun. That example shows the parents aren't exercising discipline. Now, imagine a country full of whiny, needy, and loud adults. Sounds like we're already there, aye?

Whether you share my views, morals, my disinterest in politics, or easily surpass me with your tenacity in these areas, I hope these words will inspire you to "think" instead of "change."

The reason everyone is so fired up about "change" is because many feel the Bush administration has led this country down the wrong path. Senator Obama is the anti-Bush. Young, handsome, eloquent speaker, intelligent, and black. Not only is he everything President Bush is not, this is also a chance to get a black man into the White House.

Meanwhile, Senator McCain represents the last 8 years only because he is Republican and is much older. Adding Governor Palin to his ticket really shook things up because now you have a vibrant young woman (another political salivating point) who can not only take on Senator Biden but also has more experience than Senator Obama. But if you support the McCain-Palin ticket, you are dubbed a racist, ignorant, or part of the Christian Right.

Oh, yeah, I have a different opinion than the alleged "majority" or the "entire country."

But the low, that really inspired this post came with finding the link of children singing about Senator Obama as nearly this Christ-like savior of the world who will bring about change for America and make this country respected in the world makes my stomach churn. That's a tall order for any one man. Especially for a man with no experience who can't even speak well without advisers or prepared speeches.

Senator Obama is an abomination. He is absolutely the worst possible choice for this country as a leader. I'm sure there are just as many who would say the same about McCain. However, I'll take someone with experience and who was a POW over a slick-suited, hot-aired windbag any day.

Let's face it, in the political realm youth will support a young candidate and rhetoric of change...women will support a woman...and blacks will support a black. I would support whomever matches my morals, regardless of the party, sex, or skin color.

So, in this election season, I would charge you to vote your morals and beliefs. Don't buy into the rhetoric and the polls and the other voices. Pray about discernment in this area and vote for the person who matches your values.

Other resources to consider:

Voter's Guide

Saddleback Civil Forum