"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Weary: physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc.; fatigued; tired: weary eyes; a weary brain. hope with "teeth"

There are very few things in life that depict perseverance more effectively than athletics. Whether it is on the ball diamond, track, wrestling mat, gridiron or the hardwood there is ample evidence of the reward for persevering. Often we as humans are so touched when we read in the papers about or see a TV segment on someone that has defied all odds and has succeeded when most would've throw in the towel. 

When we take a look at perseverance we realize that it is synonymous with persistence. The definition for perseverance is a steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state. 

The Greek word for perseverance is prokarteresis.

Prokarteresis literally means to "continue in".

Perseverance is different from endurance. Endurance often indicates “putting up with,” “bearing up under,” or merely “tolerating” a demanding and difficult circumstance. Enduring many times implies a passive quality.

Perseverance or prokarteresis represents more than just tolerating a circumstance because they have definite proactive characteristics. It means “to be earnest or strong toward; to be constantly diligent; to adhere closely to; to continue instant in; to be steadfast with a person or thing.”

Perseverance is about thriving; not just surviving.

For most, if not all, knowing the definition vs. applying the truth to our life experience is very different. 

And for a special few it seems as if they were born to prevail and succeed.

One of those chosen few to demonstrate a great ability to persevere is Anthony Robles.

Anthony Robles: 2011 National Champion
For those who are not familiar with the story of Anthony Robles he was born with no limb below his right leg. Without a leg Robles was able to win two state high school titles before attending Arizona State. Robles success didn't end there, while at ASU he became a two-time All-American before his senior year and compiled a 36-0 record his senior year. To finish his career, Robles defeated last year's champion, Matt McDonough of Iowa, with a 7-1 victory becoming the 2011 National Champion in 125-pound weight class.

All on one leg.

Thrive over survive...

Perseverance is powerful. Perseverance is purifying. 

In the final piece of a four part sermon series entitled "I Need a Hero" pastor Ken Murphy shared with us the importance and value of persevering. In the three weeks previous we have touched on the slowly disappearing virtues of honor, loyalty and gratitude. In each lesson we gained knowledge through God's word and inspiration and application through Pastor Ken's message.

(Art by Jamie Snell)

In God's word there are many verses concerning perseverance, but there are four that I would like to focus on.

The first verse is Galatians 6:9.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

As we review the verse we see that there are three parts to the verse.
  1. Don't become weary in doing good.
  2. We will reap a harvest is not a mere possibility, but a promise. 
  3. "If" we don't give up... the choice is ours to stay in or give in.
When things are difficult it is easy to grow weary and want to give up. The Latin word for weary is lassitudo which literally means weariness, exhaustion and faintness. But it is when we stay the course and not give in we will reap a harvest in the end. The harvest doesn't mean things will always go our way in the end, but that we will have the opportunity for growth and maturity in the midst of a tough circumstance. The reward may vary, but the principle is the same each time; if you persevere you will ultimately win.

Perseverance in areas such as relationships, finances, psychical pursuits and spiritual concerns always pays off. 


The only thing we need to do is take heed of God's command and focus on being faithful -to do the right thing- to him and God will take care of the harvest.

The second verse is James 1:12

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." 

Life is a test and life is temporary. And while we are taking this temporary test we will ultimately pass or fail based on the decisions (choices) we make and the relationships we cultivate.

Life is about growth and maturity and in earlier in the book of James, he talks about spiritual maturity and becoming a complete person as our earthly goal

Remember, our earthly goal is maturity, but our eternal goal is the crown of life. When we stand the earthly test, and persevere, and choose God over all else we will then someday receive the crown of life.  

Earthly goal: maturity.

Eternal goal: eternal salvation... the crown of life.

Perseverance is inherently linked to struggle and hardship. No matter what test or difficulty you're going through right now remember these two goals, if we do so we will gain a greater perspective and greater clarity that will aid us in persevering.

In the words of Coach Jimmy Valvano: "Don't give up, don't ever give up."

There is too much at stake to give up.

The third verse is Hebrews 12:1-3.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

As we read those verses we realize that we are not the first ones to run this race called life. Hebrews 11 is a book about Heroes of the Faith. Ordinary people who do extraordinary things in life due to their faith and perseverance. 

There are three points that we must remember when we read this passage that will help us to persevere. 

  • Others have made it and you can too.
    • Examples and symbols are important to our journey. When we look at those that have persevered before us it gives us hope we too will succeed. In a cancer radiation lab in California there is a bell outside of the radiation room. That bell is reserved for those that have completed their radiation to ring. It is a stark reminder that there were people there before you and that there will be people there after you. Ringing the bell is another step in the journey. Symbols and examples are powerful.
  • A proper perspective helps one to persevere. 
    • Jesus was buried on Friday and he rose from the dead on Sunday. Perspective. When you feel like you're living in the dark pain of Friday, remember, Sunday is on the way. Perspective.
  • You need a Savior & a friend.
    • We need God and we need one another. God created us for fellowship. We were created to fellowship with God and one another. Life is simply about the decisions we make and the relationships we cultivate vertically and horizontally. 

The fourth and final verse is 2 Timothy 4:6-8

 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

In the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona we were provided with an example of what finishing the race looks like and the simple fact that many times we need another person to help us across the finish line.

Redmond had trained eight years for this moment to run in the 400 meters race. Before the last Olympics he tore his Achilles tendon... this Olympics he tore his hamstring. 

And though his Dad did not train for either race he was there to help his son finish the race.

Remember, sometimes we will never train for the race or actually run the race; we will only provide support and a helping hand to aid another across the finish line.

Sometimes we need help to...

Finish the race... 

"...I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 


sbb  29.3.2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Write Shawn Write...

Journey: a traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time; trip: a six-day journey across the desert.

Endless Journey

Wednesday (3.23.11) marked the 1-year anniversary of The journey started like most journeys; without any prediction, planning or perspective. Most journeys are wonderful that way. We don't notice small details, opportunities for growth and changing wind patterns until we find our self in the midst of something troubling and traumatic or tremendous and terrific.

Wonderfully, we don't get to choose our journeys. They often choose us.

And when my lonely walk down a dirt path began I was praying and wondering aloud what God's plan and purpose was for me.

"What do you want me to do God", I prayed. 

What now?
I prayed that same prayer for a few days last March, sitting in meditation waiting, wanting and longing for God to speak to my heart.

And He did.

He said write.

Start writing... keep writing
(Art by Maurenilson Freire)

I know many of you reading this right now find it hard to believe that God would actually tell anyone to write or to do anything for that matter. And I'm sure you really don't believe that he spoke to me. I get it. And as many of you ponder my words I'm without little doubt that more than a few eyes are rolling.

Start searching... keep searching
 (Art Image by Houk)

Like I said. I get it

But this is more than a story; it's the truth.

Over and over I would hear in my silence the word write

There was no audible voice pur se; it was just a continual wave of urges that wouldn't allow me to separate myself from the constant thought or internal nudging to write.

"What do you want me to write", I said impatiently. 

"I can't write a novel or book... I have no idea where to even begin."

"Just write", He said.

So write I did.
Every day is brand new...
(Art Image by Houk)  

Just like "Run Forrest Run" I began to "Write Shawn Write"

And write I did.

In the past year I have written roughly 101,111 words and 120 pieces on mybabyr0c.

I've touched upon everything from the great Jackie Robinson to the top ten Michael Jackson songs (the top 5 when he was black and the top 5 when he was white) of all-time. I have researched, and written, about superheroes, and the virtues they embody, and the reasons for men and children becoming angry. I have shared with my readers that my son Ryan met Picasso at McDonald's and that another one of my boys, Bryce, never wet to bed when he was young because as he stated: "the pee stayed in his underwear.

"I even wrote about LeBron James. 

All of the pieces were written with complete sincerity and transparency with the goal in mind of developing an authentic voice.

I have shared my thoughts, opinions and beliefs valuing the importance of not coming off as an obnoxious know it all do gooder.

I hope I was able to accomplish that.

The writings were the beginning of a journey in which God enabled me to create mybabyr0c; a journey, and a journal, that has created significant growth in my life, and out of that growth I've been encouraged beyond belief.

I hope others have been encouraged also.

The Journey
During this past year of written communication I have realized that I love Lenny Kravitz and his talent more than I thought I did, and while growing in that realization I wondered aloud more than a few times why I can't be as cool or good-looking as he. I grasp the fact that I don't need to drink orange soda everyday and that I don't have to hate anyone under any circumstance just because they hate me or because they have hurt me. 

Quiet Pursuits 
(Art Image by Houk)

I still believe that Sting is insanely talented and that he will always be my favorite artist until I die; also I've come to find out that pure silence and quietness that can surround ones thoughts, dreams and hopes is the best sound that I have ever heard. 

Silence isn't only golden, it's purposeful and meaningful.

In the past twelve months I have intimately become aware that my wife is greater than I first thought and that having a family is a blessing; not a burden. I have grown in the fact that inviting God into my daily activities each morning, and thanking him for being responsive to my plea at the end of the day, is the single best thing I can do each day.

Grow where you're planted... if you do you 
just might bloom there too.

Finally, I recognize that I'm more blessed to have my children as my children than they are to have me as their father and that my parents are the smartest people I know. I have also become more conscious of the fact that I have more questions than I do answers and that all of my questions have one answer... the same answer... God, and that writing my thoughts down has better prepared me to discuss what I believe and why I believe, all the while enabling me to fulfill God's command in 1 Peter 3:15-17:

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 
-1 Peter 3:15-17 

Lonely Pursuits...
(Art by Gris Grimly)

In the end, I've come to believe that James Taylor's song Fire & Rain and Celebrate Me Home by Kenny Loggins to be two of the best songs ever recorded and that during my journey I have noticed that I'm not an expert on marriage, parenthood, friendship, love, on doing the right thing, character, the bible or anything, but that I'm only an expert on me and me only. 

I know me better than anyone else except for God.

And I know if God can transform my life he can transform anyone's life.

This I do know.

My journey thus far has shown me that.

Begin your journey...

sbb  25.3.2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thank You

Blog: a web site containing the writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites.

Original logo

Today mybabyr0c celebrates it's first birthday. Thanks to the many readers that have visited the site over the past year. I really appreciate your support and the fact that you would even take the time to read my thoughts. Thank you...

... the left foot
in the logo is actually Reese's (Reese Olivia Christine) footprint from her birth certificate.

Final logo

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shoeless Joe

Gratitude: the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful: He expressed his gratitude to everyone on the staff.

"Poverty taught me that all was not well under the sun; but the sun taught me that poverty was not everything." 
-Albert Camus

In today's world, during a time that is dominated by a hurried pace that is out of control, many, if not most, people are guilty of taking for granted the many luxuries they have. The fact that the people reading this piece that live in America and other countries that celebrate freedom are blessed beyond measure is without debate. And though the poverty rate in the United States rose to 14.3 percent (43.6 million) in 2009 signifying a family of four that has an annual household income of $21,954, we all would agree that as low of an income as that may be it still would be a fortune to the truly poor in many third world countries.

Poor is poor, but we in America really have no idea of what poverty looks like on a daily basis. Personally, Appalachian and coal miner poor is the worst kind of poverty I have seen in this country.

(A girl dances near smoke from fires of coal scavenged by 
her family in Jharkand, India.)
(Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)
Below are statistics and data provided by Global Issues.
  • Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
  • Half (1.1 billion) of the world's child population (2.2 billion) is living in poverty. 
And then there are the facts concerning the water....and I'm not talking about bottle water.

Only 1% of the world's water is available for human use.
(World Water Day is March 22nd)
  • Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation. The world's population 6.5 billion. 
  • Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.
  • Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%.
  • The average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day per person. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters (17.7oz.) a day per person.
  • Of the 1.9 billion children from the developing world there are 400 million without access to safe water.

The Journey
Gabra women in northern Kenya spend up to five hours a day 
carrying heavy "jerry" cans filled with murky water.
(Lynn Johnson, © National Geographic)

When you begin to internalize those statistics it really hits home how fortunate and blessed we truly are.

Psalm 115:14 states; "May the Lord richly bless both you and your children." I think we can all agree that many, if not all reading this, have been richly blessed.

All of this data, if anything, should encourage us to be grateful. Webster defines grateful as warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received. With that definition of grateful I believe if all of us were to be honest many of us would agree we could improve in the area of gratitude.

This past Sunday Pastor Ken of Cypress Wesleyan Church entered into part three of a four part series entitled "I Need a Hero" tackling the issue of gratitude and how this quality is increasingly becoming a lost virtue.

When we look at gratitude, what it is and what it looks like, I think it is important to note what it isn't. What gratitude is not is entitlement; entitlement is the polar opposite of gratitude. 

Everyday we are provided with fine examples of what a spirit of self entitlement looks like from Hollywood entertainers, politicians, professional athletes, professionals in the workplace and high school students alike. If we are not careful many of us can, and do, entertain and cultivate a spirit of entitlement ourselves.

The examples are not pretty.
As we look at what we can do to cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude Luke 17: 11-19 provides a great scriptural illustration of what gratitude does, and does not, look like.

 11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”  14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
 -Luke 17: 11-19

After reading those words you immediately appreciate the healed mans gratitude as we see him throw himself at the feet of Jesus.  

When we dig deeper into the scene we realize having leprosy in biblical times is to become physically separated by 50 yards from people in the community. The physical separation can be felt emotionally, socially and relationally causing a living death sentence for anyone who was stricken with leprosy.

Leprosy created a desperate situation in a person's life. 

And as we identify with the one who was grateful and displayed his praise and thankfulness to Jesus we soon realize that there were a total of ten people that were healed. 

"Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?" Jesus asked.

God expects and wants our praise, but as we see in this passage only one came back to show his gratitude. The question we need to ask ourselves is will we be the one that displays our gratitude? Will we cultivate a life that is gracious and full of gratitude?

Will you be the one?

Will you be the one... will I be the one to stop daily and give honor and thanks to Christ in heartfelt worship?

I'm sad to report that the odds are against us.

When we look at what prevents us from expressing our gratitude there are two basic reasons why we often fail to be grateful.

They are busyness and selfishness.

BUSYNESS has become an epidemic in our country. Families are over burden with family, work and social responsibilities. Children are over scheduled with everything from birthday parties to traveling athletic teams. And if we are honest most of the things we busy ourselves with are meaningless. Solomon starts the book of Ecclesiastes out with these words; "Everything is meaningless... utterly meaningless" and as you read the entire book, that consists of 12 chapters, you soon realize that Solomon has gained a perspective that is full of wisdom and understanding. He shares with us that there are many responsibilities and pleasures in life that we should pursue, but in the end everything is meaningless apart from God. Life is meaningless apart from God. And no matter how busy we keep ourselves by partaking in all of our meaningless distractions this simple truth will never be negated. In the end, when we become so busy with life we ultimately take people and many of our blessings for granted. We would all do well to protect our-self from this continuing to occur in our lives.

SELFISHNESS eliminates joy in more lives than most any other thing; show me a selfish person and I will show you a miserable person. A person that is selfish is a great example of a spirit of entitlement at its peak; nothing really matters in life but them. Luke chapter 15 is a great example of selfishness and it is a tremendous reminder that ungrateful people are always unhappy people. The reason for this is because a spirit of entitlement often leads to destruction.

Giving thanks is the beginning to becoming grateful.

Gratitude, like love, is a verb.

It takes action and cultivation for this virtue to grow in our lives.

There are two key principles in cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

The first key principal in cultivating a spirit of gratitude is to turn our blessings into praise. For this to occur in our lives we first have to see and understand how truly blessed we actually are. Ephesians 1:3 states; "Praise be to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." In the end, pride often stands in the way of having a heart that turns blessings into praise. When blessing are not turned into praise, it easily turns into pride. We would all do well to remind ourselves that everything comes from God.

The second principal is to work on it. What we don't use we lose. We all have the ability inside of us to display gratitude; it's up to us if we choose to cultivate and display that virtue. Philippians 4:11-13 gives us some insight and the secret to cultivating this virtue in our lives:

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
-Phil. 4:11-13

The easiest way to work on being grateful is to begin with a contented heart. 

Contentment is one of the greatest qualities we can embody, and like gratitude, it does not come easy... we have to work on it.

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others."

One of the quickest ways we can begin to work on being grateful is to make a list of people and things we are grateful for, and then express gratitude.

Express gratitude towards others... and do it early and often, like voting in Chicago.

Seek out a restaurant waitress or waiter, take notice of a policeman or firefighter and tell them you appreciate everything they do. 

Write, and mail, notes of gratitude and encouragement.

And as we express gratitude towards others it is paramount that we extend that gratitude to our Maker and our Lord. The things we can thank him for are limitless. We are so thankful to live in a country of freedom where we can pursue anything that the heart desires. Many of us are blessed with healthy bodies and healthy families and when we don't have that many of us are blessed with tremendous perspective and wisdom in that circumstance. We are blessed to have 2nd and 3rd chances, purpose and meaning in our lives and people to love and people to be loved by.

We are truly blessed and we should thank and praise God for all of it.

One of the greatest baseball players to play the game was a left handed batter by the name Shoeless Joe Jackson. Jackson played during the early 20th century for the Chicago Whitesoxs and is often remembered for his ban from baseball because he was a part of the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal for throwing the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. For the record it has been stated that Shoeless Joe had nothing to do with the "fix" but because he was one of the featured players he was ban along with the others that were found guilty of throwing the World Series. Court testimony stated that he turned down money twice during the scandal. Jackson batted .375 and had 12 hits during the World Series. He also didn't commit an error during the series and even threw a runner out at the plate.

Jackson currently has the highest batting average in baseball history at .356 and ranks 6th all time for the single season batting average of .408. Most baseball historians consider Jackson as one of the 50 best baseball players to play baseball.

Many movies have depicted Shoeless Joe, but no one more popular than Ray Liotta's portrayal in the "Field of Dreams" starring Kevin Costner.

Ray Liotta & Kevin Costner in "Field of Dreams"

Equally as great as Jackson's skills is his legendary nickname. According to Jackson, he got his nickname while playing a baseball game at a mill in Anderson, South Carolina. Jackson had the misfortune to suffer from blisters on his foot from a new pair of cleats. The blisters were so painful that Jackson would bat without his shoes on. After a hit at one of his at bats Shoeless Joe rounded third base only to hear a fan shout "You Shoeless son of gun, you!" resulting in his nickname that stuck with him the rest of his life; Shoeless Joe Jackson

As I read the account of the shoeless baseball wonder I'm reminded of the 1.5 billion Shoeless Joes in our world today. The fact is that 22% of the world's population is without a pair of shoes and of those 22% without shoes 48% of have no sanitation.
To these people there is no legendary nickname or skill. There will be no movie made depicting there circumstance with a Hollywood ending. 

There is no field of dreams for these people.

Those 1.5 billion Shoeless Joes should be a reminder to all of us how truly blessed we are as a people.

The Latin word for gratitude is gratia (meaning favor) and gratus (meaning pleasing), both words are "closely associated with unmerited favor" (Watkins, et al., 2009).

"Subjectively, gratitude can be experienced as a sense of thankfulness, wonder and appreciation. It can be given inter-personally or trans-personally."

In other words, we all have the ability to be grateful and to display gratitude.

All we have to do is cultivate this virtue daily and then we will be on our way in becoming a grateful people.

We all are so blessed beyond measure.

Be grateful... praise and thank Him.

sbb  22.3.2011