Life Lessons

I want to share something with you God has taught me the hard way. It is not to brag but to share knowledge that can help you and your family; maybe help you survive these increasingly tough times that seem to get worse by the day.

When I grew up in New Mexico in the 1950s and early 1960s, New Mexico was in what they called the "latent pioneering stage", which all other states had grown out of. New Mexico was the last continental state in the US to be settled and developed. What that meant was that life here was still really hard and often was just about survival, especially among the poor.

But my life wasn't as hard as my parents' and grandparents' lives and I always considered myself a candy butt when compared to them. They grew up in New Mexico and West Texas when it was still in the pioneering stage, which was even tougher on poor people. Life for them was all about survival.

For example, when she was 12, my grandmother, her parents, and her 12 siblings moved from Brownsville, Texas to Roswell, NM in three covered wagons, a distance of about 800 miles. They told me that there were places where the sand was so soft and deep they couldn't travel even 4 miles in one day because their wagons were constantly stuck and they literally had to dig the wagons through miles and miles of sand. They couldn't call a wrecker to come pull them out. They had to work their way through it by constantly digging the sand from out in front of the front wheels or just stay there and die, which, to them, was no option. Survival is mostly attitude.

On their dirt farms, everyone in the family who was 8 or older chased horses with very heavy steel plows all day to put seed in the ground twice each year; in the spring and in the summer. They pulled weeds in the hot sun by hand all day long and did other such hard chores, starting as children.

They had a saying that tough times make tough people and they raised their kids to be tough so their kids could survive tough times. Candy butts don't survive well in tough times and they knew it.

I have read about candy butts who, when things got a little tough for them, they just gave up, laid down, and die and for a long time, I couldn't understand why they could do that.

You see, I was raised to believe that something like that was stupid because you are supposed to keep grinding away to survive, no matter how bad things get. I was raised to believe you are supposed to be a fighter, a scrapper, a survivor at all costs.

After all, if I just lie down and die because things get a little tough, who is going care for and protect my family?

As a man, that is my job.

When I wasn't in school as a kid, I was either working on my grandfather's dirt farm or working construction with my father, most of the time it was during the hot New Mexico summers during summer vacation. By the time I was 12 I knew how to use pick and shovel, two stroke 16 penny nails, caulk cast iron pipe, walk the rafters in a framed house, hand pull weeds on a 104 acre dirt farm, feed all of the animals, butcher a hog, kill chickens for dinner, and catch and clean cat fish all day long in the summer heat. When you get tired or uncomfortable, you just ignore it and just keep grinding away until you get the job done but the job never gets done so you just keep grinding away. I was taught that is life, deal with it.

But, before I was old enough to work on the farm with my grandfather or construction with my father, I stayed home with my mother or grandmother. They taught me how to get on my hands and knees to scrub the wax and dirt off of either hard wood or tiled floors, mop up the old wax and dirt, hand apply a new coat of wax with a rag, and hand buff the new wax down with a clean rag and use a scrub board to wash a week's worth of laundry by the time I was seven. By the time I was eight, I could fix any big breakfast for an entire family and, by the time I was 12, I could fix any dinner and dessert for the family all from scratch without using one boxed or canned food.

My family raised me to survive the tough times they were living in. God used that and making me have to fight on bad streets to make me tough for a tough life to come.

How did that workout?

When I was studying at the University of New Mexico (UNM), I fell in love with bicycle road racing, a marathon sport, because it was just such a difficult and challenging sport it just drew me to it. I just loved the challenge that marathon sport presented.

I quickly got up to where I was one of the top four racers in the state, just behind a British Olympian/former European Neo-pro rider and a US rider who was ranked as one of the top 15 road racers in the US, who always battled it out for first on every ride.

Then, in the spring of 1969, a guy named Tom Garrety showed up. He was on the US Army team, only had 3 months left in service, and was sent to Kirkland to finish his time in service before getting out. In 1968, he had been the top ranked rider in the US because no one in the US could stay with him or even keep him in sight. He was so strong that no one else in the US would train with him because they couldn't stay with him.

He went on a group training ride with us, let everyone play for a while, and then did his thing, quickly dropping everyone and just riding away. I chased him so hard, I dropped everyone else, including our two best riders, and finished far enough ahead of them that Tom and I had at least 5 to 10 minutes to talk before anyone else got there. It was the first time I had finished ahead of those two riders.

During the last of that training ride, I had plenty of time chasing Tom alone to think and I realized that, if I could train with him and get to where I could stay with him, no one would be able to stay with me and I could win all of my races. It took some persuading but I convinced him to let me train with him and he was amazed that I could stay with him only 1.5 weeks after we started training together because I would keep chasing until I got strong enough to stay with him.

It worked because, after that, I could just ride away from the New Mexico riders any time I wanted. As a matter of fact, something curious happened that took me a while to figure out. I won almost all of my races by accident and not be vicious attacks or really brilliant tactical moves. The wins just kinda, sorta happened.

I had gotten so strong and fast that they couldn't stay with me so they wouldn't even try. When I turned the speed up enough to push them past their comfort zone, they would just back off, let me win, and race for what was left or second place. I couldn't understand why or how they could do that.

You see, when God had me out there in the hot desert sun pulling weeds, digging ditches, slamming nails, and caulking cast iron pipe, grinding away all day long for 8, 10, 12 hours a day as a kid, they were sitting in their nice air conditioned middle and upper class homes watching cartoons or playing monopoly or fish. If they got outside their comfort zone just a little bit, they just turned up the air conditioning.

They didn't learn how to be tough and grind their way through hard times or achieve difficult things. What was easy and normal to me was insurmountable and unheard of for them, well beyond the price they were willing to pay. Their parents had given them everything and, if it wasn't easy, they couldn't get it. They simply didn't know how to get the tough things in life.

You see, it wasn't so much that I won the races, it was that they lost the races because they couldn't handle the grind in training or racing.

You don't do you children any favors by making life easy on them because all you are doing is making it tougher for them to achieve their goals in life or even just survive.

I learned the hard way in life that the three most important words in life are, "I want it" and the next two most important words are, "How much". When you show up at the starting line, you are telling everyone that you want it. Between the starting line and finish line, you tell everyone how much.

Almost everyone wants an Olympic gold medal but very few want it enough to pay the price to get one. I used to teach my athletes that you can tell the champion by the trail of sacrifices they leave behind them. The losers are not willing to make those sacrifices. To win, all you have to do is make the price higher than they are willing to pay. You don't have to ride a perfect race; all you have to do is ride a better race than the other guy is willing to ride and you will win.

So, why has God put me through an indescribable living hell the last 20+ years of my life?

It has been for a number of reasons. First, He is punishing me for the sins I committed after being saved.

Second, He is making me even tougher because it is absolutely not possible for me to describe how difficult this has been with words, even as verbose as I am. This has been the single toughest thing I have had to endure in my life.

Third, He has been building my confidence in my bullheaded ability to survive and take care of myself even as sick and weak as I have gotten.

Fourth, He has taught me to prioritize and only expend my now very limited energy on the things which count most for survival. I know my limitations and survive or live within those limitations. I don't waste my limited energy on things that don't matter for survival.

Fifth, He has greatly increased my faith in Him to take care of me during the absolute worst of times. Faith is easy when life is easy but, as life gets tougher, so does faith. If you want to learn and experience real faith, just live through such a hell that absolutely everything is out of your control and you are 100% depended on God just to survive.

I now approach even the worst, most terrifying, and hardest obstacles with greater faith and peace than was possible just 15 to 20 years ago. I do my best, God does the rest. My attitude is that, if I can't take care of it, God will take care of it. I have never before in my life walked so close with God and I don't know if it is humanly possible to walk closer with Him.

You couldn't begin to imagine the hell God has put me through to make me who I am now. According to all of the doctors, anyone else who got as sick as I am, should have died at least a decade ago, THEIR WORDS. Now, that sounds great but think about this:

If I am so sick that everyone else would have died, just how bad is my health and just how tough will life be beyond that point? I mean, according to the doctors, you would have died more than a decade ago and, because of God, I am still kicking?

If you think being sick to the point of death is tough, try being sick beyond the point of death. And I still buy my own groceries, do my own laundry, and Carl still takes care of Carl as best as Carl can with God doing the rest.

The candy butts would just simply say, "Life isn't worth living", give up and die. My attitude is, "Hell no, God gave me life and I will fight to keep surviving until God, not me, decides to take it back."

For example, this last weekend was really terrible. Friday night, I started getting sick from something really bad. It never crossed my mind I would die no matter how bad it got, my only thought was to take care of Carl and get through while depending heavily on God to help me get through it. When I went to bed, I had the chills so bad in a warm house that my muscles were contracting so hard they strained a few of themselves. At 2:30 am the waterline under my trailer broke so I got up, staggered outside, turned off the water, and went back to bed. I never thought once about calling anyone to help because God taught me to take care of myself. I just did it.

By that time, my chills were so bad I was violently shaking so I put on a sweat suit to warm me up enough to stop the chills so I could sleep. It worked, the chills stopped and I fell asleep within 10 minutes of going back to bed buuuuut, it got me so hot it not only cooked out most of the bugs but dehydrated me and depleted my body salts enough that, when I got up Saturday morning, I couldn't stand and fell on the floor, trapped between the bed and wall.

It took me almost an hour to get up off of the floor but I never once thought of calling anyone to help me because, by the grace of God, Carl takes care of Carl. I drank a bottle of water I had by my bed to rehydrate, rested for a while, and used the following technique I developed when I get so sick I fall down. (Yes, this wasn't the first time, it won't be the last time, and I have always gotten back up. I'm not a candy butt.)

This is to help out some of you sick, weak people who fall down and can't get back up. This has worked for me every time.

If you are a sick, weak person, especially the elderly, and you fall on the floor and don't have the strength to get up normally, then you use a technique I developed because of my illness and using kinesiology.

The trick is that you must get your hips, knees, and feet under your body weight with them all in vertical line. The way you do it is that you roll over onto your hands and knees so that there is a vertical line from your knees up through your hips. Now you push back and pull up with your arms to get your upper torso in a vertical line above your hips. Now you have your hips and knees under your body weight with everything in a vertical line and all you need to do is get your feet under your body weight so you can stand up.

The way you do that is that you push up with one leg and pull up with both arms to raise your body up enough you can get one foot under you. Now all you do is push up with the leg for which you have the foot under you while pulling up with your arms to get the other foot under you and then just stand up straight, you may have to lean against a wall a little bit but you will be up off of the floor.

You may want to sit down in a chair to rest and recover from the effort before trying to walk much.

Also, don't get too hot while sleeping at night because it will dehydrate and weaken you. You don't want to get hot enough you sweat in your sleep but you don't want to catch a chill either, especially as you get older.

Also, be sure to keep a bottle of Gatorade in the refrigerator to replenish your salts and fluids when you get a little dehydrated. It is also a good idea to keep a bottle of water beside your bed.

By Sunday afternoon, I was pretty much over the bug, life continues, and I am a survivor because God taught me to survive. Today, Monday morning, life is back to normal because, by the grace of God, Carl takes care of Carl. I get a little help from some people here and there for the things I just can't do because I know my limitations but the rest is God and Carl taking care of Carl.

The important thing is that I simply would not be here teaching and helping you, if God had not made me tough enough to stay here and God were not keeping me here. I am absolutely amazed at how much closer I walk with God because of all of this and how much more peace I have in dealing with hard things in my life, such as this weekend, I used to get stressed out about and other people regularly still get stressed out about. It has brought me closer to God than I could have ever imagined.

You couldn't begin to imagine what God has put me through for more than 20 years to get me this close to Him. I'm kind of stubborn so it took a while.

You better get tough because times are getting really tough and will get worse before they get better but know that times will get better because God doesn't lose wars.

Tough out the tough times so you can enjoy the good times. The candy butt losers or quitters will never make it to the good times, they will just give up and die during the tough times. It is those good times I survive the tough times for. If the present sucks, survive for the future because, with God, there is always hope.

For you pagans?

There is no hope and the future is going to suck too, unless you accept Jesus as your savior.

That is just sharing a little Christian testimony and some lessons in life. Hard times build strong Christians and it is time to be a strong Christian.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

You better....

Pray long, pray hard, pray often!!!

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