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"It seems to me what you lose in mystery, you gain in awe."
Sir Francis Crick

Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."
--William James

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Friday, February 27, 2009

No Wanee

I guess all things must pass. No Wanee for me this year, not sure I wrote about that yet. Nonetheless, it's a great line-up. But, I can't do the heat of north Florida in June. It's hot enough there in April but June will be ridiculous. Really a bummer as this is the ABB's 40th anniversary and it's gonna be fun. I will wait and see them in Charlotte in the late summer/fall. I hope the Wanee makes it back to April next year as it's become a great spring trip for me and my buddies. Not going this year will also save me time and and money that I will need for Africa. If you can't tell, I am trying to rationalize it :-)

Watching Space Chimps with the boys and Tricia tonight. Really funny cartoon action. Crazy visual effects and unique storyline. Recommended.

Tomorrow is Miles' karate graduation to the BLUE belt. He is really excited and has been working hard on all the moves. This is the first graduation for him that has required more sessions, the belts past green take 2 graduation periods to earn a new belt.

Miles was an escort in a pageant for the school last night and by all reports did a great job. Dylan and I stayed home to work on his research paper on Sharks. He wrote a great paper and had a lot of fun writing it as well.

Other than the karate graduation and some grocery shopping, we are going to hang out, watch Clemson basketball (hope they can pull out a win vs. Florida State). We are also going to put some time in on our budget. Our Dave Ramsey class has some serious budget work this week. It's gonna take some work. Already working on lots of changes and just getting the ball (debt snowball) rolling.

Having fun with a new internet browser from Apple called Safari. It's the beta version of 4 and it rocks! Tabbed browsing, preview page gallery, and AMAZINGLY fast rendering of pages. Apple does it again!!! Check it out here: Safari

See ya!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Brown Spot on my ceiling?

Miles decided to take a bath in his bath tub. We think that is the first bath in that tub that we can remember since moving into our new home. Tricia and I have a full-sized bath tub in our bathroom. All the baths are there for a reason. I think I have another reason. You may or may not be familiar with the overflow drain on a tub. I got more familiar with the one on this tub this week.

See as Miles was taking a bath, I hear the shuffles of the infamous "chicken dance" and Tricia starts yelling "Mark there is water coming from the ceiling!" Sure enough, the kitchen light fixture was acting like a fountain. We quickly ran upstairs and got Miles out of the tub. A little investigation found the overflow cover to be loose, which makes the gasket seal loose. You get the idea. I killed the lights, removed the light fixture and got a nice stream of water out of the ceiling.

I have left the fixture our of the ceiling for now, letting it dry out. That was Tuesday night. On Wednesday, we noticed the telltale signs of water damage on the ceiling just under the tub. Not too bad but definitely from the overflow leak. I have tighten the overflow cap and gasket and no leaks from a few showers since the accident. I should be able to handle the stains with some Kilz and some touch up paint. Oh, the joys of home ownership!

If you don't know the chicken dance, I will save it for another day; but, it has something to do with Tricia being very nervous or uncomfortable. I think water coming out of the kitchen light fixture qualifies.

See ya!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday Parking

I usually pick up the boys on Wednesday because Tricia has staff meetings. There is a relatively new park just down the road on the site of an abandoned mill, a Boy Scout troop has created some trails around the mill pond and guess what, it's only opened on Wednesdays. So, I surprised the boys today and made a stop by the park. We were the only ones there and the weather was perfect. I love doing things like this with the boys, especially when they don't expect it. It's a nice break after school and a nice break from work for me. Maybe something we can do every Wednesday when the weather is right.

See ya!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Personal Testimony

As I prepare to lead a group back to Botswana to work in Old Naledi, I have the opportunity to receive a scholarship from the South Carolina Baptist Convention for up to 20% of our trip cost.

Part of the application process is a requirement to write your personal testimony about your personal salvation and faith in Christ. Your calling for the planned mission is also an expected part of the testimony. Well, here it is in all it's glory. I think it must have gotten the point across because it made Tricia cry and I don't think she was sad (it's hard to tell with women sometimes, you know ;-) ).

Feel free to comment or even better take a look at my Africa 2009 page and consider any donation of support and please put the mission on the prayer list!

If your church is interested in supporting our mission and would like me to come and speak and present our mission focus, please let me know also!

See ya!
Mareko morwa Johane


Personal Testimony

Mark H. Johnson

I was raised in a church-going family and made a public profession of faith and was baptized as a believer at the age of 9. This was 1979 and at Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter, South Carolina. I strongly believe this was a sincere and honest declaration of faith in Christ; but, it was also what was expected of me in my family. I would remain involved with Youth ministry in church throughout high school and would even go on summer mission trips (domestic) and made some statements to friends and family about feeling a call to ministry. However, I did not choose this path and in fact ran as far as I possibly could from ministry and religion while attending college at Clemson University. I basically turned off my faith and sought a purpose and calling in all things worldly. However, because he is faithful, God was still working in my life and seeking reconciliation with me as his child.

After Clemson, I joined the Army. This was another attempt to find a purpose for my life other than ministry. It was while in the Army and stationed on the west coast that I meet my wife, Tricia. Tricia was also in the Army and grew up a non-practicing Catholic in Ohio. It seemed I could continue my path without church and God in my life. Little did I know, but God brought Tricia into my life to begin the restoration and reconciliation with him and his salvation. Not long after Tricia and I married, she was sent to Honduras for a 6 month unaccompanied tour. Tricia found a group of missionaries from Michigan while in Honduras and formed a relationship with Jesus while in Honduras. Didn’t I just say God is faithful? Although I had no plans of reestablishing my relationship with Jesus when my wife returned from Honduras, it was through conversations with her and seeing the change in her that God began to speak to me and reach out to me, his lost son.

When we moved back to South Carolina in 2000, Tricia and I sought a church home for our growing family, now including our first son, Miles. I started working night shift at the hospital and we visited a few local churches when I was not working or sleeping. Then Tricia started going to services at Alice Drive, my childhood church home. Being the stubborn man I am, I initially refused to join her at Alice Drive. I took pride in quoting all the things wrong with that church that I could remember. Of course every church is not perfect because we are all human and we have all sinned. But, I was using this as a wall to prevent me from totally sacrificing my old self that I was hanging on to. Tricia was determined and really started to enjoy the fellowship she found at Alice Drive. She was later baptized as a believer at Alice Drive. Soon I found another excuse to not go to church: graduate school while working night shift full-time. But, I begrudgingly started going to Wednesday night services with Tricia and our two sons.

It was during these Wednesday night services that I joined a men’s class studying John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart. By the end of that class, a great wall had fallen between me and God and between me and my family, including my Alice Drive church family. God used that class as the tool to finally break down the remaining obstacles. I reached out to God and found my heavenly father there faithful and forgiving. In addition, I found myself enjoying the fellowship of my church family and reconnecting with my mentors and fellow brothers and sisters, many who professed to having been praying for me for so many years. I was broken and overwhelmed by all of the emotions I was feeling. How could have been so stubborn and selfish? Reconciliation with God was so easy, yet so hard. My wife’s journey to Honduras was the seed that God planted in my life to bring me back to his fellowship. Amazingly, my relationship with Tricia began to improve and we became closer than ever before. The closer my walk with God, the closer I grow to Tricia. The forgiveness and mercy that God shows me began to flow from me towards my friends and family.

Not long afterwards, I finished graduate school and I found I could now work a normal weekday shift and had the weekends free. While I totally immersed myself back into the church and the service ministries, including choir. It no longer felt silly or fake to stand in front of hundreds of people and shout to the top of my voice how Jesus had saved me, again and again. I was even blessed with the honor and privilege to be called as a Deacon to serve the church body. My ordination with old Sunday school teachers and youth mentors laying hands on me and whispering prayers and affirmations of spirit was a powerful and emotional homecoming for me. After so many years of fighting and fleeing, I had returned to God and his family.

God made another connection to satisfy my search for purpose and a calling, you might even call it a ministry. I had studied about the HIV/AIDS crisis in sub-Sahara Africa in a health policy class at MUSC. Shortly afterwards, God put a musician in my path (if you know me, that’s an easy way for God to get my attention). This musician is a South African folk singer. He and I had a long conversation about the HIV/AIDS crisis and how devastating that was to his country and homeland. Well, God never stops until his work in us is complete. We were just beginning to see the plan. A pastor friend showed up at Alice Drive a few weeks later to speak to us about his new mission focus on sub-Sahara Africa. It was like sky writing saying “Hey Mark, do you get the message now?” At the end of the service, I found myself standing in front of the pastor saying “I don’t know when or where; but, I am going with you to Africa to be the hands and feet of Jesus.” I felt such an amazingly clear vision had been presented to me and I was no longer going to stubborn and try to ignore the message and calling.

My first trip to Africa was in 2007 to the township of Mamelodi, South Africa. We worked with the children and orphanage there. We made amazing friendships and lifelong connections. Nonetheless, this church already had a huge sponsorship from a church in Ohio that was sending hundreds of workers each year. We felt overwhelmed and somewhat diminished in spirit. But, God showed us as believers and seekers he was not going to let us turn from our focus, the children of Africa. We found God was just beginning to use us. Through our first trip, we made connections with a church in Botswana that had a more critical need for help. Old Naledi Baptist Fellowship in Gaborone, Botswana is working to show the love of God and spread the Good News of his salvation to a people beaten and battered by the cycle of HIV/AIDS and poverty. Our trip in 2008 to Gaborone was the affirmation that God really has a purpose and role for those willing to put their self aside for his kingdom.

Because I had moved from Sumter to Greer between the times of joining the trip planning for the 2008 trip, I went as the out of town member. Before going, I spoke to Freedom Fellowship, our new church home, about the mission work in Botswana. I noticed after that service that God was moving in the hearts of many at Freedom Fellowship and brothers and sisters told me that God was pushing them towards Africa and the ministry there. While in Botswana, I boldly proclaimed that Freedom Fellowship would be joining in the fight with Old Naledi and we would be joining in service with Alice Drive Baptist. Moruti James of Old Naledi was more than delighted to hear that good news and I was proud to bring the report back to Freedom Fellowship. Our church is now sponsoring Old Naledi through a monthly donation for the feeding station and ministries there.

While in Botswana, I also promised Moruti James that I would be returning in 2009 to bring a group from Freedom Fellowship to serve and witness the work they are doing with the vulnerable children and orphans of the community. You know it’s easy to say those words while on the spiritual mountaintop of mission work; but, actually carry out the plans? I feel God was commanding me to take that stand and be that conduit for his Love and work in Botswana. As I look back on how God lead me to that church yard in Old Naledi, I can see his work and calling and I am amazed at his work and determination of spirit. It’s with great honor and privilege that I stood in front of Freedom Fellowship again to tell them of plans to return to Botswana to continue serving the children as the hands and feet of Jesus. For as Jesus told us in John 13:34, we are to love one another and that is how others will know us, by our LOVE for one another. That is also the verse I wrote on the church foundation and wall supports for the new church building we erected last year for Old Naledi. That is my purpose and calling that I have sought for so long. Just like the reconciliation with God that took me so long to find, it’s so easy and yet so hard. I continue to pray for God’s guidance and wisdom as we plan our return trip for 2009. I also thank you for reading this testimony of how God has brought me back to his family and given me clarity of purpose and mission for his kingdom.

Mark H. Johnson

(aka Mareko morwa Johane)

(please visit the web site I have developed and maintain for Old Naledi Baptist Fellowship)

John 13:34-35 (New International Version)

34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Old Army Buddy on Facebook

It's still amazing to me how fast we can make reconnections (is that a word) on Facebook. One of my best buddies from the Army who lives in California and I are now friends on FB. Fred is the best skier I have ever known, his folks live in Berkeley and trips home with Fred to hang with the family when we had some 4 day weekends were always fun. Northern California coastline, San Fran, Golden Gate and touring Napa valley with Fred and his sister and her friend one weekend. It seems like another lifetime ago. He seems to be running his own business and finished his degree at Stanford (which is something he always mentioned he wanted to do). Check out this picture of us acting cool and all "Jack Kerouac" outside Ben and Jerry's in San Francisco at the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

His mom is Australian and actually worked for the Australian Embassy in SF. Not only did I get a chance to tour the office; but, she gave the best tours of SF ever. What a classy lady. Tricia and I also spent a wonderful evening after I got out the Army with Fred and his family on their ranch drinking Pinot Noir from grapes grown on the ranch and eating lamb, also grown on the ranch. It was a great weekend hanging with Fred and family in the California summer.  It's great to catch up with old friends and see what has happened in the past 10 years or so.  Life moves fast.

See ya!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

No DC for Spring Break

Our trip to DC for spring break is going to have to take a rain check. My sister's father-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer and they are going to spend their spring break there in Alabama. It's interesting how God works for our plans, the night before my sister let me know they were considering not going, Tricia and I had a conversation about how much it would cost for us to go and were considering it to be a burden on our plans to get our debt and finances on the right track with the Dave Ramsey program. We plan to do that trip with my sister and her family next year. It will be a fun memory to tour DC with cousins and family; but, it will have to wait until next year. We are thinking of a camping trip to the mountains in NC with the boys that week to get out of the house and have some fun locally while school is out. You know I am always willing to hit the woods and trails in NC.

We are also considering the big cancel button on the trip to Orlando that Tricia and were planning for July. This is one of those condo tours that costs a little as long as you do the tour. We will likely miss that one too as it would cost more for travel and the necessary items and dinners if we went. We are determined that this will be the year to get things on the right track. We will have time and money for trips to Florida as soon as we are free to live without debt.

Hope you got a chance to watch our Zip Line video. We had a ton of fun with that yesterday. Watching Clemson look asleep vs. Ga Tech. I hope we wake up soon.

Enjoy your Sunday! See ya!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Backyard Fun

We finally got the new zip line going and boy, is it fast (if you are Dylan). It will even hold me for about 10 feet. Much bigger pole, deeper hole and tighter cable. Much better!

Also, forgot to mention the awesome time we had last Saturday with our fire pit. We gathered a bunch of big rocks from the empty lot and made a nice fire pit ring in the backyard. We had fun roasting marshmellows and I got the guitar out for a few Neil Young tunes, it was nice and mellow. My sister, Amy, joined us as did Calvin from next door. The boys were very impressed we could have a fire in the backyard. Don't worry we moved that fire pit you see in the Zip Line video. Now, it's no longer in the path waiting for someone to fall on the rocks.

Worked on the front yard, flower bed and tree bed were built up and fortified. Nice set of pansies planted too. It's looking better each day. I still have to build my rose bed for the 3 roses I got from Uncle Harold. Hoping to get the lumber for that in about 2 weeks. The cedar trees are looking good in the back along the fence, need more of those for sure.

Well, we are going to watch Madagascar 2 with the boys. Gotta run!

See ya!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Africa 2009, New Spring, Tigers win BIG!

Philippians 2

Imitating Christ's Humility
 1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

1.  Great Africa meeting on Sunday.  I think there are about 8 from Freedom who are very interested and are praying about this mission and what it will be this year.  I should know in about 2 weeks as that is the deadline for the non-refundable deposit.  Please pray for us and this trip and that God's work be done as we step out to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in Gaborone, Botswana.

2.  Went to New Spring church here in Greenville with my buddy, Scott Wolfe.  It was a message about marriage.  I think it did us both some good and was the right time for that message.  Perry Noble just got back from his first trip to Africa (Kenya) and it was cool to hear him drop more stories about the trip into the message.  I look forward to hearing the mission message for Africa in the weeks to come.  Scott and I are trying to hit New Spring every other weekend for the 6pm service.  Looking forward to the next time and following along via the podcasts.

3.  Woooo Hooo!  What a Tiger win last night!  After falling to FSU at home and then blowing the Virginia game, I think we needed this shot in the arm more than anything going down the stretch.  The first half was close; but, we dusted them in the 2nd half with some EXTREME intensity that just rattled the Maryland team.  It was fun to watch and I needed that too!

I posted some stuff about 15 albums that made a difference in how I listen to music, for good or bad on Facebook last night.  Albums that changed my life or albums that marked a period in my life.  It was really hard to pin it down to 15 and I wanted to add so many more.  Here's my list, think what you will.  Yes, I have some admissions in here that I wouldn't want my kids to read but history is history and I can't deny some of past, no matter how hard I try.  I do know that God has changed me through music, secular and gospel.    Enjoy!

Think of 15 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, and emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. When you finish, tag 15 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag, you're it!

I will try to have some chronology here, starting way back when...

1. America- History
My older sister had this on LP (remember those). Cool album cover but the tunes are what got: funky acoustic jams, tight vocal harmonies and I had never heard CSNY yet. "Tin Man", "Horse With No Name", and my favorite "Ventura Highway" This one made me pick up the guitar way back when.

2. John Denver- Greatest Hits. 8 track heaven. This one reminds me of my Dad and spending time on the farm and trying to be cool while shooting pool in the hangout room at my Dad's place. All of these are still classic in my mind. "Sunshine on my Shoulders", "Country Roads", "Rocky Mountain High" and "Poems, Prayers and Promises". Still regret I never saw Denver live.

3. Def Leppard- Pyromania
First cassette that I ever bought, at Wal-Mart, no less. Also the first tape I ever played until it was worn out. How do you spell untock glibben gloppen globben? This one made me pick up the electric guitar. This one will forever remind me of Myrtle Beach and hanging out on the pier with a boombox on my shoulder trying to be cool.

4. Boston- Boston. This one took me places in the 9th grade when I got a copy. I think it might have replaced Def Leppard in the tape deck of the 1978 Mercury Monarch that was my first ride. It also became the spring break soundtrack for me. Classic rock from the first power chord and it never gets old with the beach on one side of the road. 

5. Cowboy Junkies- The Trinity Sessions. It took one video on VH1 back in the summer of 1988 and I was off to Camelot Music at the mall to get this tape. I had never heard of this band but was hooked from the first listen. This one reminds me of big houses in the summer with the windows open and ceiling fans slowly turning and strangely enough some of the more mercurial relationships in my life. It's country, blues and folk in a perfect live setting that has benefited from 20+ years of devoted listenings. The Timmons family may have made the perfect album with this one. 

6. Rush- Signals (aka Subdivisions). Thanks to my buddy Matt Hopkins on this one. He turned me on to Rush and 25+ years later and this one still ranks near the top. It was practically all I listened to in the summer between 11th and 12th grades. I can put on the headphones and "Digital Man" and "Analog Kid" take me to that summer. This is the album that started it all for me and what has me taking my sons to see Rush and turning them into Rush fans so many years later.

7. Led Zeppelin IV- I still remember my cousin Vickie Charles from New Orleans telling me "you gotta listen to Led Zeppelin, you might not like it now but you will love it later!" when I was just getting into rock music. I remember her cranking up "Black Dog" and smoking a cigarette and singing along in my front yard. I was blown away with her show and the tunes. "When The Levee Breaks" still freaks me out and gives me chills. A close tie would be Led Zep II and how that blew my mind when I finally stopped listening to Zoso long enough to realize that they had other great albums, every one of them.

8. Black Sabbath- Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath. Yes, I admit I was a classic Sabbath freak. Tony's guitar and Geezer's bass made me rock out like no one else could. It was heavy but funky all at the same time. This one especially got a lot of LP play time when I would study during high school. It stayed in constant rotation on the turntable between Maiden and ZZ Top albums and that's the way I would study during high school. It's a wonder I made it to college :-) It was a close call on this one between Paranoid and the first one but this is the one where they finally got it to the Beatles level of production and still had the Harley shuffle. Sorry, but I can't stand anything past this album and rarely listen to anything other than a bit of Paranoid every now and then.

9. CSNY- So Far. My freshman year at Clemson and this album are forever intertwined. "Helpless", "Helplessly Hoping", "Wooden Ships". I was also doing a lot of mind altering substances back then and this fit the speed at which I was moving back. This also introduced me to Neil Young and was a welcomed reprieve from all those Sabbath albums :-)

10. Neil Young- Ragged Glory If Neil's "Freedom" made me a Neil Young fun, then this one made me a Rustie (an obsessed Neil Young fan) and was the yin to the yang that was Freedom during the period of time when I would become immersed in the world of Neil Young.

11. Miles Davis- Kind of Blue. My oldest son is named Miles in honor of what this album has meant to my life. It's hard to remove this album from my life. The classic lineup that included Davis, Cannonball, Coltrane, Mr. PC and Bill Evans. My Dad had this on LP and I have that same LP. I can't begin to list where this takes me; but, it's a good safe place in my mind and close to heaven. It would be the desert island disc if I could pick just one.

12. Widespread Panic- Space Wrangler. I think at one time in my life I would have picked this one to be the solo desert island disc. I distinctly remember hearing "Stop Go" in the parking lot of a Dead show in Charlotte back in 1989 from the top of a RV. It made so much sense and fit like a glove around everything I liked in music. I became an ambassador for this band and would really annoy most of my friends who didn't like them by insisting we play some Panic. I can still pull this one out and "Chilly Water" will make my skin crawl and take me to the Georgia Theatre on a hot, sticky night in Athens in the late 80's or early 90's with a hazy vision of lights and a thunder of bass in my chest, just like it was yesterday.

13. Bob Dylan- Oh Mercy. I remember seeing this one in the collection of a friend at Clemson and just looking at the picture of Dylan on the back cover. Thinking to myself, this can't be any good. I could be no more wrong about a CD. I know Dylan has better albums and there are some good ones;but, this is the one that got in my head and has never left. "Most of the Time" could be his best song in my universe. This also introduced me to the magic of Daniel Lanois (U2, Neville Brothers, Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel, et al).

14. Grateful Dead- Dead Set. This is the one that made a Dead Head. The intense Jerry and that rhythm section from outer space. Can't help it, this is the one that did it for me. "Passenger", 'Friend of the Devil", "Fire On The Mountain" and the classic "Brokedown Palace" encore forever carved a space and time in my mind. A definitive album among many live offerings from these guys. One I can put in and go right back to a show in an instance.

15. The Allman Brothers- Live at the Fillmore. If there was 1 album that I played constantly, bordering on too many times during my Army years, it was this one. This is one that found myself thinking "how did I miss this one for so long?" I had other ABB albums and had seen the band a few times and enjoyed their work but never got the deal until the "Statesboro Blues" hit me up side the head. It was slide guitar heaven from then on...

This was way too hard to narrow down to 15 and some of these are distant relics; but, I stuck with the rules. But, I can think of many more that have changed how I listen to music or what a use to compare good albums to these days. I will stick with the rules and send it on. Hope you find something to relate to in this list, it was fun. If you get confused, listen to the music play!
Close runners up-
Abbey Road, Dark Side of the Moon, American Beauty, Brighter Than Creations' Dark, Alive, She Cried, Moving Pictures...

See ya!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No Home Phone

We have turned off our home phone.  The 864-895-8680 is no longer working.  Call us on our cell phones or you can try me during the day on the home office phone at 864-895-5045.  Saves $50/month, 1 less bill and 1 less phone to ring!

See ya!

Monday, February 16, 2009


I can't believe the stupidity of Sheriff Lott down in Columbia.  Really, did he think it would matter if he busted Mike Phelps for possession of marijuana after seeing the photo of him with a bong?  There wasn't even smoke in the bong and he never said "I smoked pot"; but, clearly said "I did something really stupid that I regret."  Lott seemed to relish a little of the ole Miami Vice that still creeps up from the 80's every now and then down in Columbia.  It's a sad state of affairs to think we need to waste time and resources on this matter or marijuana prosecution laws any ways.  To my knowledge (quick Wikipedia search) there are now 13 states in the US that basically have no fines for simple possession of marijuana.  These progressive states have seen that resources can be spent better on other more dangerous drugs like meth and heroin traffic.  Don't read into this to think that I am advocating that everyone smoke pot.  What I am advocating is a dose of reality in our drug laws.  Alcohol does far more damage to far more people than pot and it's a self-righteous double standard that exists in our laws when dealing with the two substances.  Ok, climbing down off my soapbox now.  Just had to get that off my chest, too many news stories about Sheriff Lott and Micheal Phelps with the bong today.

See ya!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sad Situation

Here's a post on one of the most depressing news stories of the week from Freedom Fellowship's pastor, Cliff Marshall.

Alex, you done us wrong.  Alex, you done Alex wrong.  What happened to that phenom we knew out in Seattle?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wii for Christmas, round 2

Found this on YouTube when looking at all the Wii Christmas videos that list with our video about the Wii.  This kid really gets worked up over his Wii.  Luckily, Miles and Dylan were happy but not too happy!


Fender Bender

It must have been Friday the 13th and the stars misaligned.  I was leaving Wal-Mart after picking a few things after the Friday morning men's group Bible study (studying the book of Job, see any connection here?) and backed into a lady in a HUGE SUV who was backing into me at the same time.  Guess which car won?  Luckily, no lights were damaged and it just missed my gas tank cover.  I was able to hammer it out from the trunk, not perfect but not worth going to the insurance fiasco circus and perhaps even having my rates go up.  It's a 7 year old car that's paid for and now it has another dent, this one a little bigger.  It was not the way I wanted to start my Friday.  

Well, it was a busy day at work (been a long week) and that kept my mind off the the fender bender.  Then to top it off my comedy of errors surrounding headphones that I have tried to get for Tricia and Miles to use with their iPods just keeps getting worse or funnier, depends on how you look at it...  The first round of headphones were supposedly delivered to the house while I was in Wisconsin but never showed.  The mailman testifies he put them on the porch but then again, no one checked the mail or paper while I was gone.  It was the first week of school for the year and everyone was focused on other issues at hand.  Well, my 2nd attempt from a Hong Kong vendor showed up today; but, the earphones are for a cellphone, not an mp3 player.  Sheesh.  I give up.  I have now spent $40 trying to get earphones with a line-in volume control (the only way to go for mp3 players like the iPod).  As I type this watching the Colbert Report I am trying to email back and forth with the store in Hong Kong with a small communication (it's called English) problem.  Maybe it will be resolved, maybe not.   The comedy continues.

I'm glad to see Saturday on the horizon.  Sick Dad, sick kids, travel, work, fender bender...I need some down time.  Yard work will be a welcomed focus.  Some trees to plant, some work on the zip line.  It will be better, promise.  

See ya!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Christmas wii, sick week, new phone, anniversary pictures...

Well, it's been a long week and I'm glad to see Friday tomorrow.  Dylan has been home with me this week with a mean virus and a fever.  He's heading back to school tomorrow if he continues feeling like he did later today.  He seems to feel better and he doesn't want to miss the big Valentine's Day party.  

Speaking of parties, Miles and I were going to the Winter Jam at the Bilo Center; but, Miles got invited to a spend the night birthday party.  He choose the party.  Can't fault the boy too much.  I was glad to be off the hook as I would rather just hang around the home this week and rest.

Glad to see the Tigers bounce back with a big win on the road vs. BC this week.  We sure needed that.  We should be okay vs Virginia on the road on Sunday; but, I am not taking anything for granted this season in the ACC.  I was pulling for Duke vs. UNC last night.  

Tricia and I had our 1st Dave Ramsey session this week and I plan to do some reading here in a few minutes.  I listened to some of the CDs while driving to and from Georgia this week.  I'm getting fired up for this debt free plan.  Debt=slavery, clear and simple.

Got Tricia a new phone today for Valentine's Day.  AT&T had a great special going on the Samsung Propel.  Now she can text and surf for a very great price.  Her old phone was way to hard to deal with for text messages and the battery life was pathetic.  Now, maybe she will check her email...  I know you are reading this and thinking, how can he talk about debt reduction in one paragraph and a new phone with text and internet in the next?  Well, we are going to get rid of our home phone since I have 2 landlines in the office for work and really don't need to have the home phone.  That will save us $50/month, so the cell phone plan is still cheaper even with the new updates.  

Well, I have some reading to do.  Check out the boys finding the Wii and Guitar Hero under the Christmas tree.  I just got my camera back after leaving it in Columbia for a few weeks.  Also, see the pictures from our Anniversary that Miles took of us on the bridge.  Pretty good eye.  See ya!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Georgia, Georgia

Working in Conyers, Georgia at Rockdale Hospital. Not feeling all that good today but the training went well. I even had a moment of intense nausea and cramps right in the middle of my training and had to excuse myself to gain composure in the bathroom. Almost puked, almost. It finally passed. I'm still pointing the finger at the breakfast yogurt. Might it have been the IHOP breakfast from last night? I'm trying to stay away from peanut butter, especially down here in Georgia!

Watching all the fun in Washington while the Senate chops away at the stimulus bill.  Saw a good chunk of the Healthcare IT and School Construction monies stripped out.  Who knows what we will see on the other side of compromise.

Speaking of school, Miles registered for middle school electives today.  Middle school, can that be right?  Wow!  It was yesterday when he came along and changed my world.  I think we decided on music theory, life fitness (or some kind of nutrition/exercise class), chorus and keyboarding (not that he wanted that but I convinced him it was a requirement for the future).  

Bought a 4 pack of tickets for a Clemson baseball game in May today.  A nice Saturday afternoon in Tigertown for the Johnson family in early May, should be an awesome family day!  Did you see the basketball team dropped from 10 to 11 (12 in the AP) after the loss to FSU?  Hope we bounce back because the next game is tomorrow in Boston.

Hope to work on the Africa mission guide later tonight after a nap.  There is an Outback Steak house around the corner.  I feel fine in the GI department now, just have a nice headcold to go with it.  I think it's the fluctuating weather, too cold straight into shorts and Tshirts.  Oh well. That's winter in the South!

See ya!

Sunday, February 8, 2009 sent you a link to content of interest

Sunday Night Reflections From Kenya

The sender also included this note:

This is a cool post from Perry Noble, the pastor at New Spring in Anderson.

The Greenville News - Florida State blocks Clemson's rise to Top 5

This story has been sent from the mobile device of For real-time mobile news, go to

Florida State blocks Clemson's rise to Top 5

CLEMSON -- Oliver Purnell told his team to ride the wave.

Instead, the Tigers ended up face down in the sand.

Three nights after dismantling No. 3 Duke by 27 points, 10th-ranked Clemson crashed against unranked Florida State, blowing a 19-point second half lead in a 65-61 loss to the Seminoles at Littlejohn Coliseum.

And in a splash, Wednesday's night euphoria became Saturday night's heartbreak.

"We saw them getting weak and let them back in the game -- we gave them life," a stone-faced K.C. Rivers said. "We took our foot off the gas pedal."

When the Tigers did that, it simply ignited the Seminoles. Florida State outscored Clemson 23-4 over the game's final nine minutes and the Tigers repeatedly came up short on both ends of the floor.

FSU's Toney Douglas, the ACC's leading scorer, caught fire late after being held to just six points in the first half. Douglas finished with 23 points and seven rebounds as the Seminoles posted their first victory at Clemson since 2001, ending a seven-game losing streak at Littlejohn.

"We had some guys pressing and not taking good shots," Purnell said. "We didn't set good screens and we missed some shots. I thought it was a combination of poor offense and not stopping them like we did in the first half. Florida State, give them credit because they hung in there and that's what you've got to do."

Clemson slipped to 19-3 overall and 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference while FSU moved to 18-5, 5-3.

With the possible exception of Raymond Sykes, who went five-for-five from the field and had 10 points and six rebounds, no one was productive for the Tigers. Leading scorer Trevor Booker managed just 11 points and Rivers and Terrence Oglesby both struggled to find their shot. Rivers had 10 points, but hit just 4-of-10 shots, while Oglesby was 2-of-9 with a season-high six turnovers.

The Tigers looked impressive early, forcing 12 FSU turnovers in the first half en route to a 30-22 lead. But by game's end, Clemson had surpassed the Seminoles with 18 turnovers to FSU's 17.

"We had chances and we didn't come through," Rivers said. "That's life, that's basketball. You see what the ACC is like, you've got everybody beating everybody. Somebody big in the ACC goes down every day, somebody goes down in the NCAA รณ whoever's in the Top 25, it doesn't matter. That number doesn't mean anything."

Clemson will attempt to rebound on the road. The Tigers travel to Boston College on Tuesday before playing at Virginia next Sunday.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Oh yeah Baby

Oh my, oh my. What a sweet victory by the Clemson basketball team last night. I didn't jinx them afterall and they handed the Blue Devils a beat down of epic proportions. The 27 point margin was the largest lost by Duke in many years. Booker and the rest of the Tigers were on fire. I just hope we can keep up the intensity, it will be hard not to have a letdown with Florida State rolling into Littlejohn on Saturday. But, for now, I will savor the victory and the respect we earned with this game. Now, if we had only gotten that UNC monkey off our backs this year...
The only downer was the missed dunk by Oglesby when he got the free pass after a steal. If it had been any closer, I think OP would have sat him down for a long period. When it's this kind of win, you let it slide. It was funny to see the long ranger try a dunk and then miss. He should stick to the 3 pointers of which he hit 5 last night. It was like a guided missile. Go Tigers!!!!

go to @ 2:20 to see the missed dunk and Coach Purnell's disgusted look. It's priceless!

See ya!

Just Ain't Right

I donated today, please consider helping to stop this senseless killing of wolves. If nothing else, watch the video.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Financial Peace

Tricia and I started a new LifeGroup tonight, it's Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace.  It's going to be 6 couples and it is going to be a challenge.  Can't wait to dig in and roll up our sleeves and get into that course.  Tricia and I know this will be a test and a true area of maturity for us.  But, we also know we have the rest of our lifes to benefit from the fruits of the labor.  Short term missions, college tuition, retirement plans, etc.  We have done Crown ministries and have heard the word of mouth that Ramsey is far more engaging and focused in approach.  Yes, we are slow learners and a different approach to the lessons is inviting!

Watching the Clemson and Duke game from Clemson right now.  So far, Clemson is up by 6 and really taking it to Duke right now and Coach K is red-faced.  Hope we can continue this because it will be a HUGE win for the team.  Go Tigers!

A family member asked me why I would write about having to take the breathalizer test along with my speeding ticket on Saturday night.  I take this blog as a true reflection of what is happening in my life and what I am thinking and feeling.  Please know that I may offend you or upset you at any time.  But, please know that I am writing for me as much as for you, whoever you are.  It was a humbling experience and not something I take lightly, that traffic stop.  Mr. State Trooper, please don't ya stop me, please don't ya stop me...  Yes, I shouldn't have been speeding and yes, I shouldn't have had anything to drink before driving home.  But, I was in control and not intoxicated as the test showed.  But, it was a wake-up call as well.  I don't want to ake my blessing lightly and ruin God's plan for me with self-centered stupidity.  Ok, I have made that clear, I hope.  Just trying to stay focused on the Righteous Path, 80 miles an hour with a warn out map.

The Tigers are up by 7 on Duke right now.  I'm trying not to jinx them, promise.  

It's been bitterly COLD here the last 2 days.  I think it was down in the low teens last night with a very strong wind that blew our winter flag off the front porch.  Of course, Shadow took the notion to freak out around 130am last night and demanded that he go outside.  Of course, he tried to change his mind once the door opened and felt how cold it was outside.  I didn't give him the opportunity to change his mind and he got das boot.  I also made sure I kept him awake today during the day so that rascal will sleep tonight.  Keller is smart, he lays low in his bed and just enjoys being inside.  I think tonight is going to be more of the same; but, the forecast is for the mid 60's by Saturday.  Just wait a few minutes and the weather will change.  Soon enough, it's going to be too hot and humid.  I will take the cool air while it's here.  

Here's a link to my recording of the Drive By Truckers on Saturday night.  This is not for children and the squimish but a great band with a lot to say about life.  The recording turned out pretty good considering how LOUD the show was in person.  Enjoy and see ya!  Go Tigers!!!

Drive By Truckers, 01-31-2009, The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Shape I'm In

What it is about paying your taxes that the rich and affluent don't understand?  I think Tom Daschle is not doing Obama any favors on getting this healthcare overhaul moving forward.  If you are bought and sold just like the rest, you will be just like the rest.  I know Obama owes Tom D many favors, most of his Senate staff were Daschle staff.  It's making me see a little red through my blue lens this morning.  But, nothing new here when it comes to cabinet appointments.  I was just hoping maybe it would be very different this time around.  We shall see.

"The Shape I'm In" by Robbie Robertson (The Band)
Go out yonder, peace in the valley...
Come down town, have a rumble in the alley.
Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in.
Has anybody seen my lady,
'Cause livin' alone will drive you crazy...
Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in.

I'm gonna go down to the river,
But I ain't gonna jump in, no, no.
I'll just be lookin' for my baby,
'Cause I hear that that's where she's been.

Out of nine lives, I've spent seven.
How in the world do I get to Heaven?
Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in.
Aw, here it comes!

I just spent sixty days in the jailhouse,
For the crime of havin' no dough, no.
Now here I am, back on the streets,
For the crime of havin' nowhere to go.

Save your neck, save your brother.
Looks like it's one or the other...
Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in.
No, no, no.

Ooh, Lord, uh huh, I think I'm goin' down by the river.
But I ain't gonna jump in, no, no.
I'll just be lookin' for my baby,
'Cause I hear that that's where she's been.

Out of nine lives, I've spent seven.
How in the world do I get to Heaven?
Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in.
Oh, I said: "Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in."

See ya!

Tuesday morning

Much better after a long night of rest.  Glad to be feeling better and more focused. I usually put all of my vitamins and prescription meds in a one a day dispenser, you know like the old folks do ;-)  Well, I skipped one of the important ones for some reason last week when reloading.  To say my mind was not right the last few days would be an understatement.  I was drinking lots of water trying to make the head spin go away and it was not working; but, when I looked at the old folks med dispenser last night for another reason (thank you God for using the not so obvious to help us) I saw the problem.  It's nice to be able to stand without feeling like the top of my head is going to fly off into space.  Not my favorite feeling.

But, we are now back on track.  Going to work out and take Keller for a walk before work and get back on track.  Miles is staying home with me today.  He's feeling a litle better but feels like he went through the wash.  I know how he feels.  He can hang out today and do his homework from yesterday on his own pace.  Almost finished with the Drive By Truckers upload to the Live Music Archive.  Should have it streaming later today.  Enjoy your day!

See ya!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mr. State Trooper, Drive By Truckers

New Jersey Turnpike ridin' on a wet night 'neath the refinery's glow, out where the great black rivers flow
License, registration, I ain't got none but I got a clear conscience
'Bout the things that I done
Mister state trooper, please don't stop me
Please don't stop me, please don't stop me

Maybe you got a kid, maybe you got a pretty wife the only thing that I got's been both'rin' me my whole life
Mister state trooper, please don't stop me
Please don't stop me, please don't stop me

In the wee wee hours your mind gets hazy, radio relay towers lead me to my baby
Radio's jammed up with talk show stations
It's just talk, talk, talk, talk, till you lose your patience
Mister state trooper, please don't stop me

Hey, somebody out there, listen to my last prayer
Hiho silver-o, deliver me from nowhere
--Bruce Springsteen

That was my theme song on Sunday morning about 0130am on the way home from the Drive By Truckers show in Ashevegas.  Yep, my first ticket in about 9 years.  I even got the fun experience of blowing into my state trooper's breathalizer. Now, that is always fun!  Luckily for me, I hadn't had anything to drink in about 2 1/2 hours and was sober as the test showed only a trace of alcohol on my breath.  Still, I got a nice 75 in a 60 zone.  I am planning to go to court as I don't think I was going that fast and to top it off he even told me that the speed limit was 65mph and that they were changing it back soon.  Gee, thanks!  

But, despite the fun with Mr. Johnny Law, Chad and I saw a rock and roll show from a great band at the Orange Peel, one of my favorite places in all the land.  It's spacious (even when packed and sold out like Saturday night), smoke free and the staff is always easy to deal with for the youngsters.  You have probably read about me loving some Drive By Truckers and they did not disappoint on Saturday with about 27 songs jammed into a nearly 3 hour set.  My recording turned out great and I am uploading right now.  Another taper buddy got the soundboard patch and we should see that surface soon!  Can't tell you how much fun we had at the show.  Even got in a nice dinner at Bordeaux's Bayou BBQ, where Tricia and I ate last January for the Marc Cohn show at the Peel. Nothing like good BBQ with a kiosk of about 15 different sauces to pick for your plate o' Q.  Love it, check it out if you are in Ashevegas, it's next to Barley's taproom and across the street from the double decker bus that is a coffee shop, I think that is Patton Ave.  

Great worship Sunday (yes, I went to seek atonement for my night of fun) at Freedom on Sunday.  Hearing the band sing "I'll Fly Away" with Ben Patat on banjo was really cool and I had the goosebumps left over from the night before still going strong.  God lets you experience his joy of music in the strangest of places.  Thank you for that!

We had some friends from Freedom over for the Super Bowl and I made it until the beginning of the 4th when the house was winding down.  I was a little exhausted from all the rawk and roll as you can imagine after getting up at the crack of 0730 to help set up for worship.  Did I mention all that was worth it?  But, I missed an amazing 4th Q of football it seems.  It reads like an incredible bit of football I missed.  I still can't believe that end of the 1st half play.  How can you not catch a linebacker down the length of the field?  It's like trying to out run a school bus.  It can't be that hard, right?

Oh well, just finished the tax return.  Not as good as last year and I had to make some allowance changes on the W4 to accomodate the razor's edge on this year's return.  It was positive but not by much and I don't like to cut it that close.  You never know how the year will pan out for deductions.  Who knows what the tax bill will look like or if we will even have a federal government come next January.  

Most of this week will be spent studying for ACLS class that I am helping teach at Tuomey in Sumter on Saturday.  Miles and Dylan are heading down with me and are going to hang out with Nana and Pete on the farm.  I am also going to get some rose bushes (Abraham Darby) and cedar trees from Uncle Harold's nursery.  It's almost time to get going on the new rose bed in the yard.  

Well, everyone else is already in bed and it's 9pm.  Miles has been feeling green and puny all day and Tricia and Dylan were tired.  I think I am heading that way too. 

See ya!