THE RETURN OF THE RELIGION THAT IS FOOTBALL

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…College Football begins this week. I know there were two games this previous weekend and Charleston Southern played a great game against the defending FCS champions North Dakota State but this is the week the big boys “get after it” beginning with USC East and Vanderbilt…those are the big boys aren’t they? No I actually pull for USC East when not playing Clemson. The weekend will conclude, for me, when the Clemson Tigers dismantle the Auburn Tigers…War Eagles…Plainsmen…whoever the hell they are and on paper Auburn may need to employ them all. Glad we don’t play the games on paper. I love this time of the year when Southern Baptist, Methodist, Catholics, Atheist, Buddhist, Muslims and all other religious sects come together to worship at the altar of football. Instead of my God is better than your God, it’s my team is better than yours and the games get settled on the field.

I’m not the first to compare football in the South to a religious experience but that is not going to stop me from talking about it as a religion. It is just different and better in the South. There are a few cathedrals to the gridiron gods throughout the rest of the country but those don’t compare. I just don’t think Buckeyes, The West Coast Condoms or Irish Elves can display the trappings for the football sacraments as well as those teams south of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of New Mexico. Tailgating, bands with majorettes, cheerleaders…welllllll now, I might have to give the nod for cheerleaders to Oregon. I don’t like the Green and “Yaller” but the cheerleaders wear so little of anything there’s not a lot of it showing…Green and “Yallar” I mean.

I began my worship of football with limited prior knowledge of the game except for front yard pickup games, college football Saturdays and pro football Sundays and probably most importantly being picked last during recess pick-up games. Today it sounds like a lot of exposure to the game but this was an era before cable and satellite receivers, internet connections and Wi-Fi hotspots. The only collegiate games were aired on a distant ABC channel that only came into focus when atmospheric conditions were perfect. Even with perfect atmospheric conditions, the teams always seemed to be playing in a black and white snow storm. The pro football game of the week, which truly was the only pro football game of the week, usually involved the very bad Washington Redskins until the playoffs began. Then I could pull for YA Tittle and the New York Football Giants. At least I got to see Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer play. There were also syndicated play by play versions of games played by the then Baltimore Colts and the Fighting Irish. The Colt’s replays were hosted by Chuck Thompson and the Irish by Lindsay Nelson, whose voice still plays in my head and would explain why a Methodist boy from South Carolina became “somewhat” of a Notre Dame fan. The recess pick-up games are too painful emotionally to even go into, and I really don’t know how I avoided becoming a mass murdering serial killer.

I would become “football born again” at a Clemson game in the early Sixties when invited by a friend to go with his family to watch his brother play at Death Valley. At the time George Sutton was the most famous football player to come out of tiny Indian Land and I wanted to see him play. I guess that is when I became a full-fledged Tiger fan and began to worship before the altar that is Tiger football. It was not the cathedral it is now but it sure did beat the heck out of Indian Land on a Friday night. I even got to meet the “pope” of the gridiron Tigers, legendary coach Frank Howard.

I have memories galore associated with football. Most were happy and not blasphemous but there are a few…mostly revolving around practice… which to me were at best akin to the self-flagellation practiced by certain religious sects or, at worse, hell on earth. On the practice field behind the gym where we did all of our drill work, morning worship began with the fog evaporating from the copious dew that transformed our heavy elastic and cotton practice gear into individual saunas as our exertions increased. After “Down-Ups,” “monkey rolls” and “Bull in the Ring” our practice uniforms were wringing-wet and ten pounds heavier. We were also a bit bruised. By the time practice was over, the field had dried out so “Sahara-like” that the only place more arid was the inside of our mouths. During those days there was no time limit to practice and water was withheld to make you tougher. Coaches can’t do that now and I am glad. We were kids who grew up without air conditioning and spent our summer days outside working or playing because it was actually cooler there than inside our homes. “You chaps get outside!” shouted by my grandmother was the order that kept me “acclimated.” If you did that to a kid today he would simply die from heat and dehydration. Even though we thought we were dying, it was just a form of heat “castration” …from sweating our balls off! I remember nursing on the edge of a bloody sweat-soaked towel in hopes of getting a single drop of moisture.

Time limits, unlimited water hydration and lighter, less water absorbent uniforms have changed the “sacraments” of football since I played and since I retired from coaching football. For the most part I think they are good changes although it is sometimes hard to recognize the game today as the one I played as a boy. Bull and the Ring along with Oklahoma drills have been outlawed as has using the head as a weapon since we have become more concerned about safety. Do I think our brand of football was tougher? Most assuredly! But I don’t guess “three yards and a cloud of dust” was nearly as much fun as the new version. Parishioners have embraced the new version and still cheer that “My god is better than your god!” no matter how many times the ball is thrown. Congregations have swelled at the cathedrals throughout the nation – not just in the South. Even our most conservative “ministers” are throwing the ball all over the field and the participation of “acolytes” has definitely increased. Still I find myself worshipping at the altars of Georgia Tech or the service academies that still run the option, at least when they are not playing the Tigers in the much improved cathedral known as Death Valley.

Good luck to all area football denominations, not just the Tigers and Gamecocks. The Paladins, Terriers, Blue Hose, Mounties and Indians…I mean Wolves. These, along with others, give us plenty of reason to celebrate and demonstrate our Southern gridiron faith…faith our team will complete the season successfully both in wins and over the devil himself…our in-state rivals.

For more unique life stories by humorist Don Miller visit his author’s page at http://goo.gl/lomuQf

MEN, WORK, penises AND DEPRESSION

My neighbor, distant neighbor, was doing some repair work for me. He is out of work and depressed and I try to employ him as much as my limited resources are able. I began to think about my own depression and how having external issues might affect one’s depression. I have always been unable to answer one question from when I was first diagnosed and my depression was at its worse, “Am I depressed because I am getting a divorce or am I getting a divorce because I am depressed?” Don’t know, just glad I got the divorce.
My neighbor has been clinically depressed a long time, just as I have been, and somewhat recently has been laid off. As he helped me work on a tractor, or rather he worked while I handed him implements, I felt the need to discuss his depression, his job loss and the loss of self-esteem associated with them, something I am familiar with.

I have lost a job, actually two. Lost a job is not correct because no matter how I searched I wasn’t going to suddenly find my job and make it mine again. It’s not like a lost golf ball. Like that really beautiful, green eyed redhead in the late Sixties, I’m not going to suddenly find her again and Linda Gail might have something to say about it anyway. Just so you know I’m not looking.

Technically I was fired twice even though one of my associates allowed me to resign and the other…let’s just say I was fired and leave it there. If you coach for a living there are only two kinds of coaches according to the late coach Bum Phillips, “them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.” I was both. More on point, I believe once laid off you try to replace your job with one just like it and you are probably setting yourself up for more failure and lost esteem…or at least I did and so is my neighbor it would seem.

For a man, and more recently with more women in the work force, a woman, it is hard to detach your “worth from your work.” I don’t believe it is chauvinist to say it is different for men. We see our work somewhat like our penises. If our penises are working fine, we are fine. Work is fine, we are fine. We have self-worth because we tend to identify with what we do…and to a certain extent, our penises. Until somewhat recently, women identified with their families for their self-worth…the old maternal instinct. This has changed, not a bad thing, except women executives are now having near as many stress related heart attacks as men, but I don’t see women ever identifying their work with their vaginas unless they are working in the world’s “oldest profession.”

Back on point, getting fired, laid off or having a failure to launch is depressing. Come on guys we’ve all had a failure to perform at least once. There is no shame and there is a reason for those little blue pills. Actually getting fired can have an effect on performance but more importantly it can have an even greater effect if you are clinically depressed. That was the reason for my conversation with my neighbor. I was worried about how he was handling his job hunting and his depression.

I don’t believe men are as willing to admit they are depressed as women because of the way we are raised. “Buck up Jocko!” “Dry those tears and get back at it!” We still have problems admitting to our emotions, committing to a long term relationship or with the inability to launch. Clinical depression is not about emotions. It is a sickness that can be treated even if you are looking for a job.

I don’t know if I helped my neighbor, I know he got my tractor running again. I wish there was some sort of sensory feedback when you assist people with their depressions but as hard as I looked and listened I received none. There was no engine roar or smell of diesel exhaust. At least he knows he is not alone.

Don Miller has also written four books, including “Winning Was Never the Only Thing…” and the recently released “Through the Front Gate.” They may be purchased or downloaded at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

HARBINGERS OF AUTUMN

Despite the thermometer’s reading and the gallons of perspiration I am wringing from my tee-shirt after this morning’s run, FALL IS IN THE AIR. It is just a hint mind you but it is there. Could it be that the humidity is just a bit lower, or the direction of the wind a bit different? I guess it could be the fact I went to a football game this past weekend. In the South at least, fall means football even if the heat index is near one hundred and play must be stopped to dodge a thunderstorm or five. Nothing stops a Southerner’s worship at the altar of the religion known as football.

I have learned over the years that there are more subtle changes taking place. The bees and butterflies are frantically working over anything with a bloom. There seems to be a late summer “weed” that puts off a yellow flower the bees are in love with…frantically in love with. Milkweed is covered with beautiful black, orange and yellow butterflies as are any blooming purple…including cocklebur, beggar lice plants along with the sweet smelling kudzu. Linda Gail, my better half for the past thirty years, and I have different ideas as to what a backyard should look like. I coached for over forty years and believe they should look like well-manicured ball fields. She believes any plant that puts off the smallest bit of color is a flower, no matter what that flower might produce later. Linda Gail also loves morning glories and they must have something to grow up on right? This time of year with all of the activity I guess I am glad I acquiesce to her desires…plus it makes my life much easier in the long run…even if I have to clean up the mess in the winter. At least she lets me cut the kudzu regardless of their long purple blooms and sweet, almost sickly aroma.

My oaks don’t quite have the “leaves of green” they had earlier but they haven’t started to change yet but they do look different. I expect to see vast “V” formations of ducks and geese any time now… right after I walk into a painted spider’s web. The woodpeckers and red birds have returned to my bird feeders. For the past couple of months, they have been more concerned with gathering protein rich bugs for their young and I am sure food has been plentiful. Now they are looking for a handout I guess. They will get one if they can beat the squirrels to it. Poke salad has changed into Pokeweed and “my” mourning doves are anxiously awaiting the purple berries growing from magenta stalks.

As I sat on my front porch enjoying a “post run cigar” which sounds absurd but is one of MY Southern paradoxes. Let’s try again. As I sat on my front porch the bunny born this spring in a heavy patch of periwinkle made an appearance. “Bugs” is still all legs and ears but was attempting to put on some weight by eating some of Linda Gail’s potted plants…until he saw me. “Wascally wabbit!” With my puppies too old and blind to chase him off I guess I better look up what “wabbits” eat so he won’t starve when fall turns to winter. For now, I will just wait for summer to change to fall…which for me at least, is the most wonderful time of the year.

For more unique life stories by Don Miller visit his author’s page at http://goo.gl/lomuQf

OLD MEN IN FEDORAS

I am by nature a baseball cap “kind” of guy. Forty-three years of coaching baseball and football will make you a baseball cap kind of guy out of habit. Forty-three years of coaching baseball and football added to sixty years of “bronzing my body” in the sun while working in fields or cutting grass will give you a carcinoma on your ear because baseball ball caps don’t cover them. Especially mine! I was born with big ears to go with a big nose and was a bit disturbed to find out, besides finger and toe nails, ears and noses are the only body parts to continue growing throughout life. Maybe I can try out for a part in the next Dumbo movie.

I now wear big floppy hats. I still wear baseball caps…I even have one that my darling daughter gave me many years ago that has a flap that covers my neck and ears…although I need to check and make sure my ears are not outgrowing it. I use it when I run or walk in the sun or go fishing. I have a long billed one she gave me that I use when I am not running in the sun. For long periods in the sun I have “boonie” hats, straw hats and the hats that prompted this post, the fedora. What I think of as the “Old Man’s” hat.

I didn’t always think of them as “Old Men’s” hats…until I got to be one of the “Old Men.” Until I became one of the old men, I thought them to be “cool.” My first fedora was a genuine Indiana Jones’ Stetson from over thirty years ago. I still have it…as I have all of my wide brim fedoras, no snap brims for me. Indie’s old hat is moth eaten and worn…kind of like me. I don’t get up in the morning thinking I’m moth eaten and worn. I don’t even move through the day thinking I’m an old man…unless I get near a mirror. There ARE some mornings that I get up and suspect I might be an old man or rather a young man’s brain trapped in an old man’s body. This is usually confirmed when I look in my mirror. I really should invest in a youthful Panama with a colorful band to get that thought out of my head.

My grandfather always wore a fedora, in the field or at work. My guess is that he took it off when he was indoors at Springs. Unlike today it was poor etiquette to wear a hat indoors. Blue jean overalls topped with an old sweat stained fedora. I have a mental picture of him astride his plow horse riding in from the field. An old man riding an old horse with a fedora perched “fore and aft” on his head. No “jaunty tilt” for him although he might tilt it back to rid himself of the summer heat. No tilt even when he had his “Sunday go to meeting” clothes on with his “Sunday hat” firmly in place…until he got inside the church with the rest of the “Old Men” carrying their fedoras by their side or sitting with them in their laps. Afterwards and outside they were all careful to touch their brims to the ladies, removing them if they stopped to talk. There is one problem with this mental picture. I am nearly a decade older than my grandfather at the age he died.

Thirty years ago this coming winter I drove into Travelers Rest in need of something only a hardware store could provide. Pre Lowes and Wally World, I stopped at Williams Hardware, before it was a restaurant, for no other reason than it was the first one I saw. It was a bitter cold and gray day with a wind that carried ice cycles forecasting the snow or ice that was soon to follow. I wrapped my coat tighter as I fought the wind until I opened the door. It was like a sauna with a huge potbellied stove glowing pink from the heat. As far from the heat as possible, three men sat around a checker board they had placed on an old nail keg. They could have been stamped from similar molds. Broad bodied going to seed, they were wide of shoulder with little or no necks showing above the collars on their flannel shirts. Their round heads were covered by the requisite fedora and underneath they sported broad faces cut by crevasses rather than creased with wrinkles. Faces were the color of tanned leather except where the fedora was pushed back on their heads. Foreheads were as white as freshly bleached sheets having rarely seen the sun. I am sure the bodies under the flannel and overalls would have matched. They spoke in hushed tones as if they had been admonished not to disturb the paying customers…although I was the only paying customer.

I see old men from my youth, sitting around checker boards on wooden barrels crowning kings. Fedoras cocked back on their heads as they studied the board and contemplated their strategies. Another group of old men sat waiting their turn, kibitzing, cracking wise or telling stories that they had all heard before. Old friends comfortable with their age I guess…something I hope I have plenty of time left to acquire…but not quite yet. Yeah, I think a Panama with a colorful band might be just the trick, or one of those snappy European driving hats…but then I would have to buy a sports car to go with it. Hum, not a fate worse than death unless I grow too old to enjoy one.

For more of life’s non-fiction by Don Miller try http://goo.gl/lomuQf

THE EASY WAY OUT? “DOWNER ALERT”

“A brave man once requested me,
to answer questions that are key,
‘Is it to be or not to be,’
and I replied, ‘oh why ask me?’”

“’Cause suicide is painless,
it brings on many changes,
and I can take or leave it if I please…
and you can do the same thing if you please.”
Theme from MASH, “Suicide is Painless” by Johnny Mandel

I don’t believe there is anything easy about committing suicide nor do I think is it totally painless. That would be two of the major reasons I don’t attempt it. Some say, “It’s taking the easy way out.” When you are sick like me, one may find it may not be the easiest of ways out. I don’t mean sick as in “I have a terminal illness and it is going to eat me up from the inside out” kind of sickness but the “I’m crazy as a bed bug” kind of sickness. I have suffered from clinical depression for over forty years now so I believe I have the right to say, “I’m crazy as a bed bug.” Also, like a world class alcoholic, I have become very adept at hiding it. You see, almost daily, I still have thoughts of suicide or when I do something I consider “wrong,” there are the thoughts that I deserve to be hurt in some way even if I do it to myself. YES, I JUST CUT OFF MY FINGER ON PURPOSE!!!! I’ve done neither so suicide may not be the easy way out after all.

Being suicidal and repeatedly not pulling the trigger, not slitting a wrist or taking a short step out of a very high window is hard. I spend some of my “very best” depressed “self-speak” contemplating, quite morbidly, the pain of a bullet entering my head as opposed to the pain that same bullet would have on the people I leave behind. The people I love and, despite my depressive hate speech, those I know love me, at least I think…maybe. My wife, my daughter and son-in-law, my grandchildren, who I don’t yet know as well as I want, my brother and my friends. So far, my belief is that the pain of my action on those I leave behind would be greater…therefore, I don’t do it. There is also the fear of the unknown. Am I going to find myself inside of a vat of boiling “hellfire and brimstone” for instance or am I just going to “wink” out of existence. Both options are scary, as are others, and I find I am not a very brave person or is “sticking out” the mental anguish, in itself, brave?

Clinical depression is one of the odd ducks of mental illness. “Oh you are just a little blue…” and the Grand Canyon is a little hole. Logically you ask yourself, repeatedly I might add, “What have you got to be depressed about?” Right now it is a non-functional tractor and lawn mower, but they should not be “live altering” should they? Or, friends and loved ones ask, “Why are you depressed?” Those questions are quite tiring because there is no answer. My depression is due of a tiny, little, itty bitty chemical imbalance in my brain. AND IT IS TREATABLE, once you figure out it is nothing more than a disease. No different than diabetes, or arthritis, or toenail fungus except that for some reason it seems to be much more embarrassing to say, “I am clinically depressed and suicidal” rather than “I have toenail fungus and it is yucky.” It shouldn’t be.

These thoughts and my own depression were triggered by a phone call. A friend telling me of a suicide. I didn’t know the man; I know the family he left behind and can only imagine the pain they are going through. The unanswered questions, “Why?”, “Why didn’t I see it coming?”, “What did I do wrong?” Suicide was not an easy way out for them. Suicide was not due to an incurable and painful illness like cancer. It was due to an incurable and painful illness like clinical depression.

His suicide has me, selfishly, thinking about ME. I worry that someday suicide will appear to be the easy way out…that I won’t have enough clarity in thinking to keep me from pulling that trigger. No there is nothing easy about suicide including the contemplation of it. Before you react, NO! I do not need to be put on suicide watch…at least yet. I’ll try to let you know and you should be paying attention. This blog post is for the people who have not had their clinical depression diagnosed or those who have and still battle it every day. You are not alone. There are many of us out there, a depressing estimate of one hundred and twenty-nine million world-wide, one out of every ten Americans and even more depressing, eighty percent never receive treatment. I was lucky. There ARE people you can talk to. If there is no one in your life, try these:
National Suicide Hotline (800) 273-8255
Teen Health and Wellness Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or
text ANSWER to 839863
For more statistics copy and paste http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic

WINNERS AND LOSERS…but not really

I’ve seen so much written and spoken, negatively, about the Rio Olympics and admit to falling into the same negativity with the Zika virus, dead body parts found in beach sand, fecal matter in ocean water, the hidden favelas, participants robbed at gun point and, on a lighter note, how much side boob or butt crack some of our beach volley ball players might be showing. No I was not negative about our volley ball players and MORE than JUST appreciated the buff female forms in bikinis, stretching and diving athletically for their sport. I really don’t understand why people involved in high levels of athletics are not supposed to look good doing it, male or female, without coming under so much public scrutiny. Originally weren’t the first Olympics performed au naturale? Here’s to the good old days…oh wait…they were male only? Let’s just forget that idea. I was also negative about how much the Olympics actually pulled the world’s people together and wondered if any of us were burning with the fire of the Olympic flame as we ridiculed “outspoken” people wearing hijabs or failing to put their hands over their hearts.

In my first attempt at writing badly, Winning was Never the Only Thing, I attempted to convey the idea that sports was more about the people who participated in athletic endeavors than the act of winning itself. Whether it was winning a game or losing an event, paramount was recognizing that even the losers put forth great effort…and display a “winning” effort. No I don’t believe everyone should get a trophy but everyone should be recognized for the effort that they put in to “winning or losing” and just not for the winning. Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, Michael Phelps and the rest of the medal winners should be praised for their accomplishments but what embodies the Olympic Spirit, and winning in general, for me, was exemplified when Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand became tangled with each other in the five thousand meters. After Hamblin went down, D’Agostino tripped over her and also fell to the ground. Though the US runner’s leg was badly injured, the runners helped each other to their feet, and Hamblin cheered on the American as she stumbled, in obvious pain with an Olympics’ ending knee injury, to the finish line…in last place. After finishing, both runners embraced in what ABC’s WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS would have called “the agony of defeat.” I would call it displaying a “gold medal” attitude despite the fact I could hardly see the display due to the tears in my eyes. On the same day, Haitian hurdler Jeffery Julmis face planted on the first hurdle in the one-tens losing any chance of a medal. Instead of staying down in humiliation, Julmis untangled himself and completed the race to finish last…because finishing must be important.

Are there really any losers in the Olympics? I’m not sure we could call the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team “world class” but they did qualify and later had a movie made about them. The same year Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, Great Britain’s “heroic loser” finishing last in the seventy and ninety-meter ski jumps but also had a movie made about his efforts. How can “losing” be important enough to have a movie made about it? More to the point I ask “Is Carrie Walsh a loser for not winning the gold in 2016…after two golds in previous Olympics?” The same could be asked about Gabby Douglas, who won an individual gold in 2012 but didn’t in 2016. I think the answer is no…and would add all the non-medal finishers to my list, BUT NO THEY DON’T GET TROPHIES FOR PARTICIPATING.

I am proud of what the United States has done and the legends we have been made but I am also proud of the losers too. To make the Olympics is a major accomplishment and all of the athletes deserve our heart-felt applause if they display the “Spirit of the Olympics.” Despite the comments of a certain US soccer goalie and the failure of an Egyptian to shake an Israeli’s hand, most participants have kept their “humility” in both victory and in defeat despite the inappropriate saying “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” Show me a good loser and I’ll show you an Olympian.

For more of Don Miller’s unique outlook on life please click on the following link to purchase a book, view links to his blog or just to follow. Thank you. https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

A FLOOD OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS

We are fifteen feet or more above the closest water, a shallow stream, but we are drowning. I had an idea how the victims of sinking ships felt as they fought their way to the upper decks, in the dark as a river of water hit them in the face. According to legend, a ragtime band played “Nearer My God to Thee” as the Titanic went to her watery grave taking some fifteen hundred passengers and crew with her. The good news is that there were only two of us drowning. The bad? Linda Gail was singing hymns and one could have been “Nearer My God to Thee.” (Actually the band probably played “Autumn” but that doesn’t fit my story does it?)

Over our thirty years living at “Hemlock Hills” we’ve lived through bad weather and managed to dodge a few bullets…or tornadoes. Not long after we moved in a twister took down a huge pecan tree which in turn took down several black walnuts along with the power to the house. I had noted how green the clouds were and how calm, yet oppressive the air felt right before Linda Gail and I, along with three terrified puppies, made for the “perceived” safety of our hallway. The pecan landed close enough to the house that we just stood outside shaking our heads in disbelief. A few days later an ancient black walnut weakened by the storm fell into Highway 11 taking our power again before blocking the highway for several hours. We sold the downed trees for the cost of removal to a self-employed contractor friend who, a couple of years later, sold them back to us in the form of flooring, cabinets and countertops when he was hired to renovate. Funny, I remember paying a lot more for the wood we got back than he paid for the trees originally.

This is an excerpt from the story “A FLOOD OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS” found in my new book, THROUGH THE FRONT GATE. You may purchase in Kindle form at https://goo.gl/4rBPhW or in soft cover at https://goo.gl/Yu3vRm

Rice Love – Buy a Bag, Feed a Family

Rice Love. Makes me wonder what we could do here along the same lines? Any ideas?

roamwildandfree

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We can assume that the majority of us go to bed with a full belly and wake up with breakfast on the table without trying too hard. Not many of us know what it’s like to fall asleep with a grumbling stomach because we didn’t have more than a bite or two for dinner..if that. World hunger is a problem that all of us know exists. We might choose to do something about it, we might not. Luckily there are people in this world who care about others in need and have the ability to help.

Before you stop reading thinking this is another depressing world hunger rant with nothing backing it up, just take a minute. This is simply an acknowledgement of an issue but we think you’re going to LOVE who we’re teaming up with to bring you a solution!

When we were in South America, the severity of world hunger hit…

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MY BIRTH

I was born in the fall of my thirty-fifth year in 1985. I say this because nothing happening before really mattered very much once she said yes. I hadn’t planned to ask her to marry me. I thought I was too scared to ask as in “already twice burned” scared. As I asked I looked intently into her hazel eyes and noticed they turned from gray-green to bright green. I have learned over the years that green doesn’t always mean GO! Sometimes it means run like hell and be prepared to duck while you are doing it.

I don’t know when I first met Linda Gail, my ex-roommate’s on again, off again girlfriend. We disagree on that particular moment but I am sure I know when I first noticed her. She had an inflated pumpkin on her head preparing to celebrate Halloween. A year later, in the year of my birth, All Hallows Eve was on a JV game night and I had to attend as a function of my position as a coach and athletic director. Linda Gail and her friend Jeanie were going out to a costume party without me. Those two events should have been exclusive of each other but this particular night they became inclusive. It was raining and I had invited several of the booster club members to join us in the press box to stay dry. Booster club members being entertained in the press box was not an ordinary occurrence and had never happened before until this night. As the game went on, someone knocked on the door. My booster club president opened the door and found two pretty ladies opening their trench coats and exposing their somewhat revealing Halloween costumes. One was a vampire mistress of the night in a short black mini dress with lots of zippers and chains, the other a French maid complete with fishnet stockings, crinolines and a whole lot of cleavage showing … a lot of cleavage showing. I tried not to fall out of the press box window while everyone else was speechless. Utter and complete silence ruled until our booster club president paid them a left handed compliment and confessed that “If I had known it was like this up here I would have come up a lot sooner.”

This is an excerpt from the story “My Birth” found in my new book release, THROUGH THE FRONT GATE which can be purchased in Kindle form at https://goo.gl/4rBPhW or in soft cover at https://goo.gl/Yu3vRm

THROUGH THE FRONT GATE

For nearly thirty years I have entered “Through the Front Gate” to a home that is much more than just a place to lay my head. For more times than I can possibly count I have entered a haven and a refuge, made so by the woman that lives here, my Linda Gail. When I repeat the Bible verse, “You are my refuge and strength” I am not talking to God, I am talking about the woman who is everything good about the world I live in…the world that you have created Linda Gail. Saying that I love you seems quite inadequate but it will have to do. “Linda Gail, I love you.” These are stories from thirty years of marriage and the unintended consequences of Linda Gail.

Cover photography is my “view through the front gate.”

Don Miller’s fourth book, THROUGH THE FRONT GATE, will launch August 12…MAYBE,