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Why the name, “Muddy Shoes”?

THIS IS THE VERY FIRST ENTRY … Left at the top to explain the title.

A new blog.  Fresh perspectives.

Why the name, “Muddy Shoes”?

First, it has been said that we should never talk about someone unless we have walked a mile in their shoes.  We should try to see the world from their perspective.  It is about empathy – understanding their feelings, their point of view, their situation.  It’s a great principle in building and strengthening relationships.

Second, we all wear different kinds and different sizes of shoes.  Shoes can represent our personal style, our personality, and even what our particular life event.  Garth Brooks said wearing boots might ruin a black tie affair (though many of my fellow Texans might disagree on this cultural norm).

Third, we should realize that in our journey in life, our shoes get muddied.  Life gets messy.  Not only our life, but the life of others too.  The mud gives insight to what we have gone through and where we have traveled.

So, it is the desire of this blog to share life principles that help us understand our walk in life and strengthen our relationships with others.  These principles will impact our home life, our business life, our leadership skills, our daily walk, and just might give us a clearer understanding of what we go through in life.

The Very First G.O.A.T.

The First G.O.A.T. has Some Lessons for Me (and You)

He was the first G.O.A.T. – but to be completely fair, he was the O.O.A.T.  So, not just the Greatest of All Times  (up to his time), he was also the Only One of All Times. I am referring to the one with no man before him, Adam. And with no other competition, of course he was the G.O.A.T.

Now that the little twist to get your attention is past – let me get to my point. What lessons does he have for me? 

As I look at Genesis 2:15-3:1, I see four big lessons about Biblical manhood that challenge me, that give me an insight to what God desires, that show me how to be a better man for my wife.

The Man of God Listens …  vs. 15-17 … Do you see? God spoke and there is the expectation to listen. Do you listen to Him? Open His Word and ask to hear fresh and powerful messages that pierce the heart. The man listens

The Man of God Labors …  vs. 15 … He works, serves the Lord. He has a job and that its important to realize we are not to. Sit back and be lazy.

The Man of God Loves … vs. 24 … One flesh, shared life, sacrificially giving (his rib) to the one with which he cleaves.

The Man of God Leads … vs. 3.1 … The Hebrew implies Adam was there as Eve was seduced. He should have led in the situation. He should have spoke the Word given and gotten truth out in the open – DON’T EAT the fruit.

At times, I need to work on one area over the other. But Adam gives a great example of what it means to follow God.

How do you see this?  How do you see yourself?

——————— Genesis (esv)

… he LORD God took the man kand put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lyou shall not eat, for in the day that you eat4 of it you mshall surely die.”

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; nI will make him a helper fit for5 him.” 19 oNow out of the ground the LORD God had formed6 every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and pbrought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam7 there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a qdeep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made8 into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is rbone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was staken out of Man.”9

24 tTherefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Now uthe serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You1 shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 

— to be transparent, I had these 4 points in my notes, I do not know where I got them from. If one of my readers was the original author – let me know.

I have Hobo in my Blood

I have a moving problem

Nomad. Hobo. Drifter. Lost on a journey. I’m not sure what category I fall into. Maybe it’s a disorder.

I have a tendency to shuffle furniture around all the time. TV over there. Rotate the rug 90 degrees. Make this room a study. The bed goes against that wall.

My wife often comes home to a different house. Why do I do this? Is it a desire to just feel like I’m not in a rut? Is it the restlessness of life?

Because of this, I don’t fret over politics. I am not scared of what the DOW does. And I’m not gonna lose sleep over how the Washington Commodores do this year. Not that these aren’t important. And not that I shouldn’t be involved in society. But I know there is something bigger, better, greater. So that’s where my heart is.

Maybe the real reason is I just don’t feel home here. No, I’m not talking the place I live. Central Virginia is beautiful. It’s not the great church at which I serve that makes me restless. So am I talking about the residence I share with my wife? Nope … I’m referring to here … earth. This is not my home. There will be a day I am called home. And though I am very okay with that day being later, I know it’s happening. And for now, I’m just passing through.

So I just can’t stop feeling that the place I am in isn’t truly satisfying.

Till I finally get ‘home’ … I’m gonna make do with what God had for me here. But be aware, I’ll keep moving the furniture around.

An Antique Trunk

An Antique Trunk … or something more?

What do you have that just shouts “Legacy”? What do you have that connects you to previous generations?

There are pieces of furniture in my possession that mean a lot to me. Some date back over a century. My grandfather, Roy, passed away decades ago. One of his skills was taking old furniture, furniture disposed of by others, and reclaiming them, repurposing their parts, or just refurbishing them – making them objects that now are desired by others. I have a desk/table that was shaped out of old church pews. This is kind of cool. I have dressers and chests of drawers dating back to before my parents wedding (early 1950s). And I have kitchen table that also was on our family home for half a century.

Table made form old Oak pew

There is a water table, some chairs and a miniature travel trunk dating back to possibly 1800s.  Add to this some homemade quilts, doilies, lead glass bottles and other paraphernalia. And a true treasure are the Bibles my father and his father used to preach from.

These connect me to my parents. I sense the presence of my grandparents in them. I imagine them using the trunk when they moved from Missouri to Mount Airy, NC.  Did my great grandparents use them? What was in the trunk? Where did they get it? Was it a child’s (being so small)?

Legacy.

I treasure these items. For this month, I am decorating the stage of the church with a different room of the house each week. Relationships by the Room. One of the powerful connections is I am using some of these “legacy” items on stage.  Again – it’s like my father and grandfather are part of my ministry.  I shiver.

You can see the chest and the water table in the above picture.

Maybe you have some items as well. Items that carry your family name, your ancestors’ stories, and a heritage.  I have lost a few over the years. Chairs have broken and beyond my repair. A few items have been given to nephews or other members of the Estes heritage. A couple have been claimed by my son and daughter-in-law.

But where will the ones I still have be in 30 years? What do I have that will be a legacy to Sammy (my first and presently only grandchild)?  What will mean something to him?  I am not a hoarder, so his pickin’s are slim.

The actual “item” has relevance and carries a story – but the power is in the legacy, the connection.

I hope they continue to tell the story of a family, of individuals, that loved God, served Him wherever they were sent, and were bold in telling their story that centers around Jesus.  Perfect? Not at all. But my story os one of grace, forgiveness, mercy, and His love for, in and through me.

Lessons to take away …

  • Write your story down so it can be there when you are not. Me, I have this blog. Where will they find your story?
  • Write down the story behind the items of legacy. Pass along the stories like the table out of church pews. Connect the legacy, the stories, to the items.
  • If possible, get the stories from the ones that are before you. A time will come their knowledge will pass away

Final challenge – think of the legacy you are leaving.  Will it magnify you, or will it magnify Christ?  You only leave one. Make it count.

New Tires

New Tires

They are essential. We all need them. Well, everyone who drives, rides, or abides in vehicles with round, rubber, steel or kevlar belted donuts needs them. We call them tires.

I have heard the world’s rubber supply is limited. I guess that means prices will continue to climb. But everything continues to climb in price, doesn’t it?

But, tires are essential. And good ones are highly essential.

Last week, my wife hydra-planed in s bad down pour. Yes, the back tires needed replacement. $600

Today, my son needed four new tires on his Rav4. Okay, he is married with a kid so he probably should buy his own. But he is my only son … and my only grandchild rides on those tires. $1000 (you are worth it Sammy)

I hate to see the price tag when I have to replace the tires on the FJ Cruiser.

As I think of on all of this, I think about fear. Fear is a big sales tactic. Insurance companies get you to think about if something should happen, fear. Sales Force Training web site says this …

“Fear is often used as a sales tool, albeit in a subtle way. Have you ever seen the Michelin tire TV ad, the one with the baby floating around in the tire? Did you think they were selling babies there? Of course not. What they are doing is using fear (the fear of losing a loved one) to sell tires. After all, you wouldn’t want your family driving on inferior tires that may blow and cause an accident.”

Even those that share the gospel might use fear. I mean, spending eternity in Hell is a pretty scary thing and it should invoke great trepidation. But the greater emotion shouldn’t be fear, but love. Love is greater than fear.

After all, the Good News isn’t be afraid – it’s you are loved.

As John tells us in his letters … perfect love, complete love, His love, His provision … cast out, overpowers, is greater than … fear!

Today, I chose not to live by fear. And the world has a lot of scary things, places, people. But … and this is a BIG but … God’s love is greater. That is my focus.

And I love how good it feels to be driving on new tires.

Monday Minute

Just a quick wrap to Sunday’s sermon. The challenges is to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ!! The battle is in the mind…

Not sure where I got that thought, but they really hit home

– Test every thought … search our heart oh God

  • Test every thought … search our heart oh God
  • Helmet your head – this important part of the armor of God reminds us that the truth of salvation is never to be forgotten
  • Imagine great thoughts – ponder the promises of God, reflect on His greatness
  • Nourish your mind – listen to great servings and music, read great books, feed your soul with the truth
  • Keep on learning – always

This will help you in the battle of the mind – it’s real!

Tears are Warm – THINK on that

Do you remember Gecko Hawaii shirts and other attire of the 1980s? Well, they are back. With the vintage shirts being seen in the great series Stranger Things, the sell of these retro surfer shirts are going through a revival.  Recently, I ordered one of their ‘hyperflash’ tees. We had a beach theme thing going and I decided to get one of these great tees that change from one color to another color by the warmth of the body.

It’s so cool, that these shirts see handprints, warmth and the shirt’s color is converted. Then, once cooled, it returns to the original color.

I wish life was kind of like this.  Wouldn’t it be great that if no matter what impacts us, we convert right back to where we started – no harm, no foul, no consequences. I’m jumping ahead.

My shirt is purple. And when it gets warmth touching it, the shirt turns pink. I didn’t order the pink one, but what I ordered was out of stock.  Nevertheless, I like what I received.  

Let me continue with my story. Today, when I was watching a tv show, a tear or two started to form in my eyes. Is seem to get a bit teary eyed these days at weird movies and tv shows. When Jack Ryan gets shot, or Jack Reacher loses a friend, Sheldon wins the Nobel, Shawn and Julia get together in Psych, or some other action flick has a bad turn … I get a little teary eyed. No real emotions just weird. However, today was something I had never really pondered.

I wiped the tear from my eye and then wiped the tear on to my t-shirt. Immediately, the shirt turned pink exactly where the tear touched it. 

Tears are warm!?

I tarted thinking, song lyrics … Tears in Heaven … Warm Tears, Cold Beers … which made me think of I’ve Got Tears in My Beer for Crying Over You. (Interestingly, most of these are all in country songs.)  Now, I don’t drink, never have. But it seems warm tears and cold beers wouldn’t co together.

I googled warm tears. There are interesting studies on why we shed tears, different kinds of tears, how some tears do have different temperatures, purpose of tears and more.  Too much for here. But the warmth of the tears are basically because the warmth of the body. 

I did think it was interesting that those who do cry are more emotionally healthy and those who cry are able to connect better.  So, there is that – but I still hate hugs. 

But in all of this, I begin to think about emotions and impact of emotions. I have them. We all do.

So I repeat … I wish life was kind of like these Gecko Hawaii shirts.  Wouldn’t it be great that if no matter what impacts us, we convert right back to where we started – no harm, no foul, no consequences. 

Don’t fake it but grow from it

But we do have consequences. We are impacted by emotions. So, let us do whatever we can to control and win the battle of our mind.  I ran across a simple acrostic that helped me in this battle – An acrostic to the word THINK.

THINK

T – Test every thought (Ps 139.23-34)
H – Helmet your head (Eph 6, guard your heart)
I – Imagine great thoughts (promises)
N – Nourish your mind
K – Keep on learning

We may never go back to the way before the emotions impacted us, but we can grow and be stronger.

And with that, every time I wear my Gecko shirt, I will remember to think about the battle of the mind!

What will you do when you get teary eyed?

Knocked Down but Not Out

These words can empower. These words can comfort. These words can make the difference. But not just the words – but the actual actions behind the words.

His name is the epitome of boxing. Yet he isn’t even real character. He is the rag to riches story that makes every one cheer for him. He rose to fame, he lost it all, yet he was true to himself.  And now, a new generation’s story has taken his mantle and moves forward.

Rocky Balboa

Just saying the name makes me start humming the famous movie tune and has me looking for stairs to run up (not that I run up stairs much anymore!) A scene from Rocky 5 crossed by desktop today and it got me thinking … It is near the end of the movie, Rocky is back where he started … the streets of Philadelphia. He tried to help an up and coming boxer, Tommy Gunn; but Tommy got too big for his britches and tried to move on – yet Tommy couldn’t do that without tearing down Rocky. And in the bar, where Tommy yells down at Rocky, and eventually hits Rocky’s brother-in-law, Rocky tells Tommy that he will fight him … but his ring is outside (the streets!)

Like all the movies, Rocky seems to be beaten and not getting up. But as his brain is rattled and memories flash like a horror movie scare reel, Rocky hears Mickey Goldmill yelling at him – that cantankerous old trainer who saw in Rocky something great, something deeper, something more. Mickey yells for Rocky to get up – one more round – get off the mat you bum (though he doesn’t use the word ‘bum’) … Get up. But the last thing Mickey says before Rocky’s memory fades and the now famous fight music starts is “I Love You.”

I LOVE YOU!

These words can empower. These words can comfort. These words can make the difference. But not just the words – but the actual love behind the words.

I don’t know what you are going though. I don’t know how hard life is. You may feel like some prize fighter has pounded on you and you are in the gutter wondering if there is ever a way up. But you need to know … God truly loves you. He sent His Son to pay the penalty, to take the true beating that you (and I) deserve.

Hear the words today … right now … God is saying, “I Love You!”

And maybe, just maybe you might be the person to say it to someone else that really needs to hear it.

Be that someone today – say it. Tell someone you love them and God loves them!

These words can empower. These words can comfort. These words can make the difference. But not just the words – but the actual love behind the words.

I Love You!

The Raid on Trump’s Residence

Don’t write this article off yet. I am not going to get political, well not very political. This is not about the justification or the politicization or the ramifications of the raid. This is about the concept that the one event can be seen from so many angles and twisted to the truth that each person’s point of view desires.

  • Some say it will keep Trump out of the 2024 election … others say it will be the catalyst that makes him decide to run get into the election.
  • Some say it was politically motivated, thus unwarranted … some say it was the true result of judicial investigation, thus warranted.
  • Some reporters are delighted … some reporters are appalled.
  • It is about Jan 6 … it is about illegally stored security documents … it is about hatred for Trump … it is about justice … it is about abuse of power (DOJ or Trump, doesn’t matter) … and so on and so on

Today, it is so hard to really know what to believe in what you hear … no matter from whom the message originates. 

Truth. How does one know? In this case, I just don’t know what to believe.

Absolute truth is so hard to know today. And to be blunt – I can honestly say I truly only know one absolute truth. And that is the truth of the Word – the written Word (The Bible) and the Living Word (Jesus).  As one scholar put it …

The culture doesn’t dictate truth, the Gospel dictates truth

Vodie Baucham

And based on this – we need to get to know the real truth more. Rightly dividing it. Bringing every thought captive to it. Building our lives on it.

I ask one question today – are you spending more time getting to know the Truth or are you spending more time twisting what you hear to what you want to be truth – relative to you and your way of thinking?  I pray it’s the former.

Netflix has Stranger Things – Prime matches with Paper Girls

The following is a discussion of a new Amazon Prime video series.

I am not nor ever have been a 12 year old girl. I don’t think I can even imagine that. I don’t get many of the things they face. But I know that what these four 12-year old is not normal. Time travel … time wars … dinosaurs … meeting your older self. This is a weird series.

Amazon just recently dropped online the entire series, eight episodes, of Paper Girls.  This is not a recommendation, just a thoughtful internal dialogue put to paper.

Now, the sci-fi geek in me loves it. Four innocent tween-agers are grabbed off their paper routes in a sleepy suburb of Cleveland – yes, Cleveland.  It starts on the early morning of November 1, 1988. They are taken to 2019 and later to July 1999.  But the catch is the time war is really further in earth’s timeline and they just fight it in the past by some traveling and some trying to eliminate travelers. And these four get plopped down in the middle of it.  Twists in the story line, coming of age for young girls, giant robot battles, you watching your older selves die, medical fireflies healing laser shots, and more make this story enjoyable.  Tie in classic rock and cool 20th century culture … this was pretty cool. But it wasn’t without flaws – and some major flaws.

Now, the sci-fi geek in me loves it. Four innocent tween-agers are grabbed off their paper routes in a sleepy suburb of Cleveland – yes, Cleveland.  It starts on the early morning of November 1, 1988. They are taken to 2019 and later to July 1999.  But the catch is the time war is really further in earth’s timeline and they just fight it in the past by some traveling and some trying to eliminate travelers. And these four get plopped down in the middle of it.  Twists in the story line, coming of age for young girls, giant robot battles, you watching your older selves die, medical fireflies healing laser shots, and more make this story enjoyable.  Tie in classic rock and cool 20th century culture … this was pretty cool. But it wasn’t without flaws – and some major flaws.

I hated the language – especially of tweenagers. I mean way too much F bombs and foul mouth lingo. I could have done without the 20 minute confab on feminine hygiene (but it is 12 year old girls with minimal adult assistance)

There is a little woke messaging – but interestingly, very little of it – a little, but very little. This was actually very surprising and quite refreshing.

There is no place in these episodes where there is any discussion for God. Religion is trivialized are just part of one’s culture. The Jewish girl talk of her upcoming batmitzphah. The Asian tween discusses honoring ancestors. There is a mention of hell, but laughed off as “not in our beliefs.” 

Very little positive roles for males in this story.

So what is good? What opens honest and relevant discussion? 

  • The young girls get to see a glimpse of where life takes them, how their dreams get shattered or fulfilled. This is truly deep. How often do we a adults look back and ask, “How did I get here?” In this series, the tweens get to see their future self and evaluate consequences of decisions. It’s about choices.
  • Fate is discussed. A great look at do we control our destiny? Is there someone in charge? Can we make different choices if we grasp where we are headed? Fate. It’s about consequences.
  • There is strength in numbers. They realize they lasted so long in the vexing situation because they stick together. It’s about friendships.
  • Based of comic books.  No I haven’t read them, probably won’t … but I love comic books.
  • A fresh look at how culture changes 1988-1999-2019.

In the end, well … I won’t ruin that. Except to say, season one does not bring this storyline to a conclusion.

Bottom line – I can not recommend this for kids because of the language. And it could have worked just as well without 95% of the foul language. If they could do this story without that, I would whole heartedly recommend it.

Parents – know what is out there.

Buttermilk Trail – Richmond VA

Last week, I was in Richmond so I took advantage of some of the city’s urban trails. Richmond has some pretty good trails … my personal favorite is Belle Isle. But I headed Southside of the James River and decided to do the Buttermilk Trail/Belle Isle/James River North Bank loop – about a 6+ mile loop categorized as moderate. I took Peg-Leg Pete with me – my trusted sock-monkey who loves adventure.

I’ve done Belle Island several times and have been on Buttermilk – but never done the whole loop. I started early, since I dropped my wife at the airport around 530a. I had a great breakfast at Moore Street Cafe and headed over to the Forest Hills area of Richmond. Very few urban trails in the Richmond area were open so early, so I was glad to find the James River Park having their parking lots available.

The trek started normal – it’s an urban trail, keep that in mind. I was on a well travelled path, it was not very secluded, I could always hear traffic, the railroad tracks ran along the trail and it has a well-graffitied set of rail cars parked on one of the parallel tracks. I pondered if these were there to block the view of the river as well as the city’s building across the river.

The trail was more a trial-bike trail with ups, down, some bridges over a various gully, and more. It has some historical markers to let you know about the area and how it got the name Buttermilk – which was from the Buttermilk Spring where farmers in the 1800’s cooled their milk before market.

I crossed the river portion between the Buttermilk and Belle by hop scotching across the rocks. There was a bridge a little further down – but I choose the rocks. To get there, the city has provided a short pedestrian bridge to cross over the railroad tracks without harm. I say pedestrian, for you had to walk up 3 flights of stairs to get above the rails.

Belle Island was great. You get more of the escapism there (no pun intended since it used to be a prison-of-war camp location during the civil war.)

If you want to know more about Bell Isle, check out Trip Advisor’s page here. Here are some of their pictures …

Now – here’s where my trek took a weird turn. I got to the Belle Isle parking lot. I had dropped some my water along the way (probably during rock jumping) and it was still early morning. BUT the heat index had already hit over 100F. I was drenched, tired and figured I ate too big of a breakfast. SO I checked AllTrails and it said I was less than 2 miles in and over 4 miles to go. Normally six is pretty easy, but I made excuses … food, heat, too long meandering on the rocks and the island itself, new Merrel Moab 3s (I pretended I hadn’t broke them in.) The remainder of the trial was new to me – trees? shade? asphalt? I did something I normally would never do. But since I was on an urban trail, and I could never do this in the Blue Ridge – I called a cab. Yep, was gonna hitch a ride back to my car. Oh the adventurer in me – I told myself I would try a new restaurant to make up for it.

I waited – 10 min … 15 min … 25 min. I surrendered to not having a cab. I decided to walk back over the shorter distance I had already traversed – so I called to cancel the cab. Hey, I had a 25 minute rest period.

I went back – took the bridge and made it back to my car. But it seemed a LOT longer than 2 miles. A LOT LONGER!

Here is why. When using AllTrails as the guide, I didn’t take into account that Buttermilk Trail has about 4 parking areas spread out along Riverside Rd. You can jump into the trail at various points. And I jumped in on the far north point (not the main starting point according to the app.) This walking some on the trail before even getting to the official start of the trail. Thus, on this hike, I HAD walked the majority of the trail – and therefore the shorter conclusion to the hike would’ve been to continue on the loop. But no, I had to go back as an in-and-back, thus making my hike even longer.What a noob move.

At least I didn’t pay for a cab – I did get to walk in shade – and I got to cross the bridge I had missed the first time through.

All in all – I was outside, I was in nature, I hiked. That is a good day.