Thursday, October 31, 2013

A very quiet day...

I love the sound of quiet.

Today is a nice quiet day. There is work to be done to prepare for tomorrow's trip, but it's still a quiet day. After working the mid and getting a little sleep, I'm catching up on laundry and enjoying a cup of coffee while doing a little social networking.

I'm again reflecting that I don't see many people  or have many direct contacts that give me the opportunity to talk to people about important things and hear their ideas on life, love and whatever drives their inner self.
Outside of the program last night (around 50 kids plus a good number of adults) I only talked to a hand full of people yesterday--today will probably be even fewer.

I saw this e-card posted this morning and thought, "That is so me" (except for the woman's silhouette)!

Still working on that "be a better John" thing. It's a chore!

John <><

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New and Improved (not so much)

Phone blogging this morning. I don't real care for it, but it is the way of the times. Maybe my slow adaptation to the handheld virtual world is a small sign of improvement. Maybe not.

I wrote about being a better me a couple of days ago, but I'm really not sure of how I can measure my progress. I can say that I am a healthier me since I have achieved my October goal of reaching 225# by this morning's weigh in at 224.8. That's minus 5+ for the month and minus 33 since June 1. But that doesn't necessarily make me a better person.

So how do you measure yourself to see if you're a better person? By the things you say? By the things you don't say? By the things you do? Or by the things you don't do?

Even though most days are good days to be John Hill, I'm finding that being a good John Hill is a lot of work!

John <><

Monday, October 28, 2013

Photo blog

Sunset from SGF Tower
John <><

Weekly Improvements

Just a quick Monday morning post to fulfill my self-imposed writing obligation.

First off--Happy Birthday to my baby girl. She is no longer a baby but a wonderful young woman! I'm glad she was able to get to come home for the weekend!

I am really looking forward to the week!
Early day at work today (by that I mean 1pm-9pm instead of 3-11), earlier day tomorrow followed by a Gordon Lightfoot concert with Chris on Tuesday, an evening with my friends at Cedar Ridge Baptist Church on Wednesday and a weekend gig in South Florida!

It's a good week to be John Hill!

However, I really want to concentrate on the area of personal ministry; not the professional ministry of going to churches for hire, but the personal contacts we make every day. I am constantly reminded of how small my world is and how few people I actually meet each day. Because of my odd hours, I rarely see my neighbors. I see the same few people at work and...
...and well, that's about it. I make contact with one or two friends from church or friends in ministry, but not much else. I guess I'm going to have to overcome that anti-social side of my personality if I'm going to move in an area of personal ministry.

This week I'm also going to really focus on being a more positive influence. I'm going to work to lift others up. Rather than ignoring negativity when I encounter it; I'm going to counter it with positive words or acts. That will be tough since my tendency has been to ignore it.

At the end of the week, I hope to be a better John than I am today.
How about you? Feel like being a better you by the end of the week? Let's come back and compare notes next week. See you then!

John <><

Friday, October 25, 2013

Preaching, Teaching and Entertaining

I don't think there is anything that gets me pumped up more than the opportunity to share the message of God's love. It doesn't matter if it's an opportunity to preach from a pulpit, teach in a classroom setting or small group, or sharing the story through magic--it is an incredible high to get to tell people about God and His great love!

By the end of August, I thought I was pretty much finished for the year. I haven't really marketed myself when it comes to preaching revivals and am generally slow through September, have a few dates in October and pretty much finished by November (except for an occasional Thanksgiving event). But all of a sudden I had a couple of September dates and my October started to fill up with preaching at Hopedale on the 18th, travelling to Milan MO on the 19th to preach a one-day revival event on the 20th. This was followed by a evening event for a small group Bible study in Springfield on the 22nd and a Kids' night event on the 23rd in Galena MO! We have a mission trip meeting on Saturday night the 26th. I'll be at Cedar Ridge Baptist on the 30th and have now booked a weekend event at a pastor/friend's church in South Florida for the first weekend of November!

I have also booked a weekend revival back in Northern Missouri for the weekend before Thanksgiving--Friday, Saturday, Sunday events at the church plus two school assemblies on Friday!

Sometimes I just stop and look towards the heavens and ask, "God, what is going on?"
I go from nothing to something nearly every week! It's pretty crazy, but it is so much fun!

I hope to use some of my new material in the school assemblies. Right now I don't think it will be the exact program that I bought, but I will eventually work towards it being pretty close. I think what I'd like to do for now is begin with what I've been doing and incorporate the new stuff a little at a time and build into the rhythm of the new show. Once I get that established, it will be time to look at hanging up the headset and moving beyond the ATC world.

Sometimes I wonder about how much marketing I should be doing--or should I just continue to leave it all in God's hands? He seems to keep me as busy as I can really stand most of the time. I struggle between being a good steward of my time; marketing the gifts He has blessed me with and just having the faith to know He's in control. I don't want to confuse faith with laziness and end up missing opportunities because I wasn't faithful in promoting the work that glorifies Him.
Know what I mean?

I was pretty excited yesterday after booking two weekend events for November. I get excited about it as I write about it. I can't wait to start putting things together for upcoming events.

This will be a full weekend.
I hope that your weekend will be filled with joy! Do something nice for somebody. Share it here if you want to. I would love to hear about it!

John <><

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back to Characters

A short while back I initiated a new label for my blog with a post called Characters. I wanted to get back to that and write about some of the people and characters that I encounter. These Character posts might be about people in general, specific people, or behavioral tendencies that some people possess.

One character that I don't encounter often enough is my baby sister. I really love that girl. I know that she really isn't a "girl" any more. She's a woman. Although she'll always be a girl to me, I'll do my best to refer to her as the woman that she is.

When I see a mom that I can tell really enjoys being a mom, I smile and I think of her. Being "Mom" to her kids is what she really loves doing and being. I love getting texts or messages from her asking about the night sky. I love that she sits out in the cold with her oldest daughter to watch the late fall meteor showers. I love that she loves to laugh.

Li'l sis is incredibly mission minded. She sees needs and works to meet those needs. We have very different views when it comes to politics, so we just don't talk about that stuff much. She has always been a fan of her oldest brother. I don't think that there is any meanness in her. She has a gentle spirit, a strong will and a giant heart. I could go on and on but I think you get the idea that I am also a fan of hers.

I'm not sure why I started these character posts with her; maybe it's because she sent a friend to see my show last night in Milan MO and was on my mind this morning. Did I mention that she's a fan of mine? Thoughts of my little sister are good thoughts to start the week right.

Makes this big brother smile!

John <><

Making Lists

I am not a list maker. I know that there are many people that can only function if they have a list. Some people make lists for everything. I have a supervisor that makes lists. I think the first item on her "To Do" list each day is "make lists".

I won't say that I never use a list. I use a list when I'm packing for a magic show. I even use a list during the show. But that's pretty much the extent of it. I could probably benefit from using a few more lists. I think there is a measure of satisfaction that comes with completing a list.

The only reason I'm thinking about lists this morning is because of an article I read on one of the many blogs I follow. Whether you are a list maker or not, you might like this article. I like the two daily lists that the author talks about here. I'm thinking that I may give list making a whirl and use these lists to get me started.

I have to admit that the first list, the "If I could live today over again I'd..." reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day. You get to live the day over again and right your wrongs as they happen...sort of. I also like the positive aspect of the second list--"The things I get to enjoy today" list.

Even if it was "The things I get to do today" it would have a feeling of anticipation of what the day hold for us. But "The things I get to enjoy today" really makes the events of the coming day something to look forward to experiencing.

How about you?
Are you a list maker?
Wanna try these two lists with me?
Think of the more blah Mondays, for one! Now we can make our lists and look forward to getting this week going!

John <><

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Milan MO

That's MY-lan MO for those of you that would  want to pronounce it as the European city Milan. In Missouri we try to keep all things Midwestern.

In any case, I'm typing on my laptop, using my Galaxy S-3 for internet since the small hotel wi-fi is a little bit lacking in its ability to provide my room with decent service.

I've taken the day off from exercise and will make up for it during the week. I also treated my self to a piece of pie (pumpkin) at the church luncheon earlier today. I'll probably skip an evening meal and make the drive back home on an empty stomach. A little bit of balance for a long day.

As always, my sermon always reminds me that I need to be more dedicated to living a life that is reflective of my Lord and Savior, Jesus. Preaching the word has a way of speaking to the speaker as well as speaking through the speaker. I really enjoyed my morning at FBC Milan and will be back there in a little bit to share the Salvation story with a little bit of magic.

It still amazes me that God would choose such an unworthy vessel to carry the message of His love. It really is a blast to share in the different venues that I am called on to preach, teach and entertain.

However, I must remember that I am also called on (as you are) to share the gospel in the every day settings of life, as well. My work place and my neighborhood are as much my mission fields as the places where you find yourselves are your mission fields. We are all to talk about and share His great love.

So let us press onward! Paul says that we need to put the past behind us (I think the great Lion King philosopher, Pumba also said that!). Forget our failures. Forget our accomplishments. Put the past behind us and press on toward the prize of the upward calling in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So let's do that. Let's bring hope to the hopeless. Let's be a positive ray of light in a dark and negative place. Where there is gloom and doom, let's share joy and peace. I am challenging myself to counter every negative comment and attitude that I encounter this week with something positive; to counter every frown with a smile; to counter every bit of darkness with a little bit of light.

...And I'm inviting you to join me!

How about it? Any takers?

John <><

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Keeping it Positive

It's about time to start putting things together for my trip to Northern MO. I still need to manage an hour or so on the bike before I go and I'd like to stop by the afternoon activities at Hopedale before getting on the road.

I've had fun the last few days as I have been more intentional about being nice to people. Generally speaking, I'm usually friendly and smile at strangers that I pass or say "Good morning" or some other greeting. I've been trying to go the extra mile by taking their shopping cart back for them or engaging them in a brief conversation, pay them a compliment or just trying to be nicer than I usually am.

It's definitely easier with people that I know than with strangers, but I am discovering that I really don't have a great circle of people that I interact with regularly. I see the same people at work (only a few), the same people at church (generally weekly and again, relatively few), the same few people at the irregular stops during the week (gas, coffee, store, etc.) and we interact politely but not significantly.

I want to have a greater impact than the passing moment of "Have a nice day." I want to offer an act of kindness or encouragement. I think that most of our encounters with people are really non-encounters or neutral encounters. They neither add nor take away from our days. We have all had encounters with negative people (or maybe been the negative person in an encounter) and those have a way of bringing you down just a bit. I wonder what it would be like if more of us made the effort to be a positive person that adds a little life to the people we encounter.

As a part of my "Be a Positive Influence" effort, I'm going to dial back the social media a bit. For the most part, it can be pretty draining with far too much negativity. I've been working on that anyways as I see that we are becoming less social when it comes to the people we actually meet with and more about social networking with people that we never really see. As for those times that I do use Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn, I'm going to try to keep it positive.

I'm inviting you to join me in my "Be a Positive Influence" campaign. The goal is to go an entire day without a negative comment and replace those moments with something positive. It can be a kind act or a kind word. It can be deciding not to share a divisive post and sharing something inspiring or uplifting. If you're in and want your family and friends to join with us (maybe your favorite negative person), share this post with them and encourage them to join the effort.

Have a great weekend.
...and Be a Positive Influence!

John <><

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's a Good Weekend to be John Hill!

I am really looking forward to this weekend!
Tonight begins the Celebrate 125 festivities at Hopedale Baptist Church. I am blessed to be preaching the evening "Tent Revival" service. Put on a jacket at come on over!

There are more events tomorrow morning, afternoon and evening.

I'll miss the afternoon and evening events as I make my way north to Milan MO for a one-day revival event with two morning services and one evening service at First Baptist Milan.

Three days; four services. It's a good weekend to be John Hill!

Okay, the nine hours in the car won't be the highlight of the weekend, but it's not too bad and I really don't mind it. I'll miss some of The Cardinal's Game 6 tonight, but that's not a big deal. The hotel where I'm staying tomorrow night has wi-fi so I'll be able to watch the UFC 166 fights. I'll need to get my miles in on the exercise bike today and tomorrow because Sunday will be an off day. I'll try to get a long walk in on Sunday afternoon. That will be good before getting into the car for the trek homeward.

...And to make the weekend even better, I start getting paid again when I go to work on Monday!
I also have local shows on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Looks like it's gonna be more than a great weekend; it's gonna be a great week!

Be kind to one another this weekend. Offer an encouraging word, buy somebody a cup of coffee, just listen to somebody tells their story.

John <><

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Freedom of Speech

It is a right guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Sometime ago, I mentioned that while have that right as an American citizen, I have also surrendered it as a Christian. I am no longer free in Christ to say whatever I want to say.

Too often, people are abusing the right of free speech to say some very hurtful things. Too often, people are abusing the right of free speech by saying false things. Too often, people are just wasting time and oxygen by say things that have no value other than to give somebody and inflated opinion of themselves.

What would happen if we all decided to use our Freedom of Speech for good?

Last Saturday a woman at our writers' club went out of her way to pay me a very nice compliment. It was a simple acknowledgement of something that I do in our meetings that made an impression on her. It was very kind of her to tell me and gave me a little lift.

I was thinking about that throughout the weekend. On the one hand, it was a small gesture. But on the other hand, it had a kind of super-power quality to it. It immediately lifted my spirits and it made me want to do the same for somebody else. You probably encounter people everyday that are doing nice things or doing a particular job well, and yet they seldom receive any recognition for their efforts. Truthfully, they probably don't do what they do for the recognition...but that doesn't mean that we can't encourage them anyways.

I've tried to make it a practice of recognizing good customer service on the phone. If a representative has been polite and helpful, I usually ask to speak to their supervisor. It can make them a little nervous until I explain that I just want to tell somebody what a fine job they are doing!

There aren't too many people that read this blog anymore. I attribute it to infrequent posts and that people don't want to read the ramblings of a mere curmudgeon in training. Between the religious conservative friends and the politically liberal ones, I've managed to offend just about everybody at one time or another. The people that still come back here are a bit of a puzzle--non-religious to atheists along with a few tolerant conservative evangelicals, political liberals, moderates and conservatives (although I don't think too many far right readers are still around), readers of all ages including young women and curmudgeonly old men  (although I think that most are close to my age). I have managed to keep a number of international readers as well as a few that just stop by as random readers.

But what if just the few of us decided to use our free speech to lift somebody's spirits this weekend? A kind word of appreciation or encouragement can go a long ways sometimes. We can be a mini-force of word warriors with a mission of bringing smiles to the weary world. It may not seem like an extraordinary thing but it is far beyond the ordinary for most people. Isn't that what makes something extra ordinary?

Use your freedom of speech to be an extraordinary person today. And if you think this is a good idea, share it with your friends. This may turn out to be an extraordinary weekend for a bunch of people!

John <><

Monday, October 14, 2013

And I Just Had Lunch With Him...

This morning I'm wondering why my pastor didn't bring up the topic of his Sunday morning sermon while we were having lunch on Friday. It seems to me that it would have been a lot easier to just discuss it over lunch than to have to prepare and preach a message to me.

He preached on the servant attitude of Jesus as Jesus took on the role of the lowest household servant when he washed the feet of the disciples.

When you put that together with my Bible reading (which has me in Colossians) and I read about doing everything in word or deed in the name of Jesus and whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men; well, I just have to sit back and figure out just what am I doing and am I living for me or for Jesus?

Am I really okay with doing what I want to do and having my way while the needs of others are not met? Is it okay for me to leave that work to somebody else because it's not something that I want to do? Is more of John and less of Jesus in me the way that I want to live?

I just hate it when I realize that I've been self-centered and need to make a past wrong right.
And it seems to be happening far too often.

Still struggling daily...
John <><

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I Get to Work Today! (Too bad it's only for an IOU)

A rare Sunday when I get to go to work!

Normally, I have weekends off. I am happy to give up the Sunday premium pay to have the day off and it works well with the occasional call to preach somewhere. Today, I'll be trading days off with a co-worker so that she can keep her plans of a weekend off, in spite of the government shutdown.

As "excepted" employees, air traffic controllers get to continue working. There is still no budgeted money to pay us so we are working for an IOU. Unfortunately, there is still no clear decision on whether or not we will get paid for any leave. We only get the IOUs if we show up--no sick days (bet you really feel good about a sick controller working your flights), no vacation days.

A little creative shift swapping will allow a co-worker to keep her scheduled time off without risking the non-payment of used leave. So many have helped me in the past that this is pretty much a no brainer.

I know that I will eventually get paid for the time that I'm working.
And I know that we'll be able to take care of our bills in the mean time.
But I also know that there are many people that will be in severe hardship due to the lunacy of this government shutdown.

Please take the time to call/write/tweet/email your elected representatives and allow us to do what we've been hired to do with proper compensation.

On the bright side...the Cardinals have the day off so I won't have to miss a game--until tomorrow night when I am normally schedule to work (for nothing).

John <><

Friday, October 11, 2013

Good News (in spite of the government shutdown)

When my family first moved to the Springfield area, we set up our banking accounts at The Postal/Federal Employees Credit Union. Several years ago the Credit Union made the change to a "community" credit union and a name change followed. It is now BluCurrent Credit Union.

I give you the brief history because this particular credit union still has a large number of postal and federal employees; members that are being impacted by the antics of our elected reprehensatives in DC. In order to keep us federal employees from defaulting on our mortgages, car payments, credit cards, etc., and to allow us to put food on our tables, this little credit union is offering no interest loans in amounts that are based on our regular payroll deposits to its members. These no interest loans are expected to be paid back in lump sums once the shutdown has ended and we receive our pay.

I think that is pretty darn cool!

It sure relieves a lot of the stress that would normally accompany a short term furlough for many or working for an IOU as air traffic is currently doing.

Roses for BluCurrent.
Thorns to our legislators!

John <><

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Recently, I've become more interested in the tactics people use to get what they want. There are the passive-aggressive types that subtly manipulate, the quiet encouragers that also work subtly to achieve their desired behavior. There are negotiators and bullies and plenty of people that fall in between the extremes.

Some of the passive/aggressive types can be very effective until they appear to be whiny and some of the bullies can be likable enough until it's you that they are bullying. Some people are very effective in inspiring particular behaviors; others...not so much.

I imagine that each one of us has our own favorite (whether we know it or not) method of getting what we want from other people or trying to bring them around to our way of thinking.

I think I'll add a new label to my posts and address different characters from time to time--not tonight, though. I've taken on a new project that will stress my pea-brain as I read through The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


John <><

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Back to Work--Diet and Exercise

So after doing well in September, I gave myself a few days off. A change of schedule and no mids last week cut down on my biking time, as did my baseball adventure with Aaron. The trip and the kids being home for the weekend hit the diet in a negative way, but not too badly.

I'm going to look for 80 miles this week. I put in 20 this afternoon for my highest single ride total. I've also added some dumbbell work, push-ups, body rows, free squats and stretching. I've toyed with the idea of trying running again. Even though I've dropped 25 pounds and that would be a good thing for my knees, I'm still not convinced that I want to take it on. I do want to run (I'm not sure why), but don't want to risk the injury. I'm hoping that the bike work and free squats are building some joint strength. I think I'll wait for another 5 or 10 pounds to get serious about running. I may try a little light work just to see how it goes.

In any case, it's back to the diet and exercise. Here we go again.

John <><


I'm talking about convicted in the sense of having been sufficiently impressed with the guilt of my own bad behavior.
Don't you just hate it when your Bible reading takes to a passage that points out your own poor behavior. Man, I really hate that.

Today I am reminded that dealing with the poor behavior of others is no excuse for our own poor behavior. We are called to be better than that; to deal with poor behavior with grace. We are to be representatives of Jesus; Ambassadors of the Cross. We are not called on to tolerate or condone bad behaviors, but neither are we to be hateful or hurtful in our calling it to the attentions of those that are the offending persons.

One of the things that has brought these convicting thoughts to mind is the invitation to preach at our Celebrate 125 event at Hopedale on the 18th. It's difficult to preach God's Word when you haven't dealt with your own demons.

For those that might be praying people, I do solicit your intercessory prayers as I seek the wisdom and grace to become more like my Savior and less like myself. Another John once stated that he must become less while Jesus becomes more--a good attitude for this John, too. As a matter of fact, it's a pretty good attitude for any follower of Jesus.

John <><

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Rainy Days

It is a rainy Saturday morning in the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri. There are scores of little guys playing football in the rain and all of their families watching the muddy little guys.

Hannah is off visiting with a friend. Aaron is working on some studies while Jenny is getting things ready for a friend's wedding. Maybe the rain will end and the sun can come out before wedding time. Chris is working and I'm getting ready to head out to help a friend the rain.

It's a nice steady rain, no thunder, no wind. My guess is that it's a cold rain. Oh well. The front is supposed to bring in more seasonable temperatures for the coming week.

Although the government continues in "shutdown" mode, the vote to grant furloughed workers back-pay should take place soon. They should be made whole and paid for the time they should have been working, but if you're going to pay them anyway, what's the point of having them off work and the government shutdown? Our illustrious legislators do some of the dumbest things. They claim to be fiscally conservative and yet they waste more money doing stupid stunts to make political points.

Time for me to get going to help some friends (yes, I have a few). Just heard the first thunder of the morning and the rain seems to be getting heavier...timing is everything, right?

Have a great Saturday!
It's a good day to be you.

John <><

Friday, October 04, 2013

"It's a Good Day to be John Hill"

Yesterday was a grand day. I was pretty pumped up about making the drive to St. Louis to meet Aaron for game one of the Cardinals'/Pirates' post-season series. So much so that I might have been a little more annoying than usual to my co-workers. In spite of getting up at 2:30am, working an 8 hour shift and then driving to St. Louis, I was in a pretty good mood. So much so that I told the supervisor that she couldn't hurt me for the day. She could leave me on position all day, make me train AK the whole time, or spend the day doing eLMs courses!

At some point, AK came up with the line, "It's a good day to be John Hill."

The day ended about 23 hours after it started. Cardinal win, good seats (free), good dinner, great time with my son. It was a good day to be me.

Most days are pretty good days to be least as far as I'm concerned.

I hope that today is a good day to be you. I think that our own attitudes towards the diverse situations we face make the biggest difference. Sometimes, just realizing that our issues aren't as bad as the issues that others deal with is enough. I hope that you can deal with who you are today. If you want to come hang out with me, I'll be at BWWs on Battlefield this afternoon to watch the Cardinal baseball game (with Aaron). Come on down.

It's another good day to be John Hill!

John <><

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Government Shutdown

Just a quick note on this second day of our government shutdown.

Yesterday, I sent a tweet to my Congressman challenging him to donate his paycheck to charity as long as there are Federal employees that are furloughed. I am going to make the same challenge to my Senators.

I am asking all of you to do the same.

John <><

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October 1

It's the first day of the government shutdown and I'm working on manipulating my schedule within the confines of a furlough to get the time off that I want. It's kind of a pain in the backside, but I'm not too bad at working the schedule and not too unhappy if I actually have to show up for work. All-in-all, I've still got a pretty good gig.

Weight-wise, September was a very successful month! I start October at 230.6 pounds. That puts me at losing nearly 28 pounds since the beginning of June (258.0). I hit the last two weeks pretty hard as far as diet goes and also managed to up the output (exercise) a little bit. I'll keep up with the better eating, but will bring my intake back up to a more sustainable level. I hope to continue with the exercise, but that is truly the more challenging part of health and weight management. I'm not going to make big plans for a big loss in October. I'll be happy with a pound or so per week and would like to see 225 by the end of the month.

Have a great October!

John <><