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The holidays aren’t always easy

02 pub notes picEditor’s note: In the spirit of the holidays, Publisher Bill Bowman yields his space to Stephanie Crider. The following publisher’s note originally ran in 2016.

Community and giving back are consistent themes in this publication. Time and again and without fail, our community steps up to care for its own, to solve problems, to get things done. We take care of each other when things get hard.

Unfortunately, it is not enough to say “Well done,” and move along because there will always be someone in need, someone who, despite their best effort, can’t make ends meet, can’t provide for their family, can’t take care of themselves.
This time of year, social media is filled with posts about how thankful, lucky and blessed people are. And that is a wonderful thing. It’s good to count our blessings and be mindful of how much we have and how fortunate we are.

There are still people in this community and all across this country who are not so fortunate. And organizations this time of year often struggle to meet the needs of those they serve.

If you are able and it is in your heart, consider giving back this holiday season. It doesn’t take much to change someone’s life. While the holidays are supposed to be a happy time of year, many struggle mightily with things like loneliness and depression during November and December. Take a few moments, call or check in on a friend/acquaintance/office mate/neighbor and let them know you are thinking about them. Or take them to lunch or for coffee or just spend a few minutes letting them know you care.

If time is something you don’t have or you are unable to “sponsor” someone this season, consider supporting one of the many organizations dedicated to helping this community. Drop some money in one of the red Salvation Army kettles. They feed the homeless, while providing a job for the bell ringers, typically lower income.


Write a check to one of the many nonprofits in the area. Places like the CARE Clinic and Better Health offer health-related services to the community at little or no cost.
Or volunteer. Not just during the holidays but throughout the year. Operation Inasmuch, Catholic Charities, the Dream Center, the Child Advocacy Center, the Guardian ad litem program and other organizations are always looking for help.

Drop off some nonperishable food items like canned goods, dried beans, soup mixes or the like at one of the food banks. Second Harvest Food Bank is always accepting donations, but there are other organizations that have food pantries, too. Donate toiletries or hygiene items at one of the many local shelters. Things like a package of socks, a hat and a scarf or a gently used coat mean everything when you need them and don’t have them.

Donate a toy at one of the many toy drop-offs. Toys for Tots is just one way. Support a local toy run that many local motorcycle clubs sponsor this time of year. Many organizations have Angel trees that make it easy to give a child
a Merry Christmas. Some organizations that support children in our community are the Girls and Boys Club, Fayetteville Urban Ministry and Falcon Children’s Home.

Giving back during this stressful time of year doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money, and it can change someone’s life — including yours.

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

Gratitude on display

15 fall prettyIs it officially fall yet? Not by the calendar, but by the way it looks, feels and smells outside? I truly love all weather — the world just seems to be ablaze in color, there's a certain crispness in the air each morning, and the afternoons bring a little jacket weather before the winter officially sets in to send us on daily trips to the woodpile.

The fall weather is more than beauty and comfort, though. It's a sign. A signal to us all that the time for gathering as family and friends is just ahead. It's a season for gratitude and thoughtfulness, where the coolness of the air outside is perfectly countered by a warmth that seems to grow within us all.

We started a new fall tradition in my family a couple of years ago, and I thinks it's a good exercise in humility. The gratitude pumpkin. Maybe you've done this, too, or at least heard about it. The concept is simple: get a pumpkin, place it where it's easily visible to your family and guests, and use a permanent marker — or paint, for the really artsy among us — to write down things you're grateful for.

It doesn't take long to get past the cool stuff and start writing really simple things like health, family or a home, and that's where the gold is. Realizing how immensely blessed we are in our everyday lives. Life — even abundant life — isn't about money or cars or possessions. It's about the relationships we build. It's about the joy we get from, or bring to, others. There is an undeniable joy in the laughter of a toddler, or the tender moments with a newborn. There is joy and much to be thankful for all around us. It just takes us pausing long enough to recognize it.

The gratitude pumpkin at our house was so filled with the thankful thoughts we wrote on it last year you could hardly tell it was ever orange at all. And that's how I want to live. I'm ready for the negativity and the pain and the ugliness we see in this crazy, divided world to give way to a sense of gratitude for what we have. There is freedom in that place. There is joy in that place. And there is love in its truest form in the place where gratitude lives.

Congratulations to newly elected candidates

05 N1911P59001CEditor’s note: The following is a reprint of a Facebook post by Earl Vaughan Jr. on election night.

In the wake of the reelection of Mayor Jackie Warner and Commissioner Pat Edwards, the historic election of Kenjuana McCray to the board along with the return to the board of Bryan Marley, I share this poem by Edgar Guest. It is dedicated to a voice of hate and divisiveness that has flooded Facebook in this election cycle with vicious personal attacks and perversions of truth. Here’s to Mayor Warner and the new board of commissioners and the hope they will unite to exemplify the high ideals shared in these words.

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam, and the side wall fell.
I asked the foreman: “Are these skilled--
And the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave me a laugh and said: “No, indeed!
Just common labor is all I need.
I can wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do.”
And I thought to myself as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
Measuring life by a rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds to a well made Plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker, who walks the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?
 

Keeping warm on winter rides

14 bikesThere are modern inventions I love. On cold mornings, I can remotely start my car from inside the house. A few minutes later, I go outside and get into a nice warm car. The seat is heated and so is the steering wheel. As I wrap my hands around the wheel, I take a deep breath and thank God that one of the blessings of growing up in these times is some of these modern inventions. I look outside at the already-defrosted windows, and I head out to start my day.

On a motorcycle, we can get the same comfort to stay warm.

Before you head out, check the local hourly temperatures. If you are going out of town, check the weather for various locations along your route. Remember to give additional attention to elevation changes
For a planning factor, subtract three degrees for every 1,000 feet of elevation and bring extra layers.

Here are some ideas that will keep you warm. A full-face helmet is a start. The face shield should have pin-lock and lens inserts. Pin-lock inserts will prevent your face shield from fogging up. To help keep the head, neck and face warm, use a balaclava helmet or ski mask hood. The body loses a lot of heat around the neck, especially on bike, where the wind and air are blowing around your neck, and where there is little body fat for insulation.

For your chest, wear layers. A good base layer is a shirt that provides odor resistance, warm and cold reactive temperature regulation, comfort and breathability to wick away the sweat from your body. For the midlayer, wear something a little looser. For frigid weather, I have a North Face jacket that is nice and warm and another North Face rain jacket. Both are great for using as casual wear when you are off the bike. For the outer layer, I have a few different jackets. They all have back, shoulder and elbow protection pads.

For the legs, I have a base layer that does the same job as the chest base layer. I have an inner layer of waterproof/windproof pants and outer layer Gore-Tex protective pants with hip and knee protection.

Protect your feet with a thin pair of Polypropylene socks, layer them with a pair of wool socks. My boots are Gore-Tex to help keep the moisture away from the feet. Any boot will work, but cold feet make for a stiff ride.

Hands are always a struggle for me. I have a medical condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon, which causes decreased blood flow to the fingers. For the winter, I carry what I call a mid-thick glove, a heavy glove made of Gore-Tex and glove rain covers. Once your gloves get wet, it is hard to get them dry again in cold weather. In a pinch, I have seen people use surgical gloves and dishwashing gloves. Whatever works, right?

Of course, going electric is pretty impressive on those really cold days. I have an electric jacket and gloves. You can wire them into the bike's electrical system or buy a battery system. Mine is hardwired. I have a dual thermostat. One thermostat controls the temperature of the jacket and another one for the gloves. They also make pants and boot inserts.

Lastly, having heated hand grips and heated seats are great any time of the year. For some bikes, this is standard, and for others it is optional. There are also plenty of aftermarket products out there that are easy to install.
No matter how you stay warm, take lots of breaks and ride safe!

If there is a topic that you would like to discuss, you can contact me at motorcycle4fun@aol.com.

Chasing the wind while missing the solution

04 Franklin Graham 2016 cropped 1I am starting this column Thursday night, Oct. 17. This is the 12th day of 14 days of vacation in New Bern, North Carolina. My time is being spent staying in a house where the back porch overlooks an amazingly beautiful stream surrounded by trees and still green grass. This setting, and the far slower pace than is mine in Fayetteville, have allowed me, caused me, to focus more intently on God and all the good that comes to us by way of a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.  

In this peaceful atmosphere, it rang out more clearly than ever for me that we are chasing the wind while missing the solution. The Urban Dictionary defines chasing the wind as: “A task that is meaningless. Void of purpose or virtue. A circular path, leading to no particular destination.”

Looking at that stream, and all that surrounds it, has been a daily reminder that our only hope for correcting the course of our troubled, hate-filled country is being committed to, and guided by, the ways of God. For me, that view is a reminder of God’s power as creator and of all that he offers us because of his love for us.

The bottom line is that all of us will have our moral bearing shaped by what we are exposed to. There are only two providers of experiences — God and the world. What the world exposes us to, and calls us to, is counter to the will and way of God. Our situation in America is that the world is winning. In great part, the world is winning because it does not play fair and has control of most of the assets that allow for power and influence over people.

Here is an example of what I mean: As part of my research for writing this column, I read 10 articles that appeared in The Fayetteville Observer regarding Rev. Franklin Graham’s “Decision America Tar Heel State Tour″ that started with a stop at Fayetteville’s Festival Park Oct. 1. Of the 10 articles I read, seven included some claim that Graham was carrying on a political effort in support of President Donald Trump. In my estimation, this charge was made as something he should not do and that it was abhorrent.

In “Evangelist Franklin Graham talks about tour, Trump, gay people,” by Michael Futch, Graham said, “I want to go from the coast to the mountains telling people how to have hope. And people are searching for hope today. Our country is such a mess. All the hatred. The lies that are told. People have just lost hope. In our political system, people have lost hope in the future. They just are looking for answers. There’s no one who can solve a person’s problems, individual, or solve the problems of this country collectively. Only God can do that. Jesus can solve problems and needs in a person’s life. So that when this life is finished, we can be in heaven for eternity. We’re going to the coast all the way to the mountains.”

Then this from an Observer editorial titled, “Our View: If past is a guide, politics will weave its way into Graham’s ‘Decision’ tour”: “But if Tuesday’s event is anything like Graham’s 50-state ‘Decision America’ tour, it will be a scarcely-veiled political nod to Donald Trump’s reelection and conservative candidates for the 2020 election. Just as he did in 2016, Graham plays down the political angle even though he remains a strong supporter of Trump, as he was in 2016.”
For me, focusing on and trying to prevent Graham from addressing political matters is a way of keeping people from being influenced in their political thinking by religious beliefs and values. The same strategy is employed in addressing societal issues. Yes, Graham speaks out in opposition to acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. His position is consistent with Scripture, but the world’s view is that this behavior is acceptable. Consequently, Graham, and those who share his belief, are protested against and ridiculed by the world.

The question to be answered honestly is has America come to a point where people of faith will not be allowed to have the beliefs and values of their faith guide them in day-to-day decision-making across the length and breadth of who they are as human beings? The world’s answer is a resounding “Yes.” And because of that, we are chasing the wind while missing the solution ... a relationship with God.

Tuesday night, Oct. 15, I watched all of the Democratic presidential debate. As I sat there listening to the back-and-forth regarding various issues, I was not surprised that nothing of substance by way of solutions came out. It was just circular talking and arguing ... chasing the wind. That was especially the case when the topic of mass shootings was addressed. There was the age-old call for stricter gun control. Mental health might have been mentioned in passing.

However, nobody on that stage mentioned how the source for the formation of moral standards has shifted from relationship with God and teachings of Scripture to the ways of the world. Those ways of the world are antithetical to all that God calls us to by way of a moral code. The world’s code has a way of allowing people to think that the conduct, so harmful to some, is acceptable.

I mentioned Democrats in that preceding paragraph, but be assured, wind-chasing is rampant in America. It is, by no means, limited to Democrats.

Not only do purveyors of this worldly code of conduct verbally attack proponents of God’s way, they do not hesitate to pursue punitive policies. A prime example of this is reflected in a widely reported recent incident. Senator Thom Tillis, R-N.C., speaks to it in an opinion piece published Oct. 18. Here are a couple of paragraphs from that piece: “Last week, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke went on national television and called for eliminating the tax-exempt status for any church or religious institution in America that does not recognize same-sex marriage. O’Rourke’s proposal was met by cheers and thunderous applause from the audience.

“... While some other Democratic presidential candidates are claiming they do not support eliminating the tax-exempt status for religious institutions, we have been here before. We have seen the pattern of fringe, far-left proposals gaining traction over time. Many of these fringe proposals are now mainstream Democratic Party positions.”

Tillis sees what is happening in regard to challenges to religious liberty. Thankfully, Attorney General William Barr sees it, too, and understands that we are chasing the wind and why that is the case. On Oct. 11, Barr delivered remarks to the law school and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame. The following is from his prepared remarks that are available at https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-william-p-barr-delivers-remarks-law-school-and-de-nicola-center-ethics (combined for space): “This is really what was meant by ‘self-government.’ It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.  But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings. Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves — freely obeying the dictates of inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values. And to control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will — they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.”

Later, Barr says: “On the one hand, we have seen the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system and a comprehensive effort to drive it from the public square. On the other hand, we see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism. By any honest assessment, the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim. Virtually every measure of social pathology continues to gain ground.”

Simply put, I join with Tillis and Barr in contending that religious liberty is under tremendous attack in America, and further, with Barr, that there is a serious turning from God that is proving destructive in America. We are chasing the wind while missing the solution — God.

Pictured: Rev. Franklin Graham

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