Archive for the ‘brain belches’ Category

Growing up I wanted to be a cowboy.

Most of my heroes have always been Cowboys, with the hats and the stories to prove it.
Grandpa was a cowboy and horse trainer. He taught us how to ride and how to wear a Stetson hat. He taught us how to cuss and how to wrestle. Wrestling lessons consisted of him putting us in a headlock and not letting us loose until we shouted “CALF-ROPE!

There is something so cool about the cowboy life. You get to hang out with your buds and eat beef jerky and beans. You ride Mavericks, Sing songs and tell stories. You ride the range, rope and wrestle. You occasionally sit around a fire and celebrate bodily functions….AHHHH! The life of a cowboy.

The problem was there are certain things that might have killed my cowboy dreams.
I look kinda goofy in a big hat.
My one attempt at chewing tobacco ended very badly. I turned the shade of spinach and I threw up all over a storm shelter (to be fair, I was 7 years old).
I tried to ride a quarter horse once and I actually needed a step ladder to get on board. It seriously slows you down and kills your cowboy cred if you have to use a ladder to get on your horse. Fortunately, my grandpa had a Shetland pony named George. Shetland ponies are the compact cars of the horse kingdom. I spent many happy minutes riding the trails with George.
Big belt buckles scare me, I always think that if I bend over fast I might rupture my spleen.

I think the cowboy life is more than wearing boots and bandanas.
There are certain ideas that embody the spirit of the cowboy.
Ideas that anyone can rope…see what I did there?
The cowboy life is about uncontainable wildness. It is big, bold, untamed.
It is living unbound.
It’s a Life that is more about invention than convention. More about campfires than committees
It’s a daily search for new adventure.
It’s grabbing life by the throat and wrestling it to the ground until it shouts “CALF-ROPE”!
It’s all about Freedom and friendship.
I can still live the cowboy life even if I never wear a pair of wranglers.
It happens when I refuse to conform, compromise or compare.
I am myself no matter who is watching.
I ride wildly through the fields of grace and wonder.
I search out new adventures and tell better stories.
I live authentic…rustic…raw.
You with me?
Whoever you are…whatever you do…
COWBOY UP!
Live free.
Sing songs, tell stories.
Be the wildest, undiluted version of yourself!
Let’s Saddle up the Shetland ponies and ride like a strong breeze!

I am an American kid.

I was raised on fried food and football.

I have a lot of really sweet memories that smell like football.

I remember a bitter cold winter night, my Dad, brother and me, huddled in a pick up truck, listening to the last few minutes of the Super Bowl on an AM radio.

I remember sitting on metal bleachers eating steaming Frito-chili pie (I know, it’s an Oklahoma thing!) at home football games.

I remember falling in love with America’s team. When I was in 3rd grade, I decided the Dallas Cowboys were my team too. They have been ever since. I stuck with them through the good years and the bad years. You learn that haters are gonna hate, but you got to stick with your team. That’s what you do.

My personal dreams of football glory were lived out in our front yard. Growing up, We had a huge front yard that was an almost perfect football field. On most fall Saturdays we would gather…a rag tag collection of neighborhood NFL wannabes, We would choose teams and draw elaborate plays in the dirt.

We were completely serious about our fun! It wasn’t pretty, we fumbled and stumbled. It wasn’t about perfection, It was all about play.

We didn’t have nice uniforms or pads. We played in t-shirts, jeans and Chuck Taylors. We got dirty.

Sometimes kids got mad, hopefully it wasn’t the kid who owned the ball.

We learned that it was more about heart than ability, my brother was the youngest player but also the scrappiest.

We learned how to (and how not to) play through pain. I remember the same kid got hurt every game and went home crying. We adjusted and kept playing. It was a rough game.

Sometimes the game hurts, you learn to get up and carry on. Most hurts were solved with a little break and a Dixie cup full of warm tropical punch Kool-Aid.

On that note, we had a bird house on a very tall metal pole right in the center of our front yard. Inevitably someone would run into the birdhouse. They knew it was there, my Dad didn’t move it. It was a big, unyielding, permanent fixture in our football field. Most of the time it wasn’t a problem, but if you forgot it was there, and hit it at the right angle, it would jack you up! You gotta watch out for the bird houses in life. We all have bird houses in our lives, things that could jack us up. The lesson is simple…know that they are there and avoid them.

But, I think the single biggest thing I learned in the front yard was where I fit.

I couldn’t catch or throw, I wasn’t fast…

but I DO have a very low center of gravity.

Because of that I could stay on my feet when people were trying to tackle me.

Our quarterback, usually my friend Jimmy, would hand me the ball and shout “RUN!” And I would.

I was more grunt than graceful.

the truth was you couldn’t really call what I was doing running…

I was really just moving in the right direction…that was enough…life is more about just moving in the right direction than speed.

I realized I could run…okay…move in the right direction with 3 or 4 guys hanging on my neck. They would desperately try to bring me down but they couldn’t!

It was awesome!

My team mates celebrated my innate ability to stand up.

There are a few benefits to being the same height and width.

I can’t fully explain the feelings of achievement and belonging that I felt when my team celebrated me finding my place.

It was soul Gatorade.

It was life.

AHHHH!!! the sweetness of finding your sweet spot.

Know your role and play it.

Don’t compare yourselves to others.

Don’t keep track of how many times other people get the ball.

There is only one quarterback on the field…but he’s not on the field by himself!

Find your sweet spot.

Now, several decades later, I, like most chubby, middle age guys, live out my football dreams second hand. I put on a jersey and I talk about “OUR” team going all the way…this could be “OUR” year!

But, I remember the lessons that I learned. I play, I watch out for bird houses and most important, I know who I am.

I know what I can do and what I can’t.

I also know there is nothing better on a cold day than a steaming styrofoam cup of frito-chili pie!

Go Cowboys!

It was a really good day…until it wasn’t.

It was the summer of 1981.
My Dad was teaching me how to drive.
Dad had just gotten a 1974 Ford Maverick. He restored it and had it painted and pinstriped. It was a beautiful chunk of shiny metal. He was really proud. It was a beautiful, reasonably fast car. He had recaptured a part of the youth that he had forfeited in the name of responsibility. You have to understand, my Dad was a very practical man who drove practical vehicles. He usually drove pick up trucks with gun racks. This was his big mid-life splurge. It was the closest thing he ever had to a sports car.
He took me driving on a Summer afternoon. At first, he was driving. We were just taking a lazy drive. We drove through our neighborhood and over by my Grandma’s house.
then, He pulled over and threw me the keys…to HIS MAVERICK! I adjusted the seat as far up as it could go. Then I took off. I was a little nervous, but I was doing it. I was focused and I even used the turn signals once. It was going good. My Dad was in a really good mood. We stopped at Hi-View Mini-Mart and we each got a cold glass bottle of Pepsi. We were cruising through the back roads with the windows down and an Alabama song playing on the radio. It was a perfect summer afternoon. Dad punched me in the arm and grunted, “you are doing alright, boy.”
It was the closest that I felt to my Dad in a while.

It was a really good day, then in one moment EVERYthing changed!

We were almost home…

I was turning into our long gravel driveway and…well…I guess, I might have over compensated a bit…Instead of the driveway…I was headed straight toward the barbed wire fence that ran parallel to it…in HIS MAVERICK!
Seriously!
We all have moments where we honestly don’t know what happened.
HOLY CRAP moments.
I was disconnected from all reason and road safety and I punched it.
It was an ugly blur that seemed to be moving in fast forward and slow motion all at the same time.
There were metal fence posts and chunks of dirt and grass flying through the air.
It was all accompanied by some unbelievably ugly scraping noises.
For some God forsaken reason…I…just…couldn’t…stop.
I had one foot pressed down on the gas and one pressed down on the brake.
It was a surreal moment of stupidity.
The car finally came to a stop.
I had taken out about 25 feet of barbed wire.
I wanted to throw up or run away.
I slowly looked over at my Father…
His face had turned a shade of pink that I had never seen him wear before.
His eyebrows were twitching and his nostrils were flaring.
It looked like his forehead was about to explode.
He glared at me and got out of the car. He stomped around looking at the mangled fence and the horribly disfigured sports car.
Then he shouted one four letter word that pretty much summed up the whole situation.
My Mom, who had witnessed the whole ugly ordeal from the dining room window, hurried out with two glasses of sweet tea. (Sweet tea has supernatural soothing powers…Mom recognized this as a situation in need of soothing.) I’m pretty sure my siblings were making my funeral plans.

I walked out to our hay barn and cried for hours. I had screwed up. My Irish setter, Pat, put his head in my lap and let me know that I was gonna be alright. Sometimes, only a good dog understands your pain.
Then, my Dad and me fixed the fence together, because that is what you do. We didn’t talk much…we just fixed a broken fence.
Eventually Dad could look at me again without making that strange wheezing noise in his throat.
We got through it.
It became a story…a story that EVERYbody who came over to our house the next 2 years heard. “Hey…you see my boy over there…let me tell you what he did…”

There is a time honored rite of passage called the Snipe hunt. When I was about 12 years old, I got welcomed into the club.

I was on a camp out with the youth group from St. Henry’s Catholic Church. (I think St. Henry is the patron saint of men who smoke pipes.) we had backpacked, ate a large amount of canned beanie weenies and sat around campfires, farting and giggling. It was a memorable trip into the deep woods of north east Oklahoma. I don’t mind saying, We survived some pretty harsh conditions, we hiked for minutes, our tents flooded one night and we ran out of Vienna sausages. Then late one night, we were told by the older dudes that the conditions were perfect for a snipe hunt. Evidently, The perfect conditions were a moonless night and a bunch of gullible 7th grade boys. We were instructed that we were going to catch (and probably kill and possibly eat) the exclusive wild snipe. We were ready! We were MEN and we were ready for the hunt. Snipes were described to us as cross between a wild mongoose, a Pygmy goat & an electric eel. Needless to say we were horrified but we were men so we hunt…right?
We were given a musty burlap bag and 2 sticks and carefully worded instructions: The older guys would take us into the snipe hunting grounds and help us find the perfect spot. We were to stand there,expectantly, with our bag ready to snag a snipe. We also were told to bang the sticks together and make the snipe mating call, which sounded like this: “kissy kissy woooo!” The snipes would then run into our burlap bags. It sounded pretty easy…a little scary, but simple…right? So we did it. the older guys separated us and took us out and left us alone in the dark with a burlap bag making kissy noises. We waited and waited and waited. It was dark and scary. It’s really not fair, being 12 years old is already a really hard and confusing time. It’s even harder when you get left in the dark. There were weird completely unfamiliar outdoor noises. Then, when you were really creeped out and about to lose your mind the older jerks…I mean guys would sneak up on you and scare the crap right out of you. It was all a lot of fun…if you were an older guy. I was crouched in the dark with my burlap bag making kissy noises. I wasn’t a big fan of the dark at home, but in the woods I was consumed with wide eyed, crazy fear. Right about then, my friend, Arthur’s brother, Phil, snuck up and grabbed my leg. My finely tuned survival skills kicked in and I did what came primal. I had two sticks so I used them. I started beating the crud out of Phil with my sticks. He was yelling “LUKE…LUKE…IT’s ME!!!” I shouted back: “I KNOW!!” I still feel kinda bad about that, Phil was a really good guy.
Looking back there was something real cool about that night. It was scary and earthy and dark and mysterious. But waking up the next day we were different. We were in on the joke. We were part of the club. We packed up camp and hiked back to the station wagons waiting to take us home. We were older and wiser and manlier.
Now, Pass the beanie weenies.

When we were kids, we would spend every New Year’s Eve at our grandparents. All of the parents would drop the cousins off and we would party like 6 through 10 year olds…it would get crazy! We would eat cookies and popcorn. We would build forts from furniture. We would jump up and down for no apparent reason. We would listen to grandpa’s police scanner. Then, when it was getting late, around 8:30, we would gather in the living room for a talent show. My cousin, Gayla, did a marionette show. She had a very cool stage and she always did a great job. My cousin, Kayse, did some ballet. There were impressive professional wrestling exhibitions and home movies. I think there was a trained ferret once. There was an occasional ukulele or harmonica solo. I always did a…umm…magic show.

For a few years I got a magic kit for Christmas, the kind with…wait for it…24 real magic tricks!! This gave me a week to master the skills of illusion. This usually didn’t work out.
The problem was, it seems, that to master sleight of hand, you really need actual motor skills and discretion. I still can not shuffle a deck of cards, that makes card tricks a little…well…tricky! But, my obvious lack of skills didn’t stop me. I was hopeful. I had big dreams, I was going to be the next Houdini. I called myself the amazing Languini, because I thought it sounded mysterious and cool. I didn’t realize that I was calling myself a noodle. Nothing says mystifying like pasta.
Each New Year’s Eve I put on quite possibly the worst magic show ever. I remember trying to do the trick with the little red plastic vase and rope and never being able to do it right. The only thing I managed to pull out of my hat was lint. I poked myself in the eye once with my real store bought magic wand. Luckily for my self esteem I had some very supportive cousins. With each mediocre trick they gave me a new chance. “That last one was pretty rough, but let’s see what you got now…”

There is something so completely hopeful about a new year.
It’s freshly fallen possibility, untouched, unsmudged, pure potential.
You can pick it up and take it wherever you choose.
Technically, January 1st is just another day, right?
But there is something magical about it.
There is a strange magic in NEW.
The chance to start over…to begin again…a fresh start…a clean slate.
Last year was tough, but hey…you get a fresh start.
“That last one was pretty rough, but let’s see what you got now…”
It’s really good news…it’s the power of potential. Hit the restart button. It’s not too late.
It’s like every 365 days we get a Do-over. It’s a built in time for reflection and renewal.
There is power in pause.
Stop…What did I get right? What did I screw up? What is beyond my control? How can I start all over?
It’s strange magic…How can I make the ugly disappear and pull some new dreams out of my hat?
I love that new year smell…
Each new year smells like the spirit of do-over.
It’s downright magical

Who is the strongest person you know? I’ve met some pretty tough people, football players and fighters, pro wrestlers and soldiers. They were pretty impressive individuals, BUT, not the strongest person I know. I’ve even met Chuck Norris, he was a super cool guy, BUT, he wasn’t the strongest person I know.
The strongest person that I know is 4′ 11″, she sometimes walks with a cane and hangs out with a weenie dog named Stretch. It’s my mom, Marilyn Lang. She is the strongest person that I’ve ever met.
My dad was a tough guy, an all American MAN. He was John Wayne and Superman all wrapped up into one hairy package. He was tough, but he wasn’t as strong as my mom.
She was strong enough to beat the odds that everyone saw and the ones that nobody knew about.
The summer before she turned 8 she was diagnosed with polio. Her life would never be the same. It was often hard and painful. She was strong enough to beat polio, although, like Jacob in the Old Testament, her struggle left her with a limp. She was strong enough to live with the limp. True strength…real strength comes from living with weakness. What weakened her legs FOREVER strengthened her spirit.
She was strong enough to raise three kids, she birthed two and chose one (but, she did have labor pains the day my sister, Hope, was born 6,645 miles away).
She was strong enough to simply be herself and encourage her kids to do the same.
She was strong enough to, by her example, instill something in us that is unbreakable…a faith. By herself, she took…sometimes dragged…us to church. My brother, Mark, and I are ONLY in the business of changing lives because She was strong enough to change our lives.
She was strong enough to work hard at a school cafeteria, a bank and a pharmacy. Only to come home and work hard some more.
She was strong enough to get in the face of people twice her size if they were messing with the people she loved. Sometimes she even used a footstool to do this.
She was strong enough to love one man though good, bad and ugly. Then, just when things were getting beautiful, She was strong enough to carry on with life, when that man left the dance way too early.
She was strong enough to dance alone.
She was strong enough to make a new life.
She is strong enough to do the right thing, even when it wasn’t the easy or popular thing.
She is strong enough to tell the truth.
She is strong enough to love.
She is strong enough to forgive the hurters and the haters.
She is strong enough to dance like nobodies watching.
My little Mother is the biggest badass I know.
Life has thrown her some serious curveballs, sometimes it still does.
She will beat them.
She is just that strong.
Don’t mess with her.
She is THE strongest person I’ve ever known.

2nd generation CAT TAT…

Posted: December 3, 2014 in brain belches

I’m the proud owner of some new art.

It’s on my arm, I’ve got a new tattoo. This one is my tenth. This one is an important link to my history.

I’ve had it for a few days so we are in the healing process. It’s scabby and a little puffy. Sometimes,during the healing process, you can’t really see the picture clearly. In the first few hours, it’s really hard to distinguish because it’s clouded by blood and ink.

Tattoos are art that grows on you. It’s a scar that becomes a story.

Life is like that too, healing can be a process. It takes a little time for our scars to become stories.

Life is art that grows on you.

Let me tell you the story of my newest art…

it’s an incredibly sweet old school panther.

It was done by my friend, Taylor Cornwell, who is an AWEmazing artist and really cool guy. He is ALSO from me and my Dad’s hometown…Tulsa! Here is why that is significant…

My latest tat is a tribute piece to my Dad.

My Dad had a tattoo on his forearm, he got it when he was in the army. He was stationed in Germany, a long way from home and he got a tattoo.

I’m pretty sure there was alcohol involved, because it wasn’t a very good tattoo.

It was always a little bit of a mystery about what the tattoo actually was…I always thought it looked like a misshapen sweet potato. Dad told us it was a panther. “Hmmm….sure, Dad, Maybe a panther with a goiter”. But he insisted it was a panther. His panther was etched on his arm, but it’s also forever etched in my memory. As a little kid I would study it and touch it. As I grew older it became another chapter in the manliness and mystery of Delano Lang.

My Dad didn’t talk a lot about his past, he was very private. But, this was a story that he couldn’t hide. He wore it on his sleeve…literally.

My Dad moved to heaven 14 years ago, I miss him.

There is not a day that goes by that i don’t think about him.

I wonder what he would do in situations.

I wonder what he would think of the man and father that I’ve become.

I try to carry him with me.

I decided it was time to carry a piece of him with me in a symbolic sense. But, as every generation must learn to do, I carry him in my own way. So I got a panther tattoo, it’s not an exact replica, because it’s always better to remember the past than to try to replicate it. It’s a second generation cat tat.

It’s my Dad’s story in my style.

and…

it’s healing.

rescue people.

Posted: December 1, 2014 in brain belches

This last Saturday, we welcomed a fuzzy new family member.

She is a beautiful little beagle.

She is 3 or 4 years old, we aren’t sure.

She is a rescue beagle. She was rescued from a pound in Virginia, where she was about to be killed.

She arrived with an old name. But, after getting to know her, we REnamed her, Maggie.

She just looks like a Maggie.

Maggie Lang.

She is, quite possibly, the sweetest, most affectionate dog I’ve ever been around.

She is the canine embodiment of the word “cuddle”.

She loves to snuggle, to really press in and nuzzle face to face. It is a beautiful, healing thing.

She’s not perfect, we didn’t expect her to be. It took her about 42 seconds for her to leave a mess on our carpet. We didn’t love her any less.

She doesn’t do any special tricks, we don’t care. We were just looking for someone to love and she found us.

She is learning to trust us. There are certain behaviors that hint at her past, she is a little skittish, timid. It’s going to take some time. That’s okay, we have time.

We had love to give and she showed up. It’s a beautiful, healing thing.

I’m amazed at what a snuggler she is, but I have a theory…

I think she fully realizes the situation that she was saved from.

Sometimes when you are saved from death, the only right reaction is to snuggle. That is both the only and the greatest thing that she can offer us.

She showed up with paperwork telling us who she was, and a tagged collar that read “RESCUED”.

We gave her a home and a new name. It’s a beautiful, healing thing.

As I was thinking about this, it dawned on me that my situation is the same as hers!

I’m a rescue person.

Jesus rescued me from death.

I’m a rescued person.

He has given me a home and a new name.

I’m learning to trust my Heavenly Father. Some days, I get it right. Some days, I’m a little skittish.

I’m not perfect, I still make huge messes. He doesn’t love me any less.

If I realize the situation that I was saved from, I also realize that my only reaction is to snuggle with my Savior.

It’s not about doing the right tricks perfectly.

It is not about performance, but presence.

The goal is to really press in and nuzzle face to face with God. It is a beautiful, healing thing

I want to simply snuggle with my good, loving, heavenly Daddy.

That is both the only and the greatest thing that I can offer Him.

I’m a rescued person. It is a beautiful, healing thing

“You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy.” Romans 8:15 (@TheVoiceBible)

Lessons from Dad.

Posted: November 28, 2014 in brain belches

November 28, 2000, my dad, Delano Lang, went to heaven. He had a massive heart attack and was unconscious for eight days. We surrounded his bedside, and we prayed and hoped and remembered and cried and laughed. I remember it like it was yesterday.

When the end (actually, it was the beginning) came, we gained a clear, undeniable glimpse into the unseen world. We were all standing there, and it was obvious when Dad left the building. We could sense the very second he passed. No doctor had to tell us. One second he was there; the next he was gone. He vacated his earthly dwelling to move to a much better neighborhood.

We let him go. During the preceding eight days, we had learned what real trust in an unseen God is. We learned that if we really believed what we had professed for years, we would let Dad go. Besides, it wasn’t goodbye—it was just see you later.”
And as we said “See you later,” we felt a strong, tangible sense of the holy in that hospital room. We joined hands and sang “God Is Good All the Time” because He is. I’ve never been more sure of the fact that this life isn’t all there is than at that moment.

My dad was no mere mortal. He was John Wayne and Superman all rolled into one big, hairy package. When I was a kid, I was sure Dad was invincible. Even when I was older, I felt completely safe whenever he was around. I found out later he wasn’t invincible. But in my mind he’ll always be the strongest, smartest, toughest man I’ll ever meet.

I remember so much about Dad. I remember his laugh, the way he wore his hat, and the way he smelled. I remember his bushy eyebrows that by looking angry could paralyze me with fear. I remember his hands covered in calluses from hard work. For years I was sure that my true first name was “BOY”, because that is what Dad called me.

I remember the lessons he tried to teach me that never stuck, like how to work on cars or how to be a handyman. I never really caught either of those.

But I also remember all of the things he taught me that did stick. He taught me how to be a man. Without ever claiming to be a leader, he taught me more about leadership than anyone else. He taught me what integrity, respect, work ethic, and honor are all about.

Dad was a man of few words. As I was growing up, it seemed like he communicated mainly through grunts. A happy grunt meant he was pleased; an unhappy grunt meant someone was in big trouble. Most of what he taught me was through his example and not his words. He modeled life for me, and some of the time, I caught it.

As I reflected on the mostly nonverbal instruction my father gave me, I realized some other life lessons he taught me:

Get your priorities right: God first, your family second, your friends third, and yourself fourth.

Authentic faith isn’t just something you talk about. It’s something that affects every area of your life.

Work hard, play hard, and take a nap every once in a while.

Be the first to leave the party—it leaves people wanting more.

True wealth has nothing to do with material possessions or bank accounts. It has to do with what you deposit in the lives of those around you.

Real friends stick with you through the tough times. Remember to return the favor.

There’s always plenty of blame to pass around; but don’t do it—take responsibility.

Look people in the eye and tell the truth.

The right thing and the hardest thing are usually the same thing.

Live every moment to the fullest. There’s something much worse than dying—not living.

Don’t play favorites—treat everyone the same.

A life lived for others is never in vain.

There is never a bad time for breakfast.

It’s better to fail than to quit.

If you tell people the truth the first time, you won’t have to apologize or backtrack later.

Appreciate and enjoy simple things.

Live with repentance instead of regret so you can die with faith instead of fear.

Live in such a way that you leave a mark.

Appreciate nature.

Everything’s better with gravy on it.

Read just for fun.

Honesty is more important than perfection.

Plain white T’s, baseball caps, and pearl-snap shirts never go out of style. (Okay, maybe they do, but who cares?)

Laugh often.

Live for something bigger than yourself.

Thanks, Dad. I miss you, but I’ll see you soon.

Love,
Boy.

Thanksliving.

Posted: November 26, 2014 in brain belches

The practice of thankfulness is the enemy of entitlement and the cure for comparison. When we focus on what we DO have instead of what we DON’T have, “I deserve” becomes “life isn’t perfect, but it’s good”.