Angels Among Us

Alamo, Tennessee– I lost my grandmother in September of last year to Alzheimer’s disease. Those of you who know me well know that other than my mother, my grandmother was the most influential person in my life. It absolutely killed me when she passed and it still bothers me to this day.

Other than my sister, my grandmother literally helped my mother take care of me, especially when I was sick and my mother had to work. She was at every doctor visit and even stayed with my mother and I all the times I was in the hospital having surgery.

She taught me things that I still rely on today. Probably the biggest lesson she’s ever taught me was to reach for the stars and never give up on my dreams.

Long story short, we had a very close relationship.

On our second to last day in Daytona, my mother, sister and nephews went on a sunset cruise. I couldn’t go because it wasn’t handicapped accessible so there was no way of getting my wheelchair, even my manual one on the boat.

So I ended up staying at the condo which didn’t bother me any because that meant more time out by the pool looking at the ocean.

While I was out there, I kept looking at the clouds for whatever reason and I spotted six clouds within an hour that were in the shape of angels. I like to call them angel clouds.

Now, I’ve seen “angel clouds” before and each time it caught my attention. But there was something about seeing them at the beach that made me go “woah!”

I’d already been thinking a lot about my friend from Daytona that got killed on his motorcycle five years ago and now after seeing those clouds, it made me start thinking about my grandmother.

Each cloud was different in size and shape but all of them were shaped as an angel.

As I was looking at them, I couldn’t get Psalm 91:11 out of my head.

“For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (NIV).

I have no doubt in my mind that it was a sign from God letting us know that He was with us and protecting us. He was watching over my mother, sister and nephews while they were on that sunset cruise.

I also believe that it was my grandmother visiting us in the form of clouds. It’s been rough on all of us since her passing so I believe it was her telling us not to worry and that she’s with Jesus. She’s watching over us and protecting us as well.

While I do miss my grandmother very much, it brings me peace in knowing that she is in heaven with Jesus and that she’s always watching over us.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has seen “angel clouds” before. I’m also sure that just because we see one, it doesn’t mean that something bad is happening or about to happen. It could just mean, like in my case, that your guardian Angel is visiting you to let you know that everything is okay and not to worry.

That’s my view from the chair!

Me and God

Alamo, Tennessee– Remember when I said that I felt closer to God in Daytona Beach? I was being dead serious.

On our first full day, we went to dinner at a place called Crabby Joe’s. It’s literally in the middle of a pier that was right down the road from our condominium.

When we got there, we had to wait a good forty five minutes to an hour for a table. Everyone else went looking around in the gift shop while I went to the end of the pier.

That’s where I found myself having a conversation with God that I haven’t had in a very long time.

I started pouring my heart out to Him and telling Him everything that’s been going on these last few years. Everything from the devil turning me into something that I wasn’t to my experience with depression and addiction. I even talked to Him about mama coming down with Covid and about my grandmother passing away and how it’s affected me personally and mentally.

I talked to Him about personal family issues.

That forty five minutes to an hour of me, God and the ocean is what I needed.

Not to mention the view was absolutely gorgeous!

I remember feeling so much better when we got seated at our table.

Having that one on one time with God helped me to realize that He is always with us no matter what.

He loves us and wants to have a deep relationship with us no matter what.

He forgives us for our sins no matter what.

When we call on Him, He listens and He answers our prayers.

The only thing is that He does it on His time and not ours.

The Bible says in Acts 1:7 that it is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority.

Our job is to have faith and put our trust in Him. He does the rest.

Also, we CANNOT stop praying.

God wants to hear from us every single day AND night.

He wants us to talk to Him during the good times and the bad.

A lot of us, including myself, only go to Him when things are bad. We can’t do that.

He’s there through both so He expects us to go to Him during both.

If there’s anyone on the face of this earth that needs to be better at that, it’s me.

The time on that pier helped me realize that.

It woke me up and helped me realize that I haven’t been the Christian that I need to be and that I KNOW I can be.

I’ve recently (like the last 10-15 years) focused all my time and energy on things that were not important. Some good and some bad.

While the good things were actually good, it took away from time I needed to spend with God.

I’m still thanking Him to this day for taking me to that pier and for the forty five minutes to an hour wait. It’s because of that wait and that time on that pier that helped me to realize that I need to do better. And I WILL do better!

The valuable lesson I learned during that conversation with Him is that sometimes it takes ten years to get to that one year that will change your life.

Keep going!

That’s my view from the chair!

Familiar Places

Krispy Kreme Donuts, Daytona Beach Florida

Alamo, Tennessee– When we arrived in Daytona, I immediately started seeing places that I honestly couldn’t believe were still open. For instance, we passed by a Krispy Kreme donut shop that we used to get breakfast at every morning when we were there.

The place has been there for as long as I can remember.

I don’t know if it’s owned by the same people or not, probably not.

I do know for a fact that out of all of the Krispy Kreme’s I have eaten at (too many to count! I love the place!), this one, my opinion that is, is the best one.

On our previous trips to Daytona, I can’t remember a time that we didn’t stop. It’s that good!

Obviously on this trip, we didn’t stop.

But like the saying goes, you can’t always get what you want, right?

Photo credit: cruisincafe.com

One other place that we passed was a restaurant called Cruisin’ Cafe. If you’re a fan of NASCAR, good food and live entertainment (including karaoke), this is the place to be!

I’ve only eaten there once or twice but it was a very fun experience. The entire restaurant is covered in NASCAR memorabilia.

If you’re interested in learning about the history of the sport, there’s this restaurant and another one called Racing’s North Turn that’s on the other side of town that you need to check out.

Racing’s North Turn is on the actual spot that they used to race at on the beach back in the day.

Cruisin’ Cafe has good food, but I was more into how much history about the sport was in that place.

Every table salutes a former Daytona 500 winner.

There’s pictures EVERYWHERE as well as other memorabilia such as hoods off of cars, old time fire suits that the drivers used to wear, flags, old car tires etc.

If you’re there around the time they’re racing (February and August), you just might get a surprise visit from a current or former driver!

One of the things I remember about eating there was doing karaoke afterwards.

There was a mini stage set up where people could go up and sing.

I only did it one time. If I’m not mistaking, I sang Kenny Chesney’s “Young.”

I was so excited to see these two places as well as other places that I haven’t seen in YEARS.

It made me relive some very special memories that I will keep for the rest of my life.

I hate that I wasn’t able to make new memories at Krispy Kreme, Cruisin Cafe and even at Racing’s North Turn on this trip.

However, Lord willing, I’ll be back to Daytona sooner than later and I’ll make some new memories at these familiar places then.

That’s my view from the chair!

A Long Awaited Reunion

Alamo, Tennessee– I’ve always said that Daytona Beach is heaven on earth and my home away from home. It’s my happy place. It’s the place I like to go to when I need to clear my head. It’s where I feel closer to God at.

2020 was very hard on all of us but especially on me. My mother got sick with COVID worse than any of us. She had to be put on a ventilator and no one knew what was going to happen. We were all preparing ourselves for the worst but hoping and praying for the best.

To this very day, I still don’t know how she pulled through and is alive.

On top of all of that, I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer’s. That really tore me up because she had always been like a second mother to me.

Needless to say, when mama and I started talking about vacation, we both said that we wanted to go back to Daytona.

Yes, it’s a long drive (12-13 hours), but there’s something about Daytona that feels like home.

I don’t know what it is.

I haven’t been there since 2016. That’s when I met Reece Smith, the owner of the Jackson Generals baseball team.

Little did I know that it was going to be the last time I ever saw my friend Tom (he was over the umbrellas and chairs) again.

We went in the spring and he got killed in a motorcycle accident that summer.

When it happened, I told myself that I would never go back there again. That changed after about a year or so. I was ready to go back and I knew that Tom would want me to go back.

When what happened to mama happened, I really didn’t think I’d be going back.

Even though she pulled through, knowing how long of a drive it was, I thought there was no chance.

For once, I was glad to be wrong.

After a five year hiatus with one of those years being a year of uncertainty, I finally made it back to Daytona.

I have to say that it hasn’t changed much since the last time I was there.

The beach was just as beautiful as it was and the food was absolutely delicious.

We went to every restaurant that we used to go to which brought back a ton of special memories.

There were places that were surprisingly still open that brought back a ton of special memories.

However, just being back and seeing the most beautiful thing that God created was mind blowing. We relived a ton of special memories and made new memories as well that I will keep for the rest of my life.

I said I was going to take in every second and live it up. That’s exactly what I did.

I witnessed some unbelievable things while I was there and I learned some very valuable lessons that I will share in a later post.

This trip was exactly I needed.

I needed to get away from everything and everyone for a few days and just chill out and live a little.

What made this vacation more special was having my mother with me.

She’s the one that introduced me to Daytona Beach a few years back and not having her there would’ve ruined the whole trip.

Who knows when I’ll be back. It could be another five years.

For the time being, I’m holding on to these memories until I can go back and make more.

And believe me, I WILL be back!

That’s my view from the chair!

Weathering The Storm

Alamo, Tennessee– I’ve seen some pretty good snowfall here in West Tennessee in recent years but nothing like what I’ve witnessed this week.

Since Sunday morning, we’ve gotten at least seven inches of snow.

Our county has been under two different winter storm warnings this week.

It snowed a little bit on Sunday but round one really moved in late Sunday night and early Monday morning. It snowed all day long before finally moving out late Monday night. It snowed so hard at times that we couldn’t see anything. By the time it was over with, we had a total of four to four and a half inches.

We had a little break in the action on Tuesday before round two moved in on Wednesday.

Flakes started to fall early Wednesday afternoon and didn’t stop until late Wednesday night. Periods of heavy snow fell during the day and at night making visibility bad once again.

While it was very pretty to watch, I was still in awe of how much snow had fallen.

When the entire system finally moved out on Wednesday night, we measured an additional 2-3 inches, raising the total up to 7+.

Thankfully, we never had any big ice accumulation and we never lost power or water.

We mainly just got snow.

Unfortunately, some people in other states weren’t so lucky.

I have friends in Arkansas and Texas that said that they received higher amounts of snow and ice. The wind chills were also dangerously low. Power and water was lost and some didn’t get it back for hours, even days. My best friend said that their electric company intentionally kept turning power off and on to help save.

While I feel bad for those friends and wish that I could do something for them, I’m so thankful that nothing like that happened to us. We wouldn’t have been able to handle it.

We were very fortunate.

We’re not expected to receive any more snow but it’s going to be a couple days before what we do have starts to melt. Temperatures aren’t supposed to start warming up until at least Saturday or Sunday.

In the meantime, I’ve got the best view in the entire house to enjoy it while it lasts.

I pray for everyone that has to get out in it. My sister has already had an accident just from taking her dog out and she’s down for a couple of weeks if not longer.

If you absolutely have to get out, be careful and don’t rush. If you don’t have to get out, stay home and stay warm.

Plans for me until it melts? Golf, hockey and NASCAR.

Doesn’t get much better than that!

That’s my view from the chair!

Growing Up A NASCAR Fan

Photo credit: NASCAR.com

Alamo, Tennessee– I started watching NASCAR in February of 2001. I remember watching the Daytona 500 that year with my dad and seeing the wreck that took the life of the Intimidator, Dale Earnhardt. I remember how heartbreaking it was to lose one of the sport’s best but I also remember how that one race turned me into one of the sport’s biggest fans.

I grew up watching legends such as Mark Martin, Sterling Marlin, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Rusty Wallace and so on.

In my early years of watching NASCAR, I was an Earnhardt Jr. fan. I liked other drivers as well but Dale was it for me. I thought he was the greatest. I remember him winning the Pepsi 400 in Daytona in 2001, just months after his father’s death. I remember getting chill bumps when he got out of his car in Victory Lane and celebrated with his crew.

After being an Earnhardt fan for maybe a year or two, I started studying and really liking Jeff Gordon. I liked the way he drove, I liked his leadership, I liked everything about him. I became a fan and have been a diehard fan of his ever since.

I’ve been to numerous NASCAR races all over the country from Daytona, Atlanta and Bristol to tracks closer to my hometown, Memphis and Nashville.

I’ve met a ton of drivers including Sterling Marlin, Ron Hornaday Jr., Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Petty, Jeff Gordon and so many more.

I’ve got an entire section in my bedroom of NASCAR collectibles including die cast cars, figurines, banks etc.

Every Sunday and sometimes Saturday’s from February to November, I sit in front of the television set and watch every single NASCAR race. I watch the trucks, XFinity Series and the Cup Series. If the ARCA Series is on, I watch it too.

I may not be able to watch every race but it’s tradition for me watch the big races like Daytona, Talladega, Bristol, Atlanta and Indianapolis.

Now that all of the older drivers that I grew up watching have retired, I root for the younger drivers like Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman. The only driver that’s still racing that I grew up watching is Kevin Harvick. However, it won’t be too much longer until he retires so I’m studying all the young guns to see who my next favorite is going to be.

So far, I’ve really liked Chase Elliott.

He won the Cup championship last season and has a bright future ahead of him.

A new season is upon us and to say that I’m excited is an understatement. I can’t wait to hear “Gentlemen start your engines” for the first time and hear those engines fire. I can’t wait for the drop of the green flag and I can’t wait to see who will be in Victory Lane with their first win of the 2021 season.

The Daytona 500 is first race of the season as well as the biggest race of the season.

I can already feel the adrenaline and anticipation starting to kick in.

I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a great season and I can’t wait to get started!!

BOOGITY BOOGITY BOOGITY!! LET’S GO RACING DRIVERS!!

That’s my view from the chair!

Super Bowl Week

Photo credit: Wikepedia.com

Alamo, Tennessee– The week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday has always been a huge deal for me as long as I can remember. I usually start watching coverage a week before the big game so I can keep up with all the news, injury reports etc.

I listen to all media availability from players and coaches from both teams as well as the Super Bowl Halftime Show press conference and the NFL Commissioner’s press conference.

The night before the big game, it’s tradition for me to watch the NFL Honors special to see who wins awards such as Rookie of the Year, MVP and Comeback Player of the Year. They also tell who wins the Walter Payton Man of the Year award as well as tell who gets enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The day of the big game is always exciting. I watch the four hour pregame show and start getting my game face on. My mother and stepfather cook all the finger foods that we eat during the game. We usually go to my aunts house for the game, and by the time we get there, I can feel the adrenaline start to kick in.

This year has been no different.

I’ve been watching Super Bowl coverage all week from the time I get up until I basically go back to bed.

I’ve listened to both teams do their media availability and I’ve kept up with injury reports, who’s out because of COVID etc.

I watched the Super Bowl Halftime Show press conference featuring The Weeknd and I listened to Roger Goodell give his annual speech.

This Saturday night, I am beyond excited for the NFL Honors special. I’m excited to see who goes home with yearly awards but I’m mostly excited for the Pro Football Hall of Fame announcement. Peyton Manning is one of the finalists for enshrinement and it’s being rumored that he’s been notified that he’s going in.

Manning has been my sports hero and idol since his days at the University of Tennessee, so if the rumors are true, I’ll be very excited.

If anything is different from previous years, it’s the fact that I won’t get to go to my aunts house for the game.

I’ll still be watching the four hour pregame show and I’ll probably be getting my game face on before it’s halfway over with.

Mama and my stepfather will still be cooking all kinds of finger foods. The only difference is that it’ll just be us watching the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to the pandemic.

For me, the adrenaline is already starting to kick in.

I can’t wait to see who will hoist the Lombardi at the end of the night on Sunday.

I can’t wait to party COVID style.

Most importantly, I can’t wait to watch another Super Bowl with my mother.

Let’s get this party started and play ball!!

That’s my view from the chair!

Gone But Never Forgotten

Photo credit: legacy.com

Alamo, Tennessee– This past week, I got the sad news that a good friend of mine had passed away.

I worked with Jimmy Barnes for thirteen seasons at the ballpark before he retired after the 2018 season.

He was the kindest, funniest and most genuine person I had ever known. He always had a smile on his face and he always put smiles on other people’s faces. He made everyone that knew him laugh whether you felt like it or not.

He never met a stranger. Even if you had met him for the first time, once you started talking to him, it was like you’ve known him your entire life.

He was always there for everybody. He would go out of his way for anyone that needed him if he could.

We shared so many stories with each other but the most memorable stories that he shared were about his time in the United States Army. He shared with me stories of him serving in Japan as a member of the Military Police unit. He explained that he later continued his service with the TN Army National Guard as a part of the 30th Armored Brigade.

He had a total of twenty four years in the service. He was a lifelong member of the 30th SAB Association as well as an active member of the VFW 6496, American Legion Post 12 and of the West Tennessee Veterans Day Committee.

He was one of the founders and served as the secretary for the West Tennessee Veterans Coalition. He was also a mason in the Masonic Lodge #45 of Jackson (Tennessee).

We would talk about other things as well. However, those stories of him serving in the military really hit home for me because my grandfather would always tell me stories from when he served as well. I always found them very interesting.

Jimmy and I couldn’t let each other go our own ways without talking about Tennessee football. We would talk baseball some too but not as much as Tennessee football. That’s something we both had in common and something that we were both passionate about. If he wasn’t happy with them for whatever reason, he’d let me know about it and I would do the same.

It’s going to be different going to the ballpark and him not being there. I’ll miss that twinkle in his eye every time he smiled or laughed. I’ll miss all the jokes he would tell. I’ll definitely miss all the stories he would tell. I’ll miss the Generals recaps he gave me every time I was scheduled to work.

More importantly, I’ll miss the good friendship we had and I’ll miss being around a super good man.

It truly sucks that he’s gone and that I’ll never see or talk to him again. But I know that he is rejoicing with our Lord and Savior. That brings me peace and comfort in knowing that.

Thank you for all the memories and for all the stories my friend. I’ll keep them with me for the rest of my life. You may be gone but you will never be forgotten.

See you on the other side!

That’s my view from the chair!

A Fresh Start

Photo credit: Andrew Lloyd

Alamo, Tennessee– I think I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say that it feels good to see 2020 get out of here and 2021 come in.

For me personally, 2020 was a year from hell.

I went through everything imaginable from family drama, to testing positive for COVID, to my mother almost dying from the virus, to losing my grandmother, to addiction and so on.

The list goes on and on.

If there was anything good to come out of the year, it was me getting to go to Tunica for the first time with my best friend, going to see my nephews play baseball and football, spending quality time with my sister and making new friends in Middle Tennessee.

My depression and anxiety skyrocketed and I was becoming someone that I knew I wasn’t.

There were plenty of times where I almost lost my faith and completely gave up on God.

Who could blame me though, right?

If anyone went through everything that I went through in one year, I’m sure they’d feel the same way.

However, I didn’t give up and I have no doubt that that’s what got me through the year.

In fact, my faith has gotten stronger and I’m starting to go to God more than I ever have about things.

With the new year finally here, I’ve decided that it’s going to be a year of fresh starts and new beginnings.

I’ve decided to work on getting my faith and my relationship with God back in gear.

I’ve decided to be more positive and focus on positive things.

I’ve decided to be more happier and outgoing.

I’ve decided to build myself up physically and start working out.

I’ve decided to be a better person, a better son, a better brother, a better uncle, a better nephew, a better cousin and a better friend.

More importantly, I’ve decided to enjoy life and to be thankful for the little things in life.

I’ve learned not to take anything for granted because it can be gone in an instant.

2020 may have been a year from Hell. It definitely was for me. But it’s in the past and that’s where it’s going to stay.

I can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store for me personally and for my family, friends and loved ones.

I know I’ll have challenges and I’m sure bad things will happen but one thing is for sure. I will make the best of it and I will not let anything or anyone get in my way!!

I’m putting the past behind me!

What happened in 2020 stays in 2020!!

That’s my view from the chair!

Christmas Blessing

Alamo, Tennessee– Christmas for my family and I has always been hectic and busy. We would always get up early, spend at least two hours opening gifts then rush trying to get ready and get the food cooked before heading to my aunts house for Christmas dinner.

While it’s always a lot of fun, I never have time to just sit and reflect on all of my blessings throughout the year.

That changed this year thanks to COVID-19.

We weren’t able to be with family due to the pandemic so it was just me, mama and my stepfather.

It was very different to say the least but it was very relaxing.

More importantly, it was very special.

We got up and took our time opening our gifts before having our annual Christmas dinner later in the day, just the three of us.

After dinner, we spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying our Christmas gifts.

As I was doing so, I couldn’t help but think about all of the many blessings that God gave me this year.

This year has been horrible in more ways than one but there has been some good to come out of it.

My sister, mother, stepfather and I all tested positive for Covid-19. Thankfully my sister, stepfather and I had a minor case of it.

Unfortunately, my mother had it a lot worse but she pulled through thanks to a ton of prayers and the work of the good Lord.

I got a ton of nice things for Christmas this year but NOTHING on the face of the earth compares to my mother being alive, healthy and home for Christmas.

That is by far the best Christmas present anyone could ask for.

After months of not knowing what was going to happen, God performed another one of His miracles and brought mama back to us.

Mama did her part as well.

She fought like hell and never gave up.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am and how special Christmas was because of that reason.

It’s really all I was able to think about!

Having mama here made Christmas very special and I can’t even begin to think what it would’ve been like had she had not made it.

If I’ve learned anything from these last few months, it’s to enjoy life and count your blessings.

Yes this year hasn’t been the best year by no means. However, I’m sure everyone can find something positive to give God praise for.

I’m giving Him praise for watching over mama and healing her.

I’m giving Him praise for allowing her to spend yet another Christmas with her loved ones and us with her.

A true Christmas blessing!

That’s my view from the chair!