Category Archives: Life

College Football Strength of Schedule (Who Do They Play?)

aka, who plays the most teams ranked in the Top 25 at any point this season? I’ll even be generous and include in italics the number including those among the “others receiving votes” category.

For ease of use, we will use the current (Week 3) Top 25 as our guide:

1. Ohio State: 1 (Michigan State), 5 (Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, Penn State, Michigan, Minnesota)
2. Alabama: 9 (Wisconsin, Ole Miss, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn)
3. TCU: 3 (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor), 7 (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Minnesota, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas)
4. Michigan State: 2 (Oregon, Ohio State), 5 (Oregon, Ohio State, Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan)
5. Baylor: 3 (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU), 6 (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas)
6. USC: 7 (Stanford, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA), 8 (Stanford, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, California)
7. Georgia: 5 (Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn, Georgia Tech), 6 (Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Florida)
8. Notre Dame: 4 (Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC, Stanford), 5 (Georgia Tech, Clemson, USC, Stanford, Texas)
9. Florida State: 2 (Georgia Tech, Clemson), 6 (Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami-FL, Louisville, NC State, Florida)
10. UCLA: 6 (BYU, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, Utah, USC), 7 (BYU, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, Utah, USC, California)
11. Clemson: 3 (Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, FSU), 6 (Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, FSU, Louisville, Miami-Fl, NC State)
12. Oregon: 5 (Michigan State, Utah, Arizona State, Stanford, USC)
13. LSU: 6 (Mississippi State, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M), 7 (Mississippi State, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Florida)
14. Georgia Tech: 4 (Notre Dame, Clemson, FSU, Georgia), 7 (Notre Dame, Clemson, FSU, Georgia, Duke, Virginia Tech, Miami-Fl)
15. Ole Miss: 6 (Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State), 7 (Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, Florida)
16. Oklahoma: 4 (Tennessee, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State), 7 (Tennessee, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas, Kansas State)
17. Texas A&M: 7 (Arizona State, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Alabama, Ole Miss, Auburn, LSU)
18. Auburn: 7 (LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama), 8 (LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama, Louisville)
19. BYU: 3 (Boise State, UCLA, Missouri), 6 (Boise State, UCLA, Missouri, Nebraska, Michigan, Cincinnati)
20. Arizona: 5 (UCLA, Stanford, USC, Utah, Arizona State)
21. Utah: 5 (Oregon, Arizona State, USC, Arizona, UCLA), 7 (Oregon, Arizona State, USC, Arizona, UCLA, Michigan, California)
22. Missouri: 5 (Georgia, Mississippi State, BYU, Tennessee, Arkansas), 6 (Georgia, Mississippi State, BYU, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida)
23. Northwestern: 2 (Stanford, Wisconsin), 8 (Stanford, Wisconsin, Duke, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State)
24. Wisconsin: 2 (Alabama, Northwestern), 5 (Alabama, Northwestern, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota)
25. Oklahoma State: 3 (TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma), 6 (TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State, West Virginia)

It Wasn’t My Choice, OK????

Those are quite possibly the words that changed my life forever.

I’ve been railing against a group I see as legalists and Pharisees for a couple of days now, and I figured it is time I admit a dirty little secret:

I used to be one.

Much like Saul, I was trained in “church” by some of the best in my community. These men and women came from all walks of life, but all of them had a firm foundation in the Bible and what it said. I learned the Bible with my head long before I ever started applying its principles to my heart. I was one of the best in nearly any Bible drill you could think of. At one point, I could name every single book of the Bible in order without any hesitation at all. I could repeat any fact about it in an instant.

And that level of knowledge about the Bible without its core teachings being in your heart is a very dangerous thing indeed. I insisted everyone live according to its edicts. I was one of those “goody two shoes” kids that everyone makes fun of for carrying a Bible around – eerily similar to Grace Bowman in season 1 of Secret Life of the American Teenager.

I caused SOOOO much pain back then, pain that I didn’t really realize until I finally heard the words in the title.

It was my sophomore year of HS, and me and a then friend were walking the halls after school. I was being very judgmental about the revelation she had let slip that she wasn’t a virgin. Finally, she couldn’t take it any more. “It wasn’t my choice, OK?” She yelled at me as she ran away crying.

She had been raped, and my judgment had destroyed any progress she had made in overcoming it.

I said shortly after the incident that her words had cut me like a hot knife through butter, and they still do – more than a decade later.

I didn’t overcome my legalism in that instant. It would take more mistakes, more pain, more learning. But God finally allowed that head knowledge I had of His Word to become a heart knowledge. It became something so intrinsic to me that I don’t have to pray aloud – I know God hears my every thought. It is as natural to me as moving my arm.

I still screw up all the time. Probably have over the last couple of days with my brothers and sisters.

I get easily upset when I see legalism now, because I know all too well the destruction I caused under it and the destruction that it tried to cause me when those around me lived under it. But I’ve been attacking my brothers and sisters rather harshly – vestiges of my old ways. For that, I do apologize – though I most certainly do NOT apologize for fighting legalism in general, only the animosity I have displayed in that fight. Just because my brothers and sisters are misguided does not mean they are not still my brothers and sisters, and I should treat them as such.

I just wish they fully understood, as I do, how much destruction they are causing among those we are called to be reaching.

Still, that does not excuse my actions over the last couple of days. Just wanted y’all to have an idea where I’m coming from.

It Finally Happened

and ironically, this time (to my knowledge) no doctors predicted it.

I just found out that my cousin, Nick Waters, died this morning. Y’all may know him from Christmas several years ago, when the docs thought he didn’t have long to live then. You see, that Christmas he wanted a Christmas Miracle – he wanted to get 10,000 Christmas cards. He wound up with more than 10x that number, and I heard stories that Christmas of so many mail bags full of cards that you could literally barely walk in his house – much less drive his motorized wheelchair.

Nick was always a very medically fragile child. I don’t know all the details, but I know he was born prematurely, with several birth defects. He’s had countless surgeries throughout his life, including at least a couple of open heart surgeries before he was three years old and later surgeries to implant steel rods along his spine to allow him to sit upright enough to breathe.

Nick was always the bright spot in family get togethers. His enthusiasm and optimism knew no bounds, even though he had probably experienced more pain in his life than most of us would ever wish on our worst enemies. Indeed, some of my fondest memories of hanging out at my grandfather’s farm growing up were playing with Nick.

Nick and his family had been told countless times throughout his life that he didn’t have much longer to live. Due to his birth defects, it was always a threat. If he had been born even 30 years prior, there is no doubt he would never have lasted anywhere NEAR as long as he did. As I noted above, apparently there were no doctors around this time. They finally figured out that Nick was stubborn enough to beat whatever length of time they gave him. 😀

But now he is gone. His pain is finally over. He died peacefully in his sleep, rather than in some ICU or on some operating table, two places he had gotten to know quite well in his life.

I’ve done so good about not crying at my grandmother’s funeral 3 years ago, or my aunt’s 2 years ago, despite the fact that I loved them deeply. I can barely hold back the tears enough to type this post though. Nick Waters was a source of encouragement and inspiration to all who knew him, and to me in particular.

Yet again, I have another trip to Canton to bury yet another family member. This was already old when it was my grandmother three years ago – she had been the fourth to go on that side of the family in under 3 years, with my grandfather, his twin brother, and her husband preceding her.

As hard as the others were, this one will by FAR be the hardest.

The day many in my family have dreaded for years has finally arrived.

It finally happened.

It Wasn’t My Choice, OK????

Those are quite possibly the words that changed my life forever.

I’ve been railing against a group I see as legalists and Pharisees for a couple of days now, and I figured it is time I admit a dirty little secret:

I used to be one.

Much like Saul, I was trained in “church” by some of the best in my community. These men and women came from all walks of life, but all of them had a firm foundation in the Bible and what it said. I learned the Bible with my head long before I ever started applying its principles to my heart. I was one of the best in nearly any Bible drill you could think of. At one point, I could name every single book of the Bible in order without any hesitation at all. I could repeat any fact about it in an instant.

And that level of knowledge about the Bible without its core teachings being in your heart is a very dangerous thing indeed. I insisted everyone live according to its edicts. I was one of those “goody two shoes” kids that everyone makes fun of for carrying a Bible around – eerily similar to Grace Bowman in season 1 of Secret Life of the American Teenager.

I caused SOOOO much pain back then, pain that I didn’t really realize until I finally heard the words in the title.

It was my sophomore year of HS, and me and a then friend were walking the halls after school. I was being very judgmental about the revelation she had let slip that she wasn’t a virgin. Finally, she couldn’t take it any more. “It wasn’t my choice, OK?” She yelled at me as she ran away crying.

She had been raped, and my judgment had destroyed any progress she had made in overcoming it.

I said shortly after the incident that her words had cut me like a hot knife through butter, and they still do – more than a decade later.

I didn’t overcome my legalism in that instant. It would take more mistakes, more pain, more learning. But God finally allowed that head knowledge I had of His Word to become a heart knowledge. It became something so intrinsic to me that I don’t have to pray aloud – I know God hears my every thought. It is as natural to me as moving my arm.

I still screw up all the time. Probably have over the last couple of days with my brothers and sisters.

I get easily upset when I see legalism now, because I know all too well the destruction I caused under it and the destruction that it tried to cause me when those around me lived under it. But I’ve been attacking my brothers and sisters rather harshly – vestiges of my old ways. For that, I do apologize – though I most certainly do NOT apologize for fighting legalism in general, only the animosity I have displayed in that fight. Just because my brothers and sisters are misguided does not mean they are not still my brothers and sisters, and I should treat them as such.

I just wish they fully understood, as I do, how much destruction they are causing among those we are called to be reaching.

Still, that does not excuse my actions over the last couple of days. Just wanted y’all to have an idea where I’m coming from.

‘VeritasThorn’: The Explanation

I’ve recently changed my ID on twitter from ‘swgalibertarian’ to ‘veritasthorn’, and several people have asked me why.

It is essentially a continuation of a change I made several months ago on Peach Pundit of going away from having the word ‘libertarian’ in my ID, just to make it absolutely clear that even though I am a Libertarian, my opinions are not necessarily those of the Party. On some issues, I am honestly a bit more extreme than many in the Party are comfortable with, and on some issues I am a bit more conservative than many in the Party are comfortable with.

So to cut those concerns off at the head, I changed my twitter ID.

As to the specific change to this particular new identity, here is the backstory there:

My path to Libertarianism began several years ago, as I began to struggle with legalism in the Southern Baptist Church. One of the books I read in that era was Shaunti Feldhahn’s Veritas Conflict, a This Present Darkness-like novel centering around ideological diversity at Harvard. This book played a key role in pushing me towards Libertarianism, as it began to free me from the chains of “christian” legalism. (The next fiction book from Mrs. Feldhahn, Lights of 10th Street, would push me even further down that path.)

So that’s where the ‘veritas’ part originated, with paying homage to that early influence.

As to Thorn, it also comes from a work of fiction. In this case, it was Dale Brown’s President Thomas Nathaniel Thorn, who first came to power at the beginning of Warrior Class. Thorn was a self-styled Jeffersonian Republican who skipped his own Inauguration ceremonies because they weren’t explicitly in the Constitution. He was also my introduction to non-interventionism, and while Brown himself thinks that philosophy is pretty much slap crazy, I found I very much agreed with Thorn, for the most part. (Thorn was a full-blown isolationist, I am simply a non-interventionist, and there IS a significant difference. Isolationists don’t want ANYTHING to do with other countries, non-interventionists simply don’t want OUR men and women dieing in THEIR wars. We’re perfectly cool with international trade, and many of us more ardently support free trade than many of our pro-interventionism brothers and sisters.)

In other words, from Veritas Conflict I first truly learned about ideological freedom, and from President Thorn I first learned of non-interventionism – two ideas that would merge and lead me to finally separate from the Republican Party and join the Libertarian Party and work for genuine Liberty.

Hence, ‘veritasthorn’.

‘A Tale of Two Hurricanes’: The Backstory

About 8 days ago, I wrote a piece for SWGAPolitics.com I called ‘A Tale of Two Hurricanes‘.

As I suspected it would, it has drawn a bit of criticism, including most recently from a friend.

So let me explain a bit of my internal thinking and experiences regarding the matter.

First, one of the the traits about myself that I hold in highest regard is my ability to survive ANYthing – even things that many people let destroy them, mostly spiritually/emotionally/mentally, but sometimes even physically. Point blank, I will take on any challenge, and I WILL NOT let it overcome me. I may look defeated from the outside, but I will not give up until I have overcome the situation, if just in my own way. I even take this to the level of occasionally intentionally making a situation far more difficult for myself than it need be – just to prove that I can do it. (For example, walking 10 miles with Austin Scott last month with ZERO preparation – and that was one of the milder and more recent examples.)

Thus, seeing people that appear to be healthy adults standing around at the Superdome in the aftermath of Katrina is absolutely beyond the realm of anything I would ever think to consider for myself. Instead, I would be moving ever forward OUT of the city and area, working my way around or through any obstacle I encountered. If I died, it wouldn’t be sitting in the parking lot of the Superdome waiting on someone else to come to my aid.

But about the experiences that also shaped that post:

The first was during the days after Katrina itself. At that time in 2005, I didn’t have a job, I was still living with my parents. My church got heavily involved in sending aid down to the Gulf Coast, and because of my lack of a job, I did what I could – I volunteered at the drop off point doing whatever needed to get done to get the supplies in, palletized, loaded, and on their way. Because I didn’t own a gun, I wasn’t allowed to go with the people who were actually delivering the supplies, but we had two trailers running back and forth, and as one was completely filled, we had several men from the church grab their guns and Bibles and head straight down, unload, and come straight back. For the first couple of weeks, it got to the point where we would have the second trailer filled by the time they got back, and they would head right back down. In the few minutes they had to talk between loads, they would tell us of the massive destruction they saw – and how the towns were already coming together to work to rebuild. Our guys couldn’t get anywhere near NOLA, but were going instead into the areas of Mississippi that had taken the direct hit from the storm. For those first couple of weeks, most of us slept very little, but we got the job done. We did what we could with what we had to help our fellow Americans as much as we possibly could, and to this day nearly four years later I am still proud of my involvement in that – and even moreso of the men who had the honor of actually going down and helping the people directly.

The second experience I had though was a slap in the face to the first. A few months after Katrina, in January 2006, I finally got a teaching job. This was in Covington, on the outskirts of Atlanta. One of my students in particular was a refugee from Katrina – and she let you know it any time she didn’t come to class prepared or didn’t do her homework or failed a test or slept or talked in class etc etc etc. It drove me crazy then and it drives me crazy thinking about it now. I met her 4 months after Katrina, when she had had so much given to her and done for her, and yet she was STILL trying to blame her own inadequacies on her “victimhood”. When I left that school 6 months later, she was still doing the exact same things as when I had met her – and this was nearly a year after the storm. I have no doubt this student – who I believe would have been voting age last year – voted for Barack Obama, if she voted at all, and I have no doubt it was because he promised ever more government programs for all the “victims” out there.

The final experience was my first trip to NOLA itself, just this past April – 3.5 years after the storm. Tonya and I were taking a Carribbean vacation aboard the Carnival Fantasy, and we were porting out of NOLA. Driving down the highway from Slidell into the port area of NOLA – literally in the shadow of the infamous Crescent City Connector – I was absolutely astounded to see the amount of reconstruction STILL waiting to happen in the area – including one downtown skyscraper in particular that still had DOZENS of windows (at least) with plywood over them.

Going back into the way I think in closing, I genuinely believe that there is not a single situation a human will ever face that cannot be overcome in some way – but the individual has to choose to survive it, and choose to do whatever is necessary to overcome it. Once they make that choice, I spring in to action in whatever way I possibly can to help them – but I cannot help someone until they choose to help themselves. I know there are situations FAR more difficult than any I’ve ever seen, much less any I’ve ever experienced. But I still hold to that belief about the human condition.

If you’re still breathing, there is still hope – no matter what.

Hopelessly optimistic and naive?

I’ve been called worse.

The Importance of the Genesis

I’ve been thinking about some things recently, the subject of a blog post that I’ll be writing tonight. But those things got me thinking in another direction, namely how important an entity’s beginnings truly are.

I like reading biographies because you begin to get an idea of how these people came to do everything they did by looking at what came before. Similarly, when you look at the historical record of any event, you come to see how it came to be by looking at its predecessors. Indeed, you really cannot fully understand anything – be it person, event, or organization – without understanding its history and in particular, its Genesis.
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The Mothers In My Life

I’ve learned a lot from the mothers in my life, particularly my own mother, Wanda Sexton. But also both of my grandmothers, June Sexton and the late Sara Cooper, and even my aunt Doris Leathers, who always treated me, my brothers, and several of our cousins as the kids she never had. Recently, I’ve even learned a lesson or two from my mother in law, Vicky Hubbs.

The single greatest lesson I’ve learned from my own mom is unconditional love and to never give up. I’ve faced a lot of battles where she was one of few people that believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. She loved me even when I embarrassed the hell out of her and did things that she’ll disagree with to the day she dies. Sometimes, that love has meant she hid things from me that I’m only now realizing as an adult that she had hid from me. Such as how scared she must have been during the 1994 blizzard with no power, few blankets, and three small boys all day when dad was going into work. Or just how often she had to stand up for me in my various battles with the school system. Indeed, she was the one that taught me much of how I now fight my political battles at this very moment. She never showed fear, and she didn’t like it when her own pain was obvious – she still doesn’t. I found out she had cancer two days before she was having the operation done to remove it. She also taught me how to have a successful marriage, one that later this year will hit the 29 year mark, even though her own parents divorced when she was in her teens. She has been my rock throughout my life, and I could not be more thankful for her, nor more proud to call her my mom. I truly do love her with all my heart.

From June, I learned how to survive. I’m not going to throw out a lot of family business here, but suffice it to say that there are certain things about how my dad raised me that he had personal experience with growing up, and June bore the brunt of it even more than he did. She survived Hades on earth, and in my darkest times, she never let me give up. I deeply love her as well – though with no computer, she’ll never see this unless someone prints it out and shows it to her.

From Sara, I got an interesting dichotomy that I also see to a lesser extent in Vicky. Sara and my late grandfather, Will Waters, got divorced, like I mentioned earlier, in my mom’s teens, LONG before I came into the picture in 1983. Yet throughout my life, they always got along great, at least anytime I saw them together. Sara remarried to the man that I came to consider my second grandfather, JC Cooper, and was married to him for somewhere around 20 years that I have personal knowledge of before he died. She and JC actually lived, at various points, on the same land – or even in the same house- as Will. This showed me that even when most people would EXPECT you to not get along, civility and even friendship is still possible, which is a lesson I try to uphold today on the political scene and in the rest of my life. Sara died a little over two years ago, and my deepest regret is that the last time I was around her when she was alive, I was mad at her over something so inconsequential that I don’t even remember what it was now.

Doris is officially my aunt, but in reality she has always been a second mother. There’s a LOT that I can’t talk about here that she did for me and my family, but there are several things that I CAN point to. I took my first non-church or school related overnight trip away from my family with her, back in the summer of 2001 when I was 18 years old. We went to Orlando for a conference with the organization that would come to dominate the rest of my college years, but that I was just getting involved with at the time. She rented us a 2001 yellow Mustang GT convertible and let me drive it around all weekend. (Still my favorite car I’ve ever driven!) When I decided to leave the church I had grown up in, she was a member at the church my parents had been married in years before, and invited me to come join her there. I did, and I grew spiritually in ways I had not really grown before, nor unfortunately really have since. But that church was fairly pivotal in all that I have become now. In my late teen years and early twenties, she was the one that watched over me from a distance even when I couldn’t tell my parents what was going on. (Hey, I’ve always been much better at writing my feelings and letting people read them than actually talking about them – hence this post!) Truly, I love her nearly as much as I love my own mother.

The most recent addition to the mothers in my life is my mother in law, Vicky Hubbs. We haven’t faced near the battles together that the other mothers have shared with me, but I honestly love her still. She is such a kind, decent, loving woman. She will definitely be a great influence on my kids, and she’s been a great influence on my wife, the love of my life.

To all of the mothers in my life, Happy Mother’s Day!