My Favorite Part

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Now that the dust has cleared and the half marathon is but a memory, I have been reflecting on what was my favorite part of the entire experience. Honestly, there are so many great moments from Saturday, it is hard to pick just one. Meeting my wife at the finish line, having family here for the event, seeing friends along the course and accomplishing a goal are all pretty high on the list. There is one moment that I really believe was my favorite part of the day.

After making my way through the sea of people at the finish line, my son and one of my two daughters (the other was at a choir practice) met me for an embrace. I won’t soon forget that moment. While the picture above is not from Saturday, it was another one of “those moments” someone caught on film. As I held my son and daughter near, I simply said “we did it buddy…we did it”. You see I made a commitment several months ago to taking better care of myself for those that are counting on me. My favorite part was knowing I kept my promise.

The final 3 weeks of training, “The Boy” rode his bike next to me on some of my final runs. We had fun together and it made him a partner in the experience. If I had to pick one moment from Saturday, I would say that was my favorite part….

My Favorite Part by Matthew West

Memory Lane

daily_tar_heel_championship_coverI had to do a quick repost. Important note..THIS IS A REPOST! We’re not expecting a child. We were, however, expecting our third child 4 years ago when North Carolina was set to play for the National Championship. Those that have been here since the beginning might remember the chain of events that started the night before. In case you missed it, it was worth revisiting. Below you have my posts from the Sunday before the National Championship and the Day after. Good times…

Quite A Dilemma (April 2, 2005)

Okay, so one of your favorite teams is on the verge of playing for the National Championship and you are expecting the birth of your third child at any moment. It is often said that the Lord has a sense of humor. I believe that is true and this would be one of those times when he is getting quite a chuckle out of my dilemma! Wouldn’t it be fitting if Baby 3 decided to enter the world sometime between 9 and 12 on Monday night?

How many times have you seen the commercial where the husband is watching the game, while cheering his wife on through delivery. Now I must preface this by saying that there is no question that I will be with my wife in delivery if that scenario takes place. That’s what VCR’s and TIVO are for. I could never miss the birth of a child for some sporting event that, as much as I hate to say it, really means nothing.

I just find it so funny that for the first time in 12 years, my Tar Heels are on the verge of a championship. I can tell you exactly where I was when Chris Webber called time out to clinch the last Tar Heel championship. There were no thoughts of delivery, hospitals, diapers or babies that night. As I type this, I am reminded of how our priorities change as we walk this road of life. You see, all of this is actually very “tongue in cheek”.

The truth is no matter where I am, or what I am doing, NOTHING could keep me from my wife’s side as she delivers this child that the Lord has blessed us with. Not even North Carolina winning the NCAA title. So if you are watching the game tomorrow night and the phone rings from the hospital, don’t feel bad for me, I will be right where I wanted to be at that moment!

And GO TAR HEELS!

 

2nd Best (April 4,  2005)

Call it luck, irony, art imitating life or just God’s sense of humor, but what I wrote in my last blog almost came true exactly as scripted! At 9:00, almost to the minute, we were on our way to the labor and delivery ward at the hospital.

To make a long story short, they sent us back home since it wasn’t quite time yet. The funny thing was that we pulled into the garage with 3 minutes left in the 2nd half. The game was tied 70-70. I looked at Heather and said “see, we didn’t miss anything. It’s just a 3 minute game now!”

The rest as they say is history! What a feeling, to be National Champs! All that being said, it would have been and will still be the 2nd best thing that will happen this week. Although I am thrilled about Carolina winning the title, nothing will compare to seeing our new born baby for the first time. In the mean time, I am going to savor this moment until an even greater one comes along!

An 80's Christmas

First off let me say that my commentary below takes nothing away from the heart of what this song was all about. Imagine what this world would be like if we all had the vision and heart of Bob Geldof.

That being said….

  • See how many mullets you count was you watch this video. It’s got to be double digits. I included Phil Collins because it appeared that the “party in the back” was creeping over his shirt collar.
  • I always thought it was cool that Sting got to sing a lyric with his name in it.
  • Does Bono have the greatest part of this song or what?
  • Man I wanted Simon Le bon hair….
  • Was that Bananarama?
  • I noted more than one pair of tight rolled jeans in this clip.
  • I think I even spotted a Swatch Watch somewhere in there.
  • Cool and the Gang had a mullets too!
  • What ever happened to Jody Watley?

Good times…. Good Times…

An 80’s Christmas

First off let me say that my commentary below takes nothing away from the heart of what this song was all about. Imagine what this world would be like if we all had the vision and heart of Bob Geldof.

That being said….

  • See how many mullets you count was you watch this video. It’s got to be double digits. I included Phil Collins because it appeared that the “party in the back” was creeping over his shirt collar.
  • I always thought it was cool that Sting got to sing a lyric with his name in it.
  • Does Bono have the greatest part of this song or what?
  • Man I wanted Simon Le bon hair….
  • Was that Bananarama?
  • I noted more than one pair of tight rolled jeans in this clip.
  • I think I even spotted a Swatch Watch somewhere in there.
  • Cool and the Gang had a mullets too!
  • What ever happened to Jody Watley?

Good times…. Good Times…

Before and After

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Distance: 4.11 Miles

Time: 39:43

Pace: 9’38” Per Mile

Finishing it together with friends: Priceless!

NOW LETS EAT!!!

Four For Friday

I can’t believe I almost forgot about the weekly randomness that is Four For Friday! That may tell you the level of stress I was under the past 48 hours. It’s been an absolutely CRAZY week. Missed Reunions, connecting with old friends, surgery, healing, meetings, presentations, meetings, and one other thing…meetings. With all of that in mind, I present this weeks Four For Friday. Have a great weekend.

1. “My Hometown” by Bruce Springsteen – If you ever want to see me go instantly to a memory, put this song on. No matter where I am, no matter what I am doing, I will flash back to my hometown of Bedford, Ohio. While I missed the big High School Reunion last weekend, know that you were all in my thoughts. No matter where life takes me, you will always be my hometown.

2. “Cool” by Gwen Stefani – How could I recap this week and not post this? I referenced a lyric in my facebook post. I know we’re cool.

3. “What Life Would Be Like” by Big Daddy Weave – Interesting after the events unfolded this week with “my moment” with Mike and how they coincided with the downloading of the new Big Daddy Weave CD. This song is incredible. Gets me everytime. “I wonder what life would be like if….”

4. “Life Happened” by Tammy Cochran – There is no greater song when reflecting on a High School Reunion. As I have had the opportunity this week to catch up with friends from 20 years ago, I have been astounded to hear the stories. I am reminded how “Life Happened”. Yet after a week of stories, memories and photos, I am reminded what Tammy Cochran sings at the end of the song..

Life Happened
Clothes went out of fashion with our songs
We started families,  bought SUV’s
Became step dads and soccer moms.
I finally realized we turned out alright.

We spent the night just catchin up and dancin’
And life happened.

Facebook’s Cool.

That may qualify as the cheesiest title I have ever called a blog post. Then again…I just used the word “cheesiest” so how bad can it be. Here’s my point, Facebook is cool. I don’t know what else to call it or say. I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes trying to find another way to frame it and I can’t. This is also coming from a guy that de-activated his account a few months ago because I just didn’t see the value in having one. For reasons I don’t remember I fired the account up again recently and I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that I did. It’s cool.

“After all that we’ve been through, I know we’re cool. I know we’re cool” – Gwen Stefani

I don’t know if Gwen Stefani uses Facebook, but I wouldn’t be surprised. That is basically what I have been experiencing the past month or so. Through Facebook it has been my pleasure to connect with people that I never thought I would see again. It’s great to see their families, their children and hear the stories about what they have been doing all these years. It’s also good to know that after all these years and after all that we’ve been through…we’re still cool. In other words we can still call one another friend.

To those that I’ve connected with I’d like to say thanks. Thanks for the messages on my “wall” and the emails in the inbox. After all that we’ve been through..I know we’re cool!

Your Moment

I like the commercials for ATT Small Business where the actors say “Welcome to my moment“. I couldn’t help but think of them today while I was cutting the grass. No, I didn’t have “my moment” cutting the grass. Actually, I was reflecting on Austin’s “moment” on Thursday night when they won the Hilliard Little League World Series. During the big rally inning (came back from down 12-4 to go ahead 15-12) Austin had a key double in the gap to clear the bases. When I looked in the stands his Mom and his Aunts were both crying with joy (you really had to be there). I was doing my best to hold it together and stay in the third base coaching box.

As I thought about that, I couldn’t help but think about how my “moments” are all but done. Thanks to a cranky back, my sports days are all but over. But living in that moment with Austin was better than any moment I ever had. Sharing the joy, and trying to somehow express how proud I was of him and how hard he worked were all part of that “moment”. It’s at the top of my list on my “moments”. Funny how those change for us isn’t it?

I thought of one other “moment” I had recently. We had the privilege of being a part of my sister-in-law’s wedding. During the reception, I had Brynn on my lap and Austin in the seat beside me. As the DJ played the song “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts, I had a “moment” to speak the lyrics to two of my little one’s. Don’t tell anyone, but all three of us were crying. It was a moment to share and words I’m glad I was able to tell them.

I came in from cutting the grass and the picture above was in my inbox. One of the parents had caught our “moment” on film. I spent a few minutes just looking at this picture and thanking God for the “moments” in our lives. I pray that our children remember these moments for a long, long time. I know I will.

“My Wish” by Rascal Flatts

So how about you? What was “your moment”?

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

What a weekend. The family and I left on Friday afternoon to head to our hometown of Bedford, Ohio for the wedding of Heather’s youngest sister. “My Girls”, “The Boy” and Heather were all in the wedding so it was an exciting time for everyone. There is always a part of me that still loves going “home” to where my roots are planted. While the condition of my old hometown is not what I remembered it to be, one thing is for sure…the people never change. You really can go home.

One take away from this weekend is that no matter how many miles, years or changes separate people, when there is a bond that is formed, nothing can ever break that. This weekend I was reminded of how strong and real friendships are as I spent some time with some old friends. I’m amazed how 10 years can seem like 10 minutes when you meet up with old friends. When I spent some time with guys like Gary and Ern, it was as if we were on the old softball fields again.

One other mark of friendships that last forever is that they still answer the bell when you are in a time of need. With Heather’s responsibilities in the wedding, I was flying solo trying to keep 2 little girls dresses clean neat and organized and one little boys tux from permanent damage. Just when I needed help most, there were old friends saying “You need a hand?” and “if there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know”. That’s friendship. That’s community. That’s going home.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

What a weekend. The family and I left on Friday afternoon to head to our hometown of Bedford, Ohio for the wedding of Heather’s youngest sister. “My Girls”, “The Boy” and Heather were all in the wedding so it was an exciting time for everyone. There is always a part of me that still loves going “home” to where my roots are planted. While the condition of my old hometown is not what I remembered it to be, one thing is for sure…the people never change. You really can go home.

One take away from this weekend is that no matter how many miles, years or changes separate people, when there is a bond that is formed, nothing can ever break that. This weekend I was reminded of how strong and real friendships are as I spent some time with some old friends. I’m amazed how 10 years can seem like 10 minutes when you meet up with old friends. When I spent some time with guys like Gary and Ern, it was as if we were on the old softball fields again.

One other mark of friendships that last forever is that they still answer the bell when you are in a time of need. With Heather’s responsibilities in the wedding, I was flying solo trying to keep 2 little girls dresses clean neat and organized and one little boys tux from permanent damage. Just when I needed help most, there were old friends saying “You need a hand?” and “if there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know”. That’s friendship. That’s community. That’s going home.

Priceless….

I may bleed Carolina Blue, but no matter where I may roam, a large part of my heart belongs to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Thanks to the ultimate hook-up from my friend Brian, “The Boy” and I had a chance on Saturday night to soak it all in. Check this out:

Brian won four tickets from the local sports station to take part in their “Fan Bus to Jacobs Progressive Field”. Knowing I love the Tribe, he was kind enough to extend his winnings to “The Boy” and I. So Saturday we took off for C-Town with a bus full of fans. We were treated to a viewing of the movie “Major League” on the way up to the game as well as prizes for trivia (We are now the proud owners of a Jim Tressel/Troy Smith Bobblehead combo thanks to that trivia).

What made it even better was the fact that our beloved Cavaliers were playing Game 3 against the Celtics right next door at “The Q”. The old town was “rockin” and electric once again. The Indians and Cavs won big which made the fireworks at the end of the game even better. To top off the evening, Brian gave me a Vince Carter North Carolina Bobblehead he picked up at a garage sale that morning. “The Boy” has not let that out of his site.

Many thanks to my friend Brian. After a long week, it was great to hang out with a great friend, create memories for our little ones and visit my roots one more time! It really was priceless.

Words and Timing

What an interesting weekend. Late last week, the company I work for was saddened by the death of a man that was literally a walking miracle. He had been battling and beating cancer for many years. It was amazing. He was a living miracle to anyone that came into contact with him. He was loved by many.

Last night, my wife and I made the drive over to Indianapolis to attend a going away part for my old boss, at the home of my new boss. In attendance at the party were almost all of our Senior Leadership and their wives. At some point in the evening, I was speaking to a man that spoke at the funeral for the man that died. He talked about how he used the opportunity to share how much he had meant to him.

About an hour later, we all gathered around and did the same for my old boss. We told stories and talked about how much he will be missed in the organization. Do you see the difference? I couldn’t help but think about it as the evening wore on and again during the drive home this afternoon.

One man never got to hear the people say such wonderful things about him. His impact was spoken of only after he was gone. We may never know, this side of heaven, if he literally heard what people said and how he had impacted their lives. The second man was able to sit in a room full of people and hear first hand how he had impacted them. It struck me. It reminded me.

You and I have an opportunity each day to let people know how much they mean to us. We have the choice to share the impact they have on us as they weave their way through our journey. Let’s not wait until they are gone to let them know. It maybe the only chance we get.

The End of the Innocence

Sandlot Several years ago the shoe company “Keds” had an advertising campaign that simply asked some questions. I don’t know why it has stuck with me all these years, but it was great marketing. Featured in the commercial was a small girl with her Keds on and the narrator simply said things like:

“What size Keds will you be wearing when you lose your first tooth?”

“What size Keds will you be wearing when you meet your first boyfriend?”

“What size Keds will you be wearing when the first of your friends gets married?”

What captured me in this 30 second spot is how we were presented with the reality that life happens. Time moves on and things and people change. I have always shared the journey in this blog and this post is the result of several days of reflecting on the loss of a childhood friend. Someone that was like a brother to me through my high school years.

I guess the past few days I have been wondering when we lost the innocence of our youth? What happened to the times when we ran with our “crew” and didn’t worry about the things we worry about now? When phone calls at 1am didn’t scare you that it might be bad news. When you didn’t fear doctors, dentists or the things that would cause you to need to see either one of them. We stayed out late, drove without seat belts, ate what we wanted and lived without the fear. Somewhere, somehow, some time ago, that changed and so did we.

We can’t live our life looking back, but it only takes a twist of fate to remember and reflect on the past. Tragedy should not be the thing that makes “the old gang” get together. What are the miles that separated the gang in the first place? I wonder if it can be found at the same place and time as the end of the innocence.

“Who knows how long this will last?

Now we’ve come so far so fast.

Somewhere back there in the dust

That same small town in each of us.” – Don Henley

How Quickly….

I received one of those phone calls today that you really wish you would never have to hear. The friend on the other end said those words that you never, in your wildest dreams imagined would happen to a friend. Yet in an instant, everything changed. Life dealt another reminder that it is brief. Our time, our moments, our light is but a flash. Today I lost a childhood friend when a fire consumed his home. The friend that called also informed me that Tim’s wife, who is with child, was able to escape the home, but is battling severe burns. While I don’t know her, my thoughts, heart and prayer are with her tonight.

As I was reflecting on the brevity of life, specifically Tim’s tonight, several very vivid memories came to mind. Some filled with laughter, some of the journey. I found it a cruel irony that the annual posting of the “Sesame Street Thanksgiving” was almost always prompted by Tim. He would usually email and say “don’t forget to email out the annual Thanksgiving picture”. He never forgot that, even when I did.

The second memory was of a time when we were in high school when his father passed away suddenly. Tim was crushed. It would be a time when we would realize early on, that life can change in a blink. A few years ago, Tim emailed the lyrics to the song “My Sacrifice” by Creed on the anniversary of his father’s passing to some of his friends. I had never thought of the lyrics in that manner, but it was so appropriate at the time.

Tonight, my heart is heavy but one day, the quickness of life will be no longer. Everything will be made new. Souls will reunite and questions will have answers. To those that read this, I say again…make that phone call, mend that relationship, hug the ones you love a little tighter. This is not home and our time is brief. Make each moment a memory and squeeze every ounce out of each second.

After writing this, I am reminded of the song on the new Mercyme CD called “Finally Home”. I can’t help but think that this morning Tim got to “wrap his arms around his daddy’s neck and tell him that he missed him.” What a moment that must have been. What a day that will be for us all. I love ya brother.

Finally Home” by Mercyme from the CD “All that is Within me”

 

By Request – Game Recap

IMG_3768 I was going to let the TAR HEEL WIN go by with nothing more than the pictures in my previous post. That being said, I have been getting emails, phone calls and text messages all day. You’d think I would be the one sending them out boasting. It’s cool though. The reality is, I live in Buckeye country, which makes me a Buckeye. However, in case you missed it, I am a Tar Heel fan, living in Columbus. Talk about a man without a country! (Insert village idiot jokes here).

As you can see, we stayed true to the rules and wore our Buckeye gear. As you can also see, I wore the Carolina Blue closest to my heart. Not pictured are my old school Carolina Nikes on my feet too. I was well covered. Austin, Heather and I used an Outback gift certificate and had a nice pre-game meal together. We were bringing Heather up to speed on the players, and what to watch for.

We got to the arena and it was electric. Painted faces (UNC and OSU fans), crazy outfits and of course the band playing “Hang on Sloopy”. Our seats were at half court about 16 rows up. Great seats. The only bad part of the evening occurred about 10 minutes after we got their when the batteries in our camera died. I had to take the rest with my phone. Just a minor setback.

Austin and I were in hoop heaven! I told the guy next to me (who was Thad Matta’s neighbor) that I was sorry before the game even started. I explained I was a Carolina fan and I would be cheering for them. He took the news well and I think I actually made a friend.

One thing is for sure, I’m glad I have unlimited texting because people were coming out of the wood work every time OSU would make a run or take the lead. I got calls from people I haven’t spoken to in MONTHS! In terms of the game, OSU played great defense, especially against Hansbrough. The officiating was horrible on both sides. Without Ty Lawson (Austin’s favorite player), UNC is just not the same team. OSU really struggled shooting the ball and that ultimately cost them the game. It wasn’t pretty but we will take it.

The whole experience was great. Seeing Carolina for the first time in person, with my son and wife by my side was more than I could hope for. I would wear Duke gear if it meant I could do that again. Those that know me know that is saying a lot. I cheer and will cheer for the Buckeyes all the time. Just one night, against one particular team, the decision was easy. Thanks to all of you that shared in the fun. Thanks to “D-Rich” too. I owe you HUGE for this one.

Homecoming 2007

I realized yesterday that this is homecoming weekend for my college alma mater. As you can probably tell, I didn’t go. I told Heather last night that there is no place on this earth I would rather NOT be than homecoming. I don’t know that I will ever return there again. Why you ask? I’ve posted it before, but I’ll let Brandon Heath explain it. He does a much better job.

“I wish you could see me now,
I wish I could show you how
that I’m not who I was.”

The Lord of the Gift

gift_wrap_LRG One blessing I can never put into words is the blessing of some great friends in my life. I say this not to boast, rather that I am amazed at the way that God has intertwined our lives in his providence. As I was reading about spiritual gifts in “If You Want to Walk on Water” by John Ortberg, I couldn’t help but think of two friends in particular. Both have given me gifts recently that are irreplaceable, unforgettable and treasured.

Both gifts were not necessary, but were given because both of these individuals have, what I consider, the spiritual gift of “gift givers”. One recently visited The University of North Carolina and brought back a coffee thermos and pack of UNC Tar Heel gum from their gift shop. Knowing my heart bleeds Carolina Blue, it was the perfect gift! The other gave me a pair of official basketball practice shorts from THE Ohio State University where he works for the team. Knowing my love for college basketball, again, it was the perfect gift (I think he’s trying to convert me).

My thoughts were drawn to both of these because God gave both of these individuals a gift of giving. They recognize that gift and are using it. As the receiver, knowing the giver, it gives glory back to God. I began to wonder if I have grasp my spiritual gift? Have I unpacked it and used it to bring glory back to God? Do I understand the magnitude of what that gift might be and misusing it? To my friends, I again thank you. Not just for the gifts, but for allowing God to work through you.

Your friendship is a gift itself. Your service and willingness to be open to your giftedness is greater than any sermon. You are a blessing to me. If I ever get a handle on my spiritual gift (it’s in here somewhere), I pray I am to you as well!

Beyond Words…

Have you ever had that question where you are asked “if you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be”? My list isn’t really all that inspiring or extensive. There is one name that would be at the top though. Max Lucado. If I could choose one author that has inspired, challenged and changed me, he would be the one. It’s not that I am a crazed fan or anything, I just would like to shake his hand. Today…I got that chance.

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Someone must have tipped Max off about the fact that if you want to score points (like he would need or want to) with me, love on my kids. Before I could even introduce myself or shake his hand, he had left his chair and given my son a full fledge “Bear Hug”. I was pretty well JELLO after that.

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I brought a copy of “3:16” for him to sign and my son chose “A Hat for Ivan” which Max wrote as well. It’s one of his favorites. Max knelt down, looked my son in the eye and said “Austin, God has a very special hat made for you as well. It might be a policeman, a fireman or maybe even an athlete. God made one just for you“. I said “we are shooting for basketball player at North Carolina, but understand if that one doesn’t fit”. Max and his lovely wife Denalyn took time to love on each one of the kids. He even held Brynn’s little face in his hand at one point.

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It was one of the most special and memorable 5 – 10 minutes I have ever had. Although we were just 5 more faces in the line of people that he has and was to meet, Max and his wife never made us feel that way. I will never forget it. So the next time someone asks the question about who I would like to meet, I can say “I already have”.

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Don't Blink

9801111.jpgYou just knew I couldn’t let a milestone like my son riding a bike without training wheels go by without some post about them growing up too fast. I was all set to just let it slide by and maybe even deny it a bit. Then I heard the song “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney. I should have known better. It’s certainly not a song for those of us parents that are already dreading how quickly our kids are growing up.

If that wasn’t enough, I received an email this morning from someone I highly respect and whose wisdom I cherish. The words were a replay of everything that was running through my head last night. Below is a quote from the email –

“Have you and Heather pondered the implications of this achievement? His explorable, travelable world has now taken a big step, expanding and growing outside your house and yard. Celebrate his accomplishment…but hug him close. He’s growing up right before your eyes!”

The final confirmation of all of the above came this morning when he announced that he would like to ride his bike to school. He’s mobile now. Amazing how much can change when we finally get wings. As the Pam Tillis song says…

“You do what you gotta do, then you let that pony run”

Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney from Just the Way I Am

Don’t Blink

9801111.jpgYou just knew I couldn’t let a milestone like my son riding a bike without training wheels go by without some post about them growing up too fast. I was all set to just let it slide by and maybe even deny it a bit. Then I heard the song “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney. I should have known better. It’s certainly not a song for those of us parents that are already dreading how quickly our kids are growing up.

If that wasn’t enough, I received an email this morning from someone I highly respect and whose wisdom I cherish. The words were a replay of everything that was running through my head last night. Below is a quote from the email –

“Have you and Heather pondered the implications of this achievement? His explorable, travelable world has now taken a big step, expanding and growing outside your house and yard. Celebrate his accomplishment…but hug him close. He’s growing up right before your eyes!”

The final confirmation of all of the above came this morning when he announced that he would like to ride his bike to school. He’s mobile now. Amazing how much can change when we finally get wings. As the Pam Tillis song says…

“You do what you gotta do, then you let that pony run”

Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney from Just the Way I Am