Wild Card Wednesday 2/19/20 – Favorite Television Shows

Television. It has been one of America’s favorite hobbies for nearly three-quarters of a century now. Each generation has its iconic shows.  Some seem to stand the test of time while others just don’t hold up anymore.

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite shows for this week’s WCW post. I am going to break them down into three categories and list my top five in each category. Here goes.



  1.  ER
  2. NCIS
  3. Criminal Minds
  4. House
  5. Dexter


  1. Friends
  2. The Office
  3. I Love Lucy
  4. Cheers
  5. M.A.S.H.
  • Yes, I left Seinfeld off.  I’m apparently one of the 2% that just didn’t get it.


  1. The Flintstones
  2. The Jetsons
  3. Looney Tunes
  4. King of the Hill
  5. The Simpsons (the earlier years are fantastic)

Well, that’s it for this week’s Wild Card Wednesday.  Comment below with some of your favorites or tell me what shows I disrespected by omission (except for Seinfeld).

Training Tuesday

If you followed this blog way back when I was posting weekly training updates, then this will seem familiar. Since I haven’t done this in a while, let me use this week’s edition to just kind of update where I am and what my goals are.



Back in 2015, I managed to lose just under 100 pounds. Unfortunately, between 2017-2018 about 75% of that weight came back as I navigated probably the toughest two year stretch of my life in dealing with the loss of both parents. Last year while marathon training, I lost about 20 of those pounds and entered 2020  with the goal of losing the rest.

As of January 1, 2020, I weighed 254.2.  Today, I weighed in at 242.  About two weeks ago I switched back to a low carb diet. It is truly what seems to work best for me.


There are no marathons on my schedule this year and I plan on keeping it that way. This year I want to focus on the half marathon with the hope of running a sub-2 hour 13.1 miles. This means that I have to take almost 7 minutes off of my PR which was set in 2017.

Of course, I will run some shorter races as well, but this year is all about the half marathon. Combined with dropping the weight, I believe that this is a lofty, yet attainable goal for 2020.

Stay tuned next week for a blow by blow description of this week’s training.

Meditative Monday

Almost didn’t get this one up today.  The office was closed and schools were out and it nearly slipped my mind.

Each year I make it a goal of mine to read through the Bible in a year. I’ll admit that there are sections of the Bible that I look forward to and there are sections that I just want to get through.  I am currently in one of those sections now.

Leviticus and Numbers are tough to get through.  So many rules and ceremonial guidelines. There are times where I have contemplated why God chose to include these in the canon of scripture. That is changing this year.

You see, all of these rules and ceremonial rituals involve being able to enter into God’s presence which dwelt in the tabernacle.  God is holy and unrighteousness can not be in His presence. God wanted to dwell with Israel, so He laid out the way that would make it possible for that to happen.

Fortunately, the sacrifice of Jesus has taken away the need for these ritual sacrifices. That said, we don’t have free license to live as we want and receive acceptance from God. We do however have the assurance of God’s forgiveness when we repent.

God is holy and should be regarded as such.  I fear that often times in our modern society, we lose that sense of awe and reverence. We need to check our hearts and our attitudes when we come into His presence whether that be in church or during our personal quiet time.

I’ll close with the first verse of my favorite hymn.

Holy, holy, holy

Lord, God almighty

Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.

Holy, holy, holy

Merciful and mighty

God in three persons,  blessed trinity.

Family Friday – A Little Bit About Me

In this first edition of Family Friday here on the blog, I thought it would be fitting to introduce myself and let you know some more about me. I’ll even through in some of the unusual things about me.

For starters, my name is Chris and I’m 40 years old. I grew up in the small town of Finksburg, Maryland. (Raise your hand if you’ve heard of that one.) I attended Carroll Christian Schools from K-5 all the way through 12th grade. I lettered in basketball and baseball for 4 years each.  Don’t let that fool you.  I wasn’t that great at basketball, but going to a small school made it a little easier to make the team.  We did manage to win the state championship my senior year, so that was cool to be a part of.  Now as far as baseball goes, I was pretty good.  Nothing overly special, but I could play.  In my senior year, I hit .471 and as a pitcher, I went 4-0 with a 1.12 ERA.

Now for oddball fact number 1.  I graduated a year early.  I spent 6 weeks in first grade.

I grew up in church.  My faith has always been a huge part of my life.  In conjunction with that, music has also been a big part of my life.  I started singing in church when I was 3 or 4.  One thing led to another and between ages 5-11, I traveled up and down the east coast singing southern gospel music.  We even had a bus that we would travel in.

We stopped traveling to allow me more time to focus on school, but also because I was diagnosed with migraines.  Unfortunately, I still suffer from them even to this day. Don’t ever tell me that it’s ‘just a headache.’ You might not like my response.

After high school, I attended Lee University in Cleveland, TN where I would earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music (percussion emphasis) and a Master of Church Music.  My time at Lee would help prepare me for a career as a Worship Pastor.  Something else really important happened while at Lee, however.  I met the love of my life, Elizabeth (Beth) Latham.  We went on our first date on 10/2/2001, we were engaged in November of 2002, and then on November 15, 2003, we married.  I definitely married up.


I have served as a worship pastor in South Carolina and now in Virginia.  We have been here in Virginia Beach for almost 4 years.  I love having such an amazing woman by my side to help me in ministry. She was most certainly made for me.

Leading Worship

We have two beautiful daughters.  Carrie is 14 and Hannah is 11.  Both are absolutely amazing young women and we are so proud of them.

Chris and Girls at HOS

Now for some random bits of information.

I am a runner.  I started running in 2015 to lose weight.  Never in my wildest dreams did I envision ever going beyond a 10k in my running.  To date, I have completed 9 half marathons (13.1 miles) and 2 marathons (26.2 miles). I have learned so much about myself from my time out there on the streets.  I figured out that I can push my body far beyond what I think I can.

Baltimore Marathon

I am a huge fan of the North Carolina Tar Heels.  This makes for some interesting days in the house with Beth being an equally huge fan of the Clemson Tigers.

Carolina Chris

I am also a huge Disney fanboy.  For that matter, I really love pretty much any theme park or amusement park.  I consider myself a roller coaster enthusiast (123 credits) and am so happy to have passed off that passion to my oldest daughter, Carrie.  During the summer months, there’s a good chance that you’ll find us at Busch Gardens or Kings Dominion riding coasters. I can’t wait to head back to Disney for Christmas this year.

Family at Disney

Finally, I have to talk about the people that raised me.  I was blessed with amazing parents.  Duane and Gerri Darling helped to shape me into the man I am today.  They sacrificed many times to make sure that I had what I needed.  A few years back my world was rocked.  In the spring of 2017, Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He would pass away on July 12 of that same year.  Mom had a laundry list of health issues.  After Dad passed away, she pretty much lost the will to live and on March 15, 2018, Mom passed away.  Those 8 months are very difficult to even talk about.  I wouldn’t have gotten through that without the support of my family, my church, and most importantly, my God.  Not a day goes by that I don’t miss them.  I will see them again, and I look forward to that reunion.

Mom and Dad

Well, that’s enough about me. Comment below if you have any more questions and I will answer anything that I can in future editions of the blog. Don’t forget to subscribe to make sure you don’t miss an entry.  You can also follow The Journey of Ascent on Facebook and Twitter.




Thrilling Thursday

Today we will continue with the new format of the blog.  Today is the day where my love of roller coasters and theme parks will come to the forefront.

For the first several installments of this concept, I thought it would be fun to unveil my top 10 steel and top 10 wooden coasters.  Each week, I will unveil one steel and one wooden coaster for my lists. These lists are obviously completely subjective and are based on my personal experiences through the end of 2019. At this point in time, I have ridden 123 roller coasters. Some may say that’s a lot, but the reality is it’s a modest count based on what many who share this passion have ridden. I’m sure that if you are a coaster enthusiast you will probably have some disagreements with my rankings, but again, they are my rankings.

My number 10 wooden roller coaster is Wildcat at Hersheypark in Hershey, PA.

Photo from rcdb.com

Wildcat opened in 1996 as the first coaster designed and built by Great Coasters International.  It has a height of 85 feet and its top speed is 50 mph. Despite its relatively small size, the coaster still packs a punch as it pulls 3.5 g’s.

This ride has a reputation for being seriously rough.  For a long time, I was one who would have had that same assessment.  However, during my most recent rides on this coaster back in 2015, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it was running.  It’s certainly not glassy smooth, but these types of wooden coasters aren’t supposed to be really smooth.

In recent years, there has been a growing outcry for Hershey to bring in Rocky Mountain Construction to turn this coaster into a hybrid coaster (see Steel Vengeance, Twisted Timbers, as well as several other conversions). While I have no doubt that RMC could have a blast converting this ride, I would rather see the park continue to give it the yearly TLC that it needs and keep this coaster running as it is.

And now for my number 10 steel coaster: The Incredible Hulk at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.

Photo from http://www.rcdb.com

This one is probably a surprise to many that it would be in my top 10 steel list.  This is an older B&M sit-down looper, but man is this thing fun. I have only ridden it on one occasion and that was our honeymoon way back in 2003. Since then, the ride has essentially been completely rebuilt.  There was no change to the layout but it was still taken down and then rebuilt.

The Incredible Hulk features 7 inversions, has a height of 110 feet, reaches 67 mph and pulls 4 g’s. What makes this ride unique is that instead of your traditional lift hill, you are launched up the hill through a tunnel and straight into the first inversion.

This is also one of the more well-themed roller coasters you will find.   The queue is very detailed and the launch sequence is even themed to Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk. There are certainly bigger and faster coasters out there, but I have a soft spot for this one.  Maybe it’s the memories from a fantastic honeymoon, maybe it’s just that good of a ride or maybe it’s both. Whatever the case may be, this is a ride that you don’t want to skip if you’re at Islands of Adventure.

For reference, neither of these coasters crack my overall top 10 list.

Well, that does it for Thrilling Thursday.  Next week, I will unveil my number 9 wood and steel coasters. Let me know what you think of Wildcat and The Hulk down below in the comments and if you’re enjoying the content here, make sure to subscribe!


Wild Card Wednesday

Well folks, here it is.  Let me introduce you to the new format of my blog.

Meditative Monday – I will share thoughts on scripture that God is currently using to speak to me.

Training Tuesday – Here is where I will talk about my running. This could be an update on my training progress or a report on a recent race.

Wild Card Wednesday – The name says it all. This could be anything.

Thrilling Thursday – This will be where my love of roller coasters and theme parks will take center stage.  I will focus on a specific ride or park and those things that I like and dislike about it.

Family Friday – Pretty self-explanatory here. My family will take center stage on Friday.

I am currently not committing to any particular weekend format. I may post or I may not so weekend posts could really be anything.

Here’s today’s Wild Card Wednesday.

I am going to share a video with minimal comment.  This is Arthur Brooks, the keynote speaker from the 2020 National Prayer Breakfast. This brief, 14 minute address is something that I believe all of us regardless of political ideology would do well to hear and heed. I will refrain from commenting on POTUS’ remarks immediately following this as his body language and behavior during this speech speak volumes.

Arthur Brooks 2020 National Prayer Breakfast


Stay Tuned…Changes Ahead

For those who are still following this page, I haven’t gone anywhere. In all honesty I have been trying to come up with a new direction for The Journey of Ascent. I am working on coming up with a format that is easier to get more frequent posts up while still being true to what this blog has been. This blog has been a sometimes random snapshot of things that are important to me and that I enjoy. Faith and family are at the forefront of that, but I also enjoy running and riding roller coasters. All of that will still be here.

Bottom line is this: there is more content coming soon. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Talk to you soon! Chris