Cookeville, TN

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The Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, New York City

Our House

Welcome to the 
Henson Family Home Page

This is the Henson family, and this is the our site home web page. Our family has two adults (my wife, Mary Anne and myself) and four young boys: Stephen (age 16), Matthew (age 14), Mark (age 12), and Sean (age 8). The kids would also include our cat (Tiger), three rabbits (Lola, Kelly and Bugs), and three dogs (Checkers, Midnight, and our most recent addition, Anika). Finally, we have about fifty mice and two dozen duck eggs - uncertain as to how many ducks will hatch!  I am a pulmonary, critical care and sleep physician native to Philadelphia, PA but moved to Cookeville, TN in 1998.  In Philadelphia, I was a physician at the local Veterans Affairs Medical Center for about 15 years, but left Philadelphia and the VA medical system for a better lifestyle in the South working in private practice. It was very difficult leaving my family and friends in Philadelphia - more difficult than I could ever have thought - although it was probably even more difficult for my wife and children. We are still making adjustments to small town, southern life, and being told we have a "Northern accent."  But the people are extremely friendly, the climate is wonderful, the taxes are much lower, housing is cheaper, and the pace of living is much easier. This area of the country is one of the friendliest I have ever met; the people here are so anxious to help you that it is sometimes even embarrassing.

Our trip to Cookeville was not without incident. We had to battle bad weather, furniture broken or could not be reassembled, my having significant, sudden vision loss just as the moving van was disappearing over the horizon, and my wife losing her glasses and being unable to drive.  While on the Interstate, we forgot to latch the back door of our Suburban and part of our luggage fell out onto the highway; luckily, we were able to drive back and retrieve everything from off the road before it was damaged (too much). It was a four-day drive with four young boys, all of whom were very anxious to get to the next destination. We heard incessant cries of, "How long 'til we get there?" all the way down.

One of the highlights of our trip south was a stop at the Luray Caverns in Luray, Virginia. I remember having been there many years ago as a boy when traveling down South with my parents. It is a truly marvelous place, with huge caverns full of stalactites and stalagmites, along with other interesting rock formations. They have a beautiful organ deep within the caves too, that was built decades ago using tuned rock formations as the sources of each musical tone. It was quite wet down in the caves, for it had recently rained there, and we had to be very careful not to slip, especially while trying to take care of four boys who were not very adept at staying together. We were frequently losing at least one boy as he would run off into the front of the line, or lag behind to get another view at something interesting. But the caverns truly were spectacular and not something to miss.  Afterwards, we went across the road to visit the Luray Reptile Zoo.  Stephen, my oldest boy, is very interested in all kinds of animals, especially the invertebrates found in the backyard.  He has had several reptiles in his room, including anoles, newts, and lizards.

We also stopped at the Roanoke Zoo to look at their collection of animals. Stephen particularly is interested in animals, and so we thought he might be interested in stopping at a zoo on the way down south. The zoo was founded in 1952 and became a non-profit organization in 1975.  Unfortunately, however, the zoo was much smaller than the Philadelphia Zoo and I think he might have been somewhat disappointed. The zoo was in a beautiful location on Mill Mountain overlooking the city of Roanoke and still had a beautiful if somewhat small collection of animals.

One of the more difficult parts of the trip was our stay-over in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Gatlinburg is a beautiful town just barely outside of the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee. Just next to Gatlinburg is a five mile strip of amusement parks, rides, stores, and swimming areas just for kids so naturally the children wanted to visit there. One of the most famous sites near Gatlinburg is Dollywood - called "The Entertainment Capital of the Smokies."  It was opened in 1986, and is now billed as Tennessee's #1 tourist attraction, with good family entertainment.  However, our children's behavior was so terrible while we were traveling through Tennessee that we postponed these amusement areas until we went back there again. I find this particular area of the country really beautiful, and it brings back memories of when I used to visit there as a young boy.

We finally got to Cookeville on a Sunday, and we couldn't even remember how to get to our house.  The hospital had thoughtfully put us up at a local hotel overnight so we didn't have to spend our first night living in Cookeville in a house with no furniture.  The next day, the moving van arrived and the real work began.  We had to try to figure out where each piece of furniture - each dissected piece of our former lives - would fit in our new house.  This took many, many hours, and thoroughly exhausted us all.  The kids had a great time getting used to the new house, and exploring the woods and stream behind the property.

But everything has worked out well finally, My vision has largely recovered and I see as well as before with new contact lenses. We were able to safely recover all of the luggage that fell out of our car onto the highway, and my sons are slowly adapting to their new home, new friends, and new school. It has been a difficult time for all of us, though, but I like to think we have learned through this trial to appreciate each other more.  We have learned to help each other through the difficulties associated with moving to a new location far from everybody and everyone with know and love, but have come to develop new relationships and new friends who complement those we left behind.  It is as though we now have two "homes" - one in Philadelphia and the other in Cookeville.

This Web Site represents only the barest beginning of what I hope will be a life-long attempt to present those things that are most important in my life - and those things which are probably most important in everybody's life.  This site opens a discussion concerning some of the most controversial topics today, some of which divide the country along religious, socio-economic, family, and nationality lines.  I hope everybody will enjoy their trip through this site which I have tried to make a easy - and as interesting - as possible.

There are six fundamental divisions to the Web Site, each division is its own "home" to related topics.  Each home has its own page which can be accessed through the buttons at the top of this page, as well as at the top of every home page.  There are five home pages, each of which is briefly described below: Family, Religion, Politics, Medicine, Business, and Links. Additionally, in the left margin of every home page resides a cascading menu where every home page can be reached along with every page throughout the entire web site.  As you might notice, there is a considerable amount of information here - about 1000 pages worth at last count - along with hundreds of links outside of this Web Site to other sites offering more specific information.  Still, the site is a work in evolution and there are still some areas much more complete than others.

Family

The family is a very important aspect of anybody's life as it is through out families that we form life-long relationships, and if we are fortunate enough to have children, have an opportunity to develop other people from their infancy into responsible adults who will live long after we have passed from this life.  It is the most important "job" we will ever have, and probably the most difficult.  In this area, I present my family - four sons and my long-suffering wife.  I offer a discussion about each of my children, including their interests, pictures, and development.

It has become very difficult to apportion time correctly among my various responsibilities; indeed, the challenge of time management has become a separate interest of mine.  Men tend to become too involved with their work, forgetting their work at the office will end long before their work as a father or husband does.  Even though we may tremendous satisfaction and a felling of self-worth from our job, we need to remember our work outside the home is never as important as the work inside.  In this site, I present some of my study regarding the topic of time management and offer several ways to organize you time about those things in life that are most important, rather than those things which are most pressing.  As we climb the ladder of success, we need to be sure our ladder is against the right building.

Religion

When we are young, we believe what we are taught regarding God, be that Christianity, Islam, New Age Philosophy, or agnosticism, or even atheism.  As we grow older, we gradually learn to challenge our earliest beliefs and gradually develop our own thoughts about God and our relationship to Him.  Most people either continue in the beliefs of their parents, or regard religion of little importance; few of us, I believe, really examine theology and come to a critical appraisal of their belief system.  

I was brought up as a Christian, but while entering young adulthood, I had the painful opportunity to challenge these beliefs.  It was during this period that I questioned the existence of God, why there is so much suffering in the world, why God - if He does exist - would allow such confusion about his existence and character, why be a Christian rather than one of the many other world religions, and belong to a particular church rather than others - or does it matter?  After 25 years of study I think I am finally starting to understand God, and recognize this will be a process that will take much more than this lifetime - but that's getting ahead of myself!

In trying to understand whether there is a God, I take the advice of Paul in Romans 2 and turn to nature; more specifically, I investigate the new discipline of intelligent design.  This body of work attempts to show that it is more reasonable to believe in God than blind chance when examining the complexities of creation from the smallest cellular structures of living things, subatomic particles and the forces holding them together, to the formation of the Universe at the time of the Big Bang, to the amazing complexities of physical laws and constants that are seemingly fine tuned for life to exist.  I also examine the controversial topic regarding our own planet; how its formation, structure, place in the solar system, type of moon, position in the galaxy and so many other apparently coincidental events are just right to allow intelligent animal life to form and, even more controversial, how it is unlikely there may be another planet just like earth anywhere else!  

Since God apparently took so much care in fashioning the universe, our galaxy, sun, planetary system, earth, physical laws, and earth history to bring us to where we are today, is there little doubt He is vitally interested in what we are doing and our future destiny!  The study of end-times, the future of humanity and the earth, is also studied in this area.  Why should we believe in Biblical prophesy rather than prophesy from psychics, Islam, Hinduism, or from sages such as Nostradamus?  Is there a reason why we should believe the Bible over all other scripture revered by other world religions, or do they all contain truth such that ultimate truth is contained in all religions.

Finally, this area examines Christianity closely.  There are many different branches of Christianity each of which has thousands if not millions of adherents each firmly believing their form has the most "truth."   Why do we believe in one form of Christianity rather than others - is there one form that is the "best" - one form whose leaders or members receive special revelation from God, or must we rely on discerning truth through prayerful study of Scripture.  How do we know truth when we find it - will we receive special revelation from God and "feel" enlightened that one brand of Christianity is most correct, or must we rely on intellect, hard study, and years of work to develop our own thoughts regarding theology so that we might associate with a church that most closely approximates what we have come to believe?  It seems as thought it is possible to pick a church that will stand for any position regarding any doctrine from Trinity (or lack), to personal revelation (or lack), to the deity of Jesus (or lack).  Is there a central core of doctrinal truth that defines Christianity, outside of which a church or "sect" cannot be considered truly Christian?  All of these topics are discussed in this section, including an examination of major Christian churches along with links to their Web pages.

Politics

Politics is a central part of everybody's like in America.  We are taxed, policed, and governed through out own consent - at least nominally.  Our government is our responsibility; if we have bad government who make bad decisions and policy, then we share in the responsibility of that policy.  

There are currently two major world views which are reflected in our government.  The one world view is that of entitlement; we are "entitled" for some perceived reason to some consideration from our government, be that welfare, health insurance, and employment.  According to this world view, we are owed jobs, and it is our employer's responsibility to pay us well - including the best benefit package we can legally get.  Finally, after we have worked for as little time as possible, it is our government's responsibility to see to it that we are cared for comfortably during our retirement.  This world view feels that rich people need to be taxed disproportionately higher because they can afford to be taxed higher and after all, their money is needed to pay for all those entitlements.  The world would be best if everybody were guaranteed a job, cared for by the government, and nobody had more of anything than anybody else.  That would mean security for everybody and nobody would be left out.  This world view is reflected in the politics of high taxes, redistribution of the wealth, equality in everything for everybody, and. mandatory education for children in public schools to ensure everybody gets the same start indoctrination.

The other world view believes in self-enterprise rather than being cared for by the government.  This group believes that being cared for by the government means being controlled by the government with little freedom for self expression or financial self improvement.  This group believes that most rich people got that way through enterprise and entrepreneurship, and that their success and risk taking should be rewarded with a better lifestyle.  This world view holds that we are responsible for our own entitlements, and that we should not depend upon government or anybody else to take care of us.  This group tends to take risks, develop new ideas and inventions, and produce wealth and become the employers of those in the first group.  This group has the money and disposable income to give to charity, start foundations and scholarships, and develop endowments to help the poor, send those to advanced education who might not otherwise go, and develop hospitals and clinics at a far less cost than does an inefficient government bureaucracy.  This world view is reflected in the politics of low taxes, reward of success but helping the poor, a small, efficient, non-intrusive government, and freedom for parents to educate their children according to their desires and abilities in or outside of public schools.

The politics area discusses these issues among others, and tries to demonstrate that in a democracy, greater freedom and responsibility for the individual is always the better choice, while being sure to take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves.

Medicine

The only things which are guaranteed in life, the old adage goes, are death and taxes.  Since most of us in America life into old age, we can also be sure of sickness and disease before our death, and care of those who are ill requires the intervention of medicine.  I have been vitally interested in medicine for the greater part of my life, being a doctor specializing in internal medicine, pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine.  I serve in a hospital that covers much of middle Tennessee providing specialized care in nearly all areas of medicine.

Medicine is a very difficult profession, not only because it is constantly changing and intellectually challenging, but also because it requires great physical endurance.  As physicians, we know sleep deprivation is not compatible with health, and yet we routinely deprive ourselves of rest taking care of patients.  Critical care physicians take care of the sickest patients in the hospital and are often forced to spend all night at their bedside, and then work a regular schedule the next day.  There is also a section that deals extensively with the greatest preventable cause of disease in America today - cigarette smoking.  Not only is smoking dangerous to the smoker, but it is dangerous to all those who are around him including children and family.

In the section dealing with medicine, I discuss issues relating to each of my specialties of care, including sleep medicine.  Additionally, there are links to many areas of medicine which might prove helpful especially if there are questions regarding some illness or treatment. 

Business

Most families live from paycheck to paycheck with little or no monetary reserve.  Not a week goes by when a large corporation lays off thousands of workers, many of whom will never find a similar paying job and are forced to sacrifice their standard of living - along with everybody else in their family.  Other families are saddled with huge amounts of debt, sometimes through no fault of their own.  While suburban American might look wealthy, the image is often illusory.  Most Americans don't save enough, don't invest enough, and are bound for a poor, boring retirement.

But, in America, it doesn't have to be that way.

This site will show anybody who they can improve their lifestyle by improving their income.  It is folly to allow your family income to be dependent upon only one source; rather, you should increase the number of income streams so that if any one of them drops out, your lifestyle won't change!  Most of these extra income sources don't require lots of time; indeed, most require very little time.  The last thing you need to do is to take more time away from your family and other responsibilities.

Links

Everybody has their own favorite sites on the Web - sites that are of special personal interest or those with something profound to say.  My links pages are a portal to those sites I have found which have special interest to me, and which I hope might prove valuable to others with similar tastes and interests. On this site there are links to other link pages such as astronomy, business, science, mathematics, cigarette smoking and its health risks, space science, technology, college sites, etc.  There is probably something here for everybody.

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