a jerk

image courtesy of Photobucket.com

As I get older I learn more about myself. For example, I’m discovering one of the reasons I enjoy writing is that I can temper my words, even when I’m excited.

It’s different for me when I’m in a conversation. Words can come out of my mouth long before I understand the impact of them. Some might consider a person with actions like that a jerk. Yes, sometimes I’m a jerk.

It’s taken me longer than it should have to realize that, but how many jerks really know they’re jerks? I’m not a jerk all the time. I’m a pretty good guy when I’m asleep!

A couple days ago while at the gym I was having an ongoing discussion/debate over some Christian doctrinal issues. You know the ones, there are about five really divisive issues for us Christians.

This probably isn’t the biggest divider and I’ll remain vague to avoid an on-line argument.

My friend Tim and I were lobbing Christian shots at each other that were dripping with sarcasm. (which us jerks really enjoy) – (Oh, and for the record Tim is a jerk too!) There was a friend of Tim’s that he goes to church with close by. Tim drew him into the crossfire.

Tim’s friend was caught off guard. Tim posed the question of our debate to him without preparing him mentally for our “rough around the edges” style.

His friend, a mild-mannered guy, starts to quote some scripture to enlighten us on the subject we’ve been debating for years. In fairness to Tim’s friend, neither Tim nor myself look like the studious type. He continued to speak as if talking with a couple of ignoramuses.

The verses he quoted to us didn’t have much bearing on the subject in question. Being mere mortal, my tongue could take only so much pain from the teeth piercing it. I let go…Not in anger, but not in God either. Human emotion overtaking my self-control.

I’m very proud of the studying I’ve done on this particular subject. I’ve read books, done Bible studies, spent countless hours with my Hebrew and Greek concordance. My reaction was more that proud, it was pride. You know, the thing that cometh before a fall?

I made my points and my competitors countered with arguments that were also in human emotion. You know the ones, “Well my preacher says…”!  The conversation’s well out of hand at this point and a wise man of God would honor Him and walk away. Not me, no sir. At this point I’m rolling, I’ve got the enemy on the run. I have my foes against the ropes.

There is no sign of wisdom, only folly. I continued to disrespect God’s word by using it against, instead of for His beloved.

They soon both retreated and headed for the door. In truth, I love to talk about God’s word. What else matters more than that?

That night as I prayed God laid on my heart the reality of my actions. “God please forgive me for being such a jerk.” I didn’t bring God honor, I was trying to honor myself. I got railroaded by my flesh.

If to be a “Christian” is “Christ-like” or followers of Christ, what was I? Who was I following?

Saying sorry will help ease my conscience, but probably won’t get me another in-depth conversation with this solid man and fellow believer.

I gotta be honest with you though… In my heart, I still really don’t want to wash this guy’s feet…


to beat the devil

Kris Kristofferson image courtesy Photobucket

I’ve shared my analogy of writing a few times. I’m not going to use the “Pushing the rope uphill” line again. (At least not in its entirety) –(pretty clever Huh?)

This time I’m going to compare writing when it feels forced to pushing a boulder uphill. In contrast, when the words are flowing easily from my mind, it’s like dropping a pebble into a well.

I get inspiration to write from some pretty strange sources. My renewed burst of passion, this time comes via my big brother. The immediate thought would be that he gave me the “at’-a-boy” speech or some other inspirational words. My brothers are proud of me and vice versa, but not for anything writing related. We share a mutual respect due to our belief and understanding of God.

I don’t know if either one of my brothers have ever even read this blog. I’d like it if they did, but I know there’s no forcing either one of them into doing something they don’t want to do.

I get to spend one on one time with my oldest brother Dean two or three times a year. We don’t live in the same state and he travels for business a lot.

My whole family and I share a passion for music. If you’ve read much of this blog you already know I use music as a catalyst for my writing quite often.

Last night my brother and me were listening to old Christmas songs. We’re patient with one another these days. I endured Buck Owens, “Santa Looks A Lot Like Daddy.” He actually enjoys the Eagles, “Come Home For Christmas.” The evening progressed past midnight as we used the computer to dig up long lost treasures.

Dean had me find Kris Kristofferson’s, “To Beat The Devil.” I’ve heard the song before, but not many times. While the style isn’t popular, I find the lyrics to be not only amusing, but genius.

If I could come up with words to speak to one heart in this world as his speak to mine, I would be gratified and consider myself a successful writer.

Kristofferson wrote and sang from the perspective of a starving singer/songwriter. When he encounters another person who tries to discourage him from his dream of singing/songwriting, even though hungry and thirsty from having no money, Kristofferson considers the man Satan.

He believed his calling was from God, and anyone who would discourage or keep him from that belief he considered the Devil. I hope you take the time to go to Youtube and hear the song, but I’ll include the verse I believe is genius all by itself just in case.

–“Well the old man was a stranger, but I heard his song before

–Back when failure had me locked out on the wrong side of the door

–When no one stood behind me but my shadow on the floor

–And lonesome was more than a state of mind

–You see the devil haunts a hungry man

–If you don’t want to join em’, you gotta beat em’.

–I ain’t sayin’ I beat the devil, but I drank his beer for nothin’…

–Then I stole his song.”

OK, I was born in Arkansas and that might have some bearing on my taste along with the influence of my dad growing up. Regardless of a person’s taste in music I think anyone would agree with the determination of a person to keep pushing on against all odds is an admirable trait.

The song ends with Kristofferson saying he’d rather live his life doing what he was called to do, even if it meant living that life without a nickel.

I’d love to have my manuscript published. If I don’t I’ll consider it God’s will. I’ll also consider it His will for me to never quit trying to lift up and inspire people any way I can. If He gives me the words to inspire others like Kristofferson’s did for me early this morning, that would suit me just fine.

For anyone reading this now, I would encourage you to go do what you do. If you don’t have something, go get something. Look toward your passion and follow the trail it’s leaving you. If we can impact anyone in a positive way and show them the love and power provided to us through God, I’d call that true success.

The greatest success in my opinion can’t be measured by a number. It’s measured in the hearts of others.

I ain’t sayin’ I beat the Devil, but I know God will.

And my dreams given by God, he can never kill.

If you don’t think a writer is what I’ll be.

Move on back Satan, you can get behind me.


a very good year

image courtesy Photobucket.com

What’s in a year? The 365 days in a row before calling it another year seems to have some sort of cycle. I recall the milestone years, turning 16, 21, 30, and 40. Those specific numbers didn’t necessarily relate to what the world would consider “good years.”

The things I used to calculate whether the year was good or bad has changed along the way.

Frank Sinatra did a song titled “It Was A Very Good Year.” In the song, he recalls his early years. At age 17 he recalled small town girls. At age 21 he reminisced a city girl who lived up the stairs who’s, “hair came undone.” At 35, his recollection was of a blue-blooded girl with independent means. The last verse Sinatra compares his life to a good wine that poured out well.

A person in the Autumn of their life looking back on the good things in it and that’s what they come up with? Would you consider those good years?

Each day we’re alive is a gift from God. The days that turn into years are gifts strung together. Sometimes we get so many of them we begin to take them for granted. The years come to be expected as if each one were a right.

Has this been a good year? The answer to the question depends on our perspective. Economically speaking this hasn’t been the best of years. However, on the other side of the coin we find we’ve survived. Many have not only survived they’ve found a new perspective on life and how it is to be lived. They have new priorities, less dollar motivated.

The loss of my dad, this year makes this an unprecedented year for my family and me. We found out in January of this year that he had brain cancer. In some ways, I feel a massive burden has been on my shoulders all year. In other ways, I find the peace of God within and sense He’s been carrying me all year.

Maybe watching the dignity, grace, and strength of God in a man’s last days proves again His love for His chosen. I’m not ready to call it “a good year,” but if something is gained it can’t be all bad.

The things I’ll look back upon in my life to consider the “good years” will be different than that of Frank Sinatra. The things to be cherished can’t be measured in the flesh. The prizes collected along the way will be gifts from God. Love, honor, wisdom, peace, joy, grace, and humility to name a few.

God has blessed me with a lot to be thankful for. I’d say the year I met my wife was “a very good year.” The years my daughters were born were “very good years” as well.

In retrospect, the years I seek God more I find peace. Peace in this world in any year should be a very good year.

I got my first Bible in 1970, I guess that was a very good year. Knowing my immediate family have been chosen by God makes the year and everyone that follows a very good year.

Having the warm sun on my face this deep into December as I write makes this a very good day. I’ve had a lot of good days this year. I’m not sure how many, maybe 345 in a row?

The fact that I know God and what He’s ultimately planned for me in the afterlife accounts for a good day every day.

I don’t get to laugh every day, but I do enjoy the days I do get to laugh.

There might be a day in the future when I talk or write about this year.

I might say, “2010”?  “It was a very good year”…


My office


I do a fair amount of work from  my home office. It’s pretty nice, I have it set up specifically for work and writing.

I’ve had the same rule for the kids their whole life regarding my office: Don’t touch anything in my office! A few times over the years, I went as far as telling them, “Don’t even step foot in my office”! –“I don’t even want you to breathe in there”!

This was usually followed by one of the kids borrowing something from my office without asking. I never knew the exact moment they were breaking the rule. I only found out something was missing when I desperately needed it.

It’s a game I thought I could win! I’ve tried everything. When I went shopping for some of my basic office needs, I’d go out of my way to make sure everyone else in the house had their essentials as well. Not so much because I’m a good guy, I just didn’t want any juvenile hands pilfering through my organized things.

Can you say Jumbo Pack? If I needed paper I’d buy the 40 lb. box. When it was time for a new stapler I’d buy three. The count on mechanical pencils must be up to around 1 million. There was a time when I had several calculators, more than five retractable erasers, and at least three architectural scales.

Yesterday? I had nothing…Zero, zilch, nada. I was a regular “Old Mother Hubbard.” It’s funny (not ha ha, more like peculiar) how no one is ever at home when I discover that my office has been raided. I talk to myself… I know I’m all alone, but I ask the question anyway, “ARE YOU KIDDIN’ ME”?!!!

Apparently no one’s keeping the house rules when it comes to my office. Everything was gone except two empty staplers. My office was like Whoville after the Grinch’s raid.

Instead of getting work done, I rifle through the house on my personal “Treasure Hunt.” My list is always the same and I never ever find everything on my list. When the kleptomaniacs get home they never seem to remember taking anything. I’m not sure Sherlock Holmes could solve these seemingly obvious mysteries. Although I haven’t gone as far as dusting for fingerprints just yet.

I look up from my frustration and am surrounded by pictures of the perpetrators. They look kind and innocent in the pictures. I spot the picture over the fireplace of all of my girls taken about ten years ago. My wife was taller than all of them back then. Oh, don’t think that I’m not aware that she too does her share of pilfering!

I study the picture of all four of them at the lake on an oversized inner tube. They don’t really look like criminals. I see the sketch of the three sisters done about seven years ago at Lego-Land. They didn’t want to get it done. I made them stand in line to get that done. Sure glad I did.

I see the team sports pictures spanning the big girls High School years. I spy the pictures from children to current day. I’m remembering all the times of frustration spent trying to prevent my office supplies from disappearing. I also recall all of the time spent recovering some of the lost articles.

I have to laugh… I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything. Whatever taken from “The Forbidden Room” was used on school projects. They figured out how to succeed. None of them were going to let a simple house rule interfere with what they knew was important to me as much as them.

I spot a picture of my wife at about two years old. There I am about the same age with a plastic phone in my hand. Right above us is a photograph of my wife’s parents on their wedding day. Over to the left is a picture of my mom and dad taken around 1969. That’s my favorite picture of them.

This room I call my office, I cherish. I don’t blame my family for breaking a few rules every now and then.

I guess they already figured that out…



DREAM CAR! image by photobucket

I guess I’m growing wiser and finally becoming more mature. (knock on wood) It’s about time…

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you, but I have proof.

Today a guy in a parking lot called me a bad name. I tried to reason with him. When I could see that he was just mad at the world or himself and was beyond being able to reason. I asked him to confirm his stated position, “So I’m the _ _ _”? (3 letters, the last 2 are “s’.” I turned and walked away.

Still not convinced? How about the fact that I get more joy seeing my loved ones smile due to something I’ve done for them?

A few years back we took the kids to Disney Land. I loved that place when I was a kid. We didn’t get to go too often even though we lived pretty close. Nowadays I don’t like crowds and really despise standing in lines. However I love to see my kids smile, and that more than offsets the negatives.

While we were visiting the Magical Kingdom, our little one told my wife, “Mom, I can’t keep my smile down”! Priceless…

I remember the joy of new undiscovered treasures in my life. The first joys were monitored by my parents. My first dog Pee Wee. My first red bike, complete with sissy bar. Of course the true American right of passage, my first car. These “first” things in life were exhilarating, absolutely no way of keeping my smile down. I grin silently in remembrance of them.

At my age, I’ve had a lot of “first” things in my life. I appreciate any and all things provided by God in my life, and I’m thankful. The smile of “First-time” innocence is gone. I suppose that’s part of the price to pay for wisdom. I’ve learned that material things in this world while enjoyable are fleeting.

I grew up with my first dog Pee Wee. He was there with me from 4th grade on. We moved to the city where my dad got a job. I was getting ready to start high school in a strange new place. My only friend and solace was my short-life-long-best-friend, Pee Wee.

We were out of town for the weekend, getting the last of our furniture from what I only knew as home. Someone broke the gate at our new house. Sunday afternoon when we got back to the new house, Pee Wee was gone…

That first new red bike lasted about a month. My oldest brother borrowed it to go down to the newspaper office. It was stolen in less than 5 minutes. My brother did eventually buy me a new bike with the money he made on his paper route.

That first car represented independence. I used that independence without too much responsibility. I would eventually get tickets, suspensions from school until made by my dad to sell it.

Such is life in our fallen world. The smiling comes and goes. The smiles at this age should come with a disclaimer. You know the ones selling a type of medical drug, at the end of the advertisement they give all the possible side effects. “May cause diarrhea, loss of vision, stroke, or paralysis.” I have to laugh. It sounds like a comedic gold mine.

McKenzie and Ali didn’t get to choose their first vehicles. My call, not theirs. We put them in big safe vehicles. They smiled uncontrollable smiles at their “American Right of Passage” ceremony.

Years followed, Kenz got in a pretty serious wreck. Thank God she was in a big vehicle. A few more on top of that Ali backed into her mom’s car. Man oh man, that truck did some serious damage!

The smiles come and go. I still have smiles I can’t keep down. Now they show up as I witness “the firsts” in my love ones lives.

The second vehicle in our house after 4 years of driving is up to the girls. (within budget) I knew a year and a half ago the unsinkable smile when Kenz found the car of her dreams.

Yesterday it was Ali’s turn. I heard her say, “OH MY GOSH”! – “I CAN’T KEEP MY SMILE DOWN”! – “I can’t even think of someone dying and keep it down”!

I couldn’t either…