NOTES

notes

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Sometimes we use notes at our house to communicate important messages to one another. A couple years ago my wife came to the conclusion that everyone in the house was talking to each other a bit too harshly.

My wife’s answer to the problem in part was to leave us a note that was directed toward the kids with good reason. How in the world those kids came to tease, sometimes torment one another is certainly a mystery to me… Speaking exactly what’s on their mind? I am stumped indeed!

The note was actually intended for all of us including my wife and me, it appeared one morning on the refrigerator without warning. (the refrigerator is a sure-fire way to make sure everyone sees the note) No explanation, no To: or From: Just the note that read;

Proverbs 16:24

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Believe it or not it actually worked, everyone in the house started being a little more gentle with one another.

We’re pretty big on notes, for each other and sometimes to ourselves. I leave sticky pad notes on my computer or sometimes the coffeemaker to remind myself of an important meeting or event. I’ve learned to communicate with myself like that because occasionally I still have the attention span of a 1st grader.

My wife used to leave special notes in the kids school lunches as a surprise for them when they opened their lunch at school. I was reminded of these notes tonight as I sat down at my desk to write.

A yellow sticky note is posted to my desktop. The kids know this is like my personal refrigerator, if they want me to see something and spend time considering it, they leave it on my desk. The note is from Ali left here when she was home from college over Christmas break.

Ali has a Christian devotional she reads every day, this one she shared with me.

“Human life is made of brightness and gloom, shadows and sunshine, and dark clouds followed by brilliant days of light. Yet through it all, God’s divine justice is accomplishing His plan, affecting and disciplining each individual soul.”       Streams In The Desert.

How impressive is it for a 19-year-old student in the prime of what is usually a person’s most self-centered years, taking the time to encourage her family? I am encouraged, not just by the note, but more importantly her actions.

I received a new fangled note via text message from the oldest a couple days ago, Kenz showed up in person to collect on her request to cover the shortfall. She collected as much money as she could from her sisters, the other broke college student and the 7th grader who I’ve forgotten to give an allowance to for at least the last three months.

The kids are spending time, energy, and money, trying to do the best they can for their mom’s birthday which is this weekend. They’ve picked something really nice that their mom will love, she’ll love even more the intimate notes all three will write inside her cards.

On the other side of my desk is not really a note, but it’s meant for me to “take note”! It is Gurm’s (nickname) report card that she studied endlessly to be able to use for such an occasion as this. I’m proud in heart, not just for the objects, but their heart’s behind the motives for action.

I guess we talk quite a bit and as if that’s not enough we write each other notes, even I leave notes once on a while. My wife has a note I wrote her about 15 years ago. It’s a very short note, but she seems to like it a lot.

My wife insists that the note gets buried with her when it’s her time to go home, you’d think the note was gold plated or something, it is exactly the opposite. The note was written on a scrap piece of paper, torn into a triangular shape by chance, wrinkled and curled with age, up from the point of the triangle at the bottom of the note.

The note is only three words long, under the note is a line, kind of in the shape of a soft number seven with a squiggly tail. It’s hard to imagine an old note on a scrap piece of paper could mean so much to someone.

On  another personal “note,” Happy Birthday Girl!!!

I guess writing notes kinda runs in the family.

Somehow most of those old notes get saved and stored away for posterity. I hope this one does too.

For the “slower” readers, the three words on that scrap piece of paper that make up that old note?

I love you

HAUNTED

haunted

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Repost from last year

Right before Christmas it was cold and foggy. My wife had gone to bed and my little one and me watched the movie, “A River Runs Through It.” After I put her to bed I used the inspiration of the last line of that movie to pen this. It’s a little different, but I hope you like it just the same.—–

I remember as a child looking out at distant lights. I recall the misty haze bathing those lights making them appear as representatives of their owners on dark foggy nights.

I can now with ample time to have considered them, understand that it was just the moisture and fog in the air smothering the struggling light. The moist air and fog made the lights less bright, less brilliant. My eyes drank up the hazy moonlit night, gazing out at what excited and scared me simultaneously, right down to my bones.

It was the unknown, flashing from current reality to future hope. I knew bad things were happening in the dew filled darkness. I also knew one day I’d have to face that darkness one way or the other, as a scared little boy grown up, or as a man without any trace of fear.

At the time, I couldn’t consider the fact that both could coexist. I couldn’t fathom who I was going to be regardless of time. I would be forever just me as I traveled through the days and sometimes damp nights of my life.

I assumed I would become a man without fear. The silly child with childish thoughts would be gone, not even a memory was expected to remain.

My assumption was that I would be a courageous man without a hint of fear. Fear, I presumed, was to be left to the weak. The weak and the young.

I carefully watched as fearless men marched toward harms way with a smile on their face. I knew with the passage of enough magical time I too would become that fearless man of courage.

The actions of these men spoke to my heart like a song written for my soul. I would miraculously one day become the man walking this earth, facing the worst of human creation without a fear residing in my heart.

I considered my older cousins when they were called off to war. They never cried or appeared to be scared, they laughed, joked, and carried their honor in the center of their chest and on the shoulders of their uniforms.

I learned additional true life experiences at the time due to where we grew up. I looked from behind my dad’s big chair as my mom nursed the wounds of my big brothers. I counted the number of links in the chain, the marks left embedded into the skin of my brother’s face and bodies.

I was old enough to read the brands of shoes worn by the person or persons who stomped and or kicked them in the head as well. These were also the days of metal taps applied to the soles of the then stylish shoes.

I knew my brothers had graduated past the point from when God turns scared lads into fearless machines. I couldn’t wait for my turn, for the day to scoff at the dreaded shadows and walk as the power of the sun.

I rode in the back of the pickup truck, gripping the pipe in my hand. I hadn’t passed the “magic” line from boy to man as of yet, but we didn’t have time for the graduation ceremony. How could I have known this dark damp night would be that ceremony?

Andy was in trouble and everybody would be needed for his rescue. My brother coached me on how to respond when confronted with my new weapon to make up for the amount of people in the “gang.”

I didn’t know I was learning what it takes sometimes in the process of living through this life, in spite of fear. There is no metamorphosis, there is only wisdom gained through real life experiences.

God calls us to “gird our loins,” to “answer Him like a man.” He designed us to walk directly toward our fears whatever they might be, big or small. Sometimes our hurdles are bigger than others.

I did eventually break beyond the barrier that separates not boy from man, but a boy searching for understanding, into a man beginning to figure it out. It’s not a physical barrier, it is a mental barrier.

As a man with the understanding from God, “Whom shall I fear”? No physical death can kill us, only a wrong mindset can accomplish that.

Today there was a dense fog, a serious moisture in the air tonight looks like the days of my bygone youth. I look out on the lights of the city washed in the cool damp air.

I’ve grown to cherish these kinds of nights… The weather and human nature out there are the same, only my perspective has changed.

I am that same person I was as a child, the memories of time have brought me to this place. In that old fear, I find myself, and I am comforted.

Halos around lights in the cool damp night air puzzle me.

They calm me.

They beckon me.

I am haunted by them…..

A DESTINATION

a destination

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I rarely sit still for too long. I’m not very good at it, but I was in a different part of town waiting to meet someone. There I sat in my truck waiting for my appointment to show up, as I sat, I watched.

In this neighborhood there were a lot of pedestrians, people walking all over the place. I did my share of walking when I was young, but it was a different time then. I hitchhiked a bit, many people did, people were more willing to help in those days. In fairness to the generous in society, it just became too risky to help.

When I got older I picked up my fair share of hitchhikers. As I sat and watched all the people walking I remembered some of the hitchhikers I picked up along the way.

There was Arthur, he was old… I recall how nice and sincere he was. After I gave him a few bucks and whatever food I had with me, I wondered if he wasn’t sent by God. I seriously thought then and even now if he might have been an angel from God.

I remember the guy I picked up driving from Texas back to Arizona one time. He was from Pensacola Florida, on his way to California. He certainly helped break up some of the long monotonous drive. He even bought me some lunch and I enjoyed my time with this experienced traveler.

Everyone working their way to toward their desired destination… I wondered about these people, past and present, what is their ultimate destination? The one you set your target for in your heart. The one place we can’t visit while in this flesh.

I’ve come to understand the places we’re going on this earth are all temporary. Like a mirage, they will all one day vanish. I’ve also come to believe that all the people who cross our paths in this life aren’t a coincidence.

I watched a couple kids coming from behind me in my rearview mirror. One looked about 12 years old, the other I guessed about 10 years old. Both boys, maybe brothers. The younger one walked with a distinct limp, looked like a handicap from birth, he was controlling the wheelchair the older one was riding in.

The older was significantly more handicapped, his head was set to one side of his body and his hands were curled up unable to control his wheelchair. The young one was doing all the talking as he navigated his friend or brother.

Their destination was to the corner strip mall, maybe to the grocery store, Goodwill, or one of the small shops. I was certain the destinations in both of their lives would never be as easy for them to get to as the ones most of us will choose.

My hope and prayer is that their destination, the only one that really matters in this world is the same as the one I’ve got my sights set on.

I felt like God wanted me to do something for those kids, so I set out to do whatever God had in mind. I thought I might follow them and have them buy something for their mom… I didn’t know.

I reached down, pulled out my wallet, opened it up to see what God might have for me to help them with. Almost nothing… I didn’t even have enough to buy them lunch. Certainly God had me see these boys for a reason? Nothing happens by chance.

I watched them move along toward a destination, people walking back and forth, no one even noticed them. I watched the younger one navigate up the rolled curb getting into the parking lot, they were experienced, this wasn’t the first time they’d made this trip.

My heart broke for those young pedestrians. I’ve been short of compassion many times in my life, but this day wasn’t one of them. I wanted to give them a ride or help, but they weren’t hitchhiking or asking. They were more self-sufficient than I’d been many times at their age.

Where ever they were going on foot I’m confident they arrived, maybe I’ll see them again someday.

If not in that old neighborhood, maybe when we all get home…

A WRITERS VOICE

a writers voice

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It might be obvious that I like to read and I suspect not many people have a passion to write without first developing the passion to read. I’ve always enjoyed getting to know or find out about the person who’s writing I’m reading and it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they write. A writer’s voice. Although I knew that to be true, I never knew exactly how perfectly true it was until last Thursday night.

For the last couple of years, the church bulletin had a “creative writers class” announcement under the Calendar Of Events heading. I’ve been either out of town, busy or trying to be, so as to have and excuse for not attending.

To walk into a group of strangers and announce “I’m a writer, or at least I want to be someday…..When I grow up,” isn’t on the top of my list of fun dates. It almost makes me feel like when I was a kid being sent to a new school or church.

Oh no, I call the shots now… Well, maybe not exactly. I was beat, tired and had to get up early the next day and didn’t even have time for a shower between work and the group. My wife had made a special dinner, but I knew I was running low on excuses.

“That writers group is meeting at the church tonight,” I mentioned quietly to my wife. I thought there was a chance she might give me an out since the dinner and all. She quickly answered, “You should go.” One more excuse I couldn’t use.

I called one of the leaders of the group and asked, “Can you tell me a little bit more about the group”? She kindly gave an explanation. “How many people usually show up for this”? I asked, hoping for a large number to use as another potential excuse. “I don’t think we’ve ever had more than eight,” she replied. I gave it one last shot, “Can I show up in gym clothes”? She warmly answered, “Sure that’s not a problem,” or something to that effect. She added, “If you want to bring something you’ve written that would be fine.”

I grabbed my manuscript minus the first three chapters I sent to the last agent, my water, and some non-fat string cheese sticks from the frig and out the door I went. I walked in late after having to call one of the ladies running the group because I couldn’t find the right room.

Everyone was polite, friendly, and I was surprised how many in the group had been published. Two of the ladies are actually in the business. The truth is I went to learn and that’s exactly what happened. I learned some details about the industry and how it works, then when it came time to listen to what some of the other participants had written, I was blown away.

The talent was amazing and enjoyable, but even beyond that I was struck by how the writing was exactly who the authors were. The first hour and a half was spent talking and sharing thoughts and ideas. From that interaction time, I learned a lot about the people and more specifically their personalities.

The words of each person’s writings fit perfectly with their personality. Our written words are like our voices, they might be similar, but they are distinctly unique to each of us.

How fitting it is, our words even not heard audibly are unique like our voices. Designed by God and are the same in speech or writing, each with a specific purpose and desire. Without exception, everyone in that room has a desire given by God deep down to make a difference in this world.

Although no one asked what the desire was for each of us or what we hoped to achieve with our writing, it was pretty clear as I listened to the different personalities pour out in words. Some of the desires were to bring joy, purpose, laughter, companionship, inspiration, and encouragement.

My hat’s off to those writers whom God gave the desire to make a difference in this world, and they’re doing it. Talk is cheap, so is writing if the words don’t have a specific purpose.

However we’re heard, in speech or print, our voice is designed to make a difference, to fulfill our unique purpose for having been here…

What are you saying with your voice?

PLAGIARISM?

plagiarism

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I’m not proud to admit that I cheated on tests my junior year in high school. I turned in answers to tests that weren’t mine. I used them as though they were my intellectual property, but they weren’t.

It’s kind of stomach turning to watch someone take credit for something they didn’t really do isn’t it? Remember Milli Vanilli? The now-famous pop/rock duo who got busted for lip-syncing at one of their concerts. Shortly thereafter, information was released that reported the two guys who were the “Milli Vanilli” didn’t even sing on the albums. A talented studio musician did all the singing. They felt so much disgrace that one of the men actually committed suicide.

Even non-Christian people have the basic understanding of what constitutes a lie. Many of us justify our lack of truth for our own selfish reasons.

Have you ever had someone take credit for something you have done? For those of us who have, we understand clearly the feeling of betrayal and the reality of another person’s lies and deceit.

It’s one thing to enjoy the work, talents, or gifts given to someone else, it’s quite different to take those things and claim them as our own. This act is so looked down on in the writing and intellectual property community that anyone quoting or using an idea from someone else makes sure to never forget to note or mention it.

None of us want the title of “plagiarist.”

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the waiter or waitress tells you about the specials as if he or she actually made the food when you know for sure they didn’t? They might say something like, “I’ve prepared the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as our speciality tonight.” (Never Brad though!)

I think, “Do you have a magic wand in back or what”? They, while important to the success of the business are merely the deliverer of the special items. To be sure how the items are presented is a gift unto itself and can make a good item even more enhanced.

Sometimes many of us even as Christians “fall into our flesh” and become Milli or Vanilli. We pretend to be the beginning and the end of our gifts or talents. Even though, many of us know we were created by God in His image. We take all the credit for His grace, mercy, and blessings.

We are the delivery vehicle for what God has chosen to send others, to speak to them His truths. Often we get too caught up in the blessings we’re transporting for the glory of God, we forget that they aren’t our gifts, talents, or works.

We’re not the artist, His initials are the ones on our canvas for the world to find honor. “That’s a great painting”! “Who’s the artist”? Our painting should be directing traffic His way.

We aren’t the chef, He made all things, we’re just His designated deliverer chosen to deliver His most special item in a way that brings joy and honor to everyone involved.

For me, the other people I read, those of you who have left encouraging comments, thank you. I consider you and me the deliverer, not the author, printer or publisher. We are the vehicles created and chosen by God to deliver His words to the people He wants the words read to.

I believe we are the “orators” of His words.

In essence, the entire world is guilty of plagiarism. God designed, created, and sustains all of us. Everything we have belongs to Him and is for Him.

Lest we forget and become known as a “plagiarist,” or worse yet: “A cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.”