INSPIRATION

It’s an odd thing how folks look for inspiration. I’m not pointing an accusing finger, I’m guilty of it too. But I’m convinced that most of us are a lot like that song by Johnny Lee; “Lookin’ For Love in all the Wrong Places,” from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack way back when.

We look for magical inspiration in all the special places on earth. We search the majestic mountains, lakesides, streams, forests, and intimate manmade settings. And to be sure it does work sometimes, but not for the long haul, at least not to those who are claiming to be writing for the Higher cause.

I hit the hip new coffee shop with the industrial decor on Pacific Coast Highway in search of some inspiration. My patience and would be inspiration faded fast in the line that stretched from the back of the store out to the street. I wasn’t the only one with the idea to find inspiration there. In fact, I was at least a hour and a shot of caffeine short.

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My eyes squint at the high white clouds that hover over the Pacific Ocean as I thump out this post. It’s a thing of beauty. I gaze past swaying and sky scraping palm trees. A queen palm dances gently in the ocean air. They’re my favorite tree. The make me relax and breathe easier when I take the time to notice.

A few minutes ago I watched a hummingbird climb toward the heavens then dive-bomb after something a little lower on the food chain. The ocean breeze washes over me like an invisible stream of water and I shiver when the sun gets caught behind the vast cotton ball clouds.

I appreciate a nice setting, like a coffee shop or a corner restaurant. I’m awed by nature. But as I ponder and search for inspiration to fulfill this in born need to create, I realize yet again that while these things are nice, grand even, they can’t, alone, bring the inspiration that I seek.

“The earth declares His majesty”…

It is only in God that we can find the kind of inspiration that satisfies the soul and then the ends of our senses. When we honor Him with the words that He gives, we find the peace that He created for us in fulfilling the calling set within us by Him.

We can search the ends of the earth for grand inspiration, but if we don’t seek Him in the process… it’s like trying to snatch that ocean breeze with our hands.

GOD AND MY DAD

REPOST FROM AUGUST 26 2010.  – My Dad passed from this physical world to the spiritual world May 7th of this year. God blessed me with an earthly father who, “Ran the good race, and fought the good fight.”

I could write a book about the character traits that make up a good man based on my Dad’s life. In fact… I did.

My first manuscript is titled, “The Common Threads Of Greatness.” I penned it in 09′ finishing the last of it in August, the last August of my Dad’s life. We didn’t know it was his last summer.

I’m not sure if God inspired me to write it based on the lessons taught to me by my earthly father, about my Heavenly Father. Whatever it was, it honors both my Heavenly Father and my earthly father, and I’m honored my Dad got to read it this side of heaven.

We talked of things written in my manuscript while he was battling his short bout with brain cancer. He spoke of the wisdom in my book as if it were a revelation to him. It wasn’t, but he was proud of me.

My Dad lived his life far above and beyond the folly that my life in my early years were marked by. His life was marked by selflessness, mine selfishness. His life of self-control contrasted mine by the lack thereof.

One of my favorite stories Jesus told was, “The Prodigal Son.” My Dad reminds me of the dad in that story. In the story, I would be the example of the selfish son, who by his actions disrespected and dishonored my Dad and family. My Dad like the dad in the story never judged. He knew like the wise dad in Jesus’ story that I would need to learn life lessons the hard way.

Like the dad in the famous story, my Dad waited patiently and looked for me off in the distance, coming back to the light. It was my Dad who welcomed me back to wisdom.

When I reflect my life and conversations with my Dad I will forever remember how he always addressed me. He called me Son… That word, Son… In his voice, it spoke love to me. The tone in his voice was forgiving, nurturing and accepting. It was my name to him. I never heard the words uttered by him to me and didn’t feel his love. Even when he was trying to correct me or instill wisdom, it was patient and it was kind.

I’m honored to be his son. He was a simple man of simple faith. That faith in God that directed the paths of his life. I thank God for the example He set before me in my life.

The amazing thing I’ve learned about truly great people in life is this; The great ones never tell you they’re great. Their lives are marked with humility. Their actions speak volumes. Sometimes us foolish people miss it even with it right in our face. I didn’t miss it this time. I got to see it over my lifetime.

I thank God for my Dad. I wish I could have seen him a little longer…

I wish I could have talked with him a little more…

I wish I was a little more like my Dad…

I’ll carry my love for my Dad with me in this soul cage until I see him again on the other side…

I miss my Dad……

MY DAD

Conclusion to the intro to my latest manuscript… My dad didn’t abide any person making sport of anyone, and no reason was acceptable. That’s what landed me in the hot seat. I guess I made two mistakes. The biggest one was being caught by a salty and sour school teacher by the name of Mr. Stroker. The other one was making fun of another kid at school.

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My dad sat beside me on the bed, his elbows bent, hands on his thighs, his head down, eyes shifting, as if he was searching for a brown spider in the thread bare carpet of the same color. His belt was resting between his mighty thumb and fingers, his light green eyes faded. Then he told me he was disappointed in me. I was thinking that I could live with that, especially since I was getting ready to get a beating. But he didn’t move, his serious green eyes were in search of brown spiders, and he told me a story.

My dad gave me a glimpse into his life as a child. He told me about how kids at school made fun of him ‘cause he didn’t have no shoes to wear to school. That’s when I got a knot in my throat. He went on to tell me that he never would have thought that one of his own kids could ever make fun of another person. I hung my head and cried. “Great,” I thought to myself, “Now I get to hurt on the inside and the outside too.”

But my dad stood up, grabbed me by the chin with his thumb and forefinger, pulled my chin up to look him in the eyes that had come back to the moment. He told me that he better never, ever, hear of me makin’ fun of no one ever again, said we were made by God to protect the weak, the ones that couldn’t protect themselves. Then my dad, who was bent on teaching me to be a proper man, turned and walked out, threading his belt back into his patched and faded work jeans.

BACK

Continuation of the manuscript intro…       My mom didn’t give much thought to the fact that she had a part in the reason my Mah-mah and Pah-pah had that farm in Oklahoma anyhow. They moved back there to be close to us, her and her kids, to begin with. They ended up in northeast Oklahoma to be closer to us when we lived in Arkansas, but not too close so as to smother my mom and her family.

I don’t think my mom gave her mom and dad more than a passing thought when she saw the chance to get the hell out of Arkansas, a place she referred to as the place that God had forsaken. Sure wasn’t my idea to leave… and I was more than just a tad bit excited to go back there, or close to it, and leave the world of troubles that hounded me daily in the small town of Banning, California.

My dad was all for it, me going back to the farm to do a man’s work. I overheard him tell my mom that it was the sorta thing that separates the men from the boys. He was all for my grandpa helping make a man out of me. He knew what was in store. He’d done his time on the farm. He didn’t talk too much about his days as a kid on the farm and in the fields. Most of the stories of how they lived as dead broke cotton-picking-sharecroppers came from my uncles and a couple of aunts. My dad landed in the middle of eight other siblings and was forced to quit school after the sixth grade to help feed and clothe the other kids.

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The only times my dad spoke much at all about his miserable childhood came when he was trying to teach a lesson. He’d say a few choice words about my shortcomings and shortsightedness, but he let his thin leather belt do most of the talkin’… and stingin’.

There was one time though, probably more than just that one, but the one time I remember the best, he hauled me into his bedroom – where all the whippin’s were done. He turned and sat down on the bed beside me. My dad talked to me, but he didn’t look at me, not at first. He was looking somewhere else. I figured out since then that he was looking back, back in time, to his childhood that he, for the most part, had tucked away into the cellar of his mind and had snuffed out the lights… or tried to.

 

4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION

It’s easy to forget the inspiration for the fireworks we watch as part of our 4th of July celebration.

Francis Scott Key was off shore, watching from afar, as the the British ships pounded Fort McHenry with primitive artillery from a safe distance in the Atlantic.

I’m guessing that watching your countrymen get what looked like being annihilated throughout the night would cause more than just a little anxiety. Seeing that they had raised a new American flag at sunrise must have been exhilarating.

That flag was a symbol to the British that all their military power and might could never defeat the spirit of the people that would fight to the death to be free.

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I watched fireworks as a kid with awe and wonder and was mesmerized by the exploding colors filling the night sky.

These days I watch fireworks with appreciation for the blessings from God that He’s bestowed on this land. I am still in awe and wonder, but it is for the courage and heart of the people that fought like the original Americans to preserve freedom from oppressive governments; freedom to worship the God of all creation.

I ponder a group of freedom seeking Americans, a gang of nonconformists, that sought freedom over security. They knew if they had freedom security would be the natural byproduct. They trusted in God first, not man.

May this country turn it’s focus to God first again.

May this country and you be blessed this 4th of July celebration. And may God bless America.