Sometimes I like to “forsake the assembly”. Sure some of it is laziness, but there’s a part of it that knows I’m going to have my senses tested, and not just the ears from the sermon.

The newly remodeled sanctuary at church has folks jammed so close together we can tell the brand of each other’s chewing gum.

There’s also a new lady, an older gal, sweet enough, that shows up even earlier than us and snagged our aisle seats, the fourth row back on the north side of the church. Not a big deal, we just grabbed the seats behind her… for a few weeks.

I’m not much on cologne or perfume, but then my sense of smell is pretty keen. I can smell cigarette smoke a mile away.

The seat-snatching-early-arriver loves perfume. She smells like she does the backstroke through a pool of it before church. It’s so pungent it makes my eyes water, gives me a headache, and I sneeze like an allergic reaction, my wife too. After a couple of services behind the perfume-soaked lady, my wife informed me that she couldn’t sit behind her anymore.

forsake the assembly

image courtesy of photo

Not too many folks wanna be close enough to the preacher to see if his eye twitches, but I’m too old fashioned to sit so far away that you have to watch him on the big screen. So we took the seats in front of the perfume lady last week so the perfume scent would waft into someone else’s nostrils.

We risked catching the preacher’s all seeing eye, but it was a risk we had to take.

The petticoat perfumed lady had a friend, a chatty one, but that was bearable, relative to the perfume poisoning… till the singing started. She was a kind soul, a genuine heart. Her singing wasn’t just singing, she was worshipping, shouting out to the Lord, making a joyful noise.

Her singing was the kind of singing that has an impact on your senses too and not just the ears. When she started belting out the high notes my ears began to ring – even my eyes squinted and watered in pain. Her voice sounded like a shrill crow trying to hold a four count note.

I’m sure many people struggle with forsaking the assembly, maybe for different reasons. I might be one of them. It might not be my scent since I only use Sure deodorant. Or my singing, since my bass voice is just a fuzz above lip syncing, but none of us are perfect.

Maybe I don’t clap enough, raise my hands enough, have long hair, never wear socks with my dress shoes etc. Everyone can find a reason to forsake the assembly… but The Father doesn’t. If He can accept our quirks and shortcomings, we should be able to get past everyone else’s. If we did, the Church would be so full we’d be sitting on each other’s laps…


It’s hard to say who the voice of a generation is. If you grew up in the fifties, you might lean toward Elvis Presley. The grittier folks might give a shout out for Hank Williams. I can’t say. I wasn’t there.

While I was alive in the sixties, I don’t really get a vote in who the voice of that generation was. A lot of people will point to Bob Dylan. Another crowd will swear by the Beach Boys or the Beatles, others the Rolling Stones. The Who will draw some votes just because of their song, “My Generation”. Oh, and one preacher from Indiana will cast his die hard vote for Tommy James.

Whomever the voice of that generation, it’s clear that it was a generation that bucked the establishment. The kids of that generation were the first ones to rebel and insist their voice be heard. Even if they lacked the wisdom they accused their parents of not having.

The voice of the seventies is harder to pinpoint. Led Zeppelin would haul in a ton of votes for the voice of that generation. Abba is sure to grab its fair share of supporters. There will be the Pink Floyd diehards – tough to beat a name like that…

The people with the clubs and pitchforks that killed disco have gotten too old to carry their torches, so I’m certain a few polyester diehards will pump a fist for the Bee Gees. Sure, most of us think it’s just “Jive Talkin'”, but everyone gets a vote.

There will be some Eagles, Van Halen, Kiss, Elton John, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, The Cars, and Boston fans, maybe even some Lynyrd Skynyrd. Peter Frampton, toss in Elvis Costello lovers casting their votes and we’re getting a glimpse of that generation’s voice.

The eighties had a voice – a weird one. The hairstyles said as much about the voice of that generation as the music did. Michael Jackson dominated the airwaves as well as MTV. Prince had an even bigger voice through not just his songs, but all the people he wrote songs for and produced.

Some Bruce Springsteen purists would point to his domination in the seventies and eighties to claim his was the voice. They’d be countered by the Aerosmith, Queen, and ACDC lovers.

A fair amount of votes would be cast for Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Tom Petty, Journey, or U2 and this abbreviated list from the eighties gives an insight into the voice and heart of that generation. (My sincere apologies to any Flock of Seagull lovers that they didn’t make the list)

For time and space sake, I’ll forgo the foray into the next couple of generations. Grunge and Hip Hop didn’t get any better or become the voice of reason in those generations either.

The taste of a society and generation is reflected in the music that sells. Not all the music from those generations was bad, some of it pointed to honorable things, but not the majority of it.

There’s always more than one voice in a generation. The younger we are the more the voices tend to speak to our flesh.

I still love the music, but God given sense lets me know that we’re no longer the kids from our generation. Like Kim Wilde was to mine. Plus, living Iggy Pop’s “Wild One” like a personal anthem has left me no longer to able to “Run Through The Jungle” to Creedence.

And you thought I’d forgot them…

Who would be your vote?


I’ve misplaced and lost things along the way. Some I’ve found, others just a memory now. I used to think the most important things I lost were things I could put a dollar value on. Life has a way of teaching us that the things that have the most value can’t be bought or replaced.

When dusk settled on that fall evening and I heard my mom calling me, I knew the best part of my day was over. I grabbed my homemade flag; an old garage towel duct taped to a seven-foot crooked tree branch by my eight-year-old hands and headed home.

I shot a wary glance around our neighborhood to make sure no one was watching when I nestled my flag into the snail laden and unmaintained flower bed in front of our house.

The next day I found the kid that stole it. I beat him up and took my flag back. I discovered that a flag isn’t near as fun when you’re all alone.

I wasn’t as lucky with my Christmas bike. Once it was gone it was gone forever. Same with some guns and trucks later on in life.

Some things you lose and don’t even realize it… at first. That happened with my wallet once. Same with my innocence. I didn’t even know it was gone or missing until it was too late. It’s the inevitable taste of regret that you can’t spit out. You have to swallow it whole. Not knowing it’ll take a lifetime to digest.

A few months back I came up missing something else, not realizing the underlying cause. It was like when you go looking for your favorite book. You search high and low to no avail.

Over the last few months, I periodically posted portions of an old unfinished manuscript. It was sorta like the MC tap dancing to fill time till the main act shows up. Problem is, I lost my muse.

a very short time

image courtesy of photo

I don’t know if my muse is male or female or something else. All I know for sure is that he or she or it is gone.

Sometimes it’s not the desire or passion that keeps us going. Now and then we have to rely on perseverance… because there is nothing else.

In the down times were forced to reflect. It is in the rough patches we tend to ponder, to reflect, to count the cost, consider the reasons for our droughts.

Seven years ago this month was another time of loss. The worst kind of loss – that of a loved one. It was May 7th, 2010. My dad was taken not only to a “better place”, but the Best place. That doesn’t mean there is no sadness.

There is grieving in this life. It’s God’s way of reminding us that no one gets out alive. It’s our sad understanding that there is no perfection in this flesh. That comes after this is past.

In times like these we remind ourselves, as Believers, that the things of the greatest value can’t be lost, only Divinely separated for a very short time.


Maybe it was all the silly movies we watched as kids, maybe they’re to blame. Perhaps it was all the books what, with all the “And they lived happily ever after” endings. Maybe both of them are to blame for our silly romantic notions.

Lives that play out like a fairy tale don’t exist… except in stories. But there is beauty in the struggle of life. Even happy endings can be born in the dark.

When I was younger I yearned for the romantic notion of writing a book. I’d planned on it all my life, ever since I read the wise and somewhat romantic notion of a quote; “A full life should include planting a tree, writing a book, and having a child”.

Movies depict writing as an extraordinary joy… I guess it is if you look at it from a gratification perspective… and hindsight.

a romantic notion

image courtesy of photo

Books and movies portray the inspired writer hunched over their typewriter, or keypad these days, and a less than an hour and a half later – Voila – Presto – the next New York Times bestseller. The forlorn authors lean back, smile, lock their hands behind their heads and exhale. The birds sing and the heavens open up and the brilliant light descends as the angels sing.

It was a few months back, but it was no movie. It was a book. One with a somewhat happy ending, but I wasn’t reading it, I was writing another one.

The process is anything but romantic. It’s a downright struggle. It’s a struggle for time, a fight between spending time with family, running businesses, and plinking out some words that might grab a hopeless romantic by the heart.

There were days in the process I stumbled through them like a zombie – delirious from the lack Z’s. But the closer I got to the climax and denouement I could feel the second wind behind me and I pushed for the finish line like a marathon runner with my arch nemesis breathing down my neck.

It was at our breakfast table I typed the sometimes sweetest words in the English language; “THE END”, which doesn’t take into account the additional two hundred hours of re-writes.

I pushed back, glanced around, took a deep breath, and there was dead silence and dimness. My dog Larry was fast asleep in his bed. The skies outside the three windows didn’t split with brilliant light and the normally bright Arizona afternoon had gone dark behind menacing clouds. Then the rain started and put any romantic notion type of fire out before it could get started.

I smiled at the irony of it.

Endings only happen in stories. Real life nods its head in recognition then resumes its fight. A story is like a vacation, then it’s back to reality.

The lack of the romantic notion in finishing just another story reminded me that the only truly happy ending comes when we cross over to the other side… into the arms of The Father.


Continuation of the shelved manuscript.

My brother Bobby had a real job. He raked rocks too, but he also dug holes and planted trees. He had a boss, got paid by check and everything. My big brothers already had motorcycles. Dean’s was a Harley, long before

Men will become lovers of themselves

image courtesy of

they were a status symbol. Bobby had a Honda 450 that he’d chopped, even though he wasn’t old enough to drive legally. Folks trying to make ends meet see laws more as suggestions under ideal circumstances.

Bobby having his own money for what he wanted was crucial, because some things he was set on buying our dad would never have been a party to. Bobby wanted jewelry… and not a fancy watch to make sure he made it to work and school on time.

No sir, Bobby was on the cutting edge of culture change. He wanted to do what the generation of men that we followed would have fought to the death to avoid.

It was the summer of 1975. The summer Bobby, my sister Sheral, a potato, some ice, rubbing alcohol, and one of my mom’s biggest sewing needles did the unthinkable; pierced Bobby’s ear.

I don’t think Bobby was allowed to wear his earring in school, but when he did wear it, he wore it like Robert Conrad did a battery in the battery commercials back then; on his shoulder and just daring someone to knock it off. Or in Bobby’s case, just daring someone to say something about it.

Back in those days, if you were a guy and wore an earring, you’d darn sure better be able to defend yourself.

My guess is that my dad probably didn’t have that in mind when he taught Bobby how to fight to survive in the late sixties before we moved from a riot-torn Southern California.

It wasn’t planned, but about a decade later I followed suit… sort of… I had no need of ice, a potato, rubbing alcohol, not even a sewing needle. I just used someone else’s earring. I thought it might look cool with the white jacket I was sporting.

It’s not official, but if you didn’t have a potato, ice, rubbing alcohol, or a good needle, whiskey was the next best thing. I’d tossed back enough cheap well whiskey to not even give those other necessities a thought.

Those are the type of events that you regret forever, but especially that very next day…

It’s not a stretch or surprise to anyone that our society has changed, men especially. It’s possible that one of the contributing factors of the evolution of men doing what previous generations considered feminine is due to the rise in our standard of living.

Today, even what society considers full blown poor people have air conditioning in Arizona. That was a luxury back in the seventies that we went without during a rough patch.

We may not have been able to afford air conditioning, but we somehow had enough money for oversized combs, hand held blow dryers, and tight pants with platform shoes.

“Men will become lovers of themselves…”