I pulled into the parking lot at work, counting myself lucky as I did because I spotted an empty parking spot close to the building. I usually back into my parking spots so that, when time comes to leave, I don’t have to take time turning around. Anyway, I backed in like normal, using my mirrors to gage how far I was from the vehicle in the spot directly across from it. I also kept as close to perpendicular as I could with the car parked on my left. I know from experience driving my car how close I can get using my mirrors. It was a breeze. I pulled in beautifully and got out to double check my parking job, all the while patting myself on the back for a job well done. That is until I realized I had made a common mistake. I assumed the person who had parked behind me knew how to park. I’m not sure what was going through this persons mind when they stopped their vehicle, but they were about five feet away from the line. Now, because I was judging where to stop by the car parked there, I was three feet across the line into their parking spot. I probably should have noticed I was off by the car parked next to me, but it was a compact and even though it looked about right, it took up less space. Let me note here that I work an odd shift, and I knew that this person was more than likely going to leave before I got off work. That would leave me parked three feet into an empty parking spot, just waiting for someone to try to park there, and end up bumping me because they were trying to squeeze in. Not wanting that to happen, I got back in and pulled up into my own spot. The more I thought about it the more I realized that what I did in that situation is what a lot of us do in everyday life. We usually judge our own accomplishments by what other people have done, when really there is no comparison. What we have done is according to our own gifts and abilities. We should never judge our own worth by what other people have done. It will skew your perceptions and you will overshoot, or stop short of your own goals. Judge you by you. You may not hit the mark every time, but I’ll guarantee you will be a whole lot more accurate that way.
The gate has fallen and the outer wall is breached, my friends. We have been in a desperate war against evil in this fallen world since time began, and the enemy has broken our defenses. Today’s society is the product of my own generation’s sad misconception of ‘how’ to raise your children. Now those children are almost grown and preparing to take key roles in running our great nations and they have a skewed sense of what is right and what is wrong. Respect is an old fashioned way of thinking; an idea that really has no meaning now what so ever. Oh, there are still a few small bastions holding out, but even in those the poison of the enemy has seemed deep into the veins of our families. I think that is exactly how it started too; with disposable families. I’m not sure exactly when, but somewhere along the line family became a ‘fad’ or ‘fashion’ instead of a ‘responsibility’ and ‘privilege.’ There are kids out there now, as I write this that have no role models, and have no idea of how or even why they should show people respect. And it is all of our faults. We let it happen. We are still letting it happen. I think we may still have a slim chance to force the enemy back. There is a slim ray of hope that still glimmers in the dark. We have to lead by example now. Show people respect, because little eyes are watching and learning from your actions and reactions. They will remember how you treated others and they will emulate that as well. It all resides with us, so do what’s right. Be a role model.
I sat here tonight trying to come up with a blog entry to write, and my mind became a perfect blank. The first sentence I tried to write was wrong. I could feel it. So I thought some more, and still ‘got nothing’. As a fall back I looked back through my past blogs to try and give me some ideas, and I came across ‘Memory Lane’. I posted it back in 2009 and as I read through it, I relived what I was thinking when I wrote it. That was a good thing, and I thought it was worth reposting. So here we go; revisiting Memory Lane.
Memory Lane: Originally Posted the week of November 29, 2009.
Today I found myself taking a walk down memory lane. I don’t do that often. There are tender spots back there and I don’t particularly like who I was back then. I’ve been saved since I was eight or nine years old. I don’t remember exactly because I have been away from God far enough that I doubted my salvation. Thanks to a merciful God, He gave me the time I needed to realize how bad I could screw up. He stood there waiting patiently until I needed Him, and then He led me back to where I needed to be. All of that was before I actually had a relationship with God. I’ve heard people say that over and over, and I never really understood it until these last six years. My God was the Fire and Brimstone God, the God who waited for you to mess up. The God that you served out of fear. I didn’t know the other side of God. The encouraging God, the gentle God that wants you to succeed. The God that stands there waiting for you to return to Him. The God who waits for you to realize you can’t do it on your own, because sometimes the child has to touch the stove to realize what ‘hot’ means. He is not a vindictive God. He doesn’t wait with the hammer poised above your head for you to mess up like I believed in my youth. I don’t regret all those years of floundering about out in the world, because I realize that they were a necessity for me to become the man I am today. I had to travel that road to help form the tool that God could use to do His will. Yes it is tender back there on Memory Lane, but pain is a teacher I am well acquainted with. I know that I was really blessed all those years but was too blinded by pride to see it. I let the Devil mesmerize me with shiny baubles and parlor tricks. All the while my God stood waiting for me to call out for Him. All he needed was for me to call on Him and He was right there with me, showing me the way back. Memory Lane IS still a little painful for me, but I still stroll down it on occasions to remind myself of the lessons I’ve learned, and that I am not who I once was. My relationship with God began a scant six years ago even though my walk with God began when I was eight or nine. I still make mistakes. I am still just a man. I still fight with carnal side as much as any other human being, but I am not blind to the fact that I am not alone. I see the miracles God works for me everyday. I see the blessings He pours out on me as I journey through this world of tears. It gives me hope that I can be what He always planned for me to be. I don’t have to look far into the past or future. I can be content with what I am at this one moment in time. So don’t worry about the past. Try to be as perfect in this one moment as you can be. Practice this. Just try to be as perfect as you can be in this one moment, and before you know it you’ll have a string of those moments. You will mess up, but all God asks is that we try.
When I was growing up I checked a book out of the public library called ‘The Wizard of Earth-Sea’ (they eventually made a movie of it. I wasn’t impressed). I always loved to read, and had read enough that almost all of the books that the library had that I liked to read, I had already read. I usually chose them at random. A lot of times it didn’t even matter what genre. I read everything from westerns to sci-fi. When I would pick out a book, I would choose by how cool the artwork was on the front, barring that an interesting synopsis on the back, but ‘The Wizard of Earth-Sea” had neither. It was a plain hardback book, with a hideous green cover, and the title in small flowing, black script on the front. The only reason I picked it up was because it was something I hadn’t read that was in one of my favorite genres. I read that book through in one night. It was a short, but well written book, and I loved it. The writer had a way with words that swept you along through his story, transporting you in all but body to his world where heroes and dragons faced off. I would have really missed out on an awesome story had I judged that particular book by its cover. People are like those books. You never can tell what is hiding behind those covers, and if you refuse to read the first chapter because you don’t like the way the dustcover looks, you could be missing out on the greatest adventure of a lifetime. I know we have all heard this particular piece of advice before, but I felt like we could all use a little reminder with all the hate-speak and political correctness going on today. So before dismissing that person standing next to you in line, read the first chapter. You might be glad you did.
I read a mime (I think that is what they are calling them now) the other day that said; A man asked a Christian what he had gained by praying to God. The man replied ‘nothing, but let me tell you what I’ve lost; anger, ego, greed, depression and fear of death.’ I like the thought behind it to an extent. It didn’t really completely convey what I thought it should. I think it should have read more like; The man replied ‘that is yet to be seen, but I know what I’ve lost…’ I’ve heard people say that a Christian is crazy because he/she believes life starts after death. Every time I see that I try to correct it. We do not believe life starts after death, only that it gets better. Can I tell you what I’ve gained? Eternal life I know, but what shape will that life take? I can only imagine, but I do know all happiness comes from him. If you don’t have Him, then what you have is a pale imitation of happiness.
9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Heb 1:9 (KJV)
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13 (KJV)
11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalms 16:11 (KJV)
The cartoon character steps forward on to the end of the rake. His weight on the head of the rake causes the handle to catapult upward, smacking the character in the face. This in turn causes him to stumble backward onto the head of a hoe, resulting in a hoe-handle to the back of the head. Said character stumbles forward into the rake again. And so on and so on. We’ve all seen it. It’s a common gag used in slapstick comedy, and it’s funny. Except maybe for the character caught in the middle of it. Sometimes I feel like I am that character, bouncing from one catastrophe to the next. Or even worse; because I am focused on the last catastrophe, I cause the next one. Trust me, it’s not quite as funny after two or three whacks with that hoe handle. At those times, the only thing I’ve found that works is not to dwell on them. I just switch over to damage control and deal with what’s directly in front of me, and let God take care of the rest. I’ve found that if I do that, I have a lot better chance of spotting that rake lying hidden in the leaves.
I had a discussion with my eldest son the other day. Someone had asked me if I wanted to submit a story to one of their anthologies. Usually I am pretty open to submitting my work to all different kinds of publishers, but this particular genre was horror. “It is hard to convey a good message of faith in a horror story,” my son said. I have to disagree. People are placed in terrible situations every day, and usually it is these exact circumstances that make their moral fortitude shine through. It is really easy to put good people in bad situations in stories because the good guy is always trying to help in those situations. So yes, I think you can really convey good morals through the horror genre. That being said, I don’t think there are a lot of writers trying to. Most of them take you to a place you don’t want to be, make you consider things you probably rarely think about, and then LEAVE you there. I guess that’s why I have a little trepidation over writing in that particular genre. I don’t like leaving my readers like that. I want my readers to come away from my stories thinking, but I want them be thinking about how good a certain character acted or reacted. I grew up wanting to be those heroes in the stories, and that’s what I want my readers to want. I haven’t decided on whether or not I am going to submit yet. Only because I am not sure if I can pull off a horror story that leaves my reader in a place I don’t mind leaving them, but I will be sure and let you all know if I do. Then you can be the judge.