Step up to the bat

Our pastor this Sunday was discussing “The Purpose Driven Life” where the author used the illustration of a baseball diamond as the progression of a Christian life.

1st Base: bring people to faith where they give their life to Christ.

2nd Base: We help them grow in Christ through Sunday School.

3rd Base: We help them understand how they can use their gifts to help in the world.

Home: Finally send them out into the world to work their mission.

Personally, I thought that was rather advanced; especially 1st base being, giving their life to Christ right up front without knowing anything. In fact, my first thought was, that seems like Pro-Ball instead of where I feel I am in; the Junior League.

Pro-Ball vs Junior League

Then she started discussing turning the diamond on its head, which did make more sense, show them the mission, have them use their gifts, learn more at Sunday School THEN give their life to Christ. I liked that better, but still came to one very generic conclusion, in either scenario…

you still have to step up to the bat.

Whether you jump in both feet first or dip a toe to test the waters, you have to at least give it a try. That’s where I go back to the Junior league. In the junior league you are playing. You are giving the whole game a chance. There are more opportunities to play, more time to get to know the game and build a like for it. THEN if you feel like advancing for the pros you take the Walk to Emmaus or extra classes and do the cannon ball.

I know the church is hoping you advance to the pros, but personally, I hope you at least try playing the game. You never know if you’ll like it unless you try it, and I must say,

that run to first base is exhilarating!

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Categories: Enlightenment, Inspiration | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Monopoly didn’t teach us right

I used to play Monopoly with a young friend of mine. He was actually very good. He would buy a property and immediately put a hotel on it that way he can get the largest amount of rent. I would buy a property and maybe put a house on it, that way I could get some rent but I was going out a whole bunch of money every single time I landed a new property. This made him for the most part win, because every time I landed on one of his properties I had to pay big!

However, a lot of times, towards the end of the game, he would be out of money and he would have to mortgage his property to pay my rents.

Monopoly_board_on_white_bg

The problem with this entire scenario is the fact that first you start the game with a ton of money. Basically you start out rich. You’re not in debt from school loans. You’re not scrimping to save for your first car. You are not just starting out having to work to earn your money.

Granted you make $200 when you pass go. I guess that’s like Friday pay day. But they didn’t take into account the modern enticements that are all around us. Like the desire for a new car piece or bling for your hat. Maybe some of the properties should be buy an iPhone or some new shoes.

In fact you should go around the game board at least once doing odd jobs or building up debt until you make your way to the pass go point and make your first $200. Start building up a savings before you buy your property and then you have to work hard and go around the block a couple more times whenever you want to upgrade, because not everybody is born rich in our real Monopoly world.

It just seems like it should be modified some for children in this day and age. Not just a new theme, a new perspective.

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How can we eradicate evil?

From the beginning of time, there has been evil.

What is evil?

The opposite of good, some would say.  But to eradicate anything not good would be to remove free will which is what evil is. Not that all free will can turn out bad, that is why God gave us free will. He wants us to decide for ourselves. Basically, free will is the ability to take a chosen course of action among various alternatives. If that chosen course of action is to do, say or act some way hurtful, that is their will. It is not God’s will. But sometimes that will can be irreprehensible, and in our culture can even be considered as evil…

In general context evil is the absence or opposite of good, a decision that is made. Which for the people who try to do good, we cannot understand the decisions of evil-doers. That is, until we are faced with a similar situation where we too must make a decision to help or to hurt. Our decisions are molded by our experiences and if our experiences are bad, then our decisions will be bad…

Our pastor asked us to pray for peace… to eradicate evil, but how may I ask, can we ever see evil eradicated when our own friends and family can do such hurtful things to us? How can we ever hope or pray for terrorism to end, wars to be over and peace to last if we can be evil to those in our own close lives who truly do not deserve it?

Praying for peace doesn’t seem to be working, in my humble opinion. It makes us feel better, but in thousands of years hasn’t solved the problem. Maybe our prayer should change? Like I pray for work instead of money to pay the bills, or you pray for God’s will be done, instead of MY will, maybe our prayer for peace should be something like, help others make good choices. Maybe if we pray for good, that will eradicate evil?

It’s just a thought. What are your thoughts?

free will

Categories: Enlightenment | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Life is like a….

What IS life like?

A box of chocolates? Sweet, yummy, melts in the sun?

A bag of chips? Salty and filling but leaves your hands dirty?

A camera? Capturing the good moments but getting out of focus during action shots?

A blanket? Keeping you warm on cold nights until your spouse rolls over and takes it with him?

A Bird? Flying free in the beautiful blue sky until he ‘hears the call of nature’?

 

thCAXGJ7T3To me life is like all of that (and so much more). You see, life has the good moments – the wonderful moments you want to last forever, the sweet moments that fill your soul, warm your heart and help you soar. But life also has the bad moments – the make you fat, feel dirty, chill you to the bone, blurry poop-head times that make you ask – WHY ME?

It’s because every moment, the good and the bad, the sweet and the sticky, the savory and the greasy, teaches us something. It helps us grow as humans. It helps us become who God wants us to become. It prepares us for the future and saves us from our past.

Life is like the most magical thing that can happen to us. Because it happens TO us.  Think about that one.

Categories: Enlightenment | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Animals are grouchy too

A friend of mine’s young daughter suggested I write a book about how animals are grouchy too. Obviously, there was someone in her ‘circle’ whom she thought was being grouchy, but that is neither here nor there.

I always try to be a positive person and smile as much as I can, I realize we all have off days and feel a little grouchy sometimes. Sometimes others cause our mood, sometimes we just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and sometimes a life full of annoyances keep us in perpetual grouchiness.

While I had always considered humans capable of the emotion, I hadn’t put much thought into it coming from animals. Yet there are definitely angry cats, furious because we tried bathing them or rubbed them the wrong way (literally). And we always throw the bear into the mix just because the phrase coexists together, grouchy as a bear. Now there are angry birds, the game as well as the dive-bombing blue jays and with that being said, I am sure there are others.

Yet as a dog owner, I am used to seeing smiling faces. When I feed my turtles, they always look happy. Even the squirrels and deer look more with anticipation than grouch. But I did a search for grouchy animals and found it happens a lot. Of course the next thought that comes to mind is: what caused them to look so angry and did it have anything to do with us humans? Do animals get angry at other animals?

Things that make you go… grrrrrrr

grouchy animals

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My Illustrator takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge, sometimes called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on someone’s head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research. It went viral on social media during July-August 2014.

The challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and challenging others to do the same. A common stipulation is that nominated people have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation.

Well, my illustrator, Leigh A. Klug decided to take on the challenge! Then she challenged the youth of our church, North Shore United Methodist Church, to do the same. Go North Shore! Here is the video below:

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The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of the dream.

The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of the dream. William Shakespeare

IMG_133889722234535I like that. Of course I do, I picked it to use. But think about it a second. My dream was to be a writer, to tell stories, just like William Shakespeare and it was my ambition to get those stories told, typed up, published and into others’ hands.

My dream was to entertain others through my words. I feel I am living that dream; through my books, through my poems, through my blog.

My dreams didn’t include fame and fortune. They didn’t include constantly traveling and missing my home. Maybe that is why I am where I am. Traveling would make me homesick. Money would make me a target. Fame would find fault in anything I do. My dream was to be happy and none of the above would make me happy. Just sharing my life’s blood with those of you who enjoy reading about it… that, makes me happy.

So be happy, every one of you! Follow your dreams and don’t worry about the other stuff. That’s my take on it.

Categories: Inspiration, Writing | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Nature can be so cruel – evil ants!

I understand about survival of the fittest. I can comprehend that the weakest will be picked off by the strongest, the biggest goes after the smallest. I understand that hyenas will eat the old, vultures will eat the dead and cats will chase mice. I get it. What I don’t understand is why ants will attack perfectly innocent baby turtles hatching out of their eggs!

Friday night I went out to the pond to notice a baby turtle that had just made it to the surface of the beach and had been swarmed by dozens of ants. I pulled him free, washed the ants off but I was too late, he was already gone. That was when I realized there would be more babies being born. A clutch of eggs usually contains about 6-10 and if the ants found this little guy, it was only a matter of time before they found the others.

I began digging.

Carefully excavating the sand making my way to the eggs and unborn baby turtles, my hands and arms being covered by ants and ant bites but I kept digging. I found the babies. Some who had just poked a hole out of their egg in their attempt to get out; had (to them) large black and red monsters enter in and start biting them. They bit the baby’s eyes, arms and legs and even entered their mouths as they tried to breathe!
Most of the babies hadn’t even made it out of their eggs yet. Many I had to pull out just to make sure I got all of the ants off of them. One of which I had to pull aside and let himself hatch on his own (see video below). And then we began the watch.

swollen-babiesBaby ICU was in full swing.

They were swollen, in pain and couldn’t see. They needed water but were too weak to swim. Some wanted to be in the cool water to help ease the swelling but they couldn’t float. They sank. Some fell asleep (or passed out) on the bottom of the indoor pond and would have drowned if I hadn’t been checking on them and pulled them back out onto the land. It has been four days and we have lost two babies. Two are doing just fine and three are still in ICU.
I can’t imagine how hard this has been for them. I’ve got ant bites on my hands that hurt, but I keep imagining, what if I was a baby? Much, much smaller. One ant bite swelling up my entire hand! No tolerance to pain, no immune system strong enough to break down the toxins. Can’t see, blind…

I’m sorry! It just feels wrong!

I know baby turtles get a rough start. I’ve done book reports on the sea turtles. No parents to greet them. Predators ranging from humans, foxes and seagulls. The rough sea waters, currents much stronger than we can stand. Sharks, crabs and jelly fish… but ants were not part of that.

I guess it just makes me sad when I walk up to check on their progress and find another one has gone back to heaven. It almost makes me wonder why they were born in such a horrific way, only to suffer for three days and then die. What was it they were supposed to learn? Or was it I who needed to learn something?

Life isn’t fair? Ants are evil? I’ve got to toughen up? What is it I am supposed to take away from this besides heart break and to keep up with the ant spray?

    ~ Exhausted in the ICU

PS my grandfather suggested a new story; “Hamilton Troll and the Evil Ants”. I considered it. I could see the story in my head. Hamilton Troll approaches a hole where baby turtles are emerging and sees a line of ants start to attack them. He tries to battle off the ants but there are too many of them. He calls for help and other friends come to the rescue. I can see them doing a fire line bringing in buckets of water to wash away the ants. They try to save the babies but many of them are swollen from ant bites… sounds more like a nightmare for children to read than an inspirational educational tale. I’ll keep it in mind, but for the most part I feel it goes to the slush pile with Duncan the Dung Beetle; I just couldn’t seem to make a story about a poo excavating beetle, mom-approved.

Categories: Enlightenment | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Robin Williams… Why?

Mork-Mindy-tv-02As with the rest of the world, I am reeling over the loss of (in my opinion) one of the best comedians I’ve ever known. I grew up with Mork, sitting on my head on the couch and saying nanu nanu – shasbot.

I escaped to Club Paradise every summer not quite understanding most of the plot until I was older but thinking how much fun it would be to live on an island.

I said “Good Morning, Vietnam” every day in middle school and thought the music he chose to go with his jokes was simply perfect.

Hook gave me the wings to fly and write and be creative. I also repeated the entire dialog between Peter Pan and Rufio all the time “you lude, crude, rude bag of prechewed food dude”.

FernGully made me respect trees and love fairies and I sung the batty rap song all the time.

Mrs. Doubtfire helped me understand my parents divorce. It meant a lot to me to look back to my childhood, as a teen, and watch what his children went through, what he went through… that he truly did love them and want to be with them no matter the cost.

Jumanji made me want to play board games again.

Aladdin was another magical journey into a “whole new world”. Flubber put me on the same playing field as my parents Nutty Professor. The list goes on.

Of course I saw Dead Poets Society, To Wong Foo, What Dreams May Come, Toys, Popeye, Patch Adams, Good Will Hunting, A.I., Robots, Night at the Museum and Happy Feet…

Robin Williams was my hero! I watched everything he was in, whether I liked it or not. I wasn’t thrilled when he went through his dark phase but I always gave him the benefit of the doubt. And while there are many movies and TV shows I know I have over-looked I leave you with my two favorites:

August Rush, though I didn’t care for his part in it, it was a miraculous movie that must be seen for the sake of seeing it.

Bicentennial ManBut if you are like me, and want to sit down and watch an outstanding Robin Williams movie. One that will make you laugh and cry, think and be amazed. One that will yank the emotions through your robot exterior, make you feel human in a future you would actually WANT to live in; a movie that will make you desire to be more, to push the envelope, to advance civilization in a story that spans two centuries, then I HIGHLY suggest sitting down with a nice glass of wine, or three, a box of tissues and a soft blanky and watch Bicentennial Man. While the critics were rather rough on it, I have never put much credibility into what they say. I watch what I want, write what I want and say what I want, because “you’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.”

Robin_Williams2

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” Robin Williams

“Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.” Good Will Hunting

“To live… to live would be an awfully big adventure.” Peter Banning from Hook

“But oh, to be free. Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world.” Genie from Aladdin

Why Robin? Why leave us so soon? I will miss you, but you will live on in all of the great things you accomplished in your life. Not just your comedy, not just your movies, not just your charitable acts of love… everything.   Teaching

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San Marcos Daily Record Article About Me

I was so honored today to have seen this amazing article written about me and my children’s books. I just wanted to share it with everyone.

This is a link to the PDF so you can read it… Local’s childrens books rally against bullying behavior

Local's childrens books rally against bullying behavior

Local’s childrens books rally against bullying behavior

Categories: Author, Bullying | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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