True Success

“May you be so successful that people attribute all kinds of things to you that you never actually said!”

~Albert Einstein

albert-einstein1

But seriously…

 May you know and live out the purpose for which you were made.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but (in the end) it is our Creator’s purpose that prevails.” ~Proverbs 19:21

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Quips and Quotes | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

How Animals Teach Us to be Human

Part One

imagesThe animals I’ve loved have taught me far more than I’ve taught them. For example: Animal behaviorists say that cats are loners. And this is sometimes mistaken for proof that cats don’t care. False. I know this because I’m a loner, and the person that first taught me to care was a tiger-striped tabby named Zipper.

We moved to the suburb of La Mirada when I was seven. I was a dreamy only-child who lived in his head and had yet to find a friend. Then one day I heard shouting two houses up. I raced to see what was happening, and discovered a man beating a skinny little cat with a broom. The man’s daughter had trapped it under a milk basket, claiming it followed her home. So the overstressed (correction, evil) man decided “to teach the cat a lesson.” By killing it. Without thinking, I screamed, “No!” then scooped up the cat and ran off with it.

We had nearly a dozen cats during the years I was growing up, and all distributed their affections equally. Except Zipper. I was Zipper’s hero. Period. And he was my BFF (best feline friend). He walked me to the corner when I headed for school and met me there when I came home. He listened attentively as I read aloud under the covers at night, then put his head on the pillow beside mine and saw me off to other worlds. When my first human friend arrived, the lesson Zipper had taught me was clear:

A true friend is always there—to send you off and welcome you home.

A decade passed. I hadn’t cried in years. Somehow, whether because of some hormonal shift or the break-up up with my high school sweetheart, I’d grown a shell of emotional sterility, and had come to accept this as my new norm. But the moment I brought Ginnie (half Irish Setter, half Golden Retriever, all love) home from the animal shelter she began to chew away the shell.

At first I thought she was stupid: She couldn’t seem to grasp the idea of stay. She got sit. But if I moved away, she’d drag her posterior after me, technically maintaining aGoldenIrishManhattanPuppy4
“sitting” position, until she’d reached the object of her affection.

When we ran out of money and moved back in with my parents, Mom bought a life-sized stuffed German shepherd “just for fun” and put it in the den. Ginnie was heart-broken. She lay down in a corner and stayed there for days (now she got stay). I finally dragged the faux-shepherd over to her, and punched it to show I didn’t love it like I did her. She nipped it a few times for good measure, and then adopted it as her pet, and was happy again.

When she died, I cried without reservation.

The shell was gone.

To read Part Two, click here.

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But Did He Love Me?

woman playing dead, lying in the sand

I chose to write this true story about a favorite relative in first person in order to retain the impact it had on me.

I was never sure if he loved me. I mean right off, Burt liked my sister. I don’t know why. I mean, Tina, she’s pretty in a tomboy way, but I’m the real girl with my flamey hair and legs all the way down to China. So, I don’t know why the boys like her so much. I guess ’cause she’s fun. I was never fun. I was too much work: “I’m not ready yet!” “No! It’ll mess up my hair!” Hah!

But the minute I saw Burt, I loved him. He was tall and skinny, but with cute bulgy little muscles. He lifted weights and was so vain—every time we’d go by a mirror, I’d check my make-up and he’d check his muscles. Hah!

First he come around hoping Tina would break up with Jim. Idiot. I mean, he’s Jim’s best friend! But then we started talkin’ and something just clicks. Well, that and he keeps looking at my gams. Anyway, pretty soon me and Burt are an item. I was so nuts about him. I just wished he’d’a asked me to marry him before Jim and Tina got engaged.

Anyways, five months after they got married, me and Burt tie the knot, and all I wanted was to sign that paper and drag him off to my cave, you know? Me cave girl! Hah!

We left the reception in a convertible Burt borrowed from his cousin Franky. We got this bottle of champagne—I know we shouldn’ta brought it, but we did. And we’re laughing, and Burt’s glowing. Glowing! And I’m thinking, “That’s ‘cause of me. I make my man glow!” Anyways, we’re going down this highway in the middle-a-nowhere, and I’m so happy I’m thinking it’s gonna last forever!

But then one minute I’m pouring champagne and the next I’m in the hospital. And the first thing I say–no, scream–is, “Where’s my Burt!” So, Mom and Tina, they told me what happened.

We hit a tree. There was this truck, and we swerved and hit a tree and totaled Franky’s Pontiac. Hell, almost totaled us. Burt, he come to about half a hour later, and I’m not even in the car, I’m out front on the ground. They said I looked like a broke rag doll all covered in blood.

Poor Burt, he didn’t know if I was alive! But he gets outta the car and he picks me up and carries me two miles without stopping till he comes to a gas station. And then he sits down with me in his arms, and says, “Help my Nancy!” over and over again, “Help my Nancy!”

When I wake up, Mom and Tina are there, and they tell me what happened, and then I fall back asleep. And when I wake up again, Burt’s there in a wheel chair, holding my hand. He says, “Hiya, doll,” and there’s tears in his eyes. And then I see his legs. They’re both in casts. And that’s when I find out that he…my Burt…he carried me two miles on two broken legs!

Then I put my hand on his face and he kissed it, and I finally knew: My Burt’s not some big hero, he’s just a ordinary, vain, skinny guy that did the impossible…

Because he loved me.

larry-prove-your-love

Posted in Culture, Memoir | Tagged , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

But, what of the end?

8244f66e77e6f2fd7f38ef8d62422872.jpegMy Featured Blogger this week is Tremaine “Tre” Loadholt of A Cornered Gurl. Tre was one of the first online poets I discovered back when my own blog was new, and she’s still a favorite. Tre will make you think and feel, and at times think about what you feel (and why). In other words, she’s the kind of poet–and person–the world needs more of.

A Cornered Gurl

endoftheworldartCourtesy of CBS News/End of The World Images

Will it come with fire and brimstone?
Fearful children running alongside their parents–
Threatened to be charred while in motion.
Can we expect it as if in a blink of time?
A piece of history chewed up, swallowed, and spat
Back out to us dripping with disdain?
A deluge, a monsoon, a tsunami wrapped into one
Cast down from the heavens above,
Drowning us into oblivion.

The end will come with hungry mouths
Burdened by fangs–blackholes for bellies
Unable to fill.
It will come without us knowing,
During a moment where love
And destiny meet.
It will come with hopeless wings
Shy of flying and a soul fraught with pain.

The world will crumble,
Break apart, turn into dust,
And find its way jarred and placed
On God’s shelf as a reminder of
What he should not have done.
What of the…

View original post 78 more words

Posted in Poetry, Quips and Quotes, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Unwelcome Stranger

Joey Loper, Doug Evans

Dear friends, this is a bit sardonic. I write in this manner not to trivialize a difficult issue, but to make what I believe is a vital point.

MAN: Judge, I’d like to kill the woman living in my house.
JUDGE: Absolutely not!
MAN: But it’s my house and that makes her my property.
JUDGE: No, it doesn’t!
MAN: But she’s receiving medical treatment in my living room, and can’t be moved until treatment is completed. I don’t want her there, so please let me kill her.
JUDGE: No!
MAN: But she’s my daughter.
JUDGE: Oh, well, why didn’t you say so? Go ahead and kill her, then. Since she’s your daughter that makes her furniture. So it’s not even killing, really, it’s redecorating.

Again, my intention is not to make fun of the issue, but rather the opposite: to point out the tragically absurd logic behind modern reproductive policy.

That said, while I despise the full-term abortion rights laws recently passed in New York, and under consideration in Virginia and elsewhere, I believe there are other concerns that must be addressed, as well. Laws protecting the right-to-life of unborn humans make biological, moral and legal sense. But so do compassionate, putting-our-money-where-our-mouth-is laws protecting those who struggle with unwanted pregnancies. A woman should know that if she needs it, financial, emotional and practical support (adoption, educational services, etc.) will be there for her. Period. 

Our laws must protect and provide for both of the human beings involved!

Posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers | Tagged , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

My Leap of Life

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You’re caught in a blinding blizzard and you reach the edge of a cliff. The way back is death. The way forward is unknowable. And so you leap, hoping—without evidence—that you will land on something, rather than plunge into the abyss.

To many, this is what “leap of faith,” the term coined by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, means. And it is why many apologists (defenders of rational faith) dislike the term. Nevertheless, I find myself returning to it again and again. Not only because it sharply describes my original “leap,” but because, as a hysterical skeptic prone to bouts of emotional disbelief, fearing that what I believe is simply too wonderful to be true, I need to retake that leap almost daily.

But is it rational? Francis Schaeffer, the 20th century theologian whose apologetics were of great help to me in the shaky early days of my faith (I once made a pilgrimage to his remote retreat center L’Abri high in the Swiss Alps), disliked the term. And yet his very reason for disliking it, I believe, redeems it. The rational believer, he says, makes a leap that looks more like this:

Caught in a blizzard, you reach the edge of a cliff. But while the way forward is un-seeable, it is not unknowable. Because through the dense fog a seasoned Mountaineer calls out to you, assuring you that a ledge is within reach. If you jump, he says, you will be saved. You trust him because he offers evidence that he is who he says he is. Thus your leap is rational. And the way back is, after all, death. And so you leap.

There are two kinds of evidence: the first, empirical, that which can be observed with the senses; the second, testimony, i.e. witnesses, the type of evidence the legal system depends upon. The more witnesses, the better. But of even greater importance is the quality of the witnesses. 43 years ago, I began reading the New Testament and found within in its pages witnesses (Peter, Paul, James, John, et al) of great character. Their wisdom and humility were profound. And yet each of them deferred to an even greater witness, the Mountaineer who’d called them to leap. The Mountaineer’s own words and character burned a hole in my skeptical heart, causing His light and life to pour in.

shutterstock_671025And so I leaped.

I have never regretted it. Because it wasn’t just a leap of faith, it was a leap of life, a leap away from the death that lay behind. And forward toward the life of hope, purpose, and love that lay ahead.

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Blessed to be a Blessing

connection-700x329“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). But it is also a blessing to learn how to receive. Many of us spend our lives blessing ourselves–striving to make sure all of our own needs (real and imagined) are met. When we do this, two things happen: First, with little or no time remaining, we steal from ourselves the great blessing of giving. Second, we steal from others the opportunity to be blessed by blessing us. Oh, Lord…

Teach us to be both givers and receivers.

“God will graciously provide all you need, so that, having everything you need, you will have plenty left over to share with others.” ~2 Corinthians 9:8 (paraphrase)

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments