Thursday, December 9, 2010


My mother used to kind heartedly chastise me about not writing more often (way before the days of email). We always agreed that I would...but I used to make it such a BIG deal...had to write a book or I didn't feel it was worth anything.

That's part of my problem with blogging...have to write a book or it's not worth anything.

Not Grandma wrote to me in college every week: one page. Just to say she loved me...(and to send me money).

One page. I have great ideas...Really great...I promise...but for now, just to prove I'm still here:

I opened my coat pocket just now to pull out a tissue and saw my piece of gold string. Well, it's not really my gold string...I have it there for Dora.

What does she need with gold string? Well, she might be bored one day and I could pull it out and relieve her boredom by showing her the string.

That's why it was put there 6 years ago. She was 4.

Every year around this time (when it gets cold) I pull out my coat and, there it is. Never been used for its magic purpose. I should probably throw it away.

However, 30 minutes ago, when I saw it again, I thought of her...and remembered me.

Most self-respecting boys of 5 and older know that you can't leave the house without some string, a rubber band or two, a rock and a toy car. My pockets were always full when I left the house. I remember thinking that the string would be useful if I got lost, or stumbled into an adventure which required string.

And here I am. I finally found my adventure which might require string...her name is Dora.

I think I'll just hang on to it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Evidence of The Gift

Sorry I have been away loyal readers. Several things have happened which have pulled my attention away from blogging. For posterity sake, a quick sample:

We who practice here in Big Spring moved our offices. We moved into offices which are far superior, but it has taken a full two weeks to feel like I have a handle on everything that was moved.

Along those lines:

I fell backwards into an awesome office space (that picture is not it but): huge, private bathroom, two walk-in closets, a main office and an outer office. This was made much sweeter as I have been "officing" from home for the college as the building housing me is being ripped apart for a year or so. Either way...I feel like Patrick Stewart when he first started filming STTNG. He once said in an interview that he thought it was too good to be true, that he would be replaced any day, "I didn't unpack for weeks."

So, that's "all good."

But then I got sick. As I type this I can't speak above a whisper. I don't feel as bad as I did...but, well, I TALK for a living!

Yesterday morning, little one asked why I have to go to work when I am sick. We talked about it and she was excited to know that, when her college prof. is sick, she will get to get out of class. I also let her know that if I was REALLY sick, I would stay home.

So last night I'm sitting on the couch (after eating the excellent food my wife cooked...big deal, she doesn't like cooking) watching the news. Little one is off doing something somewhere and then runs in with a sign which says "This Way -->" I follow and...well...I was blessed. Her favorite stuffed animals were holding signs which said "Get Well!" She had two back rubbing tools available for my choosing and a stack of children's books to read to me.

So for the next 20 minutes she read out loud while rolling a wooden wheeled device up and down my back.

Yup. Sometimes things just go really, really well. I am thankful for those moments of joy and know they have and will make up for other moments of crud.

I wish you all the same: many moments of joy. The stories I read on your blogs are inspiring and humbling.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

THE Gift

My wife always says that I think too much. That if I would just accept things at face value, I wouldn't have these long periods of time when I am agnostic. I know everyone experiences times of doubt and skepticism...I would just like to have them less often. And when I have them, I would love to find the evidence lean in favor of my belief in God.

But much of the time, I look and see more to dissuade me from my faith than to validate it.

Like...why do I have to keep praying for faith...and then feel that I have it, only to lose it again. How about just giving me a lifetime measure of faith which is always there...always secure? Going back and forth from "Yeah, I love God!" to feeling Freud may have been right, that I am just another neurotic soul who has bought into a mass delusion. Am I so afraid, so discontent with my life that I have to delude myself that there will be an afterlife where I get to do all the things that I don't get to do here on earth?

{Example: After hearing of a friend's lavish vacation, made possible by his impressive six figure salary I thought: "Heaven better be pretty impressive because down here, I'm missing out on some great stuff."}

So then, of course, I remember that my 5 figure salary is a king's ransom to 85% of the rest of the inhabitants of this earth. Boy, I bet they REALLY look forward to heaven. But wait, a huge percentage of them don't believe in Christ and thus...for all their suffering here, they are going to hell.Christian's can be really sick and self-serving. In fact, most Christians I know are just as sick and self-serving as non-Christan's...but just convinced that they are not.

The problem is, my faith is in something that doesn't really explain God.

A most unfortunate thing has happened to the Christian faith. Christianity has become just a way to get through the day, to feel better about being bad, and to reassure us at the end that we haven't really lost our loved ones...we'll see them again. It's comforting to imagine that someone really is in control of all of this mess, that we will be rewarded as long as we believe the right things.

So. The faithful have come to, at the deepest core belief level, expect Christianity to serve us. When it doesn't (or doesn't seem too), we blame it for our problems. "What can you do for me God?"

I have my faith on backwards.

We weren't created to be served...we were created to serve. Whether we like it or understand it or accept it, God created us to glorify Himself. We are the sculptures, He is the artist.

The sculpture doesn't get to ask for things from the sculptor. It just stands there and looks pretty. People look at it and say "Oh my! That is so incredibly beautiful and amazing...that sculptor is incredible! What talent!"

Of course the sculptor takes VERY good care of his works of art...makes sure they have what they need. But it is the sculptor who decides what each work of art needs. The sculpture is just a stupid piece of can't possibly understand what it needs. If it could come to life and ask the artist, why am I here? The answer would always be: "Because I made you."

"Yeah...but what is my purpose?"

"To reflect my skill. To glorify me."

"That's it?"

"Well, I guess I could hang clothes on you..."

Being a Christian means that the bottom line is, I must accept that my very existence is a gift from the Creator. As such, I'm just here to look pretty. I'm here to serve. I am a mirror to reflect HIS glory, HIS wisdom, HIS power.

I am here to proclaim that GOD IS.

The fact that something went wrong in the museum and a few of the sculptures are lost means that my purpose is also to help find them. To restore them for the ARTIST'S glory.

That is why Christian's thank God for the rain, the sun, their jobs, their spouses, and especially their children. For an artist to provide His work of art with THAT's an impressive piece of workmanship.

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10

Thank you God.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Some Really Good News

So, we go to our mandatory meeting with little one's fourth grade teacher. Right in the middle of my day...not really looking forward to it because I have nothing to big problems. She doesn't really LIKE school...but she excels at it.

Beyond her Mommy's and my wildest dreams, little one is a natural in school. She makes straight A's with ease. She earns frequent honors for reading, singing, acting, drawing, etc. You know, the things I wish I had been for my parents, she is for me (not fair really...for my parents).

So we get in there, and the teacher who seemed so gruff and distant to little one at the beginning of the year started gushing.

Now, I've blown my share of smoke in my day. You know, gotta paint kids in the best light for parents. But this teacher knew we already knew our daughter. She gave us real feedback about her strengths beyond her natural intellectual gifts.

I learned that Dora is a nurturer...helping her friends when they fall behind. I learned that she is practical, ready with plenty of questions. I learned that she is a little "less mature" than her peers. (Thank God...literally. She'll have plenty of time to be "mature" when she gets older.)

Above all, I learned that, though I know I have a great kid...that other people think so too.

I'd like to take credit (and secretly, let's face it, I do). But what I know is that Dora's mother and I have been blessed with a beautiful, precious, fragile, wonderful gift when what we really "deserved" was nothing.

Thanks God.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's All About Me!

You'd be surprised how many good pictures come up when you google "selfish."

My last blog led me to contemplate (again) my ongoing malady of selfishness. That led me to a realization that maybe I could use this blog as a way to explore means of becoming less selfish. Then I realized that might mean I would have to change something about my life and thought better of it.

I don't want to change.

Edit that...I want to change, but it usually includes ways I can spend more time or money on the things that I want to do.

"It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes...we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions -- especially selfish ones." Alexander Solzhenitsyn (author) (Who knew Russians were so smart (no offence to any of my Russian readers.))

I guess that sort of suggests that, not only am I selfish, but my reason for contemplating my own selfishness is actually selfish as well.

Yeah. I would feel better about myself if I wasn't so selfish. Then I could look in the mirror and say, "You son-of-a-gun! Look at you all unselfish and giving. You are one good....great guy!"

“Selfishness must be discovered and understood before it can be removed. It is powerless to remove itself, neither will it pass away of itself. Darkness ceases only when light is introduced; so ignorance can only be dispersed by Knowledge; selfishness by Love." James Allan (statesman)

Ah, but it is love which creates selfishness in the first place. I'm full of it (love, that is). It's just mostly focused on me. (Besides, I don't even like people. They get in the way of my "me" time.)

Perhaps I should just drop this idea of becoming less selfish. I took an online quiz that said I was only 46% selfish.

(Look at me, all 54% unselfish and giving and stuff!)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Today I will think on good things.

Today I won't trouble myself with angry thoughts

or regrets

or fears

or what ifs.

Today I will live as if this day is important...and not a burden.

I'll be optimistic today.

I'll be honest with myself about myself, and others.

I'll do the best that I can do today.

Today I'll be worthy of the AWE with which my child views me.

Today I'll work to recover the AWE within myself.

Today I will prepare myself for tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I'll forget about me...and love someone else.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

4th Grade Blues...

The school season for our family is off to an interesting start this year. Little one is now in 4th grade but is not so sure she is happy about that. In fact, she is pretty sure she hates school and almost everything about it, from getting up early in the morning to P.E.

Of course I would feel better about sending her if she bounced out of bed in the morning, anxious to get on the road. I have to realize that I myself do not bounce out of bed in the morning anxious to get to work…never have been one of those people. I’m not really sure I know of a job which would get me to bounce out of bed ready to go…maybe if I was on the ski patrol at a ski resort. (I love to snow ski!)

So, I have to admit that, probably my daughter’s vocal protesting is, in part, a direct result of my own. Hey, what they see us do they imagine they have implicit permission to do themselves.
I know there are other factors at play. I know her 4th grade teacher is in it for the students to learn and really doesn’t seem to care if they like her or not. I would be a different kind of teacher, overly concerned that every student liked me. But it is foolish to think that we are all motivated in that direction. Some are in this for power, some for accomplishment, some for a paycheck, some for love.

I think it’s good that Little One has finally met a teacher who just wants her to be a student. It’s ok for her not to immediately have an adult wrapped around her little finger. It will build character.

Of course we all know that this teacher would not have been my first choice. I’m afraid, given the choice between a teacher who is there to teach and one who makes it her business to “love” each of the kids in her class…I would have opted for the latter. Good thing we didn’t request teachers this year. We left it up to prayer…or to the person in the office who randomly assigned students to the class.

Prayer still covers it though. God knows what class Little One is in. And He knows her needs for love. And He is ultimately better at providing that for her than any teacher, or ever her Daddy will ever be.

So, until Little One is cursed at, punished unfairly, or bullied, Daddy will just sit back, watching her suffer, listening to her “I hate school” blues, feeling my heart be sucked out of my chest as she makes the slow “death march” from my car to the school entrance every morning, reminding myself that...what doesn't kill her, builds her character.

Character building sucks.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fumbling In The Dark

Heard a quote about fumbling in the dark and of course I "saw a cross" and my mind went a riffing...

You know, it's bad enough that without a source of light, we all tend to fumble around bumping into hard circumstances and trying to figure our way out (or through) by ourselves. Life is full of stubbed toes, bruised egos, and wrong turn after wrong turn.

It's worse when we make the well meaning mistake of hooking up with someone who we think knows their way around in the dark...or at least keeps us from feeling so isolated only to discover that their sense of direction is much worse than ours.

Have you noticed that a disproportionate number of the "clowns" who believe they know where they are going and what they are doing are also ridiculously over-confident and persuasive. Yeah...probably has to do with a woeful lack of intelligence combined with a desperate need to deny any realization of their incompetence.

Pardon me for being angry with the turds again...It's just that whether they know it or not, they are "the bad guys" (only 14 more days until LOST season 6 comes out on DVD!!). Enemy agents who make life more difficult by leading others just as astray as they are.

I know I've been a bad guy before....a REALLY bad guy...

So I have hope for them...but part of being a bad guy is that YOU can't undo the damage that you helped do...and sometimes that damage is nearly

or totally


Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's None Of My Business...

Yeah...there's always a BUT after that statement (and there's usually a BUTT saying it...but that's another post.)

I've been reading some blogs today. In one, a fabulous question was posed to a group of people from which I am grateful to be excluded. However, the question is right on track with what I have been trying to grasp hold of over the past few years.

Not that it is a revolutionary concept. I'm sure I heard it many, many times while growing up. It's just that the war waged by the enemy involves a lot of disinformation...taking a little truth and mixing it with a lot of lie.

By the way, the question posed to this select group of front line warriors was this (paraphrased): If you could ask any one question about the circumstances of your child's life, what would it be. The guarantee of a 100% accurate and honest answer was included.

My question would have to be, "Why am I so fabulously blessed with this child with this particular soul?" Obviously, that disqualifies me from the exercise.


I do have a question about an event in my life.

Without some quick backdrop though, my question would sound ludicrous and woefully ignorant of the battle.


I had a great mom. She died when I was 30. Before I became a teacher (she would have loved that), before her own mother died, before we had made the full peace that adult children and their parents must make, before my career really blossomed, before I had a child. Of course that last one sucks the most. Not only did my mother never get the joy of seeing her grand-daughter, but my child has never, and will never get the joy of being that special to someone. To date, she would be the only grandchild my mother has. If my mother was going to be ANYTHING like her own (my grandma)...well, the main reason I am who I am is because of my Grandma.


What would I ask?

It would not be "Why did God kill my mother."

God didn't kill my mother. A very aggressive brain tumor killed my mother. Over the course of my life I, and many others have been the victim of bad teaching on a verse which I believe has been unfortunately mangled in it's meaning.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says: No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Where does the temptation come from? God? No. Temptation is from the enemy. He is both tempting and testing use, but more, is seeking to destroy us. So, 1) temptations are common to all men. Some are tempted by lust, some by drugs, some by workaholism, some by ... you get the picture.
2) God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted/tested beyond what we can handle. Not that we can handle the crush of the temptation...but that he will "provide a way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."

To believe that God is the one tempting me trials so that I will get tougher is like me telling my 9 year old to go get in the car and drive herself to school, after loosening the bolts on the tires so that she will learn not to try to drive the car until she is 16 years old.

"I'm going to give Richard's mom a brain tumor so that he can be a better Christian."
"I'm going to take the life of this small child so the parents will appreciate what they have."

If that is God...then I would reject him. (Which makes the adulteration of that verse so clever. Misunderstanding it says that GOD wants, even needs bad things to happen to us so that His will is accomplished.)

"Where did the brain tumor come from?"

I believe I know that came from an infested, dangerous, toxic, disease ridden, scary, deadly, invaded world.

"Why didn't God intervene?"

I have an answer to that as well. I think, that in the very, very grand scheme of things...He didn't need to. For His will to be accomplished on this earth, and in His heaven, my mother did not need to be here anymore.

Her death was "allowed" because she had served her purpose all ready. He didn't want her to die (or need her to die)...

Now, I am not saying that she was never going to do anything else towards God's will. If she had not gotten the brain tumor and died, she would have done many wonderful things, and had a wonderful impact on my daughters, as well as many other lives.

God's will though is not thwarted by her death. That is what is encouraging. Despite all the evil perpetuated in the world, all the disease, the death, the abuse, the loss, the fear, the crap in this world brought about ultimately by the enemy's lies...God WILL still accomplish His perfect will for His creation.

That means, to me, that I need not worry that Dora doesn't have a grandma Darla.

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Not only will His will be accomplished despite her death...Her death will be used for GOOD in Dora's life! I don't know how. It is a bad event. I frequently miss her and am angered that Dora doesn't have the benefit of her love. I'm sure this summer Dora would have spent some time with her. Some of my favorite memories are spending weeks every summer with my Grandma. (Not to mention the fact that this would have been a great time for my wife and I to reconnect as a couple). See...I still see it as a bad event.

But God assures His will will not be thwarted by bad events.

So finally, my question:

How is God using my mother's untimely death for good in my daughter's life?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What If...

We took a quick trip to San Antonio this past weekend. Among several other things, we were able to go to Six Flags, fiesta Texas.

I love roller-coasters so I was pretty much a happy guy last Friday. Even better, my 9 year old daughter enjoys most of them with me.

We rode this:

And this:

And then the water park opened. It was actually attached to the theme park which was awesome (and free). This was my daughter's first time at a water park. She loved the Lazy fact, I think we spent two hours total just floating and swimming along with the current. It was stormy on and off that day so we were in and out of the water a lot, and we didn't get to ride the huge slides...but at the end of the day, we got a chance to ride one.

Not that one, but I am sure to my little one it looked like that one. It was just she and I standing in line waiting for about 30 minutes. She paced and looked, and then let loose an onslaught of "What ifs..." and "Are you sures." No matter what I said, she was sure she was going to: fall, slide off the edge of a curve, drown, flip, or crash. I was so fascinated because I was watching myself. That was me at her age. And if you read one of my recent's still me to some extent.

I watched as her fear grew and fed on itself, despite my most logical arguments ("What would have happened if anyone had ever been hurt on this ride?") and my most sincere fatherly reassurance ("I know you and love you and would never take you on something which would scare or hurt you.")

Of course I gave her plenty of option to get out of line.

She refused every time. That made me proud but also was a great study of faith and human nature to go TOWARD those things that we fear, despite our fear. She trusts me...but needed to vent her anxiety.

How could I convince her that it was going to be fun and not terrifying!? I couldn't. The ride did. I bet her a dollar at the top of the ride that at the end, she would tell me it was a fun ride. As we gently rode the water down to the pool at the bottom, she talked her way through, "This isn't so bad. This is cool! We really are going slower than it looked. It's really not that high." Splash down brought a surprised pleasant squeal...and as we got out of the pool...

"Well Daddy, I guess I owe you a dollar."

I guess that was a reasonable price to pay for that life lesson.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bring It!

I recently took the plunge and decided to purchase a home workout DVD series seen on late night TV.

My wife and I are into the second month of the program and I must is...intense.

Last night I was working out solo and Little One was watching me. Half way through she said, "I'm tired just watching you Daddy." and then left the room.

5 minutes later she was back with a fresh glass of ice water, with straw. And a carefully folded damp towel with an ice pack in the middle. "This will help you cool off."

Just the second wind inducer I needed to keep myself in great shape for me...and for her!

Thanks Little One....I am more amazed with who you choose to be day by day.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Scaredy Cat

A while back I heard a radio sermon on the way to Walmart that somehow gave me a brief glimpse of life without fear. I tried to jot down what the man said that gave me the respite but could not capture it well enough that fear did not take it's un-rightful spot in my heart a day later.

I am a BIG coward.

Always have been.

I'm afraid to talk to people. I'm even afraid to be seen in public sometimes. I'm afraid I'll lose my job. I'm afraid I'll get a chronic, debilitating illness...or die. I'm afraid my wife or child will die. I'm afraid of this and that and the other.

I know that much of that stems from me father's own fears. He too was a big coward. I also know that some of it stems from my lack of self-confidence.

But the bulk is from the enemy. I believe that somehow I gave him permission to have his way with my "fear centers" and he has been having his way ever since.

I believe that most men, if they were really honest, would agree that they, too are afraid.

Some give in to it and play life safe.

Some run away from it and drink, drug, or sex their way into permanent denial.

A few face it head on and it pushes them to great heights.

I want to banish it.

I always thought that winning about $5 mill. would do it. No more fear of money problems.

Then I figured I would also need full genetic testing to ensure I don't have any major deadly ailments on the horizon.

Then I figured I could wrap my wife and child in bubble wrap, lock them in a safe-room and ...

You get the picture.

I think God is leading me to the truth over time though, banishing fear means taking away the main weapon the enemy uses to tweak it...


(It says..."I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.")

(Good one huh Ken?)

Not me personally as in getting rid of myself but ME! philosophically. My own inflated self-importance.

You see. I'm really, really important. I don't know if you readers realize how incredibly valuable and important I am. In fact, I don't think I could live without me. I'm so important that, if I suffer, the world is over. If I lose my bank account, everything would crumble.

Of course you realize what I mean: I believe that the moment I REALLY grasp and accept that the world, life, is not about ME!, then the enemy loses his power to make me afraid of losing me...or mine.

620,000 people died in the American civil war.

51,000 men died in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Did they believe life was all about them?

Most probably did. It's hard to be small and insignificant.

But we are. For all my illusions of importance, for all my illusions of what I deserve from my life....I am a speck on a flea on a small dog in a world full of a billion other dogs. (Not sure that was the scale I was going for but...)

You know what's absolutely insane though?

God disagrees.

29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)

Oh yeah, and He allowed His son to die in our place so that we can not only be free from the Law of guilt and death, but so that we could be with Him forever...I guess that's kind of like winning the lottery.

Another weapon for this warrior. When my mind whispers and attempts to terrify: I must remember:

Being important in the world is fleeting and an illusion. The truth is my importance in God's eyes. He knows my name, the number of hairs on my head, His plan for the effect my life is to have on others, and most importantly, my address in Heaven. not afraid.

Next time: Can Christain's go on the offensive, or are are we in a strictly defensive posture until the end?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Waiting with Bated Breath...

I know. You can't wait for the next installment of WAR!

Sorry. I'm afraid...wait...

I should say, "I presently struggle with..."

At least that's what my new best friend Tony Horton says...

I presently struggle with getting in gear and writing something about WAR III.

Someone I know well made a remark that made good sense to me...

Brief...and to the point has not been my strong point.

Anyway...I was a FOOL and committed to a one hour presentation on Time Management to our local CPS office. Dave Ramsey calls it STUPID TAX, but, I said yes to a 60$ fee for a 1 hour presentation on a topic I not only know little about, but do not practice.

Counting preparation HOURS, I am now down to that 60$ being 7 $ an hour. By the end, I think I'll have to send them money.

One Dora Diane-ism:

"Daddy, I love you more than anything else in the whole world...even though your breath kind of stinks like fish..."

Yeah kid, I love you too, diaper changing and all!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

War II

Let me remind you of a fun game you can play with your 1 year old child.

Step 1) Wait until they pick up something you don't want them to put in their mouth (Like your game console controller).

Step 2) Approach them very carefully by getting their attention with a toy you know they will be interested in. (Sorry Mom, for the dangling participle....I'm getting lazy.)

Step 3) While handing them the toy with one hand, casually extract the controller with the other, hide it behind your back and "Voila!," they forget they had the controller in the first place.

Psychologists call this Re-di-rec-tion.

Normal people call it, distraction.

It is a powerful technique by any name.

Let's try it with war: Operation Overlord or D-Day occurred June 6, 1944. The build up to the ultimately successful invasion of Eastern Europe by allied forces required months and months of build up of forces and supplies. The allies were faced with the realization that the Nazis would know that "something" was coming and thus, turned to a remarkable and ingenious series of "redirections" or "distractions" to keep the Nazis from focusing on the real danger. For example:

"An entirely fictitious First U.S. Army Group ("FUSAG"), supposedly located in southeastern Britain under the command of General McNair and General Patton was created in German minds by the use of double agents and fake radio traffic. Dummy tanks (some inflatable), trucks, and landing craft, as well as troop camp facades (constructed from scaffolding and canvas) were placed in ports on the eastern and southeastern coasts of Britain, and the German Air Force was allowed to photograph them. The Allied Forces even went as far as to broadcast static over Axis accessible radioways and convinced Germany to expend efforts to try to decode white noise, further leading Germany away from the upcoming Normandy invasion." (Wikipedia "Operation Overlord") ((Yes...I use Wiki.)

Amazing what we humans can do; how wars are won, with lies.
I think our ability to "redirect" pales to white in comparison with our enemies'. One of the greatest weapons he has is his ability to convince us that we should be looking at all the "bright and shineys" over here rather than to the "boring stuff" over there. A few practical examples:

I could have spent 30 minutes this morning reading, but instead surfed the internet. I could have awakened early and prayed...just for 10 minutes or so...I slept that extra 10 minutes. I could have averted my eyes from the attractive pictures...but didn't. (That was just a made up example for the blog honey.)

Now. I don't know if we have a personal "demon" or "demons" which fly around after us with little red bat wings whispering temptations in our ears. Knowing just a little about human nature, I believe that would be overkill for most of us because the layers and layers of lies have been crafted to hit us right where we are weakest. Freud called it the Pleasure Principle and Immediate Gratification. We like what we like when we like it. It's unconscious, it's immediate, and, in the moment, it's Oh so good.

But it's all a mirage, a redirection. "Just one little smoke. Just one little drink. Just one little peek. Just one little...."

Just one little doesn't exist for most humans. If that "one little" feels good, our animal selves note that it didn't kill us, so, why not go for a second little...

So we who were "set free" decide to trade our chains for blindfolds and ear muffs.

Why practice the fight when we can watch TV instead? Why study when we can go out? Why listen to the truth when the lies feel so good, and seem so the moment.

The bible writers called it our "flesh." Over and over they drew a distinct divide between our flesh and our spirit. Our flesh, ruled by instinct and urges, and our spirit, able to be changed, filled, "born again."

Either way. "Born again" or not, I know most recognize this famous quote from the apostle Paul:

"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing. For to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I do not find. For I do not do the good that I desire; but the evil which I do not will, that I do." Romans 7:18-19

In other words: When I pause to reflect, I know exactly what I should be doing...but 95% of the time, I choose the alternatives...and there are so many!

In a way, Paul seems to be identifying a battle with himself...yet we were created to not suffer this war. Thus, the war has been brought to us...the enemy preys on what have become our weaknesses.

We are at war against an enemy who simply has to turn up the volume, or shine a brighter light on those things which will tickle our desires...and we drop out of the fight.

So what weapons do we have against this enemy.

"So humble yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:7

Practically, what does this mean. Pray? Verbally rebuke "Satan?"

Whatever works...but I think once we realize we are faced with some temptation we need to resist, part of the battle has been turned in our favor. The curtain is pulled back, or the "veil over our eyes" has been lifted enough for us to realize and acknowledge that we are in a battle...a serious battle.

I used to, and still sometimes do say, "Shut up!" I've prayed before for strength and faith in those moments. Recently, what really seems to work for me when I do it is simply say clearly, "That's a lie." I don't know what that does on a "spirit" level...or even if it does anything at all. I do know that, on a flesh level...I HATE lies. And I HATE, HATE being lied too. The recognition that I (or maybe even the enemy) is trying to lie to me gives me the emotional "UMF" to "turn away" and go about my business.

That's my two cents on just one of the many weapons at the enemy's disposal...the invisible weapon of redirection.

War III will involve the weapon which all of us know all too well...which threatens to defeat me even today. It bears a little more resemblance to false threat warfare (E.g. "You don't have time to pray, you're about to lose your job!")

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Of course you know...THIS MEANS WAR!"

That's one of my daughter's and my favorite things to say to each other. (That and "You're a booger head." to which the proper reply is: "No, YOU'RE a booger head!")

Anyway, I just picked up a book by John Eldredge called Waking The Dead. I picked it up initially because he also wrote one of my very favorite books of all time, Wild At Heart. If you are a man, and have never read this must.

Allow me to emphasize that: I have a 25 year old step-son. He is a wonderful young man...but as you can imagine, he and I have a history as all step-children and their parents have. I gave him a copy of Wild at Heart two years ago with the inscription that it was one of the most important books I had ever read. Well, he read it and recently told his mom; "Everyone should read that book!"'s worth the risk to pick it up.

I didn't get but 3 pages into Waking the Dead before being hit with an amazing sentence. I quote:

"The birth of Christ was an act of war, an invasion." (p. 16)

BAM! I put the book down in stunned silence and felt pieces fall into place in my mind that I never knew were out of place.

I've always known that life is a battle. It became crystal clear with the birth of my daughter. Everything I want for her, there are forces mounted to steal it away...even her safety. So her mother and I are vigilant, we carry guns (literally), and we say "no" a lot.

That's an obvious war.

The war human kind is in is deeper than that, and it is entirely hidden from our view because we have been taught from a very early age to accept the casualties, the collateral damage, as a part of life.

"Accidents happen." "That's the way God made them." I've said those multiple times to ... protect my daughter from the truth... Sometimes really, really, really bad things happen. Some people are destroyed, or nearly destroyed (physically, psychologically) through no fault of their own. I know my intent is also to get her ready for whatever may befall her. We expect these things. We tolerate them. Because we have no choice. And we blame....God, life, our parents, fate, the stars, ghosts, our past, randomness...

But we are in the middle of a war. We didn't declare it, but we are in it.

"The birth of Christ was an act of war, an invasion."

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10 (Jesus speaking)

Only dead people need life. Jesus came because the thief was already here, stealing, killing, and destroying. I notice He didn't say..."I came to get rid of the thief." He didn't though, He came to give me my life back. And to do so, was to declare war on the thief.

"just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28

I like this verse. A ransom. Rather than lead soldiers in the charge against the thief, the final battle was won with an act of ransom. If the question arises whether or not He was prepared for battle:

"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" Matthew 26:52-54

A full strength legion was 6000 soldiers so, more than 72,000 angelic warriors were standing at the ready (I imagine they were just begging to be cut loose.)

No. Christ came to declare war by setting us free. Paying the ransom so that we could no longer be condemned for our sin. He came to pay the ultimate price for us.

Why? Why not just wipe out the enemy then and there?

I think the answer is that He didn't have too. He set us free so that we could win fight the thief, and help free those who don't know they are free.

Who am I in the war...or who might I be?

The answer to this question is simple if I view the enemy as a thief...not engaged in open warfare but in massive subversion, subterfuge, and propaganda. This enemy is not allowed to kill me...(but can use every means at his disposal to get me to kill myself.)

If I was such an enemy, I would use everything I could to make sure that the best and brightest of the warriors destroy themselves. I would convince them first and foremost that the idea that they are in a battle is ridiculous and a little hyper-religious. "Come on!" I might goad, "What's next, are you going to become a bible-thumper?" "Only the most radical religions believe they are in a war."

Then I would start in on the weapons: "Ummm," I might say, "That sword of yours...kind of looks pathetic." "And....well, your shield...looks like you forgot it." "You can't can't even fight!"

Then, I'd remind my prey that there are others who can better handle this battle.

Then I would dangle all the great things this world has to offer and thus, distract them from the battle in the first place. "Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll man, that's where it's at!" "The world is a scary better just get what you can while you are alive. You don't want to die unhappy do you?"

Then all I would have to do is sit back and watch as my prey miserably but inevitably implodes...taking as many people with them as I can keep connected.

I'd be a good Satan...I know it. I've agreed with him all too often.

But I'm in a war. Spectators get rolled over. I want in the fight. Even if I have to get dirty, to sweat, to bleed, I'm tired of believing ALL of the lies!

You see, I'm not just a warrior.....I'm on the winning team.

"I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword" (Jesus) Matthew 10:34

To be continued...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

You Know You're In Trouble When...

I noticed just now that I LOST A FOLLOWER!!!

It is my own fault...seeing as how I have neglected to blog for over 3 months! I have a few really good excuses...but I feel guilty giving excuses. The phrase, "Quit making excuses." reverberates in my head when I try.

(I love it when people, including myself in the past preface a statement by saying, "I'm not making excuses but...")

How about a reason:

I have not blogged due to several distractions, none of which include the loss of my ability to blog...simply my motivation to do so. I have several great ideas...and of course, much inspiration due to my darling daughter.

A quick story:

Last night, we discovered a very small number of very small critters in Little One's room. We were busy relocating her temporarily to her big brother's room (AKA our guest room, weight room, etc.) when we found her scraping something off of the wall next to the bed. When asked what she was doing, she stated,
"I'm trying to get these boogers off the wall." Sure enough...what she was working on did look like dried boogers which had been wiped on the wall (I KNOW you all remember doing this as kids.) When we asked her how she knew they were boogers she said, "Because I used to do that too."

Ahhh, honesty. I love it.

To those of you who stop by and read this: Thank you for hanging in there and waiting. I really do have some thoughts I will be composing and sharing. And to those of you I follow, sorry that I have not checked in on your blogs recently...I will be doing so more frequently. I enjoy reading what you have to say.

God Bless.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Well, well, well

It's not that I can't believe that we actually found, just now. After all, I did request prayers, we prayed, little one prayed, and you friends prayed some as well.... It's WHERE my daughter and wife found her.

You guessed it...she went home. Or at least to where she was running free with some of her buddies.

How does a 1 year old dog find her way from our house in a small town, five to ten miles away to her previous haunt? She's a dog!? HOW does that happen? I'm pretty amazed.

New do we convince her to stay in her "new" home with us? Not so sure.

(And, did I finish fixing the fence? What do you think? (At least I started!)) It's going to be a long evening...

But, little one is happy....all is well.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Ok. I have a very MINOR issue compared to other's issues which I would never even think to burden anyone with if it were just for me....

But this is for my child.

Little one found a stray black Lab. about 5 miles from town while with her mother. The dog was obviously starving but responded very well to her (as Lab's are known to do.) We lost the dog, then searched the area a couple of times a day for three days, FOUND the dog, got the dog into the car and spent 100$ at the vet getting her checked out. She has been with us for 48 hours in our back yard, near our other older male lab. She is sweet, gentle, very hungry, and had a high fever but is being treated. This morning, we went outside to feed her and love on her...

You guessed it...Labs can JUMP. We have a silly low place in our 6 foot fence and she found it, and jumped it (at least 4 feet high) some time overnight.

Don't know where she is right now, we'll call the pound, post fliers etc. But you know how big her tears were this morning. OUCH!

Anyway, if you could breath a prayer, I know a little girl with a huge heart who would really love to have HER dog back.

Thanks. (Now I'm off to get some 6 foot pickets......)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just a quick one...

Water heater went out over the weekend. After visions of ripping out and installing a new one, I was rather perturbed last night when, after trying to relight it for the umpteenth time, I flipped the pressure release valve and it wouldn't stop relieving pressure!!

After a few gentle taps with my fist (real intelligent), I realized I just needed to turn off the water inflow valve and worry about the leak later.

Anyway, that night at bedtime I was sitting and talking with little one and said, "Wow, Daddy just doesn't feel good about fixing things like water-heaters."

She responds, "Yeah, but you ARE a tough guy aren't you!"

I don't know where she got it, but it sure made me smile.

(It turns out there is a very small, non-descript button which, when pressed "re-sets" the thermocouple. And the leak...a few more jiggles of the valve and it stopped. So, tonight, I get to relight the thing for once and for all....(and thanks Dad for telling me when I was 4 that sometimes water-heaters explode...I cringe every time I get near it.))

Can't wait to share about the bathroom remodeling!

But I don't worry too much any more...
I'm a tough guy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Funny story.
A long, long time ago I began to "fix" our bathroom. I'm not so good at finally, call it a Valentine's gift, I called a plumber. He is a great guy and worked while we weren't home to get our pipes repaired. He thought he might be able to do it without having to cut through the wall behind the toilet...I wondered and hoped that he could.
First clue that he had to get back there...we arrived home and found our bathroom toilet (green toilet mind you) in the front yard. Ok, after trying to lift it, I understood why he had not carried it all the way to the back yard.
Still, that evening, under cover of darkness, out I went to quickly drag the really heavy old style toilet around to the back. I even turned off the lights in the front to avoid being spotted. Well, of course, right as I got to the middle of the front driveway...along came not one, but two slow moving cars. I would have loved to be one of the drivers seeing a guy dragging a toilet from his front to his backyard, at night, in a robe and slippers.
Oh yeah.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Found This Great Story...

Found this on a blog I recently began following: I really enjoyed it and thought you might too.

A man’s daughter had asked the local pastor to come and pray with her father. When the pastor arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The pastor assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.....

“I guess you were expecting me,” he said.

“No, who are you?”

“I’m the new associate at your local church,” the pastor replied.“When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.”

“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”

Puzzled, the pastor shut the door.

“I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man.“But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk aboutprayer, but it always went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I’ll be with you always.’ Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.”“So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”

The pastor was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the pastor that her daddy had died that afternoon.

“Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked.

“Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, In fact, beyond strange-kinda weird. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed.”

Unknown Author

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lonely Assumptions

This is a follow up to "Little Turd" you can read below. While I don't know what has, or is happening today at school, I know that, after a phone call and an email, the educators at my daughter's wonderful school have taken aggressive action to deal with the situation last Friday.

Color me embarrassed. Here I was blaming God, society, myself, parents, little kids, when all the while, this moved as if it was according to plan. What if:

I had not been there to hear it. My daughter would never have even thought to say anything and it is possible it would have continued and even become worse.

But that is not what happened. I was there, at the right time, in the right place, having built recognition in the boy enough that he was not on guard in his comments (I eat lunch with Dora 3 out of 4 Fridays a month.)

While I would like for God to FIX things before they happen, we know that is not the way He seems to move (as far as we know....when fixing something before it happens, it never happens and thus, we never know it was "fixed." This way of intervention made good sense. Bad things were happening, put a "good force" in place to make a change. ("Good force" is in quotes to avoid giving the illusion that I believe that "I" am the good force. I just pray. (As I pointed out to Delma, with maybe a handful of exceptions, we have prayed with/for Dora Diane out loud and together every day for 9 years and 7 months (we started when we found out Delma was pregnant). That's...hold on while I calculate: 7000 prayers (Mine plus Delma's). Add hers in and you have 10500 offered up in agreement as a family over the past almost 10 years. (Not counting when she is sick, or in the morning, etc...)) My wife is positive that, while prayer is not necessarily going to prevent hardship...that it does affect outcomes. I want to agree...I need to agree...but my faith is burdened with doubt. Not all the time. But after events like this...

I ranted Friday night while we were fretting: "We've prayed every day for her since birth and STILL this happens." I went on to spiral down to where I was doubting His existence, bla, bla, bla. (I would have been one of Job's friends...never could I have mustered the faith of the man himself.) Why I was surprised I don't know...We are told that we live IN the world but are not to be OF this world. We have been kidnapped and placed in this false, scary place run by Freddy Kruger and Jason. Sometimes Jason gets his hits in on all of us. But somehow, God is able to overcome. God moves in and out among us, and acts THROUGH us to bring about His plan (which for some reason is not the same as MY plan....though my pea-brain thinks mine could be pretty good if we could just give it a chance...oh wait, that's already happened....yeah, that was a mess.)

Anyway, anyway. I jumped to several conclusions last Friday:

1) God is unable to deal with this, didn't catch it, doesn't care, or doesn't exist.

2) I am alone and thus, on my own to deal with these things.

Both of those strike me as pathetic under-estimations of my fellow man and woman, and of a perfect God.

What I learned so far:

1) God is not only able to work out His perfect plan despite what the world presents or how the world adulterates it...but that He IS working out His perfect plan RIGHT NOW; all around me, and in me. Perhaps He would say: "Just open your eyes Richard, whenever you are ready to plug in to the work I am doing, I'll be ready to use you."

2) I am NOT alone. I am NOT the ONLY one who feels the way I feel about injustice. There are many fellow warriors placed around me who are ready, willing, and able to fight with me. I hope they know the same about me....

To the warriors out there:

Thank you for being willing to be a tool. How do you know when it is happening? I seem to just see it on the other side and realize, "Ohhhh, I was being used as a pair of pliers ingenious."
So, Dora is ok, her friend is ok, the little boys concerned are learning valuable lessons, and who knows how that can develop for them catching it now, rather than later... I guess that makes us just that much more ready to face the next should be coming along any minute now.
Will I be able to use these eyes should it be intractable illness, horrible accident, loss, etc.....
"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." 1 Peter 5:10

Friday, January 29, 2010

Little Turd


I don't like to offend ANYONE...But I am really ticked. I ate lunch with my daughter today at her school and sat there quietly listening to the conversation in the group in which we sat. Two girls, two boys, and me. The conversation started out as usual 3rd grade chatter about this or that. One of the boys wanted to be president and he shared who could serve with him. There was the border work (childish flirting) about who would marry who.

And then it turned ugly. The boys both pointed at the most popular girl in third grade and ridiculed her innocent actions from afar. ("Crap," I thought to myself, "My daughter is sitting with the geeks who can't do anything but make fun of popular people.")

Then the little boy I will affectionately call "TURD" said to me: "Mr. Hickam, Mr. Hickam (chuckle, chuckle) guess what (so and so) told (so and so...the girl sitting with my daughter)." Then he turns to the other boy and says, "Tell him, tell him about the bed."

Mayday, mayday, I think to myself and take a very keen interest in my daughters food.

The other boy is smart enough, or has boundary's enough to be embarrassed. But, of course, as turds do, his friend continued..."He was going to do it to her."

I was very obviously ignoring him at this point and he was no longer speaking to me. My daughter, who hardly said a word the whole time played oblivious to the entire exchange. I could have called attention to it by playing parent...but imagined the ridicule this would bring upon my daughter in the future. After all, these are the geeks apparently, who like to make fun of everything. So I just talked to little one about her day, and the weekend...and started composing what I will say to her about what she is facing in school.

I guess it is a gift that I was privy to this. I need to know what she is being sucked into due to the relationships she is forming, or are being formed around her.

I'm ticked though. I've always thought it sucks that we spend so much time tearing others down...but I've always understood that you don't talk to girls like that. You talk with your guy friends about that stuff all the time....but never in front of girls.

So who is the Little Turd's father? Does he know how badly he is failing....and how one man's failure ripples outward and impacts other innocents.

Crap. What can I possibly do but pull her out of the whole school. I can't tell her who she can and can't sit with...she will be forced by peer pressure to disobey and thus begin the process of hiding things from her parents because we burden her with impossible demands.

"Get away from my child you Turd!" Maybe I should have said something. Yeah, I think I should have said something...Crap. I guess I'm the Turd too.

God give me the words to speak so that she will hear the truth....(but I would also appreciate it if you could help her find some good people to be friends with).

Monday, January 25, 2010

How do I start...

After not blogging for so long, I figure the best way to get back into the swing is to just...start.

Christmas was wonderful at our house. At 9, I believe this was probably one of Dora Diane's very last years believeing in Santa. She loves the mystery and excitement of Christmas. That is one thing Mom always did for us...made Christmas amazing. Dad gets credit there as well.

On Christmas morning, Dora got up first and went down the dark hall into the "dark" living room to see if Santa had come. Delma and I had been laying awake for about 45 minutes just waiting for her to wake up...we didn't want to ruin it for her. She ran out and then RAN back to the safety of our bedroom to announce, then ran know, most of you have seen similar joy. I wish we could bottle it up when we are young and then take it in doses as we age.

Another source of joy for our family were the 3, count them THREE separate days of snow. We so love snow in our house. Dora and I spent hours each day gathering, building, and throwing snowballs. We prided ourselves in being the only house on the block which used up our entire yard of snow each day.

School is back in session. I have been very nervous for the past two weeks. So much so I even let the thought of medication pass my mind. Just a tiny little bit to cut the edge off.... Unfortunately, I don't think I will persue it. My anxiety over standing in front of a classroom full of people is minor and is something that I can treat behaviorally. It has a purpose...the more I prepare, the less anxious I feel (go figure!). The pill would be easy for me....but I don't think it would make me a better teacher. So I'm not Steve Martin up there....maybe I can at least share some interesting and important information.

Delma and I picked up an amazing book after stumbling across it during a Sunday school lesson. It is called Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerich. All I can say is, if you are married and find yourself arguing with your mate about the same old things...or even new things, please read this least pick it up when you see it in the store and read the first chapter. I really think this guy has finally put the truth into simple enough language for me to get. Good stuff.
Dora Diane continues to teach me about life and myself every day. I wish I could convey all of it here, if for nothing else but for her to know as she grows older.

When you read this someday booger...I was just kidding about Santa! Keep your stocking.