Me: “How are you doing this morning?”
Me: “I find it hard to get going so early in the morning.”
Coworker: “Oh, I am a morning person; I’m up at 4:00 anyway so if I come into work at 9:00, I have already worked a full morning at home.”
Me: “I get up at 5:15 a.m. to come to work each day and after 6 years on the job, it’s still a struggle. I guess I’m not meant to be a morning person.”
I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me take a moment to time travel. When I was a child my family lived down the road from the bus driver. This meant that I was the first person to board the bus each morning (unless the bus driver’s granddaughter had stayed at his house). I lived on a gravel road in the backcountry of West Tennessee. I was on the bus between 1.5 to 2 hours each morning. This meant that I was waiting on the bus around 6:15 a.m. I can remember many mornings of awakening between 5:00 and 5:30, getting ready and standing in the cold, dark morning air awaiting a bus that would pass by my house if I wasn’t out there but could be anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes late even though I was the first stop. I remember standing by my mailbox one morning and watching the bus pass right on by because he had not seen me. Those were not happy times for me. One of my biggest memories is the constant thought I had as a child that I would not ever work at a job that required me to be up before the sun. I figured that I would have the freedom to make that decision when I grew up and holding on to that hope kept me going on many of those cold, dark mornings. In case you think I am exaggerating about my morning moods, I distinctly remember that my parents had a difficult time getting me up. I slept through the alarms and my mother had somehow developed a way to awaken me. I can remember her needing to work a late shift at work and dad being the one to wake me up. He would either drag me out of bed or pour water on me. I was not a happy camper in the mornings and to say I detested the morning would be a vast understatement.
Now I am an adult and guess what? I get up at 5:15 each morning to get ready for work. You would think that having done so for so many years as a child it would be easy now but it is not. I don’t need water splashed on me and I don’t get dragged out but my wife gently pushes on my arm a few times to get me rolling. I have a system… I stumble (and I mean literally stumble) to the bathroom, proceed to shower and shave. I have some of that expensive men’s shampoo and conditioner that tingles (no not the dandruff stuff, this is the stuff that comes from the salon). I also use a strong men’s body wash because I have found the strong smells tend to help awaken my senses. I somehow manage to shave, brush my teeth and get dressed in clothing that I preselected the night before. Choosing my clothing in the morning would be unwise, to say the least. After getting dressed, I get my morning coffee, clamber into the car and drive in the darkness for 30 minutes. You may want to stay off the road at that time if you live in southern Illinois – just kidding; I manage to stay alert while driving. I arrive at work around 6:30 and generally start working on reports or visiting with my staff – it all depends upon my level of alertness. Usually by 7:00 or 7:30, I feel alright and manage to make it through the rest of the day.
I managed to not live up to my childhood dream of not getting up early. I have come to realize it’s my ‘thorn in the flesh.’ For those not versed in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul speaks about his ‘thorn in the flesh’: “ So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Now I know that there will be some out there who will get all religious and pompous and will tell me that it is all about my attitude. They will try to guilt me into liking the mornings by telling me that I should be thankful and need to spend it in prayer and reading my Bible; that each morning is a gift. People who give that advice generally come from one of two groups: 1.They happen to be morning people and have no clue what it is like for those of us who are built differently or 2. They don’t get up early themselves, but somehow think they are experts about morning attitudes. You do sometimes meet a convert who hated the a.m. but somehow learned to love it. Those people inspire me and because of them I have tried more than once to genuinely love the morning. I have focused on having the right attitude, tried to pray – although I could never seem to concentrate deep enough to do so – attempted to read but actually the prayer and reading just made me sleepier. I am a deep sleeper and getting up early just messes it all up – it always has. And yes, I do go to bed earlier but that doesn’t really help much either. Unless God works a miracle, I am just not a morning person.
It’s my thorn in the flesh, but that’s okay. Paul wanted his thorn removed and pleaded with God to do so. God chose not to remove it, but instead reminded Paul about grace. Paul decided to boast in his weakness, to be content with it and to remember that his strength comes from the Almighty. I will do the same. Mornings may not be my friend, but I can still have victory over them and I have a daily reminder that God has given me grace and He makes me strong. What’s your ‘thorn in the flesh?’
"You're an elf and elves make toys!" was the response Hermey often received when he explained to others that he really wanted to be a dentist. In case you are one of the two people on the planet who does not what I am referencing, this takes place in the children's Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.
Hermey was an elf and was told that all elves made toys. The problem is that he did not enjoy making toys and really wasn't good at - much like Will Ferrell's character in Elf. Hermey greatly desired to reinvent himself. He wanted to abandon the job he hated to embrace that for which he was passionate.
I will turn 39 next month. I think that it is pretty common in the human race that we evaluate our lives at big milestones; graduation, marriage, birth of a child, passing of decades, retirement, etc. I am at one of those stages... I am about to embark upon the end of the thirties. I am looking at my life and trying to decide if I am where I want to be. I can tell you that ten years ago at age 29, I would not see myself sitting where I am. I have a job at great employer but I am doing something that doesn't really drive me. I'm not complaining, it's a good job, but that's the problem - it's a job. It isn't what I want to do for the rest of my life because I often feel like an elf who makes toys but desires to be a dentist. (This is an analogy - I don't make toys and have no desire to be a dentist.) I do my job well, but I'm not driven by it. There are elements of it that I do enjoy but I mostly just see it as a way to put food on the table. Here is the thing... I live in America. I live in the land of opportunity. I don't have to make toys if I don't want to. I have a degree, years of experience and passion. I can change but to do so without a plan may be the wrong move. I have no plans to up and quit my current job, but I must confess that I am doing some serious soul searching concerning where I will be ten years from now. I highly doubt it will be sitting in the same chair.
Do you ever feel like you need to make a change? Do you desire to reInvent yourself? Have you done so? Do you have wisdom to share with me and everyone else who is pondering this? Feel free to share. I will keep you posted as I progress forward.
(This is posted in "Christianity" because the "Inspiration" blog has not yet been completed)
I realize those of you who read my blogs come from various backgrounds and represent competing belief systems. Of those who, like me, are Christians, there are still differing opinions on the role of prophecy in the present. I am a believer in Biblical prophecy and knowing God does not change I have trust that He still uses we humans as vessels to proclaim his messages. Simply stated I believe that prophecy is still very vital within those committed to Jesus Christ.
Not too long ago people were prophesying that if America did not turn its focus back on God, things were going to get bad. You can believe this means that God is passing judgment on our nation or you can believe that our turning away from God represents His blessings being blocked. Either way it is not a stretch for a Christian to admit that the more secularized our society gets, the worse things will become.
I believe we are now seeing the outcome of those actions. Let me be clear in saying that I do not believe God punished our nation or had a hand in any of the violent attacks in recent history, but I do think that one of the main reasons evil is flourishing in our nation is because we have ignored God. Please read 1 Peter 5:5-11 below:
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:5-11 ESV
As a society we are no longer clothed in humility toward one another. We exalt ourselves and are filled with pride. We no longer understand the meaning of humility. Think about it, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Where do you fit in that scenario? Since we have decided God does not exist, it is very difficult to cast our anxieties on Him so we either bottle them up or find someone to blame. Sober minded? Yeah right. We are not watching for anything because we have concluded the devil doesn’t exist. We have written him off as a figment of our imaginations. Since we are not watchful we don’t even notice him prowling and devouring us. We no longer resist the devil and we sit back in confusion as he destroys our nation. If we don’t turn back to God things will only get worse. You see we have two choices in life – serve God or the devil. If we are not serving God we are serving the devil and his reign is one of destruction. Compare our nation to the one that existed a couple decades ago. We have changed and things have worsened progressively. We are currently in a cultural civil war and I fear that we may be much closer to an actual civil war than most of us realize. We need to wake up America and turn our eyes toward God, repent and ask Him to heal our land. If you don’t, I fear you can kiss the freedom this nation has long celebrated goodbye.
Today I am posting the 3rd chapter of my book, The Night Terror. You can read the first two chapters here: Chapter 1 / Chapter 2
You can purchase the book here: The Night Terror
If you have read the book, please share this blog with others on Twitter, Facebook or whatever social media you use. Your help getting the word out is greatly appreciated!! Thank you, Tim.
The Night Terror
Aaron Elijah Foster had led an exciting life. He had spent almost a decade as a good, highly decorated homicide detective in Chicago. During his years on the force, he had saved eight lives and helped solve twenty-seven murders. He was highly respected, but all that changed, when Susan was brutally murdered. He and Susan had been married for almost 12 years. In fact, the murder happened just a week before their 12th anniversary. After she died, Aaron lost his desire to work or to live. He could not bring himself to investigate more murders, knowing each one would be torment, causing him to relive Susan’s death.
The night of Susan’s murder, Aaron had heard the call go out over the scanner and rushed home. He was off duty and already travelling home with groceries. He was only a block away when he heard the call so he was the first on scene. When he walked into the
house, he saw the bloody body of his wife on the kitchen floor and the body of the assailant a few feet away. The assailant’s knife was on the floor next to his left hand and his body was lying in a pool of blood. Andy was kneeling on the floor holding his mother’s hand and a 9mm Beretta. Sobbing, Aaron broke down and embraced his son. Within minutes, a squad car and an ambulance pulled into the Foster’s driveway. Aaron explained that he had arrived home and discovered the assailant had attacked Susan. He said he shot the man, but he was actually covering for Andy. He knew it was wrong to lie on the report, but he wanted to protect his son from being questioned. Everything else about that night had escaped Aaron’s mind. The trauma was too much. He was never able to work homicide again.
One year later, Aaron moved to Carbondale, Illinois. He applied for a job with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a Park Ranger in Cedar Bluff National Wildlife Refuge. This was a far cry from working homicide in Chicago. Life was slower,
everything was more peaceful and the air was clean. He loved the outdoors and believed he had finally found a place he could start a new life. Nature seemed to bring him some peace. Listening to all the forest sounds—the water trickling, the birds chirping, the
squirrels scurrying—gave him serenity. He was enjoying the sights and sounds of nature when he met his second wife, Marcia. She was hiking one of the trails in the park. She noticed him working on a damaged sign and asked him some questions about the history
of the trail. She was gorgeous. As soon as Aaron saw her, he was intoxicated by her beauty. For the first time in years he thought he could love again. You could say it was love at first sight, but mostly he thought she was just really good looking. Aaron was a tall, rugged man who worked out frequently and spent much of his time outside,
so Marcia found him attractive as well.
Marcia Teresa Diego had recently graduated from law school at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (SIU C). She was Latin American and the youngest of three children having an older sister and brother. Southern Illinois had always been her
home. Her parents, however, had immigrated to the United States from Mexico and found work in the farms near Cobden, Illinois. They were very destitute. Growing up in a Hispanic family was challenging. They were very poor and made their living by working hard every day. Many people looked down on them. Marcia’s family had legally immigrated to the United States, but because they were Hispanic farmers, most people assumed they had immigrated illegally. Very few people offered to help the Diego family with one major exception. A local priest became close friends with the family. Marcia looked at Father Benjamin as family, calling him Uncle Ben. This embarrassed her parents, but Father Benjamin said he thought it was humorous. When Marcia was a little girl, Father Benjamin told her that he would make sure she could go to school and become whatever she dreamed of. Marcia said, “I want to make a difference when I grow up. I want to help out those who can’t help themselves.” Father Ben smiled, “I am sure you will do just that little one!”
Marcia had a very difficult life. Her older sister, Stephanie, disappeared and was never seen again. Her parents thought Stephanie had run away because she left the house after an intense argument with her mom. Because they never heard back from her, they concluded she had not merely run away but had been kidnapped or killed. The police had found one lead, but could never locate the suspect. It was as though he had also disappeared. After a few years, it was classified as a cold case, and she was presumed dead.
When Marcia turned 17, Father Benjamin kept his promise. He helped pay her way through college. It was their secret; Marcia told her family she had received a scholarship. Father Ben never said otherwise, he considered it a scholarship from above. Marcia did work as a waitress and paid half, but Father Ben paid the other half
of her expenses for undergraduate work and then law school. After her graduation from law school, Marcia was hired by a local law firm that specialized in offering legal services to the poor. When Marcia met Aaron, it was like her life had reached a pinnacle. Having lost his first wife, Aaron had become gentle. He didn’t seem to take life for granted and he treated Marcia like a princess. This all happened after that first encounter. That day
Marcia first asked for directions, but after talking for a few minutes asked Aaron for his phone number. “Mr. Foster, you have been very helpful. I wonder, however, if I could call you in case I have more questions, about the park, of course.” “Well, Marcia, you can call me Aaron. Since you would be calling me with questions ‘about the park,’ I see no harm in giving you my personal number.” They both laughed and exchanged contact
After a few calls and many texts, they went on their first date. Aaron was so nervous. He assumed that since Marcia was Mexican, she would prefer going to a Mexican restaurant. She was very gracious and accepted and they had a great time. At the end of the date, she asked if she could choose the location of the next restaurant. “Aaron, thank you so much for tonight. If we are going on any future dates, however, I must confess I really like Chinese food.” They both laughed and he agreed to take her out for Chinese next time. They began to date often. They went to see movies, went out to dinner and Aaron began to bring Andy on some of the dates. They were married three months after the meeting in the park. Marcia loved Andy and made every attempt to be the best step-mother possible. For several months, they operated like a perfect family, but as time went on things began to fall apart.
Working as an attorney was very taxing on Marcia who began spending more and more time working. Each case seemed to affect her personally. To escape the stress, she relied more on her friends and less on her family. She wasn’t intentionally leaving them out of
her life, she just felt like she couldn’t connect with Aaron as well as she could with her best friend, Brenda. “I have a very demanding job,” she would say to Aaron in defense of her late nights. Everyone knew that things were falling apart.
Aaron and Andy were almost at Devil’s Canyon Lake, a secluded area within the Cedar Bluff National Wildlife Refuge. Not too much activity took place in mid-October, but Aaron wanted to check on some college students who were camping in the park. When they arrived on Friday, Aaron made sure they didn’t have any alcohol and checked them for signs of drug use. They seemed clean, but he figured that just the fact that it was guys and girls could spell trouble. Sometimes that combination can be intoxicating enough,
especially when camping near a lake. Aaron had asked one of the other Rangers, Kevin, to periodically check on them. Knowing there would probably be some activity, he wanted to prevent them from harming themselves during the night.
As they approached the campground, the first thing to catch Aaron’s attention was skid marks on the road. Parking his truck on the edge of the highway, he climbed out and started to tell Andy to stay inside. Aaron had been so deep in thought that he hadn’t even noticed Andy was sleeping until that moment. Deciding not to wake Andy, he locked the truck doors and walked over to the skid marks with his flashlight in hand.
He followed the skid marks and realized they led off the road. He walked to a tree a few feet away and realized it had been hit by something. Approaching it, he shined his flashlight on it, revealing traces of red paint. His pulse began to race as the sense of urgency increased.
As he looked down the embankment, his flashlight beam bounced off something metallic; he realized it was the wheel of an overturned car in the gully. Running toward the car, he recognized it was a red Mercedes—Marcia’s car. Growing faint, Aaron continued to rush toward the car and slid as he approached it. He got on his stomach and looked into the car. Deflated airbags were everywhere and a roll bar had automatically deployed when the car flipped. He had trouble seeing because everything was so dark, but he could tell that Marcia was not in the car. He felt some type of liquid on the ground and dipped his finger into it. Examining it, he realized it was blood and concluded Marcia must have sustained some type of injury. He could only imagine the condition she must
be in, if she was even alive. “I can’t think like that,” he told himself,
“I must find her.”
Looking for a great Christmas present? How about purchasing a book for that someone special?
I have just the right book to offer - The Night Terror by Timothy McSwain. ;)
In case you have not purchased the book, I will be posting a the first three chapters through this Wednesday. That will give you a chance to check the book out for yourself. To purchase a copy - hard cover, paperback or ebook - go to this link: http://thenightterror.weebly.com/
The Night Terror
By Timothy McSwain
Friday, 11:53 pm
Gripped by intense fear, Aaron could barely breathe.
Ducking behind a tree, he remained as still as possible, trying
to keep his heart from racing as he breathed shallow breaths while
attempting not to be heard. Cold sweat streamed down his forehead,
dripping from the tip of his nose, covering his lips with the taste
of salt. Holding his knees tightly, he tried to steady himself as he
crouched, cold and motionless.
A wind whistled through the trees causing Aaron to cringe; it
reminded him that something destructive lurked in the darkness.
To calm himself, he tried making sense of the events that had taken
place. Time had become indefinable. The terror and adrenaline
soaring through his body created an energized agony. “What is that
thing?” he pondered. He had seen many strange oddities in his life,
but nothing compared to this. His mind kept replaying the image
of dead bodies drained of their blood by this vampire-like beast.
He steadied his breathing, trying to calm himself. “I must keep my
senses. Andy is out there somewhere and I can’t let this thing kill
him,” thought Aaron. He knew his son must be scared to death and
he was determined to find him, no matter the cost.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted. He could hear
something whispering his name but knew no living person was near
him. He could barely see something rustling in the bushes a few feet
away. A loud shriek broke through the darkness, overpowering the
whistle of wind. Aaron could see two eyes eerily glowing, appearing
as bright red orbs enveloped in a sea of darkness. Heart pounding,
body soaked with sweat, he moved as fast as he could. The creature
was moving much quicker and Aaron soon felt its breath on the back
of his neck. In an instant, the creature dug its claws into Aaron’s
shoulder. Feeling his flesh tearing as he plunged to the ground,
he screamed, knowing no one was there to hear it. Managing to
turn on his back, he realized he had made a big mistake: those eyes
were peering directly at him, piercing his soul. Aaron felt vexed,
doomed and panic stricken as he attempted to force the creature off
of him, to no avail. As he flailed, he felt one last jolt of pain before
unconsciousness set in.
Her flowing dark hair glimmered in the light of the full moon
as she sped down the road near Devil’s Canyon Lake in her red
Mercedes roadster. Marcia Foster, a local attorney, had recently
left a party. She felt a kick from the alcohol in her system but
was confident she knew her limit and felt completely comfortable
driving. She loved the feel of the wind blowing through her hair
and the exhilaration that speeding down the road gave her. For a
moment she took her eyes off the road and looked at the sky above
and inhaled the brisk night air. Turning her attention back to the
road, she noticed something or someone in front of her car. Marcia
was driving fast, too fast, and the alcohol had impaired her senses.
Marcia jerked the wheel hard to the right, sending the car into a
skid, spinning out of control. The car collided with the tree and
careened into a ditch. The overturned Mercedes landed just below
the road near the entrance to Devil’s Canyon Lake. As it impacted
ground, Marcia saw a bright flash of light. For a moment she could
feel the blood oozing from her head, but it was only for a moment,
then the world became dark and cold.
Saturday 12:02 am
Aaron opened his eyes. His was still dizzy and his mind fuzzy.
He began to process where he was. He still remembered the creature
and felt extreme pain in his back and head. He squinted his eyes,
trying to see something. Still on his back, he focused on what he
assumed was a branch above him. The odd thing was that it seemed
to be spinning in a circle. As his eyes began to adjust and his mind
started to clear, he realized it was his ceiling fan. He knew he was
in his bedroom but couldn’t understand why he was lying on the
floor. Although his experience seemed real, he rationalized that
it was merely a dream—no, a nightmare. There was still a sharp
pain in his shoulder, as if the creature’s claws were imbedded in
his flesh. He looked around and felt his shoulder. His lamp was on
the floor and shattered into hundreds of pieces, apparently from
him knocking it over when he fell out of bed. There were shards
of ceramic embedded in his back deep enough to cause bleeding.
He slowly stood up and stumbled to the bathroom to care for his
Turning on the light, he stared into the bathroom mirror. The
bright light caused his head to ache even more. As the mirror began
to come into focus, he realized he even looked battered. Although
his face was black and blue, he was not totally surprised; this was
not the first time Aaron had dealt with night terrors. In fact, he
had been dealing with the sleep disorder on and off for almost three
years. What bothered him most was the intensity of this particular
nightmare. He had self-inflicted wounds before, but these were more
severe. As he stood staring into the mirror, the sharp pain in his back
reminded him of why he had rushed to the bathroom in the first
place. Grabbing his first aid kit, he retrieved his antiseptic, gauze
and tape. Removing the shards of ceramic from his back proved to
be the most difficult part of the process. He considered going to the
ER and having a doctor tend to his wound. That would mean
explaining how he injured himself; however, he felt that it seemed
weak to go a doctor for something so trivial. Turning his back to the
mirror and twisting, he was able to remove some of the larger shards
by hand although it was the ones near his mid-back that proved to
be impossible to dislodge.
Realizing he might have awakened Andy, Aaron rushed to
his son’s room to check on him. Andy had the gift of sleeping
through a train wreck, so Aaron was not totally surprised to find
him sound asleep in his room. He took a moment to stare at his
13-year old son sleeping peacefully. It was good to see Andy so
serene, considering how tormented his life had been over the past
few years . . . .
Do we really care about other people? It seems I get inundated with requests to donate money to help out people in need each year around this time. My wife and I decided a few years back that we would teach our kids about giving each Christmas and pick a charity to support. This year we each made shoebox gifts for children in need who live in the Appalachian Mountains. It has been a very rewarding experience and we are thrilled to have this opportunity, but I am sitting here and wondering if I really care.
Did you notice that I earlier used the word ‘inundated?’ I know that carries a negative connotation and I used it deliberately. I used it because it is a proper description of how I often feel. I know that I cannot financially help every charity. That isn’t what bothers me though. What really troubles me is how stagnant my reaction is to the suffering of others. It seems that with each image I see or paragraph I read I become more desensitized. I know that children are dying and understand that buying a goat and chickens can help feed a village in a third world country. I am very aware that the large cause of death in the world is lack of access to clean drinking water, but I seem to not feel it anymore. Those images and words that once tugged at my heartstrings seem to do very little these days.
I’m just being honest here, but I seem more concerned with how uncomfortable I feel in cold weather – even with my warm clothes and dry, heated buildings – than I am with the real suffering of others. I easily become obsessed with my distaste for winter and desire for the warmth of summer while there are people dying due to their exposure to the elements. I am no longer ‘distracted’ by people who beg for food because I have become very accustomed to ignoring them. I wonder if I would even send shoebox gifts to financially disadvantaged children if it didn’t make me feel good or serve as a ‘teachable moment’ to my children.
I am an average American. The citizens of this great country provide much to those in need but I wonder if we really care. Are we working in a soup kitchen because we care or because we feel it’s an obligation? Do we give to the Salvation Army because we understand the plight of those they serve or do we just feel guilty when we don’t? If those children we send shoe boxes to were our own, would it make a difference? I think we often have done the right thing but quite possibly not for the right reason. How often have you donated something knowing you could count it as a deduction on your taxes? How often have you gone Christmas shopping and were more concerned about what you were going to buy for yourself or your family than what you were going to provide to someone in need?
I think most Americans are guilty of this but we shouldn’t be. Just because the majority of people are desensitized does not make it a societal mandate. Let’s make a goal together this year. I propose we decide to search our hearts and rekindle the emotions inside our beings. Don’t be afraid to look at the images of the starving children, it’s okay to cry when you realize how desperately they need your help. It’s alright to have compassion; in fact I think it’s necessary. Don’t let this Christmas pass by without taking some time to find love in your heart. When you start to complain about how cold you feel in your winter coat or sitting in your heated leather seat, instead take some time to think about the homeless man or woman who lives in the cold and doesn’t even own a decent pair of shoes. Maybe she wouldn’t be complaining if she were sitting in your place.
I sometimes wonder if I am in the right career. I keep hoping I one day see an opening for a position labeled something like, “looking for self starter who is great at generating vision, creating new endeavors, passionately leading others but lacks discipline in seeing the vision fully implemented.” I know, it sounds like I fit right in as a manager [poke, poke] but I think this is something that requires deeper explanation.
For starters, I am not saying that I am lazy, just a little absent minded. I am one of those people who loves daydreaming. I greatly enjoy coming up with all types of ideas. My biggest problem is that I often never put feet to them. Finishing my first book was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It’s not that the story wasn’t in my mind, it’s just that I am really, really, really good at not finishing. I’m like a sprinter in a marathon. I excel and starting the race with everything I have. I run hard and fast, but I exhaust myself long before the race is finished. This is why I need to find a job where I can create ideas but others can finish them.
I constantly have random stuff flying through my mind. It can really be exhausting to be me at times.
One area is movies. I’m not great at making movies but I constantly have new concepts – usually some type of farce on an existing popular project. Here are some examples of random thinks I thought about last night… while trying to go to sleep… A spoof on Justin Bieber's Baby, Baby, Baby called Money, Money, Money focusing on singing to make money… A spoof of Gangnam Style called Gomer Pyle... changing Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen’s Good Time to Bad Time and some other stuff that I can’t remember. I’ve had the idea of remaking The Amazing Spiderman but changing it to where Dr. Connors is studying the regenerative powers of the starfish instead of a lizard. Imagine Spiderman fighting a giant starfish…out of water.
I am also coming up with book ideas constantly. It is really hard to focus on my current book when I keep thinking of other great ideas.
I also think about changes I want to make to my cars, places I want to live, new business ideas, t-shirt designs (one was of a WANTED picture of a large soda – in New York, another is a shirt that says WARNING, CONCEALED GUNS with arrows pointing at the biceps on each arm – this one is political but a shirt that says “We should have known Obama would be re-elected, the Mayans predicted it,”) stuff I want to invent and on and on and on. My brain is like the energizer rabbit... and that has got to have some purpose… doesn’t it?
I don’t really have a point and I have been really thinking about not finishing today’s article because that would fit really well, but I do want you to see how my mind works. Maybe you have an idea about how I can use this gift to help society.
Wait a minute!! I have a great idea…
To say that this past weekend was difficult would be a vast understatement. My wife, Julie, lost her grandmother on Wednesday and the funeral was this past Saturday. In addition I had a medical exam that produced some unfavorable results, not life-threatening, but cautionary just the same. These are the types of instances for which the wheels come off in many people’s lives, but that wasn’t the case for us. We held on to hope and peace in the midst of those trying circumstances. Life has taught me many lessons, but one of the greatest is that I will have many faith opportunities during my time on earth.
Some people will look at these hurdles as challenges or even calamities, but I see them as opportunities. They are times that I can draw closer to God and experience His love at a deeper level. I am already very aware that I have a limited time on this planet… The reality is that we all do. No matter what I do, I cannot change that fact. I will continue to lose family members and my family will one day lose me. It’s just a fact.
The one thing that I hold on to, however, is the promise that we will be one day reunited with Julie’s grandmother, my grandparents, and all of our family and friends who have called Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior. This life is temporary, that is true. What is also true is that even on its best day, it pales in comparison to what awaits in Heaven.
I may face sickness, adversity and will one day face death; but in reality, this is all one fleeting moment in my entire existence. I have peace because I have hope that God is preparing a home for me in His presence. I will one day cease to exist on this earth, but I will then move into my new home where I can talk with Jesus and tell him how grateful I am to have been given the gift of experiencing His love and forgiveness.
This past weekend was difficult, but it was also a faith opportunity and served as a reminder for the joy that one day awaits me.
1 John 5:13 – “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
The biggest dream killer is the dreamer. Did you hear me? I will repeat it just in case; the biggest dream killer is the dreamer. You may think that it’s the skeptics or a variety of other obstacles, but that is just not the case. Let’s use your life as an example. Think about a dream you once had, something you desired to achieve but never did. Maybe you wanted to be an NBA player, movie star or opera singer. Now think back to when you decided that was not going to happen. There it is – the death of your dream. You made the decision and the dream died. I will admit that there are times that dreams are killed outside of our control, but most of the time we are the ones responsible for their demise.
Those other things that we so often blame – the critics, our schedules, lack of finances, etc. – may be contributing factors to the dream’s collapse, but in the end the dreamer is the one who pulls the trigger. We accomplish those things we set our hearts and minds toward completing. We too often leave the dream at its conception instead of turning it into a vision. Those people whom we admire – the ones who achieved their dreams – did so because they transformed their dreams into visions. They set about the task of creating goals and realizing what they must do to make the dream a reality. They then worked hard to reach their goals and then made news ones as needed. Rarely does someone stumble into a dream. You won’t find anyone who says, “I realized that I wanted to be a doctor and poof I became one.” It just does not happen that way. Someone who wants to become a doctor realizes that it will take much work to achieve the dream and he/she commits to do the work. Had that same person never gone to school or worked as an intern, he/she would have become a dream killer instead of a doctor.
One very common reason people kill their dreams is because they fear what will happen when the dreams become reality. We don’t like to be criticized and we too often view criticism in a negative light. Criticism is often a good thing. When I wrote my first book I sent copies to other people. I wanted them to read the book and give me honest feedback. I got what I asked for and quickly realized my book wasn’t very good. I could have given up and killed my dream, right then and there. That’s not what I did though. I went back through my book and read it through their eyes. I realized they were right; the book definitely needed a revision. I set about the task of revising the book and repeated the process – only to revise it again. The end result was a book worthy to be published. Even since the writing of the book I have learned from the advice of others. I am now putting that advice to work in writing my second book. Had I decided to give up due to criticism – I would have been the dream killer; not the critics. In reality, they helped make the dream a possibility – they contributed to the life of the dream.
We too often blame the death of our dreams on the very things that can help make them real. If we listen to our critics and try to think of a way we can use their advice to help us better implement the dream, they become a gift instead of a curse. If we look at obstacles like money, for example, we can get creative at finding ways to make the money available. It may require working a second job or tweaking our budget to the point that we sacrifice in other areas. If the dream is worth living, the sacrifice is worth making. Your dream may require practice, reading, vocal lessons, etc. You must look at your obstacles as guides to the pathway of achieving your dream. As long as you see them as obstacles you will stay stalled. I think we all have dreams that we desire to achieve, but the world is full of dream killers. Are you one of them?
Jeremiah 29:11(ESV) “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”