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Archive for November, 2014

Thanking You in Advance…

I do take a lot of pictures. Always have.

My first I Phone purchase years ago just exacerbated the habit. In all fairness to moi, I have a horrid memory. It’s great for all of you who owe me money, but it’s not so funny when someone asks, “Don’t you remember the time we …?”

The answer is, “No. I don’t remember.” I’m long past being embarrassed by the apparent empty spot in my skull.

So, I guess photography is my overcompensation. People want to know what I’m doing with 50,000 photographs. Now you know.

As I sit here writing this, my screen saver morphs into a montage of small pictures from years ago. When I see the pics, the memories usually come back.

During a recent trip to the doc, she asked me why I couldn’t remember when I last had this or that test. Right then and there, I knew she was probably thinking of checking me into a Memory Treatment Center. I’m still here, so I surmise that she had a little lapse herself.

In addition to photographs, I also employ journals to help me remember things. My favorite journals are my “Thanksgiving” ones, so named after the continuous act of giving thanks, not the holiday.

Whenever I look at my screensaver or a journal, I see that they have captured “past-tense” memories. But it dawned on me that I am to start thanking God for those things that haven’t happened yet. And since scripture exhorts me to “give thanks always for all things unto God” (Ephesians 5:20), I can be assured that I owe Him a debt of gratitude for my future.

I have a couple of verses that back this up:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

““Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”1 Corinthians 2:9

Yikes, I almost forgot to mention them.

BELOW: MY TRUSTY SCREENSAVER. AH, YES, NOW I CAN REMEMBER IT “LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY.” MY PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY USUALLY KICKS IN WHEN I SEE…PHOTOGRAPHS. ISN’T THAT FUNNY?

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Small Beginnings

There is a storefront on South Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts that has a couple of typewriters in the window. My wife tugged at my elbow when I stopped to see them. In that instant, my mind raced back in my personal history to the days when my hands were practically glued to those same types of keys.

I remember typing articles for our college newspaper. Tapping those keys became my ticket to telling a story that was bubbling up from my belly.

After graduation, my engineering roommates took off for the west coast to work on the Space Shuttle with all sorts of seductive salaries, benefits and weather while I, the poor sap writer, felt very much left behind in Trenton, New Jersey with a meager salary of $10,500. I was so happy to negotiate “up” that extra $500!

I had no idea, but I had landed a job with a writer’s writer. He had been a newspaper journalist before becoming the Press Secretary for New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes. As many high-level staffers do after they leave government, he parlayed his notoriety and experience into a consulting business where I was hired to take care of many accounts to reduce his workload.

There were newsletters, press releases, trade journals, speeches, expositions, political campaigns and all matter of public relations. From changing ribbons to white-out to self-correcting typewriters to my work being passed on to the typesetter to the typesetter’s first draft to me to my corrections to the typesetter for the final product, it was a process that moved along at a snail’s pace compared to today’s editing on computers and immediate publishing and posting.

John V. Spinale was my boss. He was patient, encouraging and funny. He’d often remind me as the young buck that his middle initial stood for “Vivacious.” He edited and edited my offerings. He taught me how to write succinctly with the stroke of his pen. I used to refer to those five years under his tutelage as my “P.R. Ph.D.”

So, when my wife felt my little reluctance as I momentarily gazed through the window at the typewriter, little did she know that such a relic had such a gargantuan effect on one human soul. As I finally succumbed to her tug, my mind warp-speeded back to the present.

I thought on my approaching 250th blog post recently that goes out to tens of thousands with the click of a button. I look with satisfaction at how Spinale’s editing probably allowed me to keep a few thousand songs under three and half minutes. I’ve gone from newsletters to books and screenwriting. Oh, the joy of writing. It began with a pen, graduated to the cool IBM Selectric, moved on to the word processor and then to computers.

If the store hadn’t been closed, I would have borrowed a piece of paper and started hammering away. Instead, I succumbed to my wife’s pull and walked along without saying a word. But inside, words began bubbling up which you are now privy to…

“Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings?” Zechariah 4:10

BELOW: THE KEYS SEEM MAGICAL. RIGHT: I CAN STILL REMEMBER MY FILLED WASTE BASKET WITH ALL THOSE DRAFTS.

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Dear Friends,

Don’t let public opinion influence how you live out your faith.

The above lines were not originally penned by me. Many scholars believe these are the words of the brother of Jesus Christ.

Whether the authorship will ever be authenticated, the admonition is taken from the Epistle of James, Chapter 2, Verse 1 (The Message version).

This is particularly challenging during election seasons, in classrooms where relativism reigns and even in houses of faith.

But concerning voting and any given Election Day in general, it is perhaps the most important directive even though it tells us what NOT to do.

While politicians unabashedly lick their fingers and stick them up in the air to determine which way the winds of public opinion are currently blowing, the faith-filled person can not. We live as people who follow The Bible. What the “public” thinks, whoever the “public” is, is irrelevant.

When we go to the polls, we have to inform ourselves on whether the candidate’s positions line up with God’s Word. All the other potential officials are just windy. Don’t blow your vote.

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People Who Make Us Laugh

(Congratulate this “BelovedBlogger” on his 250th Post!!!)

 

People who make us laugh.

They are our Silly Superheroes, classified as such because humor can help us leap tall buildings in a single bound.

They may seem as simple as free entertainment. But there is more here than meets the ear. There’s no bank account for joy, but we really should have a safety deposit box for those classic moments that these folks bring to us. The sheer release from being around these jokesters can dissipate as soon as we leave their presence if we don’t bank it.

I was chilling with five year-old Grant and his kid sister, London. Grant was dressed like a superhero complete with sword and mask. Just seeing them in these costumes set the tone for the night. The first thing that they did to make Pop (that would be me) crack up was present me with a letter that Grant had crafted for his mother. It read: “tuysotbolal mal hey sottjk.” No, this is no computer coding for the latest website or mobile application. But for a five year-old learning his letters, it might well have been the script for a new hit comedy.

When I read it aloud quickly, with emphasis, and a little deliberate tongue-tying, the two of them roared – particularly the author. He was rolling. He loved it so much he asked me to read the other side of the note. It had two upside down “T’s” and the number 100 and some random other letters. More uninhibited laughter.

After that had its run, Superman pulled his sizable plastic sword from its sheath and handed it to Silly Superhero Sis.

This little girl is pure joy and the rest of the evening was hers. Grant and I were simply her captive audience.

Superhero Sis subsequently began pounding the bed with the sword with a determination, concentration and force that was a bit scary. More hysterical laughter from her big bro. He sat there leaning on the bed smiling and admiring as she repeatedly killed the imaginary (fill in the blank).

There, he had a front row seat for her next antic. Every time I would say that we have to go downstairs, she would object by running in a small circle yelling, “No!” and falling down. Well, you would have thought Sis had some medical imaging device that had discovered the epicenter of his funny bone. Over and over and over again, she’d circle, fall and be met with giggles from her brother that could be heard next door – and they are out in the country.

Grant is literally mesmerized by her funny-ness. Pop was all smiles, as well.

London is one of the people who make us laugh. A true Silly Superhero. This is my bank of this account.

LEVERAGING LEVITY: SUPERSILLYHERO SIS FLYING WHILE BRO SUPERMAN IS GROUNDED ON AN ASSIGNMENT OF SAVING A FISH OUTSIDE A PHONE BOOTH. LATER, THERE’S NO END TO HIS POWERS AS HE IS ABLE TO PLAY MANY GAMES AT ONCE WHILE FRIENDS DARYL, FRANK AND BRITTANY SPOOF IT UP ON HALLOWEEN AT CAMELOT PRINTING. 

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Hometown Boy Makes Good

[If you happen to visit your hometown during the holidays or at any other time of the year for that matter, this is for you.]

Seattle now boasts of the loudest football stadium in the world and other cities lay claim to this team or that feat or this piece of history or this famous person or this unique landscape or even a particular winery or brewery.

Most remember the button-popping scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life” when Uncle Billy shows off the newspaper to Mr. Potter that touts his hometown-hero nephew Harry Bailey getting the Medal of Honor and having a parade in his honor.

I recently found out that my current hometown of 6,354 people can brag of having one of seven living World War II Medal of Honor recipients. While Francis Currey was originally from an hour away, it sure was nice to knock on the door of a man around the corner from my house and sense the honor of shaking hands of a local-boy-makes-good, even if that “boy” is now 89.

But some of us come from humble beginnings and towns and we are not known for anything. When I grew up in my hometown of North Plainfield, my State of New Jersey had neither a television station nor a professional sports team. Our egos had to migrate to New York City or Philadelphia to be “part of the pride.”

It made me feel a little better when I came across this very succinct insult in The Bible: “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” John 1:46 Obviously, the reference is to ‘Jesus The Nazarene.’

I certainly won’t get the Medal of Honor. I’ll never be famous for my athletic skills. It’s unlikely that North Plainfield will ever be the center of the universe and I couldn’t begin to tell you how to brew some good beer or dabble with a vineyard that produces the best hooch.

Can ANY THING good come out of me? I have this one hope. My favorite scripture of 1 John 3:2 makes the most wild promise in The Bible. For those of us who have made Nazarene’s hometown-boy-makes-good their hero and conscientiously follow in His footsteps, we don’t have to concern ourselves with where we were born – only that we are born-again.

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2

BELOW LEFT: THE HOME I WAS BORN INTO AT 152 CLINTON AVENUE, LITERALLY “THE HOUSE MY FATHER BUILT.” RIGHT: A SIGN RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM MY TRICYCLE ROUTE… A MESSAGE DECLARING THE HEART OF EVERY HOMETOWN.

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