Saturday, August 30, 2014

Staying Out of the Taboo Zone

King Kodo was one homesick Gorilla.  His keepers were worried about his depression.  He was missing his old zoo.  They installed a tightrope to cheer him up.  Surprise!  He climbed up on top and walked the tightrope rather than hang from it.  That's what I do every morning when I wake up.  I balance myself on the tightrope above the taboo zone and put one foot in front of the other.  Visitors from far and near visit the zoo and observe my playful antics, wondering, will he ever fall off the tightrope?

It was easy to walk the tightrope five years ago when no one was around.  I woke up, picked a topic, and wrote a story.  I did my best to keep it simple.  No one at my day job knew I was a writer.  I published in order to honor a promise I made to God – to share all the good he is doing in my life.  Family members pleaded with me to keep them off the grid.  So, I made a list of taboo subjects.  No family stories without permission, no politics, no specific religious denominations, and no stories about my day job.  There is a strict "no media" rule at my day job.  I developed a Clark Kent/Superman persona.  Then, one day a co-worker walked up to me and said, "I heard you're a writer."  News travels fast in small towns.  Every day it gets harder and harder to stay out of the taboo zone.  King Kodo sure makes it look easy.  As for me, I'll keep practicing until I get it right.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Caveman Celebrates 5 Year Blogiversary Today

Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? ~ Psalm 139:7

On this day, five years ago, I emerged from the cave and began my writing journey.  I was called out.  No longer could I hide.  That's me in the top photograph from a Halloween party.  I blocked out the right side of the picture to hide the Mrs. and protect her identity.  That keeps me out of the "dog house" pictured in the second photo.  Maybe you're wondering, why does this guy call himself a caveman?  Or, why does he write every day?  Here's my story...

I shunned writing.  Reading was a close second.  My high school English teacher asked us to bring in something we liked to read.  This is going to be fun, I thought.  I popped in the next day with a cereal box.  My classmates laughed.  Then, Mr. Nelson instructed the class to write a paper about why we enjoyed our particular genre.  I went home and got busy.  A writer was born.  It didn't matter that my subject matter was scant.  I had all the ingredients I needed to crank out my assignment.  And yes, Mikey liked it.  My teacher liked it, too.  He gave me an A.  It was a good day.  Then a dark cloud appeared on the horizon.  Only one of my classmates knew about it.  I hid the truth from everyone else.  My parents were divorcing.  Our family was falling apart.  On the inside I was seething.  On the outside I was the happy kid, Mikey, who liked his Life cereal.

I hid my demons well.  When I fell in love, I hit another roadblock.  I thought, How am I going to make it through my marriage classes with all my anger issues? 

"Don't worry," my sister said.  "I know someone who will help."  I passed.  The real test came years later when a visitor came to our church.  "Your Bible is like a mirror," he said.  "All you have to do is open it up and see yourself in all the characters.  God put them there to help you see yourself."

I took the bait.  Yep.  I went home and said a prayer to the Holy Spirit to show me who I am in God's eyes.  Wham! he showed me.  The pathetic character I found couldn't have been any worse.  I was the naked caveman possessed by multiple demons in Luke's story, chapter 8, verses 26-40.  No mask is strong enough, no cave large enough, to hide who you are from God.  The jig is up, I thought.  I'm a caveman!  I walked around with slumped shoulders for weeks.  Then I found the solution one day when I returned for a closer look at my alter ego.  Jesus was the solution.  He was the one who exorcised the demons in Luke's story.  He called the man out of his cave and granted him freedom.  Jesus is responsible for all that I am today.  When he called me out of my cave five years ago, he nudged me to write – not about cereal boxes, but about all the good he is doing.  Here is what verse 39 said in my Bible... Return to thy house, and tell how great things God hath done to thee. And he went through the whole city, publishing how great things Jesus had done to him.

What's next?  My first novel, "The Caveman in the Mirror,"  will be birthed in 2015.  Mikey likes it.  I hope you do, too.  Thank you for visiting today on my 5 year Blogiversary.  You're invited to leave your comments below.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Called Out of the Cave

My best friend shot this picture during one of our spelunking adventures many years ago before I descended into the darkness.  We used flashlights and candles to navigate the underground caverns.  The experience took my breath away.  I loved the journey.  Without any outside light, we lost track of time.  Hours passed before we returned to civilization.

Tomorrow marks five years since I was called out of my spiritual cave to begin a new life as a writer and blogger.  I will celebrate my liberation tomorrow on my five year blogiversary.  That's 1,829 consecutive days of writing.  It was preceded by five years of daily love letters to my wife.  Each day I see a little more light.  I learn how to better use my writing talents.  I become more comfortable using the modern writing tools available to this generation of story tellers.  Please join me tomorrow for the celebration.  The best part of the journey is knowing I'm not alone and that you are with me.  Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my life with you. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

You Can Find Peace Anywhere

I shot this photo yesterday beside the Cedar River on my lunch break in Cedar Rapids.  The town is in the process of rebuilding after massive floods over a year ago.  Streets are torn apart, buildings condemned and families dislocated.  One of my assignments at my day job is to introduce people to our company and there's no better way to do that than some face-to-face contact.  This quiet spot was an amazing find in the middle of a city filled will so much loud noise from all the construction going on.

I took off my shoes, ate my favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and basked in the sunshine while enjoying a cool 70ยบ breeze.  My time in Cedar Rapids these last two days reminded me about my own life.  I know what it's like to experience disaster.  Sometimes, it may appear that peace is impossible.  I disagree.  Real peace is what you experience when slow down and smell the roses.  It's what you feel on the inside when you allow your mind to be quiet, even if it may only be in thirty minute increments.

Have a great day.  Peace be with your spirit.  Don't allow any disasters to get in your way.  Sometimes, Mother Nature is just trying to get your attention.  Give her time.  Eventually, she will show you her good side.  For me, it's in the middle of the corn fields in a small town off the beaten path.  Yes, you can find peace anywhere.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Greatest Ally You Will Ever Have

It was a simple prayer.  The woman who laid hands on me later told me she could feel heat coming from my head.  My eyes were closed.  I silently called out to the Holy Spirit.  The experience was soothing, like being immersed in a warm bath, floating.  My life was forever changed.

This gift I received many years ago is available to anyone who genuinely asks for it.  It doesn't matter what you've done, where you've been or what you believe or don't believe.  What matters is that you open your heart to the Holy Spirit and invoke his name.  This is the same gift Jesus gave to his followers before leaving. 

My prayer for you today is that you ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Unwrap it.  Open it up.  Use it.  The Holy Spirit will help you understand who Jesus is, how much he loves you and why you are here.  The Holy Spirit is the greatest ally you will ever have.  Ask and you shall receive.

Monday, August 25, 2014

You are in Charge of the Outcomes

Successful outcomes don't happen all by themselves.  They are the result of proper planning, solid execution and the drive to get things done.  There is no one else to blame when things don't work out.  You are in charge of the outcomes.  If you don't like the way things are going, go back to the drawing board and make positive changes.  It's worth the investment.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How I Found Contentment

It sounds a little bit morbid, but my wife mentioned something to me while I was in my writing zone this morning about what will happen if she leaves this world before me.  She told me, "I'll do little things to make my presence known, like move objects to get your attention."  We laughed together about her ideas.  Then she said, "I know what your response will be... 'go to the light.'"

The truth is, both of us are already in the light.  We have our Heaven on earth.  We have everything we need to live an abundant life.  For me, being in the light is living in a state of gratitude.  I found contentment when I stopped chasing things that were outside of God's plans for my life.  I'm surrounded by a loving family and I live in a community of caring people who knock on my door to share vegetables from their garden.  Yesterday, an elderly woman walked up to me and started chatting.  She asked me, "Are you a singer?"  I told her about my famous cousins.  Then she prodded me for more about my life.  "What do you do?"  she asked.

"I write," I responded. 

"The Caveman in the Mirror.  The main character sees someone in the mirror goes on a search to find him."

"Is it Jesus?"  the woman asked.

"No.  It's one of the man's ancestors."

"I want to read your book.  The title is intriguing.  When will it be out?"

"There is still a lot of polishing needed and more chapters to write.  It will be within the year."

Then the woman told me something that gave me goose bumps.  "I was born on St. Patrick's Day," she said, flashing her Irish smile.  I wondered, was she reading my mind?  My first memoir was published on St. Patrick's Day but I didn't tell her that.  And my goal is to release my novel on March 17, 2015.

The woman shook my hand and walked away.  She made my day.  That's what contentment is – being thankful for moments like my chance meeting with Patricia or quiet conversations with my wife.  Both of them know how to move my spirit.  And if my wife leaves this place ahead of me, I'll remind her she doesn't need to move objects to get my attention.  She already moved something I once considered immovable – my heart.  I couldn't be any happier than I am today.  I found contentment.  I'm thankful for all the people, past and present, who will always be a part of me.