Not Every Good Idea Is Mine

          

          

I’ll be seventy-one next month, and I hate to admit it, but I’m running out of fresh ideas regarding anything and everything. I not only don’t have any idea what my next book will be about, I’ve almost reached the point of not being too concerned about it. After all, I still have a number of unpublished manuscripts to get published one way or another.

I hope I’m not the only person in the world who grew up thinking that his ideas were the best. And resenting the fact that not everyone agreed with me. And wondering why. Like why my former agent saw the great value in all of those manuscripts he was never able to sell but publishers didn’t.

This blog post isn’t about writing or publishing, though. It’s about accepting the fact that other people have good–sometimes GREAT–ideas, too.

In particular, a couple of years ago our pastor shared with the congregation the idea of building a first-class picnic pavilion on our property across the road from the church building proper. Interesting idea, I thought at the time, but we don’t really need that, do we?

I didn’t express opposition to the idea, though. I’d matured enough by then to realize I could be wrong, no matter how much I thought I wasn’t.

I may be wrong, but I don’t think the pavilion project required anything from the church budget. Different people contributed time, talent, and materials to making the pavilion happen amazingly fast.

I opened my eyes one day, and there it was. Complete and ready for use. Not long after that, our choir director, who’s also in charge of Operation Christmas Child (OCC) at our church, held a church-wide meal to raise money for OCC. Although our members contribute enough items to fill around 2,000 shoe boxes a year, it costs thousands of dollars to pay for shipping them overseas.

The event was a huge success, and my wife and I won a fantastic gas grill we couldn’t use and gave to someone we thought could use it more. Maybe this pavilion wasn’t such a bad idea.

But this summer has really proven its success. Rather than have the normal evening worship services at 6:00 p.m. and then go home, the church held shortened evening services during the month of July, followed by a special event at the pavilion. One featured hot dogs, chips, and cookies. Another was watermelon. For a third, the church actually paid a snow cone vendor to bring his truck and provide free snow cones for everyone. And of course there was a homemade ice cream social!

The attendance at those evening services was amazing, and we were able to meet people who normally attended the opposite morning service from us. People who–by no fault of their own–we hadn’t even seen before because we weren’t normally in the same place at the same time. Quite a time of much-needed fellowship.

Yep, I think I may have been a little short-sighted about the picnic pavilion, and I don’t mind admitting it. I’m sure glad the world isn’t dependent on my good ideas alone and is willing to overlook my bad ones.

What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment.

 

    

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Best regards,
Roger

A Walk through Daily Life

I enjoy walking at the local mall, and I do that at least five days a week in the early morning. Early morning is either 8:15 or 8:30, depending on which security guard lets us walkers in. There doesn’t seem to be any agreement about which time is officially correct.

Although a number of my fellow walkers walk with other people, I prefer to walk by myself. The practical reason is that the echoes in those empty hallways make it very difficult for me to understand what other people are saying. But the real reason, other than the fact that I enjoy my own company at that time of day, is that I enjoy God’s company even more.

Yep, I like to pray while walking. Although I make it a practice to always pray about certain specific needs (usually not my own), I try to leave my prayer time open to whatever God lays on my heart to talk to Him about.

Several days ago my prayer time revealed something I’d never thought about before. Walking at the mall has many similarities to living my daily life.

In both cases, I’m at it before much of the day has a chance to get away from me. And I’m not necessarily all that alert yet at the beginning, even though I’m theoretically wide awake.

Each activity has a definite starting and ending point. My day goes from bedtime to bedtime, and my walks go from the Food Court entrance back to the Food Court entrance…and then back to the same car I came in…and to the same house I left forty or so minutes earlier.

Just as I expect to see a number of familiar fellow walkers, custodians, and early store employees, my daily life involves a number of familiar activities–a mid-morning snack, working a while on my WIP (work-in-progress), lunch, afternoon nap, putting away the clean breakfast dishes in preparation for suppertime dishwashing.

I could keep going, but there’s no need to belabor the point.

Occasionally my walk involves a surprise. Maybe I see someone I suddenly realize I haven’t seen in a while.  Or I end up walking a short distance with one of the walkers I know is a Christian, too. (I’m not really anti-social.) Or seeing that an interesting looking new store is about to open.

Of course, the surprise may not be the least pleasant. Like when the security guard is really late letting us in. Or when I have to break my stride to tie a shoelace keeps coming loose. Or when I notice one more store going out of business.

Good or bad, my walk still resembles my daily life to a certain extent. Sometimes I write more words in my WIP than I’d expected to. Sometimes fewer. Sometimes something special comes in the mail. Or something unexpected interferes with my routine. Like the tire pressure light coming on in the car and having to get the charger out of the trunk and deal with it.

I wish I could recall more of the similarities that came to me while praying that day. One thing is certain, though: I’m always glad to safely reach the end, whether that means I’ve completed my walk and can sit down for as long as I want to or that I’ve plopped into bed at the end of the day, satisfied that I’ve “run the good race” that day, accomplishing whatever I wanted to accomplish, and thankful to have had God leading me each step along the way.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

    

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Back from Vacation

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m writing this post before leaving for church in the hopes it won’t be too late.

Kathleen and I just got back last night from our week at the Isles of Capri, Florida. There we spent time with Kathleen’s single daughter, her younger daughter (with hubby and toddler), and my daughter (with her hubby and two kids, one of whom is still a todler). This trip had been in the planning stages for close to a year. We rented a huge beach house, where each of the four family groups had a separate bedroom and bathroom. This is the house.

And this is all of us.

Although the weather had threatened to be rainy all week, that prediction proved pleasantly inaccurate for the greater part. Although we enjoyed trips to the beach, we spent a lot of time at the house playing Uno and Five Crowns and in the pool. You may not realize this, but pools in Florida are typically totally enclosed and screened in. Unfortunately that didn’t keep the NoSeeUms from feasting on us the first day; I’m still covered with bite marks.

     

Although we opted not to rent a boat, our house backed up to a canal that was perfect for fishing. It had been years since I last fished, but I loved it. Especially the day I caught three catfish. We always threw the fish back, though.

We had our meals all planned out, with each family unit responsible for one dinner. I couldn’t count the number of runs we made to Marco Island (about three miles) to pick up additional food from the nearest Publix grocery store.

Kathleen and I did a few activities on our own. We ate breakfast out three times at this place, BREAKFAST & MORE. After eating there the first time, we didn’t want to go anywhere else.

Our biggest adventure was a trip to the Everglades, where we went on two air boat rides and a swamp buggy ride. To say the least, we learned a lot about the Everglades during the five hours we spent there. Did you know the Everglades is the only place in America that has both alligators and crocodiles? That’s because fresh and salt water come together in certain areas.

          

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve said enough for today. As so often happens, I served as the resident photographer of our family get together–I failed to mention earlier that we came from Richmond, Virginia; Las Vegas; New York City; and Orlando–and I spent a lot of my time editing pictures with the Affinity Photo software I’d bought just a few days before heading south.

Comments are welcome.

 

    

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

In Transit

Hmm. What’s a guy to write a blog post about when he’s sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for his connecting flight to Fort Myers, Florida?

It’s been a long day, even though only a little over an hour of it has been spent in the air. We had the alarm set for 5:30, but both of us were awake at least ten minutes before that and went ahead and got up.

Nobody was going to bother with showering today. Not before reaching our destination, anyhow. We were on our way to the Richmond airport by 6:00. It’s less than twenty-five miles, and we’re less than a mile from Rt. 95, and from there we turn off almost immediately on 295. In short, we were there in no time.

At least we would’ve been, but since we were hungry and running ahead of schedule, we stopped first at Hardee’s to eat.

Checking in online is great. Although the bag drop line was fairly long, it moved rapidly. On to security. Not a problem. The last few times we’ve flown, we’ve been TSA pre-checked or whatever they call it. We’re obviously not terrorists.

So we found our gate, and I started reading a novel on my Kindle. I’d just started it the day before, but it was fast moving. Especially when I found myself skipping unnecessary paragraphs. I’d read several books by this author, but found this one only vaguely intriguing. I’d do him a favor by not writing a three-star review.

So here I am in Atlanta. I’ve finished my lunch–the grilled chicken sandwich could’ve used LOTS of mustard, but the fries were great. I decided it was time to write something for my weekly post, and this is it.

I’m curious. Which would you have preferred, an account of my acceptably tame day (so far) or no post at all this Sunday? You won’t hurt my feelings, I can assure you.

     

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

If History Should Happen to Repeat Itself

Right now I’m about a third of the way through a novel by my friend Ann Tatlock. ALL THE WAY HOME is a historical novel, and the fact that I’m reading it says a lot about Ann’s writing; I ordinarily avoid historical novels at any cost. But this one sparked my interest in a special way.

This novel is about a young girl, Augie, whose home situation is so undesirable that she hangs out as much as she can with Sunny, a schoolmate she became friends with at the park. Over time, Augie becomes more and more a part of Sunny’s family. Sunny’s parents do  everything short of legally adopting Augie.

An interesting story? Of course it is.

But when you put the story in its historical context, it becomes more than simply interesting. Sunny and her parents are Japanese-American. Genuine flag-waving American  citizens.

And the setting makes this story even more intriguing. It starts prior to the beginning of Word War II, when Augie thinks the Japanese are the greatest people on the face of the earth. She thinks of herself as Japanese and wishes she was Japanese, too.

But then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the United States enters the war against Japan, and Augie and Sunny can’t really understand why things are the way they are. Especially the fact that seemingly all non-Japanese-Americans turn their backs in fear on their Japanese fellow citizens and make hatred the byword of the day. Sunny’s family sees the possibility of being moved to an internment camp as a real possibility.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I foresee Augie’s Japanese family being sent to an internment camp and Augie wishing she could go, too. Perhaps she even tries to. I don’t know.

Because I’ve gotten so caught up in loving and sympathizing with those two girls and Sunny’s Japanese family, it’s hard for me to keep reading. I’m not sure I want to see what they must go through.

Looking back on that period in American history, I’ll bet most people today would insist that the internment camps of yesteryear wouldn’t happen today. I hope they’re right.

But we’re facing a similar situation regarding Islam. Because of the Muslims who are unquestionably our enemies, some people are tempted to view all Muslims the same way.

Can you blame them? How many of the Islamic terrorists who’ve wrought havoc in America were described by former neighbors as kind, friendly people? How can we tell who’s dangerous and who’s not? How many criminals look like criminals, anyhow?

I’m on President Trump’s side in restricting immigration from Islamic countries, at least for a while. I think liberals who claim that Muslims are being discriminated against because of their religion are forgetting one thing: those potential immigrants are not U.S. citizens; does the Constitution actually give them the rights citizens should have? And those same liberals appear to have no objections to discriminating against American citizens who are Christians.

Even if President Trump can keep potential terrorists out of the country, that doesn’t change the fact that we already have a number of terrorists living here, just waiting for the right chance to strike.

What I’m afraid of is that genuinely peace-loving Muslims who’ve already become American citizens and have begun making a positive contribution to their new country’s welfare may have to pay the price for the Muslims who believe in jihad.

The relatively small acts of terrorism we’ve seen since 9/11 have been bad enough, but what will Americans’ attitudes be if the jihadists carry out another 9/11 attack–or something even worse? In our fear and our inability to tell who’s who, will we treat all Muslims the way Americans’ treated Japanese-American citizens during Word War II?

I pray that we don’t. And that we won’t separate two cute little girlfriends–one Christian, the other Muslim–because of our fear and resentment.

I’d appreciate your comments on this post.

 


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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger