Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In the Mail

I sent my second manuscript to Tate Publishing for review, and also a paper copy to Tor which publishes a lot of fantasy genre books. I am hoping that Tor is interested in my book, but I am willing to give Tate a try at my second one. In all honesty I am not entirely pleased with them based on sales, and am frustrated that I have had 3 different marketing representatives in two years, but otherwise they have been helpful and friendly and I am thankful that they published my work, as amateurish as it was. I was also pleased that people who read my manuscript noticed that my writing has improved. I am still pursuing my goal of writing full time but in order to accomplish that, I am going to have to improve. Hopefully I am on the right track. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I have faith in my work and hope others see some value in it. Writing I am finding out is like many of the other artistic fields; difficult. Artists, musicians, writers, and others all suffer the same challenges, doing what we love while supporting a family, or even one's self. Good thing I am a teacher too I guess.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Organization of Time in Pavshia

For anyone who might be a Sureshot nerd (like me) you might find this interesting. I am not quite as bad as Tolkein who made up languages for his characters, but I have spent a lot of time developing the world I write my stories in.

1st age: Age of Heroes

In this first age societies are characterized by heroes. In Genesis there is an odd verse that suggests that there were fallen angles (sons of God) or some such “super” beings who mingled with humans and produced super humans.

Genesis 6:

1 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal ; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

So in Pavshia the first age is full of super humans. I imagine that these beings would not only be capable of incredible feats of strength, but also some sort of magical feats. I have hesitated writing in magic for a few reasons. First is because it is challenging to use effectively. Not only does the writer have to explain how the user wields magic, but it must be consistent. I am open however to writing in magic in any books I write for the 1st age, but it will be more like Tolkien in that a few people can use it and it is innate, not learned. I do not embrace the Harry Potter sorcerer school type of magic for my own writing. I am interested in writing books set in this age because the added dimension of magic and heroes, though I have not started one to date.

2nd age: Age of the tribes

In this age, as in the Bible, the world is characterized by tribal type living. There are city states in this age and in large cities kings, but there is much chaos because of a lack of large government. People regularly endure war and famine as groups compete for food and resources. In this age there are still some of the heroes from the former age, but they are much more uncommon. Few are near the giants or heroes that existed before, but still have significant influence.

I have not decided if I will ever write a book set in this age, but if I do it will be much more of a micro focus because of the tribal organization of the world, like the Sureshot. It would be a challenge but I am interested in exploring a book or books in this age.

3rd age: Age of Empires

This age mirrors more the age before and after Christ’s life on earth. In this time the world was regularly dominated by one or more empires. From China to Mongolia, to Rome to Byzantium rising and falling empires set the rules, and structured society as they saw fit. It is in this setting that the Sureshot was written. I drew mostly from my study of history. It was fairly easy to write in this setting given the amount of literature and history I read about this time period. I feel like I could write endlessly in this setting and have developed detailed notes about each empire and even developed characters who I could use in new books beyond the Sureshot.

4th age: Age of the people

This age is the age of democracy that was born in the renaissance and enlightenment. It is the beginning of our age and I do

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Writing Obsolete?

As I endeavor to improve my writing skills and move toward writing full time, I sometimes wonder if writing will soon become obsolete. Will we one day no longer have a need for written language? Will we merely need to train a few people to master written language as ancient civilizations once did with scribes? Is it possible to live without reading?

I often ponder these things and, while they may make for a good book plot, I doubt that somehow writing will become a thing of the past. In spite of computer and communication technology, writing remains a foundation of our society and culture. Reading and writing are highly desired and useful abilities. If a teenager left high school with only one skill, I imagine reading would be the one that could serve him best. Personally I read a lot of things others may not, even though they are afforded the opportunity, and it has always proved wise. I read the sample ballot—candidates and propositions included. I read my insurance policy. I read the disclaimer on commercials and other mediums. It is surprising how much you can learn by reading those things, I highly recommend it.

It would be the demise of our culture if we stopped reading. Online databases are great and all, but I image that a mere stroke of the key could erase all of that information. A power surge could ruin everything, leaving us without information. Writings from ancient cultures survive today, as do books from Greece, Rome, and China. Where will the musings of our great thinkers be in 2000 years if they were on a hard drive? Where will this post be in ten years let alone 100? Who will remember the great bloggers? Will they somehow be compared to the poets or philosophers? Not likely.

So until I am convinced other wise, I am going to continue writing, and encouraging my students to do the same.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Life before an editor

For any one who has been wondering (not that there are many of you) I have been busy writing. I find that with a career, wife, three kids and other responsibilities, it is imperative that I write efficiently, and unfortunately that has not included Blogging lately. There are a number of things I would love to write about, but one that has given my writing aspirations more hope; an editor. I lovely woman at my church volunteered to read the manuscript of the Sureshot II (as I am still calling it) and edit for me. Now I had the Sureshot edited by about five people I knew, and then a person at Tate Publishing, only to find that my book was published with about 50 errors (one of which was using the word error when I should have used err). There is no need to bring up old hurts, but I was upset. So I was skeptical when she said she would edit for me because I had yet to find someone who was actually skilled at editing. Alas my worries were put to rest. She meticulously combed through my manuscript and found many, many, many errors. As I write another draft using her corrects I can see a polish on my work that was lacking the first time. I am indebted to her, and hope that we can work together in the future. What is more, I have found the amazing value of a good editor, and now realize how rare they are.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things to be thankful for (in no specific order):

My Savior
My wife
My kids
My family
My friends
My church
My job
My home
Pepsi
Soccer
T-shirts
Playstation
Rain
Books
Writing
Music
Baseball
Democracy
The United State of America
Soldiers
Microwaves
Naps
Salsa
Chips (for salsa)
M & Ms
Orange Juice
Blue Jeans
Jokes
Toilet Paper
Spell Check
Children (in general)
Wine (in moderation)
Beer (in moderation)
T-Rex is extinct
Hot Showers
Healthy bodies
Cheese
Steak
Cheese Steak
The Dodgers
Blankets

There are other things to be thankful for of course, but this is what I came up with today.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wild and Enhanced

Every few days or so I enjoy reclining on the couch and watching TV. For years we did not receive cable television so I was limited to whatever was on network, but since moving we decided to go all in and get satellite. Now I can watch more sports, which I like, and my wife can watch cooking shows, which I also like on account of the increased variety of meals at home.

There are so many interesting things that can be viewed such as Man Vs. Wild, Intervention and The First 48. I admit that I have enjoyed the increase in choices I now have when it comes to entertainment. Without premium channels that are notorious for showing sleazy things late at night, there is relatively little temptation for a man who is trying to remain faithful to his wife and fight off lustful thoughts.

I found however that there is one animal that will attack a man when he least expects it. While watching the Colbert Report on Comedy Central one evening it attacked me in my own home. “Warning, the following may contain content not suitable for children.” Oh yes men the Girls Gone Wild beast struck again trying to convince men everywhere that women were made to look at and they will gladly show you anything you might want to see if only you have a video camera handy.

I have disciplined myself to battle this beast by simply switching the channel down or up one until everyone has their clothes back on and so employed this defense. This usually means watching a minute or two of Golden Girls, or MASH, depending on what time it is. Once I felt like the assault is over I clicked back.

I was duped however into walking blindly into another attack. This one did not try to trick me with pleasure, but shame me with inadequacy. That’s right, natural male enhancement was the product this time. I suppose it is brilliant business sense to couple a sex add with a sexual enhancement add, but I was irritated. Enhanced women one minute and enhanced men the next. What is a regular guy to do anymore? Calling a regular guy small is like calling a regular woman fat. It really hits below the belt (literally).

Well I weathered that storm and finally got back to Colbert making fun of politics and serious issues which is all I really wanted in the first place. It is a shame that I have to endure enticing images and ignore challenges to my manhood just for a little entertainment.

This experience makes so clear the fact that as Christian men committed to being Christ imitators, we must keep our guard up and resist the temptations of the world. The world does not want us to be pure of mind and body. It wants us to buy a film with “wild” girls and then purchase a product to “enhance” ourselves for women. The message is, as I sat in my living room with my wife, “she is not good enough, and neither are you.”

This message is poison to a relationship. To even entertain the thought of lusting after another woman is to dishonor my wife, or as Jesus explained at his sermon on the mount “you have already committed adultery in your heart.” To believe that I am not good enough, or that I need to be enhanced, is to say to God, “I am not satisfied with the way you created me. I am going to do something to make what you made better.” Both messages are contrary to the very life God has called us to.

Imagine telling your wife, “you know honey, I love you and all, but these girls on this show are way better than you.” I don’t suppose any man would have the you know what to say such a thing and with good reason—it would hurt your wife in a deep way. By simply looking at those images I am communicating that she is not good enough for me.

On the other hand, imagine your son telling you that he is disappointed that you are his father and that he would rather have had someone else’s genes. It hurts, and so it hurts God to reject what he created. It is better to take care of what we already have, rather than try to get something else. So many temptations are about convincing us to abandon what God has provided in order to pursue more.

Jesus was tempted with three things: more food, more power, and more fame. We are tempted in similar ways because the world is all about more. Jesus resisted those temptations with the Word of God and we can do the same. Paul wrote that the sword we carry when we have our armor on is the Word of the Lord. When I am tempted I often recall his word to remind me that there is no need for more than what God has given me. My wife is a gift from God and all I need to satisfy desires for companionship, and I am good enough, because of God’s workmanship, to satisfy her as well.

So we will continue going through life being regular people and not enhance people. To the world regular may not seem good enough, but to God we are already enhanced by his Spirit and we cannot top him.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fine Young Bloke

Sprouts push hard against the stubborn earth
Everyday, we witness the miracle of birth
While a wise, kind, and caring being is dying,
A tiny young bird falls, and begins flying

A boy heaves a stone and learns to kill,
In the vast world some people are not free still,
Someone raises up in anger and shouts,
In the intelligence of men there still lay doubts;

A heart is toyed with and broke,
By a careless but rather fine young bloke,
It is a miracle for anyone to stand,
Alas all I want is to hold someone’s hand.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Star Search

I lay atop my bed; I’m bare,
I look up at the endlessly wide sky, and stare.
I cannot see the bright stars that glare,
Yet I know that they are there.
The girl I long to hold is out somewhere.

I must find her without any haste,
I long for her sweet lips to taste,
Without her life is but a waste.
Through my body coldness raced,
Only she can warm me with my heart embraced.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Soldier's Qualification

The air is hot and thick and full of smoke,
It’s hard to breath, some cough and choke,
The sun burns down hot with all its might,
When looking around eyes are burned by the light,
Salty sticky sweat pours over rough skin,
Jagged sharp rocks cut the body like pins,
Squinting hard through the tiny sights,
Hand shaking while grasping with all its might,
Freddie pops up and glares with glee,
Gently squeeze the trigger and kill him angrily.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fuel For a Body

Energy cold, pure and full of potential,
Is in this world deathly essential.
Energy makes our fast moving cars go,
Our tractors for our fields sow,
Our powerful planes soar through the heavens,
Our ships sail through the seas of seven.
Still the most important fuel comes from the heart.

Strong legs can take a man a long distance,
Skilled hands build things for assistance,
Brilliant minds create new things for existence,
But without blood they are all completely useless.
So beware not to damage any hearts,
For they are the most important of parts.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sureshot Update

I regret not getting the second Sureshot book out sooner. Though I have only a few fans, they are loyal and ask me regularly when the second book will come out. I finished the first draft of the second book and am fairly pleased with it, but it needs a bit of work yet. I have been unable or sometimes unwilling to put the time in to polish it up. However, recently a wonderful woman at my church elected to edit it for me and has been working on that for a couple weeks. This has renewed my energy and now I desire more than ever to finish it up and get it out to publishers. That coupled with the publication of my article in New Man and I have regained my zest for writing. Hopefully a publisher will be interested in my work and everyone can read the next installment of The Sureshot.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I love you Daddy

I recently had the opportunity to write an article for New Man a publication for Christian men. This was the result along with a few others that I wrote.

As any parent can tell you, raising children is tiring. My boss who has four now adult children shared with me that he was “tired for ten straight years,” when his children were little. When non-fathers ask me about what it is that is so exhausting it is hard to pinpoint one thing. I came to the conclusion then that it is everything. It is the fact that I am here to serve them whether I like it or not. They need me, and if I do not tend to them, they run amuck. It is especially stressing to mediate the fights between my four-year-old Madelyn, and my two-year-old, Elijah. They love each other and yet they fight consistently. They are two very different personalities and clash easily.

Madelyn is a Pharisee. She loves rules and ensures that not only she, but everyone else follows them. She is always on the look out for rule violations and immediately brings them to our attention so that correction can be made. This means she will correct me if I use the word “stupid” while talking on the phone (because it is a rule that you cannot call someone stupid). She is especially fond of correcting her little brother.

Our son Elijah is 2 and 1/2. A horrible age that turned a loving, affectionate, boy into a wild animal that says “no” more than he can say “thank you” and seems to question our authority every opportunity. He hits, kicks, spits, squeals, squawks, and throws which has my wife and I questioning whether to have more children, which is really a moot point because our third, Olivia, has already arrived.

However, as Dickens wrote, “it is the best of times and the worst of times.” Hard to believe? Let me illustrate with a story.

It is challenging to remain patient with Elijah when he is being a tyrant as I like to call him. Recently we were going to my mother-in-law’s house for a swim. He was driving us crazy. In spite of having luxuries that we did have growing up, such as a DVD player in the car, he still finds reason to complain. He and his older sister Madelyn were arguing with each other over something silly as always.

“Don’t touch me!” She yelled.

“Stop talking!” He responded.

And so it went for a few minutes until we parents threatened punishment. Not long after, my animal son resorted to making animal noises. A shrill squeal came from his mouth that had everyone holding their ears. We were annoyed. Madelyn started shouting at him to stop it, and the baby started fussing, obviously displeased by the sound as well. He enjoyed the reaction from everyone so he did it again. Again everyone responded as they had before, so he did it once more.

This time we responded as any highly irritated parent would who feels they lost control of a situation and is powerless to do something otherwise; we yelled.

“Elijah, don’t do that again or you are going to get a spanking!” we hollered. He did not immediately respond so we reiterated our case before he had time to counter our argument with some reason why he should be allowed to continue.

“Son if you don’t stop that right now you are going to be in big trouble.” We emphasized
Our four year old Madelyn, the law enforcer, elected to help carry the message of our rules, “yeah if you don’t stop you are going to get a spanking,” she said accusingly. Now of course this added a new dimension to our problem. As parents we do allow a four year old to boss a two year old, because we set our selves up as the authority in the home, and such actions usurp our control.

“Madelyn, you are not the parent,” my wife added. And so it went for about ten minutes on the way to grandma’s house. Scolding, mediating, sighing, and considering whether or not to continue driving or turn around and go home. Ten minutes seemed like and hour in an environment like that. Alas we made it. Once there we had some argument about having to wear shoes, but then my wife and I turned them loose in the back yard while we caught our breath.
The struggle was not over of course. “Playing” has a tendency to turn into “fighting” and then into “crying.” When it did they both sought us out in our air conditioned sanctuary.

“He hit me!” the four-year-old cried.

“She is being mean to me,” the two-year-old defended. And around we went again on the crazy-go-round.

It made me wonder why we try to take them any where, but then I remembered that they are just as crazy at home, and maybe it is fair to share the insanity some times with family and friends. Family can be a good regulator. When I am completely stressed out from all the fighting, crying, and questioning I can lose my grip on sanity. It is then that I am likely to say or do something unloving, and therefore unchristian. But when there are family and friends watching and perhaps even helping, it is easier to stay calm.

In all of this madness, which we call life, God is there. These events were building up to a test of my faith, or if not a test, at least an opportunity to be reminded of God’s love.

I was relaxing on the couch when my wife suggested, that I swim with Elijah. He is after all only two and although he had on floaties and there were plenty of people in the pool, it was prudent that I attend to him. He has no healthy fear of water which can be dangerous for a boy who doesn’t swim without aid.

Reluctantly I put my swim trunks on, a little self conscious because I am beginning to grow a gut, and got into the water which seemed surprisingly cold for July. As I eased in and my son reacted with joy at my presence my attitude inched towards optimism. I finally submerged myself and after a few minutes the water felt refreshing.

I ensured that Eli did not lose his balance and that he did not sink into the water. I played with him by lifting him out and going under myself only to pop up and surprise him. By now I was actually enjoying myself and forgetting the drama he directed in the car on the way there.
I was rewarded with something that only a child can give and only a parent can understand. Elijah wrapped his arms around me in the pool and whispered “I love you daddy,” in his sweet and innocent toddler voice. Those words melt my heart. The pure and unconditional love that a child can express is precious beyond anything in this world. It is why I believe Jesus told his disciples that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to those such as these.” Children love like no other human can love. They love, agape love, closer to the way God loves us, and that is why they are favored.

I was glad then, that I endured the fighting and the crying, because after it all, my son loved me, and knowing that my God, my wife, and my children love me helps me to endure many things, least of all fighting and crying.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Nail Artist

Most people are surprised by the smell of a beauty shop. The hair products, the nail polish, it all joins together to form a noxious fog. I don’t mind it anymore of course, and maybe I never did. To me it is a comfortable smell. It is familiar. It is where I work.

I have been painting nails for nearly twenty years now. A lot of people make fun of it as though the only women who paint nails dropped out of school or something. While that is often true, I myself finished high school but just barely, it isn’t fair to all of us. We really are artists. I don’t say that to mean that we are all Picassos or something, but we do paint in creative and beautiful ways. Our canvas is much smaller, but that might make it more challenging. No matter what people think, I take pride in what I do.

There are things I don’t like about painting nails for sure. I don’t like hunching over my table while I work. I don’t like the way my hands hurt after working all day. And sometimes I don’t like the other women I work with, but there are a lot of good things too.

I can make my own hours mostly because I schedule my own clients. I set my own prices based on what I think my clients will pay. I have a loyal group of clients that I have built up over the years, so that I don’t worry much any more whether I am going to have work.

The thing I like the best though is talking to clients while I work. They have no where to go while I paint their nails so most of the time they talk to me. Of course I would rather some of them never open their mouths, but there is nothing I can do about that other than work faster.

You see I am much more than a nail artist. I don’t just mechanically paint flowers or happy faces on women’s nails. I talk to them. I am like a counselor, priest, sister, mother, and daughter. I have to be very skilled at relating to people because this job is all about people.

You would be amazed at what people will tell me. I have clients from all walks of life; Nurses, teachers, students, secretaries, housewives, dancers, and even a politician. They all have very different lives and for many the only thing they have in common is me. I am a stitch that hold all of these different threads together, and it is a very interesting tapestry.

One client of mine, “Deja,” had been dancing (stripping) for three years. When I first started painting her nails it sounded a bit glamorous. I used to ask her about it every time she came in; which was frequently. She was beautiful of course, and I thought that it must be fun to dance and have the attention of everyone in the club. “I could never do that in front of everyone,” I confessed. At that she just laughed and puffed up a bit as though she possessed a courage not found in most women.

For the longest time I thought she was really brave and confident until one day she admitted that she always got high before she danced. I was shocked and asked why. She fought off tears as she explained that she doesn’t want to dance, but only does it because the money is so good. “I feel ashamed that I am a dancer and I wouldn’t normally do the things I do on stage, so I have to get high first or I can’t perform,” she explained. Of course her confession changed our relationship. I never again asked her about work, and instead we pretended that she wasn’t a dancer at all.

Finally one day she missed an appointment. I called her to see if she wanted to reschedule but her phone was disconnected. I never saw her again. I often wonder what happened to her. When I want to believe it was something good I imagine that she found a man who really cared about her and she ran away with him leaving the club and the pole behind. What I worry about though is the possibility that she was arrested for hooking or drug possession or worse was murdered by some crazy guy. Since I don’t know the real answer I choose to believe the fairytale ending.

Another client of mine was having an affair and told me all about it every time I did her nails. It started off with her complaining about her husband. For a year or so she complained that he didn’t please her and he would rather golf than make love with her. She suspected that he was sleeping with a woman he worked with but never had any proof. Her complaints were minor really: he snores, he is getting fat, he watches too much football, he doesn’t understand her, he isn’t romantic. Those are the usual suspects and I hear them all the time. Still he made good money and she was a bit spoiled by him, but managed to complain anyways. In a lot of ways I thought she was being needy and did not appreciate what her husband provided for her, but I did not want to offend her so I kept my mouth shut.

Then one day she came in grinning from ear to ear like a kid in a candy store. She couldn’t wait to tell me that she met someone. When I asked who it was she explained that there was a guy at the gym she had been flirting with over a couple of weeks. She was giddy over it because he was in his late twenties—she is in her thirties—and was in great shape. “He makes me feel like a woman,” she explained. I told her to be careful, but she dismissed my advice by saying, “right now I don’t care what happens, I just need some excitement.”

The next time I saw her she was overflowing with excitement. Without me asking she sat down and blurted, “I’ve done it. I slept with him.” She told me that they continued flirting at the gym until she couldn’t bare it any longer and told him that she wanted to meet him for a little, “extra work out” as she put it. He met her and they met three more times after that. She was on cloud nine as she spilled the details of their encounter all while I painted her nails. I warned her again that she was risking a lot, but she responded by saying, “I have never felt like this about my husband. I didn’t know I could feel like this.”

Finally she came in over a month later. She looked awful. Her roots were long, she had on no make-up, and she was wearing sweat pants. She had apparently broken a nail or two and then had torn the rest of her acrylics off. He nails needed a lot of work so I got started. I didn’t even want to ask her what was wrong, but I figured I couldn’t sit there for thirty to forty minutes without talking so I asked. She broke down.

“I screwed up,” she sobbed burying her face in the crook of one arm while holding her other hand out so that I could continue working. “Mark was married.” Mark was the name of her boyfriend I guessed though she had not told me. I didn’t understand what the issue was exactly because she was married also but I didn’t want to seem insensitive so I waited for her to continue. “His wife found out about us. She followed him one day and then showed up at my house and confronted me in front of my family. I felt like such a whore.” I wanted to confirm that she was a whore, but again kept quiet.

“Now everything is ruined. My husband is divorcing me. My kids don’t understand. They think I am a bad person. I moved out and I don’t know what I am going to do. I haven’t seen or heard from Mark in two weeks. I left him messages and texts but he won’t talk to me. I lost everything.”

She continued sobbing and telling me all of the things that changed since she was caught cheating. I felt sorry for her because she lost so much, but deep inside I felt like she had made her bed and now had to sleep in it—excuse the pun. But I know better than to tell my clients what I really think. I listen and comfort them. Rarely do I give advice. Mostly they don’t want any. Most of the time they just want someone they can talk to. I am that person.

Such is the human drama that takes place at my work station in the fog of nail polish, surrounded by the hum of hair dryers. You see I am so much more than a nail artists. I am a friend, a counselor, and a confidant. Women need me more for the companionship and consolation than for the fills or designs I paint on their nails. Sure I don’t have a degree on the wall from a university, and I don’t get to add letters in front or behind my name because of some education, but I have women who depend on me to be there for them. It is just part of my job.

Work Space

Since we moved into the much larger new house I have surprisingly had difficulty finding room to work. Our new home is twice the size of our old one and yet there is little room for my laptop and books. In fact my books were stored in the garage since moving which displeased me a great deal. As for my laptop, it and I have been refugees from place after place. We have begun to feel like gypsies without a home to lay our heads.

At first I had my computer on the sole desk in the house since we left my computer desk for refuse when we moved. As displeasing as this was to me, I was patient because I knew that eventually I would land a much better place to work than I was accustomed to. My wife however placed her laptop there also and so displaced mine. She uses her's, which is much better than mine, for shopping on E-Bay and checking email, two highly important functions, and that is about it. (That is a whole separate issue). So I then moved my computer and I to our dining room table. We actually have a legitimate dining room now, but with three kids mostly eat in the kitchen so I figured we were safe there.

I was wrong. When my wife hosted a scrapbooking party I was asked to move my things. I acquiesced because I thought that it was a temporary move. After all the former kitchen table is now upstairs in the loft, and was being used for scapbooking. After a few days however it became clear that the dining room table was now the permanent place for her scrapbooking things, of which there is much.

The odd thing is that the upstairs table remained a place for scrapbooking as well. I was left to sitting on the couch in the living room with my computer on my lap to work. Not ideal in my mind.

One day in frustration I moved to the kitchen table though I knew that such a move would put me directly in the path of inconvenience. Now I was taking up a third of that table, but was getting some work done as was satisfied as to the arrangement.

It did not take long however for my things to come in conflict with the function of our household. My wife was searching for something on the table and in frustration tossing my things around when I finally blew.

I took a stand and decided that I would not be displaced any longer. I laid out my complaints and reviewed the history of my sojourn, and my wife gave in and cleared off a quarter of the dining room table for me to work.

I was a bit disappointed because I thought that I deserved at least half of that table since she now had a table and three fourths to my one fourth, but it was a start, and I was still optimistic that my workspace blues would be alleviated soon. As it was we had commissioned a man to build us a wall length workspace including bookshelves and cabinets. I yearned for it as a man yearning for a home.

I fumed a few more times as I sat down to work only to find scrapbooking paper on my computer or pictures covering my books, but I help my tongue. Many of my things had fallen to the floor and yet somehow I drove on. In all of that chaos I managed to create wonderful lessons for the approaching school year and managed a little writing.

At last Woody (that is the carpenter’s name) brought over our finished cabinets and assembled them in our loft. Home at last! Now I have a great workspace from which I am currently writing. My beloved books are above me on shelves. My tools (stapler, holepuncher, pencil sharpener) are all here. I am in heaven. As of yet very few scrapbooking materials have found there way onto the desk, and I aim to keep it that way. Now I have little excuse for not writing. I guess I will have to take responsibility for my own failure. Hmmmm... maybe I should have been happy being homeless.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Car Wash

It is stiflingly hot in the August sun, but this is when business is best for us. It seems that no one cares to wash their car in the winter as if somehow it was less dirty because of the temperature. As soon as the sun burns hot it apparently illuminates all the winter grime on everyone’s car. I mostly like to dry and do the final cleaning; windows, chrome, mirrors, interior. It is hard work, but I stay busy and some of the people I work with are fun enough. Mostly I stay to myself I guess. I never really fit in well you know. Too odd I guess. I like people though, I just never seem to say or do the right thing. I make people uncomfortable most of the time. Such is my lot.

I like drying the cars because I get to meet the people who drive them. People are funny. I know because I have a lot of time to encounter them. You can learn a lot about someone by studying their car. I see all types.

There are the pretenders. The ones who drive a car they can’t afford, wear clothes that cost too much, and spend money on women they don’t have. Mostly sports cars, domestic or Asian, SUVs domestic, or pick up trucks, lifted or lowered, never factory. I hate them because they are especially anal about their cars. It is as if the cars are the most important symbol of their social status.

“There is a smudge there…some dirt there…can you wipe the rims again?” They are never satisfied. And when I am finished they will more than likely not tip me. Just some stupid remark that betrays their true lack of intelligence like, “keep it real,” or “be cool man.” Repulsive.

Then there are the truly rich folks; the birds as I call them because they fly above everyone else and only land if they need something from us land dwellers. If it is a man he is probably middle aged. Maybe 40 or 45. A woman? She could be younger because she is probably married to the 40 or 45 year old man. She figured out that an older man has a career, assets and stability that the college aged man lacks. She spends her days getting her nails done, working out, and getting her car washed of course. I like these folks, not because they are pleasant, they may very well be horrible people, but because they do not pretend. They are rich and they act like it. Fine with me.

They might be a little picky, but normally their car was not dirty in the first place because it is almost always under a covered parking spot or safely parked in the garage. They drive the true luxury vehicles. BMWs Mercedes, Cadillac, Audi, rarely anything else. They wash it as though it is required maintenance for a car that cost more than I make in a year. They tip well, but say nothing to me as though I am not there at all and leave. Sometimes they are even on the phone as they take their keys and leave not even bothering to inspect my work. They had me a ten and take off, chatting about something simple men like me couldn’t understand. I don’t mind.

The ones I like the most are the family types; the shepherds as I call them. Minivans, SUVs for the seats not the rims. Their cars are more work than most. Cheerios, crackers, cookies, fingerprints on the windows and most likely some smelly socks. Their cars are the ones in most need of cleaning. I enjoy doing it because I almost feel like they deserve it. It always seems like they are the ones working the hardest. Even at the car wash they are working. Telling a kid to put the popcorn from the ground down, chasing a little one down before he runs into the street, soothing a crying baby, it all seems so exhausting. The rest expect me to clean their cars well, these folks are just happy that someone would clean the car, and thankful that they don’t have to do it.

Most of the time they are the ones with the most to complain about when I hand them the keys for a final approval. No doubt there are still some crumbs under the seat or some melted gummy bears in the cup holder, but it looks so much better that they are almost always pleased. They always tip. Not as much as the birds, but then they don’t have as much I figure. They always find time to thank me as they holler at the children, and if their psyche can manage it, a smile. No cell phones, they don’t have time, no rims, they don’t have money, just a car with which they can transport their children to soccer matches or dance practice, Sunday school or preschool. They work the hardest and are the most humble. I want to be like them.

There are others of course that don’t quite fit into these three categories, and plenty of people who don’t ever bring their cars in for a wash, but then I don’t get to see them often. These are the ones I meet the most. The car wash patrons. These are the ones I study, the ones I know well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Minimum Wage

I decided while I was getting my car washed that it might be interesting to write some short stories based on the experiences of common jobs that are performed everyday but may not get much recognition. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the guy drying my car, and I suspected that if I worked that job I would enjoy studying the people who's cars I worked on. So I started writing from these perspectives. I will post them as I am ready beginning with the car wash story, which I really enjoy and I hope you do too.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Making the World a Better Place

Everyone had already left the office of “Earth First,” an independent environmental action group on this Friday afternoon leaving it disorganized and cluttered. The office was situated with periodic desks littered with mountains of papers and computer equipment. On the walls there were various posters and banners with the slogans that the group was using such as, “Earth First,” “Save the Animals,” “Meat is Murder,” and a large banner that read “Making the World a Better Place.” They were only one of many such groups that are growing in popularity and influence.

Of the dozen or so employees and volunteers only one remained. Richard Green was the branch leader for the last five years and was very proud of all that he had done there. In his mid forties, Richard spent most of his life as an activist. He was not exceptionally well built, nor exceptionally handsome. He compensated for his mediocre appearance by trying to make a difference for what he felt was important. He made it his life goal to protect and advocate for the environment and its animals.

During his tenure as leader he had directed many protests, influence legislature, and battled development. His group was responsible for the protection of wetlands that were threatened by agriculture, halted housing projects which threatened the kangaroo rat, and even caused the city to shut down a manufacturing plant which did not meet environmental standards. Needless to say, Richard’s work was quite satisfying for him. He had the sense that he was truly making a difference and protecting the earth. On this day however, he was in for an encounter that would forever change his perspective.

Richard was in his private office (the only one in the building) watching the news as he reclined in his chair. It had been a long week because the group was conducting routine protests at a local car dealership because of the damage that oil using motors cause to the environment.
The news was reporting on the warmer than normal weather forecast for that weekend and Richard shouted at the TV as the newscasters reported.

“See! See! It is going to be 78 degrees this weekend and the normal is only 73. Why are there still people who won’t accept that we are destroying the planet through global warming?” There was no one there to hear his outburst, or so he thought, but he regularly did so anyways.
As Richard was busy searching for confirmation that his crusade is worthwhile, someone slipped into the office. Not until the person was at the doorway to his left did he notice. When he did he jumped a little in his chair.

The person in his office was an older looking woman but strikingly beautiful. She appeared meek with long grey hair with some strands of black and long flowing robe of a shimmering material that shone like morning dew. She was slender and rather tall but leaned on a long staff that was knotted and gnarled wood. Her gown flowed to the ground and even dragged behind her a few feet. Her face glowed, but her eyes were large and pale. Richard did not know what to say to his uninvited guest so he said what nearly anyone would say.

“Who are you and how did you get in here? Do you need help with something? We are closed, so you should come back another time.” The woman did not respond initially but continued to study Richard as though she was amused by him. Although it was not an intelligent response to her lack of engagement, Richard decided to ask his questions again only louder and slower. “Ma’am, who are you and why are you here? Is there something you need help with? You really should come back Monday when we open,” he suggested. For another moment the women did not respond, but when she did it was not to Richard’s question, but rather with a question of her own, but did so without moving anything but her mouth.

“Why do you believe that I need help?” she asked in a soft voice that sounded more like it belonged to a young woman rather than an old one.
“I’m sorry…what?” he stammered.

“Why do you believe that I need your help Richard?” she repeated.

“How do you know my name? And who are you?”

At last the woman gave in to Richard’s inquiry into her identity. She shifted her weight from her staff and stood upright adding another few inches to her stature and nearly filling the doorway. “I am Mother Nature as many of you call me, though that is not how I am known otherwise.”
Richard burst out into laughter as he leaned back in his cushy chair and held his gut. He laugh was shrill and unpleasant to the ear. As he laughed he prodded further. “That is hilarious. Who put you up to this? Was it the staff? Are they still here? I have to hand it to you; I really thought for a minute that you might be Mother Nature the way you look in that costume. You really should use this again this Halloween. It is perfect.”

The woman remained perfectly still and waited for Richard to calm from his fit of laughter. When he did she proceeded.

“I am Mother Nature, as I said, and I have come here to ask you a few things.”

“It is ok doll, I love it. You can give it up now.” There was no reaction in her face which began to frighten Richard. Deep inside of his heart he wanted to believe her identity so he decided to test her.

“Fine then. I am open to you being Mother Nature, but how can I know you are who you say?”

Annoyed but not surprised by the man’s lack of faith, the woman pointed to a fichus tree in the corner of the office. Without taking her eyes off of Richard the tree began to grow. It grew from a mere three feet to six and sprouted more foliage and branches as it did. Furthermore it was greener than ever. When she dropped her arm the tree ceased growing.
Richard’s jaw hung open as he stared at his fichus. “This is unbelievable. You must be Mother
Nature. I can’t believe it. What an honor. I never thought that there was any real Mother Nature.”

“I assure you I am real.”

“I believe you. I apologize for being short with you. What can I do to help you? Whatever it is I will do it.”

“Again you assume that I need your help. Why is it that you think I need help?”
Richard was unable to answer. He wracked his brain for some sort of response but had none so Mother Nature decided to simplify her question.
“What is it that you do Richard?” she asked.

Stammering again, but gaining some confidence as he proceeded, he answered, “well, ah, I fight for the environment. The earth. The animals. I fight for you.”

“And why do you do this?”

“Well because someone has to do it. I mean, the trees and the animals and the whole planet cannot speak, so I speak for them all.”

“How can you know that you are saying what they would want you to say?”

“Well I guess I cannot know for sure, but we simply try to defend the things that need defending.”

“I see. And you feel as though the earth, the animals, the trees are helpless?”
Richard could see that he was being led, but he did not know to where, so he answered the way in which she predicted, and the way which was true to what he believed. “Well yes. People are cutting down trees all over the world, polluting the air, and destroying habitats for animals. If I don’t do something, then who will?”

“It sounds like you are a real hero Richard.” Richard wanted to enjoy the compliment but he was not a stupid man and could tell that Mother Nature was being condescending. There was an uncomfortable pause before Mother Nature continued her inquisition.
“Is what you are doing good in the long run?”

“Of course it is. I work so that the earth will survive long after I am gone. I am fighting to save the planet. What is wrong with that?”

Mother Nature stepped into Richard’s office a couple steps until she stood close enough to his desk to tower over it. “Do you think I am weak? Do you think me so frail that I can be extinguished by mere mortals?” He voice rose in volume and deepened so that she did not sound so much like a kind woman, but rather an angry queen. “I have more power than you can imagine. You think that you could kill me or my domain?” She pointed to the fichus that she so impressively grew before Richard’s eyes. He looked at it just in time to see it wilt to dust.
“I have the power to decide what lives and what dies. I can wipe humans off the earth if I wanted. Earthquakes, typhoons, floods, blizzards, I control them all. Can men stop them? No they cannot.” Her eyes turned black and Richards clutched the arms of his chair in fear. She laughed a great and full laugh then calmed.

“What can you do for me? Nothing!”

Richard was not satisfied, and since she settled down he gathered the courage to challenge Mother Nature. “But what about global warming? What about endangered species? What about the damage done to rivers and lakes? Do you not need me to help protect those?”
“Do you not get it little man? You are nothing. You think that you are important. Many humans think that they are very important. But in the grand scheme of things you are not. You think that you are the reason the earth is warming? You are not. You cannot even accurately predict the weather, let alone do something about it and yet you think that by driving your cars, and using electricity that you have the power to warm this planet? You are not important enough.
“Do you think that I cannot change it? Did you not hear about the huge blizzards I unleashed in the north? Have you ignored the feet of snow I dumped on entire cities? You think that if it is warm one day that you have proof of global warming, but you are all fools. Do you think that I could not freeze you right here?”

Nature’s eyes turned white and the temperature dropped dramatically. Richard began to shiver and his computer monitor fogged up.

“I am in charge! Not you! Not any mortal!” Just as quickly as it began the temperature returned to normal. Richard no longer had any arguments. He could do nothing but sit in awe of the being in front of him.

“I came here today to warn you. Mankind’s greatest threat is not his destructive capabilities. It is not nuclear weapons, or slash and burn agriculture or carbon dioxide emissions. Mankind’s greatest threat is his own arrogance. The reason why you and others truly admire the earth is because everything fits together. Everything has a purpose. You and others like you fear that you have no purpose so you choose to make yourself important by doing what you feel is right, but in doing so you become arrogant. You feel that you are better than other humans because you believe that they are doing wrong while you do right, and so you feel superior. You corrupt your place by doing so.

“Even the lion does not believe it to be better or more valuable than the gazelle. In fact it values the gazelle because it gives it nourishment. In the same manner then the lion values other lions as it values itself.”

Nature’s voice softened and she again sounded more like a kind gentle woman. She again leaned over on her staff so that she did not appear so intimidating. She continued, “So you should value other people. Do not fight them on my behalf but rather help them. Quit fighting a battle for someone who never asked you to fight and ally with your fellow man. You hurt people with what you do. You think that you are helping me, but I do not need your help. I survived long before you were here and will survive long after. You were not put here to love trees or rivers or lakes, but to love other people.”

Nature paused to let Richard consider her instructions. Rather than argue or counter Nature’s advice he began to sob. He buried his head in his hands and leaned over onto his desk.
“Why does this displease you?” Nature asked. “Is not this command easier than what you have been doing?”

After a minute Richard was able to answer, “I have put everything I have into this crusade. It is my life, my religion. It is everything I have. Without it I do not know what to do.”
“Do as I instructed. Refocus your efforts into helping people rather than battling them. Thought there will always be some you do not like; they are all your brothers and sisters.”
“I don’t know how. I have only known this.”

“You will learn. Think about what I said and you will discover how you can help. I am leaving now, and you will not ever meet me again, but do as I say so that you truly can make a difference.”

Nature turned and wisped out of the office as though she was a breeze. Richard sat in his chair and mused, questioning whether the exchange between he and Nature and actually occurred or whether it was a hallucination. Then he glanced over to his fichus and found it wilted away. He sobbed some more and then slept on his own desk.

When he awoke it was night, but he did not leave the office, instead he decided to remodel it. He remained there all weekend and when the employees arrived Monday they found that they had not arrived to the “Earth First” office, but rather the “People First” one. Richard explained to them that he had a revelation and that the group was going to refocus its attention. Some left, but others stayed and helped Richard launch scores of community projects such as day care centers, libraries, playgrounds, career centers, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers and others.

Five years to the day Richard met Mother Nature, he was serving soup at a kitchen when an old lady thanked him for all that he was doing, and with a wink of her eye she said that he was “really making the world a better place.” He thanked her and smiled because he truly knew that she was right.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Milestones

I reached a couple milestones in the blogging world. Firstly I now have more than 1000 hits on my blog. Sure it seems low, and well it is low, but you have to start somewhere. If only I could sell a book to each person who visited my blog. Secondly I posted 100 posts. This could have been ackomplished a while ago had I been more devoted to my blog lately, but I have not. Now with three children and more than 200 students I have not found myself even using my computer let alone using it to blog. Still I crawled my way to 100 posts and hope to post another hundred in the next year or so. It has been fun and while other blogs are closed after the initial enjoyment wears off and the tediousness of writing consistently sets in, I will fight through it. I promise. I am also interested in doing some more things with this blog. I do not know what, but I will think of something. I must seriously think about putting the polish to the Sureshot 2 and getting off to publishers. If I can look at a chapter every couple days or so, I can be finished in less than a month. I want to be done by summer so I can spend summer writing something new and trying to find a publisher. Well wish me luck with that.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Parasite

Without a doubt we are the most evil.
Not even snakes, cobras, and such compare.
We are a greater nuisance than a bear.
We are more slimy than a giant eel.
We are not half as cute as baby seals.
A lions’ mane’s far better than our hair.
In some respects a bat is less a scare.
While some are in the street we eat big meals.
We cut down trees for our so-called big needs.
We kill each other for no reason at all.
Do we pause, think t plant a few small seeds?
Do we decide to pay for our fatal
Deeds? We all grow like weeds from gardens, Earth.
We are a thorn in Mother’s side; parasite.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

When Chaos Chatches

When a thick dark dank fog
Encircles the valley like a bog
And chokes the radiant sun
Ears straining to hear the gun.

As fears grip the lungs and squeeze
Chaos overcomes the mind with ease
Crippling legs like a black cancer
You’re at a loss for the healing answer.

Your enemies stand right beside you
With hopeful eyes. Each time is a new
Battle that must be bravely won,
Alas one thing is left to be done.

Look not for an ally to help the fight
For it is you who holds all the might
You cannot put forth your best
Until your mind is at rest.

So breathe easy and steady my friend
For soon, very soon, it will end
When the legs suddenly take ill
Your heart can win with shear will.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Perfect Plan

Happy Easter everyone. I know I have not posted frequently lately, but the good news is that I have been writing. In fact I wrote the script to the Easter program that was performed today at my church Central Community Church here in Fresno. It went well and I was very humbled to have contributed to it. I decided to post it here for you all to read as well. It was challenging to write a script. It was my first attempt and I found it quite different from writing fiction or essays. Anyways, I think it was a good first effort. It is called "the Perfect Plan."


The Perfect Plan


God the ultimate creative being chose to create the world we know. Though it did not appear then as it does not, he in his wisdom planned everything to sustain his creation physically, but also spiritually. The Bible which means “the Word” is the story of God and his creation. The amazing part of it is that God’s plan is perfect and therefore his is the greatest story ever told. This is an attempt to share the story in a visual way and to also understand the story better from God’s perspective. It is my hope that by viewing these events from God’s perspective, we will see God’s unending love for his creation, rebellious people included.

God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are seated together. Lights are on them alone, the rest of the stage is dark. God the Father begins:

G: I have decided to create something wonderful. There has been nothing like it before and there will be nothing like it again. It will be completely unique.

S: That is wonderful. What will this creation look like?

God gets up and moves to the edge of the stage between the two screens

F: We will begin by creating by creating light and dark. Light and dark visuals appear on the screen as he explains. We will call the light day and the dark night. Then we will create water and sky, then separate the waters with land. Images show the creation process. Then we will make plants and trees to fill the world with. We will make them of all types.

Jesus moves next to the Father and explains, moving his hands across as though he is imagining all the animals. The Spirit too moves next to God listening intently.

J: I like it Father. I will help you. We should make animals of all sorts then. Animals for the air and different ones for the land and even different ones for the waters. They will all be different and amazing in their own way. This will be our greatest creation yet. There will be nothing else like it. When do we get started?

Jesus and the Spirit begin to walk back as though going off to work.

F: We won’t stop there. We can do even better. We are going to create something to rule over all the beasts and all the land.

Jesus and the Spirit return to God’s sides. Light begins to shine on the garden in the back ground.

S: Good idea, a caretaker creation. Like the angles to manage things in heaven, these creations can manage things on earth. What did you have in mind Father?

F: I have a very special being in mind. We will take dust and make a man. We will make him in our image, and we will place him in the garden we will create to manage it. We will even make him a companion, a woman to help him.

Adam and Eve rise from the garden and appear to tend to the trees.

J: In our image? This is a special creature.

F: Yes but that is not the best part. The best part is he will have free will.

Jesus and the Spirit light up in surprise

S: Free will!?! How are we going to give this creature free will?

F: I will allow him to eat from every tree in the beautiful garden we will make, all except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If the man eats from that tree he will die.

S: This man will surely eat from the tree eventually, and then he will die, and what then?

F: He will. Both he and his companion will be deceived. They will eat from the tree and then be expelled from the garden. Sin will enter into their hearts and one day they will die.

Adam and Eve mime the eating of the fruit. God walks towards the two and gestures to them. They appear afraid, then when God points away they flee.

J: Well won’t that ruin everything Father? Won’t that destroy the creation?

The three all turn back to the audience

F: It will certainly change it, but all will work out in the end. I have a plan to help man and bring him back.

S: But Father, once man knows of good and evil, he will do evil, and then we cannot bring him here. He cannot do evil and live among us. What will become of this creation?

F: No he cannot dwell among us while there is sin in his heart, but we will find one who will be faithful. One who will follow my commands. His name will be Abraham because he will be the father of our people. I will establish my covenant with him and through him a great nation will be born, a nation that will follow us.

Abraham appears from the side walking and God stops him while continuing to explain. Abraham drops in worship but God raises him up and shakes his hand to signify the covenant.

J: Even then father, how will we know which of these people belongs to us and which do not? How will they set themselves apart from all the other people?

F: We will establish a covenant of circumcision with Abraham. He and all his children will set themselves apart through this act. It will be their defining characteristic in the flesh, though I much more desire their hearts to be pure.

Abraham continues to kneel near God as he explains to Jesus and the Spirit.

S: How do we know that this Abraham will be faithful? After all he will have free will. How can we trust him?

F: I will test his faith. He will have a son, one he thought he never would have. I will instruct him to sacrifice his son to me. If he, a loving father, can sacrifice his son to me, then he will have proved his devotion. He will pass this test.

Abraham mimes, taking a boy and preparing to sacrifice him

J: Surely father you do not desire for him to actually kill his son.

G: Of course son. I will stay his hand, and provide him with a proper sacrifice, one that will take the place of his son.

As God is speaking he stares at Jesus thinking about his eventual sacrifice

S: That is good Father. This way our people will be set apart. Specially marked as belonging to Abraham’s family. But still, they will have trouble. This fallen world will always entice them. We need something else to help mankind, perhaps I could dwell among them.

F: There will be a time for that my Spirit, but they will not be ready then. No, first they must know the law. We will find a leader from among our people, one called Moses. He will guide our people through hardships with our help. They will be a stubborn people and will require many lessons before they submit themselves to us. I will give this Moses our law, and he will teach it to our people. He will teach them how we desire them to live, holy and righteous.

Moses appears during this scene. God meets him and puts his hand on Moses’ shoulder. Moses walks to the edge of the stage and then leads others onto it (3-4). God stops Moses and hands him the Ten Commandments. Moses receives them bowing and then turns to teach them to the people. We show an image of the Ten Commandments on the screen.

J: Even then Father, the law will only show them what they are doing wrong. It cannot redeem them. They may learn that they are a fallen people, but the law alone will not end their sinning, nor excuse the sins they have already committed. Furthermore, they will not be able to keep the law. It will only condemn them.

F: I know my son, but until they know that they fall short, they will not submit. Man’s greatest stumbling block will be himself. The law will help him to evaluate himself and know that he is lacking. Until they are aware of their sin, they cannot be cleansed.

J: I understand but how do you intend to cleanse them then? They will always want to be like the rest of the people, even our chosen ones. They will want to be like every other nation.

F: I know my son. It is true that they will try to be like the pagans. Our people will enter a land that we will choose for them and they will establish their kingdom there. We will be their king, but that will not please them. We will have to select a king for them so that they can be like the other nations of the world.

S: If we must do this, then we must select one that will be true. It will not be easy. Out people will want the strongest and bravest man. We will need to look at the man’s heart.

A few men line up near the edge of the stage and the Spirit begins to look them over as he speaks. He rejects the first ones.

F: We will find one. His name will be David and he will be a man after our own heart. He will win many battles for our people because he will be humble and true. He will lead our people justly. We will even commission him to draw up plans for a temple do that our people will have a place to worship. It is there that we will dwell on earth. It is there that they can meet us.

The Spirit selects “David” and David steps out from the group. He then leads the men in a “charge” off the stage. He alone remains and bows before God as God hands him “blueprints” for the temple. The other men return. David mimes directing them and then passing them the blueprints. We show an image of the temple on the screen.

J: Father, that too will not do. A temple? They will come to idolize the temple. It will become all about the physical building and less about communing with us. I fear that this too will lead the people away from us. It simply will not do.

F: It is true. The temple is not my ultimate goal for our people. It is nor what I want, but they will not be ready for what I desire from them. The temple is not ideal, but it will prepare them for future plans.

S: It won’t last. Their loyalty, their devotion will fade. Their kings will not be faithful. They will stray. The temple will have to be destroyed. We cannot allow them to worship a building. We also cannot dwell in a place where sacrifices to pagan gods are made. If they are going to worship, it must be from a pure heart.

F: I know, I know, the temple will have to go. Our people will suffer huge defeat. They will be crushed for their sins and their unfaithfulness. Their enemies will enslave them and they will be scattered like sand in the wind. They will feel that we have abandoned them, but we will not. Even then they will be our people and we will be their God.

J: But how then will we ever get them to return? How can they be redeemed?

Pause and God looks painfully at his son

F: There is only one way. (Pause) You must go to them son.

J: I? But why? Is there no other way?

F: There is none.

Pause as Jesus steps away to consider the proposal

J: Very well father, I will do that for them. How will you have me go? As a flashing light? Brilliant and bright? Yes, I could draw them to us that way. Be revealing our glory and magnificence to them, they will surely bow then.

F: No my son. I am not sending you in a flash of light. I do not want them to obey out of fear or amazement, but out of love.

J: Love? But how will we redeem them through love?

F: Through you my son. You will go as an infant, a baby, born of a woman, a descendent of our servant David.

A woman steps onto the stage carrying a baby and rocking it softly, God Jesus and the Spirit watch her half turned

J: A baby? I will leave this heaven to be born of a human woman? That is surprising indeed, truly a humble way to enter the world. The very world I will help to create.

S: But Father, how will he be in human form? We are divine.

F: He will be both fully human, experiencing all of the things humans will experience so that he can know their pain and feel their hurts. But he will also be fully divine and perform miraculous things, casting out demons, healing the sick, and even raising people from the dead.

S: This is a strange plan indeed. Will I play a role as well?

F: Yes my Spirit. You will be with him when he submits himself to cleansing in a river. I want to show the people what I desire of them so when the Son is baptized, you will descend on him so that all of the people will know that such things please me.

Show a picture of the baptism on the screen

J: But what then? Am I to merely live among them as an example?

F: Not at all. You will select some to teach and instruct closely on our ways. You must help them to understand that we have so much more planned for them than they realize. You must help them to change so that they may enter our kingdom.

Some men (3-4) wander out and Jesus gathers them. They sit at his feet and appear to listen to him closely.

S: But will we not have done this already? We will have given them law, a king, a temple, and now the Son is going to live with them. But they will reject us still. They will continue to sin. They will still be unrighteous, dirty as grave clothes, and unable to return to us. What can we do to save them from this fate?

F: The son will have to die.

S,J: What!?!

J: Die! But father why? How? For them?

F: Yes for them. You will be betrayed, slandered, falsely accused, beaten, and eventually murdered.

Images of these acts will flash on the screens

J: Are you sure? Murdered? But what will that accomplish?

F: Through your death the penalty, the debt of their sins can be forgiven.

J: But death? Will they be worth it?

F: They will never be worthy, but we will love them anyways, and I want them to return to us so you must go and fetch them and bring them back to us.

S: Is that the end then? The Son’s death? This is surely a tragic story.

F: But it isn’t. The son will rise from the death resurrected. The people will rejoice and this act will save the people from their own deaths. The Son will live among them for a while longer finishing the lessons he began.

The people come running over to surround Jesus all touching him to make sure he is real, then kneeling near him to listen

J: Yes! It will work! This is a great plan father! Then we will have our creation back, our children.

F: Yes but then it will be our time to draw all of them to us. You will send the men out and instruct them to gather all they find and show them the path to us. The people leave from Jesus, a new person comes walking near Jesus “Saul”. One you will find will be named Saul. He will hate our people and kill them even. You will blind him Son and he will become our apostle to the pagans, the gentiles. He will be a powerful witness, spreading the good news throughout the world, even those outside of Abraham’s family. All will hear of your death and resurrection my son, so they all may enter our kingdom.

Paul goes out and begins bringing people from the audience, perhaps some that have been placed there

S: This plan is perfect. It will surely draw the people to us in love. Love for the son’s sacrifice.

F: Yes and you my Spirit, you will dwell among them as well, even inside of each one that believes in the resurrection of the Son. You will guide them and help them to live pure lives.

The spirit moves among the people who have gathered in the center of the stage

S: I will gladly go, but I still sense that some will not turn to us. Some will reject this plan and live for themselves.

The people in the center disperse around the stage and busy themselves with individual things. At this point there need be an assortment of people representing not only ancient Rome, but also modern day

F: Sadly it is true, but the son will return.

J: A second time? As a baby once more?

F: No. This time you will come in all our glory. You will come this time to gather everyone to us so that all may be judged.

J: I will judge them Father?

F: Yes and because of the sacrifice you will make, an innocent death, you alone will be allowed to judge between the just and the unjust, the believers and the non-believers.

Jesus moves around the stage and all of the people follow him

J: So be it. Then I will judge and separate those who have pure hearts, loving hearts, from those who have selfish and hard hearts.

Jesus casts some of the people there away

S: This is a perfect plan. Once they are judged, all that remain will bow in worship and sing in chorus. The kingdom will be grand. The people who remain kneel to worship. It will take much patience and diligence, but it is perfect all the same. The people will respond to our love for them. Though some may never return to us, many will and the kingdom will flourish.

F: Excellent, the plan is set then, let us begin.

The stage goes dark except for the Father Son and Spirit at the edge of the stage, all the people move off.

J: We are with you Father, let us create this wonderful world so that we may enjoy it.

Jesus and the Spirit wrap an arm around God and God each of them in a picture of the trinity united

On the screen or have a narrator read, or both:

Revelation 22:12-13 Behold I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.





Written by: Phillip Brunnengraeber

Friday, February 15, 2008

Book For January


Ok so I didn't get around to writing about it for a while, but I read a great book in January... The Screwtape Letters. I loved this book and managed to read it in less than a week without even reading every day. I really couldn't put it down. As I read I was amazed at how well C.S. Lewis understood the temptations and sins of regular people and managed to write about it in a way that was simply gripping. Though I spoke with a few of my friends about this book and a couple of them said that as they tried to read it in high school it was beyond their grasp. I could see how a person who has not battled with sin on a daily basis and struggled to avoid sinning. Furthermore the glimpse into the demon world was very interesting because Lewis did not fall victim to clich├ęs but instead painted a new picture of hell. Instead of the fire and brimstone image many of us have, he described hell as more of a cooperation whose goal is to derail people from a proper Christian walk. A+ in my book, or rather, Lewis'.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

All The Right Reasons

Beaming a wide grin at one another as they hold hands in the park.
A wish come true that they found each other through the dark.
Smiling uncontrollably since the day that they promised to forever love and cherish.
Home they sit and bathe in the love that they have for the other.
Sunshine pours in through the windows and soaks the couple embraced.
A friend for life is what the two are and will be forever.
Yellow flowers brighten the kitchen table as they eat their meals together.
Gold rings are a poor symbol of the purity in their hearts.
A dog at their feet as they cuddle on the couch and whisper soft tender words.
Mouths pressed lovingly together now as they will be forever.
They are a couple that got married for all the right reasons.

Writing? Who has time?

Well I missed an entire month. I made not one blog entry for December and to be honest I am not surprised. A lot happened over the last month. I made it through the last couple weeks of the semester. Coached my soccer team to several more losses, moved, had about 50 Christmas celebrations, played a lot of Playstation, saw two movies, and plenty more things that I cannot think of right now. Not included in that list is writing of course. I nearly started writing something but gave up on it after remembering that I now have a PS3 (thanks mom). Oh well, I will get back to it sometime. I have found someone so negative and sarcastic that he is a great critic. He has become my new editor. He doesn't like anything, so this should balance well with all of the praise I get from my writing. Too often I hear "this is great! When is the next one coming out?" I know it is not great, and I don't know when the next one will be out. After initial excitement and enthusiasm I have already hit a wall in my ambitions to be a writer. I am finding it difficult to finish my second novel, and I no longer know when I will get to it. I had hopes to do it over the break, but it was all for not. Maybe that should be part of my New Years resolution. To write seriously and consistently. It will not be easy. Teaching has consumed most of my time, coaching a bit more and family all the rest. When can I write? Summer? Who knows? I am now viewing my initial success in writing as failure. Although most of my despair is due to lack of sales and exposure, I do sometimes doubt my ability to write. Oh well, as we said in the army, "drive on soldier, drive on!" Right now that is all I can do.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Years Resolution

I resolve to be more disciplined. This applies to my relationships, spiritual life, physical health, and intellectual sharpness. I resolve to not play video games whenever I have free time, or to watch television (we just got cable). I resolve to read a book every month, and to write regularly. I resolve to keep an ongoing journal to reflect and grapple with life. I resolve to finish the Sureshot 2 and to begin another book besides the Sureshot series. I resolve to search in earnest for an agent and new publisher. I resolve to never put anything above my family. I resolve to play with my kids whenever they want to play with me. I resolve to begin running again. I resolve to be the best teacher I can. I resolve to be compassionate and merciful as often as possible. I resolve to never forget that I am flawed and that I must rely on God for everything and that it is because of him and through him that I exist.