Wednesday, December 22, 2010


What is it that makes the Holidays special? When you're a child, it's all about the presents. Santa Claus, reindeer, elves and magic...unable to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, the anticipation more energizing than the sugar rush from all of the goodies. Then, we grow up...and the world, with all of its ugliness, pushes its way in. Work. Money. Worry. Strife. The magic tends to get pushed to the side.

But, if you're lucky, little things happen over the course of your life that bring the magic back. And, like the ornaments that you save from year to year, you take them out every once in a lift them gently, carrying them with as much care as you can. Those memories, you see, are far more delicate and fragile than the finest porcelain. They are made with gossamer wings and fairy dust, and ingredients even finer...hopes and dreams...and love.

Twenty-one years ago today I was at a big box hardware store, my two oldest daughters in tow. It had been a rough year. I was going through my second disability retirement. Money was beyond tight. Cherish had been pregnant with Lacy, our first child together. I had not been much help to her during a good portion of the pregnancy due to health reasons that would take too long to explain here. Needless to say, when she had needed me most, I had been unable to come through for her. She had, however, carried our beautiful baby girl to full term, and delivered her on the tenth of December. Now, as had become our way in life, we were scrambling to try and get things done at the last minute with no money.

Cherish's parents were getting the girls a really nice swing set. My second daughter was really into gymnastics at that time, and had made it clear that she wanted her own balance beam. My oldest daughters and I were at that store so that I could price out the remaining items that I would need to build the balance beam in the backyard. The four by four, cement and brackets had already been purchased, but I knew that I needed screws and nails, as well as a couple of tools that I didn't own. I had just finished pricing those tools, and discovered that there was no way that I could afford to buy even one of them, let alone all that I needed. Frustration, anger and self-loathing were just kicking into high gear when Crystal, my oldest, started to tug on my sleeve.

Crystal is an amazing human being. If you have never had the pleasure of meeting her, your life truly is not complete. Her praises are far too many for me to sing, but the two that come most into play in this story are these: she possesses no guile at all...she always says exactly what she means. And, like a dog with a bone, once she believes in something, and the rightness of it, she never lets go. Truly remarkable, when you consider what she has been through in her life. Anyway...

Crystal was tugging at my sleeve. I turned to find her holding onto a very pretty, very frilly, and obviously not cheap Christmas ornament. It was an Angel...a tree topper Angel. Cherubic face, delicate gown, and a little light held in between her hands. One look told me there was no way we could afford it right way. Not even a remote possibility.

No one had told Crystal that, however. Money means nothing to her. No concept at all. I mean that in a good way. She's not impressed by what others have, or what things cost. With Crystal, it's all about what's right. Keep that in mind.

Yes honey?
We have to get this angel.
Not today honey.
We have to.
Maybe some other time honey.
No. Today.

Her jaw was set in that certain way. I let her lead me to where she had found it. The shelf was bare, except for the box that the angel came in. It was, of course, the only one left. I picked up the box and looked for the price sticker. It was on the bottom: $25. Might as well have said $2500. Way too much money. No way we could afford it. I tried to explain that to Crystal. Useless. Finally, I just took it from her and put it next to the box...took both girls by the hand and started to lead them away. That's when Crystal got me.

Look Sis, I said, let's go.
We have to buy it.
Not today...maybe we'll come back for it.
I said that knowing it was a lie.
We have to buy it's the only one.
Look, sweetie, we can't today, OK? We'll think about it, and maybe...
We have to but it for Lacy. She's our little Angel. God sent her to make up for the one he took.

I had to stop writing for a minute. Crying. That memory is still so fresh...

I can't tell you why Crystal said that. It's too personal. That is one of the memories that is so fragile that I fear it would crumble in my hands if I ever took it out. But when she said it, I instantly knew that Crystal was right. I lead them back, put the angel in the box, and took it with us to the checkout stand. I told Cherish the story when I got home. We both cried. It went on the top of the tree right then.

The next year started a new tradition. We had always decorated the tree as a family. Now, when we were done, Lacy was hoisted onto my shoulders. It was to be her job to place the Angel on top of the tree. I don't remember how she did that first year. I do remember each year after. We would always tell the story of how we came to have that Angel, and Lacy loved the story. What Lacy was too young to realize was that Crystal had been prescient beyond human ability. You see, Lacy, it turned out, actually was an Angel...

She has made a difference in more people's lives than I can count. Those people know who they are: they know what Lacy means to them, and the changes that she made in them that no one else could. Those stories are precious to each person, and are not mine to share. What  I can tell you is this: The impact that Lacy has had on so many lives is not because of things that she has done. She has had that impact because of who she is. Inside. In her heart. I can tell you this...I believe she added years to my Dad's life. The joy that she brought to him...sorry...can't do it.

We still have that tradition. Every year, that Little Angel is the last thing to go on the tree. Every year, I put Lacy on my shoulders and lift her to the top. She places it, and plugs it in. Its little light shines down on all of the special ornaments, lots of them made by the kids over the years. It shines like a beacon, greeting each person who comes to our home with love, and hope, and dreams...and magic.

I have a feeling that I won't get to put Lacy on my shoulders this year. Not because of the degenerating discs or busted shoulders. The heart attack in January may have made last year my final one for lifting. I hope not. I'm going to lobby to carry her again...but I wont argue too hard and spoil the occasion.

No matter how it goes up there this year, I will relive each year from the past as it is placed and lit. Especially the first year...the year that God sent us our Little Angel, and that Crystal saw her for who she truly was.

Lacy's light shines on all who come into her circle. It touches them with warmth...and hope...and dreams...and love...

And Magic.

I love you, Little Angel

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I was never going to get married again.
I was going to raise my two little girls.
I had no desire to share my life with anyone but them.
If you knew the story of my first marriage, you'd know why.

I had dated models and actresses when I was a bodyguard.
All of them beautiful.
None of them memorable.
Then, one day, everything changed.
It was love at first sight.
For me.
She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

That was twenty-five years ago.
She is even more beautiful today than she was then.
Far more beautiful.
The most beautiful woman that God ever made.
And, she loves me.

We've been through a lot over the years.
Lots of highs.
Some lows.
It hasn't always been easy for her.
I've had at least eight of my seventeen surgeries while we've been married.
I had a heart attack earlier this year.
Almost died.
We've been short on money.
Many times.

But, we've never been short on love.
We have great children.
Because of her.
We have a great home.
Because of her.
We have a great life.
Because of her.
We have a wonderful marriage.
Because of her.

Almost everyone said it wouldn't last.
November 12th 2010 will be 24 years.
24 years.
Because of her.

The sun rises for me in the morning when she smiles.
The stars come out at night in her eyes.
She is my life...
my breath...
my everything.

I love you Cherish Ann.

Happy Anniversary.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I have a friend who is a well known, successful author. A lot younger than me, and yet he treats me with respect and kindness. I'm not going to tell you his name, or even hint at who he is. I don't trade on friendships. Never have, never will...probably to my detriment, according to some. Anyway, he is the motivation for this blog, and the others that will follow it in a similar vein. So, to my friend, I say thank you.

I didn't tell my birth Father about my heart attack until Fathers Day. He is eighty, and has had numerous heart attacks of his own, starting about 25 years ago when he was 55. I didn't want the potential stress of my own problems having a negative impact on him. I spoke with his wife when I called on Fathers Day, trying to get a feel for whether or not I should tell him about it. She is lovingly protective of him, as she should be, and I felt she would warn me if it wasn't a good time to tell him. She gave no indication that I shouldn't, so I told him about it when he got on the phone.

Come to find out, he had another heart January...almost at the same time that I had mine. I wrote about that to my author friend, and this was the first part of his reply:
Unreal story. And clearly meant to be.

He finished his response, as he always does, with kind remarks for me. He is, as I said, a very respectful young man. His remarks, however, got me to thinking. The first thing that popped into my head was the similar comment of a young woman who worked as a reader for one of my agents. This young woman had just finished reading one of my screenplays that happens to be based on a true story. She didn't know that; she also didn't know that her boss, the agent, had already read the screenplay a number of years before and declared it to be the best thing that she had ever read. The young woman's comment was as follows:

It strains credulity to think that this many bad things could happen to one man in the course of only one lifetime.
The comment made me laugh at the time. I had intentionally left a lot out of the screenplay just to tone it down: not only that, but it covered only a three year window in my life. I thought about all of the unreal stories that I had lived through prior to that one, and the many I have lived through since. When she called to give me her "notes", I asked her how old she was:Nineteen, she replied with all of the misplaced authority of her youth. I told her she needed to get out more, and politely said my goodbyes. She didn't know that after her boss read the screenplay for the first time, she tried to steal me away from my first agent instead of being a co-agent with her. She didn't know that her boss had gotten the screenplay to the top executives at Columbia Pictures, and that it was about to be given the green light when...

The Rodney King verdict was announced, and riots ripped Los Angeles apart. Suddenly, no one wanted to have anything to do with a story where the not so clean, undercover, half-breed cop, used black gang bangers to kill dirty, racist white cops for revenge...
Go figure, huh?

That screenplay became toxic for the next few years, and the agent was told, by the executives at Columbia, to drop me like a hot potato...which she did.

But, that is not the unreal story that I want to tell you today. I could start at the beginning; my unreal stories, I have been told, start before my birth, but I have my reasons for saving those for a while. There are many that occurred before the one I'll tell you today, but this is the one that seems to resonate in me at the moment. So, without further foreplay, we begin...

My senior year of high school was eventful, to say the least. Many of the things that occurred would make unreal stories on their own. Some of them will be mentioned briefly in the course of this narrative. Perhaps I will come back to some of them in the future, perhaps not. The story I have chosen merits being told first, I believe, because it has legs. It continues on for many years, sporadically rearing its disturbing mane and howling at the moon to remind me that things aren't always over when you think that they are.

The first incident of note my senior year, was that my brother ran off with the niece of the Pastor of our Church. He was 21 and she was sixteen, but that was only part of the reason their actions had such impact. She and her brother, who was my age, were living with the Pastor and his wife, their Aunt and Uncle, due to the extremist of circumstances. They had witnessed their Father murder their Mother in ways too graphic to describe here. He was captured, tried and convicted. At his sentencing hearing, he pointed at his two children and swore that he would break out of prison, hunt them down, and kill them. A few years later, he succeeded in escaping, and the two were shipped off from their home in the Midwest to hopeful safety in Southern California.
I was the only one who knew where she and my brother had gone, and everyone knew that I knew. I was pulled out of school at least twice a week by the police and questioned. Never told them anything, but I understood that they were just doing their job. I was already a pariah at my Church; I had been labeled a "sexual predator" at the age of fourteen, over a year before I had my first girlfriend, or even my first kiss. That is another of the unreal stories. This new development earned me the title of "Anti Christ" to go along with the other...and no, I'm not joking. There is a reason why many people feel driven from Church. Gossip and salacious innuendo rank highly on that list.

The second incident that is relevant to this story is that my Granny was diagnosed with terminal leukemia. She agreed to move in with us so that we could take care of her. Now, my Granny was my counselor, my advisor, and my best friend. She was the one person that I had always been able to talk to about everything; especially the difficulties that my parents and I were going through about my being adopted. My Mother was, at that time, going to college to get her teaching credentials. She had been going for thirteen years: it was a long, slow, and painful process for her. She volunteered to drop out, but my Granny wouldn't let her. You see, my Granny and I had already worked out an agreement. I would go to school for my first class of the day, and then I would walk home and stay with her until about a half hour before my Mom got home from college. Then I would walk back up to the school, turn around, and walk home. That way, if my Mom happened to swing by the school on her way home, she'd see me where I was supposed to be. My first class was actually at another school close by. I taught foreign students English. It was easy to go from there back to my house, and I didn't have to actually attend any classes at my high school my senior year to graduate. On days when my Mom had limited classes, I would stay at school for part of the day.

The story of why I didn't have to go to high school my senior year; the reasons why the school was just as glad when I didn't show up, and why I could have graduated much earlier, are another of the unreal stories best left for down the road. It made it easy for me to take care of my Granny, at any rate, and we were able to keep the secret until almost the end of her life a few months later. She told me that she was trying to hang on for only two reasons: she wanted to see my brother be able to return and get married, and she wanted to see me graduate. No one from our family had ever graduated with honors, and she made no secret of the fact that she was very proud of me. Her love and support saw me through many dark and difficult days...I miss her still. She hung on just long enough to see my brother return and get married...but she passed a few months before my graduation.

It was during all of this that our story for today took place. I was walking out to the parking lot of our Church one Sunday morning when I saw a beautiful girl walking my way. She had long, auburn hair that hung almost to her waist and translucent eyes. She looked up at me as we passed each other, and I inexplicably said,

Hi, TeeDee.

She smiled, a curious little Mona Lisa smile, and said hi back. We both continued in opposite directions, and it took me a full minute to realize that, not only had I never met her before, I had never even seen a picture of her. Anywhere. At anytime. I looked back over my shoulder, and caught her looking back at me. She was clearly puzzled, but not half as much as I was. I shook my head to clear the webs, went out to the family car, and went home.

My Father had been sleeping in my room since my Granny moved in. My Mom wanted to be next to her at night to be able to care for her, and my Dad, who was the most selfless man I've ever known, moved his clothes and gear into my room. He was the Head Stillman at an oil refinery, and because of that he worked rotating shifts each week: days, followed by swing-shift, and then grave yards. He went to bed after dinner when he worked grave yards, and then got up at eleven to go to work. There was no point in my even trying to go to bed before he left, so on those nights I was always up until after midnight. That Sunday was one of those nights, so I didn't even go into my room until almost one in the morning.

I have always been nocturnal as well, and falling asleep on the best of nights was, and is, problematic. That particular night my mind was racing about a million things, not the least of which was my meeting with the mysterious TeeDee, if that was even her name. I tossed and turned for a while, trying to put things to rest in my mind. The last time I remember looking at the clock, it was 1:53. I fell asleep at some point after that, and had the most incredible dream of my life...
The dream started in a wind tossed night some time close to the end of the Dark Ages. A castle, somewhere in what would now be northern France. The Lady of the Castle in childbirth, her husband pacing downstairs before the fire. The Lady is attended by a wizened old crow of a woman; part midwife, part faithful servant...and part witch. She gives the Lady a potion to drink for pain as the birth nears, and the Lady swoons into unconsciousness. The baby is born: cold, still and silent as the grave he will soon lie in. This is a disaster for the old witch. The Lady has had a number of still born children already, and the old woman has promised the Lord a healthy child. Not only healthy, but a son as well. It well mean her death if she fails again. She is racked with fear when she remembers something that might save her: the village whore had given birth the day before to a healthy baby boy. No one could be certain who the father was, but it was probably one of the Lord's soldiers. The babies were similar enough in appearance, and the witch was desperate. She barred the door and gathered the dead heir in her arms.

The Lord and Lady were relative new-comers to the castle, receiving it as part of an inheritance fifteen years before. The old woman, however, had been a servant to the owners of the castle since childhood many, many years before, as had her mother, and generations of her family before. She knew things about the castle that the current royals didn't, and that knowledge was about to come into play. She hurried to the fireplace, carrying the limp, small form next to her. Her gnarled fingers felt along the rough stones next to the dying fire, and turns and pushes of stones, practiced countless times over the years, caused a section of the wall to move. She reached inside the slowly widening space into the darkness and pulled a long wooden stick from within. Rushing back to the fire she lit it, and, torch in hand, began her descent down the winding stairs that the moving wall had revealed. A turn of an ancient wall sconce brought the wall closed silently behind her, hiding her retreat.

She had made this journey so many times over the long course of her life that she barely looked at the treacherous steps as she bounded down them. The paving stones were as worn and weathered as the old woman's feet, and the winding twists and turns of the secret passage were as familiar to her as the pulsing veins on the backs of her hands that throbbed now from her efforts. She came to the bottom at last, where three tunnels opened up before her. One led to other parts of the castle, one much farther out into the nearby woods, and the last to a small cave just outside of the village. She didn't hesitate for a moment as she darted into the last one, and minutes later found herself past the walls of the castle and hurrying through the musty dankness of the cavern. A waterfall covered the opening to the cave, but she knew a hidden path around it and soon she was flitting through the village, an old crow floating unseen through the moonless night with a package of death swaddled under her wings.

She hesitated before the whore's cottage, not daring to breath. She had already seen the whore in the village tavern plying her trade.There were things she could do to earn, even this soon after giving birth, and besides, she wasn't about to let a baby keep her locked away from the world. No, the old woman's only concern was that the whore might have left someone to watch over the baby. She needn't have worried. The cottage was empty save for the lone, small figure laying in the straw before the fire. Quickly the witch darted into the cottage, a plan formulating in her desperate mind. She picked up the healthy boy and lay the dead heir in his place in the straw. The whore had left her baby directly in front of the fire, and sparks popped out from the logs. She drew some of the fire into the straw and watched as it burst into flame. The baby was dead...he would feel nothing, and the fire would disguise any doubts the whore might have. It was unlikely that she would even mourn the child; her freedom was far more valuable to her. The old woman drew the bar down across the door and slid silently out the window, the now breathing bundle tucked in the crook of her weathered arm. She paused at the edge of the village and watched the cottage burn. People streamed from the tavern and the surrounding cottages, but the whore's hovel was built far enough away from the rest that none were endangered. Satisfied that her secret was safe, the old woman scurried back towards the falls and the entrance to the cave.

Her mind raced faster than her feet as she glided up the hidden stone stairs toward the Lady's room. She needed to disguise the fact that this child was already a full day old. She turned the sconce and hesitated as the secret wall pivoted. If the Lord had broken down the door in a panic while she was gone...but no, the room was as still as when she left it. She lay the boy on the bed and smeared the after birth all over him, then wrapped him in a small blanket. She pinched the child, hard, until he cried out. Then, unbarring the massive door, she rushed out and down the stairs to the waiting Lord.

She had been right; his eyes went immediately to the baby's genitals. He cared about nothing else than that he had a son. A living, breathing son. The excess blood was enough to dis way him from looking any closer, and she quickly swept the boy back into her arms and up to the Lady's room. Here was where her deception might not carry. The Lady had been present at many births: she might recognise that something was amiss. So, when the Lady began to awaken, the old woman gave her more of the potion to drink. It was enough to keep her asleep for at least another twelve hours. By that time, the ruse would be complete. She rocked the baby gently as she watched the Lady drift away into the land of Morpheus.

Days unfolded into years as I watched the boy grow, until one day, I finally realized that the boy The perspective of the dream changed from that moment on, and I watched events transpire as though I was living them. I grew into my teens, being taught by my adoptive father all of the skills necessary to one day become Lord of the Provence. I could ride, hunt, and fight as well as anyone, and my skill with a sword was unmatched. I was also trained by the monks in literature and the arts, as well as religion. My favorite tutor, however was the old woman. She taught me about nature, about life, but most of all, she taught me about people.

I had discovered the secret passages as a small boy when I was hiding in my mother's room and saw the old woman go out through the hidden doorway in the wall. She swore me to secrecy, and from that time on, I was able to come and go from the castle as I pleased. It was during one of these outings into the woods that I met a lovely young girl from the village. I felt an immediate attraction to her, even though I knew that our romance would be forbidden because she was a commoner. She felt the same for me, and our love grew over the ensuing years. By the time I was in my early twenties I had decided that I wanted to marry her, irregardless of our different stations in life. We met near our favorite little stream where I professed my love and intentions. She was overjoyed, and I left her with the promise that when I returned, it would be to make her my wife.

 It was the last time I saw her alive.

The old woman was waiting for me at the entrance to the cavern by the waterfall. She had been watching from the  bushes just upstream, and demanded to know what I was doing with the village girl. She flew into a rage when I told her of my plans. Her face contorted and she paced back and forth by the water's edge, her angry mutterings occasionally broken by a high pitched , nervous squeal. She begged me not to go through with it. I refused, and told her my parents would understand. We argued about it for a long time, until she finally asked me if I knew who the girl's mother was. I knew of her mother's reputation, but since she had been dead now for over three years, I told her I didn't see why it mattered. That's when the old woman sent my world into the abyss.

She told me the girl that I loved...that I wanted to marry...was my half sister. I, of course, didn't believe her. I raged against her lies and threatened to have her put to death for her treachery. Then she told me the story of my birth; of the desperate decision she had made, and the consequences to her if it were ever discovered. I thought, at first, that she might be lying to protect my parents from my marriage to a commoner, especially one who was the daughter of the late town whore. But the truth was there in her eyes...and in my heart. As much as I had loved the girl, I had always wondered why the desire to have sex with her had never really overwhelmed me. We had been alone all of the times we met, and she had offered herself to me on many occasions, but I have never gone ahead with her offer. I had told myself that it was my love for her that kept things pure, but I was certainly no virgin, and had sex frequently with the choicest of young ladies in the neighboring villages. I didn't know what to do. The old witch and I returned through the cave to the passages within the castle. I told her to go on ahead and waited alone in the darkness pondering my own fate. I couldn't go back now and pretend to be something I wasn't. I couldn't stay. So, I took the passage that led to the stables, saddled my favorite horse, and left.

I rode listlessly for a few days with no direction, either for the road or my life, in mind. One day I could smell the salt air of the sea nearby, and suddenly decided to take a boat across to the Isles of Britannia. I waited for a boat that could ferry me and my horse, and then made the trip across the straights of Dover. I wandered purposefully for weeks, taking in the new lands and people at my leisure. They weren't as advanced as my countrymen, but seemed to enjoy their lot in life much more so. This changed, however, as I traveled farther north. There , the people seemed more distrustful, more afraid. I was told by an inn keeper that the Earl of that area was a foul, evil man, who kept his subjects in line through intimidation and torture. No one ever felt safe, and even the King's men hesitated to come through without having great numbers. The Earl's men took pretty much what they wanted, whether in money, goods, or women's virtue.  Oppression hung in the air like an ocean fog; thick, heavy, and chilling. I should have turned back to the south, but something inside drove me onward.

Two days journey farther, and I knew why...

It was late afternoon when I heard the sounds of a disturbance off of the path I was on to my left. A brisk trot brought my horse and I to the edge of a small glen. There, not one hundred feet in front of me, four soldiers were attacking a young woman. They had cornered her against a large rock and were tearing her clothes from her despite her valiant attempts to fight them off. I reined my horse to the left, and then took off straight at them at the gallop. They looked up just in time to move off of her, and I slammed two of them backward with my steed's shoulder. I dismounted quickly, unsheathed my sword, and began a fight to the death.

The two soldiers who had evaded my horse's charge were on me as soon as I dismounted. Though they had the advantage of numbers, their skill with the blade was lacking. It was a matter of only moments before I had killed them both. I turned my attention to the other two just as one of them came at my back. The other was still on the ground, entangled in the brush by his chain mail. This new opponent was more of a challenge, but it it wasn't long before I had him on the defensive, his blows becoming weaker with each swing. I had just run him through with my sword when I felt a deep burning pain in my back. The fourth and final soldier had crept up behind me and plunged his dagger into my flesh. I wasn't wearing chain mail, or armor of any kind, and the blade did its evil work well. I went to one knee as he pulled his steel from me, my head bowed in pain. He came in to finish me, but he had waited a split second too long. I brought my sword up to parry his thrust, and drove my own weapon into him all the way to the hilt. He fell at my feet, and his flat, glassy eyes were the last thing I saw before I too crumpled to the ground, the darkness enveloping me.

I awoke to the feathery touch of cool fingers stroking my face. The young woman whom I had saved in the small clearing had brought me back to her small cottage and nursed me back to health. I saw, as soon as my eyes regained their focus, that she was...TeeDee. It was one of those moments, even in a dream, when you just stop...I knew I was dreaming. I knew that everything was also real. How, I would never venture to guess...

We lived together for a few years, and fell in love. There is too much of that time to tell; including her being taken by the evil Earl, and my fight to reclaim her which ended with his death. We were eventually to be married by a nearby priest when someone from my past found me.

The old woman knocked at the door to our cottage one day and, as soon as I saw her, my emotions were torn between confusion, anger, and regret. She told me that my parents had been taken captive by a neighboring Duke, and were being held for execution. I was the only hope that they had. TeeDee begged me not to go. I was torn, but the obligation I felt for the parents who raised me overwhelmed all else. I removed the cross I wore around my neck, and with the edge of my dagger inscribed the words, " pas même la mort" on the back...not even death. I swore to her that not even death would keep me from finding her again...and with that, I put the cross around her neck, mounted my horse, and rode off with the old woman.

I won't bore you with the story of how I stole back into the castle through the hidden passageways and killed the evil Duke, nor the joyful reunion with the people who raised, and still loved me. I told them of TeeDee, and they begged me to bring her back with me to resume my rightful place. We shared one last drink together, and I left to retrieve my bride to be. Everything should have turned out fine, except...

No one had told my half sister anything. Not that we were related, and that that was the reason why I left. All she heard was that I was going to bring back my new bride, and she went into a rage. She slipped a slow acting poison into the goblet which had held my drink...and then killed herself. No one knew what she had done...but its effects would soon appear.

I began to feel sick upon my return to Britannia. The illness progressed as I rode northward toward TeeDee. I became weak...dizzy. I clung to my horse's mane just to stay on. I passed in and out of consciousness. I don't know how long I rode that way. I finally regained consciousness. It was late afternoon, and I realized that I was back in the same glen where I had met and saved TeeDee many years before. My strength was ebbing. I fell from my horse. I gazed up through the canopy of trees at the slowly dimming light. I struggled vainly to hold onto life. My last breaths whispered the words, no, no, the darkness of death enveloped me...

I awoke in my bed, screaming. My mother was standing at the doorway, fear etched into her face. I was drenched in sweat, and every muscle in my body was taut. I reassured her that I was OK, and she turned slowly back down the hall to my Granny. I looked over at the clock radio by my bed. It read 2:08. I had just dreamed an entire lifetime in less than fifteen minutes.

Part 2 to follow soon...

Saturday, August 21, 2010


We hold these truths to be self-evident...

Sometimes, I really don't know where to begin. As a Christian, especially as a minister, it seems to get more difficult everyday to try and handle things the right way...especially for a dirt bag like me. Those of you who are regular followers of this blog know of the struggles I face in attempting to represent the Love of Christ towards others. Frankly, I fall short every day...actually, it's more like every second, but, hey...who's counting, right? Anyway, it's something that I would rather not have to make public, especially on a regular basis. But, fortunately or unfortunately, I am a firm believer in the old adage: Silence, when the truth should be spoken, is a, here we go...

... that all men are created equal...

For those of you not familiar with the issue, you can find it here:
Basically: In May of 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that marriage was a fundamental right granted by the Constitution of California, not a privilege; next, Proposition 8 was voted on in that same year to amend the State Constitution to eliminate that right, and finally, in August of this year, a Federal Judge ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional based on equal protection under the law.

Still with me?

Basically, the issue is whether or not the Constitution gives equal protection of the right to marriage to ALL consenting adults. The issue, as it stands as of today, has been ruled in favor of ensuring that right.

 ...That they are endowed by their Creator...

The issue, therefore, is first and foremost, an issue having to do with equal protection under the law, IE, the Constitution. I have been amazed, while perusing the web, at the number of people in favor of Prop 8, and against the Judge's ruling, who have made the basic argument that, "...the judge has usurped the will of the people. The people voted, so it should be law..." I said surprised, not amazed. The fact that a great many people are not aware of what type of government we live under doesn't amaze me. The fact that someone like Rush Limbaugh made the same mistake did amaze me. You can hear his comments here:

Whether you like or dislike someone, you should always give them their due. Mr. Limbaugh is an intelligent, articulate advocate for what he espouses. To hear him make the same mistake about our form of government was amazing to me. So, it seems to me that a basic refresher course is in order.

 ...With certain unalienable Rights...

We do NOT live in a democracy, thank God. We live in a Constitution based, Federal Republic, with strong democratic traditions. This is not my opinion; rather, it is how the United States Government refers to itself, which you can find here:
Now, what does that mean? It means that we live in a country where there are rights for the citizens which are not up for a popular vote. That's why they're called rights.

 ...That among these are Life...

You have to give our Founding Fathers some credit. "Endowed by their Creator..." Brilliant writing. If a creator gives the rights, only that creator can take them away...and please, don't get me started on our Founding Fathers being Christians...most of them weren't, at least not the way we define Christian today. If you doubt that, take a look at the Jefferson Bible:

Thomas Jefferson was more responsible for our initial documents than anyone else. He certainly wasn't a Christian like I am. His two main mentors, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, weren't either. They could all be called Deists, at best. But, their brilliance still shines through. Whether it is Nature as the Creator, or your own personal God, the rights are given...and man has no power to take them away. Period. Quite a built in safeguard. You have to remember that all of these men had lived under the divine right of kings, where the king was not truly answerable to any earthly power. Yes, there was a Parliament in England, but its influence had historically fluctuated. The other monarchies in Europe didn't even have that check on them. Jefferson ET AL settled the issue once and for all.

...Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...

If then, it is a constitutional issue, it should be sacrosanct. And please, no straw man arguments about: bestiality, necrophilia, polygamy, or pedophilia. I've read them all in due course of this topic. They don't apply.

Now, however, we come to a much thornier discussion. But before we do, I'd like to introduce you to a couple I've gotten to know a little through their TV show: Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell...The Fabulous Beekman Boys. You can find their websites here: and here:
You should take a moment, if you're not familiar with who they are, to read about them. Once you have, we'll continue.

Done? OK, here we go then. Our family stumbled on The Fabulous Beekman Boys a few months ago on TV. The first time I saw the opening, I was reminded of "Green Acres" from when I was a kid. We started watching, as a family, and got hooked. I'm not one who is usually too interested in reality TV, but I liked this show. The main reason? I came to care about the two main characters. Real people. Real hopes. Real dreams. Real struggles. Real disappointments. The operative word here is real. I have married a number of couples in my time as a minister and Josh and Brent remind me of most of them. They bicker, sacrifice, make up, love...all of the things that couples do.

I don't know what their views are on marriage. None of my business. But, if they want to get married, after living together for over ten years , I believe that they have the God given, Constitutionally protected right to do so. Period. Now for those thornier issues...

If you want my basic take on the Christian position on Gay marriage, you can find it here:

I was going to write about the Good Samaritan again, but instead, I'll let you read the articles what I've written before: Here:
and here:

My stand on these issues has already cost me some friends. I'm sure that this new blog will cost me some more. So be it. To all of you who proclaim yourselves to be Christians, like me, let me ask you just a couple of questions.

Do you really think that if Jesus was walking the earth in His ministry today, He would show up at rallies with a sign that reads, "MY DAD HATES FAGS, QUEERS, AND DYKES" ? Do you think that He would stop in the middle of His healing to ask if the person was Gay, Lesbian, or straight? Do you think when He made enough food to feed five thousand men and their families, He would instruct the disciples to make sure they didn't give any to the homosexuals?

I was going to write a lot more, but I'm tired...and the pain is killing me. That heart attack I had seven months ago took a lot of my energy with it...but not my passion. So, one last thing, to those of you who are Christians: If you really want to protest something in Christ's name...start with those abominations on TBN. The ones that prostitute your Savior like He was a cheap whore...just for their own personal aggrandisement and gain. The ones that teach that He was rich...and that you should be too...the ones that teach God is dependent on your actions...the ones that teach that they could have made the same sacrifice on the cross that He made...I could go on, but like I said, I'm tired...if you want to write to me, I'll give you a list...along with the Scriptures that teach that we should stand against them...and why...

For now , try practicing what Jesus actually taught...

Love God the best you can...

And, Love your neighbor as yourself...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I have lived an interesting life. One of the many things I did when I was younger was to be a "roadie" for a small, local band when I was in high school. They played at Knott's berry Farm, Disneyland, and other local venues. Eventually, they got noticed and were offered a contract by a major label. They were going to go out on tour as one of the opening acts for a hugely successful band. Circumstances prevented me from going with them, but I had many a fine adventure in the time I worked set-up for them.

That world, at least back in the early seventies, was a wild, yet wonderfully terrify place. Being a roadie meant that you were backstage around all of the acts before and after the shows. You saw everything: the drugs, the sex, you name it. Pretty heady stuff for a sixteen to seventeen year old. One of the concerts changed my life, however, in a way that I thought could never be repaired.

It was at that concert that I heard Greg Lake, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, perform the song,"THE SAGE", for the first time. The music was haunting enough...but the lyrics crashed into my heart with the force of a tsunami:

I carry the dust of a journey

That cannot be shaken away

It lives deep within me

For I breathe it every day

You and I are yesterdays answers

The earth of the past come to flesh

Eroded by times rivers

To the shapes we now possess.

Come share of my breath and my substance

And mingle our streams and our times

In bright infinite moments

Our reasons are lost in our rhymes.

I don't believe in reincarnation: I didn't then, and I never will...but the lyrics still spoke to me...they spoke of a love so timeless, so perfect, that only God Himself could have ordained it and arranged for it to occur. A love that God, as the Master weaver, had taken the countless threads of countless lives over thousands of years...and had woven them so that two people could meet at the exact moment in time for that perfect love to burst into flame. A love so perfectly planned that...all reason would be lost trying to explain it. All hope of escaping its power would vanish...and only by being totally and completely consumed by it...could you ever truly be who and what you were meant to be...

I thought that I had been in love before I heard those words. But, as the music coursed through my veins, I knew that I never had been...and felt the horrible, crushing certainty that I never would. A love like that...well, it couldn't be meant for someone like me...

The years passed. I was raising my two little girls by myself. I dated, but not with a purpose. I knew that I would never marry again. I had made up my mind that if I couldn't have a love like the one described in this song, I would rather have nothing...

And then I met her...

The very first time I saw her I knew that she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. When I looked in her eyes, it was as if I had looked in them before...a million times over a sea of infinity...the touch of her hand was as familiar as it was exciting...the taste of her lips as comforting as it was intoxicating...

We have been married for almost a quarter of a century now, my beautiful Cherish and some ways that first glance seems like others, a billion lifetimes ago...

Our streams will always run, and throughout eternity...and for that, I will be eternally grateful

I love you, Cherish...

Thursday, June 17, 2010


My Dad was the best storyteller I ever heard. Bar none. The best thing about his stories was that they were all true. He didn't have to make any up, because he had lived such a long, full, and interesting life. He was also never one to give advice: he would tell a story instead, and hope that you got the moral on your own, and how that moral applied to what you were going through. Brilliant, really. You probably don't remember most of the advice that people have given you, unless it was bad...but you always remember a great story.

The best stories that my Dad told were the "No Name" stories. The hero was always, "...this guy..." or, "...some man..." or even, "...there was this bum...". I didn't find out until I was eighteen that all of the no-name stories were about my Dad. His last living friend from his youth, my "Uncle" Roy came to visit with his wife one day. My parents happened to be gone for a few hours, so I did my best to keep them entertained by retelling stories that my Dad had told me about Roy. According to my Dad, Roy was the toughest man in central California in the thirties. When I happened to mention that fact after three or four stories, Roy almost laughed himself to tears.

"Me? Tough? I was nothing compared to your old man, boy. He was the most feared man in five counties."

The rest of that story; all of the things that I learned from Roy that day, and all of the things that I learned after, particularly after my father's death, are a tale for another time. Suffice it to say, I was in shock. Here is one of my Dad's stories, as re-told to me by Roy:

When Black Friday hit in twenty-nine, your dad was going to the University of Nevada. He had a full scholarship, and they'd given him a part-time job as manager of the sports teams. Wasn't a ton of money, but more than enough to live on comfortably and go to school. But, your dad dropped out. You see, your Granddad lost his farm and couldn't get work. He had your Grandma and your Uncle Ralph to support, and they couldn't make ends meet. So, your Dad came home and found me. We started riding the rails all across the country, trying to find work. My money was just for myself, but your Dad sent almost every penny he made home to his family. Kept just enough for smokes and a little food. But, work was scarce. Lots of men fighting over the same jobs, so we were constantly on the move, hopping freights from one town to the next.

One day we stopped in this town somewhere in the south. Factory town. What I mean by that is: there was one factory in the town that supported the whole economy down there. Every day, this foreman for the factory would show up outside the factory on a buckboard. He'd call out how many jobs there were, and then pick the men that got to go in and work. There were always about fifty jobs...and about three hundred men waiting, hoping to get picked. Seemed like it was the same men got picked every day.

First day we're there, this foreman stands up on the back of that buckboard and asks if there's anybody there that thought they could whip him in a fight. Now, I know you can't really see your Dad, boy. Too blinded by familiarity. You think he's a small, old man who goes to church too much. Well, your old man didn't become a Christian until 1948. Before then, he was the meanest, scariest man I ever met. He might have only been five foot four, but there was something about him that just intimidated people. He had huge hands and forearms, and his eyes would flash from blue to green to grey in an instant. He walked like a wolverine, and he looked like he would just as soon kill you as he would look at you. In all the years I've known your Dad, I've NEVER seen him lose a fight...and every single one of them was against a man almost twice his size or better.

Anyway, this guy asks the question, and your Dad hops straight up onto that buckboard and says, "I'm your Man." Needless to say, we didn't get the job that day. Or the next...or the one after that. We found small jobs over the next week or so, chopping wood, cleaning out stables, stuff like that. Not enough to make any money to send home, but enough for a roof and three squares. About a week later, I talked your Dad into stealing a straw hat off of a scarecrow. I made him pull it low over his face so we wouldn't be recognised, and we went back out to the factory yard to wait. Sure enough, we got picked.

Your Dad was a quick learner, way quicker than me. They started him off in the factory on an assembly line. Your Dad had to pull a switch every time a part would come by. The guy to his left pushed a foot pedal for the part, and the guy to his right pushed a button. So, it went; foot pedal guy, your Dad pulling his switch, then the next guy pushing his button. Timing was everything. Your Dad got it down first time, and kept right at it. I was over at a polishing bin, hand buffing pieces as they came out. Pretty mindless work, so I could keep an eye an your Dad. They'd already told us that the guys on the line made twice as much as the ones doing what I was doing. I was hoping that maybe I'd get pulled to work over by your Dad.

About an hour and a half into the day, the foreman goes over to your Dad. Asks him if he thinks he can push the floor pedal AND pull his switch and still keep time. Your Dad tells him, "Goddamn right I can", and they pull the man off of the pedal. Your Dad starts doing both jobs, and it's just like music, he's so smooth. The foreman then takes the man that had been working the foot pedal and escorts him out of the factory. Then the foreman goes over to the big boss on a catwalk overlooking the factory. The big boss gives him some money. Your Dad is watching this as well, without missing a beat on the line. We both realize the same thing: Your Dad has just put some poor bastard back on the bread line, and made a bonus for the foreman to boot. I get this feeling in my gut when I'm looking at your Dad: this ain't going to end well.

Another hour or so goes by. The foreman comes back to your Dad. Asks him if he thinks he can push the button on his right too. Your Dad just nods. The foreman pulls the man off of the button, and your Dad starts doing all three jobs like a conductor of a symphony: Stomp on the foot pedal, pull the switch with his left hand, and then push the button with his right. The three stations are about five feet apart, so your Dad has to really scoot back and forth to keep up. But, your Dad was quick like a cat, so he had no problems. The foreman walks the guy out, and heads back up the catwalk for bonus number two. Your Dad watches him coming down, and now I know things are going to turn south: your Dad's neck is slowly getting redder by the minute, and the red is inching its way up. If it hits the top of his head...well, let's just say I'm scared about more things than just losing my new job.

Finally, the lunch horn blows. We all walk outside to eat box lunches that the factory provides. That foreman is walking up and down through all of the men like a barnyard rooster. I'm trying to get your old man to talk to me, but he won't. Doesn't eat the box lunch either. Just sits there. And that red on his neck I was telling you about? It's still inching its way up and it's almost to the top of his bald head. The horn sounds again, and back into the factory we go. Everyone is lining up at their spots, and the only sound is the shuffling of feet. Next thing I know, I here your Dad calling out to the foreman:

"Boss? Hey Boss?"

The foreman, a big, fat man, looks over.

"Yeah, what do ya want?"

"You gotta broom?"

The foreman looks puzzled.

"Yeah, sure. Why?"

"Well, you better get it over here...hurry."

The foreman can hear the urgency in your Dad's voice, so he starts running, if you want to call it that. The fat rolls on his body undulate like waves on the beach by the time he finds a broom and rushes it over to your Dad.

"Well, here it is...what do you want me to do with it?"

The factory is dead quiet. Not a sound. Everyone, including the big boss on the catwalk, is watching and listening as your Dad says...

"Why don't you shove it up my ass...and then, besides doing the work of three men, I can sweep the floor for you while I'm at it."

The factory erupted in laughter. Everyone was laughing, except for the foreman...and your Dad...and me. The foreman walked away, and came back with five men. Told your Dad, and me, to hit the road. Your Dad told him he wasn't leaving until he got paid. That's when they called the cops. They were the ones that escorted us out. I figured, once we got outside, that we would leave town. Not your old man. He just stood there and waited. A few hours later, the factory whistle blew, and the men came filing out. We followed that foreman to the bar up the street. I watched your Dad beat that man half senseless, then empty his pockets. The fat bastard had over two hundred dollars in cash. Bonus money for the month for eliminating jobs. I would have taken all of it. Back in the Depression, that was a King's Ransom, boy. Not your Dad. He took eight dollars. Gave me two. Then he made me spend the night in a barn with him. Next morning, we were back out in front of that factory. Your Dad found the two men he'd put out of work the day before, and gave each one of them two dollars. Then we went to the rail yards, hopped a train, and headed east.

The story was a lot shorter when my Dad told it to me growing up. No mention of him being the hero, no mention of cops, putting men out of work, let alone beating some guy half to death. The moral for me when I was young: If you're feeling overwhelmed by the circumstances in your life, just remember that things could always be worse. My lovely wife, Cherish, and I still look at each other, from time to time, and say...Gotta broom? Makes us laugh and remember that we aren't as overworked as we might think, and things aren't as bad as they seem.

The second moral I got was one that my Dad made clear in other stories as well: if you know that you're going to go out anyway; it's better to go out with a bang instead of a whimper. "Gotta broom?" also means taking your lumps with pride, standing up for what you know is right, even when you are sure it's going to cost you.

The third moral I learned from the story is very basic. It's Biblical in its concepts, and one of the truest things I know: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. My Dad couldn't live with the thought of having two men...and their families, go hungry just so he could eat...and line some fat bastard's pockets by being quiet. There was no Disney ending to that story for my Dad. No being carried off on every body's parades. In fact, he probably went hungry longer than he needed to for having done it. But, my Father's words come back to me today as I write this as if he were standing in front of me:
You don't do what's right so people will notice. You do what's right...because it's the right thing to do."

I've always wished that I could be even half the man that my Dad was. It'll never happen. But, something better has. My son, Chance. He's every bit the man that my Dad was...maybe more.

So, if you're ever feeling over-run by life, just ask yourself a question:
Gotta Broom?

I hope if you brings a smile to your face...and peace to your heart.

I love you, Dad. You taught Chance well on those fishing trips in Heaven...

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I have always been a reader. My parents joked that they never saw me without something to read in my hands: A volume of the encyclopedia, the dictionary, a novel, a comic book...even the cereal box when I was eating was fodder to my appetite. I read the way a starving man eats when presented with a Las Vegas buffet. I was voracious...and I ate everything.

I have gotten pickier as I have gotten older. The old classics long since consumed numerous times, I have searched over the years for contemporary writers who can hold my interest. Sadly, there have been few. That is why I have gone to predominately non-fiction reading over the3 course of my adult life. But...when I do find an author that I truly enjoy, I await their newest tome like a four year old anticipates Christmas morning.

Some of my favorite writers are, in no particular order: Stephen King, Lee Child (the Reacher books are a guilty pleasure), Preston & Child's Pendergast series, and Michael Connolly's Bosch series. These are works that I devour insatiably as soon as they become available.

There is another author who I discovered a few years ago whose work I truly enjoy: Brad Meltzer. His ability to weave thrilling, yet plausible stories, keeps me on the edge of my seat as I read...a not to easy task any more with my jaded palette. He has just written a new, non-fiction book:
You can find out more about it here:

I've already pre-ordered my copy, and I await it with great anticipation.

Brad Meltzer is a man of many talents...and passions. His charitable foundation, ORDINARY PEOPLE CHANGE THE WORLD reaches out to help others in a unique empowering anyone who wants to be a part of positive change to be able to do it with only $1. Most charities almost make you feel bad if you can't contribute large amounts. Not Brad's. $1 can change the world...which means that he is teaching, through his charity, that one person can change the world. This is a philosophy that I have always believed: that is always the actions of one person that begins great change. That belief has led me to view, as heroes, many people that the world would overlook.

My greatest hero growing up was my Dad. I never thought that anyone could ever replace him atop the pinnacle of my hero worship...but I was wrong. First, my wife Cherish (who happens to be my number one hero), then my children, have all surpassed my Dad...which I know he would be happy about.

It's not just about having's about making sure that they know that they're your hero. I made sure that my dad knew. I've tried, especially since my heart attack, to make certain that my wife and children know what heroes they are to me. I'm also trying to make sure that other people in my life, ordinary people, know what heroes they are...and can be.

If you follow this link:
you'll see a unique way to let people know that they are your hero. Go to the site. Watch the video about Cherish. Spend a few minutes thinking about who you want to tell that they are a hero to you...then make your own video and let them know.

Many thanks to Brad Meltzer, for this unique tool and opportunity to reach out to those we love and admire. Take the time to let someone know what they have meant to you. It'll make their day...and yours. Change the person at a time...starting with yourself.

Make a difference.

Make a change.

And, if you want a great book for Fathers day, or just for someone you really love, make sure to buy

You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I don't think that this is what the writers of LOST are doing with the story. This is just what the storyline on LOST reminds me of at the moment. With that in mind, let's move on...

If you haven't read the Book of Job in the Bible, you should. Very powerful and informative stuff. Not very empowering to the Church in today's least not the Churches that make God your personal genie and claim that you determine your own destiny. Not even very good for those who claim to have chosen Christ rather than the other way around. Too bad. It's always been a big help to me.

So...what is the main theme running throughout Job? Let's look at the story.

First we're told that Job is a really good guy. He's so good, in fact, that he prays for other people just in case they may have screwed up. He's rich, powerful, fears God, shuns evil, and probably helps little old ladies cross the street. Couldn't be any better of a guy.

The Sons of God, whoever they are (and yes, I think I do, but that's for another time) show up to hang out with God up in Heaven. Satan is with them. This means it's after his fall as Lucifer. He still has access to God as our accuser. God asks him the equivalent of, "What's up?" Satan's response?
"Oh, you know...hangin'...chillin'...checkin' stuff out down on the Earth."

God's reply is very informative in many ways. He asks Satan if he's checked out Job. Then, God brags on Job. Says there is, "...none like him in all the earth."

Wow. Can you imagine God saying that about you? I can't. Maybe the other, hey, look at ever seen such a screw-up in all your days? Job, unlike yours truly, was obviously high on God's list.

Satan gets chippy back with God...says, sure...who wouldn't do good and be cool with all that stuff you've given him. Take his stuff away, and he'll curse you to your face. God tells Satan to knock himself out...take it all...just don't touch Job. Satan goes. He takes all of Job's stuff. Kills all of his kids. Really screws him over. Know what Job says? "I didn't have nothing when I got here...sure ain't taken nothing with me when I go...God gave it to me, He can take it's all His. Thanks for lettin' me have it for awhile."

This is powerful stuff. Have you ever thought, or heard from somebody else, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Job was a good guy. Why did that happen to him? Well, who brought his name up? It wasn't was God. Let's look at what happened next.

Some time goes by. We aren't told how much. The Sons of God and Satan are back up hangin' out with God. God asks Satan again, "Where you been?"
Satan tells him again..."hangin', checkin', chillin'...

Now God brings Job up AGAIN. "He's still my boi, and even though I let you screw with him for no reason, he still stands strong."

Satan's reply? "You let me take his stuff...but a man would sell his own soul for his life and health...let me screw with him that way and he'll curse you to your face." God says OK, but you can't kill him.

So...who brought Job into all of this both times? God did. This whole thing is a bet between God and Satan...and God is betting on Job!

Satan screws with Job really bad now. Boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. His wife tells him to curse God so he can die. He tells her to shut up..." want the good stuff from God? Then you gotta take the bad too." Didn't do anything wrong. Better man than me. Can't say much for his wife, though. I'll take mine any day.

This is where Satan does his best work. First he has the wife screw with him. Now his three best friends show up. And, how do they comfort Job? By telling him that he must have a secret sin in his life, or God wouldn't be doing this to him. Nice.

A little story from me now. Some of you know I have a degenerative neuropathy. The pain is so bad, it feels like someone injected all of my veins with gasoline and then set them on fire. Most of the time I can block out the pain well enough, but sometimes...anyway, a few years ago, I was hanging with this other Pastor. Nice enough guy. I had told him all about my past. Pretty much everything. Not a pretty picture, but I have no delusions of grandeur. day the nerve damage hits like it's never hit before. I call him and ask for prayer. The pain goes on non-stop for two days. I start going through a check list in my mind of anything in my life that's changed recently. Well, I had just started taking an "energy boosting" vitamin pack. One of the ingredients is the worst thing to take if you have my neuropathy. I stopped taking the supplements, and the pain went back down to its normal hell.

Two days later, this Pastor calls me. Says he knows why my pain is soooo bad. You see, God spoke to him. That's right...God spoke to him. Directly. Personally. God told him that my pain was punishment for secret sins in my life. If I just confessed my secret sins to him (the pastor, not God), then my pain would go away. I asked when when God told him all of this; he said the night before. He asked if he could come over. Sure. Please do. Apparently, neither God nor this Pastor knew the pain had been caused by the vitamin pack and had been gone for three days.

I let him go through his whole routine when he came over. It was filled with how much he loved me, how long he had fasted for me, how God spoke to get the idea. I let him talk. God had told him just how urgent it was for me to confess these secret hidden sins to him. You can imagine his surprise when I told him about the vitamins and being back to normal for three days. I told him I didn't know which God he'd been talking to...but it wasn't my God. Mine didn't make mistakes like that. He left...very embarrassed and trying to act like he hadn't said what he said...oh, and by the way...please don't tell any of the congregation about this. Please?

You see...this Pastor was getting ready to try and pull some financial shenanigans at his church. He suspected that I might know. He wanted to have dirt on me to use in case I tried to out him. I didn't care to out him. Not worth my time. And anybody who knows me, and thinks I have secret, worse sins than I cop to, isn't very bright. The ones I own are bad enough, thank you very much.

Am I comparing myself to Job? God forbid. Job was a righteous man. God said so Himself. Me? Not so much. However, we all go through tests and trials. What we need to remember is this...

God is betting on you. He loves you. He wants you to win. It isn't about how you look doing it. This life isn't a sprint. It's a combination marathon/obstacle course/gauntlet. Tough stuff. Doesn't matter what order you finish in. Just finish. And...God has already promised that you will finish. Keep your head up. You'll make it. Just don't quit.

At the end of Job's story, God gives him ten times more than he had before (same nagging wife, though...I'm sure glad I've got you Cherish) and tells Job's friends that He won't even listen to their prayers anymore because of how bad they spoke about Him. They have to beg Job to pray for them. The real kicker: It never says that God ever told Job why he put him through all of that shit. Never tells Job it was all a bet.

Now, back to LOST. Which character reminds me of Job?

John Locke. The true believer. The only thing he does wrong is finally ask why? Just like Job. Only mistake Job made was asking God why. Once God started to answer, Job changed his mind. Too late. Once God starts talking, He doesn't like being interrupted. You ask...He just might answer.

Last night's episode had the "Flocke Monster say that John Locke was a sucker for believing that the island brought him there for a reason. Maybe he was right. We all feel like suckers sometimes when we try and do things God's way. But...

If the Flocke Monster represents Satan, or evil...then you know that he lies...all of the time. I think he was lying about John Locke. I think Satan can't stand it when we believe...especially when we cling desperately in the face of all reasons not to. That's what Locke did in the show. He was killed for it. But...

I don't think that the island is done with the real John Locke yet. I think he is still the key to the ending of Lost. I believe that some how, some way, he's going to come back. It will be his return that ultimately defeats the Flocke Monster. His faith...

I know it's hard to remember when you're eyeball deep in shit that that is what it takes to make the flowers grow.'s much harder to remember, when you're standing in that beautiful field of flowers later...that you wouldn't be there...if you hadn't been eyeball deep in shit before.

Just as God uses our faith in Him to defeat our enemy. So, hang in there. Finish the race. God's cheering for you...and so am I.

Monday, April 19, 2010


You know, I always start out with the best of intentions when I sit down to write. I have a plan...something I want to do. Sometimes it's on one of my screenplays...sometimes it's on one of my other projects...sometimes it's a blog. I always have a plan. But...the best laid plans of mice and men...

My good friend Patti posted the above link the other day on Facebook. If you haven't read it yet, please do. It's about the tragic consequences to an older gay couple because of their inability to get married. If, after reading it, you're not heartbroken...don't read any more of this blog...because the heartbreak of their circumstance, and my outrage at it, is what this blog is about.

The old men in the above photo at least are together...something that was denied to the couple when they were forcibly separated and put into two separate nursing of the men against his will. If you're married, or if you've ever loved someone, I want you to imagine...

Imagine not being allowed to see your spouse after they've suffered a life threatening injury...never seeing them again in the final three months of their life.

Imagine not being allowed to have a say in their medical care.

I imagine having the home that the two of you have shared for over twenty years taken away from you.

Imagine having all of your possessions sold without your consent...all but one scrap book...the one your lover spent the last few months of their life putting together for you.

Imagine no last look...

Imagine no last words...

Imagine no last touch...

Imagine no last kiss...

Imagine no last embrace...

Imagine the pain...the heartache...


This is a tragedy that didn't need to happen. And yet, tragedies like this happen all the time to Gay and Lesbian couples. They've been happening to them for far too long...and there's no end in sight.

Now, you might think it's odd for me, a straight Christian minister, to be such a strong advocate for Gay/Lesbian rights. Let me explain to you why I am.

First, you should read these two blogs I wrote a while back:

Hopefully, they answered some of your questions on my position. The Scriptural one is beyond question to anyone who reads their Bible. "They'll know that you are my Disciples because you love one another." And, of course, "...Love God with all that you are, and love your neighbor as yourself." The parable of the Good Samaritan that I quote in those blogs doesn't leave Christians any wriggle room about how to treat others. There is, however, another Biblical aspect that is overlooked:

Following the laws of your country.

Which brings me to this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are, Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

You know, most of the men who worked on the Declaration weren't even Christians, at least not in a strictly Scriptural sense. If you doubt that, I challenge you to read Thomas Jefferson's Bible and see how much he cut out. Most of them were Deists, at best. The people who helped formulate the thought of the day, like Thomas Paine, were atheists...and yet they had the sense to word that document very carefully.

If your Creator endows you with the rights...only He can take them away. They're not up to a vote. No change in government, no king or queen, no whim of public opinion can alter them. Also, the original wording was "inalienable", not unalienable. So? Read the following definitions of the two words:

"Unalienable: incapable of being alienated, that is, sold and transferred." Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, page 1523:

You can not surrender, sell or transfer unalienable rights, they are a gift from the creator to the individual and can not under any circumstances be surrendered or taken. All individuals have unalienable rights.

Inalienable rights: Rights which are not capable of being surrendered or transferred without the consent of the one possessing such rights. Morrison v. State, Mo. App., 252 S.W.2d 97, 101.

You can surrender, sell or transfer inalienable rights if you consent either actually or constructively. Inalienable rights are not inherent in man and can be alienated by government. Persons have inalienable rights. Most state constitutions recognize only inalienable rights.

You see, you can give up inalienable rights, if you choose to. Not so with unalienable. They're permanent. All men...that means men and women.

The one thing I've always had against our founding Fathers was their cowardice. Yes, they stood up to the mightiest nation on earth at that time. But, you know who they wouldn't stand up to? Their own neighbors...friends...peers. That's why Washington, Jefferson and others didn't free their own slaves while they were alive. They put clauses in their wills, but...who could say anything to them then? We're still paying for that cowardice, in the civil rights issues of today.

Still, you might ask yourself why the whole marriage thing is so important to me. Do you know what miscegenation is? here's a link for you:

Did you know that miscegenation laws weren't overturned by the US Supreme court until 1967? How about the fact that it took many of the remaining southern states years to comply? Alabama was the last hold out. They finally ratified it in 2000. That's right...2000.

I am mixed race. Part Native American. My wife's and my marriage would have been illegal in many states just 43 years ago. Some of you know me. I try to be a good Christian. But, can you imagine what I would do if some bureaucracy tried to separate my wife and I? Tried to keep me from her when she was ill or injured? I just had a heart attack a couple of months ago. What if she hadn't been allowed to be there for me because of my mixed race? That could have been the case not that long ago.

I followed up on the story of the two tragic men on a number of other sites. One of them had comments. That's where the , "just a couple of old queens" comes from. That was some alleged christian's remark about why it was no big deal. After all, it only happened to a couple of old queens. Those fags get what they deserve.
As a Christian, I'm tired of hearing that from those who say they represent my Savior. Sick and tired of it. I can't stop them...but, I can try and make sure that their voices aren't the only ones that are heard purporting to be voices of Christian thought.

So, from today on, my wife and I would like to be thought of as just a couple of old queens. Not really fair to her, mind you. She is, after all, very young...and very beautiful. But she wears the title do I.

I would rather be a couple of old queens...than what I see passing itself off as Christianity most of the time.

I hope the Gay/Lesbian community doesn't mind. I know they'll love my wife...I'm a little harder to accept. But I try...

Friday, April 9, 2010


I cut my finger yesterday. No big deal, except that the meds that I have to take for my stent make me bleed like a stuck pig. I have to bandage the finger up with a few bandages each time to keep the blood from soaking through. That makes the finger rather cumbersome...and my typing, which is not the best in the world to begin with, has suffered tremendously. I keep hitting extra keys, and bleeding on the keyboard. Some of the spellings are quite unique to say the least. So, Patti, if you thought my misspelling of sunshine was bad, you should see this stuff. This won't be the blog I originally planned. Something shorter will have to do.

I had planned on writing either about why Jesus wept, or about imaginary time/Schrodinger's Cat/and the philosophy of quantum mechanics. Not today. Let's just do...

What if?

Two word combination, but very powerful. We all do it...all the time. Usually, we do it over missed opportunities...missed chances. It's quite often replaced with, "if only". We're quite certain that if God, or whatever it is that you personally believe in, had only done things better for us, we wouldn't be in the terrible place we find ourselves in.

I prefer to look at it a different way.

What if I hadn't gotten crippled on the job as a Deputy Sheriff ?

It's a simple one, but it serves my point well. I can assure you, when I went through that whole experience, I didn't think that God was looking out for me. I didn't think He was looking out for me over the next few years, as the nerve damage grew worse. I didn't think that He was looking out for me when they found the tumor on the nerve, and thought they were going to take my leg.

I asked a lot of what ifs back then.

But...if all of that hadn't happened...

I wouldn't have met my beautiful wife. I believe that meeting, and marrying her, was God's first, best destiny for me. It could have been reached in a far better, much easier journey. You see, I had driven my life so far off course that I wasn't going to meet her. I wasn't going to get to marry the woman of my dreams. I had really screwed up the direction that God had wanted my life to go. Thankfully, for whatever reason, He loves me. He loves me enough to cripple me to get me back on course...back to the only love that could ever have saved me. Cherish's love.

It's what He wanted for me all along. I just made Him work a thousand times harder to get me there than was necessary.

Now, am I saying that all of the bad things that happen in people's lives are their fault? God forbid. I do know, however, that some of our worst problems are of our own making. Mine in particular. That's why I had the heart attack. Course correction again. I wasn't appreciating children...and all of the other wonderful things in my life enough. So, God let me have another Chance.

When I was laying on the bathroom floor, struggling to find the strength to crawl and get my phone to call 911...I wasn't thinking about being injured on the job. I wasn't thinking about all of the terrible things that I thought had happened in my life. I was thinking about Cherish...and about my children. I was thinking about how blessed I had been...and about how I had taken those blessings for granted. I was thinking, however...if only...

If only God gives me another chance...

I'll make sure I tell my wife everyday that she is God's most beautiful and wonderful creation. I'll make sure my children know how special and precious they are to me...and how ferociously proud of each one of them I am. I'll make certain that every single day that I have left... I SHOW my wife what she means to me...not just spout empty words.

It was their faces that gave me the strength to crawl to my phone. It was their love that kept me going.

Now I don't say, What if? Or, If only...

I say...don't let me forget...don't let me forget.

And, I'm grateful for all of the things in my life that led me to where I am...even the bad ones.

And, I thank God every day for course correcting my life so many times.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The SUN and the MOON

My beautiful wife, Cherish, is leaving tomorrow. She's going down to Southern California to visit our daughter Lacy, her sister Carey, and some of her old friends. She's only going to be gone until Sunday, but...

I'm going to miss her. Terribly. I've always known that my old friend Dennis was a better man than me: how he can stay apart from his lovely wife for so long, even in defence of our country, is beyond me. If I were separated from Cherish for that long, I'm certain I'd go mad.

So, I'm going to spend all day with her today. This is all I'm going to write.

The sun is the most important light in our sky. Without it, we would die. We depend on it for warmth, for food, for energy, for even the wind. We need the sun...and the light it shines upon us.

The moon is a lie. People always talk about moon light, but there is no such thing. The moon gives no only reflects the light of the sun. In fact, the sun is so powerful, it fools people into thinking that the moon gives us light.
The moon, in reality, is a dead, obscure, scarred, lifeless body...floating in the eternal darkness of space. If not for the sun, the moon would drift away...into the blackness...forgotten forever.
Cherish is the Sun.
I am the moon.

Come back to me soon, my love...

I would die without you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


For those of you new to my blogs, I like to use titles that get people's attention. That one probably did the trick. How could a Christian minister possibly be glad that he isn't born again? Well, it's really a question of semantics...but we'll get to that in a moment.

There is a great deal of freedom in being a minister that refuses to get paid for his pitiful attempts at working for God. I never have to worry if the message that I've been given is going to offend people so badly that my family won't be able to eat. That is very empowering. I do not, however, take that freedom lightly. If God is your really don't want to screw up too badly, too often. So, I try and take my responsibilities seriously, and still get the message across.

First, you'll notice I used the word, minister. It's a translation of the Greek word, doulos, which means a bond servant. A bond servant was someone who had screwed up so badly that they had been sold into slavery to pay off their debt. The person who paid the debt for them owned them until the debt amount had been repaid. Since, in my case, the debt amount is the life of God's Son, I'll never repay it in this life. Can't be done. And, although He has forgiven the debt completely, and made me a joint heir with His Son, I prefer to still think of myself as a bond servant. Why? Because that's what the Apostle Paul did. Paul was obviously a much better Christian than I could ever be, so...if it was good enough for him to think of himself that way, it works for me.

It also has the added benefit of reminding me of my place. G-O-D. All capital letters. Me=dirtbag. Not only pond scum, but lower case pond scum. That's a good start.

Now, let's get back to why I'm glad I'm not born again, shall we?

Jesus used simple analogies and stories almost all of the time. Planting, harvesting, fishing...simple stories for simple minds. There is really only one deeply religious conversation that He had that is recorded: the one with Nicodemus in John chapter 3. Famous passage...but not really understood well. One of these days, I'm going to write a blog about the whole still blows my mind. Anyway...

Old Nic asks Jesus how to get to Heaven. Jesus basically says, "You're the hotshot teacher, and you don't understand the simplest things?"

Owwwwww...that had to hurt.

Then Jesus tells him that he must be born...not again. The Greek word is "hano". It means, from above. It is denotative of place, not time. Old Nic is a ticker, as we all are. His clock only goes in one direction. Forward. Can't make it go back, can't even slow it down. Tick, tick, just keeps going. So, when Jesus says, "from above", Nic figures it hasn't happened yet because he doesn't remember it happening. Of course, he conveniently forgets that he doesn't remember his physical birth either. Asks how he gets back inside of his mom when he's an old man.

Unfortunately, he misses the whole most of us do, I'm afraid.

Ever heard these before?

Have you found Jesus? (Didn't know He was lost)

Have you accepted Jesus? (Does He have at least two current forms of ID)

These are some of the types of ways that we, as Christians, are taught to witness to people. I'm sure that God applauds the effort, at least most of the time. However, that type of process quite often does more harm than good. What should we do then?

Let me ask you a question...what did you have to do with your physical birth?

The correct answer is: nothing. You were just along for the ride. You had absolutely NOTHING to do with being born. Sooooo...what do you think you had to do with your Spiritual birth? If you answered nothing, you're on the right track.

God chose didn't choose Him.

Now, I know some of you are at least a little disturbed by all of this, and probably wondering where I'm going with it. Before we answer some of your questions, let me ask you another one.

Does God use the analogies with us that He does because of the relationships and experiences we have?
Or, did He create us to have these kind of relationships and experiences so that we would have a better chance at understanding what he wanted us to know while we were in these limiting tents of human flesh?

If you serve an Omnipotent and Omniscient God, like I do, the answer should be painfully obvious.

So, Chris, what's the big deal? What's the difference between "again" and "above"?

Again means it happened after your physical birth...which would make God a liar...and dependant on you. Above reconciles with His Word, where He says that He chose us before the foundations of the world were laid. In other words, God chose us, or gave birth to us Spiritually, before He even created the physical universe. It means that God's Grace, and Mercy, and Love are NOT dependant on us...or our ability to perform. From above means that there is NOTHING that can separate us from that love.

Some of you are let me ask you...what could your child do to make you stop loving them? Is there anything?

Of course not. They can get mad at you. Leave and not speak to you for years. Deny you and denounce you. But, no matter what they do, they are still your child. Period. And, they always will be.

Why do I feel that this difference is so important? First of all, because God does...or He wouldn't have been so careful in the words he chose to describe our relationship with Him. Secondly, it takes the pressure off. I can't count the number of people who have come to me in tears over the years, feeling that they didn't do enough to "save" a loved one or a friend. They believed that if that person wasn't "saved", it was somehow their fault.

Nothing could be farther from the Truth.

I'll tell you what I've told all of them through the years: God is pretty damn good at His job. Great batting average. Not only always gets a hit...always hits a home run. Every firckin' time. You can depend on Him to get the job done. My God is Omnipotent...not impotent. Look again at John Chapter 3. He asks Nic if he can tell where the wind comes from, or goes. In other words, can you tell who the Holy Spirit has touched before you? Can you tell who He will touch after you?

No. Not your job. Your job is acting on the knowledge that you've been given. To love God the best you can. To love your neighbor as yourself. Do those two things, everything else will fall into place.

Does that mean that I'm saying we shouldn't, as Christians, witness to others?

God forbid.

Unless, of course, you think witnessing means going to the mall and grabbing strangers and asking them if they know that they're damned and going to hell. That's not what we're told to do...and somewhere, there's a guy who did that to me at a terrible time in my life, who's probably still looking over his shoulder wondering where the psycho ex-cop is. It wasn't pretty.

What we're told to do is to have an "answer" for the hope that lies within us. That presupposes a few things: First, that we actually have hope inside of us. Second, that our lives are such that the hope that we have shows. Third, that we live among people, and that they notice the hope we have. Fourth, that they then feel close enough to us to ask why we have the hope that we have.

I talk about my wife all of the time. People may get sick of hearing about her, but I don't care. I love her. More than anything. She comes up in my conversations all of the time because I love her.

That's the way it's supposed to be with how we present God to others. Not what they're missing. Not what they need. Not where they're wrong. Not why we're right. Just who we love...and why we love Him.

You'll find you needlessly offend a lot less people that way. Nobody likes to be told that they're fat, ugly and their mother dresses them funny. Especially by someone in checks and stripes with food stains and a mullet...and a belly hanging over their too tight jeans.

Those of you who knew me in high school and before know what an insufferably arrogant jerk I could be. And, unfortunately, that was on my good days. By the time I got in my twenties, I realized I didn't really know very much. By my thirties, a lot less. Forties? Almost nothing. Now I wonder if I could find the back of my lap with a pack of bloodhounds, a posse and a flood light.

But I do know this: God loves me. He chose me. He loves you. He chose you. How do I know if He chose you or not? If He lead you here to read this...pretty simple.

The only real mystery to why God would choose me. I know me. I wouldn't choose me. But He did.

And for that, I will be grateful...eternally.


About Me

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Christopher Blake is a loving husband...devoted father...minister...crippled more than a little rough around the edges...