"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Friday, December 23, 2005

Thank you and Merry Christmas

Dear friends, I wish you all a most blessed Christmas season. Without the birth of our Lord the bond between many of us would not be in place and that bond has been an incredible blessing to me this past year.

You have encouraged me by comments left and knowing that some one thing I might have said made a difference for you. Even if you never left a comment, it has been a support to just know that many of you take the time to drop by for a visit and a quick read.

Being God's has been online a little over a year and I would not trade the friends I have made and the joy of being invited into your lives for anything in this world. Friends like JoeB, Vicki, Jan and Shannon were encouraging to me in the very beginning and I wish there were words to express the appreciation I have for each of them.

This past year has brought a lot of change into my life....retirement, the death of my wonderful dog and companion Murphy, a major car accident in which God spared me from serious injury or death, a new job, a gig writing for a local newspaper and now, a book deal. However, through it all the constant has been God. His faithfulness during my times of unfaithfulness; His Love during my times of feeling very unloved; His strength during the times when I felt so weak; and as you all experienced....His Words when I had no words to write.

From my heart to yours, thank you and may God bless you and keep you...may His face shine on you and give you peace, love and hope.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Check One More Off the List

Lists, lists, lists. Folks live them, make them endlessly, hate them, avoid them and they generate all types of emotions. As for me, I usually have some type of list stuck in a pocket or in my backpack so that I'll know what to pick up at the grocery store. There's a list somewhere on my desk at work with my 'to do' stuff on it and usually with a number of priority assigned. If you look closely at home, you'll also find a list of home and yard projects to do during the upcoming season. Admittedly, I tend to get a bit obsessed with my list-making, but they are a big help to me in planning out my days and weeks ahead.

Now, I think we all have some type of list of things which we'd like to accomplish in our lives. It may be extreme activities like bungee jumps or sky diving, or it may be equally importantly list to be a good parent and role model.

Two of the things that have been on my "do before I die" have now been checked off. One of those items was done about 15 years ago which was to record an album (not a CD, not a cassette, but those old vinyl LP albums). I've always been a musician and loved the gift God gave me of music, so the time and opportunity presented itself to record an album with several friends of mine.

Another item on the list came to pass yesterday (Friday) at 9:38 a.m. (EST). I signed an agreement with a publishing house for "Being God's" to go into print. If all goes well and if I can keep on schedule, my book (whoa, that sounds sooo bizarre), will be out mid to late summer of 2006. But, regardless of the exact date, it will definitely be out for you to give to all your friends and neighbors for Christmas next year. Hey...I gotta start marketing now, there's a whole lot of money and effort involved here.

For those of you who have published before, you know what lies ahead of me and I ask your prayers for patience during the editing and rewrites, for enduring sleepless nights and being able to keep my day job, and for the creative juices to flow as never before.

For those of you who just visit "Being God's" here on the internet, pray that many of the articles and writings you've read here and others that have not been blogged, will be a blessing to at least someone somewhere. Even though I am proud and excited about this new adventure, I only want to be able to share what God has done for me and what He was taught me to be used as an encouragement for others. It isn't about me, it's about God.

So, my friends, because of the encouragement and pressure I've received from many of you, I'm taking this next step. And we all know what new adventures bring to me....strange and odd things which somehow God helps me turn into a blog, so stay tuned.

And so for today (and tomorrow), this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Don't Judge Me By My Bracelet

I've had these thoughts running around in my head for a few weeks now, and then saw a friend's blog and an article that generated more discussion, so I thought I'd share this with you. Not that it's relevant to your feelings, but it is where I have come in my thoughts.

I'm sure everyone in the world has seen the yellow "LiveStrong" bracelets that are sold for $1 to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer research. As you walk through schools, your office, the mall, your neighborhood, even on the television, we see these little bits of yellow rubber peeking out from under shirt sleeves and coat jackets. Not that I'm talking out of turn, because I have one myself. Is it just a fad? Is it just a trendy thing to do? Do we wear these for the reason that we really do support the fight against cancer? Or because the really cool Lance Armstrong wears one?

For the few of you who were alive during the 70's know how popular the POW/MIA bracelets were. It was a very similar thing to this. I wore one then, but it was because I knew the MIA and wore it in his honor in hopes that he would someday return home. Unfortunately, it was finally determined in the 1990's that he was dead and his remains were returned to his family now in Mississippi. For those of you who went to Washington DC with our church Youth Choir tour remember that I took that bracelet with me and left it at theVietnam wall under his name. It was an emotional reminder to me of a guy from high school, how life is so uncertain and the memory of him that I wore from1972 until 2003.

Now...back to the LiveStrong bracelet which I now wear. In my thinking about the reason I wear it, I use the same analogy as the POW bracelets even though they are not inscribed with specific names. I support cancer research, not just for celebrities and athletes, but for all of us. I wear my LiveStrong bracelet in honor of my dad who is a cancer survivor, in honor of Cindy George, Kimberly Butler, Millie McKee, Judge Del Buttrill, John Fitzgerald, of Donnie Schutz and the many others in my life who are surviving cancer at this point. However, I also wear it in memory of my aunt, Marie Cochran, of Lance Newsome, of Pete Hudson, of David Boswell (my little friend who died from leukemia when he was 15), and again the many more who did not survive the battle.

I wear the bracelet in honor of their memory, of the strength in their lives and of their families, of the legacy they have left behind for all of us. So, I have tried to make my wearing this bracelet a personal symbol of a hope that someday this disease will be destroyed, and it will be, even $1 at a time. I would urge you to not see people wearing the bracelets and automatically judge them as the fad of the month. We all have ways to honor our loved ones, as for me it is wearing a yellow bracelet for those who do truly Live Strong through their faith and trust in God as their strength and hope.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Reverend Batt and the Demon Dog

You may remember a couple months ago, I wrote about playing golf with one of our new Ministers, Reverend Batt (remember he didn't want his real name used), and I think at the time I mentioned an encounter I had with his dog, affectionately called the 'demon dog'. This name came from the time when Rev. Batt and his lovely wife Epiphany (yep, name changed) asked me to dog sit for their 'precious fur child' (as in the cockapoo in the picture) while they were out of town for the weekend. Don't let that peaceful pose fool you.

"Oh you won't have any problems," they assured me, "he's such a friendly puppy and loves everyone. He'll come running to greet you when you come in the house and will easily go outside for awhile, then come back in when he is ready. It will be an easy few visits." Hmmm, yeah. I went by that first night to let Precious out and had to go hunting him down where I finally found him on the bed, teeth bared, hair up, snarling like a wildebeest or worst. The more I tried to be unthreatening, the worse it got. Finally, I went to the kitchen and tried the old Hansel & Gretel trick of leaving a trail of treats from the bedroom to the kitchen. It sorta worked (he followed the trail), but once he rounded that kitchen corner and saw me, he reverted back to the beast of medieval times. I opened the back door, stood behind it on a barrel and hoped he would not notice me. He left, I hid, he came back in, I tossed a handful of more treats in the living room and ran for my life. The other trips that weekend did not fare much better. Thus, the demon dog name was born.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago...Batt and Epiphany were once again going on an overnight trip and asked me to demon sit. Batt told me he had had a long talk with Demon and that he understood I was good and was not going to hurt him. He said that Demon understood and would be on his best behavior. So, I reluctantly agreed to try again and tried to make a mental note to make out my last Will and Testament before the weekend.

Surprise of surprises awaited me. I cautiously opened the garage door into the house, stun gun in hand (j/k), and to my eyes appearing the most docile, tail-wagging, "excited to see ya" dog anyone could imagine. Demon bounded over to me, sniffing and licking my hand and jeans and when we got outside, all he wanted to do was to play fetch and be chased. Back in the house, I plopped on the sofa while Demon played with some strange duck-like toy (which he carries by the hind-end...but that's another story), and would bring his baby to me to play with, too.

Not trying to belittle Batt and Epiphany's chat with Demon, but something changed his behavior. Possibly the doggie conversation did have some effect, perhaps it didn't, but there was definitely some type of transformation.

When the routine of my day and life gets out of whack, I get grumpy and irritable toward most anyone who further disrupts the routine. If they catch me just right, I am probably snarling and greeting them much like Demon met me on that first occasion because I was not a part of his daily routine. He wasn't prepared for me or the change. Often, well most, well all of the time, it takes a talk with my Father to get myself straightened out and reminded that a change in routine is sometimes for my own good. It is in those changes that I learn new things and grow in some needed area of my life. My Father knows what is best for me and does not hinder changes to come my way so that I can grow.

Batt and Epiphany knew that Demon needed some assistance over the days they were gone and I was the one available. It just took awhile for the change in routine to help the pooch grow and understand it was for his best to have fresh food and water, to go outside and have some human contact and kindness.

Do you hear the still small voice of God when changes come? Or, like me, does it usually take a baseball upside the head to catch on to what He is trying to bring to your attention? Let's all work to be as easily adaptable as Demon (now to be known by his real name, Kenton) when changes come into our world.

And for today my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy.