Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Eulogy

Well crap.  Thanksgiving afternoon this world lost a great man.  He was a husband, a father and a friend to many.  He was taken too soon.  I mourn his loss but I'm grateful that the pain is over and that he's in heaven partying it up with Jesus.  Daniel Byron "Maus" McNary was a great man.

I remember the first time I met Maus.  It was my first Sunday attending Hope Christian Church.  I had interviewed for the position of youth pastor.  I was supposed to attend the church one Sunday incognito to get a feel for it.  Good plan, but it didn't work out.

After the service there was a very gregarious guy who recognized that I was a visitor.  He peppered me with questions, genuinely trying to get to know me.  He asked about how I'd heard about the church--I couldn't lie in church, could I?  So much for going incognito.  I made a great friend that day.

I remember so many Monday night Bible studies were after the host kicked us out we stood standing outside until midnight talking.  Talking about the Bible, about history, about comic books, about movies, about music--whatever struck our fancy that night.

Maus and his family helped me through some tough times and low points in my life.  I'm a bit of an introvert.  I have a difficult time forming and maintaining relationships with people, and they reached out to me.  They invited me to their weekly family get-togethers.  I was going through a period of burnout in ministry and of depression.  They took me in and made me a part of their family.  They helped me keep my sanity and stay grounded.

His selflessness stands out as his most endearing quality.  He's always been so outgoing and concerned for others.  One of the last times I saw him he was in the hospital.  At the time and my wife and I were going through some very rocky times.  Before I could ask about him, Maus asked me how we were doing.  Before I could pray for him, Maus asked me to come over to his bed so he and Ronett could lay hands on me and pray for my marriage.  That act of selfless kindness has touched me more than anything else. 

He was a great man, and I miss him.


Ronett, my thoughts and prayers are with you and the girls.  I am here for you, whatever you need.

I want end this with a quote from another friend who was taken before his time:  "We were created, redeemed and sustained by God.  He did all the work.  We were created for His glory and for His pleasure.  So how can we be mad at Him for calling one of us home?" - Jonathan Booker

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Writing Exercises

I've been focusing recently on writing fiction.  I've written a few short stories in the past couple of weeks but my main goal is to write a novel.  I've been slowly going through a book that's supposed to help the writing process along.  I haven't done much work on the novel itself.  Instead it's taken me through exercises designed to get the creative juices flowing.  And it's been working.

I've finished four pieces of short fiction in the past two weeks, and I've been able to look at the characters in those pieces and give them more dimension.  I'm not rushing my novel; instead I'm taking the time to think my characters out more.  That should help me to write more developed characters from the beginning.

One exercise the book had me do was to choose a character from a list, a character trait, and a situation for the character to react to.  I chose a germaphobic celebrity chef who has a baby left on his front porch.  I had fun with the exercise, so I spent a few minutes jazzing up the initial draft and decided to share it.  Enjoy.


     "Cooking with Ricardo" had been on a three week hiatus.  Ricardo Milan wanted to return to work, but there were too many germs there.  Everyone touched everything on the set, and no one cleaned up after themselves.  It was disgusting.  Ricardo hadn't always been like this, but recent events made him realize how dirty the world really was.
  Ricardo's brother was a doctor with a heart for the underprivileged.  As soon as news broke about the Ebola Epidemic in western Africa, he joined the Red Cross in treating the victims.  And now his brother, a father of three, was dead.  It didn't matter to Ricardo that his brother had been killed in a bus accident, he associated his death with Ebola.  And now he was a germaphobe.
Now that his eyes had been opened to the dangers around him, it was hard for Ricardo to go anywhere.  Cooking, once his favorite joy, was now a tedious chore.  There were few foods he trusted anymore, and what he did trust he cleaned meticulously.
This morning he'd decided on an omelette of organic egg whites, spinach, mushrooms and a diced tomato.  He'd just sat down to eat the hot meal coupled with a mug of green tea when Ricardo heard a faint crying.  He looked around but there were no children in his house.  He must be hearing things.  A few bites later the crying had gotten louder so Ricardo got up to investigate.
All other worries disappeared from Ricardo's mind when he found the source of the noise.  Someone had left an infant on his doorstep.  And not just any infant, but a screaming, crying and peeing baby.  What was he supposed to do?
There was no one around for miles; that's why he'd built the house here.  It would take a while for anyone to come, even if he called child protective services or even the police--the police!  He needed to call 911!
Ricardo rushed inside and got halfway to the kitchen before he realized he left the baby outside.  He couldn't do that.  He ran back outside and picked up the basket it was laying in--how cliche.  He quickly carried it inside and looked for a place to set it down, but where?
Yesterday the cleaners had come and it would be another five days before they came again.  Wherever he set the child, that area would have to be quarantined until the cleaners returned.  But he liked his whole house  He didn't want to give any part of it up.  SHould he just take the baby to the back yard?  It should be fine out there--no, it (he didn't even know if it was a boy or girl yet) was a human child.  He couldn't leave it outside in the elements.  He'd have to suck it up.
Finally, Ricardo settled on a spare room not too far from the kitchen.  He set the basket down, went into the bathroom and spent five minutes sanitizing himself.  Once he was satisfied that he was truly clean, he found his cellphone and called 911.  Ricardo relayed his story to the dispatcher as quickly as he could.  She made sure the child was fine and thanked him for taking care of the child and assured him that the authorities would be there.
"We have to coordinate with CPS so that our officers can conduct an investigation in conjunction with CPS.  We should have responders out to you in an hour or two."
"But, but--" Ricardo stuttered.  Two hours?  He couldn't have a germy, poopy baby in his house that long.
"The child isn't in need of urgent medical attention, is it?"
"No, but--"
"Then it'll be a while before we can get everyone out there.  Thank you sir and have a great day."  The line went dead.
Ricardo slowly walked to his recliner and sank into the plush cushions and buried his head in his hands, oblivious to everything else around him.  He would have to get the cleaners out here today to sanitize his place.  THey' need to air it out and disinfect everything.  It would take days for Ricardo to feel clean.  And who knew how long it would be before he got the sounds of crying out of his ears...the crying!  The baby was crying!
He momentarily forgot all his worries and rushed to the room that housed the baby.  It was still in the basket.  Against all his phobias, Ricardo reached down to pick the child up and comfort it.  But as his hands were inches from the baby, he stopped suddenly.
Oh, dear God in Heaven, the smell!  The diaper was fuller now.  What had it eaten to produced something so foul?  But more importantly, was he really going to change the diaper?  He had undershirts he could use as a makeshift diaper--he'd have to toss the shirt after, of course--and he could find some wipes that would work.  But could he actually do the deed?
The baby continued to cry.  He didn't have much of a choice, did he?  Ricardo grabbed a shirt, grabbed sanitary wipes,rolled up his sleeves, and undid the diaper.
"So you're a boy."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Health

Health.  It's kind of  a big deal.  Thousands of pastors preach about spiritual health from the pulpit every Sunday morning.  Bookstores tout entire sections devoted to gurus on physical health and wellness.  But why are the two separated?

First Corinthians 6:19 tells us that our bodies are God's temple.  If we Christians claim to believe the Bible, why are there so many overweight pastors?  Why do such a small percentage take this to heart?  I once heard someone claim that obesity is the largest unspoken sin in the American church today.  I'd have to agree.

I'm not trying to criticize the church or pastors, but there is a problem and it shouldn't be ignored like it is.  Of course I've looked in the mirror and realized that I'm a tad overweight.  I've lost some weight recently, but I've plateaued recently.  I definitely need to step up my efforts.

I've decided to make health--not just spiritual, not just physical, not just mental, but every aspect--more iportant than it has been to me before.  I'm tired of just surviving as a person.  I want to thrive.  And in order to do that I need to get healthy.  It' won't be quick and it won't be easy.  But thankfully I'm not alone in this.  Destree and I are walking this path together.

One task we are undertaking is a rim to rim hike of the Grand Canyon with the ministry of Revelation Wellness sometime next September.  We don't have an exact date yet, but we have some registration fees coming up and we'll need to raise some money (Reading between the lines, we're going to hit everyone we know up for donations.  Twice.  And as far as our registration fees go, I don't have ads on my blog for nothing (; ).

In the next year I'm going to get myself to Pena Adobe, Rockville Hills and Lynch Canyon as often as I can to get my butt in shape.  It'll be tough but good.  And after the Grand Canyon, on to the John Muir trail!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Writing Endeavors

I've dreamed of writing a novel since I was a child.  I've had a plethora of ideas in that time period in a variety of different genres.  I've started to write so many books whose pages have been misplaced, files have been deleted, and ideas that have been axed.  The hardest loss was a sci-fi novel that I was over 10,000 words into writing the book and I lost the flash drive I had it saved on.  I had put so much work into what was lost that I never tried to restart it.  Since then I make sure I have back up copies of everything I write.

In the past few years I've moved into writing short fiction.  I've really enjoyed working with shorter pieces--I can focus on a smaller section of a larger story and have fun flushing out characters, story, or whatever I'm focusing on in that particular piece.

Anyone who takes a look at my library knows that I'm a huge fan of fantasy.  My fascination started out with C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and Rowling as a young child, and was fed later in life by Robert Jordan, Marian Zimmer Bradley, Mary Stewart, Robert E. Howard, and many others.  I have aspired to create my own memorable world in the same way that the greats have.

Nine years ago I had an idea and a sketch.  The idea didn't have much substance but it was a launching point for a fantasy series.  I've worked on things off and on, writing and erasing, typing and deleting.  I've got a decent start on a lot of different books in a series, but I haven't been able to finish anything.  Until now.

It's only a short story but it's something.  It's the start of a larger world.  And by this time next year I should have a novel finished.  But for now I have some editing to do. I've sent it out to a few friends for critique before I start editing it.  I never turn down an extra set of eyes, so if anyone wants to lend a hand, let me know.  I appreciate any help.