When the cop came knocking

This is a lesson about stealing.

Back many years ago, when I was but a young 19, I worked at a gas station. Usually I worked the early morning shift or the day shift, but once in a while they would have me close the store. That’s where the trouble started. This gas station wasn’t in the best section of town and the people I worked with weren’t exactly citizens of upright standing. Whenever you closed the store for the night you had to count the money for your shift and if you were over or under by a lot you would get in trouble because you either overcharged customers or didn’t charge enough. One particular evening we had $40 too much money in the register so the guy I was working with said we should each just take $20 then the register would balance and all would be okay. I felt uncomfortable about this but I was more of the type that went along with the flow so I said okay, took the money and went home.

The next morning I woke up, my parent’s had already gone to work so I had the house to myself. This is important to note – my parents house is out in the country on a dead end road with only a few houses. People don’t come out there unless they have a reason to.

As I was making my breakfast I heard a knocking sound. I looked out and there was a county sheriff standing at our front door. I nearly passed out. What is he doing here? How did they find out I took the $20? What’s going to happen? Am I going to lose my job? Am I going to go to jail? I was panicked, but I calmly went to the door, said hello and asked what he needed. It turned out he was lost and was trying to find a certain road. I gave him directions and he went on his way not knowing what his presence had done to me. I knew that it wasn’t coincidence that he showed up at my door, God had led him there to scare me and teach me a lesson – stealing is not okay!

I went back to work later in the afternoon and waited to see if anyone said anything about missing money but no one did. I took the $20 and just left it on the counter when I left for the day so they had their money back but in a way that it didn’t mess up the next person running the register. I’ve never forgotten that day and how scared I was and what a good life lesson that was. Stealing isn’t really a temptation that I’m drawn to but I don’t think I could ever steal anything again anyway because I never want to see a cop knocking on my door again!

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Self Discipline

It’s so easy to become lazy. I’ve become lazy and I don’t like it. So I’ve realized that it will take small steps to get the ball of change rolling. I’ve worn contacts since I was a teenager and I’ve always struggled with taking them out every night. It’s so much easier just to sleep with them in, but I knew it was laziness. Last Friday I took them out before going to sleep and I’ve done it every night since. It’s only been 5 nights so far but I’m committed to continuing this, I’m committed to learning self discipline. We are told in Scripture that our bodies are temples and for so long I’ve neglected mine in little ways. I want that to change. I need to eat better, I need to excercise more, I need to be quicker to love and slower to use words that hurt. Because self discipline isn’t just about the physical side of life, it’s also about the mental side, the Spiritual side. Self control is a fruit of the Spirit and I want the Spirit to be evident in my life. This definitely won’t be an overnight conversion for me, it’s the whole snowball effect and it’s starting with taking my contacts out every night. Life is a growing process and I can either sit back and do nothing or grow as a person and I for one am choosing to grow.

The End of Harry Potter

It’s the day before the end. Tomorrow night at midnight myself and thousands of people around the world will be sitting in a movie theater waiting to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. I already know it will be an amazing movie and I’m pretty sure it will be my favorite movie of the series. For many people this movie signifies the end of the Harry Potter era but for true fans that era will never end. I will continue to watch the movies and re-read the books and as weird as it sounds, the world of Hogwarts will always be a part of my life, part of my conversations, and I will continue to shout spells anytime I’m holding anything that remotely resembles a wand!

The Harry Potter series has definitely had its share of praise and criticism. The books have been burned, the movies snubbed at award shows, but the reason they are so popular is because they strike a chord in us, they resonate with us. The idea of Hogwarts and being sorted into a house excites us. I think most people at some time have wanted to be able to do something magical.

When it comes to the books versus the movies debate, it’s really hard for me to choose, but I guess I would lean towards the books. There’s a lot more fullness and richness of the story that comes alive there that just couldn’t be added to the movie. Even though I know the plot and know the characters, the story still comes alive whenever that book cracks open. The movies on the other hand are amazing too, they bring to life all the things I imagine in my head and that’s why I’m so excited for this last movie. I want to see everyone in a new light for the last time. Yes there will be tears shed, I already know which parts will cause them, but there will also be a sense of victory, of accomplishment, of justice.

For those of you who would like the world of Harry Potter to continue on, here are a few suggestions:

www.pottermore.com – J.K. Rowlings on website that will take the series to new places.

Mugglecast – a podcast dedicated to all things HP

http://www.rabbitroom.com/2011/07/harry-potter-jesus-and-me/ – a link to a great blog about Harry Potter and Christianity written by Andrew Peterson

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite book and my favorite movie (excluding the freeze frame that ends the film). Just thought I would throw that in here.

Enjoy the final movie and every now and then re-read one of the books. It’s worth it.

Catching Fire & Mockingjay

I finally finished The Hunger Games trilogy and although it was a great story, as I shut the last book I felt a sense of hopelessness, of history repeating itself, and of lives lived with little joy. I know not all books are meant to leave the reader in a good place. I’ve cried as I finished some books, but never have I felt such a sense of worthlessness. Not in my life but for the characters in the books. All that they went through, the triumps and loss, the death, just to get to a place where they lived a bleak existence in a world void of the ones they loved most.

It almost feels like a loss of innocence. Life was tough for Katniss, Peeta, and Gale before the Hunger Games changed everything, but at least there was family and happiness, friendship and love. When the great war is over and the Capitol has been defeated all that is left is dead relatives, destroyed homes, and families separated from one another. For a long time I was torn between whether I wanted to see Katniss with Gale or Peeta and I went back and forth but in the end it really didn’t matter to me, the events that transpired went way beyond what their relationship could be and made it non-important who she ended up with.

I don’t want you to think I didn’t enjoy the books, the first book was amazing, easily one I would re-read, and the other two were good reads as well, it’s just that the story didn’t have a happy ending (in my opinion) and I guess I wanted it to. I wanted families to be together, I wanted hope to be restored, I wanted Katniss to somehow end up with both Peeta and Gale!

If you haven’t read The Hunger Games you should. Don’t let this post discourage you. I’m very excited for the movie adaptations but I do wonder how they will keep them at PG-13 because the books were pretty graphic. If you’ve already read the books or read them in the future let me know your thoughts as well!

Bald is Beautiful

As I was shaving my head this morning I began to reflect on the fact that I’m bald. I still have a ring of hair that covers that back and sides of my head, but up on top it’s like a few blades of grass struggling to reach the sun. So for the  most part I keep my head clean shaven.

I’m only 30 but I actually went bald when I was 23. In high school I had short hair but once I moved away to college I let it grow and grow it did! My hair was long and for the next few years it went back and forth from short to medium to long and changed colors from the normal black/brown to orange/red/yellowish. My hairline was slowly receding but that wasn’t a big deal to me.

Then I made a decision that changed everything.

I was in Germany in 2003, it was winter and I was working with a choir of kids from Uganda and Kenya. They convinced me to do something I had never done before – shave my head. One evening I did it. I cut all the hair off my head and it never came back. Like I said before, the sides and back grew in just fine but the top had lost the battle.

 I miss having hair, sometimes when the wind blows it feels like I have hair but in those moments when I miss it the most I remember these words of wisdom a friend told me: God made some men perfect…and the rest he gave hair.

Losing Steam

This blog has been up and running since February 2010, about 17 months now. I’ve tried to post at least once a week, usually more, but lately I’ve been losing steam. Interesting things are happening, I’m watching good shows and reading books that I like, but it’s the actual writing of the posts that have become difficult. A few years ago when I was writing a lot more short stories and was working on a novel I would hit a wall every now and then and just didn’t want to write anymore so I had to push through it to get to the end result. The problem with a blog is there isn’t necessarily an end result. It’s very much open-ended.

I’m going to keep writing, I’m going to keep posting, no question about that, but I just wanted everyone to know where I was at so that, in case of less posts, you’ll know why. Who know’s though, tomorrow I could wake up and be ready to write a post a day. That’s the thing I’ve found with writing, it’s a day to day process that you can’t give up on. You have to make the words come out, you have to force the thoughts into something readable because you can’t be a writer if you don’t write. Ever since I was a child I wanted to be a writer, not because I wanted to be famous or write the next great novel, but because I thought I had good ideas and stories to tell and the medium I wanted to do that through was words.

Thanks for all of you who keep up with the blog, I appreciate it and I hope the things I write about interest you and put a smile on your face. And all that needs to happen for me to not lose steam is for more fuel to be put in the fire.

Dreams of Fernandomania

This past weekend I took in my first Dodgers game of the season and uncharacteristically they won 8-0, had 17 hits, and Kershaw struck out 10 while only allowing 2 hits. If they did that all the time, they’d actually be a team to reckon with.

What was interesting was what happened the night before the game though. I had a dream. A dream that merged a number of things that had been going on in my head into one. I had a dream about meeting Fernando Valenzuela, the great Dodger pitcher. In real life the day before, Matt Kemp (@TheRealMattKemp on Twitter) had been tweeting about meeting fans at different Bank of America’s around Los Angeles and this is what caused my dream to happen I think.

In my dream I was pulling into a Bank of America and realized that there was an autograph session going on with someone in a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform. I parked my car, walked up to the table and noticed that it was Fernando Valenzuela. I knew that somewhere in a stack of baseball cards that were in my trunk there was one of his cards (in my dream I guess I keep baseball cards in my trunk) and that I could get him to sign it.

I ran back to the car and sure enough, his was on top. I picked it up and looked at it only to have the wind blow and it fell back into the trunk and onto the pile of other baseball cards. I started to sort through the pile but couldn’t find his card, it was as if it had disappeared. After searching for a while I became frustrated and gave up, at least I was going to shake his hand and say hello.

When I got back inside the bank Fernando had changed from the Dodger uniform into a suit and was getting read to leave. I shouted out his name and he turned around as he was walking out the door. “I’m going to the game today, will you be there?” I called.

He smiled and walked out the door. Then I woke up.