Monthly Archives: August 2018

Enjoying The Journey

Aah…there’s nothing like coming home after a two week vacation. Vacations are wonderful, especially while visiting family when returning to one’s original stomping grounds, but there’s something to be said for a comfortable routine at home as well. My lovely wife and I had just gotten back to Arizona, from our trip to Iowa, when I found myself saying aloud in a somewhat sarcastic manner, “Just enjoying the journey.” Well, first I said, “What the?” Our car which had been sitting in the parking lot of Sky Harbor International Airport, while the missus and I were off gallivanting, was dead as a doornail. We were stranded for only a short time because we quickly learned the airport offers free (minus a tip) jump-starts, but it was enough time for me to remember I had said the same thing only a few days earlier. However, at the time when I said, “just enjoying the journey” while back in Iowa, I genuinely meant it.

I have always wanted to try my hand at kayaking and was pleased to find out my big sis had arranged, for those family members willing to endure one of my “bucket list” items, a two-hour kayaking excursion at Rock Creek State Park. It was a beautiful day to be at one with the lake. And I was literally at one with the lake. As I was backing my kayak away from the harbor, I was violently thrown out of the watercraft. Oh yea, and I don’t know how to swim. No worries though. My kayak was not one of those confining cockpit types (I made sure before getting in), I was donning a lifejacket (I’m no dummy…and wearing one was mandatory), and the water was only chest deep at this point. I was the only one in our group to taste the unfiltered water of Rock Creek.

Knee deep in sludge, and drenched with not so crystal clear lake water, I trudged the few yards back to the shore. The park’s employees swiftly met me there with looks of great concern on their faces although assuredly they were laughing hysterically on the inside. Come to find out, I had been given faulty equipment – my theory, but certainly backed up by common sense. A vast amount of water had been left within the watercraft’s shell which made the weight distribution of the kayak extremely unbalanced when I initially attempted to go forward. About ten minutes later, after the staff drained the intrusive liquid from the kayak, I began the launching process all over again. This time everything went smoothly, and I believe during the next two hours I proved to everyone that I could probably be a kayak Olympian. My wife felt so bad for what had happened, even possibly shedding a few tears, but I truly wouldn’t have changed a thing that day. It was an experience not everyone will have, and for me an integral part of enjoying the journey.

Driving home from Sky Harbor I was hoping our car’s battery would recharge itself during the lengthy jaunt. No such luck, so I scheduled an appointment for the ailing Hyundai Elantra at our local Brakes Plus. The following day, after taking the missus to work, I tried jump-starting the car for no less than 35 minutes, but to no avail. I was now angry, sweating profusely, and swearing up a storm. I felt totally defeated and shared with God how ridiculous I thought the whole situation was. I questioned how this could possibly be any part of His plan, and I pleaded with my Savior to help me out. I then apologized for my unsavory tongue and cautioned God I was only going to turn the key one more time before giving up. (He knew I was fibbing a bit.) After the second try, I finally heard the sweet sound of a purring engine. I thanked God! I then phoned Brakes Plus to inform them of my obvious tardiness – my appointment was scheduled for 9:00 am, and it was already 9:10 am.

I was relieved when I was told by the representative to bring the car in anyway. But wait. As I was backing out of the driveway, I became utterly dumbfounded when realizing the Hyundai’s power steering was barely functional. And there were at least four warning symbols now illuminating from the dashboard. I’ve never seen that before. God surely does have a sense of humor. There was no turning back. I silently prayed, and held my breath, as I drove approximately 3 miles to the auto repair shop. (Spoiler alert: The car’s alternator was bad and needed replaced, as well as the battery.)

My original plan had been to relax at a nearby Starbucks while the Elantra was being serviced, but now I was saturated with sweat and just wanted to get home. The gal behind the counter offered me a ride, but I declined. I already had it in my head that I’d be walking home, and I also don’t like to be a burden to anyone. It’s hereditary I suppose. My one grandpa could be quite stubborn at times, and my other grandpa did not like to ask anyone for help. I’m a descendant of both, so I’m screwed. I slung my backpack, almost filled to capacity, over my shoulder and headed out the door. I planned on entertaining myself at the coffee shop with the contents inside my backpack: my Bible, crossword puzzle books, an AARP magazine, my Fantasy Football notes, and most vital – my reading glasses, but now they’d all be accompanying me on this surprising long haul.

I had only taken a few strides when I spotted the large metal cross on the grounds of the Circle of Peace Church. Even though I’ve never been inside that church, one can’t help but notice the iconic symbol when driving by. I’ve seen that rusted cross hundreds of times before, from the well traveled thoroughfare, but this time was very different. I was close to it. I was drawn to it. I was prompted to take a pause. I sat down on one of the six wooden benches at the foot of the cross, and I prayed. I thanked my Heavenly Father for being there with me when I was feeling alone, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I offered Him my gratitude for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me including my family and the finances to be able to afford whatever would be determined to be wrong with our car.

I told God I knew this inconvenience was a Lower Story event, and I wasn’t sure what I could learn from it, but whatever the reason I hoped ultimately it would bring glory to Him. I have always sort of wondered why the Circle of Peace Church stationed benches near their outdoor cross. This is the desert, and the area’s not shaded after all. I had never seen anybody take advantage of their set up the entire time I’ve lived in the city. I’ve even questioned at times whether or not the outdoor arrangement made any sense at all. Now I have my answer. I left that old rusty cross with a new attitude.

I was about halfway home when I became painfully aware that I wasn’t wearing the most comfortable footwear for a trek through the desert. But, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death ….” With several more blocks to go, I could no longer tolerate my uncomfortable shoes. I immediately noticed I was, of course, wearing a virgin pair of socks. I’d much rather have dirty socks than blackened feet, so I finished the three-mile hike sock footed. I even showed a bit of moxie, by walking an extra half a block to retrieve the day’s mail, before finally reaching my destination.

I had persevered. I celebrated with a rinse in the swimming pool and a much needed drink. (Fruit Punch Gatorade never tasted so good!) My unexpected hike had given me a new perspective, a renewed appreciation – and a couple of mega blisters on the heels of my feet. Sadly, the very next day I broke my favorite coffee mug, and the garbage disposal stopped working. But the unforeseen circumstances and little inconveniences in life are what make the good times seem even that much sweeter. Things don’t always go my way, but at least I’m enjoying the journey.

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The A-Word

There are some words in the English language that when spoken tend to make people cringe. There’s, of course, the mother of all dirty words: the F-word. There’s the C-word that especially drives the fairer sex to shudder, or so I’m told. And then there’s the A-word. Not to be confused with the other A-word which is commonly followed by hole. (Oddly enough, censors have decided hole is a more offensive term than ass. Hole is the word always bleeped out on broadcast television when combined with that A-word.) The A-word I’m alluding to is probably the most cringe worthy word when mentioned in our society at this moment in time. I am, of course, talking about abortion.

Admit it. You just cringed. And a good number of you are now saying, “Oh no he di’int.” Well, yes I did just go there. I’m well aware discussing this topic is a no-win situation for me, but I really don’t care. I also realize both the pro-choice and the pro-life advocates are extremely passionate about their chosen stance. I think there are sensible arguments to be made on both sides, but when the rhetorical idiocy and politicizing enters the fray – and it always does – the extremists’ and alarmists’ voices drown out any rationale thinking and hinders all bipartisan discussion.

You’re either a sanctimonious conservative Christian opposed to civil rights, or you’re an immoral liberal gung-ho on killing babies. Those typically are the only two categories of people offered by the media. You are either an anti-abortion extremist fond of abortion clinic bombings, or your views align with Michelle Wolf’s who recently said, “Don’t knock it till you try it! And when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you gotta get that baby out of there.” The “comedian” equates anti-abortion as being anti-woman, proclaims “men are irrelevant” in this matter, and finds humor in quipping, “God bless abortions and God bless America!”

I’m a moderate when it comes to the A-word. I assume my chosen stance is quite the anomaly in this country, but hopefully not. I believe life begins with a heartbeat – usually detected at six weeks after intercourse. Therefore, my thoughts on the A-word are based on that premise, and I think anything goes in a pregnancy up to that point. That’s surely why I’m a proponent of the “morning-after pill.” The single dose does not abort a baby, but it does prevent fertilization if taken in time. The pill is fairly inexpensive and highly effective up to five days after engaging in unprotected sex.

I think this allows a woman the best chance of having peace of mind since she’ll truly never know if she would’ve become pregnant. Sort of like the old-time firing squads that enabled a sense of “diffusion of responsibility” by issuing one firearm containing a blank cartridge amongst the firing squad. Nobody knew for certain if he actually participated in the execution. I also believe Planned Parenthood is not the evil that some portray the vital organization as being. The reproductive health agency offers numerous services other than abortions. Planned Parenthood was a godsend to me and the missus prior to and during our first year of marriage.

I absolutely think abortion should be legally available in cases of rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. I think legalized abortion should be an option in some cases of unwanted pregnancies as well. For example, the hormonal fifteen-year-old who makes a mistake and afterwards has no means to properly care for a child. She should not be coerced to carry a baby to term for adoption purposes either. I think if the government forces motherhood on a woman then the government has to be willing to financially support the child for as long as needed. But at the same time, women who continue to choose to bear children they cannot afford should not be rewarded with an abundance of government funding.

I’m definitely not entirely onboard with the pro-choice notion that a woman’s body is solely hers to do with what she wants. None of us, male or female, realistically have total control of our bodies. There are laws against prostitution and drug use, and the government can quarantine any human body with an infectious disease, such as tuberculosis, at any time. It also seems a bit unfair that the man has no real voice in the matter – because it does take two. However, it is probably proper for the woman to have the final say on whether or not to give birth. Proper up to a point.

I do not think abortion should ever be used as a method of birth control. Acquiring an abortion after the first trimester of a pregnancy should not be as readily available as Michelle Wolf desires. But banning abortion entirely is just as silly. I’m completely fine with the government imposing restrictions on abortion once a heartbeat is detected. I am relieved we currently have a conservative majority in the Supreme Court although I don’t anticipate any significant changes coming concerning the A-word. The Supreme Court Justices are there to interpret congressional laws, and the lion’s share of them tend to rule with high regard for set precedents.

Right or wrong, or somewhere in between, those are my thoughts on abortion. The goal of this essay is not an attempt to radically change people’s minds. It’s simply intended for all to consider what they may have never considered. I also think it offers some hope that we are capable of engaging in a much more civil dialogue regarding the A-word.