Satan, Solomon, and Sinners

The times in which we are living are quite sad. I swore I’d never bring attention to it but I can’t help it. Look around. The devil is having his day, week, month, and year. People are using their free wills for evil. Humans are being trafficked and treated like possessions; children are being raped, abused, and killed; those sworn to protect are being disrespected and killed; cowardly thugs pick up guns instead of fists; and innocent people everywhere are victims. Too many don’t value life but care more about their own egos and reputations and other mindless bullshit that doesn’t matter in the end, anyway. Marriages aren’t being fought for and are quickly ending in divorces; spouses no longer respect each other and make a mockery of their vows by stepping out while still married. Their young children don’t know better and become excited about having two houses and possible future step-parents like the rest of their unfortunate friends. People value superficiality over depth; see half truths as honesty instead of lies; don’t hold themselves accountable nor do they want anyone to hold them accountable. People in power abuse it–some by taking advantage of others and some by not treating everyone equally. People are impatient, demanding, and entitled. They want what they want and now. They choose poison to quench their thirsts because they are too lazy to wait for the water to run. They make themselves try to fit where they don’t belong and put themselves in situations that are potentially troublesome or dangerous–all because they’re afraid to be their own company for a while. People consciously (or even subconsciously) believe in meritocracy rather than recognizing God’s blessings and looking around to see the rose color is from their glasses. People are making judgments and excuses rather than putting on the shoes of their neighbors and understanding their journeys, denying them grace and mercy. Society looks for a Savior in our President/future Presidents; believes all things/people are sent by God, and forgets the devil still exists and is free to do his work as we are all free to do ours. People push their agendas in the name of faith and religion, treat others any way other than the example Christ has given, and constantly use human error and God’s forgiveness as an excuse to continue down the path of hypocrisy. Churches have become greedy; preach prosperity gospels, and convince the masses who are too lazy to read for themselves that God will give them their desires if they tithe to their pastors.

Basically–the world is doomed. It’s a good thing for many that God made the covenant to never flood the earth again. He would’ve probably done so a few more times. And all the while–the world has become more sinful. People have become cold; division seems to be at an all-time high; no one values anything; everything pure and good and right and true has been mocked and beaten like Jesus before His Crucifixion; and all that is Holy is seen as a joke. The devil must be proud. Lots of people are doing his bidding. This is probably his “day” of rest.

It’s hard not to wonder where God is during all of this. It’s difficult to understand why He doesn’t stop some or all of this mess and save and protect innocent lives. We will never fully understand free will or the ways of God. But I can tell you this: this was not the plan of The Almighty. This was not what God wanted at all. And this was not was Jesus died for. What if the time of Jesus was now? Do you think he’d die for all these horrible people?

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.

What the hell are we doing? Why aren’t we loving our neighbors? Why aren’t we looking out for each other? Why aren’t we holding each other accountable and encouraging/expecting change? To have life more abundantly–that was the point! Why aren’t we doing this?!!? God help us!

Solomon figured it out for us in Ecclesiastes. One of the richest, wisest men looked to everything and anything for the meaning of life, and he said:

“Now all has been heard. Here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and obey His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

To fear God and obey His commandments…

May God bless the righteous–those who value what is good and right and true; those who revere what is Sacred and Holy; those who love their neighbors; take care of their parents; and show grace and mercy towards strangers and acquaintances; those who let the consciences be their guide; those who stand tall in their beliefs and live with integrity, faith, and the love of God in their hearts. May God bless the chosen ones who love above all else, show who Christ truly is, and continue to live in awe and fear of the One who created us.

May God have mercy on us all.

I am sweating like…

In my early 20’s, I’d give you a plethora of what a couple people called “Ericaisms” to fill in that blank. In doing so, often times at work (Target in Fairlawn), I was once called the crudest person ever by a poodle-haired lesbian who was too old to have existed yet. And it wasn’t even after a great comment!! This was after I said I’m sweatin like a cop waiting for Krispy Kreme to open. Come on!! I can do (and have done) better than that! I’ll save those similes and metaphors for those in my world–because if I’ve learned one thing–it’s that I am too much of a lot of things for many people! And while the rest don’t count, anyway–I’m getting picky about who I entertain. Mostly because people are pussies. And they believe in being politically correct. And they’re softer on the inside than I am on the outside–which I am working on–both making myself harder on the outside and random strangers and acquaintances who find me repulsive and obnoxious harder on the inside. It’s a win, win, and a public service, really. You can thank me later. Back to soft on the outside.

I am doing a Beachbody workout called 10 Rounds, and that shit has me regretting what I ate in 1986!! I’ve got sweating running down my second chin like a convict on parole as we speak. It’s (the workout) one of those things I think I do because I hate myself but love myself at the same time. It’s the most difficult 40 minutes of my day!! When I am done, I am usually crying and looking for pizza coupons. Not really. I’m panting like a dog and thanking God I survived–because the last damn way I wanna go is by exercise!! Unless, of course, the aerobics are in my bed…then maybe. But honestly, I’d like to just go peacefully in my sleep, after I’ve eaten a large pizza and a sheet cake. Perhaps if I do it, I will. No one would ever suspect that. It’s not quite like jumping off a bridge or hanging oneself from her loft railings, you know. (These thoughts would be lost on my therapist, so I will leave them here. You should, too. Thanks.) Pizza and cake. And martinis. “These are a few of my favorite things.” Like Julie Andrews–who’s as old as Jesus now. Not really–but she did just turn 85. Happy Belated Birthday, Diva!! Back to workout (maybe??)–

People who run say a runner’s high is the best there is! Clearly those people have never had surgery! I was once on Tramadol, an Epidural, Dilaudid, Morphine, and Percocet at the same time–and I can promise you, friends–that’s the best high there is!! (I’d love to do that again, but maybe not have another lung surgery. Maybe just a fancy dope party with some doctors and surgeons.) And second best is the performance high!! I miss the stage like kids at fat camp miss pizza and cake. OOOOHhhh…pizza and cake. I need some asap! Is fat camp a real thing? Like conversion camp? smh. That reminds me of a movie called But I’m A Cheerleader. It’s hilarious and ridiculous at the same time. Watch it if you haven’t. Just make sure no children are present. If these camps are real, the mentality if the ignorant is lost on me. Onward and Upward!!

In this workout, the hot trainer likes to do a lot of core exercises. I can think of a few core exercises I could show him, but we don’t need an audience, a camera, or other trainers. Well…maybe just one more. Kidding!! About all of this. Maybe I should stop this nonsense and pray. I welcome (and appreciate) the prayers of others, too, thanks. The workouts always end in core exercises, and more time for me to think about and regret my entire life. Do I think it’ll cure me of my love for pizza or cake? Absolutely not! Will I eat pizza later and regret that?? Absolutely! Insanity makes sense, you know. Plus if that whole YOLO nonsense is still a thing, I intend to die happy. And happiness, my friends, is not like sweating like any damn thing. Goodnight. Much love, pizza, and cake.

A discussion on a park bench

Many times along my reading/writing journey, I have come across the question “If you could talk to anyone from history, past or present, who would it be?” This week brought that question back to me.

Mother Teresa was always my answer; that has never changed. I even knew what I would want to talk about and how I thought the conversation might go. After reading plenty of her writings, I no longer know.

As someone who has had a lot of life experience and suffered much, I’ve always admired the life Mother Teresa chose for herself, the work she did, and her devotion to both. That requires a heart, discipline, and strength I cannot fathom. That is the most selfless and simplistic way to live. Perhaps that’s why it was so fulfilling for her.

I have always believed to help yourself crawl out of the darkness (if you can), it is best to help someone else. It’s easy to forget your troubles if you’re concerned with someone else’s–even if for only a short time.

I always pictured myself

Continue reading “A discussion on a park bench”

Mental vomit

It’s been a while. I can’t recall…maybe a year? Maybe longer? For quite some time I thought over and over about what I might write about, what I should focus on, what is running through my mind and weighing on my soul. There is so so so much. Then I think it’s a waste of time to articulate my thoughts on current affairs or the state of the world. I’d rather not be more depressed nor do I want to pass that along. That narrows it down a little.

For a while I’ve felt this pressure–to be intelligent, eloquent, raw in my honesty,  and open like a book. Then there’s the other side that wants to be a smartass, misses the stage, and wishes my therapist would stop telling me to go back to comedy.  (I think she should be giving me a copay at this point.) I love the comedy stage, miss it, and fear it at the same time. This PC world ain’t for me. I’ve always said people who are PC are little bitches who are afraid to say what they really think. Lucky for you and me, I’m not that bitch. (Is that really lucky, though? lol) I’m a bitch of a different color–kinda like that horse–only no ass. All titties over here–which I’m hoping will shrink some as I lose this weight. But yeah—you always know where I stand, that I really prefer to sit, and I love a good argument. lol.  Back to weight…

Continue reading “Mental vomit”

trials, blessings, and books

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written. I wasn’t sure I’d ever again–not because I am without thoughts but because I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel that great urge to articulate them again. And yet here I am, still deeply searching.

I always thought in order to write a post–good or bad–I must feel or think deeply about one thing. Just one. Because you can only think deeply about one thing at a time, right? And that thought or feeling has only one trigger? Yes?

Those ideas were destroyed today. As months have passed, many deep thoughts and feelings have come. And while they seemed to have gone, I’m now certain they were just hibernating or waiting to erupt like a volcano. And now they surface. I’d like to think I waited patiently.

A lot has happened since I last posted. Life’s been good. It’s also been extremely difficult in times of times of learning. Some of those lessons were even heart breaking, but the truth of God prevailed like never before, and I cannot recall a time I’ve been happier. I learned that happiness is not the absence of sadness. It’s the ability to focus on the good while riding out the bad. It’s truly believing that God works for the good of those who love him. It’s blindly putting one foot in front of the other, believing that whom you cannot see is doing all of the behind-the-scenes work to take care of you in ways you’d never thought necessary. It’s choosing to press forward with whatever little hope you’ve left in your grasp.

All the while, life keeps happening. People show you their true colors. You lose sight of the truth for a short time though it feels like forever. You put the weight of the world on your shoulders because you think it belongs there. You lose sight of yourself–where you’ve been, where you’re trying to go, and all you’ve been victorious with thus far. You grow weary and hopeless. You find yourself at the end of your extension cord which hangs perfectly from your loft railing to your tall dining room chairs. And though anger and darkness propel you to do something you once feared but fear no longer, God intervenes. And maybe you’re angry. Furious. In a rage you’ve never felt. But you’ve suddenly  grown just tired enough to sleep on it another night, and God speaks to you in your dreams. You grow fearful again–not only of sin but also yourself and your own mortality. You press on with the tiniest seed of hope—that mustard seed…and eventually it all makes sense. The growing pains subside, your vision returns to 20/20, and some things you’ve learned a few times have finally stuck. And your trust in God is where it should be. And you know Jesus did it. ALL of it. Because YOU are worth it. Please believe that because it’s true.

I wanted to tell of the lessons I’ve learned, the wisdom I’ve gained, and the many, many blessings that have been bestowed on me in the last seven months, but I will leave it with this:

“There are many more things Jesus did. If all of them were written down, I suppose that not even the world itself would have space for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)

Keep pressing forward, friends. Don’t lose sight of yourself. God thinks you’re important. Believe him. He’s still writing books.

Goodnight. Much love. God bless.

 

Hollywood Nights

Two years ago today was the best day of my life. I finally made it to Hollywood for a screenwriting awards ceremony and live read held by the Oscars (The Academy Awards). I was one step closer to making my dreams come true. And for the first time in my life, as I stepped out of the parking deck and onto Hollywood Boulevard, I felt a sense of belonging. Of course I was wearing my power outfit (black skirt and pink, dressy tank top) and my favorite Nine West (five-inch) heels. (I plan to take over the world in those shoes. They’re that fabulous!!) I will never forget how I felt as I took that step and looked at the Stars below me. The sunshine and air hugged me, my soul was overcome with peace, and a smile I didn’t recognize appeared on my face. I was finally home.

Back to belonging… Continue reading “Hollywood Nights”

shoes like hers

Last night I took my mother to a Mexican restaurant half way between her apartment and mine. I was starving and knew I’d better eat before I went grocery shopping and spent all my money on junk. As we walked to the door to go inside, there was an older lady sitting on the bench. She had dark skin, dark eyes, and gray hair that was a stringy mess. She was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and those shoes you wear in lakes and oceans. She appeared to have no teeth, either. She smiled and said hello. I smiled and said hello back.

I wasn’t sure what her deal was–if she was just poor or homeless or what. There was another woman sitting on the bench with her but they didn’t appear to be together. That woman was put together better, cleaner, and appeared to be waiting for someone. She was sitting on the opposite end with her right leg crossed over her left, facing to the left, as if she was trying to avoid eye contact or even so much as look in the other woman’s direction.

Mother and I went inside, ordered, and ate, all the while looking for and hoping that the lady on the bench was just waiting outside for someone she was meeting for dinner. She never came in, but the other woman did. I asked mom if I should buy the lady some food and get it to go and give it to her when I left. She wasn’t sure what to do. I also wasn’t sure if she’d eat it, what she’d like, or if she’d still be out there when we finished. I resolved to speak to her upon leaving and ask her if she would like something from Dairy Queen next door–if she was still sitting there. I felt bad for the woman and wanted to do something though I didn’t know her circumstances, but didn’t have any cash. I figured this way I could ask her if she’s hungry and what she’d like from Dairy Queen.

When mother and I left, the woman was still sitting there, smoking a cigarette she must’ve bummed from someone on his or her way inside the restaurant. I looked at her and she said “You have very pretty hair. You’re pretty. I bet you have a boyfriend, don’t you?”

Me: No.

Lady: You don’t date?

Me: No.

Lady: You just haven’t met the right one yet.

Me: I’m really not into that.

She looks to mom. “You’re pretty, too. Are you two sisters?”

Mom: No.

Me: She’s my mom.

She lady was overcome with a look of shock. “Mother? You don’t look old enough to be her mother. How old are you, sweetheart?”

Me: 37

Lady: Well you don’t look old enough to have a daughter that’s 37.

Mom: Thank you.

The lady went on to ask mom if she had any more children. She then told us she has two sons, the youngest being 40. I couldn’t help but wonder where they lived, if they have any type of relationship with her, and why she was seemingly alone or homeless though she has family.

Mom and I walked to the car, and I still didn’t know what to do. I drove over to the woman and asked her if she was ok. Before I could ask her if she’d like some food, mom asked her if she had somewhere to go. She claimed she was good and was just sitting there waiting on her family to get there. She told us to have a good night and insisted we leave her. Although I did not want to, I obliged. From the looks of things, she was used to people leaving her. My heart sank into my gut as I slowly drove away, looking behind me to see if someone came.

I can’t stop thinking about that woman. Is she poor? Homeless? Was she really waiting on someone? Does she see or talk to her sons? Why was she on that bench? Where had she been before? Where was she really going? And why was she so nice, friendly, and complimentary with everyone that passed? I hope she is ok. I hope she has eaten and has a safe place to lie down at night.

I don’t know her situation or circumstances, but past experiences and observations have shown me that people are not what they seem. Those who constantly try to build others up are broken inside. And those who say they are ok and don’t want anything are actually not ok and need something. I wish I had known what to do. The lady told us to leave, so I felt the respectful thing was to grant her wishes. She may not have wanted anything but she can’t stop me from praying. If you could, say a prayer for her, too, and the many others who wear shoes like hers.

I hope I see her again–only with people who care about her. If I see her and she’s alone, I hope I can do something for her. I hope she’s more receptive to it–even if it’s just a cheeseburger and a milkshake.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

May God put angels in our paths and give us eyes to see them, hearts to love them, and clear directions on how to help them.

 

 

The least of these

Laws. The world lives by them. The government controls with them. The religious judge by them. No matter who you are or where you live, laws impact your life–whether you realize it or not.

In this day and age, too many people concern themselves with the laws or rules they think everyone should live by and follow. Police officers and other law enforcement think you should follow criminal laws–though sometimes lawyers will argue and turn guilty people innocent or point out a seemingly-guilty person’s innocence. Christians think you should follow the Ten Commandments–though the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ abolished them and came to show us grace, mercy, and salvation. Muslims think you should live by the Koran and so on.

To a point, we should follow laws. They bring us order and an understanding about what is and is not acceptable and tolerable in society. But where other laws or rules are concerned–ones that won’t hurt someone–that’s where we need our conscience, moral compass, and compassion. Compassion is key.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines compassion as “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” It has nothing to do with what the laws or rules say. It’s about grace and mercy.

Since the writing of the Ten Commandments, many followers of Christ have been about obeying the laws more than embracing the reason Christ came to begin with: to abolish the law and save us from our sins through His blood shed and sacrifice of body. There have always been those people–the ones who care more about following the rules and less about loving their neighbors and showing compassion. And sadly, there will be some until Christ’s return.

Christ showed us how to respond in compassion when the scribes and Pharisees once brought him a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. They handed her over to Jesus and told Him that the law of Moses commanded the woman be stoned. They responded by asking Jesus what he had to say about it–fishing for a reason to accuse Him of something.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:7-11)

The woman committed adultery. She broke the law. And the followers of the law, the scribes and Pharisees, wanted her killed for it. They showed no understanding or compassion. They obviously didn’t understand who Christ was or why He was there. And they wanted Him to obey the laws of Moses, the rules by which they lived. And how did Jesus respond? By reminding them that none of them are without sin in their lives. And He did it tactfully and tastefully and without condemnation, not focusing on the woman’s wrongdoing or what the law says or even pointing out the things they’ve done wrong. He showed them they were all equals, and they left–probably because they didn’t want to hear it. (The truth hurts sometimes.) He stood back up, asked the woman where her accusers were, knowing very well they left. And when she said no one has condemned her, He told her He wasn’t either, and to “go and sin no more.”

He showed her compassion. Why? Was He ever a prostitute? No. Did he ever commit a crime? No. Could he completely understand what she did or why? No because he was never caught in the same situation or in sin. But he showed her compassion. He showed her grace and mercy and not only spared her life but saved it from those who wanted her stoned. He had pity on her and showed concern for who she was, why she was doing what she did, and the condition of her soul–even though he could not relate. He simply cared. The law didn’t matter there. And in certain situations and circumstances, it shouldn’t matter with us, either, believers and unbelievers alike.

There are a couple recent rule or law breakers I want to mention–two I think who are noteworthy and certainly have my respect.

One day during my recent trip to California, I was sitting in this pizza shop at the bar, drinking a beer and watching TV. I had already eaten but had time to kill and wasn’t sure what to do. It was a weekday and lunchtime, and many patrons came in for a couple slices and a pop. They came and went as I passed the afternoon on the stool, pretending to drink the day away while sipping one beer. After the rush came through, and those who were staying were sitting at various tables, a man walked in the door. He had on shorts and a camo jacket. He was dirt-stained, but I could not tell if he was homeless or had been out working somewhere. He had his left sleeve pulled up and he was scratching his arm. He passed the pizza counter and went around the bar towards the soda fountain and bathroom. I thought he was going to ask to use the restroom before he ordered food. By the time he got over there, an employee was standing there to greet him. It was then I realized the man was homeless. He asked the owner if he could have some water. And although he could have told the man to leave because they’re not allowed inside establishments to beg, he kindly pulled a cup from the stack, filled it up with water, and handed it to the man. The man grabbed the cup, took a drink, and headed for the door. I never saw him again.

Sure–to you and I–this gesture doesn’t seem like a big deal. But that’s because we have water or can get some if we want or need it. But to a man who has nothing, who lives on the streets and doesn’t even have a change of clothes, that cup of water could’ve saved his life. It could’ve been the one cup that kept him from dehydration. We will never know. And that pizza shop employee could have ordered him to leave (and got him in trouble for coming in to begin with) but he didn’t–not even after he gave him the water. He showed him kindness and compassion. And the water and cup weren’t free. Someone was paying for it. If I had asked for water to go with my pizza, they would have charged me for it. But the guy ignored the laws and broke the rules to show compassion for another human being. It was beautiful.

The other situation involves someone I am not even sure of: the maintenance crew of the apartment complex I live in.

Outside my apartment door on the adjacent walls are emergency exit signs and light fixtures. On top of each one is a plastic spikey thing which is there to keep birds from nesting. Businesses frown on birds taking up residence (and making messes) in places where humans congregate, especially in places where they are trying to entice people to live. And every week, the lawn crew and various maintenance people are doing work here–mowing and cleaning and fixing things for residents. And atop one of the signs rests a nest, a bird family from which I gather will be hatching eggs very soon. It’s a good sized nest, one that has been there (and clearly ignored) for a while. I see it every morning, amazed that they have not torn it down and happy that they’ve let the family live. The crew is supposed to clean things like that up, get rid of them, etc. But they have shown compassion on another living being (and her family) and let her stay there though they could get in trouble for neglecting it. They showed compassion towards some animals though their rules instruct otherwise. “His eye is on the sparrow,” you know, and I’m sure they appreciate it.

Again–this might not seem like a big deal to you or I–but we aren’t birds. We haven’t just built houses in areas where we aren’t sure of the safety of our surroundings. Have you ever had your home destroyed or taken away from you by someone who was instructed to do so? What a horrible situation that would be! God bless the crew who ignores this with every visit, who shows compassion and allows the bird family to live there though they are not welcome. Jesus will reward them the same as the guy who gave a cup of water to the homeless man.

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

“The godly are concerned for the welfare of their animals, but even the kindness of the wicked is cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10)

May God remind us that we are all equal and not above showing compassion to one another. May He humbly remind us that we could at any time become the ones in need.

Goodnight. Much love. God bless.