I’m sure even Mr. Rogers has one of those days:

      It’s a terrible day in the neighborhood,
      A terrible day for neighbor,
      Won’t you please go, leave me all alone.
      I’ve always wanted to move away to warmer weather,
      I hate this TV house and this stupid sweater.
      So why don’t you go and watch “Power Rangers”
      Play in the street and talk to some strangers?
      Please won’t you go, leave me alone.
      Get off my lawn, my neighbor!

Copyright © 1991 James N. Watkins

If you’re having a terrible day in the neighborhood, please visit my archives for encouragement and entertainment.

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For most Americans, “Memorial Day” means a three-day weekend with the “Indy 500,” picnics and the opening day of summer. But for many, the memories of lost loved ones dampen spirits like rain on a parade. So, something for everyone on this holiday weekend:

jimshortsmemorialday

I hate it when stores whore holidays!

Hope in dealing with death and grief
Grief and love are two very similar emotions—if you’re capable of love, you are capable of grief. Only a person who never loves never grieves.

Humor on the first day of summer
It’s a beautiful day in Corn Borer, Indiana, so a great day to just laze in the hammock and recycle some old columns on:
Vacations are not a vacation if . . .
Traveling the world on one tank of gas
Top ten clues a man should wear a shirt in summer
And, of course . . .
Laziness is a virtue.

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During the American Civil War, the Confederate Navy filled Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico with mines, which at the time were called “torpedoes.” As flag officer David Glasgow Farragut led the Union’s fleet of 18 ships into the bay, he issued one of history’s most memorable orders:

“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

The tactic succeeded. Only one ship was lost, and the last Confederate stronghold on the Gulf of Mexico fell to Union control. (And Farragut was made admiral of the U.S. Navy and honored with two postage stamps.) It’s also a good strategy for our emotions:

Damn the emotions! Full speed ahead!

Don’t deny emotions

I’m certainly not denying that my life is a mine-filled sea of emotions. I regularly struggle with clinical depression, so there are days I just want to go below deck and hide in the hull. But I’m not alone. I have plenty of company with the psalmists of the Bible. One-third of all psalms are known as “laments.”

      My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
      Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
      Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
      Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief (Psalm 22:1-2 NLT).

      O God, why have you rejected us so long?
      Why is your anger so intense against the sheep of your own pasture? (Psalm 74:1).

      When I was in deep trouble,
      I searched for the Lord.
      All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
      but my soul was not comforted (Psalm 77:2).

Don’t deify emotions

The psalmists certainly didn’t deny their emotions, but neither did that make their emotions their god. Inevitably, the psalms above are followed by a psalm of praise:

      The Lord is my shepherd;
      I have all that I need.
      He lets me rest in green meadows;
      he leads me beside peaceful streams (Psalm 23:1-2)

      We thank you, O God!
      We give thanks because you are near.
      People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds (Psalm 75:1).

      We will not hide these truths from our children;
      we will tell the next generation
      about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
      about his power and his mighty wonders (Psalm 78:4).

Saint Paul sums up these “bi-polar” extremes of emotions:

      We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Do defy emotions

Emotions are fickle feelings that may be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, a subconscious reaction to an event in the past or present, or something we ate the night before. Emotions are real, but they are not reality. (That’s good! You may want to write that down and post in on the bathroom mirror!)

So, I find myself paraphrasing Admiral Farragut’s order: “Damn the emotions! Full speed ahead!”

And most days, I’m successful—with prayer, persistence and Prozac—in navigating the emotional mines floating in my life. I can’t deny them, but I also refuse to deify them. They are not my God, but bio-chemicals, sub-conscious reactions or, perhaps, the pizza I ate before bed.

Full speed ahead!

Copyright © 2011 James N. Watkins

Notes

1. Do not deny depression. If you have symptoms lasting more than two weeks, see your family doctor. I’ve certainly been helped by anti-depressants, but it took trying five or six different meds before I found one with maximum benefits and minimum side effects.

2. I’m not talking about physical ailments that do prevent us from doing those things we wish to do or must do. Right now, I must have picked up a nasty bug on my Denver flight. I’m getting some work done propped up in the recliner with my laptop, but after about two hours, I’m completely depleted and it’s back to bed.

So, if you’re physically incapacitated, I can so relate to that. And if emotions are causing incapacitation, I trust you find the help needed and with Admiral Farragut, defiantly shout, “Damn the emotions! Full speed ahead!” Either way, you’re in my prayers!

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Pain and praise

May 19th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Sunday, May 18, 11 pm EDT

“Thank you, Father, I’m home!” This despite . . .

1. Waking up this morning feeling as badly as I felt since 42 radiation treatments for cancer in 2008: The week’s body aches, sore throat, cough, were complemented today with nausea.

2. Getting lost on way to Denver airport (despite two people with smart phones and me with printed directions). Ended up driving through the road wiped out in the spring floods—with long construction delays.

2. Denver flight getting in late to Chicago’s “O’Hell” airport.

3. Huffing and puffing my way between Concourse C and F and arriving to hear “last call” for the Fort Wayne flight. However, once boarded, we waited at the gate, because United Express couldn’t find anyone to load luggage. (As badly as I felt, I would have gladly volunteered to help.)

4. At Denver, the gate agent had pleaded for people to check carry-ons free at the gate. “Free” is not always a good thing. When I got to FWA, there was no carry-on! They’re always good at bringing them to your home, but . . .

5. I lost my car keys. I’m guessing they’re in the outside pocket of my lost carry-on where I stash all my metal objects before going through security. I always keep them in my computer case that never leaves my side. Not this week! I finally got a hold of Lois to bring me the duplicate set.

6. On the way to the restroom, the daylong stage-1 nausea spiked to a 4, and I lost my breakfast, lunch and dinner in a nearby trash can. (I pity the housekeeper who empties that can!) I dragged myself to the restroom and promptly lost my breakfast, lunch and dinner from yesterday!

7. My thoughtful wife brought me, along with the keys, a handful of Dove dark chocolates—but even they didn’t look good. (I must be seriously ill!)

Proving once again, what I shared in my closing keynote: Nothing terrible happens to authors, just terrific anecdotes! These last five days will show up in an article, book . . . or post!


Monday, May 19, 11 am EDT

I slept in until 9:30 am and am feeling 100 percent better.

Pam Halter commented on how much worse my day would have been without your prayers. She is so right! (I crashed, the plane didn’t. I’m home, not stranded at “O’Hell” airport. I’m saved, only my luggage is lost.)

So, despite the pain, I have so much to give praise. Thanks everyone!

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

Related post
Excerpt from Squeezing Good Out of Bad on pain

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This morning, I’m flying off to share some hope and humor in Estes Park, Colorado. Here’s what I’ll be sharing—and I trust it’s encouraging and entertaining for you, as well:

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Soaring with eagles, walking with eagles
It’s hard to soar with eagles when you’re working with turkeys! Click to hear or read my keynote talk. (While it specifically addresses the up and downs of a writing career, the principles are applicable to any vocation.)

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Communicate to change lives
I’ll also be sharing a continuing seminar on Communicate to Change Lives, which applies to anyone desiring to make a difference through their writing, speaking or simply living.

And thanks for your prayers
I don’t merely believe in the power of power, I depend upon it!

• For safe, on-time flights. (As I mentioned Monday, I love flying, but I hate everything before wheels up and after wheels down.)

• For emotional and physical strength. I am way off the chart on Myers/Briggs “introvert” scale, which means that I derive my energy from being alone. Being with hundreds of people in the low-oxygen atmosphere at 7,522 feet drains me emotionally and physically.

• For productive networking at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Please pray that I meet people, whom I can lift to the next level of publishing, and people, who can help me reach the next level.

Don’t become a digital dinosaur
Hopefully, I’ll have some time to blog what I’m learning as well.

I’ve been in this crazy business since my sophomore year of college, and publishing is a constantly changing environment. In 1972, I was “typing” on a state-of-the-art IBM Selectric, and cutting and pasting page layouts with actual scissors and paste! I’m working hard to avoid becoming a digital dinosaur.

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ColoradoChristianWriters 2

I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category: Ten great things about being an author.

10. No heavy lifting. Since no physical skill or strength is required to be a word jock, your career isn’t over by age 30 like most major league athletes.

9. It’s cheaper than collecting antique cars or Longaberger baskets. For the price of a ream of paper ($3.95 at Office Depot) you can write an epic novel or two nonfiction books. (Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was written on the back of an old envelope.)

8. It’s one of the few occupations you can perform in your underwear without the vice squad breaking down your door.

7. You can get your picture in the paper without the vice squad breaking down your door.

6. A chance to speak your mind long after you’re dead. All those authors from American and English Literature class had met their final deadlines long before you read them (or scanned the Cliff Notes).

5. It’s a great soapbox. Instead of annoying just your family and friends with your rants and raves, you can annoy thousands of people with your rants and raves.

4. On election day, you can vote more than once—legally. An editorial, a letter to the editor, even an email note, can sway readers’ votes, so get out and vote—repeatedly.

3. You can receive notes like this email from last week: “I am a 38 year old mother of four: two teenagers and two under the age of nine. I am writing to let you know how much your writing has lifted my spirits.”

2. It’s the closest thing to God’s creation ex nihilo—creating something out of nothing; using words to bring order out of chaos.

1. And conference directors actually pay you to fly off to exotic locations! I am so looking forward to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park!

So, I’m . . .

• looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones who share a passion for communicating with the printed and pixelated word.

dreading flying, particularly through Chicago’s “O’Hell” International. (I love flying, but I hate everything before wheels up and after wheels down: airport security, delayed and cancelled flights, and talkative seatmates.)

• once again, feeling totally inadequate (I know, I know, it’s my clinical depression and a touch of Asperger’s talking, but until I actually open my mouth for the first session—and get the first laugh—I’m a mess!)

asking for your prayers. Please!

Wednesday, I’ll share links to my keynote talk and seminars while there, so you can enjoy a bit of the conference. (All you’ll be missing out on will be the view of 14,000-feet mountains, great food and fellowship with crazy, creative people, and an occasional elk looking in the cabin window. Other than that, it will be like you’re right there!)

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Happy Mother’s Day!

May 9th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

jimshortsmothersday3
Here are some of my favorite columns for this special weekend:

Faith of Our Mothers
Some new lyrics for an old, old song

The papoose-driven life
Lessons learned from a four-month-old grandaughter

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Son of a saint!
When godly parents have not-so-godly children

“Spray paint” parenting
The secret is thins coats of moral and ethical lessons

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Talking to your kids about S-E-X
Children will learn about sex—from us or the bus!

Talking to children about war, terrorism, school violence . . .
It’s a frightening time to be a child—and a parent

mom

Top ten things my mom taught me
(Yep, that’s my Mom above.)

You may be a parent if . . .
. . . you’ve ever uttered one or more of these classic lines

Praying that have a great Mother’s Day weekend, whether a mom or child!
jimlogo2

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Click to listen

Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.

David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

As you know, it was Goliath who became buzzard meat.

We have a choice whose promises we will believe: our enemy or our God:

“You’re a loser, a worthless failure” or “You’re a child of God.”

“You can’t do it” or “I will give you strength.”

“You’re out of work and you’re going to starve” or “I will provide for you.”

“You have six months to live” or “In Me, you have eternal life.”

“Your prodigal children are lost” or “I will guide them home.”

“No one loves you” or “I love you unconditionally.”

“You’re alone” or “I am with you.”

We have a choice whose promises we will believe: the loser or the winner.

Copyright © 2009 James N. Watkins

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Today, May 4, is “Star Wars Day.” (“May the 4th be with you.” Get it? Okay, it’s a geek thing!)

Anyway, last week Disney announced the cast for its Star Wars: Episode VII. Now that Disney owns the franchise, we can expect some astronomical changes in the galaxy far, far away. So, I have in my right hand, direct from the swamp on Dagobah, today’s category: Top ten surprises in Disney’s Star Wars.

10. After having a crush on what turns out to be his own sister, Luke Skywalker swears off women and joins a monastery on Tatooine.

9. Due to budget cuts, the Empire returns with a smaller, more fuel efficient “Death Meteor.”

8. Disney World opens a theme park on the moon of Endor featuring the musical review, “It’s a Small Galaxy After All.”

7. Yoda goes on the motivational speaking circuit. “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

6. The Max Rebo Band performs at aforementioned theme park playing Disney show tunes.

5. Jar Jar Binks loses a recall election to a swamp rat.

4. A new villain emerges, Scar Vader.

3. Chewbacca stars as “The Beast” in “Disney on Ice.”

2. The Empire and the Rebel Alliance battle for control of Star Wars merchandizing rights.

1. Han Solo and Princess Leia get married and have a precocious son who turns to the dark side, and we’re right back to Episode I.

Copyright © 2012 James N. Watkins

Related sites
Confusing the Force it is (Comparing the Jedi Force with God’s Force)
Episode III: Modern morality play
Episode I: Why? Why? Why?
Episodes I, II, III (Cartoon)
Jar Jar Binks (Cartoon)
Top ten signs Han Solo has turned 70

Note on Episode VIII: This is the very type of thing I predicted in 2014 . . .

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I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category: Top ten posts from April 2014

10. God is never late, but he sure is slow

9. Ancient prophet warns of conspiracies

8. The cure for the common cold: sex!

7. Does DNA disprove evolution?

6. Help for suicidal thoughts

5. Children who marry their parents: the psychology of courtship

4. Were U.S. founding fathers Christian?

3. God and the Gay Christian conversation

2. “It Is Well with My Soul” The rest of the stories

And, the number one post for April 2014:

1. The Easter story in chronological order

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