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

jimshortsparents

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

jimshortsmothersday2

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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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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Ever since Pebbles and Bam Bam graduated from Bedrock High, commencement speakers have been telling the crowd of cap and gowns to work for world peace, follow its dreams, and always wear clean underwear in case of an accident.

So cue “Pomp and Happenstance,” here are the top ten things I’ve learned since I wore a black bathrobe and silly hat.

1. World peace isn’t going to happen. Sorry commencement speakers, presidential candidates, and Miss America contestants. Two thousand years ago Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars, and he hasn’t been wrong yet. Better to work at being at peace with yourself. Now if just six billion people would all do that . . .

2. Don’t follow every dream. Some of your dreams would turn into real nightmares if they were fulfilled, so try to be content with what you become. After years of wanting to become a famous author, I’ve learned that there are some real benefits to being un-famous. I can go anywhere I want to without people hounding me for autographs, I don’t have to worry about being stalked by Sixty Minutes or a psycho fan (remember Misery?), and I’ve never once appeared on the cover of The National Enquirer.

3. However, good things do come to those who wait such as sex, job promotions, and senior discounts. Keep in mind, though, it takes ten years to become an overnight success.

4. It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice. I’ve had the privilege of meeting some fairly famous authors, musicians, and corporate big wigs. The one’s who’ve made it to 36 percent tax bracket are some of the nicest, down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet. It’s the wannabes who are the arrogant, egocentric little twits.

5. If you love your job, you’ll never have to work a day of your life. Can you believe I actually receive good money and a free newspaper subscription to write this stuff? Please don’t tell any of my editors or publishers, but I’d gladly write for free! And what other job can you do in your underwear at 3 a.m.? (Okay, but those jobs are illegal in 49 states!)

6. It’s not what you know, but who you know. Networking is the key to meeting Mr. or Miss Right, job promotions, and great deals on used cars. Next week I’ll be on a nation-wide talk show pitching my latest books, but that’s only because I taught a class with a guy who plays racquetball with a guy who’s a producer with The 700 Club. I wouldn’t have gotten past the switchboard if I had tried to get on the show myself. (But be careful to remember the next point!)

7. Love people, use things. And, what ever you do, don’t get that turned around.

8. The simple, obvious answer is usually wrong. And, just because it’s in print, doesn’t mean it’s true (unless of course, it’s this column.) Enjoy the naive bliss of having all the answers right now, because the more laps you take around the sun, the more complicated life becomes.

9. Life is not fair. You won’t get what you deserve. Actually, I’m glad for that. I have a wonderful wife, two great kids, and a job I love. Give me grace rather than fairness any day!

10. Not everyone is going to like you. For every card, email, or letter bomb I receive from people who loathe my column, I get four or five from readers who love it. I’ve learned to be satisfied with an 80 percent approval rating which is at least 20 points higher than Ronald Reagan received as one of America’s most popular presidents. Besides, if I had an .800 record in major league baseball, I’d be making millions endorsing athlete’s foot remedies. So, enjoy the small group of family and friends who truly love you. Besides, by the time you attend your twentieth high school reunion, you probably won’t remember half the people who wrote “Love always” in your yearbook.

Of course, there are many more things I could advise (just say no to drugs, pay off your credit card balance every month, don’t pee on an electric fence, etc.) but ten seems to be the universal limit for this sort of thing. But one more bit of wisdom. If you look up and a semi truck is ready to crash through your windshield, you’re not going to have clean underwear.

Congrats, grads!

Copyright © 2001 James N. Watkins

Related posts
Freelancing offers freedom “real job” can’t
Keeping your dreams alive
Soaring with eagles, walking with emus My address at Liberty University

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The fight for acceptance of sex-same unions has moved from the gay community to the media to the states to the courts to “mainline” churches—and now to evangelical churches.

Matthew Vines is a self-professed evangelical who has written God and the Gay Christian, published by a religious publisher. And, not surprising, it’s sparking controversy.

Here are two of my posts on the issue:
God and the Gay Christian conversation
God and the Gay Christian conversation: 2

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As the Israelites fled from Egypt, they faced certain death between the Red Sea and the approaching Egyptian army.

      Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

      Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” (Exodus 14:13-15 NLT, emphases mine).

There’s a time to stand still and watch the Lord work. (See my post on Waiting.) But there’s also a time, as The Living Bible paraphrases it, to “Quit praying and get . . . moving!”

I’m praying today that God gives you and me wisdom to know, as we faces challenges, if we should stand still or get moving. Both are important at the proper time and circumstance. And either way, we can be victorious over the problems thundering toward us. “Just stay calm.”

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

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