Trust and Obey? (repost)


Obedient – submissive to the restraint or command of authority: willing to obey.

If you grew up in church, chances are you have heard the song “Trust and Obey”. Church folks love to teach that to kids. Me? Never a big fan of that song. Not because I don’t think it’s important for us to trust and obey God. I really do believe that. I just take issue with the lyrics:

Trust and obey,
for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
but to trust and obey

Because you see, sometimes I don’t want to be told to obey. For me, that song seems almost like a threat. “You had better obey what I’m telling you if you want to be happy in Jesus.”

Nobody likes ultimatums.

I didn’t give my life to Christ because someone told me if I didn’t I was going to hell. I gave my life to Christ because I finally understood the depth of His love for me. You can’t force willful obedience any more than you can force someone to accept Christ. They have to come to both willingly if either is to be sincere.

I know I’ve posted the following quote on numerous occasions – here and elsewhere, and I may be getting off on a bit of a tangent, but it’s probably my favorite quote on Christianity of all times, so I’ll share it again:

The only thing worse than the joke you don’t get is the explanation that is bound to follow: an explanation that, while it may help you see why you should have seen the humor that you so lamely missed, is little likely to make you laugh. It may provoke you to muster a sympathy snicker so as to avoid more of an already tedious and misdirected lecture. It may inspire a mild giggle of recognition, but it will hardly ever raise a real belly-laugh, which was the original desired effect.

And so, here I go — me and a dozen thousand other people — trying to explain a joke that we would do better to learn to better tell. I am setting out to explain again why Jesus is the only true hope for the world, why we should put faith in Him, and what all of that won’t mean. I am collecting the information, selecting from what I hope will be usable as evidence, arranging my findings into arguments, framing it for presentation and recognizing that, while it may be fine as far as it goes, it doesn’t go far enough.

But then I remember two things. The first thing I remember is how I once won an argument with a heathen friend of mine who — after I had whacked away his last scrap of defense, after I had successfully cut off every possible escape route that he could use, after I backed him into an inescapable corner and hit him with a great inarguable truth — blew me away by simply saying, “I do not want to be a Christian. I don’t want your Jesus Christ.” There was no argument left to be had or won. Faith is a matter of the will as much as it is of the intellect. I wanted to believe in Jesus. My friend wanted to believe in himself. In spite of how convincing my reason was, my reason was not compelling.

So the second thing I remember is this:

I am a Christian because I have seen the love of God lived out in the people who know Him. The Word has become flesh and I have encountered God in the people who have manifested (in many “unreasonable” ways) His Presence; a presence that is more than convincing, it is a Presence that is compelling. I am a Christian not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me, but because there were people who were willing to be the nuts and bolts, who through their explanation of it, held it together so that I could experience it and be compelled by it to obey. “If I be lifted up,” Jesus said, “I will draw all men unto me.”

So, here I offer what is possibly the worst thing that can be offered: an explanation of a joke. And, what makes this more inexcusable than the fact that this is that, is the added fact that this is an explanation of a joke you’ve already gotten. I offer it anyway. I offer it in the hope that it might somehow encourage you to live out your lives and, by your living, tell the joke that I, in my writing, so feebly attempt to explain. Love one another, forgive one another, work as unto God, let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts. Make it your ambition to lead quiet lives. Obey. Greet one another with a holy kiss. No one will argue with that.

-Rich Mullins

Enriching lives thru the power of social media. Again.

image courtesy of photobucket.com

Seems I was a fountain of useless information and unsolicited advice on the twitter this week with topics ranging from new websites to feet scraping to creepy childrens books and every thing in between.

The best of me (or not) on the twitter this week:

@CandySteele Me write code? I don’t even understand suduko. (in reply to CandySteele @katdish Your blogroll phones well. Tell me you’re not writing code. Please tell me.)

@lainiegallagher Do you realize that if you & I were morphed into 1 person we would be the most demanding person EVER? (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish It’s decided, then. It should be fast by tomorrow. 😀 )

@lainiegallagher Well that’s true. (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish Haha I know… me too! Make him fix it. I mean, your list of demands is already long. What’s one more?)

@JeffHolton Don’t mention it. Unsolicited advice: just another service I offer. (in reply to JeffHolton RT @katdish: @JeffHolton If they ask U what UR weaknesses R, don’t say, “I tend to oversleep & call in sick a lot after 90 days.” // Thx. 🙂

SNORT! RT @br8kthru: Wow. It smells like boiled rotten cabbage in our office hallway… & not in a good way. 🙂

@arestlessheart Snort! I’m going to unfollow myself now. (in reply to arestlessheart #FF MUST FOLLOW @katdish 😉

When someone does a #FF in all caps that says MUST FOLLOWS, it makes me think “You’re not the boss of me!”

@Helenatrandom Hmmm…Now there’s a thought. My feet do need a good scrape and polish. (in reply to Helenatrandom @katdish Sounds to me like the ladies need a retreat as well… to a spa….)

@br8kthru I actually DO appreciate how men’s minds work. I consider it one of my greatest strengths. (in reply to br8kthru @katdish Nice! You have to appreciate how men’s minds work, right?)

@br8kthru DH is going on a “leadership retreat” w/Jeff & 2 other elders. To the beach. With the boat. And fishing poles.

There IS only one me, for which many are grateful//RT @CassandraFrear: @katdish There’s only one you. Shine.

I think it’s really funny that folks will go to such lengths to defend a creepy childrens book.

RT @marni71: @duane_scott @katdish Whatever dude. If my MIL broke into my house to rock my husband to sleep, I’d taze her.

@duane_scott guess one of us still holds a valid man card. (in reply to duane_scott @katdish true. But its also sweet. Did you lose your entire heart to Texas? The book still makes me choke up.)

@duane_scott It’s Creepy. (in reply to duane_scott @katdish @PeterPollock Love you Forever? The kids book? Don’t go hatin’ on that one. Its a childhood favorite.)

@PeterPollock I love you forever’s creepiness stems more from the artwork than from the wordage. (in reply to PeterPollock @CandySteele I’m not sure I understand the giving tree. Someon gave me it and said it reminded her of me? Never heard of Love you Forever)

@duane_scott @JeffHolton @CandySteele Possibly the best book ever written? Hmph! As Triumph the Dog would say, “For me to POOP on!”

@forthegirls Spending time with family, are we? (in reply to forthegirls My tongue is gonna have some serious teeth marks from biting it all day. Lord please let this day hurry)

I should probably go write something. My mind is a bit rambly.

Do you know what would be really mean thing to do? Let your dog lick a bowl clean & then put it back in the cabinet.

@buzzbyannies What to the eva, Annie (in reply to buzzbyannies @Katdish I had no idea there was such a thing as sugar free Ragu. Probably because I make my spaghetti sauce from scratch.)

Snort! Got a new fitness follow

As part of a new healthy eating regime, I had spaghetti made with Ragu-no sugar added. Which was really not bad once I added some sugar.

@RandDuren I must admit, he’s very good at playing David Caruso. (in reply to RandDuren @katdish I love him haha!)

@RandDuren You are crazy. Because David Caruso is so annoying. (in reply to RandDuren Call me crazy but I feel like watching CSI:Miami… I miss Horatio putting his glasses on.)

@CandySteele Is that a real word? (in reply to CandySteele @katdish @BridgetChumbley Or medical terms? Rectoretinitis is one of my favs.)

@CandySteele Whatever helps you sleep at night, Candy. (in reply to CandySteele @katdish See his left ear? When it’s bent, that means I’m on his mind. So there.)

@buzzbyannies Actually, my feet need a good scraping. You’re welcome. (in reply to buzzbyannies @Katdish Only if your toes look as fabulous as mine.)

@CandySteele Nah…he’s thinking how much he’d like to be sitting at my feet. (in reply to CandySteele Bozley couldn’t care less about @buzzbyannies new pedi. He’s really just dreaming of me. #puppyfix #NiceToesAnnie http://twitpic.com/1nb9f8)

@CassandraFrear Words to live by.

RT @CassandraFrear: @billycoffey OK. Now. Discovery Channel was not what I meant by being on to something. Maybe you shd listen to @katdish

@billycoffey Thought so. (in reply to billycoffey @katdish Well I’ll make an exception there, of course!)
@CassandraFrear I’m content, I just like to see what I’m missing. (in reply to CassandraFrear @billycoffey @katdish I love to travel. But “there is great gain in godliness with contentment”. (1 Tim 6) Billy’s on to something.)

@billycoffey Whatcha gonna do if Donnie Baseball invites you to a Yankees game? Decline because your mountains won’t let you? (in reply to billycoffey @katdish Isn’t that what the Discovery Channel is for?)

@billycoffey There’s a big old world out there Billy! VA is beautiful, but you need to see the Grand Canyon & other places. (in reply to billycoffey @katdish Oh hush! The mountains won’t let me.)

@billycoffey You never leave where you live now. (in reply to billycoffey @makeadiff21 WOW. If I lived there, I’d never leave.)

@lainiegallagher Oh, like you could do that. You’d miss me too much. (in reply to lainiegallagher @duane_scott I say we band together and boycott @katdish ‘s blog until it’s fixed!)

@KathleenOverby Because people are annoying, that’s why. (in reply to KathleenOverby why would a person bother to set up a ficticious blog/profile to comment japanese symbols into my comments? It’s not even spam. It’s numbers)

@chrissulli Why do you say that? Do you have any idea how many years he’s been writing? Almost as many as you’ve been alive. (in reply to chrissulli @katdish reading @billycoffey leaves me part in awe he is such a good writer and part discouraged)

@PeterPollock, Would you please put a (dot) between katdish and net on my website? @lainiegallagher is breaking out in hives.

@lainiegallagher SNORT! I KNEW you would notice that! (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish The fact that you don’t have a [dot] does drive me nuts.)

@lainiegallagher I think you secretly do, but won’t admit it. I also think if I spelled my name wrong on that header it would drive you nuts (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish Do I ever like anything?)

@lainiegallagher Of course. I didn’t think you would like it. (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish I like it. Except for that pesky font…)

@CandySteele He works for the “You can tell an engineer, but you can’t tell them much” Railroad. (in reply to CandySteele @katdish I did not know that. What railroad?)

@buzzbyannies Huh…go figure. (in reply to buzzbyannies Just took an online personality test and the results are that I am sarcastic. Huh.)

@SBeeCreations You killed my father…prepare to die.

RT @SBeeCreations: @katdish You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

@Helenatrandom INCONCEIVABLE (in reply to Helenatrandom @katdish I l know how you feel. @duane_scott is the only one who tweeted me today. (TWSS) And that was after I’d been here an hour…)

Just so you know, I can see all you people talking amongst yourselves but not to me. Hmph!

@shrinkingcamel And you are one fine looking camel, Brad. (in reply to shrinkingcamel Being good-looking helps your career. http://bit.ly/8lMZCw)

@CandySteele Yes. Feel free to live vicariously through me. (in reply to CandySteele @PeterPollock In case you didn’t know, @katdish does anything she wants to. That’s why we love her so.)

@PeterPollock Easy, I threatened my friends on #FOTTSP to either join my site or lose admin privileges. Power is good. (in reply to PeterPollock @katdish So let’s get this straight.. you haven’t even launched your new blog yet but you already have 13 ‘friends’ on it? how’d you do that?)

@CandySteele I picked out the font, he loaded it for me & changed it 562 times until I liked it. I’m a pleasure to work with. (in reply to CandySteele @katdish Did he do the fancy schmancy header too? Or did you do that? #randomfontarrhea #cool)

“I know the crap out of women.” ~ Michael Scott

@jamieworley I didn’t realize barns could marry in Georgia. (in reply to jamieworley Slideshow from a super-sweet barn wedding NE of Atlanta: http://worleyarts.com/blog/archives/1743)

RT @PeterPollock: I just did something perfectly – on the 593rd attempt!
I’m really not hard to please, I only expect perfection.

@SurfCorp I think twitter should pay me. (in reply to SurfCorp If you had to pay for Twitter what would it be worth to you every month?)

@noveldoctor You are really ARE Eeyore. (in reply to noveldoctor God hit the reset button on Twitter to remind us we’re all made of the same stuff…low self-esteem.)

RT @unmarketing: I need a Facebook enema, too much crap in my stream.

@PeterPollock Yes. You are correct. We are all rich oil barons. (in reply to PeterPollock My understanding from TV is that all Texans are rich oil barons. Is that correct?)

I really need to narrow down my categories list for my new site. I think I can eliminate “My big fat head” & “oreo cakesters”

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Dumbledore is gay

image courtesy of photobucket.com

I had a recent conversation with a friend who told me about the winner of a senior thesis writing contest at the local college. What was the topic of the winning entry? The writer’s belief that all of the major characters in The Lord of the Rings were gay.

I’ll give you a minute so you can soak in that last line.

This reminded me of another group of folks who seemed hell-bent on getting J. K. Rowling to publically proclaim that Professor Dumbledore of Harry Potter fame was a homosexual.

My question is, WHY?

I’m not singling out the Gay and Lesbian movement, I’m just so sick and tired of people trying to make everything slant towards their own political agenda and then shove it down all of our collective throats.

The beauty of a well written story is that it allows the reader to create their own concepts of the scenery and characters. The reason great books seldom translate into great movies is because your concept of a hero or heroine will always be a bit different from mine. That’s a good thing. A good storyteller will always allow room for the reader to shade in the imagery with their own brushstrokes.

It’s why The Giving Tree can be a beautiful tale of unconditional love to you while it can be a story of abuse, selfishness, enabling and codependency to me.

It’s why we can quote a guy like Friedrich Nietzche whose words are often hauntingly beautiful when most of us who know anything about the man knows what a sick bastard he really was.

So, all of you with your single-minded agenda—would you just stuff a sock in it? Can we just agree to disagree on some things?

The world can be a hard, cold and scary place. When I seek to escape into the refuge of a good book, I really don’t need you looking over my shoulder insisting that Robinson Crusoe escaped to a life at sea because he was being unfairly persecuted for his latent pirate tendancies.

End of katrant.

Wow.

I feel much better now.

Carry on.

New beginnings


On April 30, 2008 I began my maiden voyage into the blogosphere with the following statement:

“I’m not really sure what this blog is going to be about. But I’ve found myself writing really long comments on other people’s blogs, so I figured I’d start my own and not subject anyone to my rambling commentaries unless they really want to read them.”

Since I had no real defined goal or purpose for this this blog, I thought I would steal a line from a favorite t-shirt:

“People say I have ADD. They just don’t understand…Hey look, a chicken!

And while I feel “Hey Look a Chicken” was a perfect title for my meandering ramblings, this blog has become more than that. I began to take things a bit more seriously. Not myself, of course (well, mostly not myself), but the influence I have on others.

Whoa! I know that sounds like an incredibly arrogant thing to say. I don’t mean it to be. But here’s the thing–all of us have a certain degree of influence. The more influence we have, the greater the sense of responsibility we feel. Unless, of course, you’re a professional athlete, but I digress…

What started out as a hobby blog has turned into so much more to me. It’s a meeting place, a conversation place, a place to vent, to ramble and to encourage. It’s also become a place to share the spotlight with others much more talented than yours truly.

So, it’s time to say goodbye to Hey Look a Chicken and tidy up a bit. To facilitate a cleaner, more professional yet still katdishy appearance, my geeky guru Peter Pollock has been hard at work on my brand spanking new website. A calmer, less distracting website where the writing is highlighted instead of all the stuff in the sidebars. (As an aside, I’m really hoping to find a place for Awesome Cat, because he is, after all, AWESOME!)

The content will remain much the same. You’ll still find a post by Billy Coffey on Mondays and I will continue to introduce (and re-introduce) other writers on Wednesdays. And yes, I still reserve the right to be completely random and ridiculous the rest of the week. Or serious, if the mood strikes.

I’m packing up my stuff and “moving to the light” as Peter refers to it. (“It” being a WordPress blog.)

Thank you all so much for your continued support and encouragement. I hope to see you at the new place:

katdish.net

Hey There!

image courtesy of photobucket.comWelcome to my new website! Okay, I suppose technically it’s a blog, but “website” sounds more official and fancy. And I’m all up in official and fancy.

I’m still working on a few things–my blog roll page, specifically. And I still have a list of unreasonable demands I have yet to give to Peter Pollock, but it’s pretty much done for now.

Isn’t it roomy? I just love all the grey space. When I was researching what color to paint my office/studio, I wanted to find a color that best stimulated creativity. Do you know which color that is? Yeppers–grey. Of course, I didn’t paint my studio grey. I painted it kiwi green with black and red accents. But that’s neither here nor there. Where was I going with this? Oh, yeah…

Please feel free to roam around. I would love it if you click on the “But enough about me” tab and tell me a little about yourself. If you’re so inclined, I’d also like to invite you to sign up via Google Friends Connect and/or the RSS feed. (That would be that little orange square in the top right corner.)

A very special, huge THANK YOU to Peter Pollock of New Blog Hosting for hosting this site and for transferring the ideas in my head into what I think is a pretty cool looking and well functioning blog. I would thank John Saddington for the beautiful Standard Theme template, but he’s not following me on twitter anymore, so he’s dead to me. (Kidding. Sort of.)

Anyhoo, thanks for stopping by! Hope you like it!

Chickens with Purpose (by Heather Sunseri)

I trying to remember where I first came across today’s guest blogger, Heather Sunseri. I want to say Twitter. Which, for those of you still stubbornly refusing to join, has been an incredible resource for finding some of the best writers on the internets. Just saying, Sharkbait.

Regardless, Heather’s a great writer and a great person.

Here’s her bio:

I am a Christian, wife and mother of two young children. I have worked as a CPA for the past 15 years for thoroughbred horse farms and in public accounting in Central Kentucky. I spend my free time as an inspirational writer and enjoy the little things in life from long bike rides in the country to homemade pizza and family game night.

Chickens with Purpose

I’m always pondering God’s purpose in my life. You know, the big plan. And do I have enough faith to know when I’m living it?

As a young child, I was taught to smile through most anything. God won’t send you a memo with a bullet-point to-do list on how to live out His plan. You must put one foot in front of another, get your hands dirty, put a smile on your face and get to work. Of course, all that mixed with a heavy dose of faith that God will pick you up when you fall, and you’ll feel Christ’s love as you work. I find it’s easier to do good works–you know the “works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”–with purpose if you keep the faith. Easier said than done, right?

I’ve also been a big believer that God’s big plan lies somewhere in the midst of the little jobs we do along the path of life. And I hope that’s what I teach my kids. The problem? I almost forgot recently. So, thanks, God, and thanks, Mom, for the little reminders to find joy in the little things in life.

One day toward the end of spring break, my mother called to ask me if each of my children could have a baby chick as a souvenir from their spring break with my parents.

I was working long hours, as is always the case January through April 15th for a tax accountant, when the call came. “Can your beautiful children bring home a couple of baby chicks?”

My response to my amazing, caring and generous mother? “Are you insane? Of course they can’t have a chickens.”

“Not chickens. Baby chicks. They’re so cute.”

“I’ll have to think about it.” That, of course, was my way of saying “no” to my mom, but I was too tired (cowardly) to actually say it and listen to all the reasons of why I’m unreasonable, unfair, etc.

I hung up and did what anyone working in an office would do. I pled my case to the people in the neighboring cubicles. And of course, just as I suspected, they all sided with me.

Later that day, I gave my mom all the excuses. “We don’t live on a chicken farm. Sharon, my co-worker, says they’ll die within two days – all baby chicks do. They’re smelly. My neighborhood association won’t allow it. We don’t have anywhere to keep them. We don’t have an incubator.” (I really thought the last one was the one excuse that would do it.)

After my mom countered each one of those excuses, I was worn out so I said, “Call Mike (my husband) and ask him. I’m spent.”

Mike said, “Absolutely not!”

Instead of two baby chicks, my children came one with…

THREE BABY CHICKS, all named, and with a reminder from my mom. “Remember all the things you learned growing up on a small farm. Remember the hamsters, the cats, and breeding Labradors. Remember the baby bunnies we saved one year and the countless wounded birds. Your kids are learning to be caring to all of God’s creatures.” (That seemed like a stretch. We already have a dog, a cat, and fish.)

“But you let the kids name them. Like pets. You don’t name farm animals you have no intention of keeping.”

Alas, after two weeks with Prim, Comet, and Jenna, I admitted to my ten-year-old daughter that I was thoroughly impressed with how well she took care of the chicks. They had grown and thrived. She and my son had cleaned their makeshift cage twice daily, fed and watered them. They even took them outside on sunny days and played with them in the yard.

“I’m proud of you,” I said, trying not to sound too surprised one day while dear daughter fed the chicks water. “You have provided these three chickens amazing care. And you’ve helped your little brother to learn along the way.”

“They’re baby chicks, Mom, not chickens,” she said. “And of course I cared for them. It was my purpose.”

“Your purpose, huh?”

“You know how you’re always talking about doing God’s little jobs with a glad heart, well this was one of those jobs. If I do this job with purpose, He’ll trust me with something even bigger next time.”

“You think so, do you?”

“Yeah, and I’m hoping he’ll trust me with dolphins or a monkey someday.”

My daughter’s a dreamer like me.

But she’s right. It was her purpose at that moment. And she got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice if I tackled all of my jobs (toilet-cleaning, carpooling, volunteer work, my current career, writing) with the purpose and glad heart they deserved? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all did?

We don’t get to see the blue print God has for our lives, and sometimes we’re faced with not-so-easy of times. But through faith and love of Christ, we put one foot in front of the other, dig in and get our hands dirty, put a smile on our face, and we just might get a small taste of the big plan.

***

To read more from Heather Sunseri, visit her at Balance with Purpose and follow her on the twitter at @HeatherSunseri.

Finding your Muse (repost)

I’ve been pretty busy this week. Lots of reading and working on my new website–but more on that later. I wanted to repost one of my favorite posts from a series I did based on Stephen King’s novel, Duma Key. If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it.


Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King:

How to Draw a Picture (Part 5)

Don’t be afraid to experiment; find your muse and let her lead you. As her talent grew stronger, Elizabeth’s muse became Noveen, the marvelous talking doll. Or so she thought. And by the time she discovered here mistake — by the time Noveen’s voice changed — it was too late. But at first it must have been wonderful. Finding one’s muse always is.

Must your muse be a person? Well, it certainly can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

Your muse can be the questions you need answered or pain you want to make sense of. It can be the parts of your life you’ve just glanced over but never really delved into. Your children’s future can be your muse; your own peace of mind.

In short, your muse is what inspires you to create when you’re not feeling particularly creative; to work when you’d rather sleep, to promote yourself when you’d rather just find a quiet place to hide away from the world.

So, what drives me to create? Different things in different circumstances. But if I’m being honest (and I usually am), what drives me is the something my dad told me over and over as a child. Before I get into this, I need to tell you that my dad and I have a very good relationship now, and I don’t hold any ill will towards him. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. But I digress…

His philosophy was anything worth doing is worth doing well. Which I believe is a true and noble directive. His paraphrasing of that expression is what has caused me to struggle with overcoming some obstacles, the biggest of which was self doubt. I still struggle with that. I think we all do to a certain extent. So, what were my dad’s exact words? These:

“If you going to do something half-ass, don’t do it at all!”

Adults often make the mistake of assuming children think the way they do. When I heard that statement, my first thought was, “Okay. I won’t do it at all.” So things that were difficult for me I simply avoided. I convinced myself that I wasn’t really good at anything. But God knew better. I suppose I’m a bit of a later bloomer. I didn’t really know what I was good at creatively until my thirties. I spent a whole lot of years simply existing, not living. But somewhere along the line a passion for art in many forms was ignited. It’s scary, and difficult at times, but living is so much more fulfilling than existing, don’t you think?

So…find your muse yet?

Letting Go (by Billy Coffey)


image courtesy of photobucket.com

There are plenty of folks who say the Civil War is still being fought around here, though perhaps not in the way most would think. I speak not of the lurking and sometimes blatant racism that is just as much a part of the South as it is the North and West. No, I’m talking about another sort of fight, the reality of which depends completely upon your point of view.

Among the great reasons to call Virginia home is its history. Some say the Indians first migrated to the our valley around five thousand years ago. Take a walk with me in the long cornfields by the river’s edge near my home, and you can find evidence of their centuries here—arrowheads and tomahawks, pottery and spearheads.

After them came the time of Washington and Jefferson and Madison, giants whose courage and vision founded history’s greatest nation. And then came Lee and Jackson and a time when that nation was torn apart.

Yes, lots of history here.

Lots of ghosts, too.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I spoke with an old-timer who told me of a house in the city that was once a hospital for Confederate soldiers. There’s a reddish-brown stain on the parlor floor there, he said. About the size of a small spill. According to the homeowners, the stain has always been there. If it’s cleaned up, it reappears soon afterwards. If a rug is placed over it, the stain somehow seeps through the rug.

Local legend states it’s the blood of a confederate soldier. The homeowners agree. Quite an outlandish claim of course, but to a lot of the people here it’s just one more ghost story among thousands.

Like the Indian warrior who haunts the factory near my home. Or the spirits who inhabit the local cemeteries. There’s an abandoned house near the railroad tracks that’s haunted by the ghosts of two murdered brothers.

Keep in mind this is just in my town. Get out of there and up into the hills, and to hear the stories you’d be led to believe there are more ghosts than people.

Such tends to be the case for those parts of our country still immersed in the old ways, where religion and folklore entwine in an always rich but sometimes clumsy dance. The older people tend to see these tales as true. The younger ones generally use them for late-night campfires with easily-frightened girlfriends.

But back to that old-timer.

Nice old guy. He’s lived in this town for ninety-plus years, and he says his family has been here for over a century. He’s a believer in the ghosts. He says there are parts of life we may never get a glimpse of, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real.

And he said this: “Those ghosts are stuck here in this world, you see. For whatever reason, they can’t let go. So they’re left to roam. They’re not living, but they ain’t dead either. And for that, they have my pity.”

In that moment all of those ghosts had my pity, too. I still didn’t believe in them, of course. To me, they were nothing more than rural fairy tales. But fairy tales tend to have a lot of truth wrapped in them, some warning or lesson to be heeded. And I began to think maybe our town’s fairy tales did, too.

There’s a lot to be said for holding tight to something, whether it’s a dream or an ideal or a hope. Perseverance and tenacity are virtues, I think. Good things.

But there are times for letting go, too. Times when holding on means to neither live nor die, but merely to roam. Our perseverance and tenacity can become twisted into something it was never meant to be, leaving us bitter instead of strengthened and a mere specter instead of a person.

And I thought, too, of those things I hold tightly to in my own life, things valuable and real. And I wondered if when the time came I could let go. I hoped so, I really did.

It’s a matter of faith, letting go. It’s the epitome of trust.

And we’ll often find that when we let go, we’ll grasp Someone who will never let go of us.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Some things I learned and some I didn’t from my mom


(For the record, I’m the adorable one in the middle with the Fred Flintstone feet.)

(This is a repost from last Mother’s Day, but everything still applies.)

What my mother didn’t teach me that I learned the hard way:

  • that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself
  • that God is my everything
  • that having a newborn is not for the faint of heart
  • that seeing your child in pain is excrutiatingly more difficult than your own pain
  • that I really am creative, just not in the same ways she is
  • that not all men are creeps
  • that marriage isn’t a fairy tale, it’s a constant work in progress
  • that just because it’s true, doesn’t mean it’s not gossip
  • that mother’s aren’t perfect, but love covers a multitude of sins

Things I learned from my mother:

  • to make lemonade when life give you lemons, even if it’s still a little bitter
  • that creativity and a little elbow grease can go a long way
  • to respect your elders even if you don’t agree with them
  • to always say please and thank you
  • that steamed rice goes with just about anything, even spaghetti sauce
  • that when there’s nothing to laugh about, you can always laugh at yourself
  • to always put the needs of others before your own
  • to do an honest day’s work
  • that happiness is a warm puppy – even the 3 legged variety
  • that sometimes life is just about endurance
  • that actions always speak louder than words
  • to pick myself up and dust myself off
  • to never say “I’ll never do that with my kids.”
  • that the youngest child usually gets their way by means of wearing you down
  • that the youngest child gets sucker punched in the back when mom’s not looking (okay, my sisters and brother taught me that one – frequently)
  • that cute goes a long way, but character will go the distance
  • to be a subservient and submissive wife (okay that one didn’t really take)
  • that giving to others is infinitely more satisfying that hoarding things for yourself
  • that true beauty comes from within

Thanks, mom. I am a better mom because I am your daughter.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms, daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters!

The obligatory weekly twitter update


Here we are again friends, My 46th twitter update. Dang, that a lot of tweets. When I first started this update, it was simply a means of gathering up a few random observations to share with my non-twitter friends. I’m not sure I was the first person to start doing this, but I’ve noticed some other folks outside my little circle of interweb friends have started doing their own versions, so for that I want to say sorry/you’re welcome.

And now, the best of me (or not) on the twitter this week:

@llbarkat And you need to give me a link. Cuz I’m a lazy Yoda.

@llbarkat I share my superior wisdom with @billycoffey all the time. (in reply to llbarkat @billycoffey would love a tip from you (see the comment box at Green Inventions) & see if you can get @katdish to share her superior wisdom)

@llbarkat I specialize in unsolicited advice. (in reply to llbarkat @katdish I’m sure you must have a tip in there somewhere.)

“The grocery store is a black cesspool of unbridled despair.” ~ Billy Coffey

@gabbysherri Night Smurfette!

@gabbysherri (shaking my head slowly in mock disapproval) Just google it. (in reply to gabbysherri @katdish-what the heck is tweetdeck?)

@gabbysherri Okay. Tell one of your sons to install tweetdeck on your computer or you’ll never keep up.

Hey everyone! Follow @gabbysherri. It will freak her out.

@marni71 I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. (in reply to marni71 @gabbysherri I texted @katdish just to let her know u logged on. If she didn’t faint, she’ll come say hi.)

@gabbysherri SHUT. UP!!! I can’t believe it!

When I finally met Mr. Right I had no idea his first name was Always ~ Rita Rudner

@redclaydiaries It’s exactly like that. Or something… (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish Eminent demise? Is that like eminent domain? Like the poo is trying to force us out of house and home?)

@duane_scott probably the Long Island iced teas. (in reply to duane_scott @CassandraFrear @katdish No, that was pretty pathetic. The poor lady. Who told her she could sing?)

@CassandraFrear Pretty sucktacular, huh?

@CassandraFrear @duane_scott This one’s for you: http://bit.ly/bfgi0e

@duane_scott I’m laughing with you, not at you. Okay, maybe laughing at you a little bit… (in reply to duane_scott @CassandraFrear @katdish it is a talent. I can do Ice Ice Baby flawlessly. 🙂 and a few nights ago I scored 98 on The Scientists by coldplay)

@duane_scott Is karaoke a talent? (in reply to duane_scott @katdish is Comedy. @PeterPollock is English accent. I’d have to go with karaoke. See, we all have talents! Whoop whoop.)

@redclaydiaries The random poo is a sure sign of eminent demise.

@duane_scott Comedy. (in reply to duane_scott @PeterPollock @katdish Let’s put it this way. If we 3 were to have a talent show, what would you win at?)

RT @badbanana: Having a Yoplait yogurt with my lunch. Before you judge my masculinity, I’m also eating an elk head. Antlers and all.

@PRbytheBook Are you following @billycoffey yet?

RT @PRbytheBook: Authors: start early! “Begin an authentic conversation w/people interested in your topic…” http://huff.to/dqrrMz.

@chipmacgregor Ooo! I am an incredibly bad poet!

RT @chipmacgregor: We’ve started our annual Bad Poetry Contest at www.chipmacgregor.com – drop by and participate!

So, I need to work on my new website that the lovely & talented @peterpollock is building for me but I forgot my password. #ragingADD

@llbarkat @KathleenOverby If I can influence anyone to let their inner silly out, that is a very good day.

@KathleenOverby Okay, nevermind. That post DOES sound like I could have written it. Snort!

@KathleenOverby Ghost writing? Yeah, like I’d write something w/o getting credit for it. (in reply to KathleenOverby @llbarkat you’re gonna win the 31 days thingy, because you’re causing a ruckus and bribing with cake. Is @katdish ghost writing for you?)

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples”, not “make converts to your opinions”. ~ Oswald Chambers

“Every boy wants to be found brave and every girl wants to be found lovely.” ~ Jeff Hogan

RT @tremendousnews: It’s Cinco de Mayo! Unless you don’t have your papers in Arizona. Then it’s just a Wednesday you’ll never forget

Wow >RT @jeremypeterson: the future of worship??? http://bit.ly/de8N6s

@VariantVal Ah yes. Laugh, and the world laughs with you…Cry and you look like (expletive).

@llbarkat what do you mean,”just” me? Snort! (in reply to llbarkat @katdish I am happy to report that you and the Dalai quadrupled my blog traffic yesterday. Okay, okay, I’m sure it was just you 😉

@buzzbyannies Happy Cinco de Birthday, Annie!

Okay. Too much technical computer stuff. I need to walk away and eat a sammich.

@lainiegallagher But I will because I love your bossy little self.

@lainiegallagher You’re not the boss of me… (in reply to lainiegallagher @katdish Tell your new FB friends to be my friends, too. Do it.)

RT @jamieworley: Just made up a new word: “squirky.” It means squirrelly and quirky. Sometimes I am both of those, so I need a good word. 😉

RT @gyoung9751: @katdish Linking up with FB and Twitter is either Facebookerocious or Twittelicious

@gyoung9751 Thanks, Glynn. I don’t need katdishionary words at the moment, I need INSTRUCTION

GAAAAA!!!! Okay. Thanks for all the FB friends. Now how do I link up with twitter?

Okay people. I created a new facebook account: Katdish Dishman-Richards. I have no friends currently. Sad…I know.

@noveldoctor Writers can’t help but write. Even when it’s not on paper. It’s safer on paper than in your head, though.

RT @noveldoctor: If all writers truly followed the “write what you know” maxim, wouldn’t most novels be about rejection?

@noveldoctor He WAS in Karate Kid! (in reply to noveldoctor @katdish Or Ralph “Espresso” Macchiato. Wait, wasn’t he the Karate Kid?)

@noveldoctor I think they might figure it out when your characters have names like “Carmelatta”. (in reply to noveldoctor I get some of my best story ideas from the customers at Sbux. They just don’t know it.)

NERD ALERT >RT @Brian_Russell: Anyone on Xbox Live? Because we should totally nerd it up together.

@PeterPollock Nope. Just outright adoration and appreciation. (in reply to PeterPollock @katdish When I saw “My Geeky Guru” I was sure that there must be a way to TWSS it, but I just can’t find it!)

Just called @PeterPollock my “geeky guru” in a DM. It’s a shame I can’t post my DMs on my twitter update. Don’t worry, I’ll never do that.

@amysorrells Oh, be careful what you wish for Amy. (in reply to amysorrells @katdish In that case, I want to be just like you. (((snort!)))

@amysorrells Oh, pish posh! Never grow up! (in reply to amysorrells I want 2 B like them when I grow up: @MaryDeMuth @michaelhyatt @thepioneerwoman @RichardMabry @sarahmarkley @1nicolebromley @flowerdust)