Good Shame vs Bad Shame


image courtesy of photobucket.com

If you are a regular reader here, you may have read my post and giveaway for Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art. This book is easily one of the most valuable items in my writer’s toolbox.

As a friend of mine so eloquently puts it, “Steven Pressfield is absolutely zero bullsh*t.” If you’re looking for someone to tell you that it’s okay to put off your writing until you get your life under control, or that it’s okay to put aside your passion because you’re tired or weary, don’t read his book or his blog. Give in to Resistance and allow it to bury you and your dreams. Just don’t blame anyone but yourself because you couldn’t or wouldn’t put in the work.

Talent is so abundant it’s almost cliche’. Talent will only take you so far. If you truly believe that you have been called to your particular creative endeavor–whether that be writing, painting, music, whatever–then what are you waiting for? If you’re waiting for conditions to be perfect before you begin in earnest, I’ve got news for you. They will never be perfect. Resistance will never allow that to happen.

I recently discovered Mr. Pressfield writes a weekly post entitled Writing Wednesdays. I was particularly impressed with one called The Uses of Shame. In part, he writes:

Shame is good. Shame is a tremendous weapon against Resistance. Along with habit, momentum, aspiration, anger, eros and joy, shame can be a mighty ally in the never-ending guerrilla campaign against self-sabotage.

What is shame? Shame is the emotion we feel when we are guilty of acts that are unworthy of us.

Resistance hates shame. Because Resistance knows that once we feel shame, we are likely (goaded by this extremely unpleasant sensation) to take action. We are likely to gird our loins, put some starch in our backbone, kick ourselves in the ass–and actually start doing our work.

In this context, I agree that shame is a powerful motivator. Of course, there is bad shame. Bad shame is based on fear. It keeps victims of sexual and domestic abuse from outing their attackers. Bad shame keeps people in relationships because of obligation rather than love, it empowers bullys to continue their intimidation tactics on others. But bad shame is almost always based on lies.

Good shame motivates us to put away our excuses and belly aching and helps us move closer from the person we are to the person we want to be.

And what a shame it would be for the rest of the world if we never got a glimpse of that person inside of you…

Sorry/you’re welcome.

NightandIloveyou (by Billy Coffey)


A recent, and very early, Friday morning:

I hear it through a thick blanket of sleep, soft at first then clearer and stronger. Not the sort of noise one fears at night. Not a crack or a thump or a ring from the telephone. But the sort of noise that makes you wonder where it’s coming from and what in the world it means.

“Free credit report dot com, tell your friends tell your dad tell your mom.”

I grab the remote control and point it in the general direction of the television, thinking that I had dozed off in the middle of whatever I had been watching three hours earlier. I wave it blindly, pushing the ON/OFF button and then smacking the whole thing against my hand because the batteries must be dead. And then I realize that the television isn’t on. The noise, however, still is:

“Free credit report dot com, tell your friends tell your dad tell your mom.”

My head raises, using what can only be described as the human equivalent to sonar to identify the source.

It’s coming from my son’s bedroom.

I pull back the blankets, schlep into the hallway, and stand at his door. The soft red light from his Lightning McQueen lamp illuminates him in his bed. He is staring at the ceiling with his arms raised and his fingers doing some sort of magical dance.

“Hey,” I say.

He jerks and spins and stares at me with a look of terror. He has been worried of monsters under his bed lately, and ghosts in his closet, and the bad guy from Toy Story. I just may be all three.

“Just me,” I promise.

“Hi, Daddy.”

“Why aren’t you sleeping?”

“I am.”

“No, you’re singing.”

“Sorry, Daddy.”

“Let’s get some sleep, okay?”

“Okay, Daddy. Nightandloveyou.”

“Nightandloveyoutoo.”

Back through the hallway, back into bed. I pull the blankets over me and roll to my side. Then, just as I close my eyes:

“Free credit report dot com, tell your friends tell your dad tell your mom.”

Sigh.

Back out of bed, back into the hallway, back to his door.

“Hey, bud,” I say.

“Hi, Daddy.”

“Quit singing and go to sleep.”

“Okay, Daddy. Nightandloveyou.”

I turn to leave, satisfied that my tone of voice has said what my words did not: don’t wake me again.

“Daddy?” he says, more to the shadow I cast against the wall than to me.

“Yeah, bud?”

“Mommy says to sing when you’re scared.”

Uh-oh.

I move into his room and onto his bed. “Mommy’s a smart girl,” I say. “Maybe the smartest.”

“She says singing makes the shadows brighter.”

“It does,” I tell him. But I don’t think she meant to sing a song from a commercial, and I’m fairly sure she didn’t mean to sing in the middle of the night.”

“Do you get scared, Daddy?”

I mull that one over, biding a few precious seconds by rearranging his covers and pillow. This is a murky question, one best considered in the light of day when I’m alert rather than the dark of night when I’m-not-so-much.

I weigh my options. Tell him that I am scared sometimes, and that may make things much worse. Because if Daddy’s scared, then there must really be some bad things out there. Things worse than monsters. Don’t tell him, though, and I risk much worse. I risk lying to my son.

Because I do get scared. A lot.

“Yeah,” I tell him. “Sometimes.”

“What do you do when you’re scared?”

“Pray, usually.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s even better than singing.”“Does it make the shadows brighter?”

“Better,” I say. “It makes the shadows go away.”

So we pray that the angels will chase away all the monsters. He speaks of the ones in his room, and I think of the ones in this world. Because I know the truth: the ones in the world are real.

We sit alone in the quiet stillness of his room, two people determined to find peace and rest regardless of the shadows that surround us. “It’s not so dark with a father here,” he observes. With me there beside him, rest comes easier. “Nightandloveyou,” he says, and then is asleep.

Back in my own bed, I stop to consider the shadows in our world. I am aware of many more than my son, and thankfully so. I worry about my family sometimes. I worry what will happen next. Tomorrow used to be a word of hope for people. Things would be better then. But I think that too many would rather cling to the present or even the past now. For a lot of us, tomorrow’s just too scary.

Then I remember what my son said. The darkness doesn’t seem to dark when your father is there. Yes. The shadows lessen. Rest comes easier.

I close my eyes and say my own short prayer.

“Nightandloveyou,” I say to my Father. And I sleep.

***

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

Do you believe that I loved you?

I believe this is the third time I posted the following video, and it probably won’t be my last, because it is my hope that someone will happen across my blog today that desperately needs to hear what Brennan Manning has to say here. Even if you’ve seen it before, I invite you to watch it again.

Brennan Manning said:

The Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question and only one question: Do you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?

The real believers there will answer, “Yes, Jesus. I believed in your love and I tried to shape my life as a response to it. But many of us who are so faithful in our ministry, in our practice, in our church going are going to have to reply, “Well frankly, no sir. I mean, I never really believed it. I mean, I heard alot of wonderful sermons and teachings about it. In fact I gave quite a few myself. But I always knew that that was just a way of speaking; a kindly lie, some Christian’s pious pat on the back to cheer me on. And there’s the difference between the real believers and the nominal Christians that are found in our churches across the land. No one can measure like a believer the depth and the intensity of God’s love. But at the same time, no one can measure like a believer the effectiveness of our gloom, pessimism, low self-esteem, self-hatred and despair that block God’s way to us. Do you see why it is so important to lay hold of this basic truth of our faith? Because you’re only going to be as big as your own concept of God.

Do you remember the famous line of the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal? “God made man in his own image, and man returned the compliment”? We often make God in our own image, and He winds up to be as fussy, rude, narrow minded, legalistic, judgemental, unforgiving, unloving as we are.

In the past couple of three years I have preached the gospel to the financial community in Wallstreet, New York City, the airmen and women of the air force academy in Colorado Springs, a thousand positions in Nairobi. I’ve been in churches in Bangor, Maine, Miami, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, San Diego. And honest, the god of so many Christians I meet is a god who is too small for me. Because he is not the God of the Word, he is not the God revealed by it in Jesus Christ who this moment comes right to your seat and says, “I have a word for you. I know your whole life story. I know every skeleton in your closet. I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty and degraded love that has darkened your past. Right now I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship. And my word is this: I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are, and not as you should be. Because you’re never going to be as you should be.”

Do you believe that He loves you?

On writing, bacon and taxidermy

I’m visiting my dad this weekend: Land of crappy internet service. I want to apologize to those who have been anxiously awaiting this update…all three of you. Anyhoo, it seems this update is awash in conversations between @redclaydiaries and me. What can I say? We crack ourselves up. And Sweet Fancy Moses! This update is really long. Feel free to stop reading when your retinas begin to bleed…

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

RT @noveldoctor: Tragedy is when two parallel lines fall in love.

@noveldoctor Hmmm….So maybe it wasn’t the coffee pot I’ve been smelling. (in reply to noveldoctor @katdish burnt coffee.)

@noveldoctor What does insanity smell like? (in reply to noveldoctor Hope and insanity both expect different results from doing the same thing over & over. But hope smells like cupcakes.)

RT @noveldoctor: Sometimes a little voice tells me I’m a terrible writer. I never should have bought that parrot.

RT @noveldoctor: Some people write fiction to hide the truth. Others write fiction to reveal it. I prefer the latter.

With friends like @redclaydiaries, who need enemas?

RT @redclaydiaries: @katdish I think Twitter’s trying to tell you that you’re a washed-up has-been.

“Problems updating katdish” Grrr…

@RobinMArnold I like those words. May have to replace my stardard “blogstipation” and “bloggerrhea” (in reply to RobinMArnold @katdish @redclaydiaries I’m just so proud and inspired by your bloggy productivity lately! Is that problogtivity or blogductive?)

I KNEW IT! >RT @redclaydiaries: @katdish Read today on MY blog: writing in waves. Also: I like @bridgetchumbley more than you.

@redclaydiaries I wait over a year for you to send me a guest post, but @bridgetchumbley gets on right away? Uh, huh. I see how you are.

Snort! http://twitpic.com/1hr4rm

@weightwhat He’s so young, he doesn’t even know what he doesn’t know yet (in reply to weightwhat @duane_scott You have no idea what Grease even is, do ya kid?)

My spellcheck is not working in blogger, as if to say, “I give up. You’re totally making these words up, aren’t you?”

@10MinuteWriter Are you craving some tots? (in reply to 10MinuteWriter @katdish Okay, this photo makes me homesick for Oklahoma.)

Everything’s bigger in Texas. Including roller skating tater tots. http://twitpic.com/1hmcnv

@WriteOnRideOn Sorry/you’re welcome (in reply to WriteOnRideOn @katdish Let’s just say I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything that stains when you said that. ROFLOL. Brownies sure has changed since I was 1.)

@WriteOnRideOn Taxidermy. (in reply to WriteOnRideOn @katdish Oh NO. You killed Santa’s reindeer at a Brownies meeting? WHAT badge was that???!!!!)

@WriteOnRideOn The funny thing? I’m at a Brownies meeting. (in reply to WriteOnRideOn @katdish Shuddering. I’m glad no children are around to see THAT. Quel HORROR. #hisnoseusedtobesoshinyandbright)

@WriteOnRideOn No, here he is! http://twitpic.com/1hm5oy

(in reply to WriteOnRideOn @katdish So, apparently only Rudolph escaped????)

@makeadiff21 This is Texas Ginny. It’s called rustic art. (in reply to makeadiff21 @katdish Oh, that’s just awful)

@Helenatrandom exactly…(in reply to Helenatrandom @katdish @makeadiff21 I guess that’s what they get for calling Rudolf names and ostracizing him that way…)

Where are they now?: Santa’s reindeer http://twitpic.com/1hm3k4

@HeatherSunseri I thought that was pretty much every day. (in reply to HeatherSunseri What do writers do when they have a day of self-doubt and insecurity? Write some more or give up and start fresh another day?)

In honor of #EARTHDAY, We are having free range chicken tonite instead of spotted owl.

@PeterPollock SNORT! (in reply to PeterPollock Saw a woman who looked like @katdish… I was beginning to wonder but then she stood still and quiet for 5 seconds so I knew it wasn’t her)

@redclaydiaries @RobinMArnold “Connectinator”? I like that.

@shrinkingcamel “Katdish” day, or as it is often referred to, “Katdishmas” is August 5. (in reply to shrinkingcamel @katdish So when is Katdish Day? If there’s an Earth Day, surely we should have a Katdish Day too.)

@brandonacox Connector: @redclaydiaries because she plays well with others & she has a gazillion followers.

AHEM >RT @brandonacox: Tell me one person, on Twitter, you consider a “connector.” (however you define that)

HA! Just kidding…

In honor of Earth Day tomorrow, I’m going to abstain from all electricity usage, including my computer.

I feel an incessant rant coming on…

Shouldn’t you request friends and not fans?

Dear churches that create Fan Pages on Facebook. Do you really think that’s the message you should be sending?

@redclaydiaries I really have no excuse, as my badness is perfected. (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish I’m just workin my badness. What’s ur excuse?)

“Never hit a man in anger unless you’re absolutely sure you can get away with it” ~ Harold Ramis

@marni71 It’s rude of your frankly? Snort! (in reply to marni71 @billycoffey I know, it’s rude of my frankly. I FINALLY installed Tweetdeck on my home laptop so maybe I’ll be around more.)

@gyoung9751 That would be awesome (in reply to gyoung9751 @katdish I loved your comment. I may have to buy a beret. Russell at @LuvStomp said he could hear bongos.)

@sarahmsalter So whenever you’re looking for a post full of gratuitous violence, let me know.

@sarahmsalter Well, if you must know, @billycoffey’s post inspired me to watch the rest of Season 2 of 24.

@billycoffey It’s probably best. (in reply to billycoffey @katdish You’re welcome. I’m not even going to ask what you were doing.)

Gaaa! Thanks everyone! I’ve been doing “research” today, and have been away from tweetdeck.

EXACTLY! RT @SurfCorp: @katdish I couldn’t agree more. My motto is if I am unwilling to sign it; it shouldn’t be said.

Otherwise, you just look like a big, fat jerk.

If you believe you have a valid criticism, use your name, or better yet, have the decency to send the person a private email.

Leaving rude, anonymous comments is the Internet equivalent of leaving a burning bag of dog poop at someone’s front door and running away.

@billycoffey Sarah started it. I wash my hands of the entire situation. (in reply to billycoffey @brookelmcg I’m blaming @katdish and @sarahmsalter.)

@billycoffey Good call… (in reply to billycoffey @sarahmsalter @katdish @diam0ndhead94 I should shut up now.)

@billycoffey TWHS (in reply to billycoffey @weightwhat @Helenatrandom @katdish @sarahmsalter I’m glad I could bring a smile to your faces this afternoon, ladies.)

Can I get an Amen? >RT @billycoffey: @PeterPollock You’re a strange man, Peter Pollock.

@Helenatrandom You mean about how men think the uterus is a homing device?

Being a domestic goddess is just not in the cards for me

Which is quickly gobbled up by my 10# weiner dog. So I have to pull the 10 x 3 piece of fat out of the jowls of the beast who is fighting me

A peek into my day: Before browning a pork roast destined for the crockpot, I cut off a 10″ x 3″ piece of fat that lands on the floor…

@weightwhat I’ll just send them in your direction. You seem to have a larger audience of tin foil wearing readers. (in reply to weightwhat @katdish Better watch out – someone might be offended by the use of ‘tin foil hat.’)

@HeatheroftheEO Ooo! “katrant” Perhaps another katdishionary entry? (in reply to HeatheroftheEO @katdish Hi back! And thank you, lady. I’ll be waiting for the rant you feel coming on. I love me a good katrant.)

Oh how precious! Congrats! RT @BabySpeedyBee: Here he is! http://twitpic.com/1gryea

@togetherforgood Not that I would ever do that, of course…

@togetherforgood Um, Benedryl? Put modern medicine to work for you. (in reply to togetherforgood @katdish did I mention my children did not allow me a nap today?)

@lorencklein I would, but I am vehemently anti-crap. (in reply to lorencklein @katdish Maybe you need to prepare for next Easter now. No need to procrastinate, you know… ;^)

@togetherforgood snort! (in reply to togetherforgood @katdish I mean, i still am thinking WHAT IN THE WORLD. but at least those aren’t its udders. I’m just saying.)

@RobinMArnold And it very misses you! (in reply to RobinMArnold I very miss Texas.)

@SurfCorp well thanks. You got that right! (in reply to SurfCorp Looking to follow someone who has something to say? @reporterhaley @lollydaskal @katdish @blogomomma @BethLayne)

And here’s some crap you don’t need. But buy it anyway because it’s on sale. http://twitpic.com/1go00m

Inspiring, really. http://twitpic.com/1gnzj5

Who says you can’t find fine art at the grocery store? http://twitpic.com/1gnyg1

@marni71 Tis mine as well. (in reply to marni71 @katdish Well of course…it is my lifesong after all.)

@marni71 Followed by a rousing chorus of Fat Bottomed Girls! (in reply to marni71 @katdish Yay! I can see you now too. Let’s sing a chorus of “We are the champions”!)

@marni71 Yes. My tweetdeck is awash in your lovely face (in reply to marni71 @katdish Can you see me? (in the Tweetdeck sense?)

@CandySteele It’s a sixth sense, really…(in reply to CandySteele @katdish I swear, you can be in the tub and hear your name called on the twitter.)

@marni71 WHAT??? Stupid tweetdeck (in reply to marni71 Rebooted. Columns are still too wide and Twitter says @katdish isn’t my friend. HEADS ARE GONNA ROLL!)

@redclaydiaries Hey Steph! Say hello to my little friend. He’s waiting for you! http://bit.ly/bTkLoa

(in reply to redclaydiaries @RobinMArnold That would be @katdish. I have a deep & abiding love for clowns. Mostly because @katdish hates them)

Girl-what would scare you most? Me-probably if something happened to U or your brother. Girl-wanna know what would scare me the most?… Me-tell me. Girl-being attacked by a ninja.

@redclaydiaries I knew you’d understand. There is no spoon. (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish Oh. Well of course. That makes sense.)

@redclaydiaries I don’t know. That’s my go-to Icelandic Ass Clown name. (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish One question: Serge? Really?)

Jesus had 12 disciples who followed him everywhere. How annoying is that? Think he ever just turned to them & said, “WHAT?!?”-J Stewart

I think what went wrong w/Christianity is exactly what happens when you try to get a dog to look at something on television… Jesus pointed to God, and everyone just stares at his finger ~ Frank Miles

@MarketerMikeE Ass was in the bible, & @redclaydiaries started it. (in reply to MarketerMikeE @katdish did you just tweet “ass”? I’m calling a meeting of the deacons and elders.)

I have 3 books to read & review. Also 2 MS I want to read. Also I need to finish a guest post. So here I am. On twitter… Procrastination, thy name is katdish.

Flight of the Ass Clowns #rejectedTVpilots

@redclaydiaries Well I think ass clowns is a good start. (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish I KNOW. I now have too much material. I don’t know where to start. What should I write about?)

@redclaydiaries Well, don’t resort to writing a blog post. Wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself. (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish potato, potahto? (Can u tell I have creativity that I need to channel today?)

@redclaydiaries tomato, tomatto (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish Like a yellow jacket to an open can of Coke!)

@redclaydiaries Like a moth to a flame! (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish I love how if we want u on Twitter, all we have to do is tweet something inappropriate.)

@redclaydiaries Wait…ass clown? What’d I miss? (in reply to redclaydiaries @CandySteele I don’t know HOW soon he’ll be home. What with the ass clown and all.)

@redclaydiaries Okay. But I did not shoot the deputy. (in reply to redclaydiaries

@katdish Um, YOU burnt the bacon. Haven’t we already established that?)

@SBeeCreations Who burnt the bacon? (in reply to SBeeCreations @katdish it’s burnt)

@redclaydiaries Or TWHS

@redclaydiaries TWSS. (in reply to redclaydiaries @katdish Yes, but you burned @marni71 ‘s bacon.)

@marni71 I’ll always take credit for bacon. Morning! (in reply to marni71 @redclaydiaries let’s blame @katdish for the bacon.)

@PeterPollock Hypocrites! I tell ya! (in reply to PeterPollock @katdish If that’s true, then why do they complain when big people wear fur coats?)

Um, sorry. Not exactly. http://twitpic.com/1g2w1h

@jpwire Well, that’s certainly not a good look. Not a fan of clowns or circus tents. (in reply to jpwire @katdish I love those dresses but they make me look like a clown wearing the circus tent.)

Check out these 60’s dresses at Target. I gotta say, I’m liking this trend. Comfort b4 fashion I always say. http://twitpic.com/1g2t7b

Okay seriously people (cough* @amysorrells * cough) If you want me to RT your posts, MAKE THE TWEETS SHORTER.

@PeterPollock Oh, stop! You’ll be cursing me again in no time! (in reply to PeterPollock My time management / speed of response to certain things is pathetic. Sorry @katdish and @billycoffey . Just sorry.)

The definitive guides to zombie killing. http://twitpic.com/1g1tyy

My children are SO demanding! Take me here, feed me, clothe me, shelter me! Dang.

Katdishionary Part 7

Here we are at Katdishionary Part 7. Who knew I could stretch this series out into such a never-ending fountain of blog fodder? Well, I did, actually. Because I dig made up words. In case you missed the first six installments, you can find them here:

The Katdish Dictionary Part One
Katdishionary Part Two
Katdishionary Part Three
Katdishionary Part Four
Katdishionary Part Five
Katdishionary Part Six

And now, on with the Katdishionary:

As you know, I love the twitter! Oh sure, it abounds with annoying “social media experts” and spambots who try to ruin everyone else’s fun, but I don’t follow those types. I mostly only follow cool, real, live people who actually interact with one another. If I were one to make words beginning with “tw”, I would say it’s “twitterrific”! But I’m not. So I won’t. Anyway, today’s group of words are all from buddies on twitter. And by “buddies” I mean they are in my column labeled “Buddies”. Are you in this column? Don’t know do ya? Okay, if I talk to you on a regular basis, you are.

Skymalladocious (pronounced sky-mall-a-doe-shush)

Definition: A term used to describe one of my epic Sky Mall posts as being “docious”. I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing. Not exactly sure. Perhaps Mr. Young will comment and either confirm or deny this.

Origin: Glynn Young of Faith, Fiction and Friends used this term when tweeting my post,
Backyard Oasis courtesy of the Sky Mall, Part One. Incidentally, this was the first of three in the series. If you haven’t read them, you might want to check them out. They’re skymalladocious! Or so I’ve been told…

Katrant (pronounced kat-rant)

Definition: A term used to describe my state of mind when I rant incessantly. What makes me rant incessantly? Martha Stewart, rude anonymous comments, the girl scouts, Halloween costumes, collectibles, Petsmart, Christian retail, The Giving Tree, prosperity gospel, pajama-grams, Ricky Martin keychains, exploiting the homeless, pizza, and the prayer cross, just to name a few.

I have issues, people!

(Incidentally, if you care to read any of my incessant ranting posts, just search “incessant ranting”, because I’m not going to link all of them. I don’t have that kind of time.)

Origin: Heather from The Extraordinary Ordinary whist expressing her anticipation of the next rant, or “katrant” as she called it.

Connectinator (pronounced con-nek-ti-na-tor)

Definition: Someone who connects people or groups of people to new people or new groups of people. Sort of like a Connector as described in Malcom Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, only more intense, obsessive and adorably annoying.

Origin: Stephanie Wetzel of The Red Clay Diaries juxtiposing my description of her as a “connector” on twitter. Here’s a play by play of the action:

AHEM >RT @brandonacox: Tell me one person, on Twitter, you consider a “connector.” (however you define that)

@brandonacox @katdish Yes, but besides you. 🙂 haha

@robinmarnold Totally she is! RT @katdish AHEM >RT @brandonacox: Tell me one person, on Twitter, you consider a “connector.” (however you define that)

@katdish @brandoncox Well then, @redclaydiaries because she plays well with others and she’s got like a gazillion followers.

@redclaydiaries @katdish Thank u for the connector compliment! Of course if I’m a connector, then you’re the Connectinator.

So there you have it.

This concludes today’s installment of the Katdishionary. Although I do have a bonus acronym for those of who love a challenge. The first person who correctly identifies the following acronym may choose one of the following three options:

Option One: A guest post here on Hey Look a Chicken
Option Two: A guest post written by me for your blog
Option Three: None of the above. You can simply feel superior to everyone else as you bask in your cleverness.

And the mystery acronym of the day is…

IMGNAHS

The judges decisions are final. Please, no wagering, and Billy Coffey is not eligible. My blog. My rules.

Until next time, use your words. Even the made up ones. Especially those.

Christianity is no laughing matter (or is it?)

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge about to jump off. So I ran over and said, “Stop! Don’t do it! There’s so much to live for!”

He said, “Like what?”

I said, “Well, are you religious or atheist?”

“Religious”

I said, “Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?”

“Christian”

I said, “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?”

“Protestant”

I said, “Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”

“Baptist”

To read the rest of this joke (and the post that goes with it) follow me over to Kevin Martineau’s blog Shooting the Breeze where I’m guest blogging today.

You Bad Lady! (by Steph @ The Red Clay Diaries)

When I first decided to invite other bloggers to guest post here on Hey Look a Chicken, I began with my friends and cohorts from The Fellowship of the Traveling Smartypants, which I started because I had this great idea that a few of us would take turns guest posting on each other’s blogs, but that got complicated with scheduling and I’m pretty sure math was involved. How did I make the jump from rotating guest posts to a blog about nothing? I don’t know. But that’s not important right now…

To date, many of my friends have written guest posts for me already. Some more than one. But Steph, going to great lengths to prove that I am NOT the boss of her, has waited until now to send me a guest post. Was it worth waiting for? I think so, yes. But how could you go wrong with someone who writes a blog post entitled Beware the Ass Clown? I’m sure you see my point. Here’s her Oh-so-fancy and official Bio:

Writer, wife, traveler, mom, blogger, humorist, editor, Spanish-speaker, social media admin for John C Maxwell (@johncmaxwell).

And now, after the longest intro in the history of HLAC, here’s Steph:

“You bad lady! Let us do living!”

His voice carried from the front door of the bus as I made my way back to my seat. I don’t know why he was complaining. It’s not like I did what I wanted to: yank that whistle out of his mouth and ram it up his nose.

All I did was shoulder my way between him and his mark.

You know, I really like foreign travel. And I don’t think I’m an Ugly American. I don’t whine at the lack of cheeseburgers in kosher restaurants. I resist the impulse to wander in large groups down the middle of crowded sidewalks. I LIKE foreign languages and I KNOW how hard it is to learn one, so I never make fun of nationals’ attempts to speak English to me.

See? I’m mostly a delight. But I really can’t help it if I react badly to two groups of people encountered by tourists in some countries: street vendors and lechers.

Maybe it was my first visit to Mexico City. Or more specifically, my first ride on the subway there. To get even more specific, it was my first …um… contact with the local populace.

Without going into graphic detail, I’ll just say that Mexico City is the first city I’d ever heard of to have (and need) women-only subway cars during rush hour. After that first ride, I developed the following strategies for travel as a woman on (unisex) subway trains:

  1. Stand in a group, whenever possible. With all the females in the center, surrounded by the guys. Kind of like how water buffalo protect their young from hyenas.
  2. Failing #1, always find a wall. And stand against it. Facing the rest of the train. With arms crossed and a vicious look in your eye.
  3. When entering or exiting trains (or really walking through any crowded area), pay attention to your immediate surroundings. And carry a backpack, slung low. Swinging it violently and unpredictably.
  4. If contact is made, don’t even try to guess where it came from. Your stinkeye will be answered by leering – but blank – stares from each of the 15 men pressed up against you by the crowd.

By the end of six weeks there, I had the stinkeye and wall strategy down. And on my final train ride, I knew I’d perfected the backpack swing when the guy I “accidentally” hit actually said “OOF!” and stumbled backward.

My strategy for dealing with street vendors came out of a less violating experience. Unless you count being “taken” for a sarape as a violation.

(I didn’t actually ever buy a sarape. I just like saying it. SARAPE.)

Charging tourists double seems to be the locals’ entertainment in those souvenir markets. And it annoys me. What annoys me more is when they take advantage of Westerners’ general openness. Make eye contact and they descend like vultures.

So on that day in Israel when Whistle Man shoved a pennywhistle (that he was selling for MUCH MORE than a penny) under the nose of the nice older lady in our group, and she looked him in they eye, smiled sweetly, and said, “No, thank you,” I knew it was…

My Time to Shine.

With a mighty leap, I caught up. She was shuffling a little faster toward the bus, still smiling apologetically.

“Tweedle-eedle-eedle!” he blew the whistle in her ear. “Only ten shekels! You want for your kids?! They like! See? I have beads too! Three string for twenty shekels! Is good deal!”

It was after I elbowed him in the ribs, got between them, and said NO in his face with my best vicious expression that he called me a Bad Lady. But he let my sweet friend scramble onto the bus.

Personally, I think Mr. Whistle should be grateful that I wasn’t carrying a backpack.

Just sayin.

***

To read more from Stephanie Wetzel, visit her at The Red Clay Diaries and be one of her thousands of adoring followers on the twitter at @redclaydiaries.

Self Control (or lack thereof)


I have heard myself described as outspoken. I will definitely agree with that assessment to a certain degree. But I also believe you can be outspoken without being a loud mouthed jerk, and hopefully I’m able to pull that off most of the time.

Believe it or not, despite my tendency towards sarcasm and outright snarkiness, there’s not much that hurts me more than knowing I’ve hurt someone else, even if it is unintentional.

Such was the case last week. I won’t go into specifics. Basically what happened is a friend sent me a link via twitter, I went to the site she linked and then immediately sent a very snarky tweet back to the friend who sent it to me. It was meant completely in jest, but had I exercised some self-control and put myself in the other person’s shoes, I would have realized how incredibly rude and insensitive I had been. The worst part? I didn’t realize I had hurt her feelings until I read a tweet she sent to another friend about it hours later.

What I wanted to do is find a dark hole, crawl inside and hide. What I did instead was send my friend several DM apologizing for being such a calloused jerk, to which she gracefully responded that she was being oversensitive. All the while this conversation is going on, I was also having a DM conversation with my other friend who was assuring me that everyone makes mistakes, and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. (This friend puts the “awe” in awesome, and I am so blessed to have her as a friend. There I was telling her what a jerk I was, and she’s trying to make me feel better.)

I’m going to be honest. This still bothers me. It still makes me cringe. Not because my friend hasn’t forgiven me, because she told me she has and I believe her.

It bothers me because I realize that the cruelty and insensitivity I despise so much in others is within me as well.

It’s a painful reminder of what a wretch I truly am, and just much I am in need of a Savior.

NOTE: This is not one of those posts where I tell you all how wretched I am in the hopes you will tell me that I’m not. I’m not looking for vindication or praise. I’m just trying to write honestly.

***

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Self-Control, hosted by my friend Bridget Chumbley. Be sure to check out some of the other posts. You won’t be disappointed.

The Rules (by Billy Coffey)


It began two years ago with a simple conversation between one college softball player and one groundskeeper. I’m not sure who first said what. All I know is at some point one said something about being a much better ballplayer than the other, which was taken as an insult, which resulted in more insults, which resulted in the first ever softball game between the girls fastpitch team and the staff.

Last Wednesday was round three.

The games are always interesting. There is an extraordinary amount of fanfare involved, all of which can be boiled down to one word—pride. That’s what fuels these games. It’s not just pros against Joes, it’s the experience of age versus the cockiness of youth. Both teams are out to prove something, whether it be that that a bunch of old men can still kick it up a notch when needed or that the gals can hit and throw and run just as good—better, even—than the guys.

So while there is plenty in the way of friendly trash talking, there is also an undeniable seriousness beneath. My team doesn’t want to be beaten by a bunch of girls. Their team doesn’t want to be beaten by a bunch of groundskeepers, a few office workers, and a mailman.

It was an informal affair at best—no uniforms, no signals, and no stolen bases. And no umpire. Balls and strikes were called by the catchers, one of whom our team borrowed from the other. Baserunners were called safe or out based on consensus.

What could go wrong?

As it turned out, not much. For a while.

Because despite the combination of weakened knees and livers and lungs, us old guys were holding our own. And the young gals were holding theirs, despite the fact they’d been up for days cramming for finals. We were locked in a 1-0 pitchers duel.

But then through a series of walks and hits, we rednecks managed to load the bases with two outs.

Things were suddenly serious, and very much so. The chatter and clapping began in our dugout, while in the field the ladies were pounding their gloves and getting restless. And nervous.

The count ran full, and I could see the sweat building on the pitcher’s face. The intensity was getting to her. It was a look I’d seen before. No way she’d throw a strike.

And she didn’t. The ball sailed about four inches outside.

I jogged to third as the carousel of baserunners moved up one base. The runner ahead of me stomped on home plate with authority. We had a tie game.

Yes! Wait. No.

Because then the pitcher decided her last pitch was a strike after all, which was immediately agreed upon by her teammates.

Team Redneck protested in a most vehement way, of course. But in the end, there wasn’t much we could do about it. We took the field and vowed revenge our next at bat. Which never came, because after they batted they decided the game was over.

I didn’t stick around for the cookout afterwards. I imagine it was a quiet meal.
Me, I didn’t care that much. It was a chance for me to play some ball. The score was irrelevant. And I guarantee you that thought was echoed by most of the people on my team who just enjoyed playing like kids again. It didn’t bother us that we lost. What bothered us was how we lost.

We played by the rules. They didn’t.

You could see this whole episode as something bad. Not me. In fact, I see much good in it.

It lets me know that regardless of how often we’re reminded of how bad both the world and the people in it are, we still expect folks to follow the rules. To play fair. Most do. A lot don’t, of course, and never will. But as long as there is someone somewhere willing to take offense when the rules are broken, I really think we’ll be okay.

All of this has gotten me thinking about the rules my Dad first taught me about baseball. The ones I’m teaching my son now:

Play hard.

Practice much.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty.

Have fun.

Cheer for your teammates.

Keep your head up.

Win well. Lose better.

Shake hands when you’re done.

I like those rules. They’re good for baseball.

They’re good for life, too.

***

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

Readiness (by Oswald Chambers)


The following is the daily devotion from
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

“God called unto him and he said, Here am I” Exodus 3:4

When God speaks, many of us are like men in a fog, we give no answer. Moses’ reply revealed that he was somewhere. Readiness means a right relationship to God and a knowledge of where we are at present. We are so busy telling God where we would like to go. The man or woman who is ready for God and His work is the one who carries off the prize when the summons comes. We wait with the idea of some great opportunity, something sensational, and when it comes we are quick to cry – “Here am I.” Whenever Jesus Christ is in the ascendant, we are there, but we are not ready for an obscure duty.

Readiness for God means that we are ready to do the tiniest little thing or the great big thing, it makes no difference. We have no choice in what we want to do, whatever God’s programme may be we are there, ready. When any duty presents itself we hear God’s voice as Our Lord heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with all the alertness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us as His Father did with Him. He can put us where He likes, in pleasant duties or in mean duties, because the union is that of the Father and Himself. “That they may be one, even as We are one.”

Be ready for the sudden surprise visits of God. A ready person never needs to get ready. Think of the time we waste trying to get ready when God has called! The burning bush is a symbol of everything that surrounds the ready soul, it is ablaze with the presence of God.