Category Archives: Writing Challenge

If That’s What You Believe…

CC image courtesy of Waiting for the Word on Flickr.

It seems that there have always been people searching for reasons not to believe. Thomas was trapped in his unbelief. He told the other disciples,”Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25 NASB)

That same argument is espoused today. Some people discount the Bible as a collection of fables told by ignorant sheep herders. In my estimation, that is an argument adopted by many people who haven’t bothered to read the Bible. Can one make an informed decision without investigating all information available to them?

Others search scripture in order to disprove the Bible. That certainly isn’t being objective. I’ve heard the claims that there are two Isaiahs, that Jesus was not resurrected, even that Josephus’ account of Jesus was a forgery.

The truth is that there will always be people who reject Christ. Some would even reject Christ if they placed their hand in His side.

Our pluralistic society rejects Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6) We want to be inclusive of all beliefs no matter how ridiculous they are. I could say I will live eternally at IHOP with the pancake god if I eat pancakes everyday for two weeks. “If that’s what you believe…” or “what is true for you isn’t necessarily true for me…” are the mantras today.

As a matter of fact, any belief is accepted as valid unless you believe in Jesus Christ.

In response to Daily Prompt.

Pick an Apple From the Happiness Tree

CC image from DaMongMan from Flickr.

IBQ Writing Prompt: What is Happiness?

With the fleeting nature of emotions, is it possible to pin down the feeling of happiness? Or is it a state of mind? Is happiness a harmonious balance between the physical body and the chemical and hormone ladled brain?

I believe that happiness is a state of being that is fleeting. It is an emotion that you cannot necessarily describe, but you undoubtedly know it when you see or experience it.

If I taste something that is peculiarly interesting, I am happy. In fact, if I eat something that is so one-of-a-kind delicious, like a Honey Crisp apple, I may even break into some stunted and cholicy happy dance that looks half like a gout attack and half robot dance. Then the taste fades into a memory.

Try another bite. It’s great, but it doesn’t match that first time. You will never duplicate your first experience. You just have to be content that your flavor explosion is in the past. Sadly, if enough time passes, you may even forget how incredible Honey Crisp apples taste.

You may even defer to a far inferior product, a Granny Smith. Happiness is fleeting like a breath. Enjoy it if you can.

The Electric Gulag

CC image courtesy of Dan Perry on Flickr.

Ben’s great-grandparents met in the internment camp colony forty one years ago. They were only two in a sea of millions driven to the camps colonies because of the famine.

Generations lived their entire lives in these resorts. They must be resorts. Nobody works. They don’t have to. They spend their time on leisurely pursuits. Everything is provided by the government.

He watches the black smoke from the power plant dissipate as he considers tomorrow’s big day. His birthday.
Ben eyes the transmission lines from the plant as they fade into the horizon. He thought, “I wonder where they lead?” The propaganda drones say the outside world is a desolate wasteland.

As Ben reflects on his life, he realizes that he will finally see the inside of the plant tomorrow. The government provided Ben a comfortable life, and tomorrow will be a very special day.

He’s seen those olive drab government limousines scuttle about almost daily and he will finally have his turn to ride in one tomorrow. The government will honor him when the limousine delivers him to the plant. He will be incinerated.

Busted Knuckles and Formaldehyde


I hate breaking a sweat. Manual labor and I don’t get along. Monotony comes with driving a hammer or repairing a busted sewer pipe. The moment I start a task my mind starts screaming “Nooooooooo!”

I have fallen back on my radio broadcasting skills before, but honestly, you can make more money delivering pizzas. I spent many years teaching myself how to cook. That is something I enjoy, though.

If I was going to be stabbed in the neck with a drywall saw if I refused to pick a skill I wish I had–I would choose mechanic. I could wear a shark skin suit and tell everyone I’m the mechanic for Vinny the Knife. Wait. Wrong mechanic. I’m not looking for 20 to life. And I’m not tough like Charles Bronson. And he’s dead.

I have a few automotive skills. I’m certainly not competent enough to sell my services. Not even as a shade-tree mechanic. Those are very good skills to have and will be highly sought after the zombie apocalypse. I can imagine all kinds of broken machinery that only a skilled mechanic can bring to life.

I just changed my brakes the other day. It’s usually a simple job. When a rotor is stuck and you try to knock it loose with a framing hammer, it’s time to get mad. That’s what I hate about automotive work. Crowbars, hammers, even hitching a team of draft horses are sometimes needed to bust a part loose. I can’t stand that. Those equines won’t work unless you feed them and that gets expensive.

I could also be a mortician. Not that I would want to learn that trade, but it’s practical. Your customers don’t complain if you eat a ham sandwich while you do whatever ghastly things a mortician does. It would be a difficult job with my sensitive nose. Who wants to smell dead people?

There will never be a shortage of dead people (thanks to those meddling zombies) and machines, so there will always be a market for morticians and mechanics. I get queasy at the sight of coagulated blood and liquified organs, so I’d rather be a mechanic.

Mission: Honduras


In July, Heather and I will fly out to Honduras. This will be our third year in a row. It’s our annual mission trip to share the Gospel with precious children with Ignite Missions. Can we call it a vacation? Perhaps. After all, we are going to the murder capital of the world. That sounds restful.

Our mission leaders go to great lengths to keep us safe. Perhaps a little too safe. I can’t even break away to get some street food. I’ve eaten street food in Haiti where cholera is troublesome. That’s my badge of honor regarding third world eats.

Santiago, the bus driver, will make sure we are safe in our travels. Last year when we left Amapala Island, we were driving up a mountain on a narrow two lane road with no shoulders. At dusk, he passed a big rig in a blind turn on the mountain. Oh, and there was oncoming traffic. It was exciting. I was thrilled at what I saw unfolding while many on the bus closed their eyes and started praying. I genuinely thought that was one of the highlights.

The beauty of the country contrasting with the poverty was hard to reconcile. The Honduran people generally seem hopeful. At least in rural areas. How can Americans where even the poorest are considered wealthy to over 90% of the world be unhappy? Perhaps it’s the stuff that chains us to misery. Maybe plunging into an environment that strips most of the excess is a vacation. Sometimes I even have wifi so I can play Candy Crush.

Post is in response to the IBQ weekly writing challenge.

Where’s My Passport?

CC image courtesy of Jeff Kubina on Flickr.
CC image courtesy of Jeff Kubina on Flickr.

Tell us about the top five places you’ve always wanted to visit.  Go!

There’s nothing like an adventure. Yes, you can have an adventure at the local grocery store, but to have a true adventure where you are immersed in a place where everything is foreign, is definitely rewarding.

I have always wanted to visit Finland. I’m half Finnish, and I think it would be interesting to learn a little about my heritage. I don’t want any lutefisk,though. Something about preparing a meal with lye isn’t very enticing.

Belize would be a nice tropical experience. I’d like to see how unforgiving the rainforest is.  Plus, it’s fun to say. Buh-leeze. I’d settle for a number of South American countries, though.  I’m not picky.

Brazil would be another nice destination for arapaima. I’m a terrible fisherman, but one of my dreams is to trek to the Amazon River and catch an arapaima. I’d like to catch a big angry fish that would even make Jeremy Wade tremble.

If I’m feeling especially intrepid, I’d go into the heart of darkness. The Congo. Joseph Conrad illustrates the stifling environment. I can imaging floating down the river in a dugout boat in anticipation of headhunters while hunting the elusive mokele mbembe. I’m sure it is about as real as the Loch Ness Monster, but just the thought of searching for a fabled dinosaur in the modern day sounds exhilarating.

It would be satisfying to return to Israel. I visited many years ago to see the Mount of Olives, the purported location of Christ’s tomb, and Masada.  I visited so many places there and I have forgotten most of them.  I would like to revisit Israel now that I have a deeper understanding.

I didn’t even consider the food at these exotic locales, but I’m sure that will be the most exciting part. I’ll be sure to seek out some good street food.

The Devil Really is in the Details

CC image courtesy of Will Scullin on Flickr.
CC image courtesy of Will Scullin on Flickr.

I get bored easily. I’m the kind of guy that wants minimum detail in a conversation so I can resume my daydreams of pancakes. You know those unnecessary details. They often accompany the phrase, “to make a long story short…” If you hear those words, the story is already too long.

I can’t help it. When a conversation starts, my brain checks out. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to. “I’m sorry, Officer. Did you say I was smuggling elephants and chocolate bars?” His reply would be something like, “I said I’m writing you a citation for running a red light.” I would naturally respond with, “What does that have to do with elephants?” Now it’s time for the breathalyzer.

I have the attention span of an epileptic goldfish. Oh, and my hearing sucks. I have a tendency to repeat what I hear to confirm. What I hear always sounds preposterous. Heather may ask me to fold some laundry. I just heard that my wife shot up with a dirty needle. I didn’t even know she did drugs.

When I’m locked in an epic struggle, I can hear myself in my head. I’m always saying things like, “I sure hope they don’t notice that my eyes are glazed over,” or “I need to pick up some crackers at the store.” I affirm that I am engaged in the conversation by nodding my head. That head nodding trick works pretty well. If I’m found out…well, I just stumbled onto some conflict.

It’s not that I don’t want to listen. It’s just that I keep conversations concise. Minimal detail. More words mean more work expended. My brain can only handle so much.

I know that the details are extraneous. When I see a flower, I see a lovely yellow tulip receiving a Lilliputian hummingbird quaffing sweet nectar. I say, “Look, a tulip.” Then I start thinking about pancakes.



A Harsh Sentence

CC image courtesy of Aapo Haapanen on Flickr.
CC image courtesy of Aapo Haapanen on Flickr.

Have you ever had the feeling you are doing time? Like you’ve been sentenced and you hope for an early release? Life sometimes feels this way when you have chronic pain.

I hate to bang the same old drum. I’m certainly not trying to gain sympathy. It’s just that it tends to be cyclical. Flare up periods where the pain is intense followed up relatively calm days where you get lost in the fog.

Have you experienced the fog? It’s actually quite nice. You can’t remember much so there’s less anxiety. If you are a control freak, you’re in trouble. You can go ahead and ratchet up your angst because you are now officially out of control. I’ve doubled up my meds because I forgot that I took them ten minutes prior. I’ve even forgotten where I parked. That one has happened a lot.

There was a time where I thought I would be cured, but my expectations aren’t what they were five years ago. I’m guardedly optimistic that my rheumatologist will find the right diagnosis, and if he does, there are treatments to mitigate the damage to my joints. I can anticipate less pain as well.

I have it easy, though. I spend much of my time on the couch eating snacks. My family got the raw deal. I’m sure Heather never anticipated a cripple for a husband when she repeated her marriage vows. Technically, I guess I’m not physically challenged as I don’t have a blue placard to hang on my rearview mirror. Yet.

Last week, Heather told me about how my oldest daughter felt about my predicament. Alli questions God because it’s unfair. I’ve learned that it is unfair, but God isn’t fair. I’m thankful for that. If God meted out justice based on fairness, we all would be condemned. I’m trying to find the words to have that conversation with her.

I need to tell her that my affliction is because of God’s immense grace. My deep relationship with Christ is because of my pain. It’s a little hard to explain the full scope of what I mean, but I hope that I will be able to help Alli understand.

I’ve been doing time for 1,654 days. I’m expecting tomorrow to be a good day. The weather is supposed to be nice.

Written in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge.

I’ve Got A Fever

What’s your biggest junk food weakness?  Tell us all about it in its sugary, salty glory.

Do you know what it’s like to be hooked? I do. No, I’m not a meth addict, though this habit is equally as difficult to kick. I get hopped up on cookies.

The above clip has nothing to do with cookies, but Christopher Walken’s fever for more cowbell is a perfect illustration for my fever for cookies.

I love the chewy goodness of chocolate chip cookies. I like crunching down a fistful of Oreos. It doesn’t matter. I’m the worst kind of fiend. I’m indiscriminate.

Normally, I can keep my cool as Girl Scouts peddle those too-small boxes. How long can twelve cookies last? One sitting.

This year I was ensnared by the Samoa. I eat them every year. I usually eat four or five cookies and move on. I consumed seven boxes this year. Seven. I know, those seven miniature cookie boxes translate to maybe two boxes of Chips Ahoy, but you can’t get Samoas at Circle K. You have a small window every year.

I gorged myself on these cookies until the craving disappeared. I only wish I had the luxury to taper off.  I should have gotten more of those cookies and hid them in the lampshade.


(Above CC image courtesy of Yann Gar on Flickr).

Check Out That Wispy Chemo Beard

Tell us all about your best confidence outfit.  Don’t leave out the shoes or the  perfect accessories.

My wife sometimes asks me to change into other “outfits,” and I have to remind her that I’m a dude. Dudes don’t wear outfits. I had that same conversation with my mom when I was a kid. Still, these conversations take place and I’m usually asked to change into something less embarrassing before we leave for church.

My wife claims that I have no matching skills. I have to remind her that I have mad matching skills. Mad. Matching. Skillz. If your skills reach a certain level of madness, you get to use the ‘z’ in skillz. To give an example of this impressive skill, I have a pair of plaid baby blue shorts I purchased for five bucks at Walmart. Normally, I would never wear a wuss color like that, but I’ll make an exception if it’s cheap.

When I complete my “outfit,” I’ll wear a plaid shirt, or even a plaid jacket with those shorts. I’m told that two different colors in plaid pattern don’t match. I have to respectfully disagree as plaid matches all other plaid. You just can’t mix plaid and paisley.

I don’t see the big deal. Who cares what I look like. I dress in the dark. I’ve even squeezed into one of my wife’s shirts once. That’s one of the hazards of dressing in the dark. Sometimes people stare at me, but I just assume that they are stunned by my good looks. Nothing says attractive like the five day shadow that looks identical to an awkward fifteen year old’s six month shadow.

Some people just rock the wispy chemo beard look. Stunning.


(Above CC image courtesy of Jorge Elias on Flickr).