LifeRevelation

Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Archive for the category “issues”

I am more cautious now…

http://people.tribe.net/reiki_jewel/photos/e79831a6-93d0-45b4-ab1b-b916a5522ce7

This post won’t contain any catchy stories (as if any of mine ever are), nor will it be witty, charming, or dramatic  This will be just the plain, ordinary words of someone who has learned a few lessons in life the hard way and feels compelled to share what little wisdom those lessons have generated.

Susie and I have a wonderful old fashion fireplace in the living room. It is surrounded by a couple of comfy chairs and a sofa that has the ability to lull me to sleep every time I curl up on it. So let’s imagine we are sitting there with our warm teas and the dogs and cats are stretched out in front of the fire, so close you can not help but think about the possibility of spontaneous combustion. The lights cast a low warm yellow tinged light that recalls the old style kerosene lanterns with the glass chimneys. From the kitchen you can faintly hear the comforting notes of a Brahms’ lullaby. We are relaxed and the conversation has that low tone which comes late at night when the cares of this world have receded and the walls we cling to so furiously during the daytime are only a distant memory.

Our conversation begins…

There was a time when I threw caution to the wind. Caution, what was that? An antiquarian concept that had long out lived it’s usefulness . Caution, if it still existed at all, was something for the timid, the weak , and the needy. It was for those who knees shook when they looked into fear.

Caution had no place in my world. A world dedicated to my wishes and desires. I could act anyway I wanted. I was above it all. The rules didn’t apply, nor did the laws, or morality, or ethics. Those were silly childish concepts man had conjured up for those who couldn’t handle reality. They were crutches used to support those who couldn’t or wouldn’t stand on their own two feet. I was a self-made man. Without a high school diploma, I had built a business that supplied me with enough income to live, as a popular TV of the era proclaimed, “The lifestyle of the rich and famous.” even if I was having to constantly look over my shoulder for the long arm of the law.

Caution…I spit on the word.

It has been many years since I lived that life or felt that way. I’ve been brought down from my once lofty perch by the realization I was a fool. The reality I once thought others were too weak to handle was no reality at all, but just a world of smoke and mirrors, propped up by lies and deceit. I found that looking into the mirror and being able to look back brought rewards far greater than the riches I once coveted so wholeheartedly.

My world is much different now. I clearly see the errors of my youth. I find strength and contentment in the “little” things of life now. I am happiest when I get to sit by this fire and talk with good friends about what my heart feels.

I live a quiet, simple life now. I try to do good to others. I covet the silence that living in the midst of the woods brings. However, most of all, I enjoy the returned smile of a complete stranger, I cherish the laughter of a child, I am in awe of the grandeur of life, I never tire of hearing my wife profess her love for me, nor do I consider it a burden to return that love, I feel encouraged by the love I receive from you my readers, and I hold precious the time I spend with my Grandsons Matt and Hayden.

I see the wisdom in being more cautious now…and I’m grateful I do. My eyelids are starting to droop a little and I can feel warm sleep starting to creep into the edges of consciousness, but before I leave I want you to know just one thing…I have truly enjoyed sharing this post with you…and the prayer of my heart is that each one of you will find true peace, contentment, and love in your life…I’m going to bed now…and even if I never have the privilege of making your acquaintance in this life…know that I love you just the way you are…good night…please turn the lights out as you go…and be encouraged!

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Perspective

http://likeadayoff.blogspot.com/2011/02/fork-in-road.html

In the distant past, Susie and I were having an argument. It was one of those adult relationship type of arguments, where you furiously disagree about something, and it reaches the point where you stop communicating.

We were on our way to see a play. Whatever we were squabbling about, each of us at the moment thought it was dreadfully important because we were in misery. For those of you who live alone in a cave (obviously with an internet connection), this occurs when you thoroughly despise the idea of hearing another utterance from the one you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with.

I had parked the car and we were walking toward the theater. Of course, we did not walk close to one another. In fact, we showed no indication at all we were madly in love with one another and would willingly, without hesitation, lie down on our lives for each other, if it ever came to that. At the time, each of us was completely assured of our own rightness, which in the universal adult relationship code means that we could not touch, nor look at one another as we walked, to do so would have signaled weakness, and that was not going to happen. We pondered how the other could so stupid and still figure out how to combine breathing  and the act of putting one foot in front of the other, at the same time. I’m sure as we made our way in the midst of streaming foot traffic, the air around us chilled a few degrees due to our icy indifference of one another. As couples walked by us, I am certain they secretly thought, “Please God, don’t let our relationship end up like those two.”

We continued to walk along in perfect venomous lockstep, when suddenly Susie stopped. This only focused my anger even more. In a nanosecond I was running through my mind various sarcastic questions I could shoot at her for this unexplainable moronic behavior. As I was lost in this train of thinking, I heard her say, “Look, we are at a fork in the road!” I tore my thoughts away from the flawless verbal comeback I had already decided upon and followed her gaze to this silver-colored fork lying in front of us on the sidewalk. We stood there for a moment like we had suddenly been touched in a game of freeze tag…then we looked at each other and burst into silly giggling, snorting, and overall cackling.  We laughed like two little kids…and then suddenly…everything that had gone on only seconds before was gone.

We collapsed into a full body embrace. In the middle of a busy sidewalk, in downtown Indianapolis, I held the love of my life as tight as I could. We kissed long and hard, grateful for the touch of one another’s lips. We walked the remaining blocks to the show arm in arm, with her head gently resting on my shoulder.

To this day, neither one of us remember what we were arguing about.

Take a moment and think about your angers, your worries, the elements of life that drive you to fear and/or frustration. We all have them. They are quite real. They cause us pain and stress. They rob us of the life we want. Many times they literally steal away years from us. They imprison us and hold us captive, just as real as any hand cuffs or leg shackles.

I don’t know why a simple fork in the middle of the sidewalk, in a busy city, would work such a miracle. Nor do I have the exact wisdom or knowledge to step you free of everything that holds you captive. But I did learn something that early evening so many years ago…whatever it was I was worried about then…and everything I’ve been worried about since…needs to be put in perspective.

Be encouraged!

Sort of Like Responsibility…Part V

http://www.steliasorthodoxchurch.org/

There are few things in life that split people as quickly as talking about religion. Everyone has an idea, a thought, and/or a conviction. And rare is the individual who will listen to views, other than their own, without certain walls going up. So what I am going to ask may border on the impossible…or at least in the very difficult zone. Yes this post is going to be about what I think about God. But is only my thoughts. I am not writing to sway anyone’s opinion. I’m writing this post with the same intention I have written the prior four posts on responsibility (there is only one more), to share what has happened in my life and to prove to others who have issues, situations, or circumstances in their life that there is hope. Real honest to God, life changing hope.

So, as I usually do, let me start with a story…

The year is 1998 and I have already made significant changes to my life. Although those changes started only four years earlier, I am a completely different person. Not that there weren’t matters that needed attention (and still do). But I was no longer spending every night in a bar, chasing every skirt who happened by, or indulging my considerable desire to steal everything that wasn’t locked down and stowed away. The drug use was history and I had quit drinking. Both were considered minor miracles by those who knew me, because I had been doing a gram of cocaine a day (no worry about pesky nasal hair) and drinking a case of beer and a bottle of cognac (nice mix, huh?) a day.

No coincidence, Susie and I had been married for four years as well. Her presence in  my life had opened the eyes that were blind, the ears that were shut, and the heart that was to hard to care. It was like being born again…literally. I was experiencing emotions I didn’t know existed. I would watch the McDonald’s commercial where the little ducklings followed their mother in the rain, and tears would roll down my cheeks. I could talk to people about Susie and choke up ( actually this one still happens). I suddenly found myself loving small children, something that had NEVER happened before.

Susie had introduced me to church, which I thought was about as strange as anything I had ever witnessed, and I had witnessed MANY strange things. I liked it, but it just felt weird. I had never attended church in my life and I was extremely uncomfortable. It was like a secret society. The people were nice enough, but they had there own way of talking. A language I was completely unsure of. It was English all right, but in the world I came from being “washed in the blood,” meant you were probably dead of a gun shot wound or had been bludgeoned to death. Even the individual words were used in a different context. “God” was no longer connected to damn it and “Jesus Christ” now referred to a person/deity as opposed to being an expression of surprise. I also noticed no one used the F word, this was extremely strange, and VERY difficult to get use to. Occasionally I would slip and I was aware this was not a good thing. Susie promised to help me.

In 1998 I met this man……I’m not quite sure why he is holding that sign, but just ignore it. His name is Fr. Stevan Bauman and he is without a doubt the greatest person I have ever met in my life, which is something he would definitely not acknowledge. Knowing him has changed my life from our very first encounter over lunch at a downtown Indianapolis restaurant. I came home and told Susie things were going to change. This was a fairly large statement considering the evidence I have just presented. Over the years Fr. Stevan and I have grown quite close. When I was baptized into the Eastern Orthodox Church he became my godfather. His presence has been like having my own flesh and blood incarnation of God, another statement he wouldn’t be able to disown fast enough.  He is kind and gentle, compassionate and loving, holy and pure, patient and humble. I don’t believe he knows what anger or frustration are.

So what is this post all about?…certainly not just a window into a side of me that I rarely talk about. Well yes and no…I do want you to know about this side of me, I think it will help you understand me and my writing better, but no I’m not trying to convert you or anything remotely like it. I’m not trying to convince you of the presence of God…or of the Truth of Creation.

So what is it?…it’s about being honest, being open, being vulnerable, being authentic, and being real. It is about telling the Truth. My journey through this life has been exciting and painful, thrilling and suicidal, adventurous and paranoid. At one time my living expenses were $33,000 a month and my income far exceeded my expenses. Other times I stood in front of a Coke machine and cried because I didn’t have enough money…and this was when they were only cost 35 cents. I have run across America and stood in front of thousands telling about it and I’ve slept in a dark alley next to a dumpster because I had nowhere else to go. I have known personal pain so severe I didn’t know if I could draw my next breath and happiness so complete I didn’t have words to express it.

I have been delivered…I have been set free…I am alive…and anyone and everyone can do it…no matter where you are at, or what you have done, or what has been done to you…so please…be encouraged!

Sort of Like Responsibility…

I’ve got a question…well actually several questions.

Are we in any way responsible for how people interpret what we write?

Do we bear any accountability for the thoughts we post here in wordpress?

For instance, if we advocate violence against a particular group of people, because we have found it to be an effective tool of terror, then someone, after reading our post, attacks and seriously injures an individual, should we shoulder any blame?

Let me pose another situation.

What if we honestly believe that everyone should have sex with whoever they want, as long as all the parties involved in the actual act are of consenting age and agree and we write a post advocating my position. An individual reads our post and decides they ought to engage in a tryst with someone they have been having a flirtatious relationship with. But lets add one more detail. One of the parties is married with a couple of children and a loving spouse. The loving spouse finds out and is completely devastated by the broken trust.

Should we assume any liability?

Lets go a little deeper.

We write several posts detailing our high-flying, decadent, no holes barred, hedonistic life style full of drug and alcohol use, frequent and varied sex partners, a reckless disregard for the norms of society and law, and overall just a I don’t give a damn about anyone or anything attitude. We pick up several “followers,” who over time, actually start imitating our life style. Because of our posts they read, our videos they watch, and our tweets they receive, they begin to act out in their own lives the way we live. They embrace it with gusto…except they start to experience what we never mention…they hurt those who love them, others lose faith in them, and their lives begin a downward spiral.

Now how about this.

We write a blog that displays a hard edge. We are sharp, irreverent, and sometimes vicious, except only in words. We know how to run right up to the edge, but we never go over. We push the envelope of what is acceptable and maybe we lean over it, but we are cautious not to go too far. We are exploring new terrain and we begin to go viral. Thousands begin to read our posts. Jimmy Kimmel quotes us. Hip comedians weave our comments into their acts. Before long we are enjoying the type of success reserved only for a very few. But as time goes by new, more edgy blogs appear. What we once considered outlandish is now considered lame. Our bite is now more like a toothless grin. we are old school and we are not old enough for old school to be cool. Our fans trickle at first, then run away. The next new thing is so far out there that we can’t believe it. They don’t write they spew.

Are we in any way responsible for laying the ground-work for what came next?

Let me ask one more question?

Can we write whatever we want, yet wash our hands (and souls) of any responsibility for how our readers will interpret what we write?

You, no doubt, have noted how I’ve asked several questions without providing any answers. I have my opinions and I will write about them in my next post, but for now, I would like to hear what you think. You have also noticed how the scenarios I constructed are one-dimensional. In real life there would be many more nuances. Life rarely comes without dangling, messy strings. But I know you get the idea.

Let me know what you believe.

Be encouraged!

All the Same

While you, dear reader, may not be able to tell, I usually spend considerable time thinking, researching, and sharing my ideas with Susie, before I sit down to write. I’ve found, for the most part, this keeps me from running off on some half-wit tangent. Susie says this also makes it easier for her to converse with her friends, because she doesn’t have to spend hours defending my posts.

I think she means it as a compliment.

This post is somewhat different, because while I have given it a lot of thought, I haven’t done much research and I’ve kept my comments to Susie to a minimum. So I hope this post doesn’t cause much distress the next time her friends and her get together. This one comes more from the gut.

Let me start with a story.

Several years ago I was asked by a friend’s wife if I would be interested in mentoring at risk and behaviorally challenged children in the public school system. Although they were wanting to reach children of all ages, I would be working specifically with elementary students. After she answered several questions for me I thought the idea had merit and agreed to become a mentor to twins of a single mother. The twins had a slew of issues and while I am no trained child psychologist my biggest contribution would be as an in-room monitor who would work with each of them to keep them focused during the school day.

I enjoyed the work and kept meticulous notes as to what worked and what didn’t during various situations. I shared these notes with others who were involved in the program. The program became a company and the company started to grow. New mentors where hired. Programming directors, financial analysts, therapists, and others were added to the payroll. Strict rules were put into place. The roll with what is happening and go with the flow was eliminated. Structure and order became the only way. Owners and management began to dream about earning substantial money. They began to curry political and corporate favor. The ideas others and I had become part of a program that was touted as having an incredible success rate. Metrics were put in place. We were all coached on how to write our reports so Medicare would pay. Students graduated from the program reportedly cured of their issues.

Except there was only one problem.

The kids weren’t healed. They were better. They were making progress. They could function for longer periods of time without having a physical outburst, but they were a long way from being what anyone would call healed. It wasn’t that they were bad kids. Or even that they were mentally deficient. They simply had been born into horrible situations. Their only guidance in life had been through the TV they were set in front of from birth, because the changing patterns on the screen kept them from crying or they imitated what they saw when they left the living room for the streets. They yelled, screamed, cussed, and fought just like they saw the gangs do, except they were in the third grade.

But it didn’t matter. In order to keep the money flowing in they were diagnosed with a DSM Code by a staff child psychologist, then pronounced healed when they got near the end of time that federal funding would pay for their care.  One size fit all, except we weren’t talking about clothing, we were talking about children with feelings, emotions, and in need of real, true, honest love.

I bent and broke all the rules. I went home with the kids I worked with and talked to their parents, when I could find them, and whoever else I could find when the parents weren’t anywhere around. I prayed with my kids. I took them places like museums, libraries, art galleries, backstage at theaters, and anywhere else I could think of, to expose them to a bigger world. I paid for everything out of my own pocket.

Then I got caught. I was warned. I didn’t change I kept on doing everything. I got caught again. I was told to change. I said no. They said my services were no longer warranted. They sent two large men to escort me out of the school. They told the principal I was under investigation for wrong doing.

When we find something that works, people want to turn it into a program. They want to monetize it. They want to streamline it. They want one size to fit all. They want to make it all the same.

Well I don’t want to. My experiences with the children is only one example. In my life, and in yours, there are hundreds of examples. This is one of the reasons why I love the blog world. Each blog is different. The content is our own. We aren’t constrained in what we say and how we say it. I’m not given to using lots of provocative or foul language, but I’ll always defend your right to, even if I am hoping you won’t.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, it isn’t well researched, nor have the words been carefully chosen, they just rolled out of my heart, and hopefully into yours.

Be encouraged!

My Political Thought

Banksy.jpg

http://dystopia-11engadv.wikispaces.com/

I read a post by Lisa at http://agrippinglife.wordpress.com/ entitled Dear President Obama. She didn’t write it, but felt it was a good summation of how she and possibly many more are feeling. The original post was written by Maggie at http://somethingfathappened.wordpress.com. I don’t know Maggie, but since I started this blog Lisa and I have become good enough friends that we have actually entertained our families getting together for a meal sometime when we all can find the time.

Lisa is not someone who goes off on political tangents. She isn’t the kind of person that would pigeon-hole you in a corner for over an hour while she rants on about big government and how the apocalypse is upon us. However, if I were you I would steer clear of talking about a certain cashier at the local diner where she has breakfast every morning, but other than that Lisa strikes me as being fairly level-headed, compassionate, intelligent, extremely witty, and someone who truly cares about the quality of life for others.

So she worried about posting something political. She didn’t want to have to wade through reading a bunch of hate mail that questioned her mental stability, gender identity, social status, and/or whether she was an enemy mole feverishly working the inner ropes of the blogging community. She just wanted to post something that reflected how she felt…end of story.

She inspired me.

Like Lisa I am posting something that someone else created (although I wish I had the talent and the spray paint). So with my tongue planted firmly within my cheek the above is my political statement. I should acknowledge this is my statement and my statement alone, it does not necessarily reflect the thoughts of Susie my wife, Jake the Wonder Dog, Callie the Sleek Dog, OC the World’s Tiniest Cat, Zip the Pet Me or Die Cat, or Annie Now Called Andy Because My Stupid Parents Can’t Recognize Sex Parts on a Kitten.

I am Stephen Edwards and I support the contents of this blog.

Be encouraged!

Refining Life…Side Benefits

This is part of a post from http://thebettermanprojects.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/an-inspirational-snack-2/. As we all progress down the winding and twisting  road of life let us do so with kindness, compassion, and love.

Be encouraged!

Another Gem

http://ihearttosweat.blogspot.com/2012/07/6-super-simple-ways-to-clean-up-your.html

Most of you reading this post are already aware of the type of person I am. I tend to lead toward the simple. I don’t like to get too complex. I feel life can get away from us easy enough without me adding some convoluted writing to the process. Plus, if the truth be told, I’m just not that smart, so simple comes rather easy and natural to me.

Today I was turned onto another blog site called MysteryCoach and can this woman write…check out http://mysterycoachdsi.com/hoping-this-guy-is-it/ for some straight forward, no-nonsense, honest soulful writing about trying to find your true love. Awesome piece. Well I decided to follow her. So almost immediately she returns the favor by following me…which is impressive…I love folks who live on their computers like I do.  Then I decided to see if I could find something out about who she is so I went to her ~Welcome~ page. While scrolling down the page I found this gem and fell in love (not that kind, Susie is still the only one, but you know what I mean) all over again:

Give this woman’s blog a look at…I promise you won’t be disappointed…then follower her…I suspect this a very deep well.

Be encouraged!

Moving On Up!

funny-stairs-accomplishments-stick-man

As many of you know, I am writing a book about the lessons I learned while running 3160 miles across the United States. The tentative title is Running Across America & Down Other Roads. I would like to announce that I am the little guy at the top of the diagram above who is doing the Happy Dance. Actually I am not represented on the diagram. I am somewhere in between “I Will Do It” and “Yes, I Did It!” I think my position could best be described as “I Am Doing It.”

“I Am Doing It,” isn’t all that bad of a place to be. I have overcome the “I Won’t Do It” phase. It only took about sixteen years for me to finally be victorious. My basic reason for struggling so long at the base of the stairs was because I had this love/hate relationship with what I had accomplished. No doubt, running across this incredible country of ours is the greatest physical feat I have accomplished. However, for years when people discovered what I had done, I was met with one of two responses: 1) That is awesome, tell me about it. or 2) Hmmm, I wonder if dinner is ready.

Either folks wanted to know every detail starting with why and finishing with how or they didn’t want to hear another word about it. I loved explaining to people all the ins and outs of the run, but response number 2 left me bewildered, feeling awkward, and, in the interest of complete honesty, a little hurt. Overall it left me not wanting to talk about it, because I never knew what the reaction was going to be.

My wrestling with fear of success/failure kept me from moving for years. As I realized (I am a very slow learner) that people’s response should not be the governing factor on how I live my life, my writing began.

Once I got started the rest of the steps went by easily. I figured out how to organize my research, thoughts, ideas, various journals, notes, photos, and recollections. Susie-who is the world’s greatest organizer-pitched in and got me going on the right track. Publishers got interested and now I’m writing, editing, and immensely enjoying the process.

But I want to ask you, Where are you at on the steps? What are the reasons for where you are? What will it take to move up a step? What holds you back? Why not move today?

Let me know.

Be encouraged!

Virtue #11–Caution

http://onlyhdwallpapers.com/fun/monsters-humor-caution-desktop-wallpaper-414112/

The author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, Victor Hugo once  stated“Caution is the eldest child of wisdom.” If we consider Caution to be a warning against danger or evil, then Hugo’s statement takes on considerable importance. Caution begins to shoulder something more than “street smarts” or “gut feeling.” It assumes the pretext of practical consideration. It casts off the charade of  impulse and whim, assuming increased weight and contemplation.

It seems in today’s fast paced, frenetic, time is money mode of operation that Caution would appear quaint, like the wearing of a pocket watch for men or a Victorian lace collared blouse for women. It might be practical, but it isn’t something cutting edge metropolitans would ever be caught dead doing. Business is all about moving forward. If you aren’t growing, you are dying. Speed is of the essence. Caution has been left in the dust.

Maybe when considering love Caution tends to be thought of as more relevant. Rarely do we hear the call for a relationship to move faster. It is here Caution is thought to be…well almost a virtue. “Go slow.” “Give this some time.”, we are encouraged. Suddenly Caution is our friend. It will protect us from rash and hasty actions, which we might learn to regret in the future.

Caution’s value skyrockets when we have children. Every child hears, “Slow down there.” and is asked “What is the big hurry?” When we kiss them good night, pull the covers up around their little faces, and creep toward the door, the prayer on every parents heart is, “Please God, let them grow up slowly.”  Caution is our watch word when we take them to the park, or to the mall, or to school, or on a date, or watch them play sports.

As I look around our world I wish we would exercise more caution. Caution: in how we operate our vehicles on the interstates, how we enter into romantic relationships, how we think, how we talk to our spouses, how we interact with our neighbors, how we conduct our business, how we choose our beliefs, how we rule our nation, how we decide to use our military, how we live our lives.

I understand too much caution and we become immobile. We can’t reach a decision. We become the proverbial deer in the headlights. We need to swing through the trees, holding on to the branches, and howling loudly, but let’s make sure we don’t turn loose of one branch until we have a firm grip on the next.

Be encouraged!

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