The day started beautifully: the sun was shining, birds were chirping… Who am I kidding? It was before 5AM, my bladder was full to bursting, and I was too tired to get up. But I finally did, taking my thyroid pill as I passed into the facilities to do my business. I don’t know why–maybe because I’m somewhere between groggy and downright sleep-deprived all the time–but I thought it would be a good idea to go back to bed. I mean it’s a day off here, and all, you know? Sleep in a little bit, right?

I tried, but quarter to six nature came knocking again. Oh, for a bladder of greater capacity, or you know an extra kidney, you know? Most everyone else has two, but I came into the world with just one. Thanks, God! (I know it’s not Your fault, that it’s a fallen world, and all. But Your Word says that You knit me together in my mother’s womb, right? Did You, I don’t know, maybe miss a stitch? No, that’s crazy talk! You, in your sovereignty, knew I only needed one. And I’m thankful for it–because it works. My cup runneth over).

So, quarter to six I’m up again taking care of business. I get my daughter up so she can get herself ready for school. I head back to my bedroom so I can start the day with God by reading His Word. It’s been a hard slog because I’m in Jeremiah now, and let me tell you they don’t call him the weeping prophet for nothing. It’s nothing but doom and gloom for His kids, the children of Israel. It’s rough stuff.

What isn’t rough is my lovely wife offering to bring me coffee in bed. Ah, delicious brown juice of the bean, tis like Ambrosia to me. I sip, and sip again, and seems right with the world.

Until I hear a scream emanating from the upstairs bathroom. It seems my precious, precocious sweetie of an eight-year-old managed to overflow the toilet. I put my coffee down on the nightstand, and hightail it (in my skivvies, no less) to the bathroom. Opening the door, I’m greeted by a laminate floor awash in water.

Diarrhea water. Wading in, I grab the plunger and go to town. Getting the water to go down, I notice the handle is stuck, and jiggle it back to its fully upright and locked position. Now begins the fun of mopping up the sopping mess.

Did I mention that there isn’t a mop in the world big enough to deal the miasma I found myself standing in? No? Well fortunately for me my kids left a pile of dirty clothes in the bathroom; with those, about three bath towels, and ten minutes, I was able to soak up all the standing water.

Success!

Not so fast.

Coming downstairs, I found this sign:

Now isn’t that special? The water, as it is wont to do, found its way through the seemingly watertight laminate flooring down through some minute cracks and into the overhead exhaust fan.

In the downstairs bathroom!

Yay! Lucky me!

Could this day get any worse?

Turns out that, yes–yes, it could. How, you ask?

After getting my cleaning up the messes, and getting my daughter to school (she was almost, but not quite, late), I came back home to take a brief rest before heading out to the gym (my wife was out running errands). Ah, I thought, this day can only get better. Well, um, uh…

Did I mention that I’m behind on my laundry, and that I have clean shorts to workout in? So what’s an enterprising man to do under such circumstances? Grab a pair of swimming trunks, right? Seemed like a good idea at the time.

So there I am, sipping my coffee, sitting on the couch catching up on last night’s Better Call Saul. Ten minutes go by in a blink, and I realize I better get to the gym to get my cardio in before my bride returned home. Grabbing my coffee, a water bottle, my phone, and headphones, I head out the door. Now because the bottom lock on my front door is a little sticky, we always lock it before closing the door.

So I did.

No big deal, right? I mean the keys are in my pocket, right, like always?

Um, yeah. Not so much.

Getting out the car, it dawns on me: I’m still wearing swimming trunks! Trunks with one (count it: one!) pocket. And in it is one thing: my wallet.

My keys are inside, and I’m locked out! No big deal, I tell myself. My wife will be home soon. Just in case, I call her.

I get her voicemail.

I text her. As the song says, “No reply at all.” Her phone, kept on silent as always, is likely resting in the deepest recesses of her purse. I keep my cool. Checking out my front door, I decide there’s too much sun. Heading the back gate, I unlock it, and go into my backyard. There’s at least some shade on the patio. Sitting down down on the bench, I’m prepared (as I’m sure God intended) to contemplate the error of my ways. That is, I would be, were I not immediately assaulted by my son’s dog, Mongrel Molly, the wonderhound. This is the same dog who once headbutted me whilst putting out her food.

I tried to play it cool and aloof, but finally caved and gave her some good scratches while finishing Better Call Saul on my phone. At least it hasn’t gotten too hot here in Phoenix yet. But what is yonder call? It is the siren song of that second pint of coffee knocking on the walls of my bladder…

Have you ever had a day like that?

PS After my wife returned home, having finally received my plaintive whiny pleading text messages after she rolled into the driveway, the day only got better. By better I mean that how could I possibly follow up my morning by anything other than a trip to the dentist? Because, of course, right?

Did you see that $1100 I left lying around? You didn’t? Oh, that’s right! Silly me! I don’t have it. That’s what the dentist told me I needed–$1100 worth of work. You may see at a freeway on ramp, or on your local street corner, with a sign:

“WILL WORK FOR DENTISTRY”


Photo Credit: “FEAR”, © 2012 Kevin B 3, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Summer of 1976. The northwestern Pennsylvania air was thick with more than just humidity–there was possibility, too. The possibility that I could get my certificate to swim in the deep end, go off the high dive. I was seven. I could swim. Was in fact a good swimmer. Along with the lifeguard, my mom was there, watching.

Taking a big breath, I dove under, started swimming. Making it to the slope where the shallow gave way to the deep end, I hedged.

And turned back.

Then we moved, and although I swam in the backyard pool, I never got the chance at that pool again. It’s been a leitmotif, this holding back.

It’s about fear, certainly. About crossing a precipice that, once passed, can’t be taken back. I don’t know why. I’m great at starting things, but finishing? Well, let’s just say don’t ask my my wife. Or my kids.

There’s something inside of me that craves the safe, that doesn’t want to change.

And I hate it.

But don’t know how to change it.

I don’t want to always be holding back. I want, in the words of John Eldredge, to “let them [the world] feel the whole weight of who you and let them deal with it.”

But I don’t know how.

How about you? Do you hold back?

Bye-Bye Android

randomlychad  —  March 23, 2015 — Leave a comment


Photo Credit: “Android-Vs-iOS”, © 2011 George Thomas, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

I’ve been an Android use for nearly three years. While at first blush I enjoyed the flexibility, the customizability, of the platform the bloom is definitely off the rose. I had an HTC Evo 4G LTE, and while nice it had touchscreen issues. My next phone was a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, with a beast of a battery. Thing is, under KitKat, I constantly had it charging. Not to mention that either installing, or uninstalling, apps would make its vaunted quad cores freeze. Then there were the random reboots, the overheating, etc. Beyond that Google implemented restrictions in how the system could write to the SD card. Having just got the latest OS, Lollipop, installed, I’m still seeing random app crashes. And the phone just feels slower than it should.

I’ve switched back to IOS, on an iPhone 6 Plus, and it feels like coming home. It’s beautiful to look at, and hold.

And it just works–without getting in my way.

So, yes, I’m happy, but YMMV. This is my blog, and I can say what I want. iOS haters can get off my lawn.

Peace out.

House of Cards has taken the traditional TV model by the lapels of its finely pressed suit and has given it a run for its money. It is the Game of Thrones of political drama. People subscribe to Netflix just for House of Cards.

There are numerous reasons for this. Chief among them are:

Kevin Spacey. There’s no doubting the man’s acting chops. He brings gravitas, strength, and ferocity to his portrayal of Frank Underwood.

Robin Wright. A similarly gifted actress, first seen in The Princess Bride, and easily Spacey’s equal in this.

David Fincher. Director, auteur, helmer of some of the most engrossing, if dark, movies in history: Se7en, The Social Network, Gone Girl, and others.

Not to mention that the show, while based upon an earlier British miniseries, is written by Washington insider Beau Willimon.

While that pedigree–the quality of the show’s writing, acting, production, and direction gets people in the door (so to speak)–lends the show a great deal of credibility, it’s not why I continue to watch. Sure, the quality of the performances got me hooked–no doubt. But I keep watching because it’s a human story.

It’s my story.

It’s your story.

Quite honestly, how many among us would be immune to the intoxicating allure of power continuously dangled in front of our noses? As the saying goes, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Within the construct of the the show, the catalyst which sets events in motion is a promise denied. Frank is promised an auspicious position, but is told things have changed. The sense of betrayal causes him (and his wife, Claire) to throw off all previous loyalties in pursuit of power. This, of course, leads to all manner of dark and dangerous places.

The thing is, and this is the show’s genius, who among us (though the particulars are different) hasn’t felt betrayed? Who hasn’t felt, like Frank, of casting off allegiances and getting what’s due us? While we deplore his actions, we gobble them up because he gives us a guilt-free means of vicariously living through him. So this is what it’s like, we ask ourselves? This is what it’s like to get what we (feel) we deserve.

Which proves–if we’re honest–that we all have an inner “Frank Underwood,” that black dog of our souls who:

Looks out for #1

Uses others to get what we want

Stops at nothing in pursuit of our ends

Which just shows our continuing need for Jesus, and the new life only he can give.

If we’ve hated in our hearts… He died for that.

If we’ve sought revenge… He died for that, too.

In short, if we’re human we’re flawed, marred by sin, in need of a Savior. The very one who, within the show, that Underwood denies is the one who can set us on the path to a true and lasting life. The presidency–power–is but a drop in the bucket in light of eternity.

Choose you this day. Who will you serve? Yourself, your inner “Frank,” or the One Who died that you might truly live?

There Goes Tacos

randomlychad  —  March 12, 2015 — 2 Comments

So inspiration comes in a variety of forms and from many places. Today, I was playing Words with Friends with my friend, , and apparently played tiles in a spot he coveted for his own nefarious ends. Apparently, in Ricky-land, there’s a rule which states “whoever plays ‘taco(s)’ wins.” I thwarted his plans by playing the word “card.” In chat, he told me “there goes tacos!” What follows is a silly little piece inspired by this exchange.

“There goes tacos,” he said with a resigned shrug. It’s as if he’d hit the very rock bottom of what this day had to offer, and then someone went and knocked a hole in the bottom. What he wouldn’t give for a taco, and there it was–Taco Ricky’s–going up in flames.

How had it come to this?

His day began with an eviction notice. Then he had a flat tire, and was late to work (again). Then the boss, calling him into his office, said, “Sorry, Tom, you’re RIFed.” Because of where they were in the pay cycle his severance wouldn’t be available for a week. All he had was the money in his wallet (which wasn’t much).

There was enough for some beer. And Taco Ricky’s. The best tacos in all of Sandoval County. Taco Ricky’s was really just a roadside food stand, but man! No one made tacos like Ricardo “Ricky” Montalbob. Not no one, not nowhere.

Without any prospects, and nowhere to lay his head, Tom headed to White’s Blue Dragon (his favorite bar). He knew the bartender there, and hoped he could run a tab.

Tom had a few too many, and then got hungry. Arriving at Taco Ricky’s, he misjudged his speed, distance, and proximity to the taco shack. Tom crashed into it, rupturing the propane tanks which served to power the stoves inside.

Fortunately, “Ricky” himself was not inside (Tom forgot the stand closed early on Thursdays). Other than a flat tire, and some scrapes, neither Tom nor his car were hurt.

But the tacos were dead.

When the police arrived, they found Tom sitting on the curb bawling his eyes out.

“There goes tacos,” he blubbered. “What a winning day.”

The arresting officer replied, “Nobody wins when tacos die.”