Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas in Hawaii - Excerpt from Beyond Demons and Protectors

Christmas in Hawaii is unique in many ways. I am often asked what it is like to celebrate the holidays here. I love Christmas here. I have spent Christmas in many places, but Hawaii is still my favorite. In my novels, I always planned on writing a Christmas scene that would be easily recognizable to locals here. I was very pleased to be able to do so in my second novel. 

Here is an excerpt from Beyond Demons and Protectors ©2014:

     We reappear in the middle of a grassy area. As I take in our surroundings, being extra
cautious to make sure we are in the right place, I can see colorful lights everywhere. The trees have Christmas-colored lanterns hanging from their boughs. Nearby, children are
riding a small train in circles. A light breeze carries the sound of old Christmas tunes in
our direction. Further ahead, I see a sidewalk, couples walking hand-in-hand, and smiling
families with excited children making their way up the street. I know where they are
going. I can see the bright lights off in the distance. Brief flashes of light tell me people
are taking pictures at the various displays along the way. If I remember correctly, some
extremely large Christmas decorations should be near the first group of people taking
pictures. We are definitely in the right place.
     Ash takes a hold of my hand and leans against my shoulder. She begins to weep,
though she doesn’t appear to be sad. Truth be told, I am more than a little surprised that
this is where she wanted to come. This time and place does not carry good memories for
her. The last time she was here at Christmastime was with her parents. Her entire life
changed that night. “We could go to the East coast,” I try. “I’ve never seen the big tree or
the ice skating rink out there.”
     “No, this is our home,” she says with a crooked smile.
     I give her a warm smile in return, “Shall we go, then?”
     She nods excitedly, “Let’s.”
     “I haven’t been here in ages,” I say while we walk over to the sidewalk. “Honolulu
Hale is up ahead, right?”
     “It is,” she says.
     “I think my phone has a camera. We should take pictures!”
     We take a leisurely stroll to Honolulu Hale. Along the way, we stop to take pictures at
several of the large Christmas displays. A little boy runs into Ash. She smiles at the boy.
He hugs her leg, and then takes off to find whoever he is supposed to be with. The
happiness in the air is contagious. Ash watches the boy leave. I’ve never seen the look
she has in her eyes as she watches him walk away. “What is it?” I ask.
     “Nothing,” she says without looking at me. “I just felt something I don’t think I have
before.”
     “This is our first Christmas together,” I remind her.
     Her attention snaps back to me, “I love this.”
     “Me too,” I say and kiss her romantically under the lights of the beautiful display,
though lightly, so we don’t accidentally set the dang thing on fire.
     Every year Honolulu Hale is transformed into a winter wonderland - island style, of
course. It really is spectacular. We pass by the fountain, wishing pool, and large
Christmas tree on our way toward the entrance. A mixture of Christmas smells drift out
of the doorway: cinnamon, citrus, and pine, at least I think the smells are coming from
inside. Now that I think about it, Ash smells very similar to me.
     Inside the building are a series of decorated Christmas trees. Each one has a different
theme, although all of them are fun. I have never seen a bad one. A thought occurs to me,
“I didn’t get you a gift.”
     “You are my gift,” she says, staring at a tree with colorful origami decorations all
over it. “Not to mention, my one of a kind engagement ring. I’m pretty sure no one in the
world has one like it. If anyone needs to worry about a gift, it’s me, not you.”
     “You don’t need to get me anything, Ash.”
     “When are you going to go,” she says, catching me off guard.
     “Go?” I try to play off.

     “To get Stana,” she says, finally looking at me again.
     “Not for a little while. I…”
     “No need to explain,” she says while leading me to a hallway on our right.
     “What’s over here?”
     “Contest wreaths.”
     Down the hallway, on both sides, Christmas wreaths of all kinds line the walls:
colorful ones, artistic ones, large ones, small ones, and some that don’t look like wreaths
at all. I’ve never noticed these before. I glance at a plaque next to one of the closest
wreaths. This one appears to be made out of recycled products. Ooh, this one was made
by a third grade class from a school I’ve never heard of. More than a few were made by
children. The more elaborate ones appear to have been made by professional artists or
clubs for adults. Hardly seems fair; adults competing with children. I read the plaque for
one of the funnier looking wreaths. A chill runs through my body, “Did we lose another
year?”
     “I’m afraid so, babe. Are you worried?”
     “Nah,” I resolve myself to enjoy this time with her. “This is the best Christmas ever!
Let’s take a picture out front.”
     “Okay,” she says cheerfully. “I like all these pictures. I think I want to start an album
or something. You know to keep all of our memories.”
     “I think that sounds awesome,” I say. I really do.
     We stand in front of the Mele Kalikimaka display and ask an elderly man to take our
picture. I’m amazed because he knows how to take the picture with my phone without
any hesitation. I don’t even know how to use my phone correctly. I thank him and hug
Ash. We stand hugging each other for a while, basking in the joy of the holiday season.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sometimes Christmas Sucks

Christmas is right around the corner. It's kind of hard to believe that Christmas is so close. This past year went by so fast.

This year I am attempting to turn myself into one of those crazy Christmas people that I have often talked poorly of. The house is decorated. The tree has been ready since the end of November. I've also been watching every single Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. Seriously, I can rate and tell you about any of them. Feel free to ask.

This week, though, this is not what my post is about. I know this is the season for joy and giving. This is the season when we all try to be the best version of ourselves. I just want to take the time to acknowledge those that are struggling during this season. For many, Christmas just plain sucks, and I can understand that. I used to be one of them for many years.

Please keep in mind that there are folks that have lost loved ones this past year, and this is their first Christmas without their loved ones. There are folks who are struggling to pay their bills and can't afford to buy a single gift for anyone. I know quite a few people that suffer from depression, and for them, Christmas is miserable. Moreover, I know a number of people who are just plain struggling this year, and the thought of Christmas coming is not a reason for them to smile.

Please keep these folks in mind. Their lives matter, too. Say a prayer for them. Take the time to extend some kindness to someone who really needs it. I know it is an exciting time. A lot of us get caught up in the gift buying, parties, and other holiday events, but I really hope we can make Christmas special for some folks who could really use a break. Enjoy the holidays, everyone! Whenever possible, please do something to help someone, not because you want something in return, but because you could really make a difference in someone's life.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dear Ross

Dear Ross,

It's been about 17 years since we last spoke. I'm not sure why, but I found myself thinking about you this week. I remember the last time we talked like it was yesterday. It's one of those things that I never really forget, though I will admit that I don't think about it often. When I do think about that day, I see your face crystal clear in my mind.

There was nothing special about that day. As far as I remember it was just another day. I remember walking to my car. I was probably off to hang out with some friends. I remember debating whether or not I should light a cigarette in the parking lot or wait until I was on the road. I was just about to get in my car when I noticed you standing near me.

I remember you asking me for a ride home. I'm not sure why you asked that day. We weren't exactly friends, more like acquaintances. We had a few classes together and talked story once in a while. I thought you were a cool guy, but we weren't close. I remember thinking it was weird that you were asking for a ride.

I want to be honest with you. I had no reason for telling you no. I think I told you I had a doctor's appointment or something, but it was a lie. Maybe I thought I was too cool, or maybe I was just being an asshole. I could have given you a ride home, but I didn't. I remember you smiling and saying it was okay. You said you would find another ride. We shook hands, and I thought that was the end of that.

I remember a friend of mine telling me to check out the news later that night. The report was about a kid from our school, but I did not know it was about you. Apparently, you did find another ride. You guys were driving around. Someone made a bad decision, as high school kids often do. The car you were in crashed. And just like that, you were gone.

I'm sorry, my friend.  I often wonder if things would have been different if I had just given you a ride that day. I wonder if you would still be here. I guess we will never know. None of us will ever know what you would have become.

I'm sorry it took so long to write to you. I don't know what else to say. I hope you are at peace wherever you are now.

Rest in Love

Sincerely,

Me

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cover Reveal: Beyond Anything In All Creation by Christian Brown

This week I am pleased to bring you the cover for the third and final book in the Beyond Heights and Depths Trilogy: Beyond Anything In All Creation, which will be released on January 13, 2015 in the Amazon Kindle Store.

Description:

She’s anxious, but she might also be right. I do hope it’s not the end of the world. What do I know about this kind of stuff? I’m not sure what else to think. The world hasn’t exactly been in the best shape recently. The long extinct volcanoes of our island home, as well as other parts of the world, still show signs of erupting at any moment. Earthquakes are a daily occurrence. The sun has almost completely vanished, leaving the world in a state of constant twilight. Fire has been falling from the sky off and on here for the last few weeks; meanwhile, other parts of the world seem to be in the middle of a miniature ice age, and the bodies of water that aren’t frozen have steam rising from their surface. I would hardly call any of this normal.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The highly anticipated conclusion to the Beyond Heights and Depths trilogy is finally here.

Emmett and Ash are preparing for their big day. The two have overcome the greatest of evils to remain together. Together, they have won every battle, but the war is far from over. All signs point to the end of the world. The soul mates must face their toughest challenges yet. Relationships will be tested, sacrifices will be made, and a fight to the finish will decide the fate of the world.



I hope everyone who loved the first two books will love this one.


Now, without further ado, the cover for Beyond Anything In All Creation:

©2013 C. Brown Publisher

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bullying Sucks

This week I just want to share something that is on my heart. I've been searching for solutions on a particular subject, but I have found nothing. The subject that has come up quite a bit over the last few weeks is bullying. I have heard countless stories of young people being bullied, and my heart breaks for all of them. Even worse, it seems as though very little is being done to help.

I don't know how it is for folks in other states, but Hawaii has no anti-bullying laws. Some changes are in the process of being made, but a recent report says that bullying is a major problem here and not even close to enough is being done to help (see: "New poll calls bullying 'major problem' in Hawaii"). The public school system says they are implementing programs to stop bullying, but again, not enough is being done. Moreover, many parents and students have personally told me of how they have gone to speak to school administrators because they or someone they knew was being bullied, only to have the administrators ignore them, tell them nothing can be done, or even go so far as to tell them that it isn't a "school" problem, so they would not do anything about the bullying.

In my own searches for answers, I have found nothing. I wanted to help with a fundraiser and give the funds to an anti-bullying group, but I couldn't find any to give the money to. It's sad, really. I guess in our particular state there are way more questions than answers. Meanwhile, young people are hurting out there. Some of them are taking their own lives as a result of bullying and that is completely unacceptable. More needs to be done, but what?

This is where I find myself. I want to do more, but I'm not sure what to do yet. Where does one even begin with a problem of this magnitude? Anyway, this is what is on my heart. I'm going to keep working on this. I would love to have input. Please feel free to share your stories as well. Your voice counts. It's time to stand up to bullying. Take care everyone and God bless.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Don't let life pass you by



Recently, I wrote about nearly breaking my neck in a freak accident. Since then, my perspective on life has changed a bit. My children have always been the priority in my life, but I haven't always placed the same emphasis on spending time with family and friends. I spend a lot of my time writing or promoting my books. I noticed this week that I spent so much time working on stuff that I let too much of life pass me by.

Earlier today I text a friend of mine I have known since we were kids. Right after I sent the text, I realized I hadn't sent him a text since last Thanksgiving. That is completely unacceptable. Yesterday, I was blessed to have spent time with another old friend and his family (their family is like family to me). It didn't occur to me until later on that I haven't seen or spoken to some of them in months.

I know there is the saying that real friends don't grow apart even if they don't talk everyday, live far away, or haven't seen each other for a long time, but I still feel like I need to put more effort into these relationships. I think it's too easy to get so caught up in life that we forget to live it. We get so caught up in the daily grind that, before we know it, days, months, or years have passed by. It's too easy to take important things, people, and events in life for granted. We figure there is always tomorrow to get it right. But what if there isn't a tomorrow?

Don't let life pass you by. There may not be a tomorrow. Today is the only guarantee we get, so make the most of it. Spend time with family and friends. Live your life with purpose. Don't get caught up in the grind. I think Ferris Bueller said it best when he said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Have a blessed week my friends!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The big wake up call

I talk a lot about living life to the fullest. I'm a big believer in helping everyone to live the best life possible. However, I must admit that even I need a reminder from time-to-time to stop and smell the roses, be in the moment, and truly live. I like to call this little reminder a wake up call. Arguably, the biggest of all the wake up calls is the near death experience.

A near death experience will have you checking your priorities faster than any self help guru, book, or televangelist could possibly accomplish. This type of wake up call lights a fire under your butt like no other. It's unfortunate that so many of us fail to take a good, hard look at our lives until we are forced to. I think we all know better, but we get so caught up in the monotony of day-to-day living that we forget that there are more important things in life.

Oh, why am I talking about this subject? Well, that answer is simple. This past Labor Day I nearly broke my neck and drowned. Having grown up in Hawaii, I am a very good swimmer and body surfer. I'm not sure what happened on this particular occasion that was different. All I can say is: sometimes stuff happens. Sometimes stuff happens that alters the course of our lives in an instant, and that is why we must live the best life we can now. There may not be a tomorrow to try and get it right.

Fortunately, I survived - all praise, and honor, and glory be to God for getting me out of that one. I am in some awful pain and have some scrapes on my face, but I am alive. This was a huge wake up call for me. I hope that by talking to you all about this you will not wait until something like this happens to you before you start living the life you always meant to. Start living today. Don't put off the changes you desire for tomorrow, because tomorrow may be too late.

For a picture of my beat up face, check out my twitter profile. Don't get so caught up in everyday life that you forget to truly live. All of us need a reminder every so often, myself included, but don't wait for something terrible to happen before you catch the hint. Live, my friends, I mean, really live. Have a blessed week everyone!

Monday, September 1, 2014

If I can do it, so can you

First off, let me say: My third book is almost ready for release! It's hard to believe that my third book is almost here. To be quite honest, I wasn't sure if I could finish writing one book. When I finished the first book, I wasn't sure I could write one more. Now, here we are, and the trilogy is nearly complete.

I know a lot of writers use their blogs to offer writing tips and advice, but I really don't have any. The only thing I can say with certainty is: The only true failure is not trying. If you want to succeed at anything, you need to try. A lot of people tell me how they aren't sure they could ever write a book. I don't think anyone is really sure at the beginning, but I can guarantee you'll never find out, if you never try.

If I can write, so can you. I had no idea what I was doing when I started this journey. A few years later, I have made the Amazon bestseller list. My second book made it into the top 3. I have a pretty good fan base. Most importantly, I'm still enjoying writing. The fact is: I would not have accomplished anything if I did not bother to try.

Life is too short to not chase your dreams. Why not chase a few? I say chase as many as you can, and hopefully, you catch more than a few. You want to be a writer, well then write. You have another dream, go after it. No one is going to chase your dreams for you. You have to put in the effort. Don't walk through life wondering about the would've, could've, should've moments you let pass you by.

For me, writing a book was just one of my dreams. I'm constantly in the process of chasing dreams, whether it be writing, skimboarding, or whatever other crazy activity I'm doing. I hope that as I catch a few of those dreams it will inspire others to chase theirs. So, get out there and chase your dreams. If you have the time, tell me about a few. I love to hear from people who are living the dream. Have a wonderful week everybody!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Playing through the pain

This past week I had the opportunity to talk to a few young people about dealing with the inevitable hurts one encounters in life. One of the things every human being has in common is that we have all been hurt by someone in our lives. I wish it were not so, but being hurt by someone at some point in life is unavoidable.

What I was talking with these young folks about was how you deal with the hurt and live your life. We all change as a result of being hurt. However, I wanted them to understand that it is important to change for the better. It's too easy to change for the worst, and that is no way to live your life. For instance, when someone lies to us, it's to easy to decide to never trust anyone ever again. Now, let me be clear, I can completely understand when someone chooses to never trust again, but it is not a healthy way to live.

In professional sports, athletes often talk about playing through the pain; meaning, they have all been hurt at some point, but they make the effort to play at their best anyway. We will all be hurt at some point in life, but we must continue to do our best to live life to the fullest. If we do not, we risk becoming the hurt, angry, jaded version of ourselves who would rather shut the world out than risk being hurt again, and that's no way to live your life. We cannot completely avoid being hurt, but we can control how we react to the hurt. Never give anyone who has hurt you that much control over your life.

I often wonder how many opportunities we miss in life as a result of being hurt. I wonder how many dreams die for fear of being hurt again. I worry that far too many people choose to isolate themselves from the world rather than live, because they don't want to ever let anyone in. I'm not saying let people walk all over you; no, never do that, but you should make every effort to move forward and live the best life possible, even when you feel like you're not sure you can. We only get one shot at this thing called life, so live as full of one as possible.

Anyway, these are my thoughts this week. Take care, my friends. Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What a difference a day makes


This past week Hawaii braced for two major storms: Hurricane Iselle and Hurricane Julio. The Big Island took most of the impact. Many folks are still without electricity and basic supplies. I have many friends there, and so far each have said they are happy just to have made it through without any major issues. They are doing well for the most part. I thank God that they are all okay.

The rest of the islands fared considerably better. Over here on Oahu, there was some damage and flooding. A few folks lost their roofs in the winds. Many large trees and such were completely pulled out of the ground. But, overall, we are all okay. Moreover, we are incredibly fortunate that Hurricane Julio skirted over the islands this morning, so we are pretty much in the clear, as of the time of this writing.

For the past few days, I have witnessed nothing but damage, destruction, and terrifying weather. You can imagine my surprise when I awoke this morning to see perfect blue skies. My family and I decided to go to the beach, even though we heard a high surf advisory was issued. Every beach was so crowded today. I saw many old friends, some of whom I haven't seen years. There were many families enjoying the day. I saw nothing but beautiful skies, huge waves, and smiling faces as far my eyes could see.

Amazing how big of a difference one day can make. I think this is important to remember in life as well. In life, there are always some major storms. There are also many sunny days ahead. I know, in the middle of the storm, it's hard to see the silver lining, but if you can weather the storm, there is always another beautiful day ahead. Today, I got to enjoy the company of a bunch of folks who weathered the storm, and what a beautiful day it was.

Keep moving forward, my friends. Keep striving to reach those goals. Keep trying your best. Above all else, don't give up. Do everything you can to keep positivity in your life. We will all face bad days. We will all have to weather storms throughout our life. You can make it through. Find the silver lining and make the most of every moment. It will make a difference. Have a wonderful week, friends!

P.S. - Please keep everyone on the Big Island in your prayers. Many of them are still without power, water, and other basic necessities. Most of the folks I talk to are still keeping it positive, which is good. They are doing their best, but they still need help. Thanks everyone!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Preparing for disaster

Today, I have been spending time preparing for Hurricane Iselle. It's expected to hit the islands as nothing more than a tropical storm, but I feel the need to prepare accordingly. I have to admit, I have never put together an emergency kit in my life. Like many folks here in Hawaii, I have survived two of the biggest hurricanes to hit the islands, multiple tsunami threats, and various other weather phenomenon that have struck our homes. As a result, many of us often feel like everything is going to be fine, so we never prepare properly, and any preparations we do make is usually done at the last minute.

I think a lot of us are guilty of living our lives this way. Many of us walk through life figuring that everything is going to be okay. Then, when something bad does happen, it completely throws everything out of sync. The slightest change makes it feel like the world is ending. True of natural disasters, but also true in a lot of other areas in life. Many people are ill-equipped to handle the little problems that life offers. As in preparing for a natural disaster, if we are to be ready for the dangers or difficulties we will face in everyday life, we need to put in the work needed to prepare properly.

Need to pass a big test, you better study. Want to write a book, better start writing. As for me, I need to prepare for hurricane season. My perspective on life is much different than when I was a teen going out to surf during tropical storms - which created enormous waves. My life isn't the only one I need to take care of, so I need to grow up and do the things responsible adults are supposed to do. So, like anything in life I don't know a lot about, I am starting with the basics: water, canned goods, batteries, hand crank emergency radio/flashlight, and other essentials.

When in doubt, start with the basics first, and then work your way up. Thanks for letting me blabber on about this new event in my life. For those of you who are also preparing for the storm, I'm leaving a list of some of the recommended emergency essentials below. A little preparation can save us from a lot of trouble further down the road. If I'm missing anything, please leave a comment below and I will add it in. Have a blessed week, everyone!


FEMA recommends the following items be in your emergency supply kit:

EMERGENCY KIT ESSENTIALS 

 

First Aid Kit - $22.87  for a 205 piece kit on Amazon / $17.47 at Walmart

 Fire Extinguisher - $19.97 on Amazon / Walmart $20.67

Prescription Medication, prescription glasses, contact lenses, contact lens solution

Water – One gallon per day per person (5 to 7 day supply) / I got a clear plastic 5-gallon at Walmart for $8.18

Non-perishable food (5 to 7 day supply)

Hand crank or battery-powered radio ($15) and a NOAA Weather Radio ($27) with tone alert and extra batteries

Flashlight & extra batteries

Whistle to signal for help

Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Manual can opener for food

Local maps ($5 on Amazon)

Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Other supplies you may need

 

Baby essentials – formula, diapers, wipes, bottles, etc…

Pet essentials – food, water, medication

Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

Matches in Waterproof Container or Waterproof Matches

Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

Ready.gov also suggests:

Emergency information – first aid reference material, pamphlets, print outs (free publications)

Cash or traveler’s checks and change – If the power is out, ATMs will not be operational. If stores are open but the power is out they may only take cash.

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit – EFFAK (PDF – 977Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.

Denture needs, extra eyeglasses

For more disaster preparedness information and to download a FEMA emergency supply kit list click HERE.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Keep moving forward

Recently, I've been talking to a lot of folks that have me thinking about something. A lot of people I meet are interested in the way I live my life. I try to live life as best I can. I try to learn from everyone and every situation that comes my way. One of the most important things I do is I keep trying.

Sounds simple, right?

I think so, but for some reason, this concept sounds completely foreign to a lot of people. Let me tell you what I mean. More often than not, when people find out I am a writer, they will often tell me about an idea that they have for a story. They also tell me how they are impressed that I have two books out because they aren't sure they could write a book. I try to encourage everyone I meet, so I will usually ask, "Did you ever try?" You know what the most common response is: "No."

If you never try something, how will you ever know if you can do it or not? How about another example? A few weeks ago I decided to try my hand at skimboarding again, a water activity I have not done for over 20 years! Many people I meet on the beach, especially older guys, tell me how much they used to love skimboarding, but they just don't feel like they could do it again. My question for them is the same: How do you know, if you never tried?"

I worry that too many of us give up because we never try. I truly believe in living life to the fullest. We can't do that if we are too afraid to try. Maybe skydiving and extreme sports is too much for most people, but what about the simple things? If you have an idea for a book, you should try writing. I never thought I could write a book. That is the whole reason I did, and now I am about to finish my third book. I wasn't sure if I could skimboard again without seriously hurting myself, but I tried, and now I go all the time. I'm not sure why I ever stopped.

What is something in your life that you could do to make your life fuller, but you are too afraid to try? This week, at least give it another look. Maybe you want to travel, become a chef, write a book, or learn to swim. The possibilities are endless. Whatever you do, keep moving forward, keep trying. It's the advice we give children who are learning something new. I think it is still sound advice for many of us who are adults that are afraid to try.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Finding Christmas Spirit...in July

This past week a friend of mine told me she was watching Keepsake Week on the Hallmark Channel. "Christmas movies were going to be on all week," she said. Normally, the thought of Christmas, especially in July, would be more than enough to drive me insane. However, I've made it a point to learn what I can from every person and situation I come across, so I decided to grit my teeth and take a look. You know what, I actually learned something.

I've talked in previous posts about my dislike of Christmas. Up until a few years ago, I was the biggest Grinch on the planet. My children changed all that. I have been trying my best to provide the best Christmases possible for them. It isn't easy, so I am usually very happy when the season is over. You can imagine how thinking about Christmas in July isn't particularly appealing to me.

Now, back to this past week. What did I learn from watching Christmas movies in the Summer? As much as I dislike Christmas, I still enjoy watching Christmas movies. I did find that watching them in July still felt the same as watching them in December. It felt good to remember the joy of Christmas, even if it is Summer. I think I learned a valuable lesson: you can carry the Spirit of Christmas with you throughout the year.

At Christmastime, we often talk about how we should carry certain aspects of the season with us throughout life. We should always be giving. We should always carry joy with us. You know what I mean? We nod our heads in agreement, but as soon as the season is over, we completely forget. Watching these movies in July reminded me of all of this. Now, I'm not saying I will become one of these folks who tries to keep it Christmas year-round, but I do think we could all benefit from a little Christmas joy once in a while.

I think when it is Christmastime we all try to be a little nicer. We all try to be a little less selfish. We all try to spend time with family and/or friends. We all try to be little happier, even if it is for a short time. Why not try to be the better version of ourselves the whole year? I know, easier said than done. I'm a work in progress, too, but I do think it is worth the effort. Well, these are my thoughts this week. At the very least, it did feel nice to watch some feel-good holiday films for a week. Have a wonderful week, everybody!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fun parenting moment

This past weekend was my son's last one before the end of his break. He returns to school tomorrow, so no more late night movies, which are his favorite thing to do on the weekends. I let him choose all of his movies this past weekend, and I couldn't have been more happy with his selections! We ended up watching some old school movies that totally reminded me of my childhood. These were movies I loved, and I was very happy to have the chance to watch them with him. I was even more happy to hear how much he loves these movies, too!

The first movie we watched was "The Goonies." I wasn't much older than my son is now when I first saw this movie. Of all the films, this one probably holds the most nostalgia for me. I can remember watching it every day for months on end. Now that I have thought about it, I may have watched this movie more times than any other movie in my lifetime. Back then, I think every kid thought they could go on an adventure just like them - truth be told, I still kind of wish I could.

The second movie we watched was "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." I love this movie. I know all of the musical numbers, and who could forget the part of the factory that was edible? The movie is a lot of fun. When I was a kid, it was on television all the time. I'm not sure why, but I'm not complaining. I watched it a lot back then, and I still enjoy watching it now.

The last, of course, was "The Star Wars Trilogy." I have been a Star Wars fan for a very long time, so it was especially nice to hear my son say he liked the movies too. As a child, I had some of the toys, the lunch box, and blanket. I still have some movie items around my house. Those movies just never get old. I love them as much now as I did then. I'm also excited that they are going to make new ones pretty soon.

Honestly, I love every moment with my children. I'm a proud parent all the time, but there is something special about being able to share something with them from my childhood. It's also nice when they enjoy something from my childhood, too. I'm not sure how much of it is actually like it was back then, with editing, commercials, and humor from a totally different time, but it is still a fun experience - one of many that I cherish. So, that's my fun parenting moment. What are some of yours? What movies take you back? Which ones do you like to share with loved ones? Tell me about them. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day 2014

Father's Day really isn't my thing. However, I wanted to talk a little bit about why, instead of make people guess. I don't want to take up too much of your time, so I'll keep this post short.

Father's Day has always been a weird holiday for me. I normally don't think much about it, even though I am a father myself. Don't get me wrong, I love the gifts I get from my children, but for me it is important to be a part of their lives every day anyway. Today, I am seeing all the posts, updates, tweets, and messages everyone is putting up for their fathers. I see the joy in what they are sharing, but that is not my experience.

As far back as I can remember, I do not remember Father's Day being a big deal. I wouldn't say my relationship with my own father as a child was what I would consider good. I don't have the fond memories that others have. Usually, when I am asked to give a talk on Father's Day, I go with the "God is the only father you need" talk. However, as I think about things today, I realize my dad taught me the most valuable lesson I have ever learned about being a father: Be there for you children, always.

My children are everything to me, and that is the way it should be. So, let me take this opportunity to wish all the amazing fathers out there a Happy Father's Day! Keep doing what you are doing. I know Mother's Day is the big show and Father's Day always plays second string, but you should be recognized for being a good father, because let's face it, there are a lot of crappy dads out there that make everyone else look bad. Enjoy your day my friends, and have a wonderful week!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Versatile Blogger Award and 7 Things About Me

I need to thank two people, Christina Zarella (http://turbulenceintheveins.blogspot.com/) and Claudia Burgoa (http://www.claudiayburgoa.com), for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! It’s nice to know that people read my blog. If you haven’t heard about the Versatile Blogger Award, you can find out more here: http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/vba-rules/

My nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award include, in no particular order, the following bloggers:
  
Gina Stoneheart -  http://www.dawningonanewday.blogspot.com

Rob Distaffen  - http://rdistaffen.blogspot.com

Karen Pilarski - http://karenpilarski.blogspot.com/
 
Rachel Thompson - http://rachelintheoc.com

Lelani Black - http://www.lelaniblack.com/

Stephanie Neighbour - http://stephanieneighbour.com

Debbie Vega - http://debravega.wordpress.com/

Roz and Patty - http://rozandpattywrite.blogspot.com/

Bruce Van Horn - http://www.brucevanhorn.com/

Seven Things About Me...

1. I was born and raised on the Island of Oahu in the State of Hawaii, but most of my family is made up of immigrants from all over the place.

2. I only planned on writing one book, but now I am almost done with my third book.

3. I used to fall asleep every time I watched the first Harry Potter movie. One day my wife made me stay up to watch it. I have been a fan ever since.

4.  When I was young I got caught up in gangs and drugs, and consequently, spent most of my young life out on the streets.

5. I am an ordained minister.

6. I almost died in a horrible car wreck when I was 19. I fell asleep behind the wheel and was nearly decapitated by a dump truck. I broke my neck and back, but I was able to walk out of the hospital on my own. That's my faith story.

7. I've been called many things in my lifetime, and without a doubt, "Daddy" is my absolute favorite.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The right words to say

I've been thinking about a recent conversation I had with a friend. We were talking about working with people - lately, I have been helping a few close friends work through some of the most difficult situations any person could ever go through. This friend of mine mentioned how he could never do the kind of work I do because he could never think of the right things to say in any of those situations.

I was flattered that he thought so highly of me, but I had to tell him: most of the time, there are no right words to say. There are no words that will make it all better. Sometimes things are so bad that there is nothing to say at all. Sometimes speaking will only make the pain worse. In these instances, attempting to offer the right words to someone may be the worse thing you can do.

"So, what do you do?" he asked. More often than not, just being there is enough. Sometimes all a person needs or wants is a shoulder to cry on, and I am more than willing to offer the two that I possess. In many cases, listening is of much greater importance than speaking. You might not know the right words to say, but you can always listen. We also have arms that can hold a person, pat a person on the back, or offer a consoling hug, which can be a lot more comforting than having the right words to say.

I also believe your heart has to be in the right place. People can tell if you really have a heart for them or if you are just acting like you care. At my church, we often say: "we celebrate with those who are celebrating, weep with those who are weeping, and mourn with those who are mourning. We live life together, both the highs and the lows." That is the way I deal with everyone in my life. You have to have a heart for people, or you are really doing more damage than good.

I wish I had the right words to say to fix any situation in life. The fact is: I don't; no one does. Don't let that deter you from helping people. I can't tell you how many times someone has told me, "Thanks for being there." I can tell you exactly how many times someone has told me thanks for having exactly the right words to say: zero. Anyway, thank you for taking the time to check out this post. Have a wonderful week everyone!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The healing power of music


The last few weeks have left me feeling like a bundle of mixed emotions. To say they were difficult does not even scratch the surface. I had wonderful opportunities to speak with old friends, one whom I have known for over twenty years. Unfortunately, my old friends were dealing with some of the worst possible things in their lives. In fact, in one case, it was the worst I have ever heard.

Dealing with such issues is a joy and a burden. I am always glad to help, even if all they need is someone to talk to. I would never turn any of them away. On the flip side of that coin, I am often left feeling traumatized from the experience. Sometimes it takes a while for me to work through everything in my own head.

Of all the tools I have, I find music to be one of the most therapeutic. There is something about music that is absolutely healing. As I was pondering this, I received the meme I posted above. Music really does have the power to help in a way that nothing else does. So, music is where I turned to this past weekend.

I took some time to listen to and enjoy some of the music we enjoyed in the 90's. I took some time to enjoy the memories the songs brought up of better days. You know what, it really helps. Few things in the world help me through the dark times the way music does. I'm going to post a couple of the songs I have been listening to below. Many of you will crack up at my choice of songs this particular time, but I just want you to see that I wasn't listening to classical, new age, or any other type of music that one might associate with this type of endeavor.

This is just something I wanted to share with you all. I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this. Please take a moment to comment, and tell me what kind of music or songs help you through the rough patches. I'd love to hear from you. Have a wonderful week, everybody!


Mazzy Star - Fade Into You



Cracker - Low

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A short message for Easter

I wasn't planning on posting a message today, but this has been on my mind.

Jesus' disciples are very interesting to me for a few reasons. First, they were Jesus' closest companions. Second, they were around Him all the time, so you would think they knew more about His teachings than anyone. Finally, scripture tells us they still messed up all the time. They were very human, just like you or me. They made mistakes, got scared, and felt hopeless even after everything He had already told them.

On the day we call Good Friday, the day was anything but good for the disciples. Their entire world was shattered. From their point of view--on that day--their lives were completely in shambles. Their teacher, leader, and mentor died. The King had passed, and yes, he would rise on Sunday, but that event had not happened yet. For the disciples, the authorities were coming after them, people despised them, and the one person they needed the most was not with them. For those days between Jesus' passing and resurrection, the disciples were just a bunch of scared, hopeless, and completely defeated individuals. They were trapped in the most desperate situation imaginable, with no foreseeable way out.

Then, their Lord rose again. Life was beautiful and hopeful once again. They would go out and preach the gospel to the world. Their lives, arguably, had more meaning than they could have ever believed was possible in their previous lives. This is why we celebrate Easter. Death, sin, and the devil himself have been defeated. Our lives are made new, glorious, and complete through Jesus Christ. This is also the reason the day of our Lord and Savior's death is called Good.

Now to the message: Jesus has risen, yet I think a lot of us forget that He is risen. Many of us--myself included--get so caught up in our own junk, we live our lives more like the disciples did during those dark days when their Savior was sitting in a grave. We live in fear, despair, and hopelessness, unable to see any foreseeable way out of our dire situations. Our minds go to a dark place for so long that we forget everything else. Everything we have learned, everything we have been told, everything we know to be the truth is forgotten. In those moments, hope is not gone, but hope is so far off of our radar that we can't see it an inch in front of our faces.

Darkness is no more. Fear is no more. Death and sin have been defeated. My prayer is that we all find our way out of the darkness and set our sights on the hope set before us. We know Jesus is risen. The disciples had to wait. We know Jesus saves, so there is always reason to have hope. In our weakness, He makes us strong. Do not lose sight of the things that are truly important in life. There will always be struggles, but you can overcome.

Believe me, I know. I spent a giant chunk of my life living in darkness, hating the world, and hating my life. Today, I am in a completely different place. Life is amazing; I believe all of our lives are. I pray you never get so lost in hopelessness that you don't get a chance to see the miracles just ahead. I pray you know your life has been made new. Today is another opportunity to start fresh. Above all, I pray you have complete peace, love, and joy in your life from this day forward. Be blessed, my friends, now and always, in Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Discovering new motivation to write

Let me just start off by saying: I love to write. My love of writing has led me to publish two books, with a third on the way. Recently, I needed to take a break from drafting book three. My break ended up being a bit longer than I intended, so I've been very slow to get back to writing. I still love to write; I just find my thoughts and ideas aren't flowing to the page as smoothly as before. Thus, I am in need of motivation.

With my first two books, my best thoughts always came from time spent at the beach. Catching a few waves helped me get the creative juices flowing. Since my second son was born, I can count the number of times I have been to the beach on one hand. This wasn't a problem until I fell into a lull in the middle of drafting book three. So, I have been taking some time to discover some new motivators.

I'm really enjoying this experience. It has been interesting to talk with other writers to find out what helps them stay creative and motivated. I have found that writing something other than what I normally write has been a great help. I spent some time on Wattpad working on poetry, which is definitely not what I normally write (I'll post one of my poems below). Through some of the poems, I have been able to place myself back into my characters shoes and see the world from their perspective. The process has been incredibly insightful.

I have also found that not putting too much emphasis on promoting my other two books has helped me stay in writer mode as well. Promoting is great, and obviously necessary, but I realize now that I need to find some balance between writing and promoting. It's just not good to get so caught up in promoting that you forget to keep writing.

The last thing I have been trying to do is keep enjoying life. I don't know how it is for you, but writing isolates me from the world around me. When I am writing, that is all I am doing. Everything else falls away. It's good to get away from the computer and live life, spend time with family and friends, and leave some of that stress behind. Sad that I needed to be reminded to live, but glad I learned that lesson now instead of later.

Anyway, thanks for letting me rant about this for a little bit. I'd love to hear how you keep yourself motivated to keep writing. Please leave a comment below. Keep writing, my friends. Have a wonderful week!



As promised, here is one of the poems I wrote to get back in the swing of things:




Darkness Within

Deep within the recesses of my mind,
the darkness no longer tries to hide.


Like venom, the memories run through my veins.
Driving my mind insane,
filling my soul with pain,
leaving me desperately looking for someone but myself to blame,
destroying every cell of hope in my body,
until only a shell remains.


Why can't I think of better days...

Do normal people replay every hurt in their head,
while roaming through life like the walking dead?
Why, why, why do I?
Why can't I be like them instead?


Instead of this hollow shell, a reminder of what could've been.
A monument to pain, the type hidden deep within.


Hidden from the prying eyes of a society that looks away, anyway.
Yet, finds entertainment in other people's pain.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Creating a Ripple

Events from this past week have me thinking about the ripple effect. All of us who serve others hope to see the ripple effect in action, though we do not always get to see the fruits of our labor. I definitely believe in the ripple effect. I firmly believe one small act of kindness can lead others to pay the act forward; therefore, our actions have a much bigger effect on the world around us than most of us realize. However, truth be told, I cannot say with any certainty that I have witnessed the ripple effect as much as I wish.

This completely changed this week, and I just want to take a moment to share this tiny event with you. I went out for Breakfast Burrito Ministry, as usual. I met a lot of the regulars and talked story with them. As usual, I had to drive around town to find some of the other folks who prefer to stay hidden. Along the way, I noticed many new faces. This is not unusual. I tend to see more new faces when the weather gets warmer.

One of the new faces was going through the garbage at a 7-11. I hopped out of my car to offer him a burrito and a water. He was very happy to get a warm meal. He also wanted to talk for a minute, so I happily obliged. During our short conversation, a construction worker walked by us. The construction worker gave me a weird look - which is also not unusual, and then went into the store. I was about to head back out to see who else I could find. As I was getting into my car, the construction worker walked out of the 7-11, looked at me one more time, smiled, and then went over to the man and asked him if he could buy him something to eat or drink for later.

It was amazing. The construction worker went in and bought him a couple of things, came back out, gave me a nod, handed the guy some food and drinks, and then took off. I had finally seen something other than dirty looks and condescending stares. This construction worker saw what I was doing, and he wanted to do the same. Moreover, he did so expecting nothing in return. It really blessed me to see someone else do something for the homeless. I only hope others will do the same.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you all. Sometimes it feels like our efforts don't help at all, but we don't always know how we are creating change in the world around us. If you can make a difference in the life of even one individual, I believe it is completely worth it. To see others try to help is also pretty incredible. Keep at it. It's been over year since I have seen anything besides people giving me dirty looks or making rude comments about helping those in need that they perceive as unworthy, but every so often you see something amazing that shows you that it is all worth it.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lessons from H.I.M. 2014: Fr. Greg Boyle

This past weekend I attended the H.I.M. Conference in Honolulu. H.I.M. is the largest conference in the state and offers numerous amazing speakers from all over the world. To talk about all of the people I had a chance to meet over the last few days would take quite a while, so I will focus on one speaker here.

One of the amazing people I got to meet and learn from was Fr. Greg Boyle. Fr. Boyle runs Homeboy Industries, which is the largest gang intervention program in the nation. I was eager to meet and speak with him because of my work with those on the margins in my own community. Although I have been serving the homeless, drug addicted, troubled youth, and other marginalized groups in my area for a while, like many people, I still have questions and need encouragement from time-to-time. Working with these groups is a continual learning process.

One of the things I wanted to hear him discuss was what kind of advice he might offer to someone who is unsure of what to say to a homeless person, gang member, drug addict, or any other troubled person he or she may hope to serve? In response, he mentioned this: "The minute it's about imparting wisdom or saving lives, it's over. It's about connecting. Can you receive people?" One of the things he firmly believes in is the importance of just being there. It isn't about having just the right thing to say or accomplishing your own agenda. One of the ways you can help is by simply showing that you care by showing up and taking the time to just be there.

This was timely advice. The number one comment I get from people who also want to serve the homeless or other marginalized group is: I'm not sure what I can do. As result of being unsure, they usually end up doing absolutely nothing. The truth is: just being there is often enough. Taking the time to show you care at all for a person often means more to them than you may ever realize. I agree completely with Fr. Boyle's remarks. The main reason I have had any success serving the homeless in my community is that I show up. I talk to them when no one else will. And even more important than talking with them, I listen.

If any of you are interested in serving others, I urge you to go out there and give it a go. Do small acts of kindness for folks in your community. Start somewhere where you feel comfortable, but start somewhere. Remember, it's about making a connection. You can make a difference. However, I can guarantee you won't make a difference at all, if you do nothing. Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Results from Read an E-book Week 2014

This past week I participated in Read an E-book Week 2014. My book, Beyond Heights and Depths, was free on Smashwords. As I have written before, I have had trouble getting any promotions going on Smashwords. The results of previous promotions were terrible. However, I had no problem getting behind this one because I already participate in multiple efforts to promote reading in general.

I love to promote reading because I believe reading is incredibly important. When Smashwords emailed me about participating in Read an E-book Week, it was a no-brainer for me to participate. I really wasn't sure what to expect. I don't know what it is about Smashwords, but giving away books with them is one of the most difficult tasks imaginable. I have never reached anywhere near the kind of success on Smashwords as I have through other channels.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to see a small increase in this promotion. I gave away somewhere around 20% more during Read an E-book Week than I did during the previous promotion only a few weeks earlier. In my opinion, the major difference was Smashword's involvement with the promotion. Normally, there is no involvement on their end. In fact, I am pretty sure I have never seen another promotional event on Smashwords besides this one. Overall, I am pleased with the results, but please keep in mind that I had very low expectations for this promotion to begin with.

How about you? Did anyone else participate in Read an E-book Week? What kind of results did you achieve? I would love to hear about your successes or frustrations with running promotions on Smashwords. So far, I have not found anyone who has had great success with Smashwords. Tell me about your experiences. Thank you everyone and have a great week!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Participating in Read an E-book Week 2014


Life sure is funny, sometimes. Last week I discussed my failures promoting my book through Smashwords. Specifically, I ran into problems promoting my book with the coupon feature. I had no intentions of giving up on Smashwords yet, but I was unsure of what to do next. Smashwords does not have many of the options or benefits of promoting on other sites.

A few days ago, I received an email from Smashwords asking if I would participate in "Read an E-book Week 2014." Unlike other promotions, I have no problem getting behind this one because I already participate in multiple efforts to promote reading in general. I read to kids on a regular basis. I also participate in field trips for preschoolers to check out the local library. I help with book fairs. I try to participate in anything that promotes reading.

I believe we need to promote reading as much as humanly possible. It's sad how far reading has declined over the years. One of the worst comments I hear on a regular basis is, "I'll wait for the movie to come out because I don't like reading." I know more people who use their Kindle Fire to play games than to read books. As a result, I meet a lot of kids who don't like reading because the adults in their lives do not read. They fail to understand how important reading is, until it is too late. Take it from me, a person who made it to college before I realized I had the reading level of a child: reading is very important!

If you're an author on Smashwords, consider participating. If you are already participating,  great job! Let's keep promoting Read an E-book Week. Readers, there are thousands of books for sale at discounted prices, and many are free. Browse through the catalogs. Find something you like. Above all else, keep on reading. Have a wonderful week!

For those of you interested, my book, Beyond Heights and Depths, is free this week with coupon code: RW100.

Monday, February 17, 2014

My experience using Smashwords coupon for promotion (Updated 2/23)

This past week I tried using Smashwords coupon manager for promotion. I was curious to see how successful doing a free promotion through Smashwords would be. Technically, there is one more day in the promotion, so I will probably update this post again later this week. If anyone is interested, here is the link to Beyond Heights and Depths on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/282737. The coupon code is: ZH99P.

I have to say, I am quite disappointed in the results so far. Through other free giveaways, such as, KDP Select, I have given away over 500 books during a 5 day period. With almost no effort at all, I have usually been able to giveaway more than a hundred books in 1 day. I thought I would be able to use what I know about promotions to produce similar results through Smashwords. Unfortunately, I was completely wrong. I have not seen anywhere near the numbers on Smashwords that I have on other mediums.

I did everything I usually do for a promotion like KDP Select Promotional Days. I submitted my information to promote my free day on several sites that I typically use. I also submitted info on one site that only takes submissions on the day of the promotion, which has worked very well for me in the past. I also made sure to tell others about my free day on Facebook and Twitter. These are all the things I have done before and had successful promotions, but this promotion was the most unsuccessful I have ever done.

The only significant difference I can discern at the moment is the site and method of promotion. I will have to do further research to see what went wrong, but so far the biggest problem appears to be the use of Smashwords and the free coupon. I wonder if people really don't want to do the extra step of entering coupon information. In any event, it was a good learning experience. I'm not sure I ever want to try this type of promotion again. The amount of work that goes into it and receiving such undesirable results leaves little incentive to try again.

So, tell me: Have you had similar experiences? What do you think? Is there something I could have done differently to produce better results? Let me know. I'm interested in hearing from you. Thanks everyone and have a wonderful week!

Update - February 23, 2014

I ran the promotion through the holiday. I had high hopes, but none of my goals were met. I did everything the way I would normally do for a regular promotion. The results were horrible. There really is no nice way to say it.

I sell more books on a regular basis than I gave away with the Smashwords coupon. I've been researching for answers, but I still am not entirely sure why this promotion went so bad. The only conclusion that I can draw from this is the use of the coupon. I guess people don't want to deal with coupons, even if it means just punching in a code at the end of a transaction.

I'm not quite ready to abandon Smashwords altogether. I am still selling books on Nook, Kobo, and iBooks. Thus, Smashwords is not a total loss. I still can't figure out why the coupon thing sucks so bad. I normally manage to giveaway hundreds of books. This one was such a big failure I just can't understand what went wrong. In any event, it's a good learning experience. I still have a lot to learn, so I'll keep on trying until I can make this thing work.

Again, I'm wondering, have any of you had similar experiences? What do you think? Is there something I could have done differently to produce better results? Let me know. I'm interested in hearing from you. Thanks everyone and have a wonderful week!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sometimes junk is just junk

For me, this week was another one about the odd lessons in life. Near one of the places a homeless I guy I know stays at, I noticed someone opened up a store with the "Pickers" name added to it. I love the show on History about Pickers, so I thought I would take a minute to check it out.

For those of you that don't know, on the History channel show, these two guys go out and pick through people's stuff and try to buy things of value that they can sell in their own shop. Some of the stuff they find is really cool. I like old things. I like the idea of finding value in something that somebody else might consider junk. It's like the old saying goes: "One man's trash is another man's treasure." I think this applies to people as well. A lot of the folks I work with are those others go out of their way to avoid, but I believe their lives have value.

Now back to the shop I visited. I took a look around and asked some questions. Unfortunately, My excitement quickly waned. I think a more appropriate saying for this situation would be: "Sometimes, one persons junk is another person's junk." This store had a lot of stuff in it, but nothing of high value. As is the case with many pickers and antique collectors, this store owner might have the good stuff hidden somewhere else, but I do wonder how long a store with stuff nobody wants in it can stay open.

In any event, this was a good reminder for me. I think we often hold on to a lot of junk in our lives that we really have no business holding on to: mentally, emotionally, and physically. We often hold on to memories, grudges, or ill will because we believe we have some kind of right to hold on to them, but in reality, they are just junk. We need to be honest with ourselves, do an inventory, and separate the trash from the treasure. Otherwise, we end up burying ourselves to death in junk, and that's just no way to live.

This week, take some time to think about what you are holding on to. Is it junk, or is it treasure? If you say it is treasure, then you should truly treasure it. However, if you know you are holding on to something in your life that needs to go, be strong enough to let it go. Have a wonderful week, my friends!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Senseless violence toward the homeless must stop

As many of you know from previous posts, I serve the homeless in my community on a regular basis. This week was difficult because earlier in the week a homeless man was stabbed to death. Currently, there are no suspects and no real leads as to who committed the crime. Unfortunately, the community cares very little about the homeless population, so I fear this crime will go unsolved.

The stabbing is one of many crimes committed against the homeless in just the small community I work in. Over the last few months, many of the homeless have told me stories of their stuff being stolen and/or vandalized. Many of them have been attacked for no reason. One lady even had her pet guinea pigs stolen while she was asleep. They were like her children, so she was completely heartbroken.

I'm not sure what would drive anyone to take from those who have so little. Most of the homeless in this community have been homeless for a while. They don't bother anyone. They aren't a burden to the community. They are just trying to live their lives the best they can. I guess I just don't get it. Why not help someone out if you can?

Over time, I have gotten to know quite a few of the homeless in my town. I can tell you that many of them have family and friends that love them. They are not nameless, faceless people. Their lives matter. I know a lot of people will not have any idea what I am talking about. I firmly believe you can tell a lot about someone by how they treat those in need. Moreover, you can tell a lot about someone by the way they treat those who can never repay them.

I don't do what I do for any kind of payment or reward. I know what it is like to live on the streets. Sometimes all you have left is the kindness of strangers, and I can tell you that one kind act can make all the difference in the world. If you can help someone in need, please do so. If you happen to know one of the misguided people who feel the need to harm those in need, please talk to them. Your choice to do right can make all the difference in the world.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. Do the best you can to help others in whatever you can. Have a blessed week, my friends.