Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Beach and the Ocean (4/27/2001)

I'm under reasonably strict instructions to not discuss my wife in my blog, but I still thought I'd share this poem I wrote for her a few years ago.  I hope you enjoy it.  I still feel the same today as I did then.

The Beach and the Ocean
Mike DeCamp

Through the rise and fall

Of the tides of my life,

You are the beach,

Catching my strife.

When the tide comes in

And my spirit does fly,

You are beneath me,

Holding me high.

When the tide ebbs away

And my heart is slack,

You are my horizon,

Calling me back.

As the waves crash in

And then slip away,

You remain constant,

There every day.

As the beach and the ocean

Are always together,

Our love remains true,

Regardless the weather.

Through the rise and fall

Of the tides of my life,

I thank God forever

That you are my wife.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hide the Vinegar and Taste the Honey

The other day, I had to send an email to a fellow employee at work with whom I’d had a few…let’s say…”communication challenges,” and I copied a few necessary people, so that they could be in the loop on the particular project. I wasn’t mean. I didn’t throw out any sarcastic barbs. In the message, I was nice and I was polite. The interesting thing was that a few minutes later, one of the “copied” people who had been aware of the previous “communication challenges” dropped a note back to me about me being so nice about things. My answer to him? “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

It is an old saying, but one I think bears revisiting in many circles these days.

I don’t like to listen to Bill Maher, but it’s not because he is anti-religious, or because he is liberal on some subjects or radical on others. I don’t like to listen to him because he is mean-spirited toward those who view things differently from him. For the same reason, I don’t like to listen to Keith Olbermann. His political commentary strikes me as demeaning. On the other hand, I’m not fond of Rush Limbaugh and some of the conservative talkers for the same reason. I dislike disrespect whether it comes from liberals or conservatives; Republicans or Democrats.

But, what really gets under my skin are the folks who claim to be Christians, who are acting in the name of faith in Christ, but are hateful, disrespectful, and hurtful to those around them that might see or do things differently. There’s the preacher in Florida that is determined to burn the Koran to make a statement about Islam. There’s the little church in the Midwest that sends protesters to the funerals of fallen US Soldiers because of some convoluted reasoning derived from their stand against homosexuality. There’s the folks that blow up abortion clinics or shoot down the doctors that perform them. The list goes on.

These folks are missing the message of Christ. Our Lord did not call us to change our society by cramming our views down people’s throats. He didn’t call us to march in the streets, or form political action committees. We Christians aren’t here to shout down those who disagree with us, or burn the books of other religions. Acts 2:38 doesn’t say to repent, be baptized, and join the Republican Party for the forgiveness of your sins. And, especially, our faith never EVER calls us to kill in the name of God.

Okay, Mike, why are we here then? What are we supposed to be doing?

“Bless those who curse you.” “Turn the other cheek.” “Love your enemies.” “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you.” Do any of these phrases sound familiar?

We are here to spread “good news” that we can have freedom from the shackles by which our own actions have bound us. We are here to give a cup of cold water to the thirsty or a warm coat to the chilled. We are here as ambassadors of Christ to facilitate the reconnection of a loving God to his beloved children.

Do people really think that a huge billboard that reads “Avoid Hell, Repent” is going to give that message? If Terry Jones burns the Koran, will that draw the multitudes to a renewed relationship with God? If we ban some books or boycott some TV program, is that going to change society?

What I am suggesting to you, my dear reader, is that Christians need to but the vinegar back in the pantry and pull out the honey instead. We need to display the sweetness of a relationship with our creator. We need to let the nectar overflow from our lives so that no one can miss the obvious fact that we have been truly changed by the love of God.

Would Jesus Christ burn the Koran? I don’t think so. But I know one thing that He would most definitely do; He would pick up a wounded Islamic Fundamentalist, carry him to the nearest inn, bind up his wounds, and pay for his care. What about you neighbor? Would you?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Penny's Pet Peeve

Penny has a pet peeve. In fact, she is completely ticked off about it. Her highly emotional character has been consumed with anger, and she is about to release it on anyone and anything that enters her path.

You know, we all have them, these pet peeves. It might simply be how someone squeezes the toothpaste tube in the middle, or how someone leaves the toilet seat in the upright position. It may be how your significant other leaves his or her clothes scattered on the floor instead of depositing them in the hamper.

Imagine yourself puttering up the highway. It doesn’t matter which one. It could be I-5 in California, or I-40 in Tennessee. For that matter, it could be the Autobahn in Germany. Anyway, you’re driving along, minding your own business, maybe even speeding a little—unless you’re on the Autobahn—when all at once a little red sportscar passes, then darts in front of your 1987 Chevy Cavalier, only to slow down. Doesn’t that make you a little peeved? Don’t you want to rip his tires off and wrap them around his spindly little neck?

Well, that’s just how Penny is feeling this fine morning. Donald left her all alone again. She hates to be left alone, and it’s driving her crazy with jealousy and envy. He gets to go out everyday and see the world, while she has to sit at home and look at the same four walls. She’s had it up to her neck with his lack of concern about what interests her. This time he will pay! She will sit right there in front of the door, and when he comes in…look out!

When he left this morning, he grabbed Penny by the cheeks, told her he loved her, and said they’d go for a walk and do some talking when he got home. Talk? Right. He does all the talking and she does all the listening. She has to just walk along like an obedient little girl, going where he wants to go, and doing what he wants to do.

Then he walked over and turned on the TV so she could watch it. That’s all she needed, soap operas and Jerry Springer all day long. He must feel compelled to control every aspect of her life. He tells her what to eat. He tells her where to sit. He doesn’t allow her any visitors. She’s had enough! It’s over today!

Sure, she’d tried to express how she was feeling before, but he just wouldn’t listen. Last week, when he’d left her alone, she’d gone into the bedroom and thrown all of his clean laundry all over the room and ripped the bedclothes off of the bed. She thought maybe that would get his attention off of his own little world long enough for him to realize that she has needs too. It didn’t work. When he came home, he was furious. He slapped her around and kicked her until she was a whimpering mess lying in the corner.

This time would be different. She’d had enough of this purgatory he called home. She would make him pay, then leave to find her own life, apart from Donald. So, she waited, watching the door, listening for the sound of his engine and his footsteps on the walk. It would be good; he’d be expecting her to run over and greet him with a kiss like always. He’d want her to shower him with attention, then slink away so he could watch the evening news. Well, not this time. This time she would surprise him.

Minutes turned into hours, and she was still sitting there watching and waiting when Donald pulled into the driveway. Penny’s pet peeve had turned into anger, then to fury, and her eyes were burning embers as he shut off the engine and stepped to the walk. The muscles in her neck tensed as he approached the door.

This was it! Life would be different from this day forward. No more long days all alone in this hot little house. No more taking orders from this pig of a man who cared so little for her feelings. Her opportunity had arisen and she was determined to take advantage of it.

She heard the key in the double-sided deadbolt lock, and she prepared herself for action. Every sense was heightened. She could feel every muscle, every nerve ending. The hair was standing on the back of her neck. Another second or two and he would pay!

The latch gave and the knob turned. She was crouched just behind wall separating the entry from the living room. Donald stepped inside, announced his return, and glanced around. “Penny, where are you?”

Penny emerged from behind the wall and leapt at him. She caught him off guard and wrapped her mouth around his throat, sinking her fangs deeply into his flesh. With one massive thrust, she pulled the life from her master and bounded out the door. Penny was free, as all dogs should be.


By Michael DeCamp (July 6, 2001)