Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Muncie Boyhood-The Wisdom of Wisdom Teeth


Just yesterday, I visited my dentist in Muncie.  I don’t live there anymore, but I’ve maintained my dentist there more out of laziness than anything else.  After all, who wants to go searching for a new one when you don’t really need to do so?  And, since I still travel there for work occasionally, I can just plan my semi-annual cleanings around business trips.  Well, yesterday was sort of a test because the dentist I’ve had since I was a kid (Slavin Dental Clinic) retired this fall and his practice has been transferred to a new doctor (Delaware Dental)….and I must say that she is much cuter than my previous dentist…not that I notice those sorts of things.

I happened to mention to the new hygienist that I had been coming there since I was a boy, and that the father of the dentist who just retired was the dentist who had removed my wisdom teeth when I was a freshman in high school.  That dredged up my memories of those fateful weeks of pain, swelling, and anxiety when I joined the club of the wisdom toothless.

Sometime between 8th and 9th grade, my mom took me to Dr. Slavin to have my teeth checked, and he announced that my wisdom teeth were growing in horizontally and pushing all my teeth forward, crowding them together.  They needed to come out!  The problem was that they actually had not broken through the surface of my gums yet, so this was going to be more than simple extraction.  This was going to be oral surgery.

My oldest daughter had this done just a few years ago, and they did all four at once.  Boom.  In and out in one day.  Me?  The fun went on for two months!

For me, it wasn’t so quick and easy.  For me, they scheduled an eight-week ordeal!  They took one tooth at a time.  It went in two-week cycles.  Take one, wait a week to remove the stitches; then wait another week to take another tooth to repeat the cycle.  Eight weeks of rotating swelling and pain!  They would take a tooth and one part of my face would swell up and turn various colors.  Then, just about the time I would return to normal, they would take another tooth so that another part of my face would swell up and change colors.  With things like this, is there any wonder that people are afraid to go to the dentist?

For the most part, I don’t really recall too much of the actual pain from the swelling and stitches.  However, I do remember one particular removal event.  I remember reclining in the chair.  I remember the long needle that injected the numbing agent.  I remember the pressure of the cut through my gum.  I remember the smell of hot tooth enamel as they cut it into pieces to get it out.  But most of all, I remember the PAIN!!!!!  Just a few minutes into the procedure, it became quite evident to me that they had not provided enough numbing agent to fully block the pain of the surgery.

 I could FEEL it!  All of it!

However, I couldn’t tell anyone because they were all up in my mouth!  I couldn’t move because they were leaning over me.  All I could do was wiggle my feet.  And oh boy was I wiggling my feet!  Every single stabbing pain was expressed through my leather Converse gym shoes!

Eventually, an assistant noticed the intensity of my feet as they pivoted back and forth with increasing speed, stopped the dentist, and asked me:

“Can you feel that?”

“Uh huh!!”  I responded with as much clarity as possible through all the stuff in my mouth.

With a panic-stricken face, the elder Dr. Slavin stopped the procedure and pulled out that long needle again.

I was never so glad to see a needle in my life.

Anyway, my visit to my new, old dentist office yesterday went pretty well despite the five pages of paperwork I had to complete.  The new hygienist didn’t hurt me.  The new female dentist was nice and cute too.  And, they both said my teeth, gums, and mouth all looked wonderful.  So, I guess I’ll keep making that occasional trek to Muncie to see my new dentist, and…

I’ll keep brushing and flossing 'cause I'm not too fond of Oral Surgeons.

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Do I Have Your Heart?"


If you’ve been following my writings, you know that I have a few different “favorite” Bible passages.  For examples, see Psalm 51:10-13 and Matthew 22:34-40.  Another of those favorites can be found at the end of the Gospel of John.  I think we often gloss over this one and miss the deeper implications of friendship with Christ.
John 21:15-19
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”  He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.  Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Very often, we get caught up in the meaning of “Feed my sheep.”  It is reasonably our nature to do so because we think it gives us insight on the kinds of things we need to be doing, and we would rather deal with actions and directions more than hearts and relationships.  Let me just throw you a bone and say that the “Feed my sheep” instruction is simply for Peter to take the reins…take on the role of shepherding the faithful.  There is something for us to glean there and much time could be spent in elaboration, but I want to focus my time today more on the relationship between Jesus and Peter as depicted in this interaction.
First, a little background.  Jesus had many people who followed him around.  There were the crowds that would come and go.  There was a smaller group of 72 disciples that Jesus sent out in Luke 10.  There were the twelve disciples (or apostles if you prefer).  There was the three; Peter, James, and John.  And, finally there was Peter.  It seems that the smaller the circle, the closer the relationship.  It could be argued that Peter, James, and John were equally close, and that may be true, but there are more examples of interactions between Peter and Jesus and that fact drives that relationship to the preeminent position.  Jesus had begun to call all of the disciples his friends (see John 15:15), but of those Peter seemed to take the spot of “Best Friend.”  That fact is crucial to understanding the interaction in John 21.
As further background, the situation in John 21 is that Jesus has already been crucified, and has been resurrected.  Distraught and discouraged, the disciples have gone fishing.  Of them all, Peter was particularly troubled because he had failed so miserably on the night of Jesus’ capture.  Peter was a broken man due to his disowning of his best friend on the night of his arrest.
John 13:37-38
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you.”
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me?  Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”
That was the prediction.  Here was the fulfillment:
John 18:17
“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.  He replied, “I am not.”
John 18:25-27
Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself.  So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?”  Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
Parallel passages add two more details.  First, upon the last denial, Jesus turned and looked him in the eyes.  Can you imagine the pain that would have shot through his heart?  Second, he then went out and wept bitterly.  He was heart-broken at his own failures; he had failed his friend at the point of his greatest need.
With that background in mind, we come back to the morning breakfast described in John 21.  Let me condense the conversation just a bit:
Jesus:  “Simon, do you love (agape) me more than these?”
Peter:  “Yes, Lord.  You know I love (phileo) you.”
Again,…
Jesus:  “Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) me?”
Peter:  “Yes, Lord, you know that I love (phileo) you.”
Finally,…
Jesus:  “Simon son of John, do you love (phileo) me?”
It says that Peter was particularly hurt by this third question.
Peter:  “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love (phileo) you.”
To really understand the dynamic of this interaction, you have to understand the differences between the words that are both translated to “love” in the English version of this passage.
Agape is a Greek word that is translated into love, but it’s meaning is more focused on an intellectual decision to seek the best for another; a decision to put yourself second in order to lift up, protect, or provide for someone else followed up by the actions of doing those things.  It is more of a decisional and action word than an emotional one.  It can be applied whether there is any emotional connection or not. 
Phileo is another Greek word that is translated into love in English, but as opposed agape, it is much more emotional.  It denotes a deep bond; a closeness of friendship, an emotional engagement of the heart.  It is at the heart of being best friends.
I used to really wonder why the third question bothered Peter so much.  After all, it is the same question, right?  Well, as it turns out, it is not.  It is a completely different question, but that meaning is lost in the English translation.  Let me paraphrase the passage as it strikes me in light of the Greek meanings:
 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, am I more of a priority to you than I am to these other disciples?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “You know that I am your best friend.”
Jesus said, “Take care of the others.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, am I your first priority?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I am your best friend.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my followers.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, are you really my best friend?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Are you really my best friend?”  He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I am your best friend.”
Jesus said, “Care for the others.”
The reason that third question hurt Peter so much was that it struck at the heart of what he was already feeling.  He knew that he had failed in his friendship, and now Jesus was directly asking him if he really was his friend or not.
Have you ever felt that way?
Peter had spent years developing this friendship with Jesus only to fail him miserably.  As a result, he had begun to wallow in the pain brought about by that failure.  He had lost his spirit to lead, to work, to serve in the name of his Lord and friend.
Are we so different?
Do we not work to build up our ledger of faith only to have it crash down to zero when we fail during a point of personal weakness?  Do we not begin to think of ourselves as a great friend to Jesus only to later feel worthless in light of one sin or another?  On Sunday morning, we might sing “I’ve got a friend in Jesus” only to later that night feel so separated and alone.
A couple of points to notice about how Jesus dealt with Peter here:
1.        He did not beat him up about his failure.  Neither did he ignore it.  It was a fact.  It was reality.  However, Jesus did not hammer him about how terrible a friend he really was.
2.       Jesus redirected him.  He basically picked him up by his britches and told him to get busy.  “If you are my friend, then get back in the game and feed my sheep!  Here are the reins, Big Boy, now get after it!”
Jesus pushed Peter to the point of pain in acknowledging their emotional bond, and then he told him to think of the others and take care of them.
Doesn’t this also apply to us?
We all fall short.  We all sin.  In essence, we all deny our friendship with Christ at different points in our lives.  When that happens to me, one of my first instincts is to allow that grief and guilt to make me feel worthless.  It makes me want to wallow in the guilt and pain.  It makes me withdraw from those around me and retreat into my own self-pity.  It puts me into the position of being spiritually useless.
Jesus knows.  He is aware.  He has already seen it in Peter, so why would he be surprised when he sees it in us?...in me?
“Mike, am I really your first priority?” asks Jesus.
“Lord, you know my heart is yours,” I respond.
“Then, get back to work,” he tells me.
Then,…
“Mike, do I really have your heart…are you really my friend?” he probes as if using a needle to extract a thorn.
Oh, man!  Ouch!  I have to ask myself….does he really have my heart?...am I really his friend?
“Lord, yes!  You know what is inside me.  You know you have it all!  You know I am your friend”
“Then,” he says, “Get up out of your wallowing hole and get to work!”
We’ve been told in advance that we would fall short.  He knew we would have those failures.  And, we all do…we all have those sins…those little denials of our faith…those thorns in our flesh…those disgusting, distressing, discouraging weaknesses of character that cause us to fail our Lord.  It is fact.  It is undeniable.  He isn't going to beat us up about it.  He just wants to us to get back on track.
So, when he asks, “Are you really my friend?” we will answer both by what we say AND by what we do.
John 15:14
“You are my friends if you do what I command.”
Sounds a lot like “Feed my sheep.” 
Get busy doing the work of your ministry!
As I boil this all down, I think the basic summary message is that when we fail in our friendship with our Lord, he is not surprised and we shouldn’t allow that failure to make us withdraw from him or from our responsibilities to him.  Instead, we need to renew that commitment in our heart and get back to the work at hand.
Connect your heart, and then connect your life.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Six-Shooters and the Sinner's Wildcard


When my family plays UNO, we have our own “house rules” regarding the dreaded Draw 4 card.  It doesn’t matter what the official rules of use are; we just make up our own rules.  And actually, our rule applies to either the Draw 2 or the Draw 4.  If you get nailed with a draw card, you can pull out the handy Wild Card and nullify the attack.  In essence, it is your protection against nearly any negative effect of someone else’s play.

It seems to me that in today’s society, some folks have developed their own personal WILD CARD drawn from the deck of scripture.  It doesn’t matter to them if they are playing it correctly or not.  They make up their own rules.  They just whip it out and fling it down as if it is the one thing that will save them from all criticism. 

Matthew 7:1-2

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Jesus.  The Sermon on the Mount.

It doesn’t matter to them that they are personally disregarding any number of other scriptures.  In many cases, they don’t really care what else the Bible may have to say.  Someone hints that they might be in the wrong, and out comes the wild card: 

“DON’T JUDGE ME!”

I used to think that the most memorized verse in scripture was John 3:16, but I’ve changed my mind.  Even folks who have no regard for the Bible know this verse.

The problem is that they often don’t really know what the context is.  Most of them probably don’t even know that it was Jesus who said it.  Do they know who he said it to?  Do they know why he said it?  Have they studied the background?  Call me judgmental, but I doubt it.

How about we cross reference it with this verse…

Matthew 18:15-17

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.  If they listen to you, you have won them over.  But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Now, who do you think might have said this one?  Would it surprise you to learn that it was the same Jesus that spoke the earlier words?  Which one takes precedence?  Are they in conflict?  Was Jesus here telling us to be judgmental?

The fact is that we make evaluations of situations and actions all the time.  We have to.  Have you ever looked for a babysitter or a rental house tenant or a taxi?  You consider any number of factors when you decide whether to hire the sitter, rent out the house, or jump into the car.  God gave us the capacity to think and evaluate.  How about when someone is being abusive to you?  Are you allowed to decide that it is wrong to be treated that way?  Of course!  If your spouse were to have an affair, you would be perfectly within your rights to announce to the world that he or she is wrong in doing so.

You would be evaluating the situation based on the facts, laws, and vows.  You would not be passing judgment…that would happen in the courtroom a few months later.

So, if I say to you that based on the Bible, you are sinning, am I judging you?  Does the mere fact that I say you are wrong mean that I am passing judgment on you?

No!

Hopefully, it means that I care about you.  I want the best for you.  I want you to live a good life and maximize your walk with God.  I love you enough to speak up!

If you are driving down the highway at 90 mph and I point out that you are speeding, am I judging you because I am pointing out your traffic infraction?  How about that trooper that writes you the summons to appear in court?  Is he judging you?  No, on both accounts.  It is only when you appear before the traffic court judge that you are actually judged.

Getting back to pointing out sin…

Jesus also said this: 

“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.”  John 12: 47-48

Even Jesus wasn’t judging folks while he was here on the earth.  He pointed out sin.  He called people hypocrites.  He said some lacked faith.  He even accused some of being a brood of snakes.  But, he didn’t judge them.  That would come later.

And, in all of that, he was doing it to SAVE the world!  Not to judge it, but to save it!

He did however, point out that there is a judge.  And a day.  And a standard by which we will be measured.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”  2 Corinthians 5:10  Apostle Paul

So, considering Matthew 7,…there is a judgment seat…and it isn’t mine.  I’m not the one to sit in it.  It isn’t my job to pass judgment on someone else’s life.  I don’t condemn.  I don’t give out sentences.  I’m not going to send anyone to Hell.  Not my seat.  Not my job.  I should not presume to sit there!

But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t evaluate the scriptures and point out sin.  It just means that I should be careful to pull the plank out of my own eye before I start fumbling with your speck of dust.  And, I better keep a good perspective on the purpose.  I need to do it out of love…out of concern…out of a sincere desire for your best.

The problem is that some Christians want to use the Bible like a weapon.  They see that sinful act and whip out that six-shooter verse faster than the Outlaw Josey Wales can say “reckon so.”  Boom, boom, boom.  Nailed that sinful sucker!

Ooops!  You must have missed because here comes the returned fire of Bible bullets:  “Don’t judge me!”  Boom, boom, boom!

Folks, the problem is that the Bible is NOT A WEAPON!  It is the love story of God.  It is God telling the story of how he made us, lost us, and won us back!  A romance novel across the eons of history!  All true…and written in crimson ink.

So, let’s put away the verse-ridden bullets.  And the next time you are tempted to whip out the biblical six-gun, stop…, think…, and read the love story first.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  1 John 3: 16  The Apostle John

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3: 16  Jesus
Peace to you...all of you.  And have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Muncie Boyhood-The Summer of 1978


1978 was a pivotal year for me.  So many things changed in that one year, and it was only as I contemplated this post that I realized the significance of that short few months of transition.  When the year started, I was a nerdy, walking-everywhere, picked-on, crush-whipped, insecure, sophomore at Muncie Southside High School.  When it ended, I was still a bit nerdy but I had a driver’s license, I was big enough that most bullies left me alone, I was a leader among my youth group, and….oh yeah…I had a real-life girlfriend.
The driver’s license and the girlfriend were the most significant, of course.
I finished the Driver’s Ed class with an “A” and a waiver from my teacher, Mr. Jay.  I think out of the thirty or forty kids in our double class only two got a waiver, and I was one of them!  (A “waiver” meant that I could bypass the official driver’s test at the local branch of the BMV.)  I had to practically swear an oath to secure it, but it was mine in the end.  It was a good thing too because trying to parallel park my dad’s stick shift ’68 Chevy Nova for the tester at the license branch would have been a nightmare!
I still vividly remember proudly driving my dad’s car up 22nd street all by myself on the first day I had the legal right to drive.  I was something to see!  I was the epitome of coolness as I sort of hung out the window, waiving at my friends.  Spectacular!  Awesome!  Everything was wonderful…until I inadvertently swerved into the lane of oncoming traffic while showing off.
Scared the crap out of me!
Time to drive home.
The other big thing that year was the culmination of my Crush.
I’ve shared the story of my “Crush” in a previous Muncie Boyhood posting.  This juvenile infatuation lasted for five years; from fifth grade in Mrs. Dennis’ class until it came to a screeching halt in March of 1978.  During this long period of na├»ve and innocent puppy love, I had always held out hope that one day my aspirations of attaining this girl's affections would be fulfilled.  So, when I was invited to attend her 16th birthday party, I was quite excited…and more than a little nervous.  However, when I got there reality overcame my adolescent dreams.
There were eight of us at the party.  Tena, and her two friends, Bobbie and Betsy were there, and they each had a boyfriend.  Yes, my crush had a boyfriend….and he was there!  That accounts for six.  I was number seven.  Number eight was Tena’s younger sister, Teresa.
Now, consider me Mr. Oblivious….because it only recently occurred to me that this could have been by design; someone's match-making plan.  I really don’t know.  But, there were three couples….and two other people without a partner at the dance.  And it was a dance…a dance party.  It just never hit me like that at the time because I was so infatuated with the birthday girl.  It is possible that perhaps I was so mesmerized by the lily that was out of reach that I couldn’t see the rose that was under my nose.  I guess I’ll never know if that was the intent, but it does make me go “hmmmmm.”
Well anyway, there are two things that I do recall clearly from the party.  The first was the one time I got up to dance.  I sort of wanted to, but then again, I didn’t.  I was still paralyzed by insecurity and I really had no dance skills.  (Still don’t.)  But, because the girls dragged me up to do “The Bump”, I danced with them.  (I have got to admit though…my teenage-self did enjoy that couple of minutes quite a bit.) 
But, the other thing I remember was the sense of loneliness and loss.  I was alone in the crowd.  The girl I had been longing for over the last five years was not to be mine, and the affection she was showing her boyfriend made that painfully obvious.
I just sat there…alone…alone in the darkened room with the pain of my new futile reality.
I would have no choice but to move on.
As painful as that was, it was a short-lived pain.  Three months later my Crush was replaced by my first girlfriend when Toni jumped into my world and eradicated the lingering pain from my smashed obsession.
I don’t really recall how we met.  She was in my youth group at Fairlawn Church of Christ, so it was probably at what was called “Monday Night Fellowship” or in our Sunday morning class.  Somehow, though a friendship developed, and the first time it seemed to me to be even more was a Sunday afternoon at a park in New Castle.  The group had an outing, and we spent a good deal of the time together.  Afterward, she sent word to me that I should give her a call.  (I played it cool, but my heart nearly jumped out of my chest!)
Later that day, I called her…and I messed it up right off the bat.
I didn’t realize that her dad had some pretty strict rules about boys and phone calls.  For example, she could only stay on the phone for ten minutes.  (That still seems insanely short to me.)  But, the time limit wasn’t my initial screw up.  No, you see, she also was not allowed to call boys and she was not allowed to ask them to call her…which is exactly what she had done with me.
So, the call started out something like this:
Her sister:  “Hello?”
Me:  “Uh, hi.  Is Toni there?”
Sister: “Yeah, hold on.  Toni!  There’s a boy on the phone for you!”
Toni:  “Hello?”
Me (while the sister is still on the extension):  “Hi Toni.  This is Mike.  I heard you wanted me to call you.”
Let’s just say that there was some sibling conflict that ensued, and Toni got in a wee bit of trouble.  Thankfully, it wasn’t too much because we set up our first date…, my very first date ever. 
July 4, 1978.  Prairie Creek Reservoir.  Fireworks.
A week later, we had our second date…,and I had my first kiss.
Delaware County Fair.  Parking Lot.  My dad’s Chevy Nova.
That kiss was only remarkable in that it was my first.  Otherwise, it was pretty pathetic.  I was so incredibly nervous and I had no clue how to handle myself.  Ultimately, it was just a short little peck on the lips and that was about it.  But, it was a kiss.  A wonderful thing to a nerdy 16-year old who had begun to wonder if it was ever going to happen.  And, they got much better at our next outing, which was a youth group trip to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game.
Soon, we were “visiting” at stop signs on county roads, the back of the Wendy’s parking lot on McGalliard Road, and anyplace else where we thought we could sneak in a few minutes of lip-locked visitation.  Call it "Youthful Enthusiasm."
Now, we did have our boundaries driven by our faith and our commitment to God in our lives, and we kept to them pretty well considering we were products of the ‘70s.  And even though there were temptations to overstep our personal limits, we never did so, and I am proud of that fact.  She was a good girl, and I was doing my best to be a good guy.
To bring this installment to a close, by the end of the summer of 1978, I was driving like I’d been born behind the wheel, and I had a sweet and pretty girlfriend named Toni.  All that anxiety caused by my crush was behind me, and Tena was again simply my friend Tim’s sister.
Crush?  What crush?  I had moved on.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cerebral Play Doh


Somewhere back in time, I started reading fiction.  Oh, now before you think me a complete escapist, I also make a conscious effort to read other stuff.  I like history.  In fact, I once bought what can only be described as a history textbook on US history and read it cover to cover.  I've read a number of books on the US Civil War.  I also read spiritual enrichment books to build my knowledge of scripture and spiritual issues (favorite authors being Max Lucado and Philip Yancey).  But, I have to say that my first love is truly fiction.  Some people like to play golf.  Others like to hunt.  I like to read a great adventure story.

Okay, so I’m a bit of an escapist.  Confession is good for the soul.  (I think I read that in a spiritual enrichment book somewhere.)

Anyway…

Here’s the thing, a great story will take you away.  It will take you to crazy, wild, and mind-blowing places both in this world and beyond.  It will scare you.  It will romance you.  It will give you courage.  I particularly love to GO on vacation, and then read a book that carries me even further away for a while.  An escape upon an escape.  Does it get better than that?

My favorite stories have a fantastical edge.  Something beyond our natural world.  I don’t prefer the language to get too graphic and I don’t want it to be overly sexualized, but I do like it to stretch the boundaries of the rational and the reasonable.  I think that’s why I like Dean Koontz so much.  He uses rough language very sparingly and doesn’t overdo the sexuality, but he will take you over the edge in a fantastic way.

A good piece of fiction is like a roller coaster.  There’s the slow climb up the first hill (not so long that you lose the anticipation), then the plunges, the curves, the dips, the peaks, and then finally the last big hook before you coast in and catch your breath.  Ahhhhhhh!

It’s just plain fun….and, I think we all need some fun once in a while.  Wouldn’t you agree?

My love affair with adventure started in earnest with a Dean Koontz novel called Twilight Eyes.  Oh boy, did that story grab me!  After that, I’ve not gone very long without a good read.  I’ve just about always got one going or one in the wings.  Sometimes two or three.

Eventually, I started playing around with my own stories.  At first, it was just a mental game.  I’d create a scenario and kind of build it up…play with the angles…see what I could do with characters.  I was doing a little mental manipulation of some cerebral Play Doh. 

Sooner or later, it had to come out.

That’s when I started writing short stories.  My first was “Hate to Wait.”  You can find a link to it under the Short Stories tab at the top of this page.  Anyway, this story was based on a freaky dream I had at a hotel.  I had fallen asleep on the hotel room bed and in my dream, I imagined that someone was coming into the room and I was unable to move or make a sound in response.  After I actually awoke…and calmed down…I began the mental manipulation process that resulted in that short story.

Over time, I’ve written several shorts, some of which I’ve posted on this blog page.  Again, you can find the links on the tab above.  Others, I’ve kept in reserve.  Maybe I’ll post them eventually.  Probably my favorites are the last two I’ve done:  Under the Crimson Shade and Out of the Depths of Abandon.  I just love those stories!  Whether you think they are well written or not, I had a blast creating them.  They may never be officially published (although I would love that, so if you have any contacts, let me know), but I love creating them and then sharing them with people who appreciate the stories.

Creating a story is DOUBLE the fun of simply reading a story.  When you read someone else’s story, you are just a passenger on their roller coaster.  When YOU are creating the story, then you are building a new roller coaster that NO ONE has ever ridden on before, and you get to be the very first rider!

Some authors will plan out a story well in advance with detailed outlines and character profiles.  For me, it is much more fun to just let the story unfold itself in my imagination as I type the letters on the screen.  I might form some cerebral Play Doh, but mostly I just enjoy the ride that is inherent in the creative process.

So, there.  You know something new about me.  I hope you like short stories and try out my personal mental manipulations.  I plan to keep creating them as they are revealed to my imagination.

Good reading my friends.

Mike