Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sorry Charlie!

"You get to take ownership of the choices you make."
You may have heard this before. It's in a Charles Schwab commercial. Actor James Olmos, looking relaxed, weathered and sincere, looks right into the camera and utters this pithy phrase.
Read it again and maybe you'll have the same reaction I did:
You get to take ownership of the choices you make.
Uh, Charlie, what the HECK does that mean??!
Sorry Charlie, no disrespect, but...
You aren't making any sense!
You need to retire!
Go find a nice, deserted island, no, actually in your case, BUY a deserted island and get some much deserved rest!
You GET to take ownership of the choices you make?

When this commercial comes on, I just shake my head and snicker. That line is the most ridiculous heap of corporate crap I have heard since, well, yesterday.
Think about it. If I make a choice, can I NOT take ownership of it? I guess so - I can blame someone else! Lie and say I didn't make that choice! Or make an excuse for my choice! Great options.
The way I see it...when you make a choice...YOU OWN IT. There is no need to take ownership of it. That's a little bit like taking ownership of your belly button. OK, that's nice that you acknowledge it as yours, but it's yours from birth buddy whether you take ownership of it or not.
And what is this get to take ownership? It's not a privilege to own your choice, not something you GET to do. Ownership of your choice is inherent in the choosing. Make a choice James and it's yours. Good or bad. There's no ownership form to be signed, no adoption paperwork, no sign on the dotted line. Just choose. Own.
Jame's meaningless "words of wisdom" are symptomatic of the world we live in. Despite what you may think, I am not going to launch into a parent-like rave about how teenagers these days don't take responsibility for their actions. Nope, my rant is about the BS lines of crap that adults spew around that make no sense. This spewing is mainly done at work. You know, the gobbelly-gook phrases we throw around in meetings to sound important? There are a lot of useless phrases that sound really impressive, but most are just fancy ways of saying something very simple or in some cases, veiling the truth.
Here are a few phrases from the business world that if I hear one more time I might have to stomp on my own toe just to break me out of the stupor these words put me in:


Allow me to translate:

FACILITATE A MEETING = To stretch a 10 minute meeting into an hour because I have no idea that "facilitate" means "to make easier" not "run a meeting into the ground."

EMPOWERING CHANGE = I have no idea what this means, but empowering is a cool word. Don't change it.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT = This one is easy! It means get residents involved! But only in ways that we can control so we can get them to do what we wanted done anyway and then we can win an award for our outstanding engagement of the community in our community engagement of the community in engagement. (It doesn't mean they should know that their rates are about to go up.)

PARADIGM SHIFT = While this sounds like what happens right before an earthquake, it actually means that my world view or "way of seeing things" has changed. Why I just don't say "my way of seeing things has changed" is because I had a recent paradigm shift about my vocabulary.

COST RECOVERY = This sounds complex and involved, but it is quite simple. It means I want to get back what I spend. In other words, I want to spend into the red, but stay in the black by getting the green from your wallet.

ALIGN WITH THE ORGANIZATION = This is a nice way of saying: "Agree with management or get fired."

CODE OF ETHICS = These are the 10 Commandments of Business--Thou Shalt Not & Do Unto Others type stuff only without all the Bible language. Oh, and instead of 10, we have 1,347 of them written in small print in a manual we created in 1972 and that sits in a locked filing cabinet in Human Resources.

BUDGET TRANSPARENCY = Our budget is your budget! It's right here. Come take a look at how we spend our, ur I mean, your money on our employees and projects. We'll gladly provide you with all our documentation, invoices, bills, receipts and travel expenditure reports. Just not those. Or those. What? You say a page is missing? Must be transparent...

SUSTAINABLE PROGRAMS = This phrase comes from the recent fiscal meltdown. It means that any program we started on or before 2008 that no longer exists is never, ever, ever, ever going to return. Why? Because from now on we are going to do programs that we can afford. Like covering our retirement benefits and overtime pay.

REDUCE LIABILITY = This is lawyer-talk and is best uttered by someone in an expensive suit behind a intimidating cherry-wood desk. Here's what it means: "For goodness sake do not do anything that is going to put us at risk of a law suit!! Like working! Or breathing!"

Charles Schwab probably used most of the above phrases in his commercial but I got so hung up on James Olmos' useless phrase that I probably missed 'em. I wonder if someone from Charles Schwab wrote the script or if it was a candid interview of James Olmos and he just pulled this random, slick sounding phrase out of the air and threw it out there to see if it would stick.  I wonder when he was done with the interview if the producer and sound guy patted him on the back and said, "Nice James. That was great. Wow, you're a real inspiration." I wonder if he thought, "What the heck did I just say?!  I think I may have just said a lot without actually saying anything! Dang! I hate it when that happens."
Don't worry James, just blame it on a lack of Starbucks that morning and be done with it. No need to say sorry to Charlie for a poor choice of words.
It's not like you have to take ownership of your choice or anything.

-Hope A. Horner, 2013
Follow on Twitter @HopeNote!
Contact Author on gmail at hopeh1122.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Love, Anxiety & Gummy Bears

I just became an Aunt.
OK, not really. I've been a Aunt for a long time, but my 18 year old nephew just moved in with me.
And I have never been so happily anxious in my entire life. I mean - I am both ecstatic and es-SCARED at the same time. I have no idea what I am doing and yet I feel completely capable. I have worked with teens my whole life, and yet, this is different. This is the closest I am going to come to being a mom. This makes raising dogs seem like playing house. He's a good kid, ur, young man. He comes from New Jersey and is absolutely thrilled to be living out here. He has his own room, complete with humidifier, Sports Illustrated magazine and 235 hangers for his endless supply of tank tops, basketball jerseys and T-shirts. My hallways smell like Axe men's cologne and my dogs have never been happier to have an extra hand around to pet them and tell them how funny they are. I also know more about the NBA than I ever have before. For example, the NBA is an amazing basketball league where players in sneakers named after them trade around to different teams because they have no "loyalty." Jordan is the best basketball player ever, not Kobe. (I agree, but am still learning why.) Oh, and one guy, I forget his name, can fake like he is passing the ball behind his back and then pass it in front of himself. From what I hear, it is quite impressive, but I don't even remember what team he plays for. Obviously, I still need to study for my "NBA" in order to be up to standards as an Aunt.

So far, he has been here a week and I have learned so much about being an "Aunt" including:

  • It is not about me. It used to be about me, but now I am lucky if I get 5 minutes to myself.  If I do, it is usually at around 4:30 A.M. when he is sleeping.  (Hence, about the time I am writing this blog!) 
  • I can go ahead an eat AFTER I watch him burn a grilled cheese and explode a hot pocket in my microwave.
  • Being an Aunt is AWESOME.  And I mean both "Awesome" as in "Awesome Dude!" and "Awesome!" as in "Wow, look how deep the Grand Canyon is. I think I am going to throw up."

Having my nephew around has also taught me a lot about 18 year olds. I have never spent this much time with an 18 year old before. I have run teen groups and programs, but this is different.

Here is what I have learned about 18 year olds:

  • 18 year old boys are WAY younger than 18. However, 18 year old GIRLS are about 23.  This makes for much difficulty.
  • 18 year olds don't mind being around their Aunt, but you have to play it cool. Don't act too happy to see them. Don't pinch their face and tell them you love them. Don't clap when they make a basket, just nod and make that Bob Deniro pouty look with your lips. Don't act like YOU are 18 by singing old 90's rap songs. Act like you are just slightly bored with them, but still mildly amused when they can actually put the toilet seat down two days in a row.
  • The best way to show an 18 year that you love them is to be interested in what they are saying (Yes, even if you are not.) Oh, and buy them candy once in awhile.  
  • 18 year olds want their idependence, but they do not want to go it alone. Give them a bus pass if you don't believe me and see how far they get before they ask you to drive them somewhere.
  • Get them a job ASAP.  They need it to feel good about themselves and also to get out of your hair. 
  • Buy candy. Lots and lots of candy. They graze like cattle on sugar products.
  • They will "check themselves out" in any and all reflections - mirrors, window reflections, mall display boards, etc. When they do this, they will not even try to hide the fact that they are checking themselves out. They are shamelessly vain.
  • They need a haircut like, every week.
  • They can make their own food as long as it goes in the microwave, toaster, on the BBQ grill or doesn't have to be on the stove for more than 5 minutes. They have no idea how to use the big hot box right below the stove called an oven. This is your job.
  • If you leave the trash out in the middle of the room and it is completely full, they will walk around it.  If you actually want it taken out, you have to ask.
  • Ask before you go in their room so they think that the room belongs to them. Let them have their complete privacy unless they smell like smoke, pot, alcohol, or the perfume of the opposite sex. Then, ransack their room. Thankfully, I have not had to this. My nephew's room smells like dog and that is not his fault.
  • Never ask them if they are hungry. They are ALWAYS hungry.
  • Let them sleep. Yes, even if it is noon and the lawn still needs mowing. 
  • If you want them to do something, don't ask. Find a way to make them think it is their idea or at the very least, in THEIR best interest to do it. They really don't care if it makes Auntie happy at this point.  Then when they do what you want them to, just be glad it is done and hand them a bag of Swedish Fish. Don't turn it into a lesson on responsibility.
  • If something is broken, they can fix it. Even if they can't they will try for hours and then tell you that it probably can't be fixed. At that point, get a plumber/electrician/contractor.

And here is a biggie --
Their primary life goal at 18 years old is not college, career or anything like that---it is:
Go with it and try to remember how you felt the first time you got to drive your very own useless, back-firing, gas guzzling hunk of metal.
Their second biggest goal is:
And here's their plan on how to do that:
They do not want to work, sweat, study or toil for their riches. They want to get lucky. They want to invent an app. Win it all in a pool hall. Think of a computer gadget no one else has and sell the idea to Bill Gates. Win a TV contest. Be the top dirt bike athlete in the nation (without practicing.) They seem themselves retired to their villa in Belize by 30, sipping Mai Tais from a hammock while being fed gummy bears by a personal assistant in a skimpy bathing suit. If you're lucky, you'll have a run-down guest house in the back where you can pay off the credit card debt you incurred sending them to some over-priced UC school where they majored in Philosophy before dropping out to try out for American Idol.

So, I've learned a lot the last week, but the most important thing I have learned is that I had no idea how much I loved my nephew until he moved in. I have always been in his life--jaunting off to New Jersey every year to visit him and my sister or spending time with him when he came this way.  I have pictures of us together at the zoo, Legoland, his birthday parties, playing catch and riding inner tubes on lakes.  In each picture he ages...he is 4, 6, 10..16...years old depending on which album of pictures you look at. In every one, we always look happy together because we are. There has always been a genuine affection and love between us and anyone who knows me well, knows how much I love him. (If you want to know if you love someone, let them ride their bike in the dark after your bedtime and then see if you can fall asleep. I tried it and the answer is no. I want to apologize to my staff who had to put up with me on Wednesday after I had only slept four hours the night before.)
But it's different now. Not the love, but the responsibility. For both of us.
He's not a baby. He's not a kid, but he still needs me.
I'm not his Mom; I'm still his Aunt, but now I'm not visiting. And I'm not leaving either.
So this tall, stubble chinned, sun burnt shouldered, hairy-legged 18 year old is living in an upstairs room and I am scared to death of what is to come and yet feel elated to be a part of his life.
I know he is watching my every move to learn how he should act in my house and in the world. He listens to what I say, how I say it and who I say it about. I am teaching him every time I open my mouth, every time I move, with everything I watch, read and buy.
And that's what scares the GUMMY BEARS out of me.
One thing I know for sure:
I am in God's hands and he is GOOD.
He loves Brennan and he loves me. I pray everyday for patience, wisdom, strength and then more patience. I pray that God will help me be a good example to this candy-gulping, community college bound, currently unemployed young man from New Jersey. If you pray, please do the same.

And if you know where I can get bulk candy really cheap, let me know.

-Hope A. Horner
Follow on Twitter @HopeNote

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I'm a Puppy, not a PETA Fan!

You know what bothers me?
When people throw out the bathwater because of the baby.
I know that is the backwards way to say "Throw the baby out with the bath water" but I think it is fitting for what frustrates me.
Let me give you an example.
Recently, San Diego banned pet stores from selling dogs and cats except if they get them from rescues organizations or shelters. This means pet stores can't get their dogs from puppy mills. (Evidently there are only two pet stores in San Diego that will be affected.) I watched the news when the decision was made. Some people cheered the new law.
Yet others were outraged.
"These "radicals" have ruined it for the nice pet store owner who just wants to see pure bread dogs! These PETA freaks love animals more than people!"

I am not a PETA fan. (I am not even sure PETA was involved in this new San Diego law. I could not find their name attached to any of the talks, meetings or city council members.) PETA does take things to an extreme and do some crazy things like throwing fake blood on fur wearers, but I am not going to to throw out the bathwater (the humane treatment of animals) because the big, blubbering baby (PETA) might be in the water. I am going to use a little common sense when thinking about this issue and do a little research on my own. I am going to resist the urge to dump all the water out on the lawn because I don't like who may have stuck their toe in it.
First, I started with common sense.
Nobody, not even those who hate PETA, want puppy mills to exist (except for maybe the puppy mill owners.) So, with that in mind, the big question is: Where do pet stores get their puppies?
They need lots of puppies, and they need to receive them regularly and they need a good variety.  They can't sell only brown female chihuahuas or male Rottweilers. They need puppies in all shapes, breeds, colors, genders and sizes.If the pet store owners say they get them from "reputable breeders" let's run that through the common sense test...
First, truly reputable breeders would not sell their pups to pet stores because they want their dogs to go to a good home.They have spent a lot of money breeding and caring for their pups, so they have a vested interest in them.The pups come from pedigree lines and the breeder's reputation and future business is on the line if they are not healthy, gorgeous dogs.
Secondly, there is the simple economics problem of "supply an demand." Reputable breeders could not create enough puppies to keep one pet store full, let alone all the pet stores full. Plus, reputable breeders usually focus on just one type of dog. You want a greyhound? You find a greyhound breeder. Want a lab? You find a lab breeder.You rarely, if ever, see a breeder who specializes in two different breeds of dogs, let alone the 10-20 different breeds the pet stores need. So if the reputable breeders are not providing dogs to pet stores, that leaves:

  1. Disreputable breeders (puppy mills)
  2. Shelters
  3. Rescue organizations
  4. Backyards

(We can easily rule out the last one as just an example of my unbridled sarcasm.)
We know traditional pet stores are not using shelters or rescue organizations because these places continue to be chock full of pups (young and old) who need homes. Shelters and rescues also share the "supply and demand" problem--unless the pet store wants to sell only four year old male pitbulls and dogs named "Shep-X."
So that leaves puppy mills.
It's a perfect match. Puppy mills are dog factories. They can breed multiple breeds multiple times and turn out a lot of different dogs in a short amount of time to keep up with demand. The incentive for the puppy mill is to make dogs to make money.The incentive for the pet store is to get dogs to make money. Neither is overly concerned about the product which in this case happens to be a living animal. The animal must be alive, relatively healthy and clean, but that can be done with minimal care, a small cage and limited human interaction for the first few months of life. Stick them with a needle full of vaccinations, put them in front of window and slap a $1200 price tag on little AKC Rover and you're done. It might help if you list the "breeders" name on the window to assuage the fear of those who wonder where their new puppy comes from.
"Look honey, these chihuahua puppies came from a breeder, not a puppy mill. It says right here on this sign on the cage. Our new little darling comes from Missouri! I wonder why they couldn't find any chihuahua breeders right here in San Diego? We're like ten feet from Mexico! Oh well. Did you bring the Visa?"

When I heard about San Diego's recent law, I did a little thinking and the above is what I came up with. I did not pull this off of PETA's website or any where else. Common sense tells me that puppy mills/disreputable breeders are the only way to keep pet stores full of puppies.
Then I did some research - Humane Society, and the ASPCA (both less inflammatory than PETA) shared this view. They also provided some insight into what the pet stores do to cover up where their dogs come from: Read Article Here
So all this to say, I'm not a PETA fan either. I think they take things too far, but I can think for myself.  Just because PETA may agree with this particular decision doesn't mean I automatically disagree with it. We are so polarized in this country. We would rather just agree with who we find agreeable rather than think things through. Maybe I got this one wrong, but I arrived at my own decision. I didn't pick sides based on who was in what corner, but maybe it's because when I hear the word "PETA" I think of a delicious Greek sandwich bread.

-Hope A. Horner
Follow on Twitter @HopeNote

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Life is Pain...and Great. I Guarantee It.

"You're gonna like the way you look. I guarantee it."
Sound familiar?
That's the tag line of Larry Zimmerman of Men's Wearhouse.You know, the men's suit store? Larry's the founder and CEO--the voice behind the tag line, the brain and the brawn behind one of the largest men's apparel stores. A week ago, he was fired by his board. No explanation given--just "Larry, your services are no longer needed." Like an old suit, he was no longer a good fit with his company. So now, one of the world's most well known and successful entrepreneurs is faced with inventing a new career for himself.
Just shows how fast you can go from headline to sideline.
From "top of the line" to the unemployment line.
That is life, isn't it?
Some people say "Life is pain." They're usually angst-y artists, gruff gangsters and Debbie Downer types, but sincere none the less.They focus on the dark side of life--the loss, the loneliness, the desperation.
Then there are those who say "Life is Great!" They're usually spoiled, 20-something year old idealists who's biggest life trauma was the loss of their wisdom teeth, but still, they have a point, too. Life can be great.
Life is pain. 
Life is great. 

Sometimes when my life is going well--you know, bills are paid, the sun is shining, my stomach is full of chocolate and God feels near, I think, "Life is good!" But if you're like me, in the midst of the happiness, you wonder how long before Debbie Downer comes knocking.

Hi Hope, I'm Debbie Downer.
Yeah, I know who you are. Do you have to come in? 
Yes, I do. You know I do. 
She looks depressed and hungry which worries me. Last time she was here she ate all the peanut butter.
Alright then. But don't get too comfortable. There's nothing in the fridge; the cable is out and I just had the house fumigated.
Debbie pushes by me and slinks into the kitchen.  She sniffs out the piece of chocolate cake hidden behind the toaster and devours it in one gulp.

I'm not one of those people who goes looking for Debbie. You know the types who complain about desserts being "too chocolat-y" or mashed potatoes being to "butter-y"? They're never happy except when they're miserable. I am a happy lass. I think positive. I laugh easily. I couldn't hold a grudge if it came with handles. But I am also realistic enough to know that it doesn't take much to go the way of Suit-Man Larry Zimmerman. One minute you're "Big Man on Campus" and the next you're the scrub going head first into a trashcan on the senior lawn.
Here's my point. I don't mean to bring you down. It's just that the older I get the more I realize that life is great AND life is pain. The pain part comes from my realization that nothing great lasts. That old phrase, "Enjoy it while it lasts!" is really true. I love the way theologian Karl Barth puts it:

Eventually, we all will have to give up what we have desired, pull down what we have built and let our achievements be surpassed and supplanted by those of others...We should recall in truth that all things have an end and if for this very reason we could hope.

Life is pain for me, when I lose sight of hope. In other words, my lowest point in life is when I feel far from God. And it's my fault. He doesn't go anywhere. He might feel far off, but it is me that is either pushing him away or wandering away hoping he doesn't follow. I lose my grounding when this happens.  I lose resiliency. I find myself feeling detached and depressed, not in a profound, can't-get-out-of-bed kind of way, but just in a "funk" -- you know?
Life is pain when I feel like he doesn't love me. I know he does in my head, but in my heart, when I start to hear the words of others as God's--when the church's voice gets louder than God's--I am in trouble. Not that all Christians are judgmental, but unfortunately it just seems like the ones that are, are loud. They're like teenagers at the mall - they love to draw attention to themselves in every way possible to stand out above the crowd. And the media loves to hand them the mic.

So tell, us Pastor so and so...How do you feel about homosexual marriage?
Well, Matt, I just feel like it is going to be the downfall of our nation. The fate of this country is being dragged down into the pit of hell by homosexuals. Their lifestyle is abhorrent and God condemns it.
Meanwhile, countless gay people run screaming from God, never to return. In that moment, it was more important for this pastor to be right, than righteous.  He would rather make his point, then point to Christ. Just once, I'd love to hear a pastor say (and not a liberal, hemp wearing Unitarian one, I mean a Bible believing fundamental Baptist one):
You know what Matt, I have beliefs about homosexuality and marriage and feel strongly that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but I have stronger feelings about how God wants me to treat people and I know that beyond a doubt, Jesus loves all people. So, if you'll excuse me, I am going to head into West Hollywood and let people know that God loves them, gay or not.

I just finished Jeff Chu's book, "Does Jesus Really Love Me?" and it is full of judgemental Christians and for that reason I found it to be a completely depressing read. I finished it and thought:
Jeff!  Where is your hope as Gay Christian man? You just gonna leave us like that? End it right here? You're just gonna tell all these painful stories and then end the book with just a few pages of "God loves me, I guess, but it's hard." Although, I don't blame him for dedicating the majority of the book to the stories of gay Christians.  They're fascinating and disturbing all at once and that was the point of Jeff's book--to travel around the country and interview multiple gay Christians who were told, "God doesn't love you and neither do I!" by a variety of people within their church, community and family. Some of these gay Christians were "counseled", some were "treated", prayed over (pray away the gay), cast out, shunned, you name it. If you read what some of them went through and didn't have the personal experience that I have you would probably say, "No way!  People would NEVER say or do something like that!" And unfortunately, I can say loudly, "Oh yes, they would."  I know because I have heard, experienced and seen it. And these words of rejection, of disgust in some cases, become God's words even when they are not. One gay female Episcopal priest (HORROR!) said, "The good news I recognized is that God is not to be equated with the church. God said to me, though not in words, I am bigger than the church. Do not equate the institutional church with me."  She goes on to describe the church as a tool to do God's work in the world and to spread the gospel, but "it is not to be equated with the omnipotence, the majesty, the mystery of God."  This was near the end of Jeff's book and it felt like a 4 Hour Energy Drink to my tired soul.
And then the other day, still brewing from reading Jeff's book, God used Def Leppard to tell me He loved me.
Yeah, I know it sounds crazy. But just wait. It get's crazier when you hear the song He used:
Pour Some Sugar on Me.
OK, this song is about a man's love for a woman and is sexual in nature to say the least.  It is a great running song and I was jogging down a trail when it came on SiriusXm.
"Love me like a bomb..bomb...bomb...."
Suddenly, in the middle of this British hair band's greatest hit I had this distinct thought:
"If man can love a woman this much, how much more must God love me?"
And I got the chills.
By the way, I should mention here that I am not a pentecostal or charismatic. Evidently, God speaks to them through Def Leppard all the time. For me, a newbie Lutheran-raised-Baptist, these types of experiences do NOT happen. God would never, ever, ever use secular (Baptist translation: Satan's) music to speak to me. The best I could hope for is that God might "hint" something to me through the Carpenters.

OK, so maybe I was just enjoying a runner's high, or maybe, just maybe--God was getting pretty frustrated with me listening to the judgmental voices of others or reading them in Jeff's book and thinking they were His words. He knew that Debbie Downer had found my chocolate cake. He knew I was sinking into the "Life is pain" pit and he pulled me out of it. It took an electric guitar and a steady, heavy drum-beat, but it worked.
Then I heard a selection from "The Bible Study Podcast" by Chris Christiansen (With a name like that, did he have a choice of podcasts?!) that also helped. You can listen here: The Bible Study Podcast
Here is the passage of Scripture Chris read:

Acts 14:8-19
In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:“Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.
Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

Did you catch that? Just like George Zimmerman, Paul goes from the pinnacle to the pit in no time. He literally goes from god to heretic in a matter of hours! One minute they're hailing him as a god, dragging animals to him to be sacrificed in his honor and the next they are throwing rocks at him and dragging him outside the city to die. (Just another day for Paul!) But he doesn't die.The disciples gather around him, help him up and he continues with God's work. He probably limped and had a headache the size of Corinth, but he keeps going. Blood, tears, bruises, words of hate ringing in his ears and all.

Yes, life is pain.
Life ends. 
God does not. Can not. Will not.
Life is great.
All good things, including life itself, must come to an end, but with God, the end is yet another beginning. A magnificent beginning that knows no end. And no loss. No pain. 
In this everlasting Love and Truth, is where I place my hope. 

Try THAT suit on for size Debbie!
And wipe your mouth.You got chocolate all over it.

Hope A. Horner, 2013
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