My Bearded Friend

Recently, I was in the library on my laptop searching, researching, pining for a miracle and so forth. I like the library because I enjoy being around books. I like the smell of them and I like how smart I feel when I gaze through them. As a matter of fact, yes I’m still writing one. As a kid, my mom brought my brothers and me to the library in the summertime and I’m certain that’s when my smell of books fetish began. I wasn’t much of a reader as a child. Always a writer, but reading wasn’t thing I fancied. Not until I became an adult did I appreciate literary works that took me away from a bad day at work or a nasty stranger’s attitude.

I made a new friend at the library. I don’t know his name, never got it. I will call him my bearded friend. I was in a small conference room with all glass walls and door by myself for a while. It was enjoyable. I noticed an older man with a long gray beard walking up to the door. He looked at the paper taped to it and then he walked away. I didn’t think anything of it. A few minutes later, he walks into the room and proceeds to sit with what I thought was a laptop, but later I found out it was his bible. If you know me, you know I don’t meet strangers, so the bearded man and I became acquainted right away.
He said,” Would you mind if we sit here?” He had a bit of a grin that I could see through his beard. I said, “Sure! I don’t mind at all.” Then it dawned on me maybe he reserved the room for his group of friends. I asked him if he reserved the room and he said yes, but I could stay if I wanted. I told him I didn’t mind moving.

As I was gathering my things, we chatted. He told me he belonged to a small Bible study group of three people. He called it Bible study and learning. I assumed he meant they were taking a class about a particular subject. My bearded friend was very proud to tell me about his class. He told me he learned to read about a year and a half ago and got his GED. I didn’t ask him is age, but I’m guessing late 50s, early 60s. He was so proud of himself and rightfully so. The other people in his group are a teacher and another gentleman who also learned to read. The three of them chose the Bible to keep learning to read. An excellent choice I think. I congratulated him. Because of his successes, he is a wonderful testimony to what God can do. He said, “I’m a minister.” I said,” Really?” My bearded friend says, “We’re all ministers.” Oh! Yeah! We are, aren’t we?

My bearded friend said he used to be ashamed of his illiteracy, but he wasn’t bothered by it anymore. I understood his feelings and respectfully I let him disclose his life to me. I am honored he trusted me enough to chat about his journey. In his youth he worked in tobacco fields to help his family so he didn’t get to attend much school. My father told me about people, namely young men and why they didn’t go to school years ago because of their families raised tobacco. My father and his brothers worked in tobacco as well. I’m sure many people from decades ago sacrificed a basic education to help keep a roof over their families’ heads and food on the table. Certainly any teenage boy would rather be fishing or playing baseball instead of sweating in a field for little to no pay. These young souls may not have gotten an education, but they developed character and work ethic that took them places in life just the same, if not better.

My bearded friend didn’t seem to hold on to any resentment about his childhood circumstances. He commented that it’s just the way things were back then. His voice was actually very soothing and calm during our conversation. My assumption is that is his nature as well. We said our goodbyes as his other two friends arrived.

I couldn’t help but think about my bearded friend and his freedom from illiteracy. I take reading for granted, like breathing. Being human, I tend to think about what I can’t do or don’t have. Meeting my bearded friend made me realize I have very few limitations except the ones I’ve given myself. What’s more profound is the thought of people sacrificing a basic education and a youthful life with the idea they may never learn to read or write. Yet, they are blessed many years down the road with the education they so deserve. The bearded man is my hero. He’s so awesome.

The underlying moral to this story is also patience. Sometimes its patience with expectancy. Sometimes its patience for something you can’t see or imagine. Being educated may have always been a dream of my bearded friend that kept him going and gave him hope. He definitely had a fire in him to pursue his dream and when the time came, he made it happen. Now, let’s ask ourselves. Am I the bearded man with a dream or a goal that I’ve been patient for and do I have a fire in me now? One day we’re going be the bearded man and we will have a youthful eye looking at us as we tell our story? Sure, there’s a generation just waiting to be motivated by our experiences.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:25
And endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:4
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

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The Eagle in the Chicken Yard

The story of the Eagle in the Chicken Yard is a favorite fable of mine. No matter how many times I read it or think about it, I am inspired to do something to go to the next level. I also have the desire to help my fellow eagles achieve their goals.

As the story goes, a farmer took an egg from an eagle’s nest and laid it under a hen to be hatched. This eagle realized something was wrong deep down inside, but all he knew was the life he was born into. The eagle would stare at the sky wanting to fly and even tried on numerous occasions. For some unknown reason the farmer clipped his wings to keep him down. The eagle never stopped looking up at the sky.

One day a storm brewed and the chickens scurried about in fear, but the eagle did not feel any fear. He simply watched the chickens and other barnyard animals run and hide from the storm. A big gust of wind came along while the eagle stood alone in the barnyard and the eagle, having noticed the farmer forgot to clip his wings, stretched his wings out. He looked up at the sky and saw another eagle.

The eagle that was raised as a chicken looked at the fearful chickens and looked at the eagle gracefully soaring in the sky. The eagle in the sky let out a mighty cry. The sound of the cry moved the eagle to flap his wings and with a big gust of wind, the eagle raised as a chicken flew high above the clouds and left the chicken yard never to return!

Writing this story makes me want to put on my running shoes, but its 20 degrees outside. So I will make a list of goals instead.

We live in a world that encourages chicken behavior. Not to take away from the chickens. They have a purpose too. But all too often an eagle with misplaced identity wonders around feeling insecure, lonely, and doubtful because he knows deep down inside him, he is something more. He does not look like a chicken, nor sound like a chicken. He just does not know who he is yet.

Why the farmer took the eagle from his natural habitat, no one knows for sure? The farmer’s malevolence seems common place in today’s society. We call them “haters.”  The farmer clipped the eagle’s wings wanting to keep him down, but as the scripture says, what was meant for harm, God used it for good. The clipped wings kept the eagle grounded until it was time for him to fly. And oh boy did he ever!

When the eagle flapped his wings and realized he could fly, nothing could stop him. He knew he had the power and the means to go to the next level. I am sure the chickens looked at one another and thought, if he can do it so can I. Feel free to imagine what they looked like trying to fly from the barnyard.

You are an eagle in the chicken yard.  You know people will want to hold you back, but they will not. You know you are better than your circumstances. You know your path is not the same as others. When you know you are an eagle your breakthrough is only the beginning of all God has in store of you.  But don’t look down at the chickens!

God is able to do much more than we ask or think through His power working in us. Ephesians 3:20

We are a dream come true for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. His legacy is worthy of a national day of remembrance. On this day, the leaders of our nation asks us to volunteer our time to help others. I am grateful for anyone person who honored the wish. I am honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. with this blog and I hope a little more self awareness for myself and others who read this blog.

Dr. King believed in peace as the foundation for promoting equal rights. In his youth, he was introduced to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and used them as a source to educate himself on how to conduct peaceful assemblies and protests. The young Dr. King never imagined his journey would change the world.

Dr. King gave numerous speeches with awe inspiring words of wisdom, encouragement and hope in a time when despair and hopelessness were worn like old shoes. God is good to have a child of his to be the voice of those who have no voice. Surely Dr. King had his doubts and fears of what laid ahead of him, but he said he the Lord was with him until the end. Dr. King’s walk in faith was unshakable.

Dr. King’s life as a leader in civil rights meant adversity daily. He was thrown in jail on numerous occasions, stabbed and nearly died, his family was threatened as well as his followers, yet Dr. King kept his peaceful demeanor never giving way to retaliation with violence. He is quoted as saying, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.” Praise God for putting a God fearing man in leadership.

Civil liberties are a blessing to us all. Equal rights have been placed to insure a better quality of life for generations to come. However, Dr. King’s sacrifice seems to only live in our history books and studied only when necessary. One day out of the year, Dr. King is honored in dialog between those who remember. Television shows pay tribute for 24 hours. There is little or no talk of the civil rights movement at the dinner table, nor a circle of children sitting around an adult as he or she shares a story about the Civil Rights Movement. What is there to be ashamed of?

We are living proof of Dr. King’s dream. Look at us! No matter what race, age or religion, we are living proof of Dr. King’s dream. Successful people too numerous to mention. Hopes and dreams of our own manifest by way of God’s will and our civil rights. But we must pay it forward by showing and telling future generations of what was lost and what was gained to have a starring role in the American dream.

The history of Dr. King is indeed worthy of a day of remembrance and a daily reminder of God’s grace and mercy on us all.

“I have told you these things so you may have peace in the Me. In the world you will have much trouble. But take hope! I have power over the world!” John 16:33

Oz didn’t give anything to the Tin Man…

….that he didn’t already have.

We have all watched the Wizard of Oz at least a million times.  A movie with so much rich satire it warrants repeat viewing. I chose the Tin Man because of a line from a song called ”Tin Man” from a band named America.  “Oz didn’t give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t already have.”

The Tin Man was looking for a heart.  Just like the Tin man, we’re all looking for something whether it’s a job or a lifestyle change, there’s a longing for completion within ourselves.  As the Tin Man goes through the forest his adventures are filled with the joy of making new friends, confrontation of a horrible witch and ultimately finding his way to Oz. So much of life is like the Tin Man’s journey. We meet great people who are encouraging and supportive. The trials and tribulations on life’s journey can be discouraging giving hope and faith less appeal, yet we keep going knowing what we’re looking for is just around the corner. We do our best to stay on the Yellow Brick Road. When the breakthrough arrives, we reflect on the experience from start to finish with humility. Realizing the thing or things we wanted or needed weren’t far from our reach.

The Tin Man was focused on lacking a heart and didn’t see his actions as loving as he saved his friends from the perils of their journey to Oz. He did indeed have a heart.

Our Father does give us what we already have in him. Philippians 4:13 says, I can do everything in him who strengthens me.  The New Year’s Resolutions, the promise to resolve situation, or wanting to be a better person are only a thought away from reality with empowerment promised from God already in you!

What’s your Tin man story?