Archives For True Stories

In 1998 an online startup company was offering free shares of stock to anyone who signed up. Honestly, I had no idea if it was legit, especially since online business was so new in those days…that was more than 15 years ago. Ignoring the risk, I decided to sign up and actually forgot about it until just a few weeks ago when someone alerted me that I was listed online as having unclaimed money in the state of Ohio. As soon as I saw the company name, I remembered the free shares of stock I had signed up for 16 years ago. Although it didn’t specify the amount of money, it did say that it was more than $100.00. I admit that I got a little giddy, hoping that the company had hit it big and sent the stock through the roof! Maybe I could retire. Maybe I could take my family on a vacation to Europe. Not quite. However, $137.53 was awaiting my proof of ownership and it would be all mine!

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I was standing at the free throw line. No time left on the clock. My team was down by one point. Two free throws awaited me. In that moment I realized that there were three possible outcomes to this circumstance. Make one/miss one and the game would be tied and go into overtime. Make both and my team would carry me off the court in celebration of victory. Miss both and walk off the court hanging my head in defeat.

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I awoke this morning to a fresh blanket of snow which covered most of Ohio overnight. I heard the weatherman talking about it yesterday, but I have learned to ignore what he says and believe the opposite to be true; however, I was pleasantly surprised to see the snow in early November. Honestly, I like snow. I used to love it, but there are a few negative things that make me a fence straddler – scraping my cars windows, slick roads, and the fact that my dog refuses to use the bathroom outside unless I stand outside in the snow with her are a few of the things I hate about snow. But I mostly like it…especially the changing of seasons, changing of scenery, and changing of temperature.

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I can hear a faint chirping sound coming from my basement. At first I thought it was some poor bird searching for a way out, but upon further investigation I realized that the battery in my basement smoke detector is low. I don’t have a 9v battery in the house because no one ever does, except maybe battery hoarders. This means I have a couple options: 1) I could immediately go to the store and pick up a new battery and install it right away (safest choice), 2) I could listen to the annoying chirping sound until it eventually goes away (lazy choice), 3) I could remove the battery so that the sound goes away and pick up a new battery next time I’m out (procrastination choice). I mean, come on, the choice should be obvious. I love my family and want to make sure that we are safe and get an early warning sign if there is a fire. I’ll be heading out right away to get a new battery for the smoke detector (right after I finish writing this).

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I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit throughout my life; however, I have never been to a desert, unless watching Survivorman counts. Personally, I think deserts are beautiful and unique in their own way, but I’m well aware of the dangers awaiting those who stay too long…dangerous insects and snakes, small amounts of water, intense sunlight and heat, lack of vegetation, sandstorms, and mirages are constant challenges. Those who enter into a desert without a plan and proper supplies are sure to be overtaken by their surroundings.

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When I was very young (several decades ago), I played baseball. I’m not really into baseball now (I’ve moved on to more awesome sports like soccer), but it used to be a big part of my life. One year while playing little league baseball, I made the all-star team and got the chance to play alongside a bunch of other kids who were all-stars. Notice where that got me? I don’t have a problem with “all-star” games, but as I get older I wonder if we elevate the guy who scores the runs and makes the catches, while failing to realize that an individual needs a team in order to help him touch home plate.

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Have you ever gotten to the point where you felt that you were out of strength? You know what I’m talking about…worn out, exhausted, at the end of your rope, frustrated, nowhere to turn, out of options. I don’t care who you are (or how awesome you think you are), all of us face times when we are spent – no energy or power left to go on. I’ve been there a few times in my life and I’m sure there will be more to come. When I have experienced these times, I usually try to find some poor soul in the Bible who may have felt the same way. There are numerous examples of Biblical characters who faced total exhaustion and burn out, but one of my favorites is David. David (eventually King of Israel) walked a tough road before he became king. I don’t have time to get into all of his trials but if you are interested, you can read I Samuel 16-31.

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You can’t turn your back on a puppy for one moment! A couple nights ago I placed my ice cream on the table and walked out of the room. Two minutes later I walked back into the room to find Bella, our 1 year old Maltipom, on the table hovering over my ice cream. I could tell that she really liked ice cream because I could hear her tongue lapping it up. I was now standing in the middle of the room staring at her, but she was unaware of my presence in the room. Everything changed when I spoke her name. Bella turned around to discover that I was in the room and she immediately knew that she was doing something wrong. She stopped her ice cream thievery, looked at me with puppy eyes, and laid down on the bed.

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Over the last several weeks at church we have been discussing prayer. Let’s get one thing straight. I’m not an expert in prayer. Since I’ve been a follower of Christ, I have attempted to make prayer a natural part of my life, but I must admit that it is difficult to remain in an attitude of prayer at all times. My desire is to include God in every part of my life whether I’m communing with Him through confessing, praising, submitting, depending, or simply enjoying. The Lord’s Prayer (some refer to it as the disciple’s prayer) found in Matthew 6 offers Jesus’ advice on how to pray as a part of life. Although Jesus did not intend for us to pray these exact words, each piece provides an integral part of praying.

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I only needed three items at the store, most importantly, food for our 8 month old puppy, Bella. She was completely out of food so a trip to the store was necessary, unless you believe it is okay to go a day without giving your dog some food. I don’t normally go to Target, but it was on my way home so I thought I would stop in just to purchase the few items. My first indication that this would not be a good idea was the crowded parking lot; however, I suppressed the feelings and ventured inside. The lines did look a little long but I thought that they would open a few more lines by the time I was ready to check out. I grabbed a cart, you know the one that always pulls to the right, and wandered around the store until I found the three items on my list – deodorant, Izze (my wife loves these), and the puppy food. I returned to the checkout area but noticed that it was still pretty busy so I scanned all the lines to see which one looked the shortest. After making a decision, I committed myself to a line. There were only three people in front of me. The cashier checked out the first and second person quickly, but then I noticed the guy in front of me began separating his purchases into three different transactions. I remained calm. When the cashier finished scanning the first transaction, he politely asked if they would like to save 5% by opening a credit card. Their eyes lit up and they agreed that opening a credit card was an opportunity they could not refuse. The cashier politely looked at me and said, “It’s going to be a few minutes.” I smiled back and said, “No problem.” I was lying. I was getting impatient. The people behind me began line jumping which, in my opinion, should be outlawed. Once you’ve committed to a line, you should not be able to depart from it. I was getting restless. Finally, a young cashier came to the rescue and opened up a register right beside our line and said, “I can help the next person.” The people behind me also heard the offer and the race was on. They began pulling their cart in that direction, but I grew up in Charlotte, NC, home of NASCAR and rednecks, so there was no way they were going to check out before me. When they saw that I was serious, they said, “Oh, you only have a few items. You can go in front of us.” WHAT! “Don’t you even think about giving me permission to go in front of you when it is rightfully my turn!” I didn’t say that, but I sure was thinking it. I just smiled and said, “Are you sure? Thank you so much.” I was lying.

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