Episode 118 is a short but sweet podcast. I took a moment to sit down a record something to say I had recorded something this summer. It’s to let you all know I’m alive and well. I’m just figuring some things out. Give us a call at (678) 765-9776 or an email at email@example.com
Why do they have to be such a pain to create? I know they have to be complicated so that any idiot can’t get into your accounts. The trouble is trying to come up with something that will make sense to you in the future. Ugh!
When you hear of someone being tested, what do you imagine? Do you think of a test of something being taught? Maybe you think of someone being tested on the ability to do a task.
Do you ever think about someone being tested spiritually?
Recently, I was faced with a dilemma. A person became upset because of something I didn’t do, even though my plans were not fully known to them. Without one thought to call, that person, in the manner we’ve become accustomed, blew a mental gasket and decided to take his misplaced frustration out on an innocent person…at the same time proclaiming to be doing it for the sake of that person. I know, I was quite confused myself. Before long, the tirade evolved into me not being welcomed around that person for the duration of my trip. By the way, I was not in Atlanta at the time.
I could have taken this rather differently than I did, but I prayed for a calmness to overtake me. What would it have proven if I had taken the same approach as that individual? It would have proven that the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” I couldn’t let that become true. I have tried my entire life to prove that statement wrong. With a new vision of what life can be, I have to be the better person in a time of trial. Looking back, I could see this as a test of my character, my belief, and my faith. At the same time, I could see this as a test of my willingness to follow at least one of God’s commandments. They’re rather easy to follow, but it would be easier if everyone in question would make that an easier task. I, at one point in time, even questioned the ability of God to change that person from the inside. At moments, I was feeling bouts of anger and resentment towards this person, not because of his opinions, but rather his way of voicing them.
Around my neck, I wear a necklace given to me in high school. I may have written about it before, but it says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) I don’t wear it simply to have something hanging around my neck. I truly believe its words. When faced with a situation we find difficult or stressful or disheartening, we are given the power to get through it, the love to show those involved, and the self-discipline to not do something to either make the situation worse or cause unpleasant feelings in those involved.
When I returned to Atlanta, I had a feeling something wasn’t right. Had I done something that wasn’t thoughtful of other’s feelings? Did I make my own personal excuses as a rebuttal to that person’s issues or did I create them to ease my conscience? Were my actions understood by the person wrongly scolded? I believe that my actions were perfectly fine and my intentions, or plans, were respected and understood by that person. I however was left wondering how I needed to handle the person airing the issue. Do I call to apologize for something I shouldn’t feel ashamed or should I let it go and observe from a distance?
When in times of doubt, confusion, or in need of direction, I was always taught to pray and listen…talking to God as a best friend, telling everything causing trouble and uneasiness, and then listening for the answer in whatever way is revealed. One of those recent prayers was to reaffirm my faith in God that he can move in people, no matter how difficult it may seem. There have been more hardened hearts God has broken. In that time of prayer, I did as I should and prayed for the others involved…that they be comforted and filled with the love that heals.
Sometimes, the hardest thing is asking for help, but the scariest thing is thinking there’s no one there to listen. I may not have a secret telephone with a direct line to heaven, but I do have a soul that feels connected and full of power and commitment. That’s my channel to God and my way to get the message to Him, knowing He will be there to listen and give direction.
And that is what I receive….direction on how to navigate through a life filled with curvy roads and high mountains.
This past Sunday, May 11th, was Confirmation Day at the Episcopal Church we attend. Confirmation, as defined by Mr. Webster, is a Christian rite conferring the gift of the Holy Spirit and among Protestants full church membership. Many of the confirmandi were baptized as children, making confirmation a welcoming into the church family as adults and being “sent out” to do as Christ commanded and spread his truth. Others at the ceremony were not being confirmed, but rather were being received or affirming their beliefs after a possible time of distance from the Christian family…personally or privately.
Travis and I were being received into the Episcopal family. Being received means that we had already made a public profession of faith as a person of age…primarily someone of age to know how the decision would affect our lives…and had been baptized. That would be for me, respectively, be August 3rd and August 14th, 1994. I was very excited to be received into the Episcopal Church. I have immensely enjoyed myself since I began attending over a year ago. Each time I go there, I feel closer and closer to those I know and hope to know more. This began my journey as a true Episcopal.
It was not only wonderful that I went through this ceremony with the youth of the church which I have become close to as I see them growing in faith, love, and maturity, but also because I was able to make this step in my life with my loving partner in life. We were there side by side as we renewed our baptismal vows, were received by Bishop Whitmore, and took communion. I am very blessed in more ways than I can count and I will be forever thankful for each and every blessing I am given.
Have you ever had a change that was so drastic that some people believed it was totally fake or that it was solely to show off or make a point? Have you ever thought you had done something terribly wrong over the years to make people see you in a different light than you see yourself? Have you ever had the belief that someone automatically saw you as something totally on the basis of what you like or do? Have you ever thought that being honest and completely uncovered to people you know might drive them away from you?
Those are the questions and issues I have been dealing with for the past few weeks.
I have done a lot of thinking as of late….kind of a reflection on my life and the things which have taken place through the years. It hasn’t made me happy overall. There have been too many times when I may have led people to believe I am a total bitch most of the time, not only to people that I am friends with, but to people I do not know. I can honestly say, I have a personality where if it needs to come out, it comes out. Yes, sometimes that can sound mean and off-putting, but I am from the school of, “Sometimes, the truth hurts.” I am not mean to people to be mean. I was raised better than that and I do not see myself as a hurtful person. I do have thoughts, beliefs, and opinions that differ from others, but so does everyone else in this world. If we were all the same, nothing would get accomplished and we, as humans, would never advance. Don’t let my differences lead you to believe that I am a terrible person.
I am a gay man. Yes, I am. It may be hard for some to believe, but it’s true. I don’t fit into the scene of gay culture. It seems many gay men aren’t keen on the idea of a spiritual life when it comes to Christianity. Many have been hurt or have never been introduced to the real and true feeling of wholeness that comes along with knowing a Heavenly Father. I can’t heal any scars left behind by someone who hurt them. I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m forcing it down their throats, but I want to be able to write when I feel moved. I have this blog and I want to use it in a way that will help me get my feelings out. I’m chasing rabbits now, but basically, I hope I won’t be shunned or looked at unfavorably if I mention my spiritual life from time to time.
I have been on a mission of finding myself. I tell people that I found out so much about myself when I turned thirty years old. The self-awareness has not ceased. Every week, if not day, I see something else I didn’t see before. Sometimes it hurts and other times it makes me happy. Either way, it is something that is being shown to me and at a time when I need to see it. It’s a lesson learned when I needed it. I wish I had a mental calendar or notepad to keep track of all the things revealed to me at the very instance they are discovered, but then I would probably have a wreck as it generally happens while I am driving. I’ll have to work on a thought/revelation journal. That could be exciting and scary at the same time.
There is no other way to say it and I am not ashamed to say or talk about it. I have found the place I have been yearning for in my life over the past fifteen plus years. I didn’t think I needed it often, but I’ve been lying to myself out of madness at people who should not have control of me or my thoughts at this stage of my life. I, like many others, have realized that not all Christians can be lumped together as if they have the same exact mind frame. I have found a home at the local Episcopal church and I haven’t been this happy in years. I know I am not the only person struggling with life and I know that I am not perfect in any way. I do know, however, that there are many people out there who are loving, kind, caring, and all together concerned about others and want to see the best result for their lives. I honestly believe that. I have met many people who are truly refreshing and motivating and I need those people in my life. I need more positive people and less negative. I need a group of people who open my mind and free me from the thoughts and feelings that bring me down and deter me from growing. I feel that I have made friends with people with those exact qualifications.
On May 11th, I will be received into the Episcopal church. I cannot be more excited and thankful. I have found there are more accepting and loving denominations in the United States compared to Southern Baptists in which I was raised, and subsequently, voted out. That behind me, I am ready to pick my life back up where I left off years ago. I have a great Christian family that will be there to help me stay focused.
The friends I’ve made in my years since I came out have been so wonderful. I know some will accept that I have changed the direction in which my life was going. Others I am sure will not be so accepting. I hope it will not be the latter, but if it is, I hope they know it will not upset me as I know not everyone has the same views. Each person has a direction to go in life and they can follow it. I have found one that brings me peace and happiness. I hope they can find one as well.
I’ll keep posting as my path becomes more clear.
The Lenten season of 2014 is soon to end. From Ash Wednesday until Easter, Christians all around the world take part in a renewing of faith through repentance, penance, prayer, and self-denial. This can be hard for some and much easier for others. Truthfully, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be easy.
Self-denial is taking something we feel we can’t live without and purposefully taking it away. For instance, one may feel that eating steak multiple times a week is normal. They pay roughly $15.00 for each serving while others can barely afford a hamburger for $3.00-4.00. Giving up, or denying oneself, of that steak is a beginning. What would top that off would be taking the money not spent and donate it to a homeless shelter or buying non-perishable food items to donate to a local food bank. In that process, one is sacrificing a want for a need of another. Isn’t that what we are called to do as Christians? The welfare of others should always be very near the top of our cares. Did Christ not give so that we all may have? Nothing we could do as a sacrifice could ever overshadow the major sacrifice made by Christ as his sacrifice made it possible for us to have life.
My choice of self-denial this Lenten season is something I will keep to myself. It, however, has been wonderful in many ways. By denying myself of that one thing, I have learned that many other things in my life are more important. I believe I have achieved what I needed.
During this season, I have also been reading books in the process of learning more about the Episcopal Church. I recently finished reading Welcome to the Episcopal Church by Christopher Webber. It was very informative about the history of the American Episcopal Church, its believe structure, the sacraments, and its organization. When I finished reading, I really felt I was much more a part of the Episcopal Church family. I am in the process of reading Unabashedly Episcopalian by Andrew Doyle. The writer speaks more from the eyes of a bishop and I am enjoying it immensely.
Another great event taking place during this season is confirmation class. Our wonderful priest, the seminarian, and the verger have all taken part in teaching us things about the Episcopal Church, the Book of Common Prayer, the baptismal covenant, and other things we need to be aware of before Confirmation Mass on May 11th. I’m really excited. Since I made a public profession of faith on August 3, 1994 (at the age of 16) and I was baptized on August 14, 1994, I don’t go through that process again. One baptism is all that is needed. I will be received into the church.
Within the next two weeks, we will be observing Holy Week which leads up to Easter Sunday. Little girls will be dressed up in their Sunday dresses and hats and little boys will begrudgingly get dressed in suits as they gather into the church on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It’s a very moving Eucharist and one that I await. Maundy Thursday if the night before Good Friday. It is a touching gathering as well. The priest kneels before a chair and washes the feet of each participant as a symbol of service to humanity. It’s very moving.
(Friday morning @ 12:30am)
I started this post a few days ago. I haven’t been able to post it either because I couldn’t find words or I fell asleep before finishing. I’m posting it now as I am already thinking of the next post. My brain is full and it will need to be emptied soon. Stay tuned.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…if you read the blog on a regular basis, you know that I can’t stand winter.
It’s nothing against winter. Really! I mean, winter didn’t ask to be cold…frigid…full of death and misery. But don’t let me make it sound terrible. So the earth has a tilted axis and it switches angles as the year carries on causing winter to be in one hemisphere one part of the year and in the other during the other part of the year. That’s just the way it works if we want to live on this planet.
If you are alive and watch television or listen to the radio, you know that the city of Atlanta, Georgia is in gridlock. Yes, gridlock! Why? It’s because there is two inches of snow on the ground. Those from the North are saying, “What’s wrong with those people down there. Two inches of snow…I can’t open my front door because of the snow!” Trust me, I understand. I really do. Northerners have to understand one thing about this situation.
WE LIVE IN THE SOUTH! TAKE YOUR DAMN SNOW BACK UP NORTH!
Snow down here is not a promised occurrence every year. We don’t live through months of snow so that we can get used to maneuvering around in that kind of weather. At the first mention of snow, or a hurricane, people crowd the supermarkets to buy milk, bread, and toilet paper. Maybe bread and milk upsets people’s stomachs and give them the trots. I don’t know.
Let’s get past the actual weather and move on to those that should be making things a bit safer for people during the nasty mess. You know…those people that hold the titles of mayor or even governor. In Atlanta, those two people are BOTH in this city as Atlanta is the capital of Georgia. Not only can one guy take charge of the situation, but two guys can open their mouths and make things happen. There is a slight controversy…or rather, stir among the peoples…about why important steps were not taken to combat horrible travel conditions.
Let’s look at the things that should have been done but weren’t:
- Schools – The kids should have never been made to attend school on Tuesday. Al Roker hit it on the nail during his morning show on The Weather Channel. THEY KNEW! There was no second guessing it. The Weather Channel had started telling people on Sunday or Monday that a winter storm was heading our way and to get ready. That means don’t put the kids in danger by putting them on a bus in the middle of millions of people trying to get to work or home.
- Dismissal – One word…CHAOS! You start telling people they need to go retrieve their children from school because the schools are closing and you are going to have crazy parents trying to get their kids before things get crazy. The catch is that by them getting out in droves to fetch their kids causes the CRAZY to happen. Put kids in a situation and the parents are going to go ballistic, resulting in the crazy traffic situation.
- Roads – After living in this area for 15 years, I have seen it snow quite a few times…once or twice before, it was pretty bad. In the metropolitan area of Atlanta, there are now over five million people. Atlanta proper has MARTA service with buses and trains, but many people commute from outside the city. They have to drive as MARTA doesn’t cover the area it should to keep down traffic. Anyway, knowing what was about to hit should have screamed, “Salt the roads! Put out sand!” We were told over and over about the new machines that were bought to deal with issues like this. I wasn’t stuck on either of the three interstates in the city, but from the reports of people who were…no one saw the first tractor to deal with the worsening ice and snow on the road. Press conferences were held on Wednesday morning by both Mayor Reed and Governor Deal. Neither of them looked amazing in the eyes of the media. I have to give it to Deal, however, as he pushed back with the statement about if he had closed the government offices, schools, and other things in the city and state, the media would have grilled him over the loss of so much revenue. Damned if you do…damned if you don’t. The storm, as The Weather Channel has said, was not “unexpected.”
Out of all this mess, there have been highlights. During the night, there was a baby born in a vehicle sitting on I-285. The child’s name is Grace. That’s about the best name that could be given in such a situation. On Wednesday morning, we learned through the news that some Home Depot locations were kept open during the night so that people could come in and get out of the cold. There were other places that did the same, such as Kroger and other stores that were going to be open all night anyway. Thank God for people who are generous enough to help others in a time of need. Many thanks and blessings go out to our local educators. Because of the very dangerous conditions, many children were stuck at their schools overnight and they had to be fed and given comfort. Since their parents weren’t there, the safety of the children was left up to the educators and the police officers assigned to those schools. Great going, y’all! Above and beyond is what it takes in dire situations and you took control.
Regular citizens also did great things for those people who were stuck on the roads. A few guys I saw on the news this morning were going to the people they could reach and handing out food and bottled water. When I hear of acts like these from total strangers, I get a warm feeling inside. It’s reassuring to see that not all hope is lost on humanity.
I hope that the events of this week will continue to play over and over in the minds of those in seats of power. My dad has this saying he says a lot: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Twisted in all kind of ways, it is relevant to the storm. In 2011, this same thing happened where people were stranded in cars overnight or they had to leave their cars on the roads where they sat, stranded. That’s the first time…shame on the government. Now, 2014 and it happens again with now preparation for the coming storm…shame on us. Hopefully, this won’t happen again.
Episode 117 is the continuation of 116 where Kimberly, Romo, and I talk about things from being a snowbird to shopping in Alpharetta. You can find Romo on the Podcubs Podcast on iTunes and you can hear him live on Thursday nights at www.pride48.com.
Episode 116 finds us catching up on Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. I talk about meeting new people in New Year’s Eve. Kimberly shares a tramatic experience from Livie. With the new advancements to the show, we were able to bring on Romo from the Podcubs Podcast which you can hear on Thursday nights at 8pm on www.pride48.com.
While celebrating the arrival of 2014 with friends last night, I was thinking of how the new year was welcomed in the past. It brought back some good memories and a reflection on how far things have changed.
As a child, it was generally seen as a waste of energy to have the lights and TV on late at night. When the local news came on, it was a signal to get in the bed. One night out of the year, I would beg to stay up and watch the ball drop in Times Square. My mother would sleepily oblige and allow it. I can vividly remember seeing Dick Clark in prime health, dressed in a thick long jacket as he patiently awaited the beginning of the end, per say. People like Madonna, A-Ha, Billy Joel, Janet Jackson, and many others would celebrate the new year along with him. The most memorable of the new year’s celebrations was when I was able to see Billy Vera perform At This Moment before a packed crowd. Another performance I looked forward to seeing was Barry Manilow singing It’s Just Another New Years Eve, of which, I did not see last night. It was sad that I didn’t see it, but saw people singing and dancing around that I never knew existed. Times, I guess, change.
As I got older, I was able to celebrate with my sister who was, by that time, married. One very memorable one was the New Years we three, along with another married couple, drove to Pine Hill so that we could go to the liquor store. The county then was dry. I know…bummer! We went to the store, and on the way home, midnight came and the car was pulled over for a New Year’s kiss. That is, except for me as I was alone. Oh well, it was probably for the best. Before we arrived home, my brother-in-law saw a deer on the roadside. Believe it or not, he had a gun in the car and took a shot. My sister, the other wife, and I got out of the car at home and the two other guys went looking to see if the deer had really been killed. Just in case you forgot, I am a country boy!
To be honest, I don’t remember many New Year’s observations while at The University of West Alabama. One year, while living with two fraternity brothers instead of going home for the Christmas break, we decided to have a few people over. We started drinking early and decided to visit a local bar called The Brass Monkey. We got there and entered. We bought a beer and stood around for a few minutes. We left and waited for more people to arrive. Once more people came, a few people wanted to go back to the bar and we went. I got to the door and a person was checking ID’s. I just looked at the guy, holding one of their cups and drinking their beer. I just said…”Really? I’m drinking your beer already.” It wouldn’t have been an issue, but just turned 19 a few weeks earlier. Me and one or two others turned around and headed back to the trailer. It was, once again, probably for the best.
I think I went to one celebration at Crossroads Bar near Meridian, MS one year. I must have been pretty drunk as I don’t remember it. I think that was when the Hunch Punch was made and I think I had some champagne at midnight. There were no drugs in my system, but the night definitely is a blur.
Within the 15 years we have been in Atlanta, there have been as many celebrations. Among those were:
- the obvious Y2K celebration
- the Hoedowns celebration with some Atlanta friends
- the Eagle celebration with GeorgeInAtlanta and Romo from PodCubs Podcast
- the boring celebration with friends in Alpharetta
- the “let’s try pot for the first time” while shot-gunning it with a guy I’d never met and miss the ball dropping
- the few years of celebrating New Year’s with local people
Last night, we were able to accompany one of our dear friends to the house of some guys he knew. We had a great time talking to people and meeting new friends. Many of the people were from out of town. It’s a great idea when we can go to a party and meet new people. We can tend to be home bodies and pull ourselves out of the public scene. That being said, we have to change. There are so many people out there to meet if we would get into the position of meeting them.
No matter what you did to bring in 2014, I hope that you, along with me, will find every opportunity to push yourself hard to achieve things you’ve wanted. I have a few things to complete soon, but after that, I would like to write more. I would like to find a way to get the stories in my head onto paper or the computer; to place my thoughts into words. That’s one thing on my list of hopes and dreams for 2014. Use your energy to make yourself better…for yourself.