What Others Are Saying:

Steve Case, through his emersion into the story, reminds us that the presence of the divine surrounds us continually and he teaches us how to tap into that presence.

 - Mary Beth Howe, Author:A Baptist Among Jews


Actual Size

When my daughter got married I bought a new suit.  I also bought a new white shirt.  The shirt came from a shop called Casual Male XL.  I’m already getting a catalog called King Size.  It makes you wonder how many nice ways they can come up with to say “tall and fat”.  

 After buying the shirt I started getting emails from the company. These always seem to come with the FROM address reading “LIVINGXL”

 I don’t think about living “extra large”.  I wear a 3XL shirt but thats not the same thing as living.  You can be alive and not be living.  

 I want to live life ACTUAL SIZE.

 Life is big. There is so much of it out there to experience.  I don’t want to hide and see if it comes to me. I want to find it.  I want to set traps and capture it. I want to let it go then follow it. 

 Living life actual size is being open to everything...the pain and the joy...the fear and the courage...the triumph and the tragedy....the soaring and the falling.  

 Not living life actual size is like putting the same song on your ipod a thousand times and then hitting the shuffle button.

 Not living life actual size is like thinking you are going out on a limb and ordering FRENCH vanilla.  (It’s still vanilla, notice the name.)

 We keep ourselves from living actual size when we say things like...


Oh I could never...

I’m not smart enough...

I’m a wuss...

I’m scared...

People would judge me...

I’d look stupid...

 So what do these matter?  Why do we give the people who would judge or laugh or criticize the authority over our lives?  These people are “medium” people who are wearing 9XL t-shirts and can’t understand why they feel like life doesn’t fit them.

 Live your life.  Live it actual size.



Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night and write.  I’ll get and idea that seems to come out of nowhere and I have learned that I must get it down on paper or it will be gone.  Every time I would think, “Oh I must remember to write that down in the morning”  morning would then come and I would be kicking myself because whatever the brilliant idea was is gone forever.  Many a wonderful idea has been lost to pillows and blankets of my bed thereby depriving the world of some amazing technological breakthrough or at least a good fart joke.

 So I get up and I write.  It’s usually not for very long and I’ll go back to bed right afterward but I have to get it down on paper or its as good as forgotten.

 Apparently I got such an idea last night however I have no memory of getting out of bed. None.  On my kitchen counter was a blue index card with what was clearly my own handwriting.  I wrote down these words:  Lost souls hum. Vibration.

 I’m guessing I meant that lost souls hum, not like they have forgotten the words but like when the motor is running on your fridge or maybe your electric toothbrush.  The vibration makes a hum.  Cell phones do not hum.  Cell phones buzz.  Apparently I decided that souls hum.

 I have been working on some ideas for the sequel to Father Dark.  (First Novel!  See the BOOKS section!).   I wanted to have Fr Dark open a shelter for homeless souls.  Now apparently they will need to hum.  I wonder if souls hum in harmony.  Maybe they hum in discord when things are not well and in harmony when all is right with the world.

 I wonder if our souls hum while they are still part of us.  You know that feeling you get when you are driving with the windows down or standing at the beach?  Maybe for you it’s being up late at night with a bunch of your friends and you are just talking about life, the universe and everything.  When we connect with each other or with the world around us or with the Creator of all things....our souls hum.  

 Inversely, when you are fighting with your best friend, worried about your job, your future, your health, your family...our souls are in discord. 

 I heard there was a secret cord that David played and it pleased the Lord...

 In addition to being a giant slaying, crazy-acting, revenge taking, naked dancing, philandering King...David was at his center a street musician.  He was constantly searching for that perfect cord that put him in harmony with his God.

 So do we all, I think.  (I mean the searching for harmony part not the naked-dancing, revenge-taking, philandering thing.)  There’s a wonderful song on youtube (link pasted below) that features a choir of teenagers in Ireland.  When a bomb went off killing several people a local youth pastor decided the best response to the act of terror was a song.  Teenagers (both Catholic and Protestant) came together to sing.  The chords and harmonies are so perfect I think there is truly a connection going on in that moment.  

 We must work toward harmony.  If you have to bring the pitch down a little and I have to bring it up a notch...we do this. There are too many people in this world who are working hard to create discord.  Just think about that....some people WORK AT CREATING discord.  That’s appalling to me.  That’s a direct violation of what we were put here to do.  In my mind...and I don’t speak of this very often...that is sin.  

 Create harmony in your life. Adjust how you need to.  For some reason I feel the need to close this off with a quote from one of my favorite movies...Harvey.  “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart of or so pleasant.  For years I tried smart.  I prefer pleasant.”

Here's that link I mentioned: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1ohx398P7I


This Day

This quite moment it is raining.

I do love rain.

It is five-thirty in the morning.  Sunday morning.  I haven’t had to force myself out of bed early on a Sunday for awhile.

A lot has happened this past week.  Seemed kind of strange to write about food, or Dr. who or coffee, or a lot of the other things I usually write about. 

Rain sounds a bit like eggs frying.

Its difficult to “begin this day by rejoicing” as the scriptures say.

Sometimes we are lucky if we can begin this day by not kicking someone in the shin.

Let us begin this day by being awake.  I’ll take that.

Now there is thunder to go along with the rain.

I have warm blankets to cover me when I sleep.

I have a soft pillow. 

I have a wonderful wife who holds me in her arms.

and yes, I do have coffee.

I have a home.

I have friends who treat me well.

I will enjoy this moment.

Now this one.

Now this one.

I will appreciate this life.

I would turn on The Who right now (loudly) if I didn’t think it would wake the wife mentioned a few lines above.

Perhaps when I get in the car and drive in this rain God has given me this morning I will also be given some cool tunes to drive with.

There is such potential in this moment.  I have air in my lungs.  I have breakfast cereal in my cupboard. I have fresh bananas.  I mean, really.  What more do I need?

Maybe the idea of beginning the day by rejoicing is beginning the day by appreciating.

If we start with air in our lungs it can only go up from there.

Air in my lungs! YES! 

Breakfast! BONUS!

The rest is going to be up to me.  I can work with this.

My day is my recipe.  I can screw it up or I can pay attention.

I can leave out ingredients or I can sneak in some extra chocolate chips.

It is my day.

You can do what you want with yours.

You can cherish those around you or you can sulk.

You can make the most of it or you and p*** it away like it was nothing.

You can scream at the rain or you can turn the radio up.

It is your day.



Bobo The Mistake Clown

Once upon a time...

 ...there was a clown whose name was BOBO THE MISTAKE CLOWN.  Bobo had a big blue floppy hat and a matching blue “squeak-squeak” nose.  His hair was long and curly and he wore a tuxedo six sizes too big for his frame and in a neon green so bright it practicallly hummed.

 He lived in the closet of a man named Ken Norbert.  Mr. Norbert had created Bobo the Mistake Clown from his own imagination.  Every time Ken Norbert was about to do something stupid Bobo would jump out of closet and yell “MISTAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!”  He would then squeeze his “squeak-squeak” nose and disappear back into Ken’s closet.  Bobo also lived in Ken’s school locker, his glove compartment and occasionally the refrigerator.  As a result, Ken didn’ t make a whole lot of mistakes because he always had Bobo the Mistake Clown there to warn him of impending stupidity.  

 One day Bobo started to get a little mean.  He not only warned Ken of possible mistakes but he also would get a little snarky about it.  As if he were saying, “You idiot.  I can’t believe you even thought about that.”  Sometimes Bobo the Mistake Clown would hide until AFTER Ken did something that wasn’t so smart and then Bobo would jump out of his hiding place and dance around pointing at Ken singing “Mistake Mistake Mistaaaaaaake” 

 Ken started to get pretty sick of Bobo.  One time Ken was on a date with a pretty lady and he messed up the cork in the wine bottle.  Bobo jumped out from the pantry and sang his newest version of the mistake song.  The pretty lady didn’t go out with Ken after that.  

 One time Ken was buying a cup of coffee and found he had left his wallet in his car.  Not a very big mistake but enough for Bobo to leap out from behind the counter and point at Ken and sing “MISTAAAAAAAAKE”  and everyone laughed.   Bobo followed Ken all the way into the parking lot. 

 Pretty soon, Ken’s coworkers and even some people he thought were his friends began to hang around Ken because they knew as soon as Ken screwed up the least little bit, Bobo would jump out and entertain everyone with his “Mistake Song.”

 It got to a point where Ken didn’t even leave the house anymore.  Everyone saw every little tiny mistake and every great big giant mistake and then all laughed.

 Then one day, Bobo brought along his friend Agnes.  Agnes was a mistake clown too and she started to hang around Ken’s co-worker Tom.  After awhile Tom wasn’t laughing any more.  Then along came Taffy, Petunia, Artie, Wallyhoozle, and a parade of other clowns who followed people and did nothing but point out their mistakes. Even little things like dropping a quarter or reaching into the wrong pocket when you are looking for your keys or dialing the wrong number.  It seemed nobody liked a clown pointing out their mistakes to the world.

 Then one day, Ken was walking down the street with Bobo openly following him and waiting for the chance to burst into song.  He saw an older lady step in some gum on the sidewalk and immediately a clown in pink pigtails and an orange smile  and a bright yellow dress with matching heels burst into a falsetto version of Bobo’s mistake song.  The older woman just couldn’t take it anymore. She put her hands over her face, her shoulders shook and started to weep..  Ken went up and hugged the lady as if to say, “I know what it’s like.”  The woman hugged him back and immediately the clown in yellow shut her big orange mouth.  

 The next day, Ken went out and as soon as he heard a clown start singing he followed the voice and found a little kid who had dropped his ice cream cone.  Ken bought the child a new cone and the singing clown shut up.  A few days later Ken saw a man pull on a door marked “Push”.  Before the clown could start singing, Ken held the door open for the man. 

 The idea caught on.  Soon almost everyone was ignoring the clowns and helping each other fix things when they made mistakes instead of laughing at them.  Pretty soon, the clowns were rare and hard to find.  People stopped laughing at each other.  They still made mistakes but those were immediately overlooked or someone would come along to help. 


THE MORAL:  Remember if you laugh when someone else’s clown starts singing...there’s one more over your shoulder just waiting to sing for you.  You can shut them up before they even begin.


Hey Hey Hey

Tooling around the internet I paid a visit to the Arizona Tea website. Arizona Tea has been good to us.  I once taught a lesson using Arizona Tea as part of the lesson.  I wrote a letter to the company and they were so pleased the sent us free stuff.  Nice people.

 Arizona Tea has entered the coffee market. In line with their other drinks named after athletes (Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer) the new beverage has a sports theme.  Joltin’ Joe.  Named after the famous baseball player Joe Demaggio.  For those of you with a knowledge of 70’s pop music may know the name from “Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away...hey hey hey.”  

 Joe Demaggio was also married to Marilyn Monroe.  He was spokes person for Mr Coffee when Mr Coffee first introduced their automatic coffee maker.  

 Arizona’s coffee beverage is labeled as a Sparkling Expresso.  So it’s a coffee soda. (Both Coke and Pepsi tried a coffee soda with limited results.)  The site also says its flavored with brown sugar.  So its a really sweet coffee soda.  Still I am intrigued.

 There was a book, a western, I read years ago called Lonesome Dove. It was about a team of cowboys who take a heard of cattle across the state. The cook in the story liked to put brown sugar in his coffee.  I had ever herd of such a thing.  In the book the moment rates a whole paragraph about putting enough sugar in the coffee to make it almost a syrup.  When the movie premiered the cook made is coffee in the background behind the two cowboys who were arguing. I watched the cook put the brown sugar in his coffee and stir.  If you had not read the book that moment would have slipped right by you. I caught it.  Yay me. Hey hey hey.

 On the can of Joltin Joe is a picture of a sullen Joe Demaggio taken from a nineteen forty-something baseball card.  Joe played for the Yankees but on the can the NY has been photo-shopped out.  A sharp eye-ed reviewer for bev-net.com caught the detail. I’ve been wondering why they felt the need?  

 Life is in the details.  The small moments. The blips and bleeps that exist only for a second and you miss them if you aren’t paying attention.  Hitchcock put himself in all of his films in the background somewhere.  In the movie Scott Pilgrim vs The World,  every boyfriend has a number accept for Scott himself.  Yet he has a T-shirt that reads ZERO and he drinks coke-zero and he get’s called a zero.  In Back to the Future the name of the mall changes because of something Marty did in his own past. It’s never mentioned it’s only there for people who appreciate the details. 

 When Paul writes the new testament he likes to throw in words and phrases from the Old Testament without making a point of them.  In the Jewish study tradition when you ran across a word that seemed familiar you were told to go back in the text and find that word and study that passage to.  

 The old phrase “God is in the details” refers to the notion that whatever you are doing...do it throughly.  Yes, you have to wash both sides of the dish. Yes, you have to follow the recipe exactly.  The smallest ingredient in a batch of chocolate chip cookies is  baking soda.  Ever bake cookies and leave that one out?  Life works this way.

 Yes, we get tired. Yes, things slip by us. But when you learn to pay attention to life around you, you start to notice things.  Things others miss.  Pay attention to movies and books and you will those little treats the director put in just for people who pay attention. God makes all things work together like the workings of a clock.  Pay attention and you will find gifts that God put into the universe just for people who will appreciate it. Hey. Hey. Hey.


Pay attention.


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