Browse Category: Stories

PONDER ANEW

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(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

I MANAGED to make it to church this morning. Over the last few years, attending church has become harder for me to accomplish for several and various reasons – none of which I wish to discuss in this entry. These reasons range from the very practical issues, such as not having decent clothes to wear because the laundry wasn’t done earlier in the week due to some unexpected crisis, to the deeply theological issues whose immensity and complexities sometimes befuddle my little brain. However, today I was able to put all of that aside and go to worship.

I am glad that I was there. It was good to sing and to hear other human voices singing. It was good to hear the Bible read. It was good to have a time of peace. It is always good to see Pastor B and to be reminded of his involvement in my life. The whole experience helped to organize my thoughts for this entry.

THE THEME of today’s entry started to take shape in my mind one day this past week as I was driving to work. It was one of those rare occasions when I tuned in my radio to a Christian station. I do not listen to those stations very much – for reasons which also will not be discussed in this entry. While listening this particular morning, I heard a contemporary version of an old hymn. It was not contemporary in the “pop” sense of contemporary. I am referring to the sense of “newness” or “currency” in the word contemporary. The song caught my attention. I found myself singing along. The whole song became centered on these lines in the third verse:

Ponder anew what the Almighty will do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
My thoughts began to radiate from this central theme.

WHEN I STOP to think about it, I can think of no topic so sublime to give one’s self up to in pondering than the love of God! The immediate Bible verse that comes to mind is John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Many of us have most likely heard that verse countless times. Many have had it memorized from Sunday school classes early in their life. Many can quote it without blinking. For some of us, it proceeds from our mouths with as much ease as the next breath we are about to exhale.

Does a good understanding of the “meaning” of that verse come to us as easily? We all recognize its packaging easy enough. But do we take the time to unwrap it, examine it, taste it, bite into it and nourish ourselves on the depth of its meaning? Would our characters be “healthier” and our lives more stable and vibrant if we did?

“PONDER ANEW” the meaning of the love of God. Maybe it’s been some time since some of us have thought much about God or His love. It’s the beginning of a new year and a new millenium. Maybe it’s the most appropriate time for some of us to ponder the love of God.

In the above-mentioned Bible verse, the love of God is not described or explained. It is declared to be the purpose behind God’s involvement in this world in the act of giving His Son Jesus Christ. The full story is that God gave His Son in order that He might save the world from their sins. Jesus accomplished this by giving His own body up to a torturous death on a cross in the place of those who were guilty and worthy of death themselves. He once suffered for sins, “the just for the unjust,” the righteous for the guilty, the pure for the unholy, God for man, Jesus Christ for Sam Snyder.

There is an infinite world of contemplation to be had when pondering the love of God in such a personal way! Why in the world would God give His Son to die for me?? Think of Jesus Christ. Go beyond thinking about people you know who say that they are Christians. Don’t look at them right now. Look at Jesus Christ. Think of all the good that He did. Think of His reputation as a kind and compassionate man, a worker of miracles, a healer of the sick, a liberator of the possessed, a real man, yet much more than a man. Think of how He had been with His Father for all of eternity past. Think of His purity.

NOW THINK honestly about yourself. If you are not able to do that, think honestly about Sam Snyder. After all, this is his online journal that he has so blatantly unveiled before the whole world. Let him step forward and be examined. What is his character really like? Who is he when no one else is looking? What kind of sordid thoughts fancy his imagination? How many half-truths have come from his mouth? What is the real depth of his sincerity? Does he have any sincerity at all?

Let’s compare him to Jesus Christ! Has Sam Snyder ever created a world so complex and marvelous as Jesus Christ has? Has Sam Snyder ever raised the dead, or touched a leper to heal him, or fed 5,000 people from just a few loaves? Has Sam Snyder been entirely without even the slightest sin for all of his life? Has Sam Snyder loved not only his friends, but even his enemies to the point of willingly dying for them?

Looks like Sam Snyder falls far short of measuring up.

“PONDER ANEW” what it means to be “befriended” by Almighty God. Wow! The possibilities are infinite because the love of God is infinite. Indeed, as the Bible simply states, “God IS love.” It is His very nature. He is loving in all that He is and does. Think of having a friend who loves you so much that he is willing to give up his dearest possessions for your well being. Now think of this friend as one who has proven his love for you over and over and over again. Not only that, think of this friend as having all the resources necessary to provide for your well being. Think of a king who has the riches and authority to take up a pauper and make him a prince, allowing him to live in his castle as one of his own sons. Think of a physician who is not only wise enough to diagnose your disease, but also able to provide the cure you need – free of charge! Ponder these ideas and others like them. Multiply them by infinity. Then you will just begin to realize what it means to be befriended by God.

SO these have been some of my deeper ponderings of late. There are many, many things concerning God and religion that I cannot explain, many questions that I currently have no answers for, many knots that I cannot untangle (some which I refuse to try to untangle anymore). But one thing that I can say for sure is that God, the Father of Jesus Christ, is loving and generous. For many years now, He has not failed to somehow communicate to me that He loves me. In all of the hardships that I have endured, it is God and His love that has picked me back up off the floor, stood me back upon my feet, and helped me to take another step forward. It is not my sense of humor or my own raw will power that has sustained me. Rather, it is something in my heart that says, “There is more to this life than what you see. There are bigger purposes, designs and plans, which you cannot comprehend right now. Your pains are not the ‘ends’ but only the ‘means’ of bringing you to something larger, something more substantial, something permanent.” Therein is the essence of the continuum in my life. There are forces and influences, which are much larger than I am. There are plans, which are immensely broader than my narrow life, plans, which have their beginning in eternity. Yet, because God is love, because He has befriended me, because He is almighty, I have faith that these plans are His plans, designed with infinite and personal love. I have faith that His plans have included me and that my well being was not forgotten when He held His counsel and designed this world. I have faith that even my feeble life is being used for his purposes in this world, perhaps even in the writing of this entry today, perhaps as part of someone else’s continuum.

I’m glad I went to church today. I hope you are now as well.

THE BATTLE OF SNYDERSBURG

jcannon

(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

ON NEW YEARS DAY I did what Friend J refers to as “driving home.” This time it was a longer drive home than usual. Basically “driving home” refers to traveling out past Harrisburg, PA to pick up H and M. I normally do this on a Friday night after work, going straight to Harrisburg, tossing the girls into the car, and driving straight back home. Then, at the end of their visit, I “drive home” again, this time tossing the girls out of the car. (Fear not! Children are resilient!) This particular “drive home” was longer than usual because X.2 asked me to meet her in Frederick, MD. Being the nice guy that I am, I agreed to drive farther this time to give her a break. Besides, Frederick is close to Gettysburg, and I thought I could do a little site seeing on the way back.

So the story begins…

I AWOKE with plenty of time to get on the net for a bit, have my tea and then shower. I was determined that I would be ready to leave the house with time to spare this time. All was progressing according to plan until just after the shower. At that point the “Battle of Snydersburg” began with a bang.

Just as I was finishing my shower, one of the little ones knocked on the door and said, “I have to go to the bathroom.” I replied, “I’m getting out now. Just let me dry off.” “Ok, Daddy.” I dried off, put my shorts on, opened the door and beheld the aforementioned little one peering up at me through a pained look.

“Daddy… I couldn’t help it!! The **euphemism** just started coming out!!”

At that point I looked a little lower to see that this little one had no pants on and the **euphemism** was still “coming out!” She tried to take a step and I said, “NO!!! Don’t walk!! Stop the **euphemism**!!”

I panicked my way into the kitchen for paper towels. And sure enough… There were only three sheets left and it was the last roll. Typical. Bowels never burst forth when you have a warehouse full of cleaning supplies!! No, they wait to catch you off guard and then “BLAM!!” Well… As the saying goes, “**Euphemism** Happens!”

So I cleaned the child and the floor with napkins as best I could. I survived the “enemy’s” first onslaught, but the second attack was only moments away…

HAVE YOU EVER ever tried to wake up a 16 year old son after he stayed up to watch the ball drop on New Years Eve and tell him that he had to get ready to go on a 6 hour “drive home” with you? Yes, that is just asking for a battle! And a battle we had! It was loud! It was heated! It was life or death! I will spare you the agony of reading the gory details. I’ll just say that I was able to subdue the rebel and drag him along for the trip as my hostage. By the end of the day, he had had a great time. But I can still hear the shots ringing from this early morning encounter.

BY THE TIME we finally got on our way it was 11:30 – one hour behind schedule. Plus we still had to stop for lunch and **euphemism** medicine. We didn’t leave our hometown until 12:30. We were pretty late then. I don’t know which I worried about more: the hassles with X.2 when I showed up late or my own disappointment if I couldn’t make it back to Gettysburg before it got too dark to take pictures.

More than half of our trip went without event. But a little past Harrisburg, I heard a young voice from the back seat say, “Daddy, I think I have to use the bathroom.” I turned to see that pained look grimacing back and we jumped off at the next exit. We spotted a Burger King straight ahead. I drove 90 mph and straight into the ladies’ room! I waited outside the door while my little one answered “nature’s scream”. (Thank God for restaurants with bathrooms!) After several minutes, the door to the ladies’ room opened. There stood my little one saying, “Daddy… the **euphemism**…” with her undies hanging from her pinched fingers.

“Throw it away! Throw it away!! THROW IT AWAY!!!”

We had to make one more emergency pit stop along the way. We finally made it to Frederick, late but without hassle. X.2 was late herself.

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J AND I made it to Gettysburg around 4:30. The sky was cloudy and there was an icy wind blowing across the battlefield. The whole place felt haunted. It felt like we were trespassing. We had enough daylight to drive around the southern end of the battlefield, through the Round Tops, past the Pennsylvania Monument, the Angle and Bryant’s Farm.

Once you reach Bryant’s Farm you are on the edge of the town of Gettysburg. The cemetery is near that point. I parked the car and ventured into the cemetery alone. J was too cold and hungry. He waited in the car. There was hardly any daylight then. Dusk was waning and the night was yawning over the place. I ran through the cemetery in order to stand where Abraham Lincoln stood when he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Nearby, there was a row of graves classified as “Unknown.” I stood for a while, staring at one of the markers, wondering who was beneath me, wondering where he was from. Did he have a wife? Children? Where on this battlefield did his blood seep into the ground? My thoughts were getting icy like the wind. If I believed in ghosts I would have sworn that you could sense restlessness rising from those graves. It was time to retreat to the car.

Before we left Gettysburg, we stopped at the only gift shop that was opened. It is called An Early Elegance. We were greeted by the owner, a very pleasant woman named Mary. J picked out a “souvenir” to which my only comment was, “You came all the way to Gettysburg, this historical place, and that was what you chose for a souvenir??” He was happy nonetheless. (Click HERE to see J’s souvenir.) I picked out a book. (I can always rationalize my need to buy a book at any given time.) Mary packed our items and also gave us a big bag of celery and carrots, a nice bag of pretzels and assorted chocolates for our journey home. Her kindness is much appreciated! When you get to Gettysburg, give her my regards.

SO… after 360 miles, 7 1/2 hours, 3 public restrooms, and a spent tank of gas, I had literally gone full circle and was finally home. But the day was not over. I still had to drive another 20 miles to pick up S and T…

“Tighten the ranks, fellas! A soldier’s duty never really ends!”

CHANGE YOUR OIL LATELY?

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(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

ONE of my careless tendencies is to forget about changing the oil in my car. Stepfather is very alert to this and seems to have an internal clock that sounds an alarm when MY car is about due for an oil change. It’s amazing! How many times has he asked me, “Change your oil lately?” right when my odometer is at 2,999 miles? As I respond, “It’s about due now. I’m going to do it soon,” with procrastination lurking behind my words, Stepfather begins his very slick lecture about the need to maintain the purity of my oil and the miseries that will ensue if I fail to do so. He’s the Dr. Koop of auto mechanics. He will probably demand that some sort of label be placed on the side of my car. As all good doctors, he has nothing but good intentions.

WHEN I look back over the years, Stepfather’s reminders to take care of my vehicles are one of many styles of melodies that emanate from his heart. I think of how he has consistently played those melodies over the noisy crowd of my rebellions. Believe me, there have been times when the two of us have nearly pushed each other to insanity! I remember “hating” his guts in a teenage sort of way. I remember blatantly giving him the finger (with my bedroom door slightly open) and he seeing me. I hurled sarcasms, insults, taunts, and near denials of his existence. Yet the symphony played on! Surely, certain sections of his ensemble had their weaknesses. But the overall effect is something so positive and beautiful. It is music that has become part of the soundtrack of the movie of my life. His courage to walk onto the stage time after time and raise his baton to conduct the orchestra again amazes me! How does a man enter the life of an angry 10-year-old boy and continue to perform with overall consistency for years? I applaud him!

NOW TODAY he should be proud of me! Today I accomplished a something that neglect with diligent procrastination. Today’s accomplishment consisted of having my car inspected and finally receiving a current inspection sticker on my windshield. (Proof of which is displayed on this page for the entire world to see!) It’s not that having my car inspected is a big problem. My current car is only a year old. It’s the time involved and the hassle of doing it that are the problems. I rationalize my avoidance of car inspections by saying that we single fathers have no time for these things. There should be a law exempting us from the obligation of car inspections! However, today, after 13 months of driving with NO inspection sticker on my car (and much longer than that with my previous car), I have attained true conformity with the rest of society and submitted my Toyota to the mundane ritual of official state car inspection. My single father comrades please forgive my betrayal of the cause. I may have let you down, but Stepfather is smiling!

What was that you asked, Stepfather? My oil? Uh… Well… I’ll get to that tomorrow. I promise!

SNOWBOUND IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE

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(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

FUNNY… I woke up this morning with my sanity intact! I did it! I survived! A full day snowed in with five kids, and I’m still sane! Just a little bit of drool on my chin and a passively crazed look in my eye – not too bad!

We all fared fairly well yesterday. S had a few moments there when I thought she was going to be the first one to jump ship. I guess it’s tough being a 14 year old girl living with two teenage brothers and a dad. I can’t say that I can relate to that exactly, having never been a girl myself. S was a great help in keeping H and M occupied much of the day, especially while I was taken hostage by my pc and forced to finally produce this site! J was fairly mild through the day. There were a few incidents when he and S tangled with each other. That brought back some memories…

I GREW UP WITH a younger sister, C, two years younger than I. I love her to death… But there were times as a teenager when… Well, I remember saying things like:

“Stop singing!”, while we were in the car. And, of course, Mom always said, “She can sing if she wants to. Leave her alone. She’s happy.” Yes, happy to be torturing me! But, I will confess, I find myself repeating Mom’s words in similar situations with my own children.

“Don’t walk so close to me!”, while we were walking in the mall. Walking too close to your teenage brother in the mall just isn’t cool! He doesn’t want anyone to mistakenly think that you are his girlfriend and not just his sister! That is one of life’s injustices that most teenage brothers are forced to bear. Some day I’ll make a law about that too!

ANY WAY… Besides the few squirmishes between J and S, we had some fun while being snowbound yesterday. In fact, we got by with a little help of our friends, The Beatles. M saw a commercial on television for a new Beatles CD. When I told her that I had that CD, she got so excited and said, “Can we put it on? I want that one, ‘I want to hold your hand,’ Daddy!”

So we danced our way through most of the 27 tunes on the CD! At one point S, H, M and one of S’s friends were all holding hands and dancing – on my bed! Then “Penny Lane” was ringing out through the halls at the top of someone’s lungs. “Eight Days a Week” was a little confusing for young minds. As an adult, it sure feels like most weeks have enough work for eight days! My bed was quickly transformed from a dance floor into a “Yellow Submarine.” M was the captain. She and I sat on the bed, facing each other with or feet together, singing and making silly faces at each other. There’s nothing as silly as a four-year-old yellow submarine captain!

I’ve been thinking of changing one of the tunes to “JavaScript Writer.” I wonder if it would sell??

THROUGH MOST OF MY LIFE, I really haven’t had much of an interest in the Beatles. But, for whatever reason, I recently had a “hankering” for their music. That’s a funny word, but I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s a “hankering.” For the past few years, I’ve been getting these “hankerings” for music that I never wanted to listen to when I was younger. Some of the CDs that I now own I would not have been caught dead with in my possession as a teenager! And I’m finding that I’ve been getting “hankerings” for the music my Mom listened to while I was growing up!! Somebody save me!! Neil Diamond… Elton John… Carly Simon… Carole King… And I’ve got such a “hankering” for one of the old Chicago CDs! I must resist! I must fight it! I must put some cool music on! Alice Cooper! Give me Alice! Alice will help me!

So what is the moral of the story? Is it, once you have kids of your own you end up with “hankerings,” talk like your Mom and listen to her kind of music?? Maybe it’s, once you have kids of your own you start to appreciate your parents more. You begin to realize how much of their own life they gave up for YOU. As you pour yourself into your children you see that a good portion of what you are pouring has come from your parents. Then you may even get a glimpse of how so many things – both good and bad – have been pouring down from parent to child for generations. Hopefully you also have the determination to correct some of the low qualities that may have been passed along and to strengthen the higher qualities. Now, before I get way too philosophical on you, I think I better put some music on!

Neil Diamond anyone??

SNOW AND CHINESE FOOD

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(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

HERE I AM on a snowy Saturday morning at the end of the year 2000. The snow appears to be falling with a cold determination to bury us deep this time. The weatherman was calling for twelve inches or more. He says its going to to snow all day.

At least we have heat today! The day after Christmas the heat went out for the third time this winter! (Yes, I have one of “those” landlords.) Then, once we had heat that day, we had no water because a pipe cracked in the basement. When I returned from picking up H and M, the lady downstairs said, “We are waiting for someone to come fix the pipe. The landlord said someone was coming.” Right…..

That was around 1 in the afternoon.

By 2 in the afternoon, no one was here to fix the water and “nature was screaming!” I wasn’t about to comply with nature when there was no water to flush the evidence of my compliance! So, I got my coat on and informed the kids that I was setting off to find a bathroom.

I decided to go to the China Garden restaurant to seek my relief. I had eaten there plenty of times without leaving a decent tip. So I figured it was time to give a little something back! Then it occurred to me that I might as well get an order to go since we had not eaten lunch yet. That was perfect! I could use their bathroom AND return home with something for the kids to eat! I could take care of two of life’s necessities in one swift “movement”!

The kids loved the broccoli and chicken….

WE still haven’t finished decorating our Christmas tree. I did put some lights up along the steps outside on December 23. I also put the tree in its stand in the living room that day. But no one put any lights on it until December 26. The lights are on “upside down” so that the prongs to plug them in are sticking out at the top of the tree about two miles from the nearest outlet. After driving to Harrisburg and back on the 26th, I just had no inspiration to fix those lights. We’ll do it right next year! The way I see it, as a single father, it was a major accomplishment just getting that tree into the living room in time for Christmas! Lights and decorations are dispensables and frivolities – not necessities like heat, water and Chinese food!

SO NOW I am preparing to face a day snowed in with three teenages, a four and a six year old. It’s the latest version of “Survivor.” Who will emerge from the apartment alive once the blizzard passes? Will Dad have any sanity left by the end of the blizzard? If we run out of food here we have no rats to eat…. But J did get a hamster for Christmas…. If the heat goes out again, we can “light” that Christmas tree up to keep warm. But what if we have no water again???? What then????

I wonder if the Chinese place delivers in the snow…….

(* This entry is dedicated to a girl who called herself Yen and had a website called Nostalgic Thoughts. She gave me the encouragement to finally start this journal! She has since disappeared and I often wonder where she went.)