Things I Learned from R. B. (May 24th, 2020)

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4419)

Episode 16

For nearly five months, I had been squirreling some money away, trying to fund an idea I believed needed to be pursued.

It was time.

Whatever inspiration had once possessed the soul of our family—to travel across the country, working, living and making music together—had gradually dissipated down to a stream of loyalty and an irritating question.

If we weren’t doing this, what in the hell would we do?

My wife mustered the energy to be happy, but certainly had lost the desire to schedule, travel and perform.

My sons were thrilled to be brothers, enjoined with me, but knew deep in their hearts that the “call of the mild” must replace the “call of the wild.”

They needed lives of their own.

This would take money.

I knew it was foolish to announce to the family my campaign. It just might make them fearful that if they ate an extra apricot, they were destroying our future.

So I kept it private.

After five months, I had a small sum I was grateful for—but knew it was nowhere in the ballpark of fulfilling the need.

We were traveling across the panhandle of Florida, heading toward Jacksonville when I said a very simple prayer.

“Dear Lord, I’ve painted myself into a corner. Either help the paint to dry quickly or direct me clearly on how to leap out of my predicament.”

Also, it had become more difficult to acquire schedulings. It takes a lot of passion to convince somebody of what you want to do—and honestly, people were not quite as open to being convinced.

So in late August, in boiling hot Jacksonville, we succeeded in getting one booking for the week–on the Sunday night.

One opportunity to pay our way.

One mission field.

One audience.

I came to a decision before we rolled up to our engagement.

“Whatever we have at the end of tonight I will use to set us up somewhere and give my sons the chance to launch their own lives.”

Yet I was discouraged when I arrived and realized we were at a church that only had fifty people on a Sunday night—a black church, which meant we might have to wade through some resistance.

It’s not that black churches were difficult, but sometimes, because of the nature of the South and memories of segregation, the parishioners wondered why a white family was coming to a black church instead of sharing their talents with white folk.

I put those thoughts out of my mind, making sure they were busy elsewhere. Instead, I took a count of my situation.

I felt I needed three thousand dollars to settle in.

With some amazing blessings from the previous two weeks, I had managed to collect $1434 in cash.

That night, when the pastor introduced me and I stepped in front of an audience of forty-two people, the calculator in my brain boiled over with frustration.

I needed to make about thirty-five dollars a person to get my nest egg.

Now, I am not negative by any stretch of the imagination but am also not a fool. I don’t know whether I could have pulled a gun and gotten thirty-five dollars a person out of the gathering. There were several souls who might have needed me to donate to them.

But no matter.

Whatever happened, I was going to take the whole family to our next destination and do the best we could.

We would no longer be “on the road again.”

Over the years I have experienced some magical nights, yet none to compare with the warmth and tenderness exchanged in that sanctuary.

About halfway through I realized that these strangers had decided to become one with us, and we, likewise, one with them.

We laughed.

We cried.

We sang nearly every song we could play.

At the end the pastor stood and took up the offering.

I was astounded when he handed me $1,433.

Now, I will not tell you that I should ever have taken my family on the road. I also will not lie to you and say that everything I did on that journey was well-thought-out or appropriate.

But the science of our music, the Mother Nature of what apparently was a good season, and the humanity of this congregation launched us to our new beginnings.

The next morning as I drove north, I explained what I envisioned for us to do as a family.

They were relieved.

They didn’t act that way—there were some tears of regret.

But there were also some shouts of “hallelujah” over the new possibility.

To avoid a motel room, we drove all the way into Nashville, Tennessee, and in just three hours, located a new apartment.

We spent that first night sleeping on the floor of our new home.

The next four days were nothing short of miraculous.

My sons got out, secured social security numbers, found jobs and set in motion getting drivers’ licenses.

It all fell in place—mainly because I felt as if I was no longer forcing the direction. Rather, the passions of my children were driving the solution.

I hooked up a phone—landline. Two hours later it rang.

It was R. B., calling from Tacoma.

I don’t know how he knew we were coming to Nashville or how he successfully tracked down our phone number so quickly.

He did a little hemming and he did a little hawing, and somewhere in between, I got the idea that he had hatched his own plan.

He needed his own miracle.

Sensing his frustration and his desperation, I said, “Hey, buddy, why don’t you just move to Nashville? It’s where you started. It’s where we met—and it’s where they make music. How can you lose?”

Two weeks later, driving a car that should not even have been on the road, he arrived, found a small one-room apartment and settled in.

We were in the same community again, with even less in common.

Still, all in all, it was better for both of us than where we found ourselves short weeks before.

Things I Learned from R. B.


Jonathots Daily Blog

(4322)

Episode 3

The next morning my phone rang at seven o’clock.

It was R. B.

With nearly a tear in his voice, he explained that he’d been up most of the night, worried about the money he would receive while traveling with the cast of the musical.

The producers had joined with me in giving to these student-actors, who would be performing the parts, thirty-five dollars a week plus all expenses. At the time, most traveling casts of this style were charging the participants for the privilege of traveling. But it felt right for us to offer the young humans a little money for their concerted efforts.

But R. B. was not satisfied with the base wage.

He explained his bills. Three times. He also shared that his father had taught him that being frugal and prudent with your money was the best way to stay happy, and free of both debt and interference from others.

He was about to tell me that he was going to bow out when some evil spirit of compromise jumped up in my soul and I said, “How about we give you seventy-five dollars a week? But please, don’t tell the other cast members.”

There were so many things wrong with that statement, I don’t know where to start. But whereas R. B. was worried about the money, I was concerned about filling all the cast slots, and was in no mood on this early morn to lose one of them.

He agreed—with just a hint of reluctance, to let me know that he was well worth the offer and more.

As I hung up the phone I thought, “Is this going to end up biting me in the ass?”

I knew it would.

But I thought some scrambled eggs and turkey sausage might sooth my nervous soul.

3 Things … January 30th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

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That Will Still Be True in a Hundred Years

 

1. People treat you basically the way you treat them.

 

2. Money is better when you earn it with your brain and hands.

 

3. No one will know for sure there is a God.

3 Things … January 16th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4291)

You Can Do to Truly Bless Other People

 

1. Don’t complain so much in front of them

 

2. Pay your own bills without using their money

 

3. Share your faith through gestures

 

1 Thing You Can Do to Maintain the Power of Your Own Reasoning

 

Don’t Hold Town Meetings

I don’t know how the practice got started.

I suppose someone thought it was really civic minded for a candidate to sit in front of a bunch of townsfolk and take questions about his or her choices made while governing.

But here is the break-down of what happens when you try to appeal to the masses.

It is a three-step process:

1. Masses

2. Misses

3. Messes

There you go. That’s the way it works.

When you talk to the masses in America, you are not speaking to individual people who formulated their own thinking on a particular subject. You end up addressing the multi-media machines—the ones with the most money—which target those Masses to try to implant the ideas of their Misses, which they want to push forward—creating Messes.

If I were to sum up our present climate, I would call it A. I. U.

Yes, America is A. I. U.—which stands for An Internet Understanding.

On innumerable subjects, Americans can give you their take, which they have derived by being peppered, through the Internet, with Tweets, posts and memes. There’s not enough time to participate in reading or viewing these opinions and also finding out if they’re correct. Therefore, what you think about America is solely based upon what Internet cites you choose for gathering your information.

Now, if you slam all those people together in a Town Meeting, what they will shout at you is what they are positive is the truth—because they read it on the Internet.

In A. I. U. environments, it is absolutely impossible, if not dangerous, to open up the room to questions.

Likewise, nowadays, I’m even careful about asking people’s opinion on the latest shirt I bought. Because what I often get back is A. I. U.

Or, “What do you think I should do about selling my house?” More A. I. U.

My son is thinking about going to college. A. I. U. begins to speak.

Once you get in a Town Meeting, you can’t stop listening or run out the door in horror.

If you planned a Town Meeting, you can’t cancel it without looking like you have something to hide.

So our 1 Thing for today is simple:

Don’t you dare hold a Town Meeting. 

 

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1 Thing You Can Do This Week to Line Yourself Up for Success

 

Use the Right Verb

When connecting your subject with your object, find the energy to make it powerful.

Be verbal.

ReVERBerate.

If “I” is your subject and “money” is your object, what is the verb that joins the two words?

Is it need? I need money?

Much too desperate.

Is it spend? I spend money?

Typical.

Is it love? I love money?

Then be prepared to dig out the root of evil.

Choose carefully.

I value money. Perhaps—as long as it doesn’t become your heart’s mission.

What if the subject is “I” and the object is “you?”

I hate you. That’s vicious.

I love you. Are you prepared for that commitment?

I ignore you. Be prepared to be ignored, and also receive a side of criticism.

I appreciate you. That verb sends a chill down the human spine.

We want to be loved, but it’s so much better when appreciation is included.

Use the right verb.

It will propel you as you take your subject and journey to your object.


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Sit Down Comedy …March 8th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3978)


I recently moved, abandoning my old fortress of solitude for new digs, which I now comfortably call home.

In my whole life I have done this process twelve times. I was a little surprised to discover that this is statistically average.

Whenever I move, the first thing I do is go out and buy a box of garbage bags. Why? Because I’m going to give away a whole lot of stuff. These are the materials that crept into my life, were used temporarily, and ended up being stored in my closet or corners, where I intentionally forgot them.

It’s a very easy evaluation process. As I begin to pack things, I look at each item and ask myself the following three questions:

  1. Have I used this in the past three months?
  2. Will I use it a lot in the next three months?
  3. Is there someone who would really like to use it right now?

It makes things so easy. I not only end up moving but am able to bless a whole bunch of people who get the rejects I’ve been keeping around out of sentimentality mingled with laziness.

But you see, likewise, every once in a while, when something in my life needs to be moved, shifted or rearranged, I will dare to enter my closet of emotions and see what might be in there that is unnecessary.

There are three main culprits:

A. Worry

It gets shuffled to the rear and pretends it’s not there until you glance at it and then, the apprehension surfaces.

B. Pride

It always likes to be hung up high where it can be seen but does nothing to enhance my being except puff up my ego and is quickly deflated by reality.

C. And finally, self-pity

This one really likes to hide, like a cockroach surprised by turning on the light in the middle of the night. It likes to pretend it doesn’t exist, but self-pity literally “bugs me.”

When I look at these emotions—worry, pride and self-pity—I know deep in my heart that they’re worthless, but I keep them around for those times when others are not concerned, praising me—or they might even be ignoring me.

They suck. Yes, these fretting emotions literally suck the life out of me.

Because when I pose the three questions to them, which need to be asked of any emotion, they always fail. The three questions are:

  • Is this emotion making me money?
  • Is this emotion making me friends?
  • Is this emotion making me smarter?

Honestly, I do not feel old, but I am too ancient to waste time worrying pridefully in a puddle of self-pity. I need things in my life that make me money, friends and turn me into a smarter being.

So will you join me in grabbing a sack, finding your worry, your pride and your self-pity, bagging it up and giving it away for Goodwill?

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