Good News and Better News … October 19th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Edgerton

Many years ago, I sensed a voice within me, encouraging me to go out and share my heart and abilities with the world. Some people would say it was the voice of God, while others would probably insist that it was just me, declaring my own bidding.

I don’t care.

I heeded the call, and that decision has taken me on an exotic adventure.

  • You can usually find a pretty decent place to stay.
  • If you pursue the pep for pepperoni, pizza parlors are pretty plentiful.
  • Almost always there’s a park nearby for sitting and viewing.
  • And grocery stores prosper in all 50 states.

What you occasionally may feel you lack as a traveling troubadour, is encouragement.

I don’t offer this as a lamentation, but rather, a statement of fact–that folks who live in towns often want to promote their lifestyles to the detriment of those who travel about. After all, gypsies are still considered “tramps and thieves.”

I share this candidly with you. Even though you may feel you’re on a mission or that you have something of value you would like to share, this does not always come with appreciation.

But in the midst of every threatening pity party comes the grace of God, to bolster your ego before it collapses in on your determination.

That’s how I would describe my stay in Edgerton, Wisconsin.

Afforded the blessing of three sharings at a church, I was touched by the openness of the local newspaper–which not only advertised our appearances, but offering second-mile enthusiasm in doing so.

When I arrived at the church for setup, a fine fellow named Jim, who just happened to be the pastor, found himself in the position of being the sole carrier of our equipment, since others did not make the scene. He not only had a servant’s heart, but also a mule’s will to tackle the deed without complaint.

Before I left for the presentations that day, I opened up my email and there was a note from a gentleman I hadn’t thought of for nearly thirty years. He remembered some special words I had shared with him which continued to influence his life.

Already my heart was full.

It overflowed after the first show, when another fine fellow who had seen me four years earlier, launched into further conversation about specifics regarding my books, which had enriched his life.

But it didn’t stop there.

One after another, the fine souls who attended this Edgerton church were not only kind, generous and open, but seemed determined to make me and my dear partner feel as if we were long-time residents, or even kin.

They did something amazing. They let us in.

Even though they are warned by a 24-hour news cycle to be suspicious and even angry, they stepped away from that ridiculous counsel and allowed us to be part of them for a brief season.

Matter of fact, one dear woman scurried to my table and asked me if she could hug me.

Yes, you can hug me–if you don’t mind me taking some of the love and energy you’re offering, and sticking it in my soul for lonelier days ahead.

It was our last day in Wisconsin after spending 91 of them “badgering” the locals with our message: no one is better than anyone else.

Thank you, Wisconsin, and a special thank-you to Edgerton.

I leave you with only one word of advice. If you want to draw people to yourselves and see lives changed, let them in to your living room, to see who you really are. Because people are not turned off by your weakness … unless you insist that you’re always strong.

 

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Jesus and Me … September 8, 2013 Number 2000

Jonathots Daily Blog

 Calvary

Jesus and me are going to Flint

Jesus is mighty smart

Me is trying to learn

Jesus is looking for people who care

Me is working on trying not to be careless

Jesus loves everybody

Me likes most

Jesus wants to save the lost

Me is struggling to keep from getting lost

Jesus demands repentance

Me needs some of that of my own

Jesus pursues the least

Me still favors the most

Jesus is willing to die for the world

Me  wants to live a little bit longer

Jesus doesn’t worry very much

Me doesn’t need much to worry

Jesus knows the hearts of people

Me does a lot of guessing

Jesus believes in good cheer

Me likes to joke

Jesus knows Flint has struggled

Me understands struggle

Jesus made the lame to walk

Me walks a little lame

Jesus is coming again

Me is leaving sooner or later

Jesus was human

Me, too

Jesus was tempted

Me, daily

Jesus was touched by sickness

Me, just last week

Jesus will appear in Flint through Spirit

Me will show up in the flesh: lots of it

Flint, I wish I could offer you more

But for now you are stuck with me …

This troubadour

 

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Moving On … June 13, 2013

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Du QuoinJust because you find yourself in the position of being a traveling troubadour does not necessarily mean that you’re tickled about moving on.

If you have one ounce of human understanding, you have a tendency to attach to the people you meet, do some bonding and have a spot deep in your soul that wishes you could hang around longer. Obviously, that’s why most individuals settle into a nest, raise some birds and fly around the same batch of trees.

So every time I finish up a show with a new clump of friends, the realization that I must go onward and start over with those who insist that we begin “as strangers” is not only a bit intimidating but also stirs a little sadness in my soul–because I will be absent from those with whom I have just drawn near.

But the gospel was never meant to be placed within a tabernacle and revered around an altar. The message of truth and mercy is a living, breathing organism which finds its energy from renewing and saving the lost.

So there’s always a time for moving on.

When I finished up last night in Sunfield, I climbed up into my van and waved at the folks I treasured for forty-eight hours, stepped on the gas and traveled on. I thought to myself:

  • I have shared my music and heart to the best of my ability and to the completeness of my understanding at this point in my earth journey.
  • I kept it simple so the message can be remembered and cherished.
  • I laughed with those new friends to confirm the power of good cheer.
  • I shed a tear so that God could comfort us.
  • I tried not to be too long-winded, because many words dull the ears and confound the mind.
  • I stayed just long enough to be of benefit–and to learn.
  • And I left–so that the message can be honored instead of me occupying space and demanding notice.

Moving on. It is the miraculous mixture of trusting my talent, the power of the word …  and the souls left behind.

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M.T.M.B…. June 26, 2012

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She situated herself at the edge of the pool in a white deck chair, peering closely at her three young ducklings, splashing away in the water. Seeing us arrive, she apparently judged by our age that we were older and therefor cranky, and warned her children not to splash us when we entered the swimming hole.

I laughed. I told her that if we didn’t want to get wet, we probably should have stayed in our room instead of coming to the pool. She looked at me, a bit surprised, asked me if I was sure, and then returned to her vigil of supervision. Since the children were given permission to scream, they actually ended up screaming less. (I think that’s part of being a kid–if your parents want you to do anything, that’s a good enough reason to do it less or not at all.)

While I swam around, I observed her. I like to observe people–not because I’m nosy but because I’m trying to learn how to make better choices myself and the only way I’ve found to accomplish that is to learn from watching the decisions of others.

She yelled a lot. It’s not easy having three kids. I know–I’ve had them. You’re always concerned that they’re going to hurt themselves or do something stupid or annoy cantankerous folks around you, so you always come off a little over-protective and possibly overly critical.

She was having a bad day. No one should ever be judged–but certainly not when they’re having a bad day. Did I happen to mention that she was also pregnant? So there was going to be another young troubador joining the trio to form a quartet, with her being the underpaid and underappreciated maestro of the traveling troupe. What usually happens at this point is that people who think that they care or want to contribute something of quality resort to offering an opinion, or even worse, advice. It even can begin with the humble approach of, “In my experience … ”

If I could give one pearl of great wisdom to everyone in the world, it would be to avoid opinions and advice nearly at all cost. They are both useless. No one really wants to hear your opinion unless it’s favorable and your advice would require that they submit to your ideas, which human beings rarely do. We like to follow the thoughts that come from our own heads. Good, bad or ugly–it’s true.  So with that in mind I decided to contribute something of worth to this dear woman, who was obviously struggling under a burden beyond my present comprehension.

It’s all about good cheer. Good cheercomes in two forms. You can give it or you can be it. Sometimes the greatest thing you can do for another person is to just cheer ’em on. Take a moment, find something they’re doing well, and just give them a great big hoorah. I told her I thought she was doing a good job with her children and that she was smart to wear them out in the pool so they would get sleepy and have a good night of rest. She was a little shocked, but very appreciative that somebody was encouraging her instead of suggesting different parental approaches.

swimming pool

swimming pool (Photo credit: freefotouk)

I also used the other part of good cheer, staying in a great mood myself the whole time I was in the pool around her children. Humor may be the only answer to every problem–at least to get us started in the direction of resolution. (This is why we, as a race, are heading towards doom–because when confronted with conflict, we choose to become more serious-minded, and therefore, incompetent.)Yes, the two greatest things you can do for other people is cheer for them or bring good cheer in your own attitude.

I have experienced this my whole life. I was once stuck on I-40 in a complete stoppage of traffic because of a major accident. People got out of their cars and started to grump, complain and become fussy with one another. I realized it was going to be a dangerous situation unless some good cheer came in. So I let my sons get out of the car with their Nerf football and start throwing passes back and forth among the cars. Now, some people did complain, but most folks started tossing the ball along with them. In no time at all, the atmosphere changed from pre-Armageddon to “picnic.” All it took was good cheer.

The night that my son, Joshua, was in the hit-and-run accident, I found myself in the emergency room, awaiting the doctors and nurses to report to me, completely absorbed in my own tragedy. Sitting nearby was a mother and her nine-year-old son, who were also waiting for a report on an operation about her husband and his dad. They were tense, nervous and the little fellow was in tears. I didn’t feel like being generous. I was sitting in the ashes of my own devastation, but so was the little boy next to me. So I started up a game of, “I see something blue…” with him. (Honestly, it’s very hard to do in a hospital, considering that most things are beige and off-white.) He started to giggle, and for a necessary juncture, I forgot that my son was lying broken in an examination room. We passed the time together. About an hour later, the surgeon appeared and the little boy’s father had survived the operation. Good cheer won the night.

What we want to avoid are opinions and advice. Opinions are limited to our upbringing and advice has the frailty of being limited by our own personal experience. But good cheer comes from God, and sometimes only a gift from God will satisfy the human need.

My dear woman at the pool left in better sorts, I think. And I departed knowing that the best thing we can do is M.T.M.B.–which, by the way, stands for: Make The Moment Better.

   

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