Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Facebook Envy

One of the Facebook friends is on the coast of Maine on a family vacation.  Another flies around the United States and beyond doing educational workshops in really cool historical places . . . and, gets paid to do it.  This other friend is in Yellowstone National Park and has taken pictures of just about every living critter in the park . . . grizzly bears, moose, black bears, wolverines, badgers, mountain goats, Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep, wolves, and even the always around bison and elk.  Another friend just built a new addition onto their new house because they needed a little more room . . . for a cool hundred thousand.  One quit his job and jetted down to South America for the World Cup.  Another shared that her child was a genius and has already been accepted into Harvard . . . he goes into the first grade next year.  One friend has the next Michael Jordan as the kid is averaging close to sixty points in the family league held in their driveway.  Pretty amazing stuff!

As I skim through my newsfeed on Facebook I am always in awe of the accomplishments and adventures all of my Facebook  buddies have experienced.  I am in astonishment of the excitement that fills their lives each and every waking moment.  I am amazed at the life experiences and growth their lives afford them on a daily basis.  Plus, I am flabbergasted at the many of thousands of varieties of foods and drinks they consume while on these daily adventures.  And, I sigh . . . I sigh at what a wonderful life they all seem to be having in comparison to my own life.  Someone told me that I might be suffering from Facebook envy.

Facebook envy!

I had never heard of such a thing . . . but, it does exist.  I looked it up on the ever reliable Internet and found hundreds of thousands of links dealing with this phenomena . . . Facebook envy.  According to most the sources on the Internet, Facebook envy is when you look at the profiles of your friends and fear that they are living better lives than you are . . . that the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.  Apparently this is pretty serious stuff as millions of dollars are being dumped—or should I say, invested—into researching this topic.  Rampant Facebook envy can cause people not to like themselves or their lives . . . can make them jealous . . . and, can even cause depression.  It can create emotional pain and resentment.  Heaven forbid that it can make a person feel bad because they feel left out of the good life that everyone else seemingly has.

Omigod!  I didn’t realize it was such a terrible malady that could strike anyone using the social media of Facebook.  I didn’t realize that I was scratching on the surface . . . entering into the realm of such a drastic and debilitating curse . . . all because I looked in wonder and sighed at the portrayals of the good life everyone else is living.  This envy . . . this Facebook envy had to be stopped in its tracks before it completely manifested itself in my life.

One site I visited while looking for ways to avoid the green-eyed monster of Facebook suggested that the first step is that one has to admit that there is a problem.  Just admit it, said the site . . . admit that you are jealous.  It is like having a problem with alcohol or drugs or food . . . it is an addiction that is consuming one’s life.  To deny it is to make it worse.  Reading this I went straight to the telephone directory (yeah, we still have a land line) looking for the closest 12-step program dealing with Facebook envy.  Found Alcoholics Anonymous, Over-eaters Anonymmous, programs for drugs, sex, complusions . . . but nothing for Facebook envy.  Then, I thought, this just might be a way to make a quick buck . . . get the money while it is hot; but, my conscience wouldn’t let me take advantage of people when they are down on their luck . . . Facebook envy is a terrible thing to take advantage of.

Another site suggested that one should use a form of reverse psychology . . . that the problem is that those who are experiencing Facebook envy are not being appreciative enough of their friends and the extraordinary lives that they are living.  Compliments those friends having the great luck and lives . . . give them a thumbs up . . . congratulate them . . . after all, you never really thought most of them would amount to anything.  Besides, wallowing in the mud only makes one dirtier.  I couldn’t do that either . . . felt like lying.

One site suggested that those experiencing Facebook envy in their lives should just give themselves a break.  Suggested that it is like comparing apples to oranges, and allowing other people to set the bar for their lives.  Apparently the focus is on the wrong person.  Instead of focusing on others, focus on yourself . . . focus on your life.  Remember that you are a unique individual with your own goals and dreams . . . chase after your own happiness.  I thought about it . . . I don’t want my life . . . I want my friends’ lives.  On Facebook they sure look like they are having a heck of a lot more fun than I am!

Another site suggested taking a break from Facebook . . . of actually stepping away from the computer and all social media . . . to take a Facebook hiatus and to go out to really live life . . . to be so busy actually living life that there isn’t enough time to check on other people’s statuses or to update your own.  Tell an alcoholic to just quit drinking . . . or a drug addict to stop taking drugs . . . it is not that simple.  My hands started twitching as soon as I read that one.  Besides, if I went out and lived the perfect life I would still need Facebook so I could rub all of my friends’ noses in it.

The last site I checked out, and the one that actually got me excited, said that people should take what they are reading on Facebook with a grain of salt . . . maybe even suck down the whole salt shaker.  You see you are not really “friending” someone when you befriend them on Facebook . . . you are not seeing the real person, you are seeing their publicist.  Some folks have better publicists than others.  Rarely do you see the bad stuff that is happening in people’s lives, you are only seeing the good things that are going on.  The truth gets stretched or a few facts are left out.  They sugar-coat things.  It is a mask that people hide behind.  Facebook is never the whole story . . . it is only the parts that we want to show . . . and, that is not reality . . . at least not one worth being jealous over.  The truth is somewhere between here and there . . . and, there can be a great distance between the two.

That pretty much knocked out the fever I was beginning to experience glancing over the newsfeed on Facebook.  Cured me of that envy once and for all.  Put me back on track for what I use Facebook for in the first place . . . a platform.  A platform to share photographs I take.  A platform to share my blog and sermons.  A platform to share news about the church I serve.  That is the purpose of Facebook for me.  Facebook is a tool for me.  Oh sure, I take the time to check out what is supposedly happening in the lives of those who are friended . . . I think they call it “trolling” . . . and, I am always in amazement of what is happening in the lives of those I know.  Good for them!  May they have many, many more years of wonderful life, great adventures, and amazing stories to share . . . I have the salt shaker right next to the computer!  Besides, I am pretty sure that they don’t want to hear about me winning the lottery, being chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize, or nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in blogging.

I can already hear them choking on the salt!

Enjoy the little video . . . it explains a lot:

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Gas prices.

Timid drivers . . . drivers who do not use their turn signals.

Insurance companies.

People heading to the mountains pulling camping trailers or fifth-wheels or boats or a combination of both . . . and, throw in a towing a car on the back of a recreational vehicle.

People driving the wrong way in parking lots.

Doctors who go, “Hmmmm” while doing an examine . . . and then tell you that you might want to go see a specialist without telling you what the “hmmmmm” meant.

Receptionists who call to schedule a colonoscopy that you asked to be schedule a year ago . . . just a reminder they said.

Tax audits.

People in general.

That is just my list to begin with . . . the start of my rant.  Years ago I wrote a children’s story about a kangaroo who stuffed all of her emotions in her pocket.  The pocket kept getting bigger and bigger as she kept stuffing more and more emotions in it.  Eventually, like a balloon that can hold no more air, her pocket expanded until it exploded.  The moral of the story, of course, was that even a kangaroo needs to let off a little steam once in a while to avoid blowing up . . . needs to have a rant every now and then.  Psychologically . . . and, probably spiritually . . . this is a good idea.  Let off a little steam before the kettle explodes.  Thus, the start of the list.

This is my rant.  It was one of those sorts of days.  I was hurrying to get all my work done before taking a week of vacation near Yellowstone National Park . . . no pressure there!  Heck, I was only gone the first two days of work attending meeting with state agencies . . . only two days behind where I would usually be.  Then add into that the fact that I had a year-end report to get done for the state.  Nope, no pressure there.  Then the state wanted to do an audit of my business expenses . . . an audit that the agent explained was the luck of the draw . . . damn, that Keener luck.  Still . . . no pressure.  I just stuffed all that pressure way down deep where the sun don’t shine.

It was working well until I had to run a few errands in the big city before heading home and starting my vacation.  Then I got a lousy haircut.  Yeah, yeah, I know . . . the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is two weeks.  But a bad haircut on a balding man is a bad haircut that time cannot heal or save.  Homer Simpson and I have more than a rant in common . . . it ain’t pretty.  The dogs wouldn’t quick growling at me for an hour!

From the haircut it was off to the eye glass place to make sure my order was still in place after the snafu with the insurance company . . . which it was.  They even had my new lenses and I did not have the frames they went it . . . so, another trip into the big city!  I don’t understand insurance companies.  I pay extremely good money . . . and, a lot of it . . . to be insured only to find out that there are more hoops (some flaming) that have to be jumped through before they are going to pay anything.  I figured that if I just pocketed the money, put it into the bank, I would have more than enough to cover my health care costs and still have money in the bank without having to jump through any hoops.  If they had just done what they were supposed to do in the first place this errand would never had to happen.

From there I started to head home, but first I had to get onto the street.  Got behind a timid driving that would only pull out into traffic if there actually was no traffic . . . so we sat there . . . waiting . . . the blood pressure rising . . . and my hands twitching to use sign language.  Then finally it happened . . . the slow poke pulled out.  I was next.  I started to pull out when suddenly a car . . . without using a turn signal and crossing two lanes . . . turned in front of me.  I slammed on the brakes.  The lady behind bumped into my rear bumper . . . the rear bumper of my new car . . . only a week old.  To say the least it was not the Lord’s Prayer that I recited at that moment . . . I am not sure the Lord even wanted to hear what I had to say.  Luckily there was no damage to my car . . . the lady was nice and admitted that her foot slipped out of her flip-flops and off of the brake.  Flip-flops!  Flip-flops!  Ask my children my opinion of FLIP-FLOPS . . . a definite no no when driving. 

Next stop was Wally’s World to pick up a few things the wife wanted.  But, before I could get what the wife wanted, I had to swerve to avoid a lady driving the wrong way down the lane in the parking lot.  I had no problem with getting a head of Romaine lettuce.  I had no problem getting a loaf of crusty bread.  I wasn’t too thrilled with picking up the feminine hygiene thingies . . . what male is?  No greater love hath a husband than to go to the local supermarket to pick up feminine hygiene stuff for his wife.  Thank God that I did not need assistance.  After all that I picked up something I wanted . . . no, needed . . . a six pack of beer.

Now all I had to do is to get home.  Simple enough except for the tourists heading for Yellowstone National Park driving their recreational vehicles, their truck hauling fifth wheels and campers . . . people heading to the lake pulling trailers . . . people driving a combination of both or all of them.  Rubber necking at twenty miles under the speed limit.  People not from Montana . . . lots of Wyoming drivers.  Needless to say it was quite frustrating . . . I thought about having a beer, but common sense and my luck said that was a pretty stupid thought.  Patience, I kept telling myself . . . while all the time there was a voice deep inside of me urging me to flip into the road rage fiend using a lot of unpleasant sign language with a running commentary . . . but, I remained patient.

Add to all of this the other adventures of the week.  The two-and-a-half days at the state capital attending meetings that took me away from work for two days.  A visit with the state auditor who looked like he probably shaved about once a month and was still wet behind the ears . . . who enjoyed watching me squirm.  The visit to the eye doctor who kept saying “Hmmm” and then referring me to a specialist without any explanation as to why outside of something doesn’t look right.  Then to have the receptionist who was supposed to schedule a colonoscopy a year ago call to remind me to schedule one . . . because I said I would.  A year ago I was ready to have the inner reaches of my body explored through the back door of my body . . . but now, I am not too sure.  Especially since I have to go see a specialist.  I told the wife I would sit on it for a while.

Rant.  Rave.  Whine.  Lament.  Complain.  Moan and groan.  Whatever you want to call it . . . well, it came out . . . and, now you are getting it.  Throw in there the constantly rising prices of gas . . . which we are told there is an abundance of . . . just a bunch of greedy people wanting to make even more on the back of us poor saps wanting to have a nice vacation.  People not using turn signals.  It has been building up for a while . . .

. . . and, it sure felt good to let it out. Rant, rant, rant!

It feels good to let it all out.  Yet, at the same time, ranting is just ranting.  A counselor or psychologist or even someone we know well will ask us: What you going to do about it?  Being of a calmer mind I have come up with some solutions:
1.   Gas prices . . . lower them or start walking.  The big city is nearly a forty-five minute drive every morning . . . walking is out.  They need to lower the prices or I need to cover my license plate and do a gas and dash number.
2.   Drivers . . . well, sign language doesn’t make anyone except me feel better.  Yet, it does not change anything.  So, I recommend that the state remove timid drivers . . . fine those who do not use their turn signals . . . and, block all the roads leading into Montana so we residents do not have to deal with them.
3.   Doctors and their receptionists.  Well, teach doctors not to go “Hmmmm”, and receptionists to seize the moment when some poor sap like me is willing to have the inner reaches of his body examined in a very intrusive manner.
4.   Insurance and tax collectors . . . ban them all . . . or schedule them for a colonoscopy.
5.   People . . . well, not much you can do with them.  I guess I could always hide out in my house like a real introvert.  If people would only stay home I wouldn’t have such problems.

Yeah, those are just a few of the suggestions I have . . . and, that is all they are . . . suggestions.  The fact is, a little poop happens in everyone’s life . . . sometimes at a rate that overwhelms.  Being the introvert I am I have a tendency to shove all of this crap deep inside . . . hey, I have ample space to store it all.  So, that is what I do . . . I store it.  Actually, I stockpile it.  I stockpile it until it builds up to a point of near-explosion.  Then . . . watch out.  Someone besides me could get hurt.  But, man, it feels good.  It feels good to let off a little steam . . . to rant and rave . . . and, then be over with it.  At least that is the theory in practice.

I know that I am not the only one who has been steaming lately . . . I am sure some of you reading this are too.  Let it loose . . . set it free . . . go ahead and rant.  Ranting is good for the soul.  I feel better already.  I have had a beer, I quit looking in the mirror at my haircut, I am in my cave, and there is peace and quiet.  I am contemplating what the specialist is going to tell me, and thinking about being medically invaded since the insurance company say a colonoscopy is free as a preventive medical practice.  I am going on vacation . . . who has time for all of this! 

Stuff, stuff, stuff . . . I think I have plenty of room to bring on the new stuff!  Ranting is good for the soul . . . go ahead . . . rant.  You will feel better afterwards.  Give it a try, you might like it!    

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Heavy Lays the Joy


If anyone knows me well, they will know that I do not handle anticipation well.  For nearly nine months I have awaited the birth of the newest addition to the family . . . a granddaughter.  For the past two and a half weeks I have been hyper-vigilant, constantly checking my cell phone waiting for that big announcement that the granddaughter had arrived . . . because the daughter was told that the baby would arrive at any time . . . and, she never did.  I kept my schedule free, gave up activities, and twiddled my thumbs as I waited.  The little squirt would come out and play with the rest of us . . . stubborn little cuss.  My anxiousness was pretty obvious as I texted and called the daughter with the question: You still pregnant?  Only to be told, "Yep."

Yep, she was still pregnant when I left on a business trip for two-and-a-half days in Helena.  The report from the daughter was that the kid would probably still be in hiding by the time I got back from the trip.  Unfortunately, or fortunately for the "tired of being pregnant" daughter, the kid started to tease everyone with lots of false alarms . . . false alarms that were actually the prelude to the big show.  Then it happened . . . the daughter was admitted to the hospital, the doctor and daughter were determined that the kid was coming once and for all . . . and, I was in Helena.  Checking the cell phone every five minutes.  Reading cryptic updates.  All with the patience of Job!

Then, at 4:30PM, I got the last message: an hour.  The baby would be making her appearance into the world in an hour.  My response was: let me know.  And, then, that was the last I heard of anything.  Nothing.  That was the longest hour every experienced or recorded in history.  Nothing but silence.  I knew nothing.

Now I am not some spring chicken when it comes to the birth of a child . . . after all, I went through four births with the wife . . . so, I know that these deliveries can be sporadic once they are set into motion.  I know that they can go like gangbusters and suddenly slow down to a crawl.  Not hearing anything I just figured that that was the case.  The little miss needed a break before the final big push.  No big deal . . . I was being philosophical about the whole thing.  The kid would come when the kid was good and ready.

An hour went by . . . nothing.

Another hour went by . . . still nothing.

Another hour went by . . . and nothing.  Deafening silence.  It was now three-and-a-half hours after the last message of "an hour", and I still did not know whether or not the granddaughter had actually made her appearance.  Needless to say, I was getting a little frustrated.  So, I called home . . . got the number three child who told me that the baby had been born and that there was a picture on Instagram.  Quickly hanging up I maneuvered by phone's screen to Instagram and confirmed what I had been told . . . the granddaughter had made her appearance exactly an hour after I had received the original message.  It seems no one thought about letting me know.

I survived despite the bruised ego of being forgotten.  I was the only grandparent who was not at the hospital to welcome the newest addition to the family.  I am still the only grandparent who has not gotten to hold the granddaughter . . . I will get that opportunity later this evening.  Kind of felt left out of the loop.  I felt joy, but it was a heavy joy.

The anticipation of the granddaughter's arrival was tough on everyone, but she is now here and everyone is doing well.  She is healthy and has a full head of hair (unlike her grandpa).  I heard her cry while talking on the phone with the daughter so I know that she will be vocal.  Everyone is excited and the adventure begins . . . and, I have begun a new anticipation.  The anticipation of finally meeting the stubborn little squirt and holding her for the first time.  It will be wonderful . . . a real joy!  I am not sure I can wait that long, but I have no choice as Helena is a long way from Billings.

I admit that I do not handle waiting very well.  I know that this was worth the wait, but as much as folks knew I was anticipating this blessed event, you would have thought that they would have let me know sooner than two-and-a-half hours after the actual birth . . . would have let me know so that I did not find out on social media with the rest of the world.  Sure it tampered the joy, yet it still was exciting despite being forgotten.

I have gotten over the moping.  The sting of being forgotten does not hurt as much as it did.  I have survived . . . and, my inner voice has said, "Knock it off!" and "Grow up!" It has also said other things, but I cannot share those with anyone because I do attempt to keep this blog at least PG-rated.  There is joy . . . the family has welcomed the newest member into the clan . . . everyone is healthy . . . and, the adventure begins.  I like adventures, especially with granddaughters . . . my nearly two-year old granddaughter have adventures whenever we are together . . . now we get to double the fun.

Thus a story has been created . . . the story about how G-pa missed the birth of the granddaughter.  It will be told over and over again . . . people will laugh and say things like, "Poor John" and laugh some more.  The story will probably be told forever until the day that I die, and then probably the day they lay my body to rest . . . no one remembered to tell G-pa that the baby had arrived.  Yeah, it is a funny story . . . and, I can even smile as it is told--even now . . . but, despite the joy of the news there was a heaviness that accompanied it for me . . . it is no fun to be forgotten.  But hey, we introverts are used to it despite the hurt we feel.

Right now, all I can honestly say is that my daughter and son-in-law sure do create some beautiful babies.  We are all blessed to welcome the newest addition to the family . . . in a tale of forgetfulness a story was born that will never be forgotten.  It will never be forgotten just like the newest granddaughter . . . it is joy!  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Jesus Laughed

It would have been nice if at least one of the writers of the Bible had recorded that Jesus laughed . . . but, they didn't.  Nowhere in the Bible can I find a statement that states that Jesus laughed.  Oh, I can find one where he wept . . . I can find one where he displayed his anger . . . but, nowhere in the Bible can I find a statement about Jesus laughing.  Noting his frustration with the disciples and their lack of understanding, I find it difficult to think that Jesus did not laugh.  I think that Jesus laughed all of the time, but because it is not written anywhere in the New Testament . . . anywhere in the whole Bible . . . Jesus was a pretty humorless individual.  I cannot buy into that premise.  I think that Jesus laughed . . . that he laughed hard belly-aching sorts of laughs . . . and, I think that he laughed often.

That is what I think.

But, who cares what I think?  If it is not printed in red letters in the literal word of God it is not the gospel truth.  Jesus didn't laugh . . . the Bible says so, or at least does not acknowledge that there might have been a holy humor in our Savior.  Yet, how can anyone believe that the Holy . . . that God, and even Jesus does not have a sense of humor?  Open up your eyes . . . look around . . . the Holy, God (and Jesus), have a sense of humor.  I think that God laughs all of the time, after all, God created us.

Because we seem to take the easy way out--at least according to M. Scott Peck this is the root cause of sin--we cannot accept things that are not concrete facts.  Because the red letters of the the New Testament mark the words and actions of Jesus as concrete facts . . . and, nowhere in the Bible does it state that either God or Jesus ever laughed . . . then it must be true.  The Holy is humorless.  Jesus never laughed.  That is a sad, sad thought to think that Jesus never laughed . . . never had a good time . . . was the drag of the party.  I can't buy it.  Jesus could make water into wine . . . sounds like the sort of guy one would want to have at a party.  Jesus could walk on water . . . that is pretty impressive.  When was the last time you walked across the swimming pool?  Jesus told jokes.  Probably played practical jokes.  Jesus loved life . . . enjoyed life . . . anything less was not acceptable.  So, how in the world can people believe that Jesus did not laugh.

Where did this idea of laughter and humor are not a part of the journey of faith . . . not a part of religious?  Where did the idea of faith and religion as some dry, humorless, serious endeavor come from?  Where did the idea of sitting through worship was meant to be a quiet and pious experience come from?  Where did the idea of laughter in faith or church become sinful?  Where did all of this silly garbage come from?  I don't buy it . . . Jesus laughed.

Because Jesus laughed, we should laugh.

Every church that I have served has been told that I do not believe that anyone has truly worshipped if there has not been at least one laugh during the Sunday service.  They have been told that I do not believe that we can submit the benediction until we have had at least one good laugh.  I believe that laughter is holy . . . that it is the Spirit at play . . . that it is a sign of great joy in an intimate relationship between the individual and the Holy.  Laughter is necessary for anyone to truly worship.  Jesus laughed and so should we.

I realize that this might be a radical idea to some folks out there, especially if you lean to the right and are pretty fundamental in the way that you think . . . but, Jesus was a pretty radical sort of a guy.  I also realize that this idea of a Holy Presence having a sense of humor might offend some folks, but maybe the Spirit will move them to see the irony (a form of humor in itself) of such silly wastes of time over arguments as to whether or not Jesus enjoyed a good laugh.  I realize this and all I can do is smile as I suppress the urge to laugh.

I just wish someone had written it down . . . that Jesus laughed.  Had they written it down I would not have had to waste a whole hour defending the Lord's sense of humor.  People would have accepted it.  Maybe, if we can get Billy Graham to say it . . . or Pope Francis to declare . . . there still might be a chance that people will believe . . . Jesus laughed.  If someone had written it down it sure would have made my life easier.

But, they didn't.  There are no red-letters.  Nothing.  Yet, I believe . . . I can't prove it, but I believe.  Isn't that the foundation to faith . . . to believe.  Thus it is that I will continue to share the humor of life with those I witness to . . . to those who gather for worship . . . to those who I walk with in their times of need.  I will continue to offer the gift of laughter as a part of the experience of the Holy.  Through laughter the divine is touched . . . the divine is experienced . . . and, the Holy is encountered.  I believe this . . . but, it sure would have been nice if someone had caught Jesus on video, put it on YouTube . . . if it is on the Internet it has to be true.

Jesus laughed . . . so should we!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Talking About Luck

“Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me”
(From the television show Hee Haw)

The outside faucet was dripping.  So, I tightened the knob . . . after all, that is what a person is supposed to do when the faucet drips—you tighten the knob.  The knob then went from a drip to a stream.  Was told I need to replace the parts inside the faucet.  Went to get the parts and found out that they no longer make the parts . . . I am still trying to figure out when I ticked off the faucet gods.

In my attempt to figure out when I ticked off the faucet gods, I decided to get a beer to make the matter a little more spiritual.  When to the refrigerator in the garage where I keep the beer . . . there was no beer.  Contemplating such theological matters as drippy faucets is not a matter for wine . . . even though I was doing plenty of whining.  Such matters are left to the spiritual practices of crying in one’s beer . . . but, there was no beer.  Now, I had to contemplate when in the world did I tick off the beer gods.

I thought I would sit in the living room in my recliner.  Went to turn on the light and the bulb blew with a mighty pop.  I stood in darkness as I stumbled to find a light bulb . . . yep, you guessed it . . . no light bulbs anywhere in the house.  So, I returned to my recliner, sat in the dark, without a beer, and contemplated . . . when did I tick off the gods of the faucet, the gods of the beer, and the gods of the light bulbs?

Such heavy theological discernment weighed heavily upon my mind . . . made it hurt . . . but, somehow I fell asleep.  Waking several hours later I thought I had better go to bed before the wife realized I wasn’t there . . . turns out she never gave it a thought . . . guess I am high on her list of priorities!  But, waking several hours later, I jumped out of the recliner and stepped directly on one of the family dogs.  She started yelping.  This woke the other dog who started barking.  I started yelling.  Soon the whole house was awake and everyone was ticked off at me for waking them all up.  Woes me, another set of gods ticked off.

Four sets of gods ticked off . . . I was on a roll.  So, I went to bed . . . or at least I got into bed . . . and laid there.  I laid there and watched the ceiling fan spin round and round . . . I watched the digital glow-in-the-dark alarm clock change with each minute . . . I listened to the dogs snore . . . I listened to the wife snore.  I tossed and turned.  It is no fun ticking off four sets of gods . . . no cake walk upsetting the karma of the known world.  There I laid until thirty minutes before I had to get up to go to work . . . I slept through the alarm . . . got up a whole hour later than normal.  I was running late!  The gods of sleep were playing tricks on me . . . oh no!  Another set of gods were mad!

Running an hour behind makes one do stupid things.  I took an ice cold shower because I couldn’t wait for the water to get hot.  I sped to work, much to the chagrin of the Montana Highway State Patrol who gave me a ticket for my efforts.  Got to work late, missed a meeting, and forgot my keys.  At lunch, they screwed up my order.  Everyone was grumpy towards me.  Nothing I did was right.  The whole day long I felt out of place and wondering what in the world did I do to deserve such luck.

The drive home was not much better.  Traffic was the worse I had seen in months . . . had to wait for a train . . . got behind a granny from Wyoming (the worse possible combination in the world) . . . near missed three deer . . . and, was stopped by the local yokel and given a warning for not slowing down entering town!  Four members of the church walked by while I was waiting for my warning.  Pulled into the driveway and saw water running down the street from our house . . . the drippy faucet was now a full-fledged tsunami.  I wondered how many gods of bad luck I had thoroughly ticked off in less than twenty-four hours.

Life was looking pretty bleak.  The sound track of my life was of the Hee Haw crew singing Gloom and Despair . . . especially that part about “if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”  The saddest part of it all was that I forgot to stop and get some beer!

The truth be told . . . outside of the drippy faucet, none of this really happened.  That does not mean that I have not been having my run of bad luck lately . . . because I have.  You name it and I probably come close to it when it comes to bad luck.  It is like there is some sort of conspiracy against me . . . like all the gods of life got together and started plotting against me.  Some sort of bad karma.  Yet, that is the Keener mantra . . . if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.

Now, I believe in only one God . . . to tell you the truth, that is all the God I can handle.  There are not lots of miniscule gods out there in the world plotting against me . . . though it sure makes a good excuse.  There is no karma . . . I am not paying for past rights and wrongs against others . . . no, I just made some dumb choices and the consequences of those choices are coming back to bite me in the butt.  Karma?  Naw, just stupid decisions.  Being in control of my destiny . . . I wish.  I feel good if I put on matching socks in the morning (which isn’t too difficult when one only owns white and black socks).  I don’t think we make our own luck.  The reason I don’t think that we make our own luck is because—as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous—poop happens.  Seems I have been stepping in it a lot lately.

Yet . . . I am still here.  I have not run away (though, at times, that sure sounded like a good idea).  I have not quit . . . though the thought passed through.  I have not blamed others . . . though there are a few people I would love to blame.  Nope, I have stuck to where I have been placed . . . even without the beer . . . and, I have waited for the consequences.  Sure, it makes me worry, but I am not alone in my waiting . . . God is with me.  God is with me no matter what the consequences might be.  God understands me . . . knows that if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.  God is with me . . . and, this amazes me.

Amazes me because I would have thrown in the towel a long, long time ago . . . cut my losses; but God sticks with me.  For that I am thankful.  I just hope I don’t go and tick off the one God I do believe in.  At this point in my life . . . if I can’t afford to tick off the gods I don’t believe, I surely do not want to do it to the one that I do believe in.  Oh, gloom and despair . . . is it really about luck or just another day in our lives?