My Apprentice

 

Today is Kylie’s 14th birthday. I believe all parents want to pass along their wisdom and knowledge to their children, pass along the best parts of them.

Sometimes, they get the worst part of you. Well, THIS IS A STORY like that.

Sometimes the mind goes where the mind goes.

Happy Birthday Kylie.

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I discovered I was an artist at the age of fourteen. At first, I was really nervous and scared and would only practice my artistry every six months or so. I was shy and did not want anyone else to see my work. I made many mistakes when I first started out but luckily the gods were in my favor and I was able to continue my artistry as I grew older, and wiser. And braver.

As I became more confident, my art work became more frequent. Every four months to two months to weekly, until I met a woman I would fall in love with.

Since my art did not pay the bills, I joined the working world. I was miserable. I had no time to practice my art or to continue working towards perfecting my skills.

But I was in love. And then I found out I was going to be a father.

I prayed for a son. A boy I could train to follow in my footsteps. It had taken years for me to be almost perfect in my craft and I wanted to pass down everything I had learned to a son. Every mistake, every lesson learned, every victory. The satisfaction of a job well done.

It was not to be. My daughter came into the world full of life, screaming and crying to the world, I am here.

The pressure of being a father and paying the bills became too much. I needed a release. I needed time to myself. I needed a “night out with the boys” every couple of weeks, at least that’s what I told my wife.

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But what I really needed was my art. I needed to get back to what I was best at doing. I needed to perfect my craft. I needed to keep practicing my art, to create the perfect masterpiece. I could not make any mistakes.

As my daughter grew, I would come home “after a night with the boys” and would watch her sleeping. I would feel guilty for going out, for doing what I was doing, but I kept telling myself it was for my own sanity. I could not stop. It was in my blood and I was very good at what I did.

But I wanted to be the best.

To be the best, I had to keep practicing my skills.  As my daughter grew, she became more curious, but there was no way I could show her my work. As my daughter grew, so did the world. Technology was changing and I had to keep in touch with it in order to keep making my art. It was becoming a chore to stay one step ahead but I was still very good at my art, and I could not stop.

However, doubts started to creep in. One mistake, however small, could lead to my art being ruined. What if my wife found out? I still was not ready for anyone to see my work. How much longer could I continue? Could I stop if I really wanted to?

I must stop. Even if I was miserable, it beat being discovered. I must stop, I told myself over and over. I must stop.

I tried to stop, I really did.

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I kept telling myself one more time. One more night. One more masterpiece. But that only lead to one more time, one more night.

It was the eve of my daughter’s fourteenth birthday. I remembered how I started my art skills when I was fourteen. I wondered if it was in her blood also.

I didn’t have to wait long.

One week later I went out for my one more last time.

Little did I know she followed me.

I slowly walked the streets, looking for the right inspiration to be part of my next masterpiece. After all, I had become a master artist. It didn’t take me long. The objects of my art were always easy to find. Some people enjoy being the center of attention. It’s not hard to convince them to come with me so I can “paint” them. The centerpiece of my gallery.

I took her back to my gallery and as soon as I started to carve her up so slowly, I was a master craftsmen after all, my daughter came running into the room.

I was terrified and relieved at the same time. My secret was finally out of the bag. After all these years and all these murders, it was my daughter who caught me.

But she wasn’t horrified like I thought she would be. A smile of relief crossed her face.

It was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.

All this time, she had the same urges as me. All this time I had prayed for a son to pass my artistry onto but instead I was given a daughter who was every bit an artist like me. Now I could pass my expertise down to her.

Every mistake, every lesson learned, every victory.

For my daughter was a serial killer, just like me, and I could not let her get caught.

Disclaimer: Neither Kylie or I are serial killers, just so no one takes this seriously. Even though at times feel like I could…

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Pyschopath Killer by Slaughterhouse, feat Eminem-

RIP by 8 Graves –

Monsters by Shinedown –

Monster by Skillet-

Monster Is Loose by Meatloaf –

Releasing The Demons by Godsmack –

Finding My Shadow

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I was a happy child. I was always smiling, always laughing. I was healthy. I ate good and exercised. I had a few close friends.

However, my best friend was my shadow. He went with me everywhere I went. He played the same games I played. He liked the same animals I liked. We were inseparable. Even when I went to bed at night, he was tucked in right beside me. When the lights went out, I would not worry because I knew he would be there in the morning when I woke up.

We would then start the day again. My shadow always right beside me. I would laugh and smile. We would eat together, play together, and at night we would sleep together. Through the years that would never change.

Until one morning I woke up and it did change. My shadow was gone.

I looked for him everywhere. In the glow of the kitchen light at breakfast, outside at the brightest time of day, and at night with my bedside lamp, but he was nowhere to be found.

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I became dark. My smile went away. I no longer laughed. I no longer wanted to play or talk to anyone, even my parents. I wanted to stay in my room all day and all night.

I wasn’t happy. Why would my shadow leave me? There was no explanation that I could find. I woke up one morning and everything had changed. I tried to snap out of it but couldn’t. My parents tried. Nothing worked.

I even quit looking for my shadow.

I lashed out at everyone. Just leave me alone. The darkness would not go away. I hated the person I had become. I felt like a prisoner, trapped in my own mind. I thought things I could not believe I was thinking. I felt like hurting myself, hurting others. I quit doing my schoolwork and I was getting into trouble at school.

Then one day, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw my shadow. It was only a glimpse, a split second, and I could’ve been wrong, but a hope came over me. A hope I clinged to. And as I started to hope, the darkness started to leave me. And as the darkness started to leave me, I started seeing my shadow everywhere.

And as I started seeing my shadow everywhere, I started finding me everywhere.

The darkness did not win. I could smile again. I was me again.

I know not everyone can find their shadow, if you need someone to talk to reach out to

Depression – 855-403-7229  ,

Text CONNECT to 741741

Suicide – 1-800-273-8255    https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/

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Dodging Raindrops by 311-

I Miss Those Days by NF-

Fell From The Moon by 3 Doors Down –

Someone To Talk To by Tenth Avenue North-

Love Is Stronger by Matt Kennon –

I Smile by Lotte Sollie  –

Don’t Worry by 311-

Call On Me by Starley –

Carry On by Young Rising Sons-

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As Children Often Do

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From the time she could talk she was full of questions. And I, of course, was full of answers.

Why this, why that, where, when and who?

But as children often do, my daughter grew and grew and her questions became more elaborate.

Where are we going dad?

Nowhere.

Dad, what will we do when we get to nowhere?

Nothing, absolutely nothing.

Yeah, dad, I love going to nowhere with you and doing absolutely nothing. But I wonder, if we go nowhere and do nothing, does that make me a nobody?

Her questions were very deep so I thought for a second and told her she would never be a nobody. She is loved and cherished and will always be a somebody to me.

If I keep going south will I eventually be north?

38 Anniversary Quotes That Will Inspire You 24

As children often do, she grew and grew and her questions became more challenging.

Dad, if we get lost going to nowhere, will we end up somewhere? And when we get to somewhere, will we do something? But I wonder, if we go somewhere and do something, will I then be somebody?

Dad, can we get from here to there without going anywhere? And if we find anywhere, can we go there anytime? But I wonder, if we go anywhere anytime will I still be anybody to you?

If I ever find myself stuck between here and there and can’t find my way to you, will you come looking for me?

I couldn’t understand why her thoughts were taking her to these places but the only thing I could do was put my arms around her and reassure her no matter where she is or what time it is or what I am doing, I will always come and find her when she needed me.

But if I don’t tell you I need you, how will you know?

I will always pray that I will know but if for some reason I don’t know, I know a father who loves you more than even I do who will always be there for you even if I, for some inexplicable reason, get lost and am a little late in getting there.

Thanks dad, but what if I meant to go nowhere but ended up somewhere doing everything I know I shouldn’t do, would you still love me then? Would you go everywhere and do something, anything, to bring me back to someplace where you always are?

Not a doubt in mind that I would go everywhere and do something, anything, anytime to bring you back to nowhere so we could do nothing.

If the sun sets in the west will it always be dark the more west I go?

Just remember, dear daughter, no matter how many steps you take into the darkness, it only takes one to turn around and see the light.

 

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If I’m doing nothing am I really doing something and can I be doing something but actually be doing nothing?

As children often do, my daughter grew and grew. As she grew it was my arms that became empty, as she no longer wanted me to hold her and it was my heart that shattered to pieces, as it seemed she longer wanted it to beat for her.

I would knock on her door and ask, “Would you like to go nowhere today and do nothing?” To which she would just sigh and say “Dad, I’m not a little girl anymore.”

I would give her some time and distance and then I would knock on her door and ask, “Would you like to go somewhere sometime today and do something?”

To which she would reply, “Dad, I’m busy doing other things today.”

But I could tell something was going on, but I didn’t want to seem pushy, but I knew she needed me.

I gave her more time and more distance, even though it was killing me to see her so sad.

One day I knocked on her door and said, “My daughter, when you find yourself nowhere doing nothing and wanting to go somewhere to be somebody but you can’t seem to go anywhere any of the time remember I love you everywhere every second of every day simply because you are you and that’s enough.”

She gave me a sad smile and a thanks dad.

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Then I heard a voice telling me time and distance isn’t what she needs, she needs closeness and love even though it isn’t what she says.

I went and I knocked on her door and she was crying. I sat beside her and wrapped my arms around her and let her cry. After a few minutes and a very wet shirt later, she calmed down and looked up at me and I looked into those beautiful brown eyes as she asked me a question I had been wanting to hear for so long.

“Dad, do you think we could go nowhere?”

I smiled and asked, “Daughter, what will we do when we get there?”

Then she smiled back and said, “I was thinking we would do nothing dad, absolutely nothing.”

“Daughter, there is no place I would rather be than nowhere doing absolutely nothing with you.”

As children often do, my daughter grew and grew.

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I’m Standing With You By  by Chrissy Metz-

Like Your Father Does by Rhett Walker Band-

Pray With You by Mallary Hope-

I’ll Wait by The Strumbellas-

Have To Stay by Dido –

Shed A Tear by Kodaline-

Like Arrows by Matt Hammitt-

Short Are The Years by Jason Crabb –

More Than Gonna Make It by Alisa Turner-

Fighting For Me by Riley Clemmons-

 

In The Morning by JJ Heller –

 

 

Where The River Meets The Desert

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At first, I thought I must be dreaming. I could hear the strength of the water rushing by me, I could feel the wind as if it was piggy-backing on the strong current. I bent down and put my hand into the water and my fingers came out wet. I could pinch myself but I knew this was not a dream. I stood up and I looked to my left and all I could see was a vast desert, no more than ten yards from me, that the river just suddenly disappeared into. I could not fathom how all that water was pouring into the desert with no trace.

The desert was lifeless but I was intrigued to take a few steps into it. I looked back at the river, like a child who is about to do something wrong looks back at its parents, but continued on my way. The river was close, I knew I could return to it anytime I wanted.

I ventured farther and farther into the desert. The farther I went, the thirstier I got. Not for the river, but for more adventure. The desert was alluring but I knew there was nothing out here for me, but I continued to walk. What was I doing? I could no longer see the river but I could remember the life it gave. There is no life out here.

Why couldn’t I turn back? Every time I started to, another distraction caught my eye. I was feeling guilty and ashamed for being gone so long but that made me want to stay away even longer.

I would pass cacti and a few animals out here, reminders that even in the emptiness of a desert, there is life. Life that reminded me of my old life, when things were good. I started to long for that life again, but I didn’t know how to get back there. Out here in the desert, it is easy to lose your way, to continue to go the wrong way, to be desperate to go back but not knowing the way.

Frustrated with the way I was living and desperate for help, I looked back to where I thought the river was and somehow I was able to whisper help me Jesus.

That was a name I hadn’t said in a long time.

Dig. I heard a voice say.

I fell to my knees and started to dig the dry, hard ground. I broke a couple fingernails and my knuckles and fingers bled. Why am I digging? It is so easily to forget the voice I heard.

Keep digging. I am never far from you.

Through the sweat and tears I kept digging for what seemed like hours. Eventually the ground began to soften and shortly after, there was a stream of water. I immediately took a drink and my eyes opened.

It was like I was blind but now I see. I thought I was alone out here but now there were hundreds, no, thousands of others with me. Thousands just like me, wandering aimlessly. Lost souls.

Next thing I knew, I was back at the river. I had found my way home, but I knew I could not stay. I was given a second chance, a new way to live my life, and I knew what I had to do.

I took my first steps into the desert, but this time it wasn’t for me to do what I wanted to do. This time, I had to find other lost ones and bring them back to the river with me.

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Church (Take Me Back) by Cochren & Co.-

The Wanderer by David Leonard- 

All The Wrong Things by Branan Murphy-

The Journey by Building 429-

Never Been A Moment by Micah Tyler- 

Come To The Altar by Elevation Worship –

 

 

The Gift

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There didn’t seem to be much she didn’t want. It seemed like half the toy catalog was written down on her list. Barbies, doll houses, princess things, and dolls. Not to be left out were matchbox cars, board games, Playmobil things, and a football. She even asked for love. She was just a young girl.

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Her list changed over the years. Now there were clothes, gift cards, and money on the list. She also asked for  iPods, iPads, and other things that start with I. One thing hadn’t changed though, she still asked for love. She was just a teenage girl.

She had most everything she ever wanted.  She didn’t have much of a list this year. A new pair of Nikes, some pots and pans for her new apartment, gift cards, and money. Mostly, she just wanted her family to be together. She still was asking for love. She was just a young woman.

She had everything she had asked for. She had been married a few years and had her first child. She asked for her child to be healthy.  She asked for her husband to be faithful. She asked for good friends. She asked to be successful in her career. She asked for her bills to be paid. She asked to always be loved. She was just a young mom.

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She was confused about her life. Something was missing. She had everything she wanted. She had a great career, she had great friends. She was happily married, had two healthy, happy children and a strong foundation from her parents, but she had forgotten about the one who loved her.  Somewhere along the way she had forgotten about her faith. She asked for love. She asked for forgiveness. She was just a young Christian woman.

 

She thanked God for the life she had. She asked that her children have a relationship with Jesus. She asked that they don’t wait as long as she did to accept Jesus in her life. She asked that they realize how much they are loved. She knew the gift that Jesus had given her. He was born, He lived, and He died on the cross for her sins. She asked for love and she received the love of her Heavenly Father. She received a gift she could never pay back. A gift given to her a long time ago. She just had to be open to receiving it. She was just a woman on her journey to eternal life.

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She asked for one more day. She asked for memories she couldn’t recall. She shed a tear for a child lost too young. She asked to see her parents again. She remembered Christmas past. She asked if she had done enough. She thanked God for the gift of love He had given her. She was just a woman at the end of her days here on earth. She was just a woman, filled with joy for the life she had lived. She was just a woman that loves God. She was just a woman that accepted His gift.

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She was just a woman who asked for love.

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Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by Burl Ives – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMletImQ_cs&w=420&h=315]

Children Again by Jason Gray – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI9fnwl5FgQ&w=560&h=315]

Hold On Christmas by MercyMe – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxvR2ptGTws&w=560&h=315]

The Gift by Collin Raye – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJDmQI1Euk8&w=420&h=315]

The Giver and the Gift by Point Of Grace – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcP9VQCQBK8&w=560&h=315]

Beautiful by Kutless – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztUsXFyJuT8&w=560&h=315]

For God So Loved by Brad & Rebekah – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo8H9te9TNI&w=560&h=315]

Love Is Here by Laura Story – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQu0hQb2GSE&w=560&h=315]

Your Love Is Mine by I Am They – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_uJYKoHhQo&w=560&h=315]

Leaving Heaven by Matthew West – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvfKG8BFBd8&w=560&h=315]

The Perfect Gift by JJ Heller – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mDftjVZXPs&w=560&h=315]

Love Will Save The World by Brentwood Benson – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjY03bl5QWc&w=560&h=315]

For All That You Have Done by Rend Collective – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkK01FsfK74&w=560&h=315]

The Reindeer Revolt- The Story

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You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, you know Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you know Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint? Of course you don’t, because most of you have not heard of the great reindeer revolt.

It was December 17, 1938. Exactly seven days before Christmas Eve. As you would expect, the North Pole was extremely busy getting everything ready for the big night. All the elves were making the last of the toys for all the good girls and boys. Santa was checking his list, then checking it twice just to be sure no one was missed. Mrs. Claus was busy making snacks for everyone. The reindeer were finishing up the last of their training exercises.

Maybe it was because the reindeer were tired or maybe they felt they weren’t being respected enough but for whatever the reason, some of the reindeer decided they had had enough. Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint had enough and decided they were no longer going to work on Christmas Eve. “We work every Christmas Eve and we are tired of it. We want to stay home and enjoy the evening with our families. All of us should join together and tell Santa no more.”

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer,  and Vixen all said no. “We are not going to revolt against Santa. How can you do this? Think of all the children. We work one night a year. We have 364 days to relax and take vacations and do whatever we want. We enjoy our job and traveling all over the world and seeing all the decorations and the children eagerly awaiting our visit.”

This was not the first time that Dasher, Dancer, Prancer,  and Vixen had seen a bad attitude from Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint. In fact, over the last six months they had seen many warning signs.  They tried talking to them, but never seemed to get anywhere. Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint had even started calling Rudolph names and would not let him play in any reindeer games.

All the reindeer argued and fought for several days. We are right and this is what we are going to do. No, you are not right, we are right and we will stand our ground. Back and forth, back and forth it went.

Finally, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer,  and Vixen decided that this could not go on. They made a very difficult decision, one that did not come easily and one that made them very sad. These reindeer have been friends their entire lives but they no longer saw eye to eye. They told Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint that they could no longer be friends. They didn’t want Santa to think they were revolting too, just because of who they were friends with.

Santa saw what was going on and felt very sad for the reindeer. But, he too, had to make a very difficult decision. If Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint did not want to fly on Christmas Eve, then he was not going to force them. But he knew he needed eight reindeer to fly.

He held tryouts and four reindeer stood out amongst the rest. They were Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. They joined forces with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer,  and Vixen and became the eight famous reindeer you know today. Minus Rudolph of course, he would join the team a little later.

That is why you have never heard of Cinnamon, Gumdrop, Sparkles, and Peppermint. That is why a year later that Johnny Marks wrote Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with its famous opening lines of which you know.  You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, you know Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, and the rest is history.

That is also why you should be wise and choose your friends wisely. You will be known by the company you keep.

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Friends by Blake Shelton – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2tzzDtDw-k&w=560&h=315]

I’ve Got Friends That Do by Tim McGraw-  [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW5kWTaTXYw&w=560&h=315]

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by –  [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0byH9h1ClBY&w=560&h=315]

The Christmas Tree

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From the time she was a small sapling she knew what she was born for. She was born and raised on a Christmas tree farm. She heard stories from her family and friends about how one day she would be picked to go be inside someone’s house

Each year she grew a little bigger but each year she kept hearing people say the same thing. “She isn’t big enough.” “Her branches are still too weak.” “Her needles are too thin.”

She would wonder the same thing each year. “What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t anyone want me? ”

Another year passed and she thought for sure this would be the year. She was almost as big as all the other trees but it was the same old story for our Christmas tree. “She isn’t quite there yet.” “She’s almost full enough but not as full as we want.” “Her branches still aren’t strong enough.”

Many more years passed and she still wasn’t being picked. She was really starting to wonder what was wrong with her. She was bigger than almost all the other trees. Her branches were fuller and stronger than the other trees. Other trees that were born after her were being picked but she still wasn’t. “Why doesn’t anyone want me?”  “When will my time come?”

Another year passed and she was a full ten feet taller than any other tree. She had beautiful branches but she still wasn’t being picked. Now she heard things likes she’s too big, she can’t fit in our house, we don’t have enough lights and decorations to complete her.

Our Christmas tree was so sad. No one wanted her when she was young and small and no one wanted her when she was old and tall. She was thinking she will never know what it’s like to be decorated and look so lovely.

Our Christmas tree continued to grow and by the next year she was seventy-five feet tall. She could see the entire farm. That was when she saw this big truck coming on  the farm. They came right up to her. One guy got out and looked at her and said “this tree is what we have been looking for. She will look beautiful at Rockefeller Center. We will decorate her and have so many lights on her. Millions of people will see her and admire how beautiful she is!”

Moral of the story is God will use you in His time. Be faithful and trust in Him and He will use you in ways you would never believe. We just have to be patient and wait for our calling.

Just Like Me by Vanessa Williams – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60uuSSxNu98&w=560&h=315]

O Christmas Tree by Bobs and Lolo – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st4ccWKl3Xc&w=560&h=315]

One Little Christmas Tree by Stevie Wonder – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLjVcHG4B1U&w=420&h=315]

The Little Christmas Tree by Nat King Cole – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqWif91Q6zs&w=560&h=315]

While I’m Waiting by John Waller – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6X71sXagUY&w=420&h=315]

Use Me by All Things New – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q19ReZQ7PRU&w=560&h=315]

I Will Wait by Aaron Shust  – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn0Q1CAUIPc&w=560&h=315]

I Will Wait by Darlene Zschech – [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeHk7u3Fx-c&w=420&h=315]