All posts by Ken Dulaney

About Ken Dulaney

Husband, dad, and friend. I love God, my family, my country, the South, and the U.S.A. Ireland is on the top of my list of great places to visit, especially Kilkenny, Kilarney, Galway and the southern coast. My hope is to make a few people smile by sharing some true stories of the funnier parts of my life. Feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts. I hope you find the stories on this page uplifting. I don't mind if you laugh at me, especially if it helps you to take life a little less seriously, something I need to work on myself. If you will, please take the time to "Follow" Biskittales and if you have a Facebook account, please "Like" Biskittales. Feel free to tell me what you think of the stories. May God bless and keep you in all that you do. Ken

Tater Tot Tussle

“How on earth did I get to this place?” I asked myself as I sat in the recliner Tater Totin our living room. In the dark, I sat in my pajama’s and a flannel long sleeve shirt, leg bouncing in anxiety as I rubbed my forehead and stared at the new rug in our living room.  Truthfully, I was sulking as I was trying to figure out how this had happened, how I got here, and how it all went so wrong so fast. Know the feeling?

Not too long ago I asked God to help me to be a better husband, father, grandfather, friend, human being. Since that day I have continued to pray that prayer and God has been answering me in the most amazing ways, ways I never dreamed possible.  Needless to say I spend a lot more time lately looking inward and taking responsibility for the outcomes in my life.   He has lifted so many stresses off of my life and is helping me to grow, the right way.  So how does he help me on this particular night?  What is the answer to my question of how I got here?

A tater tot.

Yes, that is what it all boiled down to, a stupid little tater tot. Let me give you some context.

I pulled into our garage after a long day at work and turned my car off. A new thing I have been doing lately is stopping before I get out to let my head clear and be “present” when I walk in the house. I learned this from John Eldredge and the team at Wild at Heart Ministries and http://www.RansomedHeart.com. I take a minute to pray and give God the evening. It has been a great help at home and this night was no different.

When I walked in the door I said hello to my best friend and wife, Ms. Toni. She spoke back and we exchanged a “How was your day?” “How are you feeling?” etc..  I noticed that she seemed a little “off” so I asked like any self-respecting, paranoid, “it’s all about me”, hoping I am not in trouble, husband would do, “Are you upset with me?”

She assured me that nothing was wrong. RED FLAG #1. I should have paid more attention to her eyebrows than to what she was saying. Had I done so, I would have been as cautious as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs and saved myself a lot of pain in the “tail”.

I noticed a new rug that she had taken the time to purchase, pick up, and place in our living room. I thought it was really pretty and said so.  My thought? “Here is a good opportunity to show how attentive I am and score some brownie points.”  It was a high quality rug and she had gotten another good deal from TMI Gifts in Belmont, as usual.  I pointed out, just as any caring, wonderful, cautious, husband would do, “The only thing that concerns me is that it is pretty thick and the babies might trip over it when they run around on Sunday afternoons.”

RED FLAG #2: What she heard: “You did all that work for nothing. I hate it. You are endangering my grand babies. What’s for supper?”

Did I see my mistake? No. I just wobbled on through the evening like a Yeti with a hangover in twelve feet of new snow, uttering sounds that could be likened to a bull elk in the fall or maybe even that hairy giant guy in the Star Wars movies.  What was his name again?

She was very kind and had dinner on the table, another remarkable feat she seems to be able to pull off daily even though in twenty nine years I can’t remember ever asking her to do so.

As we began to eat, I bragged on how good the food was and thanked her for preparing it.  As almost always she said, “Awww, I just threw some things together.”  It was very good, for the record.  I thought to myself, “Brownie point number 2!  I really am on a roll here tonight, being an all sweetie-sweet husband and all.”  She pointed out that the tater tots really didn’t go with the main dish, but since we had some left over from yesterday it seemed to be a shame to just throw them out so she seasoned them and put them in a skillet and to crisp them up. They were really good! I told her so three different times.

The third time she mentioned that they were tater tots and how she prepared them I offered, “Sweetie, know what a tater tot is.”

RED FLAG #3. CRITICAL MASS REACHED! Keep in mind, I said this in the most loving way possible. But, I didn’t pick up on the real question which was “Do you mind if you are eating warmed up tater tots?” I could have been considerate and assured her that I loved them and that would have been the end of it.  It would have taken about a half a second to stop and think, but no, not Mr. Rocket Scientist who needs another shoe in his mouth. What I did do is what I should not have done.

I thought, “Of course, she needs to hear the truth and so long as I am sorta kind, she can’t blame anything on me, right??  Wrong! How amateur can a man be after twenty nine years?  Apparently, pretty amateur.

I will spare you the pain of the rest of the night but to say there was a little “static” in the air would not be an overstatement.  Our conversation seemed strained and it seemed as if we were both in the same house but somehow miles away from one another. Finally, as we went to bed, Ms. Toni said “Maybe we need to clear the air.  Something seems “off”.

Well, since she brought it up! RED FLAG #4, NUCLEAR BLAST RUMBLINGS IN THE DISTANCE”.

As I often do, I kindly pointed out that she didn’t need to point out every little flaw in me and that I am not stupid, and she should be happy because I am so giving and helpful and considerate and all I was trying to do was agree with her that the rug looked great and the tater tots were a great idea, and she had it out for me and so on, and so on, and so on.  (Note the sounds of breaking bones as the cat’s tail is caught by multiple moving rocking chairs.)

There is no way I was laying my validation down at her feet, right?  Wrong. That is exactly what I was doing and I was breaking her heart over a stupid tater tot.

The conversation ended there. She rolled over and I got up and went to my chair in the living room.

So there I sat. Asking God the question “How did this go wrong?” The answer, “With a tater tot”.

Instead of being truly caring, I was guarding my heart and not trusting her with it from the minute I walked in the door. To make matters worse, I was defensive needlessly, and I chose to listen to every single accusation the “enemy” threw at my ears throughout the evening.  To top it off, when things finally got uncomfortable, I did not protect her heart or honor her as a good husband and mate would do.

God said to me, “Do you really want to be a good husband like you asked?  I sheepishly answered “Yes God.” “Then go be a husband.”  “Yes, she may have done a few things that you didn’t like, but were they really important and is she more important to you than a tater tot?”  I answered again in my heart, “Yes God, she is. She is worth it.”

As I stood by the bed in the dark she turned on the light. “God said I need to honor you.” I said. She looked confused as I told her of how God called me out on my attitude, on how I had listened to a voice that was not being truthful but was accusing of her, and that she was worth me taking responsibility.  I was also wrong for needing to be validated by her. I apologized and asked her to forgive me.  She did and let me live through the night.

The point of the story is that we often need to be validated by things and people other than God, and that is a mistake. Further, if we are so naïve as to think that we don’t have an enemy that is yelling in our ears every minute of every day to try to keep us from real happiness and freedom, then we are taking a lot of damage that might be avoided, at least to some degree.

What could have been a week long argument over a tater tot (being right) turned into a thirty minute course correction by a God that loves us both.  I thank God that Ms. Toni is so strong, and that God is so kind to answer my prayer.  Pray for me that I stay the course and continue to grow in His truth, not my own or my enemy’s, but His and His alone.

I guess what I am trying to convey here is that often times the little voice that we hear accusing others, and often accusing ourselves, may not be our own.  It may just be that we have been jaded a bit by life or bad experiences or maybe we are just trying to survive the day. That makes us vulnerable and open to believe negative self-talk.  I have found it to be helpful to truly try to put myself in the other person’s shoes and consider that I don’t know what challenges they have faced in a day.  This is helping me to be more considerate and forgiving, and helps me to give the benefit of the doubt much more easily.

I am not saying that it doesn’t take effort, but it does make things a little better.  When I think to do it, things tend to work out better. When I don’t… Well let’s just say that I am sympathetic to a cat with multiple breaks in it’s tail.

God bless and keep you and all that you are. Thank you for being you!

Ken Dulaney
March, 2019

Nutty Bars & Baby Wipes

Last month, my flight to Denver from Memphis was bumpy enough on its own. Embarrassed manI had some reservations about flying out in a thunderstorm and landing in a snowstorm to begin with but I had made a commitment and wanted to keep it so I dragged my luggage into the Memphis terminal, checked in, and got in line at the security checkpoint. I was headed to at “Wild at Heart” men’s conference in Buena Vista Colorado.

Those of you who know me know that I love Nutty Bars. They are great food for any time of day but especially at night, just before I go to sleep with a big glass of milk. (2% milk… I am trying to stay healthy.)

Being the type of person that never wants to inconvenience anyone else, I had taken care to check and double check all my bags and even wore floppy shoes so I could get through TSA quickly. The absolute last thing I wanted was to have a bunch of anxious and impatient travelers lined up behind me, slowed down because of me. Well, as you might know, God sometimes puts us into places where we can’t escape the fact that we might need to address some things in our lives. Apparently, he wants me to consider my ability to “wait” and my fear of causing others discomfort. So here is how I think he did it.

My nutty bars were the only thing in my carry on that was edible but I took the risk (even though I saw the raised eyebrow of Ms. Toni when I packed them) because I think I can’t make it without nutty bars before I go to bed. I had a whole box in there. They were sealed and I thought to myself, “How could they possibly have a problem with that?” Well, let me tell you. They can!

As I stood at the x-ray machine bare footed and holding my pants up with one hand, already pretty much humiliated, I hear a voice behind me yell “RED BAG! NUTTY BARS!”

“What?” I thought in horror. “No way! This isn’t happening!” Oh yes. It is happening alright. I realized that, as I turned to see four security personnel rush to check out the bag in question. As I turned, I was quickly reminded to be still as the x-ray did its job.

So now I have taken up the time of five security personnel in a smaller airport security checkpoint and I can feel the burning sensation on the back of my neck as travelers behind me quickly surmised that I was not only the culprit responsible for their delay but that I was somewhat less than brilliant for bringing on something as silly as a nutty bar.

Within a matter of thirty seconds, every person within a hundred feet was looking at me and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. “Good Lord! I just want to put on my shoes and run away!” Nope, that is not happening.

After an attentive inspection I stood shamed and nervous as I asked the head-honcho guard if it was okay? He laughed and said “As long as you don’t mind sharing with the rest of us.” I replied, “Man, you can have all you want just let me get outta here.” He was very kind about it and they let me get dressed and on my way.

I think TSA gets a bad rap. They were really nice to me and they certainly didn’t have to be.

I think they called ahead to Denver for me because even though on my return trip I had no nutty bars in my bag, they did catch me with two baby wipes in my pocket and that set off a whole new set of alarms, and a search of my person along with a stern warning that “If the “smiley face” doesn’t come up on the computer after we swabbed your hands, we have a problem!”.  I think I might have needed a diaper at that point.

In a much bigger crowd of laser-eyed travelers in Denver, TSA was still as nice as they could be. That did not, however, prevent me from sweating through my clothes in a panic attack. I have never been so glad to get on a plane in my life!

So what did I learn from this experience? On top of a mountain in the Colorado Rockies at sunrise, I really believe I felt God ask me, “You don’t wait well do you?” This feeling came on as I tapped my watch and internally said to him “Come on God, get that sun up. I am here, I am waiting, and I have things to do at this Ransomed Heart event. I need to get a picture. Let’s go!”

God doesn’t answer well to my demands. He is; however, kind and gentle when he is helping me to see an agreement I have made that is hurting me. “You can live without nutty bars. You can live without baby wipes. You can even be a little uncomfortable and wait for things, those won’t hurt you. But you can’t live without me.”

Yeah, I know some people do live without him. But I can’t. Not anymore. He is my friend and he helps me in areas and things that I didn’t even know I needed help with. That’s all folks. He is just that good.

Can I recommend, quickly here, the app for your phone “RansomedHeart”? If you know of John Eldredge and Wild at Heart or Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge, you know it is a great resource and very “heart” healthy.  And, it’s free!

In closing, I hope you can use my embarrassment and unnecessary self-reproach, impatience, and yes, a little bit of gluttony, and have a laugh today. I hope you never have to go through this type of thing. I am almost certain you won’t because let’s face it, you don’t have a nutty bar addiction like me. But, as funny as it is seems, it is also loving and reminds me to slow-down, breathe, and stop worrying so much. It will all be okay. God knows what he is doing.

May God bless you more than you know. If you haven’t given him a chance to help you, what do you have to lose? Feel free to reach out if I can be of help.

Thank you to you all, and to my wonderful wife, my son, my daughters and to the Ransomed Heart team for making my life so much better. Oh yeah, and “Thank you God. You rock!”

Ken Dulaney

Rest?

I know that I usually post items that are humorous here, but today, I thought it might be a good idea to share a recent experience I had in hopes that it will help you to realize that real help is out there for whatever you are experiencing right now. We are so busy nowadays that I think we have been lulled into a constant state of chaos. I have been praying about “rest” for myself and I want to share with you how fast and wonderfully God answered that prayer. He continues to do so as I am by no means and expert on the subject.Rest in Ireland - Kilarney

A few weeks ago a great counselor I know asked me to look into how I “rest”. I thought to myself that I would take a shortcut and just google the subject for a quick answer. That’s how we do things nowadays right? It wasn’t a surprise to me that I found items like exercise, yoga, deep breathing, etc. as the top results; however, it seemed to me that although these are all very good recommendations, something was still missing in my heart when it came to truly resting.

I was blessed to attend a “Wild at Heart Basic” event last weekend where a group of Christian men got together at a remote cabin in a rice field close to Stuttgart, Arkansas, to go over the RansomedHeart.com programs. These sessions are meant to ask real questions about the heart of a man and what Jesus really meant when he said that he came to seek and to save that which was lost. I was excited to attend and can recommend it to everyone. They even have a free app with mountains of great information and podcasts related to our walk with God and how our hearts can truly be healed by Him.

After each session, I was expecting to sit around and discuss the content. Imagine my surprise when the leader of the event, Geoffrey Stephens said “Okay, we are taking a 45 minute covenant of silence until the beginning of the next session.” I asked myself, “What am I supposed to do with this? Even though I had asked God to help me to answer the “rest” question days ago, I had given in to the idea that He likely didn’t hear me or I wasn’t praying hard enough so I just went on to the event and attempted to work it out for myself later, when I had time.

John & Staci Eldredge and the great team at Ransomed Heart Ministries are really on to something.   They don’t focus on denominations or competitions, but are laser focused on the hearts of those that love Jesus, helping us to connect with Jesus in ways that brings true healing in a fallen world.  I thank God for them and I thank Geoff Stephens for taking the time and making the effort to bring the WAH Basic to an area near me.

You might like to download their free app “Ransomed Heart”.  I think the podcasts are the greatest resource.  You can scroll through years of podcasts to find one on a subject that relates to your current situation.  Most are around 20 minutes long and are a wonderful replacement for the negative news I usually listen to on my drive home.

Back to the event in Arkansas…  For four days the covenants of silence continued. On the third day I “got it”.  God allowed me to focus on the question of the session, which directed my thoughts. That allowed me to slow my brain down, and guess what?  I learned how to rest a little better. It was an amazing realization, it took only about 15 minutes on average and it was fairly easy. He was able to point out that I need to “slow down”, not my body, but my mind.  Sound familiar?

Now, instead of promising myself that I am going to “unplug” and sitting around on Saturday morning doing nothing and feeling guilty about it, I am putting my phone down, asking God what He wants me to work on in my heart, and watching the grass grow or the leaves turn for Fall. He is always there waiting on me. It is such a wonderful rest and it doesn’t take as long as when I try to do things my way.

Matthew 11:28-30 New International Version (NIV) – 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Remember, God is faithful to complete the good work in you that he started.  He is patient, gentle, and you are worth His effort.

May God bless and keep you and your family, and may He bless every second of your life.

Ken Dulaney

Ken Profile 6

Yes Sir, May I Have Another?

Ever had to take a “chewing” from an officer, a sergeant, a physician, a boss, or a spouse, and stYes Sir May I Have Another PICand there like a statue and take it?  Some of my practice manager friends may be able to relate.  You know, that time when you did nothing wrong but got blamed publicly, possibly humiliated, and you had to just take it with a smile and a “Yes Sir/Ma’am”?  Boy, that is a great feeling right?

God help the person that doesn’t have the authority to “chew us out” that tries such a stunt!  They might go home with a pain in their hind side or a sore nose, or worse, right?

But, what happens when you get the chewing and the person chewing on you not only has no authority to chew, but still manages to keep you in a position to do nothing about said chewing?  This is rare I realize, but it happened to me recently and I learned a great deal about myself as a result of the experience.

I traveled to Birmingham, Alabama not long ago for a business meeting at a hospital.  I arrived in plenty of time and was in no rush as I entered the line to the parking garage.   In front of me, getting their parking ticket, was a white pickup truck with a big bumper sticker on the back proudly stating “Jesus loves you, but I am his favorite”.  I thought to myself, now that is a cute bumper sticker as I passed through the ticketing station myself and followed the pickup through the levels of the parking garage at around three miles per hour.  On any other day I would be chewing on my steering wheel in frustration because of the traffic but on this day, I honestly was in no hurry so I crawled along with the rest of the vehicles.

On the third of seven levels in the garage, the pickup in front of me pulled over slightly to the right in front of one of the clinic entrances and stopped.  I assumed they were letting someone out and peeked around them to see if there was any oncoming traffic.  There was none, so I eased around them on the left to continue looking for a spot to park.  As I neared the front of their vehicle I noticed the pickup roll forward a bit, so I had to speed up to five miles per hour or so to get by.  This did not make my pickup driving friends very happy.  All at once, I heard their horn blaring and thought to myself, “Well, I may have misjudged that move.”  I thought little of it and moved on along the parking lot, ending up on the seventh floor before finding a place to park.

I got my car centered in the space and began to prepare for my meeting when I noticed a white pickup pulling in to my right.  The driver pulled up and then back several times in order to insure that my passenger door had no chance of being used.  Again, I thought little of it and continued with my work.  A moment later I heard a sharp tapping on my driver’s side window.  To my surprise, a very elderly gentleman, (I estimated around 80 years old or older) using a cane, was attempting to gain my attention.  As I looked out at him I noticed that he wore a hat promoting Jesus and had a large wooden cross pinned to his left shirt pocket.  I rolled down my window and said “Yes Sir, may I help you?”  That was the last word I got in for about three minutes.

For the next few minutes the gentleman, in his own cherub like way, proclaimed to me, and the world, that I was, beyond doubt…. An idiot.  Yes folks, he was very certain of it.  He spent the next few minutes pacing in front of my door, back and forth, breathlessly informing me that I was an idiot, a real idiot, and nothing but an idiot.  The poor guy was so worked up that I couldn’t say a word if I wanted to do so.

I did try to apologize, numerous times.  I think it was between “You’re an idiot” number one and “You’re an idiot” number three that I injected a “Sir, I am sorry, but I promise I didn’t mean to upset you.  It was an honest misjudgment on my part.”  He didn’t’ hear a word of it.  “Just admit it!”  he screamed.  “You’re an idiot!”

Now be honest.  If you were in this situation, what would you do?  I can be honest.  If it had been a younger man, no matter if I was wrong or not, I would not have taken such a verbal assault with no response.  I certainly wouldn’t have been pleading with him to accept my apology.  Most likely, (I am being honest here) he would have gotten a shot at kicking my rear end.  With me, although I consider myself to be a nice guy and very patient, there is a point where I say to myself, “It is worth it if I get the snot beat out of me, but this guy won’t walk away unscathed.”  I did not say it would be the best reaction, but I am being honest.

How many times have we been in traffic and had someone cut us off and treat us poorly?  How many times have we had that person on the phone yelling at us with what I call “Maw Bell courage” (it is kind of like a courageous drunk without the smell), thinking they can speak to us any way they want because we can’t get our hands around their necks?

We usually won’t take it.  Generally, a person has a line they have drawn in their mind of just how far they will let an assault go.  It seems to me that in recent years, that line is crossed with little effort on the part of the offender as we as a society have become so easily offended.  But, who am I to preach?  My line is as near to the offender as anyone else’s line might be.  “How dare you look at me a certain way!”  “How dare you go faster than me in traffic!”  “How dare you not say thank you when I hold the door open for you!”

And, “How dare you call me an idiot whether or not my action seemed idiotic to you or not!”

The shock from my encounter had me on my heels.  I sat in the car a bit longer listening to the gentleman’s insults.  I noticed a lady, (his daughter, about my age) walk past the back of my car.  The gentleman had just stepped back and yelled at me again demanding I admit I was an idiot.  That was my chance.  I had had enough.  I opened my door and in one step was standing face to face with him.  At about that same instant I heard his daughter say “Come on Daddy, he’s not worth it.”

Talk about a slap to the face!  She didn’t know me and neither did he.  But, she assumed that “Daddy” was about to get what we all would expect he would get.

I said, “Sir, if you will take a breath, please!”  I continued quickly as he started moving away, “Sir, I am honestly sorry.  I meant no harm and completely misjudged what you were doing.  I thought you were letting someone out of your vehicle.  I had no idea, but I do apologize.”  “And” I added, “I love your hat.”

“You’re an idiot.”  “Come on Daddy”, “He’s an idiot!”, “Yes Daddy, he is.”

As they walked away I said “Sir, I am truly sorry, and Ma’am I apologize to you too.”  In a huff, they disappeared around the corner of the parking lot.  I sat down in my car, shaking too bad to hold a pen, much less write anything legible.  But, I grabbed my pen and notepad and scribbled down a few lines apologizing again and stating that I hope they have a safe trip home.  I left the note on their windshield and wobbled in to my meeting, shaken, still on time.

There was something about that cross that haunted me.  I could not be “me” or “let my flesh take charge” in this case.  Something about it made me take the chewing as if I was outranked by this guy.  I had no idea of who he was or where his life had taken him, but for some reason I could not find it in my heart to give him what I thought he deserved.  One thing was for sure, the incident would have me frustrated and angry for the rest of the day.  I knew that for sure.

After I left my meeting and walked down the long hall back to the parking lot, a thought came to my mind.  “How many generals, colonels, sergeants, supervisors, bosses, have yelled at me and been entirely disrespectful to me over the span of my life?  How many of those people never heard a word from me in my defense?  Most, if not all, simply heard, “Yes Sir/Ma’am.” That was it.  I just dealt with it and moved on, angry, resentful, and scarred.  If I did speak up and give them a piece of my mind, I can’t remember a time when it worked out well for me.

Another thought came to mind shortly after the first.  “If that man crosses my path again I can either put him in his place (get revenge) or I can just go on as if nothing happened (be resentful and hurt).  Both of those choices will produce the same result, I will be miserable.”

Then it seemed as if a wiser question was asked of me.  “But what if there is another choice?”  I thought.  It seemed as if God was telling me to try it a different way, even though I felt that I was “right”.  “What if you were genuinely humble?”  “What if it did not matter who was right or wrong but you just took this one for the team knowing that one of my children deserves your respect without explanation?”  “Sure,” I thought.  The chance of me seeing the man again was very slim anyway.

Wouldn’t you know it?  In the parking lot, as I approached my car and looked at the white pickup truck sitting next to it, guess who was in the driver seat?  You guessed it.  My cherub friend.  The note was still on the window.

I walked around and tapped on his glass.  His daughter was still inside the building and the passenger seat was empty.  As he rolled down the window I reached over and took the note and handed it to him.  “Sir, I just wanted to ask you if you were ever in the military or in the service in any way.”  He replied “Fire Department.”  I asked, “Sir, have you ever had the Chief chew you out and you just had to stand there and take it?”  “Yeah” he answered.

“Well Sir, that is where I am today.  I just wanted to tell you one more time that I am truly sorry and that it was my fault.  I honestly never intended to upset you.”  I added, “Sir that hat you wear and that cross on your shirt mean you outrank me and you deserve my respect and my apology.  Please be safe today and know that I am honestly sorry for any inconvenience.”

He looked up at me and said “I am so sorry I talked to you that way.”  I realized that I truly had no idea of what this man was dealing with in his life and that I may have reacted the same way he did being placed in the exact same situation.  It was then that I noticed a little lady sitting in the back seat of the truck, just grinning at me like a Cheshire cat but not saying a word.  It was his wife.  She had witnessed the entire event and apparently it was resolved with her approval.  I am a little nervous about what she said to him when I walked away, but I know if it was Ms. Toni, I would have had to listen to her laugh at how God “fixed my wagon” all the way home.

The incident didn’t bother me a bit for the rest of that day, which is truly rare for me.  I hope it didn’t bother him either.  I hope that he saw God take an Irishman who wanted to do one thing, and made him do the complete opposite, all because of the rank the gentleman wore on his chest.  The cross made him the highest general in the land for that moment in time.  He deserved a little respect and he deserved to be given the benefit of the doubt and yes, he deserved an apology.

It didn’t hurt me one bit.  As a matter of fact, it warmed my heart.   I wonder if it was God’s voice I heard as I walked back to my car.  You be the judge.  I am good with the result regardless.

He is King of Kings & Lord of Lords.Wooden Cross Pin

Ken Dulaney

 

The Scorched Rat

Life throws you curves.  No machubby mousetter how much you prepare or how many books you read on how to be a better person in order to limit the bad things that happen in your life, the curves come.  Sometimes they hurt but most of the time they help us to grow stronger.

I come from a really jacked-up family, like most people.  To be clear, the term “jacked-up” means goofy, weird, silly at times.  What family isn’t right? Recently, I have had to make a decision that impacts my children and grandchildren and it was extremely difficult.  Not to bore you with details but sometimes we have to walk away from people, even if we love them, to avoid what we feel is abusive or bad behavior.  My parents and some of my siblings are Martians to me most days.  I do not understand them or how they can justify treating the general public so poorly and they feel the same about me most, if not all, days.  But, I love them, so I was patient; however, there comes a time when difficult decisions have to be made so I made it and proceeded to feel sorry for myself that I was put into an impossible situation with no way out.  I spent plenty of time asking God what I could do and waited for his answer, with my thumb in my mouth, filled with self-pity.

As I get older, health is always a worry.  Since I worry a lot anyway, the added stress of family “issues” caused me to begin to have severe chest pains.  When Ms. Toni finally found out about it she promptly scheduled a cardiology visit and that is where my most recent lesson began.  “You have three little grandchildren that want you to see them grow up so get your butt to the doctor!” she said.  So, I did.

I work with medical practices every day and I appreciate the job they do.  Most people don’t realize what a challenge it is to run a medical practice or hospital, especially in these times.  The amount of money and dedication it takes to keep a practice open today is breathtaking.  Doctors don’t get paid what they used to and you might be surprised if you look up what their average earnings really are after all the overhead is paid.  I respect them all and could never do the job they do at any level.

I was nervous to be in the doctor’s office to begin with.  When the nurse called my name to put me back in an exam room I admit I wanted to run back out to my car.  I had my lie all planned out for Ms. Toni in my effort not to be skinned alive for running but after a little thought I realized that her “wife radar” would no doubt pick up on my lie and I would have had to come all the way back over, this time without the comfort of skin, so I followed the nurse and sat down in the room exactly where she told me to sit.  After the doctor came in and did the exam I was elated to find out that I had to do something called a “stress test”.  Well let me tell you, they named that exam correctly.

I followed a second nurse down a long hallway to a room where two more young ladies were waiting on me with a treadmill and a computer that I affectionately named “the octopus”.  I walked through the door and saw the treadmill and thought to myself “This is not looking good.  I thought, “The lie and loss of skin might be worth it” when I noticed the octopus and considered what avenues of escape were immediately available to me.  But the two new ladies seemed kind enough, so I thought to myself, “How bad can it be?” and sat down where they told me to.

They asked me a few questions and one said “Okay, stand up and take off your shirt.”  I should have bolted right then but to be honest my fear of Ms. Toni was greater than my fear of whatever torture they might inflict on me so I complied.  Funny thing, the lady that was running the octopus computer started talking to me so I turned my head to the left to respond.  The lady to my right says “Okay, I have to shave a spot to put the leads (jumper cables) on.”  Before I could say “Oh hair no you don’t!” she reached out and started scraping hair off my chest! “Holy smokes!” I said, startled.  Folks she didn’t offer me any shaving cream or a warm towel or anything.  She just dry shaved the spots she had targeted and left me standing there looking like a rat that had been struck by lightning! I thought, “My God woman!  At least offer me a hug after that!” But I kept my mouth shut and tried to hold back the tears.

She plugged about ten thousand wires to me and told me to get on the treadmill.  “Just go as far as you can” the young one told me.  Then she started turning the little knob on Octopus’s face.  I noticed that  she had with a torturous grin on her face as I ran faster and faster.  “When you reach the point where you think you can’t go further, we will stop.”  I thought she seemed like a woman of her word, so again, I complied.

Once I got to the point that I thought I was going to croak I said, “Okay, that’s it.  I can’t go any further.”  Each word was separated by a painful gasp for air.  Do you think she kept her word?  Noooo.  She said, “Well, it would be better if you get to the next level,” and kept looking at the screen.  “What?!!” I thought, not having the air or words to argue.

Sweating through my suit pants and t-shirt (I didn’t prepare to go for a jog when I left for work that morning) I collapsed onto the chair they had placed behind me.  I remember thinking “They just tried to kill me so that it would be a shorter trip to the ER if I had a heart attack.”

All went well and after admonishment from the doctor to exercise, eat better, and get rid of whatever it was that was causing me so much stress, I went home and pledged to spend as many happy moments with Ms. Toni, my children and the grandchildren as I could, with a promise to myself to make the hard decision facing me and put it behind me.  To date, it seems to have relieved a good portion of the stress and I thank God for that.

Ms. Toni and I raised three girls and I thought I was prepared for just about anything but am quickly realizing that little boys and little girls are completely different creatures as we have been blessed with three of the coolest little cats for grandsons a couple could ask for.  Corbin is three, Declan is nearly two, and Zeb is about to be one.  I can’t keep up with any of them but I try so hard.  When they walk in the door my world stops.  There is nothing more important at that moment than hearing “Papaw!” or seeing them smile and develop each day.  It is a blessing from God every single moment I have with them.  Well, almost every moment.

Declan and Zeb were at our house on Sunday afternoon and as the girls visited with their mom and the guys sat and relaxed for a minute or two having worked all week, I decided that I would get down in the floor and entertain the babies.  Zeb has just begun to crawl well and likes to pull himself up on things and Declan thinks it is grand to bounce around on all fours trying to get Zeb to chase him.  “Com’on Papaw!” He says.  “Woof woof!”  That is baby code for “Hey, Zeb and I are playing dawg and you better keep up!”

After a few laps through the living room and into the hardest dining room floor on the planet earth we made it back to the soft space beside my beloved recliner.  I thought for a brief second that I was going to get to climb up there and take a break but Zeb had other ideas.  Still on my knees, I turned just in time to see him make a bee line toward me just smiling from ear to ear.  “Awww!” I thought.  “He is coming to see his Papaw!  How sweet!” It wasn’t long before I realized that the little stinker wasn’t necessarily being sweet and that he and little Declan had hatched a plan to lure me into a sweetness coma long enough to test how loud they could make the old man squeal.

Zeb covered the length of the living room in what seemed to be only a second or so and before I knew it he had a hold on the bottom of my t-shirt, pulling himself up toward my face, Declan was standing just to my left looking at me with a curious little smirk on his face as if he was saying with his eyes, “Wait for it, wait for it.”  Zeb looked at Declan as he climbed as if to say, “He really doesn’t realize it does he?  This is gonna be great!”

A half second later my eyes started watering and everything went into slow motion.  I saw two angelic faces smiling at me as if they loved me without question and little fingers moving so slowly that I could see the adorable little wrinkles in each knuckle and the most precious little baby fingernails ever.  In the distance, as if at the end of a long tunnel, I heard the echo’s of distant adult voices and it was as if someone had slowed life down to a snail’s pace.  I was aware of my oldest daughter holding a cell phone in full “record” mode to capture the precious moment and as the seconds ticked by I slowly turned my head back to see the face of one who would remind me that the nurse at the cardiology office was as gentle as a wind driven snow.

And then every nerve in my body seemed to scream at the same time as Zeb’s little fingers secured the hold on the chest hair I had left. My voice failed me.  All I could manage was a strangled squeak as the breath left my body and my eyes glazed over in tears.

Zeb had climbed his way up to the neck of my shirt and since the shirt had reached its elastic limit, the logical next step was to grab the patches of hair left behind by the kind nurses.

To make a bad situation worse, Zeb noticed his dear mommy standing to my right and apparently decided that he wanted to proudly illustrate how much he has grown.  He then proceeded to bounce up and down and swing from side to side, giggling like a leprechaun on a pot of gold.  Through the laughter I heard and felt a ripping as the hair gave way to the little chunky monkey’s weight.  He plopped down on his bottom and smiled like a possum eating grapes as I attempted to recover my breath and dignity.  Oh, it was adorable!

Now if you love babies like I do, and if you love their parents like I do, two things come to your mind when a beloved angel like this inflicts a massive level of pain on you.  1.  You smile at him and say “How adorable you are!” and 2.  You do not let his parents know their little cherub has caused you pain because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.  That is just the price you pay for being a good “Papaw”.

Additionally, you always try to set a good example.  Whenever you are in public or maybe even when you are at the doctor’s office, you treat the staff and nurses with kindness and love no matter that they may be trying plunge you into a coronary as punishment for all the peas and cornbread you ate the night before, even though you knew better than to eat such massive amounts of such food.

As a good husband, parent, and grandparent, you set that example no matter what and you, as Ms. Toni tells me often, “Suck it up buttercup!” and you be the better man.

But, if you are a jerk… If you care more about yourself than others… If you don’t mind decades of dirty looks and turkey bacon instead of Ms. Toni’s sweet smile and peas and cornbread, you say:  “Lady I will slap the taste out of your mouth if you touch me with that razor again!”  And, “I said I am done Lady!  If you turn that knob one more time I am gonna blow chunks all over you!” And, “You little snotty nosed, monkey booger, put that hair back where you got it!” And, “Girl, I raised you better than this, get this little pit bull off my chest or go to your room, you are grounded!” And finally, to the little “Professor Pain Planner” booger that started the “dawg game” in the first place, “Boy I will pull your ears off and eat’em if you ever coax him into making me scream that again!  Stop LAUGHING at me!!!”

That’s what one might do if one didn’t love every minute of it.

Later that evening when we were finally in bed and bragging to one another about how much the babies love me more than Mamaw Toni, I realized how lucky I am.  I thought to myself as I began to doze off in exhaustion, “Here I am looking like a rat that has been struck by lightning, too tired to lift a finger, with bruised knees and a headache, hoping that Ms. Toni can see past all that and still see me as the man she fell in love with… And I wouldn’t trade this feeling for the world.”

God had indeed blessed me beyond anything I could ever deserve.  Remember earlier when I said I had asked God what I could do during my prayers? If you recall, I admitted that I was feeling sorry for myself and to be honest, that prayer was prayed for months.  One might think that God didn’t hear me right?  But consider this, the peace came and the clarity that I was blessed beyond measure came when my prayer changed from “God, what can I do?” to “God, what can I do for you?”  It is that simple.  He required nothing of me and allowed me to gain some perspective.  During my prayers over all those months all I seemed to get from God was “Say nothing, and do no harm.”  I admit, I slipped a couple of times but having waited and having listened, it appears that He has guided me out of what was sure to be an increasingly difficult situation.  He seems to have taught me a little bit more about how to say “No.”  And that really is a weight off of my shoulders.  He did say he would ease our burdens, but I had forgotten how real that promise is.

If you haven’t considered giving God a chance in your life, I ask you this, “What do you have to lose?”  He has never failed me and trust me, he has every right to ignore me completely.  You might find that He really does know what He is doing and loves you no matter what, even if you pull out all of his hair and make him cry now and then.  He loves you more than any problem you could ever face.

May He bless and keep you.

Ken Dulaney

Buying Bacon

A guy’s life isn’t really all that complicated usually.  We eat, we sleep, we work, we play.  buying-bacon-picWith a few exceptions, that is the case for most of us.  We really don’t need much more than that.  Kinda like cave men, we can be happy leading a relatively simple existence.

When things get complicated for us it is usually when we “add” things.  For instance, mowing the lawn is a simple, sometimes relaxing task.  But when we try to add mowing in a certain pattern or inserting posies or roses into the landscape or God forbid a bird feeder, that complicates things to the point of stress!  We like it simple on most days.  Bird feeders and posies do not translate into simple.

I have come to understand that when Ms. Toni has a task for me to complete, she has her own level of stresses that go along with any request.  She apparently spends much time in consideration of how I am about to goof something up.  That has led her to a point in her life where she feels the need to lead me around like a three year old.  If I have heard it once, I have heard it ten thousand times over the past few years “Now…Ken”.  Whenever I hear those two words “Now… Ken”, you can count on the fact that one of two things are happening.  One, she is correcting me and trying to keep me from speaking my mind to someone or something that has my blood pressure elevated, or two, she is about to give me very specific instructions on how she wants something simple done.  For example, “Now…Ken, I need you to take out the trash, BUT, don’t forget to put in another trash bag, clean out the can (In the back yard this time, not in the kitchen floor), tie up the bag, close the lid on the big can outside (remember the possums will get in it if you don’t), push the can back into its correct place and then come ask me if it is done correctly.”  GOOD GRIEF!  It is taking out the trash!  I can handle it!  Well, most days I can anyway.

A few days ago, Ms. Toni announced that she had to go to the local Piggly Wiggly grocer to pick up some items for the weekend.  I saw the opportunity to gain some easy brownie points and offered to go “help”, which means I get to push the cart and grab whatever I want off the shelves when she isn’t looking.  I always love the look in her eyes when we are checking out and she is charged for something she doesn’t remember picking up.  I just say, “Yeah honey, you picked that up in the first aisle.  Don’t you remember?  Bless your heart.”  It is great fun, and fairly simple.

We had done the shopping and were in the checkout line when she remembered that we needed bacon.  Now that is a word that gets the attention of almost every guy!   “BACON” I thought!  Yes, that one word is all I needed.  No explanation necessary.  “Bacon GOOD, Ken GET!” is what went through my mind.

I didn’t even give her time to get the “Now…Ken” out before I was bookin-it down the meat aisle looking for the thickest cut, biggest most industrial sized pack of bacon they had.  Thankfully I didn’t have to look long.  Like a bacon beacon of heavenly light, the pack seemed to call me, luring me closer and closer until the joy in my heart rose to the point that a single little tear formed in the corner of my eye.  It was the thickest cut bacon I had ever seen and it was all ready to go home with me.  It was beautiful!  So I grabbed three packs.

I arrived back at the checkout line quickly and proudly, my head held high as I boldly announced that I had found the best bacon ever and it was on sale for only $15.00 or so.  I did not mention that I had three packs as I assumed that the “shoe sale” rule was in play.  I had a comeback ready to go if Toni had questioned me.  It would have gone something like this, “Well, honey, I saved us eleven dollars off the regular price.  I just knew you would kill me if I didn’t save us all that money since I know how careful you are with the budget.”

When the package of bacon neared the scanner, my heart began to race a bit, partly because I love bacon, and partly because I was scared of Toni’s reaction when the price popped up for her and the young lady behind the counter to see.

“BEEP”, “BEEP”, “BEEP”, all three packages were now mine.  As I sighed in relief that the bacon was about to be bagged and all mine, I noticed a pause in the activity in our line.  It got quiet, oddly enough.  I glanced over at Ms. Toni who was staring at me as if she felt sorry for me a little, yet questioned what elementary school I attended as a child.  Interestingly enough, the girl checking us out had paused as well, looking at me with the same look Toni was giving me.  She stared for a second, then looked at Ms. Toni as if to ask if it was okay to continue scanning items.  Without saying a word, a nod was exchanged between the two and the beeping continued.

I offered carefully, “Well, there is one thing guys know and that is bacon!”  “I know good bacon.  Yessir I am a bacon fan and I can find good bacon in no time.  Yep, I am a good bacon shopper!”

The two ladies glanced at each other in what looked to me like a mocking fashion.  Toni said, “Ignore him, sometimes you have to let them think they can do something right to keep them motivated.”  The girl behind the counter said “I know.”

What the heck is that supposed to mean?  I thought I did good!

Have a wonderful fall season!

Ken

Ken Profile 6

When  we see something like bacon in our life and want it really badly, we tend to justify it before we consider what God wants for us.  He sends us little signals of warning, much like the look Ms. Toni gave me.  Those warnings are to prompt us to reconsider or at least take time to weigh the costs of a particular decision.  He will let us make the mistake if we persist and is just to allow us to receive the consequences of our decision, good or bad.   When we do something silly, He doesn’t just walk away from us, but loves us through it, even though he could have stopped us.   He knows we cannot learn without mistakes and pain in our lives but is always there for us when we feel pain or make a mistake.  Take some time to pause and listen when you make a decision.  Chances are that you will hear the beep beep beep of God’s voice alerting you to a possible different choice.  He may be trying to keep you from making an overindulgent choice that could get you into trouble, OR, He may be pointing you to an EVEN BETTER pack of bacon! 

Stairs & Stares

Some of the most rewarding times of my life come from serving others in sFalling Down Stairs JPGome form or another, without expecting anything in return.  In the Bible, it is referred to as “loving” others.   But, from time to time, I can get a little selfish and less than “loving”.  It is during these times of selfishness that I seem to learn some of the most valuable lessons, but also sometimes suffer the greatest humiliations.  When I begin to feel a little sorry for myself, I whine to God or to Ms. Toni.  Neither allow me to get away with what I call being my “inner three year old” and both encourage me to be more giving and charitable.  When I do that, I usually see my “problem” dissipate quickly.  When I don’t, I usually learn the lesson the hard way.

Last week I learned a lesson about complaining without cause when I went to a meeting with Mississippi Chapter of Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) in Philidelphia, Mississippi.  I was in a whiney mood at the end of what I thought was a long day.  I was tired and looked forward to lying down and relaxing in my room once the day was done.   When that didn’t go exactly as I thought it should have gone, I developed an attitude and complained to Ms. Toni as always.  Here is how it went.

I got into bed around 9:00 pm, hoping to watch some of the later Olympic events.  I had already been through my nightly routine, coffee prepared, vitamins taken, clothes arranged, shower completed, nutty bar and milk strategically placed so they could easily be found in the dark.  You know, the normal stuff people do.  I called my wife, Ms. Toni, to say goodnight as I always do.  As we wrapped up the call I took my Ambien and fluffed my five pillows to just the right comfort level and settled back in the dark as the sprinters were lining up for a race.

I suppose I watched for something like “half a lap”, or a minute or so, when the satellite signal went out.  I scrambled in the dark to find the remote, afraid I had rolled over onto it and somehow changed the channel.  As I became increasingly frustrated (remember the three year old?)  I realized that there was no getting the TV to come back on.  I thought to myself, “Now I am going to have to lay here in the dark and look at Facey Book, or Itsy Bitsey, or Snappy Chatty or something until I go to sleep.  How unfair is that?”  Oh yeah, my inner three year old is a doozy when he is being “offended” by not getting his way.

As I reached for my phone I saw a flash in the window that was followed almost immediately by a loud clap of thunder.  Since I was already leaning over to get my phone I was just a little too off balance.  Being startled by the noise caused me to jump and that was just enough to put me on the floor beside the bed.  “I meant to do that!” I said out loud as if Ms. Toni was in the room.  “Oh yeah, I am by myself,”  I thought.  Nonetheless, I was somewhat embarrassed, but was able to find my phone and sit back down on the bed to check the weather radar.  Sure enough, there was a large storm upon us and it was about to get pretty bad based on what I could see of the purple and red colors on the radar.  I have been through a few storms and thought it would be a good idea to find the stairwell just in case the power went out and I had to get downstairs.  “No way I am getting stuck in an elevator!”  I thought.

I quickly grabbed my pajamas and got dressed, slipped on my fuzzy slippers, (Yes they are fuzzy and No, I didn’t buy them for myself, (don’t judge me) , grabbed my wallet and my phone and headed out the door.  I was happy to see that the stairwell was only two or three doors down from my room and headed over to do the recon for my escape should the need arise.

I gingerly walked through the stairwell door and peered over the rails to see how far down I may have to walk to the ground floor.  As I leaned over the rail I heard the familiar sound of a door closing and my heart fell to the very bottom floor as the sound echoed through the empty halls.  I closed my eyes and sighed.  “Okay Ken, there is no need to let your blood pressure go up.  I am sure that the door is not locked and you will be okay.  No need to panic man.  Just slowly turn around and you will see that the door will let you right back in the way you came out.”  As I took the advice of the voice in the back of my mind, I turned and gazed upon the sign that proved him a complete liar.  “No re-entry.”

“Well this is just great!” I muttered in a low tone.  Trying not to overthink things I decided to head down the stairs.  My fuzzy slippers flipped and flopped and echoed like the Budweiser Clydesdales on a hollow boardwalk.  I prayed no one else could hear them.  That would just be too humiliating.

I arrived at the landing of the next floor and looked at the door.  “No Re-entry.”  Flippity flop, flippity flop, to the next floor.  “No re-entry.”  Flippity flop, almost cussing, flippity flop, to the next floor.  “No Re-entry”.  Flippity flop, stagger, grab the rail for balance, cuss a little and promise to pray for forgiveness later, flippity flop, to what they say is the first floor.  “No Re-entry”.   By this time I am winded and ticked off at myself.  I can hear the sound of the storm outside.  One more floor and I should be on the ground level, so off I trudged.  Flippity flop, flippety flop, huff and puff, flippity flop, then finally, the “EXIT” sign!

I was a little proud that I had made it to the very bottom of the stairwell but the pride quickly faded away as I realized I was likely about to set off an alarm in a casino when I opened the door.  There was no doubt in my mind that doing that would not end well for me.  I could hear the wind and thunder outside and imagined myself bursting through the door and running around the outside of the massive building to get back to the main entrance.  “That is going to be a mess and I will not only be soaked but could be struck by lightning,” I thought.  “Better to just sit here for a few minutes until the storm passes and maybe I can make it without getting too wet or attracting too much attention.  I will just check the radar, then call the casino to tell them the alarm is about to go off when I open the door.  They will understand and maybe even give me a ride back around the building.  Yeah, that’s a great plan!”

I took out my phone and looked at the signal.  Any guesses?  Yep, nothing.  Nadda, not even a bar. They should put a signal indicator on the phone for times when you have less than a hint of a signal.  Maybe something like “Center of the earth” or “Signal?  Whatsa a signal?” would be helpful.  I couldn’t even get onto Google to get the hotel phone number.  I sat down on the bottom step and stared at my only friend in the world, a worn out straw broom standing in the corner seemingly laughing at me like that old guy in the dungeon that has been chained there for twenty years.  “You been here long sonny?”  as he smiles through his only tooth.  “Foods not too good here, but the critters keep me company.”

I sat there for a few minutes trying to figure out what I should do next.  I could hear voices on the other side of the door in the distance.  No doubt, there were  hotel employees coming in to work and rushing to get out of the rain.  I could picture them in my mind’s eye, scrambling to get into the building.  The sound of the rain and the wind got worse and better intermittently as I sat on the steps and contemplated my next move.

Ten or fifteen minutes went by when the thought hit me, “Oh no!  I took my Ambien before I left my room!  I am going to fall asleep sitting here and they will find me here in the morning in my fuzzy slippers and pajamas!”  If that wasn’t the case, the reality was that I was about to get real goofy real fast and I had to make a move, right now.  I jumped up and reached for the door.

I took a deep breath and prepared myself.  “Okay Ken.  We are gonna do this.  We are going to open the door and run, trying to stay out of the deep water.  We are going to get wet for sure, but maybe we won’t get struck and maybe security won’t see us.  Ready, set, GO!”

I slammed my weight on the crash bar of the door expecting the alarm to sound as I burst through into the storm, but to my surprise, no alarm sounded.  I found it curious that as I cleared the door, I felt no rain.  I looked up and was shocked to find myself standing safely in the kitchen of the casino!  “Oh this is just perfect!” I complained to myself internally.  “I am about to be escorted to the local Choctaw Indian jail or worse, end up on the evening news as the Ambien nut that got loose in the casino kitchen at The Golden Moon.”

The sounds I had heard were a combination of the air conditioning system and the water being sprayed by a lone dishwasher on the other side of the large room.  I stood there for a second trying to look like I belonged there but was quickly discovered/busted by a kind lady walking back to get some dishes.  She looked at me and I looked at her with my arms raised.  “I have come down the stairs and can’t get back in” I sheepishly offered.  She smiled and motioned over the noise for me to follow her.

She was so kind not to call security.  But, I could not help but to feel that I was being perp-walked to a degree.  As we turned the corner my heart sank and a knot rose in my throat.

Do you remember that time you had a dream that you were in public and realized that you were in your underwear?  Remember how helpless you felt?  Remember the horror of having those people in your dream stare at you as if you were a certified nut case?  No matter how hard you try in that dream, you can’t avoid the stares and the dream seems to never end.  Take a second, and think about that.

The knot in my throat choked off any possible “thank you” that I might have been able to offer the kind lady as she stepped to one side and waved me into the very back of the buffet area. When I turned the corner and realized that the buffet was full of people I honestly thought it would have been better for me to have been struck by lightning. “This is NOT happening!”  I thought.

I now had to fippity flop flippity flop my happy little butt through all the people that had filled the room to eat, past the line at the register, and past the little ole’ladies at the slot machines in my pajamas.  “Hi, how are you?”  “Hello, “ “Sorry,” “Excuse me.”  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough as you might imagine.

I scurried around the corner trying not to cry and found the elevator.   Quickly I pressed the call button on the elevator continuously until the familiar “ding” announced that I might make it through the humiliation.  The doors opened and I darted in with my head down.  “Oh thank God!” I said as I quickly turned and pressed my floor number.  “How can a one person have such bad luck?” I said out loud as I glanced up at the floor indicator.  The elevator began to rise and my heart rate began to settle a little.  “I am out of the woods now, safe, no problem.”  I thought.

A voice arose behind me.  “Son, it looks and sounds like you have had a long day.  Maybe a casino isn’t the best place for you right now.”  I slowly turned to see two sweet little ole’ ladies standing behind me smiling.  One had an oxygen tank but she was grinning like a possum eating grapes.  I wanted to crawl under the elevator doors and slither off into a corner somewhere, but I was trapped.  I took a deep breath, looked down at the floor and said to them, “Yes ma’am.  You are right.  Ms. Toni isn’t here to keep me out of trouble and I am just out of luck.”  They both smiled as the door opened and I walked off the elevator.  “You ladies have a great night and I hope you win more than I did.”  I said.

The door closed as they laughed politely.  They weren’t being mean at all.  I was actually touched by the way they seemed to understand.  “Odd” I thought to myself.  But then I realized they both had on wedding bands.  Chances are they understood just fine and chose not to make me feel worse.  Bless their hearts.

I walked to my room exhausted.  I smiled as I approached the door thinking how fun it was going to be when I told Ms. Toni this story.  “She won’t believe that I could be this goofy, but she will certainly believe it happened, as always.” I thought.  I considered whether or not to write it down for others to read.  Later she convinced me that I had to share it.

The same voice from the top of the stairwell piped back up as if he had been right all along.  While I walked the last few steps toward my room he seemed to say, “Well Ken, you don’t mind allowing others to have a laugh at your expense from time to time.   It’s good clean humor and hey, the terror is over so you can lie down and rest now.  Nothing else embarrassing can possibly happen.  We made it buddy!”

Remember earlier when I said that little voice was a liar? Here’s proof.

As I looked forward to the end of my trauma, I reached for the door and began to relax.  “Just unlock the door and it’s all over.” I thought.  I reached into my pajama pocket…

No key… No joke.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week.  May God bless and keep you.

Ken Dulaney

Ken Profile 6

A Final Note:

When I am in my “inner three year old” moods, I am not thinking about others.  I am selfish and self-centered.  Those are the times that I get the most frustrated and possibly depressed.  During these times, I am not thinking of others and rarely consider acting in charity toward someone else, nor am I thinking of “loving” anyone else as the Bible teaches. Every time this happens, I lose.

I believe that when Jesus spoke to us in the New Testament about loving our neighbors, brothers and sisters, and even our enemies, he meant that “love” was a verb.  Love isn’t something you fall into like a mud puddle.  Love isn’t a noun.  Love is a verb, an action, something you actively do and work toward doing well.  That is what I think Jesus meant.  He knows that if we do good for others or “love them” with a truly charitable heart, it will benefit us more than those we serve in most cases, making for a better more fulfilling life for us and for the person we are serving.  When we serve others, the selfishness disappears, we are much less prone to being “offended” and generally have a better outlook on life.  He knew it when He spoke those words.  It is a win/win for everyone.

Experts say that you cannot be depressed while in the act of true charity.  I would say that in my experience that is true as when I am honestly trying to freely help another human being, I am at my happiest and most relaxed.   I have tried to prove them wrong many times but always end up proving them right.  Isn’t it funny that Jesus gave us this advice so many centuries ago and it is still true today in the age of satellite TV’s and smart phones.  Maybe He knows us better than we want to admit.  It is worth consideration.