Cornhusker

Cornhusker: (n) a Nebraskan

It would be much easier to claim that you’re a cow if you’re able to chew your cud and moo. Producing milk would also be a positive.

When I graduated from high school and opted not to go to college because my wife and I were pregnant with possibilities, I realized that I did funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
not want to be the kind of guy who didn’t go to college and worked at the kind of job this kind of guy is forced to take.

I liked music. I thought I had some talent.

No one ever actually sat down with me and made suggestions on how to use my ability or guided me in a direction of turning my existing efforts into some sort of cash flow.

I was told that I was not allowed to do anything but get a job and take care of my family.

I didn’t want to do that.

Now, I’m not asking you to side with me on this issue, nor am I desiring your cultural rebuke. I’m just explaining that if I were claiming to be a singer and a musician, I needed to go “music” somewhere.

So discovering in a very obscure newspaper a notice that there was a coffeehouse opening up in Kearney, Nebraska, I contacted the fellow beginning it on the phone, told him about my little group, and said that we would love to come and share at his new venue. He was thrilled (since we were from Ohio and he was all the way in Nebraska.)

It didn’t even cross my mind to look at a map. Before I knew it, the gentleman invited us to come and sing at the coffeehouse with the promise that he would “help out with gas.”

At that point in my life I had a van which creaked and squeaked just driving around town, threatening to break down at a moment’s notice. I didn’t care. Nor did my three other comrades.

We set out for Kearney, Nebraska. Matter of fact, when I began this essay today, I had to look up how far it was from Columbus, Ohio, to Kearney, Nebraska. I am so glad I didn’t have the Internet back then, because the distance one way is 968.4 miles.

We packed in some soft drinks, made some sandwiches, gathered as much money as we could borrow and pull out of couch cushions, and took off. We joked about “touring to the Cornhusker State,” never realizing that it would be many, many hours—twelve to be exact—before we would be anywhere near those who were traditionally proclaimed “huskers of corn.”

I’m happy to report that we actually made it there.

As is often the case, the opportunity was even smaller than I could have imagined. But the fourteen people who showed up said they were really impressed with our songs and happy we had made the trip. They gave us thirty dollars for our gasoline, a bushel of sweet corn and a peck of apples.

It was my first payday.

The round trip, as you can imagine, ended up being nearly two thousand miles.

But I was young, looking for an adventure, and especially trying to find a way to escape—for one week—from hearing all the town cronies telling me what a deadbeat I was.


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Coarse

Coarse: (adj) rude, crude, or vulgar.

Fortunately for the human race, if for some reason they do not want to deal with your message or the impact of your words, they can either critique your style or claim that your language is coarse and profane.

I have spent the major part of my professional career trying to determine the words that best describe what I’m trying to communicate, and then attempting to slide those cherished words into the body of my work, without being shunned for foul usage.

Honestly, when describing an atrocity and the need for change, the word “darn” does not replace “damn.”

For many years I was critiqued for saying “crap”–but “bullcrap” is not as energetic as “bullshit.”

The purpose of speech is to communicate. The goal of the written word is to impact. And the mission of the visual is to enlighten.

They must be permitted to do their jobs without being censored, or even-tempered.

I happen to agree that the word f-u-c-k is rarely necessary to communicate and certainly should not be overused as an adjective or an adverb.

But even that stipulation carries a bit of fuddy-duddy, which is not necessarily applicable in the pursuit of waking up the sleepy masses.

Having survived a lifetime which has included living in a society where the word “pregnant” could not be uttered on television, to now living in an Internet generation, where temperance is disdained, I am more than happy to put guidelines on my own soul–using an economy of words to justify the heart of the story, without coarsely tainting it with unnecessary emotions which threaten to condemn it.

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Chapel

Chapel: (n) a small building for Christian worship

It was only five miles from my home town.

It was a small, clapboard building, which held no more than ninety people. But when my place of birth found out that my girlfriend and I were pregnant, and they began expressing their disapproval over our immoral carnality, I escaped to that little refuge, starting my music career.

It was pastored by a fellow who was no more than eight years my senior, and he was either oblivious to the gossip about me or had enough rebellion left over from his teen years that he didn’t care. The people of the church took a liking to me, even though some of them disapproved of my long hair and my decision not to join the American work force.

I wrote my first song for that church.

I had my first public performance with my group in that church.

I stored my equipment in a downstairs closet.

I rehearsed there two or three times a week.

They even gave me a key so I could come and go at my own pace.

I held my first revival in that chapel.

And when I got signed by a Nashville recording company and made my album, I came back and debuted my success in front of the congregated in the chapel. That morning the house was packed–about a hundred folks–and everybody was just as overwhelmed with joy as I was.

Although later on the pastor became more religious and therefore a bit more judgmental and we parted ways, I will never forget that little building and how much it meant to me as a haven of escape from the demands of becoming a budding man, and the criticism of the locals.

 

 

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Bothersome

Bothersome: (adj) troublesome

When I was eighteen years old, I got my girlfriend pregnant. So by the time I was nineteen, I was a daddy. Perhaps better stated, a father in name only.Dictionary B

Being unprepared, unaware and barely beyond the scope of a child myself, I had no idea what to do. Matter of fact, from the time I was nineteen until I turned fifty-six, I parented seven young men–four of my own and three I adopted.

Can I tell you how I would describe the experience?

Bothersome.

Why?

Because children do not come into the world to confirm our intelligence and prowess, but rather, to challenge it.

Yet anyone who questions my personal authority and space is annoying. If they happen to live in my house, eat the food I provide and nag me for money, it is even more treacherous.

But in the process of realizing that parenting is bothersome, you come to an understanding that living is not about finding a sense of well-being, but instead, taking the chaos, calming yourself and stilling the storm.

In doing this, you find your sense of satisfaction, purpose and achievement.

Life always arrives at eighty-five miles an hour.

It is up to you to be the traffic cop to slow it down.

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Bastard

Bastard: (n) a person born of parents not married to each other.Dictionary B

Words of separation.

Perhaps our greatest mission during our Earth journey is to find terms, insults and references that separate us from one another, expose them for their prejudice and make them unpopular to use.

Without this, we begin to let the self-righteous and the domineering elite control the dialogue.

When I was eighteen years old, I got a girl pregnant. We loved each other. She got pregnant the same way people get pregnant who have marriage licenses. We just didn’t have the paper.

Yet there were people in my home town who had the audacity to refer to my unborn son as a “bastard.”

A little smile came across their face as they said it. It was reassuring to them that they found a way to be superior to me without needing to blame themselves for pridefulness, but instead, claiming to be advocates for morality.

About four months before my son was born, my girlfriend and I got married and have remained so for forty-five years.

Yet I will tell you, if I were to go back to my hometown and any of those judgmental people were still alive, they probably would recall that brief season when they were able to belittle me and relegate my child to insignificance.

What are the buzz words of bigotry? They are everywhere.

  • Hunt them down.
  • Mock them.
  • Kill them.

And bury them as quickly as you can in the cemetery of ignorance.

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Banish

Banish (v): to send someone away from a country or place as an official punishment.Dictionary B

All through my teenage years, I used my arrogance as a means of establishing dominance. And of course, dominance seemed to grant me justification for my arrogance.

I was convinced I was valuable.

I was energized by my obvious ability, and I had no comprehension of anyone disagreeing with my self-assessment.

All the time, I was quietly making enemies.

These enemies were silent out of fear of my intense attitude mingled with some respect for my accomplishments.

  • They were waiting.
  • They were biding their time, looking for me to fall.
  • And I did.

In my era, I committed the worst possible breach of local protocol–I got my girlfriend pregnant in a time when young people were not supposed to have any awareness of their genitalia.

On top of that, I was a good church-going boy who now was the father of a baby out of wedlock.

I needed wisdom.

I needed mercy.

I needed to know what the hell to do next.

But since I had never expressed vulnerability, no one allowed me the courtesy of being wounded. They took all of the pent-up anger and frustration over my self-righteousness, and banished me and my girlfriend to an island by ourselves, where we were viewed as outcasts and a disgrace to the populace.

Now, I’m sure my reflections may seem overwrought, and the testimony of others who lived through the era might render a different tale.

But banishment is not the reality of the action. Instead, it is the sensation of the loneliness.

And I was lonely–so lonely that I considered aborting the very child that made my union with this dear woman viable.

I didn’t.

I survived the banishment and I guess my village got over all of my hypocritical indiscretion.

Life went on.

The amazing thing is that I have found myself many times possessing the same seat of judgment, with the ability to levy punishment against others and banish them from my sight.

I cannot tell you that my record is spotless and that I’ve always been a just judge.

But thank God, often the memory of being solitary and confined to my own iniquity and mistakes has caused me to extend tenderness … instead of shoving the problem-makers away.

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Archangel

dictionary with letter A

Archangel: (n) an angel of high rank

Gabriel drew the short straw.

God had decided that announcing the birth of the Messiah would have to be prompted by a visitation from an archangel.

Gabriel lost.

It isn’t that the archangels were especially angry about saving mankind–it’s just that trying to tell a fourteen-year-old virgin that she’s pregnant is not exactly the most pleasant task.

Angels are always a little perplexed with humanity anyway. Matter of fact, the only thing an angel and a Homo sapien share in common is free will. And any respectable angel will be quick to tell you that they use their free will much more righteously than earth-bound bipeds.

Gabriel mused. How do you tell a young girl that her life is about to be interrupted in the most inconvenient ways, only to be further dismantled by adventure and mayhem?

It fell Gabriel’s lot.

He spent a few moments alone to make sure he had rid himself of all preconceived ideas and prejudice. He realized that a certain amount of compassion would be necessary to talk to Mary of Nazareth about welcoming a baby which would not be easily explained tor either her betrothed or to her parents, sitting around the dinner table.

In contemplating it, the archangel gained more and more heart and sympathy for the human race:

  • They were certainly more tempted than angels, who spent time surrounded by goodness and mercy.
  • Humans also possessed an emotional explosion not fully comprehended in the heart of the standard celestial inhabitant.
  • And on top of that, Mary was a young girl with dreams which would have to be melted into a divine mission of being the mother of God.

Yes, Gabriel drew the short straw.

The rest of the angels flew away, giggling in delight. But instead of viewing it as a burden, Gabriel took it on as a challenge, which turned into an opportunity.

“Behold, Mary, you are blessed.”

That’s a pretty nice thing to say.

Even though the rest of the message was much more daunting, he felt good about blessing the little lady.

Archangels are the bridge between God and human beings.

Michael, one of the other members of the team, once noted, “We angels have just enough of God to know what we should do, and enough human to sometimes be miserable doing it.”

Maybe that’s true.

But without the archangels, our world would slide into a pit of mediocrity, and nothing of excellence would be achieved.

Time passed (though angels have no watches).

Gabriel sat for a moment, remembering what it was like to speak to Mary. There were many jobs that followed.

He recalled that one of his favorites was whispering into the ear of an artist who was staring at the ceiling, wondering what to do … prompting him to paint God.

 

 

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