Thursday, February 25, 2010

He Poured Down Mercy - Video

Here is a great song with great words that my wife updated with a scrolling slide show.
Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Rom 6:3-11 NKJ)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When a Child Goes Astray

Recently, a dear friend had a daughter who went astray. This is not a surprising revelation, for the world is filled with wayward children. Though these situations are always painful to parents, how much harder it seems to be for the Christian family who has poured their heart into teaching their children the right way. I've known this girl since she was in first grade, and I don't know any family that seeks to disciple their children more than this family. They are homeschooled, active in church, and they regularly have round table discussions about real life issues and how the Bible applies. Even as a child, this girl's practical knowledge would put most adult Christians to shame. Now, two years out of college, she revealed that she has abandoned her faith and has already chosen a lifestyle that is filled with immorality and future consequences.

We've all heard and have probably quoted the passage that states, "Teach a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." If this is true, why are so many children departing from the faith? How can a family produce three godly children, and one ungodly child? Aren't we guaranteed by the Bible that our efforts will ensure that our children will not depart from what we have taught them? Over the years, I have seen many godly families fight through the heartbreak of a child who strays. I’ve often wondered why, but then, the Bible echoes the same pain in its godliest of leaders.

King Solomon testified that he learned wisdom by the mouth of his own father, King David. God Himself testifies that David was a man after His own heart. There could be no greater honor given to any man, nor has it been given to any other man in scripture. Yet, the same godly man who produced Solomon, also produced Amnon – the man who raped his own sister. David’s nurturing environment produced Absolam, whose inability to forgive Amnon festered for years until he devised a way to murder him. His life was so consumed by hatred that Absolam plotted to murder his own father and take over the throne. And then there was Adonija, whose selfish ambition sent him on a quest to take over the kingdom behind the back of his father, while he lay on his deathbed. Not much is known about the other ten sons called by name, but we know that the man who loved God more than life itself produced three men who shamed him, and one who was honored as the wisest man in history.

From this, I conclude that even if I teach my children in the way they should go, they must still submit to the will of God from their own hearts. Solomon said, “He [David] also taught me saying, ‘Let your heart retain my words.’” Solomon took this to heart, and soaked in the words that he later recounted in the Proverbs. His heart retained the words; therefore, he was trained in the right way. These were the same words that Amnon, Absolam, and Adonija heard, but they did not take it to heart.

If God will not overthrow my own will, I should not think that I will have the power to override my children’s will. I can only teach them the right way and pray that God will guide their hearts to His will. It is clear that part of the training that keeps children from departing, is also dependent on their willingness to be trained. If a child opens their heart to receive the love of God, they will grow into the training we provide in a nurturing environment, and because they are anchored by the love of God, they will not depart from it.

If the Bible’s greatest example of a godly man could not keep three of his children from going astray, I know that all we can do is lead our children in the right way to give them the opportunity to receive the love of God. God offers His love, but does not override the will of our children, and neither can we. We must provide the nurturing environment and seed their hearts with the word of God in a spirit of love, but they must take it to heart so that they do not depart from the right way.

Ultimately, we will give an account for what we teach our children, but they must give an account for their own lives and choices.

Eddie Snipes

Monday, February 22, 2010

Interview with Nike Chillemi of Crime Fiction and Faith

Nike Chillemi is a fellow writer and a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Her candid question and answers provide a valuable glimpse into the world of writing. Thanks Nike for taking the time to write this and give the world a peek behind the curtain of your writing. Nike's blog is called Crime Fiction And Faith. Visit it by clicking here.

1. How long have you been writing?

I wrote my first book when I was a child, illustrated it too. The story was about a girl who loved horses. I always thought, over the years, that I should write, but never got around to it. I've been writing seriously, for publication for about seven years.

2. What motivates you to write?

I'm obsessed with the crime fiction genre. I read both Christian and secular murder mysteries, police procedurals, and thrillers. It's one of my main interests. I came to believe the Lord had given me this passion for a reason, and that reason was to write. Who-dunits emerged as a creation of the Christian west. These books have always involved a moral dilemma. Early murder mysteries, such as those written by Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, were often set in an English country parish with a parson as a character. I think I've always been intrigued by the fight between good and evil in this genre.

3. What is your greatest success?

I consider having finished three manuscripts a success in and of itself. When I began that seemed almost impossible. My biggest outward success is that I've been included in the book and movie reviewing team at The Christian Pulse online magazine. I review a crime fiction novel every month and a movie bi-monthly. My reviews can be found at

4. What is your biggest disappointment?

I'm not disappointed that it's so hard to break into writing. The more I write, the more learn about the craft of writing. I see that my early efforts were really quite poor, though, even then my voice peeked through. I think my biggest disappointment is that the business seems to be a bit schizophrenic. Some of the advice new writers get is contradictory. It's hard to know who to listen to. In the end, it's a lonely business. The age of image of a lone writer bent over a typewriter is kinda true.

5. Who are your favorite authors.

James Scott Bell is one of my favorite Christian authors. I am crazy about his lawyer protagonist Ty Buchanan and can't wait to read the second book in the series. I was totally taken in by the imagery and character relationships in Robert Liparulo's Comes A Horseman. And of course there's Ted Dekker. I read Adam and am now in the middle of his Boneman's Daughters. Nobody creates tension like he does.
I also read a few secular crime fiction authors. Michael Connelly was the police beat reporter for the L.A. Times for twenty-five years. His police procedurals have an authenticity that is undeniable. I can't get enough of his Harry Bosch detective series. My other fav is Robert Crais' Elvis Cole-Joe Pike detective series. Elvis is a wise-cracking PI with Joe, a former spec ops Marine, as his silent partner.

5. Which of your writing projects satisfied you the most?

I started writing my historical romantic murder mystery, Burning Heart, kind of on a whim. But it has consumed me and become a truly gratifying experience. I've become enchanted by the post WWII era. It was a time when America had a lotta class and a "can do attitude."

6. What has been the best advice you've been given for writing?

I've been told by three separate well known professionals in the industry to "keep writing." That is the best advice I've been given. Six years ago, I was first told I had a unique voice for suspense and that although my work wasn't ready for publication, I should keep at it. There have been two other "keep writing" comments from publishing professionals, and each one one gets a bit more enthusiastic about my writing.

7. If you could give new writers one piece of advice what would you say?

I'd say write the type of book they'd like to read.
If you can't wait to kick back with the latest chic lit book hot off the presses, I wouldn't suggest writing a novel where you drop your missionary heroine into the middle of a battle in Afghanistan. If you live in rural Oklahoma, then don't set your novel in the barrio in New York City, especially not your first novel. Write what you know. If the new writer is a Christian, I'd say without a doubt to start with prayer and ask the Lord what He wants written.

8. Have you had any of your work rejected?

Yes, my first novel, which wasn't that well written, was rejected by more than one publisher. The second novel I submitted, my contemporary murder mystery, was rejected by one of the niche Christian publishers. It was a very nice letter saying what I had written was a police procedural which wasn't what a romance publishing house was looking for. That editor wished me well with getting the book published, just not by them. I'm in the process now of trying to find an agent. I'll be going to my first Christian writing conference this year. People I respect in the industry have advised me to get myself to a conference to become more of a "known quantity" in the industry.

Visit Nikes Blog at:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spring Tryouts - An award winning flash fiction story.

This is an award winning story I wrote in Flash Fiction. Flash fiction is a complete short story of less than 900 words.

“When I smell the aroma of Spring, I always think of the beginning of baseball season”, Ted spoke out loud to no one in particular, his eyes sparkling with wonder at the field of Fenway Park. As a lifelong Red Sox fan, Ted had always wanted to visit this park, and now he was actually in this historic stadium. To the right stood the infamous Green Monster. At 304 feet, the right field wall was one of the shortest distances in Major League baseball. Hitters were seduced by the short field, but the thirty-seven foot behemoth robbed many great men of their glory.
Ted’s thoughts ran back to his childhood memories of baseball. As a freshman in high school, it was his dream to play baseball, but nature wasn’t kind to him. He was short, skinny, and considered to be more of an egghead than an athlete.
“You don’t have to be an athlete to be somebody”, his mother explained when he decided he wanted to try out. “Besides, at your size, you may get hurt.”
“But I want to play. I can practice until spring and get better. Small kids play baseball and don’t get hurt.”
I will show them. When spring comes I will be in shape and ready.
His equipment was as meager as his talent. All Ted had was a tennis ball, glove, bat, and a concrete wall. He spent his available hours catching the balls the wall returned to him, and swinging at the softball lobs his little sister occasionally pitched for him to hit.
As winter melted into spring, the time came for tryouts for the high school teams. Ted watched the boys warm up, and play catch with their new gloves and slick uniforms. Who am I fooling? I can’t compete with these guys. They look like baseball players and I look like a water-boy.
The only thing that kept Ted on the field was the lingering doubt of ‘what if’. Maybe he wasn’t baseball material, but if he didn’t try, would he regret never knowing. A stern sounding voice interrupted his internal argument.
“What’s your name, son”, inquired Coach Jackson.
“T-Ted McLure.”
“What position are you?”
Ted shrugged as he searched in the gravel for confidence, “Uhm, I dunno. I can play infield or outfield. I guess.”
“You don’t look very fast, so why don’t we give you a shot at the infield.”
A shot? The words had an inspirational ring to them. If he had a shot, the field was level, and all he had to do was perform.
Ted felt small in the space between first and second base, but it seemed like heaven to feel the warm sun and see the beauty of the diamond. He could almost envision the stands filled with cheering parents. The crack of the bat returned his focus. He rushed to close the gap as a sharp grounder whizzed to his right. He lunged and felt the ball in his glove, and then it was gone. I dropped the stupid ball! It was in my glove and I missed it!
A few swings later, a missile launched just to the right. He shuffled over, and it pounded off his cheek after taking a sudden hop. He felt the flames of its impact, but quickly threw it to first base. He swallowed the pain, but couldn’t choke down his humiliation. Ted caught a few easy ones but missed more than he fielded.
I keep getting so close, but they just won’t stay in my glove.
Ted had two at-bats. His first hit popped up and he rounded first base, hustling toward second hoping the ball would somehow find the ground. His disappointment rang with the pop of a glove. On his second at bat, he made good contact and the ball smoked between the shortstop and the third baseman. Ted saw the shortstop make a lunging grab. It would take a perfect throw from his knees, so Ted turned on the afterburners. Just as his foot was about to hit the bag, his hopes burst with the loud clap of the first baseman’s glove.
If I could have just gotten one hit, maybe someone would notice. Ted walked off the field with as much dignity as he could muster. He tried to guard his face from hinting at his anguish. That’s it. Everyone was right. I have no talent, and I’m not meant for baseball.
At the end of tryouts, the coaches made their picks. Coach Johnson approached Ted. “Son, you haven’t played baseball before, have you?”
Ted pawed the dust with the toe of his worn sneakers. “No sir.”
The coach looked down at him, trying to make eye contact. “One thing I have learned is that talent can’t replace heart. I don’t know how much talent you have, but if you will put all your heart in it, I believe you can go far. You may not be the best player, but your hustle shows character. Heart – and a lot of hard work can take you a long way.”
Ted’s thoughts of childhood were suddenly interrupted by a pat on the back and a voice from behind, “Welcome to the Sox, Rookie.”
“Thanks. Standing on this field is a dream come true.”

- Eddie Snipes, 2009

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who says Americans are superficial?

Eventually someone thinks of something new!Impress your neighbors with Amazing Garage Door Covers!"
A German firm called "Style Your Garage" - creates posters for garage doors that make it look as if it's actually showing the interior of your garage, and what's in it!

Prices range from $199 to $399 for the double-door! All but guaranteed to make passersby take a second look!

And finally…  

something to freak out the neighbors, but endear yourself to your fundamentalist friends!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grab the Nachos, Here Comes the Blizzard

This has been an unusually cold winter, by Georgia standards. In this region, we are doing well to have one winter storm a year, but in the last month, we’ve had three. The bad news about southern snow is that the temperature is rarely below freezing when snow begins, so the early snow melts, and then refreezes into a slick hazard. Non-southern drivers are sometimes caught off guard by the ice hidden beneath the snow.
When the winter weather predictions start rolling in, it is always preceded by a squall line of panic. The very thought of snow causes mass school closings and a fight for survival at the grocery store. People battle over bread, batteries, and milk in the fear that starvation might begin before the next sunrise when the snow melts off the streets. Being the seasoned southern weather survivor I am, I’ve learned that the only thing needed is a video and a bag of nachos.
I didn’t take one of our disaster scares seriously this year until I headed to the grocery store to pick up cold medicine for a sick child. During the drive, I heard that a major airline had cancelled three hundred flights, and others were following the lead. It was forty degrees outside and slightly overcast. When I walked into the store, I saw bare shelves, and what looked like a cage fight over the last loaf of bread. Now I was beginning to worry. Was it possible that we could get snowed in overnight, and I didn’t have a bag of nachos?
Behind the raging sea of humanity, past the barren bread racks, were the chips. When I saw a space in the battle lines, I tiptoed over the bodies of the wounded, snatched up a bag of Tostitos, grabbed a jar of cheese, and dodged attacks as I headed to the checkout. Medicine and nachos. Bring it on, mother nature! My preparedness warded off the storm, and we just got rain. These nachos would have to wait for the next storm.
False weather alarms are not uncommon in Georgia. I’m reminded of a major winter storm that was to hit many years ago. We gathered around the TV to watch the twenty-four hour news coverage. This was going to be a big one! My survival instincts had already kicked in, and I was in front of the TV, Tostitos in hand. The news broadcast rotated around Atlanta as each anchor reported on what they were seeing. At this point, it was darkness, with scattered lights. No rain. No snow. It is interesting to watch reporters fill up airtime with non-information, while trying to sound dramatic. Georgia Power and the Department of Transportation had men on standby, ready to pounce on the storm, once it pounced on Atlanta. They were interviewed so many times that they began hiding from the reporters.
It was now several hours past the time when the storm was supposed to have dumped its disabling cargo on the city, but we were still waiting, nachos in hand. Then it happened. A major break in the storm! The keen eye of the reporter was the first to spot it. “Do you see it?” she announced with excitement. Bending down, she picked a blade of green grass and said, “Zoom in and get a close shot at this. Do you see the ice crystals forming on this blade of grass?”
Panic surged through my body, and I called out to the kitchen, “It looks bad, honey. Are you sure we have enough nachos?” I knew I should have gotten some batteries, too! But I ignored my instincts. There, before my eyes, rotating in front of the camera was a blade of grass with frost. How great a winter storm a little frost can kindle. At any moment, that frosty scout would signal back to the storm to begin the invasion. I poked out my chest and let my southern pride flow. Only in the south can we spot frost on such a small blade in the winter grass. A northerner would have passed over a field of frost without even noticing.
The storm never came. Apparently, the discovery of the crystals on the grass warded off the whole invasion. Crews were in their trucks, ready to roll, but the only ice was on the turf under their boots. I consumed my nachos in defeat, and turned off the TV. It was dark outside, but I could see frost glistening on the grass under the streetlight. The landing zone was prepared, but the storm was not coming in. Another disaster averted, thanks to the vigilance of a few southern reporters.
Old man winter has surprised us a few times this year. A month ago I had to abandon my car and traverse the slick snow covered ice on the hill in my neighborhood by foot. A month later, I was wading through toe-deep snow. Just remember two rules necessary to survive southern winters. First, drive slow. There is ice under that snow.  Second, the roads will melt by midday. Two days at worst. All that is needed to endure is something to pass the time, and a little food for thought. Up north, you might need survival supplies, but down here, nachos and a movie will suffice. That, and a t-shirt boasting about how you survived the latest southern blizzard.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

War for the Roses

Jay Leno once said, “It’s Valentines Day. Or as men call it, Extortion Day.”

When romantic days draw near, married men break into a sweat. Romance was easier when love was new, but after nineteen years of marriage, all card bearing days have become a challenge. I find myself in the same predicament each anniversary, Valentines Day, Christmas, Mothers Day, and each of the other fourteen days that require an over-priced card. I stare at the cards, and have déjà vu, all over again. All the cards look familiar and I worry that I’m about to buy a card I’ve already given her. I think about surprising us both, and grabbing one at random. I’ve heard nightmare stories about men buying the first pretty card that comes along, only to find that it says something like, “To my favorite mother-in-law.” I’ll never do that again, uh, I mean, what kind of an idiot doesn’t read the card.

When I browse through the cards, it becomes a battle of finding the right words, without throwing fuel on any simmering coals. When I was dating, any fuel for the fire was good, but after nearly two decades of being a husband, I have created a few fires that don’t need stoking. Apparently, I’m not the only man who has created a few touchy memories. Single men have all the good cards, but most of the cards for wives say something like, “I know I haven’t been a good husband, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t loved you with all I have” or, “Though I haven’t said ‘I love you’ in twenty five years, you should know I care.”

Though these touching cards moved me, I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to give a romantic card that reminded the wife of shortcomings. After wiping a tear from my eye and fanning my emotions away, I thought it better to keep digging through the cards for something more uplifting than an apology that was self-justifying.

Humor doesn’t always play well in wife cards. Since I couldn’t find just the right card, one year I decided to print my own. I wrote what I thought was a cute little poem to share the memories of our years together.

My garden is green,

Our house smells like diaper poo.

I'm lucky to have

A sweetheart like you.

You're voice is so pretty,

Like the birds overhead.

You're hotter than fire ants

Attacking my head.

Your love's like the ocean,

My heart I bequeath

When you sit in my lap,

I swear, I can't breathe.

I lay awake at night,

Listening to your teeth grind.

I'm forever yours,

And you're forever mine.

For some reason, she wasn’t moved. Now each Valentines Day, I’m in the stores, struggling through the scattered cards, and battling over roses. I watched a man rush in with a panicked look on his face, grab the first card he saw, and bolt for the counter. I had already viewed it, so I stopped him to ask if this was for his mother-in-law. He thanked me for saving his skin and grabbed a card for a daughter. He was gone before I could stop him.

I finally found the perfect card. Not mushy enough to cause dry heaves, nothing to remind her of annoyances, but a card that diverts her toward sentiment. I turned it over and gasped, “Six dollars? This is robbery!” I then thought about the effects. This isn’t just a card. It’s a magnifying glass that helps her focus, for a brief moment, only on the fond memories connected to the prose of the card.

Jules Renard once said, “Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.” Perhaps this is the secret to love. If a man can get his wife’s heart full, she’ll forget about all the things that annoy her. When life turns her upside down, the challenge is to use love to get her back on her feet.

Happy Valentines Day.

Eddie Snipes

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Daddy's in the crib!

I've been there many times, but never climbed into a crib. Got to give them credit, they bought a sturdy crib.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Now That’s Academics!

I graduated in the top ninety-eight percent of my class. That’s what I tell people, because it’s true, and it sounds good. Most people say, “Wow. You must be smart.”

Ninety-eight percent covers all but the lowest two percent of the student body; therefore, it could place me anywhere between the top of the class, and the bottom three percent of the class. I’ll let you make a guess as to where on the scale I landed. Let’s just say that I’m the guy who went to college to become a wit, but only got half-way done.

When employed in the IT department at Delta Technologies, a woman I worked with lamented over her sixteen-year-old son. “He’s going to be a bum,” she said. She explained how poorly he did in school, and that he never applied himself to academics. While I recounted my high school days, her eyes lit up. She was so delighted with my poor performance that she exclaimed, “You don’t know how much hope you’ve given me!”

How exciting! My pathetic school performance had become an inspiration to others! And my high school counselor said I wouldn’t amount to anything.

I had risen to become one of the top performing techs, but the truth is that I did not take academics seriously until my mid-twenties. Unexpected crisis’s jolted me into the reality that I didn’t want to work in a warehouse for the rest of my life. My mid-life crisis began on the first half of my life. I did very well in academics once I realized that there was a goal behind the effort. When I first applied for school, I looked at my high school transcript. I achieved a 1.8 GPA. I felt embarrassed to submit it with my application. I thought back on my high school days and wondered that I even graduated. If you have a son, daughter, or sibling that seems hopeless and destined to become a bum, take a stroll with me down memory lane.

“You can’t write this research paper with less than seventy reference cards,” my teacher stated.

Her name was Mrs. Blackwell, and she was a hard teacher. I counted the reference cards in my hand. Seven. Three weeks of research had only produced seven reference cards. A mere tenth of the minimum required to write this paper. Maybe I shouldn’t have played paper football and tic-tac-toe with my friend, Tim. We had the same academic goals. Our mission was to graduate without repeating a grade, while putting forth the least amount of effort. We had several classes together, each with similar results. Reading assignments were things we never considered. I would have read those books if it hadn’t required me to cut into my personal time. The time I spent at school avoiding work is also considered personal time, right?

I thought back to our Mythology class when a teacher gave a one-question-pop-quiz. It counted a full test grade. She assured us that anyone who read the lesson would have no problem with the test. That was like telling a politician, “As long as you cut spending, the deficit will go down.” It’s not going to happen. She might as well have told us to build a bridge over the Grand Canyon.

I don’t remember the story (imagine that), but the assignment was to explain how two people fell in love. My friend and I looked at each other with blank expressions, and he shrugged. I said the only thing that popped into my mind, “It was love at first sight.” We both had a good laugh, and I wrote the answer on my paper.

“You aren’t really going to turn that in, are you?” Tim asked.

I certainly was. After all, it was better than a blank sheet.

We both grabbed our chests when the answer was revealed – It was love at first sight. Yeah! My best score of the class!

Now I needed another miracle. I needed to write a thirty-page research paper, in one night, with seven reference cards. Cards that I created through my personal research. I had spent hours, uh, I mean minutes reading periodicals and books on my subject. It was due tomorrow and the sun was already setting on my world of procrastination. Since it was half my grade, I had no choice but to sacrifice an evening of watching Lavern and Shirley, and Happy Days. I wrote the paper, and the creative juices started to flow. About midnight, I smiled a sigh of relief, stacked my papers, and went to bed feeling good about my accomplishments. I had stretched each half-naked 3x5 card into just over four pages each, and passed with a C. Now that’s academics!

I continued my excellence in academics in my history class. My teacher, Coach Collins, was passionate about this subject and had read every book in the school library, making it impossible to fabricate a book report. I had him at least once in each of my four years of high school, and squeaked by with a D in each class. He always knew what to expect of me, or so he thought.

One day, I was lying on my bedroom floor, bored out of my mind. I rolled over to see my history book. How it managed to get from the school to my house is a mystery to this day. I started flipping through and looking at pictures. A picture caught my attention, and I read the caption. I then did something that was beyond miraculous – I read the chapter. The next day, Coach Collins announced that we were going to have a pop test. Then he did something unusual. As he prepared to call out the questions, he said, “I just want you all to know, that Eddie is the only one I called to let know we are having a pop test today.”

Why he made such a statement, I do not know. Guess what our test was on? Yep. The very chapter I’d read the night before. I didn’t even know what chapter we were studying until the test began. I couldn’t believe it. He was asking questions that I knew! He graded the tests, and the highest score in the class was thirty-percent, except one person. Yes, I scored a hundred-percent. The A students were livid. How could he have called me?

Of course, he didn’t. But to show him that I was a good sport, I stood up and said, “I just want to thank Coach Collins for calling me last night. This is the best score I’ve gotten all year!”

Eddie Snipes

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Slysdexics are Teople Poo

I didn’t even know how to spell dyslexia until I found out I are one. Once, when making a joke about dyslexia, a woman scolded me, saying that it was degrading, offensive, and I shouldn’t make fun of people who struggle with this problem. To which I replied, “I joke for my apologize.”

Since I was born and raised in the town of Dyslexia, I retain the right to joke about myself, and the people in our exclusive community. If you are one of those rare people who are unaware of it, Dyslexia is a condition where numbers, words, and other facts have a tendency of getting scrambled in our minds. For most of my life, I was unaware of my condition, or that it was fairly common. As a young boy, I saw a commercial about dyslexia where a boy looked at various street signs and saw what looked like a game of Jumble. I was grateful that when I looked at road signs, I didn’t see SOPT HADEA like those poor kids with dyslexia did. That translates into STOP AHEAD in case you're confused.

For years, I wondered why I made such careless mistakes when writing words and numbers. I would right things like, “When I eat pees, it makes my stomach fill fowl.” By the way, if you don’t see anything wrong with that sentence, welcome to the club! Homophones are enemies of dyslexics, and the above example is the most common struggle I have with writing. Anyone who writes knows that you are to let the thoughts flow, and then go back and edit later. Finding homophones are a challenge, since they are words that sound the same as the word you intended to use.

I have made an interesting observation about my dyslexia over the years. When copying information, if I say it as I write, I catch most errors. I may say it wrong, and write it correctly, or say it right while writing it incorrectly, but I never seem to scramble both at the same time. I don’t know why this is so, but apparently the audio / visual department and the printing department in my brain are not plugged into the same database.

Dyslexia can have its benefits. When I was in the Army, I had the worst job of my life. I was in charge of signing out weapons and equipment for training. I had long hours and little freedom. The commander wanted each item signed out without taking the time to verify serial numbers, but also required that every serial number be accurately accounted for. The stress was tremendous. You may already suspect what happens when a dyslexic is put in charge of writing down hundreds of serial numbers in a short time.

One day, an inspector showed up to compare our inventory with what was issued. Each arms room was inspected several times a year, and it was counted toward the commander’s effectiveness. Out of hundreds of entries, I was amazed to find out that only one number was transposed. I felt quite satisfied, but the inspector did not share my enthusiasm. The arms room failed its inspection. Within the hour, I was sitting in a room with several officers to give an account for my failure.

There was talk about removing me from the arms room, and then my commander looked at me and said, “I know you failed on purpose.”

Everyone hated this duty, so it was a logical assumption. I started to open my mouth to plead my case, but fortunately I stopped my words. They were talking about firing me from the arms room – the job I hate. Maybe I should wait to see the ramifications before pleading my case. I was moved to a more tolerable task, and army life was brighter – thanks to my dyslexic mistake.

The challenges are amplified when I am facing things that are closely related. I’ve already mentioned homophones, but names can be a problem. I have five children, and that is too many options to sort through. If I guess wrong, I just say, “Whoever you are, get over here.” Lord help me if my sister and wife are in the same room. My sister’s name is Judie. That begins with a ‘J’, and ends with ‘ie’. My wife’s name is Jennie. Do you see any similarities? When they are in the same room together, my eyes start crossing and I vibrate until a hole blows through the back of my head.

After the steam quits belching out, I look at my daughter, Natalie and say, “Sophia, it’s time to quit playing, and put your yots away. You and your sisters get in the home, and let’s go car before I get dain bramage.”

Eddie Snipes

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oh no! My child is talking!

Have you noticed that kids often say the strangest things? It wouldn’t be so bad, if not for the fact that my children carry my last name, thus making it undeniable that I bear some of the responsibility for what pops out of their mouths. Sometimes they repeat things we would rather that they had not heard, and sometimes they blurt out things that we swear they didn’t hear in our household.

When my eldest daughter, Emily, was four years old, she wanted Daddy to play with her Barbie and playhouse. With my keen imagination, I lay on my back and made my doll dance back and forth while her doll did all the talking. My only lines were to say, “Okay,” and “Oh!” That covered any possible situation. Questions were all answered by “Okay,” and “Oh” covered everything else.

Her doll approached mine and said, “Let’s do the dishes.”

After giving serious thought to the proposition, my Barbie did a little jig and said, “Okay.” My part was done.

Her Barbie pranced over to the kitchen, picked up a little Barbie dish, dropped it, and shouted, “Oh darn!” Only she didn’t say darn. It might take some brainpower, but you can probably figure out what the word was.

This gave me a small glimpse into my wife’s recent experiences in the kitchen. I stroked my chin and thought, I’ll bet mommy has recently broken a dish. And she probably wasn’t too happy about it.

Not every thing that blurts out of their little mouths is an imitation of actual home experiences. I have another daughter whose imagination blossomed when she hit that magic age of four. Her name is Sophia. I came home from work one day to find her crawling around the kitchen while apparently barking at the ceiling. After observing this strange behavior for a few minutes, I asked, “Sophia, what are you doing?”

She looked at me and said in a serious voice, “I’m a dog who got hit by a train, and now his head is turned around backwards.”

I stroked my chin and thought, I don’t think she learned that from her mother. At least I hope not. Sophia and her younger sister are constantly pretending to be various characters. Pretending isn’t enough. They must tell you what character’s role they are playing, and they’ll repeat this notification until an acknowledgment is received. They are programmed to broadcast their ID indefinitely until they receive the proper response. They also have built in error checking and rebroadcast their identity every five minutes to insure that information is not lost or forgotten.

Sophia’s character is often related to the latest show our family is watching. We watched Sherlock Holmes, and, lo and behold, a younger version of the bugger appeared in our midst. He looked strangely like Sophia, but the child insisted on being addressed by her… I mean his, proper name. For several weeks, we heard, “I’m Sherlock Holmes.” He demanded to be recognized so often that I was beginning to think the crime sleuth was insecure with his identity. This was during the holiday season and my wife was giving a lesson on Christmas. She told the nativity story as she said, “…Mary brought forth her firstborn Son and laid Him in a manger.”

When my wife paused to take a breath, Sophia seized the moment she had been waiting for by blurting out, “Yeah, and I’m Sherlock Holmes.”

Somehow, the Christmas story didn’t have the same appeal when Sherlock was mixed into the dialog.

Abigail, my two-year-old daughter has taken to the make believe world as well. The real Abigail has been absent for some time as she pretends to be various characters. Sometimes she forgets the name of her character, so she asks, “Who are me?”

I then have to call out names until I identify the correct character, and then she repeats it back until one or both parents give an acknowledgment of her identity.

My middle daughter had her moments as well. When she was five, we had recently moved and were looking for a church. We visited a nearby church, and as the service wrapped up, a long-winded man was asked to pray. He prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Most of his prayer was about himself, and apparently he felt the need to keep asking God to bless him. It was ten minutes into his petition for blessings that Natalie reached her tolerance level. She looked toward me and shouted, “Is he ever going to shut up?”

Her words echoed through the church and people began to stir. Several people were shaking with laughter, and the man took her blunt comment as a sign from God to end his prayer.

Lucy, who is now fourteen, holds the record for the worst comment ever blurted by my five children. She was four. (Do you see a pattern here?) Church ended and we chatted as we worked our way out the door. As I held Lucy, a woman walked up and leaned close to her and said, “Aren’t you just the prettiest thing?”

Lucy made the most repulsive expression as she pressed her nose down with her hand. She slowly, and dramatically turned to me and said, “Her breath smells like poopy diapers!”

We stood in an awkward silence and I wondered, What can I say? Good luck with that? Want a baby wipe? I thought about the tic-tacs in my pocket, then dismissed the thought. It probably wouldn’t have been received as a friendly gesture.

The good news is that three of my daughters are old enough to speak in public without me wishing I had a broadcast kill switch. The bad news is, I have a two year old who loves to blurt things out. When she’s four, what thoughtful words will erupt from her little mouth before I can hand her off to her mother and pretend to be a passive observer? Not even Sherlock Holmes can guess what words will escape from the mouths of my children. When they speak their minds, perhaps I’ll have my tic-tacs ready and stick to the only words that come to mind, “Good luck with that.”

Eddie Snipes

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Authentic Leadership

Teaching my kids the meaning of true leadership is a challenge in a culture where poor examples get kudos, and honor is overlooked. Politicians lead by observing trends, and running ahead of the crowd. Celebrities and athletes gain popularity through public displays of immorality and foolish choices. Businesses exalt employees who conform to the current mindset, and sacrifice honesty for gain. These arenas rarely provide examples of authentic leadership; in fact, most examples of leadership are from those who lead by following the trend of the moment.

When my kids were young, they followed a boy who led the group into mischief. They excused their behavior by saying, “Everyone was doing it.”

This is the worst possible excuse. I explained, “A true leader does what is right, even if they have to stand alone.”

Elijah stood alone, and became an enemy of the state. Jeremiah stood alone, and lamented over the scorn he had to endure. Those who hated Jeremiah said that he was a discourager and weakened the hand of the people, yet, seventy-years later, the people found encouragement from the words of Jeremiah as they waited for restoration from the Lord.

Anyone can follow the shifting mindset of the culture, but leaders stand as lights anchored to truth as they point to the right way. An authentic leader influences others to stand upon the word of God, but they also accept that they may rarely find glory on this side of eternity. It is easy to follow the counterfeit leadership the culture praises. Few, however, have the courage to stand in the face of criticism.

Some churches are abandoning truth, and critical of those who will not sway. This trend confronted Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor who participated in the German Resistance Movement against Nazism. He spoke before an auditorium of pastors and criticized the church’s cooperation with Hitler. As he spoke, pastors walked out in protest. By the end of the speech, he addressed an empty auditorium. Despite his many shortcomings, history testifies in favor of this man’s willingness to stand for what was right.

All leaders are motivated by something, whether it is the desire for praise, the desire for gain, fear of rejection, or eternal truth. A Charismatic leader may influence others, but an authentic leader does what is right regardless of consequences. In the end, a leader’s success is measured, not by the number of followers gained, but based on the truth upon which they stand.

Martin Luther, while being tried for his faith, pointed to the scriptures and uttered the famous words, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” His faithfulness to truth inspired many to return to the word of God. Our ultimate example is Christ, whose life testified to His words. Let us lead by standing on truth as we look to the Author and Finisher of our faith. We are all leaders, if we stand upon truth, and do what is right.

- Eddie Snipes

It's a Secret

After watching my younger children fidgeting with anticipation this past holiday season, I remember the joys of Christmas as a young boy. The magic of Christmas seemed to fade as I reached adulthood, but the excitement returns each time the sparkle in my kids’ eyes remind me of those fond memories. My children are amazed when I describe the types of toys we had. My sister ignited our senses with her Easy Bake Oven as its light bulb baked its single serving cakes. I performed with my TV Magic game as my parents pretended to be surprised at my poorly rehearsed tricks.

I like to underwhelm my kids with the descriptions of our first electronic games. I tell them how amazed we were when Pong came out in 1972. We would stand at the display counter at Sears and entertain ourselves by turning a dial to move a line of light back and forth to hit a square dot, hoping our opponent would miss. My sister would fly in a rage when I ran the dial back and forth, creating a blur of light that she was convinced was cheating her out of a point. The strategy never worked, but I would always try it. Maybe it was just fun hearing my sister protest.

I’m convinced that our Perfection game was designed to give children posttraumatic disorders. We rushed to fit the twenty-five pieces into their spot as the sixty-second timer reminded us of our eminent doom. My excitement would rise as I had only two shapes to go, then twenty-three pieces would fly at my face with a bang, causing me to jump out of my socks.

One Christmas my sister was given a new kind of doll. It had plush skin made out of rubber that felt almost like real skin. Most of the time, her dolls had the natural look. Without clothes, they basked on the floor under the sixty watt lights. I don’t remember exactly how I discovered it, but I found that if I poked the doll with a sharpened pencil tip, it made an interesting gray pattern. I decided to give her new doll the measles. It was only pencil lead, so I figured the dots could be erased when it was time to recover from the measles. Unfortunately, the gray measles turned out to be incurable.

After realizing my mistake, I decided to cover my tracks by putting the clothes back on the doll. I dressed her and tucked the doll into bed before making my escape, hoping my sister wouldn’t notice. She did. Within minutes after walking in the door, agonizing screams came from her room and she ran down the hall crying, “Look what Eddie did to my doll.” She visualized a violent act and to this day, she swears that she saw me stabbing her doll like a serial killer.

The highlight of Christmas for me was when my grandparents would arrive in their Chevro-sleigh and bring in wrapped presents from grandma’s workshop. My sister and I would sit under the tree with our cousins identifying which ones had our names. Presents would not be opened until after dinner and we could not wait. We would beg to open just one, and my grandfather would tease me by saying, “Pick out a present and I’ll let you know what is in it.” I would grab the most promising looking package and return. He would study it and lean over saying he needed to whisper it in my ear. I inclined to listen closely and he would say, “It is….a secret.” I would bounce and beg for the real answer. He pretended to relent, but then he’d tell me the same thing before giving a jolly laugh.

Today I have the privilege of seeing that same delight in my own children. They bounce with excitement as we visit their grandparents and try to identify their names under the tree. Sometimes the anticipation of the contents behind the wrapper causes them to beg to open just one. I can’t let them, but I do tell them what is inside – it is…a secret!

- Eddie

I wonder why business is down?

At least they are honest :)

Crossing my eyes and dotting my T's

I've held out as long as humanly possible. I've got a website, but the blogisphere has been stalking me, peeking from behind every URL, and following me each time I took a drive down the information superhighway. I interact with my website, but for some reason, it won't interact with me. Nor with anyone else for that matter.

For years I thought a Blog was something that dwells in the jungles of Peru, but it turns out, it is a jungle and now I am its dweller. So 'Eddie's Word Turnings' is my little patch in this blogspot jungle. Climb around in the trees and see if you can find something good to pick, but watch out for mosquito bytes.


PS, if you have a writing related blog, contact me and we can share urls.