"Angelo Rules" by Team TO and Cake Entertainment

I had a nice chat with a co-worker the other day about the whole idea of truly “coming together.”

After the ugliness of the 2016 election and the nasty social media presence, people a little after the election and during the holidays have begun to say, “hey, let’s all come together and be one nation.”

Easier said than done!

But, my co-worker stated a question to me that he stated to his friend during a dinner conversation, “what are you doing to bring about this coming together.”

Stay with me here.

What are you REALLY doing!

All too often, we declare that we must be united…but we are quick to bash everyone we even remotely think we disagree with…the conservative, the liberal, the gay guy, the straight guy, the Christian, the Muslim, the Latino, gun owners, black lives matter and so forth and so on.

Saying “we should come together” sounds beautiful. It sounds sweet. It sounds amazing. It is an awesome idea.

I genuinely believe that most people desperately want that! Unfortunately, many of us want it on our own terms and in our own vision.

In other words…”yeah, let’s be united…but, you mind your business and I’ll mind mine. Oh, wait, what, you want to come to my school…work in my office building…live in my neighborhood…hmmm, no, no, I don’t think that’ll work. Try across town…in fact…try a county over.”

Yes…unity is an awesome idea…when you actually DO it.

For most of us…that’s all it is…an idea.

I could go into a deeper analysis of why that is so, but, it would require multiple blog posts. And I’m fine with that. I got all the time in the world till the Lord decides to call me home.

Unity is messy…very messy. It is also a LOT of work. It’s a LOT of listening. It’s also a LOT of putting down all of our phones, shredding those articles and getting ready of any and all vast assumptions we have made ourselves or have been given by our choice of media and literature. Unity also requires consideration. In other words, being willing not to win over an argument, but, to win over a heart.

What does that look like…it means saying, “I don’t get it all…but I’m trying…can we continue this conversation over coffee again! Why? Because I actually care.”

Or…could it be that you just want to imagine a world where we are united…only we are divided…more than ever.

I get it…you’re scared…you don’t know what could come next. You’re probably just trying to get through the day to day. But that’s just it. We Americans love to go it alone! We’re so about our “independence” that we forget that we can’t get past our struggles alone.

As I write this, I’m preaching to myself here! I hate having help sometimes…but truth is, it’s unhealthy to think that. It’s unrealistic. And to put it bluntly, it’s prideful!

You can blame others. You can blame the system. You can blame the media. You can blame all the culprits you want.

But, at the end of the day, the buck stops not with just people we appoint as leaders…but…on us. ALL of us! EVERYONE!

No more excuses…I would rather shake hands with someone I disagree with and have a coffee with them than yell and fuss and cuss and make excuses for the real reason I don’t want to try….fear and anger!

And our children and our children’s children will inherit the results of that labor…lacking or otherwise. I sincerely hope not, but we have to work for better.

This year, I dare you to do something…actually DO something…about “coming together” in America. Start at home with your family…with friends…with co-workers. Then expand…expand past your comfort zones

Because at the end of the day…you can’t legislate unity or morality. And you can’t wait on someone else to make the first move.

Let it be you first for a change.

The Struggles with Glasses

December 24, 2016

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Growing up, I absolutely hated wearing glasses. It made me a target for a lot of bullying and teasing. Growing up, I was called “Steve Urkel,” the character that was played by Jaleel White on the ABC series, “Family Matters.”

As much as my mother wanted to make me feel better about the idea that “Steve Urkel” made a lot of money, truth is, it was not like I was getting paid for the mess I was dealing with in school.

By that rationale, Jaleel White owed me money for my mental suffering!

Kids (and adults) having to wear glasses all of a sudden can be a bit traumatic…a pretty big dea!  With one of the characters in the comic strip, “By and By,” Dylan Randolmill, I wanted him to began wearing glasses in order to do two things: set him apart from the rest of the characters….and….to bring real childhood experience to light. Dylan’s disdain for wearing glasses comes from the desperation of wanting to be accepted and loved by a group of kids in the strip who appear perfect and without blemish. He wanted to be like the “cool kids,” and while we have not been introduced by the cool kids as of yet, just not seeing them is reflective of the invisible person or persons that we try to impress but never seem to make that mark.

And truth is, most of us never will….and that’s fine!

You’re unique and genuine! Why let it be covered up by “fitting in.” Now THAT is a blog post by itself!

My friend and author, Joshua Smith, gave me the idea of setting him apart from the other kids. I chose glasses as the way to do it.

Dylan absolutely hates it, but I think he’ll began to accept it. I know I did.

In fact, the older I got, the more glasses started becoming the new “hip” thing to do. I now have over 5 pairs of glasses that I can choose from because many of them are a lot nicer looking compared to the ones I had growing up.

I personally think that Dylan looks great with his glasses! Besides, his character is not the stereotypical nerd or geek…he’s a diplomat between the “cool kids” and the kids who are not so “cool.” Will the glasses create friction and trouble for him…only time will tell as I continue to write and create the strip.

 

Say Something

December 23, 2016

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Friday morning, two days before Christmas, I woke up and got dressed with great intention on blogging and writing! I realized that I wanted to actually blog and write again, but, for what!?

The resistance began to settle in.

I sat there forever in front of my laptop, trying to figure out what to actually say and how to say it! Should I say something spiritual, biblical, economical, scientific, sociological or what!?

Then, I realized as I sat here and began to type that what I needed to do just one thing….say something!

All too often, we try to be something we’re not in that moment instead of letting ourselves be who we are in that period and that moment and time. Some of the best writing and some of the best work, for that matter, comes from those periods that we are in our most truest and serious.

Saying something biblical, spiritual, sociological or otherwise would’ve been a great move! Sure! But, you may have needed to just hear that you have someone whose writing and blogging and who understands…understands that right now you’re tired, you’re struggling or you’re just plain without a clue as to what to do next in your current stage in life.

And…it’s okay! If you don’t know it today…it’s okay!

My hope is that my writing and non of my work comes out of posturing. But, instead, comes from a mind and heart that desires to freely share and shares so much that it encourages, inspires and helps you all!

I plan to do more blogging and writing as I continue my cartooning venture as well!

My biggest concern is that it will all be a mess and all over the place and not very organized! But, thanks to some really good bloggers and writers, I realized that its all about just sharing your thoughts!

The organization and what not will come later! Some of our best starts were our messiest starts!

God and I in 2016

December 8, 2016

By and By - Growth in God

In the year 2016 I have seen God allow for doors to open and doors to close. I have experienced deep joy in some parts of my life and periods of deep sadness and disappointment.

Even major bouts of depression, wondering if I should give up on everything…hopes…dreams…goals…everything.

I went back and forth on whether I should’ve done this or that, or, maybe if I had only made this decision or taken this opportunity or gone this or that direction.

Those moments, I was angry…frustrated…lost…confused…hurt…even a little scared. I wanted things to happen in my life that were the complete reverse of what I was seeing. I was told to trust God and keep the faith but was hurting so much inside that I was numb to it.

Even as I write this its…to be honest…really uncomfortable…like “naked in public” type of uncomfortable. But, kind of refreshing at the same time.

Living for Jesus is hard. And yet, I’ll have it no other way.

Jesus freed me from a life where I walked in bitterness and anger towards my own race…towards my own people.

Jesus freed me from a life where I could’ve chosen to live any kind of way…to a life that said that He was all I need.

Jesus is tearing down the walls of my own agenda, making me rethink my life as a whole and totally rewiring my mindset. I

In this, I think of the scripture in Romans about being transformed by the renewing of my mind!

That is happening in a big way and I thank the Lord for every moment that transformation to be in His image is taking place.