#tbt – Good to the last drop!

(Originally written 8/28/06)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22,23)

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.  They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.  The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.  They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  (Psa 14:1-3)

Goodness is one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit that I’ve found difficult to understand, thus the lateness of this next installment.  One of the toughest things to wrap my mind around is that, if we’re to take the Bible as truth (which I do), we are to believe that a person who doesn’t follow God is incapable of being good.  But, how can that be?  We all know of many people who are atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Wiccans who do good deeds.  There are many philanthropists who want nothing to do with Christianity.  So, how can the Bible claim that anyone who doesn’t believe in and follow God is not good?

See, this used to be a sticking point for me before I became a Christian.  I saw myself as a good person.  I hadn’t killed anybody, I tried to be nice to people, and, sure, I told the occasional lie, but that didn’t make me a bad person, did it?

My problem was that I was comparing myself to other people.  I put myself somewhere in between Hitler and Mother Teresa, as a lot of us probably do.  What we don’t realize is that, being judged under the goodness of God, our goodness accounts for nothing.  This point was brought home to me by an effective illustration.  This girl was on a farm and happened to see a sheep.  She was amazed at how white the sheep’s wool was.  At that moment, it started to snow, and when she saw the wool compared to the pure whiteness of the snow, she saw how dingy and gray the sheep really was.  That’s how we compare ourselves.  We look at each other and measure ourselves against each other’s goodness.  “Well, we’re better than our neighbors, who yell at their kids all day long.”  “I’m better than my coworker, who cheats on his timesheet.”  Here’s the thing.  There is none that does good.  No, not one.  Suppose I handed you two glasses of water.  I told you one of them only had a cup of mud mixed in it, while the other had four cups of mud mixed in.  Which would you drink?  I know I would drink neither and go look for some pure water.  Well, we all have some mud in us.  None of us is pure.  Every one of us has sinned.  If you’ve told a lie, if you’ve lusted after someone else, if you’ve hated another person, those are all sins.  How many good deeds can you do to counteract those actions?  How much water can you add to muddy water to get rid of the mud?  You can dilute the mud, but the mud will still be there.

So, if there is none good, how can we possibly cultivate goodness as Christians?  Well, that’s the amazing thing.  Jesus forgives us of ALL of our sins.  He takes the mud out of our lives and makes our water clean and pure again.  Unfortunately, since we’re all human, we will stumble, we will sin, and our waters will get muddy again and again.  But Jesus is patient with us and He’s willing to continue to make us clean.  Some people take this as license to sin continually, since all their sins will be covered.  But that is absolutely wrong.  As true Christians, as people who have devoted their lives to Jesus, as people who daily take up their cross, the last thing they would want to do is sin, because they know the price that was paid for their salvation, their freedom from the bondage of sin.  Why would anyone willingly put the shackles of bondage back on?

One of the most important distinctions about the goodness of the world and the goodness of the Spirit is the intent behind it.  People of the world do good things in order to buy their way into heaven.  They think that if they do more good than bad, they will be accepted.  The question that brings up is, how many good deeds does it take to erase a bad deed?  And who’s keeping score?  And how does one know for sure that their scorecard has them on the winning team?

Christians do good deeds because it’s what Jesus wants them to do.  They don’t need to earn their way to heaven; the ticket has already been paid.

I know these are generalities, and there are plenty of Christians who still try to earn their way into heaven, unwilling to trust that the grace of Christ is sufficient, just as there are some non-Christians who do good deeds for the sake of the good deed.  But it’s the bad deeds that will send them to hell, no matter how good they try to be.

Want to see how good you are?  There’s a test at www.needgod.com.  See how well you do.

#tbt — Gentle on My Mind

(Originally written 8/12/06)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Gal 5:22,23

Gentlenesss — to be gentle is to be considerate and kindly in disposition, according to dictionary.com. It’s a good biblical definition as well. The Greek word chrestotes – the word for gentleness – is defined as kindness and goodness. The word gentleness appears only four times in the Bible, twice in the Old Testament, and twice in the New Testament. 2 Samuel 22:36 says, “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.” David is speaking after he has been rescued from Saul’s clutches. His song is repeated in Psalm 18:35. “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” Incredible words, but what’s even more incredible is that every Christian, every child of God, can say those same words. It is God’s gentleness, His kindness, that allows all of us to come to Him, to come to the cross, ask for His forgiveness, and, more importantly, to be granted that forgiveness. The third appearance of the word is in 2 Corinthians 10:1, which says, “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:” Again, it refers to the gentleness of our Lord and Savior. But what, exactly, does it mean? How do we exhibit gentleness in our lives as proof of the Holy Spirit within us? There are a couple of excellent descriptions in the Bible. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 says, “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.”So, one aspect of gentleness is to care for people as you would care for your children. 2 Timothy 2:24, 25 says, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” The servant of the Lord must not strive. To strive means to quarrel, fight, argue. So, another aspect of gentleness is not getting involved in conflict. That just means with our friends, right? Can’t we still argue with the people we don’t get along with? No. “But be gentle to all.” Even those who cause us grief. Family, co-workers, people who cut us off in traffic. We know we can’t do that on our own. We would like nothing more than to argue about everything. It is human nature to be combative, and it’s only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can allow ourselves to be gentle toward each other. So, what can I do to ensure I’m bearing fruit in this aspect? I can think twice before getting into an argument with someone. I know there will be times when conflict will be inevitable and at those times I will have to make sure I remember to do all I do in love, showing the gentleness to others that Jesus shows to me. Will it be easy? Not always. Will it be possible? Absolutely, as long as I rely on the strength of my Creator and Savior to guide my steps.

#tbt – Patience is a Virtue…

(Originally written 8/5/06)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23 KJV)

Longsuffering. This is one study I’ve been dreading doing. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been tested on every aspect of the fruit of the Spirit I’ve studied so far, and I was not looking forward to my test in long-suffering.

The Greek word for long-suffering is makrothymia, and it’s defined as patience, forbearance, internal and external control in a difficult circumstance, which control could exhibit itself by delaying an action. Out of the seventeen times longsuffering is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, ten refer to the patience of God. Four times God’s mercy is tied in with his long-suffering. It’s because He is merciful that He is patient with us. His longsuffering appears throughout the Bible. Many times God was ready to pour his wrath on people who justly deserved it, but his mercy stayed his hand, sometimes temporarily, and sometimes permanently.

1 Peter 3:20 mentions how “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” God intended to destroy the earth and its entire people, for they had become ungodly, partaking in immoral practices. Genesis 6:5 says, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). The Lord stayed His hand for one hundred and twenty years, waiting for Noah to build the ark that would save him and his family.I cant imagine waiting one hundred twenty minutes to do something I want to do, much less one hundred twenty years. Long-suffering – patience – is definitely something I struggle with, along with just about everyone else in the world. This is a rush-rush world, gotta have it now, a minute from now it will be too late. We are a society that needs microwave instructions for Pop-Tarts! We have instant coffee that can be ready in mere moments, fast food drive-thrus so we dont even need to get out of our cars to get food, which, by the way, never really seems to be fast, and can sometimes only barely be called food. Credit cards ensure we never have to wait to get the latest gadget, the 60-inch plasma TV we just have to have. We can’t wait till we can afford to pay for it straight out, because by then, the newest model will be out and we will need to get that one!

We are a society that can’t wait for a webpage to load up on a dial-up service. We need to have DSL – no, wait, too slow, make mine cable! (And yes, I’m guilty of this one. That status bar that shows the progress when a webpage is loading is the bane of my existence!) And heaven forbid there are more than three people in front of you in a line at a store. You’re going to have to spend maybe an extra five minutes waiting in line! About the only place where this rule doesn’t seem to apply is at Disney World. People willingly stand in line for over an hour in order to get on a five-minute ride. As one of those people who do that on a regular basis, it’s amazing to me that you never see the people in this line get frustrated or angry. Most people are talking with friends or family and just enjoying the experience. That might be a good attitude to take with you when you are waiting at the bank. Talk to the person behind you, enjoy the momentary break from having to rush anywhere.

So, as Christians, one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, one way you know that you’re heading in the right direction in your spiritual growth, is if you develop patience, if you can exhibit self-control in order to delay an action. In this day and age, that could seem nearly impossible. But of course, nothing’s impossible with God. I’ve had to ask myself how patient, how long-suffering I am. Compared to before I was a Christian, I can tell I’ve grown by leaps and bounds, but by no means have I got the patience thing down yet. I hate waiting, I struggle with self-control, and I find myself in situations I shouldn’t be in. So, does that mean I’ve fallen out of the will of God when that happens? I don’t think so. God is merciful, and He is the ultimate in long-suffering and patience. And if He can be patient with me as I fall headlong into trouble, how can I not be patient with people who stumble across my path? If God is willing to wait for me to get my act together, how can I not be willing to wait on someone in my life who’s making a scene? Our patience is tested daily, whether by someone who cuts us off in traffic or by the person in front of us in the line who can’t seem to make up his mind whether he should go for the Big Mac or the Quarter Pounder. Remember, every single one of those trials is a good thing. Romans 5:3-5 says “We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience, and experience, hope, and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

For those long-suffering folks who read this entire blog, I salute you, and I’m glad I was able to help you work patience, experience and hope. God bless you all.

#tbt – Vizualize whirled peas…

(Originally written 7/31/06)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23 KJV)

Okay, so it’s been a while since I last blogged about the fruit of the Spirit, but it seems every time I’m about to write on one, I get challenges in my life that test the fruit which I’m studying. It was no different with peace. The last week has been anything but peaceful. My mind has been a jumble of thoughts and emotions, and peace has been the furthest thing from my mind.
Continue reading #tbt – Vizualize whirled peas…

Discrimination: Now in Size Extra Small!

NewsReport

I was running up against a deadline for posting this. I finally just decided to post as is, with the editor’s notes still attached.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken on such hot-button topics as abortion and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, so this week, I decided to take on something a little less controversial: microaggression.
Continue reading Discrimination: Now in Size Extra Small!

#tbt – Joy. It’s not just a dishwashing liquid!

(Originally written 7/20/06)

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit. Psa. 51:12

This was going to be a theoretical discussion about joy, but I’m beginning to see that God is going to use this study as a way to test me as well.  I’ve already been tested on love.  I’ve had to come face to face with what I consider to be love, what I do to show that love, and I come up woefully short of the mark.  As I mentioned before, I grew up disconnected from other people, so I didn’t really know what it was like to forge loving bonds until much later in life.  And even to this day, I still think that is one of the toughest things I deal with.  And, of course, since I really don’t understand love here on earth, it makes it that much harder to understand God’s love, an unconditional love that never asks for anything, and yet gives everything.  A love that will always be there, no matter what.  When the love I see and feel here on earth is so fleeting, it’s just hard to grasp the concept of self-sacrificing love, agape.  So, I’m working on it.
Which brings me to joy.  I’m always big on saying I may not always be happy, but I’m always joyful.  The joy is from knowing I’m saved, knowing that my future is secure.  But, just like David, I’ve let the worries of the world steal my joy.  I’ve let trivialities knock me down, forcing me to take my eyes off God.  And if I’m not focusing on God, I forget the reason why I do all that I do.  I’m reminded of Peter, when he walked on water.  As long as he focused on Jesus, he was safe from the storm, but as soon as he concentrated on the storm, he lost faith, was afraid, and fell into the water.  The cool thing about it is that Jesus was right there to pull him up, just like He’s there to pull us all up out of the crashing waves.
David wrote Psalm 51 after being confronted by Nathan for the sins he’d committed.  There was no question that, although David broke every commandment, he was still saved.  But, he was no longer joyful.  He’d let the world intrude into his relationship with God.  Instead of looking to the heavens toward his Creator, he chose to look down to earth where Bathsheba bathed.  I’ve been looking down at the earth for too long.  I’ve forgotten that nothing here on earth matters if I’m not focused on Jesus, on my Creator, my Savior, my King.
Joy is not happiness.  Happiness depends on current circumstances.  Something good happens, you’re happy.  Something bad happens, you’re not happy.  But being joyful is completely different.  1 Thessalonians 5:16 says “Rejoice evermore.”  Always be joyful?  How’s that possible?  Things go wrong, life takes a nasty turn, how can you be joyful in times like that?  That’s where happiness and joy are different.  You can be joyful and not be happy.  Happiness is the temporary state, joy is the eternal state.  Can you be happy and not joyful?  Absolutely.  But it’s an empty happiness, almost an echo of happiness and not the real thing.
You can lose your joy.  David did.  Any time you take your eyes off the prize, you lose sight of your goal.  My goal is heaven, and eternal unity with the Lord Jesus.  I forget that goal in pursuit of earthly goals: a good job, a wife, the next good book or TV show or movie.  Those things can make you happy, but they cannot bring you eternal joy like God can.
I’ve been acting a lot like David lately and I realize this.  I know I have sinned and fallen far short of where I should be.  I’ve let my joy wither while I concentrated on the elusive pursuit of happiness which, while a constitutional right, is not as fulfilling or satisfying as the pursuit of joy.  Today, I pray like David did, Lord, restore unto me the joy of my salvation, remind me of the important things, help me to walk the path You have set for me, no matter the price, no matter the consequences.  I’m ready to go wherever You need me, whenever You need me there.  Restore my heart, and allow me to appreciate Your love for me, how deep and eternal and unchanging it is.  Holy Spirit, fill me with joy, fill me with wisdom, guide me today and every day.  Jesus, help me to be more like you, help me to keep the old man dead and buried.  Amen.

It Was a Very Good Year

As we are fully aware of, this time of year always brings out “Best of” and “Top Ten” lists, so in the spirit of the season, I have compiled a list of my Top Ten Firsts of 2012:

10. Red Robin – While not an earth-shattering first, it still deserves mention, because I got to share the experience with my best friend, Rob. The food and service were phenomenal and have been every time I have gone since. Now if only Rob could say the same…
Continue reading It Was a Very Good Year

Life in the Slow Lane

I have a confession to make. I like to drive fast, and I tend to speed. I’ve been that way for as long as I’ve been able to drive, and that got me into a lot of trouble when I was younger. I learned my lesson for a while and kept my tendency to speed in check. Recently, though, I have felt the urge rise again. Lately, I’ve found myself speeding, shifting from lane to lane, trying to get just a little further ahead. I’ve gotten angry at the SUV in front of me that didn’t understand the purpose of a passing lane and was pacing the cars in the other lane. Driving, which used to be a pleasant experience for me, had suddenly become an exercise in frustration.

I recently read that a speed increase of ten miles per hour only nets an average gain of a full minute and a half. On average, I would drive five to ten mph over the limit. So, today, I decided to try a different exercise. I would stay at or below the speed limit on my way home and see how much of a difference it made in my arrival time. Not only was I surprised that it didn’t make much of a difference in my arrival time, but I discovered an unexpected side benefit.

When I was speeding, I-4 was a nightmare. Slow drivers blocking my way, keeping me from moving on. As I drove on I-4 today, at a steady 70mph, I was surprised to find myself with no traffic in front of me the entire way home. No one was blocking my way. Those who were driving faster, which was almost everyone, passed me on the left, and those who were driving slower puttered along happily on the right. And once I got off the interstate, I caught all the lights. My drive home today was once again a completely enjoyable experience.

While driving, I also hit upon a revelation. This was not only a good exercise to try with driving, but also with life in general. We all have those things we would like to have happen faster. Weight loss. Making money. Finding the love of our lives. So, we rush. We take diet pills, play the lottery, settle for people who aren’t right for us. Then we find ourselves surprised when things don’t work out like we want them to. Sometimes, by slowing down, we find more enjoyment in life, and more success in achieving the goals we set for ourselves.

I tend to forget that God has plans for my life, plans so much better than what I can imagine for myself. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” He knows my expected end, and, if I travel at His speed, I will get there, and I will do so with less frustration. I need to follow His road signs, instead of taking the “shortcuts” that lead to one dead end after another. And I need to follow His road map, the Bible, to keep from getting lost.

Wow. Who could have imagined that slowing down would have gotten me so far?

My Year in Review

So, here I am at the end of 43, about to turn 44 tomorrow. And looking back, this year has had by far some of the most interesting and unexpected turns. As the last couple of hours’ worth of sand trickle through the hourglass, I would like to take a moment to reflect on all the wonders I was able to experience.

When I wished for a fun and exciting year, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. Who knew where a simple audition for a game show would lead me? A visit to New York for the first time in almost 20 years, an appearance on national television, a perfect trip to Europe, and getting a brand new car for the first time in my life! Not to mention this was also the year that I graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree and gave the valedictorian speech, That alone would be enough to make anyone’s year. But that’s only the surface of my life.

It had been less than a year before that my wife had passed when I hit my 43rd birthday, and the last thing I wanted to do was anything. I was mad at the world for continuing to carry on as if nothing happened. I was mad at myself for not doing more to prevent my wife’s death (not that there really was anything I could have done), and, I hate to admit it, mad at God for taking her away and leaving me alone again. When my birthday was approaching, I knew I needed to move forward or I would never move at all, and so I forced myself, one step at a time, to take a step out of that box, or that box would become my coffin. And so, I took a step. And another step. And I began to see the sun again. I began to live again. I still missed, and still miss, Heather terribly, but knowing her, the last thing she’d want me to do is wallow in misery and self-pity. I know she’d be happy for the joys in my life and it would have been so good to share those with her. But I’ll have plenty of time to tell her all about it when I see her again in heaven.

One major change this year is my finally moving closer to God again. I don’t know why He does the things He does, but it’s enough for me to know that HE knows why He does the things He does. I realize that, as much as I hate to admit it, it’s not all about me, and one goal for my 44th year is to get more involved with helping others, volunteering where I can. I’ve gotten back into reading my Bible and praying and I am finally ready to get back to church.

I intended to make the theme of this coming year “Dreams Come True.” Last week, a dream I’d been waiting on for eighteen years seemed to finally come true. Saturday, I followed a tradition and went to the Disney Magic Kingdom. I was supposed to go with my best friend for lunch, but he fell ill, so it was just me. I got my birthday button and strolled down Main Street. A barbershop quartet started singing, “Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream.” I stayed and listened to that song, thinking he had indeed brought me that dream. As I headed toward the Cinderella castle, I saw the characters were performing. I get to the castle in time to hear Mickey shout, “Dreams come true!” Then the princes and princesses came out and Princess Aurora (who I’ve taken pictures with – twice!) sang, “I walked with you once upon a dream.” Somebody was trying to tell me something!

I told my friend this and he pooh-poohed (pun intended) the idea, saying it’s Disney, what else would I expect but stuff about dreams? The point I made to him was that I spent all of twenty minutes there. If I had shown up later, I would have only heard the quartet sing Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, and the characters at the castle would have been singing about being pirates. I don’t believe in coincidences, so I still believe that my theme should be “Dreams Come True”.

Ironically enough, I found out today that the eighteen-year long dream turned out to be just a dream, after all, so the day before my birthday, it seems that my theme is already falling apart. But then I realized that dream was shattered before my birthday in order to make room for the dreams that WILL come true! So, hang on to your hats, true believers, and prepare for Jax out of the Box: Year Two – Living the Dream!

Europe Epilogue

Transcribing my journal notes helped me to relive the most amazing trip I ever had, but there is so much that I didn’t cover in my notes. I was worried that taking the trip in early March would mean cold weather, but, except for the aforementioned half-hour of rain in Barcelona, the weather during the rest of the trip was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. The days were sunny, except for my last day in Paris, when I was heading home. The skies were cloudy and the day was gray, almost as if Europe was sad to see me go.

My Personal Paella!
My Personal Paella!

The food during my trip was excellent. Barcelona, a seacoast town, prides itself on its seafood, which I don’t care for. I did eat fast food (McDonald’s and Burger King) for a lot of my meals. But, just before I went into La Sagrada Familia, I stopped at a restaurant around the corner and I asked the proprietor where I could go to get a paella that did NOT have shrimp or some other disgusting sea creature in it. He had me hold on while he went to speak with the chef, who then proceeded to go out of her way to make a custom chicken paella just for me. It was delicious! And they were so friendly and accommodating. As I mentioned in my journal, I did have the pizza and gelato in Rome. You can purchase the pizza by the pound. You tell them how much you want of the pie, they cut it, weigh it, and charge you accordingly. And every bite was such a delight. And the gelato…my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. In France, at the creperie, I managed to enjoy both a sweet and a savory crepe. I also got to sample a delicious cider with quite a kick. Even with so many wonderful culinary memories, I think the one that stands out is when I had descended from the Eiffel Tower and was waiting for my tour boat to arrive. I got a hot dog from a vendor, but this was no ordinary hot dog. Two franks in a hoagie roll, a generous sprinkling of cheese, and then the whole thing was pressed. I sat on the bank of the Seine, facing the Eiffel Tower, and eating the most delicious hot dog I’d ever had.

The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps

Stairs were a big factor in my entire trip, and reading back through my journals, I’m surprised I didn’t mention it more. My hostel in Barcelona was on the fourth floor, a little piece of information they really should include online. But, of course, most of the occupants of hostels are young, energetic people, and not older, out of shape individuals like myself. I remember the first day, climbing those stairs and thinking I didn’t really want to go anywhere outside because that would mean climbing the stairs again when I returned. But I braved those stairs many, many times in my days there. By the end of my stay, I was actually able to take the stairs with minimal complaints. Stairs also factored in Rome. When I visited the Spanish Steps, I had to climb them, of course. And, as I mentioned, I climbed all the way up to the second floor of the Eiffel tower, the equivalent of 46 stories. I know that, if it hadn’t been for the fourth floor hostel in Barcelona, I would not have been in any shape to try the stairs at the Eiffel tower a few days later. Just another example of how everything happens for a reason.

The Beehive - A Honey of a Place
The Beehive – A Honey of a Place

Speaking of the hostel, these are the places I stayed at and would highly recommend:

Barcelona – http://www.pensionmariluz.com/site/
Rome – http://www.the-beehive.com/
Paris – http://www.novotel.com/gb/hotel-5060-novotel-paris-gare-montparnasse/index.shtml

Both hostels in Barcelona and Rome were inexpensive and clean. I did splurge in Paris with the Montparnasse, but it really was worth it.

There are so many other things, so many other memories. The kissing couple at the Trevi Fountain. The cats at the Coliseum. The awe of seeing the Mona Lisa in person. The countless sights, sounds and smells that, together, combined to form the perfect trip. And I can say that with no hyperbole. And I can’t wait for my next visit, because, good Lord willing, there will be a next visit.

On a final note, the last leg of my trip continued to be both nerve-wracking and fortuitous. When last we left our gutsy globetrotter, he had just gotten through the maze of the Charles de Gaulle Airport and had gotten himself a first-class seat on the way back to Atlanta. The story continues…

When I landed in Atlanta, I found out that my standby ticket had not been validated for the leg from Atlanta to Orlando, which meant I needed to speak to a ticket attendant in order to put myself on the standby list. Because our flight had been delayed, I barely had enough time to make it to the ticket counter. Once there, I see there are already more people on the standby list than there are seats available, meaning I may have to find alternative means of getting home. A later flight, or even possibly a car rental to drive home. While I’m talking with the ticket agent, I see a group of four who are also waiting to get on the plane, and, when three seats open up, the younger woman volunteers to stay behind and catch another flight. This leaves just two of us at this point on the list. A minute or so later, her name is called and she manages to get on the plane. And then there is one – me. As I’m on the phone discussing options with a friend, my name is called. I have managed to get the last empty seat on the plane. Soon enough, I’m seated comfortably and on my way to Orlando. A perfect ending to a perfect vacation!