Archive for October, 2007

Boldly golf as no one has golfed before…

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You know it occurred to me that sometimes we have to boldly go where no golfer has gone before.  Just when you think you have seen everything, something comes along that takes the cake.  Have you seen the U.S.S. Enterprise Putter?  If you would like a chance to win a free U.S.S. Enterprise putter, log in to Startrek.com and enter to win!

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Used car for sale…or Kar Koinonia

You know it occurred to me.  I have purchased or sold 4 company cars over the years.  In sales, my company provides me with a car to use as many companies provide computers or work spaces or desks or the like.  Actually, providing a car to an employee is a lot less expensive than providing an office or a workspace.  When you think about how much it costs a company to provide you with an office, a desk, heat, a computer, a copier, office supplies etc, it pales in comparison.  But I digress.

Well, its that time again.  About every 100,000 miles or so I get a new car.  The company needs to dispose of the old one and I try to help them.  They don’t give them away, but they do sell them for fair market value which is often much less than what you could by them for.  They are well maintained as the company pays for all the maintenance, and you simply have to take it and get it done.  I have them detailed, mechanically inspected, with almost new tires.  My 2004 Crown Vic is available for purchase for $6,800.00.  Pretty good deal, if you look up the value on Edmunds or KBB.  It has about 90,100 miles on it.  It seems to go through rotors pretty often (I have put two sets on it) and the driver door rattles when it rains.  Coincidently the speaker in the driver door cuts out when it rains too.  The only other defect I am aware of is that usually once per summer, the car overheats and does not idle very well.  I have had it into the Ford dealer and of course they cannot find anything wrong.  It has been my experience with Fords that Ford dealers never find anything wrong with Ford cars, unless the engine falls out.  But the Crown Vic has been a great car.  It has a powerful V-8 but still gets about 25 MPG.  It has lots of room (it really is a 6 passenger car).  You get double looks from police cars when you pull up behind them at a stop light.  I was once asked by a policeman at city hall in Grosse Pointe Farms if we were FBI.  (Denny was with me and we had our Ray Bans on).  Donna calls it my AARP car.  It does not pass the cool test however.  You know, look at the other people you see driving the same car you drive…   It however is not a Minivan; Praise God for that.  So if you are looking for dependable roomy transportation and not concerned with your image, this might be the car for you. 

Anyway, I think my next car is going to be a Buick LaCrosse.  They asked me what color I wanted, so I went on the Buick website and they have a nice Scarlett Red with a tintanium interior that looks an lot like Buckeye gray…  Well, I must be off…

Getting up again and again after falling down

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Everyone has broken dreams.

For the Cleveland Indians and their fans, some of their dreams were shattered last weekend at Boston’s Fenway Park.

That’s a minor disappointment compared with what my father endured after his stroke, which robbed him of his speech, mobility and freedom to do much beyond living in his house under 24-hour care.

So much for the dream of a stress-free retirement; welcome to a world of doctors and diapers, of having to take joy from little things such as a card game with a few friends. It’s praying for a phone call from someone who would not become impatient because he couldn’t say much besides, “Oh, man,” in reply.

My wife loves animals and dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but she has allergies and couldn’t do it.

Several years ago, I blew up an important friendship. My apologies were accepted, but the relationship was never the same, not nearly as deep. I didn’t want it to be that way, but I knew I was responsible for what my friend considered breaking a trust.

Sometimes dreams die because life happens — my father’s stroke, my wife’s allergies. Other times, it’s what we’ve done, as was the case with my friend.

That’s why I love the song “We Fall Down,” made popular by Donnie McClurkin.

It begins, “We fall down, but we get up. We fall down, but we get up.”

But here’s the part that I love: “A saint is just a sinner who fell down but got up again.”

Certainly a sin had nothing to do with my father’s stroke, but I remember times when I was helping him dress, and we both fell to the floor. I felt angry, embarrassed. I felt I was failing him.

Usually, he’d shake it off, point at me and then the floor and laugh. He thought it was funny that we both ended up on the floor, like a couple of kids. At least, I think that was it. The stroke had stolen his words.

We fall down, but we get up . . .

I’d stand, grab my dad and together we’d get up . . .

Again.

One of the inspira tions for the song comes from Proverbs 24:16: “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.”

Though our dreams die — seven times, maybe more — we rise again, even if we need someone to help us, as my father did. Of course, his spirit was why I could get up and help him.

Again.

When I read the Bible, I find many stories of people messing up, falling down and then staggering to their feet again. Dreams die, and it seems God has forgotten them.

Paul writes in II Corinthians 4:8: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.”

Anyone caring for a person with serious health problems knows that feeling. Or anyone battling financial troubles. Or anyone fighting to find a job or keep one. There are times when the pressure seems ready to crush us, when we feel not only “struck down” but also destroyed. In that passage, Paul wrote that he could get up again because of the power of Christ within him.

In my case, it often is the dumb stuff that I say or do that gets me into the tight squeeze. That’s when I cry out to God in the lyrics of that song, reminding myself that “a saint is just a sinner who fell down but got up again.”

And again and again.

Getting up again, that’s the real test of faith, and it’s one I battle with every day.

To reach Terry Pluto:

terrypluto2003@yahoo.com, 216-999-4370

Previous columns online:

cleveland.com/columns

Catch the Wave

Wise person lets insult fall by the wayside – Terry Pluto

Ever spend days mentally replaying a conversation?

Or nights staring at the ceiling, thinking about something said to you, and then coming up with all the clever and sarcastic things you wanted to say but couldn’t think of at the time?

Are you easily offended?

I can be, especially when the insults come from a person I don’t like. A good friend will receive patience and grace, but a family member or someone who consistently bugs me – I’m almost looking for a reason to get upset.

“But I really can’t offend you,” said Bishop Joey Johnson of Akron’s House of the Lord. “I may say something that bothers you. I may say something that is just plain wrong. But how you feel and react to what I said is up to you.”

Based on that, I know I’m in trouble when I start telling friends, “I can’t believe he said that to me! That’s really offensive.”

When I say that, I’m actually taking a fence.

Imagine walking down a nar row road and coming to a small, rusty fence. I can walk around the fence. Or perhaps I can run a few steps and jump over it. While the fence is annoying, I just need a few minutes to deal with it and then leave it behind.

Now picture me picking up the fence and carrying the rusty metal around for a few days. I show it to friends so they can see how this stupid fence was right there, trying to hold me up. The longer I carry the fence, the heavier it becomes. I spend even more time obsessing about it. I seek out more people so they can see how the fence – now, my fence – torments me.

“You can’t really blame me for how you feel,” Johnson said. “Feelings are real. They need to be dealt with. But they are our feelings.”

Think of a stressed mother who comes home from work, spills milk while taking care of her daughter and screams at the 5-year-old, “Look what you made me do!” While the child may have been whining and possibly even screaming, she didn’t dump the liquid on the kitchen floor. The mother did.

Perhaps you are dealing with an adult sibling who has lost another job. Your brother blames everyone but himself. In the process, he is making you feel guilty because you have a decent career.

But is he causing your guilt? Really?

How about the adult sister who has the great family? She goes on and on about her wonderful life, knowing that you are going through a divorce and making you feel as if you’re a failure. She may believe she’s just telling you what’s happening in her life, but you believe she’s putting you down at a time that your life is falling apart.

Another minefield for me is when I start complaining, “She always . . . ” or “He never . . .”

That means I’m attacking the person, not dealing with the subject.

“I believe no one can hurt my feelings as much as they hurt my pride,” said Joe Coffey, a pastor at Hudson Community Chapel. “We often are more angry at the person who said it for a variety of reasons, rather than by what the person actually said.”

It can be toxic. Coffey said to concentrate on forgiving the person rather than being stuck on what was said, why it was said and what we wished we had said to shut the person up.

Proverbs 12:16 reads, “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”

Not easy to do, but carrying it around is even harder.

To reach Terry Pluto:

terrypluto2003@yahoo.com

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