Return To Bible Study – Changes

I keep going back to my father’s death. I go for a few days and feel stronger than before, then I have a bad day.

Around the first of this year I felt, that I had returned to my old form. The bad days were getting fewer and far between. I assumed I was doing much better. I had returned to bible study and was feeling much better. I was starting to cope with my father’s death.

It was about the first of this year (about 3 weeks ago), that I started posting on my other blog. I began posting about political and social items and began my usual satire, attacking pieces.

Until that point, I was studying the bible nearly every day; many days I got up between 3:30 – 4:30 AM and spent a good hour on bible study before getting ready for work. I remember feeling calmer then. I’ve lost that calmness.

The fact that it’s been 3 full weeks since the last posting on my bible study blog shows that I’ve failed in many respects.

The other night, I sat down at the computer and looked at my personal blog again. Then I looked at the photo of my father next to my computer. I kept going back and forth. While my father read all of the pieces I wrote, I’m sure he was certainly embarrased by some of things I said and items I posted.

As a writer of satire, it is your job to take ‘true’ items to the extreme. You don’t just mention something that might not be proper, you enhance it, mock it, embellish it, and take it to the extreme and to the point of nonsense. That’s satire writing, which most people don’t understand. People who are not students of satire, don’t really understand what you are doing. They think you are a nut case, an advocate of revolution, a racist, a sexist, or any number of other negative descriptions. In their eyes you are just that, even if, in your heart, you really don’t believe everything you’ve written. Satire is a different type of writing; I suppose I’m not that good at it.

A few examples – I’ve always gone after Bill & Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. With satire writing you carry everything to the extreme. Bill’s extramaritial affairs, Hillary’s just plain meanness, Ted Kennedy situation with Mary Jo, Jesse & Al’s not receiving religious degree (but proclaiming themselve ministers), their constant grabbing of a microphone and self promotion, their leaning on corporate America. In satire writing, the writer carries everything to the ‘n’th degree. You don’t let anything slide. Whenever Kennedy does anything you tie in the Mary Jo incident. Whenever Jesse does anything you bring up the fact that he never graduated from a bible college and bring up his illegitimate daughter. That’s what satire writing is. I’m though with it.

Do I truly believe that the above mentioned people are really ‘bad’? Certainly not. While I disagree with many of the things they’ve done and said, they are not bad people. Bill Clinton did much for this country as President. Hillary and Kennedy truly care about the people of this land. They might have a different perspective on how to achieve things than I do, but they are not bad people.

Jesse & Al care about people and their souls. While I’ve been quick to judge them in my satirical writtings, I’ve never written about how many people they’ve brought to God. I don’t know the figure, but I do more than it’s more than I have. From a religious point of view, they’ve certainly done more than I. I commend them on that.

Jimmy Carter is another example. I’ve always felt he’s cared more about people than any other president I’ve seen. I stand by my opinion that he should not have used Coretta King’s funeral as a bully pulpit to bash the current President. That was wrong. He should have only talked about how Mrs. King was so much a lady, a real inspiration to everyone in this country. He should have only talked about the accomplishments of her husband, a man whom I’ve always admired. Dr. King was a great speaker and made you think. Jimmy Carter will have to account for what he did, and I’ll have to account for what I’ve done in my life. We all have to account for everything when we die.

I’ve decided to return to bible study and to genealogy. They will be my outlets. I need to worry about myself, my life, my actions, my thoughts, my speech, my relationship with God. My time is better spent working on improving myself, not pointing out what I perceive as shortcomings of others through the writing of satire. That really shouldn’t be my place. Life should be about improving yourself, not attacking or going after those things you see wrong in others. It is not our place to judge others, even though everyone does this all the time.

We’ve all made mistakes and I’m included in that list. The big question after making mistakes is what do we do to correct them? For me it’s a return to bible study and the removal of the personal blog. Time on this planet is short. I should be doing something more constructive. I should be building things up, not tearing others down.

I kept thinking about my telling my father that I wanted to be more like him. While for the first 2 1/2 months after his death, I was making efforts to be like him; I realized that suddenly I had abandoned that goal. I was ashamed of that fact.

Therefore, I have removed my old personal blog and have put this bible study blog in it’s place. This blog has been in existance for a few months now, in another location on the website. I’ve just transferred it over as my main blog. I’ll be slowly changing this blog around to include some personal and other items. It won’t remain strictly a bible study blog. I could have kept this blog in its original place and have just reworked the personal blog, but I decided not to. I wanted nothing to do with the old blog. I didn’t even want to rework it.

I didn’t stay true to the promise I made my father, falling short over the last few weeks. I’m sorry Dad.

Time spent blogging can be better spent that what I’ve done recently. I can be reading and studying the bible, working hard to apply everything to my personal life. I can be posting bible study items that can help everyone. This can come in the form of a verse I’ve read in the bible, a passage from a book, or part of a sermon or teaching I’ve heard. I can be doing genealogy research and writing in that area. I can be helping others and helping myself.

That’s what I’m going to do. I’ve picked up my book ‘E.M. Bounds On Prayer’ and will start reading it again, applying the lessons within to my heart. I intend to spend time listening to Harold Camping’s ‘Open Forum’ radio show. I also intend to spend time listening to several lectures from Mark Moore.

Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage radio shows are being replaced by the AllWorship.com radio stream for Praise & Worship. Fox News & CNN will be replaced by other programming. The Conservative Chronicle will be replaced by the bible.

Scouring the internet for articles about something that the Clintons, Kennedy, or the others have done will be replaced by a return to genealogy. I have something to contribute to the genealogy research field, especially in the Orrell and related families. My many articles, books, and CD collections proved to be something worthwhile to help others with their own genealogy research. It has a positive, not negative effect as the personal blog did.

That’s what I need to concentrate on – the positive. Concentrate on the bible, it’s teachings, and applying it to my personal life is a far better way of spending my time. Becoming a better person is the ultimate goal. Striving to be a better husband, son, father, grandfather, friend, neighbor, co-worker, and citizen should be the only goal in my life. Helping others interested in genealogy research is a positive, not negative pursuit. It is those items that I’m returning to.

This has been a difficult entry to write. Admitting your shortcomings, weaknesses, and flaws on a blog for the world to see, is not easy.

Asking for forgivness is not easy; but I’m doing just that. Asking for others to pray that I continue on a better path is what I’m asking for – a postive path, not a negative path. A path filled with praying for others, praying for forgiveness, and praying for a better world.

Regardless of your individual religion – your God, wants just that.

I have a TV in my office. The news just came on. The same old stuff. I now have the same feeling that I had a few months ago, shortly after my father died. I just can’t watch the news shows anymore. They ran down a list of candidates for the 2008 elections. I turned the TV to another channel. I just can’t watch that stuff anymore. I don’t care what any of the politicians are doing anymore. I’ve again lost all interest in politics and what’s going on in the world.

In many respects this blog entry is like prayer; it’s like confession. It is good for the soul and I feel better having written it.

When I stopped my bible study I was in the 15th chapter of Matthew. Isn’t it fitting that as I open my bible, back to the point at which I stopped my study, I come upon the verse below?

Matthew: 15:11: ‘Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”

Looking Forward

This will probably be my last blog entry of 2006. It’s time to look forward to 2007.

2006 has been a very difficult and bittersweet year. Certainly, my father’s death in October was the low point of the year (and my life). Grief is a terrible companion; it’s like an open wound that just doesn’t go away. It is painful. The only antibiotic that works to heal it is time.

I can now sometimes go for days without breaking down; something I couldn’t do even a few weeks ago. But I find that I am only one thought away from tears at any given moment. Yesterday we went to WalMart to pickup some copies of photos of my grandson Jackson Reverdy Orrell. Everything was going well, until we started to pick out frames.

Imagine that – something as simple as photo frames – can trigger tears.

When I reworked the photo of my father that I sent out to everyone, I made some smaller ones. Some were wallet size and another was about a 3″ x 4″ odd size. I really liked that smaller size. It was larger than a wallet, but not that large.

While picking out frames I remember that size and started looking for a proper frame. I thought I had the right size picked out (I was wrong) and showed it to Nora. She said, “You don’t have any photos for that frame.” I couldn’t get a word out; I just choked up. She instantly saw what was happening and asked if I was alright, knowing what I was thinking about.

Later yesterday, I was watching some of President Gerald Ford’s funeral on TV. One of the speakers mentioned that the President brought ‘grace and dignity’ to the Oval Office. ‘Grace & Dignity’ were words I used throughout my father’s eulogy. I switched channels.

I still think of my father constantly. Even when I look at my lovely grandson Jackson, I think of my father. I’m so proud to be a grandfather and have a wonderful son & daughter. (I refer to Sara as my daughter, not my daughter -in – law. I couldn’t love any daughter more than I love Sara.) I cried when I held my grandson for the first time on last Saturday and again on Christmas Day. I’m just so happy that he and Sara are healthy. When I hold him, I think about how proud my father would have been to be here and hold him. It brings tears to my eyes. I want to be the same type of grandfather to Jackson as my father was to my son.

While I don’t want to forget my father, I’d like the memories of his last few months to fade away. Those painful memories are imbedded in my head. Just as everyone can close their eyes and clearly see the planes flying into the World Trade Center towers, I can clearly see every detail of my father’s suffering during his final months, weeks, and especially days.

In times, I suppose, these memories will lessen and be replaced by images of my grandson. I hope so.

As I look forward to 2007, I look forward to various changes in my life, some of which have already been put into action.

In August, I was diagnosed with borderline diabeties. Nora and I instantly changed our diets and we both worked hard at a new eating routine and lifestyle. Everything was going well until after my father’s death. Then we sort of fell off the wagon and haven’t been as loyal to fighting the diabeties. I went for a blood test the end of November, thinking my test results would be much better than the previous test. Sadly, some numbers improved, but others were worse. This was a huge disappointment. We are now working to get back on track. I’m not on any medication for diabeties, but I don’t want to start. My chorlestoral levels were also mixed, with some numbers improving and others getting slightly worse. I’m now on Lipitor and hope that helps. Yes, health issues are a concern and something that must be addressed. I’ve lost two friends from my industry this past year. One was 51 and the other was 58.

I have made other changes to my lifestyle over the past few months. I’ve learned to relax more. I’ve stopped all of my ‘special’ projects. These projects usually involved tremendous efforts to do something in areas that I enjoyed – genealogy, horror reading and writing, political satire and social commentary, chess problems, etc.

I’ve stopped the chess problems. While I still do a website for StrateGems.org, a chess problem organization, I just don’t get involved in solving chess problems anymore.

I’ve stopped reading and writing horror. My book, Siamese Sister, is on hold. I only have to complete the final draft, but have no desire to do so. I’ve lost interest in reading and writing horror, as I have with the chess problems.

I also would spend quite a bit of time searching for editiorial cartoons, posted daily to this blog. I would also write quite a few political and social commentary pieces. I would download and listen to various conservative talk radio programs (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage). I no longer do any of this. I am still very conservative, but just don’t feel like reading or writing in this area.

My interest in genealogy remains an important aspect of my life. While I haven’t been able to work on the genealogy, it still holds a high interest. It, along with bible study, are the two things that I want to pursue. I’ve even lost interest in following ice hockey.

My time is spent reflecting on my life, my family, and what I really need to do. Certainly, keeping my promise to my Dad of taking care of my Mom is the most important thing. I need to watch out for her health and be right there for her. I enjoy doing that. It is not a burden. I can not take the place of my father, in this respect, but I can help. Nora is totally committed in this area also.

Now, with the birth of Jackson, my interests and committments are readjusted. I want to be there for Sara and Reb, whenever they need anything. Certainly, I want to see my grandson, but I need to be there for them, to help them out where needed, if I can.

‘Family’ is my number one priority from here on out, not just for 2007. If there is time for bible study and genealogy, that is fine. If there isn’t, then there just isn’t. Family should have always have been my number one committment my entire life. Sadly, at times, it wasn’t. That has changed.

As 2007 is about to begin, I look forward to the New Year. I look forward to spending more time with my mother, wife, son, daughter, and grandson. They are certainly the most important thing in my life. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful loving wife. She has held the family together over the past six months.

I will enjoy bible study and genealogy as time permits, but it will never be put ahead of family.

We will probably sell the West Virginia home this year and pay off the home in Baltimore. We’ll be in better shape financially after that. We’ll be able to take my Mother on vacations with us and see more of this country and the world. We haven’t been able to do any of that in the past five years due to two mortgages, etc. It will take a few weeks to remove personal items from WV. We will probably put the home up for sale in late March.

I’m still undecided about formal bible study. While I want to go to bible college, I haven’t quite decided which course or courses I will be taking. I’m also looking into Family Radio’s School of the Bible, and might study with them. I just don’t have all of their details yet to make that decision. If it comes within the next week or so, there is the possibility I’ll study with them and not bible college. I just don’t know. I do know that I will study the bible this year, either with a structured program or independently. That is for sure.

Reboot Your Life !

Working in the MIS field I am often called on to fix ‘computer problems.’ Many times problems can be solved by ‘rebooting’ the computer. Some times ‘rebooting’ doesn’t fix the problem; however, shutting the computer down completely, then starting it back up, solves the problem.

I often tell users that computers are like people. Sometimes they become confused or need to be repaired.

Yesterday I had a frustrated user, who I advised to reboot their computer. She turned to me and asked if she ‘could reboot’ her life or if she ‘should shut down completely and restart her entire life’ or at least ‘reboot’ certain portions of her life, that she would like to change.

I explain to users that ‘rebooting’ is something like a ‘standing 8 count’ in boxing. The confused computer takes a brief period of time to go through a renewing process. This often works. However, many times it needs to be shut down completely, as in the one minute rest period between rounds. Here, the boxer returns to his corner, sits down on his stool, and is able to collect his thoughts and plan the next part of the contest. At this time, trainers and managers whisper good council in his ear, advising him how to proceed. While he is exhausted from the previous three minutes of the fight, he has a chance to completely regroup his thoughts and renew himself.

As I walked away I thought to myself that it is a shame I’m not a preacher. “Somewhere, there’s a good sermon there.”

Later, I thought more about the incident and realized that I had recently ‘rebooted’ my life. I was like the stunned boxer in the ring. The referee had stepped in and had given me a ‘standing 8 count’ after the death of my father. Confused, weary-eyed, and battle worn, I was given a short ‘time out’ from life and the day to day world. Of course, a few days after the funeral, I needed to reenter the rat race, still reeling from the loss of my Dad. I felt like I was beaten up on by the recent events in my life, with no where to turn for help. Obviously, I knew my wife, family, and friends, were there for me; but, I knew I needed something more.

It was then I decided to return to bible study; to renew my study of the Word; and to return to a more prayerful being. I looked at the life of my Dad; a man who lived and died with grace and dignity. I realized that I exhibited little grace and even less dignity. I realize that I was a poor imitation of the man who gave me life and of the man I loved so very much.

My Dad wasn’t a church goer. He never went to church. He never read the bible. I don’t even know if he prayed. However, he lived his life in an exemplary fashion, one that most devote Christians couldn’t hold a candle to. I never heard him tell an off color joke. He never cursed in public. He was a very quiet man, who collected his thoughts before he spoke, unlike his quick tongued son who would shoot off his mouth without thinking first. He never spoke ill of anyone; unlike his son who constantly wrote negatively about those with different points of views. He exemplified true Christian beliefs in his words and actions, without being a ‘visible’ Christian in church.

I then thought about the co-worker’s comment that she would like to ‘reboot’ certain portions of her life. Wouldn’t we all?

There are certainly things that I would done differently. However, you can’t go back and change the past. You can only learn from the mistakes you’ve done or from things you should have done. You can’t live in the past. Life goes on, with or without, your loved ones.

As I think about my father’s illness, death, and funeral, I am amazed, comforted, and proud of the amount of love and respect everyone had for my Dad. The dozens of daily emails from around the world; the many get well and birthday cards he received; the generosity extended by the Grand Lodge of Maryland and Palestine Lodge; the countless visits by family, friends, and neighbors; and the outpouring of love and support for his family at the funeral was overwhelming. For a very quiet, unassuming, and humble man; he touched the hearts and lives of many people – all in a positive way. For a man who never sought to be a leader; he stood before all of us, showing us how to live righteously. For a man who never preached a sermon, his actions spoke louder than any heard from the pulpit.

My wife comforts me, by saying many of the people showed up out of respect for me, also. She claims that my writings were also meaningful to many and that people listened to what I always wrote about on my personal blog. She said that the Masonic Memorial Service I performed and the eulogy I gave, drew respect and attention and touched the heart of everyone present. Nora believes that I have a true talent with words, both in the written and spoken form. She feels people might not always agree with my views, but are always curious about what I have to say, because of the way I phrase myself.

Tom Overton, my best friend, says that I have a way of breaking anything down into the ‘least common denominator’ or ‘the bottom line’.

Others have said, due to my work within the Masonic Fraternity and the genealogy field, that I have a natural leadership ability, along with outstanding organizational skills.

Maybe I do; maybe I don’t. But, if that is the case, shouldn’t I have been doing more to help a larger number of people?

If I had an ounce of my father’s inner being; using that, along with whatever God given ability I have; I could and should have been doing more.

I can’t go back, ‘reboot’, and relive certain portions of my life again; however, I can change the way I live the rest of my life. I told my Dad that I wanted to be more like him. Now is the time to do just that.

My Thoughts & Beliefs

Prayer1.jpgMost of the previous postings on this blog were originally posted on my personal blog in December, 2005. At that time, I had returned to bible study and had purchased various study aids. Sadly, I only kept up my bible study for less than two months. I then allowed myself to be overtaken and overwhelmed with other activities.

Several of these no longer interest me. I cite most of that to the recent death of my father, Reverdy Lewin Orrell, Jr. who died on 20 October 2006.

I no longer enjoy searching through several hundred editorial cartoons, picking out several to post. Additionally, I no longer enjoy listening to the various conservative talk radio shows. In fact, now, politics leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Over the past year, I spent countless hours plotting, writing, and revising a horror novel. I no longer look forward to writing the final draft and searching for a book publisher, which would probably never be found.

The only thing that really hasn’t changed is my love of genealogy. I still enjoy researching and working on all phases of genealogy, although I’ve yet to really dive back into it over the last few weeks.

I have returned to bible study with renewed enthusiasm. Last year I bought many good study bibles and commentaries that basically just sat on the shelf. That has now changed.

When I use the term ‘bible study’ I am referring to different things. I lump many things together under ‘bible study’ including reading the bible, researching different topics, reading various books, reading the bible, comparing bible translations, listening to sermons and lectures, and even listening to songs. Perhaps this isn’t a truly ‘bible study’ blog; however, that’s what I’m calling it. It also includes quiet time in prayer and reflection. I’ve done quite a bit of that over the past month.

Prayer2.jpgPrayer is one of the most interesting topics I know of. I have several books on prayer and am just starting to read them. Some are classics, like E.M. Bounds books on prayers. I find this to be a fasinating subject, and one that I really haven’t done or explored beforehand. (NOTE: eSword has a feature which allows you to post various prayer requests along with the type of prayer request, etc. It is a nice feature.)

I’ve included two print screens of the prayer feature within the eSword software. As you can see you can list anything you want, including a short description, along with a detailed explanation. You can also print out your prayer requests and assign different codes (types of prayer) to each entry. I like the way this works in eSword.

In addition to studying prayer, I’m going to begin a study of the book of Matthew. Nora bought me several good commentaries on Matthew last year, plus several other commentary collectiions on the entire bible.

I figure Matthew is a good place to start. From there I’ll work through the New Testament, then possibly start the Old Testament, although only the first five books of the Old Testament, plus Proverbs, really seem to interest me.

My Father’s Death & It’s Effect On Me

As stated before, my father’s death has had an effect on me. While I deeply mourn his passing, I’ve taken a good look at myself. I don’t like some of what I see.

This isn’t going to be easy to write publically about, but to me it might serve in my healing process.

Over the past several years, I’ve spent much time at my place in West Virginia. Nearly every ‘free’ weekend and all vacations were spent there. I certainly enjoyed my second home, but now realize that I spent far too much time there. Time that would have been better spent with my parents.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not feel that I grew apart from my father or that we had any ‘issues’. There were none. Everything was fine between us; however, I missed spending some quality time with him.

My Dad and I used to go to lodge together on a fairly regular basic when I first joined the Masonic fraternity. This was especially true when I joined the York Rite Chapter, as we’d go to a dinner, then meeting of Baltimore Royal Arch Chapter #40. These dinners eventually stopped, but we had a ball. Other times, we’d either go to his lodge (at the time), Doric #124, or my lodge, Palestine #189. A few years ago, Dad demitted to Palestine. We’d go on several bus trips a year sponsored by various lodges and use to have a great time. Also, we’d go to Bonnie Blink for the ‘Cornhusking’ event. After I bought in West Virginia, I stopped going. Up until that time, we had gone for about twelve years straight. I regret that now and always will. He looked forward to that event and only missed a few times in his 53 years as a Mason.

Attending lodge in general is difficult for me. Nora and I get up very early. It is difficult for me to stay out until 11 PM, then get up at 4:34 AM to go to work. But, I could have tried. We could have spent more time together. I’ve never have that time back.

As I look back, I realize we still did quite a few things together, but didn’t get together as much as I could have, or would have liked to.

To a certain extent I feel I was somehow selfish with my time. I made sure I had the time to do certain things I really wanted to do. But, I didn’t spent as much time doing things I should have been doing. Much of that is because of the second home in West Virginia. When you’re putting out close to $20,000 a year in mortgage and other related expenses, you somehow feel that you need to be there every free minute. That was stupid on my part. Nora tried to point this out to me several times and I didn’t listen.

This won’t be happening in the future. The house in West Virginia is being sold for various reasons. One is to free up some money. By selling the WV home, we can pay off the house in Baltimore and be mortgage free. By selling the WV home, we will also have the money to take some nice vacations each year – ones we’ll be taking my mother on. Her and Dad loved to travel. Now she’ll travel with us.

I spent nearly every minute with my Dad during his final weeks. Even though he was failing, I realized how much I missed his constant companionship. Even though I knew the end was near, I enjoyed being with him, even in his roughest moments. He gave everything he could to me. It was my only opportunity to do something for him. I know he appreciated everything Nora and I did for him. He told us so several times in the last few weeks.

By selling the WV home, we’ll be able to spend more time with my Mom, Nora’s Dad, and other friends and family. That is more important than anything.

There are a few other items I learned about my father. He really was a gentleman; very kind and caring. He lived and died with grace and dignity caring more about others, than about himself. I told my father before he died, I wanted to be more like him. I meant that and told him so, knowing I didn’t possess some of his qualities.

For a man who never belonged or went to church for his entire adult life, he showed higher qualities than most ministers or priests. He really was a great guy, loved and respected by all who met him. It is something that I need to work on.

I believe that through prayer and a constant attention to my words and actions; someday, I might be on the same road he was on. No one has ever told me that I was alot like my Dad.

He was the one man I looked up to in life. I’ll spend the entire rest of my life trying to walk in his footsteps, knowing that I’ll trip up many times.

Prayer and bible study might help me with my first steps. I know right from wrong. I’m not a stupid person. But, I want to be more like my father – kind and gentle in all areas. I have some sharp edges that need smoothing. My loud mouth is the first place to start. The journey begins.