No Small Thing

A few weeks back I discovered that I was missing my favorite windbreaker of all time. I looked everywhere – in my closet; in our vehicles; throughout the house and concluded that I must have left it at a coffee shop or someplace else. Alas, gone forever. However on Tuesday night I had a dream that I found it in my closet just hanging there. On Wednesday I went into my closet to get another jacket and there it was just hanging there like in the dream. Lucy informed me in the evening that she had found it and put it back in the closet. So why the dream? I’ve been pondering its significance since it happened. Is the God of the universe that interested in my trivial matters? Doesn’t He have better things to do? I could’ve lived a very peaceful rest of my life without that jacket, but I think he was trying to send me a message. As best I can tell, the message is that he cares for us even in the trivial matters of our lives, and that He loves us that much, even though I am personally and often a complete mess. I’m certainly grateful to have the jacket back, but I’m completely overwhelmed by His grace to reveal its return to me ahead of time in a dream.

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Excerpt from my new book on The Lord’s Prayer

Chapter 1: Running

During my second semester of my first year at the University of Houston, I began to run away from all the things I had learned about how to be a good Christian. I stopped attending church. I stopped hanging out with my overtly Christian friends. I stopped reading my Bible. And probably worst of all, I stopped praying and talking to God…well almost, but not completely. I found a way to barely hang on to my relationship with him – if only by a slim cord.

There were three distinct reasons why I wandered off. First, I had experienced what to many would have been a positive life changing power encounter with God over the Christmas break.  It was so real, so powerful and so God that I became very frightened. Most Christians might have acted in an opposite manner, but I was afraid. I couldn’t bring myself to actually accept the fact that the God in the Bible – who performed tangible miracles, signs, wonders and supernatural acts, would actually do the same with contemporary Christians. And that he would do so particularly with me was mind blowing. But he had, and it was big and bold, and it scared me half to death. I just wanted to run.

The second thing that happened involved a young woman who had become a close friend of mine and lived in the same dorms on campus. One day she approached me and tearfully shared that she had been sexually harassed by an older man whom I knew. And to make matters even worse, he happened to be a campus minister with a prominent mainstream denomination. She asked me to go with her to report this incident to the higher-ups in the denomination and I agreed to do so.  Unfortunately, it was like talking to a brick wall. There was demonstrable suspicion regarding her claim and no investigation was forthcoming. As a result of this very disappointing experience, I decided that I didn’t really trust organized religion – and it likewise made me want to run.

The third reason related to the fact that I was a young man in my first year at a University and I wanted to party. I wanted to join a social fraternity; drink a lot; meet fun and beautiful women and engage in all ofthe trappings of that lifestyle. So, I ran there, while aggressively dusting off the remnants of my Christian life and feeling somewhat justified by the first two reasons.

All of this is true. I aggressively ran away from God and into a rather worldly lifestyle. However, I did hang on to him by that slim cord I mentioned. The slim cord was The Lord’s Prayer. On the other end of the cord was God, who would eventually use it to pull me back into the fold. But until that happened, I spent years usually ending the day in my own bed; sometimes very drunk but almost always reciting the Lord’s Prayer under by breath. It became my only connection with a former life and a Heavenly Father who very much loved me.

 Available from Amazon:

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How do I Know That the God of the Bible is Real?

In the first part of my life I accepted God’s reality because the authority figures in my life asserted it to be true. These included my parents and grandparents; Sunday school teachers and other adult figures who faithfully believed in God, so I readily accepted that it all must be real.

In the middle part of my life I became more intellectually curious and necessarily turned to theologians, philosophers and scientists who studied history and architecture and provided me with voluminous air-tight reason and scientific evidence regarding the reality of the God of the Bible.

Now in the ‘autumn’ of my life I look back and have personally experienced so much of God‘s tangible and supernatural reality and interventions in my affairs that I have no choice but to believe that the God of the Bible is who he says he is. In fact I no longer really need the experiences or knowledge from the first two parts because my personal experiences of the real God of the Bible have marginalized them to irrelevancy

God is real, and if you’re open to finding him – then he will begin revealing himself to you in ways that are beyond denial. He loves you that much. Continue reading

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My favorite Mama T Story (My maternal grandmother who loved in Cooper, Texas)

I was in the small Northeast Texas town of Cooper often with Mama T and Pop (my grandfather) from ages 2 to 13. I think I was 12 when she died. In fact, I lived with them much of my 3rd grade year while my parents were dealing with my brother Chris Paul and his Cerebral Palsy.

In the summers I would love to go with Pop to his houseboat and run around by myself on his land all day. Sometimes I would take the row boat out in the tank (pond) under Pop’s watchful eye as he fished. I can hardly remember him ever catching anything, but he fished for many hours almost every day. I fell out of the boat a few times, and Pop would yell at me. I think that was the only times he ever yelled at me.

I loved Mama T more than anyone. As with so many of her grandchildren, she would read the Bible to me and she always treated me like I was special and beloved – though she corrected me often whenever I would curse. Curse words to her were “Gosh”, Darn” and” Dang”. I hate to think what she would have said if I ever used real curse words. She would give me a few quarters to go downtown to the old Sparks theater whenever I wanted. And she baked pies! Lots of pies.

I would often go with Mama T to shop at the Piggly Wiggly. She always knew everyone shopping and working there, so she usually spent a long time in the store gossiping and laughing with her friends.

One day I remember first hearing about the concept of false teeth and asked my mom what they were. She explained them to me and sent me in to near shock by informing me that Mama T herself had false teeth! And furthermore, mom informed that she took them out at night and kept them in a glass next to her bed while she and Pop slept. I couldn’t believe all this new information. I eventually filed this startling story away in my brain’s great mysteries file.

On my next trip to Cooper I found myself once again at the Piggly Wiggly with Mama T and she was holding forth with all her friends in the checkout line. There were probably five or six women within earshot of us. Then like a bolt from the blue, I recalled what my mom had told me – “Mama T”, I blurted out. “Is it true that you have false teeth?” All the women including Mama T began to laugh and they could hardly stop! I was suddenly very embarrassed, but they were practically bending over in laughter, and for a long time. When we got home, Mama T started calling some other friends on the phone to recount my public faux pas with much laughter. She would tell the story to anyone around, including other relatives. She had so much fun with that story.

To say that Mama T was unpretentious is an understatement. I think all 23 Pickering cousins were very fortunate to have this kind and loving woman as our grandmother. I for one still miss her.

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The River and The Wall

920x920I spent the last three years of my youth in my hometown of Laredo, Texas living literally a stone’s throw away from Rio Grande/Rio Bravo river. Like so many young people who live on a river, it became a focal point for most of my outdoor activities. I would hunt small animals with my .22 caliber rifle and wander up and down the shoreline with my four dogs in tow. I would fish a lot hoping to someday catch an elusive Alligator Gar, which probably wasn’t very edible but was the closest thing to a river monster in those parts. I would see them sometimes breach the surface of the river and it would give me chills down my spine.

Once, my friend Roly and I were walking along the shore and someone from across the river started shooting at us! We quickly jumped behind a mound of dirt and stayed in place for some time until we decided to make a dash for home. It’s probably a good thing that we didn’t likewise have our own rifles with us, otherwise it might have been an old-fashioned Mexican stand-off. Yikes!

My dogs loved the river as well. Rabbits would regularly dart across and on the trails. Three of the dogs would give chase and the other would get so excited that she just froze up, yelped and peed on the ground. It’s safe to say that she would have never survived in the wild.

It was during those years that I had a spiritual revival in my life, thanks in part to the local Episcopal Church where I attended. I found a special bluff on a ravine just off the river that was hidden from view by large trees. It was there that I would sit for hours and pray and talk to God. It was my own secret hideout. I wonder if it’s still there.

I had access to an old beat up aluminum canoe, and my friends and I would travel in it several miles upriver and all the way to the power plant where we would lay exhaustively on the shore – regaining our strength and then paddle back home downstream with little exertion. There were actually some small rapids along the way which added to the fun. When we went upstream there were places that were so shallow that we had to carry our canoe a few yards to keep moving. The Rio Grande river is not the Amazon river, that’s for sure!

We would also paddle downstream for many more miles through the middle of town and end up at the Slaughter-Glassford farm which was owned by some of my fellow church members. They were kind enough to allow us to leave a truck there on those days so we could haul the canoe and ourselves back home. Along the way we witnessed people on the Mexico side literally living on the shore in the worst conditions imaginable. Laredo’s sister city, Nuevo Laredo was full of poverty and most Laredoens were often exposed to it when we would shop and dine there, but this was poverty at a different level. I was always shocked to know that it existed so close to where I lived.

Not far from my home was a place where I would often witness Mexicans traversing the river into the United States as illegal aliens. Our southern border was and is a porous one. It’s no wonder that there are an estimated 15 million undocumented/illegal aliens living here. I have very mixed emotions about President Trump’s plan to build a wall. From what I have heard, the shores of Laredo are ground zero for the largest most fortified barriers that are planned.

A river is a magical phenomenon in human society. It molds culture, cities and young men and women such as myself. Just read Mark Twain and you will know this to be true. To the denizens of shores, a river dominates life and culture and very much shapes who we are. My memories of living on the Rio Grande are among my fondest. I hope that many a boy or girl has had the opportunities I have had to thrive along the shore, and sometimes in the river itself.

So here is why I have mixed emotions. On one hand we do need to stop large scale illegal immigration and I suppose the wall will help. On the other hand, once it’s built then only Mexican youth and adults in the future will be able to enjoy the Rio Grande river in the way that I did. And only Mexican youth and adults will be shaped by its sublime and surreal influences on who we are, and what we become. This seems like a real shame to me.
Tom D.

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Our Father

When I was five years old my family lived in a place called San Angelo, a midsized West Texas city where my dad began his career working for the State of Texas, and my mom started out as a school teacher. Not far from our subdivision was O.C. Fisher Lake, which among other benefits, provided a popular recreation area for many San Angoleans, including our family.

I don’t remember much about the lake other than that it was there that I saw a car-boat for the first time, or maybe it was a boat-car. Anyhow the official name for it was an Amphicar. Most were small convertibles with propellers jutting out just below the back bumper. Any fortunate motorist who was in possession of one could drive right off the road and into the lake and putter around like it was normal. To a five year old these cars were fantastic and right out of something  I might read in my many D.C. comic books. And we saw these Amphicars quite often on our lake.

The other O.C. Fisher Lake attraction I recall was a small beach where West Texas families could pretend they were on the French Riviera or the romantic Ipanema as they spread out on the dirt posing as sand. They drank refreshments, sunbathed and often dipped their toes in the water. My parents enjoyed taking me and my brother there often. My brother’s name was Chris Paul. He was only two years old at that time and he suffered from a  severe form of Cerebral Palsy, so he was greatly limited as to what he was able to enjoy on those days at the lake, and sadly for the rest of his life. However he loved splashing in the water with the assistance of my mom and dad.

I likewise loved to play in the water and usually I was well supervised.  However on one particular visit to the lake I managed to tug one of those old thin and flimsy air-filled plastic floating mattresses off of the beach and into the shallow water while my parents napped on their beach towels. Then the fun began. I mostly laid on it face up and allowed the small waves to push me up and down and about the lake. I didn’t yet know how to swim so I was under strict orders to stay near the shore; in the shallows, and away from the deeper water. Other kids were floating about on their own plastic vehicles including a  girl who was probably around eight years old and who sat regally aloft this magnificent plastic air-filled swan like a she was the Queen of O.C. Fisher Lake. I remember envying her swan in comparison to my own very humble maritime craft. She also was in deeper waters so I slowly paddled my way toward her to get a better look of her impressive swan. I eventually reached her and interacted with her as I floated past. It suddenly dawned on me that I was still moving out away from the lake’s shore and I was getting further away from the swan-girl. For the first time in my young life I felt a sense of dread. I could see my parents still napping on the shore and started to call out, ”Daddy, Mommy! Help!” They didn’t move at all. I looked desperately at the swan-girl and she was attempting to paddle my way but couldn’t seem to generate any speed. So I floated and yelled; and floated and yelled.

I started to panic as I saw my parents becoming  visibly smaller on the beach. I was well on my way to the center of the lake. Did I mention that I didn’t know how to swim, and how incredibly flimsy my mattress was? I clung on to it now for dear life.  Suddenly I could hear my parents yelling and screaming and they seemed very far off. My father leapt into the water and swam as hard and as fast as he could toward me all the while yelling “Hang on Tommy! Please hang on! I’m coming! I’m coming!” I remember being terrified,  but I could see my father coming closer and it gave me great hope. Finally, in what seemed like an eternity my father reached my craft; grasped onto me and collapsed across the mattress while be struggled to regain his breath. After he recovered his strength, he managed us back to the shore and into the arms of my crying  mother. In later years he admitted that his swim to rescue me was the most exhausting physical exertion that he had ever experienced in his entire life. And this from a man not long out of the military and duty in the Korean war.

When I read Jesus praying “My Father in heaven” I can’t help but think of my earthly father and how many times he has come to my rescue as if no one, nor nothing else mattered to him apart from his son’s well being. I also observed him pour his life, energy and resources exhaustively into my severely disabled brother with little regard for his own comfort, convenience and life circumstance.  As a father myself, I find his example almost impossible to emulate even with my own beloved sons. In Matthew 7:11 Jesus says,

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

My father has never seemed very evil to me, but like all of us he is a flawed sinner. Jesus’ point being that if you can trust a flawed sinner, then how much more can you trust your perfect Father in heaven.  

My brother died in 1994 and he was virtually a vegetable all of his life. However he would laugh with glee everytime my father came into his sight. He adored his flawed daddy, as do I. And so did Jesus adore his absolutely perfect daddy. So much so that he did only what his father led him to do for the entire thirty three years that he walked on earth. He even died a horrendous death on the cross only because his Father asked him to do so.

I don’t think it’s by chance that Jesus starts The Lord’s Prayer with addressing God as Our Father. That’s the primary way that Jesus addressed him throughout his life and ministry. And as you will soon read there is something very, very significant about the concept of father as a role model and a archetype for God.  It will become obvious as to why Jesus chooses to reference  his Father as our Father. What a mind-blowing privilege that is.

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Duck Takes – Pond Humor By T.M. Deliganis

Duck Takes
“Pond Humor”

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Important Announcement

I have finally released my new cryptocurrency which I call TomCoin. It took every bit of mathematics I’ve ever learned to develop this. Here is how it works. Send a minimum of $20 to my PayPal I will then convert it into 53,453 of TomCoin units and provide you with a certificate for each $20 you send. The initial benefit to you in this transaction is your ability to now claim to your friends and family that you own at least 53,453 of cryptocurrency. Additional value and benefits to be released in the future. BTW it’s a really nice certificate!

Feel free to share this with your friends!tc

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Religious Narcotics

Karl Marx said “Religion is the opium of the people” A correct statement I think🤔

Personally I believe that an authentic relationship with a living God and with others who posses the same is not a narcotic, but a natural stimulant and the path to true peace of mind and heart. Happy Easter Weekend

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