Tag Archives: character

PROMISES

It is not the promises we make that count…

It is the promises we keep that matter most.

Someone is counting on you today. Don’t disappoint them. You can make a difference in their life if you are willing to try!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

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ONE ROCK TOO MANY

We can find ourselves in the middle of difficult situations when we least expect it—situations that push us beyond the boundaries of a calm, peaceful existence and challenge the very fiber of our being. When faced with such situations, we learn just how strong or brave we actually are.

The truth of the matter is that when it comes to defining brave things done, life gets a bit convoluted. What some people view as an act of bravery others may view as an act of stupidity.

When it comes to acts of bravery, I could tell you the bravest thing I’ve ever done happened the moment I rushed into a burning house and saved a child trapped inside—but that never happened.

I could tell you the bravest thing I’ve ever done happened when I pulled an elderly man from a wrecked vehicle just before his car burst into flames—but that never happened either.

What I’m saying is my journey in life has been mundane to this point, but that’s not all bad. God blessed me with many situations that taught me moral values and helped build my character in ways I didn’t understand until long after they occurred.

You see, brave things are not always about saving someone’s life or going where no man has gone before. Brave things are often about ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the face of difficult situations—situations that may be difficult only for them and no one else.

The following true story is a perfect example of performing brave acts:

ONE ROCK TOO MANY

I grew up with a passion for baseball. When I was ten-years old, you would find me playing baseball with neighborhood kids at the nearby vacant lot or in my backyard tossing rocks into the air and hitting them with a stick—any kind of stick became a bat as seen in the photo below.

My stick bat

Sometimes, I would venture across the street and hit rocks from a hill on a corner lot located in front of my house. There were a gazillion rocks there just waiting for me to hit them. I would pick one up, toss it into the air, and whack it down the street while pretending to be a major leaguer smashing the game-winning home run.

I remember picking up a nice-smooth rock one day and hitting it high into the air. I must have pulled it a little too far to the left because when it came down, it went right into the rear glass of a car parked on the street in front of my neighbor’s (Mr. Carr) house. There was a loud crashing noise as the rock shattered the glass into a million pieces. I immediately had a sick feeling in my belly. I knew I was in big, big trouble.

I ran home to tell my mother what happened. I never even thought about lying or trying to get away with what I had done. I owned up to the biggest mistake of my young life. Mama immediately called my dad at work to tell him about the situation. He asked to speak to me and my belly hurt even more.

I told him exactly what I had told Mama—every gut-wrenching detail of my one rock too many. Dad asked if anyone had seen it happen and I told him no. He instructed me to go back to Mr. Carr’s house immediately and tell him what I had done. Then he said the words that almost made my heart stop beating, “I’ll deal with you when I get home from work.”

I never dreamed I would have to go by myself to tell Mr. Carr that I had broken the glass and then have Daddy “deal” with me later. Fear was having a party in my head and I was the guest of honor. I could sense my life was about to end.

I got to Mr. Carr’s house and started walking up the steps to the front door. There must have been a thousand steps up to that door. At least it took me about that long to make it up to the porch level. In reality, I think there were only five steps up to the front door.

I knocked lightly on the door with hopes no one would hear. Unfortunately, the door opened and a man as large as Goliath stood in the doorway looking down at me. He was every bit of ten feet tall with a ferocious look in his eyes that would make a lion run away with its tail tucked between its legs. I knew my life was definitely about to end; I would never be able to play baseball again.

He opened the storm door slowly and asked me how he could help me. I wanted to tell him to go back into the house, but knowing that was not an option, I pointed to the car out front and started telling the tale of one rock too many. The words came out of my mouth very slowly as I told him what I had done. He said he had heard a loud noise but did not know what it was at the time.

We walked out to the car to see the results of my errant rock. The rear glass was in a million pieces and my rock was sitting on the trunk of the car. The very rock I wished I had never picked up.

The first thing Mr. Carr asked was why I had done that to his new car. I tried to explain that it was an accident and I didn’t mean to do it. I could tell he wanted to put me over his knee and let me have it, but he didn’t do that. It would probably have been better for me if he had.

We talked for a few more minutes but I don’t remember exactly what we discussed. I was too scared at that point. At the end of our verbal exchange, he asked if my parents were home, and if they knew what I had done. I told him Mama was home, but Daddy was still at work. Mr. Carr said he would talk to my dad when he got home.

I then returned to my house. It felt like it took three weeks for Daddy to get home. I was in “death-row” agony for hours. The waiting and waiting was horrible because I could not imagine what was going to happen next.

I saw Daddy pull into the driveway. He walked into the house and I explained everything again. It was not any easier this time. He did not say a word the whole time I was talking—he just nodded his head several times. When I finished my tale of woe, Daddy said he was going to talk to Mr. Carr and told me to stay in the house until he returned.

Dad was gone for what seemed like a month, but when he finally returned, he called me over to him. He said lets go to the backyard. I realized the time for a spanking was at hand. I figured he didn’t want Mama to hear me yelling as the paddle made home-run-contact on my rear end—multiple times!

As we were walking to the backyard, Daddy asked me what I thought my punishment should be. I wanted to tell him that I had already suffered enough and he didn’t need to punish me, but I figured he wouldn’t agree with that suggestion. So, I just said, “I don’t know.”

We walked to the tool shed in our back yard and Daddy picked up a huge bucket. He told me he was very sad that I had broken the glass in the neighbor’s car, but he was very proud of me for being brave enough to tell Mama what I had done. He said I had acted like a mature man by telling the truth in the midst of a very difficult and scary situation for a ten-year-old boy.

Unfortunately, Daddy told me that in spite of my bravery, he still had to punish me for what I had done. My punishment was to pick up every rock in the yard and put them into the big bucket he was holding. When I finished, he wanted to see all of the rocks I had collected.

I did as Dad instructed and then showed him the bucket of rocks. The final phase of my punishment was to bury all of the rocks in the corner of the backyard in a very deep hole that I had to dig.

I never knew what happened between Mr. Carr and Daddy, or what they discussed. I was just glad my “rock” ordeal was over. It was a long time before I ever picked up another rock or hit one with a stick. Thank goodness for me, rocks were actually hard to find because I had removed at least a million of them from the yard.

Yes, I eventually hit rocks again, but I always made sure there was nothing around me that I could break. I did not want to go through this nightmare ever again.

As a ten-year-old boy, I had bravely faced a bad situation and learned a valuable life-lesson that has served me well for many years. I confessed what I had done and accepted full responsibility for my actions. I didn’t try to run away and hide, nor did I try to put the blame on others. I bravely accepted my punishment. In the end, a bad situation yielded very good results.

My dad was obviously a very wise man to handle the situation the way he did. I am sure he was much more upset (mad) with me than he appeared. Fortunately, his method of punishment and the words he said to me left a permanent and lasting impression. Although a spanking would have hurt, the pain would not last as long as the lesson I learned. He was compassionate, yet firm with me. His method of handling the situation and the life-lesson I learned that day served me well in my adult life as I dealt with my own children.

Daddy was a special man of high moral character and I consider myself blessed that he was my dad.

Dad and me

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Blessings to all…

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

YOUR CHARACTER YOUR LIFE

As an author of novels, I do what authors do—I create characters and try to weave them into an interesting story. The characters for each story come from my past experiences or are created with personalities that fit the needs of each story.

I want you to give some thought about YOU—your character—your role in life. If I was to include you as a character in my next novel, should I make you the protagonist, antagonist or would you be more comfortable with having a minor, supporting role?

You don’t need to tell me your preferences. I just want you to pause and reflect on YOU—your life—the role you are currently playing.

In real life, you are in control of you. You actually get to choose the role you play. I sincerely hope you are happy with your role in life and don’t want to change anything.

If you’re not satisfied, there’s nothing wrong with making adjustments to change the character you play in the future. After all, isn’t the goal in life to be happy while making others feel good about themselves.

Choose the role you play and give it your best. It’s your life story—make it meaningful! Enjoy every moment you have and have no regrets in the end.

Be a blessing to others in all you do!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

SMALL AND BIG BUT CHALLENGES IN LIFE

Given a choice on the size of our BUT challenges in life, most people would likely choose small because small BUTs don’t usually pose too much of a problem for us. We notice them, but we just keep moving on with life as usual. Such BUTs seem to be more like an irritating pinprick rather than a life-changing event.

However, BIG BUT challenges are very different. Some can be so BIG that they cause us to make life-altering adjustments—they can even pull us down into a deep depression if we are not careful.

I am confident everyone realizes that I’m not referring to the size of derrières. Instead, I’m taking dead-aim at the simple-three-letter word used in the middle of sentences that begin by making you feel wonderful about yourself and then proceed to kick you with a mid-sentence BIG BUT.

It’s amazing how BIG BUT challenges can often crush our hopes and dreams in life if we’re not careful. Trying to rebound from such BIG BUT challenges can be a very difficult task for many of us. Life can be very cruel at times.

Here are two simple (not life threatening) examples illustrating how two individuals handled their BIG BUT challenge.

BIG BUT CHALLENGE #1

John tried out for his high school varsity baseball team when he was a freshman. Up to that point in his life, John had made every team he had ever tried to make. His confidence was running high this time for good reason, so he naturally thought making the varsity team would be no different.

The final-cut day of tryouts arrived. The coach approached John after practice ended and with a solemn expression said, “John, I know you have worked hard during practices and you have a lot of potential, BUT you did not make the varsity team this year. I hope you will work hard and try again next year.”

The first part of the coach’s sentence had John’s heart pounding in anticipation of having made the team. Thoughts of being a starting pitcher on the varsity team danced in his mind. Then, that all-powerful-ego-deflating BIG BUT came swooping down out of nowhere and kicked his dream in the dirt.

John struggled a long time trying to bounce back from the disappointment that followed the coach’s BUT-kick. Unfortunately, he eventually gave up on his dream and never played baseball again. John let his BIG BUT challenge defeat him. 

BIG BUT CHALLENGE #2

Bill Jones, was a cadet in the Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) in college and dreamed of becoming a pilot when he graduated in 1971. His goal was to serve his country as a fighter pilot. Bill easily passed all of the required written course work and looked forward to the opportunity to earn his wings. He faced one last obstacle in his efforts to continue on the long path of making his dream a reality—pass the physical examination.

After Bill’s examination, the Detachment Commander summoned Bill to his office the following day. Without any hesitation or empathy, the Commander said, “Cadet Jones, you are an outstanding cadet with great credentials and have done well in all your course work, BUT I must inform you that your eyesight does not meet minimum acceptable standards to become a pilot in the United States Air Force. Your application to continue flight training has been denied.”

Bill couldn’t believe what he had just heard. He was in shock realizing his dream of soaring with eagles had been BUT kicked from the sky before he ever even had a chance to spread his wings and soar.

Fortunately, Bill had the mental toughness and character to recover from his BIG BUT challenge and continued his education. He became a successful aerospace engineer and went to work for the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. He was instrumental in designing systems that helped land astronauts on the moon. Though Bill couldn’t get off the ground, his efforts helped others soar to new heights.

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I could go on and on giving more examples of BIG BUTs because I have received many of them in my personal life. Most were extremely difficult to process. I reached a point in life where every time someone threw a new BIG BUT my way, I wanted to scream. I viewed the small word, BUT, as a giant killer of dreams!

My personal BIG BUTs in life taught me that I couldn’t let them defeat me the way they did John in his challenge above. I reached a time in life when I started believing I had only two practical options—attempt to do better the next time I tried or move on with my life and start pursuing different dreams. It’s just that simple!

Even though future BIG BUTs may hurt me to the core of my being, I now treat them as nothing more than aggravating detours in life. Either they show me a new path to my original dream or they open my eyes to other opportunities or new dreams that are also worth pursuing.

In summary, the best advice I can share about BIG BUT challenges in life is:

NEVER, EVER LET THE BIG BUTS IN LIFE DEFEAT YOU!

May your BUT challenges in life always be small!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2018

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

YOUR DASH IN LIFE

I recently attended the Celebration of Life service of a friend who was a loving father and devoted grandfather. A man of character who was loved by his family and friends.

It was a dreary-rainy day as my wife and I arrived at the chapel. Naturally, the tears falling from the gray skies added to the somber mood of the occasion. Then, as if queued by the words the minister was extolling, I noticed the stained glass windows begin to brighten—a clear indication the clouds were parting and God was shining His light down on a life once lived.

The timely transition from rain to sunshine in a matter of minutes was inspiring, but it was the message delivered by the minister that grabbed my attention most. I have heard the message many times before, and you probably have too. However, it never hurts to have a little reminder.

The minister began by praising my friend and then started explaining the meaning of the DASH that appears between the two dates on a tombstone. I am paraphrasing his words, but the essence of his message was this:

There are two dates on a tombstone. The first date is the day a person’s life began. The second date is the day that life ended. Both dates are important, but what matters most is the DASH placed between them.

TombstoneDash1A

You see, that DASH is not simply a short line carved in stone; it represents a person’s entire life. It contains all the things done and the dreams for a future left undone. It holds the memories family and friends will cherish as they grow to accept the loss of a loved one.

Though that DASH may look the same to the casual observer, it has a different meaning for each person who had an opportunity to share moments in the life it represents.

As we gather here today to celebrate a DASH, we are also making our own DASH in life. Therefore, I ask you, what memories will your DASH represent for those you leave behind? What memories will they have about you when your DASH appears between two dates? Will they be good memories? I pray your answer is yes.

Although, we cannot control what others remember about us, we can control the things we do in life and how we treat others.

As you leave this chapel today, I want you to think about your DASH. One day you will be a memory for your family and friends. Try to leave them with good memories by making your DASH in life the best it can be.

May God be with each of you as you continue making your DASH in life.

Certainly something worth thinking about.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2016

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor  LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

AND THE EDITOR SAID…

I received the following comment from the editor who worked on my manuscript ON GREEN DIAMONDS: PURSUING A DREAM. The editor did not have to send the comments to me, nor did he/she receive additional compensation for doing so. Yes, the editor also made some helpful suggestions that enhanced the story, which were incorporated into the published novel. Nice to work with someone who appreciates the content of a story and is willing to share their thoughts! Feeling blessed!

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Editor

“The manuscript was a joy to read and it warmed the heart. The straightforward way of telling the story was great, and it was pretty much on point—some stories go into tangents, but this one never does, so the narrative felt solid throughout. It was well written and easy to read, qualities which are always a plus. Thank you for sharing this story. I enjoyed it very much. All the best!”

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ON GREEN DIAMONDS FRONT

Unfortunately, due to my publisher’s internal policies, I cannot reveal the name of the editor who shared the comments without getting him/her reprimanded. However, the manuscript is now a published novel and is available for purchase from the majority of online bookstores. Get a copy and see if the editor got it right. The book comes in paperback, hardback, and eBook formats.

As always, I thank you for your support—enjoy the story. Please don’t forget to share your honest comments!

Blessings,

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels