Tag Archives: life

DAD’S MESSAGE TO ME 38 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH

With Father’s Day 2018 approaching, it is natural for many of us to think about our dads. Some of us only have cherished memories of days long gone, and others are blessed to still have the opportunity to visit and/or talk to their dads on earth.

I happen to fall into the category of having fond memories of my dad from long, long ago, so I want to share a true story about a message I received last week—thirty-eight years after his death in 1980.

Before I share the story, I have a simple question. Do you believe in God-winks—those surreal situations where you experience something akin to divine intervention?

Some folks tend to brush-off such situations as mere coincidences, but if you’re a person of faith, you probably understand how special God-winks can be. I certainly do because I’ve experienced them—many times in recent years. I feel sure some of you have also had such experiences

For those who do not believe in God or God-winks, please keep reading before your close your mind completely to the possibility that God-winks may be far more than mere happenstances.

+++++ The Story +++++

I was twenty-seven when my father had his first heart attack and could no longer work—he was forty-nine. Unable to exert himself physically, he started tinkering with lightweight metal sheeting—copper, tin, etc. in his workshop.

After Dad’s fourth heart attack in 1980, God called him home to the big workshop in the sky. Dad was fifty-four-years young.

I struggled to understand why God called Dad home at such a young age. Dad had so much more goodness to give others. I prayed many times for God to help me understand, but all I received was silence. I soon became frustrated—one might even say angry, which severely challenged my faith. The big unanswered “WHY?” question clouded my sense of being for many years.

A few months after Dad’s funeral, my mother asked me to get rid of things in Dad’s workshop. The task proved to be more emotionally difficult than I could have ever imagined. Still in a state of numbness from Dad’s passing, I packed items in a few boxes and gave some to family and friends.

I kept a few of Dad’s tools only to have them stolen in 2005 when some “kindhearted soul” stole my truck with Dad’s tools on-board. Those tools held many memories, and every time I used one, I thought of Dad and smiled.

Now, fast-forward to 2011—the year I felt the “call” to write my first novel, If Tigers Were Angels: With God All Things Are Possible. Trust me when I say, I had never in my life had any desire to write a manuscript, let alone publish a book. However, “something” kept prodding me to write the story. I tried to ignore this strange “calling” only to find myself involuntarily pounding away on the keyboard one evening. The rest is history as new ideas kept popping into my head and I couldn’t stop writing, even though I had no idea where the story was going—something was leading my thoughts from one chapter to the next.

The result of this mysterious joint effort produced a story about a middle-aged man who received messages from God through an unlikely source—a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. If you care to get a better understanding of the story, please go to the Amazon.com “Look inside” feature about the book.

In the last chapter of my novel, I describe an actual encounter I had with a real Tiger Swallowtail when I suffered writer’s block in the middle of writing the story. It was one of the most surreal moments in my life to that point. The book’s cover photo is the actual Tiger that appeared that day. My experience is one I hope I never forget.

In late May 2018, I started cleaning out my garage. A task long overdue, but in the process, I found a box marked Dad’s Stuff. The box had remained closed since 1980 and I had no idea what was inside. I hesitated to open the box for fear of revisiting some sad times. However, I felt compelled to open it—pushed, as if some force was urging me to break the seal.

The first item I saw in the box was a copper figure of a Tiger Swallowtail perched on a leaf (see photo). My eyes quickly swelled with moisture as I thought of Dad having made the Tiger. I wondered if Dad had received messages from a Tiger after his heart attacks. Could it be that the “call” I sensed to write my novel came from Dad? Could Dad have made the Tiger to convey a special message to me thirty-eight years later? Could Dad’s copper Tiger be a “God-wink” moment for me?

The naysayers of the world will likely say it was a silly coincidence and I’m a fool to think otherwise, but I believe that’s wrong. I have no doubts it was a special moment of divine intervention and ranks as the most surreal moment in my life. I’m feeling blessed to have discovered Dad’s special gift and understand his message of inspiration.

My only regret is it took me so long to find Dad’s gift that was literally right under my nose for years. After struggling for thirty-eight years to understand the answer to my “Why?” question about Dad’s early departure, I am finally at peace. I sincerely believe God used Dad’s copper Tiger as a messenger to tell me who guided me through the writing of my novel—it was Dad. It’s nice to know you’re still watching over me. Thank you for your guidance, wisdom, caring, and love!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad, and to all who are blessed to wear the title—FATHER.

+++++ The End +++++

If you have been kind enough to follow my blog, aTimeinLife, I am truly thankful for your support. I hope you have found the blog’s content inspirational, motivational, and heartwarming—maybe even interesting. If you’re not following my blog, I invite you to signup—it’s free!

Blessings to all…

Tom Tatum – Author – 2018

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

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

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UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

Some pictures truly are worth a thousand words, and this one ranks high on the list of those that do.

The unconditional love portrayed in this print (Who Do You Love) by artist, Fred Morgan, warms my heart twice each day. The print hangs on the wall of my bedroom, so I have the pleasure of seeing it first thing every morning and last thing at night.

Every brushstroke radiates kindness, tenderness, and warmth between old and young. The rugged exterior of the man seems to belie the delicate beauty and innocence of the children. Yet, that contrast actually allows the warmth of their hearts to explode from the surface of the canvas in a perfect expression of unconditional love.

You see, I am the grandfather of five and this print serves to remind me how important it is to share the same unconditional love with my grandchildren as this “ole man” is doing—and it works.

I hope the print has this same effect on you. If it does, I encourage you to visit the website below to view more of Mr. Morgan’s paintings. Each print depicts warmth, kindness, and love.

https://www.art.com/gallery/id–a2213/frederick-morgan-posters.htm

Enjoy every moment and have a great day—share some unconditional love!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2018

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.

+++++

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

EVERYONE’S LIFE STORY IS WORTH SHARING

No matter how famous or

unknown we might be,

everyone has a life story worth

sharing. Although yours and mine

may not be as unique or as

interesting as some others, we can

rest assured that our life stories

are equally as  important as all of

 the others because every life story

begins exactly the  same way.

“God created…”

 

Tom Tatum – Author – 2018

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

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor 

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

What do you see in your mind’s eye when you pray or talk to yourself during difficult or good times in your life? I bet you see something, even if it’s total darkness—you still see something, but likely do it without thinking about what you see.

I know it’s a crazy question? In reality, it’s an appropriate question for everyone, regardless of their spiritual preferences or lack thereof. Whether you pray and believe in a power greater than yourself, don’t pray because you believe you possess superior intellect over all things, or fall somewhere between the two is a choice you have the right to make. Whatever your situation, you probably do talk to or pray to “something” when facing difficult situations in your life—it’s called thinking. I’m not trying to change or challenge your beliefs at all. I simply want you to consider all possibilities…

It’s probably a question you have never been asked or even considered before now. You’re not alone because most people haven’t. In fact, I may be one of few people on earth asking the question.

Okay, so exactly why am I asking such a question? Well, it’s simple—I enjoy thinking outside-the-box. Obviously, there is no right or wrong answer, so don’t be concerned. There will not be a pass-fail test given at the end of this post. I just want you to think about the question based on your personal situation, so please keep reading. It will only take a few minutes, and I promise it will not harm or judge you in any way.

What do you see…,” is a question I ask when I speak to groups. I get some interesting facial expressions and responses cover a broad spectrum ranging from total darkness to detailed images. All answers are interesting, but one that does give me pause is, “I don’t waste time praying to a fictitious character.” I acknowledge the response, but I never push my personal beliefs on anyone. I simply inform, observe, and recognize that everyone has the right to choose how they cope with life. However, that particular response is a suitable topic for a whole different discussion.

Let’s get back to the point of this post. When the shock of my question wears off, the initial responses are typically, “I’ve never thought about it before,” or “I don’t see anything.” When folks think about it for a moment, the answers tend to become a bit more descriptive. To be fair, it is somewhat of an unusual question and not likely to come up in general conversations with friends. Therefore, I invite you to think about the question in private for a few moments. You may be surprised by what you actually do/don’t see or you may start visualizing something in the future. Either way, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

When I started thinking about the storyline for my first novel, I did a lot of soul searching. When I asked myself the question, I realized I was actually seeing the same thing each time I prayed. It was an image from long ago when I started attending church as a young boy. Although buried deep in my subconscious, the image of a stained-glass window formed a lasting impression on me. This image allows me to feel as though I’m having a private conversation with a friend—albeit a very special and most powerful friend.

So, what exactly do I see when I pray? Well, first I visualize the stained glass window from my youth—an image of Jesus. As I continue praying, I usually see the faces of those for whom I’m praying and revert back to the stained-glass image as I finish my prayer. The image itself is surreal for me and puts my mind at ease. It works very well for me.

Stain Glass Jesus Picture 2x2

Whether you see an image or total darkness as you pray or talk to “whomever,” the important thing is that you do it. You may not receive the things or results you ask for, or even understand the answers. You may even feel as though your prayers are going unanswered, but I believe God hears all our prayers. He will respond in His time, and in His way. He knows what is best for us, so we must be patient.

For those who do not believe in God, He still “hears” your thoughts. I wish you the best in whatever way you cope with life’s difficulties. As I said in the beginning, I will never brow-beat you to do as I do, but I will still pray that you come to know Him someday.

By the way, I see that same stained-glass image when I give thanks everyday for the many blessings I have received.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2017

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

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

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THE BULLYING OF “NERD” WILLIAMS

Sometimes life places us in situations to challenge and teach us valuable lessons about the real world. My name is Clyde “Clutch” Lawson, and I have experienced such challenges in my life. I’m sharing this story for the youth of today so they may benefit and learn from the things that happened to me. Those who are of a more “mature” age will probably relate to most of what I have to say; you may have had similar experiences in your life.

It all started when I was a junior in high school. I was a three-sport-super star back in the day and my fellow classmates nicknamed me “Clutch” because of my athletic prowess. I seemed to be the player who was always involved in key moments on the field or court. Articles appearing in the sports section of local and statewide newspapers were constantly mentioning my name in their write-ups, and touted “Clutch” Lawson as the hero of the team. The tag of five-star athlete started surfacing and college recruiters were in hot pursuit. My 6’4” 220-pound physique must have excited the college coaches just a bit.

All the hype was actually embarrassing because I was really a shy-quiet-humble kid who just loved playing sports. I happened to excel in the sports I played—God had truly blessed me with some remarkable physical skills. First, and foremost though, I was a team player. I felt my teammates should have been sharing the spotlight with me. They certainly deserved it as their efforts made me look good on many occasions. Unfortunately, the media attention was out of my control. All I ever wanted to do was play ball—any kind. I loved competing and having the opportunity to use my God-given talents to help the TEAM win.

Bob “Nerd” Williams was one of four-hundred junior classmates at Greenburg High School, so named for the small South Carolina town of Greenburg. Nerd was a good nickname for Bob because that’s what everyone in our class thought he was. His thick-black-frame glasses and the pocket-protector in his shirt were the culprits that led to us calling him Nerd. Add to that, Nerd was a small-framed kid, standing about 5’6” tall and weighing no more than a whopping 120 pounds.

To say Nerd was not very athletic would be stating the obvious. He struggled to keep pace in our physical education (PE) classes no matter what we were playing. When we picked sides for teams, Nerd was always the last one selected, and I was usually one of the first. I could sense Nerd’s pain as he stood alone waiting for one of the captains to call his name. I had never been in his position, but I sensed his pain. To put it bluntly, we were bullying him.

I finally came to my senses one day in PE class. I was one of the captains that day and my first selection was Nerd. His face lit up as if I had selected him to be on an Olympic basketball team. All the other boys gasped and started laughing about my selection. They started making snide comments about Nerd and then began chanting “Loser! Loser! Loser! Clutch picked a loser!”

I saw Nerd’s shoulders slump and his smile vanished as if the hand of worthlessness had slapped him for no good reason. The volley of insults hurt him deeply. Without hesitating, I shouted, “Knock it off guys! Let’s play some basketball. We’ll soon find out who the big losers are. Let’s take it to ‘em Bob! We can do this!”

In that moment, all my athletic successes in life seemed insignificant to me. I realized the true emotional pain that others suffer in a world where winning and being the best in athletics were more important than an individual’s worth or character. From that point forward, my compassion for others began to change. God may have blessed me with athletic talents, but He also blessed people like Bob with special intellectual talents also.

Well, Bob and I didn’t win the basketball game that day, but I learned a lot about myself. I took a stand against bullying, and in a small way, made a difference in the life of a fellow student. I did it not to seek glory, but because it was the right thing to do. For that, I am grateful because I experienced something more important than winning a silly basketball game—I found a new friend.

Bob and I went our separate ways after graduating, and as is often the case, we had little contact in the years that followed. He attended an Ivy League school and I went on to play college and professional baseball. When I retired, I started travelling around the country giving motivational speeches at high schools and universities. Many of my speeches recounted the story of that special day I stood up for Bob many years ago. I couldn’t help but smile each time I mentioned it as I remembered how happy Bob was to hear me call his name first that day.

I was in the middle of a speech at a high school in Maryland when I felt a sharp pain in my chest and collapsed on stage. The alert staff called 911 and an ambulance transported me to the local hospital. I obviously don’t remember anything that happened after I collapsed, but I do remember waking up in the intensive care unit the following day.

I was pretty much out of it when I heard a voice saying, “Wake up, Clutch. Clutch, open your eyes.”

Standing beside my bed was Dr. Bob “Nerd” Williams with a big smile on his face—the cardiologist who had saved my life the day before.

I thank God every day for placing someone like “Nerd” in my life. I now fully understand that as we go through life, what we do for others while seeking nothing in return are some of the best things we can ever do. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right because it may save your life one day many years later.

STOP THE BULLYING!

Blessings to all,

Tom Tatum – Author – 2017

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

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

THIS DAY IS DONE

dayisdone2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THIS DAY IS DONE

Although this day is done,

Each hour was filled with fun.

I’m sad to say goodbye,

But really don’t know why.

 

If God gives me one more,

I’ll feel blessed to my core.

But should this be my last,

I thank Him for  my past.

 

I tried to served Him well;

His word I sought to tell.

When He judges my soul,

His hand I pray to hold.

 

If you feel the same way,

You know of what I say.

If His light shines through you,

Others may know Him too.

 

Blessings to you and yours,

Tom Tatum – Author – 2017

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

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

 LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels