Let us pray
I recently received an email from a reader asking if I would ever consider writing about God.
I was thankful for the email and explained I felt God and religion were private matters and, since my writing is for public consumption, I write from a secular perspective. I don’t write to persuade people to believe what I believe. I write weekly about my experiences and perspectives hoping they may offer a reader– my children, a friend, former students, a stranger–some companionship on this strange and scary yet glorious and amazing human journey.
The inspiration for this post began at 7:05 a.m. when the chainsaws awoke.
My eyes and ears blinked open. Staring at the ceiling I tried to count chainsaws outside my bedroom window. There must have been 4 or 5 tearing through the limbs of a neighbor’s tree.
For a moment, I thought about sliding on my slippers, gingerly walking down the steps, grabbing Clark Able, limping across the dewy suburban lawns, and confronting the 4 or 5 chainsaws with a wagging fist, sleep crumbs in my eyes, and untamed bedhead. But confronting four or five running chainsaws didn’t seem like a good idea.
Then I thought about writing a letter to the tree removal company with phrases like “unprofessional behavior” and “disturbing the peace” and “a one-star review on Angie” but then I thought about the effort it would take to open the laptop, open a blank document, compose a well-written letter, print the letter, fold the letter, stuff the letter in an envelope, put a stamp on the envelope, grab Clark Able, shuffle to the mailbox, open the mailbox door, close the door and toss the little red flag on the side of the mailbox skyward, only to have the boss of the tree service open my letter two days later, laugh, toss my well-written letter in the trash, and continue scheduling early morning chainsaw appointments.
The sun warmed the bedroom. And lying there, listening to the chainsaws growl, I was visited by a short prayer I first discovered in Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.
Known as the Serenity Prayer, it’s believed to be authored by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in 1932. Since then, this prayer has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step recovery programs.
The need for total control is one of our many problems. Much of our anxiety and stress stems from our desire to bend the world obedient to our design. The Serenity Prayer reminds us the ease our resistance and accept what we can’t change.
The chainsaws stopped. A bird chirped. Poo-tee-weet. I held my breath. A tree limp creaked and snapped. Leaves caught the air. Thud. I exhaled. And the chainsaws whipped into a frenzy again.
So I laid in bed and praying God would grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change like:
My brain disease
Other people’s opinions
Other people’s behavior
Supreme Court decisions
The courage to change the things I can:
My willingness to get out of bed
My appreciation toward the present day
My breathing pattern
My willingness to forgive
My letting go of the past
The chainsaws stopped. Another tree limb crashed to the ground. In the morning stillness, I pushed aside the blankets, another bird chirped Poo-tee-weet, and I prayed for the Wisdom to always know the difference.
Even though I choose to keep my writing secular, Bedtime Stories for the Living was chosen to be a part of a promotion featuring Christian, Health & Well Being, and Inspirational books.
With titles like 500 Daily Affirmations forAnxiety and Being Yourself Journal, this promo is full of books that strive to provide readers with new and healthier perspectives.
Congratulations to my friend Chris Palmore for recently publishing his 5th book–Gratitude Journey Volume 2. I’m so honored and humbled to have my writing featured in this awesome book. Please check it out!
Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B3GVTN8L
Last Week’s Post: Alchemy Behind the Dugout
During the pause, as Mets fans roared as if snarled in Holland Tunnel traffic, the camera panned to a woman sitting five or six rows behind the Mets dugout. She was wearing a blue Mets hat, black-rimmed glasses, and was quietly reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
Quote of the Week:
If you would like to share something with others (a photo, a poem, a song, a quote, etc.) that tosses some positive vibes into the world, please send your suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Bedtime Stories for the Living recently received not ONE…not TWO…but THREE highly coveted 5-Star ratings from Reader’s Favorite–a highly-respected literary website that reviews books from all over the world!!!
Readers’ Favorite Review by Emma Megan
Jay Armstrong, a high school English teacher, explains in “Bedtime Stories for the Living: A Father’s Funny and Heartbreaking Memoir About The Power of Pursuing Your Dreams” how he was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative brain disease. This striking memoir contains wonderful love letters for each of Jay’s children, beautiful true stories, and precious life lessons and advice. It also contains what Jay never told his kids, what he felt like saying to them but failed as life got in the way. In “Bedtime Stories for the Living”, Jay talks about poetry and books, the importance of writing and its impact on his life, offering aspiring writers valuable writing tips. He also talks about the beauty and the challenges of life, of being a parent, and the difficulty of dealing with a rare disease.
You cannot read this breathtaking memoir and still be ungrateful for your health. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” by Jay Armstrong is the best motivational book I’ve ever read. Jay’s writing style is addictive, mainly because it’s nostalgic, vulnerable, and filled with wisdom and sorrow. In his uniqueness, Jay inspires and encourages not only his children but all his readers to figure out their dreams and to chase the one that brings them joy, to read poetry, and never to ignore their internal voice. He reminds them that they are responsible for how they adapt to change. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” is truly an empowering book as it speaks to the heart and the mind and delivers inspirational life lessons and unique stories. It’s undoubtedly a must-read.
Are you a reader? Looking for your next good book to read or listen to? Check out my new page “Jay’s Book Shelf” for some book recommendations.
Here’s what I’m currently reading: Educated by Tara Westover
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Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, former high school English teacher, and an award-winning author. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. The leader of the Philadelphia Ataxia Support Group, he hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a drink with his friends)
Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time.
You can also visit Jay at jayarmstrongwrites.com