How I Remember 9/11

The morning of 9/11 I was working for a National Voicemail company that had numbers all over the US… including New York City. I worked the East Coast Shift (6AM – 2PM PST) so about the time the first plane hit I was just getting off the already busy freeway.

When I arrived in the office the phones were relatively quiet but I did notice an unusual amount of calls from the New York area. Once I sat down and looked at the situation it seemed that the New York voicemail box was giving a busy tone to customers. A few had called in about it but the majority of the information was coming from the computer itself. As I called into the voicemail system from a land-line I too got a busy tone. Now a busy tone isn’t always unusual… boxes are computers… which are programmed by humans… which means that from time to time things go wrong and you get a busy signal. There is also a very rare occurrence that will give a busy tone as well: If more than 1000 people try to access their voicemail box at the same time.

Figuring the box just needed to be reset I used an internet connection to manually talk to the box. I was able to get in that way and found out that the box was operating fine… but that the box was busy… as in it was busy because more than 1000 people were calling in at a time. I had only seen it one time before and that was on January 1st, 2000 when the end of the world fever hit and everyone picked up the phone and tried to call their boxes at midnight. I sat there stunned. How could this be?

My answer came in the form of a ringing phone… actually many ringing phones… for it was at that moment that the second plan had hit the South Tower. I was still unaware of the disaster so figured that I was about to have 20-30 angry New Yorkers to deal with. I conjured up my nicest morning voice and began to answer calls… I didn’t stop answering them until 3:00.

My first call went something like this:


CLIFF: Good morning thank you for calling {insert name of company here) how can I help you?

CALLER: Umm yeah I just wanted to see if the voicemail is down because of what is going on at the World Trade Center

CLIFF: Sir I am aware of a problem in New York right now. I’m not sure what’s going on at the World Trade Center.

CALLER: Oh, that’s right you guys are on the West Coast… you haven’t hear yet.

CLIFF: I’m sorry sir, heard what?

CALLER: Well I can’t really believe it myself, but umm… well (he clears his throat) 2 planes have exploded into the World Trade Center here in New York.

CLIFF: (standing up and getting the attention of my co-worker) Two planes have exploded into the World Trade Center?

CALLER: Yeah… this is the most awful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I can see it out my window. I’m watching it here on TV but I’m in downtown… I can see the fire from here.

CLIFF: Well sir, thank you for letting us know that. In regards to the voicemail everyone is trying to call the voicemail box at once, so there is nothing but a busy signal right now.

CALLER: That’s what I figured. Thanks for your help. Is everything quiet out there in LA?

CLIFF: As far as I know… I hope it stays that way.

CALLER: Yeah… me too. Thanks for your help.

CLIFF: My pleasure sir.


As soon as I got off the phone my co-worker already had the radio on (there was no television in our office). The phones kept ringing but we had to hear about what was going on. The radio had less information than my caller. They were still calling them explosions not planes. However, they did say that there were some unconfirmed reports of hijacked airplanes.

The rest of the day I spent on the phone with lots of people trying to retrieve and leave messages for loved ones. Some worked in the Towers and were trying to leave a message to let their loved ones know they were okay. Others had loved ones working in the Towers and were desperately trying to leave messages to see if they were okay. The emotion in their voices was overwhelming… but I knew if I broke down and let it effect me that I would be helping no one.

After staying an hour extra I finally goto in my car and immediately tuned into the radio. I hadn’t been outside all day so everything that was going on was only how I had seen it in my head. As I got on the freeway I finally felt the effects of just what that day had done to us as Americans. The 405 Freeway (usually a parking lot 10 hours out of the day) was almost completely empty. In fact the freeway had been more crowded that morning at 5:25AM then it was at 3:15PM. The final “sign” that all was not as it should be was the freeway alert signs… the read “LAX Airport Closed.” Then it finally hit me…

I pulled over to the side of the road and began sobbing uncontrollably. I had just spoken to people who had died and had spoken to mothers, husbands and parents that would be grieving the loss of a loved one after talking to me. Their voices still haunt me to this day and I will never forget them.

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Time For An Update…

On July 1st, 2019 I arrived in Seattle with my car packed to the brim with a lot of my stuff. It was past 9PM but there was still a little bit of sun on the horizon which was a sign of things to come.

Since I have moved here life has changed for me drastically… and it’s all for the better.

For the first time in my life I have stable income, a stable place to live and a wonderful life partner that is by my side to enjoy.

The first couple of weeks here were very hard while I navigated getting setup with work and figuring out where to live. Fortunately I had amazing AirBNB hosts that allowed me to stay as long as I needed to get settled and get on my feet.

At the end of August my life partner moved up from San Diego to join me was able to find a full time job and a part time seasonal job in under a week after years of slammed doors in LA. As a result we got married on November 5th, 2019 (remember, remember the 5th of November?) at sunset at Kerry Park which overlooks Seattle.

View From Kerry Park

In Mid-November we found an amazing apartment in Greenwood very close to the AirBNB that I was staying at which is very close to downtown and other spots that are busy for rideshare drivers. With two full-time incomes we were able to get a 2 bedrooms that cost less than what we paid for rent in LA! We’ve had a few maintenance issues but the apartment itself is really nice.

Obviously in the past couple of weeks things here in Seattle have changed quite a bit due to COVID hype and hoopla. All of the major employers here have people working from home and now schools are canceled until the end of March. Hopefully in a few weeks the hype and hysteria will settle down and things will slowly get back to normal. Although my partners job has not been affected Rideshare business has been decimated. Thankfully with expenses being much lower, and my health being much better, I am able to work longer hours to compensate and in theory things should be fine.

I’ll close with this thought…

A year ago I was at the 2nd lowest moment in my life. My health was in bad shape, we were being evicted from our apartment, my car insurance and car payment were months past due and someone stole my identity to open fraudulent credit cards. I was pretty sure I’d end up on the street, alone and with no hope for a future. While I didn’t contemplate outright suicide I did contemplate stopping all of my medication and just giving up and going to a hospital to live out my life.

Thankfully friends, family and providence got us through the storm and now the glow of the morning is here at last…

Morning glow morning glow
Starts to glimmer when you know
Winds of change are set to blow
And sweep this whole land through
Morning glow is long past due

Morning glow fill the earth
Come on shine far all you’re worth
We’ll be present at the birth
Of all faith looking new
Morning glow is long past due

Oh oh morning glow
I’d like to help you grow
You should have started long ago

Morning glow all day long
For we sing tomorrow’s song
Never knew we could be so strong
But now it’s very clear
Morning glow is almost here

Oh oh morning glow
I’d like to help you grow
We should have started long ago

Morning glow all your life
We can make the new day right
All the bad songs of the night
Will fade into the past
Morning glow is here at last

“Morning Glow” from “Pippen” By Stephen Schwartz
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I’m Off To See The Wizard…

I’d like to start this post with a quote from Tennyson:

“It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles… 
…Though much is taken, much abides;
And though we are not now that strength
Which in old days moved earth and heaven;
That which we are, we are…
…Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about that poem today. I think what it says is that while it is tempting to play it safe, the more we are willing to risk the more alive we are. In the end what we regret most are the chances we never took. And I hope that explains, at least a little, this adventure on which I’m about to embark.

On June 30th, 2019 I will be leaving LA and driving to The Emerald City to start a new chapter in my life! The weather is better, the cost of living is cheaper and I will have more opportunities to make a decent living and pursue my dream of writing and producing a musical. LA has been my home for my entire life and but since I was 13 years old I have felt the city of Seattle calling to me from deep within and now I can finally respond to that call.

For many of you it is not a surprise that I am moving to Seattle, but that it took so damn long to do it. And while I’m happy to share the details of how it happened I want to remind all of you that sometimes it’s better to take a chance when you can and while you can, then to put it off for some other time or some other day.

For my LA friends I will be in Seattle for the month of July getting my housing and work situation all settled and sometime at the beginning of August I’ll be back down in LA one last time to get the rest of my stuff. If I can’t connect with you before I leave next week let’s make sure we connect when I’m back in August.

On a final note there is a part of me that is dead set on documenting my new adventure and most likely I will be re-launching my blog and Podcast “Tales From The Yellow Brick Road.” Hopefully this will give you all a way to keep up with my ups and downs and ins and outs as I travel down the yellow brick road of life! My hope is when I ask you about it you’ll say “I’m listening…”

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Never Fear… Hipolito Is Here… (Returning To Denny’s)

For a little over 16 years I was part of an organization (let’s call it FOJ). I was part of a group in FOJ that use to go to a Denny’s location every Saturday night for about 7 years. This large, loud group would be seated in the back of the restaurant so as to minimize disturbing other diners. This meant that every week we had the same waiter named, Hipolito.

Hipolito was a Hispanic gentleman in his 30’s with a light accent and a fantastically trimmed mustache. Always friendly, and always patient, Hipolito always managed to keep his sanity as the majority of the group took forever to order, asked for separate checks and almost always ordered water instead of a regular drink (The running gag was “H2O 4 U?”). Every time he would walk up to our group to welcome us he would almost always say, “Never fear! Hipolito is here!

Because of the proximity of this Denny’s to FOJ’s location main activities took place, I had many lunches, dinners and late night milk shakes, all the while forming bonds, discussing life and it’s struggles and hatching harebrained schemes to conquer the world. For years that Denny’s was a place of refuge, comfort and fellowship.

Until it wasn’t.

A little over 10 years ago I went through what can only be described as a bitter divorce with FOJ after I was falsely accused by one of it’s members. I maintained my innocence with FOJ but from the very beginning reason, logic and even physical proof was not enough to satisfy them. FOJ’s leaders sought my destruction as a member, as a person, as a son and as a citizen. At a certain point it seemed things had cooled off and I felt that I had gained ground in proving my innocence. But then a series of incidents led me to believe that the leaders within FOJ would do anything to break me down. My car was broken into and vandalized, but nothing was taken.

My apartment was broken into and vandalized but nothing was taken. My personal information was used to open up false cell phone accounts, false utilities and even unemployment benefits (some of which I have still have not been able to clear off the credit bureaus).

I told what was left of my friends and my family that I felt there was a highly organized attack being directed and executed by FOJ. I was called paranoid. I was told it was just a coincidence. I was even told that I was allowing my anger at the situation cloud my better judgment about FOJ. That there was no way this was a coordinated effort by any one person or organization.

A little over 2 years after the false accusation was made I learned that a key player in the early stages (let’s call him Dansk) of the incident had been let go by FOJ under mysterious circumstances. On a hunch, and with nothing to lose, I contacted Dansk and asked him if he would be willing to meet with me. At first he refused. But a week later he called me and asked if we could meet. Wanting to meet in a public place, I suggested that we meet at Denny’s by FOJ and close to his house. Dansk agreed and a date and time was set.

I showed up an hour before to make sure the restaurant was clear of any FOJ spies and to settle in a booth toward the back of the restaurant where it would be difficult for others to bother us. Dansk showed up exactly on time and we made small talk. We both ordered coffee and made it clear that’s all we would be ordering. Dansk was largely unaware of the dire consequences of the false accusation after his brief involvement. After I mentioned the  car vandalism, and the vandalism to my apartment he was visibly upset.

He then proceeded to confess that he knew from the beginning that the accusation was false and was intimidated and threatened into going along with the accusations. He apologized for not doing the right thing from the beginning and vowed to help me in any way he could. Furthermore, Dansk knew for a fact that the car vandalism, while not perpetrated by anyone in FOJ leadership, it was most definitely sanctioned by them. And while Dansk did not have proof for certain about the break in to my apartment, he was ordered to cut a check for a private investigator who may or may not have been hired to gain my personal information for someone in leadership at FOJ.

At first I could not believe that my suspicion about a coordinated effort by FOJ to destroy me was actually true and that written proof existed and had corroboration from an inside source. But that feeling was immediately replaced by heartbreak and sorrow that an organization that I loved and dedicated 16+ years of my time, talent and treasure to was capable of this level of evil.

I had several more conversations with Dansk and eventually he offered to testify on my behalf should legal action ever be taken against FOJ for their actions. It was his confession and cooperation at that Denny’s that afternoon that allowed me to finally be free of FOJ and it’s evil and to secure my safety and future from future harm or mental molestation by their leaders.

As Dansk was leaving from that meeting, who should come walking in to start his shift? None other than Hipolito, who I had not seen for the duration of the firestorm. When he asked how I was doing I was completely honest with him. I told him that I had received some news that was unpleasant to hear and that I was greatly troubled by it. “But,” I said to him smiling, “Never fear… Hipolito is here!”

For 8 long years I never returned to that Denny’s…

Until last week…

Last week I was in the area on business and was desperately hungry and needing a break. I was going to drop by another restaurant that was open but as I was about to drive by the Denny’s I felt a sense of strength and courage come over me and pulled into the parking lot. At first I scanned the cars in the lot seeing if I recognized any of them, or looking for bumper stickers giving away that FOJ people could be lurking inside. But as I parked my courage grew even stronger and speaking outloud I said, “F*** it… I don’t care who is or isn’t in there.” As I walked in the Denny’s was mostly empty, but in the back I saw an older gentleman sitting at a table reading.

I immediately recognized him as Hipolito.

As I walked over to him, he looked up an also recognized me. He got up from the table and we shook hands warmly. It turns out Hipolito is still working there as a night manager doing his best to keep the late night and early morning crowds fed and watered. He then offered me a table and went to grab a menu. As he handed me the menu he asked, “H2O 4 U?” I laughed and said, “Never fear… Hipolito is here…”

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Still on break…

LOL I’m still on a brief break…

Is blogging still a thing?

Maybe it isn’t for me anymore.

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Taking A Brief Break…

Hey everyone sorry I haven’t finished up my Experiencing A Do-Over series! Been busy with family stuff and getting a few other projects up and running off the ground.

Be back in a week or two!

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Experiencing A Do-Over: Part Three

This is post 4 of 4 in the series “Experiencing A Do-Over”

A series of posts on John 21 and how we, like Simon Peter, all need a do-over.

  1. Experiencing A Do-Over: Introduction
  2. Experiencing A Do-Over: Part One
  3. Experiencing A Do-Over: Part Two
  4. Experiencing A Do-Over: Part Three


My family and I have been through a lot of trials over the years. And during those trials I have had plenty of doubts. I didn’t doubt that God existed or things like that. But I certainly doubted that His plan in those trials was good, faithful or trustworthy. That’s because it can be really hard to have faith in the middle of a trial or storm. Just ask Simon Peter… he faced a pretty significant storm and his doubts got the best of him.

It’s A Leap Of Faith…

In the movie Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones is faced with the perilous task of crossing across a chasm that appears to have no bridge. The clue in his father’s book tells him that, “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.” After some doubt as the book’s instructions and some self-wrestling with the potential consequences of failure, Indiana Jones takes one big step out into what seems like nothingness, only to land on solid ground. His leap of faith paid off.

Unfortunately our friend Simon Peter had a much different experience.

In Matthew 14 Jesus sends the disciples out onto the Sea of Galilee while He goes up onto a mountain to pray. Later that night a huge storm blows in that scares this group (many of them seasoned fishermen) of men. Suddenly things get a bit spooky.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night he [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Matthew 14:25-27 (ESV)

So here we are again. Another similar situation. The disciples are in a boat. There’s situation brewing and suddenly Jesus shows up but they don’t recognize Him at first. But once they do Simon Peter also does something familiar.

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

Matthew 14:28-29 (ESV)

Again, Jesus is over there, Simon Peter is over here UNACCEPTABLE! Simon Peter does something that is crazy in calm weather, but in the middle of a storm? It’s unthinkable. But yet he does it.

And I think Simon Peter starts out how many of us do when a storm has hit. We say, “Okay  I can get through this. Jesus tell me to walk on the water and I’ll do it. Even though the wind is blowing and the seas are rough, I’m gonna walk toward you and follow you.” So we get down out of the boat and we start that walk but pretty soon something happens. We take our eyes of Jesus for a moment and get caught up in the storm around us and we begin to sink… just like Simon Peter.

Lord, Save Me…

30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

Matthew 14:30 (ESV)

If there was ever a moment Simon Peter needed a do-over it was in that moment as he was sinking into the Sea of Galilee. Waters he had fished from, probably from a very young age, and had been through many storms on before. But now Simon Peter is in over his head (literally) and the only thing that he can do is cry out “Lord, save me.” I’m sure many of us have prayed that in various situations in our lives:

  • You get laid off or fired from your job and the bills are due – Lord, save me.
  • You go to a doctor’s appointment and the X-ray shows one thing and the blood test shows something else – Lord, save me.
  • Your spouse has destroyed your marriage with infidelity and you’re so hurt and can’t understand how they could betray you – Lord, save me.
  • You’ve been on 3 auditions this week but haven’t booked a thing and now you can’t even put gas in your car to get home – Lord, save me.
  • You’ve been falsely accused of something and now your friends and family can even look you in the eye because they think you’re something that you’re not – Lord, save me.

We’re sinking into waves and are buffeted by the gale force winds of life and we’re beginning to doubt that God is good, faithful and trustworthy. And in that moment all we can do is cry out to him, Lord, save me. Because it’s in that moment of crying out for help, that God can show up.

31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:31-33 (ESV)

God sees our doubts. God sees the situation that we’re in and says, “You’ve cried out for me and I’m here to rescue you” just like He did with Simon Peter. That doesn’t meant the storm is immediately over, it doesn’t mean the aftermath won’t be painful. What it does mean is that God not only sees and knows our doubts, but He can save us from them if we cry out to him for help.

Jesus Saves Peter From The Sea – James Tissot, 1886-1896



About This Series
John 21 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible and certainly the passage I gain the most encouragement from in the New Testament. I think it’s because it’s a story about a guy that needed a fresh start. It’s a story about a guy that had betrayed his best friend. And really this story is for anyone who thinks that their failures have taken them so far away from God that they could never get a fresh start. That we could never be redeemable. That we could never be used for God’s glory again. But the reason this is my favorite Passage is because it shows us that God has provided a way for us to experience a fresh start. To experience a change of course. For us to experience a do-over.

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Experiencing A Do-Over: Part Two

This is post 3 of 4 in the series “Experiencing A Do-Over”

A series of posts on John 21 and how we, like Simon Peter, all need a do-over.

  1. Experiencing A Do-Over: Introduction
  2. Experiencing A Do-Over: Part One
  3. Experiencing A Do-Over: Part Two
  4. Experiencing A Do-Over: Part Three


In one of my favorite hymns “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” there is a line of the song that says:

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never stay discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

There have been many times in my life when I’ve been discouraged. When things have not gone the way I expected them to. Or especially when own stupidity or stubbornness has gotten me into some sort of mess. What does God want us to do when we get discouraged? How do we deal with discouragement?

Deja Vu… Deja Vu…

In my previous post on John 21 I mentioned that when Peter figured out it was Jesus on the shore, he put on his clothes and “threw himself” into the water.

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.

John 21:7 (ESV)

Over the years I’ve read that over and over again and the same thought hits me every time… It’s no surprise Simon Peter reacts that way because this is Deja Vu for him. You see, before Simon Peter was a disciple, he was a fisherman. And one day he was fishing with his brothers and Jesus asks for some help. Jesus asks Simon Peter to take the boat out into deeper water and to let the nets down. But Simon Peter has a bit of an attitude problem.

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”

Luke 5:5 (ESV)

Don’t you hate it when someone tells you how to do your job? Especially someone that isn’t even necessarily qualified to do your job? I don’t want to read too much into this verse but it seems that once again Simon Peter and his brothers haven’t caught anything and once again Jesus is telling them to try again. And so they do… and something unexpected happens…

And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

Luke 5:6-7 (ESV)

Yep. John 21 isn’t the first time that Simon Peter has encountered the situation of fishing all night, catching nothing and then being told to try again. John 21 is Deja Vu for Simon Peter. So his reaction in Luke’s account of the first time it happened is strongly informative to Simon Peter’s actions in John 21, especially when Simon Peter does this:

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken

Luke 5:8-9 (ESV)

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes – James Tissot, 1886-1896

You know people who have really messed up, people who have really blown it in their life sometimes pray a prayer like that. Discouraged people, often find themselves praying something like that. It’s the same kind of remorse that King David felt about the sin in his life. And people who have messed up in their lives don’t always want to pray that. But when you come face to face with the God of second chances you can’t help but pray what Simon Peter prays, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.”

And Jesus says, “Yeah I know… I know the state that you’re in and I’ve got plans to help you. Plans the whole human race has been waiting for, for a long, ling time.” And Jesus then tells Simon Peter, “If you’re ready to experience a do-over I want to give you a new life. In fact, staring today I’m gonna have you start fishing for people. I’m gonna chance the whole direction, the whole philosophy of your life.”

It’s because of this encounter with Jesus at the beginning of their relationship that Simon Peter throws himself into the water once he knows it’s Jesus. I think that as Simon Peter hit the water he was instantly transported back to when he had first met Jesus and Jesus had seen Simon Peter’s discouragement and said, “You need a do-over.”

And some of us are just like Simon Peter… we’ve been fishing on the wrong side of the boat. We’ve been fishing for just a glimmer of hope in our families. Just a glimmer of hope in our financial future. Some of us are holding on to just a tiny, tiny bit of hope for our health and that doctor’s appointment we’ve got coming up. And I think Jesus is saying to us, what he said to Simon Peter. “I see your discouragement, but I’m here… keep trying. Keep fishing for hope. Because I can turn things around in an instant.”

About This Series
John 21 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible and certainly the passage I gain the most encouragement from in the New Testament. I think it’s because it’s a story about a guy that needed a fresh start. It’s a story about a guy that had betrayed his best friend. And really this story is for anyone who thinks that their failures have taken them so far away from God that they could never get a fresh start. That we could never be redeemable. That we could never be used for God’s glory again. But the reason this is my favorite Passage is because it shows us that God has provided a way for us to experience a fresh start. To experience a change of course. For us to experience a do-over.

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Tales From The Coffee Shop – Bean Date: S170429

This is post 1 of 1 in the series “Tales From The Coffee Shop”

Just another day at the Java Stand…

12:15PM – Arrived at the the coffee shop.

12:17PM – Ordered my Iced Tea and a Tuna Sandwich. The barista offered to heat up my tuna sandwich. My initial reaction was surprise (it’s not typically heated) and then as she was ringing it up she realized her mistake.

12:18PM – The barista had a name tag on that said “Megan Barista.” As she was handing me my change and my sandwich back I said, “Thank you, Megan Barista. But I can imagine that isn’t your real name?” She laughed and said, “Actually my last name is Pope so you can imagine the things people have said.” To which I replied, “Yes I can your holiness.” As a curtseyed and walked away.

1:25pm – A group of 5-7 women just walked in and ordered drinks. They were all wearing red hats. Red hat society maybe?

1:32PM – Yep it’s confirmed… all from the Ladies Red Hat Society. See you can have clubs for anything… including hats… red hats… red hats worn by women. #mensrednecksociety

3:15PM – A guy in his 20’s just sat at my table. He’s wearing a purple beanie, has a vape machine, a full beard, sleeve tattoos and is reading a book called “True Love”. I love when stereotypes are broken. 🙂

3:45PM – Whoops… I should know better than to listen to “The Love I Meant To Say” from SMASH in public… now I’ve gotta pretend I have something in my eyes. Anyone got a napkin?

4:29PM – I love that my new Apple Watch reminds me to get up and walk around every few hours! I’ve needed this constant reminder in my life for years and now I finally have it!

5:20PM – For the 10+ time today someone ha left the door to the coffee shop propped wide open. How hard is it to let it close behind you? Answer: NOT THAT HARD!

About This Series
I love going to coffee shops to write and work but frequently I find myself encountering strange and interesting situations and people… so why not share them with you?

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Experiencing A Do-Over: Part One

This is post 2 of 4 in the series “Experiencing A Do-Over”

A series of posts on John 21 and how we, like Simon Peter, all need a do-over.

  1. Experiencing A Do-Over: Introduction
  2. Experiencing A Do-Over: Part One
  3. Experiencing A Do-Over: Part Two
  4. Experiencing A Do-Over: Part Three


Most of of us have seen a sunrise. In a movie, on television, in a picture. And some of us have experienced a sunrise in person. That moment as the sun starts to peak over the horizon and the dawn’s early light begins to fill the sky with colors. It signals the beginning of the day. The start of something new. A fresh start. A much-needed reset from the previous days worries, cares and even failures. I’ve seen a few sunrises in my day and most of them have been spectacular. Some of them have been welcome and some have been dreaded. Whatever the circumstances, a sunrises signals that the day is about to begin and no one knows what it will hold.

The Setting

John 21 opens with Simon Peter and some of the disciples fishing all night but failing to catch a thing. But now it’s sunrise… and everything is about to change.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”They answered him, “No.”

John 21:4-5 (ESV)

Let’s look at the first miracle of this passage… a group of fisherman admit they haven’t caught anything.

Here you have the disciples, after a night of fishing, with nothing to show for it. Then there’s this figure on the shore who’s voice they recognize, but they can’t quite figure out who it is. (Of course we know it’s Jesus) And He asks them a question that would have a bit of a sting to it. “Children, do you have any fish?” Of course Jesus softens the blow a bit by addressing them as “children” and their answer is a bit short and concise, “No.” But can you blame them?

Acknowledge Your Failure

6.5 pound catfish

My Dad is an avid fisherman and has had some pretty good luck recently. I love hearing from him after a successful fishing trip. Describing the water conditions, temperature, the bait he used and if he used his lucky tackle box. But I don’t hear much about his unsuccessful fishing trips. Because what’s there to talk about? You went out, fished and caught nothing. That’s boring. And for some fisherman that’s embarrassing. No one likes to talk about their failures.

But Jesus asks them this question and I think it’s important not to step past it too quickly. I think that all the Lord wanted, was for them to admit their failure. That things hadn’t gone exactly the way they planned. Because it’s only when you can admit that you’ve failed that you can start to experience a do-over. The disciples acknowledged their failures as fishermen and Jesus gave them a chance for a do-over. He tells them to cast their nets again, but on the right side of the boat. Don’t give up, don’t quit, try again. So the disciples do just that and suddenly the nets are overflowing and they can’t even haul in all of the fish!

He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

John 21:6 (ESV)

They were given a do-over and this time they experienced much different results. But then there’s a realization on the part of one particular disciple. In the passage he’s called the “disciple whom Jesus loved” but we know him to be John the author of the Gospel of John and this passage.

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

John 21:7-8 (ESV)

Peter Jumps Into The Water – James Tissot, 1886-1896

The moment Simon Peter realizes that it’s Jesus on the shore he grabs his lucky fishing coat and “throws himself” into the water and starts swimming for the shore. As one preacher I heard put it, “I’m here… Jesus is way over there… UNACCEPTABLE!” You see Peter had a history of making rash decisions and foolish promises. A long history. So over the next few posts we’re going to take a look at a few of those passages and really start getting a grip on why this was not the first time that Peter found himself in deep water.

About This Series
John 21 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible and certainly the passage I gain the most encouragement from in the New Testament. I think it’s because it’s a story about a guy that needed a fresh start. It’s a story about a guy that had betrayed his best friend. And really this story is for anyone who thinks that their failures have taken them so far away from God that they could never get a fresh start. That we could never be redeemable. That we could never be used for God’s glory again. But the reason this is my favorite Passage is because it shows us that God has provided a way for us to experience a fresh start. To experience a change of course. For us to experience a do-over.

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