The Sea Horse: Nicolai

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“Aaron, it’s Carla, there’s been an emergency. Nicolai is alive, but he’s had a heart attack. He’s in the Cardiac Clinic under the name Pavlov Laskin.” “I’ll be there in ten minutes. Driver, take me to the hospital asap, it’s an emergency.”

Aaron’s mind went back to his first meeting with Nicolai Tunick. It was while he was bandaged up after the surgeries, after the fire.” Henry brought him to see Aaron, although he never explained how he knew the spy.

He guessed it was from his Mother’s days as an Ambassador, but never asked. Rule One of Mom’s, “Ask only what is vital, and leave the clutter out of it.” So he had, his mind was already filled with enough painful clutter back then.

“I can’t do this, my hands are in bandages.” “You can. Your hands may be wrapped up, but your heart is not. Calm your anxiety, and begin again.” At first, the spy taught him card tricks, small close up feats of magic.

Aaron thought it was to distract him from the pain, it wasn’t. It was to rebuild his dexterity, and enhance it. Over time, they would move on to rebuilding Aaron’s body. Adding muscle, improving endurance, and then came weapons training.

Nicolai was a master with weapons. He was as comfortable with a handgun as he was a whip, a sword, or a spear. “Your weapon is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. Learn it well, but don’t get to attached to any one item. Learn efficiency with them all, you never know which one will save your life.”

It was Nicolai who taught him strategy. Aaron assumed he had been a spy for the Russian government, but he was surprised to learn he worked for the United States. He spoke of a man that was becoming a major part of the life of The Sea Horse, Agent Rook.

Nicolai had trained him. Which is the reason that Aaron couldn’t go in to see Nicolai when he arrived at the hospital. Standing by the bed of his old mentor was another of Nicolai’s former students, Agent Thomas Obadiah Rook.

An Exhibit Of Acrylics

We hope you enjoy our new set of Acrylics. They include a “View From Opryland”, a “South Pacific Volcano”, and a “English Cottage”. They also feature the “House Across The River”, and “Allen’s World”.

The last is something that I would normally never paint, but my Wife is a fan of abstract art. So it’s my view of what Barry Allen, aka The Flash, would see on a quick trip to, well, anywhere. We hope you enjoy them all.

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A Little While

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Psalms 37:9-10
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.

Waiting, it’s not fun. Whether it’s something you’re longing to do, or dreading, waiting upsets us. As humans, we don’t like to wait, but God built it into almost every process.

Think about it, it takes hours for the sun to rise, and then to set. Waters fill the rivers through drips first, and then through streams. Babies are born, not men, and even the mighty lion starts out as a cub.

Why has God placed it in every process? Because what we call endless waiting, He calls growth. The process produces something, and if not for it, the job would be only half done.

Children learn patience by waiting to unwrap a gift. A battle can be costly no matter the time period, but long battles especially. In them, you can learn trust, reinvention, and endurance. These all prepare us, His children, for the next conflict.

God taught us something else about waiting, and that’s small intervals. The sun is highest at noon, it’s not the end of the day, it’s the halfway mark. A tadpole growing it’s legs doesn’t make it a frog, but it’s a time of celebration. We don’t wait until someone’s eighteen to celebrate a birthday.

The Scripture references, “yet a little while”, and all that troubles us will be just a memory. I’ve watched as people faced battles that terrified me, but they made it through. They did this by setting short term goals, by finding joy along the way.

They by no means enjoyed the war, but they found joy in The God that sustained them through it. Small intervals were celebrated, for they knew in a war, you must celebrate small victories. For small battles won, mean campaigns accomplished, and successful campaigns win the war.

Whatever you’re facing today, don’t wait until the final victory to rejoice. Take joy in the fact that you’re still fighting, you are a survivor. Even if you stumbled, you got back up, and if you haven’t yet, you’re still breathing. Stand up, and smile, it’s not over. With God’s help, you will win this battle, it’s just a little while up ahead.

iPainting: The Magician

This week’s bonus iPainting is in honor of my friend Dave Vaught. On top of being one of my dear friends, he is my favorite magician. I hope that you find this iPainting of “The Magician” half as amazing as Dave is.

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Neglect and Stretch

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Philippians 3:13
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

That’s what they mean, my two favorite words in this verse, forgetting and reaching. You see, I tend wrongly, to worry too much. I can allow my mind to get caught up on things, allowing my present to be snagged by my past. That’s why I love the two words in this scripture reference.

Now the past must be dealt with, but once it has, don’t pick at it. The word forgetting here means to neglect out of mind. If Christ has resolved it, we must work to release it.

Paul said I neglect out of mind past things, and I stretch forth to what is before me. They say to get healthy you basically do two things. You stop what isn’t working, and start doing what will work. You stretch towards where you want to be.

It’s very hard to stretch towards the future while you’re holding on to the past. I don’t know the hurt, the shame, or the fear you’re dealing with, but God does. If He’s forgiven you, then why are you still holding onto it?

I know we do that, it’s in our nature. But the good thing about the word neglect is something that happens over time. You carried it yesterday, but today is a new day. Choose not to pick it up today.

You don’t have to release it all right away, just try not to think about it for an hour. Pretend for sixty minutes , that it’s not there. Leave it in the hands of The Master, then neglect to go back and get it. He knows how to deal with it because He already has.

Stretch towards where He is calling you, and ignore the echoes of previous events. Don’t allow what has happened to you to prevent what you could become. Put yesterday in the hands of The Giver of today and walk towards the dawn.

People stretch before a run, and they usually run in the morning. The sun is coming up soon, why not stretch a little. Now that you’ve put down what you were carrying, and stretched towards your dream, why not run after them?

iPainting: A Successful Voyage

Voyages on the sea, as in life, can be filled with peril, but that doesn’t dictate the success of the journey. Perhaps you’re going through something this afternoon, know this, The Lord knows how to navigate troubled waters. He’s proven it in the lives of everyone from David to the Apostle Paul.
To, we hope this iPainting, “A Successful Voyage” will encourage you today to stay in the boat.

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The Sea Horse: Ambush

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The Sea Horse had left the Wonzu’s headquarters when he was attacked. He was traveling across the rooftops when High Society tackled him. “Sea Horses don’t usually live up here. Aren’t you supposed to be shriveled up in a tank somewhere?”

Sea Horse’s only answer was to throw the villain backward with a kick. High Society answered with a summersault blow. The two battled for several minutes, each time High Society attempting to chide Sea Horse into speaking.

In his mind, Sea Horse remembered his training. As Nicholai would say, ‘What is his strategic objective? He wants me to talk because he has a voice analyzer. He’s trying to get a sample of my speech patterns to figure out who I really am.’

The Sea Horse had equipped his suit with a built in voice distorter, but with an added feature. It was also capable of mimicking any voice he might need to imitate. So the only response High Society received was a perfect rendition of his own voice back at him.

“Nice try, but not tonight. As for the shriveling in a tank bit, you’ll find out before I will.” High Society laughed, “Neat trick, do you do parties? I don’t plan on visiting our jails anytime soon, but maybe you’d like too!” He grabbed Sea Horse from above and the two flew off the building.

High Society intended to drop the Sea Horse from a hundred feet above the Oceania police headquarters. “Society, have you heard of Pegasus? … You’re not the only one with wings.” The Sea Horse activated his short range flight rockets in his boots.

They weren’t designed for long flights, just emergency landings. He was able to fling the villain off of him and against the side of the nearest building. High Society’s initial response was to retort, until his system gave him a warning.

“Why do you think it was so easy for you to pick me up? It’s because that was the only way I could get close enough to sabotage your tanks. You have about five minutes before they blow up. I suggest you change jackets.”

Society slipped out of his trench coat and harness, and onto the fire escape. The Sea Horse grabbed the device. he attached one of his rocket boots to it, and aimed it toward the ocean. The people in Oceania would think it was a simple light show.

High Society had used the time to escape, and now the Sea Horse was minus a boot. Fortunately, he had repositories all along the city. Within no time, Dr. Aaron Matthews was getting into a cab, fully dressed, ready to return home. A phone call would change his plans…

S.T.A.R.T. III

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 A is for assembling, in this month’s article in particular, it’s about assembling your social media presence. Now that you have a website, you have somewhere to point to, a place to invite people to view. That invitation will play out mostly through social media. The way you handle social media will affect your traffic. It is your advertising and marketing campaign outlet.

Most of us have limited budgets, so view your social media presence as your pitch man. Let’s pause for a moment, perhaps what you’re sharing is not commercial. As a Minister, I firmly believe that anything we do should be founded on our principles. This however doesn’t mean silence anymore than it means shameless promotion.

Your message needs an eloquent messenger. The Lord Jesus promoted, not Himself, but His Message. He wanted all men to know that He offered Salvation to a lost world. Remember, you’re not promoting yourself, you’re promoting your message. If it’s a noble one, then don’t be hesitant for the wrong reasons. Be cautious, but go forward!

With that in mind, you’ll approach the diverse outlets differently. There are multiple resources that can help you with this. One of the greatest is the website of MichaelHyatt.com. Another is SethGodin.com. They have been an invaluable source to myself and others.

It’s also good to keep up with the most relevant websites, not only about your interest, but the technical aspects of site design. You don’t want to appear out of date because you’re behind on a technology change. It only takes me about five minutes a day to get the current tech news. I also listen to two weekly podcasts which help as well.

Let’s look at each social media channel separately. First, let’s look at Twitter. Twitter is one of my favorite channels, you can access important information quickly. Twitter is a favorite for input, but as far as output, you want to be selective with its use. Your viewers will get annoyed when you over share. At the same time, you want to have a balance. It’s not a good idea to under share either.

As in life, everything must be balanced, especially marketing. If all of your Twitter posts involve selling something, then you may need to rethink your strategy. However, that is different than announcing your blog post, or something you’re giving away for free. Free items add value to people, and they welcome those types of posts more readily.

A good rule of thumb when promoting something, is to tweet once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. Other posts, like personal reflections, quotes, etc. can be more frequent. You have to find what works for your audience of people.

Twitter is like a highway, Facebook is more like an interstate. This allows a higher volume of sharing, as long again as it is balanced. It lends itself to more visual promotions, such as graphics and video. Here caution must be used, you do not need a huge budget to produce quality graphics, so it’s not about the money. What it is about, is high quality. If you don’t have the time to create a high quality graphic, or video, then I would wait until you could produce a high quality product.

Facebook also is a wonderful vehicle to interact with your viewers or readers. Construct your posts that they’ll be able, should they choose, to highly interact with you. This is also true of Google Plus. In many ways, the use of both of these social networks would mirror each other. They are both high trafficable venues.

[tweetthis] Quality work is the only type worth attempting….[/tweetthis]

Instagram is a wonderful outlet for anyone that can provide high quality, interesting images for their viewers. If you can produce quality images, they will follow multiple posts a day. Your audience will most likely be as varied as any other, meaning some will be attracted to more of one than the other. This is why the more outlets you provide quality content for, the more people you’ll reach.

Lastly, Pinterest is also a personal favorite of mine for consumption. It is also a wonderful tool for distribution. Whether your medium is visual or written, audible or video, it can be pinned. Your followers can easily view all four through the medium of Pinterest.

Two important things should be mentioned here. Even though your social media presence reflects what you’re doing, it must not be self-centric. In other words, before you share anything ask yourself, will this add value to someone else? This also relates to sharing content other than your own. If you’ve read, watched, or listened to something that made you better, pass it on. Create a hub of value for your viewers, and they will frequently return to it.

Ecclesiastes 9:10

“10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might;…”

Secondly, it starts and ends with quality. Quality in the sense that it is well thought out, entertainingly explained, and visually pleasing. These three are essential to anything you will do. It goes back to a principle found everywhere from the Bible to any civilization that produced anything still standing, quality work is the only type worth attempting.

When you start with social media, at least from the viewpoint of sharing something, it can be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. No one is saying that you have to do all of these at once. You can start one at a time and add them over time. However, it is important to open up to as many outlets as you can without wearing your content thin.

Your content will dictate where it will and won’t fit. You may stretch yourself, but don’t force it into a setting that it can’t be sustained. Try a few things, experiment, and if it doesn’t work, discard it. Even in completing your overall vision, not everything you start will you finish. Part of completing isn’t doing everything, but doing the right things well.

Assemble what works for you, what makes your adventure better. Like David, you’ll find what doesn’t fit will only weigh you down. Over time, you’ll uncover tools that you’ll grow into. David couldn’t use Saul’s armor, but he could wield Goliath’s sword. At the right time, you’ll step into the arena that works for you. Just do not allow fear of failure to keep you from making a S.T.A.R.T. .