Monday, July 23, 2018

How Many Hallmark Movies Can You Watch?

People have different television viewing preferences. Some like emotional relationship stories that draw you in. Some like vintage movies, like me. I’m a fan of WWII military/spy movies (Who cannot like the movie “The Great Escape” with Steve McQueen?).

I was just a young child during the era, and I still remember practicing blackouts because my father was involved with civil defense. The rules were straightforward: No lights, had to use of dark window shades, or no lighting up a cigarette. One little flicker of light regardless of source would be enough of a clue to an enemy bomber. Nothing ever happened in Pennsylvania where I had been living at the time. Yet, it affected my TV viewing habits. I enjoy the battles of good and evil playing out in a story.

The challenge comes when it’s time for family TV viewing. My wife’s choices are consistent … Hallmark, news, DIY and Netflix. (I mean, how many Hallmark movies can one see?)

My choice is news, Turner Classic Movies and Netflix. Just saw the Jean Arthur movie “The More the Merrier” a comedy about housing shortages during war-time Washington. The actor Charles Coburn won an Oscar for his portrayal of a millionaire curmudgeon in this comedy.

Most nights, one or the other must compromise. A few days ago, my wife convinced me to watch Heidi on Netflix. Ugh! Even worse, the movie was all in German.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Not even close. It’s just part of the things we do to please our spouses! The other evening, I watched “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” on Hallmark. Truth be told, I liked the movie series!
Robert Parlante
July 2018

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Ring of Kerry

One of the most memorable vacation side-trips I’ve taken was a bus ride beginning at Killarney and proceeding around the Ring of Kerry located in Ireland. The trek was not for the faint of heart as there is just barely enough room on portions of the narrow roadway for the bus. As the narrow roads make it difficult for tour buses to pass, all buses must run in a counter-clockwise direction. But it looked like not everyone follows the rules.

The day I took the trip we encountered vehicles approaching the tour bus from the opposite direction. A bus and a car cannot safely pass unless one of them drives in reverse until the driver finds a tight parking spot carved out of the mountain side. There are rules regarding the protocol for who must park and who has the right-ot-way.

My heart still races when I think about my encounter. It felt like one vehicle was a fraction of an inch from the other. If you looked out the window toward the ocean side, your heart leaped at the sheer drop to craggy rocks below.

If there are times one should pray for protection, this one is high on my list. I thought of Matthews 7:13,14.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Life is full of choices. A person’s first inclination is to pick the way that appears easier, safer and having leeway … but it is not always a good choice. No matter how frightening the Ring of Kerry might have been, at the completion it felt exhilarating!

Robert Parlante
July 18, 2018

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mind Games

I was standing in line trying to return a clothing item my wife had purchased at a big box store. Standing in long serpentine lines is not among my favorite things to do … especially when retuning a woman’s blouse. The line was long and moved at a snail’s pace. Up ahead, I saw the big burly man behind the counter interrogating the customers and processing the returns. My legs wobbled as I sucked in my gut and tried to look more manly and taller.

When I reached the customer service representative his first question was, “What’s wrong with the blouse?” His look felt like it could penetrate steel as I tried to stand on my tippy-toes to better reach the counter.

“Not sure,” I said tentatively. “It’s my wife’s blouse. I think it’s too long.”

I thought I overly emphasized the word “wife” as I slipped him my credit card.

When the transaction was complete I spun around and confronted a man wearing a tee-shirt with words emblazoned upon it: “I am a legend in my own mind.”

It reminded me of a song, "Legend in Your Own Time", performed by Carly Simon, from her 1971 album “Anticipation.”

In that moment. the power of Scripture to speak to our needs encouraged me. Our goal in life is not to achieve true “Legend” status. Even worse is conjuring up a mind game to pretend you are a legend. We are only kept real and safe by trusting the Lord no matter what others may think.

Proverbs 29:25 - Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. (NIV).

May 2018
Robert Parlante

Monday, April 23, 2018

Where Does My Help Come From?

Recently replied to a trending topic on Twitter titled #MyInspirationComesFrom. The objective is to complete the hashtag intro and post it on Twitter. I decided to use the writer- side of my personality to complete the hashtag trend,

I wrote: My inspiration comes from a good night's sleep, starting the day with a Scripture devotion, and observing people behavior. "Write on!" says the blogger from

Oh, and a good laugh too! That fuels my inspiration, as well.

After I posted my comments, I realized my simple wordy advice was easier said than done.
Like having a good night’s sleep. I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and now use a medical device to try sleeping through the night. Getting up bright and chipper and full of inspiration is elusive and the last thing on my mind after tangling with a breathing machine for eight hours.

Observing people behavior, especially if you are a writer, seems like sound advice. I’ve concluded, however, there is much human behavior I would not want to see emulated and considered as a benchmark of something ideal. Spending time in Scripture helps us stay focused, helps us understand human behavior, and inspires us. Psalm 121 is my daily reminder to develop book characters that behaved honorably and reflect the ideal and not the dark side of real human behavior.

Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains __ where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Mountain- top’s may look inspiring and draw you into their majesty. Mountains can be a source of inspiration. But they are shallow compared to where are most sound inspiration comes from … My help comes from the Lord. Not your best friend. Not the latest pop culture book. Not even a mountain top.

There is one more thing that helps to lighten the emotional load of life. Be sure you take time to laugh at yourself and your comic missteps.

Robert Parlante
April 2018

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Trust and Obey

Wherever life paths bring me these days I keep coming back to the same conclusion. People have difficulty being satisfied and at peace with their situations. The consequences are hard to miss. Marriages fall apart. Families disintegrate. You read about gender issues and people undergoing cosmetic surgery to enhance their Snapchat selfie photo. It’s hard to find good news these days even when we sense some circumstances may even be legitimate.

But there is good news. My friend from Jamaica, now passed away, remind me of her satisfaction with life in the face of harsh difficulties. Every time I think about her I start humming the refrain from the old church hymn “Trust and Obey.” She worked hard to send funds back to her family in Jamaica. She attended church, sometimes even walking to church. Her leg was amputated due to diabetes.

That never stopped her from humming “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

The basis of that hymn is Psalm 84, verses 11 – 12:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.

There are no easy answers to life’s problems, but trusting and obeying the Word of God is a good place to start.

Robert Parlante

February 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

1968 All Over Again

Enjoyed seeing my grandkids, who attend college, home for the Christmas holidays and winter break. Every time they return home I notice their adulthood growing more mature with time and exposure to the campus life and different political and social viewpoints. I don’t always agree with their conclusions about the sad state of our society. However, I do believe their analysis, pro or con, of various life viewpoints help them grow into a mature adult whose efforts contribute to society. Besides that, my prayer for all of them is to be bible-believing, fully committed adults.

When they challenge my hopes and dreams for them, I remind them that I was once where they are at this moment in time. They believe some campuses are overrun with Communist-thinkers with societal and political structures beyond repair. Some people think our nation and its political underpinning is on the verge of collapse.

I remind them of 1968 when everything seemed to be going wrong in our country. I was a young adult viewing a world of assassinations, war, rioting in the streets, racial upheaval and cities on fire. I was also convinced like them there was no magic wand to correct all that was wrong in 1968, pretty much what we can say about today. But it all changed. I’m sure there were multiple reasons for the turnaround. It was not one person or one event that did this transformation to redirect the path to a calmer future.

In 1968, I reaffirmed my trust in Jesus after abandoning him during my college years. I changed and became a catalyst for more change. I am not so naive to think that single act turned our country onto a more positive course. However, I would like to think my one and feeble voice in the night calling out a prayer for our country may have contributed something.

Some things are difficult for a person to change. They require diverse and monumental effort beyond human abilities. But everything is possible through Jesus Christ! So keep praying for our country to return to its foundational principles. 

Robert Parlante
January 2018

Thursday, January 4, 2018

One For the Record Book!

The night was still and frigid. The ice-crusted trees stood stiff. I remember the evening being cloudless and the stars especially bright that windless night. All the other kids had gone home, pulling their sleds behind them like defeated warriors.

“It’s too cold for sleigh riding,” my 11-year-old friend said. I stood alone, looking down the glazed road that ran through the country hamlet where I lived.

The kids used the road for sledding even though our parents warned us it was too dangerous. It was the only road passing through Keystone, running for miles down the hilly Pennsylvania countryside to the railroad tracks along the creek. No car could maneuver its icy threat that night. But I knew my Western Flyer sled would make easy work of the challenge.

And a challenge it was. No one had ever sledded from the top of Ridgewood Road to the sharp bend, Dead Man’s Curve, about a half mile away. Usually road conditions were not right. Sometimes a car would come by, and you had to swerve off the road into a ditch to get out of harm’s way.

Halfway along the stretch was a flat section. I know of no one who had been able to sled through that troublesome spot without coming to a stop. But that night, I pulled the flaps on my hat tighter over my ears. I grabbed my sled by its outer rails and started running. With a plunge forward, I belly flopped onto the glassy road. I was on my way.

I felt like I was powered by an engine as I skipped effortlessly down the first part of the course. As my speed increased, my excitement grew. I never thought I could go so fast.

I spotted my house in the distance. One instinct said to stop and steer off the road. My parents would be upset if they knew I was sledding on the road again. I ignored the thought and kept right on going. I felt like I was never going to stop.

I got to the second downgrade, and my speed picked up. This was an important hill where you had to increase velocity before the flat stretch.

The sled rattled, and the ice beneath its runners crackled into submission. I was now at the flat spot. I pumped my legs up and down, trying to urge the sled forward.

I slowed down and resigned myself to another typical run. Nobody ever got through this spot.

I could see the beginning of the next downward slope ahead. It was just before the dark and desolate stretch to Dead Man’s Curve. So close and yet so far.

My body pushed forward into the sled, pumping with all its strength.

“God, no cars tonight! Please!” I prayed out loud.

Instead of slowing further, I felt my speed increase. “I’m going to do it!” I suddenly cried out loud.

It was like triumphant propulsion into space as I hit the crest and eased onto the last leg of the challenge. The sled began to move more swiftly. The vibration of runners against the ice sounded like thunderous applause in the quiet night.

When I reached the curve, I twisted the sled to a stop. There was no need to go any further.

“I did it!” This was one for the record books.

I stood up, my gloved hands still clutching the sled rails. I was a herald athlete waiting for his crown of honor.

But my euphoria quickly dissipated when I realized no one had seen my run.

My friends would never believe it. There was no way to prove it. No audience. No photos. No newspaper reporters.

Then Dead Man’s Curve suddenly felt ominous. I hated the desolate spot with no light and no houses around. The specter of auto accidents and deaths at the sharp S-curve overwhelmed my mind.

“Where’s my victory? I thought. Why is fear overtaking me?

I could smell perspiration and my wet wool hat. I felt a gust of wind. The night cold began to numb me.

The stars still shone brightly. That was comforting.

I began the long trek home, trying not to lose courage as I thought of the tales of smashed-up cars.

I took in a deep breath and gazed into the heavens. They looked clear and bright, like a freshly washed window. And in that moment I realized that just as God sees my defeats, he sees my victories. Was that enough? For the first time in my life, I realized the power of God to know my life. The Lord was my audience. He was the witness. Only his words counted.

I did not actually hear God saying, “Well done, faithful servant.” But as the wind picked up and the ice-crusted trees creaked, it felt like those words.

Our goals as Christians will always be to face any challenge fearlessly __ to finish the race marked out for us by Christ. We can rejoice over those who have courage to stand alone for the Lord, ignoring the need for applause from the world.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith,” the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:7)

Whether or not there was someone in his view applauding, Paul never lost sight of the spiritual prize.

On that icy, victorious night, my young mind did not comprehend the spiritual prize. I was occupied with other concerns, such as explaining to my parents what I had done.

But in the end, only a few things matter. We should live to please the Lord. Not only does that goal give freedom, but assurance as well. We can know “there is in store for me the crown of righteous” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8).

Robert Parlante
January 1, 2018