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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I Wish Every Day Was Christmas

Went shopping to a major clothing chain this morning and heard upbeat Christmas music playing throughout the store. When I first became aware of the piped-in music I heard the Gary Davis song “I Wish Every Day Was Christmas”. It’s a feel-good song highlighting all the heart-warming experiences we feel during that special time of the year and would now like to capture year-round. It’s a secular song and does not dwell on the spiritual and real message of Christmas. It’s a neat song but I was compelled to take it further.

Christmas is about Jesus Christ becoming man to dwell among us for purposes of redemption. December 25th is set aside to honor and celebrate that event. But it’s not just one day and it’s over. It’s one day leading to another, Easter, and to every day. There’s no need to wish every day is Christmas because every day is already Christmas fulfilled if we call upon Jesus as Lord and Savior. He’s ready 24/7, day in, day out, year after year to hear our call.

Robert Parlante
Christmas 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas at Ikea




Every Christmas as an adult I am reminded of a favorite gift I received as a young boy. My gift request was an  Erector Set, a toy
construction system consisting of various metal beams with hole for assembly using nuts and bolts. I wanted the premium version with its myriad of pulleys, gears and wheels, and a small electric motor.

The gift had been wrapped for several days, sitting under the Christmas tree. Every time I passed by, it felt like it was calling my name. When no one was watching I would shake the gift. I thought it felt heavy enough to be the metal construction set. I was certain I could hear the jiggle of nuts and bolts. I was convinced I was going to receive the Erector Set.

I begged my parents to let me open the gift early. The answer was always NO! That was the only gift I was receiving that year. If opened early, there would be nothing to open on Christmas morning.

Every Christmas Eve we would go to my grandparents’ house for the ‘Festa dei sette pesci’ … the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional fasting meal where meats were not served. My parents said I could open the gift when we returned from my grandparents. I should have stopped there. I didn’t.

I was willing to sacrifice the cod, clams, mussels and calamari. Forget the scallops, fried smelts, and pasta with seafood. I pushed one more time to open the gift. My parents finally acquiesced. They were apparently tired of hearing from their pushy son. I sacrificed the meal of seven fishes and opened the gift.

It was the best dream gift I had ever received, and I immediately began skimming through the instructions to pick my first project. By the time my parents came home, I had assembled a Ferris wheel. Even they were impressed. “Potrebbe finire per possedere un carnevale un giorno!” my father had remarked. (translation: He may end up owning a carnival someday)

Well, I never ended up owning a carnival, nor did I have any desire to own one. I am not a huge fan of Ferris wheels. But to this day, it still begged the question: Did my preference for childhood toys predict my future? Sort of, but not exactly.

I ended up with three vocations in life: engineer, minister, writer.

Certainly, the Erector Set forecasted my engineering side. The toy had little to do with my minister side which is more the call of God on one's life, but my childhood experiences always manage to weave themselves into my writing like my first novel titled A Letter From Miss Wingate. So, two out of three is not bad.

Oh, there’s one more thing. I love assembling Ikea furniture! There are not many people who can say that! It’s not a whole lot different than an Erector Set with no verbal instructions … and only pictures to lead your way. And there are always parts or a bolt-fastener left over after the job is finished.

Share a thought with me. Pick either question or both:

1.  What your best or worst experience assembling something from Ikea?

2.  Was there a favorite toy in your life that predicted your future?

Robert Parlante
Christmas 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Finding Emmeline

Here's a sample of Rebecca McNutt's review of "Finding Emmeline" posted on Goodreads.com.

The adventures of Martin continue in this thrilling and captivating novel, and so far this is my absolute favourite of Robert Parlante's books, as it's definitely one of the most exciting and family/friendship oriented of them all. Always his companion in his work is Martin's wife, proving that love and companionship has no boundaries, and Finding Emmeline is also an excellent detective story with a mysterious premise. I loved this book...

Thanks Rebecca for your great review.

Robert Parlante
November 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Never Alone

A few years ago, a good friend honored me with a gift desktop bronze sculpture by Scott Stearman. It depicts a man holding a book and kneeling on one knee. Jesus is standing behind with both hands laying on the man’s shoulder. The artistic piece is titled “Never Alone.”

I have had the sculpture for at least fifteen years in our guest bedroom. Recently, I moved the piece to my desktop in the living room. Now I see “Never Alone” multiple times each day. It’s now a continuous reminder of my standing in Christ as a believer.

Ephesians 2:19-21 reminds us of that standing:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (ESV)

Here’s a paraphrase (theodysseyonline.com)of those verses: Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong.



You are never alone when you place your trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Robert Parlante
November 2017