Through Hell or High Water

One of the word prompts this past week was “buddy.”

This instantly brought to mind a man named Tyler. This guy is the Bucky to my Steve Rogers, the Pikachu to my Ash, or perhaps the Rocket to my Groot. Lame, geeky comparisons aside, Tyler is and has been my best friend since the 5th grade. This is somewhere in the ballpark of twelve years ago, and man is that a long time to stay friends.

It hasn’t all been great. We’ve said and done some pretty harsh things. We have insulted one another, broken one another’s hearts and put each other through some pretty low stuff.

But we have also loved well. Tyler has stood by my side on multiple occasions in the emergency room (granted, they all probably involved him somehow), backed me up when no one else would, listened to me dump all my emotional crap, and housed me when I needed a place to stay. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he will stand proudly beside me as the Best Man at my wedding someday, and I would not have it any other way.

There are many people that have come and gone in my life, especially during the last five years that I’ve spent in college towns, while Tyler is one who has always been there. He has made a significant impact on my life, and I hope that he would say the same about me.

As iron sharpens iron, God has placed Tyler and I in one another’s lives to encourage, to embolden, to build up, and to bless. I anticipate that I will never know a friendship stronger than I have with him, and I look forward to many more years of trouble, hardship, love and righteousness next to my brother.

Much Love and Many Blessings my friends,

Brady J. L. Smith

Adrift

Disheveled and brokenhearted, he looked down at the small box of things in his hands, and choked back the tears welling behind his eyes. These things had for so long filled the office that he was told he must now vacate, after so many years of service and dedication. He knew now that he had underestimated the power of the greed that drove his partner; a greed that had at one point not been so.

It was so beautiful when it all began, he thought to himself. With that, he walked solemnly through those doors for the very last time.


Upon pulling into the dusty gravel drive, he slowly halted the vehicle and contemplated the conversation he would soon have with his wife.

He gazed for a long time at all  that lie before him. There was not much, but this, at least, was still his. This could not be ripped from beneath him. He shifted into gear and approached the house. Slowly he walked through the door and greeted his beloved wife, gently kissing her round belly.

After hearing what he had to say, she wept. After a long silence, she spoke.

“Perhaps this could be a healthy change.”


Nearly a week had passed, and he had almost no luck finding a job to stay afloat. After twenty-seven applications he had received a mere four phone calls; one of these was his buddy that managed the gas station down the street, informing him that his request for a gas station points card had been denied and that they had open interviews on Tuesdays.

After hanging up, he sat motionless in that old leather chair by the window, watching the steady rain wash away the topsoil around his wife’s flowerbed. He felt overwhelmingly lost, cast adrift in the tides of life.


When did everything begin to head south? What could I have done differently?

He knew the answer to both, and he knew that what he could have done would not have been the right thing at all. His now ex-partner, who had for so long been his most reliable confidant, had become corrupt with power and greed. Together they had defied all expectations and built something wonderful – and now apart, he thought, they would both watch it crumble. He from afar, and his old friend from within.

One had allowed greed to consume him; the other felt only sorrowful pity.


As young men growing up in a small rural town, nobody ever imagined they would create the kind of change that they did. These two had no experience, no money and no business in the business world. All that they possessed were their fast friendship, a desire for change and an immovable passion to see others flourish.

It had seemed immovable, at least, for the first decade. After several bad deals, the threat of losing more than they could imagine, and the temptation to make even more, something changed in his dear old friend. A deep, incurable lust for more.


Several years and thousands of changed lives later, he noticed a hiccup in the numbers. At first they seemed like simple accounting mistakes; they were negligible, fixable. With time they grew to a point he could no longer ignore.

All of the evidence pointed one direction. Mind racing and heart beating out of his chest, he scrambled to find  another solution. There had to be some mistake. Had his partner fallen that far?

After a brief and estranged discussion, each knew they could not change the other’s mind. In pensive silence, he left the board room to gather his things.


As the pounding rain relented, the contrast of the fire crackling in the nearby fireplace drew his attention back to the present. The power within those bright embers, kept in check only by a single layer of brick, had always invoked in him a sense of awe.

Suddenly he noticed her across the room, and their eyes met, a warm smile gracing her lips as she quietly observed. Just to look upon her gave him hope. Together they had already overcome so much. Surely, this would be no different.

She was all that he needed.


 

If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you reading my short story! I recently started following a blog which posts one word prompts each day, and decided to write a short story, roughly 100 words at a time, using those words. I found this to be very challenging, not knowing what tomorrow’s prompt would be or how to direct the story, but this was a lot of fun to work on and really stretched me.

I hope it was a good read, and I always appreciate feedback. As always;

Much Love and Many Blessings my friends,

Brady J. L. Smith

 

Healthy Livin’

Today’s one word prompt is “Healthy.” I know what you must be thinking… “This is the second blog post today. Why is he lying to me? Which word is actually the word prompt for today?” I understand your frustration. Really, I do. It just so happens that I wrote the post about underestimation yesterday and never hit the publish button. Whoopsies.

The last year or so I have really made an effort to improve my health. Primarily, I have been focusing on my diet. Believe it or not, I survived for several years drinking two to three cans of Mountain Dew and eating Totino’s frozen pizza almost every single day, ate zero to few servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains or anything else healthy that I truly should have been consuming. My food pyramid consisted solely of red meat, sugar, dairy and grease. Only by the grace of God did I not blow up like a balloon, especially considering that my primary form of exercise for nearly two years was pwning n00bs on Halo:Reach.

Brady Old Food Pyramid.jpg

My old diet.

I’m sure that a large part of my diet was simply the fact that I was a teenage boy with an Xbox and several buddies who loved nothing more than to play games and eat junk every night after school, but I can’t help feeling like there was some flaw in my education regarding my diet. Nobody really ever pushed me to eat particularly healthy.

Today I am proud to blog before you now, that I am a changed man. Mountain Dew is an occasional treat, taken in almost uniquely while at the cinema. Frozen pizzas still show up on the menu from time to time. Daily though, I intake a healthy balance of carbs, protein and healthy fats, and I regularly eat fruits and vegetables – even often as a snack!

Even now, I continue to seek new ways to improve my health. Of late, I have been researching the healthiest countries in the world, graded by several factors, and am looking into how to best adopt the practices of those with an average lifespan of nearly ten more years than Americans (I find it astounding that this gap exists!).

This radical shift of mind and heart began when I interpreted a Bible verse in a way I never had before, and had never heard from others. Jesus speaks to the Pharisees about their “cups” being pleasing to the eye on the outside, while being filthy and displeasing on the inside. For some odd reason, when I read that discussion for probably the 100th time in my life, I felt convicted about the way in which I treat this Lord’s temple that I call my own body. I felt that working out and maintaining a healthy exterior meant nothing if I continued to destroy my internal organs with a garbage diet; not to mention the hormonal and mental effects of a diet loaded with sugars and processed goods.

So there I began my slow journey towards healthier living. I’m still not perfect at it, but my mindset has changed and that is most often the biggest obstacle to change. It is a slow and often difficult fight for me, but I know that it is well worth it, and promotes this life I intend to live extraordinarily well.

Care for your bodies my friends; not only on the outside but also on the in.

Much Love & Many Blessings

Brady J. L. Smith

(Never) Underestimate

This post is a bit of an experiment for me. Of late, I have been both very busy and very uninspired artistically. Regardless, I recognize my need to practice this thing called writing on a regular basis.

Today, I have decided to respond to a “writing prompt,” where the prompt is one word; Underestimate.

The first thing that comes to mind upon hearing this word is an old favorite band of mine named Relient K.  This band was incredibly important to me in those pivotal middle and high school years, as I began to wrestle with identity, spirituality, puberty and the realization that cooties weren’t actually something to be concerned about.

I can’t quite explain why, but Relient K just got me. They sang about everything from dating and breakups, to the fear of college days to come, to the fact that every young woman should wear mood rings for the safety and sanity of men worldwide. They even sang about the Thundercats, who happened to be one of my favorite shows as a young lad. Most importantly, they were a talented group of young men that I looked up to and aspired to be like who sang about the God I love and for whom I do my best to live my life.

Since the very first day I heard it on the radio while driving with my dad one afternoon, Relient K’s “Never Underestimate My Jesus” has been a reminder to me that my God can do everything, and that He empowers me to do the same. This always has been and likely always will be one of my favorite songs.

When I was in high school and beginning to lead worship in youth group, one of my closest friends and I co-lead this song for our congregation, and it is an experience I may never forget. The unity of two young men singing their hearts out for the love of their God, to the tune of their mutual favorite band, was a profound and moving four minutes, not only for me, but seemingly for the entire congregation.

Many years later, I would graduate from Purdue University and be treated by darling Katherine to an unexpected trip to see this band that had always meant so much to me. I was thrilled to have this experience with this amazing woman, and it has only bolstered my fondness for the band. This was easily one of the greatest gifts I have received in my short 23 years thus far, and I am so thankful for the experience.

Short and sweet, and rather basic. Here is a small tidbit of who I am. I hope you have enjoyed this little journey into my heart.

Be Blessed my Friends,

Brady J. L. Smith