Dumb Stuff

All I can say in my defense is that it’s been a long week and I was tired. I walked right out of that restaurant and got all the way home before I was reminded that I hadn’t paid for my dinner [insert face palm here].

Thankfully, I was able pay with my credit card over the phone, adding a little extra gratuity for my temporary attack of stupidity.

I confess my faux pas in order to remind us all that we will all do stupid stuff from time to time. We will do what we shouldn’t have done and leave undone what we should have done.

As I’m learning, the key is to give yourself grace and to allow yourself to be human. If God, who knows far more about you and your inner workings than even you do, is able to forgive you, why can’t you forgive yourself? Why can’t I?

Of course, the idea is to learn from your dumb stuff and not do a repeat of your stupid mistakes. Common sense and good judgment go along way. Still, there will be the inevitable lapses, especially when you’re tired, and you will have those head slapping moments when you realize just what an idiot moment you just had.

Give grace to others always, but in the process, don’t forget to give yourself a little grace as well.

 

Happy Half-Birthday, Peanut

Between all my activities (including a Kairos Greeter Team Pumpkin Carving Event Where No Actual Pumpkins were Carved), I almost completely forgot that my little rescue kitten is now 6 months old.

I didn’t actually forget as much as I’m really bad at math.  Based on the fact that she was 11-weeks old at the time I adopted her from the shelter on June 30, I guesstimate her birthday to be on April 15. That means her actual half-birthday was this past Monday. But I’m guessing by her very relaxed, semi-comatose state that she’s not too terribly upset.

She’s been nothing but a joy and comfort to me since my old cat Lucy crossed the rainbow bridge. She’s absolutely hilarious and her name fits her very well, as she’s a nut.

I’m still adjusting to life with a geriatric cat to life with a kitten. I forgot that kittens are so energetic and clumsy. They can also be super cuddly and affectionate.

I absolutely think that Peanut being in my life is a God-wink. He knew I needed a furry little critter to love and He practically put her in my lap. As with most God-moments, it wasn’t what I was expecting but just what I needed.

I’ve told the story about how she rescued me at the shelter (as well as how she herself got rescued from I-65). You might have to go back a few blog posts to find it, but it’s there.

I’m hoping and praying that she lives at least as long as Lucy, who made it all the way to 17. However long she lives, I’m sure it will be filled with love.

At the moment, she’s laid out in front of my laptop (so excuse any typos) and very much content. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

 

 

Blah, Blah, Blah– Another Assortment of Randomness

I had all these great ideas about what to write for my blog post, but I’m feeling a bit under the weather at the moment, so I’ll throw several of ’em in and see what sticks.

My grandmother turned 93 yesterday and we celebrated today. I’m convinced that people back then were made better than they are now (just like everything else). She may not have her memory or know what’s going on all the time, but she’s a resilient ol’ gal that’s as likely to make it to 100 as anybody.

At the Church at Avenue South, the pastor talked about Sabbath and how we need the rest. If you go 110% all the time without ever taking any down time, sooner or later your body will remind you in not so subtle ways that it’s good to stop and rest. No one can go 24/7 infinitely without a break. Even Jesus took naps and periodically sought out places to be alone.

The Tennessee Titans may be reverting back to their old sucky ways, but my fantasy football team is 4-1 as of today. Last year, all the breaks went to my opponents, so it’s nice to finally catch a few breaks myself.

I don’t feel awful. I just feel a little stuffy and achy (with a slight fever), but I’m not the typical male who’s ready to have his last rites read. I’m hoping some Vitamin C and a good night’s rest will have me back and running at full speed on Monday.

My little kitten Peanut continues to crack me up with her crazy wild antics. She also continues to eat and poop like a racehorse (as well as almost literally grow leaps and bounds right before my eyes). She’s no longer the tiny thing I brought home from the shelter over 3 months ago.

I’m still holding out hope that next week will finally bring some actual fall weather where I can wear flannel and/or jackets. I’m way past done with sweat-inducing weather. I’m sure the people downwind of me are, too.

That’s all. Happy Sunday and have a great week!

 

My Mushy Brain Post

Somewhere between the long work week, the rain, and me getting up at 5 am every morning, my lil’ brain became mush. So don’t expect anything profound or deep from this post. I even made the mental faux pas of saying that Monday was Memorial Day (instead of Labor Day, which is the correct upcoming holiday).

After work, I met up with some fellow Kairos greeters for dinner at McAllister’s Deli. It felt a little surreal, as I used to work at a McAllister’s in Germantown (the one just outside of Memphis, not the one close to downtown Nashville). The food was good (one Spud Max), the conversation was good, the half tea/half lemonade was decent but not great.

Carried away by all the good feelings, I went next door to Golf Galaxy and bought a Yeti tumbler. Yeah, I know. I said I’d rather have a less expensive knockoff. And I don’t even play golf. Chalk it up to the mushy brain syndrome. Plus, I really like the retro green color.

My little kitten continues to be a sweet, affectionate little thing. I believe she’s as grateful today as she was on the day I rescued her and brought her home from the shelter just over two months ago. She likes to cuddle and purr at least once a day, and she seems to like just about everybody.

Right now, I’m content. The only improvement I might make is if I could somehow sleep under a tin roof in the rain. I think that’d definitely help me drift off to sleep faster.

As always, I’m thankful for another day to be alive with my five senses to take it all in. Truly, at the end of the day, it’s all grace and anything good that came my way today is all God.

 

Life Lessons from a Dying Baby Bird


Earlier while I was mowing the lawn, I almost ran over a baby bird in the yard. It was so tiny and scrawny that I almost mistook the little guy for a leaf or debris. I looked around for a bird nest he might have fallen out of, but couldn’t find anything.

I cupped him in my hands and took him to the side of the house where I wouldn’t have to worry about accidental “bird”-slaughter with the lawnmower.

It was obvious from the first moment I saw it that the bird was most likely not destined to live much longer. It didn’t have very many feathers and couldn’t fly.

I felt awful watching him open his little mouth looking for food. I wish I could have done more, even though I know there was precious little I could have done to save this baby bird.

That made me think. Sometimes there are people in our lives that we desperately want to help. You may have tried numerous times but in each case, either the help is not wanted or not received.

Sometimes, all you can do for someone is to love them. You can no more save them than I could that baby bird. But maybe in loving someone like that you can save yourself.

There is so much fleeting beauty in this life that passes like a vapor. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it and afterwards, you are never the same. I think it was another God-wink moment.

I suppose I’ll give the little guy a proper burial out of respect when he finally passes. It seems like the very least I could do. Maybe there’s a bird heaven where he’ll finally find his wings and his family.

I know that this isn’t how it was supposed to be in the beginning and I also know one day when all creation is restored, all things will be put right again.

PS When I woke, the little bird has passed away. I gave him as fitting a funeral as I could manage at 6 am before my morning commute. I like to think my life is just a bit richer for knowing this little guy.

Trying Less and Trusting More

“Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen” (The Book of Common Prayer, Second Sunday of Lent).

Why is it that the harder you try not to laugh the more you end up laughing? It seems especially true when you’re in a place where laughter is completely inappropriate yet you just can’t help yourself.

I know for me sometimes that the more I try to do good and be good, the more I find the not so good showing up in me (or to use an old fashioned word that’s definitely considered politically incorrect, sin).

Christianity isn’t about trying harder and being more moral or keeping rules for the sake of keeping rules. It’s not about God helping those who help themselves (which isn’t even in the Bible– Benjamin Franklin said it). FYI, if we could help ourselves, we wouldn’t have needed God or faith or Christianity to begin with.

Christianity is all about those who know they can’t help themselves (in every sense of the word). It’s for all those who’ve tried and failed so many times they’ve lost count.

Christianity is about how Jesus has already done for us what we could never hope to do for ourselves. It’s His resurrection power that enables us to live right because it’s His life in us.

It’s about God promising to finish the good work He started in us long ago and keeping His promise because God is a Promise Keeper.

 

 

Grace for Today

“My message, unchanged for more than fifty years, is this: God loves
you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because
nobody is as they should be. It is the message of grace…A grace
that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages
as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten till five…A grace that
hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking
of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands,
or buts…This grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without
asking anything of us…Grace is sufficient even though we huff and
puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot
cover. Grace is enough…Jesus is enough” (Brennan Manning, All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir)

I had a decent sort of day. Not fantastic. Not horrible. Just decent.

On days like these, I need the grace of God.

I’ve had days where everything goes wrong and I have two left feet and I can barely remember my own name.

On those days, I need the grace of God.

I’ve also had days where all the traffic lights were green and I got the coffee/creamer mix just right and I was in rare form at work.

On those days, I need the grace of God.

There’s not a day that will ever go by where I don’t need grace.

My advice for those of you reading this. You need grace every day, so give grace every day.

Social media these days is filled with vindictiveness and spiteful words, mostly along the lines of my side is right, therefore yours must be evil and wrong and stupid.

Buck the trend by showing and giving grace to everyone, even those on the other side of the political aisle who say things you don’t agree with.

Give grace because you may one day need it from someone else.

Give grace because you have already received it in abundance from the God of all Grace.

I love grace because it comes to me when I don’t deserve it and is always more than I expected and always leaves me better than when it found me.

That’s God’s way. That’s grace.

 

You Can Never Out-give God

“Our Lord Jesus is ever giving, and does not for a solitary instant withdraw His hand. As long as there is a vessel of grace not yet full to the brim, the oil shall not be stayed. He is a sun ever-shining; He is manna always falling round the camp; He is a rock in the desert, ever sending out streams of life from his smitten side; the rain of his grace is always dropping; the river of his bounty is ever-flowing, and the well-spring of his love is constantly overflowing” (Charles Spurgeon).

I’m not one of those people who believe that with enough faith, you can name and claim vast sums of money, mansions, and other material wealth. I don’t believe God is a celestial genie whose sole purpose is to give us our every wish and whim.

I do believe that God always gives the greatest gift– God gives God.

The greatest blessing isn’t the kind that shows up on a bank account statement. It isn’t one that you list on your income tax returns.

The greatest blessing from God is that serene peace that comes from knowing God will keep every promise toward you and there will never be a moment where you slip out of God’s hand.

The greatest treasures aren’t things. The currency in heaven isn’t gold– it’s love. it’s those who will be there because of your testimony both spoken and lived out. All you can take with you is what you’ve given away, as the line from It’s a Wonderful Life goes.

I’m all for those who are financially successful. I’m all for having nice things. I also know that he who dies with the most toys, still dies, and you can’t take those toys with you.

All you can take is the love of God that you’ve given away.

 

 

I Need A Little Handel’s Messiah

I need a little Handel’s Messiah right about now.

I’m recalling a conversation with someone at my workplace revolving around the wildfires that raged through parts of East Tennessee, including Gatlinburg. The gist of the conversation is that the fires burned so hot that they literally melted the aluminum rims off the trucks and cars there.

That’s hot enough that any people caught up in it would have been incinerated.

That means that some of those missing people will never be found. There’s nothing left to find but possibly some ashes.

I can’t even begin to comprehend. I can’t begin to fathom how I’d cope if one of those missing people was one of my parents or my sister or any of my nephews or niece.

I need a little Handel’s Messiah right about now.

I need to be reminded that at the darkest point in human history, God intervened. He didn’t send a 12-step program (as good and useful as those are) or a self-help manual. He sent Himself. He sent Emmanuel, forever God is with us.

Handel’s Messiah is perhaps one of the few perfect pieces of music in existence. At times, it comes as close as these ears will ever get to heaven’s music. Plus, its straight Scripture set to music, so truly how bad can it be?

I remember a long time ago at Ridgeway Baptist Church, I was able to be a part of a choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus. I seriously doubt that it’s a mortal sin if you stay seated during that song, but once you really grasp that this Emmanuel will reign forever and ever, you just about can’t help but stand up.

The odds are very much against me making it through the entire Messiah, but I’ll get as far as I can before sleepiness takes over.

And yes, I know I am a major music nerd, but I can’t help that I love great works of art, particularly of the musical kind.

 

The Beauty of Scars

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I saw a girl who had scars on her face today outside of Starbucks. What struck me most weren’t the scars themselves but how beautiful she was, not in spite of her scars but because of them. I wonder if she’s ashamed of her scars as most people are or if she sees them in a different way.

Most of us have a scar or two. I have one on my left hand from an automobile accident from several years ago. Some of the most painful scars are the ones no one can see, the ones we bear inside our bodies rather than outside.

Still, from the right perspective, scars are beautiful. Every scar tells a story and reveals a history of God’s ability to rescue and heal. Scars mean that you are still here, that you endured whatever ordeal and came out stronger on the other side. Scars mean that you survived.

Jesus Himself still bears His scars from Calvary. The wounds in His wrists and side are still there, reminding us that scars are not shameful wounds to be kept hidden but tattoo of overcoming.

No one gets through this life unscathed. Well, perhaps if you hide under your bed and play it safe for 80 years you might make it without scars. If you hide your heart away in a lock box and never let it out, you can avoid having it get broken (but you also avoid feeling anything deeply).

Perhaps I should rephrase. No one who really lives goes through life unscathed and unscarred. It’s impossible. People and circumstances will wound you, sometimes deeply, but there is no wound that God cannot heal and no circumstance God cannot work for your good and His glory.

Trust me. Scars are good. Wear them proudly to remind yourself and others that scars mean that you’re still here and not going anywhere anytime soon.

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