A Year Ago Today

Thanks to Facebook, I was reminded that today is the one-year anniversary of my fender bender. The car behind me got hit and pushed into me. Thankfully, I sustained the least amount of damage.

Looking back, I see how it could have been so much worse. I could have been the middle car and ended up with damage on the front and back of my car. Instead, my rear bumper was all that needed repairing.

It took some patience and persistence to get my car fixed. The guy who started the whole incident was originally uncooperative with his insurance company, and that gummed up the works for a bit. Finally, he relented and everything got taken care of in good time.

I needed this reminder to help put my life in perspective. Every day that I’m alive is a good day. The only day that isn’t is the day that I fail to wake up at all. That day will be fantastic because I will wake up in the presence of Jesus. That’s truly a win-win.

My rear bumper needed replacing anyway. It had accumulated some dings and scratches in 19 years on the road. I would also seriously recommend USAA for those who are either military or have military family members. They are absolutely the best auto insurance company around.

At the end of the day, if you have nothing else to be thankful for, you can be grateful that you are still here. Let none of us ever take that blessing for granted ever again.


The Red Sled Lives On

Four years ago, I acquired this 1997 Jeep Cherokee, also affectionately known as the Red Sled. Said Red Sled now has over 323,000 miles and is still running like a champ (knock on the nearest wooden object I can find).

I don’t see any newer vehicles that I like quite as much as my beloved Jeep. Almost none of them has the style or personality. While the gas mileage isn’t the greatest, it gets me where I need to go with more than a little pizazz. That has to count for something.

I know it doesn’t look like a new car anymore. It has its share of dings and scratches and blemishes like any self-respecting 20 year old car should. I’ve seen a lot of cars not quite as old that look way more beat up and run down than mine.

I’m thankful for this Jeep, even if the KBB value is under $1000. It’s value to me is way more than monetary. There are lots of great memories (and a few sad ones, but the good ones far outweigh the bad) associated with this car. Lots of family and friends have ridden in it over the years, and lots of good conversations and laughter have taken place there.

I plan to keep driving the Red Sled for a while longer. It may not have the cool factor of a Wrangler or a CJ7, but it’s hip and trendy enough for me. Plus, the A/C still works great, which is always a bonus in the hot and sticky Tennessee weather we’re having (can fall please get here soon?).

I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about whether my car will get me where I need to go. It’s very dependable. And did I mention how cool I look driving it with my gnarly $20 shades?


Ryan Adams for the Road

I’m officially a fan of Ryan Adams. Well, his music anyway. I don’t really know Ryan Adams the human being, so I can’t really comment either way, but I’m working my way toward owning his entire music catalog.

I was listening to Heartbreaker in the car tonight. It’s one of those that I consider worthy road trip music. I almost felt like I needed to hit one of those open highways, roll down the windows, throw the road map out the window, and just drive.

I didn’t. Plus, I don’t really have an actual road map to throw out the window.

Ryan Adams is one of those rare artists whose music feels crafted rather than manufactured. It feels more like art painstakingly created by people than a commodity that’s mass produced by machines.

I’ve stopped caring whether the music is rock or country or jazz or pop or indie. I only care that it moves me on a deep soul-level and paints images in my mind and speaks to my condition.

I have a wide variety of musical tastes, not all of which fall into the hipster category (and some of which probably fall into the “I know, please don’t judge me” category).

I’m eagerly anticipating the new Ryan Adams album, due to arrive very shortly from the good people at Amazon. It will immediately go into heavy rotation in my Jeep.

I also look forward to the next Patty Griffin album, which I hope will arrive sooner than later. Fingers crossed.




Waking up, breathing in, and breathing out. That’s the gift. Everything else is gravy.

I had quite the interesting evening.

It started off as a normal Thursday. I stopped by Best Buy and browsed a bit. I stopped by Barnes & Noble and browsed a bit more.

I ended up at Maniacs for dinner, which seemed easier and more convenient than trying to turn left onto Mallory at 6 pm.

The trouble started when I got in my car to drive home. I put my key in the ignition and turned. Nothing.

I tried it again. Nothing.

I waited a bit and tried once more. Nothing.

One of the guys who worked there tried to jump-start my car. Nothing.

I ended up calling AAA. The guy who showed up tried the same thing. Nothing.

Then he did something I’ve never seen before. He took a long wooden pole and jabbed it at something in my engine while the jumper cables did their thing.

I almost felt like burning incense and chanting to help out. It felt that mystical.

Whatever he did, worked. I was able to start my car and drive to Advance Auto Parts, where further testing revealed that my battery, starter, and alternator were all fine and dandy, thank you very much.

I still don’t know what happened. Maybe I’ll never know.

I do know that sometimes God is trying to get me to trust in the dark. It’s not enough to trust Him when all my prayers are answered and when all my dreams come true.

Perhaps the best place is trusting no matter what. Even if my car doesn’t start, even if my life doesn’t make complete sense, even if I never see another tangible sign of God, I still have more than enough reason to praise Him. I still have more than enough reason to trust Him.

Can you trust God if the job offers don’t come? Can you trust God if the spouse you’re praying for doesn’t get well? Can you trust God if the money doesn’t come through to pay those bills? Can you trust God even if you can’t see any hope that God will ever bring that significant other into your life?

Ultimately, God is enough. When you finally get that, you can trust Him no matter what. I think I got one step closer to that tonight.


Rain, Rain, Go Away: The Sequel

I am officially over the rain. I liked it for a bit, then it got old. Then it continued to rain.

I spent more than double my usual commute time from work to the Starbucks on Franklin Road in Brentwood where my friend and I meet weekly to walk and talk.

Thankfully, I had classic 90’s tunes in the form of the fantastic album, Surfacing, by Sarah McLachlan. I do believe that 90’s music by and large is better than the current pop music playing on most radio stations.

Still, I got stuck in traffic. At times, I’m fairly certain I could have gotten out of my car and walked faster than I was driving.

I don’t know what it is, but being in extended traffic makes me weary. I suppose it’s from being constantly hyper-aware of all those drivers around me (including those numbskulls who STILL don’t have their lights on in the rain EVEN after my last blog specifically on that topic).

Ultimately, being stuck in traffic means that I have a job to drive to and from, a car to drive in, and a me that is healthy and able to drive said car to said workplace. That in itself outweighs and inconveniences caused by traffic delays and the snail’s pace.

It’s still all about perspective. Before you complain about your life, remember that you still have it better than most of the world’s population. In fact, most people would give anything to have your problems versus the ones that they are facing.

Before you whine about being the 99%, remember that if you have a roof over your head, more clothes than the ones on your back, more than one meal a day, running water, transportation, and cash in your pocket, globally speaking, you are the 1%.

Plus, I had a very good chestnut praline latte at Starbucks to reward myself for not losing my everloving mind over being in the car so long.

All in all, I’d call it a good day.


In Whatever You Do

“Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father” (Colossians 3:17 VOICE).

So, this is my 1,955th blog. Tonight, I revisited an old classic, To Catch a Thief, from the year 1955. Coincidence? I think not.

It’s always nice when a Wednesday turns into a Friday. For the lucky ones (like me), that means that we get both Thanksgiving Day and The Day After Thanksgiving (also known in some circles as Black Friday) off from work.

I’m thinking about these words. Whatever you do, do it all in the name of Jesus, sending thanks through Him to God our Father.

Do it all for the glory of God out of a spirit of thanksgiving. How appropriate is this verse? Maybe that’s why the good folks at Bible Gateway chose this to be their verse of the day on this November 25, 2015.

Today, I am thankful for my job. I’m thankful for my car that got me to my job. I’m thankful for good health and legs that were able to get me to my car, which got me to my job.

I’m thankful for friends who refuse to accept bumper sticker answers to hard questions. I’m thankful that I have friends who have stuck around when maybe they shouldn’t have.

I’m thankful for the abundance of turkeys who made the ultimate sacrifice for our feasts tomorrow. Your sacrifice will not be in vain. Trust me.

I’m thankful for 15-year old furry babies who still like to curl up in my lap and lower my blood pressure in the process.

I’m thankful for every single day that I get to live and remember those who didn’t get that chance.

I’m just plain thankful.

The end.



Here’s the Deal

So I found out today that the cost to repair the transmission on my Jeep is $2700. I almost needed the smelling salts as I typed that sentence. I’ll be sans car for up to four weeks. Pass those smelling salts, please.

That’s a lot of money. All for some itty bitty parts that decided on their own without consulting me or anyone else to stop working. All for some unseen mechanical gears that I didn’t even know existed until they decided to break down. Rude.

A lot of life is like that. Things break, people die, situations change. What seemed like a sure thing vanishes like the morning mist and what you thought would last forever ends abruptly without any warning.

It’s easy to let those things make you cynical, believing that only the very worst scenarios will play out and that nothing good can ever happen and that people are only out to get you.

Or it drives you deeper into all the Mystery that is the Abba Father.

As big as my car bill is, God is bigger.

As big as the void that is left by the passing of a loved one is, God is bigger.

As big as the hurt caused by the rejection of a friend or a family member, God is bigger.

As big as the accumulation of scars and wounds from a broken relationship are, God is bigger.

God is bigger than anything you will face today or tomorrow or the next day or any day after that.

God is bigger than any problem that you will ever face.

God is bigger than your fears and your doubts and even your unbelief.

Whatever circumstances, God will prove that He is enough. Everything you could possibly desire or want or hold in your hands without God is less than holding onto nothing but God.

That’s a lesson that all of us learn eventually, whether that means losing everything in a literal sense or in coming to the end of your own schemes and plans.

God is enough. God will be enough.

That is enough.


American Idols


I suspect that we’re all guilty of idolatry at some point. I wish I could remember the definition of idolatry I heard earlier today, but I didn’t take very good notes so I’ve forgotten most of it.

It had something to do with us valuing anything more than God, of seeking our identity and purpose in anything other than God.

In biblical times, idolatry often meant bowing down to little tin or bronze statues. But in our time, it is much more subtle. Sometimes it’s harder to detect because it looks like normal devotion.

I wonder how many parents idolize their children. Or how many children idolize their parents. Or maybe it’s men (and women, too, I suppose) who make idols out of their careers or their spouses.

I think anytime you say that your child is your world, you’ve created an idol out of him or her. The same goes for spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends.

You can even make religion into an idol if you get caught up in following rules and rituals for their own sake rather than because it pleases Jesus.

It can be wealth or the desire for wealth. It can be sex or the desire for sex. It can be a relationship or the overwhelming desire for one. Idols are tricky like that. It’s not about an object as much as the desire in your heart.

You can make idols out of genuinely good things, like your children, your marriage, your job, your bank account . . . just about anything and anyone can be an idol if you place it above God in your heart.

How do I know so much about idolatry? Because I’ve had more than my fair share of idols. I can always tell when a relationship has become idolatrous in my life because my peace of mind gets tied to my perception of how well that relationship is going.

It’s easy to point the finger at the Israelites in the Old Testament for their propensity for idolatry. Heck, they were barely out of Egypt before they were bowing down to golden calfs. But that tendency is just as much in me as it was in them. I suspect it’s in you, too.

I think we have idols because we haven’t fully grasped how good God is, how much He’s really for us, and how much He really does love us. Or maybe we’ve just forgotten like those old Israelites did back in the day.

The best way to combat idolatry is to remember. To go back and recall how it felt when you first grasped the love of God for you. Or as the Bible puts it, “to remember your first love.”

Ohhhhhhhh, Fudge– Yet Another Monday Morning in Perspective


This was one of those kind of Monday mornings that make you want to say, “Ohhhh, fudge.” At least it did for me. And yes, I mean the kind of fudge like in the movie A Christmas Story.


I was happily rolling along. . . well, at 5:30 am, it was more like sleepily rolling along to work. Then I looked up. It was either an 18-wheeler or large bus coming toward me, hugging the yellow lines. So I did what any red-blooded male would do.

I panicked.

I went to give the behemoth vehicle a wide berth and went too wide. My tires hit the edge of the pavement. It sounded like the whole side of my car was being shredded.

I managed to get to the side of the road. I was expecting to see gory car wreck carnage. Thankfully, all I saw was one fatally punctured tire.

I called AAA because I am mechanically challenged even when it comes to changing a tire. In my defense, those lug-nuts were on that wheel tight.

What was supposed to take 45 minutes or less took almost 1 1/2 hours. So I was late to work.

But after that, it got better. And I have to keep a few things in mind:

I’m sooo glad I had my AAA road service paid up.

I’m thankful I have a car to almost (but thankfully not) wreck.

I’m blessed to have a job to go to even if it occasionally starts at 6 am.

I’m grateful for a very understanding boss.

Most of all, I’m thankful every day that I don’t get what I deserve. I get grace instead.

PS  don’t suppose cussing in your head merits having to wash your mouth out with soap, right?


Another Day at McKay’s


I spent the afternoon in one of my favorite places on earth. For those who are unaware of my recent history, that would be a tiny used bookstore in West Nashville called McKay’s. And for those of you unfamiliar with Nashville, I use the word “tiny” in the most non literal sense of the word possible. The place is HUGE. It’s ginormous.


I traded in more movies and came home with a load of new treasures. And yes, I kept my salivating to a minimum. For a book/DVD/CD nerd, that’s not easy. It’s like walking into used heaven.


I picked up seasons 1-3 of Absolutely Fabulous, the complete series of Twin Peaks, season 2 of The Walking Dead, and the first series of A Fine Romance. I added Billie Holiday. Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, and The Beach Boys to my vast and varied music collection.

It was a very good day.


As always, I went in looking for one thing and came out with another. Kinda like when you go to Target for toothpaste and walk out with 15 items (but no toothpaste).

I’ve learned life with God is like that. I think I need to be dating like yesterday. He thinks I need to learn to love being me and grow in grace a bit more. I want a big salary and lots of moolah. He wants me dependent on Him in every moment.


I’ve learned (or am still learning to be more honest) that God’s ways are 100% better than mine 100% of the time. I think I want to much, but God sees my dreams and desires not as too big but as too small. Too limited and narrow and self-focused. God has a much bigger picture in mind, a much better dream, much grander desires for me.


And I still have $1.33 left over in credit.

PS I had a scary moment in the parking lot. I got to my car and realized I had locked it with my keys inside. 😮 Then I just “happened” to remember that I had stuck a spare key in my pocket this morning without really thinking about it.


I guess God had this afternoon in mind when He put that thought in my noggin. I definitely outsmarted myself again. One small heart attack and one call to AAA and one possible LONG wait averted.

Life is good, God is great, and I am still blessed.