100% Original

Everything you read tonight (or possibly tomorrow morning or afternoon) is completely original with nothing borrowed, copied, or stolen from anyone else. No quotes. No references. Nothing. Got it? Let’s proceed.

In this day and age of overblown reactions to everything and in response to all the fake news that seems to be more prevalent than actual real news, I’m loving my Netflix. Sure, none of it has any basis in fact, but that’s what makes it so great. I can invest myself in people who are completely made up.

Case in point: Gilmore Girls. I know I’m in danger of having the already shredded remains of my man card painstakingly reassembled just so that it can be immediately burned alive. But I do love this show.

I think it’s because of the witty dialogue. No one can talk this way (at least not for very long), but it’s the ideal I strive toward in every conversation.

I also find myself immersed in the strange and wonderful world of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (the current series and not the movie from 2004). I do love Jim Carr

Listening with Soft Eyes

I heard someone use an intriguing expression today in a conversation. She talked about empathetic listening and used the expression “listen with soft eyes.”

If you take it literally, it sounds kind of stupid. Of course, people listen with their ears, not their eyes. But when you take into account that 90% of communication is nonverbal, it starts to make more sense.

Most of us (me emphatically included) tend to listen not to hear but to respond. All the while the other is speaking, we’re coming up with the perfect retort to win the argument or the perfect solution to fix the other’s problem.

To me, listening with soft eyes means listening with compassion. It means I don’t try to fix the way you feel– even if it seems irrational and counterproductive to me. It’s me saying, “I know what you’re going through is hard and I know you must feel scared or tired or frustrated. I’ve felt like that lots of times before.”

Real listening is an art form that takes practice. Especially if you have a flighty attention span like me. You have to train yourself to listen not to just words being spoken but to facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc.

I confess that while I like to think I’m a good listener, many times I am anything but. I can get distracted and lose the train of the conversation and walk away without any clue about what the other person was saying.

I think a lot of us do that. It’s happened to a lot of us. And it’s frustrating when you know you’re not being heard. Truly heard.

So one of my Second Half of 2015 Resolutions is to work on listening better. Being a better friend, husband, wife, lover, father, mother, son, daughter, or anything else starts by being a better listener.

So, I’m learning to listen with soft eyes.


My Idea of Nirvana on a Spring Evening


Last night, it was on the brisk side, if not chilly, and overcast. As much as I’ve grown to covet sunshine these days, I didn’t mind too much. I had a picture come to mind of what I’d like to be doing at that moment. It’s not the most exciting or thrilling of possibilities, but it works for me.

I’d be at a local coffee shop, sipping on some organic tea (or maybe some kind of chai or an exotic latte if the mood strikes). I’d have a good book in hand, maybe a British murder-mystery or a book of poetry, and there’d be some mellow folksy music playing in the background (think Joni Mitchell, Peter Bradley Adams, or Carole King-type tunes). Or maybe some old-school jazz in the tradition of Miles Davis, Red Garland, or Wes Montgomery.

That would be my idea of peace and tranquility and a good time. Not watching a 24-hour news channel ad nauseum. Don’t get me wrong. If you watch Fox News or CNN non-stop, then go for it. I just get tired of talking heads talking about the same things for hours upon hours without variation. The same goes for most talk radio I’ve experienced in my life. Fiction, especially of the fantasy kind, is infinitely more interesting to me. I like my television to be as non-realistic as possible.

I like my Starbucks like the rest, but I’m thinking this needs to be a more local-type place, like Eighth and Roast or Edgehill Cafe. Actually, now that I think about it, sitting outside the Edgehill Cafe with my tea and my book and occasionally glancing up to watch the people passing by sounds perfect.

If I ever get the notion, you’re more than welcome to join me. I might even put my book down and we could have ourselves a good conversation.


10:55 PM


I know I’m not the only one who does this.

You have a picture in your head about how your weekend will go. You envision going to a party and who you will see there and maybe even what you’ll talk about.

Then reality sets in.

There’s no party. So what’s plan B?

It turned out plan B was every bit as good as plan A. I got to spend time with my family, which is always a good thing.

Here’s what I’ve learned. God’s plan Bs are always better than our plan As. In fact, some times, I’m thankful that some of my plan As didn’t work out the way I wanted them to.

So trust God for His plan B. Trust God when your plans don’t work out. Heck, even if it seems like a plan C . . . or even a plan Z. . . God is working all things together for good.

Trust Him.

A Beautiful Worship Prayer


“God, deliver us from the professionalizers! Deliver us from the ‘low, managing, contriving, maneuvering temper of mind among us.’ God, give us tears for our sins.

Forgive us for being so shallow in prayer, so thin in our grasp of holy verities, so content amid perishing neighbors, so empty of passion and earnestness in all our conversation. Restore to us the childlike joy of our salvation.

Frighten us with the awesome holiness and power of Him who can cast both soul and body into hell (Matt. 10:28).

Cause us to hold to the cross with fear and trembling as our hope-filled and offensive tree of life. Grant us nothing, absolutely nothing, the way the world views it. May Christ be all in all (Col. 3:11).

Banish professionalism from our midst, Oh God, and in its place put passionate prayer, poverty of spirit, hunger for God, rigorous study of holy things, white-hot devotion to Jesus Christ, utter indifference to all material gain, and unremitting labor to rescue the perishing, perfect the saints, and glorify our sovereign Lord.

Humble us, O God, under Your mighty hand, and let us rise, not as professionals, but as witnesses and partakers of the sufferings of Christ. In His awesome name. Amen” (John Piper).

God, help us always to worship in spirit and in truth, whether that be in a setting with hymns and an organ or with a band and modern worship songs or in the midst of our daily lives in how we reflect the glory of God in our actions and words.

Forgive us yet again for reducing worship to singing songs on certain days of the week. Help us to remember that every day we worship by laying down our lives as an offering, holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1-2).

Help us always to remember that the sweetest sound in God’s ear is a joyful noise and a grateful heart.



A Small Sign


I went to downtown Franklin for the Main Street Festival. I visited all my usual haunts: McCreary’s Irish Pub, Frothy Monkey, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

While in my favorite church, I prayed that God would lead me to the person or people I needed to see that night. Or something like that. I don’t remember exactly. I prayed I would see at least one familiar face that night.

I did. Toward the end, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in a while. It was a short conversation, but it was a good reminder: God hasn’t forgotten me yet.

It’s funny how God sends little signs like that all the time. I confess that most of the time I miss these little signs in my quest to find the ultimate sign from God.

But God is always patient with me, more so than I deserve. There’s a verse in 1 Timothy, I think, that says that if we are faithless, God will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.

I’ve claimed that verse many times for myself when I felt faithless or just full of doubts and fear. And never once has God proved to be anything less than 100% faithful to His promises to me. Oh, and to me, too.

My Favorite Gospel


“The synagogue attendant gave Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus unrolled it to the place where Isaiah had written these words:

The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me.
Why? Because the Eternal designated Me
to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them.
He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free,
and to tell the blind that they can now see.
He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression.
In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim that now is the time;
this is the jubilee season of the Eternal One’s grace.[a]

Jesus rolled up the scroll and returned it to the synagogue attendant. Then He sat down, as a teacher would do, and all in the synagogue focused their attention on Jesus, waiting for Him to speak. He told them that these words from the Hebrew Scriptures were being fulfilled then and there, in their hearing” (Luke 4:17-21).

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me what my favorite gospel was. It had something to do with my personality type. I said my favorite was Luke, but I couldn’t really pinpoint why other than pointing out the way Luke notices and writes down all the little details.

I think I know why now.

I’m in a class at my church where we’re reading through a Gospel each week and this past week, I read Luke. Well, actually, the past two days. I’m a bit of a procrastinator.

More than any of the Gospel writers, Luke is a champion of the disenfranchised and the outcast. He’s the only one to mention the lowly shepherds who were chosen by God to be the first evangelists and missionaries for the newborn Christ.

He points out that Joseph and Mary couldn’t afford a lamb so they brought two turtle-doves instead.

He’s the only one to include the parable of the Good Samaritan, where the hero is a despised outcast, as well as pointing out that the Good News is for all peoples everywhere. For people like me. For people like you.

That’s why I love the Gospel of Luke.

PS They’re all really, really good. I recommend reading one (or all of them) at some point very soon.

The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Excitement Himself


I had quite the fun-filled day. Ok, there were no bungee jumps or skydives or cliff dives involved. No high speed chases or death-defying stunts either. But for me, it was fun.

It started off with a bit of bowling. I have to admit I bowled two royally sucky games but I had fun. Plus, any excuse to get out my $7 Goodwill bowling ball and my $5 thrift store bowling ball bag is worth it (and it ups my cool factor by 50%).

From there, I met some of my Kairos greeter friends at Edley’s BBQ on 12th Ave. South for some good food and good comversation. Not to mention something called Brunswick Stew, also known as a little bowl of heaven. I highly recommend it.

That led to some supremely good ice cream at Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams  just down the street. They had a flavor called goat cheese  with red cherries (which I was not brave enough to try but I will get it next time. And yes, there will be a next time very soon).

I’ll have to put in at least 48 straight hours on the elliptical to burn off all the calories I consumed, but it was worth it. Sometimes, you just have to say “To heck with it” and live a little. Not every day, but every once in a while.

I drove home under a full moon with good music playing and a sense of peace and well-being. In moments like these, I fully appreciate how completely blessed I am and how I already have everything I need.

PS I have a birthday coming up in 12 days. I accept all major credit cards, cash, check, and servitude. I also accept birthday dinners and surprise parties. Just FYI.

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive


Sometimes, life will hand you lemons. You could make them into lemonade, but without sugar and water to go with it, your lemonade is really going to suck. Or you could freeze those lemons and throw them at all those people who really annoy you. Just a thought.

Maybe it’s a friend who really disappointed you and wasn’t around when you needed them. Maybe it’s a long work week where you seem to have not only two left feet but two left hands as well. Maybe it’s just a general sense of discouragement at where you find yourself compared to so many others.

Here’s the cure. Focus on the good things in your life, or as the old song says. accentuate the positive.

Here are some of my positives which may or may not inspire you to find your own (or you could just steal mine if you like):

1) I woke up this morning and got out of bed and got dressed and went to work. It may not seem like much, but I know a lot of people who didn’t get that privilege today.

2) I greet on Tuesdays at Kairos (a young adult worship experience) with some of the most amazing people, each of whom I am blessed to know and to call friends.

3) The three C’s essential to any early morning– coffee, chocolate, and caffeine. All three are marvelous.

4) I can pull out my Bible (or pull out my iPhone or my iPad and bring up my Bible app) and instantly be encouraged and motivated and strengthen at any time of day or night.

5) Instead of lamenting about how far I am from where I need to be, I can celebrate how far I’ve already come and who I am now versus who I used to be.

6) If I look through eyes of faith, I can always find blessings and joys stashed throughout my week and choose to live out Eucharisteo in every moment.

7) No matter how bad my day may suck, it will never last more than 24 hours. No matter how bad the week seems, it will never have more than 7 days. And that includes Friday and Saturday.

8) My cat Lucy is always happy to see me when I come home and loves to tell me how her day went. Ok, not really. She’s more the silent type, but still her presence is a great comfort to me.

9) I love seeing how my nephews and niece are discovering this great big world and their place in it. They are becoming who God made them to be and I love the previews I get of what that will look like.

10) I have my favorite places that always make me happy: my corner of the couch in the morning, downtown Franklin, serving at Kairos and Room in the Inn, and being around my family and friends.

Joy is a choice that I must make every single day. If I want my life to matter and if I want the people I live with and work with and play with to see a difference in me, the only way is me living out of joy and gratitude and thanksgiving at the never ending goodness and mercy and steadfast love of God.

And there’s those three C’s.