Return to Radnor


I read recently that exercise is one of the most underutilized antidepressants. It’s also a great way to enjoy this beautiful spring weather we’re having here in Tennessee.

After several months, I finally made it back to Radnor Lake State Park. And yes, it was more than worth the wait.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait to get in. I was surprised at how easily I was able to find a parking spot. I figured that half of Nashville would want to take advantage of the ideal weather and get in a little hiking. Apparently not.

So my friend and I got our hiking in. There’s nothing like a strenuous hike to show you how out of shape you are. For me, it involved lots of heavy breathing and more than a little wheezing. It was not my finest moment.

Still, I was in my favorite place doing one of my favorite activities. I call that a win, even on a Monday.

Not even a brush fire could diminish the beauty of Radnor. Apparently, a brush fire burned about 1/2 to 2/3 of an acre, but I believe that it will come back better and more glorious than ever.

I still think it’s one of the best kinds of therapy to get out into nature and breathe deeply (with only a sleeping cat in your lap topping it). It’s healing for the soul to get away from electronics and technology and all things man-made and get back to what God created.

After a while, I started breathing normally again. If I didn’t know any better, I’d almost say I got a “hiker’s high,” similar to the euphoria and endorphins release that runners experience. Plus, there was a breeze blowing with just a hint of crispness to it.

I think I’ll sleep better tonight than I have in a while. And I will be back to Radnor soon enough.


Return to Radnor

I returned to Radnor Lake State Park. Sure, it was hot and sticky. Combine that with my propensity for sweating and the result is usually not pretty. But I didn’t care.

I was in my Walden Pond. I was in my safe haven.

I trekked down my favorite trail and then added about an hour’s worth of walking. I put in about 2 1/2 hours of walking, totaling just under 6 miles. I should sleep good tonight.

My favorite part is the silence. I don’t mean the total and complete absence of sound but the absence of the usual noise and clamor I hear for the greater part of my day. All I heard around me were the subtle sounds of nature.

The thought occurred to me as I was walking that the silence around me was sacred and to disturb it would be profane. So many people in this day and age are almost afraid of silence, filling their lives with nonstop noise and ceaseless clamor. I believe that silence can be the empty space where the words of God fill in, where my heart is finely tuned to hear what He’s been saying to me all along in all my busyness, hustle and bustle, ceaseless clanging noise.

I didn’t see as many critters this time. Perhaps they’re just as weary of the heat and humidity as I am. Maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right places. I’ve been known to not always be the most observant person.

I’m still game for living in Thoreau’s Walden Pond, even if that means taking a break from all things electronic. Some days, I could use that break to restore my calm.

PS I got my steps in (and then some). I ended up with 22,245 steps, or about 9.87 miles. No wonder my feet hurt.


18,000 Steps and Counting

I was supposed to meet my friend at Radnor Lake, but that plan fell through. So I had a little deviation from my normal Monday routine. I stopped by Grimey’s Too, one of my favorite used music stores, then headed over to Crockett Park in Brentwood. After all, this was too pretty a day not to get in some walking.

I started off my hike with 7,000 steps on my Fitbit. I ended up with over 18,000. That’s a lot of walking for an hour and a half. I felt great afterward. Sore, but great.

I still believe that the key is to slow down occasionally. That is about as counterculture as you can get these days when the mantra is always more and faster and hurry up. We have all these time-saving devices and actually save less time and have less down time than any previous generation in history.

I work hard at my job. I also know when it’s time to stop. The almighty job can consume you if you let it, but it makes a pretty poor idol. Just ask any of a number of people who dedicated their lives to a company and a career only to get laid off due to “less than expected profits.”

Plus, you can almost never go wrong with exercise and fresh air. Nothing can clear the mind and calm the soul like nature can. The added bonus is all those endorphins that kick in after a good sustained walk (or jog, if you prefer).

You still choose what’s important. You still decide what matters by what you deem worthy to make time for. Too busy is a myth. If something (or someone) is truly significant to you, you will always find time for it (or them). Period.

At the end, I saw probably one of the best college basketball finals ever. I really didn’t have a dog in the hunt, so I was able to truly enjoy the best two teams in college basketball showcasing why they both deserve to be national champions. Unfortunately for North Carolina, Villanova had the last word. And the last shot.

So go for a walk tomorrow. Just get up and move. Preferably outside if the weather is still nice.


14,000 and Counting

I set a new personal Fitbit record. I took over 14,000 steps today. That’s over 6 miles.

I also set the timer on my phone and spent 10 minutes in silence at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Guess which was harder. Guess which felt longer.

If you picked the 10 minutes, you win the satisfaction of knowing you were right.

Why is it so hard to be still and silent for any length of time? Why is it that we feel compelled to check our smart phones or our watches or anything to distract us from stillness and silence.

Is it that those wonderful smart phones have further eroded our attention span to the point that we must have ceaseless stimulation throughout the day?

We’re losing the ability to interact with real people in real time in real conversations because we spend so much time virtually interacting with others through social media.

I’m not saying social media is evil. I’m not saying all of us need to immediately go on hiatus from all forms of social media starting today.

I am saying that we need to look up and look around us periodically. See the sunset. Go to a Starbucks and watch other people (but not in a creepy way). Have face-to-face conversations, make phone calls to your friends, write letters by hand, and live your life.

Since it’s Advent, maybe pay attention to all those decorations that are popping up all around you. That funny cat video can wait.

For those of you with kids, put your phones down. Your children will only be small for such a short time. It’s likely that the technology that made your smart phone possible will still be around long after your kids have grown up and left home and it’s no longer possible to create magical moments with them. So do that now.

Find five or ten minutes in your day to simply sit in God’s presence and be still and silent.

Trust me. It’s good for your soul.


Fitness Progress Report #1


I’m starting the second week of my new fitness plan. And I get that I need to come up with a better name than “my new fitness plan.”

So far, my goals are to exercise at least six times a week, eat healthier, i.e. way less sweets, carbs, red meats, etc., and to take those extra small steps that add up to overall better fitness.

By that, I mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Intentionally parking farther away from the store to get those extra few steps in. Drinking water instead of tea for meals. Only eating out once a week.

So far, so good. I don’t say perfect. I could have done better. But this is not about beating myself up if I don’t get it exactly right every time. It’s about doing it better than the last time. After all, every little bit helps and every step counts.

It’s good to have friends who will encourage you and hold you accountable. I have one of those. It’s helped me during those times when I was feeling unmotivated or just plain lazy.

I’m not expecting to drop 50 pounds in one week. For one, that’s unrealistic. Also, if I lost 50 pounds, I’d look funny.

This is not a diet. This is a lifestyle change.

There will be more of these progress reports to come.

Just remember that God loves you no matter what body type you are or whether you love or hate your own body. God loves you regardless of whether you fit the traditional mold of what’s considered beautiful or not. He made you just like you are and think’s you’re to die for.

I just wanted to throw that out there.

A Good Weekend


As I stepped into my car to head home from a Sunday School class party, I could hear the hypnotic drone of cicadas and felt 10-years old again and ready for the next big adventure. That’s what life really is. At least for those who have their eyes open to appreciate the mystery and wonder in each gift God unwraps daily called life.

I still fondly remember running through the streets of downtown Nashville with my friend Katie to catch the next act at Live on the Green, Michael Franti. It was a moment I never imagined happening, yet if you were to ask what my all-time favorite moment was, this one would be climbing the charts. And no Gatorade ever tasted better than the ones from the Exxon convenience store on the way home.

How can I forget an impromptu Starbucks session of great conversation and good coffee drinks? I can’t remember two hours flying by that fast. It was yet another in a long line of unexpected treasures and blessings God has showered on me lately.

I remember Friday and Saturday in downtown Franklin, seeing some of my favorite McCreary’s people and savoring yet another beautiful summer night visiting my usual haunts and trekking my familiar path up and down Main Street. I especially recall how quiet it was in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church as I sat silent and still and expectant, waiting on a Word from God.

I finally fell asleep at 4:30 this morning after another night of tossing and turning. I think I’ll sleep better tonight. At least I hope I do. But even that time awake gave me time to reflect on all the little gifts that eucharisteo had opened my eyes to see.

I remember something my Sunday School teacher Derek Webster said. He said, “God believes in you even more than you do.”

I have to write that down somewhere. Oh yeah, I guess I just did. But I need it in a place where I can find it and see it every morning, because I know some mornings I’ll wake up and not be as excited to be alive. Those old self-doubts will creep in. The enemy will whisper, “See? Nobody really cares about you. No one would notice if you weren’t around. You don’t make one bit of difference to anybody.”

That’s when this Truth of God comes in. God says differently. To me. To you. To anyone who heard and followed the voice of Jesus. God said you do matter because I made you. Jesus said you matter because I thought you were to die for. You have a gift and a purpose that no one else ever in the history of mankind has ever had. Only you can play the part God wrote for you in the Great Romance He’s written out in history.

You being you makes God smile. You being who God created you is what the world around you needs to see more than any Billy Graham or Mother Teresa. You coming alive to your gifts and talents will be the ripple in the ocean whose effects will last far beyond your own lifetime.

Yep. All that from four days in August.

Movin’ On Up (To The East Side)


Once again, I had the fun privilege of participating in the annual Belmont Move-In Day for incoming freshmen. You couldn’t have asked for better weather, i,e, mid 70’s with low humidity. It was perfect.

I had a blast as usual (this being my 3rd year) and was thankful yet again that the dorm I was assigned to didn’t have six floors. And that I was in much better physical shape than that first year.

I know college is supposed to be somewhat traumatic at first, but I think it’s the parents who are more traumatized than the kids. Most of the freshmen looked thrilled at the new possibilities and the open potential that lay ahead. The dads look mostly stoic and the moms looked to be on the verge of tears. Ok, not really, but that’s how I imagined the scenario playing out when no one else was watching.

Seeing a guy carrying up an old-school non-flat screen TV reminded me sharply of an old TV I dug out of a dumpster. It had the usual colors of a color TV, but it also had a green button that (amazingly enough) turned the whole screen green. I’m not sure what purpose that button served. It did make for interesting sit-com experiences.

That old TV worked for the rest of my senior year at Union University. In fact, it worked up until the day I brought it home. I can say for sure that I got my money’s worth out of it.


Anyway, I met a lot of amazing people. From some of the Belmont students I met, I can tell you that my hope for the future is considerably brighter. They seem a lot more mature than most incoming college freshmen, Or at least more mature than I was at 19 (who am I kidding? I’m still not all that mature).

I’m praying that God will lead these freshmen to find godly mentors and older students who will walk ahead of them down that narrow road that few find, but leads to so many good things. I’m praying they take risks, go for broke, laugh a lot, cry without shame, and fall in love with Jesus more and more every day.

I’m praying that they will look at the naysayers that tell them that the world is too far gone and beyond saving and headed for hell in a handbasket (apparently, a very large one) and prove them wrong by going out and changing that world, one heart at a time.


Early Autumn Breezes


Today was perfect. It was like God sent a sneak preview of fall about two months early and gave us Nashvillians (and lots of other folks) a break from the usual heat and humidity that’s the norm for this time of year.

I actually ate lunch outside and went for my usual walk and for once didn’t sweat like that pig that’s about to become Sunday dinner. It was lovely. And I managed not to get hit by any cars, which is always a plus.

I think it’s amazing what little surprises come your way when you let go of expectations and assumptions of other people and live in a kind of anticipation of what God will do next. When you have those rare moments when you’re totally unaware of self and focused on being the kind of person to others that you’ve always wanted them to be to you. You can’t control other people or how they’ll respond, but you can control you. You can choose Christlikeness in each moment and leave the results to God.

I’ve long ago stopped trying to figure out Tennessee weather and enjoy the mild sunny days, whether those come in January or May or August. Who knows? The next day could be hot. Or rainy.

As my old boss used to say, any day without a toe tag is a good day. That is, any day you’re alive is a day worth living. I know most of us are always eagerly awaiting the next Friday so the all-too-short weekend can begin. But there’s a lot of good things happening during the week if you’re not too busy looking ahead to see them.

On a side note, it’s amazing how a certain smell in the air or the way a breeze hits me can trigger memories of what I was feeling when I was 15. It’s as if for a brief moment I’ve time-travelled back 26 years and am reliving a single good moment. For some reason, autumn does that to me more than any of the other seasons.

I digress. Go enjoy the weather. Go for an evening stroll or lay out in the hammock. Sit on the back porch or lay out in the grass under the stars. Even if it’s for 15 minutes. You won’t regret it. I promise.

A Perfect Night for Sand Volleyball


I had a blast playing sand volleyball tonight. Even though my teams only won once and I sweated like the pig that knows he’s about to be dinner.

It’s not about my mad volleyball skills. In fact, none of us are all that good. Well, maybe one or two. But we have fun and we cheer each other on and we laugh with each other instead of at each other. It never gets overly competitive and no one gets mad at anybody about a bad hit or that occasional moment when someone forgets that they’re in the middle of an actual game.

My favorite to watch (and my new friend) is a girl named Katie. She has an infectious joy and is one of those people who smile with their whole face. It’s hard to not be happy around her. I love the way my friends J.D. and Julie exhibit what a good marriage is and how two married people can be best friends too. Troy is one of the most consistent players who’s as good as any player out there yet able to laugh at himself when he messes up.


The best part is that we root for each other, even if we’re on opposite teams. I don’t mind losing if I see the people on the other team enjoying themselves and getting in a good hit or two. As long as it’s not a complete blowout.

I love more than anything watching people who get better each time they play and really start believing in themselves. There’s nothing better for somebody than a little taste of success.

I like to think that Jesus roots for His children that way. He knows we’re frail and too often choose badly and fall down. He knows that we still have that old sin nature that sometimes comes out when we make poor decisions and know something is wrong yet  do it anyway.

I heard in church today that we don’t need empathy. We don’t need someone who feels bad with us when we feel bad. What we need is Somebody who knows what we’re feeling but also has the power to do something about it. Somebody who has the power to transform us and our choices.

Jesus is the best because not only does He root for us, but He sees us not as we are but how we could be at our very best. Not only that, but He is changing us into our very best selves. That is, changing us to be just like Jesus.

Things I Love 49: Waited On a Line of Greens and Blues

island hammock

“How long does it take for your soul to recognize that your life is full? The slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction. The body and soul can synchronize” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

One important part of learning to living out of eucharisteo is to recognize not every moment will feel like joy. There will be relapses into old ways of thinking– of fear and anger and the need to control and manipulate. It’s okay. Just don’t stay there. Center your mind on the little things you love that make you grateful. Make a list of them. Maybe don’t be quite as OCD as me and list 1,420 (and counting) things, but start small and make a list of 20-25.

1,521) Remembering that no failure is final.

1,522) Chocolate moose tracks ice cream from Purity.

1,523) Little pleasant surprises like getting off work 30 minutes early.

1,524) Finding a retail store called Ragamuffin Shoppe (which turned out to be a children’s clothing store) located off of Cool Springs Blvd.

1,525) Giving one of my blog cards to the person who worked there.

1,526) Walking all the way to the intersection of Cool Springs Blvd and Frazier Drive (even though it was hot and muggy and I sweated like the pig that’s about to be Christmas Day dinner).

1,527) The video I posted today of a cat in a shark costume riding on one of those roomba thingys.

1,528) Not being ashamed to use the word “thingy” when talking about something electronic or mechanical.

1,529) Getting to sleep in tomorrow morning.

1,530) Not having any of those 4-hours-of-sleep kinds of nights lately.

1,531) “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

1,532) The little Snickers frozen ice cream bars.

1,533) Finding out about a book called 14,000 Things to be Happy About from my cousin and one of my favorite people ever, Rachel Johnson.

1,528) My cat Lucy giving me high fives.

1,529) My little Casio portable TV (even though it doesn’t work currently).

1,530) The song “To Be With You” by Mr. Big that brings back memories every time I hear it.

1,531) God’s mighty saving arm that is both strong and long enough to reach me.

1,532) The perfectly ripe banana I had today.

1,533) The video I just posted on Facebook of a 20-month old girl singing along with Elvis’ “An American Trilogy.”

1,534) The peace and quiet at 11:30 pm on a Friday night.

1,535) Not having any plans or money or gas in my car this weekend.

1,536) Not having to work this Saturday.

1,537) Being at peace at the moment.

1,538) Accepting what is, letting go of what was, and having faith in what can be (and knowing God is in all three places still).

1,539) The way Foursquare listed my workplace as Affionion Group.

1,540) The freedom that comes with not caring about appearing foolish in the eyes of others.

1,541) Getting the inside joke for once.

1,542) When other people get my obscure movie and TV show references.

1,543) Having enough of these things I love for 49 (and still counting) posts.

1,544) Not having a sinus headache today.

1,545) Eating at seafood places just for the halibut (you’ll get it if you read it out loud really fast).

1,546) All those cat emoticons on Facebook Messenger.

1,547) Those strong arms of my Abba holding on to me tightly tonight.

1,548) Reading the Bible on the YouVersion app on my iPad 2.

1,549) The dream of owning the Complete Series of Friends on blu ray one day.

1,550) Obviously being a night owl (as I type this at 12:12 am).