Great Lines

As you probably know by know (if you’ve been keeping up with my posts over the years) is that I am a sucker for a great line, whether from a book or a movie or a song. I have been known actually to get chills from a great quote delivered at just the perfect time.

One such line that got me tonight goes like this: “I am a part of all that I have met.” It’s from Ulysses, a blank verse poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

For me, the reverse is just as true. All that I have met is now a part of me. All the people who’ve crossed my path and touched my soul are now in me in some form. I’ve learned a lot of little things– how to be kinder, how to live in the moment, how to be completely and unabashedly yourself– and incorporated them into who I am becoming.

Every experience, every conversation, every moment has played a part in shaping the present version of me. None of us have arrived at that place where we no longer need to learn or grow. There’s always room for improvement.

Still, the beautiful part of the life of community and faith is that we get to learn and grow together. We learn from each other’s failures and well as successes. We laugh and cry with each other. We spur each other on to keep going whenever one of us feels like quitting.

Yeah, the movie was great, too. I’d seen it before, but as I mentioned yesterday, I was able to enjoy the scenery a lot more when I knew that everything was truly going to be fine in the end.

My prayer for you and me is that we live not just for ourselves, but in such a way that makes people better and makes them not want so much to be like us but rather be like Jesus.

I think that covers everything I wanted to say tonight.


Enjoying the Ride

I confess. I do like to go back and reread books and rematch movies. Sometimes, the second time is better than the first.

I can get caught up in the storyline and in wondering how it will all turn out. The next time, I already know how it ends, so I can relax a bit and enjoy the scenery a bit more.

I have another confession to make. I’ve read the last page in this Great Story and I already know how it ends. Jesus wins.

Knowing that, I can enjoy the journey more. I can look around and see the beauty in my life and actually be present in the moments as they occur.

There’s great peace in knowing that victory is the ultimate destiny for those who love God and belong to Him. I still love the idea that as believers, we fight not for victory but rather from it. Just as obedience doesn’t mean that God will love us more but that knowing fully the love of God can spur us to greater obedience out of gratitude than any sense of duty or obligation could ever incur.

At present, my story may not look anything like I hoped it would. It may not seem like it’s headed for a positive outcome. But what I read trumps what I can see with my eyes. God has told me how my story ends and even though I don’t fully know what it looks like, I do know it’s far better than any ending I could have devised on my own. It will be the perfect storybook ending.

I love the part in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Lucy reads the beautiful story and even though she tried her best to remember, soon forgets it all. Aslan later promises that He will be telling her story all the time to remind her.

The gospel is Jesus telling us our story and how it ends so that we don’t forget, so that we can be reminded when it feels like the present chapter can’t get any darker and that it will never get better.

Don’t give up on the Story. Trust the Storyteller to end it as only He knows how.

The end.


My First Ever Mac Blog

Well, the day has finally arrived. I am typing my 2,001st blog, the first I’ve written using my newly-acquired, refurbished Mac Book Pro. I feel so hipster right now.

It took a long time to save up enough money, but I kept at it. Actually, I almost had the money a couple of other times, but other expenses kept me from getting it. But I persevered. As I’m learning, a little bit of patience in all matters goes a long, long way.

I promise not to turn into an anti-PC snob. I still have to use one at work. I hope that my blogs will get better (or at least more artsier) with this new contraption.

In other news, I finally saw the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise in IMAX 3D. It was ridiculously overpriced, but I do recommend possibly going to see it on the big screen. The movie itself is better than the prequels, but not quite as good as the original three (maybe better than Return of the Jedi).

If any movie needs to be seen in grand 3D-style, it’s Star Wars. Maybe try to get in to a matinee showing or some other day other than Friday or Saturday.

I won’t be like so many who have been leaking spoilers from the movie all over the place. I’ll just say it was great seeing just about all the old faces from the first trilogy as well as some new faces that give me new hope for the Star Wars movies to follow.

One spoiler alert: at the end, the screen goes black and the credits roll. FYI.

That wraps up my Saturday. I slept late and took a nap, so life is good. Hopefully, Sunday will be just as varied and entertaining.

The end.



To Kill A Mockingbird (Again)


I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird again in anticipation of reading Go Set a Watchman. I think TKAM is the perfect American novel, encapsulating a period of time that has passed away.

I still don’t understand how so many white people could hate black people merely for being black. I suppose it’s probably one of the best examples of the fallen nature of humanity that I can think of.

Still, I love the character of Atticus Finch. He’s not perfect, but he’s willing to stand up for what he believes in, even at the expense of his reputation and career. He’s also courteous and kind to those who hold opposing viewpoints (which is an extremely rare commodity these days).

I also love how the book is narrated from the viewpoint of 6-year old Scout. She can be naive at times and quite frank at others. In other words, she’s a very typical 6-year old. Yet she can also be very insightful, too.

I love both the book and the movie. For once, I’m thankful the movie didn’t try to incorporate every single plot device, leaving out a good bit of the book. It focused on the heart of what Harper Lee wrote about and got that part spot-on perfect.

I can’t imagine there ever being a remake of TKAM. Who’d play Atticus Finch? No one, and I mean no one, could ever top the pitch-perfect performance of Gregory Peck.

I don’t expect GSAW to be equally as brilliant. I’m just thankful that we get a second book from Harper Lee, 55 years after the first. I get that it was written before TKAM and how the characters are all much older. It makes my head hurt, but I get it.

We need more people like Atticus Finch who love their families and take unpopular stands for what they believe in. We need those who will fight for those who have no voice. We need those who will love unconditionally without compromise.

Now back to the book.

Back at McKay’s

“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of ‘the brightest and the best’ among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31, The Message).

If you’ve kept up with my posts, you know that my idea of heaven is a place like McKay’s Used Books, CDs, Movies & More. It’s a place where the inner book-nerd can bask in the glow of the warmth that comes from a warehouse filled with everything to satisfy his geeky little heart.

I went Saturday and did my usual trading old unwanted stuff for new wanted stuff. I picked up The Beatles Anthology Volumes 1 & 2. Lo and behold, when I got home I discovered that Volume 1 consisted of two Disc 2s and no Disc 1.

So I went back today. What else could a self-respecting multimedia nerd do?

I ended up trading in a bit more and picked up a fantastic (to me) CD called Music Box Christmas Creations (which I am currently listening to as I write this) for the princely sum of 19 cents.

I also got the Beatles Anthology Volume 1 with both discs.

I had thoughts of putting up a hammock and calling it home, but then I realized my cat Lucy might object. She’s already camping out on my backpack to keep me from leaving home after I spend four nights dog sitting in the Bellevue area.

The best place is still in the “Very Scratched” section. Most people will pass that up, but I’ve learned that with the miracle of a little 70% rubbing alcohol (and occasionally some toothpaste) you can get any CD with scratches to play, In fact, you really have to work hard to make a CD unplayable (as I’ve learned).

Most of us are like that. We’re not new. We’ve got some scratches and scars and wear and tear from a life of poor choices, unfortunate circumstances, and that old persistent problem called a sin nature.

God still chooses to use us. He goes to the discarded section and picks us out because He has plans for us. I love that about God.

I only wish I had more stuff to trade at McKay’s. Maybe one day soon.


Writing Your Own Story

“One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this: ‘I have nothing original to say. Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to.’ This, however, is not a good argument for not writing. Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived. Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well. Writing can be a very creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them” (Henri Nouwen).

One of the reasons I write these blogs is because it’s part of me telling my story. It’s often very therapeutic and healing to get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper (or more accurately, onto computer screen then onto cyberspace via the interwebs).

No one can tell your story better than you. No one has lived your life quite like you have.

It occurred to me earlier as I was watching a Baz Luhrmann movie that the best stories are the ones in which you find your story and I find mine. Those are the stories in which the specifics may be quite different than mine, but the emotions are the same. I find in a good story that I can relate to the characters and the situations in which they find themselves.

Even if you just write what you did that day, it’s something. If you write about your fears and doubts, however odd and neurotic they may seem, someone else out there will inevitably be able to relate. Someone else will be able to say finally, “I’m so very glad I’m not the only one who thinks or feels this way. Maybe there’s hope for me.”

So write your story. My preferred method is blogging, but yours may be writing a novel or short story, taking a photograph, giving your testimony before a church group, or just being intentional about how you live your life.

Three words: tell your story.



Your January Report from Yours Truly (Borrowed from TCM)

I always love when they have the monthly updates from TCM about new DVD releases, as well as biographies about the classic movie stars and information about upcoming classic movie festivals.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so here’s my own January report:

I recently read a fantastic book by Mark Batterson (In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day,  Wild Goose Chase, The Circle Maker) called The Grave Robber. It looks seven miracles of Jesus from the Gospel of John from the viewpoint that the God who did those miracles back then is the same God who is just as capable of producing miracles in this day and age. It definitely came at a time when I needed a spark of renewal and revitalization in my own faith, so I give it two thumbs way up.


Also, I’ve been listening to some old Bob Dylan. By that I mean his first eight studio albums, remastered and released in mono. I love the way he has with words, even if I don’t always understand completely what he’s singing about. Plus, I’m sure my two uncles are smiling down from heaven at this musical selection.


In keeping with the 60’s theme, I went to the library and checked out an old movie adapted from a Neil Simon play, Barefoot in the Park. It features Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, both looking radiant and very young in this film. It’s a comedy that manages to be funny and intelligently witty at the same time, a rare feat for Hollywood.


I think that wraps up my report for January. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep you updated on my latest book, movie, and music finds that will probably not be new (or possibly even new to you) but they will be new to me.

So until next time, watch TCM and keep me posted on what you are reading, listening to, and watching these days.




Real Love

I’d like to preface this by confessing my lack of expertise in this area, but here goes.

I think true love doesn’t always look like it does in the movies.

It’s not as dramatic and there’s usually no orchestra playing a grand theme in the background when it happens.

There may or may not be butterflies and it may or may not happen in an instant, though I’m inclined to believe that the best of true loves happen gradually over time as friends realize that they are in love with each other.

Sometimes, I think people miss true love because they expect it to be like it is in those rom-com movies and in those Nicholas Sparks books and in all those love songs.

I’m not saying that movie-love never ever happens outside of the movies, but more that it isn’t the norm.

Love isn’t a feeling as much as it is an act of the will. A choice. A commitment to seek the welfare of the beloved regardless of whether you feel like it or not. And the feelings will come and go. You will probably fall in and out of love many times but you can always choose to love consistently through it all. Sometimes you have to act loving and do loving things before the loving feeling comes.

As I understand it, love isn’t easy. Love takes work. It takes dying to your own needs sometimes and putting the other’s needs above yours. It takes dying to your ways of doing things and your perceptions about how those things ought to be done.

I think it’s okay to watch those Hallmark movies or listen to those love songs as long as you don’t confuse them for reality. Real love isn’t as flowery or poetic but in the end, it’s something far more grand.

Never forget that real love led a Man to a Cross to be tortured and bleed and die for you and me. Real love said that no price was too high to win your heart. To win my heart.

That, my friends, is real love.

I Miss Record Stores


I’m a big fan of Amazon. You can find virtually anything from music to books to movies to electronics and appliances. I think you can even order groceries there now. But I miss record stores.

I don’t even mean places like Borders that sold books and music and movies. I mean places that sold music. Period.

Granted, there are one or two record stores in Nashville– one that actually sells honest-to-goodness vinyl records like in the ye olden days. But those are on the other side of town from where I live. Not the most convenient places to go browsing.

I remember one particular music store chain called The Sound Shop. There was even Memphis-based chain in Memphis called Cat’s Music that had both new and used music.

I loved checking out the new music releases as well as hunting through the bargain bins. I especially remember seeing ads for a new Grateful Dead album coming out on October 31, 1989. I don’t know why I remember that specific memory from 25 years ago and not what I did last night, but that’s how my brain works, apparently.

I read somewhere that Vince Gill said that one of the reasons that music feels so disposable these days is that you can pay the same 99 cents for a song that you would pay for an app on your phone that makes fart noises. So much for incentives to be creative.

I believe that music more than any other form of media can trigger memories in vivid detail. I can hear a song on the radio or from one of my own personal plethora of CDs that I have accumulated over the years and instantly remember exactly where I was and what I was feeling when I first heard it.

Maybe record stores (along with bookstores) will make a comeback some day. I hope so, but I’m not overly optimistic.



Not Forgotten


It’s funny that it took the death of Robin Williams to put him back in the spotlight. Suddenly, all his movies are flying off the shelves at places like Best Buy and Barnes & Noble and seemingly every other hashtag is some variation of either #ohcaptainmycaptain or #riprobinwilliams. Before he died, I hadn’t really thought about him much. Or at all. At least not in a long, long time.

We as a culture are so good at eulogizing and paying tribute to those we’ve lost, but not so good at remembering them while they’re still with us. And we have such short memories. Soon, we’ll be back to business as usual– until the next tragedy or until the next big celebrity passes away.

But something occurred to me just now.

There is never a moment when I am not on God’s mind. There’s not a time when He doesn’t see me and what I’m going through. There will never be an instant when He doesn’t love me as unconditionally and completely as if I were the only person on the planet.

You hardly ever hear anyone talk about Whitney Houston anymore. Or Philip Seymour Hoffman. Soon, all the talk about Robin Williams will die down and we’ll find something new to talk about.

But not in a million years will my God forget me. Not in a billion years will He ever desert me. His love for me will never ever decrease by even one iota. Not even if I were to forget Him.

I’m sitting in St. Paul’s with the lights off. It’s dark and quiet and still. The only sounds I hear are the hum of the air conditioning unit and the occasional pops and creaks of the old floorboards settling.

I am at peace. I’m reminded of what’s really important and what really matters. It’s not what you have or what you do for a living or who you know. It’s about being known and loved and cherished perfectly by the God who made you.

Remember this one thing if nothing else. You are not forgotten.