More Random Drivel About Nothing, Really

When you write blogs like these daily, you inevitably have days where the well runs dry, where the creativity has left the building, where cliches are as rampant as all the bad metaphors you just read.

After all, it’s Monday. I can use that as my excuse, right?

I read something I posted a few years back that basically asked this question: if God took away from you all that you failed to give thanks for, what would you have left? Who would you have left?

Even now, I’m bad at taken things for granted. Actually, I’m quite good at it. I’ve reached the expert level at taking things and peopler for granted and assuming that they’ll always be around.

Also, I drove home in wintry weather. For those above the Mason-Dixon line, it was probably nothing that would even raise your blood pressure in the least. But I am a Tennessee driver living amongst Tennessee drivers who freak out whenever we see a snowflake. I made it home in one piece with most of my sanity intact. I should reward myself with something chocolatey.

For those of you who are weary of holding on and waiting, remember that God is with you in this moment. All you are required to do is to trust God for the moment you’re in, not for a year or a week from now. All you have to do is believe God’s promises and put one foot in front of the other for the next 24 hours.

I’m typing this on my Mac Book Pro. I still like it. It doesn’t bog down like my Sony Vaio and, so far, it hasn’t been overheating like the old laptop did. I do feel that my cool factor is up slightly (as much as it can go for a guy who really can’t grow facial hair all that well).

That sums up another Monday about to go in the books. Not everything went swimmingly, but I made it through and I’m still blessed, so I’m calling it a good day.

The end.

 

 

Whiter Than Snow

We finally got our Snowpocalypse, or if you prefer, Snowmageddon. All that means is that it actually snowed here in the Nashville, Tennessee area. 6 inches, in fact. I actually got a snow day.

I know those of you up north are reading this and groaning. Six inches of snow is to you what a light dusting of it is to us. Nothing. Well, even with that light dusting, people still panic and buy up all the bread and milk. The South is weird about snow.

Still, it’s been lovely to look at. I love how it covers over everything like a white blanket over a hibernating earth.

It made me think of that verse in the Psalms (or maybe in Isaiah) which goes something like this: though our sins are as scarlet, they shall be whiter than snow. At that point, the writer could think of nothing purer than freshly-fallen snow. I can’t either.

Grace is more than forgiveness for those past transgressions. It’s a covering up of them as if they had never been. It’s a clean slate and a new start. It’s a do-over that can take place at any point in your life, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done.

This may be a repeat, but it’s worth repeating. The beautiful part of the gospel is that it reminds us that we don’t have to be trapped by futility and chained to past failures. Though Jesus, anyone can start over. It is indeed never too late to be what you might have always been and always dreamed you could be.

Probably sooner than later, the sun will come out and all that beautiful snow will evaporate and exist only in memory and all those photos I took with my iPhone.

Grace, however, is forever.

I really love that part.

 

Don’t Believe the Hype

I was thinking about how the world was supposed to end in 2012 (according to the Mayan calendar– or someone’s interpretation of it). That didn’t happen. Obviously. The fact that you are reading this is fairly good evidence that the world did not in fact come to a screeching halt.

Today was supposed to be Snowpocalypse 2016. There was supposed to be all this ice and snow and sleet. The result? Not so much. Maybe a dusting of snow. There are a lot of people sitting at home feeling dumb with all their loaves of bread, gallons of milk, and heavy duty snow shovels sitting in their garages, going unused.

A lot of things get overhyped these days. I supposed when you have so many 24-hour news channels you have to fill them up with something.

One thing that can never be overhyped is the love of God in Jesus for you and me. That we can never make too much of.

The hard part comes in not in the reality of that love but in our acceptance of it. We’ve invested our trust into too many other people and things that have let us down and not delivered on their promises. Too many of us have broken hearts and broken lives as a result of misplaced trust.

The truth that I keep getting reminded of is that God’s love is genuine. It’s real. It’s unfailing, eternal, and unconditional. I can do nothing to make God love me less and nothing to make God love me more.

This may be Bible 101 to a lot of you. It may be kindergarten theology to some. I do think that at least one person needs the reminder and needs to see the words that God loves you just the way you are, before you’ve turned over a new leaf and before you’ve turned your life around. God loves you just as you are and He refuses to leave you where He found you. His goal and glory (which is your greatest good) is to see you become just like Jesus.

That’s the real deal.

 

I’m Dreaming of a Wet (and Humid) Christmas

So, apparently my dreams of a white Christmas will have to come true in my dreams. The forecast doesn’t look promising in the least.

Try a week of mid-60s to lower 70’s with rain forecasted for every day up to Sunday. Yep, Christmas will be green . . . and very wet.

Still, it will be Christmas. There will be gifts and food and candles and food and holiday apparel and food. Did I mention food? There will be food aplenty. The diet starts in 2016.

I’m learning to live out of eucharisteo, out of a mindset of joy and thanksgiving. Instead of focusing on all those rain clouds, I choose to see that when people like you and me couldn’t find a way to get to God, God found a way to get to us. To become one of us. To live and die as one of us.

But not just to live and die, but to live in perfect obedience the life that we could never live and to die as a perfect sacrifice to pay for the sin that we could never begin to work off.

That alone is enough for a million lifetimes’ worth of gratitude. That should be enough for me.

Advent is a season not only of awaiting and anticipating the arrival of the Emmanuel, bu also of remembering why He came in the first place. Advent stirs up gratitude and thanksgiving in the hearts of those who know where to look and what to look for.

So I’ll probably get my White Christmas courtesy of Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. It’s still my favorite Christmas movie and it never fails to deliver the feels.

Then again, maybe the best kind of white Christmas is this one:

Come on now, let’s walk and talk; let’s work this out.
        Your wrongdoings are blood red
    But they can turn as white as snow.
        Your sins are red like crimson,
    But they can be made clean again like new wool” (Isaiah 1:18, The Voice).

 

 

 

Elvis, Basketball, and Spring

Recently, I spent my birthday amazon gift card on some Elvis. Specifically, I purchased Walk a Mile in My Shoes, a box set of the King’s essential 70’s recordings. For those of you at home keeping score, that’s 5 discs of 120 songs. Now I sound like a PBS pledge fundraiser.

http://www.amazon.com/Walk-Mile-My-Shoes-Essential/dp/B004LR5K0I/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1426219405&sr=1-1&keywords=walk+a+mile+in+my+shoes

But one of those songs took me back. The memory was driving at night in Christiana, TN, and the song in question was T-R-O-U-B-L-E, which I’m sure I haven’t heard since I was much smaller and weighed a lot less. And I was a huge Elvis fan.

The only problem with that is that I remember the song from an 8-track of dubious quality where on that particular song Elvis sounds as if he’s singing through a oscillating fan. The CD version was too cleaned up, at least in my opinion, to truly recreate the memory from that night. But it was close enough for me.

In other news, yes it is finally spring. I love the fact that I can wear a t-shirt and not get hypothermia. And I’ll take all the rain from the past few days over all the snow and ice from a few weeks ago. That was nice for a bit but got old rather quickly. Being stuck at home for a week tends to have that effect.

Finally, March means one thing for true sports fans– March Madness. That means LOTS of college basketball, lots of excitement and close games, and quite possibly one or two memorable and miraculous buzzer-beaters.

It also means I will be filling out multiple NCAA tournament brackets once again in hopes of finally winning the jackpot. So far, I’ve come close once or twice, but haven’t actually won any money.

FYI, if you’re looking for some good Elvis music, I recommend these fine compilations. Both have 30 songs on them and both have the best sound of any Elvis CDs that I’ve heard.

http://www.amazon.com/30-1-Hits-Elvis-Presley/dp/B00006AG5N/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426219096&sr=8-1&keywords=elvis+%231

http://www.amazon.com/Elvis-2nd-None-PRESLEY-ELVIS/dp/B0000AUHOX/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1426219132&sr=1-1&keywords=elvis+2nd+to+none

 

 

Snow! Snow! Snow!

snow

It really won’t be long before we’ll all be there with snow. Or in this case, a wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet and a bit o’ snow thrown in for good measure.

Snow is safer to drive in. Ice? Not so much. Especially when you have a rear-wheel drive as I do. But it’s pretty to look at.

I stayed home all day. I used the excuse of snow to catch up on my movies, starting off with a Peter Sellers movie, The Revenge of the Pink Panther, and ending with an old Hitchcock favorite, Spellbound.

Tomorrow’s forecast looks to be more of the same, since the temperature will most likely be dropping and all that slushy mix will only freeze over and become more treacherous to drive in. And according to the most reliable weather source available, my smart phone, the temperature is supposed to drop to -8 at some point between Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Brrr.

I won’t have to set my alarm for some ridiculous pre-dawn hour. That’s always a plus.

I’m sure by the time it’s all over, I’ll have a case of cabin fever and will be willing to even set that blasted alarm clock if it means me getting out of the house.

But one thing I’ve learned is to make the best of wherever God has you and learn to see the good in every situation. That means counting blessings and finding joy in hidden places. Even in the middle of Winter (the arrival of actual snowy, icy weather as opposed to the general season of winter running from December to March).

So here’s to being inside when it’s cold outside. Too many people don’t have warm places to stay when it gets frigid outside. I don’t ever want to take for granted what so many go without. So thank you God for a warm house and a warm bed and a warm cat.

 

 

More of My Signature Randomness

cat

So far, this has been one of the coldest winters I can remember. And for most of the nation, it has been one of the snowiest (and I’m fairly certain that’s a real word– or it needs to be). Just about every state in the Union has seen snow and every part of the country has been under a snowy white blanket– except for Middle Tennessee.

It’s almost like a reverse miracle. Sorta like the dry fleece/wet fleece miracle that Gideon witnessed in Judges. It’s also like there’s an anti-snow bubble over the middle part of the state as snow tends to either go north or south of us.

I’m still hopin’ for one good snowfall before the winter of 2014 comes to an end.

In addition to Philip Seymour Hoffman, we’ve lost two more from Hollywood: Shirley Temple and Sid Caesar.

Most people know Shirley Temple from her days as a child star back in the 30’s. Few know that she was a diplomat and activist after her Hollywood days ended. Even fewer could tell you who Sid Caesar was (though if you’ve seen Grease, you might remember him as the gym teacher guy).

It seems like celebrity deaths almost always come in threes. I don’t know why. If you do, I’d love to hear your theories.

Finally, I’m still learning the concept of living out of gratitude and thanksgiving instead of fear and anxiety. I know worry is my default setting and it’s very easy for me to lapse into doubting God’s faithfulness. It’s an effort to retrain my mind to look for all the blessings and see all that I have instead of focusing on all that I lack. It even takes seeing with a different set of eyes– eyes of faith.

But it is so very worth it.

That’s one of the reasons why I blog. I want to remind you (and myself) that God is good and that I am  blessed. Plus, I want there to be something out there that isn’t the usual doom and gloom prevalent in the media these days.

 

For When You’re Feeling Anxious

image

It’s February. And unless you’re living in Hawaii with all those palm trees and beaches, it’s cold.

My feelings on cold weather go something like this: if it’s gonna be this cold, it might as well snow, or what’s the point?

Maybe you’re feeling more than just cold. Maybe you’re feeling anxious or stressed.

Perhaps you’re out of a job and wondering how that big stack of bills is going to get paid. Or where they money is going to come from to put gas in the car. Or food on the table.

Maybe you’re still single and wondering when (or even if) that special someone will ever come along.

Maybe you’re children don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore and you don’t know how to get through to them anymore.

Maybe it’s just a combination of a million little things all rolled up into one big case of anxiety.

Don’t you know that Jesus didn’t come to bring your peace?

He came to be your peace. He is after all the Prince of Peace.

That’s what all of us who are overwhelmed with worry and stress need to remember. Jesus may not take away all those things that cause anxiety, but He promises to walk with us through every trial, every tribulation, and every dark valley.

Jesus has already overcome whatever you’re afraid of. Nothing can touch you apart from God’s permission. And absolutely nothing can come between you and the love of your Abba Father.

Sometimes, you need medicine to make those anxieties go away. That doesn’t make you less spiritual. It just means your brain needs a little help to function normally.

I love the line from that movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Everything will be fine in the end. If it’s not fine, it’s not the end.

I Love the Winter Weather

winter drunk

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the middle of winter.

The only way you could have missed that is if you were living in a cave. A cave with central heating or a large bonfire.

There have been stretches of extremely cold weather in Tennessee. Then there would be stretches of milder, almost spring-like weather. Then back to the arctic weather again.

I believe it’s been cold all over. Not just in Tennessee. Except maybe Hawaii. I’m sure it never gets cold there. But here in Tennessee it has been colder than I can remember it being in a while.

But so far no snow. At least none that stuck around for very long.

I figure that if it gets below 20 degrees, there should be snow. Otherwise, what’s the point? All that numbing cold for nothing?

I am thankful that at least there won’t be as many bugs next summer, thanks to all those deep freeze nights.

I know that we’ll have at least one more solid month of cold, maybe two (if that groundhog sees his shadow).

I’ve learned to enjoy whatever weather I get. If it’s cold, I stay inside and drink warm beverages. If it warms up, I go outside. It’s not complicated. All those people who complain about cold weather are drinking out of glasses half empty. I choose to look at my glass as half full and see the good instead of the bad.

That goes for a lot more than just weather. It goes for employment, relationships, and just about anything in this life.

It really does all depend on how you look at it.

I figure that if God’s in the equation, then there’s no reason to expect things won’t work out for the best. After all, He did make that promise in Romans 8. Something about all things working together for good. Does that ring a bell?

I’d love one good snow this winter, but I won’t hold my breath. For one thing, it’s too cold for that.

 

 

Things I Love 33: The Very Last One . . . Or Is It?

island hammock

“Christian hands never clasp
and He doesn’t give gifts for gain
because a gift can never stop being a gift –
it is always meant to be given” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

“The whole of the life — even the hard — is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out. There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Hopefully, by the end of this you will have seen a picture of gratitude and thanksgiving and how joy in the smallest things can radically alter your perspective and change your life. Truly, eucharisteo (thanksgiving with joy) precedes the miracle. So, I pick up where I left off at #971.

971) Homemade chili with shredded cheese and crumbled crackers on top.

972) Batman movie marathons.

973) Jesus never calls the equipped but equips the called.

974) My sister Leigh’s cat Gracie, who was the sweetest and best cat I’ve ever known. RIP, my little friend.

975) Fage Greek yogurt.

976) Switching to Verizon.

977) God’s perfect timing.

978) 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound.

979) The brilliance of The Screwtape Letters.

980) “If you build it, they will come.”

981) Whenever a bad guy in the movies gets what’s coming to him.

982) Whenever Jesus changes the bad guy into a good guy (because basically without Jesus and grace we’re all bad guys deep down).

983) Whenever I matter enough to someone for them to make time for me.

984) Having seen every single episode of the X-Files (and both movies).

985) Casual Fridays at work.

986) Blessing and serving Jesus by serving the least of these.

987) Snow on Christmas Eve.

988) That my value doesn’t decrease because of someone’s inability to see it (again “borrowed from a Facebook post).

989) The Home Alone movies (well, the first two anyway).

990) The level ground at the foot of the Cross.

991) That real heroes don’t wear costumes.

992) The mute button for those annoying TV commercials.

993) The way Lucy the Wonder Kitty purrs when she eats.

994) That while people may argue theology and semantics, no one can argue with a transformed life.

995) The way Jack Cardiff, famous cinematographer, interplayed light and shadow.

996) That God’s not done with me yet.

997) The slow steady rhythms of a Sunday afternoon.

998) Finally being brave enough to take risks and step boldly out in faith.

999) The little children’s book J.R.R. Tolkien wrote called Roverandom about a little toy dog.

1000) That I’ve decided that 1,000 really isn’t enough and there will be more coming soon to a blog near you.