Happy Last Day of April

I sincerely repent of all the times as a kid when I laughed and made fun of old people for always talking about how fast time goes by. They were right. And now I’m old. Well, older.

Which brings me to the fact that tomorrow is officially May.

That means that we’re officially 1/3 of the way through 2018.

Not only will tomorrow be the first day of May, it will also be the 8th anniversary of the flooding that took place in Nashville on May 1-2, 2010.

Where did that 8 years go? Man, those old people were right again. At least I get to make fun of the funny clothes they wore back in the day, just like someone down the road will look at my fashion sense and roll on the floor laughing at me.

I can still remember seeing all the flood waters, especially in the downtown area. I recall hearing about how Opry Mills had being overrun with flood waters. I couldn’t even get out of my neighborhood to get to work that day. It was insane.

Looking back has given me a little perspective. Like the fact that I’m able to look back. The flood waters left and Nashville is still here. I still remember the words written on a garage door on a street where the flood waters had done the most damage: “Storms pass, love shines, we survive.” Those floods are in the past and you and I are still here.

Philip Yancey wrote, “Faith is believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”

You don’t get the benefit of all the hindsight and 20/20 vision from looking back on something until you’ve lived through it. Faith is believing God’s promises as though they had already come to pass. In fact, faith is knowing that God’s future is so certain that it can be spoken of in the present tense.

Speaking of time flying, there are only 239 days until Christmas, so you best get to shoppin’.

Take Your Time

One of my favorite Kairos moments from back in the day when Mike Glenn used to lead the prayer time.

Put both feet on the floor, he’d say. There’s nothing that will come up in the next few minutes that’s more important than what God’s saying to you right now. Relax and breathe. All those errands will still be there later. Right now, all you need to do is focus on God.

We live in a culture that celebrates busyness. Not necessarily productivity. Just busyness. The mantra of the age is that we don’t have time because we’re so very busy doing God knows what.

The idea is to never have a dull moment or any down time. We have all these time-saving gadgets that create more time to get more done. As a result, we have less leisure and free time than ever.

Maybe the most freeing words anyone will ever tell you– take your time. That was my takeaway from tonight’s Kairos message.

Sometimes, it’s good to focus on your breathing. It’s good to be silent and still. It’s good to rest. Above all, it’s important to be in the moment, not always thinking ahead to the next big event or thinking back to the what if’s and the could have been’s.

“There’s no present like the time.” That may be my new favorite line from a movie. Time is not infinite. You get a precious few years to live, too few to waste in busyness. Life is to be lived and savored and not merely gotten through.

Take your time.  Wherever you are, be all there. Do less but do it with everything you have, offering it as your spiritual act of worship. Enjoy the little things and pay attention to the moments in your life.

Also, take plenty of naps. Those are good.

 

 

 

Looking for the Pause Button

Sometimes, I wish life had a remote control, like in that Adam Sandler movie where he fast-forwards through the boring parts of his life.

Only I wouldn’t be looking for the fast-forward button. I’d want to pause my life.

Today, I went to the funeral of a friend’s dad. I hadn’t seen or talked to him in a long time, but I remember him as being a quiet, gentle man who loved his God and his family and who also happened to own the first PC that I had ever seen.

I saw him lying in the coffin, looking like a perfect wax replica of a person. Then I remembered that I was looking not at the man, but at the shell. The moment he breathed his last he was instantly in the presence of Jesus, fully alive and healthy and happy.

I heard where two Briarcrest students who were set to embark on their senior year of high school died Friday at the hands of a drunk driver who had four DUIs in the last five years.

There’s too much sadness and loss in the world. Too many people had to say goodbye to the ones they loved, while more than that never got the chance.

I sense more than ever how precious and fleeting this life is. I understand more how important it is never to take anyone in your life for granted.

I’m thinking about the quote from the movie The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel– “There’s no present like the time.”

I recall a pastor who said that at best this life is like a clean bus station. You don’t set up a bedroom suite and move all your belongings into a Greyhound terminal, because it’s only a stop along the way toward your final destination.

This life is so brief because this is not our final destination. Heaven is. As much as I keep forgetting, as much as I want that pause button to work, I know that I can’t stop that second hand from racing clockwise toward another tomorrow.

I can only choose to live each moment fully and to be fully present to every person in every place at every moment that I’m given. I can know that in God’s economy nothing is ever wasted and the good a person does follows after them. Your legacy will far outlive you and in the end, it won’t be what you did for a living or who you knew, but who you were and what you did with what God gave you.

 

Maya Angelou, Twin Peaks, and Other Thursday Offerings

Best-Life-Quotes-Maya-Angelou

I found out with the rest of the world when Maya Angelou died yesterday. I was saddened. More than than, I regretted not taking the time to know more about her. I had read one of her autobiographies a few months ago, but I honestly couldn’t say that I still remember much from that.

Her last tweet was “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

I like that. I don’t think that I listen to myself because I myself am divine, but more like I listen to myself because God dwells in me as much as He dwells out there. I’m reminded of something Ralph Waldo Emerson said: ” ‘What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

You can’t find quietude and stillness unless you take the time to interrupt your busyness and make space for quiet. You have to turn off the TV, turn off the radio/streaming/music device, and put down your phone. You have to be still and tune out all the distractions that the media is throwing at you from every angle. Then maybe you can hear God.

I can tell you more about Twin Peaks, an early 90’s short-lived TV series that I’ve been watching lately. It is odd and compelling. It’s got David Duchovny in drag. I think that says it all. You probably need serious drugs to understand what all goes on during each episode. At least I think so.

There were only 29 episodes in the series and I have seen 23. I think there was a sort of prequel movie that followed. Only in Hollywood would that last sentence make sense.

But yes, it is Thursday, which makes tomorrow Friday. There will never ever be a time when that is not a good thing. I always love Fridays even when I’m not working. Because Friday always leads to sleeping in on Saturday and church on Sunday. Both of those are favorites of mine.

So, RIP Maya Angelou. And Happy Friday to all of you.

mayaangelou

It’s 12:18 AM on a Sunday Morning

image

I met a new friend today.

Well, I say that loosely. This “friend” is a canine who just so happens to be old, blind, and deaf. So it’s possible he’s still not aware of my existence, but I think he got to recognize my scent.

Dogs and cats are good like that. They are (for the most part) automatically trusting. They don’t require you jump through a lot of hoops or adhere to a slew of unwritten rules the way that people often do.

My cat Lucy remains loyal, no matter how many times I’ve accidentally stepped on her tail or let her food bowl get empty (for her, that means she can see the bottom of her bowl). She still likes to curl up in my lap and fall asleep.

I could take this post in a direction where I wonder out loud why more people aren’t like that. But then I’d be pointing a finger at me.

I could also say that I’m promising to be a better friend from now on and never give up on any of my friends, but then I’d be setting myself up for an unrealistic dream and inevitable failure.

The truth is that some friends are forever and some friends aren’t. Some will stick with you though the hard times and some won’t. Some will be blessings and some will be lessons, but each and every person God brings to your life is there for a reason.

I think it was Madea who said something like this: “Some folks are like leaves in that they change direction with every gust of wind. Some are like branches that give out when you try to put your weight on them and lean on them. Some are like roots that will be around for the duration

Or something to that effect. Madea said it a lot better than I just did.

I do believe that if you have five or more true-blue friends in your lifetime, you are truly blessed. Facebook may tell you that you can have up to 5,000 friends, but the real truth is that you will have far less who are really and truly friends in every sense of the word. The rest are just good acquaintances.

Here endeth my lesson on Sunday morning at 12:31 am.

Happy Happy 2014!

image

Well, it is officially 2014 and, thankfully, the media is calling it “twenty fourteen” instead of “two thousand and fourteen.” It just serms simpler.

I’ve made a list of things I want to do, some of which I have already implemented. It’s all about a healthier me for 2014. Hey, that almost rhymed.

1) I plan on getting back into running/trail hiking/bike riding at least 5 times a week.

2) I’m looking to cut back majorly processed sugars, breads, red meats, and fast foods.

3) i would love to see the term “bestie” (referring to best friend) eliminated from common usage. What was so wrong about BFF? And is it really so very hard to type “best friend”? I think not). There’s no theological or grammatical reason. It just annoys the crap out of me.

4) I would love to implement a “Greg’s Mac Fund” for me to buy a Mac Book at some point in the near future.

5) i plan on celebrating my 42nd birthday in style on February 28 (and not forgetting that ol’ Elvis was this age when he had his unfortunate bathroom episode).

6) i plan on working on my #1 New York Times bestseller novel that will allow me to quit my day job and spend more time on social media (I jest about everything but writing my novel).

7) i want to spend MORE time with the people who mean the most to me. That’s YOU. And currently, my calendar is looking rather open.

I’m not expecting 2014 to be a banner year. I am expecting God to show up and be just as faithful to me as He was in 2013 and 2012 and all those other years.

And you will be hearing a lot more about the progress on my new fitness regime. Probably starting tomorrow.

Good night and God bless you all.

Christmas Eve Eve (Or Is It Christmas Adam?)

image

Today is December 23. As the old joke goes, the day before Christmas Eve is Christmas Adam, for obvious reasons. And no, I didn’t say it was a good joke or even a funny joke.

It’s hard to get in the Christmas spirit when you can’t even take a moment to breathe. For me, I’ve been working crazy hours and getting some very last minute shopping in. All those plans for having all my presents bought early and devoting more time to celebrating Advent went the way of the BetaMax and the HD-DVD. They didn’t last long.

But as Bill Murray’s character in the movie Scrooged asks, “It’s not too late, is it?”

No, I don’t think so.

It’s never too late to turn your eyes to the manger and see the child laying there. It’s not too late to come and kneel before the infant King with the Shepherds. It’s not too late to make room for Immanuel, God With Us.

Whether it’s December 23 or after a lifetime of missed Christmases, it’s never too late. Even if you’re older than 92, you can still become like a child and receive this gift, despite what The Christmas Song says.

That’s why I love Christmas. God the Infinite became an embryo to show that no place is too small for Him to come into and make a difference. As my pastor always says, all He needs is a place to start, the tiniest opening in the heart, the most hesitant of acceptances to begin the miracle of change.

If God can change a heart like mine, He can change yours. That is what Christmas is really all about, Charlie Brown.

That’s How You Know

bacon bandaids

“When you wake up one morning surprised to see the world exists
And your eyes ain’t full of tears
Your heart ain’t full of bitterness

That’s how you know, that’s how you know
That’s how you know, that’s how you know

When you’re thankful that you ever knew a love this strong
When you finally find the courage to write this song

That’s how you know
That’s how you know
That’s how you know
You’re moving on………” (Lori McKenna)

Growth is hard to detect on a daily basis. That wound may not look like it’s healing on an hour-to-hour basis. But here is some of the evidence that I’ve started growing and healing:

1) When a friend seems to so silent on me, i.e. doesn’t comment on my posts nearly as much or quits responding to texts, I don’t freak out and assume the worst. I don’t automatically go to defcon-4 and wonder how I’ve horribly offended the person. I breathe deeply a few times and let it go and choose to believe the best.

2) Rejection doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it did even last year. I’ve learned to let it go and move on and appreciate the people who do want me around. It’s less tiring that way.

3) I don’t get caught up in rehearsing what I will say to this person or that person if I see them. I don’t obsess over what somebody meant by a throwaway phrase or something that hit me wrong. I try to focus on the present and all the blessings there.

4) I don’t feel the need to be appreciated or noticed all the time. I can simply enjoy the moment quietly. Also, I’ve decided that since I’ve stopped trying so hard to be witty and humorous, I’m a lot funnier. At least in my own head.

I heard something I like a lot: time doesn’t heal all wounds; only Jesus does that. Remember that the next time, but also remember He’s still the best Physician when it comes to broken hearts and lives.

 

Who Says You Can’t Go Back?

SONY DSC

It’s been 18 years since I graduated and 8 years since I last stepped foot on the campus, but today I went back to Union University, where I spent four of the best years of my life.

I knew in my mind that things change. I prepared myself for seeing a different Union than the 1995 version that I remember so well. But even then it was still so very surreal.

SONY DSC

Just about every building on campus was new or completely remodeled. Even the layout of the buildings was different. There were no walls around the guys and girls dorms. Maggie would not have been pleased.

It hit me that half the students on campus weren’t even born when I graduated from Union. Well, maybe 1/4. I was never very good at math.

image

I found a vey few familiar places. The old library smelled exactly like it did in 1995. Funny how particular smells can trigger memories. For me, nothing stimulates remembering more than a certain combination of scents.

I found my old mailbox slot (and yes, it had mail in it and no, I didn’t open it). The cafeteria still looked the same.

I walked down the same sidewalk where I once had my trusty umbrella inverted by a sudden windy downpour. I could literally see the rain heading toward me as I walked to class. I also remember leaving for an 8 am class on a frigid winter morning with my hair still wet and arriving to class with my hair literally frozen.

None of the people who made Union great were there. New people are there making new lasting memories with new friends. Who knows? 18 years from now, maybe a current student will come back to unfamiliar people and buildings in 2031?

I know I’m not the same person who wanted so desperately for people to like him and to fit in and to belong. I’m not the same person who didn’t like himself very much and couldn’t bear to look at himself in the mirror. I’m definitely not the same guy who thought no girl could ever find him attractive or ever seriously consider a dating relationship with him.

Coming back reminded me of how far I’ve come. Maybe it wasn’t so much the new buildings and people that made my visit surreal. ,
Maybe it was me seeing everything with new eyes. Whoa. That was deep. 😁

image

I found God’s peace and healing at Union. I made some amazing friendships with some amazing people. Some I’ve kept up with, some I’m not friends with anymore, but all of them I still am thankful for.

I remember still the feeling I had the first time I set foot on this campus. I knew without a doubt that this is where God wanted me. Today, I look back and I can see just as clearly why that was.

I remain blessed. I am still living my miracle. God is good.

Saturday Night’s Alright for Slacking

IMG_1439

I did nothing tonight. Hard as it is to believe, I spent this Saturday evening in front of the idiot box with a very sleepy cat/therapist named Lucy. This jetsetter, this man about town, actually had a quiet night.

And the world didn’t come to a screeching halt.

Do you ever wonder that people forget about you the moment you leave the room? That when it comes to priorities, you’re not high up on anybody’s list? That ultimately you don’t truly matter to anyone?

Sure, I’ve felt that way some nights. But I know this.

There is never a moment that goes by where I’m not in God’s sight, on His mind, and engraved on His hands and on His heart. He loves me completely, unconditionally, unwaveringly, every second of every day of eternity.

God loves you the same way. God loves each person as if they were the only person who had ever lived and could receive the fullness of Love itself.

That kind of love meets you where you are but does not leave you that way. It can’t help but transform the beloved into the image of the Lover. You become most like what you love most. Always.

I can’t say that staying home was my first choice. Or even on my list of top twenty choices.

But here I am, thankful even on a slow Saturday night that I have everything I need in the world right here. Finding the joy on nights like this really does transform how you see the rest of your life. Giving thanks for the small things makes room to receive the greater things.

I think I’ll sign off in a bit here and go do some actual reading of an actual book, with actual pages that turn and everything. How novel.

May you know in full (or as fully as a finite human can comprehend the infinite) how much your Abba really does love you at every moment, whether you feel it or not.

That’s all for now.