Six Years Later

Lost in all the hoopla over both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and all the madness that ensued was the fact that recently I celebrated my sixth anniversary of blogging for WordPress.

Part of me feels that it can’t have been six years because the time has gone by so very quickly. Another part of me is shocked that I’ve only been doing these posts for six years because I feel that I’ve grown so much since that very first one way back in July 28, 2010.

C. S. Lewis wrote that often on a daily basis you can see very little change, but when you look back over a number of years you see a huge difference between your present self and your former self. Time can be deceiving in that way.

I truly believe that monumental change happens in the form of daily small changes that happen over time. Every 10,000 mile journey begins with a single step and the daily choices you make that take you either closer to or further away from your desired destination.

I’m thankful for a vehicle like WordPress that makes it easier for me to get my thoughts out there into cyber-land. I also love the fact that it corrects my bad spelling so that you think I’m smarter than I really am.

My advice for those who want to write is two-fold: 1) find your own voice and 2) stay true to it. Finding your own voice means that you tell your own story and not someone else’s. It means that you write about what you know and what makes you come alive. Staying true to your own voice means that you write what’s in your heart, not what you think others will want to read. Most of all, just write.

Thanks, everybody, for six amazing years. Here’s to at least six more years of me writing and you reading.

 

Sometimes You Just Need a Little Ella in Your Life

 

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I am about to go on record and make a bold statement: I have old fashioned tastes in movies. I’m not a fan of movies with lots of unbelievable car chases and overblown dialogue and cars that turn into robots. I don’t like moves that are a BLAST (Big, Loud, And Stupid, Too).

I like movies with characters and situations I can relate to. I like well-written dialogue and well-thought out plot twists. I want to have to think a bit and not always be able to predict what’s coming next.

I like old movies. I think if I could only have one channel on my TV, it would be TCM. They show the best classic movies.

I also am becoming more and more of a fan of old music. I know I sound like an old fart when I say what I’m about to say, but I don’t care. I like music with a melody and singers who can sing. Like Ella Fitzgerald.

I love her voice and her impeccable phrasing. Truly, there was no one else like her. And there never will be.

Sometimes, I need to take a break from modern music and get my Ella fix. Her music makes me feel nostalgic for an era that was way before my time. It relaxes me and makes me feel better.

What was the point of all this? I forget. Maybe that it’s good to go old-school and retro every once in a while. Or maybe to like what you like and not card whether it’s hip or cool or if anybody else likes it.

Yeah, that must be it.

Things I Love 38: Pilates? Heck No! I Thought You Said Pie and Lattes!

island hammock

“Remembering with thanks is what causes us to trust – to really believe” (Ann Voskamp).

“God reveals Himself in rearview mirrors. And I’ve an inkling that there are times when we need to drive a long, long distance, before we can look back and see God’s back in the rearview mirror. Maybe sometimes about as far as heaven — that kind of distance” (Ann VoskampOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

“We’re called to do more than believe in God, we’re called to live in God” (Ann Voskamp).

Thanksgiving really does alter your perspective. During those times when you’re in between jobs and your bank account wouldn’t cover a Starbucks latte, it’s easy to focus on what’s lacking. But eucharisteo reminds you that really even in those times you’re truly blessed if you can only see with the eyes of your heart instead of your physical eyes. Blessings are always ready to be found by those with grateful hearts and God-centered minds. So with that, I pick up at #1,141.

1,141) Finding stray money in the pockets of my jeans and shorts.

1,142) Funny cat videos.

1,143) That there really is a fountain filled with blood where all my sins are washed away.

1,144) Being completely comfortable with interstate driving.

1,145) No humidity in the fall.

1,146) People who still practice common courtesy and good manners.

1,147) A dentist visit with no cavities.

1,148) Reading the books my favorite writers read (like reading Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton because he was one of C.S. Lewis’ favorite authors).

1,149) Watching and reading about the new birth in the British royal family.

1,150) When I wake up and roll over to see that it’s only 2 am and I have 5 more hours of sleep.

1,151) Knowing that my best day this side of heaven won’t even touch my worst day in heaven. And yes, I know in heaven they’ll all be good days.

1,152) Eating and shopping locally at non-chain establishments.

1,153) The occasional Taco Bell meal.

1,154) The way my friend Sara has faithfully greeted at Kairos and is now transitioning to being an 11:11 greeter.

1,155) Having a short-haired cat who always looks well-groomed.

1,156) That my mother finally got her new car.

1,157) Hugs from friends and family.

1,158) Those rare times when I mention something I love twice in these lists (which must mean I really love it).

1,159) Setting out on a road trip with good books and good music.

1,160)  My old teddy bear that I’ve had since I was 10.

1,161) Really comfy oversized couches.

1,162) Seeing my friend from Orlando (who always makes me smile) at Kairos tonight.

1,163) Amy Winehouse’s amazing voice.

1,164) Wireless broadband internet.

1,165) The way my GPS pronounces Briley Parkway as “Brilley.”

1,166) Seeing photos of my friends and family on vacation via Facebook and Instagram.

1,167) Remembering the way the breeze off the ocean feels at twilight.

1,168) Finding books I’ve always wanted to read in the clearance section of a bookstore.

1,169) That I’ve had 21 views on my blogs today (and while that’s nowhere near a record, it means people are still reading what I write).

1,170) Making it to level 51 on Candy Crush Saga.

1,171) Remembering when technology was much bigger and heavier and slower and more expensive (and how it’s now smaller and lighter and faster and . . . well, not as expensive).

1,172) Night lights.

1,173) Not stubbing my toe on furniture in the dark at night.

1,174) Knowing that I’m not the most directionally-challenged person in the world.

1,175) People who have the gift of hospitality and practice it often.

The Book of Revelation (Not Revelations)

Tonight was the second night of the Wednesday series that Mike Glenn is leading on the Book of Revelation (not Revelations, as I mistakenly called it in a facebook post).

I love the part in Revelation 1 where John turns around to see the voice that speaks to him. Not just any voice. The voice. In John’s mind, Jesus’ voice is the only one that matters.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to your family and friends. I’m saying that ultimately what Jesus says to you and about you trumps what anybody else has said to you.

You may have been called names or put down by others. You may have even called yourself names out of frustration or anger. But the only name that matters is the name Jesus gives you (check Revelation 2). What He calls you is who you really are.

The Book of Revelation isn’t about the mark of the beast and what it will look like or what form it will take. It’s not about who the anti-christ is or how big and scary the dragon will be.

This book is about Jesus. Not about how Jesus will one day ascend the throne and reign as King, but how He’s already on that throne right now. From start to finish, John portrays Jesus as big enough to get you through whatever you’re facing. He’s strong enough to save you. He’s tender enough to pick up the broken pieces of your heart and put them back together into a new regenerated heart.

I read somewhere in a email that the Bible was written by people under persecution to people under persecution and only people who have suffered can really grasp the true meaning. I think that’s true. I think you only really know how strong and mighty Jesus is to save after He has reached down to you in your lowest point and lifted you out of your mess. Only those who have scars can truly worship with hearts overflowing with gratitude.

My prayer for me as I read and study this book is that I will get a much bigger revelation of Jesus than I ever have before. That I will see Him as both merciful and holy, loving and just, closer than my own breath yet high and lifted up and seated on the throne.

That’s my prayer for you, too.

 

Why I Am a Fan of Henri Nouwen

solitude

“In solitude we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to the voice of him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts. In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared. It’s there we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own, but are given to us; that the love we can express is part of a greater love; and that the new life we bring forth is not a property to cling to, but a gift to be received” (Henri J.M. Nouwen).

Henri Nouwen wrote that every single person ever born deals with aloneness, because every single one of us is unique and no one else will ever have our exact problems and issues and hang-ups and phobias.

He said we can either see our aloneness as a wound and thus turn it into loneliness or view it as a gift, where it becomes solitude. In solitude is where we can learn to be still and quiet and know that in truth, we are never really alone. God is with us.

Solitude makes us better people, better neighbors, better friends, better spouses, better lovers, and better disciples. We’re not clinging to each other out of a desparate need to not be lonely, but because we are finally comfortable with who we are in the times when we are alone with no noise to drown out our own thoughts.

That is my own wording of what I’ve been reading in The Only Necessary Thing, a compilation of Nouwen’s thoughts on living a prayerful life. Seriously, if you don’t read another one of my blogs, but read one of his books, I will be supremely happy. He’s that good.

That’s all for tonight. Let me know what you are reading that touches you deeply at the soul level. Maybe it’s a book that will do the same for me. And may the God of the earthquake and the God of the thunder also be the God of your silence and the God of your solitude. Amen.