The Last Thursday Before the Last Sunday Before Lent

O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son
revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that
we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be
strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his
likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen” (The Book of Common Prayer).

Mardi Gras is in 5 days (as is my birthday– hint, hint). Ash Wednesday is in 6 days.

That means I’ll be taking my usual sabbatical from social media for the next few weeks until Easter Sunday.

I’m actually looking forward to it this year more than ever. Not so much because of all the negativity (although there has been plenty of that lately) but more so because of all the extra time I’ll have to have actual face-to-face conversations with friends, do some reading out of actual books, watch movies, or just sit and contemplate in silence.

I recommend taking a social media break from time to time. It helps clear your head. It’s like a periodic reboot of your PC that helps reset and reorient your thinking when it’s gotten off track.

I’ll still be doing my blog posts as usual and keeping you updated on all the latest shenanigans in my life (as well as the ongoing saga that is the life of one Lucy the Wonder Cat).

I have some books lined up to keep me occupied, including hopefully rereading some Tolkien in the very near future. I’m still taking requests for good new/old music/movies, and books to check out, so keep sending them my way.

Who knows? Maybe I can manage to meet one or more of you at a nearby coffee spot for one of those face-to-face conversations? You just never know.

 

 

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.

 

2,200 and Counting

“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life” (1 Corinthians 7:17, The Message).

I recently received a notification of my six-year anniversary with WordPress. I’ve come a long way since that very first blog way back in July of 2010 that announced my arrival into the wild and exciting world of blogging (said with sarcasm).

I’m still not a fan of the word “blog.” It sounds like something you do that you don’t ever discuss in polite conversation, especially in mixed company. It also sounds like something you blow out of your nose when you have a cold.

In the ultimate irony, I’m slowing learning that to grow up and get to the place God created you to be, the best place to start is to learn to be content with where you are and who you are. The more you strive out of insecurity or envy, the more you find you’re vainly fighting the air while running in place. You don’t get very far that way.

The best way to find contentment is gratitude. Giving thanks makes what you have enough (as Ann Voskamp has said more than once) and it makes your life fuller and richer by putting your focus on what you have instead of what you lack.

Giving thanks opens your hands to receive more true riches from God’s hand. The problem with the prosperity gospel is that it focuses on the temporary riches that rust and fade, but the true riches that come with thanksgiving are the kind that are eternal and changeless.

I’m thankful tonight for a job that I enjoy, a cat who also moonlights as a very affordable therapist, a comfy bed, people who care about me, and a God who is crazy about me even after all these years.

I’d call that the good life.

 

Still Waiting for My Inevitable Stardom to Take Effect

I’m closing in on the sixth anniversary of my first ever blog (ta-da!) and this is my 2,155th post since then. As I write it, I’m in bed with a very sleepy and very geriatric cat on the pillow next to me. I feel everyone should have at least one geriatric cat but maybe that’s just me.

It’s not even officially summer and I’m already sweating almost non-stop. I love living in the South with the one notable exception of all the humidity. For those of us with curly hair, the struggle is real. I understand that the wonderful mix of heat and humidity will probably be like the house guest who overstays his welcome (or until some time in mid-October).

I still entertain notions that one day my little blog will blow up and my views will skyrocket into the millions (or more realistically, the hundreds). Given my eccentricities and my tendency to blog about random things, I know not to hold my breath. Still, a guy can dream, right?

For those living with deferred dreams, don’t give up. God’s timetable is not yours and He never does anything until the moment is perfect and the person is ready. Remember that if you’re still waiting, it’s because what you’re waiting for is bigger than  you can handle at the present.

Remember above all that God alone is sufficient. Often, He makes us wait because He wants us to cherish the Giver as much as the gifts. He wants us to be completely satisfied with Him alone, with or without the gifts.

Stop defining yourself by your marital status or your job title or your paycheck. That’s not ultimately who you are. You are first and foremost what God your Maker says you are– and that definition is Beloved. You are still God’s Beloved.

 

2,115 Posts? Really?

“One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as others to see” (Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey).

This July will mark six years since I started writing these blogs. For me, that’s a long time. There have been very few things that I have done consistently for that long, outside of eating and breathing and such.

Part of me still hopes that one day my posts will blow up and my readership will escalate into the millions and I will be able to retire from my job and write blogs exclusively. Part of me still hopes that chocolate is low-calorie and fat-free. You can’t have everything you want.

Even if this never becomes anything more than a hobby and a release, that’s just fine with me. These have been extremely therapeutic for me and helpful for many of you. That’s enough for me.

I said it before quite a few times and I say it again– I’d write these blogs even if I were the only one reading them. I really really would.

I have enjoyed writing them much more since I finally got my Mac Book Pro. I do feel a bit more hipster-y and cool, though I am still a goober at heart (in case you were beginning to get worried).

Faith will always inform everything I write on here, whether it’s overtly faith-based or not. That’s who I am. That will always be who I am.

2,115 posts. It does boggle the mind. Well, it boggles MY mind. At an average of 300 words per blog, that comes to over 634,000 words. That’s more than the word count in the novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I should know. I just looked it up on google to be sure.

My next goal is one million words. But as always, my main goal is to be authentic and encouraging and (sometimes) challenging. Maybe one day I’ll finally break down and write that novel. Maybe.

 

Yet Still More Randomness on Hump Day

Every now and then, I come to write these blogs and I really don’t have a theme. I have lots of ideas in my head that are all disconnected (and 95% of them are song lyrics or movie quotes).

The one theme that keeps reemerging like the chorus of a song is grace.

There are days when I feel confident and suave. I feel like my life’s going well. I’m able to truly appreciate how very blessed I am and I have all the confidence in the world that God is truly in control and that He’s got my future in good hands. Those days are grace.

Then there are days when my latent dorkiness comes to the surface. Just about every conversation feels awkward. All those old fears about people not wanting to be around me once they really get to know me come back. Those days are also grace.

Every day I wake up is grace. Every day I wake up I need God’s grace, both the good and bad days. There aren’t days when I can get by with a little less. I always need as much as I can handle (and then some).

Grace means that it’s okay that you’re not always okay. Grace means that you can celebrate brokenness because you know that’s where the light gets in (and where God’s light gets out).

So maybe I did have a theme after all. Who knew? I didn’t until I started typing.

Grace has certainly been the theme of my life. As much as I need it, I’m not always good at extending it to those who disappoint me. Maybe I even need grace to be able to give grace.

God never tires of being gracious with me. He loves me with a holy love that meets me where I am in my mess yet refuses to leave me where He found me.

I’m also thankful for that on a Wednesday night at 10:40 pm.

 

My Lent Plans for 2016

Here I am, typing this on my laptop in Starbucks and already thinking about Lent. If I’m not mistaken, Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday, which occurs during Mardi Gras.

My plan as always is to fast from social media during this time. As much as I’d like to use the extra time to be all productive and stuff, my main goal during this season is to reboot my brain and get my head right again.

Not that I’m in a bad place. I just think that it’s easy to let social media affect how you perceive yourself and others, and stepping away from it all can be a good way to remind yourself that life is more than status updates, Instagram posts, and how many likes and/or comments you get.

I will still be writing these blogs, so fret not. They will still show up on all my social media outlets, as usual.

Ideally, I can spend way less time with my head buried in my phone. I can look up and see blue skies and sunsets and other people (most likely with their heads buried in their phones and tablets).

Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. It’s also what happens when you’re checking your Facebook feed or updating your Twitter account. I doubt very seriously that you’ll get to the end of your life and regret all those hilarious memes you didn’t share or all the clever status updates you didn’t write.

You will regret not spending more actual real time with real people in face-to-face conversations about real-life situations.

You will regret not looking up from your social media to see all that life that’s passing you by.

So all that to say that starting Ash Wednesday, I will be (mostly) off the grid until after Easter Sunday. See you all then.

 

2,000 Posts Later

“Though my plans disintegrate and my aspirations die, though my dreams shatter and my goals are thwarted, even if no woman is ever romantically interested in me and all my friends leave me, though I never have another visible reminder of God’s presence of of spiritual comfort, if all I have in life is God and only God, I will lift up my hands up to Heaven and proclaim that my Yahweh is good to me. My Yahweh is AWESOME!!!”

I posted this a few years back. Actually, this pre-dates my WordPress blogs and probably goes back to at least 2010.

The point is not that I wish any of these things I mentioned would happen or that I fear they will happen.

The point of what I wrote is that even in the very worst case scenarios, God will still be good and I will still be blessed and I will still lack for nothing.

God is enough.

That is the cliffs notes version.

If you only get one thing from tonight’s post, let it be that God is enough.

Make that your mantra.

If you pin your hopes and dreams on anything else, ultimately whatever it is won’t satisfy you. Nothing else has the capacity to do so. Not your marriage, not your kids, not your career, not money, not anything. Only God can truly be enough.

If you have everything you ever dreamed of and don’t have God, you really don’t have anything. If you end up with absolutely nothing but God, you still have everything you need.

So, here’s hoping for at least 2,000 more blogs and enough creativity to fill those posts so that they will continue to be both fun to write and fun to read.

Maybe I can get Lucy the Wonder Cat to be a guest blogger one of these days. You never know, right?

Slouching Toward 2,000

I suck at math. Big time.

It’s a very good thing that WordPress keeps track of how many of these blogs I’ve written because I would have hopelessly and gloriously lost count a while ago. Like around post #16 or so.

So, according to the good folks at WordPress, this is blog #1,964. That’s not bad considering that I only started writing these things 5 1/2 years ago.

There have been stretches where I feel inspired, where the words flow like they’re coming from somewhere other than me.

Then there are times when I feel like I’m writing a “Dear Diary” entry along the lines of “I woke up. I went to work. I had coffee. I worked. I went home. The end.”

I’ve “borrowed” from a few of my favorite writers that have spoken my own thoughts at the time better than I could have.

I remain surprised at who reads these things that I never would have expected. My favorite is probably a friend named Erica who has since moved back to the Atlanta area and who I miss terribly, even though I never really saw her that much.

I may never get to the land of the million readers per post, but I’m okay with that. I have a unique take on things that isn’t meant for just anybody. It takes a special kind of reader (and probably a special kind of medication, too).

So basically, this came about because I ran out of topics to write about, so I ended up writing about the process of writing. That’s deep for a Friday evening when my brains have turned to mush.

The rest of this is just filler so that I can get to that coveted 300 word mark. It serves no real purpose other than to take up space.

That’s all I got tonight.

The end.

 

Five Years Later

It all started on July 25, 2010. That was the day I wrote my first blog for WordPress. It all started as a sort of tribute to one of my favorite writers, Brennan Manning.

Since then, I’ve amassed 1,831 posts (counting this one). That’s one a day if you’re keeping score.

Back then, I had a full-time job at Affinion Group that I liked some days and didn’t like on others. There were days I daydreamed about what it would be like to give my two week notice and other days when I was counting my blessings (mostly those were the Fridays on which I got paid).

Now, after three years of temp jobs and no stability, I look back and see that I really had a good thing there. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. But these days, having a job– any job– is a blessing.

I imagine that there are some blogs that get as many readers on one of their posts as I’ve gotten in all my posts combined. I’m okay with that. It was truly never about the numbers. It was about me finding an outlet for what I’m discovering about myself, life, and God.

I’d keep writing these if I only had two devout readers– my mother and me. Heck, even if it were just me reading these I’d keep writing them.

I hope I have at least five more years of these blogs. My next goal is 2,000 posts, which I should hit by early 2016.

So even though I’ve said it already many times, I’ll say it again. Thank you for reading what I write. Thank you for sticking with me when I got off track occasionally and when I wrote 300 words about nothing in particular. Thanks for your likes and your comments and your shares.

50,000 views is a big accomplishment for me and all the credit goes to you.

PS I would have written this on the actual anniversary of my blog, but it slipped on me like a stealthy ninja. In other words, I forgot.