Monday, January 26, 2009

Two Kids in Love

I've been living long enough to know that there is a season for everything, and a time for every activity under the sun. There have been times in my life -- too many times -- when I was constantly busy, and my loved ones seemed like random strangers I occasionally stumbled across in my own house.

But I woke up one morning not too long ago, and suddenly remembered vividly the cry of my heart, from a season of life long since passed. There I was, in the darkest and loneliest days of my life. Not just single, but brokenhearted and abandoned. Everywhere I turned, there was darkness and hopelessness. All I wanted was a friend -- someone to share it all with; someone to stand beside me in my hour of need. I cried out to the Lord, and still there was no one for me. In desperation my heart cried once again, "If I ever find love again, dear Jesus, I promise I'll cherish it, and pour all my heart and soul and mind and strength into making it grow, and giving myself fully to the one you give to me."

In time, the sadness passed, and the activities of life filled the empty spaces. When love did come, I wasn't even looking for it. I had resolved to spend my life alone, and to enjoy the freedom that gave me. But there was love, standing in front of me with long hair and mischievous eyes, so I walked through the doorway to a new life. (Walked quite slowly, says she. But walked nonetheless, says I.)

It's been several years since the day we said our vows, in front of family and friends and God. Several very good years, by any measure. But on a day recently -- suddenly, mysteriously, without explanation -- I awoke and remembered with stark lucidity the cry of my heart from all those years ago. The time and season has seemed right to remember my promise to the Lord. And for wonderful reasons I may never understand, this wife of mine has been feeling the same way about the whole thing lately, at the same time as me.

And so here we are, living in the renewed dream that is our reality. Life is good. We're in love, and feeling like two teenagers who have borrowed my parents' car for the night, and don't have a curfew.

The night is young. Come away with me, my love.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Call From Darrell Waltrip

I'm feeling sort of famous right now. NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip called me and left a personal message on my phone, thanking me for using the service department at his Honda dealership. He even gave me a number I can call back, in case I have any questions or comments about the service I received. Maybe I'll call it sometime, and ask to talk to Darrell, just so we can shoot the breeze about how much cooler motor sports were in the olden days, before they had stuff like restrictor plates and roof flaps.

This is so cool, getting a call from Darrell Waltrip. It's even better than that time John Kerry called, asking me to vote for him. Plus I hear that Darrell Waltrip is a Christian, and has a bible study in Nashville. I'm not really surprised. Pretty much everyone in Nashville is a Christian, except for Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses, and those people who were cheering for the Baltimore Ravens.

Of course, in some ways, I'm jaded by all the exposure to famous celebrities that one gets when living in Nashville. Pretty much every songwriter/musician/waitress in Nashville can tell you a cool story about how a bona fide star came into their restaurant, and even got seated in their section. And how famous people can sometimes be really nice and friendly, in real life.

When I'm famous, I'm going to be really nice to people, too. You should always remember your roots, and where you came from. It's not polite to make fun of all the unimportant little people, because you used to be just like one of them, before you got famous.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I'm probably just afraid of how much of my time I would waste. I have enough "information overload" even without the antidote, thanks. about 1 minute ago from Blogger

Who knows? Maybe I could get into Twitter, if I could think of an actual use for it. about 3 minutes ago from Blogger

Yeah. And chocolate cake is the antidote to weight gain, too. Eat up! about 5 minutes ago from Blogger

Actual quote from the Twitter site: "Twitter puts you in control and becomes a modern antidote to information overload." about 7 minutes ago from Blogger

is scratching his elbow. about 11 minutes ago from Blogger

is aware I can link it to my Facebook status updates or whatever. But I don't use those either. about 12 minutes ago from Blogger

@dullroar Et tu, dude? Ack! I coulda sworn you were with me on this! about 16 minutes ago from Blogger in reply to dullroar

I'd rather have my eye poked out with a sharp stick than join in the Twitter mayhem. about 1 hour ago from Blogger

just went to the bathroom. about 1 hour ago from Blogger

No, the truth is my decision not to Twit or Tweet or whatever you call it is firm and not subject to change. about 2 hours ago from Blogger

OK, now it's official. I've finally done it. No, I didn't join Twitter. I wrote a blog post about Twitter, just like everyone else. You're reading it right now. about 2 hours ago from Blogger

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

Superlatives and Expletives

We live in a world where information overload is commonplace, and at any given time there seem to be a million different things vying for our attention. So it's no surprise that everyone and everything is looking to shock, to entice, or to stand out in some way.

One of the results of this is a coarsening of our language, and an exhaustion of available descriptions for things which vary in degree. We love people, food, and TV shows. We hate politicians, bad drivers, and the devil. The current financial recession is the most desperate and disastrous event since the Great Depression. The current weather is the most severe ever, and further evidence that the global climate is well on its way to impending doom and disaster. Many people have a new and different "best friend forever" monthly, and "the worst day ever" almost daily.

As part of this same process, the boundaries of what is considered acceptable and polite speech, particularly in terms of obscenity and vulgarity, are also being stretched. When I was 15 years old, I distinctly remember immersing myself in flagrant and gratuitous use of extremely vulgar language. I was surrounded by friends who also spoke that way, and we all agreed that it made us sound pretty grown up and avant-garde. It was a great way to rebel against our parents, and against society at large. No word, regardless of how hateful or hurtful, was off limits. The more offensive, the better. Now it seems that society at large is striking back, by pelting me daily with the vocabulary of a 15 year old. Touché.

What this all means is that things which cannot be characterized in extreme terms are anathema, and should be avoided. They are boring and meaningless. They are routine and predictable. They are mediocre and unnoticeable. They are bland and tasteless. They are plain and ordinary.

When we want to express that something is truly spectacular, amazing, magnificent, or wonderful, we lack the effective vocabulary to do it because we've used up those words on things which simply didn't deserve them. When we want to express that something is truly abhorrent, horrible, awful, or revolting, again we lack the vocabulary because we've used up those words on things we oughtn't have.

I really don't think there's anything that can be done to reverse the trend at this point. It seems that it's in our nature to become desensitized to anything to which we are repeatedly exposed, including the power of words. I wonder if there will come a point where we will have gone so far down this path that it will strike someone as novel and compelling to rebel against society by discovering "the old way", and unearthing the shocking richness of the language that was left behind long ago.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Inspired Blogging

I received some helpful thoughts and suggestions from commenters on my previous post, regarding ways to capture "blog-worthy" inspirational moments when they strike me. I decided that the subject was worth a new entry, with some additional ponderings.

My friend Jim suggests that an item we all have and take for granted, the cell phone, can be used in several different ways to retain and record the ideas that might strike anytime and anywhere.

In my case, I work from a home office and only have my cell phone with me when I leave the house. So the ideas that strike me, say, in the shower (which is one place they actually do occur fairly often) would probably not apply in this case. But certainly, when I see or think of things while out and away from the house, this sounds like a very good alternative, and one which I'm pretty sure I'll make use of now.

My friend Amy admits that she still makes use of ancient technology and jots her thoughts down on paper. I'm definitely not above the use of ancient technology. In fact, my workspace is littered with hundreds of Post-It notes. This still seems to be my method of choice for many other things, like work reminders or shopping lists. So perhaps if I were to station a few more Post-It pads with pens strategically throughout the house, this could actually be helpful, too.

Amy made another great point about retaining what made the "inspiration" seem so interesting in the first place, and now that I think about it, this might be the real issue for me. During my "inspired" moments, my mind is racing, and I typically have several excellent bullet points to support my new notion, along with lots of great real-life examples. But a couple of paragraphs into actually typing it out, it suddenly doesn't seem so great after all.

I remember reading one writer who said that you should quickly type everything out while you're still inspired, without stopping to self-edit. Then you finish editing the grammar and organizing the structure better after you have reached the end. In my case, self-editing early and often in the process certainly does seem to discourage me, and traps me in the minutiae of trying to say everything perfectly, even before I've finished getting all my thoughts typed out.

Of course, there's one final element to this blogging process that I haven't even mentioned at all. Many blog entries are not the result of any sort of inspiration at all. Some are funny or interesting videos, others are responses or comments to other blog posts, and still others are simple recordings of thoughts or events, like a daily journal might be. No doubt a number of bloggers who succeed at writing frequently incorporate generous use of these elements into their content as well.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Bone Dry

Boy, I just can't seem to think of anything to write about on this blog lately.

The funny thing is, I have moments of inspiration almost daily, but they don't occur during the time I'm here at the keyboard. They seem to pass into complete oblivion by the time I try to remember them so I can type them out.

I hear many bloggers say that some of the best and most interesting posts and discussion threads came from entries that were uninspired and didn't seem to amount to much initially. There's probably something to that. Some of the greatest inventions and breakthroughs were discovered accidentally, sort of like LSD. Well, maybe that's not such a good example after all. Hofmann claims it wasn't just a chance discovery, in the purest sense of that expression.

I wonder if somebody out there who blogs successfully has tips on how to harness inspired thoughts and retain them, so they can lead to blog entries. Anyone? I don't want to resort to carrying around a tape recorder. Well, that's ancient technology, anyway -- I guess it would be a MP3 player with recording capability now. And I don't want to scribble thoughts onto note cards. Oops, more ancient technology -- these days, it would be some sort of PDA, I guess.

Maybe what I should do is start a blog which self-consciously looks at what's involved in trying to blog, and how fruitless/difficult the process is. Oh wait, there's somebody already doing that, apparently.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Time to Pause

The last day of the year seems like a good time to pause briefly to look back at the previous year, and to look forward to the upcoming year. I really don't have any particularly deep thoughts about either one at the moment, but maybe I can manage a few quick reflections.

2008 was a good year. My family enjoyed good health, safety, prosperity, and some genuine spiritual and personal growth. There were some setbacks and hardships, too, but those seem relatively minor when I consider what many people in the world are facing today. I am blessed to be surrounded by amazing friends and family, and I would be tremendously remiss if I failed to mention that Jesus is the center of everything good and worthwhile in my life. His unquenchable grace, mercy, and love are precious beyond words, and it's because of Him that I can look forward to each new day.

I start 2009 with few lofty goals or ambitions. Perhaps one thing I should try to do is relax and take a little more time off. The folks at my office notified me this past week that I have a tremendous surplus of vacation days accumulated. I'm at an age and season in life where my work is generally enjoyable and rewarding, but I know from experience that it's important to keep a good balance in my life, and not devote too much time or energy to work. Enjoying a little down time, and stopping to appreciate the goodness around me, sounds like a grand idea.

I think I'll start working on that right now. My wife spent the whole afternoon preparing a nice spread of meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and a variety of condiments to take next door, where our neighbors are throwing their annual New Years' Eve bash. There will be lots of food, drinks, friends, kids playing, laughter, and even some fireworks.

Happy New Year! May you and yours have a wonderful 2009.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Though He Often Cheats By Using Extremely Long and Descriptive Titles, and Not Including Those in His Word Count

I enjoy Abraham Piper's blog, 22 Words. I struggle with being too verbose. I'm usually not disciplined enough to use fewer words.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Gloom

So here we are, just a few days from the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and I haven't seen the sun in weeks. Literally. We've been locked into this weather pattern where there is constant, thick cloud cover. This isn't unusual for this time of year here in Tennessee, and I don't mean to make it sound like I'm complaining.

In fact, we've had decent rainfall lately, and are now ahead of our average for annual precipitation in 2008. This is good, because we've had a couple of very dry years. 2007 was considered a drought year.

I do think there is more than just a psychological effect from continuous lack of sunlight. Our bodies get Vitamin D from sunlight, so perhaps a lack of it has other physiological effects. My sleep patterns are a little off. I feel a couple of degrees off kilter. It's hard to explain.

The last couple of days it has been very cold, and drizzly, and a thick fog has been lingering just above the rooftops. I swear it looks like London in 1891 -- the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery.

But I accept this. It's part of the amazing cycle of life in our world. There was rebirth and new hope in the spring, an almost endless supply of hot sunny days in the summer, and a crisp beautiful change in the fall. Now it's time for things to lie dormant or die. It seems a bit dreary now, and sometimes seems like it lasts a little longer than we'd like. But the truth is that it stays this way just the right amount of time. It will make the warmth and rebirth of springtime that much sweeter when it finally comes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Linked Together

Is it just me and the places I visit, or does the blogosphere seem sort of slow lately?

I find it fascinating that something as chaotic and uncontrolled as the internet manages to ebb and flow in such discernible patterns. Each individual person, acting as a free agent, manages to blend and mingle into a greater whole in ways that can be surprisingly predictable.

Having been part of online communities for many years now, I do understand some of the reasons for this. For one thing, much of the content on the blogosphere is part of an ongoing conversation. A post by one blogger sparks a conversation, and other bloggers write new posts both in response to the original, and as part of new thoughts on related subjects. More and more blogs become linked together by the synergy of these multiple ongoing conversation threads. Eventually there is some sort of consensus or equilibrium reached with the original conversation, but others have arisen to take its place.

When many of the prevailing conversations have run their course, and some sort of saturation point across the whole of the hive has been reached, things quiet down for a while. Because we just completed an election cycle here in the United States, it's possible that a certain level of fatigue has set in. Everyone expressed his or her opinion, poured their passion into the process, and is experiencing a bit of a lull or letdown now. I don't necessarily mean a letdown in the sense of being sad or depressed (though I'm sure some people are), just in levels of passion and desire to express strong opinions about many of the issues that were hot topics a little over a month ago.

It's also possible that the time of year has something to do with it. Perhaps people are busy shopping, or spending time with family and friends. Maybe some are suffering from season-related depression, which unfortunately, is fairly common this time of year.

Ultimately, I'm not sure if this slowdown is real or just anecdotally perceived. And how can something be called "real", when the entire framework and substance upon which it is based only exists in a virtual way in the first place?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Magnifying the Mundane

So I've been trying this "daily blogging" thing, more or less, for about a week now, and I'm still not sure what to think about it.

I find that I can always write something -- sometimes it's something about something, and sometimes it's something about nothing. Sometimes it's an embedded video that I found funny or interesting. As far as I know, I have at least one person who has this blog in his reader and actually reads what I write (thanks, Jim!). But I'm still restless and uncertain about what value this whole thing has, and for whom I am writing it.

I guess it should be obvious by now that I'm an awkward, introspective and self-conscious person. Otherwise, why would I keep stopping the simple flow of daily minutiae to ponder the process, instead of just engaging in it? And I think I should make it clear that I'm not saying this in a negative way, or to be persistently self-deprecating. It is what it is, and I am what I am.

Perhaps it's the mundane and introspective nature of my life (and therefore of my subject matter), that has me constantly rethinking this process. Other than a few friends, I'm not sure who wants to read about my simple daily existence. One of the common criticisms of blogging I've seen is this very thing -- that there are millions of people creating dull and meaningless logs of their dull and meaningless lives, and trying to make it sound like they are interesting or have something important to say.

Which means that at this point, I'm a blogger whose dull and meaningless chatter includes allegedly witty observations about how other writers I've read like to make fun of the fact that most blogging is just dull and meaningless chatter.

Somebody stop me.

It's One of a Kind

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holy Strep Throat, Batman!

So after a few days of pretty severe symptoms and no apparent improvement in her condition, I took my wife to the doctor today. Turns out she has strep throat. We were both pretty surprised to hear this. She did have swelling at the back of her throat and lymph nodes, but she did not have what we usually think of as a "sore throat" -- you know, that thing you get during a bad cold, where you can't even swallow without extreme pain. I always thought that was one of the main symptoms of strep throat, but apparently that's not necessarily the case. Reading through the list of other symptoms for strep throat, I see that my wife has exhibited every single one of them.

While I was there in the doctor's office, the doctor wrote me a prescription and recommended that I take the same type of antibiotics that my wife is taking, since I have been in close contact with her the whole time she's been sick.

I think the biggest mystery for us is where my wife got this. We couldn't recall any friends or family who have had strep throat, and are not aware of coming in contact with anyone who has had it recently. We did go to a restaurant and have a meal a couple of days before she began showing symptoms -- and that's about how long it's supposed to take them to show up. That seems like the most likely scenario, but it's a scary thought -- that somebody working as a cook or server at a public restaurant is running around infecting everyone with strep.

I think we'll stay home and cook our own meals for a while.