Words

(But I’ll Bet You Haven’t)

It was a harsh and hostile time, filled with great uncertainty.  Public favor seemed to rock back and forth. One minute they were praised and celebrated, and the next they were vilified.  A generation earlier a ragtag cast of characters had electrified the world with the testimony that Jesus Christ, who had been crucified outside Jerusalem, had risen from the dead and was alive to this day.

But what started in a supernatural flurry of worship and wonder soon turned ugly. [click to continue…]

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river

God often speaks with an inside voice.

In fact, that’s His preferred method of communication.

Quiet.

Still.

Small.

It requires that you listen carefully, and in great faith.

Of course, there are different kinds of inside voices.  [click to continue…]

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This post is part of a series of posts celebrating Father’s Day titled, “That Time My Kids Hacked My Blog.” To read more, click here.

bikeDear Dad,

You may not remember the day that I learned to ride a bicycle, but I do. We were living in Fayette, Alabama and all of my friends had already figured out how to ride and graduated to ten speeds. After spending several weeks trying to figure out how, I had resigned to give up.

I am not sure how long it was, in my mind it seems like it was years but I am sure it was only a few weeks, that Mom brought up the topic at dinner. I remember telling her that I couldn’t do it. While I am sure mom said something encouraging it was your response that made a lasting impact. You said, “Yes you can…let’s go.” Then you stood up and the two of was walked downstairs into the basement took the training wheels off my bike and went to the driveway. The next hour I fell several times but each time I did you picked me up, told me I was okay, and encouraged me to try again. It wasn’t long before I figured out how to balance and pedal. Up to that point in my life I am not sure I had ever felt so accomplished and to this day I still love riding a bike.

That day you taught me how to ride, but what I didn’t know at the time was that you were also teaching me how to live life. Time and time again I have seen you act in a similar manner. [click to continue…]

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This post is part of a series of posts celebrating Father’s Day titled, “That Time My Kids Hacked My Blog.” To read more, click here.

Daddy2

Dear Daddy,

You’ve done a lot of things right as a parent, and the three of us are the adults that we are today because of your influence.  You’ve been my greatest teacher, encourager and influencer, and I’m so grateful for all that you’ve taught me.  There have been so many words of wisdom and encouragement over the past 31 years that it’s hard to identify the best or most influential, but there’s one thing that sticks out – there hasn’t been a single day of my life that I’ve doubted your love for me, or your pride in me.  Because you’ve always told me.

I see clients in my counseling office all the time who wonder.  They wonder if they’ve been enough, done enough, or said enough to make their fathers proud.  [click to continue…]

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This post is part of a series of posts celebrating Father’s Day titled, “That Time My Kids Hacked My Blog.” To read more, click here.

dadDaddy,

One of my favorite things about you is how you relate to people. You don’t make other people fit in your box, rather you relate to them in a way that not only allows them the freedom to be themselves but you encourage it. You seek out the unique things about a person that make them, well, THEM. The way you have parented follows suit. I have watched you relate to Cassie and Joel at times and noticed how different it is from how you and I relate. I’ve never felt sad about that because I know this great quality about you. In fact, it makes me feel more special because I know that our relationship is one of a kind, even though you have three kids.

I like to think the way you and I relate is through “moments”. These little snapshots of time that make up significant and meaningful times that we share. We’ve never really talked about it out loud before, but sometimes when we catch each other’s eyes I feel like we are on the same page, having a moment. (If that’s not what you are thinking will you just pretend that it is since this is a public letter??) Some of our moments are big and life changing and some of them are just small conversations that soften my heart. All of them I treasure.

Here are a few of my favorites: [click to continue…]

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Comforting friend. Woman consoling her sad friend.

I got chided a little this morning for good reason.  Some desperately hurting people had written comments to this post, sharing the depths of their pain, fear, frustration and even torment, and I had failed to respond to any of them.

And though it’s a little foolish to lump the hurts of people all together in one reply, I did. You can find this response also in the comments section there (#10 added later), but I thought I would share it with a larger readership with the hope that maybe it would be an encouragement to you or someone you care about. God knows it isn’t the last word on pain. It’s just what I’ve learned through some of my own.

Below is my reply. [click to continue…]

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Grandpaw and Button

One of my favorite pics of Grandpaw and Button

It was one of the many differences between us.  Maybe it was generational. Maybe it had more to do with personality. I don’t know.  To me it was silly at best, annoying it worst.

Corny, that’s it.  It was corny.

But my dad did it without apology, and routinely yucked about it.

“This is so-and-so,” he would say, “but I call him [insert nickname here].”

To know him well enough to banter at all – which for him meant more than one conversation – usually earned you some sort of nickname.

The manager of the local bank:  “I call her Cuz.”

A friend and pastor’s wife:  “Here comes Trouble.”

His and Dean’s friend Dolores got a play on the pronunciation, for no apparent reason:  “Doh-loh-reez.” [click to continue…]

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Daddy and Laura KateYou’ve probably never heard of Yarbo.  Unless, of course, you’ve spent some time tooling through Washington County, Alabama.  This unincorporated community, positioned halfway between Chatom and Millry, flies by your car window pretty fast on Highway 17.  A couple of old chicken houses, an abandoned softball field, a few house trailers, that’s about it.

At least that’s how it looks through my window.  Yarbo is a place on the way to some other place.

My dad had a different view.

On his regular excursions between Millry, his home at the time, and Chatom or Mobile, he would notice a singular figure sitting in the shade of one of those mobile homes.  An older black gentleman would spend hours there, offering a friendly wave at passers-by.  And there in the warmth of those Southwest Alabama summer days, my father found a kindred spirit.

He waved back.

Eventually he came to look for his nameless friend and would make a point of tooting his horn and waving.  Though separated by all the things that make for TV news sound bites – race and economic status and culture and probably politics – each of these men found in a simple gesture a point of connection.

That wasn’t enough for my dad. [click to continue…]

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Senior

Hello, this is Carl.

Hi Carl. A mutual friend gave me your card. Is this a good time to talk?

Sure. How can I help?

Well, I’m not sure if you can. The card says “Criticism Coach.”

Yep. That’s me.

I gotta be honest. I’ve never heard of a criticism coach.

Neither had I until the day I decided the world needed one.

So you just sort of made this up?

Well, I formalized the idea a couple of years ago. But I’ve been criticoaching for years.

Criticoaching?

Yeah, that’s my shorthand term for it. I did make that up.

What is a Criticism Coach?

So at the risk of asking a dumb question, what’s a criticism coach? [click to continue…]

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Daily News Headline

Back in the late sixties and early 70s we gathered around our TV sets with the three available channels on Monday nights for Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in on NBC.

One of the repeated gags on the lightning-fast show was the old joke from the diner, “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” I remember in one episode, the waiter is behind the counter and seven or eight people sitting at the bar say, one right after another, “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” Whoever was playing the waiter went down the counter, spewing out one punch line after another. Sorry, can’t find the YouTube clip for that, but it went something like this:

There’s a fly in your soup? Keep it down sir, or they’ll all be wanting one.

There’s a fly in your soup? Sorry sir, guess I forgot it when I removed the other three.

There’s a fly in your soup? Then we’ve served you too much soup, the fly should be wading.

There’s a fly in your soup? Couldn’t be, sir. The cook used them all in the raisin bread.

There’s a fly in your soup? It’s OK, Sir, there’s no extra charge!

There’s a fly in your soup? No sir, that’s a cockroach, the fly is on your steak.

There’s a fly in your soup? What do you expect? It’s fly soup.

Call me weird, but that’s one of the first things I thought of when I read the headline of the New York Daily News in the immediate wake of the devastating shootings in San Bernadino – yet another American city whose name has become synonymous with mass murder.

GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS, the headline blasted, riffing on and ripping the condolence statements of Republican presidential candidates. [click to continue…]

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