Following Your Passion

Relaxing in the park

If all you knew about love was rumor and reputation,
If all you held on to were wistful hopes or magical memories…
If everything you trusted to carry you relied on fair weather
Or the favor of fickle people,
Then whatever you know of love would be vain.

But there is a Love that is real, that stands and delivers
More than wishful thinking or the Good Ole Days…
A Love that lasts through the strain of the Dog days
And the pain of disappointing people…
A Love that goes to the Ends of the Earth.

If all you knew of love was agreement and approval,
And the whole world danced while you sang your song…
If every morning greeted you with sunshine and rainbows
And the endless praise of life-long admirers,
Then what you call Love is at best empty.

But there is a Love that holds on to you when life pushes back,
And embraces you warmly when people grow cold.
A Love that endures the pelting of blinding storms
And the ignorance of sightless critics…
A Love that goes to the Ends of the Earth. [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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Open door to dark room with bright light shining in.  Background Illustration.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:20, NLT).

+++++++

Open the door, Someone is knocking.
Someone who awakens dormant dreams,
Who sees through the terrible darkness that surrounds you
And who feels with you in your sorrows and joys.

Open the door, Someone is calling.
Someone who feels the gaping distance,
Who reaches relentlessly across the heart-spaces,
And presses on to show you His boundless love. [click to continue…]

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Why Chariots of Fire Remains One of My Favorite Movies

Chariots-Of-Fire

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
-William Blake, “Jerusalem”

I was a single seminary student in 1981 when I passed a bulletin board poster for the film Chariots of Fire. Rex Reed called it “A masterpiece.” Vincent Canby described it as “an exceptional film. Unashamedly rousing, invigorating.”

I figured it was on the seminary bulletin board for a reason, so I bit.

I’ve been smitten ever since. Through 32 years of marriage, three kids, 8 grandchildren, and various twists through life, that movie with its iconic 80s soundtrack and cast of young dreamers still captures my imagination. But only recently have I stopped to consider, at the urging of counselor and life coach Dwight Bain why this film still resonates nearly 35 years later.

I don’t care whether you love it, hate it, or have never even seen it. Behind the partly-fictionalized story of Great Britain’s 1924 Olympic team lies the epic question that challenges anybody who ever aspired to anything:

Why do you do it?

I won’t rehash the details of the plot which you can easily find here or here. I’ll just say that four characters in the film reflect four driving motivations. At any given time, any of these characters can represent my driving force for what I do, and each has its place. These motive checks allow me to consider whether my “why” is useful to my life purpose and goals.

In other words, I may be doing the right things, but for impotent reasons.

Why do you do what you do? [click to continue…]

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The light in young woman hands in cupped shape. Concepts of sharing, giving, offering, taking care, protection

“I don’t know how to describe this.”

Ever have an experience like that?

Ever observe something so profound, so extraordinary, so loaded with meaning that words looked cheap next to it?

One of the finest wordsmiths of all time, and a major contributor to the Bible itself, had that very experience. And in the midst of his gritty, get-it-done work and demeanor, even he was at a loss to use words to describe what was taking place. All Paul could say was, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

That’s a profound thing to say, considering some of the things he did describe in his New Testament letters.

Know what makes it even more profound? This “indescribable gift” came disguised as something rather ordinary, that anyone, anywhere can enjoy. This isn’t some secret sauce for super-saints. In fact, on a surface level it looks rather common and ordinary. And yet something behind the scenes turns the ordinary into a speechless wonder.

Know what makes it even better than that? You may have been participating in this indescribable gift and didn’t even realize it. Or if you haven’t, you can start today. [click to continue…]

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The University of Wisconsin Marching Band appears in the 122nd Rose Parade, themed "Building Dreams, Friendships," in Pasadena January 1, 2011.

I grew up in the true home of Mardi Gras. And being in the high school band back in the day, we marched in our share of Mardi Gras parades. It was a nice way to raise money for the band, contribute to local community life, and to create some space between the floats so they didn’t run into each other. Plus, we helped contribute to festive atmosphere of Carnival season.

I had a pretty interesting role in all this, because I was the Drum Major – the guy in the fuzzy hat that directs the band on the street as they march.

Which means I spent a lot of my time marching backwards through the streets of Mobile.

There are two things you learn by marching backwards on a five-mile parade route. First, it’s always better to be at the front of the parade than the back. Why?

Horses. Lots and lots of cancer-free-and-proud-of-it horses, who exist on a high-fiber diet.

Need I say more? [click to continue…]

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silhouette man kneeling sadness praying full length

I’m going to ask you a series of “first impression” questions.  The goal is to have a good answer without thinking or analyzing too much.

If things like this make you anxious, relax.  You’re in complete control here.

You may want to really put some legs under this exercise by writing down your answers somewhere.

Okay, ready?  Give your first answer to the following questions. [click to continue…]

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Sequoia

I’ve received just under 10,000 calls, texts, or emails over the last few weeks, all wanting to know the same thing:  How’s the little sequoia tree doing?

So rather than answer it both all of them at once, I thought I’d give you an update here.

It’s ugly. [click to continue…]

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Thunderstorm and lightnings in night over a lake with reflaction

It doesn’t take much for a breeze
To become a roaring fury –
Or a gentle, soaking shower
To become a fierce, howling squall.
In a matter of mere moments,
The elements that nourish you
Can soon threaten to destroy you
Or just paralyze you with fear.

That is true in the natural…
More so in the relational.
Sometimes the waves that pound at you
Are tides of public opinion.
Sometimes the winds that howl to you
Are the voices of the critics.
Sometimes the raindrops that pelt you
Are problems with no solutions.

When storms are raging,
It’s time for engaging
Your faith, your hope, and your love. [click to continue…]

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