Monday, October 31, 2005

Thank God for James Taylor

I have been moved in recent days to pay more attention to the beautiful gifts God gives us everyday. I am guilty of ignoring the grandeur of mountains on occasion and thumbing my nose at the sunsets God paints for me every evening. He paints them for you too, by the way.

I thought about how I would feel if I gave my daughter the coolest gift ever, not because she earned it or deserved it, but because I love her so much. How excited I would be to give her the gift and how it would break my heart if she thumbed her nose at it. How many days would I continue to offer the gift before I gave up?

He's excited to give me gifts everyday and I break His heart all the time.

So, this morning after a 7:00 meeting at Starbuck's broke up, I hung around to read for a bit. Suddenly I heard the familiar guitar licks of James Taylor over the coffee shop speakers and he broke into a song called You Can Close Your Eyes.

Well the sun is surely sinking down
But the moon is slowly rising
So this old world must still be spinning ’round
And I still love you

It's beautiful and J.T. simply brings me joy. I stopped reading, closed my eyes and thanked God for James Taylor and for still loving me. It felt like God created Sweet Baby James just for me (or at least his wonderful music) and I needed to thank Him for that.

I don't want to ignore His gifts anymore. I want to embrace beauty wherever I can find it and be thankful.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Ocean of Our Unknowing

Just when I think I have a handle on this thing called life; just when I've almost got it figured out; just when things seem to be headed in "the right" direction, God throws me a curve ball like the death of a friend or the birth of a baby or a sunrise to remind me that what Donald Miller said is absolutely true:

"It turns out the droplet of our knowledge is a bit lost in the ocean of our unknowing."

And I'm reminded that in order to be used by God, I have to get out of the way. I'm reminded that it's not about what I want, what I have, what I know or what I will acquire in the future. I'm reminded that now I only know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

It turns out the droplet of my knowledge is indeed lost in the ocean of my unknowing. And at the end of the day, not only do I have to be okay with that, I have to believe it really is better that way.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

You're From Big D, I Can Guess...

You're from Big D
I can guess
By the way you drawl
and the way you dress
You're from Big D
My O yes
I said Big D

I had about a half hour to kill yesterday before rehearsal so I wandered down to Starbuck's for a coffee and to read a chapter of Donald Miller's Through Painted Deserts. Much to my dismay, the usually quiet coffee shop had been converted into a junior high cafeteria complete with giggly girls, awkward boys and groups of nerds and cool kids.

The weather was pleasant, so I found a seat outside. The only other adult customer was a woman in her 50's who had also come outside. She was enjoying the weather, her coffee and as far as I could tell a pack and a half of Cool's smoked one right after the other. She was also on her cell phone. It was interesting to say the least, to read about Miller's journey of "light, God and beauty on the open road" with her cell phone conversation focusing on shopping for more stuff, "old bitter" friends and griping about church as back ground music.

In the part of the book I was reading, Donald and his friend Paul are taking a road trip from Houston to the Grand Canyon in an old VW van. They are approaching Dallas from the south. I share his words with you here because if you are not familiar with Big D, you are about to become so and if you are familiar with it, you know Miller is right.

(Dallas) is an odd town...A big, Republican, evangelical city where you can't drink, girls wear black dresses for dates on Wednesday, and the goal is to join the local country club like your daddy and his daddy before him. When you build a city near no mountains and no ocean, you get materialism and traditional religion. People have too much time and lack inspiration.

There is but one Texas, and for Texans there is need for nothing more. A country within a country. Businessmen wear thousand-dollar suits with ten-thousand-dollar Stetsons. They drive king-cab trucks to their office jobs while their wives drive SUV's filled with kids in transit to and from school, band practice and football practice and cheerleading practice, and so on. And they have these little white stickers on the backs of their cars that read, "Michael...Plano Football" or "Michelle...Redmond Cheerleader" advertising their childs achievement like a political statement, teaching their kid that what really matters, what daddy really loves, is what you do. Give me something I can brag about to complete strangers stuck in traffic. Brilliant. I will have to send my mother a sticker that says, "Vagabond" or "Late Sleeper."

I watched the rich kids in Starbuck's buying $4 drinks and listened to the smoking lady rave more and more about less and less and I knew Miller was right and that I am in the center of the materialistic storm. How do I find light, God and beauty here? How can I share it with others here? How do I keep from being swept up in the storm?

And that spells Dallas
Just dig your toe in Dallas
And there's oil all over your address!
Back home in Big D
My O yes
I mean Big D

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Liddy the Intellectual and Strange Fish Sightings

Our internet connection has been down at the office for two days. TWO DAYS! So I've been spending time at one of my favorite wi-fi spots, Panera Bread. I enjoy Panera's atmosphere and cold drinks. It's a good place to sit and think.

Yesterday I sat down in a comfy leather chair to answer some email and take care of some other pressing business like checking my fantasy football score (I lost my first game of the season) and catching up on my favorite blogs. I had just written my first email and was busy attaching another message to it when I met Liddy. She was sitting behind me and moving around a lot, so I turned my head to see what was going on. She apologized for bothering me and then said those words you long to hear when you are excited about spending some time alone, "Can I ask your advice about something?" She proceeded to ask my advice about some general Panera Bread etiquette and then out of nowhere she hits me with this comment: "I was having trouble making up my mind. I'm an intellectual you know."

Now, in my experience I have found that anytime someone has to tell you they have a good sense of humor, you can be sure they have no sense of humor at all; and anytime someone announces they are an intellectual, you can bet they are certifiably insane. A safe bet where Liddy was concerned.

Anyway, two hours later (yeah, T-W-O hours later) I knew Liddy's entire life story. I'm not kidding. She grew up on a ranch in Breckenridge, TX where her Jewish/American Indian heritage was kept secret. She has two sons (one lives in California and the other in Arizona and they are both brilliant), a 4 bedroom house (two bedrooms on either side with a living space and kitchen in the middle, huge closets and a wonderful laundry room) and a recently deceased ex-husband who was a good man, but an alcoholic. When she was a girl, her Sunday school class was taught by her mother who only had a tenth grade education, but people came from 100 miles away to attend her classes. She was "obsessed" with religion, poor woman. Liddy's uncle was one of the first 5 pilots hired by American Airlines and he flew all over the world and hung out with politicians and movie stars.

She wants to write a book about her family and she told me she wished someone would just write the truth and it would be a best seller. I assured her someone already had and it was indeed a best seller. After two hours, her soup was cold, my neck and face were tired from smiling and nodding and she was convinced that we should write that book together. I was not convinced.

The truth is I am about the same age as Liddy's sons and she simply needed someone to talk to. Listening politely was the least I could do and never let it be said I didn't do the least I could do. I hope someone out there would do the same for my mom who is also an intellectual (certifiably insane). Just kidding Rose.


So this morning I headed over to the Tom Thumb to exchange a box of Gillette Sensor razors I bought by mistake for a box of Gillette Mach 3 razors. When I pulled into the parking lot I saw my friend Craig Fisher pulling out of the lot. That was a surprise because he lives on the other side of town. However, I was even more surprised when I entered the store and saw him again by the Starbuck's counter!

Turns out neither one of the people I saw was him, but I felt like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone for a few minutes! I didn't know there were that many good looking guys in the whole city!


I'm back at Panera Bread again this afternoon, but I have seen neither Liddy or Craig Fisher. Maybe things are getting back to normal.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

When Someone You Love Dies

"When someone you love dies, you don't lose him all at once; you lose him in pieces over a long time - the way the mail stops coming and his scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in his closet and drawers. Gradually you accumulate the parts of him that are gone. Just when the day comes - when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that he's gone forever - there comes another day, and another specifically missing part."

- John Irving

We still miss you Sam, but we miss you with smiles on our faces because of the memories, the lessons and the legacy you left behind.

To find out more about my friend Sam look to the right and click on BST's Blog.

Monday, October 10, 2005


I'm not a big fan of raisins. Don't get me wrong, I don't despise them. In fact, I like them in my bran cereal. I just do not prefer them alone... or in my sweet roll... or with shredded carrots... or in trail mix (can't I just have M&M's?). I respect the raisin for its natural sweetness and because I know it withstands a horrible and hot process to become what it becomes. I'd simply rather have a grape.

Having said all that, I know some people who love raisins. They were raised on raisins. Raisins bring back fond memories of childhood summer fun and hiking trails and regular bowel movements. There is certainly nothing wrong with raisins and I begrudge no man his love of the dried fruit. In fact, if I had the talent to produce the sweetest and most tasty raisins in the world I would, and I would make them available to raisin lovers everywhere! I would certainly continue to enjoy them in my bran cereal, but I doubt I would ever want them in my sweet rolls or with shredded carrots or in my trail mix.

However, if I ever became famous for my raisin growing, would people think it strange that raisins were not my favorite fruit. Perhaps I would even become the poster boy for raisins; the wrinkled face of the industry! I would be invited to raisin festivals all over the country attended by raisin junkies! Would they be disappointed when they found out I really only liked raisins in my bran cereal and most of the time I'd rather have a grape? Or would they be content with the fact that I take great joy in providing them with the thing that brings them joy? Would they be happy to see me enjoying other healthy snacks or would it be scandalous for me to be seen eating grapes, apples or heaven forbid bananas?

It just seems like sometimes people assume that because you are good at something they love, you must love it at least as much. And that's not always true.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sporty Sport Sport

This is a good time of year for sports fans.

In my part of the world the weather is cooling off a bit. So, while the PGA is wrapping things up, I'm looking forward to cool walks across lush fairways (on my way to the rough to find my ball). I disagree with Twain who said, "Golf is a good walk spoiled." I tend to relate more with P.J. O'Rourke who said, "Golf combines two favorite American pastimes: taking long walks and hitting things with a stick."

The Texas-OU game is this weekend and college football is in full swing. Although I catch the madness of college hoops in March and I think the college football bowl system is just silly, I do enjoy the regular college football season. Something about fall weather, marching bands and co-eds I suppose. I like the pro's too and BTW I'm 4-0 and in first place in my fantasy league thank you very much.

Basketball will begin soon. That's a game I loved to play in my youth and this time of year I always begin to get butterflies in my stomach as if anticipating beginning another season on the court instead of on my couch.

Hockey is starting and even though my heart pumps 50% Canadian blood, I'm not coming back quickly to the NHL. I'm sure my absence will be noticed and they'll get the message not to mess with me just in time for my triumphant return to enjoy the run for Lord Stanley's Cup.

And finally, it's time for baseball in October. That's when I start paying attention. It's difficult for me to enjoy watching "a game with increasingly heightened anticipation of increasingly limited action."1 But since my heart also pumps 50% American blood (make that 5% American, 45% Texan) I can't help but get a little excited when the play-offs roll around.

So to all you other sporty sport sport's out there, raise a glass of your favorite beverage and let's toast the sportiest time of the year.

1 John Irving (but I wish I had said it and that should count for something).