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Thank You For Doing Your Job

This week, Suzie and I shared the flu. Not the starring version of the flu, standing proud in the spotlight of this year’s flu shot. We got the understudy flu, unexpected, lurking in the wings and angry from lack of attention. We got the Vengeful Flu, spurned and full of fury.

I may be slightly unobjective in my assessment.

In any case, this flu spawned a doctor visit and two trips to the emergency room by my wife due to weekend drug reactions. My doctor’s medical response was, “Weird.”

Oh well.

The net result was that we pretty much slept for a week. All attempts at conscious thought ended with the letters “Zzzzz” and perhaps a snort or two on my part.

Still, with prayers, rest and a flurry of chemicals, we find ourselves gratefully on the other side. Seriously grateful. The warm glow of the afternoon sun and the flowering hope of spring never felt so good.

Except for one small note.

This promised note, as it turns out, was the key, the linchpin to a river of authorizations and bureaucratical remedies such as could soothe the stalking savage beasts of financial prey. Money designated to ensure the goodwill of our fellow man is not forthcoming.

There will be an unfortunate delay.

Rather than focus on personages unknown who may or may not have completed their duties in a timely manner, I’m going to focus my newfound gratitude in another direction.

Thank you for doing your job!

If you have ever done your job in a proficient manner when no one but God above was looking, I would like to offer you my heartfelt thanks. If you have ever stayed late to help a coworker or shown up early to catch up, I tip my hat to you.

You matter.

During my family’s darker days, I later learned that someone noticed our endless stream of medical bills and make the commitment to pray for my wife whenever her name crossed their desk.

Family members, church members, and total strangers stopped what they were doing to pray across state and even national borders. Someone appeared at our door to help clean house. Others handed me money. A chain of people brought food for six months. Our children were entertained and educated and loved.

Afterwards, I tried to individually thank people for their amazing support and some, whom we shall never forget, didn’t even remember what they had done. We owe them a debt of love we can never, ever repay.

But I owe others this very day.

For those of you who simply believe you are doing your duty and fulfilling your promises, on behalf of those many of us who unknowingly depend on your diligence and honor, you have my deep and abiding gratitude.

God notices.

Paul admonished us to do our jobs, whatever they are, as if we were doing them for Jesus, Himself. Jesus said that whatever we do for the least among us we are also doing for Him.

I want you to know that I get it. You don’t have to be excellent. You don’t have to take up the slack for others. You don’t have to be diligent and efficient. You don’t have to take pride in a job well done. You don’t do it for the applause or glory because we both know there won’t be any.

I, on my part, will probably never know. As much as I might wish it otherwise, I, myself, will probably take your work for granted and possibly even be grumpy about it occasionally.

Sorry.

But THIS time, on THIS day, I would like to give you the credit you so richly deserve every day and say I deeply appreciate you doing such a great job. Thank you! You are a daily blessing.

The only way I can show my appreciation is with a prayer.

May God richly bless you as you have blessed us.

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My Wife Has The Best Friends

I have often declared to my wife that she has the best friends. I thought it might have been because she was raised in a small town. Not an easy thing for a big city boy like me to admit.

Or maybe my music friends are just necessarily occupied with the endless task of self-promotion that plagues this business. Or maybe, I imagined, her friends not as good in real life as they appear on Facebook.

But then I run across an article from the BBC that makes it perfectly clear that, sorry friends, she really does have the best friends.

Read “Donald Grey Triplett: The first boy diagnosed as autistic” and see if it doesn’t make my point. His father was Suzie’s mother’s lawyer. This is where she grew up. I rest my case.

Donald Grey Triplett in a field, as a boy

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35350880

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How to Use The Time?

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I took a while off writing to try and figure out my new life with one working eye. Still haven’t managed to figure anything out. I suppose I should just get back to work. But I’ve decided to change the rules.

They are, after all, my rules anyway.

Do It Cheaply

The first rule is a necessity because of life and medical bills. Perfection and Pretty are not possibilities. They cost too much and take too much time to utterly fail in attempting. So, that’s gone.

Make It Count

Rule two means not messing around with stuff that doesn’t help. This is not about expressing my deepest emotions, here. What matters? Do that.

Make It Brief

You don’t have any more time than I do so I shouldn’t mince words, dodge feelings or worry about offending your delicate sensibilities. I’m going to say what I think and trust you can handle it.

Do It As I Can

I’ve got another eye surgery coming up and I have no idea what life will throw at us, so I can’t be Mr. Consistent. I’m going to take this hard and fast and see what I can manage. We’ll find out together.

That’s enough rules. I’m starting to get itchy.

I thought I’d start with a series on the very best things I know. Period! How’s that? When? ASAGA (As Soon As God Allows). Until then, may His blessings be upon you.

Keep On Standing,

Dennis

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A Week of Chaos

This will be a week of design chaos. I’m going to change everything. I thought of shutting the site down and being nice and organized but that would be less fun. Instead, let the chaos ensue!

I’m going to add some categories and prepare for the next great adventure . . . wait for it . . . A Podcast!

In it, I, along with some guests, will talk about Christianity, Courage, the Constitution, Creativity and the (wrecked) Culture from my odd perspective.

First and foremost I am a Christian, husband, dad, “Granddaddy” (my favorite title), recording engineer, producer, professor, Southerner, avid reader, science buff, creative, businessman, and purveyor of dad jokes (You have been warned).

My main topic is creating courage for the adventure of your life.

But FIRST, I have to take a wrecking ball to my website. Results of my progress will appear here. May you have a brave and blessed day! The adventure awaits.

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The Silent Courage

We overlook the bravest among us because they don’t match our idea of courage. The quiet act of standing, the silent stoop to serve, the whisper of encouragement, the hand opening to share, these things go uncelebrated.

Sitting with someone in pain or grief requires the courage to go where there are no answers, and the fortitude to stay there. Praying for someone in private will not win you a medal. Persistence in the face of criticism and ridicule does not garner applause.

But if a sparrow falling to the ground does not escape God’s attention, if He sees what is hidden in our hearts, then He unquestionably takes note of silent courage.

The most important moments of your life do not happen when you are standing in the spotlight taking your bows. They happen in unheralded silence, while you are lying flat on your back in pain, when you make the unheard decision to get back up.

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Going Nowhere Fast – The Sabbatical Strategy

Yesterday I headed alone into the wilderness . . . 

Well, okay, it was Lookout Mountain and Nessie was with me but you get the idea. The plan was to stop thinking for a while and let God speak. It was a perfect day to turn down the noise and hear the quiet Voice of peace with no agenda.

I imagined a leisurely, meditative stroll but Nessie had other ideas. 

You see, my chocolate Labrador Retriever grew up in these mountains and ever since we moved back to the Nashville area she’s been wondering where they went. At the time, we averaged three miles a day on a mountain, by a river or up a remote canyon. She climbed, licked, smelled, marked or swam with abandon. It was doggie heaven and nearly so for me. 

So, when we got out of the Escape at Point Park, she remembered it all. She put her nose to the ground and began pulling like a freight train toward the trails down the mountain. Her leash training was a distant memory. She wagged and panted and explored in a frenzy.

Only my insistence kept us from spending the night in the woods.

A relaxing sundown latte at the Rock City Starbucks seemed the perfect way to top it off. I added a piece of pumpkin bread for extra inspiration. I sat down anticipating the rare mountain air and caffeine would crank up my creativity.

But Nessie had spent too many days wandering Rock City when we had a season pass and was not about to miss the chance. She whined, barked uncharacteristically at passers-by, and made trouble until I gave up on my plan. 

When I stood, she shifted into FPD – four-paw-drive – and headed for the crosswalk. She made it all the way to the entrance before a friendly employee told us they were closing. A fact I had already discussed with Nessie which she had ignored. She wasn’t going to take my word for it. She needed to smell the iron gate. 

When I finally convinced her to head home, we faced two accident/traffic jams plus getting lost in a new construction detour before we made it. We were thoroughly worn out, having apparently accomplished nothing.

Until I woke up this morning brimming with good ideas and a new perspective.

Studies show that changing scenery, walking a dog, spending time in nature and even a good cup of coffee enhance life and tune up your immune system. They never seem to mention the problems involved.

But maybe that’s because problems are an essential part of the adventure.

Today, Nessie is tired and nodding off. Truth be told, so am I. But when she wags her tail in her sleep and curls her toes, I know what she is dreaming. And I know it was worth it all.

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To Tell The Truth . . .

The truth cannot be told once in a while. We can’t remind ourselves of the truth once a week or once a month or once an election cycle. That’s what we would prefer. We think the truth should be obvious by now. We’re afraid of being boring. We think everyone should get the message and that should be that. 

But that’s not how it works. 

The truth is under constant, never-relenting attack. Every day. Every hour. Because you don’t fight wars on the weekends. And that is what is happening. This is a war. 

You fight a war against the truth by telling lies. This would seem to give the lies the advantage because there are endless lies. You can make up lies by the bushel basket. By the hour. By the minute. Disputing and disproving lies is like drinking from a fire hose. They seem overwhelming, unstoppable.

But when you look at the truth, it doesn’t change.

It seems like the truth has a marketing problem because we are so wired to be triggered by new information. It’s our brain’s way of detecting trouble. New information is given priority because it might be dangerous. It attracts our attention and puts all of our receivers on maximum sensitivity. 

In an information age where we are hyper-connected and overstimulated, the lies take up most of our time. We feel the need to sort through them and argue about them. Lies are news and the truth is old news. Lies get magazine covers and TV specials and make headlines while the truth sits quietly on the sidelines being true. 

We get tired of pointing out the truth when no one seems to listen. We get ridiculed and de-platformed and ostracized and even fired for daring to tell the truth. The truth has been deemed dangerous and unfashionable and irrelevant and anyone who brings it up is a menace to society. It’s a whole new world, they declare. 

But it’s not. 

The truth has never been popular. It has always been dangerous. And those who speak it have always been in danger of losing everything down to their very lives. All people through all of time have wished to change the truth into something more palatable, or twist it into something more fashionable. But with all of this effort, through all of these years, one thing has become clear. 

The truth remains. 

That is the hidden strength of the truth. It’s simple. We don’t have to keep up with version numbers. There are no truth updates. The truth is the bedrock beneath it all, immoveable unchangeable.

Because God is the truth and we have no power at all to change Him. 

But we do have the responsibility to declare the truth so that those caught up in the fight do not lose hope or sight of it. We have one job and that is to be witnesses of the truth. It’s not a difficult job because the truth remains the same.

Even if it is dangerous.

Let us take strength from the witnesses who have gone before us, who have stood for the truth and not faltered. For one day too soon we will all leave this life. And in that day there is no lie that will save us. 

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A New Adventure

I’ve had a few adventures. It would be easy to rest on my laurels, smoke my pipe, put my feet up in my hobbit hole and reflect upon them. Maybe write a very long book for future generations to ignore. 

But as it turns out, laurels are uncomfortable.

And as the summer turns begrudgingly into fall, I hear a small voice in the back of my mind, calling. I feel the need to wander. I crave a little discomfort. I am tired of telling tales. They have begun to feel like excuses.

Memories are not made to dwell in but to build on. What good are the mistakes of the past if not as lessons? And what good are lessons if you are not willing to apply them? If hard-earned experiences are not to put to good use, you may as well have stayed home by the fire in the first place.

It is time to stand. To pick up my walking stick and feel the worn twists of the grain in my hand, Time to pick up my pack, stretch my legs and open my door. It’s time to set my foot on the path that leads away and ahead and let the adventure begin.

Who knows where it might lead?

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The Incomplete Guide To Courage

I’ve been on a mission for more than twenty years to discover the secret fast track to personal courage. I’ve been overwhelmed with small bits of success ever since. But I made a mistake.

My Mistake

I’ve been trying to collect, compile and collate a complete catalog of courage. (Alliteration Alarm!) This is a particularly annoying habit. Because the truth is, we don’t need to know everything there is to know. What we need to know is one fast fix to get us through the moment.

This is what has worked for me. I didn’t know everything when I started and still don’t. I don’t have the brainpower to know everything and, if I did, I don’t have the power to remember it all anyway. So, in the spirit of better late than never, I propose a strategy change.

A Better Solution

What I plan is a series of short, quick wins that have helped me through tight spots. My hope is that, together, we will cover the big picture as well.

Thing One

One of the first things I discovered is that courage doesn’t work the way I thought it did. Most of my impressions about courage came from books and movies.

I imagined great deeds of daring-do complete with a sweeping soundscore and special effects. I imagined I would have to jump from or swing on something. It would all lead up to a dramatic and carefully crafted climax where I would be called upon to summon my heretofore undiscovered courage and save the day, whatever that was.

I was certain a leap was somehow involved. Because I’d fallen off things and it hurt.

Ouch!

Imagine my surprise when I found that courage would have to be “summoned” in a lonely, quiet, boring waiting room. Or alone in my bed. Or over soggy breakfast cereal. I never imagined needing courage to make a phone call or submit a job application or fill out my tax return.

Tom Cruise never did such things. In fact, he never seemed to face a problem that couldn’t be solved with a fist or a bullet or a conveniently-placed anti-tank missile. Instead, real-life personal courage seems to always come down to this:

Courage Is A Decision

Specifically, courage is a decision to do the thing you need to do in spite of how you feel. That’s it.

There is no music or audience. There is no popcorn. There’s no climactic ending after which you can go home. There is no applause. But there is a secret.

The Secret

The secret is that it matters. Courage will change your entire life for the better. People are affected. God is watching. Your quiet decisions, and mine, change the world.

Do you hear music?

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I Know, I Know

I haven’t been here lately. I’ve been thinking and planning and mulling a lot but until I got a few things straight in my mind it didn’t seem like a good idea to write about it. It seemed self-indulgent and wasteful of your time.

However, I’ve made some progress in the thinking department and I’ve made a few decisions. Here they are.

First, the book is on hold for the moment. Reasons? My eyes have made it difficult. It’s hard. It’s taking a long time. My head hurts. I have a faster way to get to the main points. Life is short. Pick any of the above.

Second, the faster way is a podcast. It’s something people who know me have encouraged. It doesn’t involve reading, detailed editing or even spelling correctly, a fact which warms my slightly dyslexic soul. But I tell stories like I eat and breathe. Seems a no-brainer.

The question is, which stories? What’s my topic?

So, I’ve begun the first steps, starting with a website: CourageMaking.com. There’s very little there at the moment but you’re welcome to take a look. The big idea is to get to the point and my main lessons about courage now and finish the book as I can.

So who’s it for?

Anyone with a big idea and big challenges, but I repeat myself. They come together. If you want to do anything good, you will need courage. If you want to be creative, courage. If you want to stand up for your principles or love someone or improve yourself, you will certainly need courage.

Love requires courage. Parenting is pretty much home base for courage. Relationships of any kind require courage, to be yourself, to put your heart on the line, to risk. These are the best and most wonderful parts of life and even they require courage.

Your working life requires it, whether you are starting a new job or starting a company. We spend huge amounts of time at work and few things affect our lives and welfare as much. This means more is on the line than a paycheck. To get anywhere requires lots of courage.

Your faith requires courage. In fact, in many ways the opposite of fear is not fearlessness, which is an impossibility, but faith. Jesus did not look at the disciples after He calmed the raging storm and say, “Oh ye of little courage.” Instead, he asked, “Where is your faith?”

Writing this requires courage. It means I’m staring into a truly HUGE monitor for my eyes. It means I’ve taken time to rest and take clearer aim. And, more importantly, it means I’ve made a commitment to start again. It means I’ve challenged myself to see if I’m up to the task.

I suppose, one way or another, we will see.

And soon . . .

P.S. In the name of getting moving and not straining my eyes, you may have to do without pretty pictures for a bit. I feel progress is urgent and Photoshop is a trip into the quicksand of procrastination and perfectionism. I’ll get back to it after I’ve gotten these cats in a herd. Hi-Yo, Muffin!