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Coffee and a Fence

It’s just a small yard with two trees and a couple of bushes. But in the morning, when the light hits it just right and the birds are singing and the cool brace of the air compliments the warmth of the coffee cup in my hand, it is a thing of beauty not easily explained.

Time

A photo cannot reveal the temporary nature of the beauty of the sunlight. I know that my fence rarely looks like this. In a few short moments, the golden glow will disappear as the morning sun rises into the bluish glare of noon. The heat will rise and the wild birds, alive with motion and song and hunger, will hide for a quiet siesta in the trees.

A photo can’t reveal the memories of a small girl with her arms spread wide declaring to the world, “This is the Best. Day. Ever!” But I see it over the rim of my cup. Just like I hear the sizzle of the cold grill that stands beside me. As I can see the first firefly that appeared two nights ago.

Place

It’s not easy to see the feeling that this is the place I belong. It’s my place. Not because I’m paying the bill each month, but because I’m the only one up to see this moment, in this place, and so it seems made just for me. No one else has their coffee on this top step on this small deck and so this moment is mine, alone.

Perspective

This is my before moment. Before work and necessity cloud my mind. Before the needs of others press in. Before I lose my place and my purpose hides behind the urgent. This is the last moment to pick my course independent of the winds of the day. This step is where I can see clearly how I fit into the grand scheme of things. Where I can remember that God made these trees and that they give me the oxygen I breathe.

Peace

This is the peace before the afternoon thunderstorms and the phone calls and the insistent internet distract me. It’s the last place my busy mind will be at rest to wander and absorb with no agenda.

For the rest of the day, this will just be a small square of yard instead of a peaceful sanctuary. But for the rest of the day, I will remember that it is here, waiting, and that my step knows my name, as does my Creator.

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Politics Uncategorized

The Dangerous Truth

If you write anything it should be the truth. And if you’re ever going to tell the truth, it should be on your own website. But there’s a problem with the truth. It is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t care who you are.

The truth divides.

Even Jesus, who called Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life, said it like this:

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. ~ Luke 12:51

That’s how the truth works. When truth hits anything untrue it doesn’t give way. Truth doesn’t change or bend or accommodate. It stays true.

Politics is about power and compromise. But truth doesn’t compromise. If it did, then it would no longer be the truth. The same applies to political correctness. You notice they don’t say political truth. To be politically correct means to be not true.

And since politics has set itself up as the truth, there can only be serious conflicts with the actual truth.

All of this to say that we now have a choice. If we speak the truth, we are political. If we speak political correctness, we are not speaking the truth. So, many solve this conflict by not speaking at all. Which was the political goal all along.

So, this is a heads up. I’m not going political. I’m just going to speak the truth. Which will seem political. And divisive.

But that’s what happens when immovable truth hits a political object. Something has to give.

 

Photo: Crash by Peter (Pro) via Flickr.
Corangamite,Victoria,Australia on the Great Ocean Road.
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Featured Uncategorized

The Big Question?

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Latest Perspective Uncategorized

Breaking Trails

Time Made Visible

There are moments in life when you can look back and see the plan that came together which was invisible up until that point.

Faith was the only way to see it in the future, the only way to be obedient to the call, the only way to visit the dream and see the problem solved.

Today was one of those moments of clarity when I looked back, astonished to see the clear interlocking design that was being laid in place. My view looked like shattered pieces, broken beyond redemption. But then the critical piece was fitted into place. It wasn’t broken glass; it was a beautiful mosaic.

The missing piece was time: time for God to reveal the truth, time for Him to arrange the pattern. The storm would cease. The wind would still. The boat would float. I was never in any real danger at all.

Leap Of Faith

There are those who believe faith is a leap into the darkness that requires turning off logic. But that’s not it at all. Not even a little.

Faith requires the humility to admit that your plans are self-imposed limitations. That God’s plan is greater. That you can trust Him. That He doesn’t need to be watched in case he tries some shenanigans that require your intervention. That He doesn’t need to be overruled.

All I need to do to see the size of God’s plan is watch the sunrise or see rain hit the ground purified from the sea. I just need to feel a child’s hug to understand that love is invisible, yet fact, as real as a mountain. The complexity of it all is breathtaking.

It is clear God did not need my help. He just asked me to trust the plan, do my work, pray, and sleep. My job became remembering to do it. I had to remind myself not to take up a task that I had neither power nor skill to perform.

The Turn

I was in the middle of a sentence today when it hit me. A friend asked me how I was. As I was explaining, I realized the answer to my prayers was coming out of my mouth in past tense. Done. Finished.

Why am I surprised when God is right?

Things did not turn out as I had planned. It was a better solution, beyond my control, that I could not have accomplished. There were too many pieces and people involved. I would never have even dreamed it.

Hindsight

When I looked ahead no path led across the trackless grass. There was no history to follow, no one’s judgement to copy. But when I looked back the tracks were clear and the grass was parted. The direction of it was unmistakeable and focused.

But my feet also tracked through the scene. My efforts were recorded, embellished, enhanced. My job was not to sit idly by and applaud God’s artwork. Faith without works is dead.

Instead, God worked with my faltering attempts. While I slept, he blessed. Seeds grew. Life emerged. I don’t know how. My part wasn’t required, but it was used and rewarded. God let me add my free will to the plan. I got to share in His creation like a child signing a card with a scratch of crayon.

Faith Forward

With this knowledge, I now move ahead. With this understanding I can now apply faith. It is not blind faith; it is just guided by another’s sight. It is not guessing or hoping or wishing on stars.

It is following the clear voice of the One who loves me.

 

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Featured Humor Perspective Uncategorized

Why Is There No Grandfathers Day?

Grandfathers Day?

It’s wonderful to have a day to sit back and congratulate myself. Time to think deep thoughts and gain perspective, to enjoy the love of wonderful children and, once again, take credit for my wife’s hard work.

But life is thick with blessings. I have now lived long enough to take credit for my children’s hard work as well.

Having done nothing more than love the most precious people I’ve found on the planet, I find myself the recipient of far more love in return than I ever earned. While there is no justification for it, I thought I might at least document this phenomenon for future generations.

Wisdom Of The Ages?

The trip from child to adult to father to grandfather is a great adventure, as time travel always is. Generational perspective is a profound experience that allows me to enjoy the present through as many eyes as I have years.

Looking back at the arc of love required for our survival is a sight that leaves me pressed for words. Looking forward from here draws my eyes higher to the adventure of being adopted into an eternal family beyond my imagination.

All of this makes the present an even brighter gift. For here is the only moment I can recreate the blessings of the past and foreshadow the blessings of the future by loving presently as Jesus has loved me timelessly.

The Word is . . .

Grace has been defined as unmerited favor. This could also be the secret definition of another word. There are many titles a man can achieve through noble birth, hard work, and courage but there is none that can surpass the unearned joy of hearing a gleeful voice squeal, “Granddaddy!”

This is the reason there are no petitions before Congress to rectify the long injustice that grandfathers have no separate national holiday, having been lumped into the generic “Grandparents Day.” We don’t want the publicity.

We’re secretly afraid that someone will catch on.

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Brain Fun Featured Humor Perspective Uncategorized

Planning My Week: Why Are You Laughing?

Making Plans

Man plans and God laughs. ~ Yiddish proverb.

Whenever people find out you’re planning something this proverb comes out. The joke implies that planning isn’t worth the time it takes, that you will fail, that you can’t be serious. But this is not the last word on planning. How about:

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

I can’t plan what happens to me but I can remind myself of my goals. And I can plan how I will respond. I can also practice my values. I can stretch to be my highest and best self. And I can adjust my plans – in case of dragons.

Resilient Planning

In fact, given the nature of life, resilient, gritty, hard-headed, determined plans are the only ones that stick. Because I’m not going to get it all right the first time. Or the second. Or . . . .

How about this from the guy who planned D-Day:

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Big Plans

Also, if I’m going to take the time and effort to resiliently plan, they may as well be plans worth having, right? That means big, aspiring, even poetic plans should be the rule. They need to get you going.

Unless you are silly enough to post your plans on the internet, no one is going to know. So, go big!

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
Warren Buffett

With this in mind, here goes my plan for this week. (Stop snickering)

The Plan

Today I will concentrate on what I can do, instead of what others did. I will focus on the world I can touch rather than things beyond my reach about which I can only complain.

I will speak truth rather than criticize liars. I will love rather than accuse others of hate. I will lift rather than opine. I will lead rather than point. I will not stand by.

I will take courage by placing my fears in God’s hands. I will fear not living more than dying. I will not carry the fears of others but will make the courageous my companions.

I will ignore the counsel of my own doubts which have not prevented failure but have stopped all attempts at success. Fear of failure is my enemy. Failure is my friend for it teaches the lessons that I need to better try again.

I will not read the news; I will be my own news and live my own life. No one can do it for me.

I will vigorously implement the plan I have rather than chase (a) perfect plan tomorrow. (<<See) No man’s plan survives the day intact. We learn as we go or we don’t learn at all.

The little I can do is not enough, but it is not nothing. I will give all today and hope for tomorrow.

 

P.S.

“If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else.”
Yogi Berra

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Change Featured Uncategorized

Change The World? Why Settle?

Let’s face it. The world is big and full of people who are not obedient. They stubbornly want what’s best for themselves. If I want to rule them, it’s a terrible disadvantage. Change them? Forget it. But . . .

What if I want to serve them, as Jesus said?

Well, it’s still a problem. I can easily live the rest of my life helping people do what they want. I end up helping them rule over me. This is good for neither of us, or so I tell myself. There is a fine line between helping and enabling.

My best way to help people is to serve God, who loves them. I am now serving them with His resources. I am neither slave or dictator. I don’t have to run their world or change it. World changing is God’s department anyway. So, here’s how world changing looks for me now.

Change the world,
For a moment,
For someone.

I can handle that. I can love for a moment, talk for a moment, share for a moment, help for a moment. Moments are all we really have with people anyway. Even our family. And maybe, along the way, now that I’m not trying to run their lives or use them, I can share God’s love and redemption with them.

In this way I can change more than the world. I can change eternity . . .

 

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Featured Uncategorized

The Beach

Individual grains of sand are not identical.
They are separate chips of stone,
each from far flung places,
ground by separate journeys to the sea,
united only by their common destination.
When you look closely at a beach
you can see a continent.

If we are identical then unity is merely uniformity.
Together we are just the same.
But for us, unity is a great and courageous feat
for we are determined, unique individuals
with strengths and weaknesses.
Together we become more.

Sharing only a rough journey,
from far distant places,
we arrive at appointed times
to the same destination
and become something greater.

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Audio Featured Health Uncategorized Worship

The Great Subwoofer Conundrum of 2017

Hi folks. I know this is not the usual topic of discussion here but I feel so strongly about this that I can’t stop myself.

The History

First, I’m a musician, turned live sound engineer, turned studio engineer, turned producer. I love music and am geeky about sound. Therefore, I want to take care of my ears. As hard core as Beethoven was to compose while deaf, if doesn’t sound like a life plan.

Second, you should know that my sister is deaf in one ear. She lost her hearing at her very first rock concert when she and her friends ran to the front of the stage. She was fourteen. One Concert! I’m still pretty ticked about it. My Dad, a musician, dealt with hearing loss from WWII. War is loud. So . . .

I realized that I had to keep my hearing as protected as possible. Given the volume of most control rooms I decided to eliminate other loud activities and, with great trepidation, gave up shooting guns and concerts. I like shooting sports and am pretty darn good at it so this was a loss. I love live music and this one really hurt but having two people I love with hearing loss was a serious warning.

The Problem

So, what’s the problem? *Sigh.* It’s this: my church built a great new building with a terrific sound system including major subwoofers. Let the conundrum begin.

Every service now sounds like the concerts I’ve had to avoid. My ears still ring Monday morning. That’s 52 concerts a year with Sunday mornings alone. The conversations between professionals, amateur mixers, church congregations and staff are all well documented. Online church policies have been posted, as if that settles anything. Opposing sides are entrenched. It’s a mess.

The Conundrum

Here’s what I know to be fact, regardless of outdated government regulations and church policies – we are damaging people’s ears.

If you think otherwise you are wrong. If you think God needs a subwoofer to communicate love you’re wrong. If you think God is somehow uninformed and needs our help to be relevant to the culture you are wrong. If you think people want hipster-god you’re wrong. If you think we can trick or entertain people into a relationship with God you are wrong. If you think God is somehow missing sub-lows go stand in a thunderstorm.

If you think I’m too old and deaf to understand, I would like to refer you to one of my students in the college level class I taught on studio recording. She was fresh out of high school. She loved music, particularly rap. Producing it was her dream career. Then, one day in class she told me she couldn’t understand what I said unless she could see my mouth.

I asked a few questions and found out she had massive subwoofers in her car. She had Beats headphones to emphasize the sub lows of rap. She loved listening loud. Those of you who’ve been around the hearing challenged will realize she was compensating for her significant hearing loss by lip reading.

I have many more stories and reams of engineering data that I will not repeat here and now.

The Solution

I could go on but let’s talk about solutions. I could stick my nose in at church and be that guy. I could launch a mission to educate and elucidate the dangers of sub-woofer emissions and be that guy. I could post blogs. I could keep the peace and just sit outside until worship is over, as I’m doing now.

Or I could get some serious noise-canceling earbuds. It’s a ridiculous solution for an unnecessary problem but I miss my wife. And worship. Until I can change the world, I guess it will have to do.

Let the discussions begin . . .

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Featured Uncategorized

Bumps In The Road

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Hi everyone. Thank you so much for your support and prayers. Suzie is doing well after surgery, well, at least until I talked her into going out yesterday. Her first trip outside the house was fun. She saw some friends, got some frozen custard and had a good time, until . . .

I talked her into a ride in the country to see if there were any pretty leaves still on the trees. Driving in nature is one of our favorite past times. Then I took a shortcut. I know. You can see this coming a mile away but I didn’t.

It seems I found the bumpiest road in middle Tennessee. It was lined on the right side by a fence and tree line that cast long shadows across the road which made seeing the bumps and avoiding them nearly impossible. It was like bump camo.

Note to self: when good intentions meet inertia, inertia always wins.

My shortcut pretty well ended our pleasant outing. It was back (slowly) to the house and a full dose of pain meds. She woke up enough to watch a bit of TV and snack a little. Her appetite was gone. As was my caregiving confidence.

Setbacks are a part of life. Even those you cause yourself. Or in Suzie’s case, ones I caused herself. You can’t be perfect. You can’t find perfect people to love. Pain happens. More love is required.

Suzie has reassured me that she has forgiven me this morning. She did not take the opportunity to remind me it’s not the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. There’s a list. It involves a Jeep and an old Land Cruiser. 4×4 fever was involved. Thankfully she kept it out of the papers. She barely mentioned it this morning.

You can be perfect or persistent. My option is obvious.

Love smooths the bumps in the road. Even if love sometimes causes them in the first place. Science shows your pain tolerance goes up just by having someone you love within view. Even if the person you love is me. Yesterday it might have been more of a necessity than a blessing.

I, on the other hand, just get blessings. Which is what I’m trying to be today.

Thanks again for the prayers.

 

 
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