Month: September 2011

Ten Things I’m Thankful For Tuesday

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Ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I am embarking on a new journey. A weekly exercise in gratitude. Tune in, and witness the heart-stopping action as Ten Things I’m Thankful For Tuesday becomes a regular feature here.

Okay, so it may not be all that heart-stopping, but I am certainly looking forward to it. I think I’ll have an easy time counting blessings in this way; my life is pretty fantastic, and I don’t tend to take it for granted.

Newsflash: the topic of thankfulness just made me think of a powerful little quote I ran across years ago. The quote read, “Forgetting what you’ve given and remembering what you’ve received is the key to maintaining happiness.” It was actually posted on a church marquee, and it just might be my favorite church marquee quote. My second favorite is one that said, “Try Jesus. If you don’t like him, the devil will take you back.”

Now to get on with naming ten things — today I’m thankful for…

1. String players. Doesn’t matter if it’s one cellist or a string orchestra – I love these people. My ultimate goal is for a small ensemble to follow me around playing theme music for my life.

2. My laptop. It supports the art forms and college football obsession I shouldn’t be without.

My laptop is a dinosaur, but I don't mind at all.

3. AQUAFINA bottled water. Tastes great and has no added salt, unlike some other brands. My suitemate at work thinks I have a weird relationship with AQUAFINA. She is right.

4. The prayers of my mother. They have covered me all my life and lifted me as recently as this week.

5. Great art. Especially the kind that thoroughly entertains while also teaching you something about yourself.

6. My homeboys. A few guys I’ve known since puberty, plus a few I’ve known since college. Most of them have given up bachelorhood, and their experiences in marriage and parenting give me plenty to laugh at.

7. A flash of creativity. Specifically, the thing that happens when you spot a beautiful stranger and need to invent a way to get yourself introduced.

8. My bosses. It’s hard to imagine there are people like them in other offices. Right now, it’s also pretty weird to imagine there are people like them in other offices. If I left my current place of business and wound up in a job where my new co-workers were like clones of my former co-workers, I think that would be unsettling.

9. Hillsong Music. The regular quality of their songs and their tasteful, soulful style are unparalleled.

10. Contentment. By God’s grace, I feel I already have everything I could ask for.

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The Simple Reason ‘The Cosby Show’ Stands Above The Rest

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Rudy Huxtable at age six

I grew up watching The Cosby Show (and I may or may not have had a crush on Rudy Huxtable).

That show was a favorite for me during childhood. In fact, I can still remember how eager I was to press RECORD and videotape a new episode on the VCR each week. What I’ve realized in the years since is that The Cosby Show actually tops the list of the all-time best shows I’ve seen.

Great comedic writing made Cosby a great show. But many sitcoms have great writing. To me, the thing that sets The Cosby Show apart is a striking list of lessons to be learned from watching re-runs, seeing cast interviews, or just remembering episodes. So, as a tribute, I will summarize six of those lessons.

Six-year-old me

Lesson 1. Even if you are married with five kids, remember that your marriage still needs a little bit of romance. Cliff and Clair were invested in their relationship as evidenced by the fact that they never stopped flirting, serving, and generally having the hots for each other.

Lesson 2. When preparing a sandwich, take the dining experience to a new level by placing potato chips inside the sandwich. This was a signature move in Cliff’s style as a sandwich maker, and it was a stroke of genius.

Lesson 3. Avoid viewing or referring to members of the opposite sex as mere objects. Theo and Cockroach were shunned by Denise for adopting the term “burgers” as a name for good looking girls.

Lesson 4. Experience a live performance by Stevie Wonder at least once before you die/he dies. He’s one of Motown’s living legends, and his gift for writing songs is otherworldly. Just don’t be too disappointed if he doesn’t invite you to hang out in the recording studio like he did The Huxtables.

Lesson 5. If you must part with a colleague due to irreconcilable differences, bless him or her on your way out. When Bill Cosby removed Lisa Bonet (Denise Huxtable) from The Cosby Show, he made her the star of an all new show.

Lesson 6. Embrace different cultures and different art forms: they enrich life.
Dr. and Mrs. Huxtable definitely understood this, and it shows in the friendships and cultural experiences they explored. After all, Clair spoke fluent Spanish with her Latin friends, and Cliff collected jazz records and loved cooking.

The Cosby Show will always be remembered and cherished as classic television of the 1980s. But you and I know it’s actually the greatest of all.

The Best Adventures of My Life – Part I

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Not long ago, I met a lady who asked me an unexpected question. She wanted to know about my life’s adventures.

“Adventures? What kind of adventures?” I wasn’t sure I could name anything that would qualify.

I mean, I’ve never gone backpacking alone through Europe or hunted wild animals in the jungle. In fact, I haven’t even been out of the country since I was about four years old.

After that conversation, I took some time to look back over my life and decided to write about the thoughts that came to mind. For the sake of brevity, I suppose I should spread out my thoughts over a few posts. Today, I’ll focus on writing about the earliest adventures I can remember.

Adventures in competing for the ninth grade track & field state championship

I was a discus thrower and very excited to be at the state track meet. The time came to warm up for the competition, and on my walk to the discus cage, I thought to raise a quick prayer. Just then, I heard a prideful voice speaking to me in my head. The voice pointed out that if God caused me to win the competition, I would be unable to boast that I was the one responsible for the victory. It was quite a dilemma for me in that moment as a fifteen year old. I had never experienced anything like it.

By the time I reached the discus cage, I had decided I wanted God’s help and that I wanted Him to receive the glory for any success that came to me. So, I asked Him to give me the best discus throw in the state, and He did! Glory to God!

Adventures in leading someone to trust Christ for salvation

My first experiences with this came when I was a teenager. I remember once having a conversation with a woman and her daughter about the gospel of Christ. The woman said she had already accepted Christ but didn’t know if her daughter had. That struck me in an interesting way, because my own mother is actually the person who led me to Christ. The daughter said she had never prayed for salvation, so I offered to pray with her.

In my opinion, it is not normal or comfortable to talk to people about where they would spend eternity if they died today! That conversation involves a degree of fear and tension, but it’s a conversation that is part of the greatest adventure of all.

Adventures in snow skiing

Senior year in high school, I signed up to go to Colorado for a ski trip. I had never tried skiing but decided to go for it. I wound up being a slow learner and a worse skier than the small children I saw gliding around on the mountain. Still, even though I had some very, very hard falls that week, I had no injuries and really enjoyed the trip.

I also walked away with a few ski tips that are metaphors for life in general. For example, one thing I realized is that it’s important to ski hard on nice days. That is to say, anybody who wastes a day or two of great weather might be disappointed if bad weather then prevents him from being able to hit the slopes on the last couple of days of the trip. This kind of idea, of course, is applicable to daily life as a reminder not to let oneself miss out on good opportunities!

So, writing about the adventures of my teenage years has helped me recognize a few themes – the benefit of moving past pride, the importance of forgetting fear, and the value of trying unfamiliar experiences.

David Darnauer discusses dating advice and barriers to approaching women

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I met photographer David Darnauer soon after I moved to Nashville a few years ago. Since then, David has brought a lot of laughs, photography tips, and good conversation my way. I thought he would be an interesting interview subject for the blog, so I asked if I could do a story on him. He said yes.

When he arrived to meet me at the appointed dessert shop in Cool Springs, we each ordered a cup of The Country’s Best Yogurt and moved the interview outdoors. As our conversation unfolded, we wound up mostly discussing women – a favorite, confusing topic for us.

You, me, and a few guys we know were all together recently when you posed an interesting question: what was going on with you when you first started to wonder about whether any dads gave their sons advice about approaching girls?

All my relationships have happened organically; things just came together over time with me never having to just straight up call a girl and say, “Hey, you wanna…do…a thing…with me?” Instead, it just kind of happens, and we just feel each other.

But one day I was thinking there may be cases in life when I’ll have to be more intentional. What if I meet a girl one time, and she seems very interesting, but there’s not an avenue that I can naturally meet her again unless I specifically try to.

I’m not too familiar with that. I’ve never had to go through the process of really intentionally – in a way that wouldn’t happen unless I make it happen – spending time with a girl. And I don’t know the best way to go about that. I’ve never been told anything about it. Of the things a dad would teach a son, you’d think somewhere along the way, he’d give some information on that. My dad never really did.

My dad’s a pretty talkative guy – he communicated a lot of things with me, and it’s funny he never really shared too much on that. So then I started asking people – a good 7 or 8 now, and so far all of them said their dad never really shared anything.

I think for a lot of guys, whatever girl they end up getting, they’re still not totally sure how they got her. They’re like, “I asked a lot of girls out, they said no, one said yes, we dated for a while, then we ended up getting married. I don’t know exactly how that worked out.” So, I think a lot of dads don’t know what to tell their son about how to ask a girl out or take her on a really good first date. They’re like, “I don’t know – I had a lot of times fail, and then one worked, and I don’t know if I can tell you why.”

So, it’s fascinating to me that most guys aren’t informed.

What’s the hardest thing about approaching a girl for the purpose of dating?

The hardest thing for me is I always want to minimize how unsure I am when I try to convince a girl that she should spend time with me.

The question is how can I get in scenarios where I can figure out if I really want to pursue a date with someone. Because I don’t want to pursue it, convince her she should be into it too, and two dates later I’ve convinced her it’s a good idea, she’s into it too, and I say, “Now, I’m not into it.”

So I’ve got to figure out if I’m into it, but there’s not an organic way to do that. That’s my conundrum: when it comes to possibly asking out girls I’m not sure I’m into, wanting to find out if I am into them, but then dealing with the fact that I won’t see them unless I make it happen.

It’s a hard problem for guys. I’m sure there are hard problems for girls too, and I know you find yourself giving advice to female friends sometimes. Are you ever in a position to advise girls about how to know whether a guy is interested?

I generally lean towards the idea that if a guy is interested, either he’s going to do something, or he’s interested, and he’s not doing anything and needs to be more of a man.

Guys usually will show a sign, I think. They’ll probably show interest. The problem is girls will read into something that may not be interest when they’re dealing with someone they hope will show interest.