Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Radio is not Broken

The silence was deafening.

I wonder who came up with that saying and why it has become the standard to describe the absence of response when something shocking has occurred. It creates discomfort. The noise which lulls us into soporific routines prevents us from hearing what is important. To have quality time with ourselves, we have to be intentional about shutting out the world.

I'm talking about shutting out the noise and then allowing your thoughts to fill that space. Whitney commented to a friend on how I ride around without the radio on. I started doing this after a talk with a good friend who said the author Richard Rohr does this so he can spend time with God. Rohr seeks five hours a day with His maker. I figure thirty minutes in the car, when not fearing for my life or cursing Atlanta traffic, could be a good place to start that search.

(I don't know why I have been shy about my faith when it comes to writing to an audience, like I may offend someone that I don't know, or even worse, offend someone I do know. I might have worried about that even a few months ago but now I think that this is my blog and these are my thoughts, do with them what you will. I'm trying to work things out here.)

I think there is something to the thoughts that come when we are silent, when we seek God in prayer. I think it plays into the intimacy God seeks. When you seek intimacy with a loved one, you don't try to have that conversation at a sporting event. You want your words to be heard, the give and take of conversation to occur without force. Your partner wants your full attention.

I have questions about spirituality, how it all works in my life, where my faith comes in, and how can I know God or seek Him. When people say they have conversations with God, do they get thoughts that don't come from themselves? Is that the Holy Spirit? I know I don't have to know where or how God speaks to us, but my nature would like something explainable. I can recall those times where I have felt His presence and when I feel he has spoken to me directly. I think He is constantly trying to do that but most of the times I am oblivious. But those times are unique to me, and I am certain that God speaks to me differently than He will ever speak to you. For this reason, I turn off my radio, and try to catch Him talking to me. I want to know what He has to say.

I was in the woods a few months ago, and I needed to be there. I believe we have that primal desire to be restored by nature. I went with my father-in-law to his cousin's land in Tennessee. After watching UGA get whooped by Florida, I did not feel a strong desire to watch these older east Tennessee Volunteers cheer on their team, so I strolled out into the woods, to be surrounded by wilderness. Living in Atlanta, or any city that disconnects us from nature, most everything that touches us has been constructed by man. Underneath the full moon and stars, I thought how unoriginal we are. How silly we are to think that mass production is creative. We strive to put things in order, to make our world look normal, and yet nothing God makes is the same. I thought of the woods I was standing in and realized I had never seen identical trees. That thought extended to all creation, which brings me back to my original idea.

I don't know if God wants to talk to me in those quiet moments in my car. I don't know if my prayers always reach him. I don't know how many of you reading this think about God on a daily basis or even believe in a greater power. These aren't questions I am trying to answer for you, or even tell you why something is right. I don't have that authority. I do know that He seeks that relationship with me, and, I think, that he wants my attention when speaking to me, and that if given the opportunity, He would speak to you as well, but only if the silence is deafening.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Like Granny Used to Make

My fingers are creaking. A return to Sweet Molasses after a nine month break. I'm excited. The reason for the layoff was a job that required my time, but due to the nature of my job, I can't write about any particulars of it, and if I did, you might never read this blog again.

So nine months in, I feel as though I am ready to come alive again, and that's a good feeling. I was in a dark place today. No outlet for the tension in my shoulders. Usually Sunday is a day where I am excited about the challenges for the week, but today I felt lost. No direction, unsure of where to focus, and incomplete work piling up.

I opened "The 4:8 Principle," written by Tommy Newberry, and read a passage that released me from the demons. The book is based off of Phillipians 4:8, which taken from The Message translation, says,

"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies."

The Avett Brothers, excellent writing and thinking music, are executing some of these most excellent harmonies right now. I looked back at some of the older posts, and they could be so negative, cynical. It was election season and I was frustrated and out of work. I'm going to delete some of those. I don't want these posts to bring people down and make them angry. I'd rather encourage you so your biscuits of the day may be lighter. I can't tell you what I'll be writing about in the future, but I think I want to steer clear of the national commentary. I turn off the radio when I drive now at times, to escape the noise. You don't need more noise here.
If I were to guess, I would say that you will see more slice of life entries.

I've met some great people in Atlanta in 2009. I have to credit Chris Allen with starting the process of my writing again. His passion for technology and the creative change it could cause stirred something in me. I've been thinking for a month about the title of a new blog but today decided that Sweet Molasses said everything it needed to say.

Last week I completed my fourth half-marathon. I set a personal record, but I have yet to catch Whitney. She still has me by 3 minutes, meaning that I am signing up for her fastest course, the Atlanta ING half in March and will run it with her, until I pull away at the end. I am waking up tomorrow, fitting into my tights - yes, men can wear them - and running for the first time in a week in preparation for the next race. (Whitney ran her second marathon and dropped her time by 10 minutes. Drew, my brother-in-law, is the last remaining Seattle Supersonic, turning in a marathon of 3:25.)

Thank God life is not a sprint. I need encouragement along the way, energy bars, water, and perhaps a high-five from a cheerful bystander. May Sweet Molasses serve those purposes for you.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Presents are wonderful. I love receiving gifts as much as the next person. Open the box and out comes something special reminding you of how much you are loved, even more so if that is your love language.

But gifts have a dark side. No, I'm not describing the random turtle neck you got from your aunt, again. I'm talking about the packaging. More specifically, the innocuous styrofoam peanut.

You have seen it before. Curving more like the letter "S" than impersonating a peanut, they burst forth like Mount St. Helens upon opening, as if the inner chambers of the box had to release pressure to maintain equilibrium, leaving a light covering of white devils on all that is near.

My neighbor Bob and I have had two conversations. I know very little about Bob except that he yells at his doberman Rocko to be quiet after each episode of barking and does not seem to leave his house. I was a tad surprised when I saw him at my door.

"Did you have a box filled with peanuts?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied, wondering why the trash had not been picked up yet.
"Would those be them?" Bob asked pointing to his yard, littered with scattered peanuts for 30 yards. A pack of them were gathered together attempting to raise a flag.

An hour and half later, I had picked up all the peanuts. For the first hour, I did not use a rake. I bent over and gathered the crunchy poof balls, placed them in my sack, then chased the ones that had jumped out when I bent over to collect their friends. I felt like the little kid who keeps putting ice cubes in his cup.

Sure enough, as I was beginning my task, the garbage truck came by. The driver looked at me, saw the box, saw the spilled contents, and laughed and drove away.

Oh, Friday. Happy birthday Wife!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Married and Holidays

I'll fill you in later. For the time being, if you want to know about the wedding, visit the wonderful wedding planner's blog, Mudlane.

Honeymoons rank above blogging on my importance list, viva la Mexico!
Thanks to all who came.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bacon hung by the chimney with care

I do not want you to be stuck in a cynical mood, allowing the outside world to raise your blood pressure higher than holiday treats do normally, so read this post after you read Camels, Eye of Needle, Etc.

There are many good things going on in the world, we may just have to work a little bit harder to find them because they are not self-promoting actions. My friend and fellow TFA corps member James Bacon - Ladies, he looks as good as the real stuff tastes - is raising money to take our kids from Chicot County, Arkansas to Washington, DC, to expose them to the greater possibility within our nation. It is my hope that a trip like this will be life-changing and ignite a desire to learn and grow in those young men and women who are surrounded by hopeless elements. I applaud him for taking the intiative to organize a trip, because so often we, the general population, have great ideas that we never act on. Here's to you Bacon and your elves for acting on it. If you would like to learn more and donate, click here.

Enjoy your family, be merry, open gifts, share stories, love each other, have yourself a merry little Christmas night, and help this Bacon out if you can. Look at that face.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hopeful Sunday

60 Minutes just did a profile on Pete Carroll, USC Head Football Coach, and his involvement in leading inner-city youth peace initiatives. He meets with former gang members in the middle of the night to offer hope.

Hope is a powerful notion. We elect presidents based on hope. We seek mentors and leaders who instill hope. We want someone to say that they believe in us, that we are capable of greatness. Too often, we listen to the doubters, those who stop trying and seek to convince others of a failed, dismal reality.

I am a rat of the Pied Piper of those promising a vision and a hope. I don't even care about the cheese, just place the belief of a slice at the end. I want a real, practical hope, and the persistence bolstering courage. This is why I like Wendy Kopp, TFA Founder, Caroline Rhee, DC School Chancellor, Vaclev Havel, John Selph, my fellow TFA alumni and corps members, the show Secret Millionaire showing selfless people in impoverished areas, dad-gum tear-jerker Extreme Home Makeover, Liberty Mutual commercials, and thousands of others working to make the world better. The success of these people and their causes comes from their ability to inspire, the trickle-down, pay-it-forward notion of helping others and seeing Good come alive and change lives.

We are closing in on 2009 and a chance to begin again. Burdens of yesterday should stay in yesterday's grave. Allow yourself the chance to reevaluate priorities. The easiest way to stop selfishness is to give. Melts away like butter.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Three bottles of wine

Again, I apologize for not writing as much. I have been on that search for a job. Of course, 100% commission hires these days. Why the H-E- double hockey stocks not?

I will be working for Aflac, taking orders from the duck. I have discovered throughout this process that companies hire via paradox. They want experience but no employer offers experience. Therefore they hire someone but no one.

So tonight ended up as a date night, "When Harry Met Sally" and bride to be has fallen asleep on the couch. I noticed Crystal has a swing and the 80's seem like a great time to live in New York. That's all for now, I wanted the loyal readers to have something. Thank you loyal reader.