intrusive thoughts

I’m very happy to report that I have had some sleep this week. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always feel like it. It’s really hard for me to fall asleep when I want or need to do just that. I’ve had this problem for as long as I can recall. Last night I said something at dinner about being very tired and needing to go to bed as soon as I had my work done. My daughter asked, “Can you turn off your brain so you can fall asleep?”“No,” I said. “But I’m going to try to not interact and just watch and listen to the videos, music and conversations that will continue in my head until I pass out.”The constant flow of such mental media comes unfiltered from only God knows where — surely an amalgamation of things I picked up on throughout the day without realizing it, things I’ve read, videos I’ve watched, conversations I’ve overheard or participated in, random memories and whatever extraterrestrial implant I may have between the folds in my gray matter — and continues absolutely non-stop. When I’m …

Go on, Jimmy — crack your corn

For some reason this morning, I could easily picture myself standing in line during elementary school, all of us with our backs toward cubby holes of instruments and music books, facing the classroom of chairs and the teacher’s desk at the far end.The lucky few were handed tiny metal triangles or kazoos to add creative clinks and buzzes to the ensuing cacophany. The rest of us had to sing. The joy of music class lasted less than an hour at a time, and I don’t think it was even once per week. Maybe it was. But at least we learned some great songs. We learned songs about the struggles of a tiny spider just trying to make it up a gutter downspout during the pouring rain; or about a twinkling little star that we wondered what it was … um, it was a star. Then we sang about the possible joys of adulthood in learning that our beloved had left us while we slept, only to love another. Having stolen my only sunshine, she would live to “regret it all some day.” Charming. But the song that I most heav…

Watch your mouth

Kellye is the untiring leader of the weekly children's messages on Sunday mornings at our church. Others help occasionally, but this elementary school teacher is the main one, I guess you'd say. Just about every Sunday, whether it's Kellye or another leader, the children say things that I find hilarious, even if not everyone else does. This morning's topic was thanking God for our country, since it's the weekend prior to Independence Day.
Kellye: I love birthdays, don't you? Kids: Yes!!!! Kellye: What do you put on a birthday cake? Kid A: Ice cream! Kellye: Well, yes, but what else do you put on a cake? Kid B: Candles! Kellye: That's right. See the fireworks on the screen? Those are like America's candles. Kid C: Wha---? Kellye: Is that sky in the picture bright or dark? Kids: Dark! Kellye: So where is the light coming from? Kids: From the fireworks! Kellye: As followers of Jesus, where does our light come from? Kid A: The sky!
A little bit later in th…

My favorite people

Today as we waited in a checkout line in Walmart, along with quite a few other people, a middle-aged man barged through the lines with his buggy (that's a shopping cart for any non-Southerners) to a previously-unopened register while a manager opened the register and began to check him out while another manager stood nearby. He yelled at the managers and told them he wasn't going to do their job for them by checking himself out at the self-check registers and that he was busy and had places to be! He just wanted to get his stuff and check out and go! I'm sorry … don't the rest of us waiting patiently in line want to do that also? No one knew who the guy was. He was not “important” except in his own mind. I don't know how self-centered you have to be to act like the entire world is there simply for you and to make you happy, but this guy lived there. Except he wasn't. Happy, that is. He was angry, stressed and … well, a jerk. A little girl around age 5 or 6, …

In praise of polite service

We were in our local American-style "Mexican" fast food establishment recently late at night to grab something to eat after a long day at work.
The place was Taco Bell, what my ex-grandmother-in-law once called "that new Mexican restaurant."
After placing our order and sitting down with our food, I began to really pay attention.
The woman who took our order was pleasant and polite. The young woman who handed me our tray of food wore a big, genuine smile and was even more pleasant and polite.
I watched a team of nine employees move effortlessly around and beside each other in near silence as they moved through the tightly-spaced food service area preparing food, refilling food stations, taking drive-through orders and counter orders and getting those orders out to the right customers with as short a wait as possible. Added to the large number of people in the kitchen were a young man talking with the manager and two servicemen working on what appeared to be an elect…

Mind your own business

... means take care of your business...
Your purpose ...
Your calling...If you own or manage a business, and do not actively work to keep the business runnong smoothly and staying profitable, your business will suffer. You, in turn, will suffer whatever consequences that brings.
I am sitting right now in a local business that is undergoing an extensive remodel. The owner says this was necessary to improve their service to their customers. It's working.
He said the restaurant is not usually too busy this day of the week and time of day. It's why he asked us to come in this window.
But the place is hopping.
About 3/4 of the tables are filled with customers and the wait staff is buzzing. There's also a line of customers placing to-go orders at the register.
The owners are taking care of their customers, taking care of their business.
They are minding their business.
And both they and their customers are happy. You can tell from all the smiles across the large room.

A new narrative

It's a new season.
Time for a new narrative -- a new story.
Yesterday is over and cannot be lived again. Tomorrow has not yet arrived, and attempts to live there are futile.
So today is the story. You are the protagonist, the main character in your story. The crisis, the climax, the resolution? Yet to be revealed for this short story, this new chapter in the novella.
The setting is a small town in Newton County, named for flowing water and a rolling game. The other characters are all around.
The plot is simple. You awake and move forward through the day, some in habitual routine, some perhaps in new action and discovery. Your goal simply to reach the conclusion unscathed.
But what if today the backdrop cracked a bit, the curtain rustled and you discovered you were part of a larger, more meaningful story? That your creation was for the delight of the Author, and that he had already decided the prime antagonist couldn't ultimately harm you ... That if you trusted in the Auth…