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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…

Write, Right?

I need to be writing.
Being a writer is what I really want to be. I have lots of ideas for stories — hundreds of ideas for bits of stories — all the time. But actually sitting down and doing the writing is difficult.
I have all kinds of excuses. Not enough time. Not enough space. Too much noise. Too many interruptions.
And if I'm writing about a little boy who's suddenly given the ability to heal, I keep thinking about a story of wounded World War II soldier who wakes to find himself in another time.
And I can't stop editing as I'm writing.
I'm convinced no one wants to read what I want to write.
I wonder if anyone who bought (or to whom I gave) either book I coauthored actually read them, outside of a church class.
Wanting to do this for a living is discouraging sometimes.
I truly appreciate the compliments I receive on my weekly newspaper columns, etc. But writing what I want?
I'm writing about writing and not writing.
The only way to find out is t…

I never really knew him

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He’s a private person, so he doesn’t really want to talk about himself. He’ll tell you the essentials — his name, what he does for a living, that he likes his coffee black, thanks — but anything more than that he feels is unnecessary. It’s not that he wants to be mysterious, or that he’s hiding anything. He simply thinks more information about himself is excess. He’s interested in you, though.  He doesn’t ask questions, but he listens to every story you share with a genuine smile on his wrinkled face. When you talk about your son’s broken arm or your daughter’s ballgame, you can see the concern or celebration in his sparkling eyes.  You don’t know much about him except that you like him. He’s easy to talk to, and you always feel better after you see him.  And then one day, you don’t. He doesn’t come around anymore and no one seems to know where he’s gone.  Then you see it in the paper — his obituary. When you catch your breath, you read. There’s more information in these few paragraphs than …

Attacking ugly bushes

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Many years ago, when my sons were still small children at day care and my wife was an elementary school teacher, I found myself in an amazing situation — I had a day off.
As my wife left for work, she asked me to do a little yard work.
“Would you cut down that ugly bush out front? I can’t stand looking at it anymore,” she said.
I assured her I would, since I thought that bush was hideous, too, but assumed she liked it since she’d never mentioned it to me. So when I got to that task in the early afternoon I approached it with gusto. I was going to eradicate the bushy blight from our front yard.
I gathered the necessary tools and wheelbarrow and headed out to meet the offender.
There it stood, directly in front of our porch steps, just a couple of strides away — a big, malformed azalea that looked like someone had gathered up all the discarded pieces from a play date with one of those Play-Doh barbershop sets, wadded them up and tossed them aside onto some toothpicks.
I was going to …

A Pill Box

I bought a pill box recently.
It's small, delicate and cost me one dollar at an estate sale.
I bought it because -- for some reason -- it reminded of my grandmother. I don't recall ever seeing her with a pill box. But it looks like something I might have seen in her house.
I saw it ... and I immediately missed her. She died 20 years ago. Never saw more than one of my five kids. Never met two of my brother's children, or either of my sister's.
I look forward to the day we are all in glory together and they meet one another.
A lot of memories. A lot of love.
From a $1 pill box.

What do you know good?

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“Whatcha know good?” That’s a question I have been asked occasionally over many years. And every time I’m asked, I try to think about it before I answer: What do I know that’s good? I know a lot that’s good. I know that my oldest niece is getting married in Alabama this coming weekend to the man she’s loved for years. He’s been a part of the family for about that long, anyway. We love them both and they are a great pair. I think this moment of Shelby and Graham becoming man-and-wife is something that’s very good. I know that on the same day, on the West Coast, my daughter-in-law Arianna will be standing with her mother Zina to support her as she marries a godly man who swept her off her feet. That’s good. I know that my children are all healthy and doing well. That’s so good. I know that puppies and animals of all sorts still make me smile. I know that I will laugh loudly at videos of cats jumping and missing their intended targets. Every time. So good. I know that the coffee I’m sipping as…

Welcome home

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One high school weekend, a friend of mine and I decided to take a walk through the majestic forests of Chunky. Well, the pine trees and undergrowth. Let’s not argue over details.
We threw rocks, climbed through electric fences, pretended to shoot squirrels and tried not to step in anything that might bite us or make us smell worse than we probably already did. I have no idea whose property we trespassed on, but I offer a slightly belated apology.
At one point in the day, we walked in the drainage ditches alongside the interstate, yelling at each other over the roar of 18-wheelers and other traffic on the asphalt. We walked inside one of the biggest culverts I’ve ever stood in and I remember the awe and timidity at realizing we were just yards below thousands of pounds of speeding vehicles and their cargo.
We were safe, but I knew the danger was there, not far away.
I remembered the trek this past weekend on Veterans Day. I thought of the dangers that are out of my line of sight and oft…