I don’t remember a time when my parents didn’t take us to church of one kind or another. I distinctly recall when I was 11 years old and we started going to a non-denominational church in Newcastle. They were a charismatic community. They were “on fire for the Lord,” people raised their hands, spoke in tongues, and shouted a lot of “Yes, Jesus!” exclamations throughout the congregation. I thought it was a little weird at first. It was totally unlike anything I had ever experienced before. That soon became our church home and we were there nearly every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I even started volunteering in the children’s church because I loved working with kids.
Growing up in the Christian faith, I believed in God, quite frankly, because I always had. That’s the way I was raised. I’m thankful that my parents raised me in church. I was baptized, was involved with the youth group and never questioned anything I had learned. As I got older and started working, I went to church a lot less but I never stopped believing in God. I was raised in the Bible Belt, after all. I didn’t know anyone that didn’t believe in the same God I did. Continue reading Simple Sabbath: Why I Believe→
There are certain types of floor polish that smell just like my old elementary school in Apache, Oklahoma. On rare occasions I will walk into a building to the perfect combinations of soaps, cleaners and mop bucket — boom! Ahhhhh, there it is—the long hallway that takes me down to Mrs. Alexander’s fourth grade classroom. A thousand images flood my mind when I get a certain whiff of my youth.
I’m surprised we could smell anything at all back in the sixties. Everybody smoked. Part of my job as the barber shop shoe shine boy was emptying ash trays. Let’s just say, I emptied them a lot. These days I nearly gag whenever anyone within a quarter-mile lights up a cigarette.
I can smell my memories. I think that’s why I’m always looking for a barber shop that smells right. If I walked into something like Spring-Fresh-Potpourri I would turn around and leave. Surely there’s a man law about this: There shall be no potpourri in a barber shop. So what makes a barber shop smell right? Jeris Hair Tonic, Butch Wax and clipper oil—these contribute basic components to real barber shop smell.
On Fridays, several customers would make their way in from the Sale Barn where cattle had been auctioned. The Angus, Herefords and multi-various bulls, cows and calves were fond of leaving green souvenirs which the men’s boots would inevitably pick up. The barber shop took on even more character when the farmers and ranchers came to town. Smells good don’t it?
Don’t ask me why I love some of the aromas of my youth so much. My best answer will be nostalgia, sentimentality, or perhaps a coping mechanism which works to suppress my neurosis. Saddle soap, leather dye and cowboys boots dipped in a cow lot—man if somebody would bottle that I’d wear it as cologne! Continue reading Barbershop Theology, Pt. 4: “The Nose Knows”→
A lot of the blogs I read have written recently about the need for men to have a firm grasp on their non-negotiable, unalterable terms or as Wayne Levine (the man who coined the term) calls them, our N.U.T.s.
To quote Levine:
To be the man, father, husband or leader you want to be, you must develop and maintain a firm grasp of your N.U.T.s
N.U.T.s – non-negotiable, unalterable terms—are the things that define you as a man. They’re what a man is committed to. And when these N.U.T.s are compromised, men become angry, unhappy, frustrated, depressed. They would rather blame others than take responsibility for their own actions. They’ll play the victim as they take out their negative feelings on those they love. They’re also the guys who will try to drown their sorrows in alcohol, drugs, porn, and a slew of other equally destructive behaviors.
I’ve borrowed a list of a few examples of N.U.T.s from Levine’s website and have listed them below:
* I am faithful to my wife.
* Compassion for my family trumps my need to be right.
* I am a risk taker.
* I do what I believe is in the best interest of my children, even if they disagree.
* I do not ask for permission.
* I do not indulge my addictions.
* I take my problems to men, not to women.
* I do whatever it takes to keep my family in our home.
* I honor my daily spiritual practice.
* I do not sell out who I am to please others.
Although I suspect I have an unspoken list of N.U.T.s, I don’t think I’ve ever actually voiced many of them to myself or anyone else. In the coming weeks, I’m going to spend some time thinking about my non-negotiable unalterable terms and will be posting them here on the RDC as a permanent reminder to myself of those things that I will hold to no matter what. Some of mine will be fairly similar to the ones above and some will be quite different. Either way, I’m looking forward to the process of considering, defining, and listing my own N.U.T.s.
When I’m old and gray (ahem, grayer, that is), I hope to look back on my life and reflect on an abundance of incredible experiences and accomplishments. I’ve prayed my way through 33 1/2 years and God has been faithful to bless me with far more than I deserve. However, this same life has included and will include many more prayers that go unanswered, at least in the way I desire or expect.
If you’re an Okie, you probably remember a time when Garth Brooks was on everyone’s radar. I was never a huge country music fan, but I can sing along with a few little ditties when I hear them. One song that I remember vividly is “Unanswered Prayers.” If you’re not familiar with the song, Garth sings about running into his old high school flame and recalls how hard he prayed for this girl to be his forever. While he is filled with nostalgia at seeing her again, he has gained enough perspective to know that his life worked out in the best way possible despite his one-time efforts to convince God otherwise. He goes on to express his thankfulness for the gifts in his life, including the woman who eventually stole his heart, became his wife and showed him the importance of trusting God at all times.
By the way, when I started writing this blog, I did not remember the controversy with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. So do me a favor and put that bit of information aside so I don’t have to go back to the drawing board on this post, mmmkay? Geez, what is it with people and their inability to stay faithful? But that’s an essay for a different day.
Where was I? Oh yes, the inspirational song. I was touched by the song and have always admired people who are able to easily put issues and events into perspective. I am not one of them. I can remember many times when I didn’t get what I was clearly the most important thing I’d ever asked for in my entire life. Time and time again, I responded with anger and disbelief. In not so many words I said to God, “You said ‘Ask and you shall receive,’ right? Well?????” I shed tears over a great many “must haves” that did not become my reality…..boys, leadership positions, jobs, etc.
Lamar is taking a break, so I have prepared a short thought for our Simple Sabbath post this morning. I sat down at my computer and the first thing I noticed on my desktop was two images; items my eldest daughter had picked out for her upcoming wedding. One is the cake topper. People don’t just use plastic molded standing brides and grooms for cake toppers any more. And the other is a little “accent” for the wedding – to be used at just the right time. I love it.
They are both secrets so I’ll just have to leave them here on my computer until they can be revealed during their wedding day. But thoughts about the wedding led to other thoughts…musings about life events.
Christmas will be here soon, my eldest daughter is deeply involved in planning for her upcoming wedding in March, we’re picking up a new “family member” today (a six week old Alaskan Malamute puppy), my younger daughter will be finishing her hair stylist program this summer and a friend of mine died last week. Births (I know, I’m using a puppy birth and the Christmas season for my example…), graduations, weddings and funerals. I’m 47 years old and I’ve been sitting through or experiencing all these occasions literally since my own birth in one way or another.