First World Moment

It wasn’t so much humbling as humiliating.

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Have you ever had a First World moment?

I found myself getting frustrated tonight because I had to clean out the washing machine’s filter and everything didn’t go exactly to plan. I had to re-do and re-tighten and then there was a setting off that I didn’t know about. And there was some smelly water involved, to boot.

It was a pain in the butt for nearly 20 minutes. (Maybe a little less.)

And sitting watching the laundry roll around the drum I realized how entitled and whiny I was being. There are people in my community who went to bed hungry tonight, and I was acting frustrated that I had to spend 20 minutes taking care of one of my luxuries.

It wasn’t so much a humbling thought as a humiliating one.

Look, I know I can’t save the world and I don’t feel guilty that I have a washing machine … or all the other things in my house that would be considered luxuries to some (including the house). God has blessed my family and I am thankful for that.

But I need to do a better job of not being such a putz about it.

A good attitude can overcome a bad sense of direction

We all sort of looked at each other with a quizzical “whaaaaa” expression on our faces and then had our attention pulled back to the present by the appearance of Santa.

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I stood in an intersection taking photos of a Christmas parade, something I have done dozens of times for various news outlets.

But this event marked the first time I ever saw some of the floats go the wrong direction.

It was near the beginning of Malakoff’s annual parade, which had a change to its usual route. I guess the new instructions didn’t reach everyone and the band, the sheriff and a couple of floats missed a turn.

I don’t think anyone watching realized the mistake until the rest of the parade went off in a different direction. We all sort of looked at each other with a quizzical “whaaaaa” expression on our faces and then had our attention pulled back to the present by the appearance of Santa.

Continue reading “A good attitude can overcome a bad sense of direction”

Meeting God in the music

I know that music is a gift straight from God and that’s where I meet Him.

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I know I sometimes confuse folks in my church during worship service. Many — most — of them grew up singing traditional Baptist hymns. Maybe they had a choir or maybe a worship leader strumming on an acoustic guitar.

I grew up in a small Catholic church at exactly the time Catholics were trying to appeal a little more to the masses (no pun intended). I started playing guitar in church when I was in middle school. Although it was just two acoustic guitars strumming G, C, and D, it was pretty radical for our church at that time.

So for me, church music was always edgy.

Today, I play an electric guitar with full-on effects. Delay, reverb and crunch. I play Jesus Rock n’ Roll. On Sunday mornings I sometimes find myself in the classic rock guitar stance, or standing on one leg, or with my pick hand behind my back for some reason. I wander across the stage, jump up and down and never stand still.

Truthfully, I’m not really that good. Luckily it doesn’t take a lot to chunk out power chords or play some of the Contemporary Christian Music riffs.

I cannot overstate how important that time playing with the worship band is to me. You see, the reason I can’t stay still when I’m playing … the reason I end up in those strange poses … is because there is a time when I am playing with the band that everything goes away but the music.

And that moment is my greatest prayer of thanksgiving to God.

The way I was brought up, rote recitation of the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Hail Mary” is all I was really taught. I agree with my church friends now that prayer is a conversation with God, but understanding and being able to do it are two different things. My prayers are stilted and formulaic.

But that never happens in the music. When we are playing and everything is right, I can throw my head back and let my guitar say, “Thank you, Lord, for this life! I am so blessed.”

I know that music is a gift straight from God and that’s where I meet Him — in the music. And the result of that meeting is a pure joy that causes me to move to the rhythm.

And that’s why I act like I do on Sunday mornings.

So this Sunday, when we play “Set A Fire” and the music swells halfway through and I walk over toward Nathan on the drums and it looks like I am hanging my head and trying to beat up my guitar, don’t worry.

I’m just spending some quality time with God.

How do you get it done?

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On a day when an unsolved mechanical problem called my manhood into question and my son’s bed broke (I was able to fix that one), I am wondering …

How do you do it all?

I am asking because I struggle. I look at the things I am supposed to do and I fail regularly.

Here are just the big things on the list.

  • Work is a must, of course, and it takes time and effort to be good regardless of your calling. A 40-hour week is a luxury I know many of us can’t afford. The time card may say 40, but the after hours emails, texted questions, reports and planning adds another 10.
  • You’ve got to give your best to your family. I’ve been hearing the phrase “quality time” since the day my oldest was born, and it is something I know we all want to provide so pencil in playing with the kids.
  • Faith is important, so church gets a permanent spot on the calendar. And I don’t want to be one of those folks who sits in the pew and does nothing, so add more hours.
  • I am not sure how anyone can have knowledge of the needs of the community and not try and make a difference, so there has to be time for charitable efforts.
  • I am blessed to have a roof over my head and vehicles to get around town, so that means maintenance. Mowing the yard, plunging the toilet, changing the oil … there’s always something to do.
  • And that’s just the sometimes maintenance stuff. My wife bears the brunt of the housekeeping chores like laundry, dishes, shopping, etc.
  • Back to church … I hear all the time that I’m not praying enough and not studying my Bible enough, and that is true. So mark out an hour a day for those.
  • The simplest way to stay healthy is to eat right and exercise. Mark it on the calendar because if you don’t, you’ll die.
  • I also read where we are all stressed too much, so relaxation needs to be a priority for health reasons. Got to schedule downtime.
  • Americans don’t get enough sleep and that’s a fact. Should get 8, but at least try for 7.

And these are just the things to stay caught up. If you want to improve or advance in some way, like going to school, the list gets longer.

This also doesn’t include any of the random items that come up and land on the “must” list, like extended family emergencies.

Sorry for the ramble, but most of my days feel like a ramble … so how do you do it?