Tag Archives: faith

Snow Days, Lent and Seeing Clearly

ice lentYesterday C and I went for a ride to go pick up our dogs from the groomer.  It was the second snowday in a row, and while the roads were clear, the remnants of the ice that had hampered traffic and business the day before were beautifully evident on the trees on the hillsides.

It may be March, but it’s not apparent on this road.  The grass is browned and the trees are bare from the long winter. But this day, the brown bare trees glistened from the ice as the sun tries to appear.

The landscape of Tennessee was stunning. You couldn’t help but want to soak in the simple beauty.

I started to see things I hadn’t noticed before. I wondered about a road that has been hidden by the leaves and made a note to find it one day, partially for the experience and noting that could be a great shortcut next time traffic backs up.

I got to admire beautiful homes that were now exposed without the covering of leaves.  Creeks and valleys unknown to me suddenly appeared between the road and the horizon. And while we have driven this road countless times, this was the first time I was able to take in the view with this sort of clarity.

We chatted about how C used to live on a mountain, and most of the year, the view from their home was just leaves. And more leaves. And more trees.  But in the winter, you could see homes, roads, hillsides, and their small town below.

Maybe that’s a way of looking at Lent. A few weeks focused on stripping away distractions and coverings to be able to see. Clearly. To be able to re-direct your path and get a better vision of the horizon.

And then when the promise of spring arrives, I know I can enjoy the beauty of green grass, budding flowers and leaves and warming air, while being grounded in my new understanding of the road to follow.


Stories that Feed the Soul

Stories that Feed Your Soul
By Tony Campolo

I grew up in the church, went to a Christian college, and have sat through thousands of services, devotionals, and small groups. And while I appreciate the sermon, it’s almost always the story – or the sermon illustration – that I walk away remembering. Even in life, my favorite moments are almost always recalled with the statement “so this crazy thing happened to me today – let me tell you the story…”

When I received Tony Campolo’s new book in the mail, with a requested review date right around the corner, I thought the deadline would be impossible. I work. I have responsibilities. I like to take Tony’s writing and chew on it a bit. This review cannot be finished in…

I started flipping through the book. The longest chapter was 3 pages long.

I can do this.

Stories that Feed Your Soul is just that. A collection of stories centered around the themes in Romans 8. Tony is a known storyteller, and these recollections are about the day to day. The good, the bad, the sacred, the simple. Lessons about the daily struggle to examine ourselves and see just how best we can be servants and disciples. Lessons about thankfulness, grace, humility. Lessons simply about life.

Like most of Campolo’s work, Stories focuses heavily on social issues, our attitude toward our neighbors, the poor, the widow. But in these short stories, we get to see mirrors of our own lives. So many sounded familiar, like I might have heard the story in school about a great activist, politician or pop culture figure. Many just gave tidbits to chew on in my day.

So many stories stand out. Mae West talking about Christians. A piece on St Francis of Assisi. A question about if a Buddhist Monk will go to Heaven. Another on a man who said “Making ten million dollars before I was 40 didn’t turn out to be as wonderful as I thought it was going to be.” A story on a boy with one arm who won a judo championship.

I had originally told my father, a pastor, that I would give him the book for sermon ideas after finishing this review. However now, I’m going to need to just buy him his own copy. This book will be re-read many times as I believe it was intended, one story at a time. I’m imagining many of these stories will fuel many a devotional and blog of my own.

Thank you Tony for writing a collection of stories truly inspire and Feed the Soul.

Decktop Garden Adventure, day 1

Reasons to Love Nashville, #774

Saturday shouldn’t have been interesting. Had a tentative date that, of course, the guy backed out on. Hit a couple of garage sales and bought a perfect messenger bag for my scooter for only $30. At the farmers market i bought a giant bag of groceries, 8 pepper plants, 4 tomato plants and an oregano plant for less than $20.

And then I happened upon a garage sale.

The house was a classic Nashville brick ranch. The front part of the driveway was littered with deer heads, birdhouses and camping gear. But at the back of the driveway sat an older woman. She saw me pick up a flower pot (I was thinking I could plant one of my new pepper plants in it), and she said “Do you like plants” and I responded, “I am trying to.”

She lumbered up from her seat. Leaving her cane behind, the woman moved slowly, inching her way over to another pot and said, “Let me help you.”

Her 11 year-old grand daughter rolled her eyes. “Granny Sue has someone to talk about plants with,” she exclaimed. I asked if she liked plants and the young girl with pink streaks in her hair said a definitive “No.”

At this, 75 years of knowledge of gardening poured from the woman.

Brown bananas attract butterflies.

If you plant marigolds by tomatoes you won’t get any bugs

Take the last tomato of the year and just leave it on the dirt. It will seed itself for next season.

Planting 1 hot pepper underground by sweet potatoes will keep moles away

Tale after tale of how to keep your plants happy and healthy. I’d ask a question and Granny Sue would respond “just plant it.”

Does this need to be in the shade? “Just plant it.”

Don’t strawberries need to be in a yard? “Just plant it.”

Is this pot big enough? “Just plant it.”

She made clippings of geraniums, lambs ears, strawberries, sweet potatoes and assorted plants. She spoke stream of consciousness, “Keep these in water, and then, just plant them. If they look like they are dead, just keep watering them”

She then donated to my cause several planters that still had the remnants of dying looking plants in them. “Just add your tomato plants to these. They are plenty deep,” I think she could read my mind “and no, these other plants aren’t dead. Just water them. And plant the tomatoes. With some marigolds.”

I drove my car up behind the house, took the top off and loaded up my back seat with plants. She wished me luck and waved and said she wanted to come up and see my garden deck when it was in full bloom.

As I drove away, something hit me. Granny Sue said most of the time plants aren’t dead, they just need to be taken care of in a new way. Water them more. Water them less. Move them from direct sun to the shade. Replant them. Give them space.

That’s probably just like a lot of us. A few years ago, people might have written me off, where really I just needed to be replanted in a new space so I could thrive. Others who have fallen onto hard times or have made wrong decisions just need a little more water. Probably a lot of us could use days with more sun.

So I’ve started my deck-top gardening adventure with about 37 plants. I hope that maybe I can live my life with a few of Granny Sue’s lessons. Some of these plants may be meant for big gardens, but they will grow, and hopefully thrive where they are planted. There might be a few people in my life that I could offer some water.

I’ll keep you updated on the garden, but here’s what it looks like today.

Nashville Flood, part 2

There’s been a lot of murmuring around Nashville, complaints that the national media had forgotten about us. Maybe they thought the flood was exaggerated. Maybe they just had other things to think about. Maybe they just think all there is to Tennessee is the Grand Old Opry … and Deliverance.

What maybe they don’t know is that Tennessee isn’t really prone to exaggeration. We aren’t a region that overly boasts. But we are the home to some of the best music, the best hospitals, the best food, and the best landscape our country can offer. We love slow food, slow evenings of wine and conversation, and a fast game of hockey or football. Our economy isn’t bad, we don’t pay income tax and everyone is generally in a good mood, most of the time.

So I was thinking…what’s different? Why aren’t we getting the media attention like other cities have?

And I realized it.

We love. We work. We clean up. We rebuild.

We aren’t looting.

We aren’t taking advantage.

We aren’t throwing rocks at police.

We are helping our neighbors, because that’s what neighbors do. We’re hearing stories of hope, of restoration, of mercy.

And if it requires our city to take on an uncivilized, selfish face to get the media’s attention, then forget it.

There is a sign on a church in East Nashville that says something like “God wasn’t in the tornado, God is in the response”, in reference to the tornado that tore through our neighborhood in 1998.  This isn’t any different.

And after our neighbors are back in their homes, the music is back at the Opry and the Symphony Center and the Titans are back running on their field, we will know that our city is a stronger, safer more beautiful place, simply because the people love, and love well.