Tag Archives: Tennessee

Random Thoughts

First,

I would like to thank all of you for your prayers and well-wishes. I don’t have any solid answers regarding my health, but I have appointments scheduled. Hopefully, we will find out whether or not the pain I am experiencing in my chest is heart related, or just lung or esophageal.  Come to find out, pain in one’s chest could come from a plethora (love that word) of sources. 

Whatever happens, may all the glory belong to the Lord.

Second,

The U.S. government has partially shut down. Yet, the sun still came up this morning, there is still oxygen in the air, birds are still singing, and the President is still receiving a pay check.

If you want to know my political opinions regarding this mess, just ask. Go ahead, ask. Ask me what I think about being forced by my government to buy something. Ask me what I think of my government taking away me freedom. Ask me what I think about politicians who will hold innocent people hostage for political gain, never minding the fact that we can’t afford whatever plan is chosen. Ask me what I think of a president who wants to “fundamentally change” the nation that so many risk their lives to come to for freedom and hope.

Go ahead, ask.

Third,

A story out of Nashville (Tennessee): “Fencing coach stops robbery in shopping center.”

This_is_Inigo_Montoya_by_Dranzer_DarlingI took fencing in college and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately for me, Princess Bride had not yet been made, so never once did I get to look at another student and say, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father…prepare to die.” Yet, when I took the class there were others who criticized me, saying, “When will you ever use a sword?”

Now I have an answer!

Fourth,

You may have seen the news story about a bunch of thug motorcyclist who beat up a man in New York. It seems that this gang of motorcyclists were being a bunch of punks and spooked an innocent husband and dad of a 2 yr-old girl, causing him to run over a guy to get away.

Video shows the gang of punks chasing his Range Rover through the streets of New York until they finally pin him in, crash through his window, and drag him to the street where he is severely beaten. All along, his wife and little girl are forced to watch.

People, when you feel like your life is threatened, a 4,000 lb. vehicle makes a perfect defensive weapon. If you are fool enough to attack someone with a 4,000 lb. weapon, you deserve to get what’s coming to you. But I couldn’t help but think of what could have happened had this scene been played out on any given street in the South.

  • Forget the Range Rover, have you seen what a monster truck can do?
  • Since swords are back in style, now, well…
  • Guns are legal, loved, and carried in the South. Go ahead and be a bunch of punks around a good ol’ boy, his woman, and his little baby…what you may find out is that somewhere in your family history your ancestors had target-like birthmarks on their foreheads, and for some reason you still have their DNA.
  • Demolition derbies are usually won by the vehicle with four wheels, not two, so keep that in mind.

Off to Drive

Well, it’s about that time. I have to go drive the school bus. Who knows what things I will hear? Like today, a kindergarten girl said: “I have a granny who is 99 years old. She is going to be 100 on her birthday, and then she can die.

Kids…aren’t they great?

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Filed under current events

Life Lessons Revisited

A while back I did a series of posts entitled Life Lessons from the School Bus. Below is the first one I did in the series (Feb. 2011). I hope the moral of the post is an encouragement to someone.

Frankly, I would love to see some more snow.

Stormy Weather”

What one person calls terrible weather capable of ending life as we know it, may be just another work day to another.  This truth is never more obvious than to bus drivers.

Recently, we have had more snow in Tennessee than at any time I can personally remember. We have even used up all of our available “snow days.”  Yet, while we were closing schools for snow down here, schools up north were quite literally trucking along.

Looking out the windshield of my bus onto the lawn, you can see an inch or so of white stuff. Due to the lack of equipment and funds to regularly take care of the frozen precipitation (it’s not the norm down here, you know), just an inch, if it sticks to the roads, will shut down schools in a heartbeat. The mountainous and rural back roads off the main highways, where most kids live, usually are not salted or plowed. Typically, people around here just wait a day or so for the arctic terror to melt. Until then, driving is dangerous, so buses stay parked and empty.

On the other hand, my wife was in Chicago during the last blizzard. She sent me this picture of a school bus transporting children in weather that would have given a Tennessee school administrator heart failure.  What was the difference? They are used to it up there, and far more prepared. To people in Chicago, our worst weather is just another work day. But I wonder how they would deal with our heat, humidity, and lung-clogging pollen come August?

The Life Lesson

Problems will come in life that may seem small to some, but huge to others. The key is to never view another person’s problem as insignificant. What you may think is no big deal could be earth-shattering to someone else.

Learn to show grace and mercy to those who aren’t handling things as well as you. You may be the strength and encouragement they need to get through a tough time.

Who knows, a time may come when an unexpected storm will snow you in.

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Filed under General Observations, Life Lessons

Appetite for Comfort

Comfort Food, That Is

There are some things in life that we always go back to when nothing else seems to do. It’s called comfort food.

Comfort food is the stuff that you want to eat when you’re depressed, when you’ve lost a limb, or when you’re girlfriend informs you that all along she has been an alien from Jupiter, and now she wants your brain to take back to her daddy.

Comfort food brings back fond memories of childhood and the “good-old-days” (unless you were a starving refugee), when Mom could make you feel better with nothing more than a spoonful of lard and some corn meal.

Comfort Central

Here in the southern United States we have a custom: when somebody dies, we eat.

Whenever a loved one passes away, bites the dust, or essentially assumes room temperature for an indefinite period of time, we trot them off to a funeral home, and then bring in every kind of unhealthy food imaginable. We all know that when one is suffering a terrible loss, comfort food will help dull the pain. And if nothing else, it will help you get to where your loved one is a little quicker than a salad will.

A typical southern funeral home has a dining area. This is where the family and friends can go when they are tired of standing around in the viewing room. They instinctively know that in that room is food which will make them feel better.

Serious Comfort

Well, not long ago my only blood-related uncle went home to be with the Lord. His body was taken to a funeral home in a place called Whitwell (pronounced “Wutwool“), Tennessee. And it was there that the funeral home staff did something that it does for all their families – serve homemade pinto beans.

Now, don’t be fooled, folks. These are not your ordinary beans. These are about the best pinto beans you will ever put in your ever-loving mouth! Served with some homemade cornbread, these beans made me tear up (no joke) as I remembered my granny, my dad, and a much, MUCH simpler life down on the river.

What makes these pintos so special is that they were soaked for 24 hours in water, then slow-cooked the next day in a crock pot with several slices of thick bacon. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but there are secrets to keep.

A Holy Command

Why do we prepare such food for funerals? Seriously? For one thing, sometimes it is hard to find the right words to say when someone is hurting. That’s when people do what they can, and many times the only thing they can do is prepare good food. Hurting people need to be cared for, and this is one way to show it.

Comforting one another is also something we are commanded to do. 1Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “comfort yourselves together, and edify one another.” And speaking of the hope of resurrection we have in Christ, the Apostle Paul said in the same letter, “comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:8).

But what happens when words are hard to find? Make a pot of seriously savory pinto beans and cornbread. Tears of heartache may turn into tears of culinary joy.

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Filed under Food, Relationships and Family

The Worst Field Trip Guide

The Trip

Today I transported 80 kindergarteners on a field trip to a mountain forest. Do you have any idea how loud 80 excited 5-year-olds can get when confined in a 40ft.-long steel box on wheels?

Teacher Talk

Anyway, I couldn’t help overhear the advice school teachers were giving to the little crumb crunchers. One warned, “Don’t pick anything up from the ground; you won’t be able to keep it, anyway.” Another said, “Don’t bounce on the swinging bridge; just look over the side.”

However, the best piece of advice was clear enough: “Do NOT get off the trail!” But I spoke up and said, “‘Cause if you get off the trail, we might have to send the dogs after you.”

Who knew the little girl was afraid of dogs? I didn’t! Cry baby.

Bad Advice

So, that got me to thinking: what would be the worst advice to give 80 children before a trip into the woods?

  • Don’t worry about your lunch box, the forest is full of pretty berries.
  • As long as the animal is smaller than you, go ahead and pet it. It won’t mind.
  • Hey, bounce on the swinging bridge…it’s just like a trampoline.
  • Of course! Rules are meant to be broken.
  • Bears? What bears? This is Tennessee, kid. We don’t have bears. You’re thinking of Chicago.
  • I don’t care what your mom said, poison oak is a hoax. Don’t your parents have oak furniture? Does it make you itch? See, she lied.
  • Who can get closest to the edge?
  • Whatever you do, don’t stay on the trail. Trails are for babies.
  • Snakes are overrated, misunderstood jump ropes.

Best Advice

Fortunately, when it comes to the wilderness of life, there is One who always gives good advice. He teaches us to stay on the path that He has already walked. He warns us of things that can harm us. He can even tell the difference between good and bad fruit trees.

Psa 23:4 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Matt 4:19 – And he saith unto them, Follow me….

Here’s a link to my other blog, i4Daily. There’s a nice picture of the swinging bridge.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, Uncategorized

Recovering Legalist Meets Building 429

The Story

For the last several weeks we have been going out to get some food after evening services. If you don’t know what I am talking about, let me explain:

Getting Food = going to a resturant that sells stuff you could make at home for a lot less money, but tastes better and is more fun when you pay for it in the company of others.

Evening Services = gathering of believers at a local church that still takes place on Sunday nights, while most people stay home, in order to give the pastor something to do.

FoodFriday #17: Cracker Barrel - Old Country Store

Image by inju via Flickr

Last night, after a great time of worship and hearing from God’s Word, my wife, our girls, our youth director, and I went to Cracker Barrel. When we pulled in, I noticed a really sweet Prevost tour bus sitting in the lot. I said to my wife, Valerie, “Now that has got to be a group, or a band, or something, because it takes somebody serious to keep one of those things on the road.

We gently maneuver our tired, aged frames (we’re getting old in our 40’s) out of the car and walk toward the entrance. As we walk across the front of Cracker Barrel, where all the rocking chairs are, my wife and I notice some interesting young men dressed in black. One of them had a black hat and a hairstyle that would make more than a few grannies say, “What died on your head, sonny?”

Myself? Well I am in a suit and tie. My wife? She is wearing a dress. WE are the “Reverend and Mrs. Baker,” you know. WE know how to dress on Sunday, unlike these guys. So, my wife walks past them first and gives them a forced, but gentle smile. Next, I walk by, thinking to myself, “These are definitely musicians…yep…the hair gives it away…they’re the Prevost riders.” I nod and smile.

Once inside the Cracker Barrel, my conscience started to bother me. Something wasn’t right. I have been around long enough to recognize when the Holy Spirit says, “Hey, I bear witness that those weird-looking guys out there are part of the Family.” That is when I come up with a brilliant, self-covering plan – send Katie, our 15 year old, out to see who they are.

I only had an old iPhone. And it was dark.

Katie,” I say, “go out there and ask those guys on the porch who they are or what band they’re with.”  Fortunately, and I knew this, there were others outside beside the “men in black,” so don’t think I sent my little girl out to talk to strangers, alone. She talked to strangers with other strangers there to help.

A few minutes later, Katie comes back in with the biggest smile on her face, beaming with a glow that could blind a man in sunglasses, saying, “They are Building 429!!

Now here’s the point of all this. Here I am, someone who preaches against unrighteously judging others, especially Christians who look different (what’s normal?). What do I do? I walk right by a group of guys and assume, wrongfully, that evidently, just because they were not in suits on a Sunday night, they were a group of heathen beatniks heading to/from Nashville.  I messed up.

An Official Apology

Sorry, guys, for doing the very thing I hate seeing other people do. This is why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Sometimes I fail. Last night I failed in a bad way. Up until last night, I had never even seen you before to recognize you in person. All I know is that the song you recorded, “Always,” is one of my favorite…I’ve shed more than a few tears while listening to it. Please forgive my wife and I for acting like a couple of snobby, self-righteous, judgmental legalists. If I’m fortunate, maybe God will give this preacher some hair like yours, someday.

May God bless you and your ministry. He WILL be with you always.

 

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Filed under Do not judge, General Observations, legalism

Life Lessons from the School Bus #1

I have decided to start a new series of posts dedicated to little life lessons one can learn from driving a school bus. This is the very first, inaugural post. Don’t you feel the excitement? Someday, after using this as a testing ground, I may even write a little book on the same subject. Hope you enjoy.

Stormy Weather”

What one person calls terrible weather capable of ending life as we know it, may be just another work day to another.  This truth is never more obvious than to bus drivers.

Recently, we have had more snow in Tennessee than at any time I can personally remember. We have even used up all of our available “snow days.”  Yet, while we were closing schools for snow down here, schools up north were quite literally trucking along.

Looking out the windshield of my bus onto the lawn, you can see an inch or so of white stuff. Due to the lack of equipment and funds to regularly take care of the frozen precipitation (it’s not the norm down here, you know), just an inch, if it sticks to the roads, will shut down schools in a heartbeat. The mountainous and rural back roads off the main highways, where most kids live, usually are not salted or plowed. Typically, people around here just wait a day or so for the arctic terror to melt. Until then, driving is dangerous, so buses stay parked and empty.

On the other hand, my wife was in Chicago during the last blizzard. She sent me this picture of a school bus transporting children in weather that would have given a Tennessee school administrator heart failure.  What was the difference? They are used to it up there, and far more prepared. To people in Chicago, our worst weather is just another work day. But I wonder how they would deal with our heat, humidity, and lung-clogging pollen come August?

The Life Lesson

Problems will come in life that may seem small to some, but huge to others. The key is to never view another person’s problem as insignificant. What you may think is no big deal to you, just might be earth-shattering to somebody else.

Learn to show grace and mercy to those who aren’t handling things as well as you. You may be the strength and encouragement they need to get through a tough time.  Who knows, a time may come when an unexpected storm will snow you in.

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Filed under General Observations, Life Lessons