Month: April 2009

Knee-Jerking My Way Through Georgia

Here are some observations from my first week in Georgia: The word “Georgia” has no “r” in it; at least, not if you’re from Georgia. If you eat out and you order “iced tea,” they don’t even bat an eye, just bring you sweet tea, as if there were no other kind. If you order pancakes and there is no syrup on the table, the sweet tea is a fine substitute. There are no one-syllable words in Georgia, and every word has an invisible “ey” or “ay” in it. Georgians have a lovely sing-song cadence to their dialogue. The beds in Georgia are the rough equivalent of slabs of concrete in Texas. (Well, I have only slept in two: the first was in a cheap motel on night one, and I was thankful I did not have to shoot my way out the next morning; the second is in this somewhat aged hotel in the small burg of Rockmart, where the manager is a sweet, if slightly off-center, eccentric, old lady who routinely misses her upper lip by a quarter inch when she applies her lipstick.) Southern hospitality is alive and well in Georgia. Georgia home builders should be flogged for building the houses a mile off the ground and then putting a pitch on the roof that appears to be the most direct line they could draw to...

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Where East Meets West

Having lived for seven eventful, fun-filled, wonderful years in California, I have always figured that, where coasts are concerned, West is best and East is least. I have slowly been changing my mind. Well, adjusting it. I still love the west coast. California is peerless. But the East offers so much in terms of history (which I love) and beauty (of which I am a great admirer.) I am determined to explore this coast as much as time and opportunity allow (which may be plenty and could be little to none.) Right now, I am in Georgia, not far from a place called Lost Mountain, which seems neither to be lost nor a mountain, but is gorgeous, nonetheless. The Pines and Oaks and whatever other trees these happen to be are magnificent. The ones that have recently fallen onto the roofs of houses and cars may be somewhat less so, but even they know how to throw their weight around. A couple of years ago, Donya and I spent a few days in Savannah. We were impressed with the city’s sense of history. They cling tenaciously to their rich heritage, marking it with monuments, statues, and perfectly spaced squares for the enjoyment of townsman and tourist alike. Conversely, Atlanta is modern, sleek, with an eye toward tomorrow. It reminds me of Dallas because of its healthy commerce and rapid...

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Devotional: Change!

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. Prov. 9:9 (KJV) Few people enjoy change. We get in a comfort zone and tend to want to remain there. Economist John Galbraith observed, “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind, and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” Mr. Galbraith was right. Great energy has been expended, impassioned speeches delivered, and battle lines drawn all in resistance to change. I recall once narrowly avoiding a church...

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A Devotional: “Fizz!”

My darling, you are beautiful! Oh, you are beautiful, and your eyes are like doves. S of S. 1:15 (NCV) Bruce Barton said, “Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think there are no little things.” Little things can make a huge difference. Dr. John Pemberton experienced the truth of this concept at Joe Jacobs’ Drug Store in Atlanta, Georgia. The year was 1886, and Dr. Pemberton was excited about a new drink he was planning to produce and market. He took his formula, made primarily ofextracts from coca plants and cola nuts, to Willis Venable, who had leased space in the drug store to run a soda fountain. Pemberton asked Venable to mix one ounce of his syrup with five ounces of water and tell him what he thought. Venable did, kind of liked it, and suggested they make another. The second time, however, Venable accidentally put soda water in it. Coca Cola was born and the world would never be the same. Soda water instead of tap water. Just a little thing that made a huge difference. Just so, little things can make a big difference in our relationships. Saying “I love you” to your kids. Holding hands with your spouse. Dropping a note to a friend. Commending your pastor on his sermon. Flowers. Candy. A movie. A reassuring...

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Your Boredom is Boring!

When I was a middle school teacher (which is roughly tantamount to being a riverboat captain on the River Styx), I would hear with regularity this complaint from my charges: “Mister, I’m bored!” (They called any male teacher or administrator “Mister” because, I suppose, they couldn’t be bothered with actually learning to say difficult names like Strother…or Smith…or Jones.) I heard the complaint so often that I began to make mental note of the frequent fliers of the “I’m bored” flag. What I found was this: the ones who most complained about being bored were, without exception, the most boring kids in the classroom. They lacked imagination, personality, and drive. Since those years as a teacher, I have continued to monitor the bored people. My observations have led me to this conclusion: Bored people are boring people, and those who must be constantly entertained are themselves seldom entertaining. Yes, that is my own assessment and I allow that it may not contain universal truth. I will, however, continue to believe it until proven wrong. These observations have motivated me to discover what innate characteristics best combat the blight of boredom. My Conclusions: A sense of wonder. If you have never been overwhelmed by a sunrise or moved to tears or joy by a masterful musical composition or seen the beauty in a toddler covered in mud from head to...

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