In many ways, I'm a traditionalist. Classics are classics for a reason, and if they are to be changed or altered in any way whatsoever, there had better be a very good reason.
The first week of May, I attended an afternoon tea at the Buckhorn Inn. It featured a speech by a royal English butler, who retired as high host at Harris Manchester College, Oxford University. I would have gone just because it was afternoon tea at the Buckhorn Inn, you know what I mean? But when the invitation mentioned this modern-day Carson – if you watch "Downton Abbey," you know of whom I write – I canceled our son's piano lesson that afternoon to make room in our schedule.
Whenever I pick up my grandson Trey from school, I usually ask him questions regarding the most interesting thing that happened that day, or the most unusual, or the most challenging, or the best, or what he liked most – or something along these lines. I also like to ask, "For what are you most thankful today?" When our family is gathered around the dinner table, sometimes for the pre-meal blessing, I like to ask each member to mention what he or she is most thankful for that day. I don't believe we can ever cover all the things for which we are thankful – things from God, family, friends and others. No doubt, even when it seems things are going wrong for us in various ways, there are always many things – and people – for which to be thankful.
Things are slowly getting back to what I suppose is the new normal for my house. Only about half of my floor space is covered in boxes these days, and I'm beginning to get used to the presence of peanut butter (can't stand the stuff) and juice boxes (liquid poison) in my refrigerator. The reality of life with kids, I suppose.
Ah, the refreshing smell of raindrops. You can almost see the trees, grass and plants gulping down the nourishment like a giant dose of elixir. The burgeoning growth in every leaf and bud is second by second. The warmth of the spring air is like a soothing balm, and sleep is so peaceful with the windows wide open, letting in the fragrant aroma and the tiny sounds of the night.
Around this time last year, my little brother graduated high school, and I wrote about how it was weird seeing him all grown up. This year there is another graduation in my family.
I read a recent report about responses from over 5,000 teens who were asked, "What does it mean to be a friend?" Many said evidence of true friends is what they do and/or say to show loyalty, honesty, trustworthiness or willingness to make a sacrifice when you need help.
Saturday, April 25: Grilled chicken on the fire pit. This was the first time the pit came into play this season. Had to shovel out copious amounts of acorns and other debris. On the positive side of things, the snow that fell last Halloween brought down loads of quality oak that should last well into the summer. Showed the boys how to operate the electric chainsaw. The chicken was excellent.
It’s funny how we can change our habits without even thinking.
Last Monday evening, Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg was closed for a private function. Ripley’s apologized for it on a big billboard at the entrance. I do not know if anybody was inconvenienced. I would think a few people turned around, disappointed. Those of us who came to the aquarium to attend this private function certainly felt grateful to attend.
As I waited for my wife to finish work, the wee girl on the bench beside me began to talk about her boyfriend Charley.
Two hundred seventy-three. That’s how many miles I have walked on trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At least since I started keeping track.
Many of us have shared the spiritual journey once again that encompassed the week that changed the world. We gather to celebrate an event, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. Because He lives, we too shall share in life everlasting. I repeat, this is an event text. We don't have to ponder nuances of the Greek or puzzle what knowledge of the culture will further illuminate. We celebrate this event by allowing it to live on in and through us.
"The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming An Individual In An Age Of Distraction," by Matthew B. Crawford, published March 2015, is a very interesting read. It's his second book, following "Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into The Value Of Work." I can relate to both – and so can you.
HBO's popular fantasy television show "Game of Thrones," based on a series of books by George R.R. Martin, is back. And for the first time in a few years, I'm anxious about what is going to happen.
So it's April again, and that means only one thing: pollen. Oh, and Earth Day. For our annual trash collecting expedition around the neighborhood, we were getting ready mentally. Alas, one of our neighbors got ahead of us with her children. During spring break, they spent a few hours collecting trash from the ditches of our subdivision and trash they did collect.
Ah, April. Spring is here. What a wonderful feeling of freshness in the air! Everywhere you look there is something new, vibrant, alive, colorful, and it makes my heart sing.
I've written previously about Dr. J. Winston Pearce, fellow speaker at some of the senior adult conferences I hosted in Gatlinburg. At the time, he was retired as a professor at Golden Gate Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., and was serving as a writer-in-residence at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. Today I've been thinking again about what this biblical scholar, researcher and outstanding instructor told me in one of our conversations. Dr. Pearce said there is evidence that the energy of every sound, voice and spoken word is retained in the atmosphere. He said it may be possible in the future for some instrument to search out and tune into voices and words of the past. How exciting this could be – and how scary.
Ah, my friends, I have to admit I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. I mentioned last week that my fiancée and her kids moving in; they are to be officially moved in on or before the 15th of this month. That's easy – I'm really looking forward to that part of this. They're awesome.
I stand by what I wrote in my "A Strategy For Winning" book and have said many times at my speaking engagements: Everyone can increase his or her creativity. No doubt about it. Some people think creativity means bringing something into existence that never existed before. Well, God did that, but for humans, true creativity involves taking an idea, an object, a method, a group of people – something that's been around for a while – and standing back, looking at it with a different perspective and giving it a different twist.
I write this from a hotel by Disney World, which is similar to Dollywood with an extra billion or so dollars thrown in. I went into a Norwegian stave church such as the old wooden churches I saw in Norway.
Last year, I wrote about our experience at our first UT Violin Festival. Before I give you the scoop on this year's festival, let's talk money. A professional violin lesson, which lasts 30 minutes, costs $35 to $50. The festival offers 12 hours of seminars and workshops, over two days, as well as two concerts with world-class instrumentalists. It's all for the bargain price of $40.
On my Facebook feed, the excitement began building days in advance.
Those of you who read my Valentine’s Day column about a month ago know I am engaged. Space constraints kept me from mentioning a very important part of the situation: my fiancée has four children who will be moving in as well and, I suppose, will expect to be fed.
Recently I've been enjoying the new AMC television show "Better Call Saul." It's a spinoff of AMC's successful show "Breaking Bad," which centered on a high school teacher turned drug dealer.