Image: gordonplant


I saw in someone’s blog today that they had read three books by simply setting aside 15 minutes with a timer each morning to read. Coupled with Elizabeth Gilbert’s admonition to curiosity in Big Magic, I realized I , too had reconnected with reading over the past couple of months.

I’ve always been reader. Well, let me clarify: I’ve always wanted people to think I was a reader. A voracious one. But truth be told, I’ve been in love with the idea of reading more than the reading itself. Kind of like writing. But that’s another story for another dark and early Sunday.

If I’ve cultivated a new appreciation for reading in the time I have, how much more could I read and enjoy if I really put my mind to it? For instance, if what’s her name could read three books by committing to just 15 minutes, could I do that, too?

What would I read? What am I curious about? What would nourish my mind and my soul?

There would be the Bible, of course. True confession time: I haven’t really read it beyond a snippet or two here and there for last-minute sermon prep in a long time. What if I invested just 15 minutes in reading the scripture? Surely the One Year Bible plan would facilitate that. And who knows where that might lead?

What if I added another 15 minutes of general interest reading to that? You know, whatever I happen to be curious about at the time. Maybe it’s making progress on some gigantic masterpiece like Tolkien. Maybe it’s something encouraging, challenging like Big Magic. Maybe it’s a feel good memoir like Ben and Erin Napier. Maybe it’s one of the hundreds of titles languishing in my Amazon Wish List. Maybe it’s one of the countless “to be read” titles that I never got around to reading. 

Fifteen minutes. Plus fifteen more. One half hour to rekindle a love for something that I’ve enjoyed, and benefited from forever.

Making Something…

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

The only things I’ve ever made in my life are messes and excuses. I want to make something.

Some noise.


An impact.

A difference.


A living. And a life.



A racket.

A scene.

A mark.

A date.

A plan.

Someone happy.







Home Town…

We don’t watch a lot of TV at our house. Oh, sure…it’s almost always on. But very seldom do we sit and watch a show all the way through. There are exceptions.

For instance, somehow I got hooked on Game of Thrones, binge-watched the first two seasons over a weekend, and set a reminder for Sunday nights until Jon Snow took out the Mother of Dragons in season 8. (I was pulling for Arya to sit on the Iron Throne).

Then there’s Moonshiners, my guilty pleasure show. I’m a hopelessly uncool teetotaling Baptist pastor in one of my lives, but the adventures of Mark, Digger, Tickle, and Tim, and the misadventures of Josh fill up my Tuesday evenings like nothing else.

And that brings me to Home Town. I discovered Ben and Erin Napier as I rode the recumbent bike at our local YMCA.

Now, most of the time, those remodeling/flipping shows don’t do a whole lot for me. I mean…he’s 26, and drives part-time for Uber, and she’s 24 and works at a local day care, and their total budget is $550,000? OK, then.

But there’s something about Ben and Erin, and their efforts to revitalize the houses in their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. Why do I love these two and their show so much that I’ve already binged every available episode?

I like them because…

  • They could be my kids. My son and his wife are around the same age as the Napiers.
  • They seem like real people. I know everything you see on TV is not necessarily the way things are in real life. I get it. Usually “reality TV” is the furthest thing from reality itself. But Ben and Erin seem like they are genuinely good down-to-earth folks who love what they do and where they live.
  • They are immensely creative and talented. I envy them. They are really good at what they do, and it seems they are always interested in getting better. I had artistic and mechanical bypasses at birth, so when I see artists and craftsmen pour their lives into beauty and such, it does my heart a lot of good.
  • They appear to love people and have servant hearts. On top of their restoration work, they are  actively seeking to support the folks affected by this week’s storms.
  • They look to be in love with each other. Their family life is a model for others.
  • They’re local church folks.
  • They have a great sense of style.
  • They work really hard.
  • They’re cheerleaders for Mississippi and Laurel.
  • They tell bad jokes. And often their teasing and humorous interaction makes the episode.
  • They’re Southern and unashamed! The big hook for me when I first watched their show was the fact that I didn’t need subtitles to understand them. They talk like I talk. And that makes my heart smile out loud!

There’s a lot about Ben and Erin and Home Town that makes me a fan. I don’t see myself ever moving to Mississippi, but if I ever do, I’d like to meet them, buy them a cup of coffee or dinner, and get to know them in real life.

Thanks, y’all for helping many of us adopt Laurel as our hometown!



I Hate the Gym…

From earlier this week:

Dear ultra-swanky home gym (AKA The Garage): I’m going to stop pretending that I even like you. I don’t. And that’s no exaggeration.

I. Just. Don’t.

In fact, it’s been about 14 years since I first met you and your companion, the Y. And you know what? Even though the first few years were really, really good, to be honest, I’m still waiting after all those years for those mythical endorphins to kick in.

I. Hate. Your. Guts.

But here’s the thing today: As much as I despise even the thought of you, if I don’t come see you on a more regular basis, I’m going to die, and that real soon. I mean I’m going to die anyway one day, but I’d rather it not be today or this month or this year. Now I may get hit by a bus or some such. But the parts I do have control over, I need to start having control over them again.

So here we are, Monday morning at the ultra-swanky home gym (AKA The Garage). And you will not beat me today.


Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

It’s all about the details. The little things matter.

Is the colon aligned vertically when representing time? Or is it sitting on the baseline in the default position? Did you even notice? Did you change it? What about the dash between times? Did insert the n-dash or just settle for the hyphen key and call it good? What about the kerning? Did you follow the style guide?

Did you take the time to make the shadows realistic on the composite image? Or did you just duplicate the layer and position it somewhere in some sort of alignment? Did you think about where the light would actually hit? Did you make the shadow black instead of a gradient of grey-blue?

Did you check your spelling? Your punctuation? Did you leave the passive voice, or did you even think to re-read the copy?

Did you leave the piece of paper towel on the restroom floor? Did you send the thank-you note? Did you remember your customer’s name?

The details do matter. The little stuff does count. The little things do add up to big things. And if you do the little things consistently, it will become a habit. And the habit will become excellence in practice.


Image: “Needs, ” by Taber Andrew Bai

Random things I need, in no particular order…

  • I need to lose 60 pounds by Thanksgiving. That’s 30 weeks away from right now, and losing an average of 2 pound per week is doable.
  • I need to learn InDesign, Illustrator, and maybe QuarkXPress.
  • I need to decide on the new side gig at The Y. Or I need to quit.
  • I need to write consistently and well.
  • I need to save more money.
  • I need to set up a new credit account.
  • I need to call my Dad.
  • I need to get a more positive attitude.
  • I need to read something inspiring, informational, uplifting, etc.
  • I need to get outside more. OK, I need get outside. Period. Full stop.
  • I need to unplug more.
  • I need to take all the jobs seriously, “as for the Lord.”
  • I need to get the oil changed.
  • I need to lead better–from the first chair, and the second.
  • I need more confidence.
  • I need to do stuff that matters.
  • I need to live the rest of my life in a way that counts.
  • I need to read what the boss is reading.
  • I need to contribute something of real value.
  • I need to complete a leadership certification that I’ve put off for a year.
  • I need to sleep more and better.
  • I need to listen more carefully.
  • I need to be a better friend.
  • I need to find some friends.
  • I need to get a used trumpet or flugelhorn.
  • I need to get a hobby.
  • I need to get on top of my email.
  • I need to walk the walk.
  • I need to stop hiding behind the Cynical Old Coot mask. Or the Regular People Loving and Trusting Guy. Whichever one is the mask.
  • I need to do something for the sheer joy of doing it.
  • I need to exercise more.
  • I need to encourage my son.
  • I need to do something with my son.
  • I need to take my wife somewhere.
  • I need to go somewhere I’ve never been before.
  • I need a Bucket List.
  • I need to preach better sermons.
  • I need to sing out loud, just because.
  • I need to go the library.
  • I need to go the music building at a college, sit in the hall, and listen to students practice their craft.
  • I need to leave the campus before they call security on the old coot sitting in the hall listening to students practice their craft.
  • I need to practice my craft.
  • I need to discover what that craft is.
  • I need to stick up for myself.
  • I need to know my neighbors.
  • I need to pray more.
  • I need to read some poetry.
  • I need to go to the art gallery or museum and stand there in “the pose,” and contemplate beauty.
  • I need to do the same with nature.
  • I need to offer to mentor someone.
  • I need to start a podcast.
  • I need to blog more consistently.
  • I need five more words. One.
  • I need to go to bed.

To all a good night.

Random Thoughts on a Random Friday in April…

(Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash)

Fridays are for thinking, some deep thoughts, some not so deep, and some just random. Here are some of the random kind, in no particular order or with no rhyme or reason…

    • I may be the hardest working $14-an-hour designer-wannabe in the business.
    • The trouble with clients (members, patrons, customers, etc.) is that they don’t really know what they want, and when you produce what they say they want, they want you to change it.
    • But the trouble with clients (members, patrons, customers, etc.) notwithstanding, they do pay the $14 an hour, so there’s that.
    • Even though René Marie wrote and sang Shelter in Your Arms from a woman’s autobiographical perspective, it resonates with me on so many levels: evocative lyrics, simple, almost melancholy music, and it’s just about perfect for a random Friday afternoon in April.
    • Clarity trumps any awkwardness in the workplace almost every time. Somebody—one of the parties, or both—needs to acknowledge the lingering awkwardness and take the hard step of seeking clarity so that everyone else can get on with some sense of normalcy. Else the mission suffers.
    • Maybe a new gig will take care of that awkwardness by allowing affected people to start fresh somewhere else.
    • Speaking of new gigs, there may be one in your humble writer’s future. No definite job description, no concrete pay package, a few spotty details, but a possibility. Kind of scary for that aforementioned wanna-be.
    • Austin Kleon’s 33 Thoughts on Reading. He first published this list in 2014, but they are still helpful today.
    • And while you’re over there at Austin Kleon’s place, you should also check out his writing advice for artists and visual thinkers.
    • Each day (almost) this year, I’ve found the corresponding daily entries in Thoreau’s Journals, and I’m reading through almost in a “daily devotional” format. Finding some really powerful thoughts (some of the random Friday kind!) and some really mundane twittering. Altogether, I think I see the power of looking and seeing and thinking and recording in a systematic way what you observe. Flashes of greatness often emerge out of daily encounters.

About My Neighbor…

OK, boys and girls…here’s one for you…

Sometimes God has a sense of humor. And sometimes He uses that sense of humor to punch us right in the gut to get our attention. Today was one of those days.

We loaded up our church stuff in the car as usual this morning, and headed out of the driveway. About halfway between our house and the front of our neighborhood, we saw an olive-green car sitting at the bottom of the hill with its flashers on. As we approached to pass by, the driver was opening the door, and sitting with one leg out of the driver’s side.

My first thought was, “I wonder if she needs help?”

My next thoughts, in quick succession, were, “But I’ll be late to church,” “I don’t have time to stop now,” and “I sure hope she’s OK.”

When we got to the entrance of our neighborhood, I stopped at the stop sign. I had to wait for an approaching truck before turning left out on to the street. As the truck turned into my neighborhood, I thought, aloud to the lovely and gracious MrsCharphar, “I guess that guy will stop and help.” And with that, off we went to church.

Here’s where God’s sense of humor and the “ouch” came in.

Today’s message at The Crest was Part 6 of a seven-part series called Upside Down Stories. Throughout the series, we’ve been diving into some of Jesus’s parables. Today’s installment was from Luke 10, and dealt with…

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

…the Good Samaritan.

*Paraphrase of Luke 10: 3031…

“Jesus replied, ‘A woman was going down from her neighborhood to somewhere else in Cherokee County, and her car broke down, leaving her stranded at the bottom of a steep hill. Now by chance the pastor of Stonecrest Church was going down that road, and when he saw her he passed by on the other side.’”

Ouch, indeed.


What I’m Thinking About This Friday Afternoon…


Roberto Trombetta via Compfight

Fridays seem to be the worst and best of times lately.

The worst, because it seems the darkness feels heavier and the hope feels fainter.

But Fridays are often the best, because for whatever reason, my brain often kicks into another gear and I think about more stuff more deeply.  So here’s a rare installation of some the random thoughts that drip out on a typical Friday. Like today…

  • There are racist charlatans on all sides of the political and cultural spectrum, including some I’ve been proud to help along the way.
  • The best thing we can do as advocates for others is to model what we advocate, e.g., if we advocate for people’s health, maybe we should set a healthy example, etc. Extrapolate that out to whatever area of life in which you seek to influence others.
  • The problem with clients is that they really don’t know what they want. So when they tell you what they want – and you do that thing – then they change it. The other problem is that they’re paying the bill so they pretty much are entitled to change it. The other problem is sometimes, they aren’t paying very much on the bill, so it seems a lot like unreasonable expectations.
  • I really need some outdoor time. A good dose of a state park or a beach somewhere might be just what the doctor ordered. Or it might help me avoid the doctor’s inevitable order.
  • The mornings seem to be a blur these days, and I’m not sure why. There’s plenty of interaction with others, and there’s plenty to do. When quitting time comes, though, it appears that the time has whizzed by with no recognizable features.

Design Aesthetics…

The best part of waking up

Rux Hall via Compfight

Simple. Classic. Elegant. Clean. Understated. Timeless. Whimsical. Appropriate. Gracious.

Real Simple (If only there were a similar publication geared toward men).




Bodum. Chemex.

Bill’s khakis. Bass Weejuns (when they were made in Maine). Converse Jack Purcells. Sperry Top-Siders (when they were made in the USA).


Good pencils.

Audrey Hepburn. Grace Kelly. Coco Chanel. Mary Tyler Moore.

Cary Grant. Fred Astaire. Frank Sinatra.