I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Trust Issues

So, I'm sitting in a Panera Bread restaurant yesterday to do a little writing and suddenly I needed to use the restroom. (I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I had four cups of iced tea while working on my latest writing assignment.) That's when I was faced with the old dilemma—do I trust the guy next to me and ask him to watch my laptop and all the rest of my stuff or do I just hurry to the bathroom, hoping that my laptop will still be there when I get back?

Have you ever wondered why we trust the "guy next to us" in such circumstances when we don't trust anybody else? For the record, I don't think it's a good idea to trust strangers who are either next to us or across the room from us in such circumstances. People are people—flawed and often choosing to do the wrong thing when faced with temptation. But sometimes you just have to. I certainly wasn't going to pack up all my stuff (computer, file folders, paperwork, sunglass, etc.) each time I needed to use the restroom. Yeah, I used it more than once. I was there for four hours doing what I call BIC (butt in chair) time. Sometimes, when writing assignments back up on me, I force myself to sit and write until I've finished the article or chapter I'm working on (stopping only for the occasional restroom break). Yesterday was one of those days.

I opted to not ask anybody to watch my stuff and just hoped that it would be there when I got back. Thankfully, each time I did come back, all my stuff was there, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I think that coffee shops/restaurants need to hire security guards to watch stuff in circumstances like this. Or maybe they could install video monitors in the bathrooms so people in my predicament could watch their belongings while in the restroom. Okay, that's a bit much, but it would be nice.

Midweek Quotes

Five quotes from G.K. Chesterton:

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."

"If there were no God, there would be no Atheists."

"The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost."

"I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees."

"The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Do you ever feel like almost every interaction you have with new people is part of some big marketing strategy? I never used to, but that's changing. Everything seems to be marketing related these days. Not only did we have a day called Black Friday last week—something I had never heard of until this year, but now we have Cyber Monday—the day when all of the online Christmas shoppers are supposed to be hunting for the best deals online. It's almost unbelievable how easy it is for a marketer to come up with such terms and then watch it trickle down into the culture.

In addition to the new Christmas shopping terms, our computers are flooded with spyware and cookies—mostly so advertisers can snoop on us to figure out how to target us with specific ads that we might be interested in. Every time we use a membership card at bookstores, department stores, or grocery stores, our buying habits are stored in databases and used to target us with advertising. When we fill out financial forms, we list our birthdays and our banks or financial advisors send us birthday cards—done with the intention of making us think they care enough to remember such a thing, when in reality, it's another marketing tool. When we trade business cards at trade shows with prospective clients, it inevitably leads to more junk e-mail and faxes asking us to buy things we have no interest in buying.

It's enough to make a person paranoid. But what's the old saying? Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Do you have a favorite Christmas movie that you watch every year? Mine is Serendipity—the syrupy love story starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. I went to see it when it was in the theaters in 2001 and I just adored it. Here's a brief synopsis from amazon.com:

"Jonathan Trager and Sara Thomas met while shopping for gloves in New York. Though buying for their respective lovers, the magic was right and a night of Christmas shopping turned into romance. Jon wanted to explore things further but Sara wasn't sure their love was meant to be. They decided to test fate by splitting up and seeing if destiny brought them back together...Many years later, having lost each other that night, both are engaged to be married. Still, neither can shake the need to give fate one last chance to reunite them. Jon enlists the help of his best man to track down the girl he can't forget starting at the store where they met. Sara asks her new age musician fiance for a break before the wedding and, with her best friend in tow, flies from California to New York hoping destiny will bring her soul mate back. Near-misses and classic Shakespearean confusion bring the two close to meeting a number of times but fate will have the final word on whether it was meant to be."

I don't necessarily believe in the soul mate theory, but I love the idea of two people in love not giving up on one another. In an age where people walk away from love too easily, this message is refreshing.

I love the fact that Jon and Sara acted when they couldn't stop thinking about each other. After they couldn't find each other after their initial meeting, they both eventually moved on with their lives, but when they both came to the conclusion that they may have missed the opportunity of a lifetime, they took risks to try to find each other. Life is nothing without risk.

And of course, being the chick-flick lover that I am, I love the fact that they find each other in the end. I love the last scene where Jon is lying on the pond of ice in which he skated with Sara all those years ago on that magical night they met. As he lies flat on his back looking up into the falling snow, with one of the gloves in his pocket that he and Sara split up and gave to each other, he's pondering what might have been when he sees a matching glove fall from the sky. He pulls out the other glove from his coat and realizes that Sara is near. My stomach flips every time I see this scene.

Surely there are more traditional Christmas movies available, but this one is the one I pop into my DVD player every year about this time. And I can't wait to do it again this year.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

Blog prompt Friday: Are you participating in "Black Friday?"

I've never even heard the term until a few days ago, but once I understood that it meant standing in line at Wal-Mart before 5:00 am waiting for the doors to open on the day after Thanksgiving, then the answer couldn't have been a more definitive NO. I'm not in touch with my shopping side. In fact, I'm pretty sure I don't even have one.

I don't despise Christmas shopping, but the idea of battling large groups of people to get a head start on my list doesn't make a bit of sense to me. I'm sure there are lots of great deals today. My Friday newspaper, stuffed to the breaking point with shopping ads, can attest to the many great deals. But great deals exist nearly every day, don't they? So, why not start shopping on the day before Thanksgiving? Or the weekend before—if you really want to get started early?

I went online yesterday and bought more than half of my gifts. I'll pick up the others as I go about my daily routines over the next few weeks. I love the convenience of online shopping, but I'll admit that something about the depersonalization bugs me a little. By not interacting with store clerks or fellow shoppers, I'm certainly missing some great opportunities for old fashioned community. But I can't help but wonder if this particular day might be the worst time to try to find such a thing in a department store or strip mall.

Instead, I think I'll seek some community around the television set this afternoon with some friends while we watch a little football, eat a few chips, and talk about our plans for the coming days and weeks.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to God for his unending mercy and grace, for His many provisions, for answered prayers, and even for the times He brings correction into our lives.

While Thanksgiving is all of this, it's also a time of many other things. A time for college students to launch out and maybe start their own traditions as they spend their first Thanksgiving hundreds or thousands of miles from the place they've always called home. It's about newly married couples or single adults who are seeking to do the same. These are exciting and scary times for people at this stage of life and I'm hoping that many of them find happiness today.

But I'll be honest, I'm thinking much more about the man I know who lost his wife a few months ago and how he's about to endure Thanksgiving without her for the first time in several decades. He's planning to spend Thanksgiving with friends, but you just know that his heart is going to be breaking as he thinks about the way his wife used to make the turkey and all the trimmings. Or the way she used to set the table. Or the way she used to call everyone to dinner at a certain time—the same time she did every year. Or the plates she used at Thanksgiving. Or the way she handed him the carving knife. Or the smile on her face at the end of the night when everybody took home gobs of leftovers. Or countless other things that he'll never get to hear or experience again.

I'm thinking about my uncle who also lost his wife a few months ago who has never cooked a day in his life (thankfully his daughters are rallying around him and doing what needs to be done). Nobody expected his wife to "go" first. She was always going to there—at every Thanksgiving, at every Christmas, and for all the "mundane" days in between. She would be there to make sure he took his medicine, got to the doctor, could hear the telephone (he has hearing problems), had someone to pray with each morning, and dozens of other things that had become part of their routine. But she did go first and now my uncle is left to try to pick up the pieces. He'll be surrounded by family today, but none of them will be his wife.

I'm thinking about the singles, the divorced, the elderly, and the sick who don't have anybody to share the holiday with. They are going to be utterly alone and consequently, they don't have any delusions of grandeur. They've been dreading this holiday and now it is here.

The two men who lost their wives have adult sons and daughters who are about to spend their first Thanksgiving without their mothers. They are going to try to appear to be strong for the fathers, but their fathers will know the truth. Everybody will eat their turkey, and watch a little football, but things will never be the same.

Everybody is in transition and not every smile you see today will be real. When you do see a real smile, then rejoice with those who rejoice. When you see a fake smile, don't forget to mourn with those who mourn.

In the end, I don't think anybody who is hurting is really looking for "answers" about how to endure a difficult holiday without dear loved ones. What they really want are other dear loved ones to surround them and to simply understand that they are hurting. And I'm guessing that they would be extremely thankful if that happened. But I'm also praying that they, along with those will be spending the day completely alone, will lean in close to a God who knows what it feels like to lose a Loved one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Quotes

"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. –H. U. Westermayer

"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!" –Henry Ward Beecher

"Gratitude ... goes beyond the 'mine' and 'thine' and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy." –Henri J. M. Nouwen

"Thanksgiving like contentment is a learned attribute. The person who hasn't learned to be content we will not be thankful for he lives with the delusion he deserves more or something better." –Robert Flatt

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." –I Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

New Subscription Service

I recently changed subscription services to FeedBlitz and it has been outstanding. If you are interested in receiving e-mail updates whenever Little Nuances is updated, you can subscribe on the right hand side of the page. You'll receive an e-mail with the entire post—complete with pictures (if I've included any in the post). It's a great way to keep up without having to keep checking the site for new posts. I've also added the RSS feed for those of you who use aggregators. You can find the feed under "Other Stuff" on the right side of the page.

Sick Leave

I haven't been sick for a long time, but some sort of virus hit me on Sunday morning and with the exception of a brief reprieve yesterday, I've been down for the count. I've had more sleep in the past three days than I can ever remember. I needed to get caught up on my sleep though. I just wish it didn't take an illness to cause me to slow down long enough to get caught up.

It's tough to make margin in your life when you run your own business and are continually in search of your next paycheck. Days off just don't happen because you don't get paid. And sick days—well, sometimes you just have to take the day off when you can't function. That's what I'm doing today. But, self-employed people don't have sick leave benefits, so we have to hope that sick days are far and few between.

Since I am out of commission for the day, I think it's time to make a little soup and pop in the second season of Alf I bought on DVD not long ago. Yes, I'm an Alf fan. I love that little critter and now that full season DVDs are produced, I get to relive the whole series again. I just finished season one a few nights ago. I have to mute the parts where he's trying to eat Lucky the cat though. Midnight wouldn't appreciate that very much.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Man and His Cat

Midnight (my cat) has been with me since 1990. She's been with me during my long hair days, during deaths in the family, during my ruptured Achilles tendon recovery, during 15 Thanksgivings, and Christmases, and birthdays. The bond we have is quite amazing. She can read me so well—she knows when I'm about to leave before I ever pick up my keys or slip on my coat. She starts to meow and then jumps on the futon for a friendly fight—after which I raise her paw in victory. That's right. She's undefeated.

She usually beats me to bed at night. I'll pick her up, pet her for a couple of minutes, and then set her down before climbing into bed. She gives me a couple of minutes to get comfortable, and then she jumps back on the bed. I sleep on my stomach and for years, she's expected me to part my legs enough so that she can fit in between them. So she sleeps on top of the covers and boroughs her way down for the night.

In the morning, she follows me into the bathroom and before I jump into the shower, she exits and heads back to bed. When I fire up the coffee pot after my shower, she wanders in and sits patiently by her food bowl. I fill it up and she chows down. Then, I head to my home office and she heads back to bed again where she stays most of the morning.

After I've eaten lunch, I usually read for an hour. She pokes her head out from the covers (she can see my sitting in my recliner from the bed) and then she stretches, hops off the bed and into my lap—where again, she expects me to have my legs far enough apart for her to curl up. She doesn't even move while I'm reading, but somehow she senses the moment I finish and even before I put the book down, she gives a modified meow (kind of a shorter version than normal with a little purr thrown in) and that's when she expects me to put the recliner back so she can crawl up on me and get some extra attention. Of course, I'm glad to do it.

As soon as we're finished, she's heads back to bed until about 4:30 pm. That's when she starts poking her head into my office wondering when I'm going to be done for the day. If I work too late for her liking, she jumps on my desk and starts rubbing against my shoulders and then she actually gets in between me and the computer. Some days, when deadlines are looming, I'll pet her for a few minutes, and then explain that I'm going to be working for a while longer. She jumps down and waits in my recliner until I come out of the office.

And so it goes. We have this whole routine worked out and we work together without ever thinking about it. The average outsider would either find it adorable or crazy. I just find it part of my normal routine, and I like it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection

I just finished reading the chapter about Benjamin Franklin in John Eidsmoe's excellent book called Christianity and the Constitution. According to Eidsmoe, Franklin grew up in a Calvinist environment, but strayed from that teaching during his teen years after he was exposed to deism. In adulthood, Franklin seemed to struggle as he saw the positive benefits of orthodox Christianity on society while at the same time holding that deism, "tho' it might be true, was not very useful."

Eidsmoe makes this remark about Franklin's conclusion: "In other words, Christianity provided incentives for men to live moral lives, with its promises of eternal rewards and punishments, and deism did not. Franklin preferred that men live by Christianity even though it be objectively false, than by deism even thought it be objectively true."

So, Franklin came up with his own "Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection," and oddly, you'd be hard pressed to find one of his 13 points to be unbiblical. Here is his plan, which can also be found here:

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

6. Industry: Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation: Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

These weren't just platitudes he wrote down once and then ignored. He resolved to spend a week in self-evaluation on each point—jotting down his observations on a daily basis. At the end of the 13 weeks, he came to this conclusion:

"I was surpris'd to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish…But on the whole, tho' I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and happier man…"

Self-examination always leads to what Franklin concluded. We are far fuller of faults than we ever imagined, and no matter how hard we try to attain perfection, we fall short. But to his credit, that didn't stop him from trying and in doing so, he found happiness. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any evidence that his conclusions drove him to the Savior.

I did a little self-examination while I was reading this portion of the book, but I've certainly never set aside as much time as Franklin did and I wonder how many other people—Christian or not—have taken the time to do so. It would certainly be a good exercise.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Midweek Quotes

Jan Karon is one of my favorite authors. In honor of her newest and last release, Light from Heaven, in her Mitford Series, I'm going to use some of Father Tim's (the main character in the books) favorite quotes for the Midweek Quotes post this week. These quotes come from a book called Patches of Godlight, also written by Jan Karon:

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble." –Helen Keller

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." –Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece—by thought, choice, courage, and determination." –H. Jackson Browne

"A little library, growing every year, is an honorable part of a man's history. It is a man's duty to have books." –Henry Ward Beecher

"If you want to know your true opinion of someone, watch the effect produced in you by the first sight of a letter from him." –Schopenhauer

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


I'm still spending a little time each day cleaning out my basement. I opened an unmarked box a couple of days ago and found remnants of the 1980's. For some reason, I'd saved my old cowboy boots. What do cowboy boots and the 1980's have in common? They were the official shoe/boot of those who were into heavy metal.

Not counting that brief period in my childhood in which I wore cowboy boots (the pictures don't lie), I had never worn cowboy boots, and I haven't since those glorious metal days. So, how ironic is it that I conformed to the dress code (and yes, I had long hair too) of a group that hated the idea of conformity and even sang against it (remember Van Halen's Sucker in a Three Piece, or Cinderella's Gypsy Road, or Skid Row's Youth Gone Wild?) while at the same time having its own code of conformity?

Groups conform—not to society, but to each other. And maybe that's the argument that self-proclaimed non-conformists would use if somebody pointed out their inconsistency. But conformity is conformity, isn't it?

I remember going for an office job interview during my heavy metal days. I put on a suit—which looks a little funny on a guy with long hair with bleached tips, but hey, office interviews require proper business attire. The guy who interviewed me seemed to like my skills and even appeared to be on the verge of hiring me, but I wanted him to understand that I would not cut my hair for a job. So I told him that.

And I went a little further by saying that I was a non-conformist, but in a good way. I wanted him to know that I didn't go along with crowds (read: misfit employees) and that I would be a loyal employee—I just wouldn't cut my hair. That was the deal I laid on the table. He passed.

I don't know how I would have reacted if he had pointed out that I had conformed by dressing in a suit for his job interview. And I don't know what I would have said if he had asked me, "But aren't you conforming to the group of people you hang out—most of whom probably have long hair?" I probably would growled about him being judgmental and then ended the interview.

The funny thing is—now I'm watching the generation behind me, with their low-riders, and crooked baseball caps who are dressing the same way while at the same time demanding that they are just expressing their individuality. If blogs are still around in 15 years, I'm guessing that you'll be seeing similar posts to this one from their perspective. Somebody will open a box, pull out several pair of jeans void of a waist band, and a light bulb will go off.

Well, I told you that you'd probably be seeing more posts about my basement cleaning. So many memories are packed away in those boxes that it's impossible to not stop once in a while, reflect about days that are long since gone, and then pull up the trash can and start dumping stuff that will never be used again—include cowboy boots.

Monday, November 14, 2005

7th Heaven Cancelled

I started watching 7th Heaven at the beginning of its second season and have continued watching it all the way into this season—the tenth. Over the weekend, the WB Network announced that this will be the final season for the series. I think it was a good call.

The shows seems to be drifting in recent seasons and I almost stopped watching it two seasons ago when Annie became psychotic. Then, I almost stopped watching it last season when Lucy overreacted about nearly everything. And this season, we've been introduced to one new character after another—including one psychotic, overreacting, girlfriend—that Simon is considering marrying. Noticing a pattern here?

The show has bothered me for other reasons throughout the years—the strong desire to create episodes that deal with hot issues of the day that often seem a bit forced, the left leaning slant, and for a family that purports to be Christian, they often are governed by feelings, emotions, pop culture and almost anything except the scriptures.

But the show also has major positives as well. Eric, the father of the family and a pastor, hasn't been portrayed as a buffoon—a rarity these days. Instead he's been a strong, steady influence on his family. He's been willing to admit his mistakes and during one season he even struggled with his faith and it seemed quite genuine.

Most seasons, Annie, the mother of the family, was also a steady influence in the family. Matt, their oldest son, has continued to help his siblings whenever possible. And I liked the way the show portrayed the Camden children as going astray sometimes, but then learning their lesson and correcting their actions. And it was the longest running family drama in television history. 7th Heaven lasted longer than the Walton's and Little House on the Prairie and proved that a market still exists for family television.

Unfortunately, it seems like the writers ran out of good material about two seasons ago and it just feels like the show has runs its course. I was glad to be along for the ride—even though it was a little bumpy at times.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Savoring the Little Things

Blog prompt Friday: What do you do to remember and savor the little things in life?

I don't have the greatest memory when it comes to the little things in life and that highly frustrates me. For some reason, I can remember "big" events—those life altering moments, but, as you can probably tell by the name of this blog, I'm a big believer that the little things of life have just as much power to be life altering. But often I feel like those little things come and go without ever setting up residence in my brain or in my heart, and therefore, I either miss them and all their wonderful nuances or I only experience the pleasures they bring once and then they are gone.

I've done almost everything I can imagine to preserve such moments. I've started journals and then stopped—mostly because I was capturing so much information that it was becoming a burden. I've started prayer journals and then I stopped—mostly because I was writing the same things over and over, so I hardly saw the point. Probably not the most spiritual thing to admit, but it's the truth. I've started, and continued a quote book, and I use many of those quotes here at Little Nuances quite often. So, there's something to capturing the essence of a moment that intrigues me because I don't want to spend my life journaling a ton of details.

While I was in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago to teach at a writer's conference, I met up with friend named John Thurman. I first met John at the 2003 version of that same conference and we have become friends. As we hung out at the conference a couple of weeks, John kept pulling out a little leather bound notebook in which he recorded things he wants to remember. He had quotes, and practical tips, and other miscellaneous stuff. That jumpstarted my mind.

After I got home, I started thinking about carrying my own little notebook. I figured I'd call it my Little Nuances notebook and I use it to jot down any little thing that moves me—quotes, advice, a new idea for a book or article, prayers, or anything else that I want to experience more than once. And of course, it'll lead to tons of material for this blog—if you aren't already sick of me.

So, I stopped by Borders last night and picked up a Moleskin notebook. After I got home, I checked out the blogs I normally read each day, and I came across this post by Sheila O'Malley. In it she said something that became my first entry in my Little Nuances notebook: "I'm a big believer in pheromones. I am also a big believer in the fact that pheromones are, essentially, mysterious. And have to do with a mixture of body chemistry, past experiences, and plain old taste."

I've never heard of the word "pheromones," so I looked it up. Here's the definition: "A chemical substance secreted externally by some animals (especially insects) that influences the physiology or behavior of other animals of the same species."

I liked Sheila's post not only because it sent me to the dictionary—that's always a good thing, but because she went deeper in explaining "chemistry" between a man and a woman than I've ever heard before. I definitely want to remember this—and now I'll be able to because it's safely recorded.

Will I keep up with my new notebook? I have no idea. I start a lot of things that sound like a good idea at the time—only to chuck it a week or two later. I don't hold on to things that don't work for long. I just move on to something else. But I'm kind of hoping that this isn't one of those projects because it would be neat to look back on a pile of notebooks one day and have access to many of the little moments that shaped my life.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

On History

As an avid collector of quotes, I often run across quotes from people with whom I disagree. Usually, I'll just pass over the quote and not give it a second thought, but I saw one in my newspaper yesterday, on the final page, that I couldn't resist commenting about.

Here's the quote: "History is simply a piece of paper covered with print; the main thing is still to make history, not to write it." – Otto von Bismarck, German statesman (1815-1898).

I don't have the context of these remarks, so it's hard to know for certain whether von Bismarck was making a blanket statement about all of history or whether he was exaggerating to make about point about the necessity of doing the "main thing" to which we are called. In either case, I couldn't disagree with him more.

History is not simply a piece of paper covered with print. Every action (or non action) has a cause and effect. The sacrifices or indulgences of one generation directly influence the next. That is true whether or not history is accurately recorded, but the current generation is absolutely indebted to the next to accurately depict the historical events of their lifetime.

Yes, man is sinful and continually tempted to write history in such a fashion that it favors himself, or at least soften the blows when he has gone astray. But to impersonalize history as simply being words on a page does a disservice to the art of capturing history.

And while the "main thing is…to make history" for some people, the main thing for others is to record history. Not everybody is destined to "make history" and if nobody took the time to write it, then, ironically, we wouldn't even be having this discussion because von Bismarck's quote wouldn't have been preserved for the ages. His words would have died with him.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

New Subscription Box

If you are enjoying Little Nuances and would like to be notified once a day after the blog has been updated with new content, then I've added a subscription box on the right side of the page. Simply enter your e-mail address to begin receiving updates. Of course, I will never sell your e-mail address or use your e-mail address for any other reason than you intended. Thanks for your interest!

Midweek Quotes

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'" – Erma Bombeck

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." – Elwyn Brooks White

 "I just don't want to die without a few scars." – Chuck Palahniuk

"Life becomes precious and more special to us when we look for the little everyday miracles and get excited about the privileges of simply being human." – Tim Hansel

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

One Little Smell

This past weekend I was reminded of the power of senses. The building in which my church meets is under construction. As I was headed for the door after the service, a familiar odor filled my nostrils, so I stopped. It was the smell of drywall—somewhat putrid, and frankly, it smells a little like body odor.

The odor transported me back in time by 27 years—back when I worked with my Dad, who was a painter, during the summer months. He usually painted new buildings. I can remember once such building—a brand new nursing home. I didn't think we'd ever finish painting it. It was huge! Of course, I was 12 years old at the time, so my perspective may have been a little off.

Dad knew it was going to take a while, and since it was about 60 miles from our hometown, he bought a used trailer and hauled it to the work site and we called it home for the entire summer—coming home only on the weekends.

Anyway, I can distinctly remember walking into a room at the nursing home one day as I was about to paint it and being overwhelmed by the smell of fresh drywall. My Dad often advocated using surgical masks when using the spray gun and I was usually glad to oblige since the smell was so bad.

I haven't experienced that smell in the 27 years since. But I recognized it instantly on Sunday at church and it magically transported me back in time. It was a time that I will never forget.

As a 12 year old boy, I was thrilled to not be forced into taking showers. Where was I going to take one? The trailer didn't have one and the nursing home facility wasn't functional yet. So, I waited until I got home on the weekends, at which point Mom pointed me to the bathtub shortly after I walked through the door.  

Dad and I didn't have a television in the trailer, but we had a radio. I can still remember listening to the 1979 baseball All-Star game with him. Lee Mazzilli broke my heart and led the National League to a victory over the American League (my team of choice since my beloved KC Royals are in that league).

In addition to the radio, we had cards. Dad taught my how to play Gin Rummy and we'd played that game for hours ever night. In between hands, we had normal father-son conversations. He wanted to know how I was doing in sports and of course he wanted to know whether I had any girlfriends. We were content and completely at ease.

Funny how such memories can spring back to life by just one little smell.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Latest Read

With all of my traveling and speaking engagements in recent weeks, and with all of my writing assignments, my reading time has diminished greatly. I always get a little cranky when I don't read for a couple of days. I feel like I'm not exercising my mind. Yeah, I know a person can find other ways to do it, but for me, reading is the best way.

Several weeks ago, I started reading a book called Christianity and the Constitution written by John Eidsmoe. I haven't made a lot of progress (I'm about 125 pages into it), but so far it's been excellent. In the first chapter, Eidsmoe makes an interesting statement:

"The framers of the American Constitution based their political concepts on the tried and tested ideas of the past. These men were intelligent, well-educated, and widely read. They combined the best ideas they read about to establish a government for the United States.

"Therefore, it is appropriate to ask: What influenced the founders of this nation? Which books did they read? Which thinkers did they respect? To which theological, philosophical, and political systems did they subscribe?"

I like his premise. We're all products of what we've been taught and what we choose to believe. Now, I'm hoping to set some time aside over the next week to read his conclusions.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Cheetah Chicks

As I've mentioned a couple of times recently, I was on staff at the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference a little over a week ago in New Mexico. I met a lot of new people while I was there. Tonya Ruiz and Nancy Anderson were two such people. They run a blog called Cheetah Chicks and they have posted a picture of the three of us together at the conference. Check out their blog if you get a chance.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Purpose and Legacy

Blog Prompt Friday: What do you sense you're supposed to do before your life is over?

Most people probably have a burning desire for one particular project or activity that they feel like they were put on earth to accomplish. Maybe it's to write a novel, or to be a great parent, or to start a business, or to be a missionary. While I'm passionate about writing fiction and would love to have a novel published, I don't sense that it's the primary goal of my life that needs to be accomplished before my life is over.

Instead, I sense that I'm supposed to do a lot of little things well. To be a son who honors his parents. To be an uncle who is available for his nieces. To be a brother who somehow enriches the lives of his siblings. To be a friend who puts the needs of his friends ahead of his own. To be a church member who is willing to adhere to all of the "one anothers" that can be found throughout scripture. And to be a productive member of society.  

Have I succeeded? I doubt it. If you asked each one of these groups of people, they'd probably tell you that I've failed them at some point—probably when I was busy trying to live out my own desires and dreams—like working on my novels to the detriment of these relationships.

Everybody is conscious of his or her legacy. We all want to be remembered for certain things. But, the older I get, the less convinced I am that legacies are built when people are consciously focused on their legacy. Just think about the specifics of your own family. If you had to name your grandparent's legacy, what would it be? Their faithfulness to keep the family together in spite of the many rifts? Their insistence that you spent Christmas together? Their steadfastness in watching and training grandchildren? Their retelling of family stories fifteen hundred times—so much so, that you'll never forget them? It's all of those things, isn't it? And many more.

I love the idea that one of my novels might be read many years after I'm gone. But the reality is, most novels end up in the bargain bin a few years after they are published, and unless a novel does really well, it fades into the oblivion of backlists or goes out of print rather quickly. And even if I have an entire closet full of them with the hopes that my current and future family members will read them after I'm gone, that's just not realistic. Closets often become the victims of spring cleaning. And the contents of full closets periodically are moved to full basements that are subject to mold, and water damage, and dust. And after a person dies, many of those boxes are discarded without a second thought.

The more I think about what I'm supposed to do before my life is over, the less I want those particular actions to be contained in a box that may or may not ever be opened by another person. That won't stop me from attempting to get novels published, but hopefully it'll help me to lay that work aside when I have the chance to meet the needs of people in my life.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Loyalty and Naivety

I used to be loyal and a tad bit naïve when it came to authors and musical artists. When I experienced a new author or musical artist that moved me, I would often go out and get everything he or she had done up until that point, and when his or her new material came out, I'd pick that up as well.

Then something changed. If I had to try to pinpoint when it happened I'd say it was about 10 years ago when I was into a musical group called White Cross. They are a Christian group and I loved their sound—a 1980's heavy metal sound without all the trashy lyrics. Then, the grunge movement hit and White Cross changed their sound to match the new sound of the day. I had no idea they had done so when I purchased one of their CDs and when I popped it in to my CD player, it was awful. Probably because I couldn't stand grunge (still can't), but I cut them some slack and purchased their next CD, which was equally as bad. And now I have no idea whether they are even still together or not. They lost me.

I'm not against artists of any sort experimenting or doing something different. I'm sure that White Cross had good intentions. And maybe they were just tired of playing the same style of music. I don't know for sure. That's where my naivety came into play. I actually believed that if a group was able to produce material at any given moment that spoke to my soul, then they would always continue to do so. Obviously, that isn't the case.

I've had similar experiences with authors. Not that they changed their voice so much as they branched out into areas that didn't interest me. Several years ago, I concluded that I'm not really a fan of particular authors or musical artists, but instead, I'm a fan of what some authors and musical artists produce at any given moment. Exceptions do exist, but they are getting fewer. And while the side of me that likes the feeling of being loyal argues a little, I'm finding more new authors and musical artists who interest and challenge me since I'm not so quick to purchase everything a particular author or musical artist produces.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Midweek Quotes

"You can measure a man by the opposition it takes to discourage him." – Robert C. Savage

"Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others." – Robert Louis Stevenson

"In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." – Anonymous  

"The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It's the age-old struggle—the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other." – Douglas MacArthur

"For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, 'It might have been.'" – John Greenleaf Whittier

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Reformation Day

Yesterday was one of my favorite holidays. No, not Halloween. Reformation Day—the celebration of a movement that started when a courageous monk named Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. He despised the selling of indulgences (the exchange of a piece of paper for the right price that supposedly forgave sins) and while he had worked within the Roman Catholic system to see the practice ended, he finally reached his breaking point.

Against the wishes of corrupt leaders, he translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into German so the common man could read and understand the Bible for himself—and no longer be subject to leaders who would mislead him. And in the process, the gospel became clear to the masses as they read passages in their own language like the one that influenced Martin Luther so profoundly:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." –Romans 1:16-17 (ESV)

Luther's quest to see the church reformed by the true gospel (void of indulgences), coupled with the invention of Johannes Gutenberg—the printing press, sparked what came to be known as the Reformation and the world has never been the same since.


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