So, it took a grand total of 10 whole days for me to fail at my commitment to blog every day for the rest of the year. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. Probably an unrealistic goal in the first place I suppose, but I’m one of those odd types that has to see the end, or at least set a goal that points toward the end, before I really start moving. (more…)
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I went to Chick-fil-a this morning with a couple of good friends of mine that I haven’t seen in while. We talked about guys who have hairy backs…specifically that little patch of hair sometimes found on the lower-back. It was deep conversation. Anyway, it reminded me of exactly how thankful I am that I am not one of those men. I’m sorry if you are. I mean, for real, I really am sorry. (more…)
I took Smith to school this morning. He’s my 2½-year-old. I had a chance to hang for a little while with his teachers because this morning was “Donuts with Daddy Day.” Clever alliteration, huh. KRISPY KREME Donuts with Daddy Day, to be specific. Except all the dumb little school kids ate every last one of the donuts before I had the chance to snag one! (Just kidding about the kids being dumb, by the way. I mean, they may be dumb, but I don’t know them well enough to know that for sure yet. Okay, so just kidding about the fact that they may be dumb as well. But not really). ANYWAY, I love my son. Like crazy. Partly because he’s crazy. He’s just all boy – climbs literally everything climbable (or not), loves to wrestle with me or our little white fluffy pansy dog, Otis…doesn’t make any difference to Smith as long as he gets to wrestle; he gets hurt ALL the time but he’s still really tough, shins always all bruised up, and he’s already been to the hospital twice for a busted lip and a busted chin. The thing is, we run our household with pretty much only three rules for our kids: 1. First time obedience, 2. Have a “Right Response”, 3. Be kind. And it’s a pretty beautiful thing to watch a kid as wild and as “all boy” as Smith is, respond to those things. (more…)
Man, what a breath of fresh air. I wouldn’t normally be saying that after a day of interviews. But today was different. The response to this Guitar Auction for Haiti Relief has been so overwhelming that my publicist decided a couple of days ago that she wanted to set up a few radio interviews with some of the stations around the country that had expressed interest in helping us spread the word. Long story short, I just finished my 20th interview of the day, not to mention the 5 that I had yesterday. (more…)
Here are some thoughts for the end of last year/beginning of this new year written a few weeks ago:
On some old advice, a “good word,” from my dear friend Allen Levi I’ve decided to set aside some time today to “reflect on the past year.” Now, per his instructions, this is not allowed to be a casual thing done in passing, but is intended to be more deliberate. For a few years running, Allen and I had an annual New Years Eve breakfast at the Pine Mountain Country Store near his home in Hamilton, GA. (more…)
Not so much happening today in the Norman household. It seems Smith’s little stomach bug from a few nights ago has now swept it’s way through all four of us. I have been absolutely laid up ALL day, and Roshare, who’s just barely recovered herself, has been for all intents and purposes a single mother. I don’t think I’m all that good at being sick…I’ve been pretty weak and pathetic all day. And I’m fascinated at how quickly kids bounce back from things like this. (more…)
Why is it that something as ridiculous as a game can bring me such joy? I mean, really honest, pure, non-obsessive, deep down unadulterated joy. I know that probably sounds ludicrous to most, but I have been a football fan all of my life…first and (still) foremost, college football (the Georgia Bulldogs and the SEC, to be specific), but after living in Nashville for the past decade as a Titans fan, I can’t get enough of the NFL now either. So I woke up this morning and for a few brief moments there was literally nothing on my mind except for the Playoffs. (more…)
Feeling a bit melancholy today. Not sad, just a little aimless I think. Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep – my 2-1/2 year old son, Smith, was throwing up last night with some sort of a stomach bug. He woke up today happy as the morning; his father, however, did not. It might be the weather – one of those gray mornings that hangs a little bit heavy for whatever reason. It’s strange because most of the time I love cold, gray days, odd as it sounds. But today is not one of those days. Or maybe it’s just the end of a really busy week that was also pretty thick with emotion over the events in Haiti and equally ripe with purpose in trying to figure out what it means to love well in times of crisis. I know this is sadly selfish, but I felt very “necessary” this week, if that makes any sense. Not because I felt like I could change the world but because I felt like I was a part of it. I felt, in a very deep and visceral way, a certain sense of purpose. I felt like I belonged to a body of believers that was actually living the cause of Christ out in the open, unashamed. If one can be found at all, I think this can be the “blessing” of tragedy: that we can, in a moment, identify with the pain of an entire people that most of us had given little thought to before, and that we even feel like we belong to that pain somehow. That we feel like we belong to the ancient and shared mission of serving that pain with the cause of Christ. That we feel like we belong to the long-told story of brokenness and redemption. That we feel like we belong. Period. My prayer today is that God would not allow my melancholy to move into monotony, that I would not become motionless. I am a part of this story. We all are. But this story of horror and tragedy and ultimately redemption in Haiti is only still just beginning to unfold. And yet here, removed from it by only a flight on an airplane, we can already see signs of “moving on.” It’s a little less reported today than yesterday, a little less thought about. The work week has turned into the weekend, and on Monday we will start all over again. We will inevitably slip back into the mundane of “normalcy” like moth to flame, and, I fear, forget that we are still a part of this story and that it is indeed still being told.
Okay, so wow, the response to our little Re-Tweet (RT) campaign to raise more awareness and more funds for Compassion International’s Haiti Relief has been OVERWHELMING, to say the least. For those of you who don’t know what in the world I’m talking about, I posted a link on Twitter to Compassion International’s HELP HAITI donation website, and Roshare and I made a pledge to offer a $5 donation for every time that someone re-tweeted (forwarded) that link to all of their own followers. Wishfully thinking we were hoping for a few hundred retweets…long story short, we’ve gone WAY past that. So THANK YOU to all of you who were so diligent and quick to respond.
So here’s the deal, the response has been so great that the Norman’s are in a little over their head and need to raise some funds so we can hold up our end of the bargain. SO, we’ve decided to auction off a guitar from my personal collection. The auctions going to begin tonight at 8PM and every single penny raised will go to Compassion International’s Haiti relief effort. For more information click here.
All those details aside, today has been a day for me of mourning the pain of the Haitian people and somehow at the same time seeing a clear and relevant hope in the response of the people around me. What a beautiful thing to see people serve the way people are serving…believer and unbeliever alike…a breath of fresh air in such a cynical world to see compassion win the day. It’s a small glimpse into what we’re meant for as human beings and, for me personally, into what I’m called to as a follower of Jesus. It is a reminder of what it means, believer and unbeliever alike, whether we acknowledge it or not, to be made in the image of God. I’m thankful to be counted among you.
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:1-5
I don’t even know how to respond when I hear words like Pat Robertson uttered yesterday. My first response is anger and outrage and, as I often do as a believer, I feel so TERRIBLY misrepresented by the “Christian perspective” portrayed in the media. And although in ways, I recognize that anger can not only be necessary, but can also be righteous and good, I know that my thoughts are not erring toward righteousness right now. I tend to spit back blind judgementalism when I feel that it’s been spit at me. I have often said that my greatest struggle with being judgemental is not toward unbelievers, but rather towards other Christians who seem narrow and shortsighted. That is very true this for me this morning. But I MUST live by words that I believe to be truth: If we err as Believers, we must err on the side of compassion. That is my battle this morning and I do not know which side will win. It is in moments like this that I am thankful that there are people in my life, in my personal community, much wiser than I. It is in times like this that I depend on their counsel, their wisdom, their discernment, to ultimately see and trust the goodness of Jesus through their words. So I give to you this morning the words of my pastor and friend and counselor – words that are emailed to me each and every morning and are waiting when I wake up to start my day with some notion of God-ward reflection. These were the words of Scotty Smith this morning:
Heavenly Father, this may be as close as I ever get to praying like one of the “raw” Psalms in which your people express consternation, outrage and anger. I’m gonna put it right out there this morning…no dancing around…no carefully nuanced language. Please meet me where I am but take me where you wish, by the truth of the gospel and the work of your Spirit. I am so thankful for Jesus’ words from Luke’s gospel I just read before beginning this prayer. I’m desperate for his perspective. I need a big dose of gospel-sanity today.
Father, I’m still fuming this morning about a commentary offered by a Christian broadcaster suggesting that the horrific earthquake in Haiti was a result of a prior pact with the Devil. What an outlandish, cavalier, irresponsible, self-righteous thing to say! I hope I would be just as grieved overhearing that same comment from a stranger while standing in line to buy groceries, as hearing it broadcast over a TV show that reaches multiple continents and millions of viewers.
Father, what incites and ignites my, hopefully “godly anger,” is his gross misrepresentation of you and his groundless exalted notion of us. If I follow the logic of his reasoning, countries that are enjoying geo-physical stability, prospering economies, and well-functioning infrastructures are under your blessing. And countries that are subject to climactic upheaval, great poverty and a steady stream of calamities are under your judgment. That makes you look more like a programmable sugar-daddy than a Sovereign God who does all things well…
Oh, Father, as you know far better than me, some of the wealthiest and most “stable” countries in the world primarily worship gods other than you, and some of the poorest and most instable countries have the largest percentage of those who passionately adore and faithfully follow your Son, the Lord Jesus…. Okay, I can tell I need to turn the direction of this prayer…
Merciful Father, I want to acknowledge what I believe to be true about me, today. It’s only because of your mercy that I’m still alive and enjoy whatever creature comforts you’ve afforded me. I fall short of your glory, every day, all day long. If I got what I deserve, it would be your judgment. Though I’ve never made a pact with the Devil, I’ve surely believed his lies, danced with him, and have acted upon his temptations, seductions and accusations.
Grace-full Father, it’s only because of your “pact”—your covenant of grace… the riches of the gospel… my standing in Christ, that I know that you love me… and all your people throughout history, placed everywhere on the globe. I don’t have to understand all the mysteries of providence. I do know that the rain falls on the just and the unjust, and earthquakes do come to worshipers of idols and followers of Jesus alike.
So where does this leave me today? Please make me ten times more merciful and generous towards the Haitians in the coming hours and weeks, than angry and preoccupied with a very, very bad TV commentary. I don’t want to live like one of Job’s friends, but like one of Jesus’ followers. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ name.