Playing in the Puddles… Indoors!

I’m really glad that I have a leaky camper. Water gets in from the outside and that is great. The floor area gets wet, and some of the wood has soaked up the moisture, making it spongy and damp. The storage box located at the front of our popup Coleman rig took on quite a bit of water this week. It weathered a couple storms this week, and water came, I’m happy to report!

Why would I seem so jolly about a seemingly problematic issue with our family camping tent-on-wheels? Well, it is just that as I was prepping the pop-up this morning for a weekend at the lake, I was diagnosing the source of the water I found inside. I knew the general area to look and pinpointed at least one main area that rain could have drained through a crack. This is good news for several reasons.

  • The first is that I didn’t find water on the king size foam mattresses, or in any of the other cabinets.
  • I found that the roof probably didn’t leak at all, which is really good. I discovered that the one main crack in the front plastic was most likely the only place where the camper has water issues.
  • In the few minutes I had to work on it, I stretched some ugly black gorilla tape over it, layered the strips together, and poof! The quick fix will probably block most of the water and seriously improve the situation easily and cheaply.
  • Also, I have the thing stored under cover, so this is only a problem for very few days out of the entire year.

See, the water on the floor and what was soaked into a few items laying down there, was not a pleasant thing to find in and of itself. I did however appreciate that the H2O led me toward an issue that needed my attention. I was glad to only find this small leak, instead of many much larger ones.

No matter what though, I was helped to move forward, and either fix this camper or move on to another one, maybe with less damage repair needed, had it been really bad. The leak itself helped me, to address and improve a situation in my personal world.

I need to remember that in my regular everyday life, when I discover problems, they can be assisting me, not just aggravating me. These various annoyances can point and direct my attention to a place or activity that I have neglected. I can take the opportunity to examine the source. Maybe I’ll tweak and touch-up, or retool and rebuild. Maybe I’ll do nothing at all and come back to it later when the situation gets worse. Any way I handle it, is my conscious choice as a commitment to response.

Luckily today, I didn’t find that my camper was completely rotted, from the core, throughout. But I have had days where I found out devastating news about big things in my life. I’m sure you have too.

Eventually, I wonder if we will somehow come to realize and appreciate the divine nudges and enlightened paths of life. Sometimes it seems more like rough shoves and slamming doors from every direction. Opportunity must live within it all though. It’s a moment for us to engage in decision and reconnect the core values we really hold as most true. What will we do with the leaky shell and the unwanted puddles on the floor of our canvas topped world?

Today I chose to love the whole thing, somehow for the good points along with the bad. Today was a good day.

I hope your today is good too.

God’s Love and Blessings to You.

Sincerely

Aaron Nichols

Another sunny day in May – 33 years later

Back in 2011 I wrote the story of my life, memory by memory from the start to the present moment. Maybe you have done the same at some point yourself? I was in a class and this was an assignment. Reading it now, I can see that I have healed and grown as a person, even since then.

My writing style at age 32 was different. I hadn’t practiced as much as I have now. I was doing it as a personal project and because of the scope, my details were bullet pointed, short and brief. On this blog, I tend to elaborate and examine small moments of life, constructing 700 words out of a brief thought. The ‘My Story’ document wasn’t built like that. My experience of looking at the way I looked at things probably had long lasting transformational effects. I suggest you challenge yourself to it sometime.

Today marks 33 years since my Dad’s living bodily presence was felt by his loved ones and friends. He’s been gone now longer than he was here. Today is a Saturday, just like May 21st was back in 1983, the day he drowned in the river while boating with his friends. Already this morning has started as sunny and delightfully springy, maybe like that one. I have spent time with my little girl and we visited the garden together. I suppose that weekend in 83’ started out about like mine did. It’s ending though, changed the course of the trajectory of our family for sure.

Here and now, I just want to acknowledge that this life event (or death event)  came in a flash, and yet touches so many of us still to this very moment. During the recording of my life story, I tried to capture all the flashbacks that I could recall from actual family moments before my Dad died. I was four years old then, and interestingly the quantity of those memories with my Dad could easily be tallied on one hand.

Here is a short excerpt of recollections, as written in 2011…

I don’t know the ages on these memories, but I would have to say Very Young. I’ll throw them out as scattered and incongruent, as I remember them to be.

  • My Dad coming home from work, and having Candy Necklaces for my sister and I, in his shirt pocket, and pretending not to. Every Day.
  • I had a pair of rubber boots that I liked they had a cartoon character on the bottom. And a cowboy hat too, my favorite outfits always included sweatpants.
  • I hated shoes in which I couldn’t wiggle my toes; drove me crazy.
  • Mom would lay on her back in the living room, with me on her bent knees, she’d hold my hands and bounce me and sing songs and play pattycake.
  • I had a little red dump truck that would hold a half a pack of Smarties, they tasted best eaten from it.
  • On Saturday mornings, we’d always be up early for cartoons. There was food too, maybe donuts, or cookies from the bakery or a trip with Dad to the family Restaurant downtown. I know at least one time I asked for ice in my chocolate milk, and got it.
  • I remember our house that had a transition. My parents remodeled it at some point. I heard later, that my Dad sold his motorcycle to pay for a new kitchen….

Maybe someday, I’ll return to this project and expand it where I can. Maybe then I could come up with more. To this day, I still hear new stories of my Dad from people I meet in public. He left a helluva mark on this place. I love though, the personal and intimate moments that I can access of my own. They are few but special. And yes, especially on days like this, I miss Him, a lot…

Dad-me-carwashUntil next week my friends, be well. You are loved beyond imagination. Your effect on this place is magnificent. You are important and someone somewhere will always be holding you in positive and warm thoughts, always…

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Dad-me-jess-strip

Make mistakes… at least Make Something!!

A camping cot is not the safest of playpens, but that is what I’m using to contain my speedy and curious daughter this morning. Several weeks ago, I bought this cot in preparation for a long roadtrip campout I’m planning for the summer. I set it up in the living room to test it out, and it’s been there ever since.

Usually I lounge on it in the early morning while she plays with her toys, but this morning, she’s wanting to crawl anywhere but the places I want her to stay. So for fifteen minutes at least, she has been content playing on the cot, throwing toys off the side and occasionally hanging off an arm, testing out a dismount.  I’m typing close by, and can reach over to dadgrab her if needed.

I’ve setup an artificially limited miniaturization of the world to contain her.

Earlier she knew there was more to explore, but for a short period of time this new playplace has amused her. As she gets more comfortable though, it takes more interaction to keep her happy there. A new toy or moving the cot away from the TV stand is necessary. She is too active and won’t stay put forever on this little canvas island in the living room.

It is our instinctive nature to explore.  We can’t help it at 9 months old to want to see every corner of the house, taste every toy and cardboard box and tipped over trash can that exists. We just do, uninhibited and without fear, constantly.

At age 37 now, I can’t quite recall when the desire faded to be in constant adventure mode, somewhere along the way though it happened. At the end of many days I can look back and notice that I inched my way along, just ‘getting through’ each task at hand, till the clock shows midnight. I didn’t crawl and push and grab and laugh, in all-out discovery and examination each and every step of the way. Avoiding this kind of strenuous activity was probably a more accurate description.

Some days I dabble in exploration of self. I appreciate our weekly Bible study, for the spiritual insights and unlocking of mystery that can happen there. I use this blog platform and my graphic design work to express creativity to the blank page. I dive deeper and deeper into strange subjects in documentaries online, freaking myself out, about the very nature of this nation and world as we know it…

Overall though, my physical traversing is quite limited. After for several days of the week, I move barely a mile from where I woke up, over to my work, then back to home again.

I remember roughly a quote from life coach Steve Hardison, it was about the complexity and magnitude and awesomeness of the lives we have already led. He talked about how amazing we are as people, just creating the story of us, with all the trials and tests we’ve already experienced. Then he went on to illustrate that the entirety of what we know, is but a fraction of a square inch, painted into the tiny corner of a massively huge blank canvas.

There is lot more to left to explore.

I am glad to be reminded by my earnestly active little daughter, that we are innately driven toward discovery.  There is no shame in pushing limits. There is value in trying new things. We cannot regret our attempting, even when it fails. Eventually, we will only be sorry about those things that we didn’t try at all.

I hope I don’t find out someday, that there was no government agency, or no elite bloodline, or no illuminati, that kept me penned up and corralled on my own little canvas island in the middle of this expansive beautiful world. I hope I don’t find out that the only thing holding me back, from seeing and experiencing, is my own self-imposed mental prison. If that is the real truth, the one that seems to be the great mystery right in front of my face, then I pray I will have at least tested the rigidity of the seemingly steel bars all around.

I hope to know that I attempted to continue pushing limits some way, some how, each day… even when it sounds like anything but fun.

Until next week my friends, explore, discover and create a mess! It could be more than fun, it could be pure exhilaration!

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

Fixing the Fixations

Since I haven’t used shaving cream all week (and yes, I’ve been shaving) I thought I would mention my experience here. Several days ago, I watched a video that someone had posted to facebook about these gels and foams and creams being unnecessary. The video producer was very emphatic that we are wasting our money and even damaging our skin with this stuff, I thought what the heck, I’ll try it!

I haven’t used aftershave in years, and now no shaving cream either, sweet! My morning routine is quicker, cheaper and better than ever. This is just one actionable item, out of hundreds of things that I have learned from YouTube.

Earlier this week, at the end of the day, I was stuck to the computer screen and my wife mentions that ‘You may have a YouTube addiction’. My wife is right. My response was something about the fact that I used to have other addictions too, that I have now let go of. I used to like drinking and smoking and reckless living. I guess I have been addicted to things almost as long as I can remember.

Maybe instead of addiction, I could reframe the term and use ‘Fixation’. I can quickly sometimes choose to be fixated on an idea or a project or even the search for an idea, and all my other priorities fade into the background. Even though I may have been four and half years free of alcohol, or seven years free of cigarettes, I have not lost my ability to fixate in the least.

I have heard that at the AA meetings, people introduce themselves as an alcoholic, even when they have been sober for years. I guess this is a way to notice that fixation on a drug is possible, even after a long break from it.

Right now I am drinking from a colorful can of La Croix Curate naturally essenced sparkling water. I love these things. They are 0% everything on the nutrition label and refreshing to drink, now that I have become appreciative of the taste. When I first tried them, the sting of the carbonation was too strong for the ever so slight fruitiness of flavor. They are a ‘dry’ beverage, they aren’t sweet and a flavor that most people would pass on.

Actually, these little cans of hippy water remind me of my first experiences as a teenager of drinking beer. Natural Light or Busch or Bud or any of those things don’t actually have a good flavor. You could give a baby a sip of beer and their face will twist up in disgust. I remember having to learn to like the taste of beer because I wanted to drink it and be like the ‘guys’. Sure, once you’ve had anything in enough frequency and quantity, you begin to develop fondness and mental urges that suggest it’s good!

Good times with friends stir together with memories of beer, wine and music. Heck, I could go for cold mug of suds right now!

Buuuuut, I won’t.

Isn’t it funny, that a toxin and literal poison, can be so intriguing and beloved? I like drinking these little cans of La Croix in any flavor, like Pomme Baya or Cran-Raspberry, because of the tickle and burn. If I swish the bubbly drink around, it feels like a beer in the mouth. I reminisce with these silly sodas…

I guess I could say that I am Aaron Nichols and I’m an alcoholic… but whatever. That doesn’t seem empowering to me right now.

What I would rather notice, is that fixations can be positive or they can be negative. Fixation for a 12 year old boy could result in a life of major league baseball success, or of a life spent in and out of prison. Fixations like YouTube can overtake my free time. The computer is always on, another video is always suggested immediately. I miss moments right before bed to converse with my wife, and end the long day together.

But, I have now saved us tens of dollars per year, by giving up shaving cream! YES! The enormous value of this online video resource is staggering!!

Actually… uhhh… I guess I’d better get off this computer and back to my real life. Where my cute daughter will be waking soon and the real business that I manage is about to open for the day.

Till next week my friends be well, and may God Bless you.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Boring Moments at My Church!

I feel bored at church sometimes… sure! Sunday mornings are the tail end of my work week, I have spent a long couple days and nights at the bar (managing/not drinking!) and I can be exhausted tired during worship. My mind wanders just like anyone’s can, and last week it settled upon a 20 foot long piece of golden oak colored wooden trim.

The trim piece hangs horizontally above the choir area, there are two, but one is larger. I caught myself staring at it.

It is not the feature piece of woodwork hanging at the front of our sanctuary, that would be the Cross itself. No, this is just a decorative board that probably covers a sheetrock edging underneath the pipe organ pipes…

ANYWAY!!!!

The trim piece is quite long. I noticed myself looking for a seam, for a joint, for the place where two or more planks were expertly connected together. I found it. At least one of them was visible from my seat in the pews.

That one long clear rectangle of oak was made up of different parts. Maybe they were from the same tree, but probably not. They were two nice clear sections of those trees. They were not all knotty and blemished, but I’d bet other parts of their original trunks were. Those segments of wooden cellulose were planed down, made smooth and shaped. They were sawn and sanded. They were hand rubbed and brushed with the perfect lacquer.

An oak tree is inherently strong and beautiful, but the final look was achieved not by slapping a raw branch on the wall. It was crafted by the hand of a finish carpenter. Making custom trim is a fine art, one we see every day and hardly notice.

Did you know that there is a carpenter who’s hand can shape our souls. He can use the gnarliest knotted and twisted trunks to craft masterpieces. His touch slices away the brittle and ugly outer bark. His words restore and heal even the biggest cracks in our inner grain. When we have asked him to make us His project, He uses all the best pieces of us. He deftly joins together the past with it’s mistakes and regrets and the present moment with inner peace and our future with loving possibility.

The seams in the many sections of our lives can be noticed up close. He leaves them, so that others know we are not one perfect individual from start to finish. He allows the joints to remain, so that we can show others that all of our varied parts together can help make one continuous beauty.

There are pieces left on the woodshop floor. There are chunks and remnants and thin curled shavings that he removes for us. Thank God. We can want to hold on to all of our natural wildness sometimes, defending its earthy handsomeness. There are parts that we don’t need. There are extra appendages and growths of baggage that we are better off without.

The master carpenter is willing and absolutely able to sculpt with love, if we will let him…

So I guess that, is what the boring moments at church teach me.

Until next week, Be well my friends.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

Massking the Truth

“Name something that doesn’t have mass.” Was a deceptively tough question posed by my middle school science teacher. I can remember thinking how simple and easy the answer must be, but I just couldn’t come up with anything to quickly throw out there. My seventh (or eighth) grade mind was stuck on the material, and everything material has mass.

I wanted to name super light things like air or wind, but those are still things. They can inflate or move other items of mass, so they must have it too.

For some reason that one question has stuck with me over the years. I am now more aware than ever, of the spiritual vs. the physical world. The real things in this life that are completely powerful and yet free of any measurable mass are ideas, emotions, addictions, purposes or spiritual gifts. Our world is full of ‘things’ that can’t be defined with scientific measurements, yet have shaped all that we see and know as life in earth.

The spiritual effect is our motivation. The physical object or energy is our tool to access it… if we spiritually choose to do so.

I started this story today, wanting to speak about buying a CD. When I was young kid, we had cassette tapes, and tape players. We rewound and fast forwarded and could ‘tape over’ an old recording, with a new one from the radio, or a plugged-in microphone. I, of course, know that other people grew up with previous versions of music archiving technology, like 8-tracks and vinyl records. When I was in middle school, the shiny silver disc called a CD was introduced.

The music industry began to sell the ‘cool’ new way to buy it’s songs… right? Well, now we have digital media and again we have yet another option for an item of mass that holds a three minute pop song tune.

I am not going argue about whether or not an MP3 has a measurable gram of mass, but it does take up space on a hard drive, right? Too many and your drive is full. BUT, the songs themselves don’t have mass at all. The actual moment of listening is a spiritual experience. The bright emotions that spring up with the beat, or the rage that can be strummed out from darkness with a powerful base line are intangible, but real.

I missed an opportunity to see my favorite band this week. I would have paid for a physical ticket to be in their presence, but what I would have bought was a completely ethereal experience. The ticket itself has no value as a piece of paper with the band name printed upon it.  The moment where I could sit in their presence and relive memories and make new ones and support the guys who’s souls have composed songs I love, is worth waay more than the purchase price.

Just like the ticket, our slices of greenish paper called money, have no real value. They could maybe start a fire for you in an emergency, but their mass actually means very little in the whole scheme of things. The spiritual value of money is everything. This creation of God called money is power and security and danger and whimsy. The potential for the holiest of good or horrific bad is all in the spirit of the person who is using it. You could say that one of the world’s most powerful objects, isn’t an object at all.

That is why money still has meaning when we don’t have the paper to prove it.  The paper vehicle of money is under attack, and rightly so, it is anonymous and that means everything. The enemy wants to be like God, tracking you at all times, with power over all your earthly value. We need to hold on to our physical green paper cash, while we can.

God knows the value of our spirit, much beyond this physical world we inhabit. The enemy wants us to believe that our ‘stuff’ defines us. It don’t.

The enemy wants to sell you a new vehicle for your music, when the music hasn’t changed. God’s promises are the same today, yesterday and tomorrow, but the Enemy says this new way, is better, just buy into it. When we can start to see the difference, the contrast and open our eyes to the spiritual world, we see that the emperor (of the world) has no clothes. There is no way to sell or steal or even shake the spiritual steadfast called God. There is a torrent however of physical plastic junk that attempts to replace Him.  We cannot buy our way to heaven, when the price of admittance is free.

That, my friends, angers and torments the king of demons himself.

Know that the real you has no mass, no body and no stuff. All our investments that matter are in relation to our spirit.

Thank You ALL, for reading these words. I wish true immeasurable and intangible blessings upon you this day.

Sincerely,

Your Friend

Aaron Nichols

 

 

Life’s single-most important moment!

I’m glad to know that this blog post is the very most important thing in the world to you. Really, it warms my heart. I can’t believe that there isn’t something that is rating higher on your list. I do appreciate it though.

I often find myself at mini-mental crossroads, or mega ones, wondering about what is most important in life. I struggle with that question as I navigate each day. The scales of inner justice tip one way, then the other, while I quickly ponder issues at work, in my spiritual life and in relationships with other people. I often find certain value on both sides of the coin and get caught in the middle, trying to straddle two options at once. Commitment to a decision can be tough.

You are committed to reading this post right now. Of course, maybe you are simultaneously watching a YouTube video, or playing background music. Maybe you are supposed to be working and reading this instead. I really hope you aren’t checking out these words while driving! If so, put the phone down!

Ha, anyway I often am wondering about what is the true importance to the bigger picture of life. I want to really know if any small action, or big one is worthy of effort, or not… It bugs me that I can’t be sure of the whole picture ahead of time. I have noticed one thing however…

Whatever it is that I am physically doing, at any given moment, is the most important thing in my world. By default, it has to be. Although I may have a whole laundry list of items I find more critical or meaningful or significant, than my current action in the present moment, those other things have taken a back seat, to what I’m doing right now.

In fact, at this very instant, writing this blog post to you, is the most important thing in my life. I have a super cute sleeping daughter in the other room. I could just sit and watch her peaceful breathing, instead of this. I have a kitchen with dirty dishes that could be washed. I have a garden needing planted, and a lawn needing mowed. I have weak spiritual muscles that could use a healthy dose of the Good Book, to strengthen them. I have vacation plans to make for the summer. I have lots of work that could be done at our restaurant too. I am putting off so many important things, like even getting a few more minutes of sleep before a long day at work, to type out these very words.

(as another reinforcement to this idea, my phone just rang. It was a call that I had requested be made. I took the call, and then returned to the blog. For a moment, that call was the most important thing in my world, and it was about our Friday lunch special, that’s all…)

I don’t’ have to wonder and agonize about what are the most necessary and crucial moments of my life. I just have to look at what I am choosing to do, right now. There is a level playing field that we all share. 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, 12 months in year. None of us live outside the confines of those precious few minutes that I know of. However we are choosing to invest our snippets of time, is the vote we are casting as most important to us, period.

I would love to keep believing that I can be doing one thing, just passing the time till something more monumental comes along… Just like when  I am choosing to watch a silly facebook video, instead of seeing my daughter really learning to crawl… Hmm… I can’t defend that one.

Recently, Rabbi Daniel Lapin spoke about the secret to life. His words were about creating a wonderful life for yourself and the quote was near to these words, “A successful person does what he must do, when he must do it.”

I am really preaching to myself here, but maybe the message is for more than just me. I hope to realize and act upon the ideas God gives me to write about here. I want to walk this walk, instead of just talking this talk.

Until next week, be well my friends.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Playing like a Girl… A Baby Girl…

To our baby, everything is a puzzle. She has several toys designed as puzzles and some that aren’t. It’s fun to watch her curiosity at work especially since she has become so mobile lately. She can explore the room. She scoots around and squeals as she grabs and swats at any object she can reach.

Right now in fact, the wheels of the office chair have her attention. Usually though, she plays with something out of her pink fabric box of treasures. She has several puzzle style toys that she attempts to figure out. A stack of translucent plastic stars fit over a central peg, and she bangs them around, wanting them to slide on. There is a cartoony zebra with a channel built in to accept square plastic blocks, and she can sometimes make them ride all the way down.

Basically, she is constantly unceasingly learning to unlock the systems and mechanics of the world around her. For now, it may be just how a hard cardboard book opens and closes, or how the beads slide along a spiral metal rod. These are simple things but important to her. She wants to make them do, what she can get them to do. And taste every one of them too.

What is different about our 8 month old, than of me, or of you? Don’t we all just want to know the solutions to the puzzles we see around us in life? I sure do. I am racked with curiosity about how our world really works. I spend almost all of my free time playing with that question. It really is the same at my jobs as well.

I want to find out how a restaurant works best. I want to explore the possible options of managing our menu, our inventory, our systems and our people too. Working to design tee shirts, which I have done for 20 years, I still start with a blank page almost every time, working with the puzzle pieces provided to create something ‘cool.’ There is so much to learn everyday, and just like JoJo, I am banging around clumsily, just seeing what happens when I try.

There is nothing special about our baby, that isn’t inborn into each child on earth. I am positive that we all have innate curiosity woven into our very core being.

There are times of exhaustion or of frustration, where maybe we all just want to space out and veg. Playing hard and solving puzzles all day can tire us out, and we will want warm milk and a nap. It is interesting though, that our daughter can be so naïve about the bigger world around her, and yet completely content playing in the small space she occupies.

That is how I operate as well. I have a realm that I have crawled around. I have grabbed at it and pulled toys off the shelves that I could reach. In the bigger picture however, it is but the 5 x 7 living room rug. The wide universe of possibilities is much larger. Back and forth around the room, day in and out, I try to solve what I can see in front of me.  Rarely though, do I try to get out of the room itself.

There is a creator God watching me, knowing my little routines, my smallness. God is aware of my curiosities too. Every once in a while He provides an opening.  I’ll notice a new doorway as I pass by again. These opportunities if taken, are monumental shifts of the mind, some good and fun, but some challenging. Crossing new thresholds into the unknown can unnerve.

The curiosity though, of finding out more, about the depth and breadth and the keys to the puzzle of life itself are too tantalizing to pass up. Just like JoJo, I usually must explore, what I can explore, for my own good or not.

Joella may want to go back someday to the simplicity of playing contently with a small box of plastic toys on a sunny Friday morning at home with her Daddy. She may someday find herself far away from the peacefulness of a moment like this. I may want to return here too. It’s so awesome to watch her little mind at work. I pray that both our curiosities don’t take us too far away from here, but I think they will.

We’re all just trying to figure this ‘life’ thing out. We all can just see what we can see.  We can’t see the wider context that our observer can see us inhabiting. I am trying, and finding out by failing and failing again to whet the unquenchable thirst for knowledge that our Creator ignited within.

Until next week, be curious my friends.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Telling of Fortune

Because, I can’t perfectly predict the future… well… lots of things…

I noticed today, that I was looking at a stockroom and freezers that were cashed, almost emptied out. It was a heckuva busy Friday evening, the night before. I needed to scramble and work hard on replacing our supplies, just in case that same wave of customers arrived again tonight…

Because I can’t perfectly predict the future…

I had run down my grocery stock, because of it. I had to guess again to reload our shelves, because of it.

Almost all the management I do with our restaurant inventory has to do with not being able to accurately predict the future.

Overall, our evening went well. We had enough of almost everything to serve our guests with no hiccups.

Sometimes, it seems that I would really like to be able to predict the future… perfectly.

I could avoid a lot of headache and hassle. I could let anxiety and worry go, as I would be absolutely confident in the events to come. I would precisely plan, and execute efficiency on astronomical levels, if I knew ahead of time… everything.

Then again, where would any sense of accomplishment come from? What kind of skill or courage does it take to act, when there is no risk of failure?

I think that not knowing must be the gasoline, the fuel that explodes and turns the cranks of our internal motors.  Maybe the mystery that exists just beyond the hairline edge of the present moment, is all that drives us forward?

I don’t know what makes my mind want to dissect and examine a simple thought, like ‘I can’t predict the future,’ I just know it does want to do that.

Working to supply our restaurant with perishable items  to maybe sell to hungry guests, is just one simple task that ignites my personal passion for challenge. I take great pleasure in watching our plans unfold somewhat like we had hoped. I like seeing our customers happy.

All of life is more interesting, since we can’t perfectly predict the future. Usually though, ‘interesting’ can be a four-letter word. Today, I want to express my appreciation for this construct, built into the universe created by God Almighty. Even when I don’t understand, it must be good.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

 

 

 

 

You can call me Jack. Jack-Ass that is…

I’ve been called an ‘Ass’ more times than I can count. Really, that specific word has come up almost my whole life in certain circumstances. Usually, I’m in the middle of a snarky giggling guffaw, appreciating a clever remark I sent stinging in some friend’s direction. I’m ‘giving them crap’ and the common response is something like “You’re an Ass!”

Last Sunday, during church, I found myself thinking that being an Ass, isn’t such a bad thing.

It was Palm Sunday, the familiar scriptures were read. The Word showed us the triumphant entrance to Jerusalem that Jesus made to a jubilant throng of people. They lay down their cloaks.  They wove a lush green carpet of palm branches too. He wasn’t mounted on a white stallion, or strapped into a gilded golden chariot. Our Pastor Ron, explained it was quite possible that the little donkey that Jesus chose to ride in on, was so small that the feet of God’s Son may have been dragging the ground.

The colt, the foal, the small and immature Ass, that Jesus used to fulfill an ancient prophecy, can teach us a lot about the way He works in our lives today. I can sure relate, not to the King, not even to the worshippers along the road, but to that base animal, that Jesus mounted himself upon.

I have heard it said that the colt, could even be considered stolen, by some. The disciples were following orders. They took it and brought it back to their Rabbi. He is showing us the irony, that his power doesn’t arrive like a knight dressed for battle. It’s unarmed, it’s common-looking, and it’s the greatest love the world has ever seen.

I don’t ever feel like I’m ‘the type’ of ‘churchy’ person, that someone would expect to be a born-again Christian. I can remember growing up and seeing the men in suits and ties, leaders of the community, with stiff-combed white haircuts, as The Men of the church. I’m sure they were fantastic Christians too.

What Jesus is telling us though, is that He can use the unexpected to carry out God’s will. All of us are important to His grand masterpiece. Even the wild-stubborn, adolescent and raw jackass is integral to his arrival. You could conclude that he needed to show up on that animal to prove the might of his world-altering sacrifice. It puts an exclamation point upon beginning sentence of this Passion week story.

Today is Good Friday, the darkest hours, the humiliation, the pain, the death before the resurrection.

I’m assuming that same little donkey went back to his own world, and chewed some hay, while Jesus was bleeding for all our sins.

When we chose Him, and he rides into the world again, upon the back of an Ass, like me, I can’t really go back again. His touch changes and transforms. Life is never the same as before. It is still common and gritty and dark at times. There are plenty of moments where I feel untamed and immature. I want to stay stubborn as a mule. At the darkest hour though, when all hope seems lost and the flame is gone and only smoke is left… The candle relights.

Jesus is resurrected. Death is conquered. Easter is a state of the heart, implanted into every person who wants it.

We aren’t lost sheep. We haven’t been forgotten. We may be tied up with almost no prospect of something better. The disciples are on the way. They will steal us, and take us to the Teacher. He will use us, just as we are, in perfect fulfillment of prophecy.

Be thankful my friends. Our salvation is being earned today, not because we can ever deserve it, but because his love is beyond simple comprehension.

Until next week, may God bless us all, ay you be a vehicle for His will, may Easter live all year in our oh-so human hearts.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols