Fired Twice Today!

Twice today, live fire with bright yellow licking flames surprised me at work. At both of my ‘jobs’, the scary truth is that either one could have burned down down down. Twice today, when this hardly ever, never even comes close to happening, real danger showed up, and reared it’s fiery head. Twice luckily, the danger was averted.

The screen print shop is usually a relatively safe and harmless environment. Sure the ink from the bucket seems to jump out and stain itself on you, as you walk around or even look in it’s general direction. Normally it is an orderly and even quiet place of production. The action of the soft shirts and the squeegees dragging across the silken screens, isn’t very dramatic. Normally, everything goes like clockwork, albeit an overloaded and quickly running clock these days. We have been uber-busy for over two months solid now, at the t-shirt shop that I create artwork for.

No, most days aren’t like today. Usually, the faint smell of something smoky is no big deal. Sometimes the shirts in the dryer give off a grey puff of steamy vapor as they travel along the belt, while the fresh ink cures. Today’s smoke smell didn’t dissipate quickly though. Today that smoke meant fire. A single tee got caught and jammed up as it entered the machine it is supposed to moved quickly through. Going unnoticed for just long enough to get real real hot, it burst into flame, just as our Jaime, our screenprinter dislodged it by hand!

Whoosh! He came flying out of the back room, past my desk and headed out the back door. Caught in surprise, I jumped up and just ran behind him, not really knowing how to help. The tee started to fall apart right in the rear entrance. We kicked those flames out into the concreted breezeway. Back inside, there was more action. Roger had a baby floor fire to deal with and ordered me to grab the extinguisher. I pulled the pin and shot a couple little droops of puff powder down. It was only a couple small spots, that were lit. He almost had it beat with a water bottle already. Either way, we didn’t take any chances, we used the big guns.

Ha! How quickly our world can go from zero to one hundred miles per hour. I was just sitting at my computer, deciding on a font, or something, then all of a sudden it was go time. Emergency mode. Think quick, act quick! The flaming tee really didn’t cause any harm overall. In a short time period, there was no trace left of the danger, that almost was…

Only a few hours had passed when tonight at the restaurant, we had a real big crowd. Lots of people came out to eat with us, and we were in the thick of the weeds. I had been out front, trying to help people get seated. I brought menus, silverware, asked about drinks and apps. Also I wanted to tell everyone about our Customer Appreciation Week Specials. The doors kept swinging open with more and more people pilling in. Eventually the kitchen rail was racked with tickets. They hung side by side, jammed close and overflowed onto the heavy metal hood, stuck in stacks with thick round magnets. We were just slammed.

I was helping out in the kitchen by finishing off some of the plates. I grabbed little extras that people had ordered. I really just tried to do anything that may help our crew. I was cooking batches of steamed vegetables, and I had a cluster of a mess. My flash frozen asparagus and broccoli went into the pot, and came out quick, over and over. I thought I was doing a decent job. The lid was scalding temp, and so I had hot pads nearby.

As I was plating some sides facing the opposite wall, our waitress Hayley yelled, ‘Fire’!! One of the oven mitts had found the gas flame on the range. Again! Something caught fire and I was right there. This time it was my fault and I needed to handle it. I grabbed the thing, ordered our dishwasher Becky to step aside and dunked it deep into the big sink of water. Whew! Another close call, danger, real danger, averted. We were back to normal in no time and kept on rocking through the meals until we fed everyone in the place.

Now, as I look back on the day, it seemed overall like a normal day. Yes, I was plenty busy at both jobs. Lots to do, and lots to accomplish. These two scares, were so short and quickly snuffed out, that it didn’t really move the needle too much. I am not still shaking in response or worried right now at all.

I’ve heard it said that ‘Any idoit can face a crisis.’ And today (as an idiot), I did. I jumped to attention. Did something that needed to be done. Went toward the flames, not away from them. And all this was instinct and all of it overdramatized here for effect. Neither of these events were epic flaming battles, but they could have been, if left to develop on their own. Neither one caused any damage, but they could have destroyed everything.

What could I recognize for my life in general that these lessons can teach me? What else could I jump to solve and not quit until an answer seems clear? Why can I seem to know an emergency priority so clearly, and yet in the normal, non-on-fire moments of life, let my mind and imagination and action and potential do a whole lot of nothing?? The rest of that quote I started earlier, talks about ‘day to day living’ and how it wears you out. I don’t know about wearing out, but I can certainly see how the day to day doesn’t get the same attention or purposeful action as a crisis, an emergency.

I don’t take the time to connect with people, when there isn’t an emergency. I don’t jump to assist, when nothing is about to burn down. I don’t even usually move a muscle to help myself progress along my own path, until I have procrastinated my way up against a brick wall.

Are we just built and designed to handle problems, and when one doesn’t seem to show itself we go on autopilot? Or maybe it’s just me, and not you? Maybe you manufacture deadlines and track your projects daily, feeling an internally created heat blazing down on you to make something special happen?

I know that I do go on autopilot and just ‘get through’ most of my days. It’s a worm’s life, as Steve Chandler would say. Inching along, doing my minimum daily duties, never looking up and beyond the few feet in front of me. I have wings, I could fly any direction I want. I saw myself spring to action today.

Maybe I can visualize those jumping flickering and dangerous flames more often. Maybe I can superimpose that dangerous combustion onto more mundane moments in my world, and trigger the hero moments on my own terms…

Big ‘Maybes’… Or only they are big when I overdramatize them in my mind. Just like these two little fires today, they weren’t really a big deal. In the days to come, they will be all but forgotten. Let’s hope we don’t forget that everything can change in an instant, and we can be our best at any given time, just by deciding to be…

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

“Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.”

Anton Chekhov

Being Whole, Who Is? Not this 6 Legged Spider…

It’s dark and blustery out here tonight. The cruising clouds throw the occasional rain splat against the black tarp hung above my hammock. Fall is here and the breeze is biting with cold. I am on my front porch and camped out, as if I was deep in the woods on an epic adventure… But I’m not.

For over an hour I have worked to assemble my little spot here. I used my blue webbing straps and their metal curled hooks to grab ahold of the carabiners at each end of my hammock. I readjusted my homemade underquilt that I recently slapped together, to keep my tush warm. It needs a lot more work, but it is a start. I decided to run a new ridgeline and try out a rainfly I bought recently online.  I found my paracord spool and cut off a few chunks. I made knots and tightened things up, I made twenty trips in and out of the house, or more.

I started this project at quarter till eleven tonight, and just got near finished at midnight. I have made up a little happy hammock rig. I am pretty cozy, typing away while the wind blows and flaps all the fabrics. I may sleep here a bit tonight, after writing some blog, I may not. It isn’t really that cozy. I have more gear to acquire, to be completely comfortable, swinging out there in the cold.

Why would I spend over an hour at the end of a long day, making something almost ridiculously useless on my front porch, with the only intention to take it right back down soon?? I don’t know why I did. I just kept thinking about the one more little thing I wanted to add, then one more and yet one more. By the time I had a decent amount of comfort going, I didn’t want to quit. I wanted to make it just a little more deluxe and then a little more.

I do dream in the daytime about going out and camping. Heading to the mountains again, and hiking into a remote spot, I would enjoy the crackle of the fire and a night under the stars. Last night and tonight now too, I have tried to grab a little of that experience right on my front porch, in Princeton, KS.

Someone else is on my porch. Lots of someone’s. Little tan spiders with round fat butts, have set up their homes all over the place lately, Including my front porch. They are in yard. Their webs grab my face, I swat and fling and flail around. I look funny, when I walk through them.

One in particular has interested me. He lives in front of our back door. His web is made actually in the doorway itself. You have to duck just a little to avoid it, when passing in and out. This little guy recently has lost a couple legs. One of his big front legs is just gone. The little one behind it is too.  I remember when he looked ‘normal’ and now he isnt’. He or She, must’ve been in a battle, with one of the many other porch spiders living nearby. Maybe some big moth flew into his web and he lost the legs trying to wrangle and hogtie it with his silken wrappings.

Either way, this spider is has been roughed up, and is much worse for the wear. One thing that is obvious to the observer however, is just how normally spidery he acts. Since I pass him several times a day, going out of, and back into my house, I realize his activity has not changed much at all. If I provoke him, by getting close to look him over, he will bounce his web wildly.  If I strum one of the guylines of his web he jumps to attention. If I really wiggle things, he will retreat to the outer border or even all the way up to the soffit of the house.

His movements are a little less graceful than they used to be. He kinda humps and jumps with big wonky strides. He’s lopsided as he grabs and climbs about the web, but he does move quickly still. Overall you can tell he has been injured, but each day, he holds his place in the web’s dead center and waits for a snack to fly on in.

It reminds me of a story, albeit a morbid one, that Wayne Dyer tells. It’s about watching a Nature type animal program, where a  group of zebras is attacked by lions. One of the striped horses got away from the predators, but not unscathed. He was torn up pretty bad actually. Wayne explains that the lions ripped apart one of his legs, and it was basically gone. Then Dr. Dyer, goes on to tell what the zebra does next. After the lions have retreated and the tension has dropped, the zebra begins to graze and munch on the grass with the rest of the herd. Standing there, on the three legs he has left, he just goes back to being a zebra. He’s hungry, so he eats.

Wow.

So what does the spider and zebra tell me about life? I have lost limbs myself it seems. Maybe not a leg or an arm, but I feel that major parts of me, have been ripped away. Emotionally, I feel like a broken and torn up amputee from certain losses I have experienced in life. No matter when these things have happened, being very young, or much closer to the recent time, I notice their absence and the forced adjustments that I wish I didn’t have to deal with.

On the other hand, I do go about living. I do continue on, and keep trying to move forward with myself, regardless of how the pain ‘feels’ in the moment. I may not be making all the progress I want to, all the time, but somehow, someway, I do notice the movement as forward, and even mostly, business as usual.

I keep on human-being’ing even though I may feel that I am only a partial version of what I once was.

What else is there really to do? I see that spider, he just does exactly what he already knew to do, just the way he now can. I don’t see that he decided it was too hard, or not fair, or not worth the effort, and he just gave up. Probably he isn’t developed enough and ‘smart’ enough to have these kind of self-defeating thoughts in his little tiny spider brain.

Not like my big fancy over-developed human brain. No, I am much more capable of these helpful (NOT!) thoughts. I can deduce and dissect and see lots of reasons to avoid trying things, now that I am a messed up and broken person. I can decide to take myself out of the game and quit trying to do or be or experience parts of life that I could have done, had I been whole and good and not flawed.

I know that I let the ideas of ‘what others may think’ stop me from trying. I know fear plays a part in every one of my hesitations. When I notice the negative thoughts passing by, I may act on those and blame all of my shortcomings and limitations on the losses I experienced so far in life…

Setting up camp tonight was silly. Logic played no part. It was too late and too pointless of an activity to spend my time on. I didn’t care. I really do enjoy even an hour of relaxing in the hammock these days. Even in the middle of the night, even in the cold and in the rain. It was worth it.

Maybe other things in my world are worth it, just to try, just to begin to work on, even if they are silly or pointless or a waste of time. I am broken, I am beat up, but I have no reason not to keep going and keep being what I can be. I see the spider, continuing on his little but epic journey as well. He is in my path for a reason, I am glad he’s there. He is rooting on the survivor in all of us. We are down sometimes, but not out of the game completely. I thank God for these little messages in my daily walk with Him…

Sincerely

Aaron Nichols

spider

In the Darkroom

I laughed as slid the slim folded grey stack of accordion-ed paper out of it’s box. I was only kidding to my wife when I joked that the new ‘blinds’ we bought were going to be nothing more than folded paper with double-sticky tape stuck to the top. It wasn’t a joke, but it was silly. We bought folded paper and stuck it into the flaky paint of the window frame.

As part of our bedroom re-model last weekend, we got new blinds and curtains. The one we replaced was apparently made of a grey-brown faux fur. Fuzzy and soft, these old mini blinds were long overdue to hit the trash can. We also moved the furniture around. We consolidated and reconfigured our stuff. The room is the nicest it’s ever looked. It still doesn’t have one thing hanging on the wall. No nice headboard or matching dressers, but much much better than it used to be.

One thing about this fancy folded paper ‘blind’ that we installed, is that this room stays DARK. Sunshine just on the other side, doesn’t make it through our paper accordion. This was a good thing, as last week, I spent several sleepness nights up with a cough. Then as the cough faded and the new blinds kept the light out, I have been re-catching up on sleep this week. Plenty of it.

The first real night of rest didn’t end till 10:30 Monday morning. Wow. In the darkroom, I was dead to the world. I have gotten used to it since then, and haven’t quite spent that long, but the mornings are quite peaceful behind the $3.00 sunshade.

Right now, in fact, I am typing in the same room. It is dark now too. No light on, just the whizzing brushing sound of the fan, and the padded thumping of these keys.

I also bought a new laptop computer this week. I figured I would give it a try while blogging, or hanging in the hammock. Neither one, I have done. I am now clicking away on the trusty old keyboard that I began my blogging journey with. This computer I am using at the moment, has been with me to Colorado, to the Flaming Gorge of Utah, it went through Yellowstone, and to Oregon’s gorgeous coast. I took it with me in the smooth grey-washed sky in the very northernmost ocean drives of California, and to the sunny desert too. It typed out my first blog, www.ashellandastone.blogspot.com.

Yes, even with a brand new computer in hand, I reverted today back to old trusty.

Thinking this morning about my writing, I was reminded of some famous authors, and the way they chose to work. I think it was Steven Pressfield, who rented a nondescript office space and used a basic old laptop to write with. He had even superglued shut the Ethernet port, and broken the wireless network card. Another author, George R.R. Martin, of the Game of Thrones, talked on a late show, about using an 80’s model computer to type out his wildly popular stories. It was a very vintage model, and he loved that it didn’t have spell check. All his names and places were made up words, spellcheck would have killed his progress…

Progress, is what I’m getting at here. In this dark room, with my old laptop, with the wireless network switched off, I have one thing in front of me to do, and one thing only. I cannot click quickly over to facebook. Youtube is not ready to show me a quick clip from the Tonight Show, or even the new episode of Roadkill that I watch religiously each month. This progress I am now making on this here blog, is a bit easier without the distractions.

Just like sleeping in late in the darkness, I wasn’t distracted. I needed that rest back early in the week. I hadn’t slept well in several nights. It was time to let everything else fade away. I need to write this story this morning. I need to make this blog progress forward. It is something I am called to do. I can’t let the distractions, or the lateness of my schedule stop me. I must find a new way to make it happen, each and every time.

This day I will try, what I have heard worked for others. Maybe next time I won’t. I do now this. I have a ping-pong, flittering and quick-switch consciousness. I usually can’t make myself focus, with the world’s entertainment at my fingertips. Using this old laptop with the broken keys in a dark room, seems to work today.

This week I passed a personal milestone. It’s been 3 years since the day I got a message from God. It was that quiet, calm and peaceful voice. It came through a heavy hangover on a Saturday afternoon. It said “God can only use me if I’m Sober.” It hit me like a ton of bricks… made of feather. It was such a toss, such a floated easy idea, that I didn’t run screaming away from it. I pondered it, but it was a deep and considerate ponder.

I talked with my Pastor, I shared this news with Christian Men. I was supported and encouraged. To this day, I haven’t had another drink of alcohol. That seems like so long ago. Many times, and I mean thousands of times, I have thought about it. Sometimes it seems, the internal pressure was too much, I was going to cave in. I just wanted to slip into a mellow glass of vino. I wanted the richness of that tart dry taste to wash over me. I wanted to release the suffering of trying to deny myself… It happened a lot, when I was anxious, sometimes in social situations, always it is hard hard hard to say no.

I now live in a dark room. I don’t expose myself often to social moments where I will feel that internal pressure. I don’t appreciate the distractions. They are counter-productive. I do work at a bar, I am there every day, yet I don’t want it too much there. I can see the reasons not to drink, hanging out with some that overindulge. I prefer sobriety while at work.

Anyway, I am in a dark and quiet place often. I am not out among the bright colorful social world that I used to be. It is harder, and I don’t always like it. I miss it.

Progress though, is happening, here. I am doing something new for me. I am making things occur, that didn’t used to. I feel more purposeful, an almost indictable current of momentum moves me now. Sometimes it is so slow, I hope it’s leading me somewhere good. It sure isn’t as fun, I can tell you that part too.

I appreciate the support, the ‘likes’ on my links. I hope that if you too, feel the call, the tug of some challenge, that you will consider it. Maybe you have a purpose or a place that someone else needs you to be, even if you never imagined yourself there before…

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

You can call me Jerry, Jerry-Rigg

Every day, actually, every night when I go to the end of my driveway and open the faded black mailbox I notice it. I see the green metal T-Post with the silver top that I drove into the ground one Saturday afternoon. I even sometimes see the round gold deck screw heads that I ‘socked’ through post and into the cedar 4×4. I laugh at my redneck ingenuity.

My mailbox post, used to be a constant problem. Waay back, when I first bought my house, when I was 23 years old, we threw a lot of parties. A lot of people would come to these parties. A lot of people, meant a lot of cars. And trucks too. Often, at the end of the night, we would find the mailbox, or the post, has been ‘bumped’ as someone was trying to snake their way of the tiny packed ‘parking lot’, AKA my driveway. Once, the entire setup was smashed completely flat, post, mailbox and all, with bills and letters still in it. To this day, that mailbox is mounted to the garage wall as a memorial to the casualty of one fun night.

Anyway, I remember the day that I needed to work on my mailbox post… again… and I decided to sink a T-Post next to it. I had recently bought a ‘better’ version of the whole setup, instead of the super cheap flimsy black metal, this one was a big chunk of wood. Well, it was leaning over too. The design used a spike in the ground that the heavy wood post mounted to, and it was a poor arrangement as well.

Looking around the back yard, I noticed a few T-Posts. I set to work by dropping the end of the tee as close to the wooden corner as possible. I started to hammer down with my sledge. While driving them too close together, I wondered how I would connect them. At some point, after thinking about a strap-wrapping, I settled on trying to drill a hole and use screws. It went much better than I expected. The green metal was soft, my gold screws held tight, everything was pretty solid and perpendicular to the ground. Sweet.

Except, that I thought it looked trashy. I didn’t like it. After I had installed the brace, I thought I ‘should’ have put it on the other side, less noticeable from the corner of John Brown. I just knew that I wanted this to be a temporary fix, and not a permanent mailbox holding solution. I thought that I wanted to live in a house, and be the kind of person, who didn’t have such a redneck way of doing things all the time. I would fix it soon, and make it look better…

That was several years ago. I notice that post every day. Probably no one else does. Not only does my mailbox post have a slapped-together, jerry-rigged appearance, but lots of things in my little world are like that. Inside the house, I have too many things like this to count. Ways that I have done things, on the cheap, with what I had on hand, that I always ‘intend’ to do ‘the right way’ later, but really never do…

Lots of things. My desk I am typing on, is a wooden top set on a plastic table underneath. My ‘bookshelves’ are grey rubbermaid modular shelves that I have cut and fit to make into a baby library case. I reuse or reclaim stuff, and none of it matches. I just don’t like buying new, or spending a lot, when I can make something work for me, on the cheap.

So what is the big deal about this T-Post at my mailbox. Well, it is a reminder, a hallmark of how I tend to do things. I want to ‘make do’ and always think ‘someday’ I’ll fix it. Someday will come and all of my household and my life will be magazine quality showhome, exquisite…

Really??

My mentor, and world-class coach,  Steve Chandler, says ‘How you do some things, is how you do everything.” I believe him. I see that in my little world.

I guess the question is: what is more useful for me? To see that mailbox post and regret that I haven’t done better? Or to notice that I have my own way of doing things, accepting myself, and then moving into the next best action, instead of dwelling on my faults…

The sooner I can relax, breathe and say, all is well, I am good, the way that I am, then I can decide from peaceful neutrality, the next forward motion I would want to take. Maybe it will be to finally fix my mailbox up real nice. But probably it won’t.

I will most likely jump into a new project, another more interesting endeavor, and leave the jerry-rigged stuff, just like it is.

Just like I am.

Just like it is okay to be.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Origin of Jury-Rig, a Nautical Term from Wikipedia

The Downtowner, according to 3-year-old me.

Where I ‘come from’, is a friendly place, that the people are glad to see me. They smile and think I’m cute. I am sitting with my family. My Dad, to be specific. He’s larger than life, SuperSize, I’m tiny. It’s early morning time. I’m hungry and thirsty. I want Milk… No, I want Chocolate Milk. That too sweet, over-chocolated milk, you can’t get at home. I want chocolate milk, in a red plastic-pebbly surfaced cup. And I want ice in it.

I get my chocolate milk on ice, exactly how I want it.

I am happy. Someone paid attention and spoiled me. That is the place where I come from: In the way that I remember the Lee’s Downtowner. That is the restaurant that my Grandparents ran. My aunts and uncles worked there. I went on Saturday mornings with my Dad… I think? This chocolate milk memory had to have been from when I was just three or barely four years old.

Anyway, when I think of what a restaurant ‘should’ be in my mind. That is it. A special place, filled with family. A place where kids are paid attention to, talked to, served something extra special. Even chocolate milk, on ice, if they want it. Not to just spoil them, for the sake of spoiling. I don’t think kids always deserve to get anything and everything they want. I do think, that in this place, a restaurant, or our restaurant, these things are so simple, and so doable, and so rewarding to those kids, that we should do what we can do.

Maybe, if it’s God’s Will, and one of these same kids we serve, only has a few memories to hold on to, about a time with their family, in our place, let’s make it a good one. Just like drinking my chocolate milk on ice :)

So that is my ‘Come From’ – in regards to the restaurant biz.

I have lots of ‘Come Froms’ – they in fact, color and construct, and even command, how I go about my biz of life, in every different aspect and facet of it.

Straight-Line coach and author Dusan Djukich calls it our Inner Stance. This place or this idea or the shape of the lens through which we ‘see’ our life. Lucky for me, I have a clear-cut ‘Come From’ on my idea of the restaurant business, because I happen to now work within it. I am glad I have this, and it is a positive memory, therefore I have a goal, something to aim for, something by which I can measure progress, wins and losses.

I can see on the face of a four-year old whether we are doing a good job or not. For me, it is not their approval I am seeking, I am looking at the value of the experience as a whole. When they are justly and truly served well, the parents know it. The parents, our paying customers, and guests, see the investments we make in their kids and they come back, time and again. They become family, yes, in this place called a business.

So what if I didn’t have a ‘Come From’ that was solid in my mind? What if I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted a certain experience to look like? Well, then I have problems. And I DO HAVE plenty of problems. See just this one part of the restaurant world is clear to me. Many other parts aren’t.

Just like in my life as a whole, I need that ‘Come From’ to be crystalline. If it is pure, and clear, defined like it’s got a professional lens-like focus, then I find happiness. Because I can see where I want to make adjustments. I know exactly which paths to take, to get me closer to my own version of ‘perfection’.

Where I don’t have clear focus. Where I am without a solid ‘Come From’ I am straddling. I drift and wander. When I haven’t rooted myself in a choice and stuck to one principal above all others, I fight and fail. There are tons of places in my life, where I am unclear, and haven’t made a conscious effort to CHOOSE a ‘Come From’ or Inner Stance. They say it can be done: that we can just pick a foundation and use it to operate.

Like most people, I am more comfortable with the ones that were embedded early in life. The ones that have been with me the longest. I know some are healthy and good, others are not.

Actually, I wrote a note to myself in preparation for writing today. I do that a lot. Little stickys, with scribbles. They are all over this desk. I wrote that my ‘Come From’ is Fear, Anger and Rage. I wrote that when I perceive wrongness, and when I judge something to be against my values, I immediately jump into quick Anger, which I know is Fear.

My fuse is short, escalation is quick, Rage and I are old bad friends that torment each other. Actually I probably torment others with it.

So there. A ‘Come From’ that I don’t like. One that has probably been around as long as my favorite-ever cup of iced chocolate milk.

Could Love replace the fear that seems so deeply embedded? Could Grace and Mercy, Forgiveness and Fun, with Laughter come, and sweep away the Yelling?

I pray so.

When I go every week, and sit among the Men of our Wednesday morning Bible Study, I feel their power. All of them are older than me. The fire in them is still burning bright, yet it doesn’t seem to scorch and destroy, like mine wants to. I sense a deepness of the glow and whiter, hotter core of their beings. I hope mine develops someday too.

The jumpy-ness, the flickering and dancing of my fear-based angers, seem more mosh-pit, than samba. I pray that with God’s help, if it is His Will, that I may calm and direct my passions in more productive manners.

Folks, I care and love and want so much, for things to be good and right and prosperous. I want that in my work, in my relationships, in my spiritual life too. I must be caught in between commitments. I must be straddling two opposing ideas. I must be lost, and not wanting to decide which road signs to follow, when I blow up, and lose my cool. If I was more clear on my direction, I could maybe be calm as I put on the brakes, turn the wheel, pick a new road. Instead I usually hit the ditch, revvvv the motor, cuss the map itself, and every other driver on the road.

God has a plan. I am pretty sure that it is all laid out. He’s put things into black and white. His love abides and exists just now as it always has. I can have it, when I decide I want it. Really though, I have to decide. If I don’t know where I ‘Come From’ in my relationships and my spiritual life, I guess I can turn to him and ask him to guide me.

What a wonderful guide God would be.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Snapchatting my 107 Year Old, Great-Grandma

I am sending snapchats to a co-worker. I send pictures. I send videos. I probably will get tired of it soon and forget about it. If you don’t know what snapchats are, they are either photos or quick videos that you can easily shoot and send through your phone. You can write text onto the photos, or draw pictures with your finger, but that takes too much time and patience for me. I hate typing on my phone, I miss the buttons that the original cell phones had. You could type without even looking the thing.

Anyway!!! I just click a photo and send, or better yet, I hold down the ‘button’ (that doesn’t exist) and take a short video. I can talk into the camera, and make a quick message to get my point across. Like an instant video-version voicemail. It is a very convenient way to communicate. (As if we needed more of that!)

So what is different and blog-worthy about this ‘snapchat’ thing? Well, when you send a picture or video, it is only visible for a short time period. It disappears fairly quickly. Yes, I know that somehow you can take screenshots, or even retrieve these images or videos from a hidden folder, if you want to take the time to do so. Most people never will. And I am not sending inappropriate materials anyway…

Or am I?

See, the fun thing about knowing that your photo or video is only visible for a tiny fininte amount of time, is that the impermanence is freeing. I have found myself sending stupid, random thoughts and quirky moments in time through this platform. I send videos of myself eating a salad, or speaking in squeaky voices, or singing along with the car radio.

Anyway, it’s kind of like when you play with a puppet. You can add extra personality or say outrageous things, because it is a little moment apart from your ‘real self’…

Or is it??

Maybe my being goofy on snapchat is a new outlet, another way to express myself, in my own ‘weird’ ways. Maybe I really want to be that crazy all the time, and I’m usually too scared to. I do really get a kick out of the reaction when Alyssa (a waitress and goofy Mom herself) tells me that my snaps make her and her husband laugh.

Maybe I want to be a performer, a comedian or something, and this is my tiny way to pretend to do that. Just like this blog, I like these little outlets to release the ‘stuff’ that I usually don’t, in my everyday interactions with the normal world.

I am disappointed in myself sometimes, that when you meet me on the street, or in the restaurant or even at church on Sundays, that I am not as expressive and passionate and driven, as I may seem to be with these typed out words on screen. A double-life, in a way that isn’t productive, I can tell myself, I am living.

Yes, these writing moments, or my silly snappy-chats are me, being me. Yes, my ho-hum, hows-the-weather-ness of everyday life do all come from the same place. One seems to brighten and ignite my flame, the other seems to cover and sometimes extinguish it, to a tiny ember.

I am hardly ever as evangelical in real life, as I am on this blog. I am hardly ever as vocal about the deeper questions, person to person, as I am fingers to keyboard. Just like a puppeteer or actor or newpaper comic illustrator, colorful parts of me can be released on ‘stage’ and then I go back to boring afterward.

Maybe the balance is good. Maybe I could just be contented that at least I have gone this far, said this much, here on this digital ‘page’. Maybe this is practice, for another Act, to play out later on. Maybe it’s a time-capsule that will last 35 years into the future, or longer, for someone to come across and appreciate.

This week, I was given a DVD disc. Just like millions of other pieces of silvery round plastic, it has video on it. Unlike any other I have ever obtained before, it had moving pictures of a man I never really knew. It was lovingly made by our extended family. The old Herrod home movies, from the late 70’s and early 80’s, have made it all the way to 2014. They contain fuzzy and silent, but brilliant footage. My Dad is on there. My Mom too. My grandparents and great grandparents, aunts and uncles, babies, my cousins all smile and laugh. They go fishing, they open presents, they eat wonderful dinners you can almost taste.

My mom tries on a dress, while I am incubating along in her belly. My Dad, holds me up at the dinner table. I am spun upside down, and at the very last second end of the clip, he pretends to drop me onto the floor. Wow.

Thanks to Everyone involved in recording, storing and now converting, these ancient video moments. I have never seen a video of my Dad until this week. As it’s been 31 years since he’s passed-on, I couldn’t still remember his walk, his widening smile. The way his eyes carry and contain the moment, entrancing they were, even on this grainy old dead-quiet film.

I used my snapchat video camera to grab a few of these little clips. I am bummed that they show up sideways here. I really wanted to fill this blog page with great scenes for you to see too.

Funny idn’t it. The old technology was wonderful, yet it’s the new, that helps us see the old. I just can’t help but wonder though, about the kind of ‘snaps’ that would have come from my Dad, from my great grandparents Letha and Marshall Churchbaugh, or even my very young and pretty Momma, as she was about to give birth for the first time. I wonder what their inner worlds were like. I wonder what thoughts crossed their minds and what shape they saw this thing called ‘Life’.

As wonderful as these images and video are, I still know that they are only part of the story. They show us smiles and serene family moments. Life is made up, of so much more that just that. I am so grateful for every instant of this old film. I someday hopefully will re-meet these characters, knowing them in the deepest ways. Understanding the place where I come from, where we all come from. I want to know the humanity through which I came to this place called Earth.

Today, I know so much more than I did, even a week ago. Thanks again to the Herrod family, for putting together these videos. Thanks to Alyssa for being my friend on Snapchat and watching my silly silly silllllleeeeyyyyyy-nesss on there each day :)

Take care and until next week, let yourself be the real you. Let it out for the world to see. Record it even. By word, or image, do something that makes your mark, in way that someone else may appreciate you, even from afar. Sharing is important. I need to remind myself of that every day :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Banging in the Canoe, Slapping the Water, Grimacing or Grinning the Whole Way

A day on the river, for me, used be wild, “boobs and beer, that’s why I’m here!” Umm… not so much anymore. I still like to get into a canoe and load up some supplies (water, tea, sierra mist, and snacks now). I enjoy lashing them down with bungee cords and telling the dog, Roxy, to jump in. I especially love, to see my wife, smile and shiver as she wades into the cold water to take her place in the front. A sunny morning, hearing the wet splashing, the chunky gravel scraping and watching the glitter of diamonds atop the water, as we launch for a day of floating in a canoe, is pure heaven to me.

Our anniversary weekend included a nice 14 mile float last Sunday at the Niangua River, fed by Bennet Springs, near Lebanon, Missouri. It was a perfect day, with perfect company, and I was glad to be there. As we set adrift on the slow current,  in our ‘cargo-style” limo-sized canoe, I watched several groups around us taking off in their big yellow rubber duck rafty things. I never was a fan of that type of floating. I have tried it a couple times. If you just need a platform that won’t tip, so you can be entirely punch-drunk, I guess it works, but, you lose so much of the art of maneuvering your craft.

By choosing the canoe to float in, I get to feel that I control the ship with every touch of the paddle to the water. From the rear I can propel us straight forward with a few strong strokes on each side. I can look ahead and see still waters, a deeper channel, and drive the vessel toward it. When obstacles are fast approaching, I can drive my oar deep beside me, holding it fast, ‘putting on the brakes’ and turning the canoe on a dime to avoid a crash. Sometimes I like to stand and captain the thing, gondola style. I balance on the back seat, or edges of the boat. I reach down and scoot us forward with a couple pulls, and then rest my hands on the end of the paddle. I love feeling the full breeze as I stand and survey the ripples ahead.

Anyway, I really like being in a canoe. It feels natural and right and connected to the flow of the river and to the flow of life, in those fleeting moments you catch in between the mental-everything, and notice the simplicity of nature.

Something not fun about the canoeing experience, is feeling the bottom drag on shallow rocks. There are parts of the river where only a couple inches of water move over vast gravelbars. I want to avoid these parts as much as possible. Usually when you have to jump out and let the canoe float on it’s own through these spots, you stub a toe, or slice a leg on some unseen sharp-edged rock. Nowadays, being sober while canoeing, does help this problem out. Less falling in the river, or onto other boats or people, and generally bruising up my whole body.

Also there are places where a bend in the stream will make a strong current, a deep and rushing shoot, that can also gather deadwood and brush piles. These places are not to be toyed with. Yes, maneuvering around them is fun, but it is risky. Smashing into some fallen trees while the river pushes against you can be dangerous. The suck while stopped can momentarily dip the edge in to the water, then a boat on it’s side will fill instantly. If you can get your body away fast enough, you will be alright, but the canoe will be hard to recover without help. Your snacks and drinks will bob along downstream without you :(

Luckily, with Lindsay and I (no help from Roxy) we communicate well in the canoe. We talk about how to navigate around these obstacles. We decide ahead, which way we want to enter the bends. We look downstream for the best places point the boat. When we arrive at a problem point, we are already ready for it. We brake or paddle hard to smooth through, and maybe a gentle bang or chunking sound will come from the stern as the tail end touches a submerged tree trunk. It is a beautiful thing, dancing with the river.

Funny though, lots of times, right after we sailed through a real trouble point, a deep bend with brush built up, there would immediately following, be a gently eddy in the flow. Just as we smiled and enjoyed the accomplishment of steering cleanly through the problems, this little circulating wash of current, would just slightly pull the bow. An almost undetectable shift would happen as the stern end would keep it’s speed and slide away with the still strong current.

Soon, Lindsay would be pointed right at the bank, maybe into a shallow spot. The gravel bits would grab the underside of the aluminum. I would be waay back in the deep and swift water. We would be side ways in the river.

At that exact moment there are two ways to handle the situation. If I want to keep our course, as it was, I need to paddle hard. I need to back up the boat. I need to ask Lindsay to push off, or to join in frantic splashings to avoid the inevitable. I most likely can get us pointed straight again, but it is a LOT of work. I am fighting the flow the river. I am nervous, being sideways for any amount of time is spooky. The more I try to keep us pointed in the ‘normal’ direction, the longer I will stay sideways. At the front, the water is still and shallow, at the back it rushes and pushes. I will be exhausted by the time, we get things ‘righted’ again, and can continue on downriver…

Another way to handle this moment is to realize that the river is doing all of the work here. Yes, there is a strong movement within the stream. It wants to help us continue on. The thing is, with the front-end lodged against the bank, the back end wants to continue. I can just let this ‘spin moment’ happen. I can do almost nothing, and the river itself will happily pull us along, but backwards. See the canoe is designed to work well, either front-ways or back-ways (to use the technical terminology :)) I can simply let this action happen, and all will be okay. Yes we are now facing upriver, we don’t want to carry on this way for the rest of the trip, but within a short distance we will again use the current to spin us proper.

This motion of pre-planning for the troubled bend, then spinning away from the ensuing eddy can be a delightful dance. It can feel smooth and flowy. It can be peaceful even, through the work and through the slight adjusting tensions, it can be soo gratifying. On the other hand, when I fear the danger, when I try too hard, things get worse. When I frantically slap the water with my oar, and beg the boat to stay pointed in the ‘right’ way, I exhaust myself. When I think there actually is a ‘right way’ or a ‘wrong way’ to be, I am fighting a force bigger than myself. It’s a battle I will never, ever win.

I did notice on Sunday’s float trip, that just being on the water, pointed in either direction, is the key. Being pulled by the current, but floating along with it, is enjoyment. Just noticing the beauty of nature, the forces at play and the opportunity to drift with it, is an amazing thing.

Ironically, back in the olden days, my float trips were much different. I actually preferred back then to hang out on the banks. I didn’t want to be ‘on the water’ all day. I wanted to lounge and drink and chill beside it. I didn’t want to paddle at all, if possible. Back then, a 4 mile stretch of the river could entertain me from morning till sundown.

Lots of life changes have happened since then. New choices, different ones. 14 miles of the river went by rather quickly on Sunday. We were done before many other vessels. We were in the water and moving along. We experienced much more of what that place had to offer. We saw it all. We worked hard at times, but never to catch up. We together adventured beyond, where most folks get off. I am proud of that.

At the end of the day, a drunk guy asked me for beer. I offered water, tea and sierra mist. He took one of those little green cans. Sorry dude, I used be out of beer too, at the end of the float. I wanted more then too, like you. Now, I found more fun, without it. Different fun, but deeper. An understanding that we missed the real beauty in search of the beers and even the bouncing river boobies.

God’s delivering more than that. The current and flow is ours to harness, we can go far and beyond with Him. Unless we continue to try and fight it, doing things our own ways. It’s very tiring, wanting to be pointed in the ‘right’ direction. A little backwards motion would be much easier, if we can just accept it for the small passing moment. So He showed me, on the river that day :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

the Title is the most important word here

I fret over them. I worry about them. I construct and crochet them. On the good days, that is. Usually, I toss them around. I let them fly. I notice halfway through that I maybe could have used them better. I feel their power, and notice their absolute weakness too. I gamble a relationship on them, sometimes I lose. I can also use them to dip someone in gold, to polish and admire. I am using them right now, to explain themselves… ironically.

This week I have experienced the power of words. I am sure you have too. This is nothing new, no fresh discovery. I noticed them though uniquely in the last few days.

I had conversations, that I wished I didn’t have to have. I am using the adage I learned from Dave Ramsey, that ‘Conflict is best served fresh.’ I guess if I erred, I did so with quickly opening up dialogue that I usually would put off, maybe to stew over, to let boil. No, this week, a couple times, I have chosen to sew together words that question, that reiterate, that make a stand. A stand not popular with the other party.

Also this week, I wrote words on screen. No, not just these, but words of encouragement and words that recommend. I did something that I remember asking my employer to do, while I was in High School. I wrote a letter of recommendation. Yes, I am getting old, when someone asks this of me. I am not the kid anymore… darn. Anyway, I wanted to do it well, for this person. I was glad I have practice typing out these words here. I remember an exact sentence from a letter written by Bill Allegre, when I was a teen. He said I had ‘business knowledge beyond my years.’ Wow, I that stuck with me. True or not, I thought it was sooo cool, that he said that about me.

What words we use to describe a person to themselves can be absolutely foundation rocking. I could get into the truths that maybe words have no power unless we let them, but in the larger experience of life, I know they do. I’m no theologian, maybe we could talk about the true source of them. We could accurately explain that inflection and context can change the entire conversation. Truly though, the word, is something so mysterious and amazing, right on the tip of our tongues, yet forever out of reach.

I misuse them alot. I waste them often. I miss opportunities to share them. I need them too. I needed them last night when I got home late, and my wife was fast asleep. I just had to interrupt her, to exchange words, and spill my guts and connect about my day. Crazy isn’t it. Nothing, not one action or physical object was adjusted in the slightest, because of talking with my wife. Everything about my world felt better though. My anxiety was calmed. My stomach untied it’s knots. I could breathe again freely. I slept sound. Before the conversation, I was abuzz with mind-garbage. Probably would’ve been mulling things over all night long…

This week, the kids are back to school and the FUNdraising has started. I say this sarcastically. I see no fun in overpaying for things I don’t need, all in the name of raising ‘money’ for a local school group. I do however LOVE the idea of actually donating right to the cause. I want all of my money to go to the kids. I don’t want Mr. Popcorn Company CEO, or Mrs. Cookie Dough CEO to get my dollars. If I want popcorn or cookie dough, I’ll just buy that stuff at regular fair pricing, thank you. I want to GIVE to these kids. I want them to take the money my family has made and use for things they need. I want them to have all of my $16 or $20 (or more), not just the small leftovers after the ‘junk’ was paid for.

I always offer to support the group. I always refuse the product. I want to make a point. (I know, I’m no fun and should just go along… Ha!) Anyways, as I did my normal routine this week of gladly accepting their invitation to donate to the group, I once again, refused the items. The severe misuse of words is apparent during these conversations, as I am usually asked to please pick an item to buy, so that they can ‘win’ their ‘contest’ to get a ‘free’ whatever…

Riiiiight! I am really disgusted with the coaches and parent leaders of these groups, who have not explained to the kiddos that a donation, in lieu of buying an item, is Better for their group. They get more money. Winning the contest, and selling the most cookie dough to get something ‘free’ is hilarious! The ‘free’ item costs that fundraising company real money. (it’s probably a cheapo version anyway) They buy it with your dollars, that you used to pay them for the overpriced dough.

Why is does this sound like such a foreign concept???? Yes, I’m ranting on this. :)

I detest, that the words have been misused enough that the kids believe them. I detest hearing words that advertisers have so surgically and purposely manipulated as to lull us into consumer zombie-ism! Hearing a car dealer ad on the radio is case in point. “Buy Now with No Money Down, and $500 Cash Back! Just Sign and Drive!” COME ON!!!

Pssssst…. that’s not buying…. (Buying is when you trade money for an item, before you have traded the full price, you didn’t buy it yet, if you have a loan on it, only the loan is yours… not the item!)

Come on guys and gals. Let’s notice for ourselves how powerful words can be. It overwhelms me that I am such a poor vocabulatic tactician. In fact I even make up my own words like ‘vocabulatic’, because I’m too lazy to actually expand the scope and range of words I know.

I do type out words here. Who knows what impact they have if any. I do know that my hard work and my actions to accomplish things outside of this space, are valuable right now. This may be wasted time, that I am frittering away, when I could be actually doing something else… Funny thing about this universe that God designed, my words will last on, even after I’m gone. Maybe no one will ever read them. That part isn’t up to me. These words themselves however, have only been linked together in this exact way, just this one time. Never again will this happen forever for the rest of eternity. That is quite amazing, even if my story isn’t.

I do know that John 1:1 says “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” I do believe that. 

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Inhabiting a chamber in the revolver

When people have asked lately, ‘how’s it goin’?’ I have answered that I have been doing my favorite things and been having fun doing it. I need to remind myself sometimes, of what those favorite things are.

At the restaurant we have an upcoming remodel project. We are installing a new floor in the kitchen. Along with snazzy new ceramic tile, we have a chance to re-look at the setup of the whole thing. I have focused a lot of attention on the dish washing corner. It’s a highly important piece of our food service puzzle. I did some drawing and had discussions. We talked about options and better ways to do things. Easier ways to operate and a more efficient flow have showed up in concept. Now I get to facilitate their physical creation.

Buying equipment, and actually installing some, looking over and over at the simple wire shelving and seeing how much a small change can improve things, is my favorite thing. We have more new cool features to construct. Our guests won’t see them first hand, but everything about the experience we offer, will be enhanced, when we put time, money, focus and energy into enhancing these ‘background’ fixtures…

Also at my other job this week, (as a graphic artist) I had a mountain of designs to create. With school just beginning and the coaches and teachers hitting the classrooms, it seems they all pressed ‘send’ at once, on the tee shirt requests for their teams, clubs and organizations. I saw an email over the weekend that previewed the workload ahead. Wow, a biiiiig pile of them. I took it as a personal challenge, and plowed through them, tens at a time. With so many jobs on deck, there is little time to fret and fuss with the intricate problems inherent in the ideas and artistic opinions of the customers.

Throw together some options. Use artwork I already have on hand. Grab a popular layout and redesign it for this application. Sometimes my work is better, when I don’t have time to ponder it. Funny how that ironically and predictably becomes true.

Another favorite thing this week, was arriving at the hospital to meet my new nephew for the first time. Only the third baby in our growing family, it is such a special moment to see this little person I will eventually know so well. Being there to see his first day out, is mesmerizing and magic.

Also this week, I have experienced splashes and waves of frustration. Quick anger, and eye-rolling boredom over oft-repeated problems occurring again. Along with all the cool stuff going on, I still notice plenty of darkness and shadows between the bright white spots of light. All through the week, and weeks and months, it seems this way. More darkness than light at times.

I thought about these extremes as I walked through the revolving glass door of Olathe Medical Center yesterday. I was going in, to meet a brand-spanking-new baby boy. Maybe the person behind me, wasn’t. He seemed hurried, he was a little too close as we waited for the massive turbine to slowly spit us out on the inside of the hospital. He seemed to want to pass me, and push his way in quick. As we transitioned into the hallway, he went close to my side and then, poof, gone!

I have walked through the hospital doors the same way before. I think about that entrance. It must be washed in every shade of human emotion as people exude their feelings as they pass through. It must have noticed the tears of both joy and anguish. I have passed through with wide eyed wonder about both the good and the bad.

Just like life, those doors are a gateway to all of our experience. The same doors both foreboding and wide open to freshness. My life has seemed that way this week. Both ends of the spectrum, simultaneously, congruently, consistently…

Maybe that is just normal. Maybe it’s not weird at all. Somewhere I picked up the idea that we were ‘supposed’ to experience a greater measure of the good stuff and just some little bad stuff here and there. Nah… It feels like a big load of both lately… And maybe that is just a big load of blessings and blessings in disguise. It’s a ride I get to be on. It is exactly where I am supposed to be and what is part of the bigger picture.

I hope your walk through the doors of this life, bring you the full gamut of what it means to be a human, being in this place, a spirit, among the thin veil of this ‘real’ world.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

I put a cherry bomb in my mouth…

The mild morning air and fresh sun on the garden plants, had a calm but purposeful energy. I stood in the relative quiet. The dry hay mulch crackled just slightly underfoot. I wanted to move slow, stay tired and just relax. Overall, this time outside, noticing the browning of leaves, the many little bugs, and the curled up, shriveled bumpy cucumbers feels like an ending of things. Late Summer in the garden, a peaceful death.

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My body had aches from a short night’s sleep. and general lack of fitness. My mind was still junked up, with a tough ending to the Friday night shift. I had to let go, part of team. Hard to do, wish it could’ve been different. A very full day ahead, felt daunting. I was just in my shorts and a comfy tee, almost pajamas, walking among the plants…

I just felt sort of blah, and I hadn’t even brushed my teeth yet, to start the day. I noticed a small fruit. It was orang-ey yellow. Really round, and small. A bite sized tomato.

2014-08-16 08.11.48Without thinking much, I grabbed it, rubbed it around in my hand, and popped it into my mouth.

WHOA!!! POP!! GUSH! Brightness and Acidity, a little sweet, VERY TART! Boom! Flavor! That’ll wake ya’ up! Wow, I know how vibrant a fresh garden tomato can taste. I’m no stranger to it, after the last few years of growing these things. I shouldn’t be the surprised in the least! But I was. Happily Surprised…

My dull and brown morning, was so opposite of the flash of blaze from this baby flavor grenade. It almost jerked me out of the foggy mindstate I was in. I appreciated the message, that even among this dying jungle of leaves, there is still a lot of potency left. Nothing has gone bland or tasteless yet. In fact, there is still lots of ripening left to do, before the winter comes.

My days and weeks sometimes feel like this melancholy morning moment. I can get bogged down, staring at the holes eaten by parasites to my life. I can show you the browning edges and half-broken roots, from the harshness of a Kansas summer. When thinking about my jobs or my relationships or my material ‘things’ I see that the harvest is looking slim. The varieties I’ve chosen, are low producers. They are slow producers, and I could’ve cared for them better.  I left them to fend for themselves, I didn’t nurture enough this year…

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I can show you a garden full of failure, and life full of it too, if I want to. I can show you that the spring is long gone. The midsummer was very dry. The fall is approaching fast. I wish for those more optimistic May days. Back then, the whole of possibility lie ahead. The black crumbly canvas seemed more blank and fresh. Now, it’s light brown and cracked. Bugs crawl openly, they hang underleaf. Little deep green poops are evidence of their destructive chewings…

Back in May, there was not much to eat in the garden. Maybe a snow pea pod, but nothing more, not in mine. Now there are tomatoes, a couple peppers maybe, ugly cucumbers that are probably bitter as heck. But fruit has arrived. The plants have produced. The process is further along, I could enjoy this, if I wanted to.

Rarely does my mind, want to be, where it is. It usually wants to remember back to days golden and passed. Maybe it wants to shoot ahead, to some imaginary moment, where everything is perfect, and there is no more yearning, no more hoping for difference. I want everything I have, I have everything I want. Not the material, not just the material, but everything. The spiritual, the physical, the mental and shiny toys too, with travel to anywhere and everywhere simultaneously…

I remember Wayne Dyer talking about the morning, afternoon and evening of life. How we experience the whole of our trip upon the earth in stages. I see them in the garden too. I see the early spring. The youngness, the fragility and freshness of youth. I see the weeds come in and want to infest our garden. I see the plants develop, mature, begin to flower. Now these days there is fruit on the vine. It ripens, but not just as I would like it to. I know there is a timeframe, the end is out there. These are not immortal tomatoes.

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The brightness of the flavor hit me like a blast. I woke up to the power of that tiny red ball. A cherry bomb, exploding. Do we produce like that too? Do we develop and ripen creatively in a way that explodes with our own unique flavor? I hope we do. I think of Jesus saying 
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33) And I wonder about mine.

I guess the tomato I ate this morning, didn’t grow, to dine on itself. It probably will never know how good, or how bad or dull or vibrant, it’s own flavor is, to the one who eats it. It just grows and becomes. It doesn’t try or not try. It just tomato’s. I was the one who decided it was good. I wonder if God will decide I am?

A big question, comes from this little moment this morning. Am I producing good fruit? I hope so. Although I’d better not sit around and wonder about it too long. The seasons are progressing, time does move forward. I’d better get on with my Aaron-ing :)

I pray that you keep moving on with yours :)

Live beautifully my friends :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols