I’m not making it great… again!

It’s fun to see cute little things growing all around me.  Their developing and reaching seems to expand day by day. I’m impressed and proud at the constantly budding natural accomplishments. I would also love to take credit myself for masterminding their creation. How awesome would it be, to know that I’ve actually done the hard work of sculpting and crafting these amazing creatures!

Okay, okay. I’m sure you know what things I’m talking about, right!

It’s my tiny tomato plants of course!

Well actually, this paragraph could also describe the vibrant youthful crew at our restaurant!

And yeah, I suppose I could once again be typing up tidbits about all my precious girls!

This awareness actually applies to all three examples.

I’m not God. I didn’t create any of these blessings all around me. I know exactly why that is as well… These very best things in my life, I couldn’t possibly command into existence, even if I made them my life’s mission!

This year I neglected my garden. After it was tilled in early spring, I forgot about it until it was blanketed in weeds. Finally, I bought some seed, some seedlings and got out my hoe. I dug and tore at that green carpet of junk weeds, trying to make room for my new storebought supply of veggies.

During my back-straining stabbing at the ground, I noticed something. Not every green shoot in that soil was a weed. Several of them had the jagged edged leaves of a tomato. I began to leave some of them alone. Volunteer tomatoes had sprung up all over. God had already begun the planting of my garden, while I was ignoring it. God’s methods do that kind of thing…


Back in the too small, too hot, too hectic kitchen of our restaurant, gangly kids are growing into proficient adults, at an amazing rate. In the grinding blast of a Friday night rush, young people step up. They become decisive and action obsessed. They stretch beyond their capabilities. They become flexible and fantastically fast learners.

I can demand with volume of voice, but it’s all in vain. Their accomplishment comes from within. I believe they’re finding themselves to be stronger, smarter and more capable than they imagined when they walked in the door asking for ‘just a job.’ These moments in their development are authored by our almighty Creator. I am doing just enough to keep from hindering them too much. Their gifts and the way they use them, happens as they Volunteer to walk through our doors and get to work. It’s not me doing it at all.


Hearing that people find my kids cute, or darling, or precious is nice. I totally agree! And as you would expect, I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t anything that I have directly been able to affect.  All my girls are my pride and joy. Lindsay, my wife, however is the absolute most amazing blessing I’ve experienced in my whole life. There is a specific reason for this: My cute kids are God’s gift, they represent God’s smiles onto our marriage. Let’s face it though, these kids are involuntary captives. They are born into our household. They aren’t choosing us from amongst a wide range of possible families to live with. They know us and us alone as their only Mommy and Daddy.

Lindsay is different than the girls. Lindsay is my wife by choice. She is one half of a sacred and Voluntary union, between two wildly different entities. The truth is, that God alone has the power to shelter and embrace this volatile and fragile blend of explosive ingredients. There isn’t any way that I can claim to be the one making this possible; just ask her, I’m sure she’d agree, that’s a laughable thought really!! 🙂

So deep is my appreciation for the nature of the Volunteer.

I’m blessed constantly and richly and I notice, whenever I am seeing the amazing results around me, that I never could construct.

Until next week my friends, Volunteer your heart to God, and watch life flourish all around you.


Aaron Nichols


Unproductive Exercise: A New Trend!

Ten years ago this summer, I was in the best shape of my life. Sure I was a youngster at 28, but that wasn’t the reason why. For a couple years before that, I was a human balloon! Rounder and even more portly than I am today, and with my ten year class reunion on the horizon, I had decided it was time to trim down.

By the summer of 2007, my lifestyle changes were paying off. I regularly and rigorously exercised on my bicycles. I watched the portions at mealtime. I cut out junk-food like carbs and sugars. I had also drastically made adjustments to the calories I drank. It was a full-time commitment, and I even came close to sporting six-pack abs!

After lots of practice, I could easily pedal the 14 miles to Richmond and back right after work on a Friday night. I was fast on those two wheels and would make it home in plenty of time for the poker party in my garage. I’d then settle in for a long night of carousing with a bunch of golden tinted glasses of scotch and water and a several satisfying menthol cigarettes… Ahhh, those were my healthy days!

Funny isn’t it. I made it such a big priority to eat right and exercise, yet I couldn’t have tried harder to feast on my addictions and pollute the same body I was trying to transform! It should have been a good thing, that I was on the bike enough that I could ride for a quarter mile at a time no-handed.  The problem was, I learned that trick while lighting my cigarettes and putting the Bic and the box safely back into my fanny pack, without ever stopping or slowing down.

It’s been ten years since then. Eight since I last smoked a Marlboro. Over five since I last drank the Scotch. That was over 40lbs ago too.

My 20 year class reunion will be in the fall. I haven’t been nearly as anxious about this milestone as the first decade though.

I still live in a serious constant imbalance. My 28 year-old-self would be surprised and proud to know now about my amazing wife and two darling daughters. There are have been too many truly healthy changes to count. However, that same ironic scattered focus remains.

LIke here I am, again up till all hours, writing a story for you. In the morning. I will be glad to serve amongst my family of congregates at Westminster Presbyterian Church, yet my bible may stay closed again this week like the last several months have been.

I’ll probably drag tiredly through the rest of my one day “off” of the week. I could easily sleep away the afternoon and almost miss the evening before I head back for more work late tomorrow night.

I’ll enjoy little family moments in the day for sure. I might be so appreciative as I notice my wife nursing our infant daughter, and then I might snap sharply in response to some slight comment I deem abrasive.

A man of contrasts I remain. This moment finds my new version of that same ol’ story. Maybe ten years from now, I will look back and notice my stupidity that I’m blind to today.

Until next week my friends, pedal hard, party harder… until you realize that prayer works so much better than either of those. May God Bless Your Journey.


Aaron Nichols



True Self Control

Is it weird that I’m so domesticated now? It really wasn’t that long ago that the wild animal in me ran rampant and untamed. Now it’s a different story. I think it’s a better one too… but how can I really know for sure?

On another note: I find it fascinating to watch my not-quite 2-year-old daughter buckle herself into the highchair. Sometimes she’ll do it with the carseat straps too. There was a time earlier, when she was just getting big enough to sit on her own, that she fought those clicks that meant confinement.

In the morning, just a couple hours from now, I’ll be working on breakfast and JoJo will want to sit in her chair. She won’t let me connect the plastic latch, oh no… SHE has to do it.

It must be in our human nature to want to harness and control ourselves, the routines of our day and our lives. We want to be in charge of things and do it our own way.

Funny though, the straps on her breakfast chair, are a restriction. This safety feature keeps her locked down and stops her from crawling all over our bar and reaching the things we keep at a distance from her grabby hands…

She might whine about being stuck in there sometimes. She herself clicked the lock. It’s such a perfect metaphor for life in general. I suppose the symbolism will only get more elaborate and layered when she learns to open it too, and risks a possible fall.

When I dive deep into conspiracies and fall into never-ending rabbit holes on the internet, I look to the immediate world around me and see if I find proofs of any type. This seemingly natural bend toward self-domestication seems to help prove some far-fetched theories.

I have my daughters best interest at heart, when I use the safety straps on her highchair. She’s helping herself when she takes charge and locks herself in. I wonder then how this relates to the areas where I fasten and clamp down on myself instead of being mentally, physically or spiritually free?

Where have I drawn my own boundaries and who is it always helping? Hopefully it’s for my own good. I wonder though upon deeper inspection, where I might want to reevaluate. Just keeping routine for routine’s sake, can’t always be good. Maybe I don’t always benefit from more and more sedentary domestication.

At some point Joella will have to graduate and let go of always having a seatbelt wherever she sits. She would look funny to be my age someday and still wanting to be strapped into a plastic chair, just for sausage and eggs in her own kitchen.

Until next week my friends, stay open to those areas where it’s time to graduate, to engage the next gear, and leave behind the unnecessary straps holding you back.

God Bless


Aaron Nichols