Seven weeks

Two weeks ago we added to our clan — Hutchins clan, that is. However, this addition came via one of our own children, second child and oldest son, who (with the help of his wife) produced a baby girl — our first grandchild. Surreal? For my son and daughter-in-law, yes. For my wife and I… well, we knew this day was coming, and being well-versed in the process of courting to delivery, we figured it’d happen one day with one of our 8 children. It just so happened it would be this couple, at this time. But, yeah, it’s still surreal.

They wrestled with two names and settled on one, Amelia, then gave her my grandmother’s first name as a middle name, Anne — Amelia Anne, it has a nice ring. It was a beautiful choice, seeing as my grandmother (the baby’s great, great grandmother) missed the birth by something like 7 weeks — 7 weeks; five generations alive all at once, and we missed it by 7 weeks. My grandmother died a few weeks following her 97th birthday. No one really saw it coming (albeit, it had been coming for years) because Nan (my grandmother) was slowly sliding into a new normal with eye degeneration, leading to blindness. And although her eyesight suffered, she was mentally and spiritually in tact — a strong, Christian woman, sound mind and spirit. Sure, her body lacked, but at 97th, most folks aren’t getting any younger. However, Nan expressed a willingness to hang in there and pose for a 5-generation photo with Amelia, my son, me, and my dad, so I’m sure her hasty departure was out of her own hands.

It’s a weird feeling to have missed that. Why? Because, like death, it’s gone forever — in a way. Nan will be missed, and Amelia’s birth will be celebrated year after year, but both will forever share a name that means “full of grace.” Deep inside I know that Amelia will carry on the spirit of a strong, Christian woman, sound in mind and spirit. If for no other reason, it’s in her blood.

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Thoughtful Intention versus Selfish Ambition

“Do unto others…” Golden Rule my ass. If this is the Golden Rule, then we’re paupers in a land of riches. Why? Because we either serve out of guilt or serve to gain. Am I wrong?

Perhaps I am wrong. Still, I deal with more people that are self-focused than those who selfishly pour out themselves for others — and I am often guilty of the same. But why do we chose such a self-centered journey? I think the answer is clear. I think we simply fear that giving to others, for others, leaves us exposed and potentially a target for others to build up themselves.

So what would happen if we all started serving one another, building each other up, like we want to be built up by others? Would we turn the tide of selfish pursuit, seeing a greater benefit in giving than taking? Would be truly begin to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”?

We won’t know the outcome till we start something new.

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The Lost Art of Attention to Detail

“The internet will make us all stupid.”

Not an exact quote, but close enough to portray my Business English professor’s warning in the spring of 1996. It was my first semester back in college as a began a 3 year journey to earning my bachelors. It was also a year when the internet came truly alive on campuses across our nation. There were no WordPress or GoDaddy’s back then, just laborious hypertext coding, and it was a wild discovery which we had no idea would change the way we did… everything, basically.

But still, make us “stupid”? Seemed extreme. Seemed like the old guard having trouble with new management coming in and changing the way things were always done. That was until she clarified. “No accountability” (again, not an exact quote), she chimed, “No editors, no proofreading, no one caring enough to stop the bad grammar, misspelled words, or erroneous facts at the gate.” That made me rethink my initial response to her “stupid” claim. Perhaps she’s on to something. Perhaps she knows something — through 30+ years of teaching — that I wasn’t thinking. Perhaps.

The internet turned 25 years old this week. Twenty five years of giving a voice to anyone and everyone that had something to say — whether the rest of us cared or not. But it didn’t take 25 years to see the decline in our language — both in spelling and grammar. I dare say it took not even a year. Right off, year one for me (1996), I experienced a plethora of poor writing while using the internet to research for course assignments. Even the “professional” journal links were littered with poor grammar and misspelled words. It was as if we all quit caring about details — language details — and it was eating me up. From there it only got worse because the “bloggers” in the 90’s became the journalists and writers of the aughts and beyond, carrying poor language skills from the internet to print. These days, it’s more common to find poorly written work than not.

Attention to language details isn’t my high horse, but it does say a lot about the future. Most of all, it says that my Business English professor knew a thing or two I didn’t.

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Where My Future is a Lesson for My Past

“In retrospect.” Gosh, I hate those words — not individually, but together, in that order. IN. RETROSPECT. Meaning: “Idiot. What part of “think ahead” did I miss? Where was I during the “don’t be stupid” lecture? How could I miss that one?”

Making a mistake — we all do it — but do we all do it in a way that makes us sick at our choices. I have had my fair share of them — mistakes, that is. I have made enough for me and at least one half of another person, assuming that person is twice as smart as me and makes half the mistakes, thereby allowing me to make enough to cover their gap. It’s not that I’m a clinical moron, but more that I’m impulsive, perhaps. Or maybe that I am adventurous… which sounds better.

Erring is no sin, failing is no fall from glory, and tripping up is no indication that you are an unfit person. It’s natural (more for some than others). My goal, however, is to stop making decisions that have me utter those hideous two words, in order. My goal is to use predictable action, speculating the ramifications of my choices in the moment, in an effort to avoid regret in my near future, saving myself the pains of carrying mental and emotional weight through life. Simply stopping, pondering, and speaking/acting slowly could be the thing that curbs my impulsive behavior, leading to regret.

I cannot undo the “stupid”, but I can learn from it. Pacing my temperament and looking for the positive can save face and keep me sane.

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Running nowhere faster than I can get there

It’s so true how… wait — where was I going with that? I had a thought, just then, but it has somehow eluded me.

And such is life these days. A thought, a whim, a fear, a pain, a joy, any feeling known or unknown comes racing into my mind only to fly right back out. I’m not getting old — OK, I am, but not in that sense — rather it appears I’m on some sort of fast paced journey to find the next thing. Perhaps it’s the world I live in — always evolving and growing and changing — and if I don’t stay up with the shuffle, I’ll lose. Lose what? Who knows. I used to know, but that was so 10 seconds ago.

I run through the evolving, growing change because I want something. I might run after something, or towards something, or away from something, but in all that, there’s something I want. Most often that desire nurtures me, providing support, comfort, control, or any number of desirable outcomes. Most often the thing I want is a stepping stone to the next thing — a thing that will have me running again. Vicious, endless cycle.

How do we measure all this running — to, away from, alongside, over, under, and everything in between? If it was exercise, we’d all be fit, but it’s more often mental anguish. So how do we qualify, quantify, calculate, and weigh in on the endless journey toward the next thing? Where’s that golden rod to measure? And does all that working towards a moving target pay off? So many questions, but zero time to stop and answer them.

For me, I’ll look for a rest stop. There’s bound to be an oasis along my Nomadian path, one that might not offer answers, but is bound to offer refreshment. I’ll simply fuel up for the next leg, and this time, before I step into the desert, I’ll try to remember which direction I was heading.

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New chapter in life… and it’s a doozy

Summer 2017 begins a new chapter in my life, a time of tremendous, anticipated change that takes the family on an adventure across the country.

I’ll complete my film production MFA this coming June (from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL), book it back to Blue Ridge, VA, to start home repairs and improvements at the same time we are packing and cleaning up 17 years of life in one location. We are moving out of a 4200 sqft home on 2 acres, into something like a condo. It’ll be like squeezing an elephant into spandex if we don’t pare down and get rid of 60% of what we own, if not more. We’ll be on the clock because I have to report in on August 1st to my new job, teaching film production at San Diego Christian College.

This “little” adventure takes me back to all the many — and I mean MANY — times we would move from place to place as I was growing up. I didn’t have military parents, just parents that couldn’t settle, and a mom that was twice as restless once my parent’s divorced (when I was 11 years old). We never stayed one place for more than a year, and would likely move every 6 months. I didn’t own a lot — couldn’t own a lot — and was always ready for the next big jump. Granted, it was never across country, and often within the same city (or neighboring state), so the change wasn’t geographically drastic; however, change is change and it kept me unsettled — literally.

What I think about most during this upcoming move is my wife and children. We’ll be leaving 4 young adult children (2 married) on the east coast, dragging 4 younger girls with us. Of the 4 coming with us, 3 express resistance — a feeling I commonly shared as a kid. As for my wife, being pulled away from the ones we leave behind is a hard sell. Again, I empathize more than anyone knows.

Still, this is a move that I believe is orchestrated by God. I believe He set the wheels of change in motion over a year ago, when the “calling” to earn my MFA for future opportunities was loud and clear. I believe He knew what we didn’t see coming, preparing us for this adventure. And I know my wife believes this as well. And it’s because we are both willing to go where the Lord leads that we know things will work according to His plan. That’s all the peace we need to tackle the road ahead.

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Sonidam Yelhsa (or, How We Always Seem To Get It Backwards)

What a great premise — free to do what you want to do, serving personal pleasures, without notable consequences, and all with a few clicks on the ‘ole mouse. It’s a great day indeed, forging ahead into amazing opportunities. Pleasure without restraints. No need to defer gratification and actually work through your problems. Everything you want is there for the taking. It’s just… well, who are we kidding — what a load of horse crap.

A dating service geared toward adulteress affairs seems to be the hit thing. Married men and women looking for a good time — outside the marriage contract. Cheat and no one will know it, after all, “Life is short. Have an affair”. But how short is this life? Might be shorter than you think if you get caught.

So what is the goal during our 70 some odd years on the earth? Is it to find “pleasure”? Is it to satisfy our whims through a blatant disregard of others? Are we destined to self-gratify and express our “freedom” any way we choose? Well, is our desire for the forbidden fruit worth losing what we claim to cherish? What if the cheater wasn’t you — but your spouse?

Forethought: the cornerstone of good choices might be your saving grace. But why is it that our society has opted for choices outside of good common sense? Why do those lust-driven, click-of-a-button, wayward sex nomads find solace in cheating? It’s simple, really (although affairs are anything but simple), they have it backwards. To escape what you have in search of something better isn’t about moving outward, but moving inward.

Cheating on someone you love and have committed yourself to is a super cheap thrill that will destroy the foundation of any healthy relationship. I dare say “healthy”, as if to reference some unspoken order of the universe. It’ll destroy the relationship because it fails to nurture it. Imagine a plant that is hurting — lacks water and sunshine — and instead of caring for the plant so you don’t feel like you’ve lost your green thumb, you just go out and buy another plant, feeding and watering it instead. What would you hope to accomplish with your dying plant? Too much work? Well, so be it with the next plant, and the one after that, and so forth. Suddenly, in our “better to replace than repair” society, divorce makes sense — if by sense I mean, “Dumbest idea ever.”

Rather, let’s start thinking backwards and pretend each day is opposite day, flipping poor decisions on their head for the wayward idea that will actually make some real common sense in the end.

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“My bottle, my bottle…”

The following excerpt was taking from a Facebook post on the subject of Christians drinking alcohol. I was mildly involved until one gal chimed in with her “holier than though” idiot remarks and showed close-mindedness and ignorance on the highest level.

NOTE: my good buddy and colleague, Andrew, and I were traveling from L.A. to Vegas for a conference, and on the way we listened to a Baptist preacher (on CD) rant about alcohol and sin — it was entertaining. Andrew initiated the post following that trip.

Enjoy:

“Oh boy, Andrew, way to stir the vat; and after our hour-long CD sermon and talk on the way to Vegas (let’s see how many folks miss-read that statement). So, here it goes…

The Lord made that pot plant also, and tobacco leaves, and gave minds to the men that fashioned weapons — even in the Bible days — to kill one another. Shoot, the Lord even put to death, or gave orders to slaughter, many a man, woman, child, and animal. The Lord’s just crazy sometimes, but He knows way better than you and I what He’s doing. Strong mockery? Look at heart disease… alcohol is a suspect for sure, but so is sugar (diabetes), smoking, lack of exercise, and Lord knows, fast food. Do you take care of your temple by abstaining from Mickey D’s and God’s own, Chick-fil-A?

Or don’t stop there, raise your Bible to premarital sex… have you engaged in that debate? We all know Christians are as guilty as the next guy, all hanky-panky with each other, and justifying it all the while. Then there’s war… all that killing. Boycot soldiers because the Bible says to “love one another”? Tell that to the wrong person. Or dig into movies, TV, and YouTube — all that slutty material not suited for your mind. “Avoid the appearance of evil”, “Bad company corrupts good morals”, and a list of other verses that should convict you NOT to watch anything on TV or in the theater. But I bet you’re guilty. Gluttony? I love this one… southern fried chicken and pie eating-preachers condemning the bottle at a hefty 300 lbs. Really?! I mean, who doesn’t love a good buffet? Am I right? Can I get an Amen?

So rather than going on, allow me to say that alcohol is not something that you need — setting aside the medical studies that show drinking a glass of red wine daily reduces the risk of MANY diseases — it’s not something you have to try, and there’s certainly a Biblical argument against drunkenness; however, soap box discussions about “the Bible says it, that settles it, whether we agree with it or not” shows such a great deal of ignorance, and will forever close the door on your opportunities to converse and share the gospel. And Lord pity you if you’re wrong, preaching opinion as fact — such a stupid move. The American Christian will forever find solitude in the “wisdom of man”, while believing he speaks for God. It’s better to engage in informed dissent — the sharing of ideas, while accepting another’s ideas as valid for them — learning, growing and experiencing, allowing the Lord to work through you, and not in spite of you.”

But seriously… can I get an amen?

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