The Defiance of Joy


It isn’t popular to challenge a fellow American’s patriotism, especially when the criticism carries a distinct “holier than thou” odor. So I did what I normally try to do in the midst of photo-shopped flag “memorials” and the 300th “Remember/Thank you to our soldiers” post on Facebook, I bit my tongue.

Then I encountered my friend @incslingerSimon’s post,

“Happy Memorial Day” is an oxymoron. Please don’t wish people a Happy day of remembering the dead service personnel in their lives. Thank them for their sacrifice. Mourn their loss but do not turn today into just another day off work where you schlep your family around home improvement, furniture stores or car dealerships looking for bargains and decide you’ve “done your bit” with a happy memorial day facebook post.”

I confess that I and Simon share a similar perspective;

Memorial Day isn’t just another day off work.

Does this mean you shouldn’t celebrate and enjoy the fun and family time? Not at all, but let us also be sure to explain why we have the freedom and privileges that we so often take for granted. To occasionally take our kids to the graves and memorials or to visit with a veteran that hasn’t told some of their stories simply because they haven’t been asked. Hold high the memory of those who have served and given their all.

the Pursuit

Then in the midst of my self-righteousness I remembered these words, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

That last word caught me off guard.

Perhaps a weekend filled with celebration, music, family, water sports, BBQ, and watermelon is a perfect snapshot of the way of life these men and women died to protect. What better way to spite tyranny and oppression than to relish loudly in the sun-baked Americana that is Memorial Day, and strive to do it with thoughtfulness and remembrance.

Perhaps you can raise a flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance with bit more conviction, pray for those families with loved ones serving active duty, or simply say Thank you.

Then go pursue Happiness.

Happy Memorial Day.


Leaving Well

I’m currently changing jobs and over the years I’ve seen many Consultants come and go so I’ve been able to see the long-term effect of someone not making wise choices during their exit. Through experience and observation I’ve learned a few things when it comes to changes jobs, especially from a consultants view.

  1. Don’t burn any bridges: Speak well of your clients and employers, accentuate their strengths there is no need to air out your grievances. Just move on, graciously
  2. Go out with class and quietly if possible. Leaving a team is disruptive enough, don’t sew dissension on the way out. Be kind, shake hands and keep your opinions to your yourself.
  3. Most importantly “Do not actively court your current clients”. They may love you and your work but be explicitly clear that your goal is to help those clients transition to other teams that will continue to serve them within the organization. Keep in mind that most of your clients are employers as well and if you even appear to be trying to stab your former employer in the back they will remember that you lacked integrity.
    1. Will you have some clients interested in following you? Yes. But let that be done on their time and their decision. Go the extra mile to help a client and former employer see their concerns up front and perhaps they can resolve it.
    2. Check your ego and think about what the client needs. In time if they aren’t being served by an organization they will find someone else who will address their needs in a timely and effective manner.

The Simplified Rule

Be Nice on the way out.

Be Good to the people who have employed you for so long. Stay above the fray and let there be no accusation of underhanded practices.

Cultivate Skill, Cherish Integrity – The rest will fall into place naturally.

Be Blameless

Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. Psalm 37:37

Glimpses of Greatness

I am the son of a Marine.

Throughout my life I’ve been given glimpses into what it means to serve in the United States military and to see the bond of this mythical brotherhood. These memories not only changed me but forever changed how I see my Father.28498_394292693611_724868611_4184756_2059165_n


I’m 11 years old and I’m watching my Father’s face as we approach the Vietnam Memorial. I’m there as part of a sight-seeing class trip to get a dose of history but I didn’t expect to discover a whole new side to my Father. His face grew still and with every step his eyes grew more puffy with tears. Normally my Dad would have noticed me looking at him but in this moment there was only Him and a wall of names. My father isn’t a stoic man but I’d never seen this side of him. I understand now that we were on holy ground and that wasn’t a wall of names from a history book but they were the brothers and sisters of my Marine father.

I’m 16 and after a cross country train trip I met up with my parents in California to see some long lost family. During our stay we we drove to San Diego to visit the Marine Corp Recruiting Depot (MCRD). Every Marine west of the Mississippi River has crossed these vast parade grounds. As we watched a new class of boot camp survivors join the brotherhood of the Marine Corps I realize I’m at the high temple of Jarheads. The precision click of their heels were Church bells ringing to celebrate my Father’s pilgrimage to the place that ushered him in to the Semper Fi fraternity.

I’ve seen Arlington Cemetery and her sea of white Crosses.

I’ve seen the reflecting pools at Normandy stand so still and so dark you’d thought they were pools of ink.

I still get teary when my Dad stands up during the Marine Hymn on the 4th of July.


All this is to say I stand in awe of the men and women of the United States Military. You served to protect our freedom and our way of life. You didn’t even know my name and you stood in the gap.

As a boy my best friend’s Father was also a Marine and in our eyes that made them superheroes. 20 years later I know I was right.

They are. You all are.

Thank you.

A few reflections from a week fast

So I spent the past 5 days without Facebook, Twitter, RSS, or TV. It was a fast from media and you can read my reasoning here.

Overall I did really well. I give myself a B+

I’ll need some time to reflect and process this past week but here are some initial insights. (If you want the really important stuff feel free to skip to the end)

The world didn’t stop

I have a condition that tricks me into thinking I always need to be in the know. Twitter and RSS allow me to keep my finger to the pulse of the internet and the world at large and that is a blessing and a curse. I have no idea what happened in tech this week and that’s ok. TechCrunch Disrupt and 200 Mashable posts came and went. Most of it probably won’t matter in 6 months and if it does then I’ll know about it later. At times it felt like being stranded on an island but I needed to know that it’s ok.

TV lost out big

I discovered I watch too much TV. There are some great shows I can’t wait to see but I gained precious hours this week. That extra time is a gift that I need to not waste. (On a side note much of this time was spent talking to my wife and that was monumental. We communicate well but being in a quiet house opened the door for a 200% increase in talking. It was great.)

The book is back

I used to be a voracious reader and over the years I got lazy. I started a habit of reading again this week and it was beautiful. I devoured most of Linchpin, which I highly recommend, and I rediscovered how a great book can make you more thoughtful and deliberate. It was one of the highlights of the week. My goal is to read 2-3 nights a week and that should lead me to finish at least 2 books a month.  That’s my starting point.

The REALLY important stuff

Social Media

What I missed most was you. Your writing. Your tweets. Your life. Our relationship.

I didn’t once think about buzz words, stats, or trends but I missed my friends. Terribly.

While I know its okay if I miss something fact is I’ve built some amazing friendships and Twitter is our front porch.

And you would know the week I take off from Twitter is the week that @ChrisMessina shares my Twitter hashtag post.


This week held plenty of successes and challenges. I still have a LOT further to go but I took good steps toward more spiritual discipline in my life. I’m still trying to figure out how to love more and server better. I’ve got more of my will that needs to get out of the way.

Anytime we take a step of devotion toward God we can be sure that Satan is setting up a derailment. I had some serious challenges this week but each time I stopped and chose to praise the Lord. That sounds so elementary but love is almost always action. Deliberate action. In my tiredness and frustration I was able to still surrender and praise him. I’m not sure what He’s trying to teach me or where some of these roads are headed but I trust Him.

I’m so thankful that God doesn’t give up easily because I’m a very slow learner with little faith.

I need my steps ordered… my approach, my perspective, my heart, my goals, my daily walk. Toward Him.

“Blessed are they whose ways are Blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord”– Psalm 119:1

The goal is identified the journey continues.

I’m reminded that a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step. I’ve got 999.9mi to go but this week was my step.

God Bless.

Respect, Shame, & President Obama

On January 20, 2009 Barack Obama became my President.

I didn’t vote for him. I stand in opposition to 99.9% of his policies and ideals and I fully expect to oppose him in 2012 but today but he is my President and he deserves respect.

I’m sickened by some of the crap I’ve seen lately coming from conservatives and I will not be associated with that trash one day longer. Its high time someone shamed this nonsense and reminded us that politics should be about reason and ideas not personal slander and attacks.

Clinton, Bush, & a lesson repeated

In early 1998, the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal broke and I remember being in total shock. I wasn’t shocked at President Clinton’s actions because in these parts his wandering ways had long been known but I was aghast that Conservatives I respected and some whom I shared the pew with were openly gleeful that Clinton had been caught in such a disgrace. I strongly disapprove of his actions but the cheering and jeering at every scintillating detail left the young idealist in me forever changed. At the end of the day Bill was a man. A man that had hurt his family, his wife, and shamed a nation. I dare not revel in the troubles of others because I have been forgiven much.

Then during the George W. Bush administration I spent years seeing hate spewed from the left. I bit my tongue at bumper stickers and posters that I considered totally out of bounds and I lost a great deal of respect for a good many liberals.

I think healthy debate and discourse are essential for a strong Republic but the moment either side makes it a personal vendetta we are all the worse.

The lesson is the same. Neither left nor right is immune to nastiness.

Then we elected a black man

As mid-term elections approach after 2 years of a very liberal agenda the fervor on the right is high and the garbage is beginning to roll once again.

So what spurred this post? I received the following via email. (I apologize in advance but for you to understand my intensity concerning this matter I think you should see it.)

Leave him alone he be an American.

A recently released photograph of Obama in his cradle released by the White House proves Obama was born in the U.S.


I stared at this email in utter disbelief. I simply don’t have the words to express how angry this makes me.

Beyond the fact it is utterly racist and disrespectful of the President of the United States the sender shamed me. I’m ashamed they call themselves conservatives and I’m ashamed that they think I’d find this funny.

Furthermore, anyone that receives this email from this day forward will see my name in the recipient list and assume that I approve and endorse this hate. That is why I’ve taken it public so there is no doubt where I stand.

I will not be a complicit bystander. You will not drop this trash at my doorstep.

A final word

I’d discourage anyone from making broad characterizations based on the actions of a few. There is good and bad on both sides of the aisle and that is why it is important for all of us to stand up for what we know is right especially when we see it coming from within our own political base.

Allow me to share some words that I just can’t ignore.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority…

Matthew 5:43-44 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

There is plenty of fire and rebuke in this post but I write this as a reminder to all of us, self included, that Christians are called to a higher standard. It is easy to love those that I agree with and consider friends but Christ called me to love even those people I consider an enemy.

The position and title of the President of the United States of American demands my respect. My faith demands that I show love and pray for my President.

As an American citizens let’s choose to elevate our standards. As Christians let us choose love.

A love affair with a lady named Dixie

Every short bio I have contains a word that people seldom use in describing themselves, Southerner. It isn’t a reference to my geographical residence, it is a statement of identity. I’m in love with the South. Her culture, her food, her people, her checkered history, her inspiration, and her heat.

That’s right I said heat.

An Ode to Ovenlike Weather332346212_3b0baaa2fd

It’s late July and while many of my friends are becoming wistful for Autumn I revel in these days of scorching sun and sepia tinged skies. These are the days where the best antiperspirants abandon you by 9am and the 90 degree temps last well into the evening but these are the sweltering prerequisites for this amazing culture.

I might well be crazy but I’m of the opinion that heat has played a major role in almost every facet of Southern culture.

  • Food – Beyond heat being a determining factor in crop production the dishes themselves would have never been concocted in cold climates. Spicy and bold cuisine from around the world is the product of people living in heat. Cajun, Mexican, Indian, Thai, & Southern home cooking was forged in sweat laden kitchens and outdoor pits. I’m not an anthropologist but I’m confident that fried okra would never have been invented by the fine folks in Greenland.
  • Language – We talk funny and we’re okay with that. We abbreviate and slur to our heart’s content. Heck even y’all is in the iPhone auto correct dictionary. Why? It’s simply too darn hot to worry much about consonants down here.
  • Oral Tradition – This is a land steeped in storytelling and lore. We are but a few decades removed from a time when you spent the evenings on the porch talking to friends and family, perhaps listening to a St. Louis Cardinals game on the radio, due to it being entirely too hot to stay inside. That need for a summer breeze led to a very social culture of jokesters, writers, and storytellers that weaved the story of the South on hundreds of porches. Our penchant for talking politics, religion, and rain are direct descendants of this tradition.
  • Music – Blues, Jazz, Rock’n Roll, & Country music are all born out of this blistering sod. Can you imagine the longing of Son House, the licks of Jelly Roll Morton, the moves of Elvis, or the pickin’ of Flatt & Scruggs ever emanating from anywhere other than this sun soaked land? The heat built this hard scrabble ground and the music poured out of its survivors like the Mississippi River.
  • Religion – Dinner on the Grounds & Tent Meetings have disappeared in large part to air conditioning but rest assured when you live in this heat you are much more concerned about not spending eternity in it. #JustSayin’

The other beautiful thing about this heat? It makes Summer evenings so sweet. That magical hour when the temps begin to drop, the air is filled with the sound of locusts, and lightning bugs flicker in the field you are in the midst of one of creation’s astounding miracles.

A short note of History

No mention of South is complete without considering the role of the War of Northern Aggression. Next year will mark 150 years since the beginning of the American Civil War and it still holds sway in these parts. Right or wrong it bred an independent nature that would make the “Come and Take It” boys proud. In our loss we created martyr legends that still draw hushed crowds at their memorials. It’s part of who we are.

From the atrocity of slavery to the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement we’ve had some dark days but every one of them has contributed to this collective mystery of the South that we are still trying to understand. Let’s pause and be grateful that we were also home to brave men like Rev. Martin Luther King.

We are a story of cotton fields, mighty rivers, writers, eccentrics, soldiers, & artists.

As I walk through studios in Memphis, antebellum homes in Vicksburg, and juke joints throughout the Delta this land and her people call to me. That mighty muddy water runs deep.

I told my wife when we got married I could live anywhere in the world as long as it was in the South.

PostScript~ Let me go on record by saying we have more beautiful women down here than anywhere else in the world. Yes beautiful ladies hail from all over the globe we’ve just got a lot more of ‘em. If that ain’t proof God has affinity for the South I don’t what is. Amen. Pass the grits.