Chide: (v) to scold or rebuke

Some of the more painful moments in life are when we experience disappointment or defeat–and after the sting of the failure is dying down–the chiders show up.

They have three distinct approaches that really do stink:

  1. “I had a feeling this wouldn’t work.”

It’s usually not a feeling they shared with you–and certainly not based on any sentiments they previously expressed. No, after the fact they create new facts.

  1. “I’m disappointed in you.”

Oh, I see. It’s not enough that life has slapped me in the face. You have brought fresh salt for the wound. It doesn’t even matter if I’m impressed enough by you to be hurt by your disappointment. Disappointment is often the straw that kills many a camel.

  1. “If it were me…”

Yes, folks who have all the facts available to them have now seen the outcome and understand the complete situation, but relentlessly explain how they would have done things just right.

We talk about love all the time. It’s a good thing.

We talk about kindness. Certainly valuable.

But the greatest gift a human being can offer is mercy.

Since life has kicked you in the teeth, I promise not to remind you of the high cost of dental bills.

A great man once said that merciful people are happy because they have the confidence that the mercy they express will be given back to them.

Because most certainly, each one of us takes our turn at being the fool.

So to withhold chiding is opening the door to grace–which can cover a multitude of our deluded efforts.


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Charming: (adj) pleasant or attractive.

Mr. Webster, please make up your mind.

Is it pleasant, or attractive? Truthfully, the two rarely run races together.

Those who are attractive don’t necessarily feel the need to be pleasant. The absence of pimples and the presence of dimples grants them
license to be just as snooty as they deem necessary.

And those who are not attractive often don the apparel of “pleasant,” to clothe themselves in a righteousness that should be suitable for the runway of life.

So which is it?

I suppose there might be a tiny handful of humans who are attractive and pleasant–which enables them to go into a bar and get a date without buying her a drink.

So I disagree that charming has anything to do with pleasant or attractive. Charming is just damn smart. It’s the realization that not everyone will find you attractive, no matter how much you primp, and being pleasant may be suspicious rather than advantageous.

My definition for charming is finding a way to be sensitive to the moment.

Weep with those who are weeping, rejoice with those who are rejoicing. And stop thinking that God has voted you to be in charge of all moods.

If you are able to sensitize yourself to the situations around you, granting a bit of grace to the emotions that crop up, you will bear fruit in the human family.



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Chaos: (n) complete disorder and confusion.

I am sorry, Mr. Webster. Complete disorder does not create confusion, unless, for some reason, we are rebellious to the power of disorder.

In an attempt to put human beings in charge of everything, we have created a climate which promotes, preaches and honors destiny.

But anyone who has lived through a storm or a cataclysmic earth event can tell you that Mother Nature is in charge. She has been appointed the arbiter of human affairs by offering forewarning her natural ways for those who do not stubbornly insist on only promoting their own agenda.

Religious people place God in the role of protecting us from Mother Nature, so that grace can keep us from needing to live a normal human life and provide free passes to the front of the blessing line.

Secular folks love pre-destination because they are heartened by the notion that somewhere there is a lottery ticket waiting–held by their soul-mates.

  • Chaos is a way of keeping an even field, and using Mother Nature to enforce the playground.
  • Chaos is not devoid of rules, just constantly changing them
  • Chaos can be navigated if you don’t try to make your ship too big and unable to turn in the waters of difficulty.
  • Chaos is what gives everyone a chance.
  • Chaos has no favorites, no chosen people and no enemies.

Chaos is what breathes life into us and keeps us grateful, so that we don’t lose interest somewhere between the cradle and the grave.


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Brigadier: (n) a rank of officer in the army, above colonel and below major general.

Sometimes foolishness gets a pass, but it has to be legitimate foolishness. Dictionary BI’m talking about that fresh kind that just slipped out of your stupid brain because of your ignorance. If you’ve done foolishness before, you can’t claim that it’s “innocent foolishness.”

I did a foolish thing.

I was so young, self-inspired and full of false confidence that life decided not to punish me for my presumption.

My younger brother decided to join the army. Considering he had never even played with army men and walked with the sensitivity of a marshmallow, the idea was ludicrous. But it was in full swing before any of us realized that he had sauntered off to be a soldier.

The first we knew of it was upon receiving a call from basic training, where he pleaded for us to “get him out of there”–or he was going to commit suicide.

Now, I can discuss with you the unfairness of him placing me in that situation, but instead, I will tell you that in an attempt to be a good big brother, I called the army base where he was doing his imitation of G.I. Joe, and talked to a Brigadier General. Now, I don’t know exactly what a Brigadier General is, but it sounds a whole lot more important than me.

For some reason, he took my call. I don’t know why. Maybe he was just a nice guy. Maybe he couldn’t believe that someone was asking for his younger brother to be released from basic training.

His first inclination was to laugh at me. After all, you can’t maintain a volunteer army while promising a money-back guarantee. If everyone who was displeased with the accommodations at “Fort Kick Your Ass” was released immediately, we wouldn’t have enough soldiers to march in a small-town parade.

So on the first call he chuckled.

On my second call, he took the fatherly approach, explaining how the military works.

On the third call he appealed to my patriotism.

On call 54, he asked me if I knew how powerful he was.

But somewhere along the line, on the 93rd call, he paused. This is what the Brigadier asked me:

“You’re going to keep calling me until we release him, aren’t you?”

I replied, “You can just stop taking my calls.”

“Then I would have a suicidal assistant to deal with,” he presented.

I really don’t know what happened.

I don’t know if what I said made any difference at all.

But this fine Brigadier General realized that I was sincere and that my brother was not even suited to the rigors of being a back-up in the chorus line.

They released him.

It was a miracle.

But actually, it was an expansive piece of grace … granted by a man who was trained to be ruthless.

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dictionary with letter A

Appreciate (v): 1. to recognize the full worth of. 2. to understand (a situation) fully; recognize the full implications of.

I appreciate life being a blank canvas, allowing me the chance to paint.

I appreciate second chances, which are offered as long as I admit I screwed up the first one.

I appreciate friends who are well-practiced at knowing when to interfere in my life.

I appreciate grace given to me because I have shown mercy.

I appreciate a sense of humor which is able to cover a multitude of stupidities.

I appreciate that I am debtor to others so I don’t become obnoxiously self-sufficient.

I appreciate ignorance so I can value knowledge.

I appreciate the time I’ve been given, never assuming it has to be one minute more.

I appreciate that being wrong is even more powerful than being right, because it gives me the chance to be legitimately humble instead of falsely arrogant.

I appreciate that the rain falls on the earth without my consent, permission or consultation.

I appreciate that there’s something bigger than me so that I learn not to despise small beginnings.

I appreciate appreciation. Without it, I grow too quickly grumpy and old.


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dictionary with letter A

Anything: (pron) used to refer to a thing, no matter what

If you’ve ever parented teenagers, this response is probably one of your pet peeves.

If you ask them a question of any sort, they will either ignore you or reply, “I guess anything’s OK.”

I grew weary of this.

So one night when I asked my teenage sons what they wanted to have for dinner, and they replied, “anything,” I complied.

I went out to a neighbor’s trash can and pulled out the cast-aside leftovers of their previous lunch–some half-eaten sandwiches already drawing the interest of a couple of ants, the skeleton of a fish, and believe it or not, some broken pieces of pumpkin shell.

I found two bottles of partially consumed Coca-Cola, put it all on a platter, set plates, silverware and called them to dinner.

At first they were in such a state of oblivion that they didn’t recognize the placement set before them as being basically inedible, but perched in their chairs and reached for their cell phones.

So adding to the comedy of the moment, I asked one of them to offer grace. It was at this point that the child felt the need to look at the food, in order to determine the length and intensity of the prayer. Amazingly, he did not gaze at me in horror, but rather, looked at the spread before him, perplexed, shook his heads, and began to pray:

“Thanks for the food and the hands that prepared it, and for this day. In Jesus name, amen.”

Finishing the prayer, they both stared at the food–or shall I say, the “remains of the day”–and then looked at me quizzically, asking, “What is it?”

I smiled, grabbed my fork and spoon and touted, “It’s anything. Dig in.”


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dictionary with letter A

Anti-septic: (adj) of or relating to substances that prevent disease-causing micro-organisms.

They put a sign on my door.

Apparently, my condition was common enough that these signs were readily available for ordering from some medical supply house.

The sign read, “This patient is septic.”

Nurses and doctors started walking into my room wearing gloves and masks. I felt like I was in a horror flick and had unfortunately been cast in the role of “the horror.”

What they discovered was that I had an infection which had spread throughout my bloodstream, and therefore every excretion from my body, including my sweat and spit, was toxic.

It was weird.

It made me appreciate the term “anti-septic.” Because when I was anti-septic–completely against the concept–people liked me a lot more and didn’t have to bundle up like mummies to be in my presence.

They put me on a treatment and within a couple of days they were able to remove the sign and my practitioners stripped themselves of all necessary protection.

Now…without becoming too philosophical, we can be septic in many ways, including emotionally, spiritually and mentally. All “septic” really means is that we are poisonous to those around us. It would be good to engage an anti-septic at that point, don’t you think?

So when I am emotionally septic–in such a bad mood that I’m not fit to be a caretaker of snakes–I quarantine myself so as not to spew unrighteous feelings into the air to infect the general populace.

When I’m spiritually septic i spend some time thinking about how blessed I am, and then, with tears in my eyes, apologize to a generous Father in heaven, who is waiting for me to come to my senses.

And when I’m mentally septic–promoting my own prejudices instead of truth–I allow myself the grace of shutting my mouth until some healing can happen in my thoughts.

Anti-septic is a good thing. Because septic kills.

And we certainly have too much of that going around, don’t we? 

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