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31st of August

Dedicated to a Brave Maine Coon


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(Kujo, circa 2004)

It’s difficult to lose a pet.

I got that call yesterday.

When you experience it, it’s difficult to respond.

How do you respond without feeling foolish?

It was a pet. An animal.

I’m working through it, but I know it’s been even harder to lose one that had such personality.

With me throughout middle & high school, college & graduate school, work & marriage and until yesterday.

The memories of returning from trips and seeing a Maine Coon saunter out to greet us in the driveway. The van still ticking and hot to the touch from miles upon miles on I-75.

Kujo. Such an ill-suited, ironic name for so lovable a cat. But, I laugh thinking about the day my sister named him. Stephen King would be proud.

Mom called last night to confirm that he’d been sick for a while. She took him to the vet. Kidney failure & a host of other problems. The knowledge of him being sick as heavy as the absence of him on the back porch today, I’m sure.

Mom said she buried him where the plum tree once stood. He’d like that, I know. Always one to follow her out to the garden and watch her weed & water the squash and peppers. A country cat. Indoor / outdoor. Super smart and always aware of when tuna cans were being opened.

I’m happy he’s at rest. As I’m sure you’ve felt the same about pets and friends and family.

My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones. (Pets or not.) It’s amazing the memories they can provide. How pets can bring warring parties together. If you told me a Maine Coon could’ve helped deter arguments fifteen years ago, I would’ve laughed. But now I know, even pets, can be agents for good.

Take this sappy entry today and use it, if you’d like. I hope it brings you closure to issues you might be wrestling with this year. God wants us all to live fully, freely, and passionately. All of us. Even pets and animals like the ones Lewis wrote about in The Chronicles of Narnia. They too serve a purpose. Even if it’s to be a daily reminder that it’s okay to let our guard down. It’s okay to love and be loved.

 

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Categories:  brianltucker thankfulness
29th of August

Finding Contentment in a Busy Age


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Notes from yesterday were so spot on I had to share them today!

Regarding priorities in 2016:

Journey Church
August 28, 2016
====================================
Welcome to Journey Church, Chattanooga!
Philippians, Part 8
====================================

6 Basic Questions (good no matter what book of the Bible is being studied)
Who is writing the letter?
Who is Paul saying it to?
What is Paul Saying?
Why is Paul saying it?
What is the transferable principle?
How do we apply this principle to our lives today?

Philippians 4:10-20 ESV
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

  • Paul knew how to be content.

 

Contentment is determined by what is most important to you.

  • Paul knew that his relationship with Christ was the greatest prize and his reason for joy rest in a relationship that could never be taken away.

 

Philippians 4:14-20 ESV
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

God designed His community of followers to help take care of each others needs.

Philippians 4:17 ESV
Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.

Caring for others is the “fruit” of a life that is focused on following Christ

Philippians 4:21-23 ESV
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

What is the transferable principle?

  • Our satisfaction must be in our relationship with Christ instead of our circumstances.
  • We demonstrate our faith by caring for each other.

How do we apply this principle to our lives, today?

Philippians 4:12 ESV
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

  1. Develop a grateful heart.
  2. Keep your circumstances in perspective.
  3. Develop a discipline of moderation.

Philippians 4:13 ESV
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

    4. Trust in God’s grace and the goodness of His will.

Philippians 4:18-19 ESV
I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

  5. Look for opportunities to meet the needs of others.

Joy is found when we know that our prize is in Christ and we will be with Him for all of eternity.

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Categories:  adventure thankfulness
24th of August

KFC promotes inedible, extra-crispy sunscreen, and I want it


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Because I can’t make this stuff up. I’ll just include the link to verify it (and you can thank me later).

Yes. YUM brands powerhouse, KFC, has introduced “extra crispy” fried chicken-scented, SPF 30 sunscreen.

You heard that right. Sunscreen that smells like chicken.

Did I already try to register as one of the first 3,000 recipients of a FREE container from The Colonel?

Yes.

Were they looooong gone?

Oh yeah.

But there’s always next…wait a minute.

When did retailers start promoting across such odd boundaries?

Was Kentucky Fried Chicken the first to do it?

Does anyone remember the Flavor Radio tactic by Dunkin Donuts in South Korea a few years back? Issuing a commercial jingle which prompted the release of coffee scents into the bus space air and driving store visits up 16% where the “smell-technology” was being implemented.

I laugh, but it’s true. Smell-technology.

Any others?

I know smell is considered the strongest sense tied to memories, even from our childhoods we can attest to it.

Do you remember Mr. Sketch scented markers?

I can still remember the powerful, potent aroma of lemon and orange flavors blending together. Our teachers encouraging us to not sniff too much for fear of brain damage, addiction, or worse, ending up like this guy.

If senses are tied to memories, why doesn’t every company try these peculiar tactics? Maybe they do, and we just haven’t noticed them. Marketing is sneaky.

But, one things for certain: the odder the idea the more likely it seems to stick with us.

Remember Snapple’s “Real Facts“?

Where we learned that jellyfish are 95% water and Maine has 62 lighthouses.

While we didn’t need to know this, the company provided it to us anyway free-of-charge. And these obscure little tidbits gave us conversational pieces all throughout the 90s and beyond. (I’m still talking about them.)

Again, oddity rules the day.

If you see some advertising brilliance on your commute today, be sure to share it. I’ll post it on here. BTW: Chicken-scented sunscreen will be a hard one to top.

Ps. Here’s a picture of Leah and me dressed up as the Colonel (and a bucket of beautiful chicken) from last Halloween:

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(Marketing so strong, the Colonel got us to dress up and go bowling like this.)

Fun times! Anyways, enough of this. I’m getting hungry.

 

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23rd of August

Meeting Kevin Costner: Renaissance Man


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Well, standing 500 feet away from him, I should say.

But who cares? We were in the SAME auditorium for a concert. His concert.

Did you know Kevin Costner even played music?

I didn’t either, but Leah said we had 2 tickets (to paradise) & a Kevin Costner concert – compliments of her workplace.

So, I did what any red-blooded, Tin Cup/Bull Durham/Waterworld/Dances with Wolves/Field of Dreams/The Untouchables/Robin Hood-watching guy would do: turned to Spotify for help.

I found Costner and his band Modern West. Of course, I dug the moniker. Kevin Costner was a living, breathing Western to me. Always had been. His name (like Eastwood’s) is synonymous with awesome. He’s Joe Cool. Pre-Camel cigarettes cool.

We got gussied up. My wife, me, and two friends. Saturday came, and we went to see Costner perform.

It was a black tie event. Naturally I wore a blue one. Kevin Costner wore boots, I think.

While I didn’t recognize his music, (none of the songs were household tunes) they weren’t half bad. Costner requested the reverb be cut waaaay down and the spotlight to be cut completely off him. And, he sang like a bird and eventually closed the set down with Dylan’s Tambourine Man.

All in all it was a delightful time. Even though Costner never came over to our table and signed anything, I’d like to think he would’ve if asked. There were baseballs stationed on each table, and I wanted mine signed by Billy Chapel pretty bad. Similarly, none of us on the back row received a Costner wink, but we still felt included in Modern West’s concert.

If you have the time, check out Costner when he’s not on the big screen. He’s Joe Cool, people. Here are some upcoming dates:

 

Tour

Date City Venue Country
08/24/16 Kevin Costner & Modern West in Alexandria, VA The Birchmere United States
Time: 7:30pm. Address: 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue. Buy tickets
08/26/16 Kevin Costner & Modern West in Poplarville, MS Brownstone Center United States
Time: 7:00pm. Address: 101 Hwy 11 N. Buy tickets
08/27/16 Kevin Costner & Modern West in Ocala, FL Circle Square Cultural Center United States
Time: 7:00pm. Address: 8395 SW 80th Street. Buy tickets
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17th of August

The Angel Oak


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I stare at a painting of the Angel Oak above my desk and think about the longevity of its branches

Alive still

Even today

Once climbed upon by natives of her land

Pilgrims’ children, too

I think of the famous row planted centuries ago at Boone Hall

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Oaks stronger than their Pecan brethren

Storms incapable of wresting them down

Branches unfurled in every direction, even parallel, reaching to heaven and hell and outward like a hug

The rows serendipitous and interlocking

Singing in the cover of twisted limbs, twisted roots

Unfettered from last millennium

The breeze strong as a hurricane to shake even one

I see it in the frame beneath this glass above me

The Angel Oak isn’t alone

She cannot fall victim to loneliness, nor abandonment

Her moss covered tentacles pulse all the same

Whether here before or here after, she stands and breathes Lowcountry air on John’s Island

Resolute to face the tide once again

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15th of August

Brian Tucker Author Updates


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Some of the exciting happenings in my neck of the woods this summer:

 

  • 2nd novel is now edited, proofed and seeking publication (It’s for Young Adult / New Adult audiences with Seton, Kentucky and Mammoth Cave as its chief settings. There’s a love story in there as well!)

 

  • An illustrator has stepped forward for consideration in my first ever graphic novel/novella Western I’m starting to edit

 

  • WHEELMAN (debut novel) surpassed 70 reviews on Amazon!
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11th of August

Birthday Girl


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Be sure to say Hello! to this birthday girl today. She loves me sharing this with the world. And for the record, she’s 29 (not 30). Not yet. Not by 365 days…

 

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10th of August

Novels That Never Were


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  • 1. Dragon with a sore throat
  • 2. The Car with a heavy undercarriage
  • 3. Help! Our ferris wheel refuses to spin
  • 4. Untasty caramel apple goes missing
  • 5. Hackysack, a new Olympic sport
  • 6. Look! The Grand Canyon is filled with Nickelodeon goo
  • 7. Spam – an underdog story about America’s other luncheon meat
  • 8. Batman: lost in a dancehall
  • 9. The Edible moon is inhabited by Rugby players
  • 10. Lonely manual transmission 4 Sale
  • 11. Inline skating RETURNS to Orange County, CA
  • 12. Disco: it’s a discotheque in 2016 y’all
  • 13. Grifford the Big Blue Beetle
  • 14. Trash Day – a crew’s all-too-scary story at the landfill
  • 15. Who Forgot to Feed Sparky Last Week?*
  • 16. Have you seen Sparky?*
  • 17. Sparky, where are you?*

 

*Part of a 3-book series

 

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Categories:  brianltucker writing tips
8th of August

How to not plan to travel abroad


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In my infinite wisdom I thought it would be a grand idea to plan a trip abroad.

Thought being the key word here.

My wife had never left the country (beyond cruising to the Caribbean and a trip to Alaska…which let’s be honest…is the equivalent of leaving the U.S.).

So where to start?

A DNA test of course. I told her I needed to know my ancestry before I plunged into a country blindly. So I bought a saliva kit from Ancestry.com and made my mark. (Still waiting on the test results. Can you believe it? When they say 6-8 weeks, they MEAN it!)

Then, I started talking to Leah about her ancestry – Slovenian. (Hey. At least she knows where her bloodline starts.) And I started jonesing about traveling first to her motherland and seeing relatives she didn’t know, before going to mine.

She smiled at the notion, and I admit, I wanted to travel all the more. [Even though I couldn’t tell you a single city located in Slovenia, but I think one starts with a Lub-something…]

Next, I started having dream sequences. Dreaming of Scottish castles and Edinburgh in the winter. Shakespeare plays and moors and moats. All of which sounded nice, even if I wasn’t the least bit Scottish.

Then, I looked at airfare. Yikes! Have you looked at airfare prices to Europe recently? Why don’t they call it airunfair or airrest (see what I did there?)?

But, last night is where I’d like to place the STOP sign of my dumbest moment, when I decided to rent a movie called No Escape from Redbox and subject my lovely wife to what ensued. Have you seen it? No one I know of has either…

Owen Wilson (yes, the man of Zoolander fame) and an actress I didn’t recognize travel to Thailand (or, Cambodia…I’m still not sure which) with their two daughters to relocate as a result of daddy’s new job. Upon arriving, Wilson’s character goes to get a newspaper and stumbles upon an angry mob in the midst of a coup. Wilson and company fight the next two hours against violence waged toward their American/British companies (yes, Pierce Brosnan shows up). The filmmakers love to pander to James Bond fanatics!

But as you can guess, this subject matter did nothing to embrace the notion that Leah and I should travel abroad. The movie featured assassinations and cruel depictions of assault. At one point Wilson’s daughter has to hold a gun against her father and is encouraged to pull the trigger.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t win any brownie points in a.) picking this winner & b.) (and most importantly) encouraging the Tucker family to travel abroad in 2017 or any year

 

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