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3rd of July

Our Nation, July 3rd, 2017


I fear that I’m

falling

out of favor

 

And part of me believes that it’s

okay

to be me

just because

 

Who else understands my mind

better

than this heart

these breaths

 

Apart from God alone

 

Independence from my

atrocities

now and forevermore

 

Rejoicing with the family I

know

In this summertime

while at home

 

The leaves fully green and

alert

to the sun’s perpetual

shine

 

I ought to care for my neighbor

next door

who hurts from hunger

and feels utterly

alone

 

I understand solitude better than

I used to, cousin

It feels dreary and dark allnightlong

 

I pray for you neighbor

your family and yours

 

For we are all connected in

disharmony

 

While it lasts

 

we last

 

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24th of May

12 Things I Learned about Paris


  1. Wearing a suit in 90-degree weather is totally acceptable.
  2. English is a common denominator and most Parisians will help you translate
  3. Baguettes are a must – daily. (Especially on the train ride home)
  4. Their motto: work to live
  5. The Metropolitan is both above and below ground
  6. Dinner comes after work but not before a few hours spent socializing
  7. Brasseries are the ONLY way to spend time with friends
  8. They are genuinely kind and love their city deeply
  9. Cigarettes aren’t just in the movies
  10. Wine, cheese, crepes, & boulangeries 24/7
  11. Everyone is outside: young, middle, and old (and together)
  12. PDA is downright encouraged

 

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30th of January

Gloves Off Gospel


My pastor says things much more eloquently than me. He draws inferences from the Good Book, and I thank the Good Lord for it.

Some times I find myself just wanting to haul off and punch people.

But fortunately, I have people around me who teach biblical truth. A wife who loves first and foremost.

It stops my fist before it leaves the proverbial hangar.

Yesterday, Mark spoke on Revelation and made a connection to loving people I’d never heard in my 32 churchgoing years.

And before you stop reading, let me say right here that it wasn’t another LG,LP message. He didn’t make it about holding hands and skipping or anything.

It’s what I like to call Gloves Off Gospel.

It wasn’t highfaluting wish wash, but something that dug in and hit home.

The question he led with: Do you love as well as you used to? (Taken out of context this could mean anything. But here, for a Christian, it means what it says.)

Revelation 2 instructs every believer to – “do the works you did at first…”

This harps on how love diminishes in everyone who starts on warp speed, with mad love for God, and then, well, fizzles out.

Life, politics, saccharine packets, and bad pizza take their toll on our hearts metaphorically and literally. 1st world sucker punches happen and we think this somehow makes it okay to stop caring. I don’t know about you, but I’m not okay with any punch to my gut. From friend or foe.

My stomach hurts just typing this. I want to avoid the lull of carelessness. Forever.

Can we pray for impenetrable faith? Do we need extra compassion injections over time? Are we being the body we’re called to be?

January is cold and nothing can insulate like good works & faith.

Do I love as well as I used to?

 

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14th of November

Home is more than an address


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I think about home a lot.

Especially since moving away.

 

Home –

“the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.”

 

I like this definition better than some of the others online; it includes that one word, the adverb ‘permanently’.

The image seems truer somehow, even if it’s not the reality you (or I) experienced.

If you’re like me, the word home seems more distant now than it ever has.

 

If you’re from southern Kentucky (specifically Wayne County), you know exactly what Monticello-born author, Harriette Simpson Arnow meant when she said this about her mom’s view of home:

… she (Mama) knew most of the families … in Wayne County. If Mama didn’t know at least who their grandparents were, she considered them strangers. Because she’d grown up that way with the Denneys. There was Denney’s Gap and a Denney post office and two Denney graveyards, and Denney’s Store. And she’d grown up surrounded by her Denny kin. I don’t think she ever felt at home after leaving Wayne County and her close relatives.

 

The sentiments ring true for me. They make the world so much smaller. In my head I think, I’m from where she’s from, my grandparents still live in Denney’s Gap, I know where those graveyards are and that store. I feel what she felt.

denneysgapsign_72

Have you connected with a place like that before?

A place that makes the world suddenly smaller, more intimate?

Do you travel home as much as you’d like?

Is it home like you remembered? Or, do you find yourself longing for another home?

Something C.S. Lewis once surmised, saying, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

It clicks in my head and my heart, as I write this blog in Tennessee. The world isn’t too large to make the trip back, but the miles seem endless staring at this electronic screen. The years busier, and the friends older. While I might not be able to stop time and make my hometown exactly as I remember it, I smile when I think of that one word, and the notion of eternity for all of us.

Not here in Chattanooga. Not there in Monticello. But, another world – permanently.

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30th of September

Why Our Work Matters


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“Utterly alone, at the bottom of a fourteen-foot trench filled with water so thick with silt he literally couldn’t see his hand in front of his face, William Walker laid twenty-five thousand bags of concrete, slitting each bag open so the concrete could spread out as it set. He then used 115,000 concrete blocks and 900,000 bricks to shore up the national treasure we know as Winchester Cathedral.

Every morning, five mornings a week, fifty weeks a year, for six years and one month, from 1905 to 1911, Walker would climb into his diver’s suit and wait while his tenders loaded forty-pound stones over his shoulders and placed a fifty-pound metal helmet over his head. Then he would step into eighteen-pound metal shoes and descend into the depths of the trench around Winchester Cathedral to work for three-and-a-half hours.

After an hour for lunch, he would go through the ritual again in order to work another three-and-a-half hours in the pitch dark completely alone.

Incredibly, the majestic structure that thrills people even today with its remarkable architecture had been built on a bog, floating on what Sir Francis Fox called a “raft” of massive beech timbers. As the timbers rotted, the mighty building started to sag.

It isn’t stretching things at all to say William Walker single-handedly saved Winchester Cathedral.

Since the water swirled in and out of sites where bubonic plague victims had been buried centuries earlier, Walker also had to worry about exposure to life-threatening infectious materials and the possibility of encountering floating skeletal remains. His response: “I try not to think too much about that.”

So day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out, Walker fought to save a structure built by long-dead humans to honor a still-living God.

In a perfect world where happy endings always happen, William Walker would have lived a long life bathed in the adoration of the English people for his unseen labors. In a perfect world, a famous sculptor would craft a statue to sit in the halls of the Cathedral to honor Walker’s name. In a perfect world, visitors to the tombs of William the Conqueror and Jane Austen would see and remember the face of the man who saved an irreplaceable part of England’s history.

Alas, to use the king’s own English, ’tis not a perfect world we rest in.

William Walker would be one of the millions and millions of people felled by the flu pandemic that swept the world in 1918. When the sculptor sat down to craft the monument to Walker, he used a photo of the wrong man, and the Church of England, embarrassed by its error, refused to correct it for almost 90 years.

But William Walker knew something most of us need to learn or, having once learned it, need to be reminded of again and again and again.

It isn’t adoration or statues or even the satisfaction of a job well done that is God’s gift to His children.

It’s the work itself!

Hard as it is to imagine, even those things we do in the places nobody can see, even when we’re weighed down by heavy trials, even when we don’t have the joy of the company of coworkers, the labor we’re engaged in is God’s gift to us.

Let the coal miner rejoice. Let the bond trader exult. Let firefighters and architects and school teachers glory in their labor, for God in His infinite wisdom has given them the chance to play a role in shoring up the foundations of a creation built to last forever.

One day, when every knee has bowed and every tongue confessed that Jesus is Lord, every dark hour, every tedious task, every ounce of effort given by God’s children to the tending of His cathedral will see the light of day, and we will know and count it as great treasure that God let us be a small part of His big work.”

– from Randy Kilgore’s Made to Matter

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22nd of September

Stranger Things at a Stop Light


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One of the most beautiful things I’ve seen occurred on my commute to work yesterday. Something I hadn’t seen before and the epitome of what many might call a Hallmark moment. But, for me it was something else. It didn’t come off as cheesy in the slightest.

It distracted my driving, but in a good way.

I was driving in the slow lane listening to Weezer, and the traffic was stop-and-go. And I was belting some lyrics from the white album, and I came to another red light and immediately looked in my mirrors to see if I’d been caught in any direction. Then I glanced left and the car next to me offered this aforementioned Hallmark moment.

It was a beat-up, rusted Buick with the front bumper held together by what looked like bungee cables.

Inside was a young couple who looked younger than my wife and I when we first got married (19 & 23). The young lady was in the passenger seat, and she was reading aloud from a book I couldn’t see too well – to her boyfriend, husband, fill-in-the-blank. (I’d like to say it was a Bible, but I couldn’t confirm the text.)

And what spoke volumes to me was their passion. She was reading and he was locked in with two hands on the wheel. (Imagine a young Johnny Cash with hair swiped to the side nodding and listening.) She would read, pause, and wait to see the man’s reaction. He, meanwhile, listened and encouraged.

The light turned and we all were set in motion again. As I turned Weezer down, in my rearview I saw the old Buick go left. I replayed the image in my mind, their passion-

It was 7am. The car wasn’t new. Their dress and style didn’t suggest wealth. And, they had what many call zest. I could see it all in that brief window of time stopped together.

[Imagine what an image of our grandparents joyriding around town might’ve looked like 50-60 years ago.]

This was something unexpected, and I got a better sense of what the word ‘contentment’ ought to mean.

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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
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

IMG_8744

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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2nd of June

Life in Prepositions


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In life…

…Beneath covers

Between parents…

…For months, years

Since birth…

…Until milestones

On the road…

…Among friends

Outside the office…

…Beside the ocean

Opposite the love of your life…

…Plus kids

Minus some…

…Without others

With God…

…Versus the devil

Within life…

…Before the end

Above ground…

…Near it all

Like heaven…

…But not really

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Categories:  adventure thankfulness
28th of March

Celebrate Your Milestones.


As you navigate this final week of March into upcoming Spring 2016, get excited! There are so many things you can reflect on and celebrate as you continue working hard. I was reflecting on a few personal milestones of this 2015-2016 and was shocked by how much was accomplished in just the time since this academic year began. Here are just a few:

 

  1. Traveling to Las Vegas in October 2015 for the National Academic Advising Conference and presenting with a co-worker on current methods

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2.  This picture is self-explanatory

beard

3.  Reading Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece, War & Peace, during Thanksgiving Break. F-i-n-a-l-l-y!!

war_and_peace_is_heavy_reading

4.  Completing a novel (Wheelman) and getting it published. (I highly recommend NaNoWriMo each November!)

BKSS

5.  Adding a family pet in February 2016-

jodi

These were just a few of the memories from this year. As you think about your milestones, it’ll help motivate you to work through to the end of this season. I look forward to hearing your success stories.

My best,

Brian

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