Tuesday’s 10: Observations After Time On the Beach

1. Miller Lite is not going out of business anytime soon.

2. Some folks go to the beach to see the beauty of the ocean. Some go to try and be more beautiful.

3. My wife and I are rebels. We do not have tattoos.

4. I wonder if you could just show up in your underwear. Would anyone notice? Would anyone care?

5. I was totally successful. I got virtually no sun whatsoever.

6. I don’t love the beach. But I love looking up from my book and seeing that vast expanse of water and sky, a horizon only limited by my own eyes and the curvature of the globe.

7. All you need to know is – bacon-wrapped shrimp skewers.

8. I can’t help but feel there is a letting loose of restraint on the edge of the coast. As if propriety and decorum and dignity are shoved to the side like garnish.

9. One thought kept flashing across my mind over and over, “We are all playing at the edge of this body of water the way we play at the edges of beauty.”

10. I never tire of being alone with my wife.

On Vacation

My wife and I are down at the beach, so no real post till tomorrow. Even as I write this, we are heading to a local bagel place to eat. After, we will make our way to the Beach. There I will read and watch tattooed and burned Miller Lite laden smokers play in the surf the way most will play at the edge of beauty.

"Say Something Important"

I cannot remember how I got to this article on the publishing world but I’ve been “stuck” on it for a few days. The following quote is what kept bringing me back:

Do you want to break into publishing? Say something important, but more importantly, say it well. We don’t need more voices, and we certainly don’t need more celebrities. We need transcendent ideas. We need people that challenge us to see how the world ought to be, and inspire us to make it so. We need people who show us the best of ourselves, and call us to be that version, rather than the veneered version that seems so much easier to sell to our “friends.” Inspire someone, and you just may make a bestsellers list the old-fashioned way. Inspire important conversations and you may just stay there. But if you fake it, if you buy your way on, if you take the shortcut to significance, we’ll know, and we’ll ignore you. And that second cut will hurt.

Since I began this journey of writing a book, the need for a platform and 50,000 friends on facebook has unnerved. Not simply because I don’t have them. But because even if I did have those, I would want the focus to be on saying something important.

Random Thoughts for Thursday

1. I just threw away a toy and felt very empowered doing so.

2. Give peace a chance? Pasha! Give me a chance at a piece of bacon.

3. I broke down and bought some sandals to wear. I think they are men’s sandals.

4. Three words: Southern. Fried. Broccoli.

5. Not that my crocs weren’t comfortable. What is uncomfortable is the way people look at me when I wear them in public. You know, when they pull their children close and then keep an eye on me.

6. Watched Return of the Jedi the other day. Not sure why, but I like Leia in this one a lot more.

7. I know all my kids need Jesus. But my youngest may need the whole Trinity.

8. I would like to apologize to all my readers for eating something organic.

9. Did my first wedding. It might take.

10. Headed to the beach. And I like everything about the beach except the heat, wind, sand and salt water. Which leaves seafood.

This Never Changed

(This is the second post on my Dad. The first is here.)

If I close my eyes I can feel my small hands clasp the chain-link fence standing between me and a train heaving down the tracks behind the day-care. It’s recess. Behind me and beside me there are 15 other little boys and girls. We were all playing on the playground near each other. The sound of the train breaks into our ears and takes our attention captive. We line up and gape.

I’m three. Maybe four.

We live in Texas. My Dad is in school studying to be a pastor. But I know none of this. I don’t know our poverty. I don’t know the difficulties of raising 4 boys, going to seminary and staying happy. They never let on. All I know is we live in a ginormous white house. The biggest one on the campus for the biggest family on campus. Go figure. And my dad is a janitor.

The only other memory I’ve retained involving said day-care – my mom had to work – is a walk. If you pressed me, I would say it was Autumn. All those boys and girls with daddies wanting to be pastors and three, maybe four year old Matt, were walking across the campus of the Seminary. The trees are huge. Heck, everything seems huge when you are three, maybe four. But I remember thinking the buildings of Seminary were incredible big. We just might be walking in the direction of the house where I live, when I am not in day-care. And I see him.

My Dad is working on the enormous lawn, under the enormous trees by the enormous buildings. It was either at this point or later that I declared proudly to the others, “MY Dad is a janitor.” The thing that gets me about this memory is the pride at being able to see my Dad working. There he was. I was able to see him while out on a walk.

This never changed. He was always present. My brothers and I never had that complaint. Though a pastor, he was always available to work on the car, throw the ball, shoot baskets, give rides. Whatever. Sometimes he took me to school and sometimes he picked me up. Available whenever.

He was never really a janitor. He worked part-time for the grounds crew. Which is more pastoral. But that wouldn’t have minded me none. I was three, maybe four. My vocabulary and grasp on the meanings of words was not quite as sturdy as my grasp on that fence. Little hands, little mind. A dad as a janitor would be fine with me. I got to see him on walks.

Tuesday’s 10: Advice I Wish I Could Send Back To A 19 Year Old Me

I’m approaching 40. And I’ve worked with a lot of young people over the years. Middle School. High School. College. Singles. Young Couples. Most of them are smarter and have better character than I did. In fact, it is hard for me to look back at me 20 years ago and see anything besides an ass. A good ole King James Bible ass. The following are 10 pieces of advice I would give myself if I could go back to the age of 19.

1. Listening to bands no one has ever heard of does not mean people should think you are cool. At all. It could just mean you are trying to show off. Not cool.

2. Your friend Scott is right. Jesus would probably drink wine if he were around today. Maybe out of a box.

3. Your bad decisions are indeed worse, contextually speaking, than what is happening in China. If only because you are using the suffering to divert your Mom’s attention from your irresponsibility.

4. Once you are part of the body of Christ, you are no longer just an individual any more.

5. You know nothing. Learn from those who have years on you.

6. Be kind at the risk of everything else.

7. Laugh at yourself with everyone else.

8. Keep writing. Even though no is reading. And don’t let that crappy Creative Writing teacher discourage you.

9. Just because you read something, saw something, heard something does not mean you understand it to the point of having a conviction. Stop. And think. For a long time. And then read some more. And think some more. And err on the side of silence.

10. Be glad to be wrong. Laugh about it and be glad someone else is enjoying being right.

This Peace With God

God’s Peace by Carl Larsson

(This is part of a series of posts: onetwothreefour, five, six.)

I want a peaceful soul.

But there is a God. Holy, to the hilt. And we have very little in common on that ground. And there is a part of me that cannot do anything but war against this God. I do not say this lightly. But truthfully.

When I am not warring with him I want peace with him. That fathoms-deep peace defying understanding. I want the peace he has already declared as a reality. But only sometimes.

I want to put down my weapons that defend. And offend. I want that. So my soul can taste something of this peace. But I’m bloodthirsty.

I’ve been reading Merton. He talks of this peace and I got excited, though scared because he’s Catholic. He fell in love with the peace inside monastery walls. But that is geography.

But I hear nothing of places of peace in Paul or Peter or Jesus. The soul at peace with God retains it though the walls cannot. Though they fall around and upon, still. But scarred stands.

This peace is strong in a world of hard hearts. The pushing against the organ with it’s blood pumping is painful. A world’s worth in my chest. But it chisels away.

This peace is fixed under the weight of a used-up cross and an empty tomb. And is the the dew sitting light on the lawn. But to nourish hard ground.

Random Thoughts for Thursday

1. Dale Murphy is following me on twitter. He sent me a message to let me know, you know, cause we are friends. On twitter, but still.

2. Wal-Mart’s bacon is not all that good. This is in comparison to other bacon. Compared to every other food it still rules.

3. A friend asked me if I would remember them when I make it big and my book is picked to be part of Oprah’s book club. I just can’t remember that friend’s name.

4. I dreamed about Van Halen the other night. Diamond Dave offered me hors d’oeuvres. Great dream.

5. I can’t believe Dale Murphy is not in the Hall of Fame. I also cannot believe they are making another Pirates of the Caribbean movie. No justice in this world.

6. So, the Rapture is happening on Saturday. What do you wear for such an event?

7. I’m pretty excited about the check coming from my cousin, Fjrfbebverkb in Holland. Thankfully, all I had to do was give him my SS#.

8. If everyone is a missionary, how come plumbers never speak at missions conferences?

9. My 2 year old wakes up everyone around 6:15 screaming “MAAAAAHHHHMEEEEE!” As if his getting out of the crib is a matter of life and death. My wife takes it personally.

10. I know you don’t think the stuff that happened in the movie Signs could be real. But you need to know we have glasses of water everywhere in our house.

A Glimpse of My Dad

Father’s Day is coming up.

When you write, the temptation is to use a subject to display your writing. It’s real and powerful. And deadly to the soul. It’s the reason I have not written on some subjects and been careful when writing about others. So. Please believe me when I say that my desire to honor my Dad with a post each week is simply because of my respect and the joy of many memories where he is featured.
When I told my parents I was writing a book, they were not surprised and of course, wanted to know more. So I sent them the actual proposal sent to the publisher, along with the first chapter. A few days later, my Dad looked at me and shook his head in a way I have seen him do many times before. Actually he has two versions of this. One is the disappointment I saw after every report card.  It was usually a few days after I got the report card because we always got them on Thursdays – too close to the weekend. So I waited and would watch him shake his head on Sunday night. After he’d been working all day as a pastor. Brilliant Matt, brilliant.
But here I saw another kind of shake of his whitened head. He shook it like you would a “no.” But it was coupled with a wry smile telling you the opposite of the motion. This is the undeserved but far too common, “I’m proud of you shake of the head.” 
He said, “You are a great writer.” And then I was told they could not get over I had written it. They have always been easily impressed by me and my brothers. Especially by my brothers. And then my Dad – the man of a thousand pitches in the backyard – proceeded to tell me what I had written meant much to him. “My life is very mundane now. I cannot do much.” And he thanked me.
About 2 weeks before September 11, 2001 my father suffered a heart attack while playing tennis – the game he taught me to play before I can even remember playing it. During his bypass surgery, he had the first of many strokes. And these strokes have done their damnedest to do him in and break his spirit. But his kind heart and sharp mind still fight tooth and nail. And I mean damnedest in the theological sense. His sight is failing him miserably and his memory worries him. His smile charges on with the power and speed of a train bent on its destination.

He is one reason I write…why I cannot help myself. His poems are legendary for being part of our family gatherings. He used poetry to celebrate people and memories and times and places. And while not Donne or Hopkins, Dickinson or Whitman, they are made of fireside warmth and irresistible smiles. The way a Hobbit would have done song. You just won’t catch him with a pipe or pint.

My parents were always glad to read my painful poems. And buy me books and encourage me to read. They never questioned me and made me embarrassed about all the poetry I would read and write as a teenager. Their love for me has always taken the form of encouragement and the structure of praise. Even though I threatened to fail my classes and be a raving success at day-dreaming.

So these posts are for my Dad. I ask you to bear with me for the next month as I tell a few stories and give you a glimpse into the goodness of Robert D. Redmond. Dad to me

Tuesday’s 10: Answers to Questions About the Book I’m Writing

This hobby of writing has grown a little. I’ve gotten a lot of questions (at least 3) about the book I’m working on. So I’m using “Tuesday’s 10” to answer some of those questions and tell you a little more. And this may be the only post about writing the book. I’m stuck. Though I want to write about all I’m learning and feeling in this process I do not want to overplay my hand. We’ll see.

1. What is the title? The working title is The God of the Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People

2. Where did the idea come from? It is based on a number of blog posts, the first of which was posted back on March 23rd, 2010.

3. Who is publishing it? The publisher is Kalos Press. They are brand new and I am thrilled to be working with them. I hope to propel them into publishing glory or at least not wreck their reputation forever.

4. How much have you written? More than 60%. They asked when I could have a manuscript ready. I told them by the end of May. That was foolish. But it may happen, if I don’t eat, sleep or spend anytime on twitter or facebook.

5. Do you think you will regret not working with a larger, more established publishing house? No. The more I read, the more I got discouraged about trying to start with a large publishing house.

6. Are you nervous? Yes. I’m nervous it will be bad, badly received, panned on blogs and end up on the clearance table at Lifeway with Mylon Le Fevre and Whiteheart CDs.

7. Are you excited? Yes. It’s feel like a completed puzzle of innumerable moments from the moment I read that Shel Silverstein book in Mrs. Derieux’s 5th grade class stretched into days of adolescence on into the piles of books stacked high in the night skies I’ve been dreaming under.

8. How long will it be? Thankfully, not very long at all. They only asked for 15k to 20k words. This is good as I am not sure my family would read it otherwise.

9. When will it be available? I have no idea.

10. How many copies do you wanna sell? One million. But I’d settle for selling one. I only have to sell one to be a real author, right?

If you are interested in this book and think others might be also, please feel free to share this on facebook and RT on twitter. I would greatly appreciate it.