Wednesday, April 16, 2014

safety and sleep in the divine

With Stephanie out of town, it falls to me to do the parental duties, namely, get everything ready for Campbell for school tomorrow... to feed him... give him his bath... rock him and lay him down to sleep... and when I finally got Campbell to sleep, I laid there a while, watching him sleep. Like many toddlers, he fought it. First his eyes were wide open, looking around, then he would close them, then open them again.

After a bit, though, the time he spent with eyes open became less and less, and the time spent with eyes closed began to lengthen. After a little bit, his eyes remained shut, the pacifier stuck firmly in his mouth was barely moving, and his hand, which lay on my outstretched arm across the bed became limp. He was asleep. In one final act of awakeness before he became completely enveloped in his dreams, he moved closer to me, put his head into my chest, laying on his side close to me.

Campbell snuggled up next to me, where it was was warm. Where it was cozy. Where it was familiar. Where it was... safe? No. Not safe. There was no "safe" as he doesn't know what that word means, only how it feels... rather, he has no concept of danger. He has no concept of fear. He just knows that when he is snuggled up to Daddy or Mommy that he is most comfortable, most at peace, most relaxed and perhaps feels our overwhelming love up close that he may not feel when he's across the room playing.

How great it would be in our tired moments, in our weary points, in our days, weeks, months... minutes, where we are exhausted, where we cannot stand, where we fight everything away only to give in to our complete desolation and exhaustion... we would be better to remember the comfort and love that we feel when we are that close and intimate with our own heavenly Father, with a love so deep and consuming that we forget all about "safe" and "danger", and we just feel Him.

His love for us is just as real when we are close to him as when we are far away, but like a raging fire, our proximity does not change its power. We only feel that power when we are near.

We need that love, that embrace, that tender hold of God who says simply, "Come close to me and rest, child. I'll take your exhaustion and give you strength, I'll take your tired and give you joy. But first, just be with me. Be near me." 

That's when we recover.  When we sleep in the arms of God. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

evolution of a blog

I was online the other day, as I am many times, and read something from author Michael Hyatt, who wrote a book about social media called "Platform".  I've got the audiobook, which is really the only way I read at this point, and have tried to get into it, but realize I need a good day or two to digest it and concentrate on it.

What I actually read was quoted from Hyatt by a friend of mine named Amy Campbell (a little promotion--she's called The Resume Lady, and if you need help with your resume and especially setting up a LinkedIn profile, which I have GOT to finish, get in touch with her.  She's pretty awesome.), and the quote went along the lines of revisiting, rewriting and repurposing older posts that you may have written, with the theory being that back in the day, you didn't have a lot of readers... and now you do. 

I dwelled on that for a bit, and realized that it was a pretty good idea... surely there was some great hidden gems I wrote way back when that would be prime for a re-write, right?  Not necessarily.

I spent a while going through the first two years of the blog, founded in 2005, and discovered what I already knew... I wasn't very good. 

Now, to be fair, you should understand who I was writing for... myself and a few select friends.  My posts were personal... not in the sense that I was sharing intimate secrets, but more of, you had to sometimes have an inside track to me to understand what I was saying.  I toss around names like "Jaci" and "Kourtney" and "Matt" and "Mikey" with no context or last names, just assuming that people who are around me will read it and understand what I'm saying... and for the most part, they did.

And I wrote American Idol.  I mean, alot of American Idol.  Like, sometimes a post per episode, or per week on Idol, covering all the songs, all the performances, all the Idols, the eliminations and everything. 

I wrote about mission trips that I went on--which, to be fair, that's why this blog was started, and though its called Clouds in My Coffee, the first few titles included The New York Adventures and The Adventures of Dave and Dave's Sojourn before finally settling on Clouds sometimes probably in 2007 or so.

The web address is, but you will also find it at with the "Broadway Dave" being the New York centered name I came up with as I created this blog, mostly just to report back to the church and its members our day to day workings on the mission field in Brooklyn and The Bronx.  And I kept going after the trip was over. 

Like anyone doing something they've never done before, then doing that one thing over and over and over 900+ times, I think I've gotten better at it, though I will admit there are a few posts written back in 2008, 2009 or so that I read now and think "That's actually really good..."

Will I delete anything?  A few.  There are a few posts that I just don't like at all, or maybe circumstances in life have changed so much that there is no need for a certain post--or maybe no one should read that post anymore.  I doubt that any of you will go back through and scour for any "dirt" because you will find very little controversial, but there's stuff I like... and stuff I don't.

I intended on actually recapping American Idol this year, after taking last year off (because the season was so bad), but The Lovely Steph Leann and I got behind seven weeks--we had to binge watch all the audition and Hollywood episodes, and the first three weeks of the "finals" to catch up... and lo, and behold, we haven't watched last week's episode or elimination.  Don't tell me who got kicked off.

Over the years, I've done some fun things, had a "random bracket" that is the epitome of personalization, really just done to give happy shout outs to people around me that I like... I did a Summer of Blogging in 2011, where I set a goal for myself to blog 100 times over the course of the summer, which I did something like 75... I tried to do a "July 31", blogging every day in July of 2012, and that was a miserable failure, but I did try... I've posted short stories... I've posted songs and videos... I've been political (I just read a 2006 post on gas prices--I was fired up, I tell ya)... and many times, something pulled from The Word. 

All to keep you, the reader, entertained. 

Over the last year, likely due to my involvement with the START Movement, founded by Jon Acuff, now called "Dreamers & Builders" (why the change?  its a long story), my readership has increased exponentially, and I've found myself with something that I only suspected I had a few years ago--an audience.

My page views increase daily by 100 or so (THANK YOU FOR THAT), so someone is reading, or at least visiting the page, so my challenge is to give you something you'd want to read.

So I have two big things I'm working on now...

First.. the blog will change locations.  I've got a book called "Everything But the Posts" written by my friend Becca Ludlum, and its pretty fantastic for anyone who has ever wanted to start, or improve, their blog.  Blogger sucks a chicken turd, so my goal is to move it over to Wordpress and self-host.  I'm not sure I understand the part from "so my goal is" to "self-host", but I'm figuring it out.  (Becca's book is a good source, as is Corie Clark, a blogger and how-to social guru)

Secondly... there is a thing going around called #100HappyDays, where people are posting daily pictures of happy things... I'm going to do that here, on the blog.  I'm calling it Summer of Happy, and from Tuesday, May 26th to the day before Labor Day, I want to do a daily quick post on something that does make me happy.  Either a pic, or a movie review or just something to make me--and you--smile. 

My Taylor notebook of notes that I'll never, ever, ever get together. Oh,
and some of my random topic ideas that I scribbled over the last few days.
At some point, possibly summer, I'll hit 1000 posts, which excites me, because I know a lot of people who start blogs, and know a very small percentage of them post with any regularity, or even at all after a few posts.  Its not easy, even if what you are saying is total crap, its not easy to carve out the time to blog regularly.

I had a word goal in January, February and March of 20K, 15K and 20K words, respectively... I made it in January, but missed in February and March--granted, much of my blog time was taken up by doing my #Hustle (my passion, fyi), and that is Disney Planning, so I don't feel bad about failing.
I don't have a posted word goal for April, I just know what I want to do. I bought a Taylor Swift spiral bound notebook from Big Lots for $1 recently, and it sits at my desk... when I have a thought of a blog topic, I write it down... actually, when I have a thought of anything substantial, or even inconsequential, I write it down. Its full of random notes and jots and so on. 

Do you have an idea book?  Something to carry around, a small notepad or a notebook at your desk, or even Post-its you can use?  You should get one.  Some of the best ideas are only in your imagination for a few seconds, and if you don't get them written down, they go somewhere else to be utitlized. 

So, that's where I am.  And where we'll go. 

Now if I could only get you people to comment more often... no pressure.  =)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

no soda thirty

If you stroll through my house, affectionately known as The Cabana, take a walk up the steps and into the master bedroom, the look deep in the far right corners of the closet that is there, you can find a pullover.  For about six months, it was a fashion statement to have a shirt/hoodie/pullover known as a "rugby", or maybe a "Navajo" or even a "tater sack shirt", because it was made with a similar feel to it as a croker, or potato, sack.  I have one in there somewhere, given to me my freshman fall at Troy State in 1993 by my friend Miranda Bryant.  I kept it, not as a sentiment of a long lost friendship--on the contrary, we are friends on Facebook and chat from time to time--but more of a reminder. 

A reminder of the "skinny days".  Those days when I weighed less that I do now, much, much less.  I've always been someone who can maintain weight, but not necessarily lose it.  And for the better part of 10, almost 11, years, I maintained a weight of about 15 pounds heavier than I should be, not really losing any, but rarely gaining much either.  This was because of my job at Starbucks, where I did a lot of walking.  I mean, a LOT of walking, back and forth behind the counter.  Using a pedometer on my phone, I figured out that I was getting anywhere from 4 to 6 miles per day in walking.  Just around the store and behind the counter.

The amount of soda I believe I've consumed since November.  Oh, I
meant "daily"
In November, as many of you know, I got an office job at another company, so I stopped walking 4 or 5 or 6 miles per day--not just walking, but quick movement, pivoting, sometimes running short distances... but with the office job?   Suddenly, I actually had time to eat breakfast, very little of which was healthy, and suddenly, I'm afforded the time to drink water all day.  Of course, I am not drinking water, my beverage of choice is a 20 ounce Coke.  Or two.  Or three.

So, I've gained weight.  Way more than I should have gained... I would like to say 15 pounds, but its quite possible it might be 20.  If you'll keep it a secret, since you are my friends and its just us, I'll tell you I'm topping 210 pounds right now... and for my height, 5'7, that's not good. 

The Lovely Steph Leann told me that I wear it well.  Perhaps its my clothes, perhaps its how I wear my shirts or even my walk, but I'd like to think you can't really tell I'm about 30 pounds more than I need to me, maybe even 40.   Seriously. I'm a chunk.  I'm heavier than I've ever been, and worse yet, I get winded like, so, so easily.  And the accountability all falls on my shoulders.

One of the many good things about my new job is even though it gives me plenty of time to munch and drink high fructose corn syrup laden beverages, it also gives me time to listen to my iPod, especially to podcasts and audiobooks. 

So, I'm sitting there at my desk, drinking an ice cold Coca-Cola, and I flip over to a blogsite written by a friend of mine, a dude named Rick Theule... he wrote about "loose pants", essentially how he gave up the very thing that I was enjoying at that every moment.  And as a result, over time he found his pants fitting a little bit better.   It was a great piece that I enjoyed as I drank.

After lunch, I'm then drinking a smooth cup of Mello Yello, and as an added bonus, eating a bag of Bugles, even putting a few of them on my fingers cause I'm stupid.   This time, I'm listening to another friend of mine do his own podcast, called "Remodeling Clay", a dude named Clay Shaver who has an incredible story of losing hundred of pounds over several years.  He was over 400 pounds, and he's down to just over 200 now.  Unbelievable.  (I would encourage you to check out his podcast... its a great motivating 40 minutes about YOU being the best YOU that YOU can be.  And I mean that in all sincerity, no sarcasm.  He's a good dude.)

Anyway, Clay begins to talk about soda... and giving soda up.  I sighed.

To add to the mix, I thought about guy named Royce Emerson, who I worked with at a radio station over a decade ago and haven't seen him since 2001... over the time I knew him, Royce lost lots of weight, and he simply said to me one day, "I gave up Coke and Diet Coke.  That helped me lose 10 pounds right there."

An article in the morning about giving up soda (while I drank a Coke) and a podcast in the afternoon about giving up soda (while I drank a Mello Yello) and a flashback to a guy who lost weight just by NOT drinking soda... it really had me considering what to do, and what I was doing to my own health.

Back in the late 90s... or maybe it was 2006... or perhaps 1995, or it might be 2001, I don't remember when, I just remember it happened... I stopped drinking all carbonated drinks for over a year.  I think it must be like cocaine or heroin though, because after 13 months of not having any Coke products, I remember having one for a meal and it was like those lame Coke drinking polar bears were welcoming me back into the embrace of diabetes and the arms of obesity.

And now, right now as I write this, its 1252am, its almost an hour into April 1st... and for the next 30 days, I'm giving up carbonated beverages of all kinds.  Not just Coke and Cherry Coke and the like, but ALL carbonated beverages.  Not even a sparkling water of any kind, which is good, cause I'm not a fan of most, so I got that going for me.  I made this declaration on Facebook last week, to start April 1st, so now I kinda feel obligated, lest I become like someone who declares Facebook fast and then show up 19 hours later online as if nothing had been said.

The fun part is, I do love ginger ale... its non-decaffeinated, and isn't really that bad for you... and we have a case now, by virtue of me headed to Wal-Mart at 540am to get The Lovely Steph Leann something to drink due to her feeling like crap over the last 24 hours (food poisoning?  virus?  we dunno...).  So it sits there, and I won't enjoy it. 

I call it my No Soda for 30 Days Challenge... or #NoSoda30, to hashtag it unnecessarily.

So, how about you?  Willing to give up some beverage?  Willing to see how you feel on May 1st by not tossing back Mountain Dew or Coke or Pepsi or whatever your beverage of choice might be?

Oh, about that shirt I mentioned.  My goal?  To wear it again.  Even if I don't wear it long, even if I never leave the house with it on... my goal is to put it on and be comfortable in it.  I'll even take a picture and post it, because I am that vain.

Or maybe I'll put it into my daily rotation of outerwear when it gets cool again.  It is a cool shirt.  If I ever have lunch with Miranda Bryant, then I've got to be able to wear it.