2nd Cup of Coffee, 12/25/17: WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT ‘EMMANUEL’?

If you don’t know what Emmanuel means by now, Google it.  You haven’t been listening.

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We all tend to hang a haloed Jesus on the tree.  Eye him on an old canvas painted by a 16th Century artist.  Or it’s convenient to leave Him forever a needy, shivering baby in countless creches.  Those remembrances are worth something, to be sure.  Yet they miss the point.

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‘With’ means where I am right now.  “Emmanuel” means Jesus actively walking with His men and/or women right through life’s hairiest trials.  Those accounts are scattered throughout both Old and New Testaments, reminding us of two vital things . . .

  • God never has allowed us to become weak by totally shielding us from life’s whitewater rapids.

  • God never has allowed us to ride those hard experiences alone:  He’s been right there with us.


You’re getting that “WITH US” part, right?  THAT, friend, is the vital truth of Christmas:  that God, through the Person and Living of Jesus, was willing to step down out of the splendid, unimaginable, unending Glory that is His normal atmosphere and join you and me.

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Yeah.  Right here, right now, right smack in the middle of this untidy, crazy life we’ve created for ourselves.

I know, right?  GOD.  With you.  With me.  WITH.  Not aloof, above, or apart from.  WITH.  THROUGH.

Remember that the next time you’re thinking to God, “Do You have a CLUE what this is like for me?”

He’ll be right there, slowly nodding–with one huge hand reaching down to help you back up.

He can do that because He entered our world the same way we do; grew up and lived like one of us; then, when He knew Time was ripe, He did the God part none of us, even on our best day, could not.  Jesus stepped off into Death’s cold, impersonal flow.  Jesus personally experienced separation from God so none of us who ever receive our King have to!

So, yeah.  That whole Emmanuel thing?  “God with us”?

That’s a pretty big deal!  Get that thing out from under the tree, unwrap that puppy, let it spark and sparkle and empower you.  If there’s a single Christmas theme that ought to be bouncing off the walls of Time and Eternity, it ought to be THIS ONE:

“God IS with me!  And He’s WITH YOU!” 

No matter how it feels, or what you think, you.  are.  not.  alone.

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Loving you,


© D. Dean Boone, December 25, 2017

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Inspirational | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment


“D’oh!  I WISH we could just ______________________________!”

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Really?  I’ve often wished God would immediately give “I-WISHers” exactly what they just demanded.  Individually.  Immediately.  Since He alone sees Past-Present-Future all at once, He’s able to pull a Cosmic switcheroo and make everything and everyone around the “I-WISHer” exactly as it and they would be, if they’d gotten their way.

Yeah.  Kind of like your own private A Christmas Carol visitation from all three ghosts at once.

I’ve been hearing an recurring complaint about Christmas, which, of course, is actually a complaint about Christ.  Without Him, nothing about Christmas makes any sense.  It seems to be a cyclical whine, since I remember preaching a Christmas message 17 years ago, “WHAT IF JESUS HAD NOT COME?”

Messages are boring; I get it.  Let me see if I can make it interesting for you.

“Man, I’m SICK of all this ‘Jesus-this, Jesus-that’ junk!  Can’t we just have a nice Christmas without all that?”



If God had not come here in the form of Jesus, there would be no Christmas.  Though Christmas cards are swiftly disappearing in favor of social media pictures and up-to-date posts, there would be neither.  There might be such solstice décor as pine boughs, but there’d be little reason to hang holly wreaths and cedar branches.

There’d be no colorful packages, no trees with twinkling lights, no scented Christmas candles.  Why?  NO CHRISTMAS.

There wouldn’t be any carols.  No Away In A Manger or Joy To The World, The Lord Is Come–because He didn’t.

I remember as a boy loving to walk along the frozen sidewalks downtown and looking through frosty store windows at the decorations, while listening to Hark, The Herald Angels SingWhite Christmas and Silver Bells playing over loudspeakers along main street in our little town of Hermiston, Oregon.  I was always reassured that Christmas was finally here when the city workers hung the huge Christmas ornaments on light poles in the main downtown area, and lighted them.

None of that would have happened.  On the radio, nothing would be playing that distinguishes December from June.  Same old stuff, except merchants would have ice melt and snow shovels in display.  No big deal.  It’s just December; come on New Year’s party!  WHY?  NO CHRISTMAS.

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If God had not come here in the form of Jesus, there would be no Church as we know it.  No stunning sanctuaries . . . no soaring spires pointing toward Heaven . . . no services of praise and worship . . . no meeting each week in churches you’d grown up in, sensing God’s presence and feeling the Holy Spirit doing His work.  No gathering for Christmas Eve and Christmas programs, or hearing a choir and orchestra perform Handel’s MESSIAH.  WHY?  THERE NEVER WAS ONE.  You DO recall Jesus came to tell us about God, right?  And He said if He didn’t go away again, the Holy Spirit couldn’t come . . .

If there was anything resembling a hymnal, it’d be thin, if it had anything of worth in it at all.  There’d be NO songs about Jesus, His birth, life, death, resurrection and return.  Nothing in it about Christ’s glory, power, and redemption.  No Old Rugged Cross, no Great Is Thy Faithfulness or How Great Thou Art.  No Jesus here, folks.  Move along.

What about those ugly, forgettable days of dark grief when depression, loneliness, temptation and heartache all seem to be tag-teaming you?  We’ve all had those, and it’s during those heart-shredding moments when a verse of an old hymn seems to seep through the cold, impersonal hurt like an old family friend dropping by for coffee.  But if Jesus had never come, there’d have been none of them written.  Think about it.

If God had not come here in the form of Jesus, there’d be no comfort for the dying, and those who grieve for them.  If there was such a thing as a religious book, there’d be none of the beloved, favorite Scripture passages you’ve relied on all your life to offer strength, hope, and wisdom. 

What there was would likely end with Malachi, and God’s people having dwindled and drifted during the 400 years of the “No-Jesus, No-God” types getting their way.  If the prophetic books were allowed to remain, they’d be so redacted and rewritten that there would be NO mention of a coming Savior, of deliverance from bondage.  None of that would have any meaning.  NO GOSPEL, NO HOPE–BECAUSE THERE IS NO JESUS.

At the memorial service, there are no comforting passages of Scripture, words of assurance and comfort.  No consolation, no concept of the hope of a wonderful resurrection.  There’s no serious thought of ever meeting that loved one again, and no eternal home in Heaven.

Just “ashes to ashes and dust to dust”, and one long, sad, eternal farewell.  No inspiration from Job’s saying, “I know that my Redeemer lives . . .”  WHY?  BECAUSE THERE IS NO REDEEMER.  You’re out of luck.  You lived.  You died.

About now, you might be getting the point.  Enemies of Christ don’t get to pick and choose which benefits of God’s Grace they want to hang onto, while tossing in the dumpster all that Jesus stuff that makes ’em squirm.  Or mad.

There’s a reason the old carol advises all the faithful to be joyful and triumphant.  A reason why Bethlehem’s stable is still such a King-size bed.  This wasn’t – isn’t – just a divine being who came to temporarily make things a little better for a few.

Jesus came to offer some real-word, honest-to-goodness hope–to everyone who’d receive it!

Be glad!  Rejoice!  Jesus DID come, He DID live among us as our example, and He DID die and rise from death so we can also live!  Jesus IS alive forever!  As one of my mentors wrote:

Even kids know it.  Recently, a little boy was telling his younger brother who Jesus is.  Nodding, he wisely said, “Jesus is that guy with God in him.  And it’s not a costume.  He’s for real.”  In some small way, we all have God inside us.  Not because we bought God, like some holiday present, but because God is willing to come inside the worst possible moment we have ever had.  When we can see no hope nor possibility for happiness, along comes December with the unbelievable Good News that Christmas changes everything.  It’s for real.  And you can’t buy it.” —Tom Shane, The Newton Kansan, 12/12/00

2nd Cup friend, we’ve all seen what our nation and world looks like with the influence of Christ and His Church among us.  I doubt anyone, no matter how jaded or self-absorbed, seriously wants any part of a society or world where there is permanently no Christ.

They had already seen 400 years of that, and all but gave up hope of things ever being good or decent or praiseworthy again.  All their political and religious gurus had convinced them it was never going to be any better again.  Get used to it.

Then Jesus came.  Defying all odds, and all the prognostications of the brains of their time, Jesus showed up exactly how God had foretold through the prophets He would.

And aren’t you forever glad He did?

© D. Dean Boone, December 2017



Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The SUMMER OF My DISSONANCE – A Granger Story – Chapter 4

He stood comfortably in the predawn quietness and drew the darkness around himself like one of those impossibly-thick hotel robes.  I don’t think I even moved; I mean, I was a-sleep!  To say this was his favorite time of day would understate its place in his life.  Normally, he turned on a lamp or something to provide a bit of light. 

This morning seemed so perfect he chose not to insult the easy, soft approach of daylight, opting instead for carefully navigating by the ghostly-blue light under the fresh-ground, perking pot through the still-shadowy interior of his temporary home away from home.  At least I didn’t stumble over the bear’s head.  Can’t.  Isn’t one. 

Smiling to himself, he realized again the wisdom of leaving the head off that luxurious, thick bearskin rug.  I’m just one more visitor here.  Others have found this spot crucial to their own spirit’s recovery.  Wonder who the first guy was to trip over that bear’s skull and dance around holding his toes?  Or maybe the one who left the rug here had thought it through first, reasoning how many there’d be like me across the years who would be unfamiliar with this place, while being so desperately needy of it?

Granger stood leaning against the inside of the cabin door, sipping from his first cup of hot, fresh coffee.  He’d dressed in mountain chic:  soft, worn jeans, equally soft white tee and plaid green flannel shirt with sleeves half-rolled up.  His feet were toasty in the shearling leather slippers he’d found beside the bed when–  How’d he know what size shoes I wear?  If he weren’t a believer, Granger could easily be spooked by all the seemingly random indicators that someone who knew him very well had prepped this place for his extended visit. 

Grinning to himself, he mentally added a hash mark on the refrigerator door whiteboard of his mind.  One more. . .  He stood there, sipping coffee, lost in that comfortable place where thoughts go to rest.

Stepping across the wide porch, he tossed the dregs of his now-cool coffee over the edge into the rich, verdant forest carpet.  Time for a fresh cup of hot joe, his trademark.  Moving easily through the yawning morning’s light beginning to sneak its way through the cabin’s interior, he poured another brimming cup, noticing once more the canister that seemed to glow as if with its own source of light.  I need to ask him about that canister.

He’d long since established the habit of preparing the means of coffeemaking the night before so all that was needed in the morning was flip on the switch – or, in this case, turn on the gas burner on the beautifully-kept old range.  Odd.  There was little time difference between his electronic coffeemaker at home and this old blue granite pot setting atop a gas burner in this mountain cabin. 

Neither pot nor reservoir filled itself.  He still had to grind the beans and measure the grounds into the filters.  In actual minutes, he doubted there was any appreciable difference.  Granger was struck again at how obliviously preoccupied people had become because of microwaves and the Internet.  “Patience?  Don’t have time for it.  Gotta run.”  Shaking his head, he unselfconsciously ran his flannel rolled cuff around the bottom of his coffee mug, absorbing the dribble of java that had innocently slid its way down.  It’s what flannel in the mountains was made for.

Stopping to light the fire he’d laid the night before, his mind refused to let go of the rolled cuff of his flannel shirt.  Jeans and flannel shirt was his unofficial uniform ever since boyhood.  It was still his ‘go-to’ comfort clothing as a senior adult.  Even in the early years of marriage when they had little but each other, buoyed by future hopes and dreams, they both invested in jeans, flannel shirts and western boots.  There may have been just enough left over for a shared Pepsi, but at least they both looked comfortable.  Then came life, careers, families, illness, and death.  Through it all, Granger could be found, usually with coffee, in–what else?  Comfortable, well-broken-in jeans and a flannel shirt with rolled sleeves.

She mentioned at one point she loved seeing pictures of him sitting easily, coffee cup in one hand, long sleeves rolled haphazardly up his arms.  Wonder what she’s doing right now?  Is she thinking of me as I do of her?  Or does she think of me at all?  Does she remember how often I think of her and pray for her?  How much my grown-up heart is still enchanted by that girl she was, wondering about the woman she now is, of the life she’s lived to this point?  Does she still believe that—

Physically shaking his head, Granger knew letting such thoughts go for long was pointless.  Then he was rudely snatched back to his ‘now’, the match having burned close to his fingers.  She’d fill the room with that beautiful laughter at my weird dance while shaking my hand and sucking on my finger.  How I’d love to hear her laugh like that again.  I guess laughing at myself will have to do, along with the squirrels and crows.  Right?

Taking his Bible, steno pad and pen, he curled a big finger through the mug’s handle.  It was oversized, very black outside and green inside, with COFFEE made me do it! printed on the outside.  Whoever this is, they must collect coffee mugs like I do.  Smiling and at peace, Granger carried his coffee and writing material out onto the porch.  Laying pad, pen and The Message down on the rocker’s cushion, he used an old purple kitchen towel left on a support of the table to wipe off the table’s top.  Taking the towel over and draping it over the porch railing to dry, he stood there for a moment, hunched and leaning on his straightened arms.

He could hear small sounds signaling the mountain morning commute was not far off.  Birds were muttering back and forth, flittering about who needed to get up first and prepare worm breakfast.  Wonder what birds have in their cups first thing in the morning?  Drawing in a deep breath of the moist, cool, fragrant air, he scanned the area around the cabin and turned to the old rocker.  Settling himself onto the faded, orange cushion and the old quilt, he quieted himself to receive what things God would have to say to him this morning.

Picking up the pen, he noticed a yellow ladybug resolutely walking along the edge of the table.  Watching it, he thought again of how amazing God’s creativity is on so many things in this life.  Raising his eyes out across the shadowed forest spaces between trees, his eyes unfocused as he sipped some more of the steaming coffee.  To a writer, trivia isn’t.  Everything attaches to something else, for what seems Trivial Pursuit to the unwashed is, to a writer’s mind, Research.

He remembered reading somewhere that there are over 300 different types of ladybugs in the U.S., that there is no set number of spots on their shell, and that they can be red, orange, yellow, pink, even white, and that their spots tend to become lighter with age.  Okay, God, I’m jealous.  With us, age spots get darker and more prevalent, while LADYBUG spots get dimmer with age?

He grinned at himself again, leaving the ladybug to whatever mission his diminutive guest was on and focused on his thoughts.

Pulling the pad closer, he jotted the date in the upper left corner of the blank page, then began to do what seemed to be both his greatest love and greatest challenge.  He began to write his thoughts, his closely-held feelings on the paper as his personality, memories, desires, hopes and dreams soaked into the page.  It was a strange transubstantiation, as if the plain ink of the basic black PaperMate Inkjoy mysteriously merged with his liquid thoughts to produce a warm, throbbing, crimson surge—the lifeblood of everything he loved, yearned for and wanted to do and be.

He hesitated in his writing, glancing down at what he’d written.  It was as if his hand and the pen were going on about the mechanics of writing while his  mind and spirit were huddled together over coffee.  Without conscious thought, he fell easily into the habit of those most often alone, reading his written words aloud:  “This place is everything my soul and bruised spirit could ever want.  I just wish I had someone with whom to share it.”

 “You do.”

 The voice sounded so close he almost dropped the pad as he stood and glanced up and around to see who had spoken.  It was that clear, yet with a strange resonance that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

Grinning self-consciously at his shock, he spoke into the cool mountain dawn.  “That’s You, isn’t it, Lord?”  The silence was profound, equally as stirring as the unexpected nearness and clarity of the voice.

 “Lord?”  Nothing, blanketed with thick stillness, much like the coated air inside a sound booth.  Hesitantly, slightly puzzled, Granger remembered the lesson of the previous evening, centered around that rocker.  Slowly he sat back down, adjusting his hips to a slightly more comfortable position as he sank into the worn cushion of the old rocker.

Instantly came the voice.  “I know you’re lonesome, and I know why.” 

Everything in Granger seemed to hold its breath.  There are times to talk and there are times to listen.  Granger told himself that, and squirmed slightly because a thousand questions began peppering his mind.  As he did, he heard a rustling sound.  Wiggling again, he heard it again.  Frowning, he got up and raised the cushion.  Under it,  he saw a folded sheet of paper laying there with a few yellowed pine needles on it.  The paper had that rubbed sheen on it, like it had been there for a long time.  The corners were rounded, fringy.

He took a deep breath, sensing something different was happening.  Since the day he’d first arrived at the cabin, he’d sat in the old rocker several times and never heard the sound.  Hesitantly, he reached for the paper, unfolding it and beginning to read.

             I couldn’t handle the solitude.  It was too quiet here.  I could hear myself thinking and I wasn’t ready to face the truth I saw in myself.  I’m not doing this ‘alone’ thing very well, yet.  I came here to heal and to write, but I’m no writer.  Nobody reads what I write.  I get polite requests now and then; but nothing has ever come of it.  The more I write, the less it seems anybody notices or cares.  I’m done here.  I used the rest of my time here to get this place ready for you.  I pray you succeed where I failed.

He sank slowly back down into the cushion, hot tears making it hard to see.  How, God?  Why—  When—  He raised his brimming eyes to look out across the beautiful forest panorama, pulling his coffee up in his trembling right hand to take a sip and clear the taste of his heart that had somehow lodged in his throat.  The black mug with the green interior was almost empty.  Grinning ruefully at himself, he muttered, “Draining the cup without refueling?  That can’t be good.”

He rose and wandered into the kitchen to refill his cup, then padded quietly back through the living room, slowing so he wouldn’t stumble over the thick bear rug.  Hesitating, he knelt and ruffled his left hand through the coarse, thick hair.  What was your story, old boy?  Were you lonely, too?  How long did you have to spend by yourself before God intervened?  Pensive, Granger knew he was dipping himself in a Pity Pool and needed to knock it off.   With fresh tears he walked back out onto the porch and stood for a few seconds, eyes focused inward. 

Taking in a deep breath, he headed down the three steps.  He almost missed the bottom one, spilling a few drops of hot coffee on his jeans.  Absently, he gazed through tears at the damp spot, bending and dabbing at it with his shirtsleeve as the sharp pain returned him to reality’s now.

Standing again, he took slow, measured steps out among the trees.  There was always something timeless about the woods, reminding him of his boyhood treks with his dad.  He sought the peace and sighing, soughing comfort the forest has always offered to all who appreciate them.

Behind him, up on the porch, the yellow ladybug was now crawling across the opened sheet of once-white paper laying on the cushion of the old rocker.  It was as if the little insect was pointing to the name of the one who’d written the note.   

It was signed,  Granger.


Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | 1 Comment


I cherish good truth wherever I find it.

This great post was in last Friday’s mail.  It speaks so well I chose not to editorialize.

A newlywed young man was sitting on the porch on a hot, humid day, sipping iced tea with his father.  As he talked about adult life, marriage, responsibilities, and obligations, the father thoughtfully listened.  He stirred the ice cubes in his glass and, when the son grew reflective and quiet, his dad cast a clear, sober look on his son. 

“Never forget your friends,” he advised, “they will become more important as you get older.  Regardless of how much you love your family and the children you happen to have, you will always need friends. Remember to go out with them occasionally, do activities with them, call them . . .”

“What strange advice!” Thought the young man. “I just entered the married world, I am an adult and surely my wife and the family that we will start will be everything I need to make sense of my life.”

Yet he obeyed his father. He kept in touch with his friends and annually increased their number. Over the years, he became aware that his father knew what he was talking about.  Inasmuch as time and nature carry out their designs and mysteries on a man, friends were the bulwarks of his life.

After 60 years of life, here is what he learned:

Time passes.

Life goes on.

Distance separates. 

Children grow up and become independent; it breaks the parents’ hearts, but the children become separated from the parents.

Jobs come and go.

Illusions, desires, attraction, sex–they weaken and change.

People do not do what they should do.

The heart breaks.

Parents die. 

Siblings die. 

Spouses die.

Colleagues forget the favors.

The races are over.

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But true friends are always there, no matter how many miles away they are, or for how long you’ve been separated.

A friend is never nearer than the reach of a need, intervening in your favor, waiting for you with open arms or blessing your life.

When we started this adventure called LIFE, we did not know of the incredible joys or sorrows that were ahead. We did not know how much we would need from each other. Love your parents, take care of your children, and keep a group of good friends too.

[Attributed to Jerry Lambert]

Tell me what you think.  Some things in this life we deem important that, looking back, have little or no value at all.  They were the tinsel, the ribbon on the real packages.

The true gifts, like the Giver of all good gifts, were obscured by the immediate glitz of the bright wrapping paper, what we thought was important.  Well, friend, both of us have seen our wrapping paper dull a little, if it still exists.  After sixty-some years, there’s little it once hid we don’t now see and appreciate more.

Some of you are close, old, trusted friends.  At this stage of living, it’s a thing of rare joy to occasionally see your name and picture on social media and remember you.  I remember as a kid getting missionary and Christian worker ‘prayer cards’ stuck in my hand, whether I wanted them or not.  I now use our Facebook communication as a means of lifting you, your friendship, and your expressed or implied needs to God.  I know I can trust Him to watch over you and yours, even while expecting Him to do the same for me.

It is equally a joysome thing to be remembered.  For you, my dear, old friend, take a moment and think of our shared past.  Consider the rich texture of our enduring friendship, mixing across years and miles like smooth milk chocolate and creamy caramel swirling together in the mixing bowl you just dipped your finger in.

And likely got smacked.  It was worth it, though–hunh?

See the source imageI’ve no way of knowing where these 2nd Cup posts eventually land.  I know many read whom I’ll never personally know nor meet this side of God’s Heaven.

For you, my wish is that you stop right now, taking a few moments to reconnect with your own treasured collection of old friends.  Reach over and open that package of who they are, and what they mean to you.  While you’re doing that, remind yourself . . .

They don’t come any better.  And you’ve got some of the best.

© D. Dean Boone, December 2017



Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A Granger Story – 11/28/17: THERE’S JUST SOMETHING ABOUT THAT GUY . . .

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The November wind blustered and fretted outside the cozy diner’s windows.  That early in the morning, I was the lone patron.

I was enjoying my first cup of Jimmie’s great coffee as I gathered my thoughts and began to write.  Trixie was keeping my cup full with her usual attention to detail that made her one of the finest servers I’d ever had the pleasure to know.

Her deep blue poodle skirt and pink bobby socks contrasted the burnished mahogany of her skin.  A hot pink scarf tied in a bow completed the ensemble for which Jimmie’s Diner had been known since its inception.

“Nice earbobs.”

Trixie quirked an eyebrow.  “You rather I didn’t have any on?  Can’t show up here ‘thout big, dangly earbobs, as you call ’em.  I was in a hurry, and these turquoise ones were close at hand.  Deal with it.”  The cook whistled his trademark three sharp blasts, signaling my food was ready.  So was I.

Sipping coffee, my mind refocused on my writing notes.  Increasingly, I found myself always having something encouraging to write, even when not working on a specific project.  It seems there are so many individuals struggling with life burdens; there’s always some lifting of someone else’s spirit to do . . .

“Here you go, dear.”  Trixie laid the food before me, including the extra napkins.  The steam rising carried the tantalizing aromas of eggs, potatoes and hamburger steak with onions fried into it, making my empty stomach mutter in anticipation.

See the source imageI’d just poured hot, creamy hollandaise over my country potatoes and was searching through the little wire jelly holder when she returned with a brimming pot of fresh coffee, topping off my cup.  She stood there as I pulled out the eight or ten little plastic rectangles.  When she’d had enough fun, she reached into one of those pockets the Jimmie’s servers always had on their aprons and pulled out four packets of peach jelly.  Wordlessly, but smirking, she held them out.

Now I squinched my eyes up at her.  “Anything you don’t keep in those pockets?  I heard you had your lunch in there last week, and somebody said you park your Smart car in there so you always have your own parking space.”  We shared a good laugh, her rich alto filling the space around us.

“No Smart car for me, man.  Hunh-uh.  I want some room for these bones, and no Smart car gonna cut it.”  She took the coffee pot back to its warmer, still chuckling to herself as she crossed the small diner’s interior back to my booth.

“I’m looking forward to reading the book you’re working on about your healing.  Just being around you, I can tell the story’s one I need to know.”  Her eyes scanned the room, assuring she wasn’t ignoring another patron who might’ve wandered in.  They hadn’t.  She wasn’t.

I sat back, thanking her.  “I suppose I was as naïve as anyone else when I began, thinking this a cakewalk.  I like to write.  Actually, I love to write, so . . . ”

“So you figured it’d be a few months’ worth of work, and BAMMO.  Instant book.”  I sat observing her expressive eyes, holding a knowing wisdom belying what some thought her humble job to be.  I knew better.  Trixie, which was one of the stage names each of the Jimmie’s servers adopted, held a bachelor’s degree in economics and was an avid reader.  I just nodded.  “It’s been years.  And the story just keeps building.”

Stifling a yawn, I caught her amused look as, comically wide-eyed, she mimed hurrying to refill my coffee.  I’d just started to say, “But turquoise?  Really?” when I noticed movement at the diner’s entrance.  Jimmie’s has a small foyer of sorts with two short benches in it, and a man had quietly been sitting there.

He wore a well-used tan canvas coat with green and black plaid lining.  His wash-whitened jeans were torn at the left knee, though it looked like he’d tried to patch them; and an old black “MIZZOU TIGERS” sweatshirt completed the winter wear.  The visitor’s brownish-gray hair was a few weeks into needing attention.  When he saw Trixie and me looking his direction, he stood.

“I’m sorry.  I knew it’d be warm in here.  I’ll be on my way.”  His manner was dejected, but his voice was calm and well-modulated.

Something in his manner puzzled me.  Without thinking, I said, “Wait!”  I walked to the entrance where another couple with a kid in a yellow mohawk was just coming in.  “How about a cup of coffee?”  I gestured toward my booth.  His deepset, intelligent blue eyes evaluated me for a few brief seconds before he walked that direction.  This guy doesn’t do charity well. 

I motioned for him to sit down as I looked for Trixie.  I needn’t have bothered; she was halfway to us with his coffee.  “Welcome to Jimmie’s.  I just brewed this pot fresh.”

I watched over the brim of my coffee mug as he shed his heavy coat.  He gratefully made eye contact with Trixie, thanking her for the coffee.  I could tell it pleased her.  I could tell it was a habit for him.  I could tell my food was rapidly cooling.

“I don’t often have guests this early.  How about some breakfast?  I dislike eating in front of others.  My treat.”  Without waiting for an answer, I glanced at Trixie, waiting to catch her eye while she glared at The Mohawk Kid playing with the red ketchup squeeze bottle on his parents’ table.  At least I assumed them to be his parents.  I couldn’t fathom a sane couple picking that one for a family.  I bobbed my head toward my visitor.  She nodded, coming over and laying one of the menus before him she’d been standing there holding for the kid’s parents.

He scanned it, told her his choices, and surrendered the menu.  We both heard her tell the parents, “Here are menus.  I’ll be back for your order.”  I know Trixie.  She’d rather use a Dremel tool on her teeth than serve kids like the one with the saffron Mohawk.  He’d already managed to tip the glass sugar jar over, living up to his Calvin & Hobbes tee.

“This coffee’s good!”  His comment jerked my attention back where it belonged.  Hands cupped around the mug, warming up, he pointed with his chin toward the open writing pad and asked, “What are you doing?”  He raised his eyes to mine, waiting.  It was pleasant, being in company with someone who understands good communication techniques.

“I’m encouraging others.”

His eyes widened slightly as he looked up.  After a beat or two, his face darkened slightly and he remarked, “I’m afraid it won’t do much good for me.  It seems everybody who means anything in my life makes sure the past always trumps now.  It’s like they don’t want me to be new, to break away from who and where I’ve been  They’d prefer I stay within the box they’re familiar with.”

He took a big swig of his coffee, swallowed, then said, “Nobody believes in me.”  I’ve heard my share of petulant adults with little regard for anyone else’s feelings or thoughts.  I wasn’t hearing that.  He said it in a dispassionate, reflective voice, his brow unlined and face at rest.

Sometimes things pop into one’s mind unbidden.  I looked at him and said, “I do.”  Taking a big bite of juicy, flavorful meat and country potatoes, I sat observing him.  His food had come and he busied himself preparing it to eat.  I ate while he continued.  When he was done, he slid his fork beneath a big bite of pancake and then said, “Why?  You don’t know me and I’ve never seen you before.”

I smiled.  “I don’t have to.  I believe in others by choice.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t allow others’ opinions to shadow my own instincts.  I’ve suffered enough judgmental fools and been misread and misunderstood often enough I know better than to let somebody else’s ideas color the reputation or backstory of someone I’ve just met.”

Trixie’d just refilled our coffee cups.  I sat appreciating its smoky, rich flavor for a moment, then finished my thoughts.

“I believe God’s able to take your Now and multiply it–just as He did with those dinner rolls and fish filets on that hillside.  Where or who you’ve been isn’t close to being as important as where you’re headed, and who you want to be.  To me, the real question is, do you believe in you?”

My visitor had been dabbing up the last bit of syrup with a final bite of pancake.  The motion stopped halfway to his mouth as he seemed to evaluate my words.

“Do you write the same way you talk?”  Interesting question.  I thought about it.

“Pretty much.  I’ve been around critical, judgmental people as well as some champion encouragers.  I’ve decided I’ve had enough of the former and am spending the rest of my life being one of the latter.  Everybody’s got bad decisions and rough experiences in their backgrounds.

“They don’t need yet another critic pointing out their faults.  In my experience, they do need people around them who’ll cheer them on, lifting and encouraging them when they feel like giving up.  Even if they need some coaching, it doesn’t have to be done like a Marine DI dressing them down, or a stern teacher addressing a fourth-grade class.  Sometimes people forget how patient others were with them when they were learning.”

The man had gone somewhere in his thoughts.  When I stopped speaking, his eyes remained wherever he’d been for a few seconds; then they refocused on me.  “Well, keep doing what you do.”  Glancing up at the clock on Jimmie’s wall, he suddenly rose and grabbed his coat.  “Thank you for letting me share your table, and for the food.  I won’t forget this.”

I allowed that it was my privilege, that I hadn’t done much.

His response startled me.  “You’ve done more than you know.  I must go now.”

I said, “But I don’t even know your name.”

His eyes took on a strange, shimmering intensity, seeming to pierce into my very soul as he said, “But I know yours.”  And with that he was gone out the door.

I sat there, stunned at the transformation.  Trixie came by to pick up his plate, so I asked, “Do you know him?”  Her face revealed her own questions.  “I’ve never seen him before.”  We both quickly walked to the window looking out on the parking area.  Beyond the two or three vehicles parked there, we didn’t see our strange guest.

Trixie’s a believer, and I saw the same dawning awareness in her eyes as she surely saw in mine.  She hesitated, then said, “We just shared something–someone–special, didn’t we?”  I said, yes, I believe we did.

See the source imageThe mood didn’t last long, though.  I saw her jaw tense as she said, “I gotta go kill me a kid or I won’t have a restaurant left.  And I may throw his parents in for good measure.”

I grinned as I slowly returned to my booth.  I had some fresh ideas to get down on paper, and this morning’s strange encounter whirled them around in my mind, much as the wind’s cold fingers were strewing double-handfuls of leaves around the parking lot outside.

God truly does work in mysterious ways.

© D. Dean Boone, November 2017







Categories: Encouragement, Humor - Lighten Up, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Q(uiet) T(ime) M(using)s for 11/16/17: EVER STOPPED TO THINK . . . ?


Image result for coffee and politics

By now, you’ve figured out I’m addressing men and women here who all think way more highly of themselves than they should.  They are mortals, flesh-and-blood humans just like you and I, who by whatever means have managed to get themselves elected to public service – a term they all seem to have instantly jettisoned.

“Well, I wish you’d stick to good, wholesome, encouraging stuff that has solid spiritual applications.”

I am.

We could all learn a lot by re-reading Proverbs.  I just finished absorbing a little more of chapter 16, and it’s hard to pick one thing out from among all the others.  I won’t bore you; grab your Word and read it yourself.

Then you tell me if there’s not plenty in that single chapter to apply to all the political powermongers of every party, trying right now at the cost of our very nation’s health, to destroy one another’s careers and reputations just to get their own way, or cover up at all costs the sordid trail of their habitual corruption.

Image result for Animated Ventriloquist GifsIt is unfortunate they love having a following of young Americans with little or no sense of – nor appreciation for – history, whose opinions the wizened Caiaphas types of D.C. can easily manipulate.  They know those vapid youth will flood the airwaves and ‘Net with their handlers’ talking-point programming.

In this morning’s mail, I read this:  “When old people speak it is not because of the sweetness of words in our mouths; it is because we see something which you do not see. ”  Solomon had been around.  When God asked him what he most sought, the king asked for wisdom.

He got it.

It seems to me our puff-headed, blowhardy senators and representatives – and their staffers of this or that who think they’re hidden – would be better served to disregard their verb-parsing law degrees, and decide to use the Book of Proverbs as their guide to conducting the daily business of our nation.

Yes, I know.  I’m inducing in you the desire to go and reacquaint yourself with Proverbs.

Make your motions and cast your votes, but GOD has the final say.

It means more if you read it for yourself.  Begin with today’s date, the 16th.  Then sit back, think about what you just read in chapter 16, and make some notes.  List how many things it mentions could be applied to what’s going on in our nation’s Congress, and in states where crucial elections are up for grabs.

Ask yourself how different would be everyone’s attitudes, speech, and activities were we following the counsel found in this amazing Book of Wisdom.  And that’s just one book.  The Bible’s full of solid advice on how to treat and serve one another.

As verse 33 says it, “Make your motions and cast your votes, but GOD has the final say.”  If we believed that, most of what is taking up every news cycle imaginable wouldn’t be happening.

Think about it.

© D. Dean Boone, November 2017

Categories: Common Sense, Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

300-Word Stroll for 11/13/17: 3 WAYS YESTERDAYERS AIN’T RATIN’

You can moon over how amazing you were until you’re wasting what God wants to do through you today.

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You know the type.  Always reminding you of how studly or stunning they were, and how much better they could do whatever you’re doing.  Gets tiresome, doesn’t it?

“I’m glad you had those experiences, and once did all those wonderful things.  What are you doing today?”

Image result for coffee and past glory

Your instincts are correct.  There’s a reason God doesn’t have them doing it.  They’re insecure, needing to be seen and heard.  They may be flamboyant in dress, speech and deportment, so that on the surface they seem to have it all together.  They intimidate you into feeling small and dull in comparison.  Don’t let them get by with that.  No one can make you feel insignificant without your permission.

Quit listening, and stop giving it.

  2. THOSE LIVING IN YESTERDAY DRAG YOU DOWN & HOLD YOU BACK.  They don’t have that right.
  3. GOD’S LAID HIS ‘TODAY’ BEFORE YOU FOR A REASON.  Be looking here and ahead.

The Bible’s full of examples of people God chose to use that everyone else either ignored or ridiculed.

Image result for unlikely heroes Sure.  It rankles to watch The Loud and The Lovely keep being feted with praise and preference, when many others have more spiritual maturity, depth and wonderful talent to offer.  All they need is someone to encourage and develop them.

Popularity based on favors or family is fickle; eventually, it will collapse like pond ice during Spring thaw.

Be passionately patient and faithful in following God’s lead through your Today.  You’ve no idea what He has in store.

Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7

© D. Dean Boone, November 2017


Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 11/10/17: “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.”

It’s hard to know what to do with a compliment you rarely hear.

Image result for Coffee and MilitaryOne of the reasons I decided to separate from the Air Force after my first hitch was the spitting derision all of us Vietnam-era veterans received upon coming back to the world.  It made no difference where we served or what uniform we wore.  We were routinely trashed by Americans who were clueless what it meant to sign up, straighten up, listen up, get squared away and ship off.

The Vietnam years were an ugly part of an uglier Cold War.  When we returned from wherever we were stationed, we needed America to care because we knew if we’d been correctly led in Vietnam, we’d have won.  We knew the level of our training and had faith in the troops we served with.  It stung to have to leave Saigon the way we did.

We needed America to care.

They didn’t.  Americans didn’t.  Tired of the stinking war and weary of a meddling, arrogant, condescending civilian President who’d never gotten within sneering distance of a military uniform, they transferred their disgust and hatred to us.  To this day, I can be wearing a veteran’s cap in a restaurant and be glared at or, worse perhaps, looked at with wonder–all while people will walk over to younger military men and women and thank them.

The Cold War years weren’t fun and games, either.  Yet the Vietnam portion of that time was especially hard on all concerned.

Every war before or since has been just as ugly.  No one likes the thought of having to kill other humans merely because they want to kill us and take or destroy what’s ours.  Whether blowing them up in a triple-canopied jungle path, a dirty tree-forsaken wasteland, in surface engagements or unseen desperate moments undersea, or in the frozen northern skies, death is just as real.

And during war, it’s not just bodies that die.  Hopes.  Dreams.  Ideals.  Innocence.  Kindness.  Decency.  Love.  Values.  These and so much more are the wages of sin whose paymaster is War.

When we returned to The World, we of the Vietnam era never got the accolades, yellow ribbons, bands and public applause from grateful countrymen.  We received accusing glares and vile, profane insults.  After all, we lost.

Right?Image result for vietnam era veterans

Except we didn’t.  No matter what branch we represented, nor what our specialty was, on the ground, afloat or in the air in any operation where we were allowed to fight that battle with unrestricted use of our training and experience, we won.  From the Revolution through to these seeming interminable jihadist hotspots around the world, where United States troops are unleashed to fight and operate as we’ve been trained, we’ve prevailed.  We win.

Some of us are blessed enough to come home again.  Some show visible battle scars.  Yet all–every one of us–have the internal scars that derive from leaving all that’s familiar and loved, heading into an unknown future spent someplace we’ve only heard about.  We all–every one of us–get that ‘thousand-yard stare’ the minute someone asks about our time out of country or overseas.  Even if served in the same place, each tour was – is – different.

We’ll tell you the funny and memorable stuff.  Surface things.  The rest?  We’ll likely report to our Final Port of Call still holding most of that inside.  And you might’ve noticed on every Veterans Day we seem to trot out the same old pictures to put on Facebook.

That’s because my generation served before cell phones had been invented.  If we had cameras they were clunky Instamatics, and just something else to have to pack around.  Then, too, we were focused more on doing our duty than posing for pictures.

All of you in the civilian world have been taking things like I just wrote to heart.  You’re welcoming the young military pros coming back with your sincere honor and appreciation.   Thank you for that.

While you’re renewing the nation’s recognition of the valor of America’s military vets, take some time to remember those of us with gray hair who were serving around the world before these you honor were born.

Image result for vietnam era veterans

Senior adults now, we stand tall and proud today, mystified by observing a spoiled generation wipe their noses and other less desirable body parts on the flag we so deeply admire.

We wore our nation’s uniforms before it was popular.  We knew when we enlisted what we likely would face.  Though things and people disappointed, even disgusted us–we’d stand for America again if needed.

We’re noticing, America, that you’ve begun to recognize some of us as well, stopping by our restaurant tables or pausing in Costco to say, “Thank you for your service.”

Believe us when we overcome our shock to respond:  “Thank you for your support.”

Just bear with us when you see a tear in our eyes when we say it.

It means more than you know.

© D. Dean Boone, November 2017


Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Inspirational | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment


Humility walks in the door when what you think you know chases down how much you don’t, and forces you to listen.

Image result for coffee and humilityThe boy’s name could’ve been Dawdle; that’s what he loved to do.  Rocks, sticks, stray dogs, a Frisbee somebody left in the street.  Anything could grab his interest and make him late coming home from school.  Again.

Tiring of the incessant battle, his mom and dad warned him one morning that he must be home on time that afternoon.  You guessed it.  He was 27 minutes later than the day before.  His mom made no scene:  “Get washed up for dinner.  And for long sleeves this time!”

Thinking he’d worn his parents down, he plopped down in his seat at the table.  He started to say something, but was shocked when he looked at his plate.  Seriously?  A slice of bread?  And a glass of water?  The boy slid his eyes over at his parents’ loaded plates, then quickly glanced up at his dad.  His father remained quiet, just looking back at his headstrong son.

The little boy dropped his head and silent tears began to flow.

Image result for coffee and humilityHis dad watched as remorse and sorrow at being caught by his own disobedience flitted across the boy’s face.  Then he silently, calmly picked up his own plate loaded with savory lasagna and crisp salad and fragrant garlic bread, exchanged it for the one in front of the child, and began eating the bread and drinking the water.

That man remembers to this day how terrific the taste of that sweet tea was, and how the sauce in the lasagna was just right.  He also is haunted by seeing his hard-working, tired, hungry dad quietly eating a slice of bread and sipping water.

He grimly smiles as he says, “And you know what?  I learned two huge lessons that evening.”

  • When you’re on a schedule, keep it or let somebody know why you can’t.

  • God uses our dads to teach us about Himself.

Being sensitive to someone else’s schedule – respecting their time – is common courtesy.  When those close to you are made irritable, nervous and resentful by your always being a few minutes late, get started sooner.  It may not seem ‘late’ to your way of thinking.  Yet it puts their teeth on edge.  There’s nothing fashionable about being chronically late.  It’s RUDE.

Dads?  Your role has always been to give your sons and daughters a picture of what God looks like by watching you.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it, don’t want that responsibility or pressure.  God will hold you accountable for what you could’ve done to enhance your kids’ spiritual formation.  It is that important.

Yes, their mom is part of God’s plan to help them grow up to learn ADULTING.  That never has and never will excuse you from your leadership role in your family.

Image result for coffee and humilityWhen’s the last time you got creative in helping your son or daughter ‘get’ the lessons you’re trying to teach them?

When you think about it, missing some of your wife’s terrific lasagna for a meal is a small price to pay for observing how your dawdling, mind-of-their-own kids have become solid men and marvelous women.

Do and be what it takes for them to better see God when they look at you.

© D. Dean Boone, November 2017





Categories: Common Sense, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

QTMs for 11/6/17: BUT YOU AIN’T GOT JACK

You’ve heard it:  “If I could buy you for what you’re worth, then sell you for what you think you’re worth . . .”
Image result for coffee and social cliques
Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:9, “I am the least…  I am not worthy…”  It does NOT mean you’re worthless in the eyes of others, but being honest in seeing yourself through God’s eyes.  It’s knowing that who, what, and how He’s building you up to be now in your journey is because of His grace, not your popularity or talent.  It’s not about you at all.  It’s all about God working His grace through you.
Yesterday in class, we discussed the fallacy of an “US vs. THOSE PEOPLE” mentality, even while claiming we’re representing Jesus to our world.  You know.  Always sitting with the same ones.  Always picking from the same insular group for just about anything.  After all, unless Jack’s in that class, or seated at that table, or a member of that group, it has no merit.  See, Jack’s popular and fun.  Jack is in EVERYTHING.  I mean, thanks for the offer, but if you ain’t got JACK . . .
With respect, we’re not here to learn about and worship Jack.  According to Paul, Jack’s true value is only in how he uses his gifts and personality – and character – to point other men to Jesus.
We all do it, if we’re not careful.
“I do not!”  Hey.  Social media tell the story.  What else is everyone supposed to think when they keep seeing the exact same faces proudly displayed at any social gathering you host?  And haven’t you occasionally looked at a Facebook picture and thought, “Sure wish they’d invite me sometime.”?
And what if they did?  Would you then become a cliquey snob, secretly gloating over all the little people not allowed to know the clubhouse secret code?

It’s not about you at all.  It’s all about God working His grace through you.

It’s natural to have some friends closer than others, some with whom we always have the most fun. 
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But if that’s the sum of your social interaction–hanging with the same people, only doing things with the same select group–according to Jesus’s examples, you’ve not yet begun to represent Him in His world.  Calling that ‘evangelism’ and ‘discipleship’ is kidding yourself.  And it’s shortchanging those you could be impacting by your witness.
Ever heard somebody say in shock, “Why, I had no idea __________ was so much fun!” or “Wow, I didn’t know they were that good.”  What chance did you give them?  Most people do not wade into the middle of things, demanding to be included.
One in four personalities is always up for a good party.  The other three either have no time for foolish goofing off by people who don’t have time for them; are more bothered by the cost of the party than that they weren’t invited; or are talented and would love to be included once in awhile, but aren’t the kind to push themselves into a setting where they’re not wanted.
It hurts to be routinely excluded unless nobody else is around willing to step up.  Good, qualified, able people have quietly left churches because, “We couldn’t get in.  Everyone had their clique, their family gatherings.  They come in talking and laughing with the same people, they leave the same way.  It’s like we were somehow lower on the register or something.  Nobody’d let us in, and we got tired of feeling like second- or third-tier Christians.” 

The Path of Least Discomfort is not an effective outreach program.

How many times should they keep trying before getting discouraged and quitting?  More to the point, when that happens, how long does it take for the clique or family or social group to realize they’ve gone?


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Either way, The Path of Least Discomfort is not an effective outreach program.  It’s not enough to just not be conformed to the world.  Sometimes it’s necessary to resist being conformed to The Church. 
Paul goes on in 1 Cor. 15-16 to talk about Christ’s return.  When He raptures His Church, it won’t be by parties, church organizations, family affiliation, social clubs or the most popular Sunday School classes. 
We’ll each rise to meet Him because we’ve individually served Him in this life. 
Or, as Paul puts it, “Be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (15:58).
Exactly.  God sees results in a different way than we all do.
© D. Dean Boone, November 2017
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