back in september i went to tennessee with my mom for a little vacay. originally, she and my dad were going out there for some sales conference he had to attend and i thought i’d just go when they went. we were all supposed to fly out on sunday, september 14. that didn’t happen because of “inclement weather” (hurricane ike shut down the entire greater houston area). mom and i finally left town on tuesday, the 16th, and dad had to stay behind.

anyway, i usually only see my brother and his fam when i go to tennessee but this trip was set to include a trip to my aunt and unlce’s place, also! it’s so amazing, i thought i’d write about it!

they live on some land in the hills of east tennessee that’s been in my uncle jim’s family for generations. he grew up there. the land alone is pretty. but uncle jim gives new meaning to “i love what you’ve done with the place”. it may help to know that uncle jim is like the hypothetical child created from the dna of bob vila, steve irwin, bob ross, davey crockett, and mr. magorium. then that child was raised by wolves… and a kinder, gentler ann coulter.

i think the first buildings on their land were a mobile home and a shed/garage. NOW, the mobile home is anything but, with an added dining/sitting room (complete with wood burning stove) and wrap around deck/porch. and the shed/garage building includes an apartment with kitchen, bathroom, deck and laundry room. oh, he also converted a shack at the front of the property into a bunk house (with bathroom). uncle jim has also taken the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” to another level. he’ll find a use for it, and it’ll be one you’d never think of (like using old curtain rods as extensions for his marshmallow/hot dog roasters). the grounds are decorated in all kinds of garden art (and not all of it was originally intended to be garden art), bird houses and myriad foliage….

i woulda mixed in a famous botanical person to the hypothetical dna cocktail but i don’t know of any. however, my aunt and unlce’s place is like an arboretum/garden/farm. a quick meandering on the grounds takes you through a variety of flowers, trees, plants, vines, and shrubs. they even grow (AND can) their own vegetables. for the sightseeing/adventure crowd, uncle jim has cleared some walking trails and named them! but wait, there’s more!

with the stone from his property, my uncle has created a fire pit, a few stair paths, and a couple of altar looking things. they sound weird but are really impressive and ridiculously ingenious.

uncle jim’s never met a stranger, either. so, if you ever stumble onto his east tennessee wonderland, don’t be shy! he’ll be happy to point you to several swimmin’ holes and prolly even lend you a walking stick.

i know i’ve probably left a bunch of cool stuff out. (like the time i saw uncle jim feed worms to a snake with a toothpick!) but, hopefully, i’ve painted an ok picture of one of the coolest places i’ve ever been. and if i haven’t, here are some actual pictures:

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7 worship/worshipful songs that really butter my bread

It Is Well With My Soul – Horatio Spafford and Philip Bliss

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – John Newton and Chris Tomlin

The Great I Am – Matt Tipton

Angels Fall Down – Skillet

Cry of The Church – Matt Tipton

Be Unto Your Name/Holy Holy Holy – Arranged by Brian Doerksen (Be Unto Your Name by Lynn DeShazo and Gary Sadler, Holy Holy Holy by Reginald Heber)

In Christ Alone – Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

*Honorable Mention: My Hero – Foo Fighters

(this song, though obviously not intended to be about Jesus, has really buttered my bread when sung in that context. i’m just saying.)

how ’bout you?

was paul a socialist?

let me preface ALL of this with: i am dumb.

there has been talk/fear about obama being a socialist. i’m not here to say i think or know that he is or isn’t. but i came across this passage the other day and wondered how it applied to socialist beliefs:

13 For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality– 14 at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality;

2 Corinthians 8:13-14 NASB

to my limited understanding, it sounds pretty similar to the concept of socialism. is the difference that one is Spirit motivated and one is government mandated? is the difference that under socialism everyone has the same amount all the time and paul’s plan allows for an ebb and flow of abundance and lacking? the latter obviously provides more opportunities for generosity, which is what paul is urging. “spread the wealth” seemed to be a pretty maddening statement when B.O. said it. but isn’t paul saying to “spread the wealth”? i’m not all torn up about it. just wonderin’.

i kinda side with ferris bueller who wisely said, “‘isms,’ in my opinion, are not good.”

8 good/great movies featuring ed harris (that i’ve seen)

in no particular order:


The Abyss

Apollo 13

The Truman Show

The Rock

Gone Baby Gone

A Beautiful Mind

The Right Stuff

i haven’t seen ALL of Glengarry Glen Ross, so i didn’t feel like i could include it.

the “decent” and/or “at least mildly entertaining” list would include Winter Passing, Milk Money, Just Cause, Enemy at the Gates, and National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

is this thing on?

hey there. i figured it was time to join the blogoverse (blogosphere is SO yesterday) with a more official contribution. i’ve previously been posting every equinox or so at myspace, where not unlike at Chuck E. Cheese’s, a kid can be a kid…. and an adult can be a kid… and a kid can try to act like an adult… someone should really clean those “spaces” up!

anyway… i’ve wrestled somewhat with the concept of even having a personal blog and resonate with my friend, chris allman, when he calls his “a complete exercise in vanity”. no one asked what i had to say, but here i am dedicating a website to what i have to say. i figure, at the end of the day, you don’t have to come here if you don’t want to, so it’s really not that imposing. may still be a lil vain, but not imposing!

thanks for visiting the institute…