Monthly Archives: March 2011

3 Things My Grandfather Taught Me


My Granddad Billy “Poppy” Key

I get my first name from my maternal granddad, Billy Key. He’s a retired Methodist pastor who is still very well known in south Georgia Methodism. At age 87 my grandfather is still a great blessing to my whole family. This morning I woke up thinking of what a great life he’s lead and all the things I’ve learned from him. There have been many, many great stories that I hope to tell and retell, and many more simple scripture lessons and poems that he’s shared over the years through his many sermons.

 

I think I can narrow it down to three things that summarize what I’ve learned from him.

1) Always be ready to share the gospel, anytime anywhere.

Long before I even knew it was scripture I would hear my granddad quote 2nd Timothy 4:2

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”

For many of my growing up years, I actually thought that he was the first one to say that. I didn’t realize it was in the Bible – he says it like he owns it. (would that we may all take such ownership over the Word, that it comes out of such conviction)

My Grand Father has never met a stranger and is never afraid to speak the name of Jesus to anyone he meets throughout his day. In today’s world the word ‘preach’ isn’t very cool. We think it sounds dictatorial, dogmatic, long-winded or boring, but we’re told in scripture to preach – and Billy Key is never afraid to ‘preach’ even if its just a few words of truth to the clerk at the grocery store.

2) Always be grateful for what you have and what you are given.

He has always displayed an attitude of thankfulness. Still today, he’s very thankful for any small everyday blessing that friends and family offer him – the kind of things that many of us would take for granted. Many times at thanksgiving he reminds us of an story of a woman who would say before every meal ‘Much obliged for the vittles, Lord.’

When he was a young boy in Adrian, Georgia, he was walking out of Church with his family one day and it was particularly beautiful outside. He turned to his mother and he said “Isn’t this a great world we live in?” and that sense of wonder and joy at the simple blessings has never left him throughout his life.

To this day he begins prayers with “Thank ya, Thank ya, Thank ya, Lord” as a simple expression of how grateful he is for God’s hand on his life.

3) And finally, bless the socks off of everyone around you.

My granddad is a blesser. He blesses people. We throw the world ‘blessing’ around a lot in churchianity and I think it looses its meaning, but what I mean by this is literal and intentional spiritual blessing passed from one person to another.

I hope that every one of you is fortunate enough to receive a Billy Key-style blessing in your life, if not from him, then maybe from someone else. He often grabs hold of you – by the arm or the shoulder. Then he stares at you right in the face and he addresses you. “Will” he’ll say, “You have been blessed with a great many gifts and the Lord is with you. You’re a capable young man. We’re proud of you and what you’re doing and we’re excited to see where the Lord is leading you!” Then he’d give me a big slap on the back and smile. Other times he’ll just grab you and quote from Numbers Six

“The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”

Again, much of my growing up years I didn’t know this was scripture – he said it so sincerely I could’ve believed they were his words.

At the very least, he’ll walk up to you and grab your arm, pat you hard on the back and shout “Bless ya, Bless ya, Bless ya!” It makes me think of Genesis 32 when Jacob wrestles with God and says “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” If it had been Billy Key, he would’ve said “I will not let you go unless I bless you!” He does it so easily, its as if he doesn’t even have to try.

Furthermore…

Over the past several years, my Granddad, who I call “Poppy” has preached fewer and fewer sermons. And when we get together as a family he doesn’t speak the same homily that he used to, but he still says one thing. After the Thanksgiving, Christmas or Independence Day celebration has ended, and all the grandchildren and great grandchildren are sitting in wake of a big family meal, Poppy stops and says this simple poem. Written by the Georgia poet, Sidney Lanier (who lived in Montgomery, AL for a few years), this little poem has become a treasure of my family’s. I think it sums up the kind of faith that Billy Key Has.

I know not how such things may be
I only know He speaks to me.
Not through the grass nor through the sod
but in my heart the voice of God
Speaking spirit unto spirit,
and if I listen I can hear it.
Voice of God that speaks to me
out of His infinity.

I called my grandad and asked him to recite it to me so I could copy it down and he was over joyed – upon finishing it he paused and said “There it is, its yours for the rest of your life now.” I couln’t’ve have ask for a richer inheritance.

These things have been a blessing to me, may they be a blessing to you.

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Restaurant Review: Sa Za

I was recently invited to dine with some friends in “The Alley” at Sa Za – a pizza place that bills itself as serving “Serious Italian”

The Atmosphere & Location: This is perhaps what Sa Za has going for it. They Alley is definitely the coolest location downtown, perhaps in all of Montgomery. Like most of the recently redone area in the Alley, it has a ‘big city’ feel. The restaurant itself definitely has the cool factor associated with any older building that’s been revamped – brick walls, unfinished floors and high ceilings give it a certain aura that most guppies (that’s yuppies from Montgomery) would appreciate. You do have to park a few blocks away, but this only adds to the chic of the locale in my opinion. The only major downside is that the room has nothing to absorb sound, so it is very, very loud.

The Food: I’m not at all a culinary expert, so I’m not claiming anything other my opinion here. I wasn’t blown away by the food. The garlic bread was made with real garlic cloves – it was really good at first, but it got old pretty quick. I don’t know if it was covered in butter or olive oil, but it was a little thicker than necessary. I didn’t try the pizza, but some other folks at my table did. They don’t have options for smaller pizza sizes which is a little frustrating. I had spaghetti and meatballs; It was good, but a little heavy on the basil, I thought. All in all it was ok, not fantastic. Their website has a very long (too long) description of their chef, Joe DiMaggio Jr – no mention of whether he’s related to the baseball player. It’s clear that Mr. DiMaggio has a high opinion of himself and his restaurant, though on his site very little mention of his culinary skill is made – it seems he’s more of a food businessman than a chef.

The Service: Wasn’t great (but that’s no excuse for not tipping decently, especially after hearing a sermon on mercy/generosity this past sunday) The timing was good; the food came out quickly, but the server wasn’t great about keeping our drinks filled and oddly acted like I was asking for something really strange when I requested a decaf coffee after my meal. She did the same when someone else  asked for a to-go box. She was very friendly though and I felt like she was trying.

The Cost: The cost was the biggest downside. Basically you’re going to end up paying around $20 for a meal that is, in my opinion, only ‘ok.’ The coffee I got cost about $2 – it wasn’t bad, but it was just decaf coffee . Being primarily a pizza place, I didn’t try their signature item, so perhaps my review is incomplete. I will say that some other folks at my table did and it looked about the same quality as I’d expect at mellow mushroom for a few bucks less. But, what you’re really paying for is the location and that aura I talked about earlier.

In summary: It wasn’t a bad experience; the food was ok and the atmosphere was great while not having the ‘hipster’ stigma I felt wafting out of the Alley bar as I walked by. At the same time, it wasn’t terrific; the service was only so-so and the cost was more than I expected.

Rating: I give it a solid “Meh”

I’d go back if someone invited me, but I won’t be craving Sa Za anytime soon.

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Debunking the term: “Out of the Box”

This entry has no spiritual significance, its just an opinion editorial.

Can we put an end to the phrase “out of the box?” or at least come up with a better way of expressing it?

The term out of the box is over-over-used. It’s an insult to clichés to call it cliché. Its phenomenally unoriginal, and yet millions of people still say it to announce their originality “Let’s think of something more ‘out of the box.” or “This idea is really outside of the box!” or “I think out of the box.” Really? Because you just used a phrase that was 1980s execu-speak. Its like a baby-boomer dressing in a disco suit and trying to blend in with a group of teenagers at Prom 2011 by announcing “I’m Fly.”

Russel Brand hosted SNL this past week and he made a great joke. He said “You should know that I’m much more famous in England than I am here…I take no pleasure in telling you that; it’s embarrassing! Fame really looses it’s edge if you have to tell someone that you have it.” Telling someone you’re creative in a profoundly uncreative way really takes the edge off of your creativity. So the next time you’re thinking of saying “I like to think outside of the box.” instead you should demonstrate that you’re creative; we need to see this ‘free thinking’ that you’re talking about.

Besides, at this point we’ve probably gotten out of and totally away from the box. Einstein, one of the smartest men to ever live, said this:

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

We got out of the box decades ago and it created new problems – now it might be time for something more revolutionary – more difficult; you may actually have to get back in the box to solve this next part. You’ve already changed your perspective, now you might need to change you.

When people say think “out of the box” they often mean “ignore the parameters” which sounds great until you wake up the next morning and realize the parameters are still there. I believe a true divergent thinker doesn’t ignore the parameters, he bends them to create something that no one thought could be done.

Me? I like to think outside of the dodecahedron. It’s harder to say, but I think it gets the point across.

Try thinking outside of this thing.

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