Life Lessons

Regardless of your age, take some time and learn another language.

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Photo by Iza Gawrych on Unsplash

In the next room, I hear the unmistakable chatter of a foreign language.

Actually, I hear my bride, Inna, speaking Russian, which is not all that unusual as she was born and raised in the land of matryoshkas (see picture), permafrost (be thankful you don’t have it), and, well, more snow.

Inna is teaching Russian to one of my daughter’s friends, who wants to be a translator. Although she can speak a few sentences, they’re starting with the alphabet. Which of course, is a great place to begin.

My youngest is also sitting in. But she has an unfair advantage…


Life Lessons

What is your facial hair hiding?

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Photo by Shivam Singh on Unsplash

I was a grown man before I decided to shave off that awful mustache.

And, I’ve never looked back.

The impetus for change? A girl. A stunning and multi-lingual college-age Russian who was a part of a group of other college girls assigned as translators for a motley crew of Americans in northern Russia.

Here’s how I fell for her: I looked at her.

No, really. I looked at her and said, “hello.”

She returned the gaze.

And in that brief glance of her dark crystal (technically blue) eyes, my soul was pierced. My consciousness emptied of the ability to…


Life Lessons

This biblical character made a stupid vow that he likely didn’t carry out

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Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

I’m at Vacation Bible School on a Tuesday night in central Arkansas.

I love going to VBS.

When our girls were little, we’d take them to every possible VBS we could find. Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Church of Christ, Church of God, Catholic, Free Range, Wiccan, didn’t matter.

Just kidding about the Wiccan, although I once saw a surrogate mom who was a Wiccan.

Wait, maybe she was fictional.

Most of the VBSs were surprisingly homogenous. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they all bought their VBS material from the same place — maybe Nashville.

But that’s just a guess.


Short Fiction

Greer never gave up on his dream, although his body had reservations

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Photo by Brayden George on Unsplash

Greer Davidson took a light and guarded step, planted his foot onto the football field, shifted his weight, and swung his right leg toward an object perched in the grass in front of him.

Eighty-thousand fans stopped screaming and, for the moment, breathing, while Greer readied to kick a football through the yellow uprights at the back of the end zone at Legion Field, sealing the victory for his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide.

A stoic-faced Coach “Bear” Bryant — his face was always stoic — stood frozen on the sidelines with a look of “Boy, you better not miss this”…


Life Lessons

I had never paid much attention to the lilies until they were out of focus

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Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

We’re at a little church that we’ve visited several times lately. It’s just a big country church with good, friendly people.

Nothing fake here.

There is one problem, however. And I hate to bring it up.

But …

There are pieces of artwork on either side of the front wall, on both sides of the preacher. It’s metal ironwork with curves and circles.

The iron forms a fleur de lis, a flower lily. It’s the symbol that the New Orleans Saints NFL football team uses. It’s also the symbol numerous churches have used for thousands of years.

Sometimes people use…


Life Lessons

For the best experience, always check to see what’s in your water

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Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash

Everyone needs clean water. And we all expect to get clean water, especially if you are a soldier and approach a “water buffalo” that has the word “potable” clearly stamped on the side. (A water buffalo is just a big portable metal tank with clean drinking water.)

Usually.

They give soldiers and Boy Scouts (or anyone really) access to clean water out in the middle of nowhere. But someone has to clean it out occasionally and refill it and transport it back to the middle of nowhere.

So, once upon a time captain and his soldiers were out in the…


Life Changes

Life is full of bookend moments that signify a change is coming

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Photo by Max Delsid on Unsplash

At the time, I thought the years (actually only six weeks) that I had spent in basic military training at lovely Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio were the worse. But the next day after graduation (and after having been awarded honor graduate for my “skills” as guidon during honor flight competition) as I stepped onto a chartered Greyhound bus headed north for Wichita Falls, TX (which conveniently was a mere 9,990 miles away) I contemplated the past six weeks.

The past six weeks? They really weren’t that bad, I thought.

I got into great physical shape after having…


Life Lessons

Don’t tell a Communist that it can’t be finished by the end of the month

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Photo by George Cerny on Unsplash

Ivan Ivanov (not his real name) was a pretty important person in his little town in Russia and was involved in a lot of building projects. I’m not sure if his work included the statue of Lenin near the airport (or the one at just about every street corner in town).

This project was to be completed by the end of the calendar year.

Which sounds reasonable. Unless there just isn’t enough time to complete said project by the end of the year.

Then, there could be problems.

The government was making an addition to the hospital and it was…


History

Every alcoholic needs a good and patient sponsor

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Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

To successfully navigate the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, one must have a sponsor to steer the drunk from continuing on his or her destructive path.

My dad had just such a sponsor. He is the guy in the photo (below).

I’ve listened to my dad, through smoke-filled rooms, give testimony to his life with and without alcohol.

I preferred without.

Thankfully, he did too.

After sitting through more than a few AA meetings, I’m convinced that all alcoholics really just trade the alcohol for coffee and cigarettes. In our little town in South Alabama, there was a house on…


Life Lessons

With practice, you too can achieve greatness

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Photo by Eduardo Balderas on Unsplash

Example one: I’m near Columbus, Mississippi auditioning for a preaching job.

I stop at a gas station just a mile or so from the church building where the audition was to occur.

You may be surprised to hear the word “audition” associated with interviewing for a preaching job. My experience is that folks are interested in hiring you only if you sound good not if, you know, you are concerned for ministering to people. But I digress.

It was winter and cold, even for Mississippi. I got out of the truck, spun around, and the door shut. …

Paul Swann

Satire, humor, Russia, and life lessons. I’m a dad, husband, and writer.

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