The repository of profound scribble

We all have tics and quirky little absent-minded fidgets that we do out of habit, or possibly because we didn’t get enough phosphorus when we were toddlers.

My son can’t keep still when he sits with one leg up and his foot cocked across the other knee — his ankle jumps and twitches like a cat taking a shower; my grandfather never got out of a chair without saying, “Well, yup!” first, as if to gather momentum; and my college-age daughter seems to start every sentence with “Dude…”

One of my tics is mild hypergraphia — I just have to write things down. I carry a notebook with me everywhere and write down every little thing that might ever be important again. And then I record everything in a database so I can search and sort later (by keyword, date, topic, humidity, emotion at the time, etc.). I’ve done this for years and I know it sounds like obsessive-compulsive behavior, but it’s remarkable how often I actually go back and find stuff that I need (for instance, most of my column ideas have been spawned from some doodle in a notebook). Plus, it’s really the only part of my life that is organized (you should see the inside of my car — think explosion in a locker room), so I doubt my hypergraphia is anything I need to be medicated for.

At my day-to-day job, while banging away editing medical textbooks (hey, it’s inside work with no heavy lifting), I often have Christian radio on in the background so I can listen to some of my favorite pastors. And whenever one of them says something compelling or profound or challenging or encouraging, I jot it on a sticky note and slap it against the wall (the repository of profound scribble).

In this, the season of thanks, I’m thankful for faithful men and women who communicate truth in ways that cause me to pause, reevaluate, repent, and then charge ever forward with more love in my heart and renewed resolve. Here are some poignant notes from the wall:

Failure is never quite so frightening as regret.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be who you always were.

Lord, without your power, it’s all just good intention.

Life is lived at the intersections.

Opportunities are often lost while waiting for perfect conditions.

The sum total of our lives is our investment in other people.

God: For everything that has been, thank you; for everything that will be, yes.

Not what a man can do, but what the Lord can do with a man.

Smooth words mean nothing, a sensitive heart means everything.

People will forget almost all of what you say and most of what you do, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Whatever you are overflowing with will spill out when you’re bumped.

What you spend is gone forever; what you give away is yours forever.

Find a cause greater than your fear, and chase it.

There is no tragedy greater than the unopened, unused gift.

A brook would lose its song if God removed the rocks.

Eighty percent of what we do, anyone can do. Fifteen percent of what we do, anyone can do with training. Five percent is unique to us. Find out what you do best, and do it.

The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

God loves us the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.

Forgiveness: giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.

Be light, not glare — they should see the light, not the lamp.

And I’ll end with one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Just typing the words (knowing the context), brings tears to my eyes. The author was Jim Elliot, a 28-year-old missionary to Ecuador who was speared to death in 1956 on a remote jungle sandbar on the banks of the Curaray River by members of the Waodani tribe — the very people he had come to serve (who had been lied to about his intentions). As many of us prepare to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice — the son of God giving His life so we can have new life — the young missionary’s words speak as loudly as any inspired verse.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

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