Tag Archives: friends

“How Are You? Good! I’m Fine!”

People can be maddening, frustrating, bull-headed, mean, dumb, astonishing, resilient, weak, strong, gentle, loving, perplexing, bitter, graceful, resentful, hateful, merciful, and . . . pick any adjective and stack ’em up. Any one of those will apply to a few someones, and lots of them will apply to the same folks at the very same time.

None of that is news to anyone.

Having said that, and having lived for six decades, I must say that, as many human idiosyncrasies and traits as I’ve observed in myself and others, sometimes I’m still surprised. For example . . .

It may not be true in a larger town where you either don’t know each other or, if you’re in a very large town, folks think eye contact might predict a mugging.

But in a small town like mine, when you set foot into your doctor’s waiting room, you almost always know a few folks, and you will quite naturally shake hands and say, “Hi, Joe! How are you?” And Joe will shake your hand and very likely reply, “Hey, Curtis! I’m fine; how are you?”

Now, remember, you’re in your doctor’s office. First of all, it’s a great place to get sick, and any sensible person would be wary of shaking hands. (Which is why I carry in my pocket a little bottle of hand sanitizer.)

Second, you are in your doctor’s office. How likely is it that you are both there because you’re fine as frog hair? But you’ll still reply, “I’m fine.” You might say later, “Oh, honestly, I’m leaking snot out of every pore in my body.” You probably won’t say, “Well, except for a potentially life-threatening, life-altering, disgusting, maddening disease that has me scared out of my wits, I’m fine.”

Still, I guess it’s a good comment on our town that, really, most of us are happy to be aboard, and mostly, “We’re fine.”

My doctor—I hope he doesn’t mind the description—is as close to Marcus Welby as you’ll ever find. I’ve been loving and serving this community for well over three decades, and he has been for a lot longer—all of his life. He’s pulled me and mine through a bunch of scrapes. We obviously like, respect, trust, and enjoy each other a lot. Not many folks do I enjoy talking to more. And I’d put him up against any big town medical guru any day.

I still laughed when I read one lady’s words. An emergency room physician, she said, “If your bone is presently sticking out of your leg, you should come see me; otherwise, you’ll likely live longer if you use medical care rarely and judiciously.”

I figure she’s talking mostly about specialists, though. The kind retired folks (that’s not me yet) tend to collect as a very unfulfilling, expensive, and too-often truly necessary hobby. Probably the same ones we read about in Mark 5:26 when we’re told of a poor lady who had “suffered much under the care of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.” A cautionary tale.

Specialists. Three options. Pick two out of three. Get better. Get worse. Get poor. Before you try them, I’d suggest some time out on the back porch with a good book and maybe even an occasional fine cigar to lower your blood pressure. If you can get your doc to smoke one with you, you’ll have both relaxation and some of the best conversation with one of the best friends you’ll ever find.

By the way, how are you? Good. I’m fine.



       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!



Copyright 2019 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“A True Friend . . . Continues a Friend Unchangeably”


If I ever write anything wise—you know, the kind of pithy one-sentence bit of proverb-like wisdom that shows up in quotation books and on Internet “great quotes” sites, I hope I can avoid using any one word in the string that is detrimental to my proverb’s multi-century shelf life.

Sometime over 300 years ago, the Quaker leader and founding father of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, William Penn (1644-1718) wrote these wise words about genuine friendship: “A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.”

That is so good! I wish I’d said it. From the depths of my unbosomed soul, I sincerely believe it. It’s just sort of a shame that, though these sweet words have been conveying an even sweeter truth for several centuries and the English major in my soul says that the fourth word in is still a perfectly fine word, the third grade boy still alive in my head needs a swat in the tail section and the admonition, “Move on, lad!” lest he overindulge in snickers and mental immaturity.

Some morons just remove the one word from the quote, crippling the sentence. Others remove the word and its modifier and comma. To be fair to Penn, and accurate, they need to insert an ellipsis (formally known as the three dotty thing) to show they’ve snipped some words. But doing so, even that honestly, costs the sentence a little punch, color, and truth.

You see, a true friend is one to whom you can genuinely share your soul, whether unburdening your bosom of a deep sorrow, doubling up to find the “two is better than one” brain power to squeeze the juice out of a prickly or fascinating life question, or allowing a joy to flower more beautifully precisely because joys burst into fullest bloom when shared.

And, yes, indeed, a real friend will tell you the truth in tough love lest the momentary warmth of soft words and falsehood lure you into soul-chilling peril.

A real friend will help you lift a burden that would be crushing to one.

A real friend will ride a real roller coaster with you even if she hates roller coasters. She’ll ride an emotional roller coaster with you for a while but will be wise and loving enough to know when to tell you to get off of it, quit living addicted to drama, and grow up. And love you still.

A real friend’s love and faithfulness lifts you to be better even when you’re going through times that are your worst.

A real friend will be patient in strong kindness, will “have your back” always, will defend you when you deserve it and love you and stand up as your friend even when you don’t. A real friend would rather be ridiculed for remaining true to a friend than be praised by those who change friends like they change shoes.

A real friend shares your joy when you or yours reap public praise, your sorrow when you or yours are stung by public shame, and loves you all just the same in good times and bad.

Come to think of it, is it any surprise that our best Friend and the best pattern for true friendship is the One who once told his disciples, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15) and loved them always? He is still our very best Friend.


      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!



Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


A Long Surprising Train of Wonderful Blessings


Well, we had a great “Listening Party” last Sunday!

I didn’t know what a Listening Party was until Darrell Bledsoe, my friend and producer of my new music CD, said several months ago, “Curtis, when the album’s ready, we need to have a Listening Party.”

“A what, Darrell?”

“A party where we invite folks to come just listen to the CD as we play it on a good sound system and we talk about each of the songs. It’ll be a great time!”

And he was right.

Among the many things I’ve learned making this album is why it’s a great blessing to have the right producer. Any writer, no matter how experienced, needs an editor, a second set of eyes, to help hone the work he’s already done and make it better. And I know now how true that is for music as well—and, come to think of it, life; we all need mentors, teachers, counselors, trusted friends, to help us be better than we could ever be on our own.

Obviously, very early in making a record (yeah, I’ve learned that’s still a good term; it’s short for “recording” whether it ends up on vinyl or polycarbonate plastic), you need a list of songs. I knew pretty well which songs I wanted on this CD, but when it came time to “nail down” the list, Darrell said, “We need to get some variety in here. Curtis, you need a barn burner!”

“A what? Darrell, I don’t do barn-burners.”

Well, okay, I’ve done some fast, zippy, rip-snortin’ songs with quartets and other groups, and had fun, but solos? Nope.

His reply, as I heard it, was, “Curtis, you’re a crooner. That’s your basic style. Fine. That means you have no problem helping people gently drift off to sleep; somewhere on this album, you need a song to wake ’em back up!”

He was right!

“You know what? I think it’d be fun if you’d sing ‘Long Black Train’!”

“Huh? Can you play it for me? [He did.] You’re kidding, right? [He wasn’t.]”

Well, long train—I mean “story”—short, that country-western song by Josh Turner (in Johnny Cash style) is on my album.

At first, my reaction was, “No.” Then my reaction was, “I’m not sure I can.” It would mean surrendering my English degree, clothespinning my nose, and getting as many as six syllables out of words the good Lord intended only to have one.

At one point, I found myself standing out by a railroad track with a digital recorder in hand trying to get “train sounds” to record at the first of the song (I can only imagine what the engineer thought I was about to do). We found a lot better train sound online, and a great engineer—sound, not train—actually “tuned” the whistle to my song’s key! (Two more blessings, by the way. The owner/engineer and assistant engineer at the studio who are amazing and so much fun to work with.)

All of this reminds me again that one of God’s best blessings is not one but many—the many people God graciously puts into our lives to help make us and our work and our lives so much better than we could ever be alone.



Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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