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More on Those Missing Third Verses

August 25, 2014 in Values Storying by

Missing Third Verses

Photo Credit: Dena L via photopin cc

More on Those Curious Missing Third Verses

Last week, I offered my readers a quiz on seldom-sung third verses. Who could identify the lyrics to those missing third verses? Wow, what a response! The post was one of this site’s most popular, and the quiz results continue to pour in. And what a good time I have had engaging in conversations with my readers about our various backgrounds as they relate to the most popular songs in modern Christian history.

Several readers commented that they found themselves singing the words to the tunes of the various choices. Now, there’s a thought for us. All over America, as it turned out, people were singing ONLY the third verses of these beloved hymns. Thanks to all who led the resurgence on behalf of these third-verse stepchildren.

If you haven’t taken the quiz yet, you’ll want to do that before you read the results. Check out the post that introduced the topic and that contains the quiz. Then, come on back and see how your results stack up to those of various backgrounds who took the missing third verses quiz.

You were able to see how you did when you finished the quiz. How did your results compare? Check it out:

Results of the Missing Third Verses Quiz

As it turns out, not all of the verses were missing, after all. Some were pretty easily recognized. As a matter of fact, as a group, you identified all but one…and it was pretty tricky.

1. Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home. (“Amazing Grace” – 94% correct. Not surprisingly, this one was one of the most recognized, especially with Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” including this verse.)

2. When through the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, and hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze; (“How Great Thou Art” – 65% correct.)

3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! (“It Is Well with My Soul” – 79% correct. I wrote just this week in my upcoming book, Stories from the Roller Coaster, how God used this song at a pivotal moment in my life.)

4. Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest, Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love. (“Blessed Assurance” – 98% correct. The most-recognized third verse…at least in the format of this particular quiz.)

5. Great things He has taught us, great things He has done, And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son; But purer, and higher, and greater will be Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see. (“To God Be the Glory” – 62% correct. I wonder if this one was better remembered by those who grew up in a big church since it’s such a “big” song. What say you?)

6. Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In his arms he’ll take and shield thee; thou wilt find a solace there. (“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” – 85% correct.)

7. Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne. Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee. (“Take My Life and Let It Be” – 93% correct. If you guessed this one based on the lyrics similar to the title, I’d wager that you missed #9 for the same reason!)

8. And now complete in Him, My robe His righteousness, Close sheltered ’neath His side, I am divinely blest. (“Jesus Paid It All” – 52% correct. This one probably caused the most surprise among respondents. It would likely take the prize for the most often skipped-over third verse.)

9. Crown Him, ye morning stars of light, Who fixed this floating ball; Now hail the strength of Israel’s might, and crown Him Lord of all. Now hail the strength of Israel’s might, and crown Him Lord of all. (“All Hail the Power of Jesus Name” – 39% correct. The most often missed song, the inclusion of “Crown Him with Many Crowns” (54%) as a distractor tested the mettle of even the most seasoned missing third verse sleuth. I watched my former colleague John Sayger take the quiz at Big Muddy Coffee Company last Tuesday; he twitched on this one, backed off, sang it in his head, and answered correctly. If you answered “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name,” reach back and give yourself a pat on the back.)

10. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him. (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” – 65%. If you got it right, perhaps you also know what “a bulwark never failing” from verse one means.)

medium_87159009Now That You Sleuthed the Those Missing Third Verses…

…what assignment could I give you next? This one was so much fun that it gave me an idea for another project. I would tell you about it, but that would spoil all the fun. I’ll do some research and hit you up with another quiz in the near future.

What ideas do you have for fun, engaging projects that the values storying community could tackle?

Thanks for reading and joining the conversation.

For the next generation,


Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell.

Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales) and is currently compiling his faith stories into his second major work, Stories from the Roller Coaster, due out around the first of November.

Name My Book: Stories from the Roller Coaster

August 21, 2014 in Stories from the Roller Coaster by

Roller Coaster

Photo Credit: intamin10 via photopin cc


Today is Day 52 (of 123) into my current writing project. A brief recap:

I wrote my last book in about eight months. With everything I learned in that process, I felt like I could write this one in half the time. While writing a series of posts intended to help other busy writers tell their stories, I decided to take the plunge and write this book according to the formula I was suggesting to others.

All of my writing is happening outside of the normal 8-to-5 workday. I am journaling daily during the process in preparation to develop a system to spur other potential values storying-type writers to get their stories out to world…busy schedules and all. Read more about the initial concept here.

Stories from the Roller Coaster?

Okay, values storying coumminity, let’s name a book…and more. Beginning with the concept of moments frozen in time that are fairly universal–the unexpected phone call that changes everything, the birth of a dream, death of a dream, and so forth–I landed on the analogy of a roller coaster to write stories of faith. These are my own faith stories, but many of them will transcend my experience and cause you to connect with pivotal moments in your faith journey, wherever you happen to be on that journey.

Here’s how each chapter of the book currently lays out:

  • A snippet of an experience I had on a roller coaster ride (not being a particular fan of thrill rides).
  • A moment frozen in time from my life, followed by in-depth faith stories.
  • An encouraging Scripture of faith to close each chapter.

The working title of the book is Stories from the Roller Coaster. In the survey below, you’ll get to let me know how that resonates with you and suggest a subtitle. First, though, I want to give you the rough draft of the chapter breakdowns along with the roller coaster snippets. I hope you enjoy this first look at the new project. I look forward to your feedback!

Roller Coaster Chapter Snippets

Chapter 1: Stepping on the Ride
The back of the line was safe, an easy place to have the courage that was not necessary just yet. I had only ridden two roller coasters in my life. One of those was a kiddie ride, so it didn’t really count. As the line for the Rockin’ Roller Coaster moved forward, the activity of the butterflies in my stomach increased. Still, the line was a place for bravado because I hadn’t actually committed to the ride yet. I could still back out if I wanted.
I really didn’t want to ride the roller coaster, but I didn’t want to not ride it, either. I mean, this was Disney World. You don’t go to Disney World to watch people ride rides. You go there to actually experience the park for yourself. And we weren’t the family that would be back again next year. This was a first trip for all of my family, one that my mother-in-law had wanted to take us on for years. My youngest son was five that year, old enough to enjoy the park.
My dilemma between fear and bravery–brought closer every time another group clambered aboard the ride–was about to come to a head. The next ride would be ours. I knew that we would be slingshot like a rocket into the tunnel through the nearest wall. Past that, well, I didn’t know. The ride was completely enclosed, so I didn’t know how high we would climb or how sharply we would turn or whether or not we would go upside down. I think my not knowing was the main reason that when the roller coaster came to a stop for the group in front of us, I stepped through the gate and took my seat.
If I had seen the peaks and valleys, the twists and turns, and the double loops of the Rockin’ Roller Coaster, I might have chickened out and missed the thrilling ride that it was. I might not have gotten on some of the other rides in the other Disney parks that week. But, instead, I trusted that millions who had enjoyed the ride before me weren’t wrong about it. I would never have known if I had not first stepped through the gate and onto the ride.

Chapter 2: Securely Fastened In
As I sat down in the seat of the Rockin’ Roller Coaster, the bravado I had felt in the line had all but slipped away. Control of the situation had shifted. Though I still left open the possibility that the ride would be as adventurous as advertised, the doubts over what I had agreed to were quite pronounced.
A defining moment came when the ride attendant came to my wife’s and my individual car and pulled the safety bar down. Clang! It fastened securely into place. Thick, padded, and resting about chest level in front of me, the safety bar offered a sense of security…and finality. As the attendant stepped away from the last car, my ability to exit the ride walked away with her. I was locked in.

Chapter 3: Movement
The lights dimmed and the high-voltage sound of Aerosmith cranked up over the Rockin’ Roller Coaster speakers. This was really happening. No turning back now. The chant began, first over the loudspeakers, then joined by the participants of the ride: “10-9-8-7-6…!”
Different roller coasters start in different ways. Some begin with a clackety-clack climb to the top of the first hill, giving riders time to adjust to movement and building anticipation. I knew this ride would be different. Like so many of the newer roller coasters, this one would catapult us immediately into…whatever was inside that tunnel through the wall directly in front of us. Zero to 60 in, what, a second or two? Any mental adjustments that nervous riders needed to be make had to be made quickly.

Chapter 4: Speed
The roller coaster shot through the tunnel in front of us in no time flat. I’ve never encountered that type of back-jarring speed before…at least not in an open-air vehicle. I had seen groups in front of us go through everything we had: slowly moving forward in line, moving through the gate to an open car, settling in and being securely fastened in by a park attendant. Just like the ones before us, we were gone in a flash.
Those waiting in line behind us could only hear us for a brief moment as we confronted…whatever was behind that wall. They could have to wait to experience the ride for themselves. Meanwhile, we were off in a flash on the ride of a lifetime.

Chapter 5: Twists and Turns
Almost immediately after zipping through the original tunnel, we took a sharp, unexpected turn. The longer the ride continued, the more the sudden twists and turns became almost predictable. Every time the ride allowed us to become somewhat relaxed, a jerk to the left or dip back to the right would affirm our lack of control and remind us that we were on a roller coaster.

Chapter 6: Darkness
The Rockin’ Roller Coaster—in addition to the spine-jarring catapult toward sudden twists and turns, set to the pulsating beat of Aerosmith’s greatest hits—takes place in what, at first, seems to be utter darkness. This was probably what helped me cross the line to ride it in the first place; I couldn’t see what was really going to take place later, just the first second or two of the ride.
My eyes slowly began to adjust to the glint of light offered by a few neon signs placed along the tracks. I could look ahead and see a small dip, an incline just ahead, a sharp turn to the right. I took a small amount of comfort just seeing a little distance ahead, even though by the time my brain registered what would be the next movement, we were already in the middle of that movement.

Roller Coaster

Photo Credit: roger4336 via photopin cc

Chapter 7: Upside Down
I had always feared roller coasters that went upside down. Neither of my previous two experiences involved this action. I likely would not have gotten on the Rockin’ Roller Coaster if I had known that it went upside down. However, I was locked in now with no choice to go back. If it went upside down, well, I supposed I would go upside down with everybody else.
I didn’t even fully recognize it when it happened. With one motion coming so quickly after another, I barely had time to think, “Hey, did we just…” before the next action was upon us. Later, I asked my wife if we had gone upside down. She confirmed that, indeed, we had taken two full loops at one point and a sort of sideways loop later in the ride.
I rode the Rockin’ Roller Coaster a couple more times that day at the MGM park at Disney World. I became more familiar with the sensation of turning upside down, and more of the fear associated with turning upside down diminished with each experience.

Chapter 8: White Knuckles
The safety bar in front of me was my friend the first time I rode the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. My knuckles, I’m sure, turned white with my death grip on the bar. While others were screaming shouts of joy, I was holding on for dear life. Yet we were all experiencing the same ride.
As I took more turns on this ride throughout the day, my experience began to turn from survival mode to pleasure and exhilaration. The ride itself never changed, but my increasing familiarity with it changed my response to its twists, turns, dips, and drops.

Chapter 9: Hands in the Air
I slowly began to loosen my grip on the security bar in front of me. Perhaps I realized that it was not my death grip on the bar that was holding me safely in the ride but its grip on me.
I was finally able to do what you see all the people in the roller coaster promotional photos doing: I threw my hands in the air. Tentative at first and with more abandon later, I was now actually enjoying the ride. Fun had replaced fear…well, mostly.

Chapter 10: Edge of the Big Drop
Even with my limited roller coaster experience, I have learned the sensation of the defining moment of the ride: the edge of the big drop. Everything seems to freeze suddenly as you realize—even in the dark—that something big is about to happen. You can almost feel the breath being sucked out of you in anticipation of…well, your breath being sucked out of you during a precipitous fall.
The moment at the edge of the drop draws a comparison between courage and bravado. You are about to go vertical, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. All that remains is how you respond to it.


Photo Credit: hawk684 via photopin cc

Chapter 11: Freefalling
The dramatic moment at the edge of the drop turned quickly to screams as the roller coaster thundered down the steepest descent of the ride. What felt like freefalling, especially in the pit of my stomach, turned to traction just about as quickly.
For some, the sensation of freefalling was absolute panic. For others, momentary alarm gave way quickly to a rush of excitement. Still others experienced sheer jubilation throughout the plunge. A select few seemed strangely disinterested.
The photos did not lie. Seconds after the plunge, we would exit the ride to discover photos of the Rockin’ Roller Coaster’s definitive moment. (These were compliments of the folks at Disney, who were evidently trying to supplement their meager admission prices with photo opportunities at every turn.) I could have mustered bravado in my words, but the photo squarely placed me in the “momentary alarm” category…at least, the first time.

Chapter 12: Please Exit the Ride
And just like that, the ride was over.
My family had waited in line, anticipating our turn to ride the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. We had watched others slingshot out of sight, only to return a few minutes later, laughing and full of joy. I had dealt with my own anxiety about the unknown and the potential fear that getting on this ride would entail. I had felt the ride’s initial thrust, faster than I really felt comfortable going. I had adjusted to all the twists and turns and upside down loops in near darkness. I had felt the dramatic pause before everything seemed to give way beneath me and then the rush of adrenaline as we nosedived. Now, just like so many others before me, I was instructed to please exit the ride.
And you know what? I’m glad I boarded the ride in the first place. I would do it again.

Your Turn

So…does that analogy resonate with your “ride of faith” experience? What images came to your mind as you read?

Would you please consider the questions in the following survey and let me know what you think? With your input, this will be a much greater project than I would create by myself. Many, many thanks.


Thanks for reading.

For the next generation,
Al Ainsworth (the new home of the Family Story Legacy blog beginning September 2)
(c) 2014 Al Ainsworth

Abboism #40: And Nine

August 19, 2014 in Abboism, Southern vernacular by

Abboism #40: And nine

Photo Credit: Ben McCleod via photopin cc

Abboism of the Week: And Nine

And nine – noun

Definition: the nine-tenths of a cent added to all gas prices in the U.S. and some other parts of the world.

Origin: The origin of 9/10′s at the end of gas prices is somewhat murky (See “Abboism Extra” below.), and very few people even consider it in the cost of a gallon of gas. Rest assured, my dad still does.

Synonym: None

Can you use it in a sentence?

Me: “Gas is cheaper down here, Dad. I paid $3.05 a gallon back home.”

Dad: “Earlier this week, Mac’s had it for $2.99 and nine. Might as well call it three dollars.”

Abboism Extra: Where did and nine originate? Sources agree that the practice of adding the nine-tenths to gas prices originated in the Depression era after the federal tax on gasoline was raised by half a cent. Of course, a half-cent tax on 20 cents is a much greater fractional increase than on, say, $3.00 per gallon. Still, is it just another case of “the man” sticking it to us?

From its origin, the continuing practice of and nine becomes more ambiguous. Many quickly dismiss the practice as oil company greed, calling it a bait and switch (though that term hardly seems to fit). Some believe it is a government tax, and others chalk it up the the marketing gimmick of pricing just below the “real” price to make it appear like a deal. If that’s the case, though, why take it to the thousandths place? Doesn’t $3.09 accomplish this?

I found a variety of reasonable explanations of the and nine practice here.

Have you ever wondered about the dangling nine on gas prices? What reason have you always contributed to its existence?

Do you know anyone who, like my dad, still includes the and nine when quoting gas prices?

Abboism #40: And nine

Photo Credit: jmtimages via photopin cc

Owning And Nine

Supposedly, you have to use a word or phrase three times before you “own it.”  Feel free to incorporate Abboisms like like and nine into your own vernacular.  Use it three times and it’s yours.
Thanks for reading.
For the next generation,
Al Ainsworth
Reminder: Family Story Legacy will be moving over to my site at on September 2. Between now and then, as I work on that site, you can find my postings on both sites.

Abboisms, Vol. 2

#26: Shagnasty

#27: Like Ol’ Butch and Squealer

#28: Flamdoneyer

#29: Pooter Scooter

#30: Pasture PoolAbboisms Cover

#31: Two-Bit Cop

#32: Inctum

#33: Ol’ Inky

#34: Malwambles

#35: Some’rs Another

#36: Stomp Down Good Un

#37: Clam Chowder

#38: Good Honk Irene

#39: Stankin Nigh

Join the Values Storying community, and I’ll give you the first collection of Abboisms (#1-25)  free. You’ll get this fun collection of Southern sayings, along with other stories that will inspire, entertain, and challenge you.



The Curious Case of the Forgotten Third Verse

August 18, 2014 in Values Storying by

Note: On September 2, the Family Story Legacy blog will be moving. In order to streamline my writing and speaking information with my blog, the hub of my worldwide operations is moving to I have been sending the FSL posts over there for the last couple of weeks, so if you want to go ahead and make the move, you won’t miss a thing here. Go ahead and bookmark in your browser.

Forgotten Third Verse

Photo Credit: stareja via photopin cc

This is the curious case of the forgotten third verse. See it there? What happened to it?

The Curious Case of the Forgotten Third Verse

I thought maybe it was a small church thing. Only the big churches had the capacity to sing all four verses of any given hymn. That’s why we were so often instructed to “stand and sing the first, second, and fourth verses” of most of the four-verse hymns. What about verse three?

Maybe it was a Methodist thing. Maybe the Baptists and Presbyterians and Pentecostals sang every verse, and I just hadn’t gotten the memo as a kid. Did they have have the market cornered, so to speak, on the forgotten third verses?

Maybe it was a country church thing. Did the more intellectual city folk sing them all?

I’m sure you grew up with the same question about the mystery of the forgotten third verse, didn’t you? I’m sure you did.

A Universal Mystery

I moved away from home to attend college and have attended churches of various sizes, denominations, and locations since that time. Most of the churches I have had occasion to visit no longer use hymnals, and the forgotten third verses have been subsequently handed off to the cold case committees or is being held up in the ominous committee on committees. The questions still linger, though.

  • Did the hymn writers focus on strong opening and closing verses of their songs. Was there enough of the good stuff left for verse two but not so much for verse three?
  • Was verse three where they stuck the half-rhymes rhyming words that didn’t really rhyme like wander and grandeur)? Speaking of which, has anybody else ever noticed that the children’s blessing for meals doesn’t rhyme, either?

God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our…

(Hmm, what could we put here? How about food–it looks like it should rhyme. Maybe nobody’ll notice. Shoulda stuck it in verse three of the prayer, if you ask me.)

  • Was the forgotten third verse where too many words that had been awkwardly shortened (giv’n, forgiv’n) or lengthened (Onward Christian sol-dier-er-er-ers, bless-ed) hidden?

Perhaps You Can Help

Maybe your church sings hymns today or you grew up singing them. Check out the quiz below for 10 third verses from some of the most well-known Christian hymns of all time. See how many you can identify. Share your scores in the comments along with any other verse threes you want to share. Good luck and happy testing. And, please, no wagering.

On a serious note, many of the old hymns have theologically rich lyrics that have been formative for believers across the generations. Even the forgotten verse three of many of those hymns. Kind of a musical values storying, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading.

For the next generation,
Al Ainsworth

Just Get to the Point

August 14, 2014 in listening, Values Storying by

Just get to the point

Photo Credit: Martin Gommel via photopin cc

Just Get to the Point

If I could sum up the results of a recent survey I conducted about the discipline of listening and how it relates to our sharing our life experiences (and the values they contain) with others, this is what respondents said:

  1. I wish people would just get to the point.
  2. The more people who are in the room, the harder time I have paying attention.
  3. The main reason I don’t share my life experiences with others is that people are just too busy.

(Scroll to the bottom for full results of the survey. I thought I would heed the findings of the survey and just get to the point at the beginning of the post. Find the survey and the post that explained the purpose behind it here: How Do You Make Them Listen?)

Getting to the Point of Values Storying

I shared a post on Twitter and Facebook yesterday that speaks to the point of values storying (the passing of values from one generation to the next through the stories we tell…and re-tell). Twitter demands that I just get to the point in 140 characters or less (quite a challenge for me sometimes).

Went to register for class last night, told that my way had been paid. I’ll enter another Place one day to hear the same thing. ‪#‎grateful‬

I received a lot of positive feedback on the post. Really, though, all that happened was that I walked into a gym to pay for a class that I am taking. Then, I was told that my money was no good, that my class had been “gifted.” While that was quite a blessing to me personally, there’s not much story-worthy about that experience, right?


…a greater value is attached to the story. And I know of no greater value than the gospel. And this was a chance to share it with my social media connections in 140 characters or less.

What’s the Point?

Now, I don’t tell you that story to say, “Hey, look at me! I wrote a crafty post on social media!”

No, the point is that if we’re paying attention, the most common of events can be reminders of the things we value most. Slightly out-of-the-ordinary occurrences become even more noticeable. Our perspectives and our values can then be shared in meaningful, “as you are going” ways with others, even if we “just get to the point.”

I hope this post blesses you and challenges you to pay attention to your circumstances. Be a blessing to others by trying your hand at values storying today.

And Now, the Rest of the Survey…

Question 1:Research has shown that the average person speaks between 120 and 300 words per minute but that the average person processes about 500-3,000 words per minute. Check the responses that apply to your own listening and thinking processes. (Check all that apply.)
  • (85%)
  • (69%)
  • My mind easily wanders to what else I could be doing when someone is taking longer than I think is necessary to say what they are trying to say. (62%)
  • (62%)
  • (46%)
  • (46%)
  • (31%)
  • (15%)

Question 2:Consider your ability to concentrate on what someone else in saying in the contexts below. Please rank the following according to your ability to focus on what a speaker is saying. (Arrange from easiest to most difficult.)

  • One-on-one conversation with a friend (Avg. 1.25)
  • Family dinner (Avg. 2.58)
  • Small group of friends or associates (Avg. 2.85)
  • Large group setting like a church sermon or motivational speech (Avg. 3.92)
  • Training session with a single speaker (Avg. 3.92)

Observation: Not surprisingly, the more voices that enter a conversation, the less likely people are to pay attention. The same seems to be true when more people are simply in the room, even if they are not engaging in the conversation.

Question 3: Please indicate the TWO biggest hindrances that you have in sharing your past experiences (your stories) with other family members. (Please mark TWO answers based on your own experience.)
  • (54%)
  • (31%)
  • (31%)
  • (23%)
  • (8%)
  • (0%)
  • (0%)

Observation: Most of these hindrances are ones that I believe DO HAVE SOLUTIONS. I’ll be working on your behalf to bring workable solutions to the communication gaps that both you and I have. Check back here on Thursdays to engage in that conversation. The end result of passing our values from one generation to the next is worth a little effort.

Question 4: Is there a specific question about listening that you would like me to address?

I have learned from past surveys that most people feel uncomfortable with open-ended questions, but they tend to produce some good information. Here are a couple of the questions that the survey produced and some brief thoughts. I may expound a bit more in future posts.

How would you get someone to “get to the point” when they become long-winded?

We can never speed people’s speech up to our ability to process words (except when listening to an audio broadcast where the “speed-up” feature is available). One way to help, at least in a smaller setting, is to insert questions that help the speaker move toward what appears to be the next logical point that you have probably already figured out. Keep in mind that to do so brusquely often communicates more than you intend. Which leads to the next question…

Listening, in a one on one situation, is as much about body language as anything else. Your thoughts?

My first thought is that my wife must have written this question as a trap. One of the many areas of listening where I need to improve is being able to listen patiently without my body language yelling, “Just get to the point!” I have often been misunderstood because my body language said something other than what I was really thinking.

When your body language says “just get to the point,” you are placing a higher priority on the message that on the speaker. Whether or not we intend to de-value the speaker with our body language, the message is the same. Ouch.

Check our last week’s post: How Do You Make Them Listen?

Thanks for reading.

For the next generation,
Al Ainsworth

P.S.: An update on my latest book project (Working title: Stories from the Roller Coaster), a faith stories collection: I am just over a third of the way through my 17-week time frame and more than 20,000 words in. Be sure to sign up for my email list (right column) to stay up to date with my progress.



Abboism #39: Stankin Nigh

August 12, 2014 in Abboism by

Stankin Nigh

The toilet paper is stankin nigh…gone.

Photo Credit: GorillaSushi via photopin cc

A number of my readers took the Abboism quiz a couple of weeks ago.  (Click here to take it now.) According to the results, the best-known Abboisms are hoo-rah bush and som’rs another, follower closely by thought like Parker’s dog and flat flank floot.

The most missed was flamdoneyer. Some remedial work would also be advised for ain’t that the goosey goblin, vangollops, and lost as Hogan’s goat.

Abboism of the Week: Stankin Nigh

Stankin nigh – Southern colloquialism

Definition: very close, pretty near.

Origin: I know the nigh is pretty common in the South; at least I’ve heard it for nigh on 40-some-odd years. If you’ve heard stankin nigh, let me know in the comments.

Synonym: purt’ near

Can you use it in a sentence?

“Remember that book project I started on a while back? I’ll be stankin nigh done with it by the time Labor Day rolls around.”

book6This Abboism Extra has been brought to you by Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales), available now in paperback and Kindle/Kindle app. Available at Southern Roots Nursery & Landscape in Hernando, Mississippi, and coming soon to other retail outlets.

Just click on the book to find out more about Lines in the Gravel and to place your order.

Owning Stankin Nigh

Supposedly, you have to use a word or phrase three times before you “own it.”  Feel free to incorporate Abboisms like like stankin nigh into your own vernacular.  Use it three times and it’s yours.
Thanks for reading.
For the next generation,
Al Ainsworth

Abboisms, Vol. 2

#26: Shagnasty

#27: Like Ol’ Butch and Squealer

#28: Flamdoneyer

#29: Pooter Scooter

#30: Pasture PoolAbboisms Cover

#31: Two-Bit Cop

#32: Inctum

#33: Ol’ Inky

#34: Malwambles

#35: Some’rs Another

#36: Stomp Down Good Un

#37: Clam Chowder

#38: Good Honk Irene

Join the Values Storying community, and I’ll give you the first collection of Abboisms (#1-25)  free. You’ll get this fun collection of Southern sayings, along with other stories that will inspire, entertain, and challenge you.



Another Cup of Coffee

August 11, 2014 in Lines in the Gravel, Values Storying by

Another cup of coffee

Photo Credit: andreas via photopin cc

I am currently conducting a survey in which participants are saying in overwhelming fashion that busyness is the biggest hindrance to their sharing their life experiences with others. (Take 1 minute to add your voice to the survey. Results in Thursday’s post.)

With busyness showing itself as what we could easily predict as an overwhelming issue in all types of communication, I am reminded of the story that I repeat on a pretty regular basis here on the blog. It’s a values storying story, one what passes values from one generation to the next.

It has been a while since I have shared one of my favorite chapters from Lines in the Gravel that began as a post on this blog. My parents recently celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary, though, and that’s cause for celebration. Not to mention a reminder to all of us to make the relationships we would say are priorities to us. actually be priorities to us. So, sit back and enjoy another…

Cup of Coffee With My Mama

Dad worked as a trailer mechanic at Freuhauf Incorporated during our early childhood before going to work at Yellow Freight Systems.  I like to say that the move to Yellow Freight (now YRC Freight) took us from Toughskins to Levis.  Financially, it opened up more possibilities for our family, but it also meant that Dad had to work evening or midnight shifts until he gained enough seniority to move to a shift more conducive to family life.  It meant irregular sleeping schedules for him and accompanying changes in our daily routine.   It meant his working on the weekends, which meant that he was seldom able to accompany us to church for a while, and working during some of our school and sports activities.

The End of a Childhood Routine

Dad’s job change also brought to an end a regular high point in the everyday routine for us children.  Before Dad’s job switch, he arrived home every day like clockwork.  The four of us were always on the lookout at about the same time each day for Dad’s truck.  The pale green ’69 Ford or, later, the red step-side Ford that he had bought from Uncle Cecil, would come into view through the front window of our dining area, and the four of us would race outside to meet him.  With our agendas.

For my brother Andy and me, Dad became the all-important third man for whatever sport was in season.  Baseball season typically meant that Dad was the all-time pitcher in whatever modified baseball game we concocted.  Football season meant a daily game of “three passes.”  Beginning at a utility pole in our back yard, our field went around a few scraggly trees into Uncle Cecil and Aunt Sissy’s back yard past their grape trellises and into the end zone.  We would rotate turns at quarterback and receiver and then count up all the touchdowns in which we were involved during a rotation to determine a winner.  When basketball season rolled around, Dad was usually the one in a game of two-on-one, using his hook shot that he called his O.D. Philicrip to take us down on a regular basis.  (Look for O.D. Phillicrip on a future Abboism Wednesday.)

For my sisters Lu Ann and Wilagene, Dad became their trampoline partner.  He also served as the official timer because his time had to be exactly evenly split between the two; my sisters were sticklers for equality when it came to trampolining and Dad’s time.  Any time they had learned a new trick on the trampoline, Dad had to watch with the appropriate level of interest before it counted.  (I would experience this with my daughter years later at the swimming pool: “Daddy, watch me.  Are you ready?  Ready?  Daddy, are you watching?”)

Let Me Have a Cup of Coffee With Your Mama

The race was on to Dad’s truck every afternoon to determine whom he would play with first.  His window was usually down as he pulled into the driveway, and he was met with a blast of “Daddywillyouplaywithmefirst?!?” as we each rushed to earn that day’s preeminent spot in the play order.  His response was always the same: “Let me have a cup of coffee with your mama first.”  We were left to argue with one another for the next little while about who had asked first and who went first yesterday and who had gotten the shaft the week prior…and wonder how a man who worked in the heat all day would want to come home and drink a hot cup of coffee anyway.

Sometimes Dad’s cup of coffee with our mama took just a few minutes, and sometimes it took much longer, but he always eventually emerged from the house and played with us until dark.  We wouldn’t know the significance of that cup of coffee until years later.  Back then, it was simply a temporary delay before our daily time with Dad.

My Own Cup of Coffee With Your Mama Moment

For me, my moment of “cup of coffee with your mama” realization came when my daughter Ashton was not quite two years old.  I had come home from a long day of teaching and coaching.  Loretta was cooking supper, and it was about 30 minutes from being ready to eat.  Our dining area was the only room in the house with carpet, and it was the perfect place that day to just collapse for a few minutes before our family supper.  When I did, Ashton exploded into the room – all smiles and pent-up energy – and pounced on my back.

“Daddy, play with me!”

In an almost out-of-body experience, I heard myself saying to her, “Not now, sweetie.  Daddy’s too tired.”

Even as the words came out of my mouth, I couldn’t believe I was hearing myself say them.  The years of Dad’s regular routine with us came crashing in on me at that moment.  I couldn’t blame it on a job that was more stressful and tiring than his; I had spent a few months on two different occasions doing trailer mechanic work, coming home exhausted every day.  And I only had one child as I pondered this decision, not four.  And I wasn’t even 30 years old yet.  I had no excuse.  I peeled myself off the floor and played with my daughter.  Two sons later, play seems like such a chore some days, and I still tap out way more often than I would like.  I don’t regret for one minute, though, being the rare dad who still gets out and plays with his kids.

I have also come to realize that my dad’s “let me have a cup of coffee with your mama” was really communicating that their relationship was primary in our home.  I must confess that I haven’t done as well with the regularity of Dad’s routine.  However, my kids know what “let me have a cup of coffee with your mama” means, even though Loretta and I rarely drink coffee in the afternoon.  The importance of making the marriage relationship foremost in the home didn’t stop with my parents’ generation, and, hopefully, it won’t stop with ours.

I wrote about making memories with the Little Fella amidst the difficulty of keeping up with him in the post “Remember the Time…”

on Square Market

Lines in the Gravel can now be purchased at Southern Roots Nursery & Landscape in Hernando, Mississippi. I have another two or three retailers that I expect to hear back from soon in a couple of different cities. If you would like to make Lines in the Gravel available where you work, leave me a note in the comments, and I’ll do my best to work something out with you.

How Do You Make Them Listen?

August 7, 2014 in Values Storying by

How do you make them listen?

Photo Credit: practicalowl via photopin cc

“How do you make them listen?”

I had just completed a message to a church group about family, story, and legacy. In it, I had reiterated God’s commands to His people throughout Scripture to tell the stories of His faithfulness and the great works He had accomplished. I had expounded the power of the stories we tell…and re-tell as carriers of values. I had challenged the group to identify one person with whom to share one story of God’s work in their lives in the next one week.

In the hustle of signing books and clearing the room, one man lingered to talk further. It was that moment that most public speakers are looking for post-presentation: evidence of engagement in the message. I have learned to pay attention to these moments as the breeding ground for new ideas and fresh perspectives that I have not yet considered.

During the course of our five-minute conversation, he made a statement and asked the simplest of questions. It went something like this:

“I want to pass down my stories. But how do you make them listen?”

What an intuitive question. Often, though, the simplest questions have the most complex answers. I knew as he asked the question that I would spend hours researching the topic of how to “make them listen.”

Make Them Listen

The very phrase “make them listen” carries no appeal for the speaker or for the listener.

  • A speaker who attempts to “make them listen” assumes that the listeners don’t want to hear his or her message.
  • The listener on the other end of a “make them listen” conversation can often feel lectured. Even through a story. He is listening for the bottom line and the nearest exit to the conversation.

Noted Christian parenting expert Paul Tripp challenges parents to “make wisdom attractive.” I think the same can be said about the stories of our lives that need to be passed down to our children, church members, students, employees, team members, and others within our structures. So what are the three easy steps to “make them listen”? (Chuckle)

I wish the answer was as simple as the question. Just thinking within the context of a family, we must consider a number of factors, including the following:

  • Are the children young enough to establish storytelling as a regular, “as you are going” part of your family’s rhythm?
  • Are the children more influenced by family members or friends?
  • How big a role do electronics and social media play in your children’s lives?
  • How busy are the individual members of your family in the time generally designated in previous generations as “family time”?

In the weeks to come, we’ll tackle this question of “How do you make them listen?” I must tell you ahead of time that I will make a much better moderator of the discussion than as a go-to expert on the subject of listening. Just ask Mrs. Right. So the conversation needs your perspective.

With that in mind, I want to ask you a few questions each week to stir the conversation. I’ll do it in the form of a short survey. The first one is below. I really appreciate your voice in this ongoing conversation.


I’ll have more next week in the “How do you make them listen” conversation. Until then, let me recommend an old post that gives some insight into listening as a parent:

Family Conversations: Pardon the Interruption

Thanks for reading and engaging in the conversation.

For the next generation,
Al Ainsworth

Abboism #38: Good Honk Irene

August 5, 2014 in Abboism, Southern vernacular by

Good Honk Irene

Did you take last week’s Abboism quiz yet? If not, click here and see how well you know your Abboisms. Don’t worry, it’s just for fun (though several members of my family were surprised to find that maybe they didn’t know their Abboisms quite as well as they might have thought).

Abboism of the Week: Good Honk Irene

Good honk Irene – Southern colloquialism

Definition: used to express exasperation.

Origin: Pop

Synonym: I’ll be snicecisted. I’ll be John Brown. Well, ain’t that the goosey goblin (secondary meaning).

Can you use it in a sentence?

“Dad, we’re running late and won’t be there for another 27 minutes or so.”

“Well, good honk Irene, y’all are already an hour late!”


book6This Abboism Extra has been brought to you by Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales), available now in paperback and Kindle/Kindle app. Coming soon to other electronic versions and late summer/early fall to audio book.

Just click on the book to find out more about Lines in the Gravel and to place your order.

Owning Good Honk Irene

Supposedly, you have to use a word or phrase three times before you “own it.”  Feel free to incorporate Abboisms like like good honk Irene into your own vernacular.  Use it three times and it’s yours.
Thanks for reading.
For the next generation,
Al Ainsworth

Abboisms, Vol. 2

#26: Shagnasty

#27: Like Ol’ Butch and Squealer

#28: Flamdoneyer

#29: Pooter Scooter

#30: Pasture PoolAbboisms Cover

#31: Two-Bit Cop

#32: Inctum

#33: Ol’ Inky

#34: Malwambles

#35: Some’rs Another

#36: Stomp Down Good Un

#37: Clam Chowder

Join the Values Storying community, and I’ll give you the first collection of Abboisms (#1-25)  free. You’ll get this fun collection of Southern sayings, along with other stories that will inspire, entertain, and challenge you.



2014 Ainsworth Family Olympics (& Why They Should Matter to You)

August 4, 2014 in family, Lines in the Gravel by

Ainsworth Family Olympics

Events across the spectrum of abilities was on tap for the 2014 Ainsworth Family Olympics. Though more than half of the events never materialized, there were plenty of medals for everyone. Including Mrs. Right’s runaway gold medal performance in the pool floating event, a late addition to the Summer Games slate.

2014 Ainsworth Family Olympics

My family’s reputation as fair-minded but fierce competitors was cemented in the  “We’re a Competitive Lot” chapter of Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales). For the last few months, we had planned our summer family get-together at my sister’s in Mobile, Alabama. My brother-in-law Charlie hinted of a family Olympic games competition that would span the ages and abilities of the entire crew. (Well, close to the entire crew; after all these years, we still did pretty well in attracting 13 of 16 would-be contestants.)

A fence-mending project (think: literal fence) took a little longer than anticipated and tested some of the family’s flexibility. Several of the scheduled events never materialized…but Dad and Stan, two of the less competitive members of our clan, won co-golds in the fence repair event. So there’s that.

2014-07-28 16.21.16The brand-new cornhole boards were brought out on the first day for some exhibition action. I had forewarned that, in the spirit of fair competition, Older Brother and I should not be paired together. As expected, that was taken as a challenge.

We took on and dispatched all comers. That included several immediate re-matches. Charlie and Ryne came close a few times, even held big leads at times but couldn’t put us away. (They would dominate the Buzz video quiz game in like manner a couple of nights later. Neither event, however, made it past exhibition status.)

Official Events of the 2014 Family Olympics

Ainsworth Family OlympicsThe first “official” event of the Ainsworth Family Olympics was the wiffle ball competition. The hotly contested game featured plenty of bad throws, missed catches, argued calls, finger pointing, and really bad baserunning mistakes (mine being chief among them). All in good fun, of course…eventually.

A last-minute deal to bring the Little Fella over to our team made the difference as he reached base in all five of his at-bats. One of his memorable “hits” bounced off Wilagene’s (bless her heart) head and was almost caught by a teammate. Almost, however, does not count in wiffle ball.

Ainsworth Family Olympics

First official gold medals (gold wiffle balls?) of the Ainsworth Family Olympics awarded in wiffle ball.

Other events that actually happened (along with the gold medalists) were Liar’s Dice (Charlie), Puzzle (Stan & Wilagene), Math & Logic Skills (Ryne & Hayden) and 20th Century History in 8 Minutes (this guy, though as soon as I posted a photo of my winning entry on Facebook, a “nerd” comment wet blanketed my triumph…not really).

As usual, some of our most memorable family time was completely unplanned. I made a random comment about Facebook not existing in three years, and that set off a string of predictions for the family gathering three years from now. I found it ironic that with all of the electronic devices lying around, Lu Ann opted instead for an old-fashioned notebook to record our predictions. We predicted all sorts of things, serious and not so much. (By the way, I’m on the hook for meeting and having a conversation with somebody famous enough for all of us to know within the next three years, so if you know somebody that fits that description…)

Why the Ainsworth Family Olympics Should Matter to You

I believe the Ainsworth Family Olympic games should matter to you, even if you are not one of the Ainsworth gang by blood or by marriage.

My family has its own unique way of making our time together count, of intentionally moving toward making memories when we are able to cover the miles and spend time with each other. My family’s time wasn’t just centered on playing games, though. Conversations about life and family and purpose abounded in the middle of our fun times together.

I thought of my small group from church that does much the opposite of my extended family. We intentionally talk about life and family and purpose, but we have a great deal of fun together in the process. You have your own family, classmates, teammates, business associates, church group, etc., with whom you associate.

Are you being intentional about making your time with them count? Do you mix the fun with the serious? Or the serious with the fun? If you want to be more intentional about making your time with your important connections count, be sure to check back at the blog on Thursdays for the next few weeks as I begin some conversations with that goal in mind.

Thanks for reading. Scroll down for some more photos from the 2014 Ainsworth Family Olympics.

For the next generation,
Al Ainsworth
I had a great time while in Mobile speaking to church and business groups. Need a speaker or trainer for your group? Click here for more information about my various values storying presentations.
Ainsworth Family Olympics

An especially competitive round.

Ainsworth Family Olympics

Ainsworth Family Olympics

Ainsworth Family Olympics

The Little Fella does not know the meaning of “exhibition game.” He’s all intense about getting the win.

Ainsworth Family Olympics

Silver medalists in wiffle ball.

Ainsworth Family Olympics

Light moment between gold & silver medalists in Liar’s Dice competition.

Ainsworth Family Olympics


Ainsworth Family Olympics

Puzzle competition: Not even close

Ainsworth Family Olympics

Gold medalist in both box sitting and back door escaping