Thug Life…

by , on
Feb 4, 2014

I wasn’t sure what I was going to post this week.  Should I continue with my series on Uganda or put it to rest?  Should I use something I have already written that is waiting in the wings?  And then there are the things I want to write about August: Osage County….  I had lots of options and NFL football wasn’t one of them: more specifically Richard Sherman.

Richard Sherman

Disclaimer:  I am not a die-hard football fanatic.  I like the game and have enjoyed watching it since high school.  I don’t have a fantasy football team, I haven’t memorized which player is on what team and there have been seasons (specifically when the Titans weren’t doing well) that I haven’t even watched a single game.  So maybe it’s been a few years….  The Titans have been my official team since they moved to Nashville, and I really don’t have a back-up team to cheer for.

This year I found one.  Having quite a few friends who are Seattle fans, I have paid attention to their progress this year.   In some odd alignment of the planets, I was watching the NFC championship game and saw Richard Sherman’s sideline exchange with Erin Andrews live.  To be honest, I laughed.  I laughed at how ridiculous he sounded.  I laughed at the bewildered expression on Andrew’s face.   And I laughed because I think he actually might have sprayed spit on her as he spoke.  I had NO idea what a big deal his 18 second answer would become.

At first I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the melee, because, well I have a bazillion other things going on.  But I would had to have been living under a rock not to take notice.

As the lines were quickly drawn, two camps emerged.  People seemed to either be a member of the tribe “how terribly inappropriate” or “he was blowing of steam – big deal”.  And in the media frenzy that ensued, the name Richard Sherman began to be linked with thug.  Really?  A thug?

I’ve already admitted I don’t know a lot about specific players, so I decided to look him up.  The NFL has no shortage of players, past and present, who would fit the definition of a thug.  I expected to find something, but there was nothing.  NOTHING.  (NFL arrest database)  To the contrary, everything I found suggested that Richard Sherman is not only an elite player at the top of his profession, but he is also an intelligent person.

A thug?  Maybe my understanding of the word thug was wrong, so I looked it up.  Thug – A brutal ruffian or assassin.  Other definitions also add the words robber and murderer.  It’s not my intent to laud Sherman’s accomplishments, so if you want to read them check here or here. But I think it’s safe to say that, by definition, he is no thug.

My opinion is this: he was caught up in the excitement of winning a championship game and he spouted off.  At worst you might call him hotheaded, impulsive, or unsportsmanlike.  Big deal!  I know that someone will inevitably say, “Well, he’s arrogant!”  So what?  And when did recognizing that you are great at what you do become arrogance?  And even if he is, does that make him a thug?

The bigger issue to me is how easily we throw around labels and make judgments based on an 18 second exchange.  And that happens all day, every day without football championships.  We, you and I, probably have never had a personal encounter with Richard Sherman, but how many of us were quick to start the name calling?

While I’ve never been even close to professional at anything except sticking my foot in my mouth, I have been hotheaded, arrogant, impulsive, etc…   God only knows how many times I have been caught up in the heat of the moment and spouted off!  Good thing there weren’t cameras present or I might be labeled a thug.

Thoughts?

Little Texas

by , on
May 15, 2013

“You think those dogs will not be in heaven! I tell you they will be there long before any of us.”
 Robert Louis Stevenson

photo

I imagine every dog lover thinks his dog was/is the best.  I know Little Texas was, hands down – no questions asked, the best dog ever.  When I first laid eyes on the tangle of giant paws and floppy ears I was a goner.  His easy going spirit was evident from the start.  Baby Ruth wasn’t as impressed and pouted upstairs for a week. The kids however, were smitten.

He has been one of our constants as we have moved around.  No matter where home was, we all took comfort in having Texas and Baby Ruth there to beg for a treat, a walk or a head scratch.  Having my foot stepped on by the clumsy oaf provided a sense of stability.  I knew I was home.  Move to a new neighborhood and you could count on him to introduce you to the neighbors.

This morning the gray sky was a backdrop for a flood of Texas memories.  As we walked to the vet I thought about numerous Texas moments.  Greeting Baby Ruth with a bite on the nose.  Swimming laps in the creek and biting the splashes he made.  The time he almost died from eating flowers.  The time I wanted to kill him for eating my glasses.  The way he was afraid of bunny rabbits, but nothing else. Having to bribe him out of water.   The way he wagged his whole rear instead of his tail.  And his eyes – those beautiful chocolate spheres that looked into your soul and accepted you for better or worse.

His gentle eyes are now closed for good.  When I found out he had cancer I didn’t expect another year with him.  But even a year didn’t seem long enough.  I knew it was coming and pretended it wasn’t.  But today, I knew.  It was time.  I had to make the decision that he couldn’t.  I know it was the right decision even as I feel the guilt of it.  It would have been easier to not go, but I owed it to him to be there: to do the hard thing, to be present, to rub his head and watch those eyes as they closed for the last time.

Rest easy, Texas.  Run, swim, chase splashes and bark at the rabbits all you want.  You are free.

The Problem With Christians

by , on
Apr 24, 2013

“I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” 

Mahatma Gandhi

embarassed

It happened again.  I was embarrassed to be a Christian.

 

No, I am not a heretic and I haven’t turned my back on what I believe.  And if you confuse embarrassed to be a Christian with being embarrassed by Christ, you’d be way off base.

 

The problem I have with being a Christians is, well, other Christians.   Not all of them.  But a select few cause me to completely understand why we would be a colossal turn off.  When it’s kooks like the folks from Westboro Baptist, I can take solace in the idea that surely most people know they are completely insane.  They don’t represent normal Christians.  Most people do know that, right?

 

But then there are days when someone like Scott comes along and causes me to want to pull my hair out.  Or hide.  Or both.

 

It started out promising.  Pastor Pete Wilson posted a story from the Huffington Post that gave me hope.  The writer, who hadn’t been to church in many years, attended the first service that CrossPoint Community Church held at their new campus.  She then went on to relay her experience which was seemingly quite positive.  In a time where there is no shortage of negative media regarding evangelical churches, I found her comments refreshing.

 

I should have just followed the link, read the story, re-posted it and gone about my day.  But no, I had to get distracted by the amount of comments there were.  And that’s where I ran into Scott and wished I never had.

 

In the article Ms. Pinto made the following statement.  “There was a huge population of gay parishioners and people of every color.”  This was in no way the focus of her article; it was a statement given from her perspective as a visitor.  For some reason Scott, and a few others, took this statement as their cue to take Pastor Pete and CrossPoint to task because some ‘gay parishioners’ may or may not attend there.  The hate and venom that followed both offended and saddened me.  And it made me mad.  Mad!

 

When did it become acceptable for Christians to vilify and malign each other?  How can Scott speak with such authority on Cross Point when he, admittedly, has never been there?   And what makes his pride, hate, and self-righteousness permissible?  Have we reduced Christianity to class A, B, and C crimes?

 

As Christians we have the freedom to choose where we worship and whose teaching we sit under.  If you don’t agree with what a pastor or church is teaching, then don’t go there.  To me it seems that simple.  When I think of all the time and effort that was completely wasted in the 100+ comments that followed I can’t help but think of how that time could have been better used.

 

I believe that each of us is called to effect change in our circle of influence; to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  What opportunities are we missing out on when we misuse our time castigating each other?  And more importantly, what do the civil wars Christians engage in say to outsiders?  It paints us all with the same brush, and we Christians wind up looking very different from the Christ we profess to follow.  People see the Scott’s of Christianity and want nothing to do with it.

Hiatus

by , on
Sep 15, 2010

Hiatus – a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.  Or in this case a blog.  When I hear the word hiatus it conjures visions of a peaceful absence, something planned, something done with purposeful intention.  However, in the scheme of my crazy life a hiatus is never that neat and tidy.  It’s a byproduct of chaos not deliberate choice.

The end of school is always a hectic time so I took a week off.  A week turns into two and two into a month and before you know it the entire summer has gone by without one new post.  For most of June I felt guilty.  By August I didn’t care.  The good news is I had a wonderful summer; a summer that equipped me with lots of new ideas and more laughter than is probably legal.  (but would be taxed if a politician ever figured out how.)

The highlight of my summer was a 3240 mile road trip with my two youngest children, 14 and 12.  Yes, we drove from Dallas, TX to Riverhead, NY (WAY out on Long Island).  Why Riverhead?  My parents live there and my second oldest son was working as a camp counselor there all summer.  Honestly, I wanted to fly.  But, now that I have completely recovered from fanny fatigue, I am ever so thankful we drove.

Where else can you experience the delirium that makes chewing gum accidents funny, or laugh for 6 miles because your son, who rarely sings, burst out in an exuberant rendition of some Jason Derulo song?  When else would you sleep with a chair against the door because you check into the seediest hotel in Little Rock and are too tired to find another one?

The trip in itself was a hiatus too.  For 32 days we were away from our usual surroundings.  We experienced more in that short time that we might normally experience in a year.  Catching up with friends in TN, 20th high school reunion, visiting family in VA, driving through 11 states, New York City, a Broadway show – Yes, we got on each others nerves, but overall I think all three of us had a better time than we expected.

So, I’m back and I look forward to blogging more regularly.  If I hadn’t taken a break you might never get to hear about The Naked Grandma, loud talkers, a butt-scratching fast food employee, Wicked, being visually assaulted by boobs and who knows what else.

Admittedly, I tend to be one who feels guilty for not keeping up.  Rarely does anyone put pressure on me.  Then why am I an expert at pressuring myself to keep some perceived deadline.  Who knows?  My hiatus has taught me that it is good to step back, to take a break.  Whether that’s from a blog, your everyday routine or from self imposed obligations, there is untold value in stepping away, in doing things different.  So what?  I didn’t write a thing all summer, but the laughter and memories I found are worth much more.

A New Norm

by , on
Apr 29, 2010

Four.  That’s the number of phone calls I made yesterday while grocery shopping.  (NOTE: I said shopping, not checking out.  I am not that rude.)  I admit, this isn’t an ideal way to do either one, but my schedule calls for multitasking on a whole new level.

During one of these phone calls, the person on the other end of the line divulged they were living in a constant state of flux and they would be glad when things were normal.  I laughed out loud as I shared I had come to accept the state of flux as my new norm.

I remember a time when life seemed a bit more manageable.   Even with 4 young children at home, things were simple.  Our sphere of activity was limited to roughly a 10 mile radius.  There was home, church, the library, the occasional trip to Chik-fil-a & not much else.

Yes, there were 10 loads of laundry to do each week, trips to the grocery store, Dr.’s appointments and so on.  But, I was in control of what that schedule looked like.  Everything revolved around our home.  And as hectic as things could be, there was always the salvation of nap time!  I possessed a misguided notion that things would always be this way.

I knew my children would become more active as they got older and our sphere would grow.  But the path my life has taken was drastically unexpected.  Here’s the short story:  Steve and I decided to leave the predictable life behind, quit his steady employment, go to graduate school and start a non-profit.  In the process we have moved 3 times.

I thought I had an adventurous spirit – I relish going new places.  But truthfully, I only love new experiences when I choose them.  It’s completely different when they are thrust upon me.  Then I tend to get whiny and indulge in a pity-party.  I’d like to say that I have embraced each of the changes that have come my way with open-minded acceptance.  I’d also like to say that I run 3 miles a day and can do 50 push ups.  All three would be a lie.

So, what’s the point?  I’m not sure.  But I do know I have learned a few things along the way.

  • When you pray the prayer of Jabez, asking for your territory to be expanded, expect it to happen and don’t be shocked when it does.
  • You can waste your time grieving for your old life, circumstances, house etc., or you can live in the present and move on.  Yes, it’s alright to miss things, but when I find myself in 2010 wondering why things aren’t like they were in 2004, I need to move on.
  • Every single circumstance we go through, no matter how painful, will be useful to us in the future.  I like to say that God never wastes a hurt.  In the words of Beth Moore, “On the other side of your greatest pain lies your greatest ministry.”  Don’t waste it!
  • Life goes on.  Sounds simple, but I am ashamed to admit that I have missed a lot while participating in a good old pity-party.  Look up and enjoy the view.  See where you can be effective today.

So, I’m a slow learner, but I have come to accept that the craziness that I call my life is in some way normal.  I traded the predictable for the unexpected and, all in all, I don’t regret it one bit.  The blessings, opportunities, expanded faith and experiences that have come with it are invaluable.

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