26 November 2009

Thanksgiving Day...

The final day of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

One year ago today, in the early hours of the morning, my mother went into the hospital. She lingered for three weeks, passing away at age 84 on 15 December 2008, two weeks shy of ten years after my father died. Today, I wrap up just over two weeks of daily posts, in response to a challenge issued by a not-so-old dear friend; to be thankful for something each day, still having so many things for which to be thankful. On this day, I am thankful that, although it may be a long while, or this afternoon, I will see my mother and father again, along with many, many others who have crossed the vale before me.

25 November 2009

Day 14...

of The Thanksgiving Challenge.
Tonight, I'm grateful for the ball of fur sitting behind my head on the back of my recliner. When we split up, she took the dog and I got the cat. Except when she wakes me up at 3AM batting me with her paw wanting to be scratched, she's a lot better than coming home to an empty apartment every night. Or when she pees in the dirty clothes... or gets into the trash... or "forgets" how to "cover it up!"

24 November 2009

Day 13...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today I am thankful for my freedom, and those who have paid for it in blood. For the freedom to sit securely and unthreatened in my recliner and post any dang thing I want to, while listening to news stories of others doing the same thing, protesting this or that, demanding this or that, pontificating on such diverse subjects as foreign policy, military strategy, healthcare, insurance, macroeconomics, and global weather patterns with no more credentials to do so than the cat currently resting above my head. The double-edged sword of freedom of speech is that everyone else has that right, too, so that in our country, you have the right to be a blithering idiot if you so chose. Your right to speak doesn't mean you necessarily have anything important to say.
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." --Ronald Reagan

23 November 2009

Day 12...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today, I am thankful for the gift of laughter!

Fair warning if you're not familiar with Jeff Dunham, there's a few bad words and a couple of crude bodily references.

22 November 2009

Day 11...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

View Trailer.

Today, I am thankful that I had the opportunity this afternoon to see one of the most remarkable movies I've ever seen. The Blind Side is the incredible true story of Michael Oher, former Ole Miss Rebel and first round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 draft. Born on 28 May 1986 in Memphis, Tennessee, Oher grew up in as tough a situation as any young man can face: a broken home, public housing in Memphis' Hurt Village (which, remarkably, was built in the 1950's as an all-white development), a crack-addicted mother, separated from his "family" as a young child, Oher was on a familiar path to nowhere. Blessed (or cursed) with tremendous size, Michael is befriended by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy white family and strident Ole Miss fans. The movie follows Michael as he goes from homelessness to standing on the stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

I won't get into a great deal of detail about the movie, because you owe it to yourself to see it. But I do want to point out a few of the things that made this movie, which certainly could have been a trite, contrived tearjerker, a must see.

Sandra Bullock (besides being unspeakably HOT) delivers one of the best performances (grade her on a curve, folks) I've ever seen from her as Leigh Ann Tuohy. She nails the woman who faces down a street thug who thought it would be okay to call her a "bitch," informing him that she is "in a Bible Study with the DA, a member of the NRA, and ALWAYS packin!" (her next line is a great one, too) Luckiest man on earth goes to Sean Tuohy. What man wouldn't dream of having Tim McGraw chosen to play him? (BTW, Tim McGraw: Hair Club for Men client? YOU be the judge)

Stealing scenes right and left, the Tuohy's son "S.J." is played by Jae Head. He is pure gold as Michael's "agent" as he is recruited by a bevy of SEC coaches making cameos as themselves, including former Arkansas head coach and current Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt. None of the coaches (incredibly) do a terribly convincing job playing themselves, but you'll notice that Nutt's filmography contains only one entry. There's a reason.

Adriane Lenox turns in a brief but gritty, emotional performance as Oher's mother, meeting Leigh Anne Tuohy for the first time as Leigh Anne tries to find out more about a young man who seems to have gone unnoticed and unmissed for his first 16 years.

But the best performance of the movie has to be little-known actor Quinton Aaron, who plays the starring role, in spite of the top billing Sandra Bullock receives. Aaron is a raw nerve throughout the movie as he moves from homeless castaway to NFL millionaire. He NAILS the shy vulnerability of a young man sleeping on a "friend's" couch, overhearing the family argument that spells the end of his stay with them, and the beginning of actual homelessness. Without a word, he is amazing as he washes his one spare shirt in the sink at a coin-op laundry and sneaks it into another woman's dryer load.

One of the most emotional moments in the film occurs when Michael takes S.J. to the store to get a video game, going old school with Young MC's 1989 hit "Busta Move." What happens next, after paramedics explain to Leigh Anne that S.J. is lucky to be alive, must been seen to be appreciated.

As a lifelong Ole Miss Rebel fan, one of my great regrets is that, despite living only 70 or so miles from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, I never made time to attend a home game, or to experience the incomparable tailgating experience of The Grove (a situation unlikely to be corrected, exiled as I am now in Oregon). Today, I added a regret to my list: that I slept through Michael Oher's career at Ole Miss, knowing they had phenomenal left tackle, but not knowing they had a phenomenal young man.

21 November 2009

Day 10...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today, I'm thankful for the gift of recreation, and my favorite season: Football season!!

20 November 2009

Day 9...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today I am thankful that I need not know what the future holds as long as I am held by Him who holds the future. And it's a darn good thing, 'cause I sure don't know!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope, and a future." Jer. 29:11

19 November 2009

Day 8...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today I am grateful for an anchor in this storm. Nothing happens by accident, nothing is beyond His power, no one is beyond His love, and no tear that falls ever escapes His notice. When things that look so perfect don't happen, and injustice carries the day. When I can't seem to say/do/be the right things. When I don't understand, when I can't find His plan, when I can't trace His hand... I can trust His heart.

18 November 2009

Day 7...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today, I'm grateful that God believes in 2nd chances (and 3rd, and 4th...). When daydreams turn into nightmares, God can take our shattered hopes and fashion them into something beautiful.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him." Psalm 62:5

17 November 2009

Day 6...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge.

Today I am thankful for my church family and friends that have stood by me through this past very difficult year. You never know how much a simple hug can mean, or how much it means simply to have someone come over and sit with you until you go to church alone.

One such friend shared this with me today, and it meant enough to me to share with y'all today:

Do not ask to have your life's load lightened, but for courage to endure. Do not ask for fulfillment in all your life, but for patience to accept frustration . Do not ask for perfection in all you do, but for the wisdom not to repeat mistakes. Finally, do not ask for more before saying Thank you Lord for what You have already done for me.

16 November 2009

Day 5...

...of the Thanksgiving Challenge

Today I'm thankful that in two short months my Ram will be paid for, and (although it needs a $550 wheel bearing) it still runs and drives just fine! The body has a few scars, and a couple of the joints creak (come to think of it, it's a lot like its owner!), but at 106K it's still doing just what I need it to do!

Taken a few months ago on a rural backroad between Auburn and Maple Valley, Washington (the air bag light has been on for years).

15 November 2009

Day 4...

of the Thanksgiving challenge.

I'm thankful for a secure job which insures that the few extra pounds around my middle, although not sexy, prove that I have more to eat today (and tomorrow) than more than 12 million children in the United States alone. On second thought, I'm not just thankful, I'm more than a little bit ashamed.

So I did something about it.

Day 3...

of the Thanksgiving Challenge

Today, I'm thankful for relatively good health. No serious ailments, just a lil out of shape and a lil snap-crackle-pop in the old joints now and then!

14 November 2009

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good..."

A few days ago, someone gave me a challenge: everyday through Thanksgiving Day, post one thing you are thankful for.

I started yesterday with:

"Day one: A Savior, whose mercy I can't comprehend, whose grace I don't deserve, and whose love I can never lose."

Day Two is today:

"Day Two: my 3 kids, the best kids a Dad could ask for!"

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day Three.

06 November 2009

Why? by Rascal Flatts... amongst others.

Death isn't the only way someone can go away, never to be seen again.

You must have been in a place so dark
you couldn't feel the light
reachin' for you through that stormy cloud
Now here we are gathered in our little hometown
This can't be the way you meant to draw a crowd

Oh why, that's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could've said or done
Oh, I had no clue you were masking
a troubled soul, God only knows
what went wrong
and why
you'd leave the stage in the middle of a song

Now in my mind I'll keep you frozen
as a seventeen-year-old
rounding third to score the winning run
You always played with passion
no matter what the game
when you took the stage
you'd shine just like the sun

Oh why, that's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could've said or done
Oh, I had no clue you were masking
a troubled soul, oh, God only knows
what went wrong
and why
you'd leave the stage
in the middle of a song

Now the oak trees are swaying
in the early autumn breeze
A golden sun is shining on my face
Through tangled thoughts I hear
a mockingbird sing
This old world really ain't that bad a place

Oh why, there's no comprehending
And who am I to try to judge or explain
Oh, but I do have one burning question
Who told you life
wasn't worth the fight
They were wrong, they lied
Now you're gone and we cry
it's not like you
to walk away
In the middle of a song

Your beautiful song
Your absolutely beautiful song