Monday, October 31, 2005

Glad There's God

Tough day today. The students seemed to react to a lower barometric pressure or something. But it was a day for idiotic questions (Are we going to have to work on Halloween?) and idiotic answers (No, I don't have my supplies...yet.)

Students smarted off, sassed, talked instead of worked, tripped other students as they walked down the aisle, and generally made me ponder slitting my wrists.

I'm in charge of the "Courtesy Club" at school, a lovely little organization that sends flowers to sick or grieving staff members. Last week, I arranged flowers to be sent to the funeral for a staff member's uncle, something that normally I wouldn't do...this is generally reserved for parents, grandparents, children, and siblings. But this niece was insistent that our school send flowers. So I did.

Today, she interrupted my class to ask me why no flowers were sent. I showed her the paperwork from the florist that showed I had done my part. She said none were there at the funeral. But she did say she would make some calls. She returned later (again interrupting my class) and said she had called the church...the flowers had arrived AFTER the funeral. I apologized profusely (for something that wasn't my fault) but the lady kinda smirked, turned and walked out.

Good thing God is in control. He understands days like this and has promised us relief and refuge. "Come ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." If you take that out of the King James, it reads, "I welcome you even though the world has beat you down. The things you experienced today are fleeting, not permanent. Remember that because I allowed my Son to be murdered by a mob, you don't have to assume that it will always be this way. Let you mind and body relax in the comfort that glory awaits you. And once you experience your first 10 seconds of this glory, it will all be worth it. Every tough day, every brutal moment, every dashed hope, every physical and mental pain. All worth it.

"For our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (II Cor. 4:17)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Let's Try This

For reasons known only to Al Gore (creator of the 'net), my blog completely disappeared today. Therein was lost an amazing amount of worthless musings and philosophy. So, I guess we start over.

God answers prayers. He really does. It's taken me many years to figure out that the greater your faith, the more prayers get answered. I believe we cheat ourselves by cautiously entering into prayer...almost hesitantly, as if expecting no results. (Caveat: I haven't solved this problem completely...just getting better at it.) I think God expects ridiculous faith. Faith that dismisses human logic and known laws of probability.

I bring this up because Carole and I have been praying for a 5 year-old boy named Tyler Stewart. Just a couple of weeks ago, it was discovered he had a brain tumor. Today, at St. Jude's Hospital, surgeons began what was to be an extremely delicate procedure to remove the mass and expected it to be a 5-6 hour process. Well, it only took 3 hours and the news is cautiously good. Preliminary reports show it to be benign.

The next two days are very important for Tyler. Doctors will be checking on bleeding and also on how his motor skills are. Please lift him up in prayer. God can handle it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

1. The glimpse of heaven produced when hundreds of well-trained voices sing praises to God.

2. The sound emanating from the pipes on my former Dodge Ram when cranking up.

3. Mashed potatoes.

4. The smell of new tires. (Weird, ain't I?)

5. That sweet NASCAR feeling you get when you stomp the gas and pass a car on Hwy. 281.

6. Apple-cinnamon anything.

7. Good kids. Whether they're mine or someone else's, it's pure joy to be around respectful, mannerly, clean-cut kids.

8. Thanksgiving. (Hasn't this surpassed Christmas due to the very nature of the holiday and the lack of commercialization?)

9. Drums. I dig drums, man. They're the most, man.

10. The way a flannel shirt feels the first time you wear it. But not the second time, because by then it has shrunk one full size.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday = Euphoria

One of the things I might miss when I retire is the pure, sweet joy generated by coming home on Friday after a tough week.

I usually reward myself by not grading papers on Friday night. That stack can wait until Saturday. My mind and body are too worn out for incredible stimulation of writing "53" at the top of papers. It's amazing how just the simple fact that, "Tomorrow, I don't work" perks me up. I'm cool with the world on Friday evening. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming.

Next blog entry may be on the polar opposite of this...the dreaded Sunday night feeling. Ugh. I better hurry up and retire.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Grammar and other Relatives

It is with some risk that I even bring up the subject of grammar. Because somehow by insisting on proper grammatical usage, one sets himself up as somehow superior...too good to be mingling with the masses. But if someone doesn't get on the grammar bandwagon, soon there will be no standards at all, just a mishmash of words thrown together in goofy patterns.

A little part of me dies when I hear a sports announcer say, "Joe Torre spoke to John and I before the game." Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!!! Why couldn't Mr. Microphone simply think, "Joe Torre spoke to me", therefore I will say, "Joe Torre spoke to John and me."?

Or this classic: "Us guys are going to the party." Would you say, "Us are going to the party?" I hope not.

Admittedly, grammar rules are obscure and nebulous. Admittedly, some folks are good at numbers and not words. But can you see how the entire scope of communication is hanging by a thread (or a dangling participle)? If the last person who can speak correctly dies, does ebonics take over?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Staying Ready

I'm reading a book by Greg Laurie on whether we are living in the "last days". He thinks we are and makes a credible case. One of his points is that Jesus, when asked about the last days, said they were akin to labor pains. Interesting comparison.

We all know that labor begins with pains pretty far apart, but progresses to a point where they are quite close together. Laurie says that when we see tragic, cataclysmic events in increasing proximity to each other, Jesus' return is imminent.

Consider the past 4 years, beginning with 9-11-01. Consider what has happened in the past 10 months: tsunami, hurricanes, earthquake.

Whether there is validity in his theory remains to be seen. I tend to agree with him. I think that, barring an early exit of this life, I will be alive for the second coming. Regardless, we should live a life of anxious expectation with a sense of urgency when it comes to sharing Jesus with others.

One thing is for sure, we are closer than we were yesterday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

How to Take Winning Shots

1. Let you hair grow a little long in the back. Artistic guys do that, ya know.

2. Wear the ballcap backwards. This shows a certain rebellious attitude and commands instant respect.

3. Utilize a huge lens. The bigger the glass, the better the shot.

4. Wear a tee shirt over a long-sleeve shirt. Again, this connotes that a real artist is at work.

5. Note the delicate grasp of the left hand. It's not gay. It's the mark of a genius getting a shot right.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sorry. I Can't Get Over This Pick

I know I've already railed against the president I've voted for twice over this Supreme Court nominee. But I need to vent again. I just can't get over how foolish this is.

We judge how foolish an act is by the importance of the circumstances. If I unexpectedly burp during a meal, it's foolish...but of no long-lasting consequence. This nominee business is at the other end of the spectrum. It will have enormous impact for decades to come. Harriet Miers is 60ish. We can assume that she has at least 20 years, if confirmed, of incredible influence on this country's law.

Miers stands to slip into the seat that Sandra Day O'Connor has been warming. And O'Connor was repeatedly the swing vote in critical cases. And Miers has no paper trail. It staggers the mind that Bush has treated such a blockbuster situation with so little thought.

Throughout the past 6 years, I have dismissed most of the criticism of Bush's intellect that has become so familiar. Yes, he obliterates the King's English upon occasion. Yes, he doesn't come across as a guy who reads books before pillowing his head at night. But I assumed that because he went to Yale and because he was dead-on in many of his conservative beliefs he must have more cerebrum activity than he lets on.

But to treat this appointment so cavalierly is to akin to lighting up a smoke at the gas station. You may get away with it or you may change the look of the neighborhood forever.

George Will made a good point in his recent column. He said that if 100 legal scholars were to each list 100 of the most qualified jurists for this Supreme Court vacancy, you would end up with 10,000 folks not named Harriet Miers.

Bush also said that he had not discussed abortion with Ms. Miers. Huh? If he's lying, that says something about his veracity. If he's telling the truth, it means he's so out of touch with his conservative base that he would ignore the most controversial social issue of the day.

This whole thing smacks of poor judgment and poor advice. As I said two days ago, the only hope for the true Republican conservative is that Bush has blindly tossed a dart in the general direction of the target and managed to hit a bulls-eye.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Weird or Eccentric or Harmless?

Older son Brett is arriving tonight for a weekend Scrabble tournament. That's his thing.

Younger son Blake will travel long distances to take in an Oak Ridge Boys concert.

Daughter Brooke knows more about hockey than any male alive, including the Great One.

Wife Carole collects life-like silicon dolls.

I hang out at airports with a camera, getting high on Jet-A fuel fumes.

Where did we go wrong?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bush Misses the Mark

Yesterday, George Bush picked Harriet Miers to replace O'Conner on the Supreme Court. I can't believe he would be so careless with his religious constituency.

Bush was elected twice mainly because religious folks voted for him. His second victory was even seen as a mandate from the Christian right. Now he has picked an unknown with no record to a position with mind-boggling power.

She may turn out OK. About all we know is that she does attend an evangelical church. But why is Bush not picking a seasoned judge with a thick, conservative resume? Doesn't he owe us that?

The word is that Bush wanted someone that the liberals won't vote down. She is female, of course. Important Democrats have not reacted with dismay over her choice, and that is scary.

With so much on the line, from abortion to gay rights to individual freedoms, Bush should have shown loyalty to what got him there. Here's hoping he lucked into something good.