Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Afterglow/2007 In Review

Work has kept me pretty busy lately. It has been great, though.

We had a nice Christmas. Tracy got an iPod Nano. I got the Die Hard collection. I enjoyed the time with family and ate too much as always.

For the most part, 2007 was great. I blew my goal of losing 30 pounds sometime in April. Perhaps I'll give it another whirl in 2008. The new goal will have to be 50 pounds, though. One too many trips to the table this year, I'm afraid.

In 2007:
- My vehicle was paid off.
- I was laid off from a job.
- I got a better job.
- I turned 40.
- I went to Seattle.
- I wrestled my first match in 2.5 years. Lost. Chairshot to the head.
- I learned to speak Unix (I have a nice cheat sheet).
- I lost 17 pounds, and then gained 35.
- I took a generational photo with my Dad's brother and my son.
- My wife inherited some family property.
- I rediscovered The X-Files.
- I saw some fine jazz and blues.
- Van Halen reunited with David Lee Roth.
- George and Steve (and Mot) joined the blogosphere.
- Packers are 13-3. Curse the Bears!
- I almost became a cop.
- I applied to the FBI as a Field Agent. I'm too old. 39 is the cutoff. Bummer.
- I threw snowballs at James in Seattle. We celebrated with a Smithwicks or 8.
- I have nearly lost all interest in organized Christianity.
- I upgraded my cell phone.
- I continued my search for M. Homer.
- I missed two fun engagements with CHUCK, Rick and George.
- I discovered a grey armpit hair.
- I made friends with 2 gay people.
- I grew my hair back out.
- I grew my back hair out.
- I read 19 books.
- I watched approximately 1,092 hours of TV.
- I made two trips to the ER. One by ambulance. Vertigo. Sheesh.
- I managed Buff Bagwell for one show.
- I met The Rocker Marty Jannetty.
- I got beatdown twice by T-Money. My family laughed.
- I had my trust broken by someone very close to me.
- I put 42,000 miles on my truck (remember the one that's PAID for?)
- I learned to respect Oprah.
- I quit watching ER.
- I started watching "Tell Me You Love Me" on HBO. (ER is far less risque')
- I sent out 89 resumes and had four interviews.
- I started exercising again. Then stopped. Then started. Then stopped. Sigh.
- I had a good time with all the people I love and look forward to more of the same next year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays From Me To You

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Random Ruminations

1) Peter Frampton recorded some really good songs back when.

2) "Peace on earth and goodwill to all men" does not apply at Wal-Mart or the mall.

3) I wonder what has become of Paul Whitehead.

4) For the last two nights, Chris Catoe has been in my dreams. In the first dream, he was gay.

5) I don't believe I have ever seen a "Chestnut."

6) I was always taught to walk on the right side of the hallway. Lately, I seem to be bumping into all sorts of people who choose to walk on the left side. They do not move, and it really annoys me.

7) I think my cat is the only person who gets me anymore.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Top Five (actually Six) Christmas CDs

The more December-ish weather here gives rise to a Christmas-ish post (ish?):

1) A Christmas Song Russ Taff. One of the greatest male vocalists I've ever heard.

2) Christmastime Michael W. Smith. Smitty has such a way with yuletide tunes.

3) When My Heart Finds Christmas Harry Connick, Jr. He can't sing or act, but I enjoy this offering.

4) Christmas Songs Diana Krall. Yowsa!

5) A Christmas Gift of Love Barry Manilow. Does this guy ever fail?

6) Home For Christmas Daryl Hall & John Oates. Christmas with soul. The boys have still got it!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

All Right, Who Stole December?

Welcome to my annual gripe about the weather. Go ahead, visit my December archives from previous years. My annual SC winter gripe has become an institution in the blogosphere.

Last week I saw snow in Seattle. I was cold, and I liked it. Today's high in Leesville, SC was 81 degrees. I have had to turn the AC back on. Last night we put up our tree, and I was in shorts and a T-shirt....sweating.

It was 19 degrees today at Lambeau Field. It was 81 degrees here. I hate this. I have lived in SC almost my entire life, and it seldom turns cold before Christmas. Then once Christmas is over, the weather typically cools to a more seasonal fare, but it's too late for me.

December? Phooey! This is July.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Badgers Going Down Under...Sort Of

Badgers are taking on the Vols New Year's Day. Both teams are in for a tough game. I can't think of a better start to 2008 than a Wisconsin victory in the Outback Bowl.

My Christmas List (Revised)

I was sitting in church with James and Caryn this past Sunday, and during a reading of Psalm 27, I heard a phrase that I had never stopped to ponder. Oh, I have read it many times, to be sure, but it was never so clear. Look at verse 4:

"One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I shall seek. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple." (NASB)

Notice how it begins: "ONE thing I ask." Only one thing. My list always contains several things. Practical things. Financial things. Family things. Job things. Menial things.

Here is someone who is asking for something with eternal value. His focus is above the stuff of earth, and fixed upon what lies above. I was challenged by this thought: When is the last time my prayer was simply to be in the presence of God? What kind of spiritual life does it take to pray for this ONE THING and nothing else, although I have many needs?

It really hit home on Monday. The moment I stepped out of the airport in CLT, I was greeted by my wife who began to cry on my shoulder. At first, I thought she was just happy to see me. Then she explained that moments before, she had received a call from our daughter, stating that a Sheriff's Deputy had just served her with papers from her ex-husband. It was a summons to appear in court the following Monday to rule on some child support/custody issues. My first thought was of my recent unemployment and how we were going to afford an attorney. I then thought of Christmas, and wondered how we were going to buy any gifts for the kids. Then I heard it. The Voice. He said, "Are you still going to try to ask for that "ONE thing," even though things are rough today?" My reply was, "How?"

You see, we have been struggling financially since 2005, when I broke my arm while wrestling, and then lost my job. We have been playing catch up ever since. Last year, we had NO Christmas for the kids. None. They were OK with it, but Mom and Dad were/are devastated. It seems every time we are close to catching up financially, something comes up. Another expense or emergency that we are not prepared to accommodate.

So, in the midst of the struggles, how can I NOT pray for what we need? In Psalm 27:4, David, who certainly had big problems. was only asking for one thing. The one thing had nothing to do with earthly matters. So, this past week I have been trying to focus on Heavenly matters in the turmoil of the week. Here is the result thus far (not that I was looking for any):

I have received not one, but two lucrative job offers. We have been able to secure an attorney who is willing to work with us financially. And I have a peace in my heart that surpasses understanding. I am reminded of Matthew 6:33: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ALL THESE THINGS (not just one thing) will be added to you (emphasis mine). God is so unselfish and giving. I am better at asking and taking, or so it seems.

For a long time, I have questioned the faithfulness of God. The problem was not with God, but with me. He is faithful when I am not. He is loving when I am not. He is there when I am here. He speaks, and I do not listen. He calls but I do not answer. He doesn't change; I do and I have.

I thought I was going to Seattle to have some fun with James. I did, but I was also able to hear God's voice in a Presbyterian church from a pastor who wore an earring.

Needless to say, I have not only revised my Christmas list, but I have scrapped it altogether. I am daily endeavoring to focus on having that one thing and that one thing only. I have been driven to the Lord's presence. I have no more ideas and no more resources. I have nowhere else to turn. I have only to obey and trust by blind faith.

And as Cousin Eddie says, "That's the Gift that keeps on giving...all year long."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Life Begins at 40

...or so I am told. My Grandma Redders used to say that "You're as old as you feel." That being the case, I need to begin searching for a decent retirement village.
Truthfully, I don't feel any older. Maybe I feel a little wiser. Definitely heavier.
At least I still have most of my hair.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sleepless in Seattle

There was little time for sleeping over the last weekend. I was blessed to be able to hang out with James and his wonderful family. We experienced some live jazz with Chick Corea on Friday, live blues on Saturday, SNOW, Starbucks & pub hopping, church and a Christmas bazaar on Sunday, dinner at Famous Dave's Ribs (I never want to see ribs again!) Sunday night, and we did much catching up, which included the exchange of some talking Star Trek cards and a birthday toast. The trip concluded with a delayed flight due to bad weather, and one of the bumpiest plane rides I have ever been on ("Fists with your toes," eh Rick?).
More pictures of better quality will follow.