Saturday, August 29, 2009

Angry at God

Death never seems to raise its head at opportune times. In fact, it seems to always come at the moment you least expect it. It seems that whenever I have prepared myself for death or for someone to go it never happens. Death and sickness have surrounded me much of the day.

Montana was in my youth group when I was a Youth Director at Coaling UMC in college. I married her and her husband Brian a couple years ago. It was one of the most unique weddings I have done. It was in the pasture of their farm with a huge backdrop of hay bails, saddles, and other riding instruments. She was brought to the ceremony in a horse drawn wagon. It is a great memory and they worked hard to make the wedding special and a true representation of who they are. Bryan, the groom was a typical guy who just wanted to get the wedding over and have it be as close to what his fiancĂ©e wanted as possible. He didn’t seem to care about any of it, he just wanted to be married. I never got to know him anywhere near as well as I know Montana, but I’ve liked him more and more each time I have been around him.

This morning I got a call that Montana and Bryan’s trailer caught on fire last night and he was killed before they could get him out. Montana and their 15 month old daughter Gracie were staying at his mothers. I went over there this evening to see montana and I dreaded going the whole way there. I simply don’t have the words to console or help a 22 year old widow with a 15 month old child.

I did a lot of listening rather than talking. One thing I heard over and over from her was that she is mad. She is angry that this happened and she is angry at the position she is in. To be honest, I’m angry too. Montana is a good kid that has tried hard since I have known her to get ahead. She dated some real idiots in high school and she had truly found what she wanted in Bryan and was happy with their family. I don’t blame her for being mad about it being gone. I’m mad it got taken away.

Any theologians that are in my readership can check your degrees at the door. I don’t care what you think, but sometimes it is healthy to just get pissed off at what God has allowed to happen in our lives. Sometimes things happen and the only honest response we have is anger. I rest comfortably in the fact that God loves me enough to handle my anger and rage in moments when it seems like I’m getting the short end of the stick. That doesn’t mean I don’t trust how God is working, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t think he is there, but if we are honest we have all had moments when we looked to the sky and said, “This sucks. Make it stop.” The Psalms are full of David and others telling God that they weren’t too thrilled about the ways he was reveling himself in their lives.

After leaving Montana’s I thought about it and I’ve come to the realization that I’m pretty mad at God these days as well. My Uncle John Cole is without a doubt one of the finest men that has ever walked this planet. He has been a power and an influence in my life in ways that I still don’t fully understand. He gave me my first job in his law office, taught me how to drive, and helped me figure out a lot about who I was in ways other people couldn’t have done. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease many years ago and for the last 15 years I have watched him slowly deteriorate, and to be honest about it, I’m mad. No one lived the Gospel of Christ in everyday ways like he did. I learned how to interact with the homeless and with addicts by riding around Birmingham and sitting in courtrooms with them as he represented them. Most of the time, he represented the for nothing, or for some service he let them perform more for their benefit than any other.

He is in the hospital in Birmingham and this week standing at the foot of the bed and seeing him in that condition makes me want to look to the sky and say to God in a very real way, “This sucks, and you need to find a better way to get things done than this”. If thats unfaithful, then mark me down as a sinner, but its true. I know that one day I’ll get it. One day I’ll see how God has worked through this, but I can’t see it today, and thats what makes this journey so hard.

Friday, August 28, 2009

New Friends, New Experiences

I am guilty of getting in ruts and getting in routines and not branching out. If I’m not careful I can look up and every week looks the same. Same work, same lunch in the same restaurant. Same Friday night, same weekend plans, everything.

Tonight I broke the mold on Friday nights and I’m glad that I did. This has been a really long week. Nothing bad or exciting has happened, it just has been long, and I really needed to shake things up a bit. High School Football started tonight, but I had absolutely not interest in going. I usually really enjoy it, but I didn’t want to have to deal with it all tonight, so I simply didn’t go.

Rather, I spent time tonight with a group of people that are as different from me as you can be. It was wonderful. Billy Weems is thePastor at Gordo UMC and he invited me over for a get together of pastors and friends to eat dinner and just hang out. It became clear after getting there that I was WAY out of the typical age range. The median age for the group is late 40s/ early 50’s. Most of them have grown children and grandchildren, and one has a newborn. You would think that this would be incredibly uncomfortable, and there was a moment when I thought that it would be, but it wasn’t at all. Despite the different places that we have come from and despite all of the very apparent differences it was a wonderful evening. Everyone laughed and cut up about work, life, stories from the past, and things that are going on in our lives.

I learned tonight that Billy Weems goes all out when cooking a hamburger. I learned that Roger Short is always good for a one liner when the opportunity presents itself. Penny Ford is simply hysterical and a wonderful mother. Nancy and Steve Cole have a wealth of life experiences and stories that would take months to tell. There were several others, but those stand out in my mind this late.

I think that there are times when we look at groups of people and decide that we can or can not fit in with those people simply because of predetermined lines that we draw in our own lives. I was reminded tonight that sometimes simply relaxing and getting to know people will help you meet and enjoy wonderful people that you would have missed out on.

I’m glad to have laid the foundation for new friendships and I’m excited about the things that I can learn from the group of people that I met tonight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Friends and Fingernails

What an incredible weekend! I got back last night from a Chrysalis weekend that was incredible! I have a couple of groups of friends that stand apart from all the others. What makes these different is that I can go months without seeing them, but as soon as we come together we pick up right where we left off. The people this week are some of the most loving and uplifting people that I have ever come across. My friend David Hodges said it well when he noticed that our group is made up of die hard Republicans and Democrats, Methodists and Baptists, young and old, and even Alabama and Auburn fans. But all that stuff seems to fade away because of Jesus. I'm a better person for just knowing them.

I've had something on my mind for a while that I need to discuss with the world.... What is the deal with fingernails? This is an area I need to read on and know more about. I never look at my finger nails and think, "In the next couple days I need to cut my fingernails". Its like one night they grow 6 inches and you get somewhere and realize how embarrassing your fingers look. Does anyone else have this problem? I looked at my hand on Saturday and I couldn't believe it. It was like they came out of nowhere. I spent the rest of the day with my hands in my pockets. The more I type about this, the more I feel like its probably just me going through this.

I feel like there are several other things that I need to comment on or bring up, but I'll leave those for later on in the week. I've fallen behind on updating, but I'm making a renewed commitment today.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Back from Camp...

I'm back from Camp, and later tonight I will do an extensive recap, but i want to share this with all of you..... a new camp dance is born....

Check it out here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Inhumane Exploitation of Fat People

6a00d83451d69069e201156e945bcc970c-popup.jpgI consider myself to be a pretty level headed person, but I do tend to lose my cool when I see people being taken advantage of and abused.

That is why I am incensed at the commercial I saw today from FOX. They are advertising their new show, "More to Love". It is from the creators of The Bachelor with one important difference. They are using only fat people.

Now, at first glance, all of you skinny people are saying, "Aww, how cool. They are going to make sure fat people get love too.", but I am going to stand up and say as a leader within the Fat Community that "This is wrong". This is the blatant and inhumane exploitation of Fat People for financial gain. Never would America tolerate a show entitled "Enough to Love" about matchmaking midgets. In fact, last week a group of midgets petitioned the FCC to ban the M word from broadcast television. Can we also ban the dreaded F word? No, not that one. The three letter one.

No one is outraged, and no one is going to watch this show because of the people. They are going to watch the show because there is nothing more hilarious than watching the uncomfortable fat guy approach the pool with women all around. They are going to watch because when you put 3 fat people in the hot tub the water splashes over the edge soaking all their clothes and creating yet another uncomfortable situation. My biggest fear is spandex. You can deny it if you want to, but we all know the big girl that thinks she can wear the tube top or the pants from back in the day. We don't need to encourage behavior like that.

Lets be honest here. The fat man is the most discriminated against person in America. No one celebrates our accomplishments or additions to society. Think about it.. The Remote Control - We came up with that. The Drive Thru - That was us. Curb side pickup at even the nicest restaurants - We demanded that. The Extended Cab pick up - That was us. The Seat Belt extention - Us again .

Here's an idea. Let put ALL kinds of people on the normal show... Wait, thats ridiculous. That would never work. We might be forced to recognize that fat people are valued members of society.
Call your senator and your local cable provider. Say no to the Inhumane Exploitation of Fat People. Petitions can be found at your local KFC, Kream Doughnuts, or any major buffet chain.

(Sidenote: This was all meant in fun. If you were offended by anything. Get over it. Its all jokes.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Death of Michael Jackson

I decided that I was not going to pile on and talk about the death of Michael Jackson, but i feel like I need to say something. Not so much about Jackson himself, but more about the way that America and the rest of the world has responded to his death. It not even really the death of Jackson that concerns me, but it is the death of all the celebrities that have died in the last few weeks.
I am concerned about the need for the media and for America to know every single detail about the life and death of the people that have died.TMZ reported on the death of Michael Jackson 6 minutes after he was officially declared dead. There were peopel that knew and loved him who found out that someone close to them died from the internet and from the news media trying to be the first. I really hope that is not how his children found out, or his mother. But sadly, that happens more and more now. I wish that we could have waited a couple hours, let the family make the statement and then begin to cover it. We could celebrate his music and the ways that he legitimately changed the entertainment industry. Rather we have tried to understand every moment and every conversation that Jackson had in the last 48 Hours and we all are now experts on Propofol and other pain killing injections. What is more disturbing is that we are more concerned about passing judgement and jokes about man that was tried several times but never convicted of anything. I know that doesn't mean it didn't happen, but at this point there is little need to continue to speculate on things that we can't prove. We can only hope that the system did its job.
Steve McNair is a wonderful example of what I am talking about. McNair (according to reports from friends and those in Nashville) was a model NFL Player and citizen. He was active in the community, supported charities, by all accounts was a good father, and was an incredible ball player. A life of full of good decisions and an attempt to do the right thing has been totally overshadowed by what happened on the last day of his life. I am not trying to excuse the actions of McNair, nor am I trying to brush away some of the very serious allegations that were made against Jackson, but why do we need to know every detail? Why is it that Good Morning America feels like their is a need to do a one hour in depth story on Michael Jackson's doctor? Why is it that TMZ feels like pictures of McNair and his girlfriend should be fed to the public within 48 Hours of his death?
Did we all really need to see a Barbara Walter's special where she let us watch Farrah Fawcett die? Why did we feel like we needed to watch a dyeing woman vomit and get injections? I know that some will say that it increases awareness about cancer, but I doubt that there was anyone watching taking notes about cancer. We watched it because it was Farrah and we felt like we were getting to see things that we normally don't get to see.
I'm not laying the blame on the media alone. they would not report it and would not spend the resources to get the information. This is a cultural problem. We have a sick need to see the autopsy photos of celebrities when they show up on the internet. We want to see pictures of the guns that killed them, and we want to see all of these things before we even have time to get people buried.
Can you imagine what they would turn up in your life if you were to die in the spotlight? It terrifies me to think that if I were to die in some fluke that people were captivated by, that the media might try to break down my life and dig through my background. I have lived a life where I have striven to do the right thing, but like everyone there are skeletons in closets that have long been locked.
All that said, I will probably watch the funeral tomorrow and when I get home tomorrow night I will watch the special play by play breakdown of the funeral. And thats sad.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What's the Deal?

Do you have the anxiety feeling that you are dreading facing something or someone? Its the feeling that I got when I knew I had to take the report card home to my dad. Its the feeling I got when I knew I was about to break off a relationship, or when I knew I was about to get broke up with. Its the feeling you get when you know you are about to be yell at, or your going to have to face someone you've hurt. It is almost like a dull stomach ache and head ache that radiates through your body. You feel sick, you not the type where you actually get sick. It just lingers in the background so that you know its there. Do you get that feeling?

I've had it for 3 days now, and for the first time in my long history with this feeling, I have no idea why. I can't think of a single thing in my life that I am dreading or that I'm upset or hurt about. Yet strangely, that feeling never seems to be far from the surface. I truly consider myself to be happy with almost all aspects of my life, yet it is there waiting for me to get still and start thinking or trying to sleep and then it consumes me. It strange because I have spent a great deal of time with this particular aspect of my emotional life and I have even found ways to cope with it, but I can't shake it if I can't figure out why it is hanging around me.

Is it possible that I'm dreading life in general? I don't think thats the case, but I'm almost out of reasons why I'm feeling this way. I know that in the next year or two I am going to undergo some major changes in life that are going to shake every part of me. Some are exciting and some are horrifying. Is this some type of preemptive depression that my mind wants to go ahead and get started with? Can you build up a credit on depression phases? Can I go ahead and have one so that when something horrible in life happens I'm able to say, "Wait, I did a voluntary depression a couple months ago. I'd rather not go through one right now". Who knows.

I was around great people tonight. We had a celebration of the birth of Franklin Slaton. I thoroughly enjoyed my time listening and watching what might be the most diverse group of people ever to be assembled in my presence. It was humorous to watch the interaction and the total comfort Franklin has in the midst of this social hodge podge. There were camp people, theater people, college students, 40 somethings, friends of friends people, 30 somethings, 20 somethings, conservatives, liberals, heterosexuals, homosexuals, wealthy, poor, environmentalists, and those who drive over sized trucks because we can. I realized about halfway through that the group assembled in that place was what made Franklin who he is. He is someone that masterfully flows from one group to another allowing each of them to leave their mark on who he is, and he makes no apology for his love for any of these different groups. Franklin is truly good people. I think Jesus would have been impressed with tonight's gathering. I think that moments like tonight are what he had in mind. Which is ironic since some of the people in this gathering couldn't have cared less what Jesus would think.