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Our (almost) free summer movie fest (with notes, of course)

June 29, 2011 Leave a comment

So the desperate good folks at Blockbuster sent us an offer last week. We rent 1 new release (at 2.99) and get 1 free movie a night until July 4th. While I’m not a fan of Blockbuster, I am a fan of movies. And I’m a huge fan of taking advantage of silly corporate moves like this without contributing another dime to their bottom line. So we’ve watched a lot of movies this week. One a night, in fact. For free. Thanks, Blockbuster.

Here’s the list. We went mostly with movies that weren’t high on our netflix list or we couldn’t stream on netflix. I might also point out that I let K make a lot of the choices since I tend to be the one the picks the movies. And of course, I can’t help but make a comment or two about each.

True Grit – loved this film! Great performances. Even though it’s a western and a remake, it felt like a Coen brothers film (which I love). If you haven’t seen it – you need to see this movie. (K liked it too, btw)

Other Guys – This is the first time Will Farrell has been funny to me in a long time. Wahlberg is great, too. Ridiculous movie, but fun.

Kid movie – Rebekah picked it. I’m sure she loved it.

The Switch (aka Jennifer Aniston still plays Rachel pt.100) – I agreed to this b/c I love Jason Bateman. And he’s pretty good in it. Some funny moments, but it’s a rom com. SPOILER ALERT: The whole formula is there. Zany circumstances. They can’t be together. Wacky best friends (Jeff Goldblum is great in this role btw). The heartfelt revelation. I never want to see you again. Soul-searching montage. Reconciliation. Wedding. Weird thing from earlier in the movie is resolved. Happily ever after.

Just Go With It (aka Aniston as Rachel in Hawaii) – See above. Sub Sandler for Bateman (although I’m not as big a fan).

Underdog – Kids got to pick again. I have to admit – I kind of liked it. I loved the cartoon as a kid and the movie stays pretty true. They even go overboard to make Peter Dinklage look like Simon Barsinister.

Tron: Legacy – This just made me sad. First, George Lucas beats my childhood to the ground with the prequels (you know what I’m talking about) and Indy 4. Now, Disney has finished it off by sucking the life out of Tron. Remember all of the things you loved about Tron? Well, they aren’t here. Instead, we get 10 minutes of light cycles and disc battles and then 45 minutes of Jeff Bridges channelling “The Dude” while sitting in the Lotus position and “talking to the sky”. I felt like I needed to apologize to the kids for making them sit through it.

The Dilemma – I like Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. And I like Ron Howard films. My issue with this movie isn’t that it wasn’t good, I thought it was OK, the problem is that the movie that is advertised isn’t the movie that’s delivered. The trailer makes this film look like a comedy. It isn’t (really). There are some genuinely funny moments, but there is a lot of drama and friendship stuff worked out all the way through. Oddly enough, about 30 seconds of the trailer is cut from the film.

So there you have it. More opinion than you want, but perhaps some fair warning. Any suggestions for our last movie tomorrow?

Categories: films, life Tags: , ,

you can’t lose

June 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Bottom of the third. First game of our biggest tournament of the season. 9-1 lead. As the Dirt Dawgs take the field, the coaching braintrust decides to save our starting pitcher’s arm, so I tell the pitcher to move to second and Nathan to take the mound.

At this point, I should note that Nathan had never  pitched in a game. In fact, he’d only thrown about 20 pitches off a mound after practice as we were messing around to see if he could do it. So telling him he was going to pitch in a big game was first, shocking and second, terrifying.

After I got back to the dugout, I turned around to watch him warm up and saw him in a near panic as he was giving his name to the umpire and getting ready to throw his warm-up pitches. To head off the impending meltdown, I jogged back out to the mound to explain the situation to my 9 year old little man.

“We’re up 8, the most they can score is 7 (this tourney had a run per inning rule). No matter what you do, you can’t lose this game. You can’t fail.”

The shoulders relax. The grin comes out. Now we’re ready to play ball.

First batter – hits the first pitch hard back to the mound. Nathan fields it clean and throws him out. 1 pitch, 1 out. The grin gets bigger.
Second batter –  bunts for a hit. Then scores on the next pitch as he steals second and gets around on a error.
Third batter – strikes out on 5 pitches. The grin is now so big I’m afraid he’s going to trip over it.
Fourth better – grounds out to 3rd.

Four batters, 13 pitches, 3 outs, we win. Nathan runs off the field and jumps into my arms, convinced that this pitching thing is easy.

As I think about it (with probably an unhealthy amount of pride), I’m struck by the power that comes from understanding that there is no way to fail. Fear turns to confidence. Freedom and faith break out. Tears are swallowed by a grin that just keeps growing. Confidence gained yields a greater willingness to risk again.

What if the Church created space for dreamers to go big, but with a safety net beneath them, just in case? What if success wasn’t measured in results, but rather attempts?

What would you tackle if you knew you couldn’t lose?

Categories: Church, family, Jesus, life, sports Tags: , ,

10 years ago today . . .

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Ten years ago today I lost the second most significant man in my life, next to my Dad. My grandfather – Pop – passed away on a Sunday morning after a brief stint in the hospital. In the years since, not many days go by that I don’t think about him, but today he’s been on my mind pretty much all day.

Pop taught me to love baseball, he took me out on my first attempt to learn to drive. I ate lunch at his house almost every day of my junior year of high school and it was a ritual for me and K to eat breakfast at his house on Sunday mornings when we came into town during college and in our early married life. I remember spending hours just sitting quietly with him after my grandmother died. He taught me about sacrificial love as I watched him take care of her for the last decade of her life and about grace and mercy as he talked about his 35 years of recovery from alcoholism. He was always quick to give me and my brothers a hard time (something I’ve clearly inherited from him), but  just as quick to encourage. He didn’t miss a game, performance, concert, awards night, or any other excuse to watch us do the things we loved. Hearing him say “I’m proud of you” meant more to me than any award or honor I’ve ever received.

He wasn’t a saint by any stretch of the imagination, but he was a good man. I can’t believe he’s been gone for 10 years and I’m so glad to know that a day is going to come when I get to see him again. My guess is he’ll make some crack about the Cubs and remind me of running into the back of Mom’s car on that first driving excursion. I can’t wait.

Categories: else, family, life

resolved

January 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Happy (week after) New Year!

I’m not much on resolutions. I don’t do well with the “I’m never (always) going to (insert thing here) for the rest of my life starting today.” I’ve found that I am not remotely disciplined enough to keep to those kinds of things. I wish I were in some ways because there are some things in me that could stand that kind of once and for all treatment. But alas.

All that being said, the newness of a new year feels like a good environment to think about directions I’ve taken and directions I want to pursue in the days ahead. So here’s the list. At least for now. The odds are good that I’ve forgotten something vital, but it’s a start.

1. Chase Jesus to be more like him. There’s never going to be a list like this that doesn’t have this on it because I’m pretty sure (read: “certain”) that I will have a long way to go for the rest of my life. God knows I sure do at this point.

2. Love more and better and louder. I want to love people more. Family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, students, and everybody else. But I want to do it in ways that demonstrate that love loudly and leave no room for doubt. I’m not good at it – it’s not a natural thing for me. But as #1 happens, I’m trusting that this will follow.

3. Get healthier. This isn’t a “go to the gym every day and lose 100 lbs by summer kind of thing”, I just want to undo the damage that has been done by five years of school life. Eat better, sleep more, get out on my bike. I’m never going to be “little”, but I want to feel and be better as I am.

4. Enjoy what I’m doing. I love teaching. I love being around and interacting with students. I even like the prep work that goes into making class happen. In fact, there isn’t much about academic life that I don’t like. But I sure do catch myself griping about it a lot. And I hate that. So I’m going to focus on enjoying it and making sure those around me know how I really feel about this life I’m chasing.

5. Do what I enjoy. It drives me crazy that lately I haven’t found (made) time to do the stuff I love – photography, music, reading, writing,  movies, hanging out with people, and on and on (not even sure I remember how to play golf anymore). It boils down to going for it when the mood strikes and not finding something else that needs to be done. Yet another area that requires intention. See a pattern yet?

6. Matter. One of the real traps of academia is spending all of your time talking about everything but not really doing anything. I kind of there. And I hate it. I have always made time to coach the boys in whatever they were doing (whether I knew anything about it or not) and I love that. But there are other Kingdom kinds of things that I want to be a part of and ideas that have been spinning for years that need action. None of it’s happening right now. But it’s coming.

That’s plenty for one lifetime. If you’re the praying sort, when you think of me it would be great if you’d remember some of this. If you make a list, I’ll do the same for you. Who knows how far any of it will go, but desire is the first step, right?

Categories: creativity, else, health, Jesus, life