Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Lesson I've Learned Today...

It takes fewer Slo-Pokes Happy Hour Margaritas to make 220 lb. Craig happy than it did 280 lb. Craig.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Saturday Morning...

It's 9:40 a.m. and I'm about to head off to work. As I'm looking through the window I'm thinking how great it would have been to have woken up somewhere about 200 miles east of here, went for a walk, gathered a small group of friends to grab some chairs and meet at the lake for a day of sitting around and doing nothing except for enjoying the water and birds and overcast sky.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Week Behind...

It's Friday night and what else would you expect such a good looking, charismatic, intelligent, charming All-American boy such as myself to be doing except for writing on my blog? Oh yeah, it's on the edge living for me.

It's been a busy week and a busy (I go to a "college" church, so I can say this and not feel weird) semester. I'm leading two groups at church and doing a lot of pre-holiday setup at work and, of course, trying to run or workout every day (that's me, Mr. Physical Fitness) and it's all making for a tired, although happy, Craig. It's fall-asleep-before-head-hits-pillow type tiredness.

I'm finally over the sickness that plagued me last week. Doctor said it was a sinus infection, gave me prescriptions that broke the bank but began working about a day after the last antibiotic was given.

Two entertainment related nuggets to share with you.

1. This was the week Keith Urban's new album "Be Here" hit the shelves, and I got my copy yesterday. This guy is amazing. I was brought to tears by "These are the Days," which tells of wisdom passed down from his grandmother, then moves into a mantra-like chorus, then finished off by the bridge from "Days go By." It's going on a year since my grandmother passed away, so it was especially poignant.

My grandma was a wise old soul
Took me by the hand not long ago
Said, "Son, what's your hurry, boy slow it down
Taste the wild honey, listen to the sound
Of the wind that's blowin' through the trees
Rivers flowing to the sea
Yeah, they're all heading home just like you and me
Life's for living child, can't you see?"
These are the days we will remember
These are the times that won't come again
The highest of flames become an ember
And you gotta live them while you can
These are the days we will remember
These are the days we will remember
These are the days we will remember
These are the days we will remember
So take 'em by the hand, they're yours and mine
Take 'em by the hand and live your life
Take 'em by the hand don't let 'em all fly by
It's much more moving hearing than reading lyrics, I know. But I felt the need. What can I say?
2. I think I may have a new show. Tonight I watched the season premiere of "Joan of Arcadia." I've had people tell me to watch it several times, but I've refused. I suspected, knowing the premise, that it was going to be a bit too "Touched by an Angel"-esque. Nothing wrong with "Touched by an Angel," but I've already got a secret watch by myself show where I hope no one comes in and catches me crying like a baby and that show is 7th Heaven. But, not having anything else to do on a Friday, I watched Joan and loved it. I'm sure it's not Christian enough for some (read Aaron,) because there's no talk of TULIP or the exclusivity of Jesus or an alter call at the end of the show. Nevertheless, there was some good sound struggling with serious spiritual shit (lot of s's make for difficult read,) and I liked it and I'm watching it damnit.
Got to work tomorrow so got to go to bed now. Here's hoping you are found by rest, life, love, and friends this weekend.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

It's the little things that seem to be saving me today.
-- Mindy Smith, "Down in Flames"...

It is hot, hot, hot. I shouldn't really expect anything else. It is Waco and it is September. I ran twenty miles this afternoon. No, wait, that was my roommate Tom. I ran a mile and a half this afternoon. Seeing the mailman making his way down Austin and having a bill that is due, I ran into the house to quickly write a check and put it in an envelope. As I was writing, and trembling from the run and subsequent shock of being in the air conditioning, I noticed a steady stream of sweat rushing from my face down to my checkbook, soaking it and frustrating my attempts at getting this done quickly.

Wait, why am I telling you this? Oh, yeah. It's hot. Real hot.

But soon and very soon the heat will remain in September and October will usher in the possibility cooler temperatures. This is what I'm looking forward to.

There's nothing better in my book than fall. Winter is nice. Summer is unbearable, especially for us bigger people. Spring, in Texas, is almost nonexistent.

But fall.
Long Sleeve T-Shirts.
People's decreased inhibitions in sharing feelings.
How every holiday in which people gather together is followed by another, just around the corner.

It's all
About Fall.

Last fall wasn't a package of cookies, though. I look back at last fall and consider several things. One, I see a pivotal time in my emotional and spiritual life. Two, I see how God's grace and my worship and prayer can occur almost unconsciously, unseen until months, possibly years later.

Last fall I realized that this city I began hating had a grip on me, and it didn't look like escape was in sight.

Last fall I began to realize how serious my financial obligations that extend for several years is.

Last fall, as a corallary to the previous, I realized that returning to school is a long way off, if that.

Last fall I had strained relations with a former employer who I used to be close to.

Last fall I developed a cold, for the first time in many years, that morphed into an upper respiratory infection that caused me to, for the first time in 7 years, go to the doctor, spending many dollars to feel better, making my financial situation even worse.

Last fall I realized that 75% of the people I care about and see on a weekly basis would be gone within two years.

Last fall my grandmother died.

But last fall Grace came in the forms of a phone call from an old friend,a wedding, a little girl and two little boys, a community of faith that is ever changing and ever staying the same, Thanksgiving, a camping trip to the land of my family, and a growing realization that God is much bigger than my ability to understand or to feel.

And because of the events of last fall, the past year has been one in which I've noticed, exponentially, that it really is the little things that seem to be saving me.

Little things.
Knowing the name of the gas station attendant around the corner.
Writing a check to pay a bill, and not worrying about, you know.
That moment by the pool with J. and C. in which moments passed without, and without a need for, words.
Hearing "Whiskey Lullaby" for the first time.
Being at ease with the weird things about my church, like the Freshman Flood that occurs yearly in the fall.
Remembering beautiful things that didn't seem so at the time.
Today, after my run, pulling out a long sleeve shirt and trying it on. You know, just in preparation.

I can feel the breeze a' comin' young people. Can you feel it? Can you feel it?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Words for Today...

From talking to others, I've realized I'm not alone. It's something about Waco. I've heard this statement from legions of Waco-dwellers over the past four years that I've been here, and it rings true for me. I never had to worry about allergies until I moved here. In fact, I used to make fun of people who complained about allergies and secretly wondered if they weren't just making some secret disease up.

I guess I'm doing my penance. Dear fellow allergy sufferers: Forgive me, for I knew not what I was saying.

My head is about to explode and my nose already has.

In other news...

From around '99-'02 I was a frequent viewer of the WB's top rated show, 7th Heaven. Since then I have only seen it a few times, and every time I am blown away at how time flies. Did you know that sweet little Lucy is married and pregnant? Ruthie is dating? Simon is, possibly, having....SEX?! LITTLE SIMON HAVING SEX?! I just can't handle these changes. Luckily this is the last season and whatever innocence is left in those Camden kids will be frozen in time from this moment on.

That's all.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Feels Like Days Go By...

The two songs that are on my radar today are "Feels like Today" ( Rascal Flatts and "Days Go By" ( Keith Urban.

If you're a high critic of good music, which I'm not, you could accuse both Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban of being at least two things-- Formulaic and Melodramatic. And to that I say "Amen" and "Amen."

Things that are cliche' are cliche' for a reason, namely that there is an element of truth within cliche's. Things that are formulaic are formulaic for a reason. They work.

And melodramatic? Umm.....yeah, it's country music. Country music is melodramatic.

Both songs are the classic "Grab life by the tail and experience it to it's fullest" type message. Simple, true. If you want something, go after it. You never do things you don't try. Hallmark stuff like that.

In an hour I turn thirty. Not a huge deal, but big enough to merit reflection. Actually every birthday, and every day for that matter, is big enough to merit reflection. So, here I am. Almost 30.


When I was a junior in high school I was in this group called P.A.L.S. For a period a day I walked across the practice football field to the elementary school to visit with a kid who was being abused at home. My assignment was simply to talk to him. So I did, and learned for the first time that people want to talk to people. And my life is better for it. And that's who I am today... that guy who walked across the field to talk to a kid.

Three years ago I had an opportunity to tell a girl from the other side of the world, in person, what I felt about her. I didn't do it. I learned for the first time that there are moments you only have one of, and if you don't take those moments they will walk away and be told by another person what you wanted to say. I am lacking because of it. And that's who I am today... the guy who walked away from her.

When fall comes and the cool slices right through the Texas heat, like this morning, I sometimes drive down the road and when I hear a song worthy of being sung loud, I roll down the window and do the wave thing with my hand through the wind. Sometimes I feel that doing this is the highest pinnacle of freedom. And that's who I am today... the guy who does the windy wave thing.

Over the past year I've realized how predictable I probably am to most people. Political and social conversation turns to talk of the superiority of small towns. "There you go again, Craig." If I'm in a conversation and Avery, Sutton, or Jude walks in-- they get my attention. All the time. It's probably rude of me. But that's who I am today... Mr. Predictable. (Boring? Probably. You can be a lot worse things than boring.)

Today I gave a friend a big hug when sending him off to another city, even though the time lapse between the next time we see each other will be no more than what is normal. I'll never regret that hug we shared. Numerous are the times when I've wanted to show emotion to friends, but for whatever reason held back. I regret all of those times. And that's who I am today... One who has many regrettable and unregrettable moments.

I'm all of these things, and much more.

Reflecting many things.

In the time it's taken me to write this post, I've passed from 29 to 30. And the only things I can share with you from my three decades of living are found in two very formulaic and melodramatic country songs--

"You treat life like a picture
But it's not a moment thats frozen in time
It's not gonna wait Til you make up your mind, at all
So while this storm is breaking
While there's light at the end of the tunnel
Keep running towards it
Releasing the pressure, that's my heartache
Soon this dam will break
And it feels like today I know, it feels like today,
I'm sure It's the one thing that's missin'
The one thing you're wishin'
Life's sacred blessin' and then,
It feels like today"


"We think about tomorrow then it slips away.
Oh, yes, it does.
We talk about forever but we've only got today...
And the days go by...
I can feel 'em flyin'Like a hand out the window as the cars go by...
Yeah it's all we've been given,
So you better start livin',
You better start livin',
Better start livin' right now!"

That kid who died a couple of months ago who had MD, Mattie Stepanek, always wanted to be called "Poet, Peacemaker, and Philosopher who Played."
So, please, in honor of my birthday and in lieu of gifts--- Play.

Unless, of course, you don't want to play. In that case, gifts will be fine as well.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Ha, Ha, God, REAL Funny....

So I woke up this morning, the first day of the week I turn 30, and what do my wondering eyes find? God, in his providential, pure, unrelenting and unquestionable-less-you- face- the-pits-of-hell, Calvinistic Sovereignty, placed two pimples on my face, both equidistant and on opposing sides of my nose. Almost 30 and afflicted with the problems of adolescence.

I suppose I deserve it. Cooking over flames and smoke yesterday for friends, sweating, and my face being manhandled by the dirty, sticky, altogether holy, hands of two year olds will provide ample bacteria, I suppose. But the trade off is well worth it. I'll take a bout of adult acne any day if it means I can spend time with friends and have Avery, my four year old buddy, look at me and say "Craig, you're so silly."

And you know what, I guess I am. Silly enough to believe that God is good and that saying that no longer has to mean what it used to mean. Silly enough to pretend I was in a music video tonight as I was running with music blaring in my headphones. Silly enough to love a ragtag group of people who are on our way, have lost our way, are finding our way, and holding each other's hands in the process.

Spreading bacteria that produces zits, but finding our way nonetheless.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Creating Space...

I really have nothing to say. But for the past couple of days I've been tired of logging onto my blog and seeing a post about abortion and knowing that behind the comments button are conversations that, while appearing civil, are so deep and personal that one can't help but think of "war" when one reads them.

So this is my attempt at a nice post.

That's another one of my things. I like to stir up emotional discussions, then retreat into "nice Craig" mode to appear "above the fray." It's worthy of being called a fault. So I'm calling myself on it, so as to appear self aware.

Alright, you want bullets? You get bullets....

-- Tons of hamburgers leftover from having my Sunday School class over for lunch. Come over this week if you get hungry. Luke, should I save one for you?
-- Something about fall makes me a reading fool. Summertime brings a decreased interest in it. I guess that when you spend the first 25 years of your life in school (my mom took me to playschool quickly after birth) the pattern becomes ingrained-- fall is for study.
-- Still reading Marsden's biography of Jonathan Edwards. Probably will be for a while, since my pace is only around 20 pages a day.
-- Man have I been eating this weekend. Time to get back on the healthy train tomorrow.
-- This evening I went out for a walk and felt like I was walking with my grandmother in Carthage again because it was humid and the sun had set but there was still some light and the crickets were making that continous sound.
-- That made me thing of one of her (my grandmother's) things: She had a microwave but never once used it. It's purpose? A storage unit for bread.
-- Much more to say, but..... getting....sleepy.
-- I love all of you. Well, most of you. Those that read that are my friends, I love y'all. If you are a random reader, it's not that I don't love you. It's just that, well, you know. I'd like to know you a little before I love you a little.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

More Abourtion Musings...

I keep trying to leave for work, but I keep getting riled up about this.

Just a couple of quick things--

-- Between the 50's-80's, if the anti-abortion activists would have relented and allowed concessions for legalized abortions in the cases of rape and incest, it's highly likely the abortion industry would be much more regulated right now, and fewer abortions would occur. But that's not good enough for the religious right. It's either no abortion or rambant abortion.

-- Question: (And this is something I've really wrestled and considered.) Although legislatively this will never happen, I wonder how fundamentalist Christians would react to such a scenario. The pro-choice lobby says "Ok, we're going to give in. Outlaw abortion. But in return, we want a federal ammendment outlawing the death penalty. Deal?" Aaron, would you go for that? I would in a heartbeat.
Abortion and the RNC...

Aaron has solicited my opinion on this issue, so here I go.

A few of his comments-- "But I am disappointed. Last night I did not hear one word about abortion. Of course, I didn't expect anything from Schwarzenegger, since he is pro-choice. I'm pretty sure Laura Bush is pro-life, but I really didn't expect her to touch the issue either, which she didn't. That troubles me because I consider the abortion debate to be THE major political issue of our day, but neither of the two major parties share my concern......... So, is it better to really be who you are and risk losing, or is it better to hide some aspects of who you are in order to get elected, so that when you are in office you can then really be who you are? Craig, you are a Republican with a better understanding of politics than me; what's your take on that one?"

I answer with an analogy.

At least once a week I experience a hurricane. Not different hurricanes with different names but the same hurricane. It's name is Hurricane Avery. Hurricane Avery is a four year old that I babysit, along with her two year old twin brothers. Hurricane Avery used to eat my lunch and take everything out of me. But four years have taught me a thing or two about four year olds.

My secret? When I begin the evening, Avery and I have a talk about what the evening is going to look like. "Hey Avery! We're going to have fun tonight aren't we? First, I'm going to play with you and the boys. Maybe we'll read a book. Then I'm going to get your dinner ready. After we eat, maybe we'll go outside and play before we take a bath. After you and the boys take a bath, we'll watch a movie or the Wiggles. For a second I'm going to leave you alone in the living room while I get the boys ready for bed. When they are done, I'm going to get you and you'll brush your teeth, potty, then get in bed. I'll read a story then turn the lights off. I know you like to have to door open a little, so I'll leave it open. And you know what? If your good and don't cry when I leave the room, I'll leave a quarter for you!."

Why is that important? Because kids go crazy when the unexpected happens. That whole routine is meant for one thing-- to ensure Avery goes to bed without throwing a fit, because she knows what to expect. Avery needs to know that I'm on her side and am working to make this evening a fun, but peaceful one.

When Avery is 10, I shouldn't have to go through all of that.

By showcasing Guiliani, Laura Bush, McCain, and Schwartzengagger, the RNC leadership is essentially saying to the Religious Right "Look people, you're not 4 anymore, so stop acting like you are. We shouldn't have to hold your hands at every turn and reassure you that we are pro-life. We are on your side. You know where the president stands on abortion. You know he's signed the ban on parial birt abortion. You know he will appoint Supreme Court judges who are against abortion. And the American people know that as well. You may never again have a nominee from any party who is 'one of you' more than this president. But you are not the only people in this party and you are not the only people in this country. So, armed with the knowledge that he is 'one of you,' please shut the hell up about 'being disappointed,' make sure your people show up to vote, and let us try to not be as angry as you and talk about other things that other people are more concerned with. That's not 'hiding aspects of ourself,' that's being shrewd."

And, luckily, the religious right has, albeit reluctantly, begun to see the logic in this thinking and are supporting the president?

What is the alternative? Well, the alternative happened in 1992 and 1996. Falwell, Robertson, Dobson and the rest of the Religious Right backed people like Pat Buchanan and Alan Keyes in the primaries because they talked a lot about abortion. When these guys didn't get the nomination, they ended up reluctantly endorsing Bush ('92) and Dole ('96), both pro-life, anti-abortion, but really didn't do anything to rally their people, because Bush and Dole didn't preach the fiery rhetoric of Southern Christians. The result? Eight years of Bill Clinton. Falwell can bitch all he wants about Clinton, but the truth is, the Religious Right got the president they deserved because they acted in politics like they act in the public square-- defiant, uncompromising, like dicks.

Well, I've got to go before I get too riled up.