Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Greatness of College Football

Day one of the football season (no, Thursday kickoffs do not count unless OU is the headliner) officially kicked off today, and it was great! Despite having a severe headache and not being able to sit in front of the television from 11-11 like I had hoped, today was so good. My son got to enjoy it for the first time, OU was up 50-0 at the half, Clemson and the ACC got shellacked, the Big XII looked sharp – except for the usual suspects (A&M and Baylor specifically), and we even had a few upsets. More important than any one team, college football is back. From now until the early part of January, we sports-fans get to enjoy the best week-in week-out entertainment amateur sport has to offer… college football is so great!

(The picture is a tribute to the OU season tickets I had last year)

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain's VP...

Speculation has been rising on the day that McCain is to announce his choice for Vice President. Allegedly, he is not going to chose Romney, Ridge, Lieberman or Pawlenty. Out of nowhere comes Sarah Palin, and I think I love it!
Here is what she looks like and some facts about her:

1) A energetic, young, fresh face who will energize the electorate
2) Not connected to the current administration
3) Pro-Life
4) Pro-Gun
5) A woman or minority to counter Hillary or Obama and put to rest the idea that America only elects white males
6) Opposes same-sex marriage
7) Not a senator: She is the Governor of Alaska

From what I've read, she certainly is an "energetic, young, fresh face who [would] energize the electorate." One blogger stated, “I think she could even give Obama's charisma a run for it's money.”

She also has a reputation for shaking up the political status quo, knocking off incumbents and chasing down corruption (even when it was Republicans committing the corrupt acts.) That fits in really well with '08 being billed as "change election" and Americans being tired of the "political establishment."

She also passes the "extremely like-able" test with an 84% approval rating. And, I can't see anyone being able to effectively run attack ads against her. She would just come off as being too sympathetic. Not because they'd be attacking a woman; more like if someone were to run attack ads against Ned Flanders.

I think Palin would be a wise choice for Republican '08 Vice President, and I am hopeful that the reports are true and that she will infact get the nod over Romney, Ridge, or Lieberman!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Busyness Does Not Equal Success

To me, it sure does seem as though far too many people are far too busy. When I read through my friends’ status updates on Facebook, it seems as though there is a competition for who can be the busiest. From housewives to ministers, there are constant notations on how there is so much to do that they often do not know where to start.

Zig Ziglar used to say that busyness does not equal success. He stated this because people have a tendency to equate doing stuff with significance and feeling successful. For me, busyness takes away from the ability to participate in significant activities. I would much rather spend time with my family, than running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Life sure does seem more fun when there is time to relax as opposed to the sense of rushing from one place to another. Jesus even said that he has come to give us peace, and it seems as though we would prefer to take on chaos instead.

In Africa & Greece (and many other places), people will actually stop working in the middle of the day for 3-4 hours just to rest, a concept foreign to the us in the States. A mentor and friend of mine, Steve Smith, used to always talk about the ministers we worked with as constantly running and working far too hard. He said that ministry should be easier than that… something like if God is in it, we should be able to relax and watch him work.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that many people have lots of things to do, but doing lots of things should not be a way of life. We should be able to take time to enjoy life. We should be able to rest each day. We should be in control of our schedules instead of dominated by them.

I would keep on writing on this topic, but I have to finish our campaign curriculum, a looming staff meeting, prepare for counseling, work on our fall kickoff stuff… see, bragging about being busy is just plane ridiculous!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Is Kindness Rude?

During our travels to Greece via New York City, we had a few interesting incidents. The first happened in NYC. I was trying to purchase two postcard stamps to mail to my kids, when a foreigner in front of me did not have US currency. The lady at the register was being difficult, the man was frustrated, and I did not have time to wait. I offered to pay the 94 pennies to help him out, but the postal lady told me I could not make the purchase for him… after a minute of arguing that I could buy what I wanted, I gave the man the dollar and he bought the stamp himself, rather unbelievable.

The next frustrating attempt at kindness was in Greece. We went with our friend to a Gypsy Camp to basically play with the children there. It was good to color with the kids, read the story of Jonah and the whale, give out candy, & play volleyball, but there was a man and his mother-in-law who did not agree. They called the police on us and we actually got taken into the station for, “forcing our way into their homes.” Obviously, there is more to the story, but the basic is that we were serving the poorest of the poor in Greece, only to be rejected!

My final incident was in my layover in Newark. I was waiting on Robert and asked a couple of people if I could sit on one of two empty chairs. With a tone of being totally put out, they said “I guess…”. A few moments later, the wife/mom came back to the table and got on to her family for letting me pull one of the chairs away from the table to sit down, because she wanted to put her bag on it… I gave her the chair back, stood up, and moved.

Don’t misunderstand my expectations with all of this. I know that people outside of a relationship with Christ act differently than those of us who have been born again, but what about common courtesy. What about helping out a person in need or simply showing a bit of kindness to strangers? Are we so far gone as a people that being kind is actually rude? Is it just that different in Yankee land and foreign countries or did I happen to catch a few people on the wrong day?

Here is an interesting video from an aforementioned story:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Greek Food

Before we left for Greece, my assumption was that I would loose a bunch of weight during my trip to Greece. I thought it our entrées would consist of lamb and goat, with a nasty gyro (like the ones you see in the mall) thrown in once or twice. To my amazement, the food was not only good, it was great.

Greek salads, which consist of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olive oil, & feta cheese, were incredible. Our meals were mainly pork and chicken, with an occasional sandwich or high quality/good tasting gyro for lunch. Our hotel provided a complimentary breakfast, which consisted of eggs, sausage or bacon, cereal, bread, pastries, and coffee, orange & grapefruit juice.

One of my picture regrets was not taking a picture of the incredible ice cream we had… it was awesome! Overall, the food was simple, healthy (if olive oil is good for you), and very good. Here are some pictures:

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Athens Summary

Day 1- Robert picked me up at 5:50 to head to the airport. Arrived in Newark around noon, took the train to NYC and ate lunch in Times Square at Bubba Gump. Got back on a plane and stayed there the rest of the day.

Day 2 - Upon arrival at Athens' new airport at 12:30, transferred to our hotel. Went to Plaka (a lively area with lots of street vendors, shops and restaurants selling traditional Greek goods) to eat dinner with some team members who live in Greece. Got some sleep after being awake for 41 hours.

Day 3 - Headed out early to visit Mars Hill, the Acropolis with the Parthenon sitting high on the hill above the city. After that, we stopped by Syntagma Square (Constitution Square, parliament building as its focal point) and saw the changing of the guard (the guards were dressed in skirts and tap shoes – very intimidating). We visited a neighborhood, made some great contacts, then headed back to the hotel to enjoy a dip in the chilly pool before heading out to a Gypsy camp… then got arrested with my team, and spent 4 hours in jail before they let us go without pressing any charges.

Day 4 - Headed out early to visit another neighborhood in Greece. Got lost trying to take an unknown route out of the neighborhood, but was resuced by a British girl who knew the area. Had a really late lunch with our host, rode the tram to the beach of the Aegean sea. This evening enjoy dinner at a restaurant offering live traditional folk music and dancing.

Day 5 - Woke up and immediately headed to Mars Hill to reflect on our calling, pray, and collect some items. Went back to the hotel to eat breakfast and pack. Left at 9:00AM for the airport and arrived at home around 11:00PM.