Saturday, May 15, 2010

welcome to the world, baby girl

This is Josie.  She's about 30 hours old (though she was only abut 26 hours when this photo was taken).  In her brief little life so far, she has been showered with more love than lots of people ever get to know.  She is a blessed little girl, but she's a blessing too.

Josie is the brand-new daughter of cousin, scholar, theologian, and #1 blog fan and his sweet, long-suffering wife.  She's the little sister of the tiny Goliath.  She's also the granddaughter, niece, and cousin of some of my favorite people in the world.  She's going to be one of those favorite people too.  I thought she had potential last night when I met her through some nursery window glass when she was less than ten minutes old.  Tonight I went to get to know her better, taking tempting desserts to occupy everyone else in the room so I could be a baby-hog.  And I decided that she's going to like me, just as much as I like her.  And honestly?  Even if she doesn't, she's stuck with me.

Already I know that she's beautiful and wiggly and a pretty decent sleeper, but I don't know much about her personality yet.  She's just too fresh.  But I know where she comes from, so I think I have a pretty decent handle on what she could be and what she will do in her life.  So let me tell you, imaginary readers, about Josie.

Josie is going to grow up learning experientially about love.  She's going to feel love in the meeting of her physical needs.  Love is the reason that she'll sleep in a bed each night with a roof over her head and have food to eat.  Love will provide her with clothing--lots of precious, girly clothing.  Love will protect her from injury and illness and care for her when those things find her anyway.  Josie will always know that love means taking care of each other.  And as she grows up learning that, she will become a person who takes care of others.

Josie will know she is loved because of the attention that is lavished upon her.  She will be held and cuddled and hugged and kissed and patted.  She will be played with and read to and sung to by so many people.  When she walks and speaks and dances and feeds herself and learns to read, those milestones will be positively reinforced by the cheering crowd around her.  She'll always have people who talk to her and listen to her and encourage her to grow and develop.  She will be secure in her own value as a person because she has been valued.  Josie will always know that love means taking the time to encourage.  And as she grows up learning that, she will become a person who encourages.

Josie is going to learn that love is sometimes hard.  She will be taught difficult lessons and feel discipline.  She will chafe under all that attention sometimes.  She will feel disappointed when those modeling love for her don't model perfectly.  She will learn that liking and loving are occasionally farther apart than they should be.  But Josie will always know that despite trials love never fails.  And as she grows up learning that, she will become a person who loves unconditionally.

Josie will experience love as joy.  She will live surrounded by laughter.  She will be the delight of many and delight herself with those same people.  She will learn that loving someone doesn't mean you can't poke fun at them.  She'll experience teasing as an expression of love, and she'll grow into giving as good as she gets.  Josie will always know that love doesn't take itself too seriously.  And as she grows up learning that, she will become a person who loves in laughter.

These are traits that I know love will grow in Josie's life, and I pray for those of us who are surrounding her and loving her and teaching her through our actions and words and examples especially her sweet moma and wise daddy and funny brother.  The job of family is to show her what God's love looks like up close.  May He bless the lesson and this tiny, precious life entrusted to our family.

Welcome, Josie.

Friday, May 14, 2010

an open letter to my #1 fan

Dear cousin, scholar, theologian, and #1 blog fan,

I know you need a blog today, a blog especially for you.  I know you must be just sitting around bored and sad that I haven't posted much lately.  I know when you don't get to ingest enough of my words, it breaks your heart.  And I know you don't have any other distractions in your life right now.  Nothing new going on, nothing to talk about, nothing tiny and cute and pink that needs to be held and loved and diapered regularly.  I'm sorry that you have so little in your own life that you rely so heavily on reading words that I have written to supply you with basic happiness.  I'll try to be better at soothing your soul through blog.

So I thought today, since there's nothing special going on with you, I should provide you with a few ideas to occupy your time:

1.  You should read a book.  I know that my regular composition of high-quality reading material has supplanted your need for print publications, but don't forget that other people write interesting words too, and some of them are even published in bound book form for easy transport and availability.  May I suggest the work of FHDM (FCILDM, in your case)?  Though I haven't read it yet because the internet does fulfill all my written word needs these days, I'll recommend A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  I watched a video series he did that related to the idea for this book, and it was pretty great, I thought.  I would even consider loaning you the book, if you wanted, though my future financial security would be better served if I made you buy your own copy. (and if you followed that link and ordered it from amazon, my more immediate financial security would also be served).  Of course, if you're more interested in reading material that is at hand, you could read Josie's Happy Birthday to You.

2.  You should familiarize yourself with Joss Whedon's entire body of work.  Of course, you need to start with Buffy, but once you get to season 4, you'll need to start Angel, and follow a complicated progression of crossover episodes for four seasons.  Don't worry, though--Shane can map it out for you.  You'll love Buffy, but Angel is where you'll really begin to appreciate the genius.  And, of course, Firefly will complete your life, though you'll physically ache that there are only 13 episodes.  But there's always Serenity to fill up a bit of that hole in your soul.  And actually I said his entire body of work, but you don't have to watch Dollhouse because I didn't.  I hear it's not as funny, so why bother.  But Dr. Horrible is a must.  And then when you've done all that background work, you'll be ready to watch the Whedon-directed season finale of Glee.  You're welcome.

3.  You should compile a list, in ranking order, of the ten things you'd most like to see me blog.  This will satiate your constant need to evaluate and quantify everything in your life and also provide fodder to keep this blog going so that our codependent relationship will thrive.  Win-win, buddy.  Also, I'll just be honest here and say that fresh ideas have been a little sparse on the ground lately.  It should probably go without saying after that ridiculous hair post, but never let it be said that I pass up an opportunity to use two or three sentences to describe my life when none would speak just as eloquently.  So that top ten list could save us all.  Do it for the imaginary readers.

4.  You should eat chocolate-covered pretzels.  Seriously, this could solve all your problems in one bite (or however many bites it takes to get to the bottom of the bag).  I was having a pretty rough morning until I realized that the bag of Flipz (that I bought myself at Wal-Mart almost two weeks ago and had been saving for my most desperate hour) was indeed in my work bag.  There was much rejoicing.  And then I ate them, and now I'm practically perfect in every way.  I don't even really like pretzels, but something about this particular salty-sweet combo is a balm to my soul and taste buds.  And I firmly believe they have the power to change lives for others as well.

5.  If all else fails, you could throw my stupid ideas out the window and take care of your sweet, pretty wife and get to know your brand-new, gorgeous baby daughter, and maybe even hang out with your hilarious, beautiful son when your family of four meets up for the first time later.  You could tell baby Josie all about me so that when we meet up tonight, she'll be prepared for how much she's going to love me.  You could read her this blog and explain about how loud and hilarious and needy and hair-obsessed I am so that she'll recognize me tonight.  And maybe pat her extra so that she won't be surprised at my firm baby-patting hand.  I've got big plans for us to be friends, so I'll appreciate it if you'd put in a good word for me before I get there.  And if that doesn't seem to work, tell her I'm bringing food.

See you soon, #1 fan.  I hope these words tide you over until I see you later.

Your favorite cousin,


Monday, May 10, 2010

a story about my hair

When I was in college, I ate in the cafeteria.  Harding required students living in dorms to buy a fairly hefty meal plan, and though I rarely used all of them from week to week, I did eat at least two meals a day in the caf usually.  Dinner was usually the same crowd, a premeditated grouping of folks who planned to show up at the same time and eat together, typically my closest friends, but lunch was different.  Because of different class schedules, the lunch table crowd consisted of a few friends and friends of friends and mild acquaintances who happened to not have a class in the middle of the day at the same time as me.  Typically that worked out fine for me, and some of the best cafeteria stories sprung out of someone trying to entertain the lunch crowd.  (Lyle's dad's a nerd, anyone?)

One semester in particular, I managed to eat lunch most days with cousin, scholar, theologian, and #1 blog fan, though at that time, he was not a blog fan and less of a theologian.  That same semester his friend Jeff ate with us most days.  Jeff lived off-campus, but I guess he carried a small meal plan so he could have lunch on campus.  Jeff and I had known of each other since he and Mac were kids, but we weren't friends ourselves until that semester.  Perhaps friends is too strong a term, but we ate lunch together and conversed and generally made each other laugh and didn't hate each other.  So . . . friends. 

One day I happened to tell a story about my hair's uncooperativeness to a table of all guys.  I won't lie and say it was one of my best stories.  It was far from captivating, I'm sure, but as I have an obsession with my hair, it mattered to me a great deal.  Now if there had been any other girls at the table when I told the story, I think it would have landed an audience.  Show me any six college-age girls, and I'll show you four who have at least a mild obsession with their own hair.  But to say the story fell flat, is an extreme understatement, but Jeff bought in.  He displayed an interest that was completely disproportionate to the importance of the story, and for the rest of the semester, he would start conversations about my hair, and ask for more stories.  It was hilarious, but Jeff typically is.

I share that story because it makes me laugh, because my hair obsession is still alive and well and boring people, and because several days in the past week, when I've been trying to think of blogging topics while I'm in the shower (because I do my best thinking in the shower), all I can think of to say is about my hair.  And talking about my hair, even in appropriate situations with people who are sincerely interested, always makes me think of Jeff and that semester of lunch-time hair stories.

Jeff is often encouraged to read my blog by CST1BF, but something tells me he doesn't.  (Probably because he fears having to read drivel about my hair, which I've managed to avoid until today.)  But Jeff, if you're out there, I wanted you to know what a lasting legacy your feigned interest in my hair has had on my life.  I thank you, but I'm sure the imaginary readers, who've just endured five paragraphs of aching boredom, do not.

Friday, May 7, 2010


In honor of Mother's Day:

My moma's love is 
huge, but she would love me more
if I had babies.

The problem I often find with haikus is that writing one is never enough.  So here's a series of haiku especially for my moma:

Though I love you much,
I do a mean impression--
the day you pinched me.

You think I'm funny
But you judge me too--when I'm
"not even trying."

I've been poking fun
which isn't too respectful.
You can take it, right?

I bought you a gift
that will make up for meanness.
Happy Mother's Day.

Best moma ever.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

project 4:4: the guest lecture series

Our post today comes from my cousin, scholar, theologian, and #1 blog fan.  He's also a frequent commenter around these parts and the daddy of that precious, tiny Goliath I left you with last post.  One day a few months ago after he had finished teaching Saul in his Old Testament survey course but before I would have gotten there even if I were on schedule, CST1BF and I had a discussion about Saul's story and some of the new insights he'd gotten from his prepping it for class.  I invited him at that time to share his thoughts with my faithful followers here.  And that's what's going on today.  So here you go, imaginary readers:

I read recently that the story of Saul in I Samuel may be the oldest piece of literature about a mental collapse in the history of the world.  If so, I want to contend that the world has yet to top it. Saul is an absolutely fascinating character whose entire life is characterized by brash and foolhardy attempts to cover up his insecurity and weakness.  This is not to say that Saul does not have glorious moments.  He does.  He is filled with God’s Spirit and prophesies with the prophets.  He is empowered by the Spirit and defeats his enemies like the judges.  However, like Samson and Barak before him, he is defined by his weaknesses rather than his strengths.  Weaknesses (in character) in Scripture is generally associated with sin, and Saul’s great sin is presumption.  That flaw will play a pivotal role in both his rise and fall. 

The story of Saul begins with a hunt for lost donkeys.  The writer of I Samuel brings together a handsome young Benjaminite and the last judge of Israel.  Samuel anoints Saul as king (and tells him where the donkeys are), and the Spirit comes upon Saul.  However, at his coronation, Saul is found hiding behind the luggage instead of taking his rightful place as king.  The three kings of united Israel all have a rise and fall, but Saul’s is the only rise that is tainted by weakness from the beginning.  Still it is a rise to power, and he does get a few things right.  Like most ancient rulers, he gains his real power on the battlefield.  When the city of Jabesh-Gilead is besieged, Saul’s anger is kindled, and he raises an army of Israelites to save the city.  His means of raising the army are somewhat suspicious though.  He chops up an ox and says that the oxen of anyone who refuses to fight with him will also be chopped up.  Threats and rash proclamations are going to be part of the story for a while, so you should get used to this kind of thing from Saul.  After his defeat of the Ammonites, Saul’s political opponents back off and he shows mercy to them.  This is the high point of his career, and it doesn’t last very long. 

Chapter 13 opens with a descriptions of Saul’s age and the length of his reign.  Unfortunately we don’t know what the numbers are there.  I like the honesty the ESV translators showed here when they rendered it as, “Saul was . . . years old when he began to reign, and he reigned . . . and two years over Israel.”  Then we get a description of Saul’s battles with the Philistines.  Jonathan is introduced here as well, and that’s good because after a host of good guys with bad sons (faithful readers will remember that our host here at the opinions commented on this last time) it’s about time we had a bad dad with a good boy.  Anyway, the Philistines have a fairly massive army, and so Saul’s forces are deserting him and returning to their homes.  (This was a big problem in ancient warfare.  Large standing armies of professional soldiers were a rarity in the ancient world.  Most soldiers were farmers or tradesmen called on to leave their homes for a particular battle or series of battles and who were anxious to return to their crops and families.  Saul is no fool and he sees what’s about to happen.  He needs to start the battle ASAP, but he knows that he can’t do that without making sure that God is there to help him.  Sacrifices before battles were typical practice in the ancient world, and Israel is no exception.  The problem is that Samuel has not arrived yet.  Now if Saul were a good student of history and a faithful man, he might remember the story of Gideon and how God had purposely limited Gideon’s forces in order that He might have the glory.  He might see the desertion of the faint-hearted as a way for God’s victory to be even more glorious.  Instead, he decides that he can’t wait for Samuel any longer and presumptuously offers the sacrifice himself.  Just as he’s finishing, up strolls Samuel.  Saul goes out to greet him.  It’s possible to read this greeting scene in such a way that Saul is genuinely surprised that Samuel is upset about the sacrifice, but I don’t think that’s probably right.  I figure it’s more like when I would feign excitement about my parents coming home as the first step in deceiving them about something bad that I had done while they were away.  When Samuel criticizes him, Saul begins making excuses (another typical pattern of behavior in the story), but Samuel doesn’t listen.  He simply tells Saul that God is going to remove the kingdom from him and give it to another man, a man whose heart is like God’s heart and who will be fit to rule.  Still Saul doesn’t repent and show true contrition. 

Ellen will hopefully cover the story of Jonathan’s defeat of the Philistines, but I wanted to point out how Saul’s rash vow about nobody eating anything until the battle was over fits into our pattern.  Like the cut-up ox from the first battle, Saul’s vow is a threat to those who refuse to fight with him.  However, his forced fasting weakens his army so that they are not able to gain as great a victory as he intended.  Rather than take responsibility for this, Saul accuses the army of breaking the vow and plans to kill the guilty party.  When it turns out that Jonathan, the hero of the day, ate some honey without even being aware of his father’s stupid order, Saul orders his death.  Of course, the army will not hear of this since Jonathan has just brought them a great victory.  Saul caves to the will of the people (weakness again, but blessed weakness in this case), and Jonathan is spared. 

The second great act of presumption comes when Saul doesn’t kill all of the Amalekites.  Samuel gets really steamed at him in this scene and you get that great line about how obedience is better than sacrifice.  You also get to see Samuel finally do what judges do best, namely, horrific acts of violence, when he hacks Agag up into little pieces.  The conversation between Saul and Samuel in this scene is the perfect insight into Saul’s character.  First, he acts presumptuously based on earthly motives.  He doesn’t kill the best of the livestock or destroy the valuables because he wants to enrich himself and his people. He doesn’t kill King Agag either.  Probably this was a sort of self-preservationist policy.  Kings have always been sort of reluctant about killing other kings.  It puts ideas in peoples’ minds and undermines the whole concept of a divinely-appointed monarch.  Thus when Samuel gives Agag the ole’ choppy chop he is not only passing judgment on God’s enemies, but he is saying something about the whole concept of the monarchy as well.  Second, when confronted by Samuel Saul makes excuses and attempts to avoid responsibility.  Notice his line of excuses from the text:

·      The people did it, not me, and we were going to use it all for sacrifice
·      Okay, I did it, but the people made me. 
·      Attempt to control the situation by force (grabs Samuel’s coat)
·      Okay I sinned so I’m rejected, but don’t let me be humiliated before the people. 

Saul is entirely self-serving in this scene.  Samuel and God are seen as useful political allies, but little else.  Samuel sees through all of the talk about sacrifice and worship and rejects Saul.  This is going to be a nice point of comparison with David when we get to the whole Bathsheba thing.  The author is purposely showing us that David was everything that Saul was not.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Back to the story.
So David’s rise begins here, and you all read about Goliath and all of that already, so I’ll skip and focus on what’s happening with Saul.  He’s jealous and threatened by this new rival, and so he pulls a Don Corleone move and tries to keep his enemies closer than his friends.  Fairly quickly in the story, Saul recognizes that David is the one who is going to take his throne, and he behaves exactly as we would expect him to at this point.  David becomes the new Samuel figure in the story.  He is the one who confronts Saul when he sins, and Saul tries to manipulate, exploit, and eventually kill him.  Of course this is all for naught since God is on David’s side, but Saul has never much cared about God’s will anyway, so he just keeps trying. 

So Saul is sort of at war with David from here on, and there’s a big act of presumption in this period that I want to make note of.  Samuel is dead at this point (I know, it’s really sad.), but Saul continues to try to control both God and the prophet.  He goes to see the witch of Endor (not the forest moon filled with Ewoks mind you), and he asks her to call up Samuel’s ghost.  Now that’s a big “no. no.” and Saul knows it.  After all, he had passed a law saying that anybody who practiced necromancy would be killed.  Nevertheless, he gets this woman to do it for him and then stays at her house and eats her food.  Thus he defiles himself with one of the most heinous sins in Israel.  Necromancy is so bad because it puts human beings in a position of power over the dead, and that’s something that Scripture really thinks belongs in the hand of God.  Whether you believe in sorcery or witchcraft or not, in the story it’s another example of Saul replacing God’s will with his own will. 

Now David has made sort of a huge thing about not killing Saul because Saul is God’s anointed.  This may be political maneuvering on David’s part similar to what I said about Saul and Agag earlier.  Regardless though, David has made an ethical and theological claim about killing the king.  He’s agin’ it.  Not because he loves Saul, though he does.  Not because he loves Jonathan, though he does.  It’s because he loves and respects God.  David knows that to kill God’s anointed king is an act of presumptuous rebellion, and so he refuses to do it, even when he has the chance.  When Saul’s forces are defeated at Mount Gilboa, and the king is injured with an arrow, even Saul’s armor-bearer knows better than to lay a hand on him.  (There are some interesting things we could say about euthanasia here, but I won’t indulge myself since this is already so long.)  So who do we have left that is presumptuous enough to raise his hand against God’s anointed?  You guessed it folks, Saul himself.  Even his suicide is an act of presumptuous rebellion against God. 

I guess the take away from all of this is that we shouldn’t seek to impose our will in the place of God’s will.  That’s the sin from the garden, it’s the sin of Cain, and it’s certainly the sin of Saul.  Instead we ought to look to see what someone with God’s heart does.  For that, imaginary readers, you’ll have to wait to see what Ellen has to say about David.  

If a guest blogger is going to lay that kind of pressure on me, perhaps I should think twice before inviting CST1BF (or anyone else) to do a post.  Just when I stumbled upon the perfect lazy girl's solution to having a blog without actually blogging, I get that sort of challenge.  I'm almost finished with another week of David, so I'll see what I can manage for your edification, friends.

In the meantime, thanks to Mac for a great post on Saul.  Though you said in a comment last post that David is the deepest character from the OT (and I agree), I've really enjoyed the time spent with Saul's character during this reading.  So many lessons to learn.

And if you too would like to become a guest blogger here at the opinions, send two character references and a 250 word writing sample my way.  If you're not up to my usual standard of excellence, I may still let you in with a small bribe.  I'm still trying to find the perfect way to make this blog pay me.  This could be it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

project 4:4: the prodigal weeks, week 13

Saturday night at our house, we had reading time.  Jess was about a week or so behind on her Daily Bible reading, and I, as is widely known at this point, am several weeks behind.  But during reading time, I was able to complete another week's worth of reading.  (And if you were worried, Jess got caught up too.)

We left off last post right before God gives in and gives the Hebrews that king they've been wanting.  This week we learn that Samuel's sons follow the wicked son pattern I mentioned in the past 4:4 post, not living up to the reputation of their father.  But it wasn't just that Samuel's sons were dishonest judges.  The Jews have been wanting to have a king like their neighbors for quite a while now.  It just happens that this is the moment when God is going to give in to them.  But the thing He says to Samuel about it is so telling and sort of heart-breaking.
And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 
If ever I am tempted to believe that God's ways are so much higher than our ways that He's not affected by the choices we make, verses like this remind me that God desires relationship.  He wants to be exclusive, and when we want to play the field or keep our options open or see other people, it matters to him.  He's the Creator of the universe, and our rejection hurts Him.  He gives us that power to hurt Him because His love is too big for it to be any different.  And sometimes that's scary for me to consider, but it's also comforting to know the depth of His love.  It's a love that inspires me, at least it does when I'm not completely overcome by my own selfishness.  And thankfully, it's a love that makes me want to overcome my selfishness.

*****Surprised blogger's note:  Often I have no idea where these project 4:4 ramblings will lead, and such is the case at the moment.  When I read I Samuel 8:7 a few nights ago, it did not jump out at me in a special way.  I've read the verse many times before, and sometimes that lessens the power for me.  But when I got to the end of the week's reading and went back to start this post, I started with Saul.  Thinking about his kingship led me back to why Israel got a king at all, and when I reread that passage tonight, it led to way more than Saul and kings and such.  It's moments like this that make this blogging project worthwhile for me, and I appreciate you, imaginary reader, for humoring me by taking the journey alongside me.*****

Saul enters the scene in I Samuel chapter eight as a humble, obedient man, a man who follows our reluctant leader pattern by pointing out his own insignificance and the insignificance of his family and tribe.  And even after he's anointed by Samuel and witnesses the kingship-affirming signs that come true, he's still hiding among the baggage on the day when all Israel gathers to choose the king.  It seems like a good start, like God has chosen a man who is head and shoulders above his fellow Israelites in more than just height.

But Saul's just a man, and to expect perfection from him is to miss the point of God's warnings about kings.  Even if Saul had avoided some of the pitfalls of power that we'll see him fall into, he'd still be imperfect.  As it is, he starts off well, coming to the aid of his people when they are threatened, rallying the people to fight together against their enemies, and showing compassion those who initially rejected him as king.  Good on ya, Saul.  It makes us see why God chose you.  But the danger of success with kings or pseudo-librarians or bloggers or internet contest winners is that we can sometimes claim our victories for ourselves rather than acknowledging the source of our strength, intelligence, and blessings.  And Saul begins fairly early in his career to suppose that his judgment is just as good as God's command.

As a result of Saul's presumption [Free-associating blogger's note:  If things go as planned, my imaginary readers will soon be enjoying the first post by a guest blogger.  Cousin, scholar, theologian and #1 blog fan will be bringing us some thoughts on Saul in the near future.  I thought of that because I learned to use the word presumption in relation to Saul from the guest blogger himself.], God chooses not to let Saul's line continue as Israel's king.  So Samuel is called into action to anoint a new leader, and this time God makes it clear that he's going to be looking at more than just height in one of the most comforting and most terrifying verses of the OT:
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
On the one hand it affirms all that "it's what's on the inside that counts" rhetoric that our moms and elementary school guidance counselors thrust upon us, but it also comes with the certainty that God truly can see our innermost thoughts and attitudes, which is a scary prospect in my head.  But God chooses David for his heart, and that's something that's generally going to work out well for them both.  It'll be pretty decent for us too, actually.

I discovered upon this reading that I had a bit of I Samuel chronology mixed up in my head.  For some reason I didn't have David playing the harp to soothe Saul's evil spirit until after the Goliath thing . . . which actually makes a better story.  In my version, David's a complete unknown when he takes on the giant pickle and then thanks to his fame as the Goliath-slayer, he gets that gig as Saul's harpist.  But I had it backwards, and it really doesn't matter because David has a great story either way.  The whole killing a oversized Philistine bully with a rock thing is one of the more iconic stories in all of scripture.  Chuck even showed a clip of the Richard Gere King David movie when we covered this week of reading back on Easter Sunday.  But I'd like to share with you my favorite representation of the David/Goliath battle:

What more can I say about that?

The week of reading goes past Goliath, but it's all tied up in Saul, and I've got another week of David reading next week, so I think I'm going to hold off and finish out David all at once.

But before I go, I do have one more thing I want to mention in this transition-less ramble:

Samuel gives his farewell address in chapter 12, though he won't be gathered to his people until the next day that I read.  And you know how I like a good farewell address.  In Samuel's I think we see a bit of his hurt feelings that the people asked for a king while he was still acting as their judge.  God told him that it wasn't about him, but there's something in Samuel's words here that makes it seem as though he took that personally--and it would be hard not to, I'd say.  But he stands before Israel and asks them to call him out if he's done wrong, and no one steps forward to accuse him.  Samuel has been a faithful servant of God and His people since his mother dedicated him as a pup.  And he makes Israel swear that it's so.  And then he reminds the forgetful Hebrews who their God is and what He's done for them.  For one second, they finally see how they've rejected God by asking for a king, and Samuel lays the pressure on them to do right.  And that lasts for about a second too.  But it's a great speech, nonetheless.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

the big wiener

I mentioned in my nametag post that Shane had the highest streak for the month at that time on ESPN's Streak for the Cash.  He had a streak of 25 that ended on the 18th or 19th or so, and he's been waiting for the month to end to see if anyone else could beat that number.  As of Thursday evening there was a guy with an active streak of 23 wins.  He had to win 3 games on Friday to beat Shane, but with the number of match-ups available for picking each day, that wasn't beyond the realm of possibility.  The other guy made a pick on the front nine of a golf match that was played Friday morning.  I was at home working on the pain in my neck with a heating pad before heading in to work an hour late, so I periodically checked the progress of the match.  After the first few holes, it really looked like it was going to go our way, but then it got much closer, and I'm fairly certain the tension wasn't good for my neck.  Right about the time I was going to have to go in to work with the whole thing unresolved, they finished the ninth hole, and my brother unofficially won $100,000.  With the 23 win streaker stopped at 23, there was no one else with an active streak high enough to get to 26 by midnight, so we were safe.  And I use the term "we" very loosely.  So Shane's got a phone interview with someone from ESPN sometimes next week, and I really hope they're going to give him a big cardboard check because I love big cardboard checks.

The idea of him winning the money has been a possibility in our lives since he hit about 20 or 21 wins around the 11th or so, but it's still very surreal.  There was still so much month left for something else to happen, and (I think he'll forgive me for saying this) Shane's just not a lucky guy.  He's deserving and one of the few genuinely good people that I know, and I couldn't be more pleased that he's had this stroke of luck.  But it's surprising, nonetheless.  I'll keep you posted here on how much he actually gets and what he blows it on . . . though knowing Shane, he'll probably spend it wisely.  But I hope not too wisely.

$100,000 is not the game changer that the hundreds of millions that the Popster is going to win in the lottery some day, but if you, imaginary reader, suddenly found yourself the recipient of such a windfall, what would you do?