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Well, it’s that time of the year again. Turkey Day! Everyone will eat more food and more leftovers than last year even if they promised that they will “never eat that much ever again”. Families will gather and depart.
Many people are now practicing the, “Send a Thanksgiving card to beat those who send Christmas cards.” Yeah, that’s a good idea. Instead of sending an insincere Christmas card, you can send an insincere Thanksgiving card. Not everyone sends an insincere holiday card. But many have a “list,” and they send a card to everyone on it no matter what.
What Thanksgiving is really all about is giving thanks; or maybe better put, saying thanks.
How do you say thanks?
Go into any retail store and most of the time a clerk will say, “Thanks and have a nice day.” Do they only mean that day? If I didn’t buy anything, would they still want me to have a nice day? After they say the same thing 1000 times, do they really mean it, or are they just repeating it out of habit?
There is a sincerity about Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. Friends and family gather around and give thanks for the meal, but I’ve always wanted used it for reflection but I’m usually distracted by my fussing. Who can I call to say hello? Who do I wish was at dinner that is no longer with us? What do I really need to be thankful for? How will I take show my thankfulness? That’s thanksgiving to me.
I love the turkey, I love the stuffing, I love the green bean casserole, I love the pumpkin chiffon pie, but way more than that, I love the feeling.
After Thanksgiving comes the panic before Christmas: the list, the shopping, the 4am door buster sales, the traffic, the hustle bustle, more Christmas concerts that you can imagine. Perhaps you may be forgetting that “saying thanks” thing that you promise to do at Thanksgiving. Let me to awaken you to the reality of Thanksgiving and the promise of Christmas.
The simple answer is: saying thanks.

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I love my birthday. My goodness, read my blog on my birthday. You would think I’m oh-so ego-centric. I love being the center of attention on my special day. I love that for one day it’s all about me.

There was a time when birthdays were difficult. Not so long ago or maybe longer ago than I choose to admit, I was a little girl. I’m the middle child. I have an older sister that I swore was the crown princess. I have a little brother that I dubbed “little snookie”. As a child, it was difficult to understand why they were getting presents and I was getting cake and a Kool-Aid mustache.

This is the difficulty of working on a worship team. Every one believes their idea of worship is the right one. We forget that worship isn’t about us. Worship is about God. He is the birthday boy. We are bringing Him presents to give Him glory but we still believe that we should get a present too. I’m selfish and you are too.

I remember my parents struggling at childhood birthday parties. One parent would be celebrating with the birthday child. The other parent coaxing one of us to come out of our room to celebrate with our siblings and the rest of the family.

I love it when a well planned worship service comes together. I become concerned when comments about the service are based on emotion or feelings. “The message really moved me.” “I love it when the organist opens up the pipes.” “The choir sounds so awesome.”

I don’t believe that we intend selfishness. We have become so good at it that I don’t even think we know we are doing it. Children at a birthday party missing the point. Upset because there is no present for us.

Worship teams need to maintain the difficult balance between meaningful worship and entertainment of the congregation. Each person comprehends God’s message differently. Each part of the worship service ministers to each person differently. It’s like the sugary cereals are a part of a nutritious breakfast. Cereal is only a part but when you add milk, OJ and toast the meal is complete.

Worship is not about the feelings we get when we sing. We can have warm fuzzy feelings but those feelings aren’t worship and they don’t make worship “great”. Worship isn’t about convincing God to bless us. Worship is not entertainment, sound or what’s happening next.

Worship is simply giving ourselves and our lives to God. The heart of worship as the song says is “all about You, Jesus.” Giving at at the very heart of worship. Really, worship isn’t anything more than helping people lift their hearts to Jesus, the Savior of all.

There are most likely several famous people that we could include on this list.  The list would include famous generals and politicians.  The list could include magicians.  The list could include musicians with a unique sound.  The list could also include authors and visionaries.I would like to nominate my husband, Big Scott.  I know, what you’re thinking.  No, I’m not being sappy or overly sentimental.Early on, in our courtship, Big Scott told me that I “would make a great Romulan”.  A Romu what?  Yes, I love raman noodles.Seriously, that was a great risk.  That is one of those hit or miss kind of statements.  There are only a certain number of outcomes.  I could think, “umm, weirdo.”  I could think he was trying to be funny.  I could get upset.  I could agree 100% and go home to grab my costume.I honestly had no idea what he meant.  I was just impressed that he wasn’t saying that I look like Shannon Daughtery or Geena Davis.  It was different.  My head might have said run but my heart said browse.

I have lived in Nebraska my whole life. Recently, I have been asked why I continue to choose to live here.It’s flat. There is lots of corn and other crops. There isn’t anything “flashy”. The closest major sports venue is in Kansas City or Denver. Okay, the closest major anything is Kansas City or Denver. Looking at a map, Nebraska is in the center of the United States. It is about as far away from New York, L.A., Florida, San Antonio and nearly any foreign county as you can get. Mostly, glitz and fame is stuff we see on TV.Nebraska is known for its football program more than anything else. Nebraska has had its share of the famous Hollywood types. Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, Johnny Carson, Alexander Payne and Fred Astaire. Former President Gerald Ford, Willa Cather and Warren Buffet call Nebraska home. NASCAR’s safer barriers were invented here.The fiber that makes Nebraska, well Nebraska is that certain characteristics are valued. We value hard work, loyalty, respect, humility, and commitment. Nebraskans view sports as a life metaphor.Everyday we struggle with the demands of life. Life is a balance of competition and character. How we choose to behave on and off the court/field provides a field guide for how to navigate life. Some chose to win at all costs. Some chose character at the expense of competition.Our state’s slogan is simply, “The Good Life”. Although, many jokes could be made about our state’s slogan. I think, it is right on target. Once people live here, they feel like it is a good place to raise kids. The people are friendly and open. The hustle and bustle of other cities just doesn’t belong here. Most of the towns are of the slow moving variety. Our slogan like our state is overly practical without the glitz. It’s difficult to imagine living anywhere else.

The news is everywhere. Everyone knows what happened here in Omaha. Everyone here in Omaha is stunned. Shocked. Numb. It feels different here. We are still sorting out our feelings and emotions.

I think about how all of this happening during Christmastime is bringing home a point. That point is Hope. The season of advent is about preparing the coming of Christ. He came once as a baby in a manager. He promised He would come again. That promise brings Hope. Hope for His Coming. Hope for a better day. Advent is the season of Hope.

Really. Can we stop focusing on Michael Vick? I’m sick of it. I’m tired of being bombarded by the news media sensationalism. Yes, he admitted that he did bad thing. Yes, he is going to jail.

I was less than impressed with Monday Night Football last Monday evening. I realize that Michael Vick entered his plea in court that morning but do we really need a legal analyst on Monday Night Football? I realize that it was a pre-season game. Pre-season games are only

There has to be more to talk about than this story. Why aren’t we talking about the fantastic pennant races out there? Why am I forced to poker on ESPN? Does Joey Harrington think that we will ever get past the fact that he posed for Seventeen magazines? Who is in the hunt to make the chase for the NASCAR Nextel cup? Wayne Newton, Mark Cuban, Marie Osmond and Scary Spice will be dancin’ with the stars. Oh my! Has college football not started? Isn’t interesting that more “mid-major” teams are showing up in AP and USA Today polls? Oh, Team USA was playing basketball. If I didn’t have the internet, I would have never known.

At one point during the game, someone e-mailed asking if anyone else had fallen from grace at the height of their career. The response was Mike Tyson. I’m not saying that their respective use of bad judgement was any worse than the other. They both did unspeakable things. Rape is a terrible thing. Dog fighting is an ugly underworld. Killing animals in such a way is beyond cruel and inhumane. All of these behaviors are unacceptable for anybody not just “role models”.

I don’t think the fall out for Mike Tyson was as bad. There are a couple of reasons. Football is the United States’ most popular sport followed by NASCAR. Almost everyone knows Michael Vick. Nearly everyone knows who wore the “7” for the Falcons. He’s been in the media since his days playing college ball for VT. Boxing isn’t nearly as popular. Can you tell me the last five heavyweight champions? I might be able to come up with 10 or 15 during the current history of the sport. Might.

I have already mentioned that dog fighting is just ugly. One of the reasons, I think we find so terrible is how we view our pets. I have two cats. My “girls” are like a member of my odd little family. I don’t have children in the traditional sense. My “kids” are furry and have four legs. Each has their own respective personality. I miss them when I’m gone for long weekends. I sincerely love them. My husband knows that if I had to choose between the cats and him that he might not necessarily like the results.

Some people do not view rape as a crime. Some see it as “getting what he/ she deserved.” Maybe that is why it was no big deal when Iron Mike decided to make a comeback. Maybe, it is just the sport itself. Boxing is a physical and violent sport.

Role model expectations for boxing is different than say a NASCAR driver. Maybe that is it in itself. The believing in sports stars as the almighty is gone. Our sport stars have made more headlines getting in trouble with the law than scoring points or playing good defense. I always believe that LT as in Lawence Taylor was an incredible football player but I didn’t believe he belonged in the Hall of Fame because of his personal life. I thought that his drug use did not make him a positive role model. There was a time when David Robinson was super fantastic. He does all sorts of programs for kids in San Antonio. He receives little media attention. It seems that he would prefer that way. He will never have the numbers like Kobe. Kobe will most probably make the hall of fame. Robinson might but Robinson is a better “role model”. I guess, I have always believed that being a role model meant that you create a positive impact both on and off the field.

Ever have one of those anti-climatic experiences?  Where you have waited for something to happen for so long and then the rush just isn’t there?  Really, what you are thinking is:  (Using the words of my buddy Paul) “Dude, I should have totally not spent so much time looking forward to this.”  Yeah?  I had one of those recently. 

Big Scott will tell you that I have not reacted in ways that he would have expected on several occasions.  Way back when iMacs were the “next big thing”, I wanted one so bad.  I was especially excited when Apple released all of the fun fruity flavors.  I wanted a grape one.  I had convinced Big Scott that it wasn’t a want thing that it was more of a need thing.  I began saving up for one.  Big Scott decided that he would surprise me and get me one for my birthday.  Really, spending over $1300 for your girlfriend’s birthday is…..  Anyway, Big Scott went through all sorts hoops and hurdles to get things in order and all in line and somehow manage to keep it secret.   

It’s finally, my birthday.  Big Scott meets me in the parking lot of his apartment complex.  He blindfolds me and somehow manages to direct his klutzy girlfriend up the stairs.  He opens the door, removes the blindfold and ta da!  All I can do is just look at the iMac.  I don’t know how long I stared at it.  Meanwhile, Big Scott is wondering when the look of excitement finally going to show on my face.  I give him a kiss on the cheek and a giant hug, and say, “That’s a cool birthday present.”   The look on his face is, “Umm that’s it.”  Big Scott is wondering where is the happy and oh-so ecstatic Jill.  I’ve been begging for months.  He’s had to come up with a pretty elaborate plan to keep things quiet and he got nothin’.   

I did the same thing to the Big Scott when he proposed on Christmas.  Big Scott went had made lots of plans.  He wrapped a very large box.  I swear I dug through ten or so boxes and gift bags and when I finally got to the bottom of the box there was an envelope.  I’m flustered.  In my selfish head I’m thinking, “I’ve dug through how many much crap for a lousy gift certificate.  What is that?”  Inside of the envelope was a sheet of paper that simply said “Look behind you!”  There was Big Scott will an opened ring box and the biggest smile I have ever seen.  Big Scott said the four words that every girl waits to hear.  I did the same thing.  I stared at it for a while.  Big Scott claims that I had a hollow head look on my face.  You know the kind of look that in the back of your mind you know that you are expecting drool at any moment.  We’d been dating for seven years.  All he got was a look that said I might need medical attention.  It just wasn’t was he was expecting. 

I had one of those experiences recently too.  I don’t know what he could have said to made me feel better but somehow I just feel slighted.  I feel like I’m missing something.  Don’t know what that is but it’s all right.  I’ll get over it. 

 

Greetings all,

I will get back to blogging about my vacation from a month ago soon. Between work, regular life stuff and all the other irritant pearls out there. I just haven’t found the the time. I’ll get back to it. I promise. Back to the topic at hand.

Tonight, I watched my whole neighborhood light up with fireworks. It was a beautiful sight. As a matter of fact the fireworks are still going on. I have two very nervous cats. I especially loved my new neighbors across the street. She was waving sparklers. He was setting off big stuff with lots of noise and sparks. Venus. Mars. Maybe? There I go again moving off topic. Big Scott and I took a walk around the neighborhood to see all of the different fireworks earlier this evening. What we saw was amazing! We saw friends, families and neighbors getting together celebrating in the same way. Big Scott pointed out that probably most of them don’t really understand why.

That is one of the things about our country that we often forget and not everyone appreciates. I know this is a real shocker. Not everyone appreciates all that we have here in the United States. We have taken for granted all of our freedoms. Sure, there are people that we wish would just shut up and there are certain “rights” groups that have long since strayed from their founding basis but they still have that right. Most of us did not create a watercraft out of a bathtub and a lawnmower engine to get here. We should be so thankful.

Some of us have been here for generations. It is difficult to imagine how our ancestors did what that did to help make our country a major player in the political arena. I have gone to museums. I have seen the covered wagons. I have seen the space of the covered wagons. I think my grandfather-in-law’s Caprice station wagon had more space. This is how they came to the plains and beyond. Really, have you ever thought about how did they cross rivers like the Mississippi before bridges were built? How did they get across certain states like Colorado before there were paved roads? It really all comes down to the sacrifices that they made to fulfill Manifest Destiny and the sacrifices of our military. Sometimes, I’m disheartened by the news stories that gain network attention. I’m disappointed by some major corporations actions. I’m saddened how self centered our society has become but that isn’t the main point of this writing. Although I am fulfilling my promise to ramble.

One of the reasons, this country is so great is the way in which we celebrate our independence. We don’t celebrate it by showing our military might in front of our nation’s capitol. We celebrate it by getting together with family and friends, picnics with questionable potato and macaroni salads, backyard games of volleyball, lawn darts and horse shoes.

Big Scott and I usually spend this holiday with his family at the lakes. We enjoy watching the boat parade. It is probably really bothering Big Scott that this year his aunt and uncle from Cozad went out to the lakes for the holiday. Big Scott and I needed to go back to work in the morning and so went were not able to go this year. We also enjoy getting into the boat and watching the fireworks time to the music from a local radio station. It is a fun time but also a great family time.

I’m rambling like I promised. I need to be to work sooner than I would like. Even if I didn’t get to spend the holiday with my extended family. I did get to spend it with Big Scott. With our goofy work schedules, full days with each other is a special treat. I think, we had a super day.

Later half of December is college football’s bowl season. Boy howdy, did I watch a lot of bowl games. Big Scott and I always look forward to it every year. This year, I was in a fantasy bowl league. It stirred the competitive pot. Well… my competitive pot.
I watched youhaveneverheardofus.com bowl and jigga what bowl. I saw teams play that next to never to airtime on ESPN unless some freak accident happen during the game like the opposing team’s mascots decided to duke it out on the sidelines. I watched my beloved Sooners forget to show up in the first half of the Fiesta Bowl. I watched Big Scott’s beloved Huskers play conserve-o-ball and not trust the kicker. I really wanted to watch the Scarlet Knights play Kansas State but it was the only bowl game on the NFL network. Are you kidding me? College football on the NFL network? The “major” conferences didn’t fair so well. The mid-majors well….rocked.
Seriously, all season long Texas was the team to beat in the Big 12. The media said they were destined for another national championship. A couple losses at the end of the season and they are playing a questionable Iowa in the Alamo Bowl. Half of Texas wanted Mack Brown’s head on a platter. The Big 10? Did Ohio State and Michigan not embarrass their conference enough? The PAC 10? Well, that’s a soapbox for another day.
We were watching the Chick-fil-a bowl. I don’t even remember when the game was played. I think it was the Georgia vs. Virginia Tech game. Any who. During a commercial break the corporate sponsor Chick-fil-a flash a little blurb to go to http://www.getacow.com and a little stuff cow free. I love the free. I love little stuffed animals. I love cows. It was the perfect promotion. Big Scott went online to sign up. He signed up on line because I was sick. I was hacking my and my neighbor’s left lung. I was barely able to stay awake 5 to 6 hours per day. It was going to be a nice little surprise later.
I have a strange fascination for cows. I like cow things. It started when I worked in an ice cream/dairy store in high school. People started getting me cow things. I guess, it just fit my small town Nebraska roots. I once had a kitchen of cow stuff. Cow cookie jar, canister set, crock-pot, napkin holder, salt and pepper shakers, and the alike. I sold the farm at a garage sale years ago. I have cow jewelry. I have cow button covers. Unfortunately, they aren’t something you might find at a rodeo. They are cutesy little black and white Holstein dairy cows with insipid smiles on their mugs.
I was going through a cow phase. Kitchens have a habit of going through phases. Right now, my mom is going through a rooster/chicken phase. I’m in a cat phase. Really, I love cats. If I weren’t married I would probably end up being the creepy ten cat lady. Big Scott works nights. I find myself doing “Old Maid” things like talking to the cats as if they are “people”. There have been times that that bathroom has been occupied. There have been some noises of discomfort spewing forth. I have been known to look at the cats and say, ”Your daddy makes ugly noises.” TMI
Last Friday, Big Scott is sorting through the mail. He says, “No name distribution company? What could this be?” I got a cow. It was almost in time for my birthday. How could they have known? I’m really excited about my cow. I’m not sure if I will open the package and enjoy it or keep it for Antique Road Show fodder for later?

Let’s talk about pet peeves and some observations of the Daytona 5oo. First, when you say, Gentlemen, start your engines”, let’s say it with a little of enthusiasm. I’m really tired of listening to celebrities and CEO of various companies saying the most famous words in racing without some umpf. Nearly every race I’m disappointed. Did you hear Nic Cage? Are you kidding me? Aren’t you some type of actor? Aren’t actors supposed to at least be able to pretend, I think that’s called…acting? Seriously, this is a sport that full of emotion. Emotions that can be either make you the hero or make you into someone’s gimpy little sister. The race fans would like that emotion to start off the day as well.
I have thought that it would be really groovy to open a NASCAR themed restaurant. With all sort of memorabilia on the walls, with a mini tower so people could wave the checkered flag, and a spot where if you would like to tell everyone in said eating establishment to start your engines. I think it would be groovy and fun. A place where race fans could get together and discuss what is NASCAR.
Race fans wouldn’t make the mistake celebrities make. Race fans get it. Race fans understand the thrill of the thunder. Race fans understand loyalty to their driver. They understand how money buys speed. Race fans understand America’s love affair with the car. That love is speed. Seriously, every track and whatever corporation sponsors said race should have a contest and let a fan say the most famous words in racing. I bet you would be surprised at the emotion.
There was a story about Denny Hamlin driver of the FedEx car. A race fan and FedEx team member gave him his purple promise pin and asked him to wear it during the race. Denny said he looked down to take the back off the pin and looked up to say thanks. The Fed Ex team member was gone. Interesting.
There are three commercials that were just awesome. Tony Stewart climbing up the shelves of the grocery store is funny. Tony Stewart doing doughnuts with a shopping cart is good stuff. Tire changer try-outs for Dale Jarrett’s big brown truck is a hoot. There is a very big guy, kind of like The Undertaker or Andre the Giant of WWE fame, changing the tire. Followed by a non descript crew chief saying, “Wait till you see his sister”. The Budweiser Mad Max commercial is one of the best. “Just because it Budweiser on the car. Doesn’t mean there is Budweiser in the car.”

I really think that everyone will remember about this year’s race is not the dramatic finish. Years down the road looking back, we won’t remember that Toyota debuted Cup. We will remember Cheatonya. That’s unfortunate. There are plenty of other stories out there. Here are other headlines that could have had the media’s attention: The Red Sox – Rousch business deal ( Does money buy speed?), Robert Yates Racing ( Have they turned the program around?) , Denny Hamlin ( Last year’s rookie of the year and the first rookie to make “The Chase”, will he fall into a sophomore slump?), DEI ( Can’t we all just get- along?), Theresa Earnhardt (Bet you didn’t know that many NASCAR fans read the Wall Street Journal. Note to self), Kelly Clarkson ( NASCAR is paying her how much to promote the sport? Bring back Ricky Bobby.) , James Hylton ( the oldest person to attempt to qualify for the “Great American Race” ), The Chase has been expanded, ( Will it add excitement to The Chase?), More points for winning (Championships are for winners. It’s about time the drivers were rewarded.) There were plenty of other stories. They race in California this week. It should be a good one.