I’m thankful

For family. Amy, my gentle, strong, loving, faithful help-mate and best friend, life-giving mother to Aiden and our future children, and a hot mama who will always be out of my league. Aiden, my beautiful, charming, innocent, keen, spirited two-year old son who melts me with blue eyes and changes me with hugs, kisses, and a trusting extended "Hand, Daddy" as we walk. Mom and Dad, who love me more than I know and love my wife and son more than I ever imagined. Holly, a giving, adventurous mother-in-law who raised my wife to be the prize that she is and welcomes me like a son. Britt and Will, brothers who are more than brothers – fast friends, defenders, and role models. Beth, Stacy, and Fay – the sisters I never had and never knew I missed until they came along; beautiful women, each in their own way, all vibrant, loving, and room-changing. Tim, a brother-in-law I can talk football with…what else can a guy ask for? Brandon, Emily, and Cade, the bright, fun kids who I don’t see enough and who make me Uncle Thad. Many cousins, uncles, and aunts who have been brothers, sisters, parents, and friends in so many ways. And a 92-year-old grandmother who will endure a miserably painful three hour car ride (each way) just so she can sit in the same chaotic room with her legacy (at least fifty of us) this week. I can only aspire to appreciate family as she does.

For community. Particularly our new spiritual family at Community Church, and especially the folks who have given of themselves so generously in recent weeks as we’ve joined them in this journey. Kings, Stoltzes, Whites, Reeves, Fogles, Oelzes, Gibbs, Anne, Nicole, Joneses, and all the rest. Thankfully our love for you is not contingent on my ability to remember all of your names at 1a.m. Thanks for welcoming us to your lives.

For friends, far and near. McCallums, Brocks, Stinsons, Armstrongs, Moores, Smiths, Scott, Bowers, Brad, Colleen, Jessica, Abby, Manuels, Villanos, Gattornas, Bruce, Todd, Matt, Joe, Dr. Jayhawk, and David, just to name some who have invested in us – time, words, thought, prayer, gifts, interest – and taken care of us in recent months. And, of course, for many more who aren’t named but who continue to love and befriend us through the years.

For provision. A Pathfinder to rid us of the wagon (and borrowed cars to keep us both on the road), a little unimpressive apartment, a comfortable bed, enough food to make me start buying paints with a 32 waist, jobs to keep the lights on, toys and books for Aiden, enough extra to make any complaining utter nonsense, and just enough privation to keep me from loving the world and its stuff any more than I already do.

For simple pleasures. The fan beside my bed, sleeping (and not sleeping) with a hot mama, Aggie football, not having to fly cross-country for the holidays, Seinfeld on DVD, words, a blog and all of you who read it to soak up the excess words, a new U2 cd, large Dr. Peppers from Sonic, Shipley glazed, Texas, Texas food, Fall (even the Texas version), free tickets, wireless internet, shrimp, late night epiphanies, a DVR, weekends, and a never-ending list of moments to remind me that I’m alive.

For grace, freedom, and life that is truly life. For faith that, if it isn’t given to me, doesn’t exist by power of my will, intellect, or imagination. For kinship with the Divine and the human. For frailty and for hope.

I’m thankful. You? Tell us about it.

It would go here

Last night as I was going to sleep I thought of something really funny to post. It was funny enough that I started laughing just laying there thinking about it in the dark silence of our bedroom. I debated getting up to make myself a note so I didn’t forget, but the delicate balance of cognitive and physical stimulation and sleep initiation was enough to deter me. Instead, I made an effort to make a reliable mental note of the funny thing so I could share it with you today. Unfortunately, the aforementioned delicate balance also caused me to limit the amount of cognition invested in the mental note. Too much thought and memory etching and I could be vomited back into a state of wide-eyed insomnia. I chose much needed sleep over maximum funny blog memory effort. Ultimately, you’re paying for my choice. Sadly, I can’t remember what was so funny last night. If I could, it would go here. And you would laugh. And laugh and laugh.

Instead, here’s something funny: One of the two ladies I share an office with started listening to music on headphones at her desk yesterday. It’s mostly black gospel, which I know in part because I’ve heard it without the headphones and in part because she sings a random word or phrase loudly every few minutes. We’ll all be quietly working away at our desks, when out of nowhere Brenda will, with much more volume than she intends, give us a semi-melodic, "Jeeeesus!" A few minutes later we’ll get, "Mmmm…mmmm…wohh-oh-oh-oh!!" If she were listening to her music out loud, this would not be nearly so funny. However, the fact that her very enthusiastic and involved outbursts pierce the otherwise musically-deprived void of sound for those of us in the office make them very humorous.

So I know it’s not really funny for you, but it is for me, and I’m hoping that typing about funny things will help me remember the funny thing I forgot. It’s not working so far. I have to work.

My own private welfare state

I’ve been taking a lot of handouts lately. As of tomorrow afternoon, I will have attended the following three events without having spent a penny on any of them:

  • Saturday, November 6: OU 42  Texas A&M 35 – Despite the loss, one of my top 3 experiences at Kyle field. Maybe the loudest and most raucous game I’ve experienced there, and I’m suffering from at least 15% hearing loss from a couple of particularly loud games in the mid-90’s. Thanks to the local sports radio station for pulling my name out of a box and giving me free tickets to this one.
  • Thursday, November 11: Lyle. If the Aggie game was my baptism back into Aggieland, an evening with Lyle was my baptism back into Texas. Lyle is Texas music and culture in a $2,000 suit; somehow simultaneously folksy and sophisticated. His large band was in ultra cosmic form, and the predictable excellence was capped off with a six song gospel set driven by a black gospel group who had a little chuch up in ‘ere. It was, as the kids say, off da hook. Thanks to my cousin David for unexpectedly dropping these tickets on us two hours before show time (and my cousin John and his wife for canceling to our great fortune).
  • Saturday, November 13: Texas Tech at Texas A&M. Commentary withheld out of respect for several readers and pending further developments. Thanks to Todd for hooking me up with these, and to his brother-in-law Brad for being so generous with his tickets.

We weren’t having any doubts about our move here, but little "welcome home" gifts like these aren’t hurting matters. The Lord works in mysterious ways, eh? I’m thinking about establishing a charitable foundation for future donations of this sort — maybe Thad’s Ticket Trust. If you feel the need to rid yourself of the burden of tickets to interesting, entertaining, or enlightening events, give us a call. We’re hear to lighten your load.

Decision America – The Lesser of the Liars?

Though I’d heard about the site before, it wasn’t until today that I visited FactCheck.org. I wish I’d taken the time to chase this down sooner, because I think it’s a worthwhile resource for those trying to sort through the political maze that ends today at the voting booth. I don’t know if the net result of an expedition to this little corner of the www would have been a change in how you vote, but it’s certainly interesting reading. As far as I can tell, these folks are giving a pretty objective treatment to as much of what the candidates (and partisan groups like MoveOn.org, Swift Boat Vets, etc.) say as possible. While you may be disgusted at just how much distortion and outright lying is going on, I’m finding a little relief in this site. Here’s why…

I find political ads (and most campaign messaging in general) to be even more insulting than beer commercials, and that’s saying something. Think about it – the folks at Budweiser have decided that the best way to maximize their profits is to appeal to the base instincts of men. They believe that showing me boobs and butts will somehow trigger a Pavlovian response culminating in me buying Bud Light. That’s insulting, but it pales in comparison to the verbal pornography being churned out by the political ad makers. When they aren’t blatantly lying, they’re doing everything they can to twist facts and perception to portray the guy across the ballot as Satan’s spawn. Pay attention to the music you hear on campaign ads. Look at the grainy photo they show of the other guy with his mouth agape. This is happening because someone with an Ivy League education has determined that a thirty second, low budget horror film is what you need to responsibly exercise your rights of citizenship to the end of securing America’s future. Beautiful.

If you think I’m just being cynical and dark, wander around FactCheck.org. In fact, here’s an easy starting place – The Whoppers of 2004. This is their final pre-election piece that highlights some of the incessant distortion and deception we’ve been subjected to for the past several months. Just be warned – if you have some internal need to continue to admire your chosen candidate without reservation or disappointment, this is not going to be fun for you. These guys both told lies and allowed their surrogates to tell lies. Not fibs. Lies. For the noble cause of protecting or pursuing power, they devalued and disdained truth. You probably already knew that, but I think it’s helpful to be aware of just how brazen and intentional most of it is. I think it’s important that we move toward future electoral exercises with higher demands for those who covet our votes.

I don’t expect perfection in politics. Sadly, I don’t even expect truth. What would be nice, though, is for someone to be honest about the dishonesty. When you try to convince me that one candidate is a saint and the other is a villain, I DO NOT BELIEVE YOU. Politicians whose campaign crayon box only contains black and white crayons are, for me, inherently untrustworthy (and that’s pretty much all of them). Consequently, I am heartened and encouraged by someone who takes the time to call b.s. where b.s. needs to be called, regardless of the offender. We should delight in the exposing of untruth and hypocrisy, even when everyone on the stage is stripped bare. If we must choose from this lot, let us at least thoroughly inspect the livestock, dark underbellies and all.

It is easy for us to become so loyal to a cause or a person that we fear and resist any information or experience which might undermine our certainty. I get that because I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I’m just tired of it, and I can’t pretend that these choices are as simple as they’re portrayed anymore. Let us love the truth more than we love comfort, and let us pursue it without regard for any lesser agenda.

As an afterthought, I think it’s only fair for me to bear down and be honest about what I’d do today if I could vote. It’s easy to rant and whine about how bad everyone is, but I’ve long contended that demagoguery is a poor and usually immature substitute for responsible citizenship and humanity. I’ll stand at the front of the confession line for that sin, no doubt. I’d just like to repent lest I continue needs confess it over and over. In this case, I think that means we still ought to vote, at least unless we’ve found some productive strategy for pursuing a better solution. I’m open to the existence of such a course, though I’m not sure what it might be. I just don’t think apathy or passivity gets any of us anywhere, or at least not anywhere good. So while I joke about being disenfranchised and admit that I found some relief in not having to battle through my conflicting convictions about the choices in this election, I still wish I could vote. And I’d vote for Bush. Then I’d pray my guts out that he’d redirect himself and those around him in some crucial areas.