Thursday, July 30, 2009
Jenny - Really The End This Time
Long story short for anyone who doesn't want to wade through all that - Butlers find stray, sickly dog in their backyard. Turns out to be the sweetest dog in creation. Butlers adopt dog. Dog turns out to be too sickly to keep. Butlers return dog to Humane Society. Terribly sad but cheer up when they discover that an employee at the Humane Society adopts sickly dog and everyone lives happily ever after.
And now, the rest of the story....
Last evening, we took Molly and visited the Humane Society on our way to Living Word for our mid-week meeting around the fire pit. Of course, we wanted to visit all of the cute puppies. However, our real main mission was to see if we could find out the latest info on our beloved Jenny. Was she still alive? How was her health? Was she living happily ever after?
We had to wait around for a while to talk to the manager of the place. When we arrived, she was busy assisting a family in their adoption of a dog. Finally, we had her ear. I introduced myself and told her we were there to find out what had happened to our first adoptee, Jenny (a.k.a. Popcorn). She remember us immediately, and she was eager to help us.
She sat down at the computer and began looking for the record of Jenny's adoptions. (Of course, we were thinking as she looked that the story might not have the ending that we wanted if she had to look up Jenny's records rather than just tell us that she was still doing well with her new family.) It took a few minutes, but she found the info she was looking for.
Jenny had lived in her new home for about two months. Like at our house, she was appreciated for the incredibly loving, affectionate dog that she was. However, her health had not improved, and we had been right that the problems we had been seeing were indicative of deeper, more serious problems.
Things finally came to a head for our dear girl around the beginning of June. She was found to have grown a tumor that was blocking her urinary tract. She was completely unable to void. An operation to clear the condition would have cost around $2000, and there was no guarantee that more tumors weren't growing in other areas of her body. (That was definitely something we suspected was going on when we owned her.) So, Jenny's adopted mom elected to have her put down.
Heather, the Human Society manager, remember that her employee had been very upset and had to take a day off of work to grieve the loss. Also, her surviving dog was so grieved at Jenny's death that the woman adopted yet another dog from the Humane Society as a companion for her pet. Obviously, others had the same reaction to Jenny that we did.
We walked out of there somber and not a little sad. We weren't exactly mourning because it had been months since we had seen Jenny. But we still loved her, and the news of her death was hard. But on the other hand, we had clearly made the right choice by taking her back to the Humane Society and adopting Molly instead. We were grateful that we had not taken a chance on her and had not been the family that had to decide to end her life.
We talked on the way to church about Jenny, remembering the week she had been ours. When we returned home, we pulled up some pictures of her on the computer. We were delighted to find out that Olivia had made a brief video of Jenny. There she was on the screen, drinking, waddling around. She even gave a bark and one of her little jumps at the end.
That was our Jenny.
Good-bye, girl. I'll never forget you.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Facing The Giants
The story in a nutshell: A football coach at a Christian high school can't seem to catch a break. His team hasn't had a good season in a loooooong time. His job is in jeopardy. He feels like a personal failure. His house has a disgusting smell that he can't get rid of. His car keeps breaking down. He's fed up and disgusted. In fact, he's so dispondent that he gives up. He decides that he has no recourse but to turn the entire situation over to God. He prays and reads his Bible, seeking wisdom. And as God is wont to do, He answers. Big time.
First the good: The movie was very well made, compared to other notable Christian flicks that sometimes come across as downright cheesey. The characters were very likeable. It had it's very inspiring moments. And I'll be honest here - the best thing that this movie had going for it was that my kids really enjoyed it and were very spiritually moved by it. Anything that teaches my kids that God is cool is ok in my book. So, I was happy that we watched it and I would do it again in a second.
However, this movie was very challenged in several areas. The ones that I picked up on were:
- The acting was mediocre at best. Not bad, but not very good either. It was bad enough that it kept me from getting fully absorbed in the plot of the movie. So, that was a problem.
- The story was UNBELIEVEABLY predictable. I'm not kidding here. Every plot point was absolutely telegraphed ahead of time. Shortly into the climatic football game at the end of the movie, I knew who was going to win, how they were going to win, and even what the final score was going to be. I had to shoosh Rita a couple of times because she knew what was going to happen and wanted to share her prediction with me. (She was always right.) And that is sort of related to my final criticism.....
- The message of this movie is not entirely true and not entirely wholesome. WHAT????? Butler, what are you talking about? Facing the Giants is an incredible Christian movie. Everyone loves it. It shows a beautiful depiction of a man facing his own personal giants by trusting in the the Lord Jesus. How can you criticise that? Well, it's pretty easily, actually. You see, this movie portrays God as a genie in a bottle. Need to pull your football team out of a slump? Rub the lamp, and God will bless you with a winning season and a state championship. You and your spouse struggling with infertility? No problem! Surrender to Jesus and your wife will be squeezing out kids every two years. Sick of your car breaking down all the time? Forget about it! God will drop a new car into your lap as soon as you pray about it. That is not what God is about. God has never, ever promised to smooth out all the bumps in life and reverse all your setbacks as soon as you trust in Him and decide to follow him. He never said that the life of the Christian would be easy. But He does promise that when you are going through the rough times, He would be at your side, walking with you and strengthening you. I know that God can and does deliver His followers from bad situations, but not all the time. Here's a real life example: Some friends of ours just buried their 35 year old daughter who died of cancer. They are devout Christians, as was their beloved daughter. For the three years of her illness, they were consumed with praying for her deliverance from the disease. In the end, for reasons that they and I do not understand, the Lord chose not to heal her of cancer. She died, and they are now going through the most unbelieveable pain that any person can go through.
I hate to think of what they would say about "Facing the Giants."
Rita and I both agreed that the movie would have been vastly improved if the lead couple had not had every burden lifted from them. If, for example, they were still infertile at the end of the movie. If, in the face of this hardship, they had said, "It is well with my soul. We trust You, O God, even though You have not blessed us with children. We will still seek You and put You in the highest place in our lives"
And that, I think would have been the best message my kids could have taken out of this movie.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The Bridge Builder
In honor of Father's Day, I present what is probably my favorite poem. This piece was passed down to me by my grandfather, who in turn received it from his father in a letter. It was written by Will Allen Dromgoole
The Bridge Builder
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide --
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pit-fall be,
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."
Monday, June 01, 2009
We took a super long weekend over Memorial Day and spent it at my parents place on Higgins Lake. We had a real blast. Hopefully, there is more of the same coming later this summer.
Instead of stealing Olivia's pictures off of her blog and posting them here (which I usually do), I'll just point you to her online place so you can see them there.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Star Trek - The Movie
A friend of mine asked me to share my thoughts about the new Star Trek movie either here or in private e-mail. Since I obviously never want to miss an opportunity to share my incredible brilliance with the world, I'm opting to make it a blog entry. (In case you didn't realize it, this particular entry is already dealing with the fantastic and the fictional!)
First, a little background on me for the uninitiated: I am a huge Star Trek fan. I've watched the various TV shows going back to the late 60's/early 70's. I own the entire original series and most of The Next Generation on DVD. I have thousands of incredibly useless Trek trivia facts taking up valuable space in my brain. If knowledge of Star Trek was a saleable skill in the job market, I could not only make a living at Star Trek, I'm sure it would make me a millionaire many times over. The least used game at my house is a Star Trek card set that's compatible with Trivial Pursuit. No one will play with me because I am unbeatable.
As you may guess, I have more than a passing familiarity with Star Trek. I know it, and I like it a lot. Anyone who wants to "relaunch the franchise" and re-tell the origins of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock is going to find an interested but highly skeptical fan in me. I love the continuity of the series, and a movie that admits up front that it is rewriting the history of what has gone before is, in my opinion, already in trouble.
A couple of weeks ago, a dear friend of mine (a fellow Trek fan) and I each brought several of our kids to the theater to see the latest Star Trek movie. Rita couldn't make it, and her heart wasn't broken by that. She had already decided that this new movie looked "lame." We found our seats, passed out the popcorn and drinks, and waited for the lights to go down. When they did, the wild ride began.
Let me bottom line it for you before I do into my extended (mostly spoiler free) review: Star Trek was the most fun I've had in a movie theater in a long, long time. At just over 2 hours, it was a nonstop thrill ride that never let up. It was a funny, exciting, tense, smart, well acted, stunning film. When we walked out of the theater, EVERYONE was smiling. We eagerly compared notes about how good the movie was. No one had anything bad to say about it. At all.
James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is a troubled young man. Born on the day of his father's death, he's rebellious, rude, irreverent, and a trouble-maker. On the planet Vulcan, young Spock (Zachary Quinto) is having problems of his own. Half human, he is the object of endless taunting by his peers. He tries to control his emotions, but his tormentors are relentless.
On the cusp of manhood, each of them reaches a crisis and makes a decision that will change their lives forever - they decide to enlist in Starfleet. And they do so just in time to face a dark, sinister menace from the future.
And therein hangs the tale....
The movie is outstanding in every way. The special effects are breathtaking. The script is witty and fresh. The casting is excellent. I admit that it took me a bit of time to get used to these new faces on characters that I've been familiar with for about 40 years. Chekov and Scotty were two who took a while to get comfortable with. What's really amazing is how well some of the actors slid into their parts. Pine is perfect as Kirk, and I dare say, I think he may even be an improvement on the original. He's every bit Jim Kirk without William Shatner's troubled acting style. Quinto could hardly improve upon Leonard Nimoy's Spock, but he's more than adequate to portray everyone's favorite Vulcan. And speaking of Nimoy, he's outstanding here. I was wondering how the elder Spock would fit in with all these young, fresh faces. The answer is... not bad at all. In fact, it took me a few minutes to happily realize that a scene between Pine and Nimoy was the first original Kirk/Spock scene I've witnessed in years. (Aside from the Pine/Quinto scenes, that is.) And it came off great.
The new Enterprise is beautiful. A marvelous update to the old girl. Yes, it looks a lot better than the cheesey sets from the original series, and we can overlook this. What???? Did I type that? Mr. I Love The Continuity Of The Old Series is actually being generous with changes that this movie makes to my beloved canon? That's right. You see, thanks to a pretty lame but beautifully executed plot device, the creators of this flick actually manage to not rewrite any Trek history. All the episodes on my DVDs at home are still just as valid in Trek continuity as ever. This movie just..... puts them on the shelf for a while.
Were there any negatives? Sure. There were a few. The plot at times STRAINS believeability too much with its reliance on coincidence and chance. Things sometimes just fall into place a bit too easily for our heroes. The movie is rated PG-13, which means that it does stray into dangerous territory at times. There's some language, although most of it is the kind of stuff you could expect from one of the later TV series. There's really only one scene where the boundaries are truly strained. It's a somewhat humorous send up to Kirk's lengendary habit of bedding alien women of various colors. I wish my kids hadn't seen it, but as there's no nudity and things get interrupted before they get too hot and heavy, I'd say it's fine for the older crowd.
So, this one gets a huge thumbs up. As a matter of fact, I'm looking for a free weekend to take my beautiful wife on a date to the theater. I can't wait to see it again!!!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Man, Do I Love the Failblog
Just a couple of belly laughs for today. (WARNING: If you choose to visit the Failblog, my strong recommendation is that you click the link at the top of the page that shows you only G-Rated fails. The unfiltered site can be quite inappropriate. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!)
(I've think I've been to churches like this.)
Here's a picture of our newest family member, Molly!!!
Friday, May 01, 2009
Blessed Are You, The Lord My God
In case anyone reading this is in doubt, let me clear it up for you - GOD IS GOOD!!!
By His very nature, He is good. He doesn't have to do anything to prove that He is good. But when He favors us by giving us what we ask for, it is only right that we proclaim it to the world.
So, let me say that..... GOD IS GOOD!!!
Mom was taken into surgery at 7:30 this morning. I hunkered down in the waiting room for the long haul. I had brought lots to do. There was a wifi hotspot, so one of the first things on my todo list was to update my blog. I then answered some e-mails.
Then, a funny thing happened.
I was called up to the front desk. There, an attendant waited to take me back to the Recovery Room.
The Recovery Room?
It was around 8:30. An hour? What was going on?
I was then informed that the surgery was over. Actually, that's not right. It had been canceled. The doctor had been able to set both of the broken bones in Mom's arm from the outside. No surgery had been necessary. Another hour or so in recovery, and we were on our way home.
I'm typing this entry from my parent's bedroom. I'll be here today, tonight, and a good portion of tomorrow until my brother comes to relieve me.
The prayers of the saints are still very much appreciated as the next few days will present some challenges. But nothing compared to what they would have been if the surgery had taken place.
A very sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been praying for us this morning. My friends, I can't express it on my blog. You are loved. I appreciate you all.
And thanks be to Almighty God, who has once again shown that He loves his children and delights in blessing them. Father, I love you and thank you.
All right, Prayer Warriors! Start your engines!!!
I'm spending the day today at Annapolis Hospital in Wayne. (As a matter of fact, I'm typing this right now from the Surgical Waiting Room.) No, it's not me that's going under the knife.
I'm afraid Mom is one who'll be going under the knife today.
Here's what's happening - About a week ago, Mom took a bad fall while out for dinner with my Dad and Uncle Jim. She broke her arm in two places right above the wrist. After a few days at home with a temporary cast, she finally got the word that the type of break that she has can't be set. It's going to require surgery and the insertion of a plate to allow the bones to heal normally.
So, here I am. I'm expecting to be here for most, if not all of the day. Mom's back being prepped right now. I'll get to see her briefly before the operation.
Dad is home alone, and that's another exciting adventure in itself. Rita is going to be keeping an eye on things there and helping him out if he needs it.
Here're our prayer requests:
- The operation to set Mom's broken bones will go without problems
- Comfort for Mom after the surgery
- Quick restoration of the bones in her wrist and no problems with her getting the use of her hand back
- Protection for my Dad today as he stays at home alone waiting for word on how Mom's doing
- Provision for the care of my both Mom and Dad in the days to come
- Protection for my Aunt Fran as she travels downstate to spend a few days providing in home care for my folks
- And while we're at it, A HUGE THANK YOU to the Lord for providing help in the person of Aunt Fran. This is not the first time she has been an angel of mercy to my folks. She is very caring and very generous to take time out to come and serve so selflessly. I truly do thank the Lord for her. Please join me in a prayer of gratitude.