Saturday, October 18, 2008

It Took Three Days to Write This One

Currently. As I write this, it is a Thursday afternoon, Terry is driving, and we are traveling south on I-65 in Kentucky in a light rain on our way to Laredo with a load we picked up this morning in Cincinnatti. Since the last time I wrote, things have been going well for us. Recently, we both enjoyed some time off. I visited my family in Rome and Terry went to Arkansas. For the first time in quite a while I felt like getting out my laptop at the end of my shift, so here I am, writing to you. I hope all is well with you.

When in Rome . . . This time in Rome was one of the most enjoyable times I've had visiting family and friends I've had in a long time. I got to see everyone I wanted to see this time, with the exception of my great-uncle and his wife. The reason I originally scheduled the time in October was that we were supposed to have our family reunion the first weekend in October. At the last minute, it was canceled, in part due to the recent death of my great-aunt Edna, whom I recently wrote about.

My next visit to Rome will likely be in January sometime, and probably again in March when Terry and I quit teaming. If we do quit teaming then, I'll probably take a week of my vacation and spend the time in Rome. I'm already looking forward to seeing everyone again.

In addition to my family, I also got to spend some time with my good friend Sam, who used to be my Sunday school teacher when I was living in Rome, and my best friend of almost 30 years, Tim.

Every time I go home, I am reminded of just how blessed I am to have the people in my life that I do. And, of course, every day, I count myself fortunate to be able to be doing something I love, living the life I choose, and being paid to do it. I am fortunate to be making choices and taking responsibility for my life in ways that I never have before, and that is a good feeling. I know of no one more blessed or content with life than I am right now. Life is not perfect – never has been, never will be – but taken as a whole, life is good for me. And that has much more to do with how I'm viewing my life and the particular place I'm at in my journey than with any outward circumstances. It's all about what I keep saying to you – the mantra for my life right now -- “making choices and taking responsibility” -- that is my life in five words right now. One day I will probably write about that and exactly what it means. I bet you can't wait.

Follow me!” One of the things I enjoyed most about my trip to Rome was the time my Mama and I got to spend together. We decided to go up to Chickamauga, Georgia, close to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and visit the Civil War Battlefield Park that is there. I remember going through there as a kid (maybe more than once), but haven't been back as an adult until this visit with Mama. We had an enjoyable time, and took our time, so it took most of the day. One thing we did was to take the auto tour through the major sites of the park, and I learned many things I hadn't known before.

One of the most hilarious and enjoyable parts of this trip for me was when we were driving through a part of the park where part of the battle had taken place early in the engagement. There is a marker there for one of the Union Army leaders who was killed at that spot – Captain Bailey (I can't remember his first name or the particular group he commanded from what state). The hilarious part to me was that he was confused about how close the Confederate Army was to his position, and he was getting ready to move out against them. So, in perfect Monty Python fashion, he jumps up on his horse, looks back at his men, and shouts, “Follow me!” At that very second, he is killed when a shot from the Confederates strikes him. I don't imagine too many of the men willingly went with him.

Another part of the trip I enjoyed was that in the park, there are two small houses preserved of families who lived there when the battle took place. These small one-room cabins are similar to the houses in the story I'm currently working on, so it was cool to get a visual and physical look at what a couple of them looked like. Going to the park also gave me some ideas for some parts of my next story, which will involve the story of a man whose father was in the War. I'm thinking about using that particular battle in the next story also.

Fireproof: A Movie Review. After we went to the battlefield park, Mama and I came back to Rome and went to see the movie Fireproof. If you haven't heard of it, it is a Christian movie produced by people at a church in Albany, Georgia. They also made the movie Facing the Giants. Mama and I both enjoyed it. That's the short review. That said, Fireproof is, in my opinion, two different movies to two different groups of people. Read on for the details, if interested.

For evangelical Christians or for people who might not be Christians, but still believe that Christianity is true, the movie is great. For that audience, I would give the movie a 10 out of 10. It is by far the most well-produced Christian movie I've ever seen. I would especially say it would be good for married Christian couples to see. I know of two couples personally who have been significantly impacted by this movie. Bottom line here: if you are an evangelical Christian, go see this movie – you will probably love it.

For those who are not Christians, especially those who are totally secular and do not believe that Christianity is true in its claims, it is not a movie to see. For this group of people, the movie will probably be unrealistic at best and hokey at worst. It will confirm the worst stereotypes about religious people, and especially evangelical Christians. I give two examples that I noticed. First of all, everyone in the movie, even the “lost” people, look just like they walked out of a Sunday morning church service on to the movie set. They just oozed churchiness. Another example that stood out to me: in one scene, the main female character in the movie is sitting in the cafeteria of the hospital where she works eating lunch. She is in the middle of a marital crisis, and neither she nor her husband have discovered God yet. So this other lady comes up to her table, and asks if she can sit down. “Sure, go ahead.” The lady sits down, arranges her food, and then says, politely, “Excuse me a moment.” Then she bows her head and silently prays. Then she gets into a conversation with the woman who is having marital problems, trying to witness to her about God, and ends up driving the woman away when she gets too personal.

Okay, take a deep breath. If you are a Christian, I am not saying there is anything wrong with witnessing to people or praying over your meal. I have spent most of my life doing those exact same things. What I am saying is that many non-Christians see Christians in a certain way, and this movie will only reinforce those stereotypes and ideas, whether those ideas are right or wrong.

This is a great movie for a particular audience, but if you are not a Christian, or someone who embraces Christianity's teachings, it's probably not for you. Just look at the reviews of this movie in most mainstream media and see what I'm talking about.

This movie is not going to reach out and convert someone who isn't already convinced they need what Christianity offers. It is not an evangelistic film. And that's okay. But many times, when a Christian movie comes out, some Christians think that if they could just get their “lost” relatives or friends to go see it, they will see the light and be converted. Same thing when a church has a “ revival” or evangelistic services.

That sort of thing may sometimes happen – I know of it happening. But most Christian movies, Christian music concerts, revivals at churches, Christian radio and TV programs will mostly just reach Christians. So it is with this movie.

It's a great movie if you are a Christian. It's less than average if you are not.

Belle of the Monday Night Ball” -- Part II. The last time I wrote, I told you about the fact that I'd starting working on lyrics for a country music song just for fun while driving through Wyoming. It turned out to be a short poem, and I was happy to leave it as it was, because it seemed to tell the story Terry and I had been talking about for over a year..

However, when I talked to my Daddy about it, and he read the blog entry, he encouraged me to keep working on it as a song. And so I did. Over the next few days, I kept working on the lyrics, changed most of the original, and now, I think Terry and I might have a potentially good honkey-tonk song.

One of my best friends, Tim, is going to write some music for the lyrics I've got, and if we all like it, we might shop it around.

I have no illusions that it will result in any kind of financial windfall, or that it will even go anywhere. There are thousands of songwriters all over the world who write songs for a living, and are poorer than I am. Thousands of great songs never get sung. Just like thousands of great novels, stories, poems, and plays never get published or performed.

I'm only doing it for fun, and because you never know what can happen. Like Tom Hanks' character says near the end of the movie Cast Away (a movie that helped me during the days following my divorce as much as just about anything else), you just keep on living (no matter what), “because you never know what the tide may bring in.”

Just now . . . in the middle of writing this blog entry, while going through Nashville, we ran into a bit of a problem. The drive shaft decided suddenly to fall out of our truck, and we were stuck in rush hour traffic, on a major road, with nowhere to go.

Yeah, the tide really brought it in for us today.

Of course, I stopped writing this, we called Schneider, they called a tow truck, and so it is that several hours after starting this entry, I am sitting in a motel room in Nashville finishing this entry, hoping they will have our truck fixed tomorrow.

And, to borrow another phrase from a favorite author of mine, Kurt Vonnegut, from Slaughterhouse Five , “so it goes.”


It is now two days later. We spent the night at the motel in Nashville and then checked out to go over to the truck place where we were hoping they would have it ready soon. We waited all day. In the late afternoon, they told us that they would not have the truck ready until Tuesday at the earliest. Oh no!

Then an hour later one of the mechanics came out and told us that he would have it ready to go in one hour. We had already called the shuttle for the motel to come and get us, and we had to call them back and cancel.

The truck was ready, but the load we are taking to Laredo can't deliver now until Monday morning, because there is nothing open in Laredo on the weekends. We checked on the possibility of taking the load there today (Saturday) and just relaying it and getting another load out of there right away. We were told that if we took the load today, we'd probably be sitting in Laredo until Monday morning anyway.

Rather than just go to Laredo and sit for two days, we decided to come through Terry's house and stay here until Sunday morning. We got here late last night.

We are still out three days of driving because of the truck problems and then the way the load we had was set up. But stuff happens. And you deal with it the best way you can.

Lemonette. While I was in Rome recently, my Mama told me about someone from Rome she had found on Youtube called Lemonette. She is hilarious and does video blogging about anything you can imagine. I haven't listened to everything she's done, but I love what I've heard so far.

Here is the link for her Youtube channel if you are interested: Lemonette.

Politics. I have said before in this blog that I am going to vote for John McCain. I like him and I think Sarah Palin would be a great Vice President.

But, in all honesty, I think we'd all better get used to saying “President Obama.”

Republicans are going to have a horrible year, which I think they deserve, but the fact that the Democrats will have control of the White House and the Congress scares me.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . . making choices and taking responsibility . . .

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