Friday, February 27, 2009

Effects of the Economy

Usually I would be writing about one of my Pet Peeves, but today I need to write about something else. This week was a difficult one for us because of the economy. Now I didn't lose my job, but we did lose something vital to our family. As you know we have a couple of special needs children. Our fourth child Grace was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She has been receiving help from the State with 4 therapists coming into our home each week. This week we found out that because of budget cuts her therapies would be "suspended". Basically they are saying that she will receive no more therapy.

I had the opportunity to talk with Grace's support coordinator about the situation. Basically she explained that she didn't know when the services would be suspended but that they definitely would be. Grace's authorization comes due in March and we figure that is when the suspension will begin. She will still have a "support coordinator" (BTW, doesn't that seem strange that she gets a support coordinator but no services to support?), however she will not get the services she needs. The person I talked to said that they have a "book of ideas" that we can have to help us ensure Grace can progress.

Gratefully my wife is a stay-at-home mom. This means that she can work with Grace during the day and hopefully implement the "ideas" from the book. We will be OK (I think) but I can't help but wonder about other families that aren't as blessed as we are to have a parent in the home during the day to work with their children.

I completely understand that in this economy there have to be budget cuts. I get that everyone needs to sacrifice. This doesn't mean I have to like it. I can only hope that we will all look at how things are done in government and how the money is spent and impress on our leaders that there are programs and services that should have a higher priority than others. I also can only hope that others in our situation can find a way to help their children when the services stop. I know we are going to do everything we can so Grace can progress.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Feel Like Reminiscing

So yesterday I had the chance to reminisce twice on my past.

The first was when I was able to contact someone from High School about something that didn't happen on graduation night. For years I had wanted to let this person know that I had gone to the party that she asked me to go to. I stayed for a while but she didn't show up and I've felt for years that I left too soon and somehow left her disappointed. Well yesterday I was able to voice this to her. It didn't matter to me whether or not she remembered what happened. I had to let her know that I was there and that we just didn't get together. It was a good conversation and I hope we can continue to stay in touch.

The other incident I found on my fridge. It was a birthday card from a friend that was made my first year in college. I can still remember the day clearly and how it helped me feel like I had made some good friends. During that point in my life I was sometimes keeping a journal and the day is marked by an entry and the homemade card is inserted there as well.

It has been good to reminisce about the past. It was also good to talk about things that I haven't been able to resolve. There are still more things that I need to resolve (mainly because my brain works weird and bugs me about them) but it will happen.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pet Peeve Friday: Telling God What To Do

I'm probably going to get a lot a flaming comments for this Pet Peeve, but it needs to be said. Today's Pet Peeve is all about humans telling God what His rules should be. You see it all the time, people want a religion to change its rules because they don't like them or they don't feel they are fair. Sorry to burst your bubble, but when God makes a rule it is a rule and we are to abide by it. The good news is that He allows us to verify this by asking Him if what we are taught is right and according to His will.

I had a conversation about a year ago with a friend of mine. He asked why religion cares about the morality of its members. I put it this way. We have a law in the land that states robbery is a crime. If I was a thief and I felt I couldn't help it then why should government care if I stole things. I mean the rule is very discriminating against me. I can't help what I am after all. The point was made sufficiently so that understanding was achieved.

To those of you who don't agree with the laws I believe are from God, please accept that I do not judge you because of that. I am living according to the rules I believe have come from Him. We have a statement of faith in our religion:

We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

To me this means that I should worship according to my beliefs and allow you to worship according to yours. This also means that even if you don't believe I will respect that and allow you to live your life. What really irks me though is to be labeled "misinformed" in areas that are "socially progressive". I'm sorry but if "socially progressive" means that people expect God to change His rules then take my name off the list. God has established rules that we are to live by so that the next life can be in His presence and He can reward us appropriately. It would be foolish of me to expect everyone to believe the same as I, however that does not mean that I should not express my beliefs and support them where appropriate.

We live in a world today where it is OK to "agree to disagree". I believe that allows us to have tolerance and to support one another even though we have differences. Expecting God to change His rules is not part of this. Accepting that people have differences is.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Patriotic Duty

So by the title I would bet you thought I would be talking about the Stimulus (Spendulus) package. Well I'm not, but I have done my part by writing to my representatives and expressing how I feel about it. No this entry is about last nights World Cup Qualifier between the US and Mexico.

As you know I'm coaching my son's soccer team. You might not know that I have been playing soccer since I was seven and am fanatic about it. I will wake up at all hours of the night to watch the teams I want to see play (although the DVR has reduced this and my wife is grateful for that). So I'm going to give my take on last night's game.

The US came into last night with an 8-0-2 record in its last 10 games against Mexico in the US. It's a significant streak seeing that these two teams are the best in the region (CONCACAF). This means that there was some pressure for the US to do well and continue its home dominance. Also this is the opening game of World Cup Qualifying and it was essential to get 3 points for the win (conventional wisdom is you win at home and draw on the road). The first thing I noticed about the game was the American National Anthem. Most times you just hear the band (recorded) playing the tune. Not last night, for the first time I can remember the crowd could be heard singing The Star Spangled Banner. It was impressive as the fans (Sam's Army) showed they were there to support the team.

The game was affected by the weather, with the wind being the most annoying of the elements. However, good teams make up for the conditions and both these teams played pretty much unaffected. The game didn't start that great for the US and if not for a great save by keeper Tim Howard the US would have been in a 1-0 hole early.

That seemed to wake the US up a bit and they started to play better. They began to take control of the game and show that playing on US soil is hostile ground for any visitor. The midfield play picked up and that led to a couple of good chances. However no goals were scored until the 43rd minute.

The US won a corner and DaMarcus Beasley served the ball to the far post. Landon Donovan eluded his man and sent a perfect header back across the face of goal. Oguchi Onyewu then drove a powerful header at goal that was saved by the Mexican keeper Sanchez. The ball bounced to Michael Bradley who one-timed a volley into the top corner of the net. Just like that 1-0 USA.

Halftime arrived and it seemed that the momentum was going the US way. When the second half started there was good play in the midfield but nothing really of note until the 63rd minute. Mexico won a free kick from the left side and drove a ball to the middle of the area. Mexico got there first and the ball fell to the left side of the goal where it was played back across. The ball was semi-cleared but Mexico played it back in and Tim Howard (US keeper) came out to claim the ball. The Mexican captain (Marquez) challenged for the ball and ran into Howard. This probably would have been only a Yellow card, but Marquez flicked his right foot out with the studs up catching Howard on the leg. The referee (who in my opinion did a fantastic job the whole game) never hesitated in reaching into his back pocket and producing a red card. Mexico was now down to 10 men.

This is where the game for me showed a weakness in the US squad. Being up a man should have meant more ball control especially with a lead. But it seemed to me that the US was in a hurry at times and pushed the ball forward in a couple of 1 VS 3 situations where it should have been played back and more build up established. Mexico began to control the ball more and there was a worried feeling that they might just get the equalizer even though they were short-handed.

However the US gained some composure and Michael Bradley provided the final nail in the coffin. He received a pass about 22 yards from goal and hit a screaming low knuckle ball that eluded Sanchez and deposited into the bottom left corner of the goal. Game Over!

The game was pretty well played and the result was deserved. Hopefully though the team will go back and review the last 27 minutes and find ways to take better control of the situation. If they don't learn the ball control needed in the last quarter of a game they will find that other teams of Mexico's (and higher) caliber will score and deflate the US.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Getting Up Off the Ground

As some of you know I coach my son's soccer team. They are a bunch of energetic five year olds that I'm trying to teach soccer to. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But hey they are having fun and that is really what it is all about. I want to talk about something that happened in last Saturday's game that is not just a soccer lesson but a life lesson.

My son is not the biggest five year old around. In fact he is one of the smaller players on the field. Even so he is very smart and has a never surrender mentality. In the game last Saturday he had several opportunities to dribble the ball down field and try to score. Unfortunately there was a kid on the other team that was faster and bigger than him. The bigger kid would catch up to Sam and shoulder him to the ground (OK sometimes he would push him to the ground). Now as a coach I have two options, complain to the referee or encourage Sam to get up and go after the ball. I chose the latter. Sam listened and got up each time and went after the ball.

It's amazing to me how we have similar things happen in our lives. There are times when the bigger and faster kid will push us down to the ground. It's then that we have two options. The first is to complain about what happened and try to get someone else to take care of our problems. The second is to get up, dust ourselves off and "go after the ball". Personally the second option is the one I prefer because I can do something about the situation. It gives me a goal to go after and a chance to prove myself.

It seems that the ability to get up and "go after the ball" eventually pays off. In life it makes you stronger and more determined. In Sam's case it led to a goal on the last play of the game. Had he given up or complained he might not have had the courage to try again and achieve his "goal".