My Favorite Things From 2017

Talula the Shih Tzu

When I was a little boy, I had a book with a picture of a black and white puppy on the cover.  My heart’s desire has been to have one of my own.  Now I do!   Her name is Talula –  an Irish name with a shout-out to my heritage.

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The Greatest Showman

This musical is my favorite movie of the year.  The opening scene, where the man turns into the little boy looking in the store window, was a beautiful transition.  Then the boy begins to sing to the little girl  – and a sob swelled up in my throat.  Beautiful!   Hopeful!

Mat Kearney

Mat is my favorite singer/songwriter of all time.  The song, “Better Than I Used to Be,” released this year, has the lyrics, “Things don’t go just the way you planned it, so much to take for granted.”   A beautiful reflection on having gratitude for your current life; and the music is just sooooo good!  Best EP of the year.

Mickey Mouse

I love Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse.  I went to an auction this year and walked away with several vintage Mickey Mouse memorablia pieces.  One in particular, specifically of Mickey Mouse, was made by a rubber company during the 1930’s.   It is a sweet treasure reminding me of how the creativity of one man still has relevance nearly a century later.

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Tapestry

Carole King has always been a favorite and I am very familiar with her album Tapestry.  This year, I found a copy of the album at the bottom of a giant stack of records.  It plays perfectly and makes me believe the 70’s are alive in my living room.

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Dear Evan Hanson

I watched a poorly filmed, bootleg version on YouTube of this Broadway show.   In spite of the quality, I discovered a wonderful story of lies becoming truth and the truth bringing about freedom for the main character, played by Ben Platt.  His voice is heavenly and the songwriters, Benji Pasek and Justin Paul, have created some amazing songs.  The book is by Steven Levenson; his story-telling takes you from the depths of despair to restoration.  Favorite words are, “Just two friends on a perfect day.”

The Great Comet

The show didn’t survive bad press, but watching a rough version online made me want to run off and join the theatre when hearing Josh Groban sing, “Dust and Ashes.”

Awakening the Evangelical Mind

It is nice reading someone recounting the power of evangelism in America.   Sometimes the history helps you see where you’re standing today.

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There is a Cloud

Elevation Worship helps me walk into my Father’s presence.   Songs sung in earth and touching heaven.

The Author’s Voice

I wrote a play filled with famous American Author’s visiting a struggling, young author, named Brenda, living in New York in 1978.  The experience was incredible for me as playwright, director, costumer, and set designer.

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Tristan and His Rubix Cube (my son)

He mastered the cube and can solve it in less than 1:50 every time.  He understands algorithms.  Cute and smart!

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Aidan Growing Taller than Me (my son)

My fourteen year old out grew me in stature.  His heart is even bigger.  Always gentle!  A great man!

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Brennyn and Her Eye (my daughter)

She has an eye for seeing life.  In paintings, drawings and song.   Visionary.

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Wife

My eternal friend.  I never have to journey alone.  And together we had three!!!

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Willy Wonka and Me

 

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I vividly recall scenes from the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” of children disobeying the rules of their host, Willy Wonka. Even as a kid, I was shocked to see such horrific behaviors on display. The fit of the little red-headed girl stands out for me to this day.

As an impressionable child, I considered the movie as proof that getting your way does not make it a right way with a happy outcome. A consequence is often the recourse for a wrong decision deemed right. Just ask those Willy Wonka kids.

When my son was four, he watched the original version and gave up drinking Kool Aid because he didn’t want to blow up like the one girl and turn into a huge purple ball. This movie has deep themes, folks – for generations to come!!!

My age, watching the human race, being a father and a boss continues to prove to me that getting what you want often brings consequence, does not guarantee happiness, and, like the red-headed girl in Willy Wonka, often results in people throwing a fit.

I remember my mom saying “no” to me going to a Van Halen concert in Dallas with friends when I was seventeen. Being a father of two teenagers, I understand her refusal to let me jump in a car and drive eight hours with three other teenage boys to hear David Lee Roth sing “Panama.” But at the moment, all I saw was her killing my rock and roll dream. I don’t know that I’d have joined a hair band and spent my life on drugs and wild women, but her not giving me what I wanted probably had greater effect upon my life than I know.

For my own benefit, I have to say I didn’t pitch much of a fit. She’d have punished my insubordinate behavior. Some silent treatment for a few hours is probably all I managed, while wearing the t-shirt my friend Charlie brought me back as a painful souvenir.

Parents say “no”! Or they’re supposed to say it. Not getting what we want is a good part of life. It’s a God part of living life. Other’s wisdom and position give us boundaries necessary for living life unscathed. Sure, it hurts our feelings. We feel emotional. We will never see Eddie Van Halen play his guitar. And sometimes we want to raise a fist in rebellion against the system, but the truth is that we all need outside voices willing to not give us what we want. We will have to learn the art of submitting to a voice different then our own.

In kindergarten, I couldn’t understand my name written with lower case letters. I plainly remember telling Mrs. Washburn my name was spelled TODD and not Todd. I reported this to my mother only to discover my teacher was right- lower case letters were legit. Had I gotten my kindergarten way, I would have been trying to get my way always throughout my academic career. Later, I was ready to understand my college professor’s voice as he skilled me in theatre etiquette and how to bring a character to life.

The Bible says it best.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

Sometimes what we think we want has death written all over it. It seems right, but it is deadly. And, sometimes, other people see it when we are blind to the choice and the following ramifications.

Proverbs 11:14
Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

Why throw a tantrum when the answer is different than the one you want? The parent or boss might have the right counsel, and in their words is safety.

A daily read of the book of Proverbs would help us make better choices, and quite possibly help us make better quality decisions, not based on what we want, but decisions based on what is actually good for us.

And speaking of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, what is up with those Lupalupas? Metaphor for something, or just weird psychedelic early 70s nonsense?

 

Under the Influence of Love

Kenneth E Hagin was a great influence upon my life. I attended his Bible school and have read his books. Over the last several months I’ve been revisiting his teachings on youtube. Timeless!

I had the honor of being in this service listening to him teach on love. It was the last time I would hear him teach. He moved to Heaven later that same year.

It’s a great message to reflect on and let the truth of loving people change our lives.

Singing with Headphones

My youngest lives life big! He has reckless abandonment for life. I love watching him let the song flow even if the words are difficult to remember. Being his father’s son it was acceptable to interject his own words. Hopefully we can all join in song and make a joyful noise.