Blocked View: Analysis Paralysis

It has been often and well said that one of the reasons that adult men love sports is that they are taken back to their childhood so quickly and easily. Probably so. There is, however, that point when our analysis of sporting events causes us to miss the obvious happening in front of us.

Such an event happened this past Monday night. There was a moment in the game when Patrick Mahomes, quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, made a play that befuddled the announcers in the press box, but which caused me to almost immediately jump off my couch. I had practiced the same move with my brothers multiple times in the front yard as we threw a football back and forth.

With three minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Chiefs faced a 3rd and 5. Trailing at this point, a play was an absolute necessity to keep the Chiefs hopes of winning alive. Mahomes was flushed from the pocket and ran to his left. Noticing his predicament, his running back turned and began to run parallel to Mahomes, hoping for a pass. The rush and the surrounding players made a throw almost impossible and yet Mahomes managed to get the throw off and secured the 1st down, continuing the drive.

No one else was in the room and yet I blurted out immediately, “he threw that with his left hand!” Patrick Mahomes is right-handed. Running to his left, he had quickly moved the ball to his left hand and heaved it to his running back just a few yards in front of him.

The reaction from the announcers was a little slower to come. In fact, they didn’t observe that he had thrown it with his left hand until they watched the replay and saw the play from another angle. I definitely understand. These are folks who have played professional football and it’s probably a little odd to see a quarterback make a play with their opposite hand.

It wasn’t odd for me. My younger brother could catch anything I could throw and we had done and practiced this play on multiple occasions – and may have even tried it out on a few unsuspecting brother-in-laws – and I saw it for what it was immediately.

Folks, I don’t ever want to lose the joy of recognizing a touch football play in an NFL game. I surely don’t want to lose the joy of seeing others act in power, love, and kindness, because I am too busy analyzing their behavior from the booth of my own self-righteousness.

 

 

My Missing Ingredient

Now, if you have been around me lately, and you see the glass of tea above, you will assume that the missing ingredient is sugar. You would be correct, partially. There’s a little more to the story.

For the last year a glass of sweetened tea has not been consumed by myself. Realizing that I was going to have to make some long term health choices, I decided to abandon sugar in drinks, and out the door went sweet tea. But, I still needed my caffeine, and I turned to unsweetened coffee and unsweetened tea.

The adjustment has not been that difficult and I still indulge in a latte at least every other week. However, my desire for no sugar in my tea revealed something about myself that I would rather forget; I didn’t use to care about unsweetened tea. More clearly, I didn’t worry about whether or not there was any available.

About 11 years ago I began a rotation cooking on Wednesday nights for our church suppers. I have the wonderful ability to get sidetracked and forget things that are a regular occurrence or need. Invariably, as the dinner hour approached I would become consumed with completing some task and would become urgently busy.

Our pastor, Derwin, would graciously inquire as to whether or not I needed anything. I would usually tell him no, but he would hang around and soon enough find something that needed to be done and he would quietly do it.

On more than once occasion he would ask me whether or not I had made any unsweetened tea. As I noted above, I normally forget routine tasks, and this would be one that had been lost in the shuffle. Shamefully, I can remember on more than one occasion telling him that we just wouldn’t have any unsweetened tea that night, and reassuring him that it wasn’t a big deal. I’m sure that I reminded him of how few people drank it, as well as the possibility that none of them might be in attendance that night.

I don’t remember him ever arguing with me, but I certainly remember him quietly making the tea; unsweetened.

The missing ingredient in my life that this exposed is referred to in the King James Bible as ‘tender-hearted.’ Our more common term today would be compassion.

We often think of compassion as having pity, but it is so much more than that. Compassion is a willingness to put ourselves into the position of the other. It is to remove blame and shame and assume their need as your own.

This isn’t fun to talk about. Not because it is some big deal and whether or not some of those folks are going to come after me about their tea, but because it reveals a self-obsession or self-serving attitude about myself.

I now make unsweetened tea without fail, but I have to admit there have been a few times that the mayo hasn’t been put out when we’ve had hotdogs. I still need to daily engage in compassionate living. Here’s a few things Jesus said about compassion.


Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.”
The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?”
Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”
They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.”
So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.
They all ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food. There were 4,000 men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children. Then Jesus sent the people home, and he got into a boat and crossed over to the region of Magadan.


Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

 

Landon’s Call: Week 4 Recap

Week 4 Recap: #22 Texas A&M VS #1 Alabama

 

Alabama has made their statement as to why they should be, and to why they are the number one team in the nation. This weekend they hosted division rival Texas A&M and showed their strength. While everyone currently is on how good and great Alabama is, I want to give some props to A&M.

Jimbo Fisher has done a lot in just a few weeks. Near upset at home against Clemson, scoring 23 on the road at Alabama. Kellen Mond looked good, he made mistakes, but Kellen Mond looked like a good quarterback, especially against a defense like Alabama. If I were you I’d watch out because A&M could make some noise.

Let it Fall: A Prayer

Over the last few years my understanding of prayer has grown and I want to share a quick thought. A piece, you will, of my understanding.

Having grown up a Baptist I had only primarily been exposed to spontaneity in prayer or extemporaneous prayer. Unrehearsed, off the top of the head, or from the bottom of the heart, as each moment brought out or exposed. I cannot recall ever reciting the Lord’s Prayer corporately, although I certainly was made to memorize it as a child.

Yes, the Lord’s Prayer gives us a template, but oh that template is so powerful. As I have sought out teaching on prayer I have found that many wrote out their prayers; practiced, if you will, and yet so much power and humility. Many times music is simply a prayer set to tune, and we might agree that it can lead to an understanding and knowledge that we were yet to see.

Below are three of my favorite prayers:

     One from Scripture

     One from history

     One a song

Our Father in heaven,
your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

 

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us.

 

Landon’s Call: Week 4 Matchups

#22 Texas A&M VS #1 Alabama

One of this weekends key match-ups is another battle of SEC West teams, but to be completely honest, I don’t think it’ll be close. Tua Tagovailoa has been nothing short of spectacular to this point, and Jerry Jeudy is leading Alabama’s young receiving core. Alabama looks to be the best team in the nation. A&M may have kept it close against Clemson, but that was at home, and Tuscaloosa is a completely different place.

Alabama- 45 Texas A&M- 17

#7 Stanford VS #20 Oregon

Gameday for week 4 puts two PAC-12 North teams against each other. Some people overlook the importance this game could hold. This could be a battle for the PAC-12 North, and really the PAC-12 as a whole, because the Southern division doesn’t look all to good. I think this game is decided by Stanford’s ability to run the football. Heisman hopeful Bryce Love returns from injury for this game and he could run wild. With enough luck if the winner of this game wins out, we could see a playoff dark horse come from the PAC-12.

Oregon- 31 Stanford- 24

#18 Wisconsin VS Iowa

A critical night game for the Big Ten. Wisconsin looks to rebound from a crazy upset and Iowa looks to keep on winning. The Big Ten has been tested a lot so far and they haven’t passed most of them, really they haven’t passed any of them. A night game, at Iowa, I just can’t see Wisconsin win after what happened last week.

Iowa- 24 Wisconsin- 10

Unmoored

Originally posted September 2018

I feel like a part of my childhood has ended today.

When I was born, I had three living grandparents. They all passed away before I exited my preteen years.

My mother’s grandmother, Geya, passed away before I reached 10 years of age. I don’t have many memories of her, but I do remember our family spending time with her as she lived with her daughter, my grandmother, not far from our home for the last few years of her life.

My grandmother, my mother’s mom, lived a short distance from us and passed away when I was near 11 years of age. Her house always smelled of smoke and was dark. She watched football with us and I don’t know if that was from a love of football or a desire to share with her grand-kids, and her son-in-law.

I remember A&W Root Beer and Entemaan’s Chocolate Chip cookies, which she kept in her fridge. There was always another mysterious dark bottle next to the A&W bottle and I never realized I was that close to being able to taste wine. Which, of course, would have banned me from ever visiting Grandma’s house again. Just last week, my wife Christy, brought me home a box of those cookies and I once again placed them in the fridge. It was a great reminder of what love tasted like, though mine were without the sour taste of cigarette smoke that always accompanied Grandma’s cookies.

I remember my oldest brother, Abel, playing the organ in the formal living room while I watched horrible Florida Gator football in the den with an annoying younger brother, Timothy, who loved the Gators. Kerwin Bell was quarterback at that time and I still remember Grandma saying when they got close to the goal line that he should just run the ball himself. Incidentally, I saw Kerwin Bell a few weeks ago when the Valdosta State Blazers came to Waycross to play a game against Fort Valley State. Grandma was right, as I saw Bell; now the Blazers head coach in person, he is a very large man.

My father’s father, Roy, came into our family’s life for a very short time. My father had had no contact with him past the age of 3 until my father was well into his adult years. By the time we knew who he was he was near the end of his life, almost completely vanquished by the alcoholism that had ruined his body and soul.

Memories of Grandpa are few. I remember getting in the car with dad one time, a beautiful tan Datsun station wagon, to ride around town looking for Grandpa. Grandpa was looking for a bottle, or the coins with which to buy a bottle, and dad was determined to find him and drag him back to the seedy hotel where he lived.

I also remember being in the van with mom one day when she stopped on the side of the road to give him a ride as he was walking to or from town. Grandpa wore western shirts with snaps and a cowboy hat, but what I still remember vividly today was how he smelled. If you have ever smelled a homeless person, that was how Grandpa smelled, and I remember sitting in that van on that hot summer day thinking I was going to puke all over the vinyl seats in front of me. Thankfully I didn’t, although puking in vehicles was kind of my thing for a few years.

But it was my aunts and uncles who ushered me and my siblings into adulthood as those caring and generous grandparent figures. They were the ones whose home we were excited to visit and they were the ones who made sure that they were present for those major events of our lives that seemed simple at the time, but which one day we look back on as a time marker, and we remember those who were there and their love and sacrifice.

These aunts and uncles were the brothers and sisters of my dad’s mother who had died when he was 5 years old. They had served as surrogate parents, alongside my dad’s grandmother, for my dad and his brother, my Uncle Roy. They gave them time, they provided material blessings, but mostly; for my dad and his brother, they gave them a place that they knew was home.

It was their homes that we went to on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it was their hugs that we both dreaded and anticipated. Dad, who has passed on his orneriness to at least this son, can be quite prickly, although age has mellowed him somewhat. He didn’t mind telling those who loved him the wrongness or incompleteness of their ways, more than once. I certainly have done the same.

Yet they did to him what family does, they loved him. And they most certainly loved his family. My Aunt Katherine passed away a few years ago, and I was probably most impacted by her and Uncle Lloyd’s love. They never missed a graduation and some of my most memorable reunions were the ones at her little green block house. They were the constant in our lives that continuously said to us; “You are family, you are loved.” As a young adult I remember driving past that house after they had moved and somehow feeling a sense of loss. They were still living at the time, but life had moved on and for a moment I felt that shifting reality of being a finite being.

For kids growing up in a church that sometimes withholds love from their pastor as a leverage to prove they are right, the reality of being loved outside of that community was crucial, and I know impacted my siblings and I. For kids who grew up somewhat removed from a lot of outside relationships, it was empowering to know that outside of our limited scope there were people who genuinely wanted the best for us. When you think your roots are only as deep as those you immediately know, and those you immediately know are shifting and changing and leaving, you need to have family. My dad’s aunts and uncles were that family for us.

Aunt Grace was an aunt that I didn’t fully know until I reached my later teen years but she also made it a personal point to be involved in our lives. At times, I felt that she knew that she must act as the refined one to make up for Uncle Lloyd’s repeated attempts to rile Dad. As an uncle, I now understand why he got so much delight in telling us off-color jokes. He wanted to know that behind that facade of always doing right that actual breathing humans existed.

Uncle Bud, who’s passing spurred these thoughts out of my mind and into linear shape, became the kind man whom everyone hopes to have as a grandfather. After his retirement, trips to Florida became regular and he always wanted to see his family. We were his family. My mom, who doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve and can be faulty in making us aware of things, I don’t believe once missed telling me when Uncle Bud was going to be in town.

He meant that much. He loved, and he knew love. I believe that Rosa helped him with that as she also poured out love on our family over the last 30 years or so that I’ve known her. While he would have brushed it off as being of little consequence, his gracious demeanor taught us much about what love ‘looked’ like, and his constant presence taught us what love ‘felt’ like.

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.

Landon’s Call: Tiger Bowl

One of week 3’s three key matchups featured a battle of two top 15 ranked SEC West teams; LSU and Auburn. The rivalry between these two is known as the Tiger bowl, and like two Tigers, these two teams fought until the very end.

The first quarter showed the explosiveness of LSU in a hostile environment, but a late second quarter surge by Auburn gave them a 4-point halftime lead. Auburn kept up the tempo on offense but a few defensive mistakes made the score 21-13 at the end of the third quarter.

With 8 minutes left in the ball game LSU had a 1st & 10 from their own 29, after an Auburn punt. A perfect throw from Joe Burrow, to Derrick Dillon, who was running a crossing route, brought the tigers within 2. After a failed 2-pt attempt, LSU’s defense stood strong forcing a three and out. From there LSU would run out the last 5 minutes and 36 seconds setting up a field goal with 2 seconds remaining. Senior kicker Cole Tracy came on for a 42 yard field goal, he had already missed from 52, but had no trouble putting this one through to give LSU a 22-21 victory over rival Auburn.

Landon’s Call: Week 3

#4 Ohio State @ #15 TCU

Week 3’s college gameday host is the campus of TCU. Although the game is not at the Horned Frogs stadium, TCU is the closest to the neutral site. The game is going to be in Arlington Texas and is the last game before Urban Meyer is allowed back on the sidelines on Saturdays. Heavily favored Ohio Sate may be surprised by TCU’s stellar offense but I believe the powerful B1G defense of Ohio State will step up.

Ohio State- 45 TCU- 28

#12 LSU @ #7 Auburn

A key SEC matchup taking place in this third week of college football. Auburn, the host, is favored by 10.5 point but I believe that LSU can give them a run for their money, much like last year. This could be a major deciding factor for the SEC’s Western division. If we see one of these teams upset the number one ranked Crimson Tide later this season, we could see a new SEC West team in the playoff hunt come December.

Auburn- 27 LSU- 21

#22 USC @ Texas

Texas, the team that used to run college football. USC, the team that spoiled it all for the Longhorns. This rivalry may be young compared to others. But it is just as bitter. USC, lead by freshman QB, JT Daniels, comes off a road loss to PAC-12 rival Stanford, while Texas looks to recuperate after a slow start to the 2018 season. I don’t know what it is about Texas teams fanbases meaning so much in big games but I expect Texas fans and USC fans to show up and go all out.

Texas- 17 USC- 14

Landon’s Call: Clemson vs Texas A&M

Week 2’s game of the week placed Clemson at Texas A&M. The hot topics of this game were how would A&M’s defense handle Clemson’s dual quarterback situation,and how Clemson would play in a hostile environment.

Clemson, the clear favorite, jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead, and was up 28-13 late in the third. A&M brought it to an 8 point lead and on a 3rd & 8 with 2 minutes left it looked as if A&M had scored. However, after review it was ruled that Quartney Davis fumbled the ball out the endzone, and Clemson took over on the touch-back.

A&M’s defense came up with a clutch stop handing Kellen Mond and the offense the ball back. Mond’s drive to the endzone was nothing less than spectacular, as the Aggies scored with 46 seconds remaining putting the score at 28-26 Clemson out front. A&M went for two but Clemson’s defense held strong, forcing an interception in the endzone.

Clemson improves to 2-0 as A&M falls to 1-1. Keep an eye on Texas A&M as they go on the road to Alabama in a couple of weeks, and as for Clemson, they have shown they can handle tough road games.

 

We apologize for the delay, but over the weekend Landon’s editor took on a home improvement project. His lack of skill, combined with a daunting task, has kept him preoccupied. 

Landon’s Call: Week 2 Matchups

Our first game of the week is also the host of College Gameday, as ESPN will be in College Station this Saturday. The 2nd ranked Clemson Tigers travel to face the Texas A&M Aggies. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a tough defensive battle between the two teams as Clemson has a young offense and Texas A&M has a physical defense.

Clemson 31-17

The 3rd ranked Georgia Bulldogs are at 24th ranked South Carolina. I believe that this SEC match up is a little overlooked. While Georgia looks good we have got to remember the fact that they lost 3 of their main 4 offensive stars, not to mention the defensive gaps they have to fill. The key to the Dawgs winning this game, I believe, is James Cook, Georgia’s freshman who won’t be available until the second half due to a suspension.
Georgia 45-28
The 17th ranked USC Trojans are at 10th ranked Stanford. This late night match-up between PAC-12 rivals should be a good one. USC, the underdog for this one, is going to need a big game from freshman quarterback JT Daniels. This would also be a good week for Brice Love to show that he is a he is an Heisman hopeful with a big game at home. This could end up being a major role in playoff hopes come the end of the season so, expect this one to be good.
Stanford 38-28
Daniel’s Picks
Clemson 31-20
Georgia 31-20
Stanford 31-20
Yes, all the same score
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