Of Mice and Men and Church

George and Lennie had a dream. A dream of a little place of their own, with their own bedrooms, kitchen, livestock, and crops. A place where they could live off the fat of the land and where no one would bother them.

This dream was real to one and a fantasy to the other. Yet it sustained them both. Kept them focused on their current task.

And it was infectious. As they shared their dream with barley buckers and ranch hands, those guys wanted a slice too. They wanted to be part of something special. And to them, it was nearly heavenly.

One ranch hand was willing to pay the majority of the cost just to belong. Another, a black man, was willing to help for free just so he could reap what he sowed.

Even the owner’s wife, the only girl on the ranch, had a desire to be part of George and Lennie’s dream. For her, she wanted to be part of a group that lived life and took care of each other.

Steinbeck’s story was set in the 1930’s, during the Great Depression. During that time, people didn’t have grand dreams – certainly not 40 of them. But they had this longing.

Even amidst the struggle for food and money, people had a longing to belong.

And today is no different. The longing is still there. It may manifest itself in different ways, but it has never dissipated.

And it never will.

Because the longing isn’t to have a small place we can call our own or to live off the fat of the land or to tend the rabbits.

The longing we have is to belong. To belong to something bigger than ourselves. To belong to something grand. To belong to something that lasts. Forever.

And we’re going to fill this longing – somehow, someway.

And this is where the church needs to be. Filling those longings with the only fulfilling thing – Jesus Christ.

Churches try to meet this need. We even throw “Community” in our titles so you’ll have no doubt. But are we really meeting this need. Or are we just masking it?

If we’re making people feel welcome and comfortable and at home, we’ve accomplished one goal. Yet if we never offer the ultimate answer – Jesus Christ – then we’ve only duped ourselves. And even worse – we’ve duped those in need.

The dream is infectious – like water to Gizmo – but if we as a church don’t offer Jesus Christ in full, then we are adding to the problem, not solving it.

And that may be worse.

In the end, George and Lennie’s plan was based upon the efforts of themselves and they never made it to their little slice of heaven. In fact, things actually got worse.

Because they shared their dream, the girl got carried away and was killed by Lennie. Lennie was then shot by George as he tried to protect him – and himself.

So – your choice. Fulfill eternal dreams. Or feel comfortable.

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40 Before 40: The List

So – I’ve finally finished the list and thought it worthwhile to summarize them in a single post. Mainly so my mom doesn’t have to click through multiple posts just to reread them.

So here they are in the same order they were presented:

  1. Eat my way through Italy
  2. Have my name on giant check
  3. Leave a $100 tip anonymously
  4. Play Santa Claus
  5. Teach a class
  6. Wear a tuxedo
  7. Attend the Army-Navy game
  8. Get someone to say “Amen” while I’m speaking
  9. Ride in a hot air balloon
  10. Solve a community problem
  11. Play a round at Augusta National
  12. Take a tour of Krispy Kreme
  13. Own a car still in production
  14. Be a sous chef
  15. Be on tv or in a commercial
  16. Ride a roller coaster with my kids
  17. Spend the night in a hammock
  18. Win a trophy
  19. See the good parts of the White House
  20. Take a road trip
  21. Attend a European soccer match
  22. Take my children on a mission’s trip
  23. Wear the Tiger mascot costume
  24. Cater an event
  25. Jump out of an airplane
  26. Be a guest on a radio show
  27. Own an orange blazer
  28. Never join Facebook
  29. Host a concert
  30. Spend a night on a boat
  31. Grow a beard
  32. Get a real shave
  33. Run for public office
  34. Read a literary classic
  35. Act in a play
  36. Be published
  37. Go viral
  38. Run down the Hill
  39. Have a great Valentine’s Day
  40. Ride in a military aircraft

Please check back often as I will be updating this page as I complete, or change, my goals.

I’m nearly ready to cross off my first goal as I just finished “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. Quite the uplifting and encouraging read… I think I know why I haven’t read all that many literary classics – they are depressing.

Open Letter to Governor Haley

Dear Governor Haley,

As governor you have the opportunity to shape this great state of ours for generations to come – what an honor. I can’t begin to comprehend the enormous amount of stress you must be under with difficult decisions put in front of you daily.

I’m writing to bring awareness to one particular major decision awaiting you – the proposed development of a casino brought forth by the Cherokee Tribe in the Hardeeville and Jasper County areas.

However, I would like to present a different side of this debate – not economic, moral, ethical, or social – but of respect.

Just over six weeks ago, a family in Charleston by the name of Matt and Melanie Capobianco had their adoptive 2-year-old daughter taken from them and returned to the biological father. During this time, the state of South Carolina was unable to step in and intervene. As such, a young child was uprooted from the only family she has ever known and returned to someone who demonstrated he had no plans to be a part of her life.

Please note that I do not know the Capobiancos. I’ve never met them, spoken to them, or even traded e-mails. I only know of their story through the media. It has hit home.

Something very similar happened to dear friends of ours. They too adopted a little girl. They too took her home from the hospital. They too raised her. And they too lost her following a lengthy court battle.

Much like the Capobiancos, they thought they were protected. Protected by lawyers. Protected by the State. Protected by common sense and a sense of understanding.

And in the end. They lost. The little girl lost. Their friends lost. A community lost.

So as you decide how to handle the proposed casino, I ask that you consider all angles. While one Native American tribe is promoting the casino, another fellow Native American tribe just supported the removal of a little girl from her only home.

While Native American tribes promise major economic and social benefits, they are also supporting a law that just wrecked a family’s bank account and tore apart their home. While the Indian Child Welfare Act has a purpose, I’m sure you will agree the intent of the law is not to destroy families; which is what has occurred ironically within weeks of Jasper County unanimously voting to approve the development of a Cherokee-operated casino.

And this group wants your blessing. What will you do? Will you stand up for your citizens?

You have a great opportunity before you. And while it may not return Veronica to the Capobiancos or Abigail to the Andricain’s, it could protect the next child.

I still believe every person in this great State has a voice. And I hereby willingly trade my voice, and what may be best for my family, to someone who did not have a voice.

Sincerely,
Willy Powell
Beaufort County
willypowellpe@gmail.com

40 Before 40: 5-1

The Last Five. I briefly pondered making one of those numbered intros like ESPN uses for their Top 10 lists, but then I realized it would take effort. And detail. And as we just found out – I don’t do detail.

So, with that said, here are the Final Five (doesn’t ring as well as Final Four – but equally unimportant):

  • Be published
    I won’t be too picky on the media to which I am published: website, magazine, children’s book, engineered white paper, Reader’s Digest (funny story sections). My only requirement is I receive credit for the work.

    I also can’t put my finger on why I want to be published other than it brings some level of vindication. In some ways it says “Well Done” and “I think others want to hear what you have to say.”

  • Go viral
    Lord, please let this dream not be fulfilled without my knowledge through the use of YouTube. Amen.

    Of all the dreams, this is probably my most self indulging. What benefit is there to having 15 minutes of social media fame? What long term gain is it?

    There is none. The only thing gained is satisfaction. The satisfaction of knowing I made something worth sharing. And sharing. And sharing.

  • Run down the Hill
    This has been a dream since I was a little boy. To come out of the buses, walk to the top of the Hill, rub Howard’s Rock and bask in the glow of 80,000+ cheering fans.

    But I knew I would never get the chance. I couldn’t play well enough to earn the right. And I never fought for our country. But then Lucas Glover won the US Open and just a few months later he led the team down the Hill before the FSU game.

    At that point I knew I had a shot. And the dream back alive. (Start around 3:30 in the clip)

  • Have a great Valentine’s Day
    Past Valentine’s Days have involved getting lost, friends in wrecks, meals we couldn’t afford, ill-timed decisions, and major disappointments.

    As such, Valentine’s Day was a running joke. We basically gave up, laughed at ourselves (and others caught up in its wake). But then I had little girls. Girls who love to feel like princesses and beam when they hear how beautiful they are (they aren’t all that different from grown-up girls). And I want to make sure they feel the love of their daddy. I want to make sure they have no need for other men – just their daddy. And Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to show them.

    As such, I dream of having a night where things go right, for both my trophy wife and my little girls. Where conversation flows – with all of them. Where meals are perfect, dessert is sweet, and love abounds.

    Sounds super cheesy – and it is. And I’m not usually like this. But for them, I’m willing to try again.

  • Ride in a military aircraft
    At first this was ride in a fighter jet. Then I settled on just the simulator. Then I changed to a helicopter. Then I ran out of room, so I lumped them all together under the dream of “military aircraft”.

    You would think this wouldn’t be too hard. I live in an area with two active military bases. Plus – Tommy Bowden got a chance:

I guess that’s it – all 40. The only problem – that was the easy part. Now the tough part begins.

Please join me as I embark on this journey.

Thanks for your time.

Is the Devil Really in the Details?

When people think of scary words, they usually think about death, public speaking, feelings, or Valentine’s Day. The same is true for me – with one addition – “details”.

I like the first 75% of a project. The “good enough” portion. But the last 25% – the details, the fine print – they scare the crap out of me.

The detailed portion requires extra thought, effort, care, and mulling of a topic until it has been fully vetted (which is probably why I’ve always hated Seinfeld – spending 30 minutes mulling a topic that is meaningless to me).

In many ways, I can say the devil really is in the details. Whether it be engineering, painting, yard work, or taxes. The details are evil.

Except in one situation – Christianity. Here the details are what gives it strength. And reliability. And truth. And what gives us our hope. The hope of eternity.

The details of Christianity are where greater than 300 Old Testament prophecies come true in Jesus (see McDowell). Where even the smallest of details is not forgotten, but fulfilled.

The details of Christianity are where we see Jesus recognize his robe had been touched (Luke 8) or where he he takes care of the wedding guests (John 2).

The details of Christianity are where a woman celebrates a lost coin and a shepherd a lost sheep (Luke 15).

The details of Christianity are where a jar of oil (2 kings 4) and a jar of flour (1 Kings 17) never runs dry.

The details of Christianity are where every star is counted, every grain of sand numbered, and every hair on your head known.

The details of Christianity has a single person taking the sins of all – regardless of the past.

The details of Christianity allow us direct access to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The details of Christianity removes the need to earn favor or leave us wondering if we’ve done enough.

So while the details of my life drive me to brink, the details of Christianity bring life.

And while I cringe at the thought of the effort required to complete the detailed portion of tasks, the details of Christianity are complete – and require no effort on my part.

So – is the devil really in the details, or do details actually bring about the grace of God?

And for once I am thankful for the details.

Best Feelings in the World

I promise I’m not a cynic. You may think that, especially after posts such as “I’m an Amateur” and “Worst Feelings in the World“. But I’m not. There are things for which I am truly grateful. And I smile quite often. And I look forward to many things.

Some of which leave me with warm fuzzies and anxious moments and sleepless nights.

Things like:

  • Pulling into your driveway following a road trip
    Doesn’t matter that you have three loads of laundry, a pile of mail, nothing to eat, and the house smells all musty

  • Warm sheets
    Taking the sheets straight from the dryer, putting them on the bed, and then sliding in right after

  • Removal of nose blockage, aka – a booger
    Think how awesome this guy felt:

  • Afternoon nap
  • Warming your hands by the fire
  • Glass of iced tea on a hot day
    Except when you’re working on a golf course in the summer sun and chug three or four glasses and go right back to work. That can make you blow chunks. I know.

  • A wink-wink from your bride
  • Christmas morning
  • Being tackled by your kids as you come home every night
  • Teaching your kids something new
  • The mailman on the day you’re expecting a package
  • Saturday’s in the fall
  • The first slice into a grilled or smoked meat
  • The silence when the kids are asleep
  • An atta boy for something you’ve done
  • The start of your favorite TV show
  • Singing to your favorite song

See – there are things I enjoy and look forward to and make me smile.

What are yours?