My Mom is a Cubs Fan & So is Yours

My mom is a Cubs fan. And so is yours.

And they have no idea.

My mom’s never been to Wrigley Field. Never heard of the Curse of the Billy Goat or Tinkers to Evans to Chance or Bartman.

I’m not even sure if she’s ever been to Chicago, let alone the North Side.

And other than a 6th grade report on Ernie Banks, and the subsequent Starting Lineup action figure she bought, I can’t think of any correlation she has to the Cubs.

But she’s a Cubs fan. Through and through.

Or at least acts like one.

The Cubs, affectionately known as the Lovable Losers, have the greatest and most supportive fans in baseball.

You could argue St. Louis has the best fans, for it is the premiere baseball town. But they have a reason for their support – success

You could argue the Yankees or Red Sox have the best fans, but they’ll turn on you in a heartbeat. Just ask A-Rod or Buckner.

See, the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1903 and haven’t played in one since 1945 (before she was born).

No one alive has been able to celebrate a World Series win and only those on Social Security have even seen the Cubs participate in one.

And yet, Wrigley Field remains full. The fans continue to show up in support of their team. Whether it be a cool, spring night or hot, summer afternoon, the fans are there.

And they aren’t always concerned with the results. They just love watching their team play ball.

And that’s my mom. With it being me, and only me, she doesn’t get a ton to cheer about. Very few, if any mountain top moments.

But she’s always there. Always supportive. Rain or shine. Hot or cold.

Great days and bad. For runs of good luck – and for rough patches.

When everything is on the line. And when nothing.

She’s not concerned about the result, but about the player.

And I bet her favorite Cub is Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. Because to her, it’s always a great day for a ballgame. And she’s always ready to play two.

A Thankful Clemson Man

As a Clemson man, I have plenty to be proud of and thankful for. Probably more than most. And I say that in great humility, as I’m constantly reminded of how special this place is.

I could speak of Clemson’s humble beginnings as a land grant institute, being the first public school in South Carolina to admit black students, and its technological advances to the fields of agriculture and science.

I could speak of its athletic history, how it owns South Carolina, has a National Championship in football, and another conference title under its belt.

I could speak of its beauty, nestled in the foothills and surrounded by Lake Hartwell.

I could speak of its academic reputation and the power of a Clemson degree.

All of those make me so proud, and thankful, to be a Clemson Tiger.

But none of them are THE reason I am thankful to be a Clemson man. No, there is one thing that makes it even more special, and makes me even prouder: Our military history.

When the first students entered the Clemson campus in 1893, they were more than just students, they were military. And since that day, over 10,000 Clemson alumni have served their county, from the Spanish-American War to today.

And of those 10,000 alumni, 470 gave their life to this country.

Countless others, like my father, a Vietnam Veteran, came to Clemson after their service. And I wonder how many more future Clemson alumni never got the chance my father did. I wonder how many future Clemson alumni never came home.

I used to call my dad every Memorial Day to thank him for his service. And every year he would explain to me how this day was not about him, but those who gave their lives to protect our freedoms. I would agree, but thank him again anyway.

See, I had the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of attending Clemson. Or wearing the orange and purple with pride. Of singing the alma mater. Of wearing the ring.

But I can’t help but wonder how many of those same dreams were never fulfilled. I wonder how many dreams are buried in France or Vietnam or the South Pacific.

This place we call Clemson is amazing. And a lot of it is due to our military history, but I can’t help but wonder how much better it could have been if every young man who gave their life for this county would have attended.

To read more about Clemson’s military history, its honoring of its veteran alumni, and ways you can support, watch the video below and check out the following links:

A Great Dilemma & A New Adventure

There are times when lines are a little blurry and there are times when a line must be drawn. Since the beginning of the Facebook rage, I drew a stern line in the sand, promising to never cross over to the “dark” side. I was so adamant in my dislike for Facebook that I made never joining Facebook one of my 40 Before 40 goals.

It cost me a few friends (literal – not the digital kind), but also helped me forge others (great minds do think alike).

This whole idea of interacting with people, in tiny insincere methods, has never been attractive. My main thinking has always been: “If I haven’t spoken to you in 10 years, there may be for a reason for that.”

But taking risks means putting your pride aside. And for me, that means my Facebook aversion. I am willing to swallow my pride and redo my goals, all in the name of going out on a limb.

And starting a new website, devoted strictly to all things Clemson, is a large risk on a small, tender limb.

Don’t believe me? Let’s review:

  • I’m an engineer with a math passion, not a writer
    In high school and college, I dreaded any form of required reading and writing. I failed the only AP exam not tied to math and in college, my wife “edited” my papers just so I could get through the basic English & Literature courses. And even when I chose a non-math based class, they were rooted in things I already enjoyed: technology and sports.

  • I live 4.5 hours from Clemson – and am able to visit 1-2 times per year
    I don’t have the ability to walk across campus and interview players, watch practices, or get a vibe on the current state of affairs. I am not surrounded by newspapers and articles letting me know what’s happening. I have to pick my chances – and that usually means trying to find a game suitable for the girls.

  • I have no access to the University, Athletics Department, Sports Information Department, or any other department with the school
    I can’t pick up the phone or drop an email asking for an interview. I’m not able to learn about news events before the general public. Everything I learn, I learn from the media or message boards. Which brings me to my next point:

  • There are already multiple websites which offer similar information
    I don’t have the writing chops to be a leader in Clemson info. I don’t have the access to get the kind of info most people want. I don’t have the location to get a feel for the campus. And I don’t have the web skills to develop a website and message board capable of doing something different. And there are already places that have this info. And most do it pretty well, not to mention the national media (ESPN, Yahoo!), which have their own comment streams and message boards.

  • I already have a full-time job, a wife, two kids, and my own blog
    My wife and I need a vacation. So does our entire family. I log nearly 45 hours per week at work, not counting the hour and a half I spend in the car getting to and fro. There have been weeks that go by here without fresh content and here I am thinking of starting a new website. One that requires frequent content, differing thoughts, and more time.

  • And finally, I love Clemson sports for what it is, not what happens
    I realize we may never win a championship in any sport, let alone football. I realize we haven’t beaten our rival in three years. I realize our best days may be a quarter century in the rear. I realize millions of dollars are spent to support this university – and that demands results. I realize hundreds of other fan bases would give their left…for what we have. I realize all these things, but they don’t change my mind. I love Clemson for what it is, where it is, and what it represents. Not how they perform.

So, why am I starting a website that I don’t have the time nor tools to handle, that duplicates the market, and that is not results driven?

Because I love Clemson. The Town, the Team, the University. I love the orange and purple. The Hill, the Paw, the Rock. Tiger Rag & Tiger Shag.

And any chance to share that passion is an opportunity I can’t pass up.

This new website, thetigerswag.com, will be dedicated to bringing unique content and takes on all things Clemson. We will esteem those worthy of esteeming, ponder that which needs pondering, question everything, and above all – laugh. At others. At ourselves. And most of all, at our rival.

The new site will also have an email address: thetigerswag@gmail.com, a twitter account: twitter.com/thetigerswag, and (wait for it) a facebook fan page: facebook.com/thetigerswag.

So, if you’re ever in the area, please check it out, drop a line, and let me know what you think.

And hit me up on Facebook, too. Make it worth my while to be there.

Power versus Bliss

“Knowledge is Power” and “Ignorance is Bliss”

I’ve only believed in one of these two statements. The former.

I have an appetite for information. I will think of a random question and drill down through 5-10 pages of information, just to get the full picture. And what I’ve found is the more I know about a subject, the better I understand it. And the better I understand a subject, the more confident I am in it. And the more confident I am in a subject, the more power and influence I can wield regarding that subject.

The more I know about engineering, the better engineer I can be. The more I know about parenting, the better parent I can be. The more I know about Scripture, the deeper my faith.

This holds true for nearly every subject and situation. Knowledge equals power.

But recent events have begun to make me think otherwise. That maybe this is not a universal truth.

Just this week, I found myself in a situation where I accidentally ran across some information. Important information regarding myself and others close to me.

To me, this information was going to be a source of power. I have facts and those facts need to be discussed.

But as I began to use my knowledge base of facts and information, my confidence and power quickly eroded. Instead of confidence, I felt fear. Instead of power, meekness.

And this made me take a hard look at how much power is gained from knowledge. Does it do me a disservice to actually know more?

In times and situations – yes.

Because knowledge is permanent. And it’s irrevocable.

My memory cannot forget what it has learned, like the eyes cannot toss aside what they have seen.

And following these recent events, I felt regret. Regret over what was seen and learned, knowing it could never be undone.

And in these situations, not knowing – living in a state of bliss and naivety – is certainly better than knowing.

And I found myself wishing I had never gained such knowledge, wishing my eyes could forget what they just saw.

But I saw it. And they’ll never forget.

And sometimes, bliss is so much better than power.

A Neverending Love Story

As a child, each stage of life is tied to a movie. Rather than invest in a new movie, you would cycle through an old one. Over and over. Until the VHS tape was worn.

One such movie from one such stage: The Neverending Story.

I can’t quite nail down the stage of life nor my age, but I do remember the young boy skipping school to read this special book. And I could relate to the young boy as reading made words come alive (not literally, like the movie) And to this day, words, in all formats, still hold a special place with me.

However, other than this young boy, I don’t recall much else about the movie.

Except for two scenes: the scene that made me cry and the scene that made me shout for joy.

The making me cry scene:
A young boy (different from the reader) is riding his horse when they encounter quicksand. The horse begins to drown while the young boy attempts to save him. The boy tries everything in his power to save the horse, but no luck. The horse drowns. The young boy cries. I cry.

The shouting for joy scene:
At the end of the movie, the boy who skipped school gets a chance to ride this giant magic dog/dragon and chase some bullies into trash cans. The world is saved and the boy gets his revenge. I shout for joy.

As I’m living these memories again, the stark contrast between the two scenes causes me to think of the two main parts of the Gospel. The sad and the glad.

The truth of the Gospel brings sadness. For the first time, we realize we’ve screwed up. Made mistakes. And we can’t fix it. And it doesn’t fix itself.

The Gospel causes us to compare ourselves to Christ.

And we’ll never win. We don’t measure up. None of us. Ever.

But the Gospel also brings good news. There is a solution. There is a rescuer. There is a way out.

The Neverending Story doesn’t end with the horse dying. It ends in victory. With the world being rescued. Rights being wronged. And the main character soaring on the wings of Falcor.

Similarly, the Gospel doesn’t end with us feeling inadequate. Or sad. Or a failure.

No, it too ends in victory. With a rescuer. With rights being wronged. And the main character soaring on the wings of eagles.

So the next time you’re watching a random 80’s movie with flying dogs and tragic scenes, remember the Gospel. Remember you are a new creation. And remember you were sought out and rescued.

And that will make you shout for joy!

Does It Really Matter?

Have we, as a nation, ever correctly governed morality? Have we ever established laws based on a moral code?

Yes. How have we done?

Ask blacks, who nearly 100 years after the founding of this country, finally found freedom. And who waited another 100 years to vote.

Ask women, who have yet to celebrate 100 years of voting.

Ask the unborn. Nearly 5,000 die every day. Just in the US.

Ask the Indians forcibly relocated.

The good news? We’ve righted some of our wrongs. We’ve given a vote to women and blacks. We’ve setup Indian Reservations. We’ve banned late-term abortions.

The bad news? It doesn’t matter. At least not to God.

While our nation may suffer, the Gospel will not.

Jesus came to earth to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10) regardless of how we recognize marriage. Regardless of the care for the unborn. Regardless of gambling, prostitution, or drugs.

If you’re lost, you’re lost. It doesn’t matter the laws on the books. You’re still lost.

And the purpose of the Gospel is to make us realize we’re lost. And show us we need a savior. A rescuer. A redeemer.

In fact, I would almost be willing to say the more immoral the government, the brighter the Gospel shines. It removes this idea that following the law makes me good enough. That since a government has decided morality is important, as long as I don’t break any laws, I’ll be okay. And God will be pleased.

Ask the religious leaders of Jesus’ time how that worked out. Ask Jews, God’s chosen people, who lost that right.

Currently, the Gospel is spreading incredibly fast in corrupt nations in Africa and oppressive nations in Asia. Even Europe, supposedly a post-christian region, is seeing tremendous advances in the Gospel.

The Gospel doesn’t need the government’s help. God doesn’t need the government’s help. It needs his people. People willing to know their faith and share it with others. People willing to stand-up and be heard.

Not because of politics, but because of passion. Not because of morality, but because of mortality.

So – as we debate whether or not same-sex marriage should be allowed, pray that God would use this darkness to bring light. The light of Jesus Christ.

And pray it causes the advance of the Gospel.

All In a Day’s Work

At the end of the day, do you ever stop and spend a few moments playing the day back in your mind. The good, the bad, the weird, the funny, and the just plain random?

Me neither.

But tonight, as I’m sitting here writing, I saw four deer grazing in the front yard. I had to chase them off just to keep the few plants we have alive.

And this was just one of the many good, bad, weird, funny, and random things that happened today – and everyday.

Just on the animal end, I’ve chased deer while the girls have chased rabbits. We’ve captured ladybugs in a kid’s meal toy and watched squirrels play chicken – only the squirrels survived.

I swung a baseball bat for the first time in a decade and wiped makeup off my girls’ faces.

I spent 2 hours, with kids, at Sonic only to spend the last few minutes stalling in an effort to get half-priced milkshakes.

I’ve done actual work.

I’ve even solved a crime. It was Miss Scarlett with the revolver in the Billiard’s Room.

What does all this mean? Not really sure? Probably nothing.

But it makes me smile.

And reminds me of the scene from Spaceballs: