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A bitter pill to swallow

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I don’t talk politics much on this blog, but bear with me, please.

For months and months, we’ve been seeing news stories about the republican hopefuls. Candidates would enjoy brief periods of popularity only to lose momentum and drop out of the race. And while it seems that Mitt Romney is the assumed eventual winner, it also seems that no one is particularly excited about the possible eventuality of a President Romney. Or a re-elected President Obama for that matter. I sense a collective, “Meh…” from the masses.

Against my better judgement, I began my Thursday morning by turning on the news. Top news story: Despite earlier reports that Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucus by a razor thin margin, it turns out that the actual winner was Rick Santorum.

Santorum jumped through every hoop possible to win Iowa. Out-financed by Romney and others, his grass roots campaign included personal appearances in each of Iowa’s 90 counties. He should have been declared the winner. He’s declaring himself the winner. But unfortunately for him, it’s too little too late, and whatever boost this news may have garnered him was quickly eliminated by Rick Perry’s announcement that he will suspend his campaign two days before the South Carolina primary and endorse Newt Gingrinch for president.

This guy can’t catch a break.

With the latest polls showing Santorum dead last in South Carolina (with the exception of Perry, who’s out anyway) and his donations dwindling, I don’t foresee him staying in the race much longer. I could be wrong. It’s been known to happen.

Maybe a victory in Iowa would have changed the momentum of the race.

Maybe tentative donors would have been convinced to give Santorum some cash which would have paid for more ads in South Carolina.


But maybe never happened. Despite his best efforts in Iowa, despite his apparent win which he wasn’t credited for, none of that matters now. Through no fault of his own, the might-have-been tipping point was missed.

Like many Americans, I am still firmly in the “undecided” category. Having said that, I feel bad for Rick Santorum. Really bad.

When we decide we want something–truly, deeply desire something, we cross our t’s and dot our i’s. We do everything within our control to attain what we seek and what we desire.

But the frustrating thing about life is that so much of it is beyond our control.

And it’s so unfair sometimes.

Like what happened to Santorum in Iowa, things just happen and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.

I suppose the key is recognizing what we can control and what we can’t

To think we have no control over anything is a cop out.

To think we have control over everything is delusional and asshole-ish.

To say God is in control? Okay, yeah. but again, that doesn’t mean we have no responsibility.

How do we know where that line between our control and beyond our control lies?

I guess that’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question.

Or whatever that is adjusted for inflation…

Don’t Drive Angry

If there is anyone reading this that has not seen the movie Groundhog Day, the following preview will provide a good overview of the movie:

If given the opportunity, would you subject yourself to reliving the same day over and over until you get it right?

I love this movie so much. (Yes, I know it’s old, but still.) Phil Conners is a self-indulgent, jaded weather man who finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. There are some hilarious scenes in the movie, but the lesson is poignant. After many attempts to “get it right”, he finally figures out that a life lived in the service of others is a life truly worth living.

We don’t have the luxury of getting a do-over for the same day, but in some ways each day can be a do-over. We can choose

love over indifference,
encouragement over condemnation,
courage over fearfulness,
integrity over popularity,
grace over revenge,
twitter over facebook (just wanted to see if you were paying attention),
prayer over worry,
confidence over insecurity
fellowship over isolation,
humility over self righteousness

and on, and on…

In the movie, Phil goes to unbelievable lengths to be the man of Rita’s (played by Andi McDowell) dreams. With reckless abandon, he does whatever he feels he needs to do win her heart.

And I wonder, how might we change the world if we pursued the heart of Jesus like that every day?

Your turn.

What will you choose today?

Logan’s Do-Over (by Billy Coffey)

Halloween night is usually a busy one at my house. From the time the porch light goes on until the time the candy runs out, there will be an average of 160 ghosts, witches, Hannah Montanas, and ninjas walking up the driveway. Not kidding. Kids take Halloween seriously around here.

The rush is generally concentrated between the time we get home from our own trick-or-treating until around 8:30, at which time either all the children’s bags are full or their parents are out of patience. There are always a few stragglers of course, mostly the teenagers who are too old to want to be seen begging for free candy but too young to pass it up.

But even the stragglers are done by 9:30. I’ve never had a trick-or-treater knock on my door past that time. Until Logan, anyway. He knocked on my door twenty hours later.

Wife and kids were gone, which had left me in the enviable position of having both the television and the house to myself. I had just settled in to a riveting football game when I heard footsteps on the porch, followed by a soft knock.

“Trick or treat!”

Standing at the door was a pint-sized T-Rex. Styrofoam teeth jutted out from his head, and a long tail stretched all the way to the steps. Very impressive.

“Trick or treat!” the boy said again. He held out an orange plastic bag and shook it twice for effect.

“It’s not Halloween,” I said.

“I know.”

“Halloween was yesterday.”

“I know.”

This, I decided, was a new low. Not only did I probably give this kid a handful of candy last night, now he was back for more.

“Didn’t you get enough last night?” I asked him.

“Nuh-uh,” he said.

“Little greedy, ain’t ya?”

He wrinkled his brow at that, as if he were trying to decide if that was a compliment.

“What’s your name?” I asked him.


“Well Logan, I think you probably have enough candy at your house, don’t you?”

“No. I don’t have any.”

“You don’t have any candy?”

“Nuh-uh.” He shook his bag again—please?

“You didn’t go trick-or-treating last night?” I asked.

“No,” Logan said. “I got dressed and went to Granny’s, and then I got sick. I yarked in my bag.”

It was my turn to wrinkle my brow, but he answered my question before it was asked by stating, “No, not this bag.”

“Oh,” I said. “Good.”

“Mommy says I can have a do-over. She says we don’t get much do-overs, but I think they’re the best.”

I glanced out toward the driveway. Mommy stood at the end and rested an elbow on our mailbox. She gave me a wave and a what-was-I-supposed-to-do? shrug.

“Most everybody’s out of candy,” Logan said, “so they gave me cooler stuff.”

He opened his bag for proof—two candy bars, a pencil, some glue, and a five dollar bill.

“Not bad,” I said. “Okay, hang on and I’ll see what I can find.”

The only candy left was the bounty my kids had secured the previous night. While it was entirely within my bounds to confiscate a few pieces here and there for my own use, I didn’t really feel right giving Logan any. In the end I came up with a small spiral notebook, two AA batteries (every boy needs batteries for something), a baseball card, and an arrowhead I had found near the creek.

“There ya go,” I said, emptying it all into his bag.

Sweet! Thanks.”

“No problem. Happy Halloween.”

Logan the tiny T-Rex bounded back down the driveway to his mother. We exchanged a wave and another shrug, and I stood and watched as he knocked on the door of the house across the road.

Do-overs. Logan was right, they’re the best. A way to erase all the bad and make some good in the process. His mom, however, was wrong. Do-overs are more common than she thought.

Every day is a do-over, I think. A chance to right the wrongs of the day before, to be better and love more and reach higher than the day before. Few things in life have brought me more comfort than that fact.

That no matter how dark my night may be, daybreak will come.


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his new website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.