The Beauty of “This is Us”

I don’t watch T.V.  very much.  We don’t have cable, satellite or any other expanded t.v. options so our selections at home are very limited.  We might turn on reruns of M.A.S.H. or Andy Griffith in the evening but to sit down night after night and flip channels is something we haven’t done for decades.   Somehow we’ve found favorite shows however;  Superman: The New Adventures of Louis and Clark, Family Matters and Full House was our unwind time each weekend when we were first married.  Monk and Psych in later years on DVD because we found them well after they were on t.v.  There were some others along the way.  Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond, Diagnosis Murder (yes there’s a theme here) and every so often an evening of flipping channels.

That’s how I found “This is Us.”   Of course by now I might have found it because the nation seems to be buzzing over the drama of the simple life of Jack and Rebecca.   I didn’t even know what it was when I ran across the first episode I watched, and I certainly didn’t understand the flash back scenes,  but as I watched that first night, I was hooked.  Here was a t.v. show that didn’t seem to have an agenda.  They didn’t portray the men as bumbling idiots who could barely tie their shoes without help.  It was a story of a normal family facing life every day.

This is Us is very different from a lot of programming.  It is one of the few shows where the men are not portrayed as bumbling idiots. Jack and Randall are painted as the leader of their homes and as men who make mistakes.   Toby, even though unmarried to Kate, has stepped up to be the man in her life.  He’s smart, thoughtful and supportive.  Kevin?  We’re all still waiting to see where he’s gonna land aren’t we?  Still he’s not portrayed as stupid; he’s portrayed as a man with a past that haunts him.  Those are two very different things.   I appreciate that very much.

Why does it work?

I believe “This is Us” works because of the common, real life scenarios the writers give us each week.  The  drama that comes could be our very own drama.  Every day “normal” type drama that happens in a family.  Marital ups and downs, a daughter that struggles with being confident, a son that breaks a leg playing football, even the way Jack died, I won’t give spoilers, but it is something that could happen to any of us.   There isn’t anything superheroish in either of them, it’s what parents do.  It seems superheroish because this isn’t our culture anymore.  Our culture is more self serving than other serving, in marriage in parenting, in the workplace.  But those of us that live like the Pearson’s know it’s just what you do when you’re a committed married couple in love with each other, raising kids and doing the best you can to teach them to be respectful, responsible and honorable as they grow up.  You face life as it comes, sometimes laughing until you cry, sometimes pushing through the pain for the better of the family, other times dealing with outside influences,  having late night talks with the teenagers, or “discussions” with the spouse.

This is life.

Jack and Rebecca are normal people living their life every day.  They are committed to each other and face their problems head on, together.  Even at the end of the last season when Jack leaves, you knew it wasn’t over.  You knew they’d work it out because that’s what the Pearson’s do.  They don’t bail when things get tough.  In fact, they seem to thrive in the difficult times.   That’s why Jack’s death couldn’t be climatic.  It could only be normal because that’s what the show is; normal, everyday life of a family facing life as it comes to them.   I wonder if the commitment comes because Jack didn’t have that commitment in his own home growing up?  He was strong and resilient.  He learned from his parents mistakes and decided that he would not live that way.

And then there’s Miguel. Jack’s best friend.  They had been through a lot together.  We got a little glimpse into how him and Rebecca reconnected, but we’re missing a lot there.  I for one would like to know more.  It almost seems as he’s gotten Jack’s seconds but he’s secure enough in his own skin to understand that love like Jack and Rebecca is a very rare and beautiful thing.  What he and Rebecca have definitely works for them.  He is her man.  Her support and her protector, even from her own son when necessary.  Miguel and Jack; very different but very similar at the same time.  I’m hoping the writers develop this story line a little more than they have done so far because in it’s own way the love he shares with Rebecca is also very rare and beautiful.

What it Lacks

The one aspect the program lacks is the spiritual. You never see the Pearson’s experiencing the Sunday morning  rush.  The truth is, in reality, very few families stay as committed as the Pearson’s do without a connection to God.  Without a foundation, without a moral base families generally have no reason to stay together when times get hard. It often seems easier to bail, blame the other person and find someone new than it is to stick together and fight for what is already there.

Of course I don’t know what the writers intended but here’s what I see.  Jack went through AA and has some sort of connection with a “higher power.” Does he (and the family) attend church?  Do any of them have a relationship with Jesus?  I don’t know but I do believe the “higher power” influences the Pearson home…it had to.  But we know it didn’t influence the family for a permanent heart change .  Kate and Toby are great together, but as wonderful as they are, they’re making babies and playing house instead of committing to each other. I realize this is very 21st century and I’m actually kind of glad they writers have done this. It shows the current cultural climate and I believe that’s very important.  Kevin’s life also portrays a disconnect from the spiritual realm.   “JackandRebecca”  seem to have an uncommon love.  Kevin and Sophie seem to  have that same kind of connection but they can’t seem to make it work.  They lack the commitment.  They can’t be together and they can’t be apart.  Even now I have a feeling that it’s not over…and I wonder if they’ll ever make it?  Maybe after Kevin works through some of his stuff they’ll come back together and be stronger. Randall and Beth seem to have the most stable home life of the three, which I think is interesting on many levels.  And I wonder if it’s because his personality is more determined and focused and if part of it might be because he’s faced more hardships than the olders.

The Crock Pot

I can’t not mention the crock pot.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you might want to jump over this section).  The writers gave Rival a bad wrap.  I’m not an electrician, but I know enough about electricity to know that Crock pots don’t go up in flames and burn down houses; even crock pots with faulty switches.  It might flip a breaker or blow a fuse but to flame up?  No way.  We know the smoke detector needed batteries, we know fuses blew in that old Pearson home, but again, I think it’s very ordinary.  Many families do what the Pearson’s did.  It’s not uncommon to forget to buy the batteries, or to even have  the batteries without taking the time to put them in the smoke detector.  The fact of the matter is with or without working smoke detectors everyone got out of the house alive.  But I’d like to think fewer homes are without smoke detectors or batteries this week than were two weeks ago.  Complications from the fire might have killed Jack but even now we really don’t know do we?  It seems Jacks heart might have already been weak.  If it hadn’t been smoke inhalation would it have been something else?

Wrap Up

I know I’m doing a lot of speculating for a t.v. show that’s not real.  But I’ve also watched t.v. shows and movies for years to see what can be gleaned from them, be it good or bad.  We were the parents that would stop a movie to discuss a character’s choice with our children when they were younger.  I believe our kids are the better for it.  I know I’m better for it!  Why pass up an opportunity, whether real or fake to learn from it?

I believe “This is Us” resonates with so many because either you’re living the ordinary life with a family you adore or because you wish you were living the ordinary life with a family you adore.  For me, we’re living the life.  We face most outside adversity on the same page, and we’ve certainly faced our share of it.  We strive to raise our kids to be respectful and responsible.  Each of them have made a profession of faith, been baptized or will be soon (Shane has the privilege of baptizing Tabitha this coming Sunday).   Each of our children strive to serve others before themselves.  They’ve seen their Momma and Daddy struggle with their faith and stay committed.  They’ve seen their Momma and Daddy struggle with their marriage, because ALL marriage have their moments, and stay committed  They’ve seen their Momma and Daddy stand firm and come out stronger when they’ve been attacked by those outside the walls of their home.  Shane and I have done our best to model Christ’s love to each other, to our children and to those outside our walls. Our goal in life is to glorify the One, True God.

For those that don’t have this kind of family, I pray that God can use this t.v. show to give hope that it is attainable.  I pray that it will move people to search for what is missing and turn hearts to Jesus.  I pray that God will use this show to bring people to Gospel preaching, Bible teaching churches where marriage and family is valued.   Yes!  God can even use a fictitious t.v. program with writer’s and actors that have no Christian faith to bring people to himself.   (disclaimer: The truth is I don’t know if any of them have a faith in Jesus, I haven’t seen anything to indicate it).

To God be the Glory!

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A Post in Memes

This kind of happened by accident but I kind of like it.  A story using memes. I might have to try it again sometime. It was fun!

This is when, for your own sanity, you must

Maybe you don’t understand,

But when you’re honest with yourself, you realize that

because you know

If you find yourself in the middle of a situation like this

you might finally realize

Try as you might, there is no reasoning so you recognize that

 

 

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree.

The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity,

covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens.

But it is never gone.”

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

 

Merry Christmas!

Sitting at my computer this morning, the house is waking up.  Shane is wondering around the dining room area.  Suddenly, I hear  “O Holy Night.”   The voice I hear is beautiful.  Goose pimple beautiful.  Josh Groban, or Andrea Bocelli  beautiful.

“What is that?”   I ask

It’s this grocery store clerk. Guilherme Assuncao”

“Oh!  Wow!”

Want to hear?

I think this young man is well on his way to fulfilling his dream.

Merry Christmas!

 

Our Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving is different at our home every year.  Some years we’ve had a house full of folks, other years we’ve had +1.  One thing we know though is God always brings just the right people to our home for the holiday.

For reasons that are way to complicated to explain, we haven’t had extended family at our Thanksgiving table for many years, but some years God has brought complete families to our home.  We are so thankful for our Christian family that has comforted the empty places more often than I can count when they’ve gathered around the table.

One year a young man that had been adopted but the state decided wrongly to remove him and his siblings from their home.  He was an 18 year old boy in an apartment by himself in a nearby community and circumstances beyond anyone’s control brought that young man to our table that year.  Today, we don’t know where that young man is.  We can only pray that he is doing well and trust our Heavenly Father to take care of him.

This year, a young lady that left home at 18 came to our table.   She’s not really speaking with her parents.  She has a boyfriend, but he’s out of the country working for now.  Yes, she’s got problems.  She’s living an immoral lifestyle.  She’s living without Jesus.  But she had no where to go for Thanksgiving.  Yes, we invited her to share our table.  That’s what we do.  Our table has always been open to those who have no where else to go. This young woman needs to know that she’s loved.  Not that her behavior is accepted, but that her behavior won’t separate her from those that love her.  We shared Jesus with her.  We didn’t pretend that everything was okay but we didn’t treat her as an outcast either.  Isn’t this what Jesus does with us?

This year brought a new friend.  A Christian brother whom we hadn’t met until a few days before Thanksgiving day.  We have friends that knew him so he wasn’t a complete stranger. He has no family here and would have been alone all day.  Through the course of the day we found out that he’s living in his van.  He wasn’t complaining and wouldn’t have even told us, except he declined taking home leftovers.  This man has faced many hardships but he was content with his life. He was an absolute joy to our day!  I could learn a lot from him.

Shane’s Aunt lost her precious husband about 2 years ago.  They had no children and spent a lot of time doing ministry together.  No, he wasn’t a pastor but they were always busy encouraging others.  For many years they volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and traveled many places in their RV to help others build their homes.  We certainly didn’t want her to be alone on Thanksgiving.

As we were driving home Friday after being out, we realized how blessed our table was this year. I’m often amazed.  I shouldn’t be, but I am.  We reach out to bless and we’re the ones that receive the greater blessing.

And that’s the way of Jesus isn’t it?

 

This is How We Roll

We were sitting around the dinner table tonight when Malachi asks, “do you want to hear a joke?”

Now I know some of the jokes he tells and I glance at my dearest who says, “he told it at cross country practice last night.”  That means nothing because there is still no telling where this is going.

I hestatently say yes.

“Do you know why black people don’t go on cruises?”

As I wonder what’s coming I say “Ummmmm…why?”

“Because we’re not fallin’ for that trick again!”

I wonder if this is the key to racism?   Laughing about it instead of getting offended. We’re way to sensitive these days.  Everything offends everyone.  Everyone has to correct everyone else.  This isn’t the way it has always been…and this sadly, is one of the ugly things about social media and the internet.

By the way, when all the lily white kids got it, they laughed right along with Malachi.

What other hymn can I post today but a great Spiritual?

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Things I Love About Missouri

Things I Love About Missouri

I’m linking up with Kat again this week where she gives a list of prompts to choose.  I’ve lived discontentedly in Missouri for nearly 20 years because I’m a proud southern born, bred and raised girl.  (Ask my hubby, he’ll tell ya) I love sweet tea, fried chicken and grits.  In an effort to be more satisfied and content with Missouri, I decided to write about 10 things I love about my state. And you know something?  Writing this has shown me that I really do love living in Missouri.  Don’t get me wrong, I still hate Missouri winters but that’s not Missouri’s fault.  Thanks, Kat!

These are not in any particular order.

  • I love our Mid Continent Public Library.  It is among the best library systems in the country.  It’s got the most volumes in Missouri and ranks among the top 20 in the nation.  It is also home to a pretty amazing genealogy library. (source: Wikipedia).  It makes life easier for a home educating family on a limited budget.
  • Saint Louis is home to many fantastical attractions.  Among them a really great zoo and the Saint Louis Arch which represents the gateway to the west.  When we’re traveling it also tells us that we’re in our home state as cross the Illinois/Missouri border.  St. Louis is also home to the City Museum.  This place is not your normal museum.  It’s indescribable.  You know the saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure?”  The man that created City Museum used junk from many places to create a treasure that has been enjoyed by people all over the globe.  If you are ever in St. Louis, just do it!   You won’t regret it one minute.  Here’s a description from their website:
 Housed in the 600,000 square-foot former International Shoe Company, the museum is an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects. The brainchild of internationally acclaimed artist Bob Cassilly, a classically trained sculptor and serial entrepreneur, the museum opened for visitors in 1997 to the riotous approval of young and old alike.  https://www.citymuseum.org/visit/about/
  • We might not have our 2 oldest children had we not lived in Missouri.  Our four children are adopted,  but the two youngest we found on the internet, so in principle, we could have lived anywhere.   The two oldest we found out about by old fashioned word of mouth. Isaac’s birth mother lived across the border in Kansas. Hannah’s birth family did too.  Her birth mother would never have agreed to an out of area adoption.
  • The Ozark mountains.  We’ve stayed in Branson many times, but had the opportunity to visit the quieter side of the mountains last year.  We stayed in Kimberling City and it reminded me quite a lot of The Smokies with its beautiful trees, lakes, and creeks.
  • Independence is the home of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States.  According to a C-Span poll, he ranks 5th in popularity among our Presidents.
  • Missouri is smack dab in the middle of the country.  The heartland, it is also flat land, although not as flat and boring as Kansas.  Our house faces east and I believe we have some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I’ve ever seen (except in Hawaii).  It’s also been a great place to see many rainbows this year, and several double rainbows.  The sun peeps above the horizon in shades of pale pink then as the circle rises, orange and yellow join in.  Sunsets can flood the sky with various shades of deep orange, purple, pink and red.
  • I also love Kansas City’s skyline.  There’s a road in Independence that runs east and west.  There’s a little hill as one drives west, the skyline in the distant is pretty.  There is a good balance of tall buildings and shorter buildings.  Since it’s to the west, it’s especially beautiful if one God happens to grace us with one of those awesome sunsets.
  •  Missouri has a beautiful Capitol.  It sits on the river.  There’s a spot where a shark’s tooth is buried in the floor.  Yes, a real live shark’s tooth embedded in the building of the Capitol.  How many state Capitols can make that claim? There are beautiful murals, some painted by Thomas Hart Benton and one that has a change in perspective, I believe it’s called The Bridge of Progress.  As you walk in front of it, it appears to move.  The Senate lounge also boasts an amazing painting that represents the history and people of Missouri. There is also whispering chamber in the dome.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get to take a trip up and sing Amazing Grace with a great group of young people.  And if you make it to Jefferson City, you definitely want to make time to swing by Central Dairy for ice cream.
  • And I know I said there were no favorites, but I stretched the truth a little.  Kansas City has got to have the best eats in the country; at least when we’re talking BBQ eats.  The Gas Station BBQ restaurant called Joe’s.  Yep.  They still serve gas on the other side of the building. And if you have an aversion to that, they’ve got a couple of other locations to serve you.  But who wouldn’t want to eat at the original? I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried it yet, mainly cause they’re quite a drive from us…but they’re on my list because they’ve gotten several awards for their grub. Locally owned Zarda has the best bbq sausage and for those that enjoy baked beans, I’m told they’re favorites among baked bean connoisseurs.  They also serve up a mean plate of BBQ chicken. Shane like’s L.C’s, if he’s gonna bring it home, but hands down Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ is my most favorite bbq in the metro.  The Martin City location is the original location and offers a Martin City Special if you ask for it, ’cause it’s not on the menu.  It’s a mix of beef, pork and lamb ribs that’ll leave you leftovers to nibble for days.  I have it served up with some of the best cheesy corn you’ve ever tasted and steak fries.  Oh and let’s not forget the gigantic Fried Shroom’s served on skewers and a stack of Onion Rings.

And that’s my list of 10 things I love about Missouri.  Thanks again Kat!  I needed some perspective.

Not a normal Thursday 

On a normal Thursday night at this hour I would be in bed. But this is not a normal Thursday night.

Shane and I went to a meeting for the Heart of America Christian Writers Network.  It was an encouraging time. The speaker, Janet Stapleton, the Rights & Licensing Manager for Nazarene Publishing House in Kansas City, Missouri spoke to us about copyright laws for the author and answered a multitude of questions after her presentation. It was very fascinating and informative.  And definitely worth the $10 Shane and I paid to enter the meeting.  This is a group I’ve been following on Facebook for some time, but had never made a it to a meeting.  I think it’s going to be a regular occurance.  And if this meeting was any indication, Shane and I will be hitting up their conference in October.

I checked the gas gage before the meeting and though close to the E I wasn’t worried. I had driven this new to us car home 48 hours ago and the gas light had not come on.

I had forgot that we had driven farther than we had planned when we arrived at the wrong church 20 minutes before the meeting started.

Driving down the highway towards home the car begins to lurch. It was then I realized

Stop

Please make it. The gas station is not that far.

Nope.

So now we sit in this place.  In our new to us car.  In the dark. Thankfully we coasted to a side street.

Waiting for AAA.

And the truck just pulled up.

Less than 5 minutes pass…and we’re back on our way.

On a side note, ain’t she cute?  I named her Scubi Roo…

Linking up with Kate and the gang at Five Minute Friday where the one word prompt was place.