Dec 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008...

Well, it's New Year's Eve. Time to say "Goodbye" to 2008 and "Welcome" to 2009. Time for dads to become fireworks aficionados and spend way too much money on overpriced fireworks and talk about lighting the "Grand Finale." Time for kids to get extreme joy from running around with lit sparklers.

It's also time to think about all that has happened in this year. 2008 saw a historic race for president and a historic and politically charged election. It saw a tremendous economic downturn and massive fluctuations in gas prices. At one point this year gas was almost $5 a gallon. At another point, it was going for $1.39 a gallon. It saw an unknown governor from Alaska become the most intriguing figure of the year.

Being a sports fan, 2008 also was an interesting year. LSU started the year as the runaway winner of the national championship in college football. The NY Giants pulled off a huge upset in probably the best Super Bowl in the last 15-20 years. Kansas beat out Memphis for college basketball's championship. Tiger won the U.S. Open on one knee and then had surgery the next week. The Boston Celtics went from worst to champions in one year. And the Tampa Bay Rays dropped the "Devil" and became the feel-good story of the year in baseball.

Sports also saw huge moments in the Olympics. Michael Phelps ignited the United States with his performance winning 8 gold medals, including a heart pounding dramatic come from behind by Jason Lezak in the 400M relay that anyone watching could not believe. Usain Bolt was the world's fastest man in the 100m relay. Nastia Lukin won the all around gold in women's gymnastics.

On a personal note, 2008 saw another year of my sons growing up way too fast. 9 years ago I held my firstborn son Nathan and now he's driving me around the golf course in the cart. Nathan played his second year of machine pitch ball and had a great season. He played outfield and spent most of the year batting clean-up. He started the year with great success at the plate and finished the season with a .720 batting avg, 3 hr's, and 7 doubles. He also made the All-Stars for the second year. Nathan tried football for the first time this year and did pretty well. He played offensive line and his team made the first round of the playoffs. Nathan has also done real well in school and was selected to participate in the gifted program at Creekview. My middle son Drew turned 7 this year. He started the year trying out soccer again. He had a great time and played real good defense. Drew also signed up for Upward Basketball for the first time. He started off rough, but has made great improvements. John David turned 4 this year. He is no longer the baby and is becoming more of a little boy everyday.

Our family took our first trip to Disney World this year and had a great time. It was awesome seeing the excitement on the kids faces as they experienced the the rides and Disney characters for the first time. They loved the roller coasters and dining with Goofy, Pluto, Tigger, and Pooh.

2008 saw Alison and I celebrate 11 years of marriage. It also saw me complete my 12th year on staff at Westwood. The church continues to grow and have one of the best staffs I have ever seen.

No Longer Here
One of the reflections I always do at this time of year is look back at the people who died over the past year. More than any other year in recent memory, 2008 had some huge losses. Maybe I am just getting older and the more I see people I have watched pass away, the more it brings to light my own mortality. Here are some of the people that are no longer here:

1. Paul Newman - I remember how sad I was to hear this one. One of the greatest actors ever and the star of classics like "Cool Hand Luke" and "The Sting" left us at age 83 from complications of lung cancer.

2. Charlton Heston - Another legendary actor who played Ben Hur, Moses, and the astronaut Taylor in Planet of the Apes died at age 84 from pneumonia.

3. Heath Ledger - I remember the shock when I heard this one on the Today show. Ledger died way too soon from a drug overdose. Although he hadn't made a lot of movies, he was great in "The Patriot". His most memorable performance though came months after his death as The Joker in "The Dark Knight". He gave a mesmerizing performance and deserves the Oscar.

4. George Carlin - Although I don't agree at all with his political or religious views, I always enjoyed Carlin's satirical outlook on life. He had a comedic talent that spanned generations. He died at age 71 of heart failure.

5. Bernie Mac - one of the funniest comedic actors around. His sarcasm and wit in movies like Oceans Eleven and Transformers and his own TV show were great. Mac died of pneumonia at age 50.

6. Roy Schieder - legendary actor best known as Sheriff Broody in the Jaws movies. Died at age 75 from complications of a staph infection.

Other notable deaths from 2008:
Sir Edmund Hillary - Climbed Mt. Everest
Bobby fisher - legendary chess player
Susan Pleshette - wife on the Bob Newhart Show
Bill Buckley - leader of the conservative political movement
Sidney Pollack - actor and director
Bo Diddley - legendary guitarist
Jim McKay - sports TV anchor known as the voice of the Wide World of Sports
Tim Russert - host of Meet the Press
Jesse Helms - long time US Senator
Tony Snow - White House press secretary and TV anchor
Alexander Solzhenitsyn - Russian writer Estelle Getty - actress best know from "The Golden Girls" Harvey Korman - comedian from The Carol Burnett Show Bettie Page - 50's pin-up girl Michael Crichton - author of Jurassic Park and creator of TV show ER Leroi Moore - founding member of the Dave Matthew Band Levi Stubbs - lead singer of the Four Tops Isaac Hayes - actor and musician

All in all, 2008 was a year of extreme ups and downs, highs and lows. Is the world a better place now than 12 months ago? Have we progressed as a society? Are we closer to seeing the Kingdom of God come to fruition? What will 2009 hold? Time will tell...