Thanks, American Idol!

In this stressful time of war, continued Hurricane Katrina recovery, and a declining economy, we here in New Orleans have taken comfort in a number of things.  First and foremost, of course, is our religion; second in line are our family and friends, third is our awesome football team (Who Dat?!?!) and if not in fourth place, somewhere very close to the top is the American Idol television show.  We have become so enthralled with the excitement and wonder of it all that even our closest friends don’t dare call us when the show is on the tube!  Although the faces have changed to some extent and the contestants are new each year, we have grown to know and love them all so much that it’s amazing our children don’t now refer to them as Uncle Ryan, Uncle Randy, Aunt Jennifer, and Uncle Steven.

Every year it’s the same.  We spend each week waiting for air time, watching, and then mourning the loss of yet another of the kids we’d be happy to adopt.  For many of us, we love all of the contestants, and we don’t even vote because voting for all of them would be pointless.  We talk about and think of them regularly and we are so proud of them that we wish they could all win.  And when the last show of the season airs, we cry.

Over the past 10 years this show and its stars have been welcomed into our hearts and our homes.  Simon was always the aggravating brother or coworker we’ve all known.  You know the type – the one all the girls flirt with at the water cooler – the one all the guys envy because he’s not afraid to say how he feels – the one who, when we least expect it, actually makes us smile.  Paula was (and now this year J-Lo is) the sister or girlfriend we envy – the one who cares so much that she tells us what we need to hear, but in such a loving way that it actually makes us feel good.  She’s the one who is so beautiful inside and out that every little girl wants to be just like her some day.  Steven, another of this year’s new additions to the team is like the eccentric uncle with the vulgar mouth who you want to (and know you should be) mad at, but he’s too funny to chastise, and you know that deep down he’s really cool.  And Randy is that next-door neighbor who tells it to you straight.  He’s always there when you need him, but “Dawg… you know I love you, but man, don’t park on my grass.”  Ryan is Ryan.  He’s cute and funny and “metrosexual” (whatever that means) and he keeps it all together making the short time we have with them all that much more enjoyable.

American Idol… hmmm… idol is not exactly the word we would use to describe someone who has a great singing voice.  After all, it is “in God we trust,” not Kelly Clarkson.  Nonetheless, the show has swept us off our feet and brought to our lives a new sense of hope.  The opportunity we’ve had to watch the contestants, our dear, new friends, live out their dreams is just the motivation we need to reach for the top and accomplish great things on our own.  So move over Kelly, Rueben, Fantasia, Carrie, Taylor, Jordin, David, Kris, and Lee!  There’s always room for one more star in the sky!

I’m Thankful

Many years ago, my family and I attended a concert at our church.  The singer was Paul Hill, an old friend of my pastor’s who was visiting from California.  Paul was responsible for collaborating on many wellknown songs, but I think his greatest gift was for entertaining children.  He knew exactly what to do to make them smile and laugh and take joy in the Lord.

Of Paul’s most memorable songs was one that he composed with the help of some of the students where he was teaching.  He had all of the kids list what they were thankful for and then he put all those things together in the song.  One of our favorite lines from the song was “For nice clean clothes and boogers in your nose, I’m thankful, I’m thankful.”  The kids at our church laughed hysterically when Paul got to that line.  Over the years, he updated the song to include current things to be thankful for, like “For the Easter Bunny, Santa, and Hannah Montana, I’m thankful, I’m thankful.”

Paul passed away in 2009 and will be greatly missed.  I can only imagine that he’s up in heaven entertaining the angels.  As for us, his music will remain in our hearts forever.  We can learn a lesson from Paul and the children who helped him write that “I’m Thankful” song, and that is that we should give thanks for everything.  We so take for granted everything that God gives us.

Verses 4 and 5 of 1 Timothy, chapter 4 are:  “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”

So what will you be thankful for tomorrow?  How about everything?  Yes, even the boogers in your nose.