2008 Year in Words Awards

For my end of the year blog post, I wanted to post something unique and significant. This is the time of year where everybody is writing their "Best-Of" lists, talking about such topics as movies, music, books, and cultural happenings. So I am going to do my own year-end review....heretofore called the "Year in Words Awards" (or YIWA). So without further ado, my awards to the years best, worst, most unique, overused, and misunderstood words.

2008 Worst Word - Frienemy
Used countless times, especially on television, I think this word was first used by Paris Hilton...which gives even more credence to it's "Worst" award. It is a combination of both friend and enemy used to describe someone who either is a friend or an enemy, I can't discern which. This is the most nonsensical word ever! Either someone is a friend, or they or an enemy. I mean Tom wasn't both a friend AND an enemy of Jerry. He was simply an enemy. Similarly, Bears aren't a friend and enemy of picnicking park patrons! You get the idea. So congratulations Frienemy. You win by being a loser!

2008 Most Overused Word - Crisis
One need only to turn on the local news for 5 seconds to hear this word used multiple times. Everything is a crisis. There is the financial crisis, the housing crisis, the car company crisis, oil crisis, the crisis in the middle east, ad naseum. I'm not saying these things aren't real. I'm just saying we don't have to hear it over and over. So here's to you Crisis, for scaring the entire nation into an utter frenzy, freezing the housing market, destroying our economy, driving gas prices to an all-time high and eventually forcing us to drive imports!

2008 Best Foreign Language Word - Tov
This word means "good" in Hebrew. Other nominees included Hola (hello) and Bano (bathroom) from Spanish, shalom (peace) from Arabic, Je m'appelle (my name is) from French and lasagna (lasagna) from Italian. Ultimately the winner went to the only other language I currently use on a weekly basis, and that's only because of school.

2008 Most Maddening Word - Bailout
"I mismanaged my bank!" "Here, have some taxpayers cash!"
"I drove my car company in the ground!" "Here have some taxpayers cash!"
"I'm Barney Frank and I have a speech impediment. I think I'll take some taxpayer cash"
"I have consumer debt" "Here have some government cash that your children's children will have to pay back!"
I have a sneaky feeling bailouts are gonna come back to haunt us!

2008 Most Misused Word - Care
This word is most misused by Alabamians, particularly in the phrase "I don't CARE to." For instance, if I looked at Andy Alabamian and said "Man I sure could use some help doing this job that is too hard for me to do by myself" he most likely would look back at me and say "Well, I don't CARE to help you", which in ever other state in our great country means "I can't help you, you're on your own" But, alas in Alabama, that means "I WILL help you"! Who knew!?!? So, I'd like to give the award to CARE and I'd like to tack on that if it could exchange itself for MIND (as in "I don't mind helping you") it would make things a whole lot clearer for those of us not from Alabama!

2008 Best Monosyllabic Word - Hey
Now I know what your thinking, this word can also be used with two or three syllables, especially in the deep south, or when used in the joke "What does a gay horse eat?" (haaayyyyyy). But, this word SHOULD only be one syllable, and can be used in a variety of scenarios, like greeting someone, showing excitement when you receive a gift you like, or in telling someone to get their grubby hands off the last piece of cake that you already claimed!

2008 Best Multisyllable Word - Pseudoantidisestablishmentarianism
Apparently this word means "False opposition to the withdrawal of State supported church" but I'm sure you knew that already! Don't know that I've ever heard this word used in a sentence. I dare you to try in the comments section!!

2008 Best Hyphenated Word - Debt-Free
This word is the best for personal reasons. Though we didn't quite make it in 2008, Karen and I will make our LAST payment in January, and become totally debt free (except for the house!) 2009 is the year of NO PAYMENTS!!!!

2008 Most Meaningful Word - Sovereignty
This word constantly pops up in my life. It is a key attribute of God that is clearly seen over and over in scripture, and in my daily life. I can't seem to get passed it! I don't want to! Instead I am completely thankful for it! Left up to me, I'd wreck my own life...and yours too! So we can both be thankful that God is in complete control....all the time!

Finally, the most coveted YIWA category is......drum roll please......pppppprrrrrrrrrrr.........The Word of the Year (year..year..year).

2008 Word of the Year - Abysmal
Defined by Webster as "immeasurably low or wretched" one might find this word an odd choice for Word of the Year, what with its negative connotation. However, never has a word had such profound effect on the human language. Well, maybe not, but it was a small inside joke mid-year in the Evans family.

*So I was working on this a few days back in effort to post it by today. Well when I opened my browser today, there on the news section was a headline "Top 10 Words of 2008". So, regretably, my post isn't as unique as I thought it would be. However, my list is much different from theirs, so I get some creative points right?*
Happy New Year everyone! May 2009 be a great one for you all!

All The Family Secrets

Christmas 2008 has now officially come and gone! The day of and after Christmas always seem to be a bit depressing...always kind of a let down. All the preparation, planning, partying and other p-words make for the biggest celebration of the year. And it is quite a worthy celebration. But at the end of it all, it is hard to see it go.

This year was especially unique for us as we were in Alabama on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Karen worked both of those nights. However, we went home the weekend before Christmas, so we celebrated early. So Christmas Eve and day felt like other days for the most part. Karen worked while I slept, and I watched 4 movies and played video games while she slept.

We did have a great time at home this year, and I am very thankful for our families who rearranged their schedules so that we could all be together! This year more than ever I was reminded of what a great family I have. Each year I think I grow to respect and love my parents more and more. We have always had a great time together and still do. They are way too generous with us on Christmas. I love the fact that they go all out for this time of year. Every corner of the house is decorated, Mom's cooking is still out-of-this-world good, and you should just be a fly on the wall to see the stuff Dad puts in our "stockings" (which have now become these medium sized gift bags filled with individually wrapped goodies and necessities...though I gotta say, it's not too good when you put whoppers and Dove soap in the same bag....let's just put it this way, one of those items taste like the other...and I've not eaten soap in a while!). It's always good to be in the house with the folks, my sis and her hubby, and of course my wife.

I was also reminded this year of how thankful I am for my in-laws! It is unlike any other experience I've ever had, getting to know and love people who you aren't related to by blood, but who are just as much family now as your own family. My in-laws are really amazing people whom I love dearly. They shower us with gifts...again...too much. And the spread of goodies there this year probably tipped me over the 200 lb. range! The more I'm with her folks, I see where Karen gets a lot of her personality and ways of doing things. It's neat to pick out those traits...because much of what I love about her she gets from her mom or dad. They treat me like one of their own as well. I'm not sure I can put it into words, but I am very thankful that God, in his providence, saw fit to put Karen and I together, and that he allowed me to be a part of the Cleaveland family.

So that's the big secret! I have the greatest family in the world. Come to think of it, as much as I'd like to deny it sometimes (I don't know why) I have the greatest life in the world. I have a great job, an amazing wife, a wonderful family, and really nice house, everything I need and most anything I want, I have hope in Jesus Christ and have the most awesome privilege to serve him in his church, we have a crazy-yet-entertaining cat, Karen has a super nice job with people who have really invested in her and her future...I mean...seriously, the next time I complain someone should slap me..scratch that...punch me in the face..really hard!

I'll just close by saying that as 2008 comes to a close, I'm thankful. God has been abundantly good. He could snatch it all away and would still be more than worthy of praise. Come to think of it, he could have not done one other thing besides send Jesus and he would still be worthy of the highest praise. May his name be made great, may it be made known in all the world, and may it be lifted high in my life!

Update: The Christmas Play

Sorry it has been a while since I've last posted. My first reason is that I was too busy with the Christmas play to sit down and type. That reason quickly gave way to the fact that I then became too sick to type. So now I'm pretty much out of reasons not to post. I did want to give a quick update about the play, since I posted about it a while back.

Everything really went off without a hitch both nights. Except for one thing! I missed the entire first night and only got to watch the second night. That's right, as is a common theme for big events in my life, I got sick!

It all started LAST Saturday. My throat starting feeling scratchy and I felt the dreaded warning signs of a cold. So I started with Theraflu. Made it through Sunday Dec. 7th and took my last final on Monday the 8th. Monday wasn't a good day, so I did what is typically a last ditch effort for me. I called the doctor. Well Karen called the doctor...and got me an appointment for the next day. I told myself "now is no time to be a hero. Suck it up! Take the shot and get this over with so you can do all that you need to do."

You know how it is the week leading up to a big event. You have a personal time line of all the things you want to do...all the things that need your attention, the little details that need to be ironed out. Well I had that list. So I went to the doctor, took 2 shots, one in each cheek, got 3 prescriptions, and thought I'd be good. I even decided to suspend my agenda for Tuesday and Wednesday just to ensure that I'd get enough rest and be good for the weekend performances. Well Friday came and I was feeling better. So I went to dress rehearsal and everything went really well. We were prepared. However, that day my stomach didn't feel quite right. I couldn't eat much. I thought that the antibiotic I was taking was bothering my stomach.

Well, about 2 am Friday morning we discovered that it, in fact, was not my antibiotic, but apparently I had now added a nice little stomach bug to my list of ailments. Now, you have to know about me and vomiting. I don't do throwing up. I've literally thrown up once since I was like 10...and that was a couple of years ago (oddly enough, that was the night before we were headed on a youth retreat). I will do everything in my power not to throw up. For the most part. There is a time when it gets so overwhelming that I give in and want to throw up, but then I don't know how. I've suppressed the urge so often that I no longer know how to vomit. Anyway, so 2:30 Friday morning Karen and I are sitting in our tiny bathroom floor (she's such a great wife) waiting to see which happens first...I throw up or pass out. (consequently one of my biggest fears of the night was that I would pass out and then vomit, and choke on my own vomit....gross I know!) Well I finally get through the night, but Saturday I feel like....vomit. I couldn't do anything but sleep.

So I miss the entire performance Saturday. Sunday I'm supposed to lead worship, but that didn't happen either. I could get up, but not for long. By Sunday it was obvious I was not going to get to be a part of the play. That's right, since August we've been dreaming, planning, and preparing this wonderful Christmas event. And the weekend of it all, I can't be there.

Well, Sunday night, I decided that it would take death to keep me from at least seeing the play. So I got myself up, dressed, and down to the church just in time to see the team before they went on, spread my germs, and then sit and watch the play.

IT WAS AMAZING! The team did an awesome job. They presented with much conviction and passion. The band did a wonderful job on the songs they played. The desserts were tasty, and everything was decorated wonderfully.

At the end of it, I sat there just thankful. Thankful for the countless folks who had given up so much of their life to make this event so special! Thankful for my wonderful wife who, if I can say so, is the best thespian I know! Thankful for the ability to breath and live and hear and see. And thankful, really....I'm not just saying this....thankful for Jesus. The story told through the drama was strictly about our Savior. And I was reminded that all of the details and lights and food and tables and songs and parts and all the stuff......doesn't really matter when compared to the unsurpassed greatness of knowing Jesus Christ.

The Christmas play went great. But I pray that this Christmas you will be reminded, or perhaps for the first time get, that all that matters in this life is Jesus! Merry Christmas!

Let Us Eat Cake

I've been rather intrigued lately by a "friend" of mine on facebook. Without going into too much detail, this person has been outspoken (or is that outtyping?) about their conviction that Christians should withdraw themselves from "pagan" observances such as Halloween and Christmas. There have been several lenghty discussions on facebook between this person and other folks in the facebook community. I have yet to interject myself into these conversations, but they have provided for some interesting entertainment and have provoked much though. I may not agree with everything this person says or with many of the arguments presented there but these discussion have got me thinking.

So I'll ask you. Can we as Christians still be involved in holidays and observances such as Halloween, Christmas, and Easter and still "maintain a clear conscience before God and all people"? (Acts 24:16) I suspect that Halloween would be an easy on for most of us. No we shouldn't dress up as the Devil, or maybe even a ghost or vampire! No we shouldn't indulge ourselves in teeth-rotting candy! No we shouldn't make human or animal sacrifices to Satan! But is there anything really wrong with playing dress up and going to a trunk-or-treat or fall festival?

What about Christmas...with all the Santa Claus, presents, lights, and decorations? Can we involve ourselves in the so-called "pagan" side of Christmas whose origins are rooted at least in part in Nordic mythology and still honor God through the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ? Can the two co-exist?

Initially, my response is that there is nothing wrong with gift-giving. There is nothing wrong with decorating the house with lights, or putting up a Christmas tree. I think the underlying question is "what is the purpose"? In other words, I think what matters to God is the motivation of our actions. As the bible says "Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).

Truth-be-told, I equate both Christmas and Easter as celebrations of God's work of redemption. The origins based in mythology or paganism is of little thought at these times of the year. I realize that even the name "Easter" is not a biblical term. But what I celebrate at this observance we call Easter is Jesus resurrection.

So how much does our semantics or vocabulary really matter to God? Are we holding hands with both God and the world by celebrating his death, burial and resurrection by calling it Easter? Are we watering down the truth of Immanuel, God in the flesh, but silmultaneously putting up Christmas trees, talking about Santa Claus, and giving gifts to friends and loved ones? Are we trying to have our cake and eat it too? (I've never really understood that saying....I mean if I got some cake...immma eat it too...that's a blog for another day!)

So I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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