Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Otter Creek

Eighteen years was all she lived, 1900-1918. Her name was Mary, married to A.A., buried under a beautifully carved head stone, surrounded by simple unmarked rocks of others. Just off the path at the top of the hill we came across cemetery and found her there. Running my fingers through the grooves that created a house, etched into the stone marking her grave, I could not help but think what went into those short eighteen years.

Mary was not the only one we met on this trek through the woods. On the footpath under the bridge, we came upon a young lady in a James Madison t-shirt fishing in the James River. She was with the USGS and was fishing for water samples, using a hand crank crane to raise and lower a plastic fish. She explained what they were doing, the simple translation is "seeing what's in the water." She loved what she was doing, and you could hear it in her voice. Cole was fascinated, just to watch her raise and lower the mechanism.

We found ourselves on the trails again this morning, this time around the Otter Creek area of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was cool, but comfortable as we explored. Feeling the soft fur of moss, overtaken fallen trees. Peeking into crevices. Tip toeing along the stone walls of the locks. Checking fresh skat, from something there moments before. Seeking adventure.

Life is a vapor, here for a bit, then gone. None of us know the number of days we get, and can't add any more when we get to the end. So what do we do with the time that we have?

Spider man

Logan wants a fish. A red herring to be precise, which makes me laugh inwardly every time he says it. Keep chasing it and you will find it. We visited a local pet shop this weekend to marvel at the rainbows created by scale and fin. After a time, we ventured into the spider and reptile hallway...

Maybe they keep it dimly lit for the good of all that is creepy and crawly, or maybe it just makes the aquariums light up all the more as you pass them by. There were long snakes, small snakes, albinos... There was even a PacMan frog, which was kinda cool. At the end of this dark corridor, they kept the spiders...big, fat hairy spiders. Visions of those things from Aliens attaching to my face were already running through my head, these things were so big.

I don't know where he came from, his voice alerting me to his presence, "There are actually larger spiders that live in people's basements."

His monogrammed Pet Store shirt announced he belonged there, as I raised an eyebrow wondering where this was going. "Wolf Spiders are big and they will bite. I got bit once by a Black Widow. They tell you it will kill you , but it did not do anything to me. Well, it did make me a little sick."

Looking to escape, I turned to my family, who seemed to have relocated to another zip code, and found it was just me and Spiderman and all his amazing friends. I exclaimed my astonishment at his survival, as I began to back down toward the light. I will usually talk to anyone, but this one caught me a little off guard. He followed me, making his hand walk like a spider, "You just have to watch out for the Brownie Recluses, because they don't play around when they bite."

Sure I was about to become food for the residents, I came to the end of hall, and freedom provided by putting some space and a few aisles between my new buddy and myself. "Gotta catch up with my family", I scurried away. 

"Come back soon", ran shivers down my spine.

Maybe we'll buy Logan's fish online. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Take me out to the ball game...

Friday evening, Cole and I took in a Liberty University baseball game. He loves to go watch, something he picked up from me, I guess. Around the 4th inning we retreated to the car to get out of the rain that had begun to fall. I hated to leave as it was a great 0-0 pitching duel, so we ate a picnic in the car as we watched the rest of the game from the hill and listened to the action on the radio.

By the bottom of the 9th inning Presbyterian had taken a  1-0 lead on LU, and brought in their closer to finish the game. Pop. Pop. Two hits in a row tied the game and left the game winning run on second. Two walks later, the bases were loaded and everyone was on the edge of their seats for the dramatic finish.

The batter strode to the plate, with a heroic glint in his eye. He had the chance to win the game with a single swing, all he had to do was connect. The pitcher knew he was in a jam, but maybe he would get lucky. He quickly fell behind in the count...ball one....ball two...ball three. He had to throw a strike...ball four. He walked in the game winning run.

It was all rather anti-climatic, as the player trotted home, and rather hard to be excited for such a finish. A win is a win, right? Don't get me wrong, I like to win, but how do you duplicate that? A win because the other team can't get it across the plate.

The thing is, they put themselves in a position to win by staying in the game...when the hits were not coming, when the rain was pouring down, when the ace reliever came to the mound. Some probably would not have held it against them if they would have just packed it in. It's only one game, right? I guess you could say that about a lot in life, or you could stay in the game.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Random Snippets

Mom was not feeling well a couple Sundays ago, so no church that day, at least not away from the living room. We decided to bring church home and have a little fun. We played three songs while we danced around and sang. Yeah I am one of "those guys", who can't keep still, when it comes to worship. We built a large tower before reading our story about Babel and praying together.

Of course the fun came when the tower became the target of flying stuffed animals. If only tearing down our own monuments was so easy.

_______________________________

ESPN radio reported this morning that the rate of vasectomy goes up 20% during the NCAA tournament. They attributed this to the ability of a guy to sit around all day watching basketball while he rest and recuperates. I wonder if it has to do more with poor bracket performance.

________________________________

Last night was billions of lights out for an hour during the annual Earth hour. Organizers wanted to show support for a new UN deal to fight global warming by the end of 2009. We had good intentions, but remembered a bit late. Did you participate? why or why not?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Woo

This is the tale of two Mii in the land of Wii. You can already guess the ending by the picture, but really that is only the middle, or maybe the beginning. 

Having stumbled upon each other in the Mii parade, there was something they saw different in each other. What began as a passing acquaintance, turned into a inseparable passion. Before they knew it they were doing things they never imagined outside of fairy tales and Nicolas Sparks novels. What was once about Mii, became about Wii.  The day finally arrived, they were joined and whisked away to happily ever after. 

After a while though, what was once about Wii, slowly started to drift back to Mii. What was once about discovery and freshness, became routine. It did not happen over night or with much fanfare, which is why it went unnoticed until it was nearly too late.

Marriage was never meant to be a destination, but a pursuit.

Think back to when you were "courting" the one you love...what did you do differently then, than you do now?

Sexy? Guys...we probably hit the gym or tried to make an effort toward your appearance, instead of giving into Dunlop disease. Ladies...sexy went a little farther than the T-shirt with holes in the arm pits. Guys, if she is too tired, maybe you should pick up a few things around the house like doing the dishes, to help her conserve her energy. Ladies, imagine if you only got to eat once every 30 days, would that be healthy?

Romantic? When was the last time you did something completely unexpected and romantic for the one you love? I probably should have done something really cool before writing this because now I am getting elbows. Don't have money? Pick flowers, write a note and leave it under the pillow, go for a walk. Go to a sporting event with him, and pay attention! Tell her why you love her Gaze longingly into her eyes and talk about something other than work or your physical needs.

Love, like a muscle, will atrophy for lack of use. Are you still chasing the one you love? If you were still trying to win the heart of the one you love, what would you be doing differently?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Salsa Dancing

Right out of college, I worked at a Treatment Center for youth, particularly with those that were violent. I had some amazing times with the boys, that in many ways were lost in a world that did not want them. While most times were good, there were others...

At dinner, we passed around the bowls filled with various makings for the tacos. Like most nights, we had cooked our own food, preparing for when society was re-entered. Each took their portion, leaving some for the next.

When at last the salsa made its round, one young man poured it all upon his plate and then passed the empty jar. When he refused to share, I told him I would have to portion it out. As I reached across the table, his fork slashed out like a striking snake. In the nick of time, my hand pulled back.

My eyes lifting to meet his, found his plate of food on it's way. Salsa flooded into my eyes, burning, clouding them from the incoming jar that had become a missile. Off my forehead, it crashed to the ground. Over the table, I met him with a bear hug and held on until help could arrive.

Life can seem so out of control at times. While there are some things we can control, there is much that we can not. Coming to grips with this is a battle, as we struggle with what we feel entitled to and go to great lengths to get our way, blurring the lines between what we want and what we need. The need to control makes us do things we never thought we would. Our faith seems to be greater in our own effort to hold things together. At least that is something I have to fight inside myself, daily.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Prism

When we describe what the other person is really like, I suppose we often picture what we want. We look through the prism of our need. ~Ellen Goodman

Head in hands, he sat mute, staring at the depths of the waiting room floor. How did he find himself at the courthouse? How had it gotten to this point? He shared of his family and how his wife was trying to keep him from his little girl. Oh how he desired to see her. Today a judge would decide.

His mother sat next to him. Her despair written on her face. Her maternal instincts set on preservation of this shattered family. She wondered what would tear them apart. Who would be so vicious.

Their stories plucked my heart, playing a sorrowful dirge. Wishing them well, I roamed to another waiting room in search of my acquaintances.

Down the hall, another room with flickering florescent. The only colors contrasting the drab decor, purple and blue that painted her face. She sat crying. Her mother had accompanied her as well and tinkled the chin of a swaddled baby. Through her tears she told of nights filled with terror. Blows rained upon her fragile form and a desperate attempt at escape. Today a judge could grant that freedom.

The pitch of the music changed, my heart sick. What could I offer, in silence I pondered.

Each story, a reflection of the same light traveling through a prism. As I looked at each facet, the light changed to reflect the view of the story teller. Having only heard one, without looking through another, how my opinion would be different. Even my own lens of experience, changes the view.

Through what prism will you view?

Peeps

It's that time of year again. Candies that have not seen the light of day in over a year are resurrected. Creme eggs & Peeps inhibit the bottom on the candy food chain for me. Actually, I am not a big candy fan. Reese's or Butterfingers occasionally. There is just something about the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

Anyway, back to the Peeps. They really are scary things. Peeps, it seems, colonized our planet in an effort to escape the ammonia rich environment on Venus, at least that is what scientists Scully and Mulder shared back in 1996. There is an abundance of scientific research on these invaders.

Tried to set one on fire once. Animal rights groups are probably cringing, but lets face it they are sugar and oxygen mostly. I rather like my oxygen, unsweetened. The way we take care of our oxygen around here, they will most likely have to move on to another planet soon enough. Wonder where they will go next?

Keep an eye on these pesky critters. When they start to disappear, you may want to start considering real estate somewhere outside our atmosphere. Or maybe we could just stop treating our planet like a trash dump.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Easter Eggs

On your mark. Get set. Go.

There eyes wide with wonder, six fearless adventurers took off around the house. The obvious treasures were gobbled up quickly as the real search began for the elusive few remaining eggs.

On the window sill, only slightly above their wandering eyes sits a bright blue. From the crook of the tree peaks a marvelous yellow.

Cole stands over the lid to the well house, ready to drop the eight feet down into the gloomy shadows in search of booty. Others walk ever shrinking circles of desperation. Right here, a finger points, smiles return as they run in glee to capture yet another.

We are all searching for something, yet sometimes we make it harder than it really is. Our eyes easily skip over what is right before them, thinking it can not be that easy. Sometimes it takes another to point it out for the scales to fall from our eyes. Or seeing what is just out of reach, we declare it is too much and sit with basket in hand.

I feel that way at times. More recently as I am job hunting. I have been blessed with an amazing part time job, but it still keeps me from my family more than I would like. Still chasing my Easter Egg.

What is it that you are searching for?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chicks


Sunday afternoon, we ventured to the Tractor Supply on the way to Roanoke. This time of year they have tubs of baby chickens, for spring or Easter. Can't imagine the life span of a chick received in the Easter basket is much longer than that of a goldfish won at the Fair. So I decided to take the opportunity to teach Logan about the treatment of Chicks(the fairer sex).

"When picking up chicks, be gentle, but firm so they do not slip through your fingers. They are soft to pet, but can peck pretty hard. Hold them close to your chest, they like to hear your heart."

"I know how to do it dad!", then his focus shifted from chickens, "Besides, girls give you cootie pocks!"

"What pray tell are cootie pocks?"

"When a kiss spreads all over your entire body! It's gross!"

Well, some lessons will have to wait until he gets a little older. For now we'll settle for making sure the chicks are still alive when they get back in the tub. Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ubuntu

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity. ~Desmond Tutu

Came across this the other day. It was like a little treasure I had misplaced and found again hiding in the dark recesses behind the couch. Got me to thinking and so thought I would share. Peace.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Simple

I was praying with a family, going around the circle, each sharing one thing they were thankful for. Friends. Family. Dinner. Health. Some had great meaning, some shared in jest. Staples. Ear plugs. Belly button lint.

The smallest of the family, who had just a few minutes ago been bouncing off the walls, said "Hands and feet. Without them I could not do a lot."

His brothers and sisters laughed, picked on him, thinking he was joking around. When it got to me, I echoed his prayer. For me it was a gentle reminder, sometimes it is the most simple things we can take for granted.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cafeteria

It has been a long time since I got in trouble in the school cafeteria, obviously not long enough.
Yesterday, I went to lunch with Logan. I try to do that at least once a month, and it is typically a blast because they let me stick around for recess. I almost had that privilege taken away.

When I was in elementary school, we had a principal, Mr. Garber. He loomed over us, tall and skinny with fingers like daggers. He must have been raised by ninjas, because you would never hear him coming, before his long, bony finger shot into your collar bone. Like the Vulcan nerve pinch, he would completely incapacitate the most wily adversary. At that point it was too late and "mercy" and "uncle" would not alleviate the suffering. You did not play around in the cafeteria.

Lunch yesterday was chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, green beans and an orange. After consuming everything, in an attempt to influence our young in the way or veggies (especially after yesterday's blog), I began to eat my orange. Oranges can be fun, because you can make teeth out of them. Always good for a laugh.

It became like a virus, kids three tables over saw me, laughed and proceeded to make teeth themselves. Hapless cafeteria workers tried to staunch the revolt, but were thwarted when one ingenious child decided to stick a whole orange in his mouth. If it was funny going in, it was fall in the floor hilarious trying to get it out. Hundreds of kids joined the uprising, as I came to the realisation I was doomed and began to flinch at the memory of those fingers.

I got busted by a stoolie at my table and had to apologize. Luckily, the cafeteria lady showed mercy and I was allowed to play on the playground.

Influence is a funny thing, you don't have to do a whole lot to use. Each of us influence many each day, without even thinking about it. Maybe it is the lack of thinking about it, that leads us into these situations, where we wonder how it ever got to this point. Oh well, better go as I have to write "I will not not play in the cafeteria", 100 times before lunch.

Collapsing World

In the present homogeneous business environment, where retailers and companies are beginning to look more and more like each other, those that engender a distinct difference gain attention and also reap the rewards. In the most recent book I reviewed for Thomas Nelson publishing, Collapse of Distinction, author Scott McKain asks and then answers the question, "How do customer's distinguish you from your competition?"

After the first 50 pages, I was ready to write this book off as just another business book that points out the flaws in the current business environment, especially in light of the dwindling economy, with out anything new and insightful to add to the conversation. It took a dramatic turn as McKain launched in the four cornerstones of building distinction; clarity, creativity, communication and customer-experience focus. McKain is spot on in his insights regarding these cornerstones and how they play together to create distinction.

The chapter on communication and the stories we, our employees and customers share regarding about our company and product struck a cord with me. This chapter would be helpful for any company to consider how they communicate what makes them the superior company and has some great simple tips for normal communication.

After building the case and moving into the cornerstones, the only place McKain lost me was at his attack on Good to Great by Collins. I felt it was unnecessary in support of his opinions.

Each chapter is capped with an executive summary and discussion questions that would be useful in discussing this book with co-workers and other executives in your company. This book is also part of the Nelsonfree line of books, that enable you to get a free ebook and audio version of the book that you purchase. This makes the book very versatile in a busy world, allowing you to peruse in anywhere.

This is a book that I will use and recommend to those in any line of business as well as those that are looking to make a distinction between themselves and the competition in their own workplace.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Great Veggie War

"Eat your vegetables, they are good for you!"

"You must try everything on your plate!"

The call to arms was raised, as scouts peered across the expansive battlefield that was the dinner table. They are good for you, what sinister propaganda of the parental machine. If they were good for us, why did they taste so bad and cause our stomachs to evict their foulness in putrid streams of bile?

We constantly devised plans to thwart the veggie loving army and elude their consumption. My brother, in one attempt, dumped pepper on his mashed potatoes until they become gray. Tears running down his face, we gasped for oxygen, laughing as he was made to eat them.

Cheaking the veggies and asking to go to the bathroom would not work. Dogs and cats turned up their noses at collaborative consumption. Accidentally dropping your plate off the table may work once, by you only avoided your fate for a night. It was a lonely place, in exile with a plate of beats, hoping that the tea was strong enough to wash the taste from our mouths.

Trying everything was defined as a spoonful, and my eventual victory came in measuring a spoonful of limas and then taking them one at a time like pills, washing them whole into my gullet. Hoping they would not germinate and eat me from the inside.

I have finally succumbed to the mind control, as vegetables do not hold sway over my taste buds anymore. I rather enjoy them, except the lima beans. Permanent scarring on the palette still causes retching at the mere smell. Children...there is no hope in defiance...resistance is futile...the vegetables will win!

Heroes Everyday

The Dark Knight leaped from the Batmobile, weary from a night chasing Two-Face. Sloughing off his costume, he headed toward the refreshing touch of the shower.

"Don't leave that dirty uniform lying on the ground!", called Wonder Woman.

"That's okay, I'll get it cleaned up in a jiff, as soon as I finish cutting the grass.", Flash blurted out as he zipped through, a streak of red left in his wake.

As I sit and listen to my boys playing superheroes, I wonder...I never remember playing with them this way, capturing the moments in between the daring rescues, the mundane that even superheroes must endure. It gives me a chuckle just to listen to the dialogue, as someone uses their super strength to take out the trash.

I guess with most heroes there are thousands of moments that lead up to that one shining moment when they are needed. Or maybe it is in those thousands of mundane moments that we are the true heroes and paving the way for our sidekicks as they grow up.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Newspaper

Stock Market collapse. Recession. Madoff. Stimulus.

Reading the newspaper the other day, maybe for some encouragement, right? Everything going on is so much fun. Then I stumbled upon this...

Congress Huddles on College Football...seems that since schools accept state and federal dollars, the federal government is getting involved in college football playoffs. Before you get on the Democrat big government bandwagon, it is co-sponsored by a Republican. Does not list who the sponsor of the bill is, but it would require that they drop the term "National Champion" or face penalties. Another bill would withhold federal funds from colleges that do not participate in a playoff system.

Is it just me or should the flag be thrown and 10 yards assessed for walking around the field aimlessly? Where are our priorities?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Madness

Ok, brackets are out. Arguably my favorite time of the sports year! My wife and I compete every year and believe it or not, she has won a few years. Something to do with the mascot name or color of the uniform...it kills me. Took the title back from her last year though. Want to make sure I hang on to it this year, so gimme some help...

Post your Final Four, Final Two, Champion and score of the final game. Winner gets a book out of my amazing book collection. I'll tailor the prize to the winner.

Good luck all!

Perspective

There's somethin' wrong with the world today
I don't know what it is
Something's wrong with our eyes
We're seeing things in a different way
And God knows it ain't His
It sure ain't no surprise

~Aerosmith, Living on the Edge

The other day I was playing hide and seek with the boys and having used up all the typical places, decided to have a little fun. A couple pieces of large cardboard, laying around from an art project, draped nicely over maybe a third of me as I placed myself in the center of the living room. Giggles forewarned me of the impending pounce, mere seconds before Cole crashed into me.

"How did you ever find me?", I inquired with a big smile.

"X-ray vision. I can see right through things."

"Really, what do you see when you look at me.", I played along.

"I see you. Your hair and clothes."

I did not have the heart to tell him that it did not take X-ray vision to see that. But I guess it takes quite a bit to see beyond the externals when our eyes fall upon another.

I was quite challenged by @markbatterson the other day, when he was talking about Brennan Manning's new book and quoted, "The Father not only loves you, he likes you." What a different perspective it must take...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

King

Thirty five years ago, a wife pulled four pages out of the trash, and thus began the literary career of Stephen King. I remember reading Tommyknockers one day when I was home sick from school and feeling really creepy. I have not read all that he wrote and have liked some while others I struggled to finish others. His book, On Writing, helped me tremendously as I consider writing my first book. There is something to be said about the way he spins a story.

To think it all started by someone believing in him enough take a look at something he had discarded. Inspiring.

What moments in your life was there someone that believed in you, that helped you get where you are today?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Top 10

Top 10 ways to know your son watches too much Sportcenter (at 4 years old):

1. When you try to throw the ball lightly so he can catch it, he tells you that you throw like a baby.

2. If you do it again, he tells you that you throw like a dead person. (where does he get this from?)

3. Every catch is a highlight, as he dives and rolls on the ground in dramatic fashion.

4. Getting hit by the ball is a badge of honor, not a reason to cry.

5. He yells "Touchdown" from the bathroom. You figure it out.

6. When you read to him, all the books have to be about sports. Maybe the Berenstein Bears should get together with Richard Scary, Little Critters and the Justice League and have a tournament.

7. He wants an agent to negotiate his chores and allowance.

8. He tries to sleep in his batting helmet. At least it is better than what some athletes sleep with.

9. "Juicing" is something he does every morning, but only apple and orange.

10. He gets assessed a 10 yard penalty for "chop blocking" his older brother on the way to the dinner table, regularly.

That's Cole. Maybe one day he will make it to the big leagues and dad will enjoy the fruits of his labor. See you next time folks.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Boo

It seems growing up we had slight fascination with ghosts, not a hard jump when you grow up in the house on the hill with a family cemetary. Two open graves led to great speculation on what might have come out of them. Was it our eyes playing tricks on our imagination the night we saw the white shadow cast on the encroaching darkness, flitting across the head stones? Was the dark spot on the grave, shaped like a footprint, left by someone long past?

Precursor to modern day "reality television" we set up tape recorders and cameras to capture the intruders from the mystical realm. Sounds played back, kept our imaginations running wild, any attempts at sleep banished.

As I grew older, these pursuits lost interest, buried in the recesses of my mind. Once though, they crashed back into the realm of possibility. My cousin stayed over at the house, we were up most of the night playing Tecmo Bowl. He had gone into the front of the house to get a soda, when I heard a female voice call my name beckoning me to come to the front of the house. Halfway down the hall I met my cousin, who had heard a similar call for him. A quick search of the house for mischievious friends, came up naught. We never came up with an explanation, just a renewed fascination in what goes bump in the night.

Happy Friday the 13th! Any ghost stories you would like to share?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Animal: Cat vs. Alligator

All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it. ~ Samuel Butler

She was born in a wood pile, found by a real estate customer of mine, and given to me. Miko, our cat, has been with us over 10 years now. She has slowed down a bit, but always keeps life interesting. She seemed to have the most fun when we lived in Florida. Chasing all the lizards for fun and a snack and exploring around the lake, until...

One day she was there, the next day she was gone. We searched high and low for her, asking neighbors, who were familiar with her antics. Climbing the screens on their porches to get on their roof, was a favorite exercise. This was heart breaking to my wife, who is a cat person, but as the days went on our attention changed to our first son, who was born two months later. Our hope of seeing Miko again was lost.

Logan's first week home from the hospital, we heard a soft meow from the backyard. Surprised, we went to see whose cat had stopped by to visit. It was Miko. She was skin and bones and had long gashes down both her back legs. Taking her to the vet, we found she had been a victim of alligator attack.

Ever year, we would get a gator or two visiting the lake and have to get the local croc hunter to come remove him. Many a day I watched kids playing in the lake, waiting... Miko was probably taking a quick drink when the gnashing jaws crashed out of the water, her leap not quite fast enough she escaped, but with a permanent reminder. She probably holed up to gain strength those two months, living on bugs or mice.

She has been with us many years, and several moves, since then. Now she is more like a mother to the boys, sleeping on their bed, following them around to keep and eye on them. The hair still does not grow on the scars that tattoo her back legs, memories of her past adventures.

Almost there

Surprising who you will find in the middle of the woods, sitting by a path. I wonder were they put there just for us to discover.

"You are almost there.", they encouraged us as we met them, sitting on a bench, by the last incline before the farm.

He was retired, she a simple bus driver. Together, they were happy. They had been coming here for years, discovering new things with each trip. About the land, about life, about love.

They take more rests along the way, sitting by each others side. Each moment captured, the life wrestled out of it. They spoke to everyone they saw, or would give them the time. Watching them stare out into the valleys, I wondered what they saw with wisened eyes.

I feel there is much we could learn from those sitting by the side of the path.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Signs


Getting tagged yesterday, got me thinking...we all have those areas in our lives that are off limits. They are like the closet you are afraid to open, because you are afraid of what might spill out for everyone to see. Maybe you even post signs (or string barbed wire) to keep nosy friends at bay.
Sunday I had the opportunity to lead an elementary schools boys small group at Brentwood. The overarching topic was "Why does God allow bad things to happen?" My first response was "I volunteered for this?", because this is a question that many adults struggle with much less lead a group of adolescents to talk about.
They huddled around, as if keeping warm by the fire, surprisingly rapt with attention and began to teach me a few things. Many of them shared about loved ones that had passed away or people that had picked on them. Their transparency was refreshing. When do we lose that?
When it came time for the dreaded question, one little six year old boys spoke up, "Because God has a plan." Simple, yet ever elusive when we are in the midst of a trial. All the boys nodded, and then one figured out you could squirt the hand sanitizer.
Amazing what you can learn when you are willing to go beyond the sign.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tag

i got tagged by Cinnamon, unfortunately not freeze tag, but i am never at a loss for words, so here you go...

these are the rules:
1/put the link of the person who tagged you on your blog
2/write the rules
3/mention 6 things or habits of no real importance about you
4/tag 6 persons adding their links directly
5/alert the persons that you tagged them

-i read around 150-180 pages an hour. luckily i love to read so the "talent" is not wasted.
-i would willingly be deserted on an island, as long as i could take my family. would probably prefer the wilderness for desertion though.
-i can reach my nose with my tongue, and then some.
-if you ask, i will tell, i am not ashamed.
-i was once a clown named sunshine, ok maybe i have a little shame.
-i have a large scar down the side of my leg from diving through barbed wire fence. why were we in such a hurry, well that's a story for another day.

whom shall i tag: dotcom, daniel, roughruby, rich, jake, alicia.

Who?




The sun kissed our cheeks as we ascended to Johnson Farm, just a mile hike around Peaks of Otter. The boys enjoyed exploring every little nook and crack. On our trek back from the farm, we started a conversation...

"Why do we have to protect the forest?", Logan asked.

Where do you start? It's home for all the animals. Trees give us oxygen to breathe. So that others can come have the same adventures we just experienced. When we are given dominion over all the earth, it does not mean ownership, it means to take care of and protect. I really don't think we were meant to treat it as a temporary place we can screw up while we are here.

In our descent, I felt myself rising to my soap box. He was satisfied with the simple answers, but I hope one day he understands the more complex issues and falls in love with the beauty of it all.
Is the environment an issue for you? How do you conserve and protect it?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Colors of Creation



a. Logan creating a panorama of color on grandma and granddaddy's steps for when they return.

b. If there is any particular color in creation he was wearing it. We met at the food court @ the mall in Roanoke. Definite personality, inside and out.

Care taken in the creation of each. Each with unique finger prints upon them, reflecting their creator. Who would tell them otherwise?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fool

I was supposed to die that day, but I didn't, so instead, I must live. ~Jon Dupin

I was once young and dumb, now I am not quite so young. Reading Jon's words in Lynchburg Living this month got me thinking back over my life and some of the times I came close to the edge. There were times when that seemed the point of adolescence, to see how close we could come without taking the fall, or at least one not too high.

Back in high school, One night I was hanging out with my cousin, with nothing to do but wait for our friend Chappy to arrive. I don't know if we had watched one too many westerns with stagecoach robberies or played off our internal drive to be misfits, but we got the bright idea that we would ambush him as he came up the road.

This was a pretty easy task as my cousin lived down a gravel road that wound through the woods to the top of a hill. An expanse of trees created a bubble of solitude from the neighbors and a canvas to paint our adventures on.

We crept through the woods until we found the perfect spot, only one neighbor between us and his house, and they seemed to be in for the night. The thing about gravel roads, you can hear people coming for miles. Gravels crunching was our starter pistol and we pulled dead trees across the road to impede his progress.

Slinking back into the shadows, our hearts beat like bass drums threatening to give us away. When the car came to a stop, those drums nearly stopped. It was not Chappy. The man unfolded himself from the car, looked at the barricade and pulled his pistol from beneath his seat.

"Come out now!", maybe he thought we were crazy enough to be target practice.

Dry sweat flooded out of my pores, as I wondered how long I could hold my breath. Barely twenty feet of trees separated us from certain doom. We dare not move or make a noise. After what seemed like an eternity, the man removed the branches and went on to the neighbor's house. What once was fun, had turned into a nightmare. I don't remember much else about that night, memory lost to the overriding fear.

I am unsure the statute of limitations on getting a whooping from your parents, but expect to find out next time I see them. I was once young and dumb, now I am not quite so young and maybe a little wiser.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Glass...a response (guest blog)

Wow! Had some great responses to yesterdays post on Glass. Got this one from a life long friend, that challenges me to look at things differently at times through his lyrics and poetry. It's a song, he sent me the mp3 as well. Thought it was definitely worth the share. First ever guest blogger @ the waystation. Enjoy.

I read your blog on Love and this is what came out. Love Lies. Not in the bad sense. Love Lies Down Before Me. That was the sentiment.

In Between by Vagabond King

Love Lies
Love Lies
Love Lies
To Me.

When you've got a lot to say.
And all the words get in the way.
Is the price too high to pay?

When you don't know where you stand.
When you hold a broken hand.
Will you give it all back again?

Do you hear me when I cry?
Do you know the reasons why?
Did you think of me tonight?

Will you wonder where I am?
Will you wonder who I'm with?
Will you wonder what I did?

Love Lies
Love Lies
Love Lies
To Me.

Where there is You.
There is just Me.
Between us is Everything.
In Between.

terror

oh what panic ripped through my heart. you would think the world was coming to an end, or so it seemed. nothing inspires the imagination quite like being in the middle of no where when the gas light comes on.

mentally kicking myself for not stopping, i try to run the calculations in my head. how far back was the last gas station, how far forward until the next? when was the last time i saw a car on this road? would they stop for me? would i want them to? is it too far to walk? if i cut through the woods, what lives there? do i go forward or back?

but alas, i made it to the next stop. what was sheer terror a few minutes ago is now forgotten. full of fuel i am ready to continue forward. how often we let our fear of the unknown overtake us and keep us rooted in or place, neither reaching forward or back, stuck. a sad life indeed, never reaching our destination.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Glass

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.” ~Neil Gaiman

He could see daylight ahead in the distance, he was almost home free. His heart raced, only so much faster than his pursuers. Not daring to look over his shoulder, he pulled on all his reserves to make the last sprint.

Seconds later, my cousin lay bloody and broken among the shards of glass, all that was left of the sliding door. He never saw it coming as he smashed through on his way out of the house, during a game of tag.

Love can be like that, sneak up on you when you least expect it and then leave you broken and bloody. Long after the shards of glass have been picked up and removed, there is that sliver still stuck in you, making it's way from your hands to your head, and ultimately to your heart. That sliver cuts like a surgeons knife though nerve ending, separating you from feeling to stop the pain. Making you wary of love and what it has to offer.

I have been there. After high school, I found my heart ripped out, stepped on and spray painted black. I think the spray paint was just for spite, lol. I wandered for years, feeling little, promising myself I would never give myself away again. It was not worth it. I could get what I wanted and then slip away like a thief in the night, leaving the pain for someone else to deal with.

Through those three years, as much as I was protecting my heart, it was filled with unmet longings. I was searching for something to make me whole again, something to make me feel again. I tried to find that "missing piece" in many ways, but left with bloated tongue, I thirsted still. Then I met me wife. And then I found God again.

It's alright to be afraid, David, because this part won't be like a comic book. Real life doesn't fit into little boxes that were drawn for it. ~Mr. Glass (Unbreakable)


Life does not fit into neat little boxes, and neither will your heart. What once started as protection, becomes the parasite, sucking the life out of your heart. We have to remove the splinter of glass and stop listening to the lies it tells. If you love again, will it hurt? Yes, it does sometimes. I have found though, that love is greater than a few shards of broken glass.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Peas

The other day, my wife made chicken with this wonderful cream sauce. The cream sauce was the highlight as the chicken did not turn out as good as we had hoped. Don't get me wrong, my wife is an amazing cook, but she agreed it was lacking. Paired with the chicken entree was peas. Nothing fancy, just simple peas with a dash of salt. When the two were paired together, it made a great meal, very pleasing to the palate.

It got me to thinking about the importance of what is on the side, or better yet, what or who you surround yourself with. When we are with certain people, it tends to bring out new flavors in our lives. When paired with others, we find ourselves the side dish, helping the main course actualize their potential.

Personally, I enjoy the role of the side. When I see someone reach new potential, or accomplish a dream, it makes me come alive. How about you, do you like to be the main course or play the side dish?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Christmas Redux

Wake up it's Christmas Eve! The shouts rang through the house yesterday morning. Never mind that it is March, the wonder of 8-10 inches of snow has turned back the clock for the boys.


Snow ball fights, reminiscent of landings on the beach during the great wars, left us with rosy cheeks and a few bruises. We followed the trail of snow monsters, in search of their lair. Sledding and snow boarding, filled our hearts with glee until we collapsed panting on the cushion of white.




Johnny Bob joined our family today, although he'll probably only stick around for a day or two. He has an aversion to the sun. There is just something about the snow that gives everything a freshness, as if you are seeing it for the first time or in it's pure form.

Don't mind the date, my camera was acting up and until I get the cord for the Mac, I am stuck posting at the library and can't edit the pix.

Shades

I had this dream once, that I lived in a house that was made of pull down shades. Not the fancy window dressings, but the old solid white window shades that you see in schools that just pull on and they roll up. Other than shades, it was all poles and platforms. The intriguing thing is the versatility it allowed to change the shape and function of the rooms. During the day, all the shades could be pulled up to give a great breeze and nice view of the surrounding forest.

The fear I had though was that someone would come along, at an inopportune time, and pull a shade that was an exterior wall, thus exposing whatever was going on inside the house. Maybe I was feeling guilty that day, thus exposing my faults, or maybe it was my failure at the LGN diet coming back to haunt me.

In life, the shades rarely stay down and sooner or later, what has been hidden gets exposed. The attempt at keeping them hidden, only compounds the stress when we eventually have to deal with our issues. I have found that having a group of people you trust, that will come alongside you, is essential in life. Who do you allow to see behind the curtain, in your life?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Money

Trillion is the new Billion, the headlines blazed across the newspaper this weekend. The stock market has dropped 6000 points since May. Economic downturn, or dare I use "recession", has brought the topic of money to the forefront of peoples minds.

Dirty. Enriching. Sexy. Necessary Evil. Happy. Freeing. Humbling. We all have our adjectives, and feelings, we attribute to money. Once I lived with a lot (and later wondered where it all went), and several times I have lived with little. I don't know that money brings happiness, but it does create options. What you do with it, says a lot about your character and who you are as a person. For instance...

A friend owes you money and has not paid you back for a while. It is not enought to break the bank, but enough to compromise the friendship. How do you deal with it?

If you only lived on cash, with no access to credit, how would your life change?

What one thing influences you the most when deciding to give someone a hand out on the street?

You notice a $250 credit on your bank statement that is a mistake. The bank does not catch it. Do you say something?

When in life do you feel the richest? and when the poorest?


For more thought provoking questions on money, check out If You Had A Million Dollars by Evelyn McFarlane & James Saywell

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Yes Man

Took in a movie last night with my good friend Russon. We went to see Yes Man, a recent Jim Carrey movie, about a man that discovers the power of saying "Yes" to every request put before him. There are several hilarious moments as Carl commits himself to everything that comes along, from flying lessons, to Korean language classes, to photographic jogging. There is a disturbing scene when a request is made by an elderly lady, so beware.

Along the way, Carl learns several important things. The power in saying Yes, is found in embracing new experiences. We miss out on a lot of life by saying "No" or believing that we are not good enough to accomplish something, or that we have nothing to give. On the other hand, Carl realises that you can not say yes to everything. Relationships lose their specialness and little time is left for the important things.

I have found that when you say "yes" to one thing, you are saying "no" to another. In other words, you are choosing to place the importance of one activity over another. There are many good things we need need to say "no" to so we can be great at what is really important in our lives. At the same time, we don't need to let our disbelief in ourselves limit what we choose to attempt.