Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wedding

Apparently my son is getting married. (Set aside for a second that he is 6 years old.)

On Wednesday, I went to lunch with Logan at school. Everyone at the lunch table was buzzing about the wedding that would be happening at recess. They had a photographer, maid of honor, best man. The bride's mom was supposed to be picking out a tuxedo and wedding dress. Evidently they missed the step where they discuss this with the groom's parents, not even an invitation. Imagining my wife's disappointment when I arrived home to tell her our son was married, and that she missed the rehearsal dinner of corn dog nuggets, steamed broccoli and salad. Oh and don't forget the chocolate milk we toasted with on this runaway train toward the monkey bar altar.

The torrid romance that led up to this included my son hugging her every time he saw her at the Spring Fling last Saturday. As they parted for the last time, he planted a kiss on her cheek. "Aww isn't that sweet." her mother replied. "Gross, don't ever do that again." was her response. This was followed quickly by a talk with our son about the difference between liking someone and being a creepy stalker. Nothing it seems would deter young love.

All was going well as plans were being discussed around the table, until a fateful moment changed everything. Bubbling with excitement, the maid of honor spun to face the bride, who happened to be taking a drink from her water bottle at that precise moment. Time slowed as the bottle flew out of her hands and streams of liquid arched through the air, pelting the soon to be bride. Hair and dress destroyed, tears exploded from her face as the rest of the water formed a pond in her lap.

Apologies and napkins tried to repair the moment, but it was lost. There would be no wedding today. She did smile again as we were sailing across the playground as pirates on our way to steal the treasure. And for a few more years at least, we get to keep ours.

I better not get a bill from the photographer.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Theme Thursday: Water

darkness...
a crease of light folds it open from the middle...
pouring in bright waves...
water and rocks seem a whole lot closer now...
how did i get here...

It began with a creek. It wound a semicircle around our grandparents land, holding the cliffs on the opposite bank at bay. The creek was a place that our adventures began, exploring the imposing rock, the bamboo forest, rabbit hutches, the tunnel where the water disappeared from view. Traversing the liquid divide, ranging inches deep to several feet, was a feet in and of itself.

This particular day, arriving at the far bank, we began to climb the craggy rocks. Fingers fought for holds among the cracks, while toes sought perch to push upon. How little the rolling water looked from atop our precipice, thirty feet below. Catching our breath, our eyes wandered to the vines dangling from the out thrust trees.

"Let's swing out on the vines." was all it took. Fools following fools, like lemmings off the cliffs of life. Out into the open air we swung, tempting the laws of gravity to pull us back. Out and back again, we went further and further, like these always do.

It was not a crack, more like the sound of a rushing release, fingers of vine scrambling for purchase along the tree. The world spinning as I begin a dive toward oblivion. There is no way the shallows will stop what is coming, head first, dashed upon the rocks, a sledge hammer to a watermelon. and then...time...stops, my body jerks...

darkness...
a crease of light fold it open from the middle...
pouring in bright waves...
water and rocks seem a whole lot closer now...

A tightness in my leg, another vine wrapped around it, catching me amidst the plunge. Saved from fools folly and becoming one with the rocks and the water. Scrambling to my rescue, up righting me into a more controlled decent. 

Back across the  snaking steam, resting on the bank, watching life drift by. Experience is not always the best teacher. Experience is across the starting line, your foot already in the deep...

water...

darkness...
a crease of light folds it open from the middle...
pouring in bright waves...
water and rocks seem a whole lot closer now...
how did i get here?

Sexy

What would you do if you got voted one of People magazines 50 hottest people? I don't know either, but earlier this week I was bestowed the Sexy Blogger award by Clever Pup. Feeling too much like Right Said Fred to write it myself, I asked my lovely wife to be a guest blogger and come up with the 5 things that are sexy about me. I tried to coach her to say the LGN diet was named after me, but here you go...

Hello blog world! Tara here and what an honor it is to be a guest blogger for my husband today.  I was bestowed this honor since being deemed the responsible party for Brian’s sexy blogger award (taking ballet classes all in the name of love). So here we go… five sexxxxy things about Brian:

  1. His eyes.  Those gorgeous, sparkling green eyes were the very first thing I saw when I spotted him across the room 16 years ago.
  2. The creative intelligence you read every day.  Such natural writing it is for him.  Truly a God given gift. (Also very useful as our romance began to blossom.  I have a lovely collection of poems and letters from our summers apart during college.)  Something you may not know…he is also quite an artist!
  3. The love for our family.  Watching him wrestle our boys to the ground as they scream with glee.  Carefully teaching them the art of adventure.  Loving unconditionally.  Grace.  Forgiveness.  Family time together as we explore the world around us.  Being the leader of our family, sacrifices, making tough decisions…together.  Sexy, yes, but also a lot of the glue that holds a marriage/family together.
  4. OK ladies, I don’t know about you but I think it is awesome when my husband puts things away…where they belong…without being asked!
  5. Romance IS sexy. Let me count the ways...dancing outside under the moon and stars to the music of the night. Candlelit dinners (Our deck turned into a romantic oasis complete with lights, roses and candles, with dinner prepared by a staff of people, waitresses and a violinist playing in the background.) Coming home and saying "Don't make plans for dinner tomorrow, we are going out on a date and the childcare is already taken care of." YES!! Lots of points scored on that one!
Wow! She did a pretty good job for her first blog. Sexy sure has changed since college. The thing is, if sexy is only skin deep, one day you will be left with very little. 

I am supposed to give this away to 5 people. If you want to play, tell us why you are sexy and link back. It's not that I don't think you are sexy enough to mention here, we all are in our own way, I just wouldn't want you to feel left out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

bloodsucker

The weather is getting warmer and the blood suckers are on the prowl. Pulled the first tick off my foot yesterday. Made me think back to his brother that gave me Lyme's disease last year, which is great fun. Tonight, they got a little more personal...

Hanging out with one of my clients tonight, when my phone rings. Slightly unusual, because my wife does not typically call when I am counseling. Heart rate increasing I flip open the phone, to hear my son howling in the background. The checklist comes out...broken bone, stick impaled in the body, knocked his teeth out, set his room on fire by rubbing two toys together vigorously.... No, my wife's voice, small compared to the wailing, informed me my son had a tick in the back of his head that they could not get out. 

"Don't worry, daddy is coming home now. We will get it out."

Growing up, there were lots of ways we were taught to remove ticks. Put a freshly blown out match to his butt. Smother her in nail polish or petroleum jelly, which sounds like a fraternity prank. I take that back, they both do. Science tells us now that this could cause the tick to salivate, increasing opportunity for infection. I must be pretty full of tick saliva after all these years. The suggested way is to remove it with tweezers and make sure you get all of it, mouth pieces, everything.

The thing about ticks, they feed on sucking the life out of another person. I am sure you know a few, and I am not talking about ticks or Boris Karlov. The guy that always puts you down to make himself look better. The abusive relationship you find yourself in. The friends that always lead you to places you never thought you would go again. Like the science behind tick removal, I recommend forcible removal before toxicity or contamination. A burning match or Vaseline only gives them the attention they so desire. Wish them the best, love em', hope and pray for them, but don't let them give you their disease.

Tara held Cole in a hug, his head buried in her neck. With a small razor I trimmed some of the baby hair around his hairline, clearing the way for the tweezers. A firm tug and the offender was dangling by the points. I showed him to Cole and then we ceremoniously flushed him down the drain. Life became so much better.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Noticer - Andy Andrews

Think with me here...everybody wants to be on the mountaintop, but if you'll remember, mountaintops are rocky and cold. There is no growth on the top of a mountain. Sure, the view is great, but what's a view for? A view just gives us a glimpse of our next destination - our next target. But to hit that target, we have to come off the mountain, go through the valley, and begin to climb the next slope. It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life's next peak. ~Jones, The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Every once in a while you stumble onto a book that is just right for you, at just the right time. The Noticer by Andy Andrews, that I reviewed for Thomas Nelson this month, is that book for me. Beautifully written, it is a book of great wisdom, much like Proverbs, yet told as a parable. The story is written in such an engaging fashion, you will find the wisdom practical no matter where you are at in life.

The main character of the book, Jones, puts himself into the lives of those that he notices, at just the right time. Some have fallen on financial difficulty, others marital dispute, some have given up hope in life, while other are just trying to figure out what comes next. In each of these instances, Jones provides them with a different perspective than that which they see, and in that some wisdom and hope.

How often when we find ourselves faces with life's trials, see only one facet of that which we face. To have someone come along share a different perspective, can change the entire way we look at it and how we deal with it. It is also one of our greatest gifts we can share with each other, as Andy points out in closing.

This is truly a great book, that I highly recommend for everyone to read. It is a refreshing, heart warming story packed with nuggets of wisdom that will go a long way in your own lives and those that you share it with. It comes out tomorrow, April 28, by Thomas Nelson, check it out!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spark plug

Cutting the grass is not my favorite thing to do. Once I get started, I want to get it done. Only ten minutes into the ordeal this last week, my push mower died unexpectedly. I say unexpectedly to curb any thoughts that I finally took out vengeance upon the malicious machine. Inspecting the contraption with the wizened eye of a man who has little clue what he is doing, I quickly deduced it needed a new spark plug. Cole conferred, so we were off to find parts to fix it.

We traveled to Home Depot, as Cole loves to sit on each and every tractor in the line, dreaming of the day he gets to ride one. While he mentally reviewed the merits of the zero turn versus traditional, just like any four year old, I searched for the particular spark plug we needed. I had brought along the old one, just to make sure I got the right part. Having secured my prize, we ventured to the checkout, because we had a lot of grass ahead of us and ever increasing day behind us.

Reaching around to grab my wallet, I felt empty pocket. We should probably pause for a second here, as I did to regain my composure...I hate it when I forget stuff like that. Now I had to run home, get my wallet, come back, go back home, fix the lawn mower and then cut the grass. I was tempted to go buy a herd of sheep to eat the grass, but then remembered the whole wallet thing again...ever increasing circles of frustration.

Wouldn't it be nice though if it was as easy to forget other things as it is to forget something like a wallet. Like the guy who played cutsys in line in front of you at the check out. If you could just forget that as opposed to breathing heavy on his collar, envisioning what you would do with a pneumatic hammer. Or maybe its a little more serious than that, someone that hurt you emotionally. If we could just forget it, wouldn't it be easier to forgive?

I don't know how healthy that would be. Forgiving doesn't mean I am going to forget and put myself right back in the same hurtful situation. Really, forgiving someone doesn't seem to be about forgetting, but realising and relating that it mattered, then releasing yourself from the guilt or shame and still wanting what is best for the one who offended you. 

I think our own releasing can be the hardest part, we tend to want to carry it around, until our pockets are full and then they spill out all over the next helpless soul to get in our way. I think I'll stick to just trying to keep my wallet in my pocket, and my heart clear.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Otter Lake







Friday night, on Otter Lake. Wish you could have been there! Have a great weekend everyone!

Here's Yur Sign


I assume they just haven't made enough to change the sign, or they have really fresh fish. Sushi, anyone?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Roots


"We are celebrating Earth Day. Do you think you could come help the kids plant a few flowers?"  Innocent enough, why not?

When we showed up this morning at Logan's school to spend an hour with his class, replanting the flower garden, the story changed just a bit. His teacher asked if I would help remove a weed. No big deal right? Except it was really about the size of a small tree and they had just let it grow for about four years.

Gathering the troops, I put them to work trenching around the roots. The kids loved it, a lot more interesting than putting bulbs in the ground. Destruction has that kind of allure it seems. They happily troweled the dirt, hacked at the roots and tugged at the immovable beast. After an hour, we were left with one root that ran deep and held tight to the earth's embrace.

While my helper's had to return to greater educational endeavors, I wasn't backing down. Fifteen minutes of blood, sweat and tears later, and thankfully no English lessons, a mighty crack resounded and I held aloft my trophy of man-dom. I wanted to march triumphantly into the class, like a hero returning from battle, but my wife held me in check. Honestly I was a little disappointed when Logan's response after school was "Oh, you got it out."

That's life though. When you let a weed (in your life) grow for several years, it's roots grow deep and taking it out will not be easy. You may have to dig in other areas you never thought it affected. Removing it will get a whole lot more attention, than when you plant the good things. Why would you ever want to remove that? It's not hurting anything, anyone. Once you have dug your heals in and forcibly removed it though, the rest of the garden grows so much better.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Theme Thursday: Fire


Reminiscent of Jane's Addiction, I got caught stealing once...in High School. We were out getting a movie, my sister, her friend (Amanda) and I. Amanda wanted to run by the store that her boyfriend worked at, young love at its finest. With nothing better to do, than watch them make eyes at each other, I trolled the store looking for oddities.

As we were leaving the store, Amanda said her beau told us to go across the street to McDonald's and wait for him. When he arrived, he confronted me with stealing a flashlight. Evidently another clerk had watched me deviously slip a instrument into my jacket. Vehemently denying it, he then said they were calling the cops if I did not pay for it.

Instantly, visions of Prometheus jumped in my head. Having been caught for stealing fire from Zeus, he was chained to a rock as an eagle ate his liver. Each day it would grow back to be eaten again. Only now, my feet were in the fire. Do I pay for something I did not do? Do I face judgement and a witness who swears I did it?

I caved, forking over the money, even though it did not sit right with me. Who would believe a high school kid? My dad and I came back later that evening to defend my honor, but they were hearing none of it. Why would I pay if I was innocent?

That night taught me a valuable lesson. Sometimes when we find ourselves in the fire, we can be tempted to take the path of least resistance, to avoid getting burned. We make decisions we otherwise would not, that lead us only deeper into the flames.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Story

Last Friday we took the boys back to where our family began. One snowy night, my sophomore year at Radford University, when I was just getting over being sick, I decided to go to the party anyway. That’s where I met the girl that would eventually become my wife. We showed them the apartment we stood in front of that night for our first kiss.

A phone number, scribbled in orange colored pencil, on a piece of paper led to a meeting in the cafeteria. We ate lunch with the boys in the food court outside the cafeteria, as we pointed this out.

This is where your mom danced ballet, and I earned my ballet credits lifting the girls over my head, because they did not have enough male dancers. Easiest credits I ever earned. No, your dad never wore tights. The boys watched the dancers warming up for class.

This is the building your dad worked in while he went to school. This is where your mom worked. This is the fountain we walked by every day to class. There was our dorm, her apartment, my apartment.

We took many a walk in this park, and probably talked about you, well before you were born. The boys played on the playground at Bissett Park, staring out at the same section of the James River from 16 years ago.

All of this is part of the story that led up to you. Our story, where it first began.

Canvas


It always begins with an empty canvas. Pure, open, contemplated. An idea, an inspiration. Hands scurry, etching lightly in charcoal. Erasing, changing until a form is created. Vivid colors jump in the artist head, rushing through veins to the brush held ready. Images transferred come to life on before his, her very eyes. Majestic beauty brings tears.

Flurry of motion, emotion as pornographiti spews, scrawling messages, changing the scene. Rorschact blots of splatter paint rain blows upon that which once was there. Confusion. Reality. A new baby. A family before it's time, pushed out before it ever had a chance to bloom. What happened to my serene canvas?

I was asked the question today, "Where do boys learn to court girls?" Being one of those annoying people, I answered the question with a question, "Where do they or where should they?"

Watching their parents, fight, hug, yell, silently. Experimenting in the back seat of a car. Their friends telling stories, made up to impress. Magazines spouting ten ways to land the girl of your dreams, just turn to the centerfold and see. Movies, always depict reality right? The gym teacher, with his tired old football jokes. Cincinnati Been-gals, get it? What guy would be caught dead talking about love with another guy, what are you, gay? Other than the 15 uncomfortable minutes with dad, the birds and the bees. Who ever tells little boys, what love is?

Left to their own devices they figure it out. Many times in reverse. First comes sex, second comes marriage, then figure out love around a baby carriage. Does it have to be this way? It all starts as an empty canvas, who will help them paint?

The picture is by Jack Vettriano. A favorite artist of ours, we have several hanging around the house.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looth Tooth

For the last seven days, a thin string of flesh held the tooth fairy at bay. We could not convince Logan to let us pull the floppy stalagmite. Anticipation of the spritely visitor, overrode by fear of pain and the unknown. Food forced around into his cheeks to be chewed safely so not to disturb or cause undue stress. A finger, his tongue, even a wet towel poked and prodded, twisted and turned and just when we thought it would have to be forcibly removed, finally...

I guess we all try to hold onto things longer than we should. Sometimes we have to be willing to let go, so what comes next can be realised.

Losing baby teeth were a part and parcel of one's life - a symbol of growing up, and it is the tooth-fairy that makes this otherwise dreaded and painful process an exciting one - something to look forward to.  ~Mansi Maheshwari

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tin Man



The Tin Man stands on the brink of history, his gaze cast to and fro. He watches the ripples in time, as his young wards grow and change. He is patient in his observance, an  inch here are there, voices changing octaves, minds expanding. What once was trepidation or curiosity about him, slowly fades until they barely notice, but he does.

There is a constant flow of new children coming and others leaving, he stands by the stream content. Does he wonder where they go? Some come back on occasion, and others when they have little ones of their own. On days when it rains, tears plink as they drip, knowing they will not come out to play today.

The silent golem remembers a time before his creation, in pieces. A fullness in his cans and pipes, until the day of discard. Watching as his maker, took each pieces with care, putting it in just the right place. Granting him new life, then giving him the greatest gift to watch the same, within those that see it with fresh eyes.

Thoughts on a statue that stands in the courtyard, by the playground, at my son's school. I don't know the artist, maybe a student themselves, giving back to the institution, teachers and friends that gave to them. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another Earth



So this is my "other" post from Theme Thursday that took a back seat my cavernous adventures... 


A day at the park, climbing monkey bars, chasing giggles down the slides, soaring high to touch the blue-ness of the sky. Making new friends in the sandbox, smiling through the suns rays. Fun for all and nary a notice that it was not new. Everything in the park, recycled, reused. Someone's water pipes, transformed to create castles of monkey bars. Tires, once adorning a neighbors vehicles becomes blue spongy mulch to save the ouch when you fall. What was old, becomes new adventures.

Three generations, swinging on chairs that once sat on a porch.
 
Our new eco-friendly vehicle, takes us there.


A coat of paint and dash of imagination, its amazing how you can (re)use another man's (re)fuse, when you put your mind to it.

Have a great Saturday, get out and have some fun!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Money Talks

Tara and I got married stupid. Young and in love and very financially stupid. Beyond the furniture, clothes and nicknacks, we brought the baggage of debt with us as we lit out in this new life together, thirteen years ago. What made our first year difficult was coming to terms with the stress of our mismanagement.

First to go were the golf clubs, they paid for food. Next went the CD collection and the CD player, keeping the lights on. Something got sold just to get the account back to zero, because overdraft fees come monthly. When the car broke down, I lost it.

Chains or financial destitution wrapped tight, pulling us like an anchor and every attempt at reaching the surface, slid us deeper still. Our dollars stretched so tight, poor George got headaches. Forget chasing our dreams, we were fighting for our lives.

The long plod towards liquidating our debt, felt like an impossible climb at times. It has been several years since we finally bought our freedom and I can honestly say we would not have been able to do make many of the decisions we made the last several years if it had not started with a decision to eliminate our debt. 

There is a whole lot more to wealth than money, but its harder to find in bondage.

I sat in a workshop today to expose teens to life in the real world. They had a chance to learn about banking, budgeting, car buying and interviewing and then put their new skills into play in as they navigated an experiential real world. As we debriefed afterwards, several kids ended the day in debt, chasing what they felt they needed. One kid, wise beyond his years, shared, "There are things no one ever tells you until you get there, and then it's too late." 

Too true. Too sad.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Theme Thursday: Earth

Our quest began in earnest with rumors of the lost king's throne buried deep within the hills. Armed with little more than a flashlight, my cousin and I scoured the neighboring country side, searching every hole we could find to squeeze adolescent bodies into. Backing down one cave, I placed my hand on a soft patch in the incline only to have it slip through the rotting flesh of a fallen cow. Most disgusting.

There was one large group of caverns we kept coming back, in hopes it might lead to our treasure. After crawling through a passage little more than three feet tall it would open into a grand ballroom of inky blackness. Sometimes we would cut the lights at this point and listen to the silence, earth above and below, pressing us onward. Cracks and crevices, off shoots of the main chamber, became our maze, a puzzle to decipher. 

One particular day, traveling much deeper into the caves, we came upon a hole, smoothed round in the wall. Just big enough to wiggle through, our lights illuminated a small bowl shaped chamber beyond. Could this be the route we had been searching for? Like Alice, we slipped through and slid down a small embankment on our backs. 

The stone above, a mere four feet from our noses, shimmered with movement. Our flashlights, pierced the dark, reflecting a hundred eyes back upon us. It was covered in bats! Our hearts raced. Envision Indiana Jones at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark as he is fleeing with the golden statue as the boulder chases him out of the ruins. Sunlight never felt so good as we burst out of the cave several moments later.

Done for the day, it did not deter further adventures into the recessed of that world. We never found the throne, only a greater respect for that which lies within our Earth.

5 questions


So Baino challenged everyone with a meme, to get to know each other better. Not one to back down, and as I pretty much lay it out on here anyway, here it goes...

What is your favourite pastime/s?

First and foremost is my family. We live a pretty amazing life filled with zany adventures, which gives me plenty of material to post. I love to read and will read just about anything. I am a sucker for a good story, whether fact or fiction. Hopefully, this will translate into writing a book in the near future. Which ties into another, which is meeting people and hearing about their life. I also love the outdoors. I actually lived in the woods for a year just after college working with youth. I'll get around to telling some of that story one of these blogs. 

What about the world around you saddens you?

Great question. Seeing children harmed or neglected rips my heart. Seeing people wasting away in jobs they hate, living a life of little meaning or purpose. So much potential goes to waste. That people still go hungry or can't receive proper medical attention. The people that are ignored or cast off, such as the homeless or sick. People not being loved, saddens me. People that have lost hope.

What about the world around you delights you?

The twinkle in a child's eye right before they do something silly. Sharing stories over a great cup of coffee. Seeing people make a difference in each others lives. Watching that moment when people actually get it. Wrestling and tickle fights with my fam. People loving people loving people... Making new friends. Seeing God move in amazing ways, that we would never consider. That this is only the beginning and it only gets better.

How important is the environment to you?

We have an obligation to steward the resources we have been given, unfortunately we tend to plunder and use recklessly. I love going hiking and camping, seeing animals in their natural habitat. Every day this shrinks as more land is cleared to put in the next "big thing". I remember spending hours in the woods growing up as they were all around us. Now they have disappeared to put in houses and distribution centers. There is a great tension there between innovation and conservation. Our fam doesn't do enough, but we are trying.

If you had a million dollars, what would you spend it on?

Creating a space for community. Maybe create a camp ground or retreat and utilize it to work with kids and students. Or where adults could retreat as well. Provide space for people to be real and get real. I guess the same could be done in a neighborhood as well. Any one want to offer the money?

So that's a little about me. No tagging anyone on this one, but if you'd like to play, I'd love to hear about you. Let me know in the comments and I'll hook you up with five questions, just for you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Extreme Mowing

Its always hard to get started. Proclaiming it's too early in the season, I'll hem and haw and find other things to keep me busy. As much of a fight as I put up, once I start, cutting the grass almost becomes a meditation as I walk in ever tightening squares. My mind freely wanders, thinking thoughts inconceivable on other busy days.




Cole came up with an idea to help me get started this year. Proving nothing in life, including mowing the grass should be boring...Cole invented Extreme Mowing. Think we can get them to try it at the X games?

Limitations


25 cent hot dog night. Free tickets from a friend. Someone coming to look at the house. Just a few of the excuses we found for going to the Lynchburg Hillcats game tonight. There could have been as many reasons not to go, including the chilly 53 degree temperatures at game time. Nothing a blanket and some snuggles can not cure. (Cole's head is the one poking out, while Logan is buried in there some where.) If we did not go, we would not have met...him.

His chair hummed silently, as he slid up in front of Cole. His face screwed up, and in his best Donald Duck impersonation, he blurted "How are you and what's your name?" Cole giggled and a rampant conversation ensued that included topics ranging from favorite foods to school. He gave Logan equal time, engaging him periodically as his headed turtled from within his cocoon of blankets. As the game began, he turned his attention to us, "I had not intended to get season tickets this year. Sunday my wife sent me down to get them. She said it is the one thing I look forward to each year."

"Hey you!" he yelled at another little boy that ran by. He was a stranger to no one, and if he did not know you, that did not last long. With a flick of the control stick, he glided in his chair, away to find someone else to meet. He claims to love his baseball, but I think his real love is making people smile. His joy reaches well beyond the limitations of his mechanical chair.

Our limitations [and success] will be based, most often, on your own expectations for ourselves. ~Denis Waitley

Monday, April 13, 2009

George Washington



Ok, so it's really Thomas Jefferson's 266th birthday, but I could not miss the reference to old George chopping down the cherry tree. I think there is some speculation on whether the story is even real, but it sure captured a young man's imagination.

Arriving at my parents house this weekend, for Easter, we rounded the corner passed the family cemetery and were met by pieces of tree almost as round as our car. The old tree on the corner had met its demise. It had been coming for some time, but watching a friend go slowly into the night is never easy. Last year a large limb (read at least a foot diameter) had fallen off, and with numerous grand kids running around, my parents had decided it was better to take it down than have it fall on someone.

Over 100 years of memories imbued within it's rings, it massive trunk grew to over 5 foot in diameter. The boys were fascinated as the chainsaws and stump grinders, dismantled the giant. Nestled within its body, we found the culprits of its manslaughter. A hive of bees over 4 feet long had cut off the life giving flow of water from the ground. A three inch grub worm poked its head out of another log to point its finger and decry guilty. After two days, all that was left was the sawdust stain and outline where the body once laid.

It was not the storms it stood through or even old age that felled our friend, but what grew within. Unseen, unchecked, it slowly drained the life, until it could stand it no more. If only it could have spoken, shared its inward struggle, it may have survived. Stoic and silent, it marched toward death. How many others will share its fate?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Egg Hunt







On Friday we hid eggs for Logan's Kindergarten class. Did not want you to miss out on the fun. How many eggs can you find? You may need to enlarge the pics to find them all!

Happy Easter everyone!

Picture-less

My life without pictures. My camera cord is gone, misplaced, unfindable. I can take the pictures, I just can not share them. Frustrating. Today was my day off. So this is my life without pictures.

I woke up. Rather uneventful. Coffee. mmmm.

Went to Community Group. Four couples banded together to explore the depths of all that life has to offer, over breakfast on Fridays. Sounds like good sitcom material. File away for future use. Actually, we love it. It's great to share life with people in similar stages and talk about all the important and sometimes not so important stuff. More coffee. Note to self: Share my caffeine addiction next week.

Lunch. Olive sandwich, mmmm.

Easter Egg Hunt at Logan's school. We had 15 minutes to hide 300 eggs in a courtyard that was maybe the size of a basketball court. I think I'll hide this egg behind that egg. It took about 5 minutes for the Kindergartners to clean house. Of course, there were tears because of unequal booty in the basket until there was wealth redistribution and all was well. Took lots of pics, you'll see them in a day or two.

Logan and Cole got Easter cards from grandma and grandaddy, each with 10 dollars. Logan went with Tara as I went with Cole in your typical divide and conquer maneuver. In an effort to curb the injustices of sweatshop labor, Cole and I visited the Thrift store and he bought a baseball jersey, pants and cleats. Now he can be a "real baseball player" when we go out to hit the ball. He, of course, changed clothes immediately and wore his uniform the rest of the evening, and we hit the ball until mom and brother got home. Logan went with superheroes. Took pics, you'll see them soon enough.

Dinner. These amazing chicken, cheese tomato open faced sandwiches, mmmmm.

Dying Easter eggs. Eleven cups of vinegar, water and color tablets lined at attention, ready to tattoo the little white shells of two dozen eggs. There were some pretty cool colors that came out of it. Got a little artsy on one.  Cole got three pages of stickers with his Easter egg kit, he tried to fit them all on a single egg it seemed. Took pictures...yeah, you figured it out by now.

Afterward we dipped fruit in melted chocolate, mmmmm. Love fresh fruit.

Life kicks into overdrive. Read stories. Battle to get the boys to bed, has little to do with all the chocolate covered fruit they ingested, I am sure. Tara files the state taxes. I read briefly and wonder where the day went.

Oh yeah, it's on the little disk in the camera. Pics coming soon, hopefully.

To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has it's own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which has never been seen before, and which shall never be seen again. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 10, 2009

SNAKE!

snake - n. - limbless scaly elongated reptile; some are venomous

As I was cutting the grass today, I watched the tail end of the serpent slip into the weeds by the creek bed. Releasing the bar, stopping the engine, I yelled SNAKE! It was in this moment I learned how this word is translated into boy, the language of the adolescent male of the human kind.

SNAKE! - v. - to come running, try to catch, make a pet of a limbless scaly elongated reptile; some are venomous

If this verb is followed by a request to show it to the boy's mother, one must consider the density of the ground, as you will be sleeping on it until you "learn better."

It is amazing how much fun (trouble) one can get into cutting the grass.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Theme Thursday: Eggs

Somewhere in South America...she lay exhausted, a sudden emptiness yet warmth in having passed near a hundred eggs. Her dutiful male lifts them gingerly upon her back, arranging them just so. By some biological science she cannot fathom, her skins swells around them, creating a pit for each egg to rest. Soon enough they will hatch and the tadpoles will snuggle warm in the home her flesh created for several months. A second "hatching" will occur, when her babies are fully grown, as they push through their protective covering, tearing loose to freedom and to swim away.




Some articles describe an underwater dance in which the female releases the eggs and the movements of the male send them to their resting place on her back. This is the dance of the Surinam Toad. Bizarre, I know, yet beautiful as well. The male attracts it's mate, not with a croak, but with a clicking noise.

I have found myself talking more and more with couples that have struggled in marriage. What started as an intricate dance of courtship, died with the fertilization of an egg. Once they had kids, it became too hard to keep the fires of romance burning. We forget the things that once won the heart of another. Our busy schedules, compounded by soccer, school...

Tara and I make it a point to schedule a date night frequently. Well, maybe not as frequently as we should. When we are not intentional about it, it becomes easy to let the excuses get in the way. Heard a great question on the radio the other day...what have you done for your marriage today?

White water

Down behind the house, at the bottom of the yard is a creek bed. Usually dry, even in the most torrential rain it's little more than a trickle creek. Once every couple years, they drain the water reserves, and what was dead roars back to life. The rumble of rushing water reaches into the house, and for the next three days a river runs through.

Folding paper, we made an armada of boats, to float down the gushing waterway. Their trek would be precarious, over rocks and swampy grasslands, across the expanse of the yard before making a final plunge over the waterfall to the waiting drain pipe. Releasing our boats, we chased them down the shore watching their progress, using sticks to guide them on their journey.

Dropping over what was it's equivalent of a class 3 rapid, my boat became moored on a rock and was quickly overtaken by the liquid beast. Wet paper, unfolded, wrapping itself around it's captor. As Cole laughed at my efforts, my mind raced back to white water canoeing the New River Gorge. We got caught trying to cut across the river in the middle of the rapids and violently wrapped our canoe around a rock. We were thrown and quickly swallowed.

They had prepared us for just such a fate. Don't panic and flail away or try to swim through head first. Keep your feet up and pointed down stream to propel yourself of the rocks. Use your arms to guide you. Simple instructions, in case you were thrown to the mercy of the river gods...that seem to work in life as well.

Life overtakes us, we panic, flailing we make the mess larger, burning up much needed energy in time of trial. Or we try to hasten the end, shorten the pain, by rushing through headfirst, smacking more rocks along the way. Calm water will come, but what you do while you are in the rough water, makes all the difference.

My paper boat destroyed, I watched the boys continuing their play, smiling. In a day or two the water would disappear, until next time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Enuf Said (or For my Duke friends)


From Detroit, With Love.

By the way Jake won the Madness contest. Book on the way. Congrats, B

metanoia


A board clattered, finding it's place, a top the growing pile. Puzzle pieces that once formed a shed, now so much scrap. Torn down before it could fall down.

"Some of these boards are from history."

Another nail pinged as it fell into the bucket. Pried from its place of peaceful rest, by hammer and hand.

"Yeah, I think you are right."

Some boards have partial stencils on them. Once they were a clap board sign outside a quaint little shop, of maybe a crate for precious cargo sent round the world. That became a shed, behind a house in the neighborhood. That is now a pile of wood and a bucket of rusty nails.

"Maybe we can make something out of the wood and nails."

"Maybe we can."

The endless cycle of death and rebirth, finds life once again. All things new.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Opening Day

Dirt is raked and fresh chalk lines the field. The grass is a checkerboard in the outfield. There is a certain freshness that arises on Opening Day of baseball season. Every team has a chance to make their run at history. New players, new fields...new mortgages to pay for seats to a game.

We settle for the field beside the local elementary school. The dirt's not raked, matter of fact the pitchers mound is a muddy depression. First base pokes out of the grass. If you stomp on second base, as you round for third, muddy water shoots out toward the short stop. It doesn't matter, it's baseball.

Logan chopped a couple hits. When Cole steps to the plate, each hit is a home run, as he will not stop running until he slides into home. Always dramatic. I was pulled in the second inning, for my wife the relief pitcher. I promise I did not intentionally try to hit the batter. The sun is going down, time to head home for dinner. Once more around the bases, just for fun, except Logan who stops on second to stick his finger in the hole to see where the muddy water is coming from.

Ahhh....baseball!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wall

Last night, we did a picnic dinner at Peaks View Park. People were everywhere, like ants pouring out of the anthill, because of the great weather. After dinner, the boys ignored the state of the art playground equipment and decided to climb the pine trees. Nature's own play ground or just channeling their inner squirrel?

My son, Cole, is fearless, and I am not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing. Certain fears are healthy and keep us safe, while others tend to keep us too safe. For instance, while standing on top of the 15 foot climbing wall (which is only about 3 inches wide), please hold on with your hands...I would consider this a good fear. Being afraid to try something new, speak your mind or believe in yourself, bad fear.

How do you teach a 4 year old the difference?

My hide and seeker partner from yesterday's post, Logan, had a birthday party to go to this afternoon. A couple hours before the party he said he no longer wanted to go. He was not sure he would know anyone there. Ultimately he decided to go. I think it had more to do with the 25 foot inflatable monster truck than anything I said, but he had a great time. We had to drag him kicking and screaming from all of his friends.

Growing up, we were always told not to talk to strangers. While this protects us, it also creates a fear of anyone that is new or different. Back at the BK play place, rule #5 - If you see anything strange tell the manager immediately. Doom on the 35 year old man stuck in the tubes playing hide and seek.

Where do we find the balance between good fear and bad? How do we live in that tension?

When our neighbors are presented or present themselves like this guy, but we are called to love. What does that say those that have been raised that abortion is bad, who stand outside the clinics raining verbal stones on backs already broken by circumstance? Fear. If we don't drive "it" out, it will corrupt the rest. "It" being that which is different. We create concentration camps for that which we fear, yet find ourselves trapped inside.

It was a beautiful day for a picnic, people everywhere...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I'll Make You an Offer You Can't Refuse

Time once again for a Thomas Nelson book review, and this may be the one that does me in. I read I'll Make You an Offer You Can't Refuse by Michael Franzese, and with the review I am going to give it I will probably get "whacked." In one chapter, addressing how-to books, Franzese offers this opinion, "They all say pretty much the same thing, just in different ways." I would say he pretty well summed up his own book in that statement.

There are some legitimate (albeit base) leadership principles in the book; have a plan, focus, get the right people on your team, don't steal, don't gamble. The only thing new about Franzese's take on these are the stories he shares from his time as a capo in the Colombo crime family. While the stories are enjoyable at times, random cute mob references become trite pretty quickly("cook the pasta, not the books", seriously?).

Throughout the book, Franzese quotes Machiavelli and Solomon. What could have been a intricate discussion on the differences is boiled down to are you going to do whatever it takes to be successful or are you going to do it with integrity. In the end the offer is made that you must choose only one and if you try to choose both you have fallen into Machiavelli's trap.

Probably the greatest wisdom in the book is in determining how you define success. He says "If your idea of success is cheating you out of your life, you need to make some changes." I could not agree more. First thing I would change, the book I was reading. Check out Collapse of Distinction, the previous book I reviewed for Thomas Nelson. As far as Franzese's offer, it's one you can afford to refuse. Fuggedaboutit!

Hide and Seek

This afternoon I picked Logan up from school and took him out on town for some man time. We hit the toy aisle at Target to check out the super heroes, then rolled over to Burger King for dinner. Chicken nuggets and french fries, Logan's favorite fuel for his gas tank. They also have a pretty amazing play place that has three or four layers of tunnels, rooms and two twisty slides.

Rule #3 Children must be supervised by a happy adult at all times

So, what makes this adult happy? Playing on the Play Place of course, which I felt over rode Rule #2 - Only children 3-12 can play on the equipment.

One of our favorite things to do at the Play Place is Hide and Seek. We will take turns going into the maze while the other counts. The fun really begins when you are found and it becomes a mad rush to stay ahead of the hunter through the twists and turns. Pretty soon we had three other kids coming up asking to play with us. Lots of fun, but I will probably have bruises on my knees for days. When we were done and walking out to the car, our new friends were pressed against the glass waving goodbye.

As we were driving home, Logan shared that he was nervous about the school play coming up in May. When I asked him what made him nervous, it was "You adults will be there. I'll be in front of new people." 

"Hey, I get nervous too...it's what you do with it. Think about the kids we just played with. We did not know them before they asked to play with us. The key, have fun, be yourself, and let them come to you."

Why is it we get so concerned about other people liking us?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Exercycle

After Logan went to school, Cole and I broke away for some man time and to give Tara a break. Being my sports minded child, we stopped at Play-It-Again Sports to check out the sports equipment and play around a bit. We tried on the (baseball) catchers gear, imagine me in leg guards, chest protector and mask walking around the store. We pumped some iron on the weight benches and perused the skateboards. 

What really fascinated Cole were the exercise bikes and walkers. We have never had these around the house, so it was a new and wonderful plaything. He wanted to try it out, but they were all so high his legs would not reach if he sat on the seat. Finally, he figured out he could stand up and pedal and as his confidence built, the faster he went and the bigger his smile got.

Cue the Chariots of Fire sound track. If you looked closely at the twinkle in his eye, you could see his dreams flashing before his eyes. Pedaling hard, he was moving up through the pack. He was passing competitors like they were standing still. Pulling away, nothing but open road to the finish line of the tour de France...

His legs slipped off the pedals, his sensitive areas smashing into the unforgiving steel bar. To add insult to injury, the pedals, still spinning pounded his posterior like a paddle wheel. The smile faded, first into a shocked wide eyed stare, that was quickly overcome as the tears began to roll.

A hug, a few comforting words and a cup of hot chocolate at The Muse Coffee Shop and life was well again. I have been there. Everything can be running smooth sailing, when our feet slip off the pedals, we crash, we fall behind, the economy collapses, we lose our job, unexpected pregnancy, we screw up...in all of that, we can still sit down for a cup of hot chocolate, with a Father who loves us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Theme Thursday: 4 + 2 + 4 = 10?

10? Well, maybe this a loose interpretation on the theme today, but bear with me...

What were the things you were concerned with when you were 10? Let me put it into perspective, you were probably in the Fourth grade. If you are having a hard time coming up with something, I did too. I remember Kevin falling down in class and his finger going into the light socket. I remember, in science class, scraping cells off my cheek. I remember seeing Return of the Jedi.

Now imagine at 10 or 12 thinking about how you will support your family. Your brother brought honor to the family by donning the saffron robe, but that did not help your family to eat. It did not provide a roof over their heads. One day you are told you are being sent to work for an "uncle", only to find that it was a bar for men to find their pleasure. Then realising if your family wanted to survive, you had to comply and give up the last thing you have left to give, your body and your dignity. Imagine the desperation it would take to "willingly" step into this lifestyle, as the only hope for you or your family.

"The internal traffic of Thai females consists mostly of 12-16 year olds from hill tribes of the North/ NorthEast. Most of the internally trafficked girls are sent to closed brothels, which operate under prison-like conditions." (CATW - Asia Pacific, Trafficking in Women and Prostitution in the Asia Pacific)

The sickness felt as I write this, is nothing compared to the hopelessness they feel. My heart screams at the injustice, as the tears roll silently down my cheek. 4...2...4...numbers that signify freedom. To have a girl for an evening is $24, so freedom 4 (for) 24 hours is bought by paying the "bar fee".

There are groups that are trying to do something about this, to provide a ray of hope and freedom. Freedom424 raises awareness and funds, they send to Beginnings. The employees at Beginnings go into the bars, purchase this night of freedom, and then tell the girls about alternative means of survival and opportunities for life that they could never have imagined. Education. Employment. Health care.

4...2...4...is a whole lot more than 10.