Monday, November 22, 2010

a walk in the woods to a 99th birthday party

Kevin innocently suggested taking a family hike in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park last Saturday.  We were going to Cuyahoga Falls to the 99th birthday party of his Uncle Clair.

This was MY view for the majority of the hike.
I learned that "family hike" has at least two definitions.

There is mine:  a family friendly stroll through the woods on a well marked path involving lots of discovery, swinging from vines, poking at mosses, rotting trees, and mushrooms, trying to identify various fauna, and looking for wildlife.

And then there is Kevin's:  a rigorous 5 mile workout where you go up and down many hills covered with leaves and mud, cross at least 4 streams on slippery rocks, are sure to get your feet wet and never stop long enough for your heart rate to drop below 80%.

I also learned that if I had been Maria von Trapp escaping over the Alps, the Nazi's would have caught up with me.

Uncle Clair didn't seem to mind that we were sweaty and covered with mud when we arrived late at his party.  He is an amazing specimen of a man.  His full head of hair has only recently gone gray.  At 99 he enjoys good health and still does most things on his own.  His sister Earline told a story about how he would hitchhike back to Lorain County from OSU about every 2 months when he was a student there.  Once he slept overnight inside a corn shock because it got late and there wasn't any traffic. 

I'd bet we'll be back next year for his 100th.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

kung zhu

When Zhu Zhu pets were introduced last year with their sweet pink noses and backs embroidered with stars or hearts or flowers, I thought they looked so fun.  You could buy darling purses to carry them around in or little bean bag chairs for them to sleep in.  When you pushed their noses, they let out darling little squeaks.  They had tons of accessories. 

But George was NOT interested.

Well, some marketing genius came up with the idea to rebrand them for boys.  They now come ready for battle.  Instead of purses or chairs, you buy armor and swords to pit them against one another in the ring. 

And George has been smitten. 

Because he doesn't spend his birthday and Christmas money with the lightning speed of his brothers and sisters, he still has an envelope with cash in the safe.  So when we were in the toy department picking up a gift for his friend Lydia's birthday I let him buy one.  I am hoping it will help him get over his infatuation before Christmas as there will be a season pass to Cedar Point under the tree and NOT more hamsters or a battle arena.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

almost speechless

I had an interview with the sweetest couple and their 7 week old son today.

And, I learned something new(always good).

Elimination Communication.

This is a practice where you closely monitor your infant for signs that he is ready to go potty. Then you take his pants off and put a receptacle underneath him to "catch" the product. In a nutshell(from someone who knows very little about it), the theory is that since no animal in nature does it's business where it lives, we should not train babies to do their business inside their diaper. And that they actually are born knowing that they shouldn't and struggle to communicate this to us. But we ignore them and are stuck later retraining them  that poop and pee belong in the toilet and not in their pants.


Monday, November 8, 2010

neighborhood serve

Please visit our virtual fundraiser for the Plas family.  Their oldest daughter is fighting cancer.  :(

Forward link to your family and friends.  Items have been donated for sale in support of this family.  MAKE OFFER!!!   All items have free local pickup.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

westward, ho

Emma is coming home tonight after being gone over a week.  Yes, you heard that correct.  I did allow my college bound daughter to take a 9 day vacation in the midst of her senior year.  It wasn't my idea but I went along with it.

This was her father's idea.  He tends to live in the moment and not focus so much on responsibilities and consequences.  Once upon a time, a (much) younger and (arguably) stupider me actually found that attractive.  The mature me would have said no immediately but the mature me also seeks input from my older, wiser husband who thought, if it was up to him, he would probably say "yes".

Her dad doesn't get to spend much time with her.  It started once she got a social life but now that she is working she rarely goes to his house.  With her leaving for college next fall, this is possibly the last good opportunity for them to spend some quality father-daughter time together.

Her adventure started the night before they left when she dropped her phone in the toilet.  Now I didn't have to worry that she would eat up all our minutes talking to her boyfriend of the moment.  The next morning they flew into Phoenix.

She called to tell me how big the cacti were.
She sent this when they reached Utah. 
And after long hours of this interesting scenery, stuffed in the cab of a U-Haul with her dad, his friend, and his son
they BOTH got out in Idaho.

Ah, the cooling pines of Oregon.
And now THIS is where she wants to go to school. 

It was a great experience and it's not something we would be able to do for her.  I'm thankful she got to go.  Now she had BETTER catch up on all her schoolwork.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gentle, Full of Love, yet Strong and Courageous

My company fitness center has a Friday morning Yoga class at 6:45 that I like to take. For me to participate, however, I need to be on the RTA Rapid that leaves the Brookpark station at 6:10 AM. Since the next one doesn't come along until 6:30, and it is about a 20 minute trip to Tower City.

Well this morning as I walked through the station, there was a young man jingling some change in his pocket. He told me he needed to buy a pass and was 50 cents short. I gave him a dollar. I proceeded to walk out onto the platform and notice that there was nobody there. My watch said 6:10 but the train must have been a few minutes early.

So no Yoga for me today. Knowing I had a long wait, I walked back into the (heated & well lit) train station.

Several minutes later, after a few more people had showed up, the guy who I gave the dollar to approached a woman and used the same story. He was still short 50 cents! Maybe he didn't recognize me when I walked out and back in?

Anyhow, I spoke up. "Dude, you were 50 cents short, and I gave you a dollar. How can you still be 50 cents short?" He looked at me and said, "My mistake."

"How many more people are you going to ask?" was my next question. "No one", he said. He stared at me for a couple minutes and I stared right back.

Then he walked away and a different woman said to me, "Thank you."

Once on the train, I was reading my daily Bible study verses. Today's verse for meditation is 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline". The prayer for today ended with, "Help us to be gentle and full of love, yet strong and courageous."

I felt I had already been "gentle and full of love", when I helped this brother in need by giving him a dollar. Then when I discerned his lying ways, I responded by being "strong and courageous."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

through the valley

I drove past a yard sign for a local large non-denominational church today.  It promised a free book authored by a current preacher of the "prosperity" gospel to every first time attender.   This did not surprise me.  That's the version most people are comfortable with.  It's a lot easier to grow a mega church by telling people what they want to hear.


Jesus promised us that we would suffer.  John 16:33: "In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."

Jesus promised us that we would suffer, but he reminded us that it would only be temporary.  When I go through suffering I try to constantly remind myself of that.  And remind myself of what else I know to be true. 

I know God is unchanging.  I know He is all powerful and He loves me.   I know He is the only place I can put my trust and not be disappointed.

Even through the hard times.

Like last May when my obstetrician quietly explained 6 months into our pregnancy that our daughter wouldn't be joining our family as planned.  I was overwhelmed.  There was so much love and so many plans waiting for her.  A big a part of me wanted to put my fist through his ultrasound screen.  But through the tears that had already started rolling down my face, my response to him was calm.  "It's OK."

He seemed confused.

But he shouldn't have been.

Near the end of our first trimester we had faced some questionable test results.  I had told him at that time that we were prepared for whatever baby God had chosen to bless us with.  The news I heard that day shattered my heart but it did not change my mind.  For some reason He chose to bless us with a daughter who most likely wouldn't make it to the end of the pregnancy and if she did, she wouldn't live long enough to come home.

And that was OK.  I knew the heart of my Heavenly Father was breaking right along with mine.  And I knew He would hold me and shelter me through the storm that was coming.  And I trusted that there was a purpose in His allowing it to come.   

The story of Job was never my favorite but I find a lot of comfort there.  Job didn't just lose one infant daughter.  He lost every single one of his children, his livestock, his house and was afflicted with a horrible disease.  Although Job continually praise the Lord, he did want to know why??  God reminded him through a series of unanswerable questions what a great God He is and that there is never any way we will understand all of the whys. 

Particularly when they pertain to the tragic consequences of living in an fallen world.

Like imperfect kidneys in a little baby girl.

Should it be a goal for us as Christ Followers that when we are faced with suffering instead of asking the "Why?" that we are never going to understand, we can focus on the "Why not?"  Why should we not be blessed with suffering that is designed to bring us closer to and cause us to lean a little harder on Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end?  Why should we not be blessed with suffering that will glorify God?

Those are very hard questions.  Be comforted today by the promise that, in the life of the Christ Follower, God does work all things for our good and His glory. (Rm 8:28)