Friday, April 29, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 15

Category: Protesting

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photo of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote Closed. Winners: A Literal Explanation & Sadly Believable

A Literal Explanation
Help The Rich
Generic Protester
A GOOD Cause!
Sadly quite believable
Getting tired
Something I can get behind
Idiot Wars

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Featuring: Jane

Editors Note:  Jane is my aunt on my mom's side of the family.  She and I have always been buds since my debut on this planet back in 1975.  We were roommates in Germany as she lived with us for a few months of my very early childhood.  She has always been an educator and has a resume that would make most blush with the accomplishments of her career.  Maybe that is why she has always been such a "cool aunt" for me growing up. She's had so much exposure to other kids and other attitudes that nothing I ever said or did was much a surprise to her.  She was just always one of those adults that you could literally tell anything to and feel safe about it.  As we got together for this project and I interviewed her, the pieces of that puzzle came together even more as I saw her describe the teaching style that she's adopted over the years and shared a very specific story about a boy named Robert.  The following article is her own words and we also invite you to watch the video interview located at the bottom.  Enjoy!

Follow Me

This is one of Jesus’ commands to all believers. What we need to realize each day, is that “little eyes are watching us” and following our example, too. It behooves us then, to live a good life. I’d like to share with you what I have done to this end.

I have always been very clear about my mission in life. And I chose the teaching profession for my vehicle in reaching that goal. Though, as a child, I used to dream of living in a foreign country to do traditional missionary work with heathens who did not know Christ, I found the public school setting to be the perfect environment for shining my light and offering the love and forgiveness of Christ. Not that the students were ignorant about the Son of God, rather, the public school setting is for most teenagers the most challenging place for them to remember “who they are and whose they are”.

Although my curricular subjects were biology, psychology, sociology and teen leadership, my main focus was always to create a safe place for my students. A caring, yet firm, approach like mine has been proven by research to be the most effective one. In my classroom, I protected the weak from bullies (and the other “nay sayers” in their lives). And I protected the bullies from themselves. You show me a bully and I’ll show you someone who does not respect or love themselves. Instead, they feel trapped in the “bad guy” role and need help changing their label.

My number one rule was, “No put-downs”. The first level consequence for breaking this rule was to give the person two compliments. Rule number two was “Give your best effort”. I told my students, look smart, act smart and one day you will be smart. Whenever a student said, “I’m sorry” after disrupting the lesson, my response was, “Show me”. It took some of them longer than others to understand what I was saying, “Show me you are sorry by not doing it again”. So here is how it went after some of them had caught on. If a student decided to be cute and give a ridiculous answer to one of my questions, one of the other students would likely say, “She wants us to show our intelligence”. If they put someone down, they were met with, “We don’t do that in here. Give him/her 2 compliments”. And if they were twice redirected from a disruptive behavior, someone would likely beat me to the punch and say, “She said to show her you are sorry”. They “had my back” because they knew I had theirs.

I’d like to tell you the story of one of my students to demonstrate my mission...




It was a sad day when Robert and I had to say good-bye at the end of the year. I think of him often and wonder what he is doing these days. He is in his mid-twenties by now. I hope and pray that he carried the teen leadership experience with him and that he found someone else to help him finish removing his label. Ideally, he is showing others a better way to live, somewhere out there.

So, follow Christ and know that others are following you, no matter where you go. And don’t forget, little eyes are watching.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Fertility Festival

Confused?  Well that is technically what the name "Easter" means (according to some sources).  I realize none of us set up shrines to Ishtar or do pagan dances to increase our fertility.  But how much of our celebration of Jesus Christ's Resurrection and Victory over Sin & Death does get lost in translation?

That is the very question I am asking myself as I try to be a good father to my five year old twins and one month old.  I would love your thoughts on this topic and want to emphasize what I am NOT trying to do here. 

I am NOT trying to judge people, I am NOT trying to disparage my childhood, and I am NOT trying to encourage commenting participants to argue with one another.

This is a passionate topic for many on both sides of the talking points.  I am one that would really appreciate your point of view, regardless of which position you hold to.  My research has led to some discrepancies on just how it was that bunnies and eggs joined the story of Christ in the first place.  Paganism seems to be the most blamed source as new Gentile converts to Christianity wanted to continue holding fast to their former celebrations and festivals while being baptized into their new-found faith.  But even this seems to be under some scrutiny and possibly just undeserved finger pointing.  And its beside the point for me anyway...

While it would be nice to know for certain how peanut butter got into my chocolate, the point is it got there.  I can either eat this new-found creation and hope its as good as an actual Reese's Cup or possibly lose out on a more genuine experience by solely focusing on Christ and cutting out the add-ons.  Its difficult to know what the best course of action is.

Please watch the corresponding video and give me your two cents!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 14

Category: Easter

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photo of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote closed. Winner: He is Risen

Editors Note:  For what its worth I have a very cynical and dogmatic viewpoint about Easter.  Like with Christmas, I don't believe bunnies, eggs, or candy have anything to do with the MAIN point of the celebration.  If you want to know just how cynical, click here and brace yourself.  But in effort to not be a complete Scrooge, here is an Easter based Photo Friday spread for your enjoyment!

Bunny pains
Who needs a sleigh?
Eggs with personality
I always wondered about that...

Storm Rabbit

He brings eggs and TERROR

Gore was right!
He is Risen indeed!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why I Do This...

In June of 2007 I stumbled onto the YouTube underground.  On the homepage was a featured video by an atheist I had never before heard of.  I clicked the link and watched a man present an argument against Christianity.  He had objections, questions, and statements that caused quite a stir in me.  Many of his issues were once issues of my own.  Many of his gripes were my past gripes.  And mostly I just felt like this guy needed answers.  If no one else would answer him, I would see what I could do.

Little did I know how this underground worked at the time.  I went about making a blog post addressing him on more than one occasion and kept emailing him asking that he read it.  I think I still have one of those old posts up over HERE.  After weeks of no responses from the guy, he finally sent me a one sentence reply. 

"If you want me to respond to you, make a video!" 

In other words he wasn't interested in blogs or emails.  He wanted me to meet him on his turf and that was to make a video and give him the link or attach it to his video.  Well three things prevented his request from coming true:

1. I had no camera at the time.
2. He got kicked off of YouTube when I finally bought said camera. He has since been allowed back.
3. Another Christian named ChristoferL had already answered him.

Brett Keane is in some part responsible for my channel's existence.  And I am not the only Christian that he spurred into Apologetic action.  I've heard many a fellow brother/sister in Christ with their own channels tell a similar story.  It is the Brett Keane's of the world and who he as one individual represents at large that spurs me to share my story, my testimony, and my heart with any that will listen.

I didn't make the difference with Brett.  I take no credit for the video I just watched.  But I would be lying if I didn't admit that THIS is the exact reason for my online ministry and that I want to do back-flips right now. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cleaning It Out

If you are anything like me you really don't enjoy cleaning.  Therefore the only way to keep things clean is to not allow the clutter to stack up in the first place.  That is not too hard around my house.  Even if I dare leave an item out of its place for long, my wife will soon hone in on it and remind me.  Watch this if you need more evidence!  But my car, my office, and my desk at work seem to be the exceptions.  I tend to let the proactive organization idea fall by the way-side and sure enough...things start piling up.  Then you have my propensity for procrastination kick in and before long one might be tempted to nominate me for the show "Hoarders".

But I could be nothing further from a bonafide hoarder.  Because when I actually set my mind to clearing out the clutter, it (A) doesn't bother me to let something go and (B) I actually feel a burdensome weight has been lifted.  My rule of thumb when deciding whether something should be kept or thrown out is to ask myself a couple of questions:

How long has it been since I've seen or used this item?
If its been that long...do I really need it?

If the answer to question two is "no"...it goes.  When possible I try to donate items that are still in good condition that can benefit someone else.  But if that isn't the case then the trash bin fills up quickly.  Once the project is complete I tend to feel pretty amazing.  I make myself promises about not letting it get to that point again and I relish in the cleanliness.  It's as if we were made to enjoy things in an orderly, proper fashion.  And that is a strange realization from a guy whom without his wife, would likely be buried alive by the laundry piles he can manufacture.

Perhaps that is why so many verses in the Bible refer to living in holy and clean ways as a stark contrast to sin and death.  One side brings relief, comfort, and peace.  The other brings mountains of stress, baggage, and havoc.  I leave you with a verse that not only illustrates my point but also reminds us of the coming Easter celebration:

1 Corinthians 5:7 - Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

This "new lump" is praying a blessing on you and yours!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 13

Category: Caption Failure

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photo of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote Closed. Winner: Move Over Katrina

Drink and what?
Blah, blah, blah...

Not aging well

Inspiration for Freddy?
Aww...MOM!!
Wonder if that's what his business cards say?
Captain Obvious Winner
 
Move over Katrina

Monday, April 11, 2011

Powerful Genetics

Let me set the scene for you with some key ingredients:
  • Dad
  • Son
  • Fishing Hole
  • Fishing Gear
  • Plenty of bait snaring foliage
  • Support failure
  • A good fall
  • Splashing
  • Hurt pride with a few bruises and scrapes
  • Realization of weakness
In 1985 or thereabouts all those ingredients came together to make a lasting impression and memory for me.  My dad took me to our favorite fishing hole where we were known to snag over 15 perch in a one hour sitting.  On this particular day we went on the high side of the bank which was much more challenging terrain and many more opportunities for getting the line caught.  But we took the chance certain that a huge fish was hiding on that side of the hole.  Soon I had my line in a small sapling and asked my dad to get me free. 

The rest happened in slow motion for me.  Dad had to get on tip toe to reach the line and as he did so, he put some weight on the sapling in hopes of support.  He didn't get it.  Soon he was hurdling toward the water and making splashdown.  I used to imagine the depths of this hole being monumental and some of the fiercest of oversized fish living on its bottom.  So my childhood nightmare was for me or someone else to fall in.

Thankfully my dad swam to the opposing shore, got out and had more of his pride hurt than any physical pains.  That and he had to explain why he was soaking wet when we got back to camp.  I remember my uncles giving him a really hard time about it.  But I wasn't laughing.  Not at all.  For me...my hero had fallen.  His bullet proof exterior had been penetrated and a weakness had been revealed.  This was my rock.  The man that never got lost, that never made mistakes, that never fell into fishing holes.  Their pokes at his expense just made me all the more upset at the realization that dad was allergic to kryptonite.

Well DNA is a funny thing or perhaps the craziest of coincidences happened just yesterday.  All the same ingredients from before but now son had become dad.  Michael and I had cast a line into a neighborhood fishing hole.  After several tries without so much as a bite we decided the opposite shoreline looked more promising and made the trek.  A few casts into this idea we got hung up in some thorn bushes.  Fearful that said thorns could cut the line and cause me to lose a very new lure, I decided it was best to try and reach the line by hand instead of pulling violently on the pole.  There was a rock just a step away from me but out in the middle of the water.  If I could just step on it, the lure would be within reach and easily freed.

I made it to the rock but apparently this platform rested precariously on some no-so-stable mud.  It shifted with my weight and I made splashdown like my father before me.  I somehow managed to find my legs before letting my entire body be submerged but I was wet enough.  My arms took a trip through the thorn bush, my sunglasses sunk to the depths, and as I tried to walk out of the water the suction grabbed one of my flip flops and held it ransom.

Bleeding and bent over trying to find my shoe and sunglasses I suddenly became aware of my son's stare and consequential horror.  His hero had fallen.  He spent the better part of the rest of the day telling me how upset and sorry he was that I fell into that water.  He didn't appreciate the ribbing that my wife gave me any more than I appreciated the jokes at my dad's expense.  But now being on this side of it, I must admit...it's funny. I will hope and assume that his continued processing of that moment will lead him to the same conclusion I made about my dad:

He is still my hero even unto this day.  Revealed weaknesses or chinks in the armor in some ways just made him all the tougher.  I soon discovered that dad could take his licks be they from a sapling or from a group a mocking family members.  Though I never wanted to carry on this particular tradition, I suppose the acorn never falls far from the tree...er...um...pond.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 12

Category: Transportation

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photo of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Vote Closed. Winner: "So that's why they call'em bugs."

Billiards Mobile
Defeating Stereotypes
ObamaCare Ambulance
That's why they call'em bugs!
Now THAT'S a mini
Redefining Convertible
There's A Story Here...
Only Rolled Once, No Biggie!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Herding Kittens

I played soccer from age four until my early twenties.  Most of those years my dad was the coach of my city league and select teams.  It seemed only natural for me to follow in his footsteps when becoming a dad myself with children of age, interested in the sport.  Thus far that is Michael but Mackenzie has talked about playing next Spring. 

I knew when I took on the role last year that my primary challenge would just be to get all the players headed in the right direction.  Soccer at that age is like a continuous rugby scrum moving all about the field.  Occassionally the ball will break loose from this moving globual of players and the fastest athletes usually chase it down and get a scoring opportunity.  Wash, rinse, repeat and you've seen just about every K4 soccer game ever played. 

This is not to imply at all that my return on invested time is without a payoff.  It was very rewarding to see my team actually head the right direction, rely on me for guidance, and have them hug my neck when they acheived.  Additionally this particular sports program is Christian based and allowed me multiple opportunities to talk about Christ with the boys.  Last but not least, I basked in the joy of carrying on the father/son, coach/player tradition first started by me and my dad years ago. 

So as this season began just four weeks ago, I thought I had a decent idea of what to expect from my players.  I thought there might be some possibility of teaching more complex mechanics but still expected the overall exercise to be akin to herding kittens and just enjoying the chaotic rythum of the game.  But then it happened.  In last Saturday's game and again yesterday during a practice scrimmage I saw my team take shape.  I saw the players calling for the ball, passing it to one another, playing in actual positions, and putting together plays that resulted in goals scored.  I saw my boys taking the drills we worked on earlier in the week and applying them to a game situation.  And it wasn't just the couple of hot-shot players that performed and impressed me this week.  All of my guys contributed in big ways.  My own son, who is very athletic but not very aggressive at this stage in life, scored his first goal in addition to making an awesome defensive play.

Suddenly it occurred to me.  They really are listening.  An impact is being made and  the measurable results were right in front of me.  These kids are devloping into soccer players.  Sure...they still have a long way to go.  And of course the games will still have a chaotic flare to them for another year or so.  But something has finally clicked.  The dynamics of the game have begun to make sense to these boys.  For a coach...win or lose...that is the ultimate payoff!

And it helps that we won too!  :)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Featuring: Susie

Editors Note:  I have many reasons to admire and respect Susie.  She is a great mom, wife to Jeremy, sister in Christ, and artisan.  But topping the list by far is that she has endured two of the most difficult things that life can throw at a person:  Running for Coach T and raising twins!  Those are two things I know a little something about and thusly my opinion of her is off the charts.  As I started this "Feature" piece on the blog I felt led to ask Susie to tell her story...perhaps even enlightening us about how she got started with her bead-making craft.  I couldn't know upon issuing that request that the ensuing story makes raising twins and endurance running look easy. To see her work and find out more about her skills be sure to visit these sites:

http://www.reshapedgirl.com

Susie's Story

I didn’t set out to honor her. That’s the comment I always get...how nice it is that I would honor my sister by learning one of her crafts. That’s not how it started, though.

My sister passed away very suddenly. She died at age 40 from a brain bleed. She collapsed on a Sunday night. It was Wednesday when we knew she was gone. It was Friday when we let her go.

My sister had always been the more creative one of us. She loved music and was in band and choir in high school. She later entered the TV and radio fields. And as an adult, she discovered that she could remember all sorts of facts about different items in antique books…enough that she could enter a thrift store and find real treasure among the trash… to sell, or to keep. I’m not sure exactly how she got interested in glass, but it seems to me that it stemmed from this love of artistic items.

She taught herself how to make glass beads with a hothead torch and glass rods out in her garage. Eventually she upgraded her torch to an oxygen propane system and acquired a kiln. Rummaging through the beads was fun for everyone… Each one of the beads was its own amazing little work of art. I loved looking at all of them and it seemed like everyone had different favorites.

After my sister passed, there was so much around me that reminded me of her. But the jar of beads I have from her…that’s been the best thing. I can look at each one and appreciate them in a new way. Each one different, but made by my sister.

As a little time passed, I thought about how my sister and I were alike. We both enjoyed making things…and putting a little bit of ourselves into our creations. It took me months before I could make a phone call to her husband and ask if I could possibly have the torch and kiln and some more months before I could bring myself to get them…actually I couldn’t, her husband brought them to me. I just realized that I haven’t been to her house since she died…oh, that really hurts.

Part of me felt guilty about having the tools and wanting to learn how to make the beads. Like I said…I didn’t set out to honor her. I just couldn’t stand the thought of no one using the tools again…and I knew that this was one area that we were alike…and I just wanted to know something she knew and to hold something she held. I wanted a connection with her…mostly, it was selfish…a way for me to hold on, just a little longer.

I am not self-taught—I was completely scared to hook up the torch. I took a class—oddly enough, on the same weekend my sister collapsed one year before. This class was taught using a hothead torch, but the instructor was nice enough to type up all the instructions on how to use my torch and kiln.

Once in a while I remember… you know, I can go throughout the day and even sit down and grab a piece of glass that was my sister’s and not notice sometimes… but then other times, when I grab that glass rod, it’s like time slows down and I just remember her like she’s right there with me.

Now, people say it’s so great that I honor her. I still have trouble seeing that. I think it’s great that she left me this gift…and I hope to talk all about it one day with her.

My sister’s husband says they have tons and tons of her beads…and keep finding more. There’s tons in the flower garden and even the neighborhood kids know so sometimes he’ll look out the window and see someone dig one up out of a flower pot, dust it off a bit and hold it up in the sunshine to see how pretty it is and then put it right back in the flower pot. So, I’m going to start putting some of mine in the flower garden in front of our house. One of my boys has already started making beads, too, so now it’s in the family…so I guess that does honor her after all.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Spores of Evil

If I didn't know better I might be tempted to call my allergy suffering one of the deadly plagues of the End Times!  I have always had some suffering of allergies each year but for some reason this Spring has me especially miserable. 

Suffering at this level causes a person to consider radical ideas:

Symptom                           Theorized Solution

Itchy, Watery Eyes              Perhaps I should pluck them out
Irritated Throat, Cough        Swallow razor blades?
Inner Ear Itch                      Can this Qtip touch brain?
Runny Nose                        Permanently seal & DIY tracheotomy

I really don't know why this season has been any worse than years past.  Perhaps its the lack of rain helping to knock all of the pollen out of the air.  Perhaps its the unusually high winds blowing the spores of evil everywhere.  Or perhaps its yet another perk of getting older.  Whatever the case, I need a new solution.  No regimen of Benadryl or Claritin seems to be working for me.  At best, they might be minimizing my already horrid symptoms...which is a very scary idea. 

Last night I Googled "allergy shots" and was disappointed.  It seems you cannot just go in and get the miracle injection.  They give you shots off and on again for months at a time and you apparently have to keep up with them for a couple of years before seeing any long term benefits.  Even then, some people never get relief.  That is a risk and a financial burden that I am not sure to be worth taking.

So help me out!  What is the remedy that you recommend?  Do you get the shots?  Do you have a home remedy?  Are you one of the lucky ones that has supernatural immunity from this mayhem?  Leave your comments, advice, or taunts below.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Photo Friday Frenzy - 11

Category: Anybody Hungry?

Instructions: Vote on your favorite photo of these eight in the right margin of this page. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection.

Voting Closed.  Winner: A Seasame Thanksgiving
Aged to perfection?
A Seasame Thanksgiving

Custom Car Grill
Mac Donalds
Breakfast Kabobs
Muppet Cakes
Location, Location, Location
Literally. Crushed.