Thursday, December 27, 2012

Secret Book Safe (Another Pinterest Project)

For Christmas this year I really wanted to give some gifts that would mean something to those I gave it to and that would be on the low end of the cost scale. I went to Pinterest to find some ideas. It didn't take long to find some great ideas. I found a site that had 25 great ideas for DIY gifts. My 2 favorites were the secret book safe and the miniature Polaroid magnets I posted yesterday.

Now to the secret book safe. I hopped over to the dollar store and grabbed the biggest/thickest books I could find. I was going to get books that had some meaning for each person, but the dollar store is pretty limited in their book selection. To the shop I went.

I chose a page I wanted to have as the last page before the "safe" and added one more page. I propped the book open and made a mix of glue and water (roughly 70% glue/30% water). I used a small paint brush and brushed the glue mix along the outside of the pages until it was completely covered and not dripping.
Then I used a metal ruler to measure 1/2 inch margins all the way around.
Then I used a box cutter to start slicing the pages.
I made it through 1 1/2 books using this boxcutter. My fingers were killing me! It was not the best box cutter anyhow. I had to cut slices through the middle of the pages and try to get as much out as possible. The corners were probably the hardest part.
 I read you could use a dremel and my father-in-law had the right part, but his dremel was at work. Then my father-in-law gave me a game changer. He had a oscillating multi-tool! It has a few attachments for it, but the one I needed looked like a scraper with grooves. Basically it moves back and forth at a rapid rate and I would cut into the book a bit at a time. Soooooo much better. The sides looked much nicer and it went way faster. Oh, and it didn't hurt.
I did use scissors to even a few spots out. You need to be careful you don't cut yourself with any of these tools. The scissor was the most dangerous for me. See?
After you are finished cutting out the center you need to apply your glue mix to the inside and another coat on the outside is recommended. You also want to glue the top of the rim of the pages and glue down the last page you did not cut. I used paint cans to put on top of them while they dried. I let them dry overnight but I think you can get it in 30 minutes or so. Then you open the book carefully and cut the top page you glued down.

When you are done you can store your tools in there or other valuables. I recommend you put it on a book shelf with other books. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Miniature Polaroid Magnets (A Pinterest Project)

Yes. I love Pinterest. No, I am not female. It is largely believed that most people on Pinterest are women. That may be true, but there are guys on there too. I know it to be true. I am on there. Jon Acuff is on there. It is a cool place! I love their food ideas and craft ideas. I think of myself as more crafty than I probably am, but Pinterest inspires me.

I was looking around for ideas for Christmas presents. I was trying to keep the cost down and still be something very cool. This was one of those. They are refrigerator magnets with "Polaroid" pictures of the family. I got the idea from Ambrosia Girl's website. She has a link to download the photoshop template there too. Here is what I did.

First I downloaded the template to be printed on a 4x6 photo. Then I found the pictures I wanted to put inside the Polaroids and copied and pasted them into this one. I shrunk them down to size (using photoshop) behind each Polaroid. Each sheet has 8 photos on it. I saved the photo and sent it to and picked up the pictures later. I also grabbed a 10 pack of business card magnets at Staples for $4.

After we got the pictures I headed into the shop. I used a paper cutter to cut even lines and then trimmed them up with some scissors. (I am saying I alot, but Jeanne-Ann did help me a little bit).
We then used the backs of notepads we had laying around and cut them to fit the pictures.

I used foam board I bought at the dollar store first but it looked terrible.

Using "permanent" glue sticks I glued the pictures to the cardboard. The final step was placing the pictures on the magnets ad cutting it out along the picture so it fit perfectly.

There you have it. Miniature Polaroid magnets.

We grabbed any metal container we could find and wrapped the container with the magnets inside. Cake pans work nicely.

Do you have a Pinterest project you have done that has been a favorite?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Sick Little Christmas

Well, we have been in North Carolina for over a week and have only had to make one trip to the doctor's office. The funny thing? The doctor recognized us. We were there last year with Haak when he had an ear infection. This time it was Karston's turn. He got strep and tonsillitis. So sad. He was in such pain.

Then, like a tornado, a cold/flu thing came ripping through this home with a vengeance. There are 14 of us in this house, 6 of us staying in one bed room. haha. I don't know if it is because I have been taking airborne regularly or what, but I think I am the only one who has not been incapacitated by this virus. It has been taking between 24-48 hours to get through each person.

Fever. (Kynzi hit 101.7 today and Nyah hit 102.7)
Awful cough.
Snot galore.

Not fun. Not one bit. I am thankful I have not gotten it. Praying it stays that way. Among the wrapping paper that has been strewn across the floor you can find tiny tissue mines. It is quite the sight. For Haak and Nyah it has meant sleepless nights, which means for Jeanne-Ann and I and the rest of the house it has meant sleepless nights.

The upside? Our kids are learning to share.

Merry Christmas!

Hoping yours is restful, sick-free and family-filled!
3 Generations!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Shoes

Probably one of the saddest, if not the saddest, Christmas songs in history, is Christmas shoes. It's also probably the corniest Christmas song.

Basically a boy is shopping alone...on Christmas Eve. And somehow he knows his Mom's show size. I have known my mom all 41 years of my life and I don't have a clue what size shoe she wears. Perhaps I'm just not as observant as this boy.

Crazy thing is he knows his mom's shoe size but he doesn't have a clue when it comes to money. He pays with pennies and is surprised when he doesn't have enough. If he is shopping at Payless I guess I get it...sort of, but I doubt that's where he went. I picture him in the mall at a shoe store with high prices.

If that's not enough he turns to the guy behind him in line. I am sure this guy is livid having to wait in line on Christmas Eve for a kid who us paying for shoes with pennies. You know this guy is in a hurry and is gonna get an ear full from his wife when he gets home because the kids are screaming that their daddy is t home on Christmas Eve because he waited till the last minute to shop for their mommy.

He has pressure. The tension is building with every penny that us counted. Then the kid had the gall to ask for money! He doesn't straight out ask him. He just looks up at him with puppy dog eyes and asks, "What am I going to do now?" Now he has a major dilemma. He likely had attended Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and is only using cash and he had exactly the amount of cash for a pair of shoes for his wife.

If he gives the kid money he can't buy his wife her dream shoes he has been diligently saving for. And he has how gone to the store with nothing to show for it but warm fuzzies. Can you picture the scene? Dad leaves on Christmas eve to get a gift for mom last minute and comes home with nothing. Kids yelling and crying. Awful moment.

Then, to make matters worse, this little boy shares his awful sob story. He tells the man that he wants to buy the shoes for his Mom. But he calls her Mamma. For some reason Mamma is much more heart gripping then Mom is. At least in this song. He tells her that she is likely going to die that night.

Side note; you are telling me that his dad has let his little boy leave the home on Christmas eve to go shopping on a crazy night when his mother is likely going to die within a few hours.? Incomprehensible!

Now I understand that his mother has been sick for quite a while and must be at such a deep dark spot that she has been coughing and gurgling like crazy. She must be screaming and moaning and saying things that don't make any sense. It is probably scaring the living daylights out of this little boy and so the dad sent him out because he has been crying all day over his Mom. I guess in some way I get it.

So the kid has played a guilt trip on the guy, he spends his money and no longer has money for his wife's gift, and now the kid runs out of the store. If you listen closely, I am pretty sure you can actually hear the boy laughing and, if I am not mistaken, he yells, "Sucka!"

Perhaps he is a sucker. Perhaps he has ruined Christmas for his family. But at least he was reminded what Christmas is all about.What is Christmas all about for you I wonder?

Here is a video done for a school project for the song.

PS. If you rewatch the video at the top and scrub to 00:37 notice what Steve is doing in the background. (We made this video a couple of years ago to send to our friend Brian who HATES the song! Haha.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fishing with Poppy (grandpa)

Today we decided to finally go fishing. The kids have been begging to go for days. The weather has not cooperated very nicely. Rain, snow or too cold. We finally squeezed a day that wasn't terrible for fishing. We headed into Dillsboro to a river to drop in our lines. We had 3 working fishing poles between the 8 of us. That was not going to deter Karston from fishing though. He had made his own pole. (I'm telling you. This country living with a shop is so good for him.)

We walked the little path down to the river and the fishing began. Jon had given Karston a hook that is large enough to catch a small whale I think. But he put a worm on it and a little fish perfume and tossed it in. After a few tosses by everyone there seemed to be a need to keep looking for the perfect spot. So down stream we moved. And moved. And moved. And moved. Nothing. No bites. I did see a small fish jump upstream, but nothing that could every make its way onto Karston's hook. My father-in-law said something about being allowed to keep the fish we caught just below the waterfall and that we would have to release anything we got above the waterfall. I thought he was joking. He is like that. Nope. No joke.

Jon slipped and got his shoe wet and decided it best just to make the journey in his socks. It wasn't long before Karston joined him and they both went barefoot along the ridge. Then decided maybe they should wade a bit to get closer to where the fish in the middle were. Jack finally acquiesced and took his shoes off for a bit too. Karston was in for a bit but discovered that his feet began to sting. The water is c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-old!!! It hurt him bad. It hurt putting his socks and shoes back on. Jon? He kept wading. No feeling? I don't know. But he went past his knees and soaked his pants too.

Karston and Jed got the only thing of the day. They each found a lure. That was it. No fish. It was not a loss though. We went out as a family and had a great time together. I think that's what fishing is about...mostly. Relationship and experience. Catching fish is super exciting, but its not everything.

Poppy was teaching Jed the finer tips to fishing

A fish jumping? Nope. Just having fun with rocks and splashing.
What did you do for fun over your Christmas break?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

This is that Pappa?

Nyah Is sprouting a whole new crop of words. She is beginning to interact with us using actual sentences! I love how the mind works. Hers is constantly racing and she daily gives us nuggets of verbal gold. Jeanne-Ann was just saying that she is capturing it all in her mind and treasuring it. That is exactly how I feel. I want to treasure every moment with my children.

As she is trying to figure out what things are she asks us, "This is that?" Basically she is asking us, "What is that called?" It is perhaps my favorite all time saying from her. I am sure she will deliver even more juicy gems as she takes in more words and phrases.

I am so thankful for modern technology that lets me capture things in an instant. Some of them I keep just for us and some I share with the rest of the world. This one I struggled with, because I treasure it so deeply. It is much like the little stone Kynzi gave me when she was 2 or 3. She collected them as treasures and they were very special to her. Then she found her favorite one and she gave it to me. She wanted me to have her favorite treasure! I cried and carried it around with me for years. I have since put it in away in my own treasure chest.

Then there was the stick that Karston was making me when he was 8 years old. He had whittled it to perfection and then began to carve "Pappa" into the side of it. I had been out of the country and was coming home the next day. He was in the van and had been told to put it away. It was dark and he went against his mothers wishes because he wanted so badly to finish it for me. Then it happened. It slipped and he cut himself deep in the leg. He got 4 stitches from that little gift. I treasure that stick to this day.

Haak has recently started to do a fair amount of repeating our words. Perhaps my favorite is I Love you. What is so treasured about him saying it? He says,"I yowyou." Yes! LOVE IT! Perhaps one of the greatest treasures from Haakon was when he was too upset to stay in his Sunday school class and so he joined us in the main worship room. As we were singing praises to God, I held him and he sang with me. My heart screamed for joy. Tears streamed down my face. My treasures will continue to give me more heart treasures for the rest of their lives. Some I will capture on film and some I will just capture in my mind and heart. Here is my latest treasure from Nyah. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Creativity at its Finest

When you are in the mountains of North Carolina you have to get creative. My father-in-law has a shop where the boys like to go and build stuff. Karston and his cousins have spent a lot of time making bows and arrows out there. They have been searching the woods for just the perfect branches to form into bows and arrows. I love how they create stuff here.

This morning they wanted to go sledding. They told me it had snowed. I looked out the window and saw that there was some frost where the sun didn't shine. That was it. Undeterred they made their way out to "Sled Mountain" as they called it and began the fun. Here is the result.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What would you tell middle school you?

For eight years I was a pastor to middle school students and now I am a volunteer in our middle school ministry. I love middle schoolers. Most people don't really believe much in middle school aged people. They think they are just a bunch of ADHD crazy people with little ability to do much of anything than break stuff. I believe in them. I know how hard it is to go through all the changes they go through. I know how hard it is to manage hormones, body changes, voice changes, concrete to abstract thinking, etc. With all of those things going on, it can be difficult to navigate the middle school waters.

What if we all decided we would do something to help middle schoolers on their journey. Volunteering in a church or an athletic program or music program of after school program. What if we became mentors. What if we just took some time to get to know some middle schoolers so they would have someone that would give them words of wisdom and direction in their lives. Wouldn't that be cool? Imagine if you had people like that in your life when you were a middle schooler. How would that have changed things for you?

If you could write a letter to yourself in middle school, what would you say? What words of wisdom would you tell yourself? Knowing what you know now. There is a country song that actually talks about this, but I am not going to post it, as it is not completely appropriate for all listening audiences.

Some things I might say to myself:
* Bullies have pain and often bully as a result of their pain.
* Don't say mean things. It does nothing but tear down. Nothing good comes out of it. All it does is tear down and cause you to have regret.
* Be careful with what you say. Those words stick with you for a long time. There are some things people will say to you (kind and unkind) that you will remember for the rest of your life. Be the one who says kind things that others remember for the rest of their lives.
* Don't pass those books about people around. Take them and throw them away. When someone reads what others have said anonymously about them, it could really ruin them.
* Don't worry about your math teacher. Occasionally you will have teachers who are not nice. There are plenty of years left to learn math from teachers who care.He probably leads out of his own pain too.
* You are a kind person.
* Be a good friend. The kind of friend you want others to be to you, even if they are not that way always.
* It's OK to be pure. Even if others make fun of you for it. They are jealous that they didn't wait. You will see how worth it is that you waited!
* Don't worry. Your heart will heal and the most amazing girl you will ever meet is yet to come. And MAN, is she worth it. She is kind and generous and loving and has a great laugh and you will have tons of fun together and you will have amazing kids. Oh, she is sooooo worth the wait!
* Live all out in everything you do.
* Love Jesus big!

What would you say?

What would you say to yourself today?

Monday, December 17, 2012

1 Dad, 4 kids, 2 flights.

I have traveled many times through the airports around the world and seen mom's with several kids in tow. Every time I think to myself, "Oh man. I am soooo glad that is not me!" Well, besides the mom part that was me on Sunday. In order to save a whole bunch of money we needed to travel this way. Jeanne-Ann has work and couldn't leave till Wednesday.

A 6:07AM flight meant we left home at 3:30AM! Of course that means I only gave myself 3 hours of sleep (classic). Jeanne-Ann dropped us off and we started our journey into the underground world of single-parent travel. It's a scary world if you are jumping in for your first time. It's not a world that many are eager to join, but one that many decide to because they have to. Thankfully I am only visiting this world. This is not a permanent trip.

We got through security relatively unscathed, although I was worried they were going to take away the sippy cups. Those are worth more than the guys' Rolex in front of me on a trip like this. They just needed to test them for whatever they are worried is potentially inside. Then to the gate with some tired kids and Pappa.

We got on the plane and were seated. Me on the aisle, then Haak and Nyah. Then right behind us was Karston on the aisle and Kynzi. I told the Littles it was time to go to sleep. Haak made it about 45 minutes and Nyah about 1 1/2 hours. Not bad. Then it was time for some games and  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the iPad. It was a 4 hour flight to Chicago and Karston and Nyah switched for the last hour or so. They were perfect. Seriously.

Nyah is pretty much potty trained but we put a pullup on her just in case. When she has to go, there is not always an infinite amount of buffer time. She had to go during a bumpy part and so she kind went through her pull up and onto her cute tutu.

Changing kids inside of an airplane bathroom is not all! Haak gave me a present too, thank you. Such givers, these kids of mine. There is a "table" you can pull down to lay them on, but when they are 2 it isn't as easy as it was when they were 8 months old. Crammed in with my head sideways to fit into this tuna can we somehow made it.

One of my regular flying "habits" is to bring a box of chocolates to the flight attendants. When I fly with the kids they always give it away. This has resulted in a lot of wonderful conversations over the years. When the kids do it the flight attendants always come and shower them with love and thank yous. This time they brought us fresh baked cinnamon roles from first class. Lets just say the kids were pretty excited (me too). Sometimes I feel bad for all the eyes that are watching as these kinds of things happen. I may have heard the guy across the aisle slurp up some drool from these delicious smelling/tasting morsels.

Then it was off to a 2 hour and 10 minute layover in O'Hare airport. I knew we had a chance of getting bumped and so I wanted to hurry over to our gate and get in line first to offer up our seats. We landed at concourse B and my phone had not updated the gate. I got onto the concourse and saw we were at gate F10...allllll the way on the other side of the airport. No trains, just lots of fast walking. At one point I decided to carry the Littles and have the Olders take the bags. We made it to gate F10 and there was a gate change. What!?!? Yup. Gate C22. We passed that a long time ago! NO!!!

So back we went. A little slower than round one, but still a pep in our step. We got to our gate and they had one open seat. They would not need the five of us to volunteer our seats. Lunch time then. We went to the food court and ordered Manchu Wok. Something for everyone. Yay. After I put the order in Nyah let me know she had to go. This time she was back to her underwear. I had a moment of panic. Do I just walk away from my order, grab all of our stuff and rush everyone to the bathroom? Do I send Kynzi with her to the bathroom and get the food and met her there? Do I tell Nyah to hold it? Do I use a lifeline and call Jeanne-Ann and pray she actually has her phone on her (lowest possibility)? This is where the veterans would know just what to do.

I sent Kynzi on ahead, paid for our food and realized I now had all of Kynzi's luggage and 2 things of food to add to what we already were carrying. Somehow Karston and I pulled it off and met them outside the bathrooms. We sat down by our gates to eat and when I opened the first box it was like a feeding trough. We all grabbed forks and started shoveling in what we could get. We got to our second box and and suddenly it started falling toward the ground. It was all slow motion. Somehow in mid-flight I grabbed it and pulled it back to safety. That was not before a 1/2 pound of rice made it to the ground. Not tragic by any means. I found a custodian and they took care of it and then we got onto our 2 flight.

It was a pretty uneventful flight as Haak and Nyah both slept the ENTIRE WAY!!! We arrived in Charlotte and headed to baggage claim. We waited for a while and then someone from United said that was it. What?! We didn't get a single bag! There were 25 others in the same boat so I thought something had to be missed. As we waited in line for 10 minutes he finally said, "Sorry. They just found a cart with several more things." Finally our bags began to arrive. One suitcase. 2 suitcases. 1 car seat.......Where is the other car seat? "Sorry folks. That's it." WHAT?!!? "Sir, do you understand that I am missing a car seat and I can't leave the airport until I have it?" "You will have to go to baggage claim and they can have it delivered to you." "Did you not hear me? It's not like a suitcase is missing and I can just go without brushing my teeth for a couple of days. My 2 year old can not ride without a car seat. It's illegal and dangerous. Yes, I know. I NEVER had a car seat when I was a kid either. You are right, I survived just fine. But it is almost 2013. That is how it is now." (no, I did not really say all that out loud).

As I stood in line for about 15 minutes a lady comes rushing in with the car seat and says, "I guess my radio isn't working. No one responded when I said I found this car seat." Whew. Now to find Granny (I can't reach her on her phone...perhaps she has the same issue as my wife...haha). Then we will be golden. Just a couple of minutes outside and there she is!!! Grandkids are happy. Son-in-law is happy. Granny is happy. Great reunion! What's this? You guys got a new truck? It only seats 5?! My text to Jeanne-Ann was replied to surprisingly quickly and it was just what I needed.

Well, I think the statutes of limitations are low on minor traffic violations, but I will just say that Kynzi and Karston fit "comfortably" or perhaps "snuggly" is the better word, between the Littles. It's amazing how a common enemy (lack of space) can bring people together. They sat on laps and did great for the 3 hour ride back. An almost immediate stop was needed for Nyah to go to the bathroom and then it was off to Chick-fil-a!! We were all SUPER excited for that!!! We get ready to pull up and...OH CRAP! It's Sunday!

With Jeanne-Ann's words ringing in my mind I turned the truck around and found the closest Waffle House and we enjoyed some yummy waffles! (not a bad alternative). With only 1 spill of a completely full glass of water it was a good and filling stop. We loaded back up and headed to Granny and Poppy's and made good time through the rain and fog. Vacation, here we are!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Keizer Christmas Lights

Last night was time for another Williams Family Tradition! Maybe you live in an area like this. An area that most of the homes decorate their homes with tons of lights and blow up characters and cars travel a route to look at them all. This is my dream. We have one of those down the road a bit from our home. We actually almost bought a house that is at the very beginning of this route.

Every year we make hot chocolate and spiced cider, load up into the van and head out to look at the lights. The kids usually set out blankets in the back of the van and put down the seats and have a play area set up. We drive about 1/2 mile an hour and gawk at all the great set ups. It would make Clark Griswald so proud. We each pick out our favorite homes and enjoy the whole route together with Christmas music playing on the radio. There is also a stop where you can donate food or money toward the local food share. Great idea!

I cherish these traditions we are building into our family. My heart finds great joy in each tradition we carry on. Some of our Christmas traditions are ones we have carried on from our own childhood, but many of them are brand new with our own kids. This is one of those.

We live on a private drive and don't have a natural drive through area that we can show off our lights. That doesn't stop me really, although I would imagine I would go all out if we were on a busy drive. I someday would love to have one of those set ups where everything is computerized and set to blink along with music like the video below. That would be amazing!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Costume Time

I'm dipping into some slightly older experiences, but I haven't shared it with you yet. Whatever your Halloween thoughts are, I wanted to share with you our costumes this year. I love dressing up in costumes and I love candy (although, truth be told, I don't eat nearly as much as I did growing up...not even close). I would love to be part of those mystery murder parties more often. I did one about 10 years ago.

The kids are always cute. Karston went as a big cup of Coke with his buddy Ryan, who was a hot dog. 
Nyah was an angel (of course) and Haak was an Oregon Duck football player! Nyah figured that she should go into everyone's home that she knocked on their door. She was so cute! It also helped the take home pile!
Me? Well, I went as some dude. No specific person, but I had a mullet and full upper body tattoos.

It was a fun night and it reminded me of my senior year of high school. I went out with several friends and that night, right before I went to bed, I opened a bag of M&Ms. It was the 50th anniversary of Mickey Mouse and they were doing a promotion. Inside my bag it said, "First place: Bicycle." I thought it would be some goofy, Mickey Mouse kids bike. As it turned out, it was a really cool 12 speed mountain bike. I loved that bike until a friend in college borrowed it and left it out and it got stolen. The first part of that memory is fun.

All in all it was a fun night with my kids. (Kynzi went out with her friends and was not available for a photo shoot. Sigh. They are growing up!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Don't Miss Out Just Because You are Distracted!

Tonight I got to speak at a youth group in Yakima, Washington for their annual Christmas party. I asked the question, "Have you ever missed something because you were so focused on something else?" One girl shared that she had such a strong addiction to Facebook that she missed out on real relationships. One of the guys said he missed his sisters concert because he was so deeply entrenched in Minecraft.

I think we probably could all share an experience that is similar. It may not be an addiction but certainly we have all been so focused on our own stuff that we have missed out on all sorts of things.

In the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

We have a God that cares deeply about us. He thinks about us. He loves us. He like us. He may not always like the choices we make, but He likes us.

When you read Psalm 139 you discover that God is everywhere we go. He knows our thoughts. He loves us even though he knows our thoughts and sees our actions. That's pretty incredible!!

We may have all sorts of plans for our lives, but God has a much better plan than we could ever come up with. Knowing this, you would think we would be really interested in trying to find out what He wants from our lives and spending time with Him. As it turns out, we don't do that very well.

Most all of us have at least heard about the verse in the Bible John 3:16. Basically it tells us that God loves us so much that He was willing to give us His one and only Son, Jesus, so that we could have true life. You would think we would look hard after God if we realized this to be truth. The Bible also says that if we seek Him, we will find him. That is pretty awesome!

So, we come to Christmas. The reason we celebrate Christmas is because Jesus, who was fully God, became fully human. This is our celebration of his birth. If that is true, why do we get so wrapped up into all of the other things that we completely miss Jesus at Christmas?

I asked the students if they ever feel like they miss Jesus in the midst of Christmas and one student raised his hand and said, "I think I have wanted to try to see Jesus at Christmas, but honestly I don't know if I have ever really tried hard and found him during Christmas. Maybe this year will be my year." He was honest. I appreciated that.

If we look, we might just see Jesus, the Christ, when we look at a homeless man in the eyes and hand him a meal. We might see Jesus when we visit a sick child in the hospital. We might see Jesus when we slow down and just listen. We might see Jesus if we open up His Word, the Bible, and read what He is saying to us. We might see Jesus when we give someone a gift that has meaning and we see the joy in their eyes at receiving it.

Will you look for Jesus this Christmas? Where will you look? How will you look?

Maybe this year will be your year. Don't miss Christ at Christmas this year. Seek, and find him!
Thanks to Simply Youth Ministry for the free graphic

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tragedy at Clackamus Town Center

It was a sort of normal day. I had to be home with the Littles in the morning so that was a bit different. Then I went into the office and was part of a few interviews for a position that is open in our office until it was time to go home. So that was a little different. I guess it was not a normal day. It was not far out of the ordinary though. When that changed was on my ride home from work.

I love music. All sorts of music, but I just love music. So when I get in my car, the radio is usually turned on and blaring right away until it is commercial time and then songs from my phone are on. I love music. I got in my car and flipped around the stations searching for a great "ride home" song to pop on. I was getting into line on our new "The onramp light is on" ramp and getting irritated that it took 8 minutes to actually get onto the freeway. Suddenly I hear some serious conversation going on one of the stations. There has been some sort of shooting at Clackamus Town Center shopping mall!


Then, I see 12 police cars and police vans fly north on the freeway as I head south. This is not good. Then 8 more! What is happening? A tragedy. Two people were killed by a man and a 15 year old girl was critically wounded. The shooter? Shot himself. It could've been much worse, but his gun jammed. I found out that Steven Foresyth, one of the people who was killed, was a co-worker of a friend of mine. Crazy.

I was kind of irritated that my day was different and that I had an extra 8 minute wait trying to get onto the freeway. Yet, here I discover this terrible thing. I turned on my Police Scanner app and listened to the Clackamus County police department talking about where they were looking and what they were doing. My heart ached. Still does. Such a senseless act.

These kinds of things happen every day around the world and we carry on with our lives as if nothing has happened. It is normal. Strange that we live our days going about normal routines when somewhere, someone is going through a life-altering experience. When you think about it, your mind can get a bit messed up. But we have to go on with our lives. One moment at a time. If we were to take the tragedy of the world on our shoulders every time something happened we could not bear it.

Today I take a moment and pause. I am praying for the families and friends of those who were killed and shot. For those who witnessed it. For those who will likely deal with some level of post traumatic stress disorder. For those who don't know how to go on.

Today I will make an effort to not be so irritated by delays or things not going my way.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Civil War (heading out to the enemies territory)

A tradition has formed. Somehow I have been fortunate to go to the University of Oregon Ducks vs. the Oregon State Beavers civil war game the last several years. I am quite happy to keep this tradition going. I don't care if it is in Duck country or Beaver country, what I care about is being there and watching my Ducks win.

This year we were at Reser Stadium in Corvallis where the Beavers play. I got myself all "ducked out" (see what I did there? clever, huh?) and headed out on the Beaver Bus. This is an old airport shuttle bus that has been converted by my friend Duane who went to OSU and carried 19 Beaver fans and me down to Corvallis. Of course I got plenty of ribbing from most everyone one the bus: "Who let this guy in here?" "Are you on the right bus?" "Charge him extra!" I expect that and would be upset if it didn't happen.

When we arrived we began the preparations for a fantastic meal. We set up the tables and put out all the food and we feasted. Too much of course, but it was a day of celebration. 90 minutes before kickoff a few of us walked over to the stadium area and took in the pregame festivities. Duane batted for pride after a little girl almost hit a home run; we saw the band playing and cheerleaders cheering; I got to hang with the Duck who does pushups of the total amount of points we have every time we score; we saw some of the die-hard fans; and I got to high five the players as they came out.
These people know how to tailgate!

The game was great! Well, in the beginning it was close, and it was great and then we dominated as expected. During that first quarter I heard plenty from the Beaver fans around me. I was in a season ticket holder section and I was "alone." Again, I expected a few comments here and there and for the classic drunk guy several rows back to yell. As it turns out there was a 60something year old behind me who liked to yell and didn't like that I was in his section.

Because it rained for much of the game I wore my raincoat. I don't have an Oregon Duck raincoat, but I do have a green and yellow raincoat that says "Ethiopia" across the back. When I would stand and cheer for my team, this guy shouts "That's not Ethiopia playing down there." Several times. Classy. I was thankful he let me know, as I was totally thinking they had replaced the Ducks with all Ethiopians (so well known for their football skills).

As the rain subsided I took down my hood. In the back of my mind I thought, "Maybe I should roll my hood and zip it up. I don't want some drunk bonehead to toss anything in there. Nah, no one would really do that, would they?" Sure enough, at one point I decided to just check and there were a bunch of jelly bellies in there. Classy. I emptied them out and dropped all but one on the ground. The other one I placed on the knee of the 16 year old kid behind me and told him I thought he might have dropped something. His dad tossed it at me and said, "Wrong target pal."
Jelly Belly boy behind me. Classy!
After some time I turned to my right and saw the 60something dude with a giant bag of jelly bellies. Classy! I couldn't believe this buffoon actually did this. Oh, I forgot to mention that he punched me in the back at one point and I totally let it go (Classy!)...then I discovered the jelly bellies. As he began to leave the stadium, well before the game was technically over (we know the game was over for a long time) I yelled to him, "I think you forgot something." He did not reply.

I turned back to the 16 year old and his dad and apologized and we actually had a really good conversation. The game was over and we headed back to the bus for round 2 of the goodies and headed home after. I was pretty silent in respect of the depression that had set over the Beaver Bus. All in all, it was a pretty great day! I ate well. Hung out with friends AND we won! I would totally do it again and again. Thanx D!
That's a lot of orange.

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