25 August 2009

Sushi, Dancing, and Towers ... It's All In A Weekend's Work

Here it is, a variety weekend!

Friday was Kaleb's birthday, and he had a Japanese themed dinner / game night. We made sushi. I still have an aversion to raw fish, but it was still a good time, and it really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. There were games and food and people I hadn't met before, there was also a frisbee related highlight of the evening: it involved Kaleb getting a LED frisbee as a gift, and us throwing it around outside. It was all fun and games until I had to lift Rachel on to the roof to retrieve it after Kaleb threw it up there. Rachel probably found a way down by now.

Kaleb and Eric - Maeg
The birthday boy gave some personal instruction on rolling my, um, roll ... a little too close up? Nah.

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Here is my roll, a little too large, it required two bites to eat.

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Joe looks cool, or maybe it's Maeg's photo, or possibly it could be both.

I left and went to the next event, but came back later. I have more picture of the night here, where as Maeg has some here.

I ran downtown to Jitterbugs Night Out, okay really I drove. It was Ben P.'s birthday jam, and yeah, I wanted to dance a little.

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Bethany shows off her new red headlights, er, I mean highlights.

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The birthday boy had some tough choices.

I have more picture of the night here, Cliff has some pictures of the entire evening here, Matt has a few jam related pictures starting here.

Early Saturday Morning I got up and did I the ALS Walk with some coworkers. It was an opportunity to get to know some of them, and walk for a very good cause that is close to me, if you didn't read it, the story is here.

After the walk and lunch I went home and napped. I knew that my Saturday afternoon and evening were completely unplanned ... the first time in months, so I just figured to sleep as long as I wanted, so I did. (I guess this is the dull part of the story). When I woke up I decided I wanted to go to Platte River State Park and walk around. It turned in to quite the adventure.

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First stop was the Falls trail.

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Lots of flora.

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A scene that Erin is almost certain to enjoy.

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Oh yeah, the falls.

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Next stop was the lagoon, which was covered in algae, I've not seen that before.

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I headed over to the tower next.

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Of course I was brave enough not to have to have to hold on to something the whole time.

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Don't look down, don't look down, don't look down ... uh oh, I looked down.

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I left the park, and after a short stop at Schramm State Park, I walked across the Platte River pedestrian bridge.

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It was kind of a panoramafest.

After all that walking, I spent Saturday night at home resting. I posted 90 pictures from the day here.

I got up Sunday and went to church. After church the Lindy in the Park World Tour resumed at the downtown Papillion Park.

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We had a really nice spot.

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Perfect weather for dancing, or whatever it is going on here.

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I got quite the workout.

I have a few more shots of the day here, Matt has a few pictures starting here.

22 August 2009

ALS Walk

This morning I went on the Walk to defeat ALS. ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. It's a good cause, but it goes much deeper than that for me.

In 1996/97 I was newly divorced, deeply depressed, and looking for any kind of meaning or hope in my life. I was attending a local church and struggling with it: not making many friends, not really progressing, and basically going through the motions. I eventually drifted into the church choir, where at least I felt useful. There was a gentleman in the choir named Phil. Phil was a retired military man, a decently talented singer, gregarious, and well liked. I, of course, was irresponsible, morose, difficult, and on the upside, also a decently talented singer.

I was not really progressing, going to church, but not really understanding this whole God thing, I was waiting, but nothing seemed to be happening, I wasn't changing, church was just an event that happened every Sunday. So new to the experience was I, that I couldn't really grasp what was occurring. I did the same things everyone else did, but, meh.

One particular Sunday was different. Church was going along as usual, reading this, liturgy that, and "now you can off each other a sign of peace". I went about my way gladhanding "Peace be with you, peace be with you, peace blah blah blah..." I made my way around to fifteen or so people and got to Phil, I shook his hand and said "peace be with you", I heard some sort of response, and I turned to make my way to the next person. What happened next could not have lasted five seconds total, but has occupied my mind probably more than any other event in my adult life.

I failed to go anywhere.

I contemplated this for a short second and discovered that Phil had not yet let go of my hand. I looked at my hand and heard him say the words again "...peace be with you." I was genuinely confused by this point, I made eye contact. He said it again, softer "Peace. Be. With you." It wasn't four words of well wishing, it was a command, an imperative, a brand new lifestyle.

I know that at that point Phil let go of my hand. I have no recollection of what I did next. I suspect I continued on with church, too overwhelmed to do anything different. You can call it an epiphany. You can call it anything you want. Phil had allowed himself to be the voice of God, a command had been given to me, so powerful, so loving, that what could I possibly do but obey? Peace had come to me.

It was not long after this happened that Phil was diagnosed with ALS. I found out through the choir. One Sunday after church we talked about why Phil had been absent recently, what the expectations were, and what the disease was like. It did not seem fair to me that a man of such dignity should befall such a fate, but Phil was there when he could be, his attitude, and his love for God never wavered. What was this I wondered? I wanted to more of this God that Phil loved so fiercely.

There came a day when it became obvious that Phil would no longer be able to be in the choir, or even come to church, in fact, he would be dying soon. I sat with him after church that day, and I held his hand, all the barriers were gone. I told him how I loved him and how he made a difference, and suddenly my mind formed a thought so daring, so bold, that it came out before I stopped myself from saying it.

I asked him "Phil, when you get to Heaven, please tell God to forgive me for all the things I have done."

Through his own tears Phil said He already has."

I know I saw Phil three more times before he died, and then he went home. The seven words that I am quoting here from Phil remain the way that I know God. Phil remains the person I look to when I want to review in my head what it is like to live a life of Christian love. Thank you Phil, I hope someday to be God's presence to someone in the way you were for me.
...and Jesus said to them "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the greatest commandment, and the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." Matt 22: 37-40

10 August 2009


When I was a child, our family owned a pop up camper, and from 1971 to 1981 we went camping quite a bit. For at least one summer, maybe more, we had the camper up at a nearby campground for several weeks, if not the whole season. I remember the name of the place being "Potawatomi Lake", in Branch County, Michigan. Most of the rest of our camping excursions were all over the upper midwest.

(As I am writing this, I am remembering stories from camping and laughing.) As I said, we had the pop up camper, and a very organized father; from the moment that the car shut off from parking the camper into it's spot, we could have the camper set up, car unhooked and unloaded, and campsite set up in seven minutes. I tell you seven minutes not because I am prone to exaggeration, but because my father timed it. Everyone had a job to do, and we all did our jobs and cooperated, because we weren't allowed to play until the campsite was set up.

Although I still own a sleeping bag, my adult camping experiences have been less than enjoyable ... until this weekend!

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105F heat? No matter, jump in the lake for three hours.

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Fortunately, I'm used to this kind of look.

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A little monkey in the middle (is this politically correct?) played with two monkies and three squishy balls is a fun time waster.

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Recent evidence suggests I cannot be beat at this game!

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What's a camping adventure without too much food?

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There were plenty of photo ops.

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Speaking of photo ops, I avoided this conversation because I thought it could only lead to a lightened wallet.

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Of course the evening ended around the fire with marshmallows, duh.

There was a gorgeous moon after the cameras got put away, and we stayed up just past 0100. When we went to bed, there was no mention in the forecast about rain, but I awoke at 0500, and as I sat and listened to the owls, crickets, and frogs, I saw the kind of clouds through the moonroof of my car ... er ... camper, and I decided to head home. I was right, there were storms.

All my pictures are here, Matt's are here, Jenny put some up on Facebook, here, and we're all waiting on Sarah's still, but they will be on her Flickr, here (maybe).

Que Sarah Sarah

I'm sure many of you have noticed that Sarah disappeared off of the "My Information" box on the side. She broke up with me. I am more than a little disappointed by this one, but not that confused, it was obvious she did not think it was going to work. I am quite saddened, because I put a lot of eggs into my emotional basket on this one, and I think it was probably my last chance to have a traditional marriage ... those eggs are broken now.

It's a lot easier to make lemonade out of bruised, unasked for lemons than to make an omelet out of dropped eggs.

I know she was quite disappointed also, so if you have space in her prayer list, please add her in.

She is going to make some man a wonderful wife.