Thursday, March 05, 2015

Photo Lenten Challenge: Day 15 - Follow

Today I was inspired by "Throwback Thursday" to make this my photo for the Lenten Photo Challenge.

It was a photo I took when I did a quick turn around to see if the kids I was responsible for were following me down the streets of New Orleans.

This was the last day of our Lutheran Youth Gathering trip when my wife and I and three other adults took a bunch of the kids from our church there for the National Lutheran Youth Gathering. We had just attended the Sunday services at the St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square and were heading back to the hotel.

It was an amazing time and I have some of my best memories from that trip. It was the second time I was there with high school aged kids following me around the streets of New Orleans.

And I get to do it again! In April I will be chaperoning over 80 marching band students from our local school as they visit New Orleans to perform in various places (one being the National WWII Museum) around New Orleans and getting some direction from some excellent conductors and instructors located there. It will be another amazing time!

But that is besides the point. These students were looking for someone to follow. Someone to plan, organize and direct these trips. Someone they could depend on to make it memorable and worthwhile.

I was happy to be that person. (with the help of others too, of course...)

I loved being their leader. The person they followed. And I am glad they had a great time and made great memories on that trip.

But I don't want them to follow. I don't want them to be followers but to be leaders. I wanted (and want) to lead by example so that they and others can become leaders in their own right with their own followers who will look to them for the right path, the right direction.

I don't like to follow. Sometimes I have to, but I would rather lead. And I want all of the young people I involve myself with to be leaders. Not followers.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Lenten Photo Challenge: Day 14 - Poor

I used to be poor. Or at least I thought I was.

I used to think that when I was a kid that my family was poor. I don't think my father ever made more than $25,000 a year.

I knew a lot of people that had more than we did in terms of nicer, newer homes. Nicer, newer cars, and nicer or newer clothing, furniture, TVs, you name it.

But in reality, my parents were children of the Great Depression and were just frugal and we made do with what we had and when the time and money were available, we bought new things. We really never needed for anything. We were far from poor.

I realized that when I went to college.

I was poor in college.

The photo you see is what used to be the Hardee's at Parkland College. And it was my source of food for a good year. When going to school at college, I had a part time job and worked maybe 15-20 hours a week and got the minimum wage just like everyone else. I did not have much money, and had to get a helping hand from my parents every once in a while. But I still did not have much money. I was so poor that the way I fed myself was to take enough money to buy myself three single hamburgers from the Parkland Hardee's each morning at around 930 or 10am. I would promptly eat one, and stuff the other two in my back pack. At around noon or 1pm I would eat another one, or if I was going to work that evening at the place I worked, I would eat both, as I could get food where I worked. Otherwise that third one was my supper. That was pretty much it. I would have a few groceries at my apartment, but those were slim pickings at best. That was pretty much how I fed myself for the better part of a year or more. There are other instances of how poor I was but this one sticks in my mind the most.

I was poor. Or so I thought.

My dad knew better. I can remember his words when I complained about not having enough money or having a car that was less than reliable. "Quit being so damned lazy and get out and find a better job, or work some more damned hours."

Yep. I wasn't poor. My dad was right.

I was frakking lazy. I was self-imposed poor. I had every opportunity to work more hours or find another job, but I was just too lazy.

I just did not want to work more or take the time to find another job, but I was willing to accept that I was poor and it wasn't my fault. I listened to him. I changed my ways and thanks to meeting a young lady, I made sure I would never be self-imposed poor again.

And here I am going to piss some people off, but this is my blog and my thoughts so, please allow me to continue.

I firmly believe that there are truly poor people in the world and they deserve our help when or where we can help them. But I feel that most of those people that claim poverty and being poor, are just like I was. Lazy, self-imposed poor.

They have the same amount of time that we all have, but chose to use it to wallow in being "poor".

I don't believe in welfare in perpetuity. It was never designed to be a lifestyle. I believe in loans, scholarships, and pay raises or/and extra hours and second or side jobs.

I hate to be so brutally honest but that is just the way I believe.

I believe there are truly poor people in our world. But I think they are being hidden and drowned out by the lazy, self-imposed poor.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Lenten Photo Challenge: Day 13 - Near

I love that most of my family is near by. Some are no more than 15 miles away from me, but excluding those that live in another state, I can travel little more than an hour in any direction and be at the homes of most of my family. But this is not about how near my family is to me.

It is about how near I am to the little town I grew up in. How near and dear it is to me.

I grew up in a little town called "Claytonville". And when I say small, I mean it.


Like if you blink driving through it, you will miss it. Like total population of 50 small. When I was a kid living there, the population was maybe 70 at the most, and a good portion of those inhabitants were dogs.

What is in a town of 50-70 people? You would think not much but to me and my friends, it had everything. Sure it did not have a grocery store... although it did at one time. It did not have a gas station, unless you called the hand pumped tank that the grain elevator used a gas station. It had a garage, a post office, a church and a grain elevator when I was a kid. In it's past, it had a bank, a furniture store, apparently a train depot, grocery store, and a restaurant of sorts.

But then a fire burned a big portion of it to the ground and the little town of Claytonville never recovered. Who knows what it would be like if it has not burned. Maybe it and the neighboring town of Cissna Park would have grown together to make a sort of twin sisters town. But that never happened. As it is, the town has deteriorated quite a bit since I lived there. I suppose that happens to small towns where there is not much to offer. But there are good people there and it is a good little town.

What it did have was all kinds of opportunities for a bunch of imaginative and wild boys to run free and crazy and be boys and generally have a great childhood. If you look back into this blog I have written some entries about some of those adventures so I won't go into them in this posting.
Here's one
And another
or even this one

But that town gave me the best childhood I could hope for. And it still gives me memories and experiences. With family gatherings, visits with my mom, and I still have a couple of friends who live there, I am still connected to this little town. It is near and dear to my heart.

At some point in the future, I will not really have much connection with the little town of Claytonville. And this bothers me. I have deep affection for the town that gave me such a great childhood. Somehow I want to keep it near to me.

But until I figure that out, I will have to just go visit it.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Lenten Photo Challenge: Day 12 - Bless

I am blessed in many ways.

I have a lot to be thankful for, but if there is one thing I am most blessed it is my wife.

If it were not for her, I think I might not be where I am today.

She has blessed me by being my constant companion, my partner in crime and my guiding hand.

Together with her, I have a happy home and family, live in a wonderful town and have fantastic friends and enjoy some of the best things that life has to offer.

She has encouraged me in all that I do and helped me avoid those things that I should not.

Together there is nothing that we can't do.

I am blessed to have her.

(oh... and she is short.... and I appreciate her. A lot!)

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Lenten Photo Challenge : Day 11 - Celebrate (#2)

Today is another day to Celebrate special people in my life.

Today I celebrate my kids, Julian and Cora.

They are pretty great kids. I know that most parents say this about their kids, and they should. Parents should be proud of their kids, but not just because they are their kids but because those kids have given them reason to be proud of them.

My kids have made me proud of them many times over.

They are smart, responsible, kind people that are fun to have around and do things with.

I like that they have found their passions and have a good idea of what they want to do in the future.

They have interests that are out of the ordinary and they are okay with that. They are okay having hobbies that most people don't. Historical Re-enacting, gaming, etc... (Cora flies her geek flag almost as high as I do!)

Each is talented in their own way. I wish I could sing half as well as Cora and Julian has surpassed me in shooting ability and knowledge.

I also really like that they still enjoy doing things with Cordelia and I. While it happens less and less often that we are able to do things as a family, we have a great time when we do!

I like that they have conviction in their beliefs and stance on issues. Cora has come to understand that you cannot be someone that people want you to be and that life is too short for drama and Julian grabs on to his interests with a passion that consumes him and has led him to face down those that would try change his belief and found them lacking.

I like that despite me being a goofy, geeky dad, they are not overly embarrassed by me. For that alone, they deserve a prize!

This is one of the hardest things to write about. There is almost too many things I can say about them that I can't actually put it all into words.

Suffice it to say that I am a proud dad and I celebrate that they are such cool kids.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lenten Photo Challenge: Day 10 - Power

I believe in the POWER of prayer.

I am not an overtly religious person, and for better or worse, I keep my religion personal and to myself.

But ask me if there is any power in prayer and I will say, without a doubt, "YES".

I have seen it happen. I know it works and you will not be able to prove it otherwise to me.

There is POWER in prayer.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lenten Photo Challenge: Day 9 - Wait

"Wait!" "Hang on." "Just be patient." "In a minute." "Please take a number." "Your call will be answered in 4 minutes."

No thank you. I cannot wait.

I will not wait.

And if I do have to wait, I will not like it.

No one really likes to wait, but I do it worse than most people. I accept that I cannot wait for things to happen and have little to no real patience and I make no excuses for this flay. But I do not consider it a flaw. Only part of who I am. If you know me at all, then you know this explains a lot about me!

I never have been very good at it. But it was not until about 20 + years ago that I realized that I was hard wired to make life happen for me instead of waiting or it to happen to me. I was discovering that the world had so much to show me and there were so many things to do and see that I could not wait for those things to be seen, be done or be part of. It was a point of contention between my wife and I early on as I had a tendency to plan things without consulting her. Not that she did not want to be part of the plan but because she knew I did not think through the planning process well or simply did not consult a calendar! I am still guilty of doing this from time to time but now we plan together much more, and in turn we are never without something to do, see or be part of.

Ironically, today I was deeply saddened by the death of one of the icons of Sci-Fi and the actor behind one of the most beloved characters of all time in Science Fiction history - Leonard Nimoy. "Mr. Spock" of Star Trek. And I am reminded of a line from the movie, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

"Accepting Death - by understanding that every life comes to an end, when time demands it. Loss of life is to be mourned, but only if the life was wasted." - Spock

Time waiting is time wasted and in my world, time wasted is life wasted.

I will not wait.

Thank you Mr. Spock.