Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas is coming...

Ok, so after watching the video you are probably saying to yourself..."He hates Christmas, or Scrooge..." It's not that I dislike Christmas, but rather what it has become. You can turn on the television at any hour of the day at this time of year and be bombarded with ads for savings on items; Black Friday - Cyber Monday...you get the picture. I saw stores with Christmas decorations up before the halloween costumes were even down. Where does it all end? I can empathize with stores needing to have good sales to make salaries for people and employ more folks. I get, that people are out of jobs and need a strong economy to feel that things are starting to go right for them.

The problem I have as the video so aptly depicts is that we become
dependent on those "things" as a substitution for the real things in life....God; along with family. Do I really need a camo snuggie or a gift certificate to my favorite restaurant? (which is Jose' Peppers for those who may be buying...) I don't know, call me crazy but I would much rather have the gift of spending some quality time with the people in my life doing something together than a gift paid for. I may complain about it, but take the time to talk with me; ask me REAL questions and give REAL answers. Don't tell me everything is "fine" if you're worried about something. Building relationships takes time and can be an imperfect process...we all have baggage and we as american's want it fast and easy. Time is such a precious commodity...we all only have those 1440 minutes per day; I don't want to spend my time wandering through the wrappings to get to the real things in life we are all looking for.

25 days and counting... :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Blessing

With the holiday here people tend to focus their minds on family and turkey dinners.Many are gearing up for the proverbial - over the river and through the woods - drama. Others still are counting down the minutes to BLACK FRIDAY and the onslaught of consumer hedonism. There is still a few who live for the inevitable football games that you can fall asleep to after the overindulgence at the dinner table kicks in. Whatever your notion of thanksgiving is, take the time to look around - really look around. Is there a neighbor who needs help? A mother struggling to juggle an anxious toddler and groceries at the store? What simple act could you do to make somebody ELSE feel cared for?

Mine came today on a coolish damp dreary day on the way home from work. I was driving along I-70 annoyed that the mist had ruined a carwash I had just done the day before. I was listening to christmas tunes and thinking about all the stuff that needed to be done before we celebrate Thanksgiving when I saw him...He was WALKING his bicycle along the side of the freeway. Traffic was blowing by him at 75mph kicking up wind and rain and making his westward travels very unpleasant. Nobody was probably even aware of his presence on the side of the road. I didn't even think of stopping until I got about a mile past him, and then something told me to turn around. I double backed around and came up and parked in front of him. The bike was a well worn mountain bike normally used for trail riding, loaded up with a tent and sleeping bag and seemingly everything you could want for a long trip. I asked if everything was alright and if he needed some help.

Edward, older hispanic man is blind in one eye. His hair was long and matted down from both the rain and his explanation that he hadn't showered in two weeks since he had begun his bicycle journey from NYC after a relationship breakup. He had been sleeping outside each night in parks while he was making his way to Denver to start a new life. You could see by the callouses on his hands (he wore no gloves) and the leathery texture of his skin that he was used to hard work out in the elements. I'm sure that this weather was still of no concern to him. We loaded up the bike in my truck and he asked me where the nearest hotel was since he was going to "treat" himself to a warm bed and shower. As he sat in the seat you could see how thin he really was...it looked like he hadn't eaten well in days. We talked the few minutes it took to get the the motel. Its strange how you can get a feel for someone in such a short time. The motel didn't really want to rent a room to him because of how he looked - well like a homeless guy which is really what he was. I prepaid a room for him and got him a meal never with him asking or implying that "could I". It was really humbling when he shook my hand in thanks and handed me all the money he had...here is a guy with almost nothing but the clothes on his back giving me his last few dollars. Obviously, I said no but the fact that he OFFERED to give whatever he had....it was very important to him to show his thanks.

Isn't this the spirit of giving and thankfulness that we want to share during the holiday season? I will probably never see him again but I don't think his memory will ever leave me. Thank you Edward.

Monday, November 22, 2010

And let the stress begin...

It's funny how two people look at the same situation and one thinks of all the fun ahead and the other, well that is what this is all about. First I want to start off and say that I love my wife and all the kidding around that I do with her both in public and private is one of my ways of showing her I care...that doesn't do much when you are on the receiving end of some Karcher humor which can at times be relentless albeit in good nature fun. In the end, it just goes to show what a trooper she is given we have been together for over 30 years. Well honey I guess the cat is out of the bag, you can no longer say you're 29...

Back to the stress...most folks look at vacation as a break from the daily grind; a time to refresh both the mind and soul from the headaches we call work. It doesn't matter if you flip hamburgers or perform brain surgery, EVERYONE needs a break and looks forward to that time away. I think that there should be a scheduled time off called "pre-vacation" so that the chaotic headaches that you put yourself through just to make up for the time you are going to miss while you are gone..melt away, just before you leave for your break so you can actually enjoy your time off.
Although we haven't taken many "vacations" in the past, this trip to India is leading up to be a big one.

If you know of any A-type personalities you can imagine the detailed lists that they make in their daily lives - to do lists for everything from groceries to timetables to getting out birthday cards. Everything is well documented on a little handwritten daily planner that is sitting beside my computer. Well, I'm married to an A-type personality and you would "think" that planning for a trip would be a piece of cake; for the most part, that is entirely true. Passport photos - check, immunizations - check, getting the mail stopped - check, packing for trip - Hold On There...You mean I have to "pack" for this trip? I think you might see the problem here... It doesn't matter if it's an overnight retreat to a weekend getaway. I searched about this and believe the "technical" term for this is
sarcinaphobia but don't quote me on that, I haven't found a support group yet for fear of packing.

It could be a male\female thing with packing. Most guys I know could throw a few shirts and socks into a paperbag and say they were ready for a week long trip. Forget your underwear...you have pants right? Ok, that was too much information right? When I think about packing I focus on the fun we are going to have and not if my socks match. Now I can fully appreciate the different "needs" of sexes when packing and can empathize with the hardships women face in all the things they utilize on a daily basis. You have just got to chuckle when you see a woman who has it so together in all other aspects of her life - stress when it comes to packing! Now don't get me wrong, she has lists of things she needs to pack and take along and knows what to do. She even borrowed 3 extra suitcases in the event one may fit better...but the task of getting it done - PLEASE!!! What if??? I think you get the picture...

Relax honey, I'm sure the girls will share some clothes with you...Love your paperbag carrying husband. :)

Friday, November 19, 2010


It has been said that you can pick your friends but not your family. An old adage that tries to minimize some of the stress that can come from dealings with your family I guess. So just who is #IN00096 and what is this post all about? A little background history might be in order.

We have all seen the commercials on television that plead for $XX amount per month you can help feed and sponsor a child. What had started out as "prank" in my sophomore year at college where some "friends" put my name in for a sponsorship - actually got my feet to the fire in this gig. We would have parties to raise money for (and I'm sure I will get the spelling wrong) Werachi Moon Tung Sook of Thailand and instead of the meager $20 month we would often send 3-4 times that amount. Ok, so that was how many years ago???

So fast forward to 2008; we are at church and the message had something to do with global impact and sponsorship of children. "Hey, remember that kid I used to sponsor in college...we should do that again." Sandy and I both looked at each other and knew this was something we could easily do. Outside in the gallery area of Westside Family Church they had tables set up with hundreds of kids of all ages from Thailand, South Africa and India. Walking among the tables and looking at all the photos it's a bit daunting to decide how you choose one child over another. Which country? Boy or Girl? All the questions stopped when I saw #IN0096.

I go back to that first line...You can pick your friends but not your family...Well this is one instance that I knew it was something more than me that made the decision about Venkatesh, Koda our new sponsor child in India. Although he was already 7 years old when the photo was taken, I felt that I had known him since birth. So the paperwork is done and the monthly support begins; a few letters and photo's come showing progress in school and typical likes of an then 8 year old child. Life seemed a little more normal for us - if that sounds weird I don't know how to explain it other than it's another step in this journey of finding purpose and living life.

I did have the great fortune of visiting Venkatesh this past January at the One Life Children's Home in India. It was a pretty amazing few days that I got to spend there with him and hundreds like him. Well that is about all for now. Just another piece of the puzzle that you are getting to learn more about me. Have a great day and don't be afraid to let the people around you how much they mean to you...

Thursday, November 18, 2010


So someone asks you why..."Why would you travel 10,000 miles to visit orphans?" That would be a tough question to answer if you were just looking at this as a vacation getaway. If you were thinking about exotic locations and sitting back and enjoying a tropical rum drink, India is probably the last place that you might choose. While there are many places that are very beautiful to visit; the place we are going to is probably not considered one of them...at least for external beauty.

One Life Children's Home located in the Visak district in Andrha Pradesh, India is our destination for 11 days this coming December...actually in 29 days and counting. Things in the United States seem so easy to fix, throw a little money at a problem and it's gone from our minds, at least temporarily. So why not just pony up and spend some cold hard cash and just make way for something else?

The main purpose of this trip besides getting to spend some great time with some deserving kids is for the opportunity to change. Change not so much for them, or change for change sake alone but rather what happens to ME and those who go along on these trips. You can't stop the change that happens within yourself but you hope that the revelations you have will continue when you get back so that you can put them to use in your current life.

I won't get too deep or evangelical at this point; but I would say that if you have never gone on a mission trip because you think you don't have any skills or calling to go; you are missing a very special part of your life that you may never known that you could have. People from all walks of life, young and old, professionals and laborers, go and make a difference in lives. I hope you see something here in both mine and ours (my family) that may encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Have a great day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A New Life...Introduction

This blog will be a 10,000 mile journey, not only to visit some great kids and friends over at the One Life Children's home in Tunai, India...but to gain insight on who I am and what is the God given purpose in life that I'm destined to follow.

Wow...if that first line isn't enough to lull you to mediocrity I don't know what is! The real function of this will be journal my travels and share some of the experiences we have as our travels 1/2 way around the world during the busiest consumer driven spending spree - Christmas!

My family includes my wonderful wife Sandy, whom I've been fortunate enough to have been married for 26 and counting years. Two daughters, Sara - a recent KU graduate and Christie - a Mill Valley HS senior. You couldn't ask for a better family...yes we all have issues but what family doesn't? In the end, I feel more than lucky.

Well that's it for the first post. There will be some dry wit, meandering thoughts, biblical references, and sharing of some pretty cool things. Sound interesting??? I hope you join us!