Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round ...

I hate days like this. The "inner me" wants to let someone else deal with the big decisions ... the "responsible adult" things of life. I just get settled into that whole paradigm and then reality smacks me and I remember, oh yeah, I am the responsible adult.

This simple fact should make all humanity very afraid.

I've made this well documented move to "The North Coast" of the United States better known as "The Great Lakes." In so doing I made many promises to my now distant family that dad and grandpa (both of those are little old me) will grab grandma (sorry, Debbie) and actively work at continuing to be very real and present parts of their lives. Ain't no way I'm going to let any grand child of mine grow up without knowing us all too well. (Out of the typical four grandparents I only knew one of them. My mom's mom lived until I was about 13. I have always kind of grieved never having had a grandfather. Therefore I will NOT allow that to happen to my kids kids. Nope. Not gonna happen.)

So over the past few days I've been taking stock of the situation and I realized that there was one very real threat to keeping my promise. Our "travel vehicle" was a 2004 Explorer with 91,000 miles on it. And it had this serious "THUNK" someplace in the drive train. So the question quickly became ... "would I allow Debbie to drive this vehicle the 375 miles to Chicago (Scott and Amanda) or the 530 miles to St. Louis (Kelli, Joe, Elle, Chris and Laura) without me?

Uhh. No.

So that is when I had to stop messing with the easy stuff, put on my big boy pants and do something. That means spending money and not having Debbie around to nod at me or shake her head when I do so. Well, the good news is that my totally rockin brother-in-law, Jim, (better known by me as "Skippy") works for Enterprise (he is the very capable manager of the huge rental branch at the St. Louis International Airport) and thus I get this nifty discount if I buy one of their used and hopefully very cared for rental cars. And that discount almost doubled over this particular holiday. So today I banged my head against the wall for about 5 hours as I cut a deal and kissed our beloved Explorer bye-bye. Alas, she has been replaced by a Burgundy Trail Blazer with a mere 12,000 miles on her. And she has raised white letters on her tires. Very cool. Debbie will be totally stylin in her. Of course, she hasn't actually SEEN this vehicle yet and so at the moment I'm hanging my spotless reputation and my own personal safety way out over the edge. (Sorry, honey.)

As my old friend Bill Shakespeare once wrote, "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?' What that means in auto replacement terms is ... ya gotta take your best shot. Should you just go on and worry about the safety of those riding inside because of the reliability ... or lack thereof ... of the vehicle in question, or should you "take arms" (aka: dollars) and do something about it? In the end I figured that if I lose the dollars I lose relatively little. If I lose a loved one I lose everything. Love trumps money every time.

I asked God for help on this particular issue. The question was simple. "Buy or don't buy?" After praying and listening and praying and listening I do believe He led me to a rather simple scripture. It's a part of Psalm 34 and it simply says this, "blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." What's that got to do with anything? It's really not tough to figure out.

Life throws hard decisions at us. So do this: Take refuge in God. Fear and love Him. Do that and you will lack nothing. He will take care of you. And when you have to make the tough call, do it with the best wisdom you can muster and then relax. Trust in your God. He will take care of the details.

I'm really glad about that. Left to my own devices I will fall flat every time. But I just love knowing that God checks my heart and when He finds it stayed on Him, He will honor my walk. He will bless my decisions.

Even when they make me queasy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Help Me! I've Got More Elle And I Can't Stop Myself!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Elle's Thanksgiving Solo

This was the best moment of a wonderful week. Elle ... you are the best granddaughter a man ever had...
Grandpa Ron

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Testosterone Kills

I have too much testosterone. Way too much. There has GOT to be a lever or a valve someplace to moderate this stuff.

Yesterday was "drive home day." Yes, I have officially declared northeast Ohio "home." Wasn't hard. The people are wonderful. The community is great. What's not to enjoy? Just get my bride here to my side and all will be well.

OK, I got off track. Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Yesterday I left B-town for the drive back to Sheffield Lake (aka: Cleveland for you Illinois/Missouri/other places readers.) The final tally was 538 miles. This time. Obviously it depends on the route you take and for some reason "Sophie The GPS" chooses a different route everytime I drive it. I'm not sure but I think there are some guys up there on the International Space Station messing with me. I can just hear it now...

"Hey Hank! He's leaving again! Quick, send a signal to Sophie. Tell her that this time we are going by way of Montana!"

"You got it, Bobby! Message sent!"

Maybe I'm paranoid but sometimes she wants me to go through Columbus. Sometimes through Lima. Yesterday she wanted to go northeast from Indianapolis through Toledo. So I just go the way I want and let Sophie fine tune my arrival. I can handle the main parts of the trip. It's navigating those final few miles into the Cleveland area that tends to sink my ship.

The last stop before hitting the highway for real was Qdobe in Edwardsville. A big part of our family was there and we stuffed ourselves on Mexican. I kissed them all goodbye and pointed east-ish. And I decided to just go. Fast. Get there. Fast. No time to be wasted on silly things like food, bathrooms, putting my eyes back into their sockets.

The final results? 538 miles. 8 hours and 18 minutes. My wheels were not turning a total of 16 minutes so I actually did it in 8 hours and 2 minutes drive time. That is 498 minutes. I do not know what that makes my average speed. I do know this.


By the time I got home my windshield wipers were waving wildly in front of my face ... and they were not turned on. The "straight line" I walked toward the front door of my apartment building probably appeared like I had been on a cheap drunk. I poured Visine over my entire face.

What is it that makes a typical somewhat normal middle aged American male turn into a total freak job to prove that he can beat his old record at driving from point "A" to point "B?" Nobody was here when I arrived! There was no stop watch to click. I was home and I felt like my eyes were black holes from the deepest parts of outer space.

There has to be a spiritual application here. For the life of me I can't find it. I think I am just confessing stupidity. And actually, that is not unheard of. Tonight at 5:58PM my cell phone rang. I was in the drive through of a local McDonalds waiting for my yummy gourmet cheeseburger. (Gourmet in this case means ... hold the pickle.) I answered to hear the voice of our worship leader, Pam, ask me if I am coming to church tonight. Dumb question. I assured her that I was and the inquired as to why she was asking. That's when she pointed out that the service would begin in two minutes.


I don't know why but I thought church starts at 6:30 on Sunday nights! I guess I confused it with Wednesday nights. Orrrr ... since I have been a member of 3 different churches in the last year AND I have recently changed time zones I might just have plain old wore my brain out and goofed up. To make matters worse, as I bolted out of the line (not before I got my cheeseburger) I got within half a mile of church only to get stopped for TEN INCREDIBLY LONG MINUTES by the slowest train ever to be placed on rails. I walked in during the last song before the pastor (aka: me) was to speak. The congregation looked at me politely (sarcastically?) and applauded. Ahhhhh. The warmth of home!

OK, so I guess this is just confession night. Tomorrow morning I will wake up ON TIME and go to the office for staff meeting. I will leave early enough to give myself at least 5 minutes to drive the one mile. I will walk in to no applause. I will sit at my desk and look official. I will say something intelligent. Under no circumstances will I drool.

Tomorrow is Monday. There is absolutely zero chance that I will be able to pull off anything that I told you I would in the previous paragraph.