Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Remember...

as if it were yesterday, bringing this beautiful young woman home as a baby from Parkview Hospital in Toledo, Ohio, which no longer even exists and being scared to death having an infant in the car that I was now responsible for. Now look what she's gone and done, she's all grown up. Here's some of the proofs of Chelsea's senior pics recently taken by the wonderfully talented, Emily Smith, of Smith Gallery Photography. You can see more of her amazing work there and see some more of Chelsea's senior pic proofs on the Smith Gallery Blog here. Chelsea, you're a beautiful young woman. Emily, you did an amazing job capturing her beauty. I'm stunned. I can't wait to see the rest of the proofs. Any boys viewing this/her... HANDS OFF! :)

My Dad, Mom, and Lindsey embarked on their Prince Edward Island camping/travel adventure this past Saturday and both Dad and Linds have been blogging their trip. You can check out Dad's blog here at DickandBrigitteontheRoad or Lindsey's at Lindsissweet. They have some great pics from their trip so far as well.

Monday, July 28, 2008

For My Best Friend...

Jeremy, I know how heavy your heart is right now, and mine aches along for you and with you and your family. I don't know what else to do for you right now other than to let you know how much I love you, how deeply sad I am for you now, and that I will do anything you need of me during this difficult and uncertain time. Your dad, your family, and you have been, and will remain, in my prayers.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."
2 Corinthians 3 - 5

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
John 15: 12 & 13

We've been through and experienced so much together in the last 10 years. You've been there through my worst of times and still loved me through it. I am blessed beyond description by your friendship and would lay down my life for you my friend. I wish I could ease your heartache and pain. I love you my brother.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I've Been Meaning To Do This For Awhile...

A little parody on my online running pal, Marion's, post first marathon celebratory pic following her Myrtle Beach Marathon finish back in February. When she first posted this on her blog, Shut it and Run, I KNEW I just had to parody it. However, I don't pull off the pose with quite the poise/sultriness that she does. In fact, I just look like a big ole doofus! Not bad for a 41 year old doofus that ran a marathon with a broken leg in frozen tundra/monsoon conditions though. Heck, my car's not even as cool as her's! Sheesh! (going off to the corner to sulk in my doofiness)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trial Walk/Jog This Evening

I'm down in Columbus this week for work and in my down time, though there will not be a lot by my choice, I decided to bring my running shoes and clothes. When I got done working today, I got back to my hotel, turned on my Garmin to lock in while I changed clothes and laced up, and headed out for my first walk/jog since the marathon on April 13th. I went 6.25 miles, 3.5 of which I jogged, but not all in succession. I'm happy to report that I felt pretty well, other than being out of shape. No pain in the injury area at all. When I started out, I was feeling this fatigued sensation in my right shin above where my injury was which wigged me out a bit, but it went away. You can read about my first walk/jog back here from my log if you'd like.

I'm pretty stoked right now... and thankful.

Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive and encouraging during the last few months.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Live Like You Were Dyin'

My online running and blogging friend, Jim, has a great post on his blog about a book he and his wife and some neighbors are reading, "One Month to Live". You can read about it on his blog here.

I thought it was an awesome, eye-opening post. I've been contemplating a lot in the last year or so about living life with a sense of urgency. For me, that means investing more of myself... my love, my time, my compassion... in the lives of those I love and letting them know unequivocally how much I care for them and how important they are in my life. Investing in those relationships that God has so graciously, and abundantly, blessed me with. Making the phone call to a friend to see how they are doing when it's not convenient, putting off cutting the grass to get to the campground to enjoy some time with your family, not rushing off after completing an elderly woman's chores because they are checked off the list for the week now and I have *other things to do* because she cares more about the company and conversation afterwards than having her chores completed whether she would admit it or not, showing a hurting friend that you care for them and their sick parents, or not blowing off the neighbors coming to chat because you have *other things to do* and they're burning your daylight. For me, it's about being more intentional in the relationships that I have been blessed with. Perhaps that is why you've seen less blogging from me as well, though you all are important to me too and, as strange as it may be for some to believe, I have developed some pretty solid friendships through this medium.

You can read my response to Jim's post in the above link as well so, I'm not going to re-hash it here. Unfortunately, life is busy and getting busier. I pray that I never pass on a moment to tell a family member or friend how much I appreciate them and love them, have a conversation with a neighbor even when it's not convenient because I have *other things to do*, or come alongside a hurting friend any time they need because their parent is dying, because I would be missing out on a blessing for myself and squandering the most valuable asset the Lord has blessed me with... relationships.

So, I challenge you, as I have myself, to invest more in your relationships than your own selfish ambitions and try and live like you were dying...

Roughing It

So, when I mention on here that we will be camping, it's not really *roughing it* style camping. We have a lovely home on wheels that we are blessed to camp in. This week Tammy, the girls and I are taking a *working vacation*. We're camping out at Totem Pole Park, which is in Petersburg, MI, just 13 miles from our home. We'll go about the business of our lives during the day and convene at the campground in the afternoon/evening. The fire department I serve on will have a family picnic out there on Saturday at a swimming-friendly pond-side pavilion. Friends and family will be stopping by during the week too to visit or have dinner together. This morning I rode my bike back home to get my inspections in order for tomorrow and cut the grass at home, then I'll ride back to the campground. Twenty six miles round trip, ironically enough. Tammy drove back to work and drop Lindsey off at summer band this morning, then they'll come back this afternoon.

Here's our comfy home away from home at the campground last evening after getting set up.
And another shot from the other side.

Carsen making himself at home in our home away from home. Hey! Wait a minute! That's our bed! Bad dog! Tammy, waiting for me to quit playing camera-guy to go for a walk in the campground last evening before the girls came out and dinner. The mosquitoes are horrible, btw. Bummer.

The ever-lovely and talented, TLV, whipping up some camping viddles for the fam.

Chelsea had to work last night till 8 and Lindsey had basketball drills so, the two of them drove out after Chels got off work and cleaned up. Tammy and Chels playing *Speed* and Linds lovin' on Carsen. Not sure what the score was between the two of them. Tammy's pretty good at *Speed*. After that we started teaching the girls Euchre.

We hit the sack around 11 - 11:30. The girls were laughing it up in their bunk and shakin' the trailer, and being silly. I thought about telling them to knock it off, settle down, and get quiet so their mother could get to sleep, but the truth of the matter was... I wasn't annoyed by their carrying on whatsoever. It was nice to hear them goofing off together, laughing, and just being silly together as sisters. Thanks for that moment Lord. :)
Off to cut the grass now...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Injury Update

I went back to the doctor this past Tuesday, the 8th. He feels I am well enough to be out of the cam-walker - the sporty support boot I previously described - and am ok to do some cross-training type activities like biking, eliptical, and then gradually work myself into walking, walk jogging, and run walking, and eventually back to running as I feel I am able to progress through each. He felt confident that I would be able to do a shorter distance race in September, but not for a PR. If you read below, I did do some significant hiking in the mountains which I tolerated very well with no pain and little fatigue or ache in the evenings following. Last Sunday we were visiting with my long time friend, Greg, and his family in from Arkansas, at his parents' lake home and was being chased around the yard by his 3 nephews with water balloons. I did feel some pain in that running around so, I know that I am not yet ready for any kind of running. A couple of evenings ago I went out for a 10 mile bike ride, fairly strenuously (for me and my clunky Huffy *mountain bike*), which took about 45 minutes, and while my bum is calling me everything thing but a white man, the rest of my body has felt pretty good. I feel like I'm about 80% or better healed. I have some major psych-games going on in my head though in that, every tinge of anything I feel in my leg, I think my leg is hurt, but I don't think it really is that much anymore. Anyhow, there you have it... some significant progress. Yea!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Summer Vacation - With Pics :)

Well, it wasn't *my* summer vacation, but *our* summer vacation and 3rd annual one with the Gamble family. I had a great time last week on our trip down to the Gatlinburg, TN area and the Great Smoky Mountains and I think the rest of the family did as well.

We had a bizarre happening on the drive down, we're driving along I-75 south in Southern Ohio, about 3 hours into our journey, when this big ole Jethro-stye Dodge extended-super-extended-king-extended cab pickup truck pulls up alongside of us a honkin' and honkin' away with the occupants a hootin' and a hollerin' away at us and makin all kinds of ruckus! I thought we done run over their pet 'possum or sumptin' with all the fuss they was a makin'! I look over at the passenger in the frontof the "I'm a Man's Man pickup truck" and it's no other than our friend Tami Sue Evans and the rest of the Evans clan, big-daddyTroy Boy, Ben Bob, and Brandon Bob!

They were on their way down to Nashville for Ben Bob to go to a Christian *I'm A Rock Star* music camp so he could teach the pros a thing or two on a drum set. We ended up hookin' up with the Evans family, along with our co-vacationing friends, the Gamble family, and stopping at a Sonic in Georgetown, KY cause none of us had ever been to one. We see commercials for them ALL the time and all of us have wanted to go there, but oddly enough, we don't have a one of 'em anywheres near us! So the below pic is of all the giddy Michiganders at their first visit to a Sonic restaurant. Hey, we Michiganders get excited about simple things after a long, cold, snowy, hard winter! I loved the Cherry Limeade and the Black Raspberry Sprite. It was definitely a hit with the whole crew.
Below is a pic of our condo accomodations in Servierville, TN. The 3 bedroom and 2 bath condo was more than comfortable and served our 2 families well for the week.
It didn't take too long into our vacation before Tammy was doing her *Party Boy* dance on the coffee table in the living room of the condo. She was loose and ready for a good time. Editor's note: the editor joined her as well on the table for a rousing dance to Baby Bash featuring T-Pain's *Cyclone*, but the editor regrets he is unable to master the ability to dance on a coffee table with his hot wife and take pictures at the same. Notice the look that 8 year-old Rachel is giving the, *ahem*, mature dancers.
Monday we spent exploring Cade's Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Below is a pic of a grassy meadow and the mountains in the background. I just loved the natural beauty that surrounded us as you'll see more of below.
We were very fortunate to have seen several black bear while in the park that week and below is a pic of the first one that we saw in Cade's Cove. I was about 150 yards away from the bear. It was mulling around a lone, big oak tree in the middle of a grassy meadow when I got the pic. It had just been standing on it's rear legs looking up the tree right before I took the pic below. Not quick enough on the shutter button. The last bear we saw, which I was not able to get a pic of because I was driving, was a sow and her two cubs! How cool!
After exploring Cade's Cove on foot and by car, we went for a horseback ride through the mountains. It was awesome.

The pic below is of $5.00, or... 5 bucks. I know... lame. But hey, that's what they are. I was amazed by the number of deer we saw in the park, especially the number of bucks. Their antlers/horns - I forget which is which - were still in velvet. I bet Elvis would be jealous of the bucks in velvet.
Our second time around Cade's Cove we stopped at the trail to Abram Falls and I suckered everyone, including awesome 8 year-old Rachel, into taking the 5 mile round-trip trek back to the falls. This was no easy hike either as the terrain was tough, some steep, rocky inclines and declines, poor footing - just ask Kim and the flats she was wearing on her feet - and quite a distance. I felt it was well worth it for a view of the falls below.

Tammy, the girls, and I kicked around Gatlinburg for a day enjoying the tram to Ober Gatlinburg, riding the alpine slide, and browsing all the shops in town, and of course dining at Bennett's Barbeque. Below are pics of Tammy and I - sporting the ever-trendy plaid shorts that my loving family got me for Father's Day in the ever vain effort to keep me *hip*, Tammy and the girls, and the girls and I, on a bridge over a mountain stream in town.

Recognize Tammy's shirt below, Zoomy?

Beauties... with the beast.

Below is the lovely view of the mountains we had from our balcony.

What vacation would be complete without total restaurant gluttony? I, of course, speak for myself. The kids had a wonderful dinner at Corky's Barbeque one evening. I say the kids because the parents had eaten too late - and too much - a lunch at the Apple Barn Restaurant earlier that afternoon to eat an actual dinner that evening as well. Though we did have some sides and barbequed shrimp. Below Lindsey is enjoying a taste from her small rack of ribs.

And, how dare I take a pic of Chels while she's eating... or ever for that matter. Getting the evil parent eye from my beautiful daughter below. I love her anyway. She doesn't think so, she thinks I was just put here to ruin her life, but I really do love her... a lot! Even if I am *stupid*
Below is more natural beauty from the National Park. The picture below reminds me of some of the settings in "The Lord of the Rings" movies.

A mountain stream in the Greenbriar area of the park below.

A small mountain-side runoff flowing eventually to a mountain stream in the Roaring Fork trail area below.
I don't know what these flowers are, but found them to be very pretty nestled amongst all the surrounding greenery of the mountain-side.

We even saw some reptilian natural beauty. We were checking out some old homestead cabins and outbuildings along the Twin Creeks Trail when near 11 year-old Emily said she saw a snake move near some rocks. I went over and didn't see the snake she said she saw, but did discover this Copperhead snake on a rock above the area of Emily's spied snake - which I did see when I returned to the site a little later, it was an Eastern Rat snake which slithered quickly back under the rock it had re-emerged from.

We really had a wonderful time on vacation and also spent some great times swimming and hanging out by the pool and in the hot tub, playing ping pong and pool in the game room, riding go-carts, shopping, and eating... and eating, and eating... But, as well all know, all good things must come to an end. One last stunning mountain sunset view from our balcony.