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Month: October 2008

Note to file….

Note to file….

The BBC news bureau ran the following story yesterday. I just wanted to say:

Do not, I repeat, do not let this happen to you. 🙂

 

Man’s arm trapped in train toilet

 

TGV train

TGV toilets are equipped with a powerful suction system

 

A passenger on a French train had to be rescued by firemen after having his arm sucked down the on-board toilet.

The 26-year-old victim was trapped when he tried to fish out his mobile phone, which had fallen into the toilet bowl, and fell foul of the suction system.

The high-speed TGV train had to stop for two hours while firemen cut through the train’s pipework.

The man was carried away by emergency services, with the toilet still attached to his arm.

“He came out on a stretcher, with his hand still jammed in the toilet bowl, which they had to saw clean off,” said Benoit Gigou, a witness to the man’s plight.

The incident happened on Sunday evening, aboard a train travelling in western France between La Rochelle and Paris.

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Opposites

Opposites

So I’ve been thinking today….the opposite of comparison is perhaps contentment. The opposite of saying “if only I had” could be “look at my blessings”.

We talked about this at Bible Study tonight. It’s so interesting (I think) b/c in Philippians 4:11-13, Paul said…I have LEARNED (love it that it didn’t come naturally to him either) the secret to being content, whatever my situation.” And Paul’s “situation” at that time happened to be that he was in prison.

But do you know what the “secret” was? The secret he was referring to comes in verse 13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” To be honest, I always looked at that as almost a motivational type verse….like one that I quoted in the last 2 minutes of my run or something. But in reality, that verse provides the answer for how Paul could be content when he had plenty and when he did not….he relied on Christ to give him strength.

My sister emailed me today after reading something particularly sad and said “remind me to check myself next time I say I’m having a bad day.” Kind of like the man who had no shoes and complained until he met a man who had no feet.

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Questions…

Questions…

I used to spend a lot of time asking Bill questions. Questions that began with “how come” or “why can’t we”? Or sometimes I’d just state…”but everyone else is…”.

I really think there is more grey hair on his head because of my endless questions. Why? When? How?

But some months ago, I stumbled upon a quote by C.S. Lewis that has become almost a mantra for us. It’s so simple, but so true.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I don’t want to be robbed.

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It’s a small world after all….

It’s a small world after all….

I made a new friend this semester at HBU. He was, in every sense of the word, a passing acquaintance. I taught at 11:00 and he taught in the same room at 12:30. He’d come in every day as I was packing up and we’d discuss this and that. We discussed the political conventions at the beginning of the semester, we’d talk about who won which debate or sometimes he simply reminded me to log out of the computer. One day a a couple of weeks ago, he caught up with me after I’d left class. He was carrying my lipstick and a pen….both of which had fallen out of my purse. I joked with him that my husband would love it that I now had someone…besides him, carrying my lipstick.

My friend was just an all around nice man. Last Thursday I was wondering where Charles was as I hadn’t seen him Tuesday either. One of the students, perhaps picking up on my train of thought, asked rather trepidly….”you do know what happened to our professor, right?” “No, ” I replied….already fearing the answer. “He passed away yesterday after having a stroke.” NO! How could that be? He was in the middle of a semester! He was JUST here. He hadn’t voted yet!

But it was true, he was gone.

I started realizing that I really didn’t know that much about Charles. I didn’t know if he had a family, what had brought him to HBU, what he had done before, etc. Those were all things I hope we would have gotten to, had we had the time.

I looked up his obituary the next morning and his picture was staring right at me. The professor I shared the classroom with, was now on the pages of the Houston Chronicle. I wanted Bill to see this man I had been telling him about. When I showed him the picture, Bill immediately said….CHARLES BERESFORD?!? You taught with Charles Beresford?!? He died?!?

WHAT?!?, I asked him. You knew Charles? I thought he was my friend. Turns out Charles and Bill had served on a credit union board together several years ago. You see, Charles was an attorney for many large oil and gas organizations, including El Paso Corporation, where Bill works. Most noteably, he argued a case before the United States Supreme Court, and won. After winning his case he decided to retire and give teaching a try. He even went back to school and earned a masters degree on top of his legal degree. In January he was to go teach with the Christian Appalachian Project helping others receive their GED.

It suddenly seemed like there were so many things about him I never knew. And he would have loved that, in the 4th largest city in the U.S., he knew both Bill and I from totally different places….and yet we just never had the time to figure all that out. And maybe we never would have. Who knows.

Makes me wonder about all the things I don’t take the time to find out about the people I meet. Do I run off to the next thing without taking the time to truly find out how someone is doing? Do I really know the story of peoples lives or at least the parts they want to share? Am I too focused on myself that I don’t take the time for others that I should?

One of my friends, www.thedustbunnychronicles.blogspot.com, is currently fighting stage 3 non hodgkins lymphoma. She has a quote on the end of all her emails that reads….”Be kinder than necessary for everyone is fighting some kind of battle.”

I do want to be kinder. I do want to get to know people better. Because truly, when all is said and done, it really is a small world after all.

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A Time to Laugh

A Time to Laugh

Thanks to those of you who’ve asked where I’ve been the last few days.  The short answer is that I got a new computer.  I switched from a PC to a Macintosh.   I had heard how “easy” they were to figure out …. and well, I’m not sure what it says about me, but I didn’t think a lot of it was really that “easy”.  I’ve got most of the kinks worked out now but not without quite a bit of time spent working on it.

For example… the computer came with a free printer.  Great!  Hooked the computer up (actually Caroline did that) fine.  Got the printer out of the box but realized there was no USB cord.  I still don’t know what USB stands for but after calling the Mac help desk I realized it should stand for U Should’ve Bought.   Unfortunately, we didn’t realize we didn’t have the cord until 11:00 PM the night before Caroline had a paper due.   About 1:00 AM I learned how to import or export (not sure which….I was clicking any button that looked reasonable!) the file to an email.  I sent it to a good friend and said I’d be by on my carpool run in the morning to pick it up.  We found it packaged in a manilla envelope in her mailbox.   I told Caroline….”its great to have good friends” and off we went.

Then there was the issue of trying to put a link onto my blog.  I wanted you to see a youtube video that I thought was great.  I finally drove to the Apple store in the mall and declared at the help desk that I was a blogger and on my PC I could add links but on my Apple I could not.  They couldn’t have been any nicer but I know they were thinking….”this lady is WAY old.”  I’m not kidding, the average age of the workers was maybe 22 and they all knew a LOT about computers.  Anyway…. long story but currently my Mac can’t do youtube links on this blog.  So, I’ll have to do them when I hook back up my PC (which I thought I was giving to my kids).

This presents another problem b/c most of you may understand routers and things, but me, again, not so much (and sadly Bill admittedly doesn’t know that much either).  So that was another trip, this time to Best Buy to be helped by more 20 somethings who I’m sure were shocked at our lack of technological skills.

Any way, … we are slowly but surely getting up to speed on all this.  Still no USB cord, still no router and still no way to add the links… but hey, my computer does some other cool stuff that I’m sure I’ll enjoy once I learn how to use it.  The nice guys at the apple store said I can have 52 lessons for $79 plus $99 to transfer over everything from my old computer.  I’m starting to think the Amish may actually be onto something.  This stuff is hard and expensive!!!!

The clips I had wanted to post were actually taken at a dinner held in New York City last Thursday night.  It was the night after the third and final presidential debate.  Both candidates took the night off from debating and declared it was time to laugh.  And laugh they did and I laughed right along with both of them.  And it felt good.  Yes, the are concerns and frustrations all around, but every now and then you need to stop and take time to laugh.

The candidates were at the Alfred Smith charity banquet. They were helping to raise money for a cause other than themselves and were both great sports in the process.  They roasted each other, themselves and they made you grateful to live in a country where people from opposing parties can actually sit down (weeks before an election!) together and laugh.

I wish I could give you the link but if you go to www.youtube.com and type in McCain and Obama and dinner, you’ll find the videos.  Watch them both….they are both very funny….and I’m telling you….you will laugh and it will feel good.

Now if I can just remember to laugh next time I’m at the computer store with another one of my “issues”!

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Alarming!

Alarming!

My oldest daughter is growing up.  She is almost eye to eye with me and  today I told her I thought she had gotten even taller and prettier while she was at school.  We are heading straight for the teenage years at what seems like lightening speed and Bill and I comment often how we wish we could stop the clock even just for a while.

Tonight she called my cell phone and asked if she could make a corn dog.  Proud of her initiative at finding something to eat besides a fruit snack, I said sure.  A few minutes later she called back.  “Mom, the corn dogs rolled off the pan when I put them in.”  I started to walk her through putting on a oven mitt and retrieving them when she announced that she had already done that.  I guess she just wanted me to know.  I wished her well and hung up.

About a minute later she called again.  WHAT?!!  I was starting to get annoyed by the repeated calls.  Before I could get out hello….I heard it.  The fire alarm was going off.  (like mother, like daughter!)  She then asked hesitantly, “Uhm, mom… what do I do now?”

I told her to get out some paper and start fanning it in the direction of the alarm.  Sounding a little impressed at my fire safety skills she said “o.k.” and got to fanning the smoke away.

Not all the questions she is going to ask in her teenage years are going to be as easy as how to turn off a smoke alarm, but I hope and pray she’ll continue to ask me.

I’ll keep my cell phone charged.

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A City on the Coast

A City on the Coast

Due to the Columbus Day holiday, we had a Sunday afternoon without a single planned activity. This doesn’t happen very often and decided to take advantage of it by heading to Galveston to survey for ourselves the storm damage from Hurricane Ike.

I must say, in many ways, it was so much worse than I thought.  One of the first things we saw when coming over the causeway, were boats literally sitting in the median of the highway.  The boats were scattered everywhere, like toys strewn about a playroom.  Getting closer to downtown Galveston we began to see more and more devastation.

Whereas Houston had piles of yard debris, the people of Galveston had piles of life debris, stacked much taller than me in their front yards.  File cabinets full of files, pots and pans, vacuum cleaners, clothes… all now trash as the waters had poured over them, leaving them molded and mildewed and useless.  It actually felt much more like we were in a third world country than a short drive from the 4th largest city in the country.

I didn’t expect the beach to be much different, but it was actually gone.  The sand had swept across the road and out to sea, leaving the water splashing right up to the seawall.  There were homes and hotels where literally the entire wall was blown off and you could see inside to the beds in the room and the mirrors on the wall. The metal handrails that went alongside the stairs leading to the beach were twisted and lying on the ground.

When you looked around, you had to wonder… how will Galveston ever recover?  How will these people put their lives back together after so much devastation?  Will it ever look or be the same again?

There were spray painted signs across the city.  In front of one home was a sign that said “Shooting to kill.” (yikes!) Another made a sign that said “Just another day at the beach.”  But the one showing the most hope and the most fortitude was a sign in an abandoned storefront that read…”closed for now, but just like Galveston, we WILL be back.”

Not sure what storm, if any, is blowing through your life right now, but we too can hang out a sign of hope for all the world to see.  We can sing with assurance the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” that proclaims … “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”  Storms do pass and debris does get moved away.  And our hope remains forever.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

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Tunnel Vision

Tunnel Vision

We spent this Saturday….and virtually every Saturday in the fall, at various soccer fields around town. We have 3 children playing soccer right now and although they love to play, I’ve decided what they love more is the “tunnel” they get to run through when the game is over. Win or lose, the parents make two lines and form a tunnel with their arms for the players to run through. We cheer, call them out by name, yell “good game!” and the louder we yell, the faster they run.

I think there are a lot of adults, myself included, who could use some “tunnel” time or some tunnel people in their lives too. The kind of people who, no matter what, encourage us….they cheer for us and they call us out by name. And don’t you find that the more encouragement we get, the faster we can run, or the better or more happily we accomplish the tasks we are doing.

We should be deliberate encouragers. Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, and let us encourage one another.” Do you have a spouse that could use some encouragement, a family member, a friend? A card, phone call or visit may be just what they need. You never know when your words may be just what someone longs to hear.

Paul perhaps said it best in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 when he said….”Encourage one another and build each other up.” Look for ways you can do this over the next few days. Speak encouragement to your family and friends.

I heard someone say once….adults are just little kids in a grown up body. If that’s the case, throw up your arms and let someone run through your tunnel of encouragement!

I’ll see you on the field.

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Time

Time

My mom commented today that I hadn’t posted anything yesterday. I probably won’t get to it everyday, but I am going to try. When she asked me what I had been doing I told her about the last two days. We had some “unscheduled” fun.

Monday night Savannah had a headache and wasn’t feeling well so she stayed home from school on Tuesday. She went to HBU with me and was quite the ‘lil professor. She graded Scantrons, wrote on the whiteboards in my classroom and we had lunch in one of the dormitorys. I’m not sure she’ll feel this way in college but she thought the food was “sooo good.” We had the best time together walking around campus, talking about all kinds of stuff and just enjoying some one on one time.

Today Brittany got her braces off. She’ll be getting them again in middle school but this was still a big day and we went to Buffalo Grill for lunch to celebrate. The weather was absolutely perfect and we opted for outdoor dining. After lunch we decided to play hookie from school a bit longer and went to a nearby toy store. I rarely get the opportunity to go somewhere like that with a single child and when I do, I’m always intrigued by the things that peak their interest. We got a “celebratory” necklace there and then it was back to school.

As we pulled out into the road, we found ourselves behind a pick up truck carrying a life size 3 dimensional Elvis statue. I’m not kidding….the thing looked straight out of the Madame Trussard wax museum. It was hysterical. He was holding a real guitar and everything. Brittany commented…”We should tell dad that we saw Elvis and AND he’s wearing a seatbelt!” (“Elvis” was strapped in with what looked like seatbelts across him.) When they finally turned off the road we made the obligatory comment in a baritone voice…..”Elvis has left the road.”

And we laughed some more.

It was such a special, unplanned time – both days.

It reminded me of something I wrote 2 years ago. It was a time I wanted to remember to enjoy days….just like the last two. And I was glad I had made the time….

When You Have Time

Recently, my kindergartner had something she really wanted to show me. I was busy making dinner and kept putting her off. I was getting a bit frustrated with her insistence that I drop what I was doing and come…couldn’t she tell that if we were going to eat that night I needed to finish what I was doing? When I told her I was busy, she shrugged her shoulders and said “well let me know when you aren’t “too busy” and walked away.

Something about that exchange really poked a dagger in my heart. I realized I spend a lot of my time being “too busy” to listen to the very ones who I want to listen to most. It seems the demands of everything I have to do get in the way of the things I want to do too often.

Mark 10:13-14 showed Jesus’ very different response when he was faced with being “too busy.” Crowds of people were bringing their children to Him so that they could be touched by the Messiah. The disciples, knowing all that was on the “to do” list for the day, didn’t think He had time for the little ones. They probably felt they were correct in their assumption that he was “too busy” for the children or that they weren’t as important as the grownups.

Scripture tells us that Jesus didn’t like that response at all…in fact, it says he was indignant. He told the disciples “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” And he took those babies and toddlers and surely a few kindergartners into His arms “put his hands on them and blessed them.”

Oh to be more like Him! Lord, help me to remember what is most important. Do I really need to take that phone call right now or can I let it go so we can finish the game we are playing? Can some of those tasks I think must get done really wait until another day? Can’t I take the time to come see something “really cool” my children found in the backyard? And the next time I’m faced with being too busy to listen to the very ones He entrusted me with, I want to think of that long ago day when Jesus did take the time. Even if I can’t drop everything, surely I can stop, just as He did, and take the time to listen, to look into their eyes and touch them. I know the blessing will be theirs and mine. Help me Lord to not be “too busy.”

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