Being thankful, Day #30

I have saved for my last 'Being thankful' post, to express thanks for my Beloved bride.  I still remember the day that we met twenty one years ago.  Neither of us where supposed to be where we were.  I had a last minute invite to travel to see a friends baptism and when i arrived i had been informed that i had been set up on a blind date and would meet her at the nearby home coming college football game, she was supposed to be on a camping/canoe trip.  My blind date was her roommate, and since my (then future) beloved had nothing else to do, ended up being at the game to hang out.

We spent that afternoon, the three of us, discussing the sovereignty of God.  I think i may have watched 3 plays of the entire game.  After the game my date and i went out to dinner with a slew of other students, and then to the dance - which, i don't dance.  The whole Christian Student Union crowd hung out though, and afterwards we all went out to Denny's.  I ordered a hot fudge sundae, she ordered french fries with Ranch dressing (admittedly, i didn't learn about the Ranch Dressing part until later).  I only remember two people being there, my (then future) Beloved and her friend who had led her to Christ.  After Denny's we traveled out to a nearby historic park.  We wandered around in various small groups.  I left and headed back home, clueless as usual.

Three days later, i am standing on a ladder, holding up and cleaning a house's gutters because that was my job as a Carpenter's Apprentice that day, when a little light bulb  lit up right over my head.  You know, a real AH HA! moment.  I distinctly remember the Holy Spirit asking me, "where you paying attention back there"?  When i got home that night i called my friend who lived out where she was going to school and asked him to get her telephone number (this was back before e-mail was very wide spread).  He said he would get it for me and get back to me.

Three weeks later! he finally gets back to me.  I learned later that she was MAD at me for asking for her for her telephone number - which he had asked her for, the day after i had asked him - and then never calling her!  I am still not sure what took him so long to get the number to me.  Well, i called her immediately following and made arrangements to head up to meet her again that weekend.

I didn't see her until Sunday services, she was wearing a beautiful white dress with blue flowers, and her hair was on fire in the sunlight.  We went to a Ponderosa (i know, big spender here) and we chatted.  After we hung out with a married couple who she was friends with and also were leaders in CSU.  She invited me to go to her five year High School reunion Thanksgiving weekend, ironically, it would be one year before our wedding. I don't remember much about that first date other than we spent the evening with her friend from High School.

The next six months where a whirlwind.  I introduced her to my singles bible study friends, she introduced me to all of her friends, and we to each others parents. I checked in to the National Guard's tuition assistance, etc. and proposed on her the day she graduated from college - although, by then, she had already known i would.

For over twenty years now, she has endured sixteen years of me being in the Army National Guard, my quirks and short comings.  Not every moment, well, sometimes for a few weeks, things have not always been the most pleasant, but i know there is not one second i would trade or discard.  I truly feel lost when she is not around.  In so many ways she truly completes me.  I love her, and she loves me... and what better life could one hope for?


Being thankful, Day #29

I am not sure what to write about today.  It's not that i have run out of things to be thankful for... i am just not sure which one to write about... the first thing that comes to mind is my enjoyment of running.  I know, non-runners tend to think of those who do run as crazy - i think my beloved is one of the former. I've invited her to come running with me,or just come along with me on a bike.  She has turned me down on each occasion - so far. :P tongue

I have no idea how, or why, but i have enjoyed running for as long as i can remember.  While living with my father and step mother in Brooklyn, my dad took up running and thought it would be a great idea to take my step mother, my brother, and me with him out running in the unrighteous hours of the morning.  I complained (i'm pretty sure), but i remember liking it somewhat.  It didn't last long though. Running is primarily a mental sport.  Speed while running is mostly about putting the feet down and pushing at faster cycles, but when the muscles begin to burn it is about pushing through and keeping the legs moving. Granted, my childhood was spent more outdoors.  I rode my bike everywhere, and spent a lot of time playing 'Maulball', etc., but i never played football or soccer, or any other form of organized sports activity.  I remember getting a wild hair up my nose one day, to race my school bus from the first bus stop, to mine - which was the last one of a route that was like a giant letter C.  A check of Google Maps, and a little bit of estimating, the route was about 1.25 miles.  I have no idea how long it took me to run it, etc. but i just remember racing the bus and enjoying it.  When i reached the 9th grade, i went out for the Cross Country team, but before i could get too far along with it, my family up and moved - twice, between the end of the 8th and beginning of 9th grade.  When the dust finally started to settle heading in to the 10th grade (after moving another six more times, yes you have read that correctly, between the end of my 8th grade, and the start of me entering the 10th i moved a total of eight times), i gave it another try.

I am not sure if the coach was trying to discourage me, or what, but the first day of practice the team ran twelve miles!  Then we ran eight sets of hills, then eight sets of wind sprints.  Looking back, I am amazed that i didn't quit!  I was the slowest member of my team.  My only goals were to be in the top 50% of whatever field of runners we were running against.  If memory serves, i was successful in this goal, but the one goal i never achieved, was to break the 20:00 mark.  My best time ever was 20:03.  I dropped out of the team just before they went to the state championships.  I remember feeling like i didn't belong and like i hadn't earned a spot on the team.  My last name is abbreviated in the yearbook's team picture that year.  I did something pretty similar the next year.  While still in the team picture, my name was omitted entirely that time.

After dropping out of High School and joining the National Guard i got back in to running.  At Basic training we were divided up in to three groups of runners for PT.  Slow, medium, and fast.  I made the 'fast group' by a slim margin.  Man that sucked the first few days.  Then i made a boneheaded choice.  Each group had four road guards,their job was to run on the outside ranks, two to the front, and two to the rear.  When the group approached an intersection they would sprint up to the intersection, stop and then stop traffic until the other road guard caught them, or the group had passed.  Well, one of the road guards hurt his knee and i offered to relieve him of this duty until he healed.  He never took the vest back.  I ran the two mile course at the end in 12:39.  Not a stellar pace, but not shabby.

Since then, my running 'career' has been spotty at best.  I am trying to get back in to running regularly, but it has been hard.  I have been hindered by age, weight, and family life.  I am going to continue to try and carve out time, because i know that once i get back in to the habit, i will love it like i once did.  Besides... if my father, who is over 70 years old can do it... i can too!  /:) raised eyebrows


Being thankful, Day #28

I once was asked, "when you hear the word 'Church Steeple', what do you see in your mind"?  I thought this an odd question, i see a church steeple.  Doesn't everyone?  Apparently not.  This was, and to a large part still is, perplexing to me.  I cannot think of concepts, or ideas, in words.  My communication comes to a complete stop.  In many ways this has been extremely helpful to me in my line of work.  

I work in IT, but not 'on computers'.  I work on the part of the IT industry that helps a computer in Springfield, anywhere USA, to servers or webpages, anywhere else that is not in the next room.  As i try and prepare myself to pass some industry certifications and recall the information later when working on various tasks - if i were to try and regurgitate the info i read on a page, i would get hopelessly lost.  But, when i get the chance, i can usually pull the processes up in my mind, like a movie image.  I see the packets enter an interface, get handled by the card buffers, get moved to the system backplane, get dealt with by the system's internal systems, moved on to the exiting interface and dealt with the outgoing queues and buffers, etc. and on through the path from receipt to delivery.  I even have the ideas of the upper protocols and how they are encapsulated within the packets the systems are handling.  This presents problems for me in studying and taking tests.  Why?  Because a large part of the information is contained in book form.  Any time i read large quantities of information, it only takes a few minutes until the words on the page and the ideas in my brain are blurring and the concepts.  This happens when taking the test as well.  I will read the information for the question, and then get flustered as i read the potential answers.  I actually do better (i think) with essay like questions.

Today, i am thankful for how i am 'hardwired'.  It is very much a part of who i am, quirks and all.


Being thankful, Day #27

I was a little stumbled on what to write about.  It can be pretty hard to come up with something for 30 consecutive entries.  Some may have noticed i have not had an entry for my Beloved yet.  That is by design... i am saving her for last. :)  Like i always tell my kids when they eat, pace yourselves and save your favorite part for last.  That way the last memory you have of the meal will be of that deliciousness. :)

Anyway, today i wanted to write about how thankful i am for being creative.  Well, at least somewhat.  I enjoy writing, and i enjoy sketching.  But in neither case am i able to just create something out of 'thin air'.  I have to have a base of some understanding, or vision of the object.  For example, my sketches are only of things i can see in front of me, either a picture of the item, or the object itself.  My writing is similar, i have often tried to create a setting up in my own mind, but it is very two dimensional, not very deep, thus my stories are based in genres and settings i am already familiar with.  Still, i am grateful for the ability to be creative.  In some very small degree it reflects an aspect of the Creator.  After all, we are made in His image, and to be able to reflect anything of Him is glorious to me.


Being thankful, Day #26

Looking back over a lot of 'Being Thankful' entries, there is not a lot of substance to them.  In truth, there is little anyone can really take through life.  Each breath is a gift, everything else is a bonus.  Enjoy what you have, no matter what it is, but you should also be willing to let it go in a moments notice if the need was great enough.  Do not sacrifice the essential, for the trivial.  "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." (Jim Elliot)  So, a quick note that, while i am truly thankful for each of the things i have posted, they are not all of the same importance to me.

Today, i am thankful for the Carolina Panthers.  My mother was, and my father is, a huge Washington Redskins fan.  My first memories of American Football was of the Washington Redskins.  I grew up with the likes of Sonny Jergensen, Sam Huff, Art Monk, Joe Gibbs, and many other names that escape me right now.  My mother was IN to watching the Redskins, and it sometimes got pretty intense.
Carolina Panthers' Jonathan Stewart (28) runs as Denver Broncos' Mike Adams (20) pursues during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
(AP Photo/Bob Leverone) *

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/11/11/3659041/panthers-vs-broncos-111112.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy
  My dad is a much more subdued observer of the games, but when they lose, you can see it affect him some.  Well, around when i got married i came to the realization that the only reason i was a Redskins fan was that my parents were fans, and i was pretty much only a half hearted one.  Well, when the NFL announced the expansion of two new teams, i decided right there and then, that i would follow which ever team ended up in the NFC, for no other reason than the Redskins were in the NFC, and the AFC were just a bunch of pretenders anyway. (joke btw)  I didn't even know the cities that would be given a team, or even what the potential team names would be, but when Charlotte was awarded the team for the NFC, and the team name was the Panthers (basically a melanistic color variant of any of several species of larger cat) - man, it just fit.  I still remember the quizzical looks, and my father not understanding, but i was determined to 'make them my own' - insofar as me claiming a team to be a fan of.

That first season, my father took me to the first meeting between the Washington Redskins and the Carolina Panthers The 'Skins still played at RFK then, it was Christmas Eve, 1995.  My dad scored seats just a few rows up in the endzone!  The Panthers lost that game 17-20.  I didn't have any Panthers gear except an old fashion pennant like deal.  But each time the Panthers scored i waved and shook it, and i was fortunate enough to see each score in the endzone right in front of me.  I still have the ticket stub.  It was cold, it was loud, but my dad took me, on Christmas eve, to see his son's favorite team play against his favorite team.  It was pretty cool, and will always be a great memory of mine.

* Picture used from the Charlotte Observer's website; Carolina Panthers' Jonathan Stewart (28) runs as Denver Broncos' Mike Adams (20) pursues during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone) - used without permission

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/11/11/3659041/panthers-vs-broncos-111112.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy


Being thankful, Day #25

When i first started this series of thankfulness, i wanted it to help me get back in to blogging some, even if it's just a little bit every day.  I set out and listed thirty different things i was thankful for and figured i would just pick one a day, mostly at random, and blog a blurb.  It has been pretty helpful for when i have been stuck, and while i will not have something for everyday when this month is over, i think i will do a similar thing to what i am doing for my Fallout 3 Wastelander's Journal where i jot down a few bullet items and then take time to flash each point out.  Not sure.  Anyway...

Today i am thankful for modern medicine.  For one, i wear glasses, and without them, i might as well be blind.  I can barely read a page a few inches from my face.  These glasses give me the ability to see and read, and do things.  Dentistry, i have shattered (yes, more than just a chip) at least 3 of my teeth.  Without dentistry i would look like the old prisoner in the dungeon with Aladdin.  And then there is the overall skills of research, etc.  It is amazing to thing that only one hundred years ago the flu could be fatal.  Today, the are skills to see in to the brain, in to the heart, where ever a problem might be.  I personally have survived serious head injuries, broken bones that have been set so they could heal properly, an appendix removed, infections of the blood, etc. that not all that long ago, i would have been dead multiple times over.  I know that the availability of these miracles of science are not universal throughout the world, and i am not all that happy about it.  There are a lot of factors in this, but i am proud to be a citizen of a nation that reaches out to help when disaster strikes.  I am not going to even try and outline the why's and wherefore's of the geopolitical and geoeconomic disparity.  The human body is an amazing machine in and of itself, but the abilities of the doctors of today is also mind blowing.


Being thankful, Day #24

My first introduction to the Tolkien-like elves was when i was in High School.  I was a new kid, but got invited to play Dungeons and Dragons.  The first time i played i had never even heard of an Elf or a Dwarf, let alone Lord of the Rings.  As a matter a fact, i was just a social oddity and not the proud geek writing before you today.

My first impression was one of mystery.  Dwarves came across as gruff, grumpy, and loved Beer - no, nope.  Gnomes, please.  Halflings, well, they seemed small, timid.  Orcs (well, players could play a half-breed version), were uncouth, rude, and barbaric. Elves on the other hand came across as elegant, sleek, stealthy.  My new friends tolerated the tons of questions i threw at them.  Eventually the 'threw' Tolkien back at me and encouraged me to read it.  Being my slothful self, i didn't (not yet anyway).  I continued to ask questions about them, etc.  Then as my interests drifted to other games, etc. i tried other slants, other races, but with only a few exceptions, i found myself always coming back to play elves.

Since then, i have continued to read about various 'incarnations' of Elves - almost exclusively of the Tolkien-like variety.  Fairies and sprites type 'elves' interest me very little.  I am thankful for elves because of their longevity, their apparent immortality, their love of music and desire to study whatever catches their fancy with complete focus, and when they have learned all they desire on that subject they look for something else.  And i like their desire to be a peaceful race (in general), but if it comes to it, they are capable of defending themselves and their friends admirably.

All of this is fantasy of course, but just like most of the heroes of old, they are but legend, flights of fancy.  I am thankful that Elves lift my thoughts above the drudgery of the mundane and give me something to aspire to, if nothing more than an in a general sort of way because, obviously, i will ever yet be human.


Being thankful, Day #23

When i married my beloved around twenty years ago, cell phones where big bulky things, with very limited accessibility for the average Joe.  Today, there is practically one for every man, woman, and child, in the United States.  And not just simple 'reach out and touch someone' deals, today's phones can surf the internet, navigate to a distant relatives house, make and check flight/hotel reservations, accept payments for contractors, pay for things, play movies, stream music, and even contain multiple books or magazines to read, almost anything one might want to do entertainment wise.

While i struggle with keeping the space between really loving this tool, and that is exactly what it is, and interacting with the real people around me, i am thankful for these little devices.  In many ways they have opened up the world to me, and made my life easier.


Being thankful, Day #22

I am doing my thankfulness blogs several days in advance, but i know this one will be posted on Thanksgiving Day.  In the United States this holiday traces its roots back to when the Anglo Saxon settlers shared a fall meal with their Native American hosts, to give thanks for the help the Indians provided in farming crops and how to survive in this new land.  They had successful fled religious persecution and they had survived.  Unfortunately things did not stay cordial between the flood of new settlers from Europe and their hosts.  But, i am not thankful for what happened to those who lived in what is the United States first, but for my salvation.  I cannot adequately express, in the extremely few words i have here, all that this entails.  So, instead i will share some verses from the Bible:
    For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)
If He had not reached out to touch me, just as Jesus reached out and healed the leper in Matthew 8:3... i truly shudder to think. 


Being thankful, Day #21

This may sound unusual, but today i am thankful for a warm bed to sleep in.  Last night (at the time i am actually writing this) it came to my mind.  Now, like a lot of married men i sleep in a bed covered in a heavy blanket, which normally makes me feel like i am encased in a nuclear reactor most of the time.  I guess this is fair, because when my beloved and i bought this bed i picked the firmest mattress i could.  You know the kind that is just a shade softer than sleeping on a slate of granite.  Well, lately - ironically enough - this has been causing us both back and neck issues. Hahaha - anyway, i digress.

Having spent twenty two years in the combat arms, i spent a fair number of nights sleeping out under the stars (a fact a lot of Navy and Air Force coworkers delight in comparing on many an occasion), and one thing i learned early - and this really sounds counter intuitive - was that you need to get out of as much excess clothing before slipping in to that sleeping bag.  Why?  Because, if you sweat and it's cold outside... it's over.  There will be NO way to get warm again.  Well... ever stand outside in your boxers in single digit weather, only to slip in to a cold sleeping bag?  Not likely, unless you are also in the Army or Marines, or homeless.  Well, it is a stark contrast between the cold outside those blankets, and the warmth under them.  I am thankful for the home i have, and that i do not have to shiver to get warm, just to go to sleep at night.


Being thankful, Day #20

I know the foundations of the internet were laid back in the 1960's, but it really blossomed into the gargantuan information super highway it is today during the mid '90's.  I know there are a lot of things out there that a 'good Christian boy' should avoid, and to be honest - i've not always done a very good job at it, but it has really become an invaluable tool.  Not a day goes by that i am not researching something on it, or just listening to music on it.

I have made friends that i have never met in real life.  I have had a chance to talk to people from other cultures, other faiths, that i could never afford to go to in person.  It has allowed me to enjoy music that i enjoy anywhere i go.  It

Think about it.  Today it carries shopping orders, carries music and television.  Information on most any subject can be found (but should always be verified) on the "web".  While it can be a time-hog, the internet is going to go down in history as one of the world changing inventions like the lightbulb and internal combustion engine.  I am thankful for the internet because it is a foundation of my career, and it is an excellent resource for both my personal and business life - even if it is a contributor to my ADD.


Being thankful, Day #19

Music has long been a balm to my well being.  To my emotionally, to my general well being, and to my soul.  At a young age i remember listening to it in the background of doing other things.  My mother would often play Neil Diamond or some other such record when she was home.  She also had a Country and a Bluegrass phase.  For the times i was with her in the pubs i remember a lot of Country and a lot of what is considered 'Classic Rock' - which today seems to have a steady rate of appreciation.  I had a long time interest in the band KISS, which i no longer seem to appreciate nearly as much.  I also enjoyed Leonard Skynard, Poison, Guns and Roses, Billy Joel, (all not nearly as much as my brother did).  I tried Country myself for a while.  I enjoyed it, but it didn't stick.  Then the '90's came and i was pretty much left behind in the 'Pop' music scene.  By then i was pretty involved in church, etc. and while 'secular' music was never shunned or discouraged, i just didn't have a taste for it.  At that time i really enjoyed the praise and worship songs being played at the church i was going to.

My tastes are pretty much all over the place now, but i prefer instrumental pieces over those with lyrics.  If it has a violin and a flute it will almost always be enjoyed by myself.  I also like piano and bag pipes. :)

Today, i am thankful for the gift of music.  When i listen to it, it just helps me cope with the noise of the world.