Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Time of Thanksgiving

      This Thanksgiving has been a very special day for us.  always have so much for which to thank the Lord, but this year has been special in many different ways.  As I reminisced over the last eleven months, I realized that we as a family have seen God at work in so many different ways.  We saw our boys take the next step in their faith by asking to be baptized.We thank the Lord and praise him for his work in their lives.  Then we saw him at work again as he turned a seeming disaster into good when our car needed major repairs.  We were able to purchase a new Honda CRV which has been better on gas and should give us a reliable car for years to come.  Then we were struck again by  major expenses to fix a large section of the back of our house which I felt we could not afford.  The Lord provided the funds and the person to complete the repairs.  Again we saw God's hand at work in Tess's schooling as she continues to work towards her degree in nursing.  We have seen God's hand at work in our family as he has allowed us another year of safety and health.  Finally, God has brought our family together this fall providing an opportunity for our boys to meet their grandparents from the Philippines for the first time in many years, in Matthew's case the first time ever.  These are just a few of the many things for which I am thankful.  To make a comprehensive list would be virtually impossible, but for all these blessings and many more, I say "Thank you, Lord!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Turning Our Words Back on Us!

     Sometimes kids come up with little pearls that can be both true and extremely humorous.  My wife has been studying nursing which is a rigorous program with basic requirements that are being raised almost every semester, probably due to a glut in the profession right now.  A passing grade right now is an 80%.  For someone who wants and has had a 3.7 average through her prerequisites, getting a B is now a struggle, so we hear quite a bit at home about her struggles.  The other day my sons' grades at school when we noticed a significant drop in my younger son's grades due to negligence in regards to his homework.  On the other hand, my older son had noticeably improved his grades.  My wife, in an attempt to encourage our younger son, said,  "Everett, you can do so much better.  You need to get your grades up like Matthew has his." Matthew very seriously joined in and said, "Yes, and Mommy, you should too." My wife and I looked at each other and could not help it.  We both burst into laughter, enjoying the moment.  Had he not been so serious when he said that, it would not have been so funny.  Sometimes our children can turn our words against us without really meaning to do that.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Birthday Party Highs and Lows

     For my son, Matthew, on his eleventh birthday the uppermost photo reveals one of the highs of his birthday party.  He received the book, Fuzzy Mud, which he desperately wanted after reading Holes, a book written by the same author, Louis Sachar.  He has really gotten into reading lately, a development which has both Mom and Dad thrilled.  A high and a low came shortly thereafter during a birthday game concocted by his uncle.  Starting with a full-sized brown paper shopping bag, each contestant had to bend over with one leg and both arms in the air and pick up the bag between his/her teeth.  After each round, a layer of approximately two inches was cut off.  Not realizing his limitations at the age of 35, Matthew's uncle bravely attempted to pick the bag up from about three inches off the floor, resulting in the low point of the party when he tumbled awkwardly to the floor just after the second photo was snapped.  For Matthew and one of his close friends, a high point was reached when they subsequently tied in the contest by managing to pick the bag up from the floor in the final round as seen in the third photo, giving them both a prize of $1.00.  This game proposed by his creative Uncle John added a whole new layer of entertainment and fun to his party.  I am sure Matthew will not soon forget his eleventh birthday party!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Forgiveness to the Extreme!

     At the age of ten, children tend to be very tender spiritually and open to spiritual insights.  The other night I was tucking my older son in after our evening devotions which dealt with forgiveness and we touched on some events which had transpired in his life recently involving forms of bullying. Matthew looked up at me and said very seriously, "Daddy, it would really be difficult to forgive someone who murdered me.  But I would have to forgive him because if I didn't, I would have to  live with it forever."  I did not bother to explain the obvious that if someone murdered him, he would not have a chance to forgive him.  Sometimes it is better to allow the child to internalize the idea that forgiveness is important, and when I refuse to forgive, I am actually hurting myself.  I am a firm believer in the power of forgiveness to cleanse hurts and repair relationships.   However, after I left his bedroom, my wife and I still had a good laugh.
      I just allowed my son to read this blog and asked him if he knew why Daddy got a good laugh out of that.  He was puzzled and replied "No."  I explained to him that if he had been murdered, then he would be dead, thus unable to forgive.  He looked at me and with no change of expression answered, "No, I was talking about you getting murdered." I was certain he said "me" when he mentioned getting murdered. Guess Daddy has to sharpen his hearing!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Out of the Mouth of a Child

     My youngest son just turned nine years of age last month.  This was his birthday cake which he thoroughly enjoyed.  At nine years old, he comes up with some really humorous comments without really meaning to be funny.  One evening at the dinner table, he was relating a story told to his class by the teacher that day at school.  In an attempt to impress upon her students the importance of compassion, she told them of an event that occurred in her life that week.  She had been out shopping and had stopped by a coffee shop when she noticed a woman who seemed very distraught.  Approaching the lady, she asked if she could be of any help.  This woman proceeded to tell her that her young daughter was afflicted by cancer.  His teacher  told the class how she prayed for the lady and her daughter in an attempt to comfort her.  As my son was narrating the story, he had a really funny blooper when he stated very seriously, "This lady's daughter had...I think it was...bra cancer." I chuckled, and my other son immediately spoke up and said "No, you mean breast cancer." Everett just brushed it off and completed his story, and to his teacher's credit, I know he internalized a lesson about compassion that day even if he did make a mistake while recounting the story.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Son's Scapegoat

     My son, Everett, who is now in the third grade, recently came home from school with this little hand drawn replica of how he pictures himself.  Proudly displaying this, he announced that this was he.  Lately, we have had a little problem with prompt obedience with him causing him to be the unhappy recipient of a couple of spankings.  Although we have been able to do less of this in the last year and a half, suddenly he has received a couple of well deserved spankings in the space of a few weeks.  After dinner the other night, he grinned up at me, chuckled a bit, and said, "Daddy, you do not need to spank me anymore."  Indicating his laminated picture mounted on a paint stick, he stated,  "You can just spank him instead."  Unfortunately, he  would later find out that the scapegoat concept does not work in our house.  Still, I had to give him credit for creative thinking!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Back to School


       My family is back to school again, all of  us.  Beginning her semester in MedSurge and Maternity and OB, my wife has already begun full bore.  It will be a busy semester for her at a time when her parents from the Philippines are coming to visit.  My sons are returning to Clinton Grace Brethren Christian School in the third and fifth grades.  They have gotten off to a good start and are enjoying themselves immensely.  My elder son has begun taking trumpet lessons which he is enjoying.  Once again I am in the high school library.  Since the beginning of the school year is when I get the most requests for laminating, I have been extremely busy. Added to that was the fact that I had to reload the printer on all of our computers in the library, and I have a large number of book donations to catalog.  However, the early part of the year is always a bit frenetic.  Things will slow down eventually.  Right now the challenge will be to develop a good routine with the boys here at home.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Son, I Am Sorry!

     Yesterday, I had an epiphany that hit me like a ton of bricks.  My sons and I were doing some yard work, pruning trees and pulling wild grape vines om some of our trees.  After working for some time together, my younger son became weary and sought refuge inside the house.  My elder son, however, continued to work alongside me throughout the afternoon, stopping to rest only when I went inside for a drink.  About five minutes after I returned to my work, my son rejoined me.  Time and again as we worked together, Matthew made comments such as "Daddy, this is the best day ever" and "This is so much fun."  I know that I was exhausted from pruning thick branches and using all my strength to haul heavy grape vines that were entangled in the from their grip upon the trees so I am sure he was exhausted too.When my wife called us in for dinner, I tried to get him to go in to clean up while I finished a couple of minor things in the yard.  He refused to go, wanting to stay with me until we were completely finished.  After dinner he came to me, looked up at me and asked if he could come to the school library with me on Monday to help me with some work in the library. "Ï get bored at home without you,"he said.   I realized that this little boy (not so little anymore) was just hungry for his daddy's complete attention.  I knew for a long time that he was close to me, but suddenly it struck me that at a time when peers are becoming more important to children than their parents, he was saying, "Daddy, I want to be with you."  It is so easy to become so involved with other things, we miss out on some of the most important things in life, like the needs of our children.  My son,, I owe you an apology.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer's End

     A summer that just flew by is now coming to an end.  Long trips punctuated by rather short periods at home have provided our family with an entertaining summer albeit somewhat tiring.  Starting with a lengthy trip to Florida to visit Disney World and ending with a short hop up to Frederick, Maryland for a day of fun with my sister-in-law and her family, this summer has been a memorable one.  Our trip to Disney was a whirlwind of activity with as much stuffed into it as possible, including visiting with old friends.  Despite high temperatures and high humidity, we enjoyed tremendously our time at Disney.  On our way home, we once again were reminded of how much we have the Lord to thank for safety while traveling when we came across an accident that closed four lanes of a highway in north Carolina for a half mile, totally destroying a tanker and two other vehicles including another truck by fire.  Praise the Lord we were not there at the time it happened.  We slept overnight at a nearby motel, and when we left the next morning, the road was nowhere near ready to be opened.
     Our next journey was to South Carolina to visit family.  We all had a great time together and enjoyed a picnic at Myrtle Beach.  The kids enjoyed the beach and the ocean waves and then enjoyed family time together swimming in a small outdoor pool and playing baseball outdoors.  Returning home, we soon were preparing to attend a concert featuring Hillsong United, Kari Jobe, Lauryn  Daigle, Passion, Jesus Culture and a couple of other groups.  My older son really enjoyed the concert, but it was a bit too long for my younger son.  Next we spent a day fishing for large mouth bass. Shortly after the concert and our fishing trip, we were packing up once again for another trip to my in-laws in Indiana and a visit to friends in Ohio.  The boys had a great time on the farm meeting new friends and helping with chores.  In Ohio, they met more new friends and enjoyed some archery, shooting hoops, jumping on the trampoline, riding on a four-wheeler and playing foosball.  Rounding out our summer was a day excursion to Frederick, Maryland, where the boys had great fun playing in the pool with their cousins and playing baseball.  My older son started the summer playing wiffle ball but has ended by spending some serious time developing his hitting with the hardball.  I think the boys will be ready to start back to school just to get some rest!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Making New Friends

     When we went out to Indiana last week, my boys were at a loss as to what to do with themselves at first; however, they soon became fast friends with my to sisters-in-law's neighbor's boys.   Since they knew the boys and their parents, we felt secure in our boys getting together with them.They started with a little game of baseball during which time they were very tentative at first.  By the end of the game they were already close, commenting on all the things they had in common.  After I had met and chatted at length with both parents, I felt secure enough to allow our boys to sleep out in a tent at their house that night.  It helped that we were able to connect through a mutual interest in home schooling.  As it turned out, the boys never did sleep outside but went inside after an hour.  By the time we left for Ohio, the boys had exchanged addresses with a promise to write each other.
     Upon arriving in Ohio, I discovered that my good friend from my college days with whom we were staying was going to babysit his son's four children.  Again, it did not take long before my boys were having a hilarious time with his grandchildren.  It was really nice observing the boys interacting so well with their latest friends.  They were truly disappointed when we had to leave.  Having made these new friends, my boys were able to feel really at home in both Indiana and Ohio. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Back to the Farm!

    Just returning from a week spent in part on the farm in Indiana, my sons are now recuperating from exhaustion.  A week spent with new friends in Indiana and Ohio along with many activities that they are not accustomed to left them weary and ready to return home.  While it may appear as though they spent much of their time riding around the farm, the exact opposite was really true.  They did have fun riding in the skid loader and then in the cart pulled by the lawn tractor, but most of the time they spent exploring around the farm and helping with some of the work.  The work was not hard, but it did keep them busy and they enjoyed it.  They helped with husking corn and feeding the husks to the heifers and then picking and snapping green beans.  Actually, they really enjoyed doing that with the adults.  We got around 19 quarts of sweet corn and approximately 25 quarts of green beans...enough to keep us busy for a while.  The beans were a Jade variety and were beautiful, 8 to 10 inches long and virtually unmarked.  We will also enjoy eating the vegetables this winter.  Meals on the farm are especially appetizing featuring fresh vegetables and delectable Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.   Of course, the boys always enjoy spending time with their aunts and uncle on the farm.  In the evening we all had great fun playing a game of scrabble.  In the morning the boys were able to find some friends with whom to play baseball.  Life on the farm is enticing to my boys.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Going Fishing

     What fun for a summer's day!  My boys have been begging me to take them fishing for a long time now.  Finally, their wish was granted when we went fishing with a wonderful couple from church.  We had a truly enjoyable time, spending two hours fishing and then going geo caching and taking in a small celebration at a colonial farm.  Above my two sons are pictured with their rods.  My wife, my older son and I all caught large mouth bass, my son catching two including the largest catch of the day.  Matthew's largest was sixteen inches long and three pounds.  He was thrilled with his success. My wife and I both hooked a large mouth about ten inches in length.  Unfortunately, my younger son caught no fish this time despite having an excellent cast.  He caught on extremely quickly.  Far from being discouraged, he focused on the good time he had. While fishing, we all were elated when a huge bald eagle wheeled in the sky above us before departing for parts unknown.  This day was one which has whetted our appetite for more fishing trips.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Future Missionary?

     Pictured above is my younger son, Everett at Myrtle Beach.  Everett is an interesting little boy with many endearing qualities.  He is not perfect, I would hasten to add.  At times he can be stubborn, headstrong and disobedient; however these traits are balanced with a desire to please, an extroverted personality and a strong sense of courtesy.  He generally tends to get along well with people of all ages and does want to help out.  While not the most athletic individual, he does persevere and is largely fearless.  That I fear may some time get him in trouble.  While we were here at the beach, he persisted in going into deeper water than he should have.  Though he is a good swimmer, he does not yet have the strength to overcome the power of the tides, and at times I had to go after him and pull him in.  That being said, I see many things in him that could eventually lead him to his goal of being a missionary on the mission field.  Expressing a strong desire to become a missionary, he has shown a real heart for the Lord and for people.  Recently he overheard my wife and me discussing an atrocity committed by ISIS.  He looked up at me and said, "Daddy, when I get big, I am going to be a missionary to ISIS.  I informed him that these people killed anyone trying to share the gospel with them.  He thought about that for a minute and then informed me that he would just wait until our soldiers captured them and then would share the gospel with them.  I am well aware that his goals could change over time; however, he does have a heart to share God's truth with others.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Family Fun

     Recently, our family vacationed in South Carolina with my wife's two sisters and their families.  While staying with my wife's sister and her family, our boys thoroughly enjoyed the time with their cousins and aunts and uncles.  Enjoying time in the pool with their cousins kept them engaged our first evening down in South Carolina.  The next day was a great day at Myrtle Beach where they had a fantastic time in the ocean after a tasty picnic lunch.  On the way back to my wife's sister's house, our boys and their cousin Steven, after an ice cream treat from McDonalds, fell into an exhausted sleep from which they would not rouse until arriving home.  The next day  the boys had a great time with the men playing wiffle ball in the back yard.  The fun would continue as Cousin Steven traveled back home with us to Maryland where he and my boys had wonderful fun playing together.  My boys love playing with their cousins.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Vacation in Myrtle Beach---Family Fun

      Last weekend we visited my brother and sister-in-law down in South Carolina for a few days.  While visiting, we went to Myrtle Beach for a day.  What a great excursion!  Wanting to be in a less crowded area, we went to a state park where we spent the day.  The weather was beautiful and the water was warm.   After the eight vicious shark attacks in North Carolina, we were a bit apprehensive, but fortunately, none showed up in our area.  We did stay a bit closer to the shore than we normally would have though.  My boys continued to venture farther out as the day wore on, and as the tide rolled in, we had some great waves to enjoy.  Matthew and Everett spent most of their time in the water although they also had great fun with their cousins, burying themselves in the sand as can be seen above.  Having great fun did not preclude exhaustion from setting in, and by the end of the day, Matthew, Everett and their little cousin Steven found our car a perfect place to get in a few zzz's as we drove the hour and a half back where we were staying.  It also gave us peace as we covered the miles back to my sister-in-law's house.  Shortened somewhat by my wife's doctor's appointment, this was still another great vacation for our family.

Proud of the Flag

     My wife became a naturalized citizen back in 2010 and has since always wanted me to buy her a shirt sporting the US flag.  When we were down in Florida, we were able to get a good buy on shirts for the family with the US flag on them.  She loves her country despite the fact that she violently disagrees with many of the decisions being made at high levels and enjoys showing her support by wearing a shirt with the flag.  Unfortunately for her, my boys could care less about making a fashion statement, so they are only in the photo to appease Mommy.  It is nice to know, however, that my wife is so supportive of her adopted country.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tooth Extraction

     My elder son, Matthew, pictured on the right in the red shirt has developed into a real Minecraft aficionado.  Discovering numerous books having to do with Minecraft online, he proceeded to buy as many as he could afford.  He gets only a tiny allowance and recently ran out of money to purchase more.  However, we do give him a dollar for every tooth he loses via the tooth fairy, a fairytale he sniffed out after the first time he received any money.
     Just yesterday he visited the dentist with his younger brother to have his teeth cleaned.  They took an x-ray, and the dentist told me that they would have to extract his two upper incisors because they were blocking his permanent teeth from coming down.  His mouth is a mess with teeth coming in at angles and some of his first teeth blocking them and not really loosening up.  These teeth seemed very firmly entrenched yet, so we made an appointment to have them both extracted on July 20th.  Now when it comes to anything causing pain such as pulling a tooth or getting a shot, Matthew almost becomes frantic, so he was a pretty unhappy camper going home.  To make all of this a little more palatable to him, I told him I would double the $1.00 and make it $2.00 per tooth when he had his teeth pulled.  That made him quite happy.
     Half an hour ago, he came to me and told me he had been able to get his fingernail under the edge of his tooth.  Five minutes later he came to me with a big grin to tell me I owed him $2.00.  I know that between now and July 20th he will do his utmost to earn his next $2.00 which I told him I would change to $5.00 since it would save the cost of extraction of his teeth.  Actually, I may just make it $10.00, but I don't want him to know that yet.  The best part of all this is that he now knows that having that tooth taken out by the dentist, if it comes to that, is not something to be dreaded.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Devotionals in Proverbs

     For the past month,our family has been reading from Proverbs for our devotional time.  What better source for wisdom for our times than the book of Proverbs.  However, there comes the time when Proverbs gets into some sticky things for little boys.  A firm believer in the fact that our children will be educated about these sticky issues either from the world's perspective or from God's perspective in the family, I proceeded to take these issues and deal with them head on.  Spending our time discussing the chapters we read, I gave as much description and present day examples as possible.  Many times our devotional times would extend for as much as an hour with the boys asking questions and making contributions, usually from a very limited perspective.
     One of these thorny issues was the issue of the immoral woman which Proverbs spends a great deal of time on in the early chapters. As I started reading one evening, my elder son said, "Daddy, your read this last night." I responded that I had read something similar the night before but this was different and pointed out how often Solomon under inspiration addresses this issue, indicating that this was something to be taken very seriously.  I then explained how falling into the trap posed by immorality on the part of men and women in their relationships could very easily destroy their lives. A couple of  weeks later we were watching a movie together about a musician who started out with a Christian perspective on life and very nearly ruined his life when he got caught up with another woman.  Upon seeing this, at one point I mentioned to my sons that this was a good example of what Solomon spoke of in the Proverbs.  My elder son said, "I hope he doesn't fall into her trap."  A few minutes later my younger son identified him taking that very subtle step closer and said, "Daddy, he's falling into her trap, isn't he?"   I was pleased that my boys were able to identify these actions as being those which could lead tremendous problems.  I just pray that my boys will remember these lessons as they grow and remain close to the Lord.
     Just a final disclaimer, I try to teach my sons their responsibility in all this.  I don't want this to sound as though I lay all the blame at the feet of women. On the contrary, I try to build women up in their eyes and am quick to point out bad actions on the part of men.  Men have their own responsibility, and in the case of the movie we watched, I felt extremely bad for the wife of the man involved, so please do not view this as a sexist issue.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Year of Transition

     The 2014-2015 school year was a year of transition for our family.  I returned to the work force as a school librarian, Tess moved into her initial semester as a nursing student, and the boys returned to the Christian school where I worked as the librarian.  Leaving early to take my wife to school and returning to the school where the boys and I spent our days meant early rising every morning and long days.  There were long evenings spent on homework whereas when they were home schooled, they were able to finish all their work during the day because there were no extras.  One day after school, the boys were in the library at the end of the school day when my younger son complained that he was tired.  Not hearing from him for some time, I went searching for him and found him curled up in the corner shelf under my library counter where I had been working sound asleep.  Another day he went to sleep on the carpet, and the janitor who had come in to sweep was going to just get a broom to sweep more quietly.  I assured him that my son would sleep right through the sound of the vacuum.  Somewhat disbelieving, he proceeded to vacuum, and to his utter amazement, my son slept through it all. We had to make many adjustments, but overall it was a good year and the boys are anticipating another year at school this fall.

A Public Confession of Faith



     This last Easter we had the privilege of watching our boys both get baptized as a public confession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Interestingly enough, both boys accepted the Lord while driving in the back seat of our car about two years apart, both during their fifth year.  Since they were only five years old, I never even mentioned baptism although the issue did come up from time to time in stories and teaching lessons.  However, I never suggested that they be baptized.  I wanted that to be a decision which would come from them when they were ready.  This must be a personal and voluntary decision.  In March of 2015, Everett broached the subject again in the car and asked if he could get baptized.  At that time, Matthew asked if he could be baptized too.  We assented after reviewing the meaning of baptism, and I contacted our pastor.  It just happened that the church was planning a baptismal service for Easter Sunday, April 1, 2015.  What a great feeling it was to observe our boys sharing their faith through public baptism on Easter Sunday!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Creating Memories

     Every year we attempt to take a special trip as a family to provide our boys with special memories and to broaden their horizons.  For this year's trip, we chose to visit friends in Florida while including five days at Disney World.  A great time was had by all despite oppressive heat and humidity.  One day the temperature reached a scorching 97 degrees.  The boys enjoyed all four Disney parks, especially the Indiana Jones show and the roller coasters, Splash Mountain, Mt. Everest, Thunder Mountain and Primeval World.  Even Tess enjoyed the roller coasters.  Enduring their Mom's wishes, the boys sat through shows such as Frozen, the Little Mermaid and Aladdin, enjoying themselves despite their evident distaste for anything feminine.  Riding out into the wilds on the Jungle Safari, the boys were fascinated and enthralled by the abundance of wildlife.  Equally captivating was the Festival of the Lion King.  All of us enjoyed Spaceship Earth and The Land in Epcot.  Everyone agreed that the vacation was great despite the long hours spent driving to and from Florida. . 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Intarsia: A Work of Art

     I visited a friend in Florida last week while introducing the family to Disney World.  We had a grand time, but one of the highlights of our trip was our stay with my good friends Fred and Lorrie Gerber.  While there we saw the most amazing projects of intarsia.  The Last Supper was probably 40" x 50"and was fantastic.  He buys different woods from all around the world to come up with the proper shades of color.  Then he cuts the pieces to size and fits them together as a puzzle.  Finally he coats the finished product with lacquer.  The eyes of the men were so tiny that when he cut them out, he had to use tape so he would not lose them.  The entire project took 450 hours of work.  Most amazing of all was the three dimensional look he was able to get in his work.  These were truly works of art.
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