Monday, July 30, 2007

First Camping Trip

Lia and I took Anna Rose on her first camping trip this weekend.
We were accompanied by our dear friends, Tim and Lindsay Musser and their one year old, Daisy. It was her first time, too. And I've done some relatively hair raising things in the outdoors, but few things felt more hard core than trying to survive through a night car camping with two one year olds.

But as it turned out, the girls did great, and us moms and dads actually managed a few hours of shut eye. It was a great first time. And instead of erasing the allure of taking the family backpacking, it has actually emboldened my dreams.

For instance, in September, Lia and I are planning on doing some hiking in Colorado. I'm now thinking about which fourteener I want to take Anna rose up first. Further, next summer, I am planning to join an expedition to Kilimanjaro. I had been working out a babysitter strategy, but now I am thinking we won't be needing one. Look out world! Here come the Ericksons! Ha!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cheap Sunglasses

I am a strong believer in buying cheap sunglasses. In fact, the cheaper they are the better. And not only because they are cheap. Or maybe for the sole reason they are cheap. I don't know. There is just something about them. Maybe it is the China in them. I don't know. But the thing that happens with cheap sunglasses is that they last forever. They stick to you. I bought a pair last weekend for a $1.99, and I have treated them like crap. I even left them in my parents car. And you know what, they are probably in the mail as I write this. Because the harsher you treat your cheap sunglasses the more loyal they become. I was given this pair of Pink Kim Possible Sunglasses from my friend Gary Oberg. He gave them to me because they fell out of the trash in his car. And three years later, I still have them. And if you know me, you have seen them. I have actually stopped wearing them lately because too many people have told me how cool they look. Speaking of looks, take a gander at how beautiful my wife is in her $12 knock offs. That's all she needs to spend to be smoking hot.
That stuff never happens with designer lenses. You put them in your pocket and before you know it, you have sat on them. Or you left them at the restaurant, but their gone when you go back. My mother-in-law left her cheap sunglasses at this restaurant last week. When she went back to retrieve them the next day, they were there. And the hostess lady said she fended off three others who wanted to steal them. 9 dollars! If they had been real designer lenses, the hostess would have kept them for herself. So trust me on this, stick to the cheapies. There are plenty of other things to splurge on. So the next time you buy sunglasses, buy cheap. You might never need another pair.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

the best way to watch fireworks

the Dash (Winston-Salem) is not the best place in the world to see fireworks. i wouldn't call the ones we saw lame, but i have seen better. though i have never seen them a better way...

it was a quarter past nine, and anna rose was in my arms as lia and i ascented the small hill at sherwood elementary school where the rest of winston-salem was. and the fireworks were going off with the booms and the fizz. and i laid this mexican blanket down. and as we sat i watched the fireworks in the very best way: through my daughters eyes.

facing away, it was the greatest position to watch them. and anna rose stood so still, leaning up against her mommy. and saying not a word. if you know my girl at all, you know she is a talker. but not this july 4th. she made no sound all night. from the moment i woke her to the moment i laid her down. she was wide eyed and closed mouth. and to her it was probably all just a dream. it was certainly so for me. as the booms and the lights sparkled in her eyes.

and then the finale. and her mouth finally opening. an awestruck moment of light and wonder. and my moment and my heart full of love. and gratitude.

it was her very first 4th. and it was the best one for me. at least it was the best way.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Group Studies - What Do You Want?

Icebreaker: Hear it, Smell it, Taste it, Touch it. Take three people out of the room; then, arrange four paper bags on a table. In the first bag, place a Nalgene of water; the next bag, an onion; the third, something edible; the fourth, a mouse (preferably white). Have the first person come in blindfolded. Explain that this is a race to identify what is in each bag. Each bag requires a different sense. Bag one, you hear; two, smell; three, taste; four, touch. When they understand, tell them, go! As they proceed, they should be successful, but they won’t be expecting a mouse at the end! You should get some hilarious reactions. But here is the kicker...

When the leader goes out for the last contestant, have somebody switch the last two bags so that the mouse is in the taste position. Supposedly the leader doesn’t know. Have the last contestant (who is also in on it) go through the bags. However, when he or she gets to the taste bag, she will reach in and grab a fake mouse (two marshmallows with a string strung through the middle) and stuff it in her mouth! If done right, the joke will be on the crowd! The secret is to double bag the mouse bag (the outer layer contains the fake marshmallow mouse). When the switcher makes the change, he folds over the inside bag, so when the contestant reaches in, she grabs the marshmallow mouse and quickly stuffs it in her mouth. The crowd will go nuts...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Group Studies - You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

Loneliness Quotes

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” Mother Teresa (future saint). Do you agree? Why is loneliness so bad?

“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence” Thomas Wolfe (writer). Do you believe everyone is lonely? Why or why not?

“Loneliness is the first thing which God’s eye named, not good.” John Milton (poet from back in the day). Why do you think God thinks loneliness is not good?

"No one would choose a friendless existence on condition of having all the other things in the world." Aristotle (philosper from back in the day). Do you agree? Why are friends the most valuable thing?

"the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started." Ernest Hemingway (writer). Why do you think people get lonely at night?

"When Christ said: "I was hungry and you fed me," he didn't mean only the hunger for bread and for food; he also meant the hunger to be loved. Jesus himself experienced this loneliness. He came amongst his own and his own received him not, and it hurt him then and it has kept on hurting him. The same hunger, the same loneliness, the same having no one to be accepted by and to be loved and wanted by. Every human being in that case resembles Christ in his loneliness; and that is the hardest part, that's real hunger." Mother Teresa (future saint). Do you really think that Jesus experienced loneliness? How could this be?

"The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us." Robert Louis Stevenson (writer). Do you think it is possible to be loved enough? Why or why not?

"Fame doesn't end loneliness. " Claire Danes (actress). If you were famous, do you think it would cure your loneliness? Does anything exist in the world that can cure loneliness?

"Loneliness seems to have become the great American disease." John Corry (journalist). How is loneliness like a disease? Do you agree with this statement?

Pigeon Feathers

“Though the experiment frightened him, he lifted his hands high into the darkness above his face and begged Christ to touch them. Not hard or long: the faintest, quickest grip would be final for a lifetime. His hands waited in the air, itself a substance, which seemed to move through his fingers, or was it the pressure of his pulse? He returned his hands to beneath the covers, uncertain if they had been touched or not. For would not Christ’s touch be infinitely gentle?” (Updike, John. “Pigeon Feathers,” The Early Stories 1953-1975. (Ballantine Books, New York, 2003). p20).

Group Studies - Over My Head

Icebreaker: Thermo Nuclear War. Give each person one water balloon. Explain the boundaries (they can be anywhere from a small 20’ x 20’ square, to a soccer field). The object is to be the last one with a water balloon. You are alive as long as you have a water balloon. However, if someone pegs you, and their water balloon explodes and you get wet, then you are out, and you must give your water balloon to them. If you go out of bounds you are out, and you must implode the water balloon upon yourself. If you throw your balloon and it explodes not hitting anyone, then you are out. If you throw your balloon and it does not explode, you can re-gather it and stay in the game. The last one standing wins.

Background Summary: JC finds out that his cousin John (the Baptist) just had his head chopped off for standing up for what was right. After it happens, John's buddies go find JC to tell him the sad news. And JC is clearly upset by it. All he wants is to go off and be by himself for awhile. And so he took some of his closest friends (the disciples) across the Sea of Galilee in a boat (probably from the west to the mountains on the east side) to get away from all the crowds and craziness that was always around him. (map)
The Sea of Galilee is about 60 miles from Jerusalem and at one time was 13 miles long and 8 miles wide at its greatest extent, although recent changes have reduced its length. Its surface is about 700 feet below sea level, and it is about 150 feet deep at its lowest point. The Jordan River flows through it, providing much of its water supply, there are springs in the lake floor. The fresh waters of the lake are clean, and they have always been well stocked with a variety of fish.

Several towns dotted its shores in NT times, but almost all of them (Bethsaida, Capernaum, Tiberias, etc.) stood on its northern and western shores because the eastern slopes rise more precipitously from the water. The sea was the highway for considerable traffic between Damascus and the Mediterranean, and the customhouse duties from which Christ took Matthew brought huge revenue. Hot springs along the western shore, especially at Tiberias, brought multitudes to be cured. The high hills surrounding the below sea-level water combined with abrupt temperature changes contributed to sudden and violent storms on the lake, as various NT passages indicate (Mark 4:35-41; 6:45-52; John 6:16-21).

It was on or around this lake that Jesus did many of His wonderful miracles. 18 of the 33 recorded miracles of Christ were probably done in the immediate neighborhood of the Sea of Galilee. In the city of Capernaum alone He performed 10 of these.

But the crowds find out where JC and the disciples are bearing. So they hoof it around the shoreline. It’s likely that this large crowd (estimated at over 10,000 people) traveled over ten miles by foot over some pretty rugged terrain. By the time JC and disciples land, the people are waiting for them, and the crowds is totally exhausted. And the Bible says that JC was so moved by their devotion that he healed those who were sick, taught them about God and then worked some crazy miracle where he fed all 10,000 of them with five loaves of bread and two fish. Somehow, there were leftovers. Pretty incredible. And then afterwards, JC tells the disciples, who were probably tired too, to get back in their boat and head back. JC stays behind and hangs out with the crowd awhile longer before they all head home, too. Finally, JC takes a deep breath and gets that peace and quiet, he had been wanting. Remember, he was upset about his cousin. And it is evening by now, and it says that JC hikes up to this mountainside and prays until really late. JC was a night owl it seems. The, instead of going to sleep, at the fourth watch (3 A.M.), JC does something really crazy: he walks across the water, on the water!