Thursday, December 30, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This entry is for Leela. We were sitting at the kitchen table a few days ago. She was looking glum. I asked her what was the matter. She said, she was worried that the kids weren't having a good Christmas. I said, Christmas is three weeks away!

She shared with me about how growing up she remembered doing so many fun things all December long. I looked at her and said, what do you think we've been doing?

So this, Leela, is your quick reminder of just a few of the wonderfully fun things we have been doing all December long.

We started out with the annual viewing of Christmas Vacation. Here are our hosts, Eddie and Catherine.

We were Todd and Margot.

The next weekend we had our marathon of Christmas Parties, Mistletoe Half Marathons, Parades, and IHOP (see my post from like two posts ago).

Then we got our Christmas Tree, put up decorations, lights...our house is the best one on the block, if I do say so myself.

Then you took our girl to the Nutcracker.

The next day you decorated a gigantic gingerbread man.

(It looked better than it tasted)

Don't you forget how Anna Rose turned her entire room into a Nativity scene during her "nap" time. It might be the only Nativity in history with a dinosaur!

Do you still think our family is not in the Christmas spirit?

Are you for serious? Here's one more picture for proof:

The yearly photo with the big man himself! Another classic. Leela, I hope you're satisfied. It's been the most wonderful time of the year.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Covert Op - Plaza de La Bandera - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Some people dream about Mount Everest. Others about eating a hot dog in every Major League Stadium. I dream of genie. Just kidding. I'm not kidding about Scott Steele, though. He's my climbing buddy and one of my best friends. He dreamed about the Plaza de La Bandera. Check him out as he pulls it off. You're awesome, Scott.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Depending on Definition

If you ask me, we had a GREAT weekend. If you ask my wife, well, let's just say you'd get a different answer.

It started off with a bang. Literally, Lia was in a car accident. She was ok. (Of course, the bad husband that I am, my first question was "Was it your fault?"...boy do I have a lot to learn) It led to a stressful few hours, but it also led to some of the best connections Lia has ever had with some of the folks from our church. See, the moment we got home, we had to jump in the unblemished Jeep to go to a church Christmas Party.

They party was a lot of fun, and the vulnerability that comes with being made vulnerable led to really meaningful conversation. Afterwards, we came home. Slept. I woke up at 5:55 to get ready for the Mistletoe half-marathon. Lia woke up a bit later. We got ready, stretched, got the kids up, the sitter came, we ran. We both did great. Lia broke 2 hours! I ran a 1:23! Don't think I'll do that ever again. After I finished, I ran to the car, relieved the babysitter, put the kids in the car, and drove back to the finish line. Found Lia. We hung out at the after party. Anna Rose cried at a near encounter with Bolt, the mascot for the Winston-Salem Dash. We had to leave before the awards were dished out.

We fed the kids. It snowed! Anna Rose and I ran outside to catch snowflakes on our tongues. The sitter came back. Lia and I went to the Wake Forest basketball game. We won! We came home. Anna Rose and I ran a few errands. Then, we all put on every bit of clothing we possess and went to the Christmas Parade down 4th Street. It was sleeting, but it stopped just as we parked. We watched the parade with friends then went to IHOP for breakfast for dinner. The kids stayed up way past their bedtime. We finally got them asleep. We followed shortly thereafter.

We got up. Went to church. I had to go early for worship practice. Then to Starbucks to interview a couple who were joining the church. Lia cooked food for a party later that afternoon. Then to the service. Then afterward, straight to the Young Life Christmas Party. I ate a healthy portion of Lia's awesome Mexican lasagna. The kids entertained everyone. We got back in the car. Went home. I folded laundry. Went for a run. The kids went for a nap. We tidied. The kids got up. We went to church for a congregational chili cookoff/meeting. It went well. We came home. Got the kids to bed.

Lia and I sat on the couch. I said, "Wasn't that weekend amazing!"

Lia said, "I can handle a weekend like this, maybe once a year."

I said, "What? I could do this weekend every day!"

God help Lia.

This has been a big discovery for me over the last year: my definition of good is WAY different than Lia's. A good day for me is activity, lots of it, the more significant, meaningful things, even if they are hard, even really hard, that you can pack in the better. Lia's definition on the other hand is peace. A good day is a stress free day, one when what you expect to get done gets done and nothing unexpected happens. To me that sounds like a boring day. To Lia, my good day feels like torture.

The discovery's made me rethink some things. Like, when I ask someone how they are doing: they might say fine. But that depends on what their definition of fine is. That's the real question I need to get answered. I'm learning that there are words and there are meanings. I believe we are called to understand - that means knowing not what is said but what is meant. It's a challenge. I mean, it's really hard sometimes...isn't that great!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

My Worst Nightmare and the Blessing in Disguise

On Monday, last Monday, I met with my mentor, Fil. I confessed to him that I was tired. "What kind of tired?" he asked. "Physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, you name it," I said. He said, "Sure you are. But what kind of tired?" "What do you mean?" I asked. "Well," he said, "is it fatigue? Or are you burned out?" "A little bit of both," I said.

He quoted me these words from my man JC: "Are you tired? (Yes) Worn out? (Yes) Burned out on religion? (You bet) Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest."

"I like that verse," I said, :all but the last part. What I need from JC is some more energy. Something to get me motivated."

"Do you ever rest, Ned?" Fil asked.

"Not on purpose," I said. "I mean, I'll watch some football on the weekends if I can't think of something better to do."

We continued to talk. Fil continued to expose my rest aversion. To him, rest sounded essential. To me, it sounded like a waste of time. He encouraged me to practice resting. Take a portion of each day and intentionally stop and do nothing of particular value (other than the value that there is in stopping). I said, "I'll think about it."

I didn't.

It was Thanksgiving after all. We traveled to Columbus, Tuesday night. The next day, I asked Lia if she minded if I got some work done in the morning. Afterward, I hung out with the kids, got them down for their naps. Ran. Read. Did my emails. Talked with my mother in-law. Picked up Chad from the airport, and so on.

Thanksgiving Day. Lia and I ran in the Columbus Turkey Trot. Got in a marital spat. Went for a long walk with my father in-law to talk it out. Ate lunch. Made up. Played some ping pong. Played with the kids. Talked to the relatives. Talked to my parents, sister, and so on. We ate Thanksgiving dinner. It was great.

the vultures were circling the carcass

At midnight, I started to hurl. I really don't know if it was food poisoning or a bug. It really doesn't matter. (Cara contracted the exact same thing. Only the two of us ate this suspicious ham for lunch earlier that day. Hmmm. Sue's theory is that since Cara and I are chock full of recessive genes (light hair, light eyes, left handed, etc.) that we are weaker creatures and therefore more susceptible to things like bugs and bad food. Thanks, Sue.) Anyway, I was vomiting up all my favorite foods. I thought I was going to die. Despite my mother in-laws theory, I don't get sick like this very often. (When I do, everyone knows it. See past entries.) All I know was that I was out for the count. Midnight to 6am was a blur between bouts of my favorite foods coming out both ends.

My worst nightmare: no, not the sickness. I could deal (barely) with the sickness. What was going through my mind was that I'll never be able to eat turkey, stuffing, gravy, mash potatoes, spinach casserole, and corn pudding ever again. That's serious.

It finally subsided. From 6-noon. I was laid out in bed. The whole family minus me went shopping. I didn't move. Then, around 10 o'clock, it hit me: I'm resting.

Now, I'm not theologically savvy enough to know whether it was somebody's germs, my man JC or my own stupidity that got me sick (I can't speak for Cara); what I do know is that I was forced to stop. And I didn't like it. But it was good.

All this to say, I'm learning. I'm not ready to jump on the Restful bandwagon just yet, but I'm starting to think those Sabbath-loving, nap-taking, kick-off-your-shoes yahoos might not be as crazy I think they are.

Here are a few photos from the holiday...