Friday, December 14, 2012

Nick's Chaplain Blog: "J.D.B."

Here's another installment that Nick wrote for the Chaplain blog:

November 12, 2012 ~ "J.D.B."

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.”
 ~ Jack Handey

I remember one time, my youngest brother thought it would be clever to carve his initials, “J.D.B.” into the wet concrete in our neighbors freshly-poured driveway. Probably what you expect from a 13 year old! He and his buddy thought it would be funny, but what he did was selfish. He wasn’t thinking of the impact it might have on someone else, just did it for a good laugh. Maybe your kids have done something similar? Maybe you have a similar memory from your days?

There was much punishment involved (including paying for the repairs and also, writing the neighbors initials in sharpie on the face of his iPod…my parents were painfully clever!), but one in particular that I’ll never forget. My dad made him wear other people’s shoes for a month. If they were going to someone’s house, he would ask them to let Jacob wear their shoes while they were there.

Dad called me on the way to Arkansas one day and asked Val and I to set out some shoes for my brother while they visited over the weekend. I watched him walk around in my wife’s shoes…which was quite entertaining…but those expereiences were also eye-opening for him. I asked him what he had learned from the experience and he said, “I guess I was so wrapped up in my own little world that I forgot that people are affected by things I say and do. It makes you wonder where these shoes have been - how my words and actions might affect someone.”

Now he has certainly grown out of that stage of life, and is an incredible young man, but there is certainly something I think we can all take away from this.

"The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues."
 ~ Proverbs 17:27-28 (NIV)

Sometimes I think we would do good to walk in someone else’s shoes for a while. How often do we say and do things to people without even a thought of how it might affect them? Are we more concerned about putting other people down so we feel better about ourselves, or are we adding value to their lives?

I found this poem a few months back and I’ll leave you with this thought: What kind of trails do you leave?

“Every person has the power to make others happy.

Some do it simply by entering a room
others by leaving the room.

Some individuals leave trails of gloom;
others, trails of joy.

Some leave trails of hate and bitterness;
others, trails of love and harmony.

Some leave trails of cynicism and pessimism;
others trails of faith and optimism.

Some leave trails of criticism and resignation;
others trails of gratitude and hope.

What kind of trails do you leave?”
 ~ William Arthur Ward

Click here to read his past posts:
"A Discerning Heart"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Train Fun

Last weekend we hit up the Christmas Train in Dry Gulch, OK (just northeast of Tulsa).  Let me tell you, it was awesome!!  I loved it!  I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but it was so fun and probably a new annual Christmas tradition.  I had seen Nick's Aunt Jennifer post something about it last year on facebook and missed the window to get tickets.  Just a heads up, these tickets sell like hotcakes!  They go on sale early in November and usually sell out within 24 hours!  Seriously - it's that popular.  So what is it, you ask? It is this entire Christmas village slash western town that a church built.  I think they may use it as a summer camp in the summer and then in the winter they put on this Christmas Train event.  They had several restaurants, lights everywhere, a puppet show, a western show, Santa's palace, arcades, a carousel, fudge shop, coffee shop, bakery, fire pits all throughout, a ropes course, and more!  A few things were extra purchases on top of the ticket price (only $10), but for the most part, it included a lot of stuff.  My parents drove down and met us, Tyler, Robyn and Jack.  I think the boys loved it and the mommies loved it even more.  haha.  The main event is the ride on the train (which is an old fashioned engine).  It takes you on a ride and you hear about the story of the Bible.

We spent the entire evening there and didn't even do everything.  It was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it.  The place was decorated from head to toe, volunteers were everywhere in full costume (there had to be hundreds of volunteers there to pull this off), it was very well organized, everyone was so friendly, they even considered having a stroller check-in for families riding the train, I mean it was seriously great.  The weather was perfect too.  Not necessarily Christmas-y weather, but it was cool enough to enjoy a coffee while walking around, but also warm enough to not even really need a jacket.  Check it out next year if you can!

Waiting for the cute puppet show to start.

Here is the train station.

And the only picture I snapped of the train.

Caleb waiting in line for the train with Aunt Robyn.

I just love this pic of Caleb & Jack.  Waiting for the train to arrive.

All aboard!

After the train, we rode the carousel.  So much fun.

Robyn & Jack.

We wore this boy out!

And side note: we picked out and put up our tree the night before the Christmas Train.  Here are my big strong men.  :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Nick's Chaplain Blog: "A Discerning Heart"

November 5, 2012 ~ "A Discerning Heart"

“Run after God with all your heart. Then follow your heart.” ~ Bill Noffke

Do you remember the Magic 8 Ball when you were growing up? Hopefully you have stopped using it to make decisions...but wasn't it so cool then? You could pose any question, shake it, and it would give you the guaranteed right answer…which meant that you could keep shaking it until it gave you the answer you wanted! For example, “Should I ask this girl to the dance…(Shake)... ‘Reply hazy, try again’…(Shake again)… ‘Don’t count on it’…(Shake harder)… ‘Outlook not so good’…(Shake violently)…”My sources say no’… (Throw it across the room)…’Signs point to Yes’… AHA!! YES! I knew it!!”

My wife and I have made some major decisions in the last 3 years: We have moved twice, bought a house, bought a truck, changed jobs, had a child, bought a puppy, started eating a chicken a day (and you should too), and changed churches.

Stop for a moment and reflect on these two thoughts:
What decisions and choices have you made in the past 3 years?
How did you know it was the best decision for you and/or your family?

As a country we have a big decision to make Tuesday, Election Day. We have heard every angle of why we should vote for who, and now it’s time to make our choices. For many of you though, there are other choices that are before you as well.

I was asked to be one of the speakers for the Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace Conference this past week at the University of Arkansas. I attended a presentation held by the Spiritual Care Directors for Ascension Health, and she spoke on the topic of “Daily Discernment” and I want to share a few things that I took away from it.

The discernment process is one that engages your spirituality, intellect, imagination, intuition and our beliefs. It is decision-making that reaches into the heart of our beliefs about God, creation, others and ourselves. It therefore requires structured time for reflection and prayer from the beginning and throughout the process. Such prayer and reflection could include, but is not limited to the following considerations:

Am I willing to look at all the choices before me?
What would God have me do in this situation? In these circumstances?
Am I willing to listen reverently?
Am I willing to name and let go of my fears?
How does this decision help to serve others better?
How does this issue relate to my personal/company values and/or mission statement?
Am I willing to step outside my preconceived plan?
Am I willing to prefer the will of God over my own?
How is God speaking through events and people?
Am I willing to trust God?

I want to encourage you to not only use this discernment process on the big life-changing decisions, but make it a habit of coming to God with the seemingly small choices too.

What decisions and choices are in front of you this week?
How are you going to find time for reflecting on these decisions?
What would it be like if you devoted the remainder of 2012 to using this discernment process in every decision you make, both personally and professionally?

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
~ Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

Click here to read his past posts:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chicago Trip: Days 6-7 - Wedding Rehearsal & Wedding Final Wrap Up

The entire reason for our trip to Chicago was my sweet friend, Jenny's, wedding.  I had the honor of being a bridesmaid and had so much fun being reunited with my sweet friends.  The wedding was on Sunday, so on Friday night, we had the bachelorette party at Jenny & Nathan's new home.  Her sisters did a great job of putting the party together and we played some games, ate yummy food and had a small devotion (where I talked for a few minutes - I just had a shaky voice and my body shook from head to toe because I am bad at giving talks, ha).  It was so fun to spend special time with these ladies.  I miss them and our reunions are getting fewer and farther between!

On Saturday, a majority of the bridal party met at Giordano's for some more Chicago style deep dish pizza.  Yum!  Then, I think we all just went back to our hotel rooms and took naps and got ready for the rehearsal which was later that night.

We had a great rehearsal and then had dinner at a delicious restaurant (great job Nathan! - supposedly he picked it out himself, including the menu).

Me, Amber & Em (who we found out on the trip got engaged earlier in the month! Another friend reunion in July!)

Here's what Caleb and Nick were up to while we were rehearsing:

The beautiful bride with her mom.

Jenny's sisters, the MOHs

Enjoying some rest before the rehearsal and dinner, hanging out with a belly full of pizza.

Wedding Day!!  It was such a beautiful wedding and Jenny looked stunning.  It all came together just perfectly and was a great day!  So happy for Jenny & Nathan!

The reception was at a country club and we were allowed to get ready there and then headed over to the church for the ceremony.  

Me and the beautiful bride.

Jenny & Nancy

Jenny & Nathan didn't see each other before the ceremony, but the photographer wanted to get a picture of them holding hands around this wall divider.  It was cute.

Me and Em!  The next bride-to-be!!

The girls. (minus Jenny & Lacey - we missed you Lacey - she was busy having a baby!)

Here's my little man all snazzed up for the wedding.  Didn't my hubby do a great job?

I just love this little guy.  :)

There are more photos by the photographer, Brittany Bekas.  It was such a great weekend and a beautiful wedding.  Congratulations Jenny & Nathan!!!  Thank you for letting me be a part of your day!!

We stayed the night at the hotel after the wedding and then headed out early in the morning for the long drive to Arkansas.  Thanks to a portable DVD player, books, and the new Buzz & Woody friends, we were golden.  :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Chicago Trip: Day 5 - Baseball game, Cardinals vs. Cubs & A Bachelorette Party

Day 5 was probably Nick's favorite day.  We were graciously given tickets to the Cubs-Cardinals baseball game and fulfilled a life long dream for my sweet husband.  And Caleb is a big baseball fan, hence the baseball party. 

We went early to get to watch some of the batting practice and warm-up, and to try to get some autographs.  

Before the game, we went right down by the dugout and watched them warm up.

Mark McGuire...

and Yadi...

and the coach Mike Mahoney...

and Matt Holliday...

I thought these little boys were so cute to watch.  I'm sure this was probably a once in a lifetime memory they will never forget.  The players were all pretty good about making sure they stopped and signed some autographs for these little ones.

Here is Nick's favorite, David Freese.

This is Nick and Caleb getting Skip Schumaker's autograph.  Pretty cool.

And getting coach, Mike Matheny's autograph.  Funny story: Coach wrote something that looked like a verse reference and Nick asked what it was and Matheny said, "Uh, it's a Bible verse." and looked at Nick like duh - haven't you ever heard of a Bible?  haha.  Nick was really trying to ask which verse it was, but it wasn't quite understood.  He wanted to say, "Wait!  I'm a Chaplain!  I know what a Bible verse is!"  But it was too late.  I was cracking up.

While we were waiting for chances to get autographs, we unfortunately ran out of gummy snacks and little man wasn't a happy camper.  But he did snuggle for a quick second and so we caught it on camera.

And this is Adrian Chambers signing our baseball...

and this guy too... (sorry! can't remember his name!)

We had a lot of fun making this family memory.  It started to rain and get cold, but luckily we were under the overhang and stayed dry!

Little man finally gave in to sleep.

Had to break out Peekaboo Barn for a little bit.

The people behind us were so sweet and came prepared for the cold front that swept in.  They let Caleb borrow some gloves and he had a blast giving everyone "the claw" and roaring like a bear.  

After the game, we headed west of Chicago and I went to my friend's bachelorette part while the guys hung out at the hotel.