Sunday, November 30, 2008

Some people....

Once in a while you hear about these people. You know them, they are the ones they make movies about.

I blogged yesterday about finally getting around to something I had been putting off. Today I bumped into a friends blog entry and it knocked my socks off! She did something last week that, through no choice of her own, she had put off for years.

I'm so proud of her that I'm going to send her a gift. But, shhhh...don't tell her when you leave a comment on her blog.

You can read about her amazing achievement here.

Some people...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Masterpiece

Let me show you what I've been working on for the past three weeks. It took a long time, but it is finished and I'm so proud of it.

No. Sorry, not the painting but hanging the painting on the wall, that was in the works for three weeks.

We got a 15 thousand dollar medical bill in the mail yesterday, which is a great way to see if what you said around the Thanksgiving table about being thankful was really true or not.

So this morning, instead of thinking about bills, I looked around for something that I could do to help me feel like I was doing something productive. And there it was...the painting done by my wife's great-grandfather Arne Berger. Arne came to the US in the early 1890s from Norway. My guess is that he must have been paying tribute to his newly adopted country by painting George Washington's Mt. Vernon.

Three weeks ago, my wife asked, 'Can you hang that painting?'. I've been putting it off all this time. And it took me all of 130 seconds to do. And now I'm wondering why I put it off for so long and why it felt like such a daunting task?

I could have felt this great three weeks ago.

What 130 second job have you been putting off? I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Once Upon a Time...

I'm thankful for Sophie, Luke, and Phoebe Johnsen.

Don't know them? You should! This little story is for them. Sophie, Luke, and Phoebe are not only real people, but they represent the many people who have loved us and helped Von these past few weeks. Thanks to all the Sophie, Luke, and Phoebes out there!

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who went to the doctor. The doctor looked at the boy and tried real hard to smile as he gave the boy some bad news.

"You are a very sick little boy and you are going to have to get better."

The doctor said there were two things he would have to do to get better.

"One, you will have to take some really yucky medicine, and two, work your best at being brave. If you do these two things, you might just get better." The doctor said this in the best smile he could to help the boy feel better about the bad news.

The little boy squinted at the doctor and asked, "How yucky is the medicine? Yuckier than raisin ice-cream?"

The smile left the doctors face as he had tasted raisin ice-cream before and was sure the medicine was far worse.

But the boy did his best and took his medicine with only a little bit of crying. He pretended the medicine was gummy worm pizza and he took it all.

The first part was done and he was happy that he could do this by himself, but the second part, the part about being brave, was something he couldn't do by himself. And he was feeling not happy about that.

The little boy asked God to help him be brave but for some reason, God didn't make him brave. The boy was really sad now because he knew he could not be brave by himself. But God had a better idea.

God whispered into Sophie, Luke, and Phoebe's heart and told them about the little boy who needed some help in being brave for the second part of his getting better.

They thought about what could help the little boy feel brave. They thought about giving him a chocolate factory, a used car, and a truckload of monkeys. But in the end, they knew the little boy's parents were afraid of monkeys and would probably say no, and besides, used cars are hard to find these days.

So they gathered up a whole box of fantastic and delightful toys, games, balls, books and activities to send off. But Sophie said something was missing. She held up some zebra colored wrapping paper and they all set to work wrapping all the gifts and quickly sent them off to the little boy.

The little boy was not feeling brave that day when the box arrived. He had been standing in front of the mirror trying to get his hair to go spiky to feel brave. But most of his hair was gone now and there was no spikyness to it. He asked God again to help him be brave so he could finish getting well.

The boy dropped his comb and ran upstairs when he heard his parents announce a package had arrived.

He read the cards from Luke and admired his handwriting. He smiled at the photo of Sophie and Phoebe. And then he ripped into the zebra colored gifts. Slowly but surely, he started feeling loved and warm inside. As he opened each gift, he started laughing and feeling stronger and stronger.

That night, he snuggled into bed and thought about Sophie and Luke and Phoebe and thanked God for them. He was now brave and could finish getting better. He asked God to do something nice for them...maybe some spikey hair and a truckload of monkeys.

The end.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Neighborly Gestures

We have visitors! Opa and Oma flew in from Mexico to be with us this week. One of our first stops was A&W for floats. You can see root beer float sized anticipation on everyone's face. (They don't have A&W in Mexico.)

This morning, I found the following view out my office window downstairs.

It's a lake in the process of freezing over. Von and I, strangers to lakes you can walk on, went down to poke around and investigate.

After morning coffee and a few well-placed pieces on the traditional Thanksgiving holiday puzzle, I overheard this conversation between my 5 year old daughter, Vienna, and Lisa.

V: Mom, it snowed outside. Can we shovel the driveway?
Lisa: Yes, please!
V: When we are done, can we do the neighbors?
Lisa: That would be nice.
V: Can we do all of the neighbors everywhere?
Lisa: I think you're going to make lots of friends today.

So shovel the drives they did.

They did about 4 driveways when the realized it was an ambitious plan and came in for hot chocolate.

One lady left her driveway and said, "Good shoveling". Vienna quipped, "for free" as she drove off. Vienna returned to the house mad that nobody offered to pay them. It was a great teachable moment for all of us to remember to serve without expecting anything in return. Then if you do get something, it's a bonus.

Now that we are in Minnesota, I'm sure we will get a few more opportunities to shovel some driveways and perfect the serve without expectations principle.

Monday, November 17, 2008

So the Rabbi says to the guy...

There is this old joke about a guy complaining to the Rabbi about his house being too crowded and small and how he needs a bigger one. Do you remember this one? (If you can read in a NY accent, you should finish the joke this way to make it better.)

The Rabbi prescribes that the guy brings in a goat, his mother-in-law, some pigs, and some neighbor's lawn furniture from storage, and says to live that way for a few weeks.

The man does what the Rabbi says and comes back after a few weeks and wonders how this has helped his situation any.
(You sure you're not remembering this one?).

The Rabbi says to kick out all the extra people and animals and furniture and come back the next week. The guy comes back the next week and kisses the Rabbi. His house suddenly feels so much bigger, less crowded and he has all the room in the world.

How does this apply to us lately?

Von has been on some high dose steroids that have affected his mood. He has been quite a grump at times and throwing fits and making demands that would make the most confident of parent's cower in shame. I actually cried last week when he threw a fit in a public setting. The flood of emotions came over me as I wanted to explain to people that this wasn't really my kid acting this way, but it is the drugs talking.

But this week he is off of the steroids after a month and I have to tell you what a little gentleman and comedian my wife and I have raised. And the best part is that his incessant giggle is back. He laughs at everything and erupts in a highly contagious, squeaking giggle that makes the grumpiest of old men snort a laugh or two.

It is still the same kid we had a month ago, but perspective is everything.

Has this change of perspective ever happened to you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things Girls Do Better Than Boys

Girls can do the splits and lift their legs high in the air. Boys can't.

Girls look good in tights. Boys don't.

Girls can go to shows and dress up in the confetti that drops from the ceiling. Boys wouldn't.

Grandma Mary took the girls out for a special girls outing and saw the Rockettes and enjoyed what girls enjoy most. What a treat.

Meanwhile, back at the hacienda, Von and I got to hang out and spent no time worrying about how we look in tights or trying to do the splits.

Life is good!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Husky but Happy

Want to see something weird?

The boy on the left is actually the same kid on the right. He did okay for a guy who wasn't even trying. He won the cheek category in the local bodybuilding contest.

He is on steroids and a plethora (finally got to use that word) of other medications. This causes him to retain water and gives him a swollen head. When I came home from being gone for 6 days, I really couldn't believe how big his head had gotten. Only 4 more days of these particular steroids and his face will start going back to normal.

The highlight of today was Papa Rolf taking Von and me to the movies. Von had to wear his face mask and with his swollen head and pale skin, we got a variety of reactions. There were some strange looks, a few awkward avoidances, and one verbal 'awwwwww'. I thought the girl saw a puppy in Barnes and Noble but when she walked past and elbowed her boyfriend to look back, I figured she was talking about Von.

Yesterday Von got excited when we told him he got mail. He got two very nice handmade cards in the mail from some very sincere and amazing friends at DaySpring Cards. Jon Huckeby, an illustrator, designer, and super funny guy headed that up and as you can tell by Von's face, not only is he looking husky, he is happy.

Thanks Jon! Here's to you, shark week, and using your superpower talent for good. You guys truly know how to share God's heart and a plethora fresh new ways!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

83.5 hours

Here is where I spent the last 84 hours of my life.

I left Mexico on Sunday 6:30 PM with our stuff and our dog and drove to the border. And I drove. And drove. And there was still more driving to do.

This morning, at 6:00 AM, I arrived safe into Minneapolis. (Thanks God!)

That is about 2,000 miles, two all-nighters, a few cups of coffee, five motorcycle tie-down checks, two new U-joints, 7 radio talk show hours, 4 new tires, 32 toll booths, 3 hours of US Customs inspections, and one teenage boy dog with more pelvic trusting moves than a dancing John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

The highlight was having my dad along for the Mexico leg of the trip.

I'll have to post a few photos and thoughts on the event. For now, I'm going to rest and enjoy a little family snuggle time.

(Since the photo is low resolution, I should explain the wet marks on the pavement are from the dog's water dish.)