January 29, 2005

Windows And 2nd Grade

Being far away from home is a difficult thing. It's hard for me to stay focused sometimes because of the amount of distractions around me. I left home a couple of days ago to come to Tennessee so I could work on my thesis. It is a good thing that I am not at home or in the office at church. There it is too easy to go home and play with my daughter. It is too easy to get side tracked by other things in the office like my guitar or some sort of ministry work. Plus, the phone is there.

Away from home there are other distractions. When you return back to a place that you have lived before, you want to go around and see how everything has changed. You also want to return to the places that you loved while you were there. It was hard for me not to drive into the mountains yesterday and walk back the Appalachian Trail to Laurel Falls. If I would have had a little more daylight and no thesis to write, I would have been there, walking beside the river taking in the beauty of God's creation.

I think the most challenging thing for me is just staying focused because I'm away from everyone who would help to keep me focused. It's too easy to think that I need to go get some food and take a break or that I need to check on the weather on the tv for a moment. My biggest distraction yesterday were two squirrels outside of the window in my thesis carrel. They were small gray squirrels feasting on the berries in the tree. They were energetic and interesting, and only 3 feet away from me. (I must have been hidden by a glare on the window).

Now, why in the world did I get a thesis carrel with a window. Don't they know that I sometimes struggle with daydreaming? It all started in 2nd grade. I was in Mrs. Barcus's class. She was a rather large, yet short woman with a mole the size of a quarter on her cheek. She was the quintesential 2nd grade teacher. I have a few memories from that year of school. I remember Mrs. Barcus teaching us "Zippity Do Da" that we used to sing to a 45rpm record. I also remember her getting out her accordian and playing it for us. I also remember an African American girl who was in our class who always talked. Always! She got paddled a couple of times for it.

It was in that classroom that my problem with daydreaming started. They questioned it a little in 1st grade. I used to write multiple words down as I copied things off the board. An example would be, "See see spot run." They thought it was my sight and had me get my eyes checked. There were no problems. Then, in 2nd grade, one of the 9 weeks grading periods came to a close. Mrs. Barcus was concerned that I had not really turned in any of the papers that she had given us to do. When she checked my desk, she found them all nicely and neatly stacked in my desk, partially completed. You see, when she would hand things out, I would do part of them, but then get stuck looking out the window daydreaming. The sad thing is that there was nothing really mesmerizing outside of the window--just a couple roofs of the nearby houses. The following weeks were not good weeks for me. I would go home, work on the undone papers, eat dinner, work on the undone papers, and then go to bed. I probably also got spanked at home, though I don't really remember that far back.

I guess what I need today is Mrs. Barcus keeping me focused to do my work, along with my mom. I won't be in the thesis carrel today; the library is closed. There will be no looking out the window at the hotel either, because the curtain is closed. The tv is there. That is a slight problem. The bigger problem is just me getting focused and doing work.

January 27, 2005

Stuck At the Airport

Being stuck in an airport is an interesting thing. There are so many different people all around. Everyone is heading from one place to another with one purpose or another helping them to get from point A to point B. They come in all different shapes and sizes, colors, and however else one would use to describe how we are different from each other. Best of all you see mullets. I’ve seen two mullets so far. One was of the garden variety—just a little long in the back, to show off his connection to the 20s. Another one was a great long hockey mullet. Those are the best in my opinion—fans showing their true pride for a sport that at the moment doesn’t support its fans. Rather, owner and player are bickering about who should make the most money. Now, I might be showing my lack of money—I would assume that once one has achieved a certain amount of money, then getting more wouldn’t be a necessity. I guess I’m just a poor man trying to think in the ways of a rich man.

Back to being stuck—I've been here since 3pm. I entered the airport labyrinth at 11:45am this morning by having my bag and suitcase completely unpacked and searched. From there I went to the metal detector and was promptly pulled aside for more investigation. They clothed my shoes to make sure I wasn’t laced with a bomb and then finished it all off with a pat down. From there I went upstairs to be gouged by the snack bar. I paid $2 for a Styrofoam cup of ice with a little Coke poured over it. How to people not feel guilty working in those places?
Just wait, it gets better. After setting down to wait on my boarding call, I soon heard a sweet lady come over the loud speaker offering up the information that my flight had been delayed. It seems that security at the airport in Cincinnati allowed a security breach. That held up the plane that I was waiting on to fly to Cincinnati. Needless to say, I missed my connection in Cincinnati. So, now I'm stuck here in a plastic chair, slurping on a more moderate priced Coke, watching the people going to and fro, and listening to some Ricky Skaggs bluegrass music. (One must listen to bluegrass when they are in Kentucky. I know, I know, Cincinnati Airport in Kentucky is not logical. I didn't put it here!) Only an hour and a half more to wait. Yippee.

January 18, 2005

A Year Ago Today

It is hard to believe that one year ago at this very moment I was sitting in a hospital room with my wife. She had just had her epidural put in after enduring almost 14 hours of labor pains. We had been up almost the whole night waiting to see if they were going to let us stay in the hospital or if they were going to send us home. I was emotionally and physically drained. We were tired of waiting. Steph was a week overdue as it was. We just wanted the baby to come into the world and for us to get on with the rest of our lives. We did not know that it would be another 7 hours of labor and waiting until Hannah Grace was born.

Our first year of parenthood has for the most part been great. God showed us grace and gave us an almost perfect baby. She was sleeping through the night by 3 months. She hasn’t had any eating problems like spitting up or allergies. She is a happy baby most of the time. The only challenge has been teething—she now has 12 to 14 teeth. The only real problem has been ear infections, which the doctors have been able to handle, for the most part.

However, the last month has been a month of sickness in our house. I had a sinus infection with a fever for awhile. Then my wife had it worse than I did. About a week later, Hannah came down with the sniffles again. We figured it was teething (remember, 12 teeth). Last week, Hannah woke up in the middle of the night, something she has been doing regularly for about a month. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a normal night. She had the stomach flu. The next 3 days were long and draining for her and for us. A trip to the doctor also revealed that the ear infections had returned. To add to the mix, Steph began feeling sick on Friday. She was down for a couple of days. I got it Saturday night/Sunday, though I was lucky enough to not vomit. Hopefully, we are finally on the mend.

Needless to say, it has been a long new year so far for my family. It has been even longer for me. I again find myself mentally and emotionally drained by all the sickness and the added stress of trying to finish out my Masters of Divinity degree—something that has been in the process now for 7 or 8 years. I feel like I’m sitting in the hospital room again, waiting for things to come that have seemed so long in coming, and in reality, are still farther out with more life and waiting to go before they actually pass. I just want it to be over and move on with life.

The blessing of that long day a year ago is that at around 4:30pm in the afternoon, my daughter came into the world. At that moment, when the doctors and nurses gave her to me to hold for the first time, the previous few days and moments were gone. The waiting, pain, and emotional drain were gone. The waiting was over. There was a new joy, a new reason for living. It is that hope and joy that keep me going today. When I go home today, my birthday girl will be there smiling, clapping, and waiting to sing "Heads, shoulders, knees, and toes". Even greater, I know that our God is with me and carrying me forward today, tomorrow, and the next day when I cannot go it alone. He is our hope, strength, and joy! My prayer is that you and I both will be able to cling to Him with all we have during the bad days . . . and the good. (Psalm 30)

January 5, 2005

Peeping Toms

It's been awhile since I actually sat down a blogged my thoughts. Normally, those of you who actually take time to look at this thing get the articles that I have to write for our church newsletter. That's really been the closest thing to reflection that I've had over the last few months. My mind has been focused on other things like my masters thesis--which is presently spread around here on the desk as I type. Tonight is not much different. I don't really have that much to say.

Yet, as I struggle to write on a consistent basis, the flip side of the blogging world is a draw to me. One of the things that I regularly do every day is visit blogs of others to read what is rolling around in their heads and going on in their lives. I feel somewhat guilty because most of them are distant friends at best now. They were close to me at one point or another, but now because of whatever reason, the regularity of friendship is no longer there. To them I am probably just a memory in the past of their lives. Yet, for me, as I read their thoughts, feelings, and whatever else they place in their blogs, I cannot help but feel the excitement of friendship that used to be stirring once again within me.

Now, one would think that if there were a past friendship, things might be done to rekindle the friendship and renew the conversation of life that once used to be. That is something that I long to do. However, for some reason there is a fear within me about doing just that. I wish I were able to fully understand why that is. I think part of it is that at some point in the past, those friendships stopped being friendships for one reason or another. I am afraid that those reasons are still present and that those I would be trying to befriend again would just be annoyed. Maybe its that I know that the closeness of some of those friendships will never be regained, and so I'm not willing to even try to regain anything. Maybe I'm just crazy, and those lives that I peer into on a regular basis would appreciate having friendship return.

I just don't know and I cannot really explain it. I guess I'll continue on as the "peeping tom" that I am and wait for a moment of courage on my part to at least try.