Sunday, January 29, 2006

Castaway Bay

Cindy and I took the kids, plus a friend of Marie's, to Cedar Point's indoor waterpark this weekend. This really is the perfect weekend getaway...especially living in good ole' Akron, Ohio in the wintertime. Weather, of course, is no issue, and the kids absolutely love all the water slides, coasters, and playhouses that can be found in these parks.

Marie and her girlfriend pretty much had the run of the water park, riding continuously the many body slides and indoor roller coaster. I admit that I had a hidden agenda when we told Marie she could take a saved my body from the battery of going up and down those slides. Instead, I hung out with Josh in the toddler area, played a lot in the WAVE pool, and played quite a bit of water basketball. We even hung out at the hot tub for a first, Josh wasn't too sure about this one, but he shortly fell in love with it, which of course, was my favorite "ride" at the park!

We rose bright and early, by our "Josh" alarm clock, on Sunday (our 2nd day at the park) around 7:00 AM...had a quick breakfast, visited the arcade/ gift shops, and swam most of the morning/ early afternoon. I surprised Cindy with a spa package this morning...At 7+ months pregnant, she really wasn't able to enjoy the water park all that much, so I figured she'd have a better time hanging out at the spa on Sunday...and according to her, she did. Josh will tell you she went their to get her face fixed (translated, a facial) gotta love 4 year olds perceptions on things. Anyway, three hours later, she said she had an extremely relaxing morning complete w/ an hour massage, pedicure, manicure, and a "face-fix"

My personal recommendation, however, is the definitely is the largest of the three Sandusky waterparks. The rooms are awesome, and there is also a HUGE indoor dry playground area that's great for the kids when you want to take a quick break from the swimming.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Micheal lives with his parents in Zambia, Africa. He has a brother. His parents sell tomatoes at the market, but their income is not reliable.They are struggling to make ends meet. They are Tumbuka by tribe, and they are Christians. Micheal is in pre-school. He is a fairly healthy child who loves playing soccer with his friends. His favorite lesson in school is number work- Christian Children's Fund Biography

After registering with Christian Children's Fund, I was really excited to find out whom I would be able to sponsor...however, the actual process of selecting a child was absolutely gut-wrenching....After answering a few questions, I was looking at what appeared to be an endless amount of web pages that had dozens of children's photos on each page from which to choose. I couldn't handle it. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE A CHILD? So what I did was to simply select the first 4 year-old, (my son's age) whom I saw...that's how Micheal came into our lives.

What are my expectations? I have no idea. Outside of the monthly sponsoring donation, we were given pretty strict guidelines on what we were aloud to send to Micheal. Sadly, any "care-packages" would either get caught up in customs or pilfered by local officials/ thieves. Simple notes w/ paper items (stickers, photos, etc...) are the extent of things that can actually be sent to this little boy.

When sponsoring a child, you really are at the mercy of the Charity that oversees the program...and all you can do is pray that you might be able to make some small difference in the life of a child who lives on the other side of the world from us...we'll told that health, nutrition, education, and housing improvements are the priorities with this agency...if pictures can truly tell a story, this little guy deserves everything thrown his way...God bless you, Micheal.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Sobering Image...

As I was taking my trash/ recyclables down to the curb tonight, I couldn't get the photo that we saw this morning at church out of my mind...the 2 liter Pepsi bottle that I was pitching was being used as a pair of shoes for some poor soul in Mozambique.

Coming home from yet another uplifting and awesome service, I began the afternoon with a short cat-nap (not that I had done anything that was overly strenuous- but Cindy and Josh were already asleep, so I figured, what the heck...) Later in the day, we took Josh to Toys R Us so that he could pick out some stuff using a gift certificate that he had gotten as a Christmas gift...(I want to meet the guy who invented the packaging of kid's know, the ones that have a million wires that you have to cut loose from the boxes and plastic coverings...what a pain in the "you-know-what"!) Once we got home, Josh and I played with his new Teen Titans, watched a little football (Geesh, do I hate when the Steelers win!), had a wonderful dinner, played guitars together- we do a mean "If You're Happy and You Know It" (although, I think it could use Dave and his wah wah machine to make it even better!) , read some stories, and am now enjoying a peaceful evening at home...

I write this because I often have wondered why I was given the life that I have...Tens of thousands of people suffer on a daily basis for want of food, clothing, and shelter, and I have just about everything that I could possibly wish for. Why me? Listening to Knute today speak about the AIDS epidemic and dire poverty in Mozambique really made me feel guilty for not just what I have been given in life...but because I tend to take it for granted- more often than what I care to admit.

My initial response, probably like a lot of other folks, is that...I'll send some money to a mission...and then I can feel better about myself. But that's the easy way out. I really hope that I can do something meaningful to help people who have so little in life...

The Chapel is launching a new program for Chiboto, Mozambique, and I am really eager to learn more about this city....and maybe do something that may bring a little comfort/ happiness to one of the families living there... even if its as simple as sending some decent shoes for their children (link for Christian Children's Fund) to wear...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

To Blog a Dog....

When I started up this Blog site, I vowed to myself to write at least a couple of times a week. I've been pretty diligent with it, but tonight...I guess I had writer's block. I was sitting in my chair (watching the struggling Cavs) and just looking around the room for an idea. I made eye contact with Maggie, my dog, and her ears perked up and tail starting wagging...probably hoping for a late evening walk. A few minutes went by, and I started once again perusing the room for some idea....this time, Maggie got up and put her head on my lap...looking rather pathetic for some attention. Was this the inspiration/ sign I've been looking for?

Yeah I know, pretty lame to blog a dog (hey that sounds kind of like a Dr. Seuss book, huh?) But, this animal has brought more joy to my life since we got her about 1 1/2 years ago. I convinced Cindy how the "kids" needed a dog, so we set out for the Human Society 2 summers ago...with the expectation of bringing home a 10-15 pound "lap dog". Well, we stepped inside, and were immediatly greeted by "Dog"- which was our Maggie's adopted name by the staff. Anyway, the kids and I fell in love with this dog- all 55 pounds of her...and she really has become a great part of our family. Truthfully, one of my favorite times of the day is my nightly walk with Maggie. I'm usually alloted about 10 minutes after we finish dinner before Maggie starts pacing back and forth to the front door eagerly awaiting our nightly ritual. (This also enables me to chill with my I-Pod/ tunes as we take about a mile jaunt around the neighborhood.) There is so much truth in the notion of a canine's unconditional love for its owner...I've never known an animal that is so loyal/ loving. I've told friends before that I've always believed that people come in and out of your life for some special reason...and I'm beginning to wonder if the same could hold true with animals. God knows that one of my weaknesses is showing unconditional love for people whom I am quick to dismiss as unimportant....

Well, that's it for tonight..."you know who" is nudging me again to go outside...did I mention that she has never had an accident in the house, doesn't dig/ destroy anything, and is trained to do her business in the same place in our backyard? If only kids were this easy!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Choking Game

Just when I think I've heard of everything....I was talking with a colleague/ friend of mine today at school, and she shared with me a conversation she had with her kids in class. Evidently, one of the new crazes among teenagers today is the choking game. The object of "the game" is to cut off just enough oxygen to your brain, by choking yourself with a belt or some similar object, so that you get a type of high. As CBS reported last summer ( I guess I missed this one!) obviously can be a deadly game.

Oh my God...what in the world are these kids thinking of? It's things like this that really scare me to death as my daughter gets closer and closer to her high school years. As a parent, you try to spend countless hours with your kids to give them a moral compass that they can use to make sound decisions in their young lives...but ultimately, the time comes when you have to let go and hope, and pray, that they "do the right thing".

Having spent 15 years with teenagers on a daily basis, I'm not naive to believe for one second that peer pressure is not an incredible presence in a young person's life. My prayer, not just for my kids but for all the kids whom I work with each day, is that they can see how precious their lives are and to take any unnecessary risks- like playing this game for a few seconds of physical gratification- is not only potentially deadly, but goes against everything that Christ has intended for us...

For anyone interested, here is the link to the news story that CBS ran last summer...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

What a ballgame!

Colt's Fan: I'm shocked, I'm stunned, I can't believe this happened!

Me (life-time Cleveland sports-fan): Cry me a river!

Colt's Fan: But we have Payton Manning, Edgerin James, and Marvin Harrison!

Me: Uh...we had Brian Sipe and Ozzie Newsome...and red right 88!

Colt's Fan: It's all the kicker's fault!..How could he have missed that FG?

Me: How could Earnest Byner have fumbled on the last drive?

Colt's Fan: Yeah, but we were suppose to win...we had the league's best record.

Me: Yeah, so did Bernie Kosar's team when they lost to the Elway!

Colt's Fan: I don't think we'll ever get to the Super Bowl!

Me: Ditto

Colt's Fan: Our town must be cursed because we can't win in any sport- it always seems like their is one player who ruins it for us!

Me: uh....Michael Jordan pretty much put a dagger in the hearts of Price, Daugherty, Nance, and Ehlo

Colt's Fan: Yeah, well at least we have Nascar (that's for you Brian!)

Me: Yeah, well we have the Crunch who won the indoor soccer championship a number of years ago...whoopee!

Colt's Fan: We need a major league baseball team to root for...

Me: I agree, and I think you should sign Jose Mesa as your closer!

Colt's Fan: Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle

Me: Ha, ha, ha...(hey, this is good therapy for me as I reminisce over the last 30+ years as a Cleveland sports fan....sniffle, sniffle, sniffle...)

Thursday, January 12, 2006


What an awesome tune! I love coming home from practice having learned a song that you just can't get out of your head. After buying the song off of I-tunes! tonight, I downloaded the lyrics as well, and looking over them, I really think that this song is a perfect fit for our music group at the Chapel. From the first day that I started playing with these guys, it was so obvious that everyone was here for one resonate God's glory. As I have told many people, the individual talents here are simply overwhelming , but I have not encountered one single instance of any personal agendas, but instead everyone is here for the right reason....Praise You with one voice and resonate Your Glory! I am so blessed to have all these guys in my life!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm getting anxious...

Cindy is now around 2 months away from delivering our baby, and I feel like a kid around the holidays...waiting for Christmas morning and all the presents- but this present that we're about to receive is just a bit more awesome than just about anything I can think of. We've decided on Joseph Frederick for a boy's name (both are family names)...but we are still in the discussion mode for a girl's name. I like Rachel and Grace, but Cindy is leaning towards Alexis...

I'm planning on painting/ redecorating Josh's room over Spring Break...either all blue/ sports theme or a neutral color- if it's a girl. Either way, Josh will share his room with his brother/ sister...much to the delight of Marie!

I would be a very rich man by now if I had a dollar for everytime someone has asked me what sex I want the baby to be. I'm going to be brutally honest...I'm kind of hoping for a boy...for this reason alone- Josh. One of my regrets in life, and I really don't have that many, is that I never had a brother. I'm fairly close to a couple of my cousins and have a couple of good male friends, but it just can't be the same as having a brother...someone that you can really trust/ confide in throughout your life. Either way, I know Josh, and Marie, are both going to be awesome siblings...but if there is one gift that I could give my son, it would be a brother. Having said that, my biggest wish, is simply that the baby and mom are both healthy after the birth...and that I stay young at heart through the teenage years of Marie, Josh, and the little one...I'll be pushing 60 by the time our newest arrival is getting out of college!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Slavery and the Bible

This has always been a troubling subject for me in regards to the Christian faith. I spent a good deal of time today in class discussing Mark Twain and his use of the "n" word in his masterpiece, Huckleberry Finn. Twain was definitely a man before his time, and the intent with his novel was to satirize the South's narrow-minded view of the African American and the suffering endured by them during the Civil War Era.

In Ken Burn's biographical film of Mark Twain, he mentions how Twain struggled as a young boy in dealing with slavery. Not only in society did he hear that it was an acceptable practice, but also on Sundays when he attended services. The ministers of Hannibal, Missouri preached from the pulpit, citing Biblical passages, such as Exodus Chapter 21...advocating and justifying slavery. Furthermore, the cherished Sermon on the Mount, considered by many to be Jesus' guideline for Christian living, fails to mention/ denounce the institution of slavery. One has to wonder why Jesus didn't seize the opportunity to condemn slavery...or was it simply something that for one reason or another was never recorded in the gospels. Even more startling is in Mathew 10:24-25, Jesus not only reminds slaves that they are never above their master, but he actually recommends that they strive to be like them...what happened to love thy neighbor???

I can certainly see where the members of the black race, or any race that has been persecuted through enslavement, would feel abandonment/ isolation from organized religion. I guess I'd love for someone to help explain this to me one day...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Back to practice...

We held our first rhythm/ worship team practice of the new year this evening... I really missed having these over the past few weeks. It truly is a highlight of my week...being able to get away from everything and just hanging with people whom all are so incredibly talented...and singing/ playing Christian music. It doesn't get a whole lot better than that. Everybody in the group is so genuine in their faith and passion for Christ that it really can re-energize you to get through the rest of the week.

Tonight was a bit different without having Brian at the helm...he will be so missed by all...he's a guy who really made it so easy to not only embrace this church but to inspire me to begin taking my music playing to the next level. It will be very odd for me to look over at the Steinway on Sunday and not see/ hear him. What an incredible talent! (I'll also miss his "Holy, holy, holy...the Lord God Almighty" soprano cantata...I was just so afraid that he was always going to hurt himself when he sang that!)

Marie really seems to enjoy Thursday evenings as she attends the programming for her age group. She was somewhat bummed out this evening, though, since the choir/ rhythm/ worship team didn't do a run-through for Sunday's services...she usually comes down and sits in the worhsip center for this part...she too loves the music!

(Yeah, I stole the photo from Emily, whom I believe stole it from Brian...whom I'm guessing ripped it off from someone much for copyright laws!)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back to School...

After being away for two weeks, I was ready to start back today. It was even refreshing to be around the kids, well most of them anyways. They have so much energy, especially during days like today where they too havn't seen each other in a while.

It was interesting to see the reactions of the kids when they got their exams back. Some appeared to be really concerned while others had looks of indiferrence and disinterest. It's those kids you just have to wonder about...if everything is ok with them and their family, or if they are going through something serious at home? It's very easy to become so wrapped up in your lessons and daily activities and overlook kids who in many ways are crying out for either attention or help. Over the years, I've taught kids who have had to deal with close family deaths, pregnancies, drug and alcohol addiction, and suicide attempts. They don't really teach you how to handle and deal with these real life problems in college...but sadly, these kids may not have anyone else to turn to outside of a teacher or counselor at school.

I'm looking forward to having a good spring with them. We're starting the 2nd semester with Huck Finn (which can be challenging with the dialect and racial issues), but I've had an aweful lot of success with the book over the years, and I really think that it is one of "the masterpieces" of American Literature-a must read for every high school kid! We also have to get the kids ready to take their OGTs in the spring...which can also be a rather stressful time for both the kids and their parents. And off we go....

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My Wish List for 2006

  1. Become a better listener. Yeah, I know, it's a pretty generic resolution, but this has never been a strong-point for me. Cindy, Marie, and Josh definitely deserve it!
  2. Become a more serious musician. Being given the opportunity to play at the Green Chapel and the incredibly talented Dave and Greg...I've realized how much I don't know...I'm really looking forward to starting my guitar lessons next week and taking my music to the "next level"
  3. Become a proud Cleveland sports fan....I envision the Cavs advancing to the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs; the Indians overtaking the White Sox for the Central Division (assuming Wickman has a repeat season and the young position players like Sizemore, Martinez, and Peralta continue to develop and improve; the Browns squeaking out 9 victories and a possible wild card berth...with Charlie Fry having a memorable sophomore season!
  4. Form one new friendship and strengthen some old ones and keep up with some new ones. I had read somewhere that the average friendship lasts less than 2-3 years...a pretty depressing statistic when you think about it. Life's all about relationships, and unfortunately, it's the one gift that we all tend to take for granted. Sometimes, some of the strongest relationships can be with those whom you may not see all that often, but actually take the time to write/ call and engage in real meaningful dialogue as oppose to the ever so popular, "How ya' doing/ great" exchange
  5. Pray. Obviously, this takes precedence over my sport's wish list, but I thought I'd save the most important and challenging one for the last place on my list. Praying has never come easy for me. I can't pinpoint the exact reason, but I've never been comfortable with it. However, the friends whom I have become close to at the Chapel have really opened my eyes to the power of prayer. It's one of the most precious gifts from God, one that's always been readily available to me, but I've just always been to blind and stubborn to take advantage of it.