Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Where has all the pitching gone?

Now I'm not ready to panic, but my beloved Tribe may have a very difficult week ahead of them. Their next three series are against the Red Sox, Rangers, and White Sox. (All these teams have one thing in common- first place in their divisions!) This should prove to be quite a challenge for the Indians this early in the season, especially since they are just coming off an embarrasing series against the lowly Royals. So far, I'm not impressed with new acquisitions- Byrd or Graves. I'm guessing Shapiro is regretting not keeping Bobby Howry- he was simply a stud last year in the 7th and 8th innings! Last year we had the pitching and little offense early in the season, and this year...well, the box-scores tell the story. It seems as if the local media is cutting this team a little slack probably because of the excitement that the Cavs are creating.

Anyway, I've got tickets for this Friday's game against the Rangers...I'm looking forward to it, but will definitely enjoy the evening more with a convincing win! Go Tribe!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

One of Hoban's Finest

Every few years or so, a young incoming 9th grader enters the doors of Hoban who reminds me as to the real reason why I entered the teaching profession some 15 years ago. It can be so incredibly refreshing to have the privilege of teaching a young person who not only is gifted academically, but has a genuine passion for life. Robert Samels was not only at the top of his graduating class, but was an accomplished musician and actor. Quite simply, Robert was an exemplary Christian young man- one whom I would be truly proud to have my own son emulate.

I haven't been able to get Robert out of my mind all day since reading about his tragic plane crash this morning in today's Beacon Journal. At age 24, it would seem that Robert still had so much to offer to everyone. I had the pleasure of having Robert in my Honor's World Literature class a number of years ago- I have little doubt that he could have taught the class- he had a remarkable maturity and intellectual wit about him. But my fondest memories of Robert lay in music and acting. I casted Robert in his first high school play. He played Ophelia's zany father in a slap-stick spoof of a comedy entitled Hamlet II: better than the original. It was a great to see Robert have so much fun with his part since much of his high school career was dedicated to academic excellence. He was simply wonderful (and very funny, I might add) in the part. My other fond memory of Robert was being able to play with him at our school liturgies. I also invited him to play his hammer dulcimer at Christmas Vigil mass one year while I was still directing the music group over at Saint Vincent's. The entire congregation was simply in awe with his talent.

It's time like this when, for me, it's very difficult to understand and accept God's plans for us. Here's a kid who had just begun his life and had so much talent and joy to share with those around him. I can't imagine the sorrow and grief that Robert's family must be going through. All I know is that I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to share in Robert's high school years. God bless you, Robert.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bump, Set, Spike?

Truthfully, there's not a whole lot of spiking that goes on during a 5th grade volleyball match, but watching Marie's team this year has been a whole lot of fun. Thinking back to their inaugural year (3 years ago) into the CYO league, Marie and her friends have improved immensely. Honestly, these kids really go at it this year, and I've seen them involved in some pretty intense volleys.

I admit, it's a bit of an adrenaline rush to watch your own child participate in competitive sports. Marie is actually quite good. (yeah, I know- what else am I going to say?- but she really is, and she certainly doesn't get her volleyball skills from me!) She's by far one of the most consistent servers on the team, and she is a force "to be reckoned with" when it comes to returning the ball as well. I really believe that if she sticks with it, and I think she will, she can have a lot of success in this sport at high school when she becomes a Lady Knight!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Colors of Spring

We've got this tree in our yard that is breathtakingly beautiful- that is, for around two weeks out of the entire year. Don't you wonder why spectacular things like this in nature don't last longer? Honestly, the shades of purple from this dogwood are mesmerizing- especially since most of the other trees and bushes around are still rather barren looking. It has a surreal look to it when the sun shines through its branches.

So what's the point here? I think it may be one of the great subtle lessons that we're given in life...don't take things for granted because nothing lasts forever. I would imagine that each day all of us encounter something/ someone that we just kind of pass by and not really take notice. I think this can be especially true with personal relationships. I shamefully admit that I have had a number of people in my life that I simply neglected to reach out and offer a kind word/ deed. I get so caught up in my personal "schedule" at times, that I find it easy/ convenient to just live in my own little world and shut out so many things that may actually be beckoning me to take notice- my wife, my kids, a co-worker, one of my students, and yes...even a silly tree that blooms one weekend and then sheds it flowers all over my lawn the next- which incidentally happened just tonight as my ever perceptive son brought to my attention. Josh was genuinely sad that the tree was losing its blooms, while all I could think about was the mess that I had to clean up. Undoubtedly, one of us has the right perspective here...and I'm pretty certain it belongs to the four year old.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Memories 2006

  • Spending Holy Thursday at home. This was a real treat for everyone at Hoban. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the kids who raised the money for the schools in Bangladesh, our principal rewarded all of us with an extra day for our Spring Break. Cindy, the kids, and I enjoyed an absolutely beautiful day at the Akron Zoo. Josh's favorite animals by far are the penguins and otters!
  • Listening to Kenton and Emily conduct the Chapel's orchestra and choir in Handel's Messiah at the Good Friday service. Absolutely AWESOME!
  • Painting Easter eggs with Josh on Saturday. He was very proud of his creations, and he didn't even break one egg!
  • Embracing Josh's enthusiasm as he literally bounced out of bed (bright and early- 6:30 AM) to find his basket and hidden eggs. Marie, who had spent the entire day at the IX Indoor Amusement park the day before, was not amused when Josh rushed into her room, threw the lights on, and ordered her to get up. I'm guessing the only reason why she eventually complied was because, traditionally, the Easter bunny has been known to leave some cash in the eggs...if there is one great motivation for an 11 year old, it's the green stuff. Still, it took her a while to become as spirited as her younger brother.
  • Playing and worshiping with the gang this morning- bright and early I might add. Praise You, Alive Forever, and My Redeemer Lives were three highly energized songs that we sang and played. Praise You is truly a passionate song of prayer that you can't help but get chills when hearing it- from the intro drum solo to the climactic ending resounding with the orchestra and rhythm sections accompanying the lyrics Wisdom and majesty power and glory be unto Your holy name now and forever more...- I love this song! But it's the group out at Green that truly makes it incredible!
  • Spending the afternoon with my folks, great aunt, and Terri, Dan and the boys. What a feast Terri prepared for us all! Of course, little Sarah was constantly in somebody's arms, and Josh entertained all of us at the dinner table recounting the Biblical story of Joshua- who bonked the men of Jericho on the head with his horn, and Jonah and the great dolphin. Hey, he got the gist of the stories right- he just took a few artistic liberties to spice the stories up a bit.

What a blessed Easter this year. God bless my three precious children, my wonderful wife Cindy, and my entire family and friends.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Holy Week

He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground

Although the actual word is never used in Luke’s retelling of The Agony of the Garden, I’ve got to believe that Christ experienced a level of fear that no other human would have been able to handle. He knew that He had a very short time left, and that the next 24 hours were going to be simply brutal. He chose to spend his last evening with those whom He loved- his friends, the Disciples.

I’ve always felt that Holy Week is perhaps the most appropriate time of the year to reflect on your life and truly give praise to God for all of our blessings- I’m not talking about the jobs, the nice houses, the cool bright red mini-vans (as oppose to the boring Mustangs of the world)- but instead our family and friends. That’s where it’s at. Witnessing my little girl come into this world a few weeks ago has once again reminded me of what an awesome and precious gift life is- something that simply cannot be taken for granted.

Marie has come to the age where she really is becoming quite witty, for a 5th grader, and has a refreshing outlook on life- don’t sweat the small stuff (like getting a C in English - even though her dad is an English teacher!). She has quickly grown into a classy young lady who has pretty much adapted so well to all that life has thrown her way. She was the stabilizing force for me during my divorce, and even today I'm envious of Marie's strength and passion for life. I can't believe my little girl will be joining the ranks of Hoban in just 3 years!

Now Josh pretty much goes through life with a constant smile on his face. Joshua’s teacher shared with me the other day a touching compliment that he is the type of kid who simply wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s true. He’s an extremely sensitive little guy, and really looks after everyone to make sure that we’re all happy!

With little Sarah, I think the best part of being a new daddy is that you can hold your baby in your arms and map out their entire life in about 1/2 hour, and they never argue with you! They just look up at you with a goofy grin suggesting something like, “Hey, you want to get around to changing my diaper sometime soon?”

You can look into the eyes of an infant, a four year old, and an 11 year old and see your whole life unfold before you. Each one of my kids brings a special gift to our family, and I really don’t think that Cindy nor I could ask for anything more in life. My prayer for everyone during this holy week is that we all take some time to really appreciate the gift of life and realize it was all made possible by a man from Galilee so many years ago.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Superhero

If you were to ask my son to name a superhero, his response undoubtedly would be either Spiderman, Batman, or Mr. Incredible. Evidently, the criteria of superhero, in the eyes of a four year old, requires a spiffy nylon suit, a sleek cape, and some cool gadgets- like a bat belt. Superheroes fight the bad guys and help people in trouble...so says Josh.

If there is one value that I truly want to pass on to all my kids, it's the ability to recognize true Christian heroism and to live out their lives emulating the real "superheroes".

So how do I respond when my kids ask me, "who are the heroes?"... Well, if you read the front page of the Beacon Journal today about the Minick family and their little Kelsey (an adopted crippled child who came from an abusive family)- that's Christian heroism. Folks from the church who donated an entire week of their own time and traveled down south to help the hurricane victims rebuild their homes...that's Christian heroism. Couples who serve as foster parents for children who are in need of homes and parental role models- that's Christian heroism. Our kids at Hoban who raised over $20,000 in just two weeks for some schools in 3rd world countries- that's Christian heroism. These are the people whom I want my own children to look upon as their superheroes. Yeah, these heroes don't have the cool, flashy suits/ capes, but their actions are truly heroic and extremely commendable.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Two weeks old already!

Sarah's big brother...and future body guard!

And Mom and her two little angels...

Springtime in Akron- UGH!!!

This past Sunday was great. We all set the clocks forward, which is the first true indication that Spring is nearby. Josh and I "worked" outside finishing up some yardwork. By around 5:00 in the evening, I was enjoying sitting back, watching Josh zoom up and down the sidewalk on his bike. It was around 55 degrees, a light breeze, and relatively sunny. A pretty nice, spring day.

Just three days later...we get snow!- only in Akron! Snow? Give me a break! Let's see, I just finished putting all the kid's sleds and shovels back in the shed, inflated all the bike's tires, fertilized the front lawn, planted one of Cindy's perennials and began to clean out a few of the flower beds...heck, I even hung up my Chief Wahoo flag! C'mon!

Obviously, I say this in jest because all of us here in good ole' Akron have absolutely nothing to complain about because at least we are relatively safe from the earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes that devastate other parts of the country. Having friends who have gone down south to help with the hurricane victims and listening to their stories upon their return truly puts everything into perspective and makes us realize how fortunate we are. It is simply unfathomable to think that a tropical storm can obliterate an entire city and leave thousands homeless. I imagine that some people would have their faith rocked just a bit when having to endure a tragedy like this.

Anne Bradstreet, America's first accomplished poet, records a chilling account of watching her house burn to the ground. She ends her poem, though, with a message that is admirable, but in the same light, incredibly challenging to accept. "Yet by His gift is made thine own; There's wealth enough, I need no more, Farewell, my pelf, farewell my store. The world no longer let me love, My hope and treasure lies above."

Our "stuff" that we collect over the years, as hard as it is to admit, isn't all that important when it comes to the big picture.

But, back on a lighter note, I think also that God must have a great sense of humor at times. I imagine that it probably amuses Him a bit to see us outside cutting the grass, planting some flowers, sporting our spring attire...and then turn around and dump an inch of snow on us the next day. That's probably worth a good chuckle for Him.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Late Night Ramblings...

Ok, so it's now 4:28 A.M., and I've been up for about 1 1/2 hours. Sarah went right back to sleep after her 3:00 feeding, and everyone else in the house is sound asleep...even my dog is snoring away over in her bed, looking up at me every so often with the expression, "Don't you know what time it is?- Go to bed!"

I knew this would happen though. Once I'm up...I'm up. I already got a pot of coffee going, and am now just waiting around for the paper to get here...you know, I think the Beacon Journal should offer special early delivery for parents with babies at home!

Yeah...I have really nothing significant to say here, but I can't find anything interesting on TV, which amazes me since I'm paying a small fortune each month to get something like 125 channels. No kidding, 1/2 of them after the hour of 2:00 A.M. are all infomercials. Let's see, I've watched the Postur-Pedic mattress one, (which looks extremely comfortable, I might add), the Bosley Hair Loss treatment (thank God, I don't have to worry about that one...yet), and my personal favorite, the Bun and Thigh Doer- it works 780% better than any other product on the market today! Really!. And it's so easy to store. You'd expect to pay 1,000's of dollars, but this state of the art exercise machine can be yours for just $15.95 a month for the next 27 years, and it comes with a 4 day warranty! I'm getting slap happy.

Later today, you know when the rest of my family finally decides to get up!..I'm taking Josh to his last karate class of the winter session. He still is really enjoying it, and we plan to sign him up again after Easter. Marie has a Girl Scout outing, and some friends of ours are stopping by later this afternoon to see little Sarah. Sometime today, I need to go over the music for Sunday. It's been a few weeks since I've played with the Worship Team, and we'll a little thin for Sunday...just Greg and me on guitars...although, I swear Greg could probably play both electric and bass at the same time...he's that good!

Well the Bun and Thigh infomercial is closing, so I'll take that as my cue also.