Tuesday, November 27, 2018

It's the Happiest Place in the World, kids (watch out for meltdowns)

It's not about the mouse. I think Walt knew that. I'm not sure he'd approve of the extortionate $4.50 that I paid for a twenty ounce Coke Zero, but then again, his Coca-Cola was made with pure cane sugar and chilled in a bottle of glass. I handed over my credit card and car title and asked the young girl at the register, "Seriously?" She said, "I know, right?" I smiled as I twisted off the cap and let the heavenly beverage pour down my throat.

Maybe it's a little about the ears? There's a little magic that happens when your daughters put on the ears. Something unseen shifts and life gets a layer of wonderdust. There simply is no other place on the planet where it is acceptable to wear those bedazzled ears, and yet here... they include you in an inclusive-exclusive club of smiles and enchantment.

It's about family. Relationship. Flashbulb time-stamped moments of image-specific, life-perspective filters that forever change how we see one-another and remind us how we are created to see life. Imagination. Thrill. Hope. Contentment.

We soared through the atmosphere, we rocketed to Mars, we danced around the world with a song in our hearts, we fought pirates, dreamed with Mermaids, battled aliens, and felt the adrenaline of a race-track. We shared laughter, smiles, and the compulsory conversation of line-waiting. Somehow those in-between attraction turnstile crawls were the best part.

It was a pretty good twenty dollar cheeseburger, I appreciated that the topping bar had jalapenos, and the authentic (plastic) German beer stein that I lifted was somehow worth the $10.50 at the end of the day... but it was all mere backdrop to what I believe was the vision of the man behind the mouse so many years ago... a place where a family can again feel the magic of the heart, and the wonder of living this life together. 

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears
It's a world of hopes and a world of fears
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all 

I love how my son loves his little sis.

My father, the Viking King looks perfectly at home with the horns. 

This girl's design won second overall of the day.

Eat it, Emperor Zurg. Calamity & Hickok won the day!

Our family and Mr. Morales (who forgot his t-shirt).

Friday, November 9, 2018

Where Is God and How to Find Him

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you.

Which of all these things does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In His hand is the life of every living creature
and the breath of all humankind.
(Job 12:7-10)

The presence of God is to be found in the present. He identified Himself to Moses as "I AM." Jesus described Himself through statements of "I am," using the words: "the bread of life," "the light of the world," "the gate," "the good shepherd," the resurrection and the life, "the way the truth and the life," and "the vine."

These are all things that sustain or guide in this present moment. God is here. He said to Moses that His word is not so far away that it must be carried down from the sky, or carried across the sea, but that it is right here in our hearts, minds, and even in our mouths. Present.

When His identity was questioned by religious leaders, Jesus answered, "Before Abraham was born, I AM." 

Jesus went farther to even describe those who love and follow Him the same way, saying "You are the light of the world." The very presence of the present God filled His son, Jesus and it fills His children even yet it this moment.

It is only in the present that we quiet our souls and look inward to find our identity. We are daughters and sons of the living, present God. Even in the silence of nature, if we listen, we will find His deep and indescribable presence and truth. There is so much to be seen that we often cannot see and this ever-present, omni-temporal covering of God in and through all things is available to calm our souls, guide our hearts, and restore our strength when we are still enough to find his present presence.

This past Sunday afternoon we spent some time at Tawawa Park in Sidney, Ohio. We stood on an overlook and simply listened to the sounds around us. The birds sang, the squirrels scampered, a distant lawn mower hummed, and families passed by below us with chatter. But more than that, we calmed our day enough to connect into the moment. And in that place, we found the Great ever-present God who restores our souls. 

Have you heard Him? Have you taken the time to listen?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Sterling Takes Bronze (She kissed me this morning)

She kissed me this morning before getting out of the car. We'd shared a lot of laughs during breakfast and our morning routine. Sirius our dog hopped on my lap, I pressed down the accelerator, and we pulled out of Anna Elementary School. Sterling was off to a sunny Wednesday.

It's now been four days since her first gymnastics meet at the Kettering, Ohio YMCA. We had no idea of what to expect. Her training sessions are closed (probably so the kids aren't constantly monkeying and pulling faces at their parents, or maybe because most parents can't shut their pie-holes and are constantly shouting out bad advice) and so we hadn't see if she'd been progressing or just goofing off and talking.

Maybe she'd be a train wreck and we'd have some funny stories to tell her boyfriends when they come to dinner. Or, maybe she'll shock us and actually do well. Aren't I the positive one? Kellie says that I am an idealist... and I'll admit, secretly I'm expecting that she'll launch a career that leads to Olympic Gold. I mean, someone has to win it, and I figure it might as well be her.

She kissed me this morning. That's the first time and it broke my heart in the best of ways. She has such a spirit and light in her that is undeniable. She shines so bright that I'm often annoyed and you'll see me squinting and blocking my eyes. 

Today though, I sat squinting in the rising sunlight as she climbed up into the front seat, leaned over, and gently kissed my cheek. "I love you Dad." 

It was one of those unexpected moments in life that transcend our mortal perception. There was something there that was intensely present, undeniably real, and thus a pivot point of awareness that broke through the facade of routine and pierced my soul.

When they called her name at the awards ceremony, she was in absolute shock. Her teammates were poking her, pulling her toward the podium, and trying to explain that she was a winner. It happened five times and she was in disbelief every single time. I smiled to the point of face-hurt.

Her best finish was unexpected. We thought floor would be her strongest, and it was her weakest.* She stunned us with a great beam routine. Her only boggle coming after a loud CRASH from some unknown source across the room, a quick look to where we sat on the stands, and then a wobble and a quick balance check. 

Then, like a champ she recovered, completed the routine, and absolutely killed the dismount. Seven year old Sterling, at her very first competitive meet, in front of the eyes of hundreds of parents and competitors, snatched a third-place finish on the most nerve-racking of apparatus (or apparatuses if you're partial to archaic english).

But, what I love most about her, is that she kissed me this morning.

* Her floor routine was missing a key element that she has not yet learned. The omission of that element resulted in an automatic deduction. Apart from that deduction, her score was very strong.