Archive for December, 2010

Too Close To Home

Posted in Current Events on December 31st, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Crazy night here last night!!

Our 6-year-old, Samantha was up late, and since she was the only one of our 4 kids still awake, we decided to spend some ‘just parents with Sammie’ time and play a game.  Dad had sunk one of our ships in Battleship when we heard a series of pops from outside.  Following our instincts to take cover, we went into the interior of the house away from windows, where we discussed what we heard.  Had we spaced on the date, was it New Year’s already and someone was lighting off fireworks in celebration?  No, my husband said, there is only one thing that sounds like that, and when he put it that way, I had to agree – it was gunfire.  After we decided that it couldn’t really have been anything else, we called the police, who told us there were already officers on scene.  We got our police scanner hooked up (who said I don’t need a police scanner to keep tabs on small town action?), and we continued to sit in the hallway and listen to it.  Soon we heard the unmistakable churning of the LifeFlight helicopter (we live blocks from the hospital), and we wondered if it was related – we would have more info in the morning.  The police scanner just had mild chatter about officers responding and trying to find the “suspect’s ID”.  They found his cell phone, and an officer was told to see who the suspect had called.  Not getting any useful info, we went to bed, and my husband woke me this morning with the info that he had heard on the big city Toledo news – a shootout had occurred in our small town, only blocks from our house, mere feet from our friends’ house.

Turns out, a man had shot at the police station and then drove down to the park, where he shot at the police who chased him.  The police returned fire, which explains the series of 6-8 pops we heard.  The man was then LifeFlighted to a bigger hospital with life-threatening injuries.  That was all the info in the newspaper, but when I did a google search this morning on the man’s name, something interesting came up: a memory page for his daughter who died in a motorcycle accident in our town (this family was from a town 25 miles away) last spring.  I remember that case: a man was driving a speeding motorcycle, and when police tried to pull him over,  he gave chase.  He eventually lost control of the motorcycle, and it crashed, killing his passenger when she was ejected from the motorcycle.  From the research I did on the internet this morning, it seems that the suspect from last night’s shooting incident was the father of the victim in the motorcycle chase case.  Perhaps he was upset with the way police handled things last spring, so he shot up the police station and led them back to where his daughter was killed –  the shootout took place at the same scene.

Tragic case all around, and we are reeling from yet another so-called ‘big city’ incident that seems quite out of place here in our small Utopian town.  I went to the shooting suspect’s Facebook page, and there are several  Christian activities on it.  Perhaps in his grief for his daughter, the man lost faith in letting God handle things, and that is another aspect of the tragedy.  Thank God that no officers or bystanders were injured, and I’m going to pray for the recovery and physical and emotional healing of the man and his family.

Here’s a link to the news story.

It’s A Myth That You Can’t Get A Speeding Ticket On Christmas Day

Posted in holidays on December 28th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , ,

Finding out that it’s only a myth that cops are nice and forgiving on Christmas Day was not pleasant, and that’s all I’m going to say about that – except to disclaim that the lead foot did not belong to me.

Other than ‘the incident’ , Christmas day was a fun day full of blessings and family cheer.  We drove the 200+ miles to Chicago and back to spend the day with family, and despite promising ourselves this will be the last year we attempt that sort of craziness, it was fun –  although we returned more tired than ever with less time to recuperate than ever, and it really might be time to sit back and relax at home on Christmas Day one of these years.

Hope your holiday season was blessed and happy!!  And oh yeah, watch out for those Indiana State Troopers!  😉

A Christmas Blessing

Posted in holidays on December 25th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Speaking of family outings, we found a fun place weekends ago in Fort Wayne Indiana  – it’s an indoor ice skating place, and they have THREE ice rinks!  But we didn’t have time to try ice skating; our family was more interested in the bouncy castles.  At $5 /  head from 1-4pm, it wasn’t a bad deal.  The only problem was that they had the bouncy castles in the ice arena area, and it was freezing in there!  The kids were ok, but we weren’t able to stay as long as we wanted, plus they were all frozen by the time we left.  If they had just noted their arrangement on their website, we could have dressed for the occasion, but that’s ok, it was still fun.  After that, we had a delicious dinner at Golden Corral – YUM!

But something strange happened there – I was waiting for a man to finish at the buffet, and he apologized for taking so long (he wasn’t) and then handed me a “Christmas blessing” on a folded up piece of paper.  He was vague in the details; just mentioning ‘Christmas Blessing’, so I opened up the paper, and it was a copy of a newspaper article about the man’s family – mainly his elderly mother.  Looking at the picture in the article told me that the man who gave it to me was Raymond, whom you’ll read about below.  Although the article was from 1996, he mentioned that he was with his mother that day at the restaurant – she is doing well here in 2010, 14 years later!  I find the family’s story inspirational, and I thought I’d help the man spread his family’s touching story – the story featuring his mother’s boundless faith and he and his father finding Christ.  Below is a copy of the article he gave me; I hope you find it inspirational reading on this very special holiday.  Merry Christmas!

‘She taught us by what she did’

Thanksgiving this year had a special glow for Arlene Berger, 74, and her family.
They gathered for the holiday meal in the new house the Flushing Township resident, severely brain-damaged in a 1994 traffic accident, shares with one of her sons, his wife, and two children.
Her house was built with funds from her accident settlement and her family is determined life will be as meaningful as possible for the woman left with physical as well as mental impairment.
Her progress has been awesome, as has been the help she’s received from others, according to two of her five children.

Raymond, 47, the eldest of her four sons, and David, 32, the youngest, this week recounted details of their mother’s accident and her life of righteousness.

With 15 years separating them, they hold different views of how their mother’s faith affected them.

“I used to mock her; my other brothers did,” Raymond said of his youth in Flint.

David said, “She was the most giving person, many of us thought to a fault.  I remember a couple of times she didn’t know how she was going to pay her bills, and when I asked her about how she had spent her money, she had given some to this person, some to that one.”

Raymond concurred, “We thought she was being used.  We told her there ain’t no God and to quit giving everything away.  But we weren’t thinking like she was.”

Their Bible-reading Baptist mother was living up to the passage:”Give, and it shall be given to  you.” (Luke 6:38)

“Now she’s on the receiving end.” said David.  “Because of the way she was before the accident, people want to do for her.”

Church members are showing up to care for her to  a degree  the family never could have imagined.

“She gave everything away her whole life, and now her kids all want her to have an enjoyable life,” David said.

It was not just her older sons who derided her faith.

Raymond, a Flint truck plant employee, recalls his late father chasing ministers away from the door.

“He had been anti-religious.  He worked and he drank.  I didn’t really know him until I was old enough to drink, old enough to go to the bars,” Raymond said.

In 1981, their father had a massive heart attack.  His wife’s church prayed for him, and he survived to embrace salvation.

He lived the last two years of his life a Christian.

Raymond said he also has been saved, and has seen the difference faith has made in his life.”That was a miracle,” he said.  “I never thought I’d see my dad in a church.  I never thought I’d see myself in a church.”

David, on the other hand, attended John R. Rice Baptist Academy in Davison and went on to graduate from a bible college.  He teaches at Bridgeport Baptist Academy during the day and works at Delphi Saginaw Steering Systems at night.

He was the assistant pastor at Landmark Baptist Church, where his mother was headed Feb.24, 1994, when her car was hit in the driver’s side by a Jeep Cherokee whose driver had run a red light, he said.  He was notified that his mother had been taken to Hurley Medical Center, where she was in critical condition.

She underwent two emergency surgeries in short order.

A CAT scan showed 11 brain hemorrhages and blood on her brain stem, he said.

“She was in a coma the whole time,” David said.  “After three months, the doctors told us she might not ever come out of it because of her age and the length of time since the accident.”

Her children were told of the probability that she would never be able to walk, talk, or feed herself.

“Well, you ain’t God,” Raymond told them.

After three-and-a-half months at Hurley, she was moved to Riverbend Nursing Center in Grand Blanc, where she stunned David by allowing nurses to walk her in ” baby steps” the first day.

She progressed out of the coma.  Raymond rememberedd first noticing her fingers tapping to the inspirational music tapes her family supplied.

Raymond and David recall the times she responded with an “I love you, too” to each of them.

Arlene Berger received three months of therapy at Riverbend before transferring to McLaren Regional Medical Center to build skills she would need for living at home.

His brothers and sister back David up in caring for their mother, who lost her left eye and use of her left hand in the accident and now has an erratically functioning mind with an IQ of 90.

“A lot of people live for themselves, don’t do for their kids.  And then the kids don’t do for them,” David said.  “She taught us by what she did.”

Merry Christmas!

Posted in holidays on December 20th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , ,

Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! Happy New Year!

Whatever you are celebrating this year, here’s to hoping that it is safe, fun, and happy!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

– Luke 2:8-20 NIV

10 Years, 1 Year

Posted in Everyday Life on December 18th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

December 18 marks two anniversaries of immense personal loss – 10 years ago today, my father-in-law passed away from ALS.  Though some memories are still painful, a decade of time has numbed the pain of his loss a little, and it’s easier to focus on the good times we shared and the countless wonderful things he did for people during his lifetime.  Albeit selfishly, I sometimes wish that Vince was here to meet his 7 wonderful grandchildren, to realize our family’s growing relationship with God and our spiritual journey, and to see how far his son has come in life.  I think he would be so proud.  More about December 18, 2000 was written here.

December 18, 2009 – Last year, on the day that was 9 years to the day after Vince’s passing, our family dog Charity passed away unexpectedly.  She was almost 12 years old but in seemingly good health.  She was fine in the morning, gone by dinnertime.  Not enough time has passed to heal the pain of her loss since she was like a child to us, but there is no reason to dwell on such melancholy topics here in the blog.

I’m thankful that I have a busy December 18 this year, that it’s on a Saturday and that I don’t have to spend it alone.  I’m writing this ahead of time and scheduling it to post itself on December 18 automatically in hopes of maybe not realizing this day of personal infamy until it’s over.  Will the entire day pass without me thinking about Vince or Charity?  Probably not, they and other loved ones lost hold a special place in my heart, and I think about them most every day, especially  in December.  But December 18 this year will have joy of its own as family comes from far away to celebrate the season.  I look forward to making happy memories for December, especially for the 18th, which just happens to be exactly one week before Christmas, a day I’m really looking forward to celebrating this year more than ever.  Losing Charity last year was an awful thing to happen just before Christmas time, just as it was even more terrible to lose a parent / grandparent in our family just before Christmas 10 years ago.  But when I lost Charity, and I realized that I was more curious about God’s plan for me than I was looking to be angry with Him, I knew that I was on my way to having a wonderful spiritual relationship with Him.

For that, I am very thankful, and it makes me want to celebrate this Christmas season for what it truly is: a celebration of the birth of Jesus and an acknowledgment of the glorious love that God has for us.

Go See… Oh Wait, It’s Much Too Late And So Am I

Posted in Theater on December 17th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Big surprise, time got away from me.  How did that happen?  Couldn’t be that it’s Christmas time and I have a million things to do.  Honestly, I always try to refrain from sending Christmas cards, but sometimes I feel so badly when we get cards from others and I’m not sending any back.  So then I start sending some – just to my MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, I’ll say.  But next thing I know, I’ve decided to send Christmas cards to “a few” select groups of people, and that’s when I realize that I’m just sending Christmas cards anyway even though I wasn’t going to!  Well, this that and the other stuff; Christmas cards are just one extra check on my holiday time to-do list, but that’s a tangent…

My point was busyness.  I was so busy that a few weeks ago when I wrote another newspaper review for one of our community theater groups, I forgot to post it on my blog.  I usually like to post my reviews in my blog – since I’m doing the work to write them anyway, I might as well post them here to try to remind some friends and readers to go see the show.  But now it’s too late, for the show I saw and reviewed has finished its run.  Oh well, such things happen; hopefully my review as it was printed in the paper made some people want to come see the cute show.  For fun, here is a copy of the review:

Pageant Shines This Season

Early December finds many people preoccupied with the hustle and bustle of the approaching holiday season, so what better way to unwind from holiday stress than to see a live show?

A play guaranteed to inspire Yuletide spirit, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is being performed by The Williams County Community Theatre in the playhouse at 501 S. East Avenue in Montpelier during these chilly December weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This festive show provides fun for the entire family. The audience can spend a wintery evening or an afternoon matinee getting to know the Bradley clan (cohesively played by Jake McAfee, Mary Valdez, Allie Boyer, and Logan Psurny) as their normally normal life erupts into chaos. Thoughtfully narrated by young Beth Bradley (a cute and concise Allie Boyer), a heartwarming story unfolds, and the audience is a captive witness to the events leading up to what everyone hopes will be The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

When Bradley mom Grace (a funny, flustered Mary Valdez) is chosen to replace Mrs. Armstrong (an amusing character played by Nicki Bassett) as director of the church’s annual Christmas Pageant, all seems well until the Herdman family (outrageously played by Lance Day, Jessica Valdez / Sunny Bowman, Mason Bassett, Elliot Bowman, Isaiah Valdez, Jamison Grime, and Katie Taylor / Zara McNalley) slips into the scene. The Bradleys’ seemingly picture-perfect world is turned upside-down when the six trouble-maker Herdman kids come to Sunday school. Even the reason why they began attending in the first place is hilarious (Logan Psurny takes the heat as Charlie Bradley). Poor Grace just wants to tell the story of Mary and Baby Jesus in the Pageant, but rehearsals are tough with a zany assortment of characters (brought to life by Amy Boyer, Jenna Bowman, Kyla Huband, Jake McAfee, Abby Ledyard, Makayah Long / Alisa Parsons, Kayden Long, Anna Valdez / Carolyn Rychener, Brook Ward / Bailey Ward, Taylor Brown, Amari Blanco, Tatum Grime, Savanah Kleinhen, Ethan Psurny, Hailey Tressler, Hannah Tressler) who just don’t seem to like the idea of giving the Herdman kids a chance. Will it all come together in time to be The Best Christmas Pageant Ever?

It’s the perfect time of year for this touching show, and WCCT’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will have you flooded with Christmas spirit. Whether you simply come for the holiday fun, to see the joyously decorated theatre, or to watch the adorable children in the cast put on their Pageant, this show will tug at your heartstrings, chase away holiday blues, and leave you humming Christmas carols with a glow and a grin!

“After all, It’s almost Christmas!”, so come out to the theater and join the fun!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever can be seen on the Montpelier stage on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 pm on December 3,4, 10, and 11 and Thursday night December 9, and Sunday afternoon December 12 at 2:30 pm. Some of the roles are split between multiple actors, which is just one reason to see this show more than once. Reservations are recommended, but not required. Please call the WCCT Office for reservations and more info: 1-888-569-9228.

Taylhis has experience in community theatre that spans multiple decades. Ms. Taylhis has been on the stage as an actor, as well as behind-the-scenes doing production work like assistant-directing, producing, and stage-managing. As an enthusiastic supporter of the arts in Northwest Ohio, she has also enjoyed serving administratively on the boards of various local community theatre groups.

I Needed To Smile Today

Posted in holidays on December 13th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Nothing Worse…

Posted in Everyday Life on December 10th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Than having to care for sick kids when you are a sick parent.  Ok, so there are plenty of worse things, but this is one of my least favorite things about daily life, getting sick at the same time as my kids.  The hits just keep on coming – is it December or what?  (in case you aren’t aware, this is in reference to my family’s annual dose of uncanny bad luck that seems to show its ugly face every December)

This time around, it’s a nasty stomach virus, which means loads of extra laundry and some very crabby kids.  The two little ones were up all night last night, and even though Hubby was the one who got up with them, I was still awakened all night, so neither of us got much sleep.  Today was a take-it-easy day, and somehow I found the energy to get through it while being sick and on little sleep.  I’m slightly concerned about the little ones being kept up all night again because it’s the night of our oldest daughter’s birthday party, and we have 8 screaming, shrieking 5th graders running around the house.  But they seem to be having a blast (while us sickies keep our distance), and that’s what matters.  Now I just have to figure out how to talk them out of wanting to watch Twilight Eclipse, which in my opinion, does not seem appropriate for a bunch of 10 and 11 and one 6-year-old.

In a way it stinks getting sick on the weekend- there goes any chance we have of a fun family outing tomorrow, and I’m going to be really upset if I have to miss teaching my Sunday school class on  Sunday morning – those 1st graders are adorable, and we have so much fun together every week; I really look forward to seeing them.  But on the other hand, getting sick on the weekend means that Hubbydoesn’t have to worry about missing work, so that’s a positive.

Well, here’s to hoping that we are well soon and that there is some way that the rest of the family (2 left standing) does not come down with this.  I guess if there was a weekend in December for the whole family to come down sick, this was the best one.  We have my daughter’s birthday party, but nothing that involves travel like the weekends in the rest of the month.

Take care of yourself and your family in this, the lovely month of December!!

An Afternoon With The FBI

Posted in Everyday Life on December 9th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It seemed like something out of a movie, our visit to the local  FBI office yesterday.  Except that it wasn’t a movie, and the office wasn’t exactly local…

Let me back up.  It’s December, and don’t you know, that seems to signal a yearly torrent of bad luck thrown our way.  Shortly after turning the page on our calendar this month, we found out (among other things) that my husband’s website (and our family’s livelihood) had been attacked.  And I don’t mean a little harmless virus or an annoying spam attack – it’s a DDoS – simply put, someone targeted this website, and essentially used thousands of computers around the world to overload this website and crash the server.  It’s enough of an incident to capture both the interest of the local media and the FBI, both of whom politely requested interviews yesterday.  So we drove out to the city, found the government building that houses the FBI offices, walked inside and checked with the doorman who wanted to know who we were there to see.

“I have an appointment with Mr. X at the FBI (name changed for privacy).” said my husband, and once it was confirmed that he was on the list, the doorman stated that he “would get us up.”  He led us to the elevator and punched in a special code – can’t just push the floor number for the FBI these days it seems.  We got off the elevator and waited around for a few minutes, entertained by the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted posters.  One in particular caught my husband’s eye.  “Doesn’t that look like our neighbor?”  He asked me, and I had to agree.  I began to read the description and was surprised to see that it did seem to describe our neighbor – he’s into sports like golf and dirt-biking, and it’s strange because my husband and I would often notice the neighbor packing up his car for weekend trips and coming back, unloading things like helmets, golf clubs, and lots of other sporting equipment.  Such is life when you don’t have kids, we thought, and I guess you should know that the reason we pay so much attention to this neighbor’s activities is because he happens to have a nasty cat that terrorizes our neighborhood.  So while keeping tabs on that darn cat, we’ve observed some of our most wanted neighbor’s behavior.  The kicker of this whole coincidence is that the Wanted-by-the-FBI guy was listed as possibly having bi-sexual tendencies, and that fits in with what we’ve seen about our neighbor as well.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s him, but it was an entertaining wait, to say the least.

So then an agent comes out of a door and asks if we’ve been helped.  We said not yet and repeated the name of the agent we were there to see.  We were led to a door, and there was a sophisticated series of security measures that the man went through to enter (not going to repeat them here on the internet out of respect for the security of the FBI – not that I even knew what he was doing anyway).  In this small waiting area, there was a metal detector, which began to go crazy every time this guy went near it – I forgot to mention that he’s carrying 2 or 3 very large bags.  He disappears behind a door, and the man we were supposed to meet with appears and introduces his assistant – a lady carrying a notepad, a pen, and oh yeah, I shouldn’t forget to mention the large gun she was packing tucked into the back of her skirt.  What kind of assistant is that?!?

Two of the most famous fictional FBI agents in pop culture history: Agents Mulder and Scully from the X-Files.  Ok, so our agents were not Mulder and Scully, but I couldn’t resist making the comparison.

So we go into a conference room of sorts, and the interview begins.  The agent and his assistant are not unfriendly, and they want to know the facts of the case.  They are both taking notes, but probably most surprising to us is the absence of laptop computers –  these FBI guys (from the cyber crimes division) are taking notes with pens on Steno pads, and that’s not even a joke.  But it is hilarious.

The entire day had a Men in Black-like feel…  If you’ve seen the movie, then you remember the part where Will Smith is recruited to be a man in black – he goes to this bland looking government building that turns out to be very sci-fi on the inside with all the security measures and things like that.  Such was the case here – lots of doors, signs about authorization, keypads, things like that, very sci-fi, and my husband told the agent so at the end of the interview.  Mr. X seemed to chuckle (we wondered on the way home, are FBI agents trained to drain themselves of personality?), and he told us that we could just take the elevator back downstairs, no special code needed – thanks for the advice.

All in all, a very interesting trip.  Made me want to do things like see Salt (a movie about the FBI) or read Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI again.  Did the FBI interview do any good for my husband’s business?  We don’t know yet.  It depends if they catch the people who are doing it.  The FBI disclaimed several times that it doesn’t seem as if the damages the business has incurred will be recovered, and we of course are praying otherwise.  Whatever happens, this is part of learning to trust God’s plan for us, isn’t it?  Easier said than done.  I’m really hoping that the stress on my husband dissipates soon…

And oh yeah, a little souvenir from the FBI (the property we gave them was received and not seized, in case you are wondering):

Mars, Venus, Whatever You Call It

Posted in church, Cool Internet Stuff, Everyday Life on December 7th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

It seems like men and women can be from different planets at times. During a series at youth group called “Lovesick”, we were shown the following videos, and they illustrate the differences between the opposite sexes hilariously – Enjoy!