Tag Archives: Family

Road Taken – a photo challenge

It’s late Saturday evening and the day is almost done. The sun set hours ago, and it’s dark now. The moon is visible in the clear western sky. Last night it lightly snowed and this morning when the sun rose its warmth melted the fresh layer of new snow. Spring, at least official Spring, is a little more than a fortnight away, but all indications are that Spring is here.

the road taken – this morning and most Sunday mornings to church

I woke early, made coffee and began work before the sun rose this morning. I was driving to church when I snapped the photo. It’s the road I take to church or downtown or whenever I visit the Northside of town. This morning was the monthly men’s group gathering and I joined this year. Most of the time I am the youngest member of the group. It was my turn to get donuts. Continue reading Road Taken – a photo challenge

A Time for Everything

I’ve been blogging for almost seven years and writing for even longer. It doesn’t seem possible, but I’ve written more than 500 posts and when I click ‘Publish’ it will be 525. Over that time, I’ve written mostly for me and I have developed a small modest following. I am grateful to the friendships and e-relationships I’ve developed. My mom reads and occasionally comments when we talk, but doesn’t leave public comments. But, the original focus was to develop as a writer and maybe, just maybe, write for a broader audience.

the first crocus of 2017

In early January, I noticed an advert in our church bulletin looking for writers for the Lenten Devotional. The advert in the bulletin asked for a scripture reference and I tore off the slip and dropped it in the office message box. A week or so later, I got an e-mail and it read:

Hi Clay,

Thank you for registering to contribute to the Lenten E-devotional. I have you on the list for this scripture passages: Ecclesiastes 3.  Please submit your devotional to this email address by February 10. I look forward to reading it.

Blessings,

So, I sat down and wrote a draft and came back to it a few days later. When I was finished, I called a work colleague asked for editing advice and she told me I had nailed it and offered only a couple of revision and stylistic edits and I submitted the piece.

Yesterday morning, my FIRST piece of public writing landed in my e-mail box, promptly at 5AM. I had no hint of when my devotional would be selected, but it was first. I beamed. I forwarded the e-mail to my mom, my brothers, and my colleague. It felt good. Then, I went about my day.

Before I left the house for school, I received an e-mail from a friend with the message – ‘Enjoyed your devotion. Great Job!’

Below is the Lenten Devotional I wrote.

A Time for Everything

Seasons. That is what I love most about living in the Midwest. I grew up in Southeastern Texas along the Gulf Coast. Most of my family still lives there and my mom still lives in the house where I grew up. Southeastern Texas has two season – HOT and mild, with an occasional dip into cold.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 1:1

Continue reading A Time for Everything

shadow

It’s Sunday morning and I am Up North. I’ve found my solitude for the moment, but I don’t have to be here to find it, solitude is wherever I can find a moment to reflect and restore. This week it’s the lake. Last week, it was getting caught up and looking ahead.

last Sunday’s shadow cast over the front yard and sidewalk

Before church last week, I snapped the photos below. It was a beautiful sunny day. The skies were clear and it was absolutely beautiful. I uploaded the two photos and planned to write a short post for the weekly photo challenge. Then life happened, before I knew it Sunday was over, then Monday sped past, and Tuesday and the entire week passed before my eyes. Life happens. Continue reading shadow

Solitude – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday and I find myself searching for solitude. It’s been a peaceful day, so far: Men’s group at church, a Saturday morning webinar on Tinker vs. Des Moines, a bit of school work, and a power nap. Earlier, I found a bit of solitude at my desk after the webinar and I’m back after the nap. At the moment, I have the sounds of “Still Wild” by La Mar playing. It has a pleasant beat and it’s peaceful and calming.

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl and an unofficial national holiday. I don’t have a preference who win, I only hope it’s a good game. In previous years, I have made my predictions known, not this year. Tomorrow will be a busy day getting ready for the coming week.

I read the WordPress e-mail and post WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude yesterday after school. I pondered the topic this morning; I was stumped. Finally, it came to me this afternoon.

The lake: magic – a photo challenge.

Saturday afternoon’s view the sun shines

We were up at the lake last for Thanksgiving. We had a good time and celebrated Thanksgiving and enjoyed the peace and solitude of being Up North. We invited our neighbor, Mr. Bill over for Thanksgiving dinner, he’s retired and a full-time resident along the lake. He’s also a diehard Detroit Lions fan and they had won the Thanksgiving Day game with a field goal as time expired. I always look forward to seeing him. When we talk, it was always about family, friends, and the peace and solitude along the lake. Especially, the lake.

At school, my science classes Continue reading Solitude – a photo challenge

A dog’s purpose

This past Friday night we went to watch the movie, A Dog’s Purpose. I cried and O noticed, and she pointed it out to B, who admitted she cried, too. O was perplexed, why did we think the movie was sad? O didn’t like the movie and had spent the entire movie trying to figure out why the movie didn’t follow the book. The critics didn’t like it either. O read the book and was disappointed, I reminded her that the book is almost always better.

I enjoyed the movie, not because it was a wonderfully crafted story, but because it made me thankful for the unconditional love of our dog, Ivy.

The movie made me wonder what really is the purpose of many things. I think the purpose of dogs is to remind us to be better people; and some days I don’t measure up.

Ivy joined our family almost seven years ago, in April 2010. The day before Easter, how we got Ivy is a strange story in itself. In the time, she’s been with us, she’s done all the things a dog should do:

  • She’s caught a bunny
  • She’s caught a squirrel
  • She’s been blasted by a skunk – more than once
  • She’s run away – well, not really run away, more of gotten loose and taken off
  • She’s destroyed every one of her stuffed animals
  • And, she’s made a place in our hearts
  • and, i am sure I am missing something.. O or W will remind me, or even B.

When we got Ivy, O and W both promised they’d feed her and pick up the poop. They promised they’d walk her and take care of her. They promised they’d brush her and take care of her. Sometimes they actually do those things, but most of the time I feed her in the morning and let her out when I get up in the morning.

This morning, I went downstairs and she stayed upstairs asleep. I was pouring my first cup of coffee when I heard her come down the stairs, clip, clop, clip. She came into the kitchen, then walked over the back door and looked at me, as if to say, ‘hurry up, I gotta go.’ I opened the backdoor and she pawed at the screen door and sat down. It’s her routine and I let her out. She walked across the deck to the first patch of ivy, which is how she got her name, and did her thing. Then she patrolled the yard for several minutes before she came to the back door, barked to let me know she was ready to come inside. Once inside, she checked her dish, then sat down beside the couch, placed her head on the seat cushion, as if to ask, ‘may, I please join you?’ Then she jumped up and lay beside me and went back to sleep.

 

Ivy’s purpose – sleeping in the sunshine on a sunny winter afternoon, she always seems to find the sunshine

Continue reading A dog’s purpose

path: a photo challenge

Thursday – December 29, 2016. Counting today, there are three more days in 2016. Then a new year, of sorts. Last year, I had three hundred sixty-six to count, the coming year brings three hundred sixty-five. For educators, like myself, the year is defined by the school calendar mid-August to June or early May with a break in June, July and early August. Which means new year marks the beginning of second half and new birth of sorts for my eighth graders.

Christmas dessert – B’s homemade old-fashioned creampie

At the moment, I am on winter break – Day 7. I wish I could report I had accomplished more than catching up on sleep, but I can’t. I prepared an amazing Christmas Dinner – roasted bone-in prime rib, au gratin potatoes, and Brussel sprouts with bacon. Ivy got the bones. B made the old-fashioned cream pie for dessert.

Today marks the beginning of a new path – thank you notes, cleaning off my office desk, a workout (this would be three days in a row), and maybe some school work –  maybe.

We had snow in early December, the first Sunday of the month. The storm left several inches of snow covering the ground. A week later, we had another storm blanketing the area with a fresh layer if snow. The following week, we had bitter cold and last weekend we had rain and the most of the snow melted. The Monday after Christmas, I was outside raking leaves from the deck and cleaning up the yard a bit. Except for a few patches where the sun doesn’t shine, the snow is gone, it’s history. This afternoon’s forecast calls for a dusting of snow, but at the moment it is clear and sunny – a bonus for this time of the year.

Same path, different days….

Continue reading path: a photo challenge

new horizons: a photo challenge

Sunday morning. It’s cold outside and we’re between snows – yesterday afternoon it began to gently snow as we were finishing our outdoor Christmas decorations. This morning when I woke the eastern sky was cloudy and grey and the sun’s light struggled to dimly awaken the world to a new day.

my first peek outside – the window beside my bed…

We’re 14 days from Christmas morning and 21 days from New Year’s morning. A new horizon and a new year. Somehow, the past 345 days have been a blur. Continue reading new horizons: a photo challenge

Carry on

It’s Sunday evening and the beginning of a new week. Yesterday morning I woke up at the lake, awakened by a barking dog wanting to go outside. This morning I woke in my bed at home to a barking dog, reminding me it was time to get up and get moving. Some things in life are constant.

It was great to get away to the lake. It’s magical. But, there’s magic here, too.

carry_onUp at the lake I was able to relax and breathe. I was also, to find a quiet place and read. When I packed up left the lake yesterday, I only had a few chapters remaining in the book I was reading – Carry On by Lisa Fenn. This morning, after I let Ivy outside and then let her back inside, I poured a cup of coffee and then I sat down in a quite space and I finished reading the book.

There are a few books which after I read, I want to know more, I want tell someone and share. There are books which change my perspective and make me want to continue to be a better person. Carry On is one of those books.

Carry On is the story of three people – the principles in the story – Dartanyon Crockett, Leroy Sutton, and Lisa Fenn. It’s the story of how the three met and how their lives intersected to change the lives of more than the three, and seemingly everyone touched or connected to the story.

The story began in February 2009 when Lisa Fenn first learned of Dartanyon and Leroy and flew to Cleveland, Ohio to meet them. At the time, Lisa Fenn was a producer for ESPN and Dartanyon and Leroy were high school wrestlers, seniors. It would be the last time either would wrestle, competitively. But that day, marked the beginning of a relationship that would change the three forever.

A blind wrestler who carried a legless wrestler. Continue reading Carry on

magic – a photo challenge

It’s Wednesday afternoon. It’s been an amazing day and there is still a little magic left.

We’re UP NORTH where magic abounds. I suppose if I looked, I could find it at home, but I am here. We drove up after school yesterday and stopped halfway to deliver a Christmas wreath to a good friend. We arrived late and the stars were twinkling magically as we unloaded the car.

This morning B nudged me and said, “we’d better get going and rake the yard before the snow hits.”

I grumbled, but got moving. It began to spit snow as we finished.

there is magic in the air...
there is magic in the air…

Then it was a trip to the grocery for what we needed for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s tomorrow and I am thankful

I’ve been dreaming of being here since my last visit in early October. It’s magic here, even when it is cold and snowing. Continue reading magic – a photo challenge

The speed limit

Thursday was my birthday. I turned the speed limit, the speed limit in the United States, in miles per hour, or at least the speed limit that President Nixon signed into law when I was 12. Earlier this year, I was following Sammy Hagar’s example and got a citation for exceeding the posted speed limit. It was an expensive reminder to stay within the boundaries.

photo courtesy of University of Michigan - Dearborn
photo courtesy of University of Michigan – Dearborn

I am 55, not 70, this year and I am comfortable with the number and idea. Each year, I gain a bit more wisdom, realize I have much more to learn, and realize that I have limits. We all have limits.

Since November ’13, I joined the Movember movement and have been growing a moustache to bring awareness to men’s health. At the beginning of November, the moustache is barely noticeable, but after twelve days the whiskers are visible and several people have asked, ‘Growing a moustache?’

I reply, ‘yep.’ And the conversation begins….

I am growing the moustache, not because I look amazing with one, but because the moustache opens a conversation with men my age about the importance of a regular checkup. There are two other men whom I see regularly at school – they both teach 8th grade and we eat lunch together and talk about school, sports, politics, and teaching. But the conversation came up and I asked,

‘When was the last time you had a checkup?’

Neither could recall their last visit for a checkup and were fuzzy when they were last at the doctor’s office and why. Several years ago, that could have been me, but I’ve had a checkup going back to ’09 and the only reason I’ve had a checkup every year since was that I couldn’t go to Boy Scout summer camp without a medical form which included a physical signed by a doctor.

Each doctor’s visit ends with the same reminders – lose weight, watch you what you eat, get some exercise and each year I’ve promised myself to do better and I begin and then, I am back to my old habits.

Earlier this year, I restarted and I am working hard. I have several friends – real and blogger friends – who’ve influenced me through their actions and blogs about the importance of getting and staying active. So, I am moving. I feel much better and my knees are thanking me for it. I am watching what I eat, taking time to exercise, and feeling better.

movember_me_1112So, my moustache grows and it looks ridiculous. The more ridiculous the better because it opens the dialogue and the chance for me to ask, Continue reading The speed limit