Thursday, August 28, 2008

2 Days!!!!

Only 2 more days, and the long, dark time of waiting known as the offseason will be over. Husker football begins again, and hope springs eternal!!!


Memorial Stadium in the fall...the band is on the field, the jets are doing a flyover, and football is about to be unleashed!!!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Memory Walk Update

The more time that's gone by, the more amazed, touched, and downright humbled I've been at the response to my request for donations for the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk. The walk itself is just under four weeks away, and with the help of friends, family, and even relative internet strangers, we've raised...


Over twenty-one hundred bucks that will be going toward Alzheimer's research, treatment, and support for families with loved ones who suffer from this evil disease. What a wonderful tribute you all have paid to my mom, who many of you know, but even more of you do not. She, my dad, and I are deeply grateful.

I've gotta admit, though--when it comes to this cause, I'm greedy. Not for myself...not on my own behalf...but because I want so much for this very worthwhile organization to have as many resources at its disposal as possible.

Alzheimers--you've made this personal. And I'm gonna be part of the collective butt-kicking I expect you to receive as we find out more about you, the way you operate, and how to put you away once and for all.

A HUGE thanks once again to all of you out there who have helped in this fight.

UPDATE (to the update):
My mom will be participating in an Alzheimer's drug study. I just got more info on the study last night. The drug is called Bapineuzumab. Here's what has to say about this study:

This is a multicenter, double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized, outpatient
multiple dose study in male and female patients aged 50 to 89 years with mild to
moderate AD. Approximately 200 study sites in the US and Canada will be
involved. Patients will be randomized to receive either bapineuzumab or placebo.
Each patient's participation will last approximately 1.5 years.Bapineuzumab is a
humanized monoclonal antibody, which binds to and clears beta amyloid peptide,
and is designed to provide antibodies to beta amyloid directly to the patient.
It's beta amyloid peptide that causes the "brain tangles" that most scientists think cause Alzheimers. So the hope is that the drug will bind to, clear out, and prevent the return of that stuff. According to the site, 3/4 of the participants will receive the drug, while 1/4 will receive the placebo--and neither the participant nor their doctor will know what they're getting during the trial.

I know my mom's excited both to be able to help in the fight against Alzheimers AND at the possibility that in the process, this drug may be of benefit to her as well. It's this kind of study that the money from the Memory Walk helps to support.

So, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, thanks again, and God bless.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

"That's one funny sheep you've got there..."

Tonight after dinner, we were playing with Pumpkin on the floor while Kiddo was upstairs getting ready for bed. Sweetie took this little soft rattle that's shaped like a multicolored sheep and pretended like it was running toward Pumpkin.

This was quite possibly the most hilarious thing that Pumpkin has seen in her 5 1/2 months of existence. At least, judging by her reaction.

I mean, we've heard little giggles from her before. We've heard her scream happily when she's doing something she enjoys. But tonight was the first full-out no-holds-barred belly laughing that we've heard from our daughter.

It was beautiful.

Enjoy the video:


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Odds and Ends

Odd and End #1:

This will be the one item that is non-chronological, BUT it must be Item The First in terms of importance--today is Sweetie's *mumble mumble* anniversary of her 29th birthday!!!! Happy birthday, Sweetie, and thank you for making me the luckiest guy on earth. I love you!

Odd and End #2:

Going back a few days, now...Friday, I took a group of high school kids from the church out to Camp Carol Joy Holling for a "last weekend before school starts" retreat. We played paper charades (AWESOME game, btw), did a couple of Nooma Bible studies (also AWESOME, btw), played Capture the Flag in the dark as well as a couple of games of hide and seek, had a campfire with smores, did a series of trust-building games and know, starting with human knots, going to trust leans and trust lifts and trust falls...that sort of thing. We cooked out hot dogs, and then spent 3 hours in the afternoon on this:

The Camp Carol Joy Holling Commitment Course. To give the picture some perspective, it's a bit over 50 feet high, with two levels of high ropes elements, most of which involve finding very difficult ways of getting yourself and 4-5 other people across what amount to tightrope wires with various things in the way while being held up by nothing but a tether. Then, when you've gone through the 10 or so elements, ending it with a couple of hundred foot zip line back down to the ground.

It ROCKED. Seriously, incredibly rocked. I have a pretty tight-knit high school group, but I saw these kids working together in ways I never would have thought possible. And I got to participate with them, which was great for me. Well, mostly great. The course itself was amazing, but the non-amazing part brings us to:

Odd and End #3:

I came down with strep throat. And I'm pretty sure it started Friday night, while I was out at camp. Yeah, with the kids. About 3 hours after arriving, I suddenly got this horribly sore throat, and had the hardest time sleeping that night because I didn't want to swallow. Overnight, I started to get congested, so much so that by mid-morning I was convinced that I had a really bad case of allergies. I borrowed some allergy meds from the other adult sponsor which helped me feel a little better and get through the day, but I seriously was considering still not going on the commitment course. I told myself, "okay, come's for the kids," and pushed on through, but by the time we got back to Lincoln Saturday evening, I was exhausted and had a definite case of the chills. Took me unil Monday (and a 103.3 fever) to get to the doctor, but sure enough, strep it was. But now, after two days on antibiotics, life is MUCH better. Much, much much much better. I still have a freakishly annoying cough and some decent congestion, but I'm finally feeling like a human again.

I still have yet to unpack my van from the weekend, though. Gotta get to that soon.

Odd and End #4:

More pics (and a video!) of the kids to share:

Yes, that's Kiddo going down the freakishly large blow-up slide and riding on the fast turny-thing carnival ride from the family day at his grandparents' church here in Lincoln. Sweetie was there with both kids by herself because I was shivering at home in a strep-induced haze, so that meant anything Kiddo wanted to do he had to do it alone. For those that know him (he's always been a little...shall we say...timid about these sorts of things), these pictures will be a much bigger deal than perhaps to the average viewer. But they're cute nonetheless:

And Pumpkin continues to grow--in the video below this picture, you can see how much she enjoys bouncing in her ExerSaucer. Fun times!!!!

Odd and End #5:

Last one, I promise. About a month ago, I announced that I was raising money for the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk in honor of my mom. Well, today we passed a milestone that I never thought was possible...we've raised over $2,000. I can't say enough thanks for all who have been a part of this--on behalf of my parents, as well as my own thankfulness. This whole experience has been incredibly overwhelming.

FWIW, the original post with the donation link is here.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Like Father, Like Son...Like Daughter?

Um, not much to write here. Just a few captions.
This is me, in 1974:
This is Kiddo, in 2004:

Aaaaaand...this is Pumpkin, in 2008 (last night, actually):

'Nuff said.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Many Faces of Pumpkin

Tonight, while I was busy at church leading a high school Bible study, Sweetie was busy with the kids and the camera. And she got some great shots. Kiddo has a very expressive face, and it appears as though his sister may be following in his footsteps.

May I present to you, The Many Faces of Pumpkin:

Ain't she a beauty? =)


Thursday, August 07, 2008

An update

I can't believe it. I really, truly, can't believe it.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my mom's early-onset Alzheimer's, and how I'm walking in the Lincoln Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk in September. The link to that post is here.

Thanks to the generosity of so many, as I type this we've raised $1,430 for the Alzheimer's Association in honor of and in support for my mom.

And many of these gifts have come from complete strangers. Maybe I know some of your names, maybe we've commented on each other's blogs or been engaged in an online conversation over at HuskerPedia...but for all practical purposes, we're still strangers. We wouldn't know each other if we bumped into each other on the street.

I'm amazed. Touched.

I've sent out thank you emails to most folks who have donated (I think there's a couple that came in yesterday that I need to get emails out to still), but I have to admit that it's been a big struggle to come up with words that adequately describe the deep sense of gratitude I feel for every dollar that has come in, and for every prayer that I know has been said.

Like I mentioned in the initial post, this is something intensely personal for me--it's not just another good cause that I want to support. It's one of the few opportunities I have to actually do something, instead of sitting around feeling sorry or sad or angry or hopeful (yes, sometimes hopeful) about the whole situation.

So thank you. Thank you for helping make a difference. Thank you for enabling me to actively fight against this evil disease that robs so many of their mind and spirit way too early.

Thank you.

If you're interested in donating, here's the donation link again. You can donate online with a credit card, or you can print out a form and send it in with a check (the link for the form is on the donation page, underneath the "donation thermometer"):

God bless.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Called to (and through) South Dakota

Check out this transcript of a Facebook conversation with a student that I had Tuesday afternoon after returning from the high school mission trip we took to the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota:

ME: My mind has just been swimming ever since we got back from SD...I think God began something special last week, and I'm trying to wrap my brain around exactly what it may be.

THEM: Yeah... I've had this feeling like something is different.. I just haven't been able to figure out what exactly it is though... Though I will say... I don't find myself wanting a new phone or a new laptop as much as I used to... every time I think of wanting something that I don't really need... I find myself thinking about how fortunate I am to have what I've got already. This trip has helped me in so many ways... My faith had been dwindling and a lot of confusion in what I was meant to do in life.... I now find myself stronger in my faith then ever... That and I will never forget the kids in Wanblee...

My friends, God was at work last week! Two adult sponsors and I drove three minivans with thirteen students to Kadoka, SD on Sunday. We were there with three other church groups—from Iowa, Minnesota, and New York City. From Monday through Thursday, these youth (and adult sponsors) painted over gang graffiti; picked up entire vanloads of garbage; led the children of Wanblee, a reservation town, in Kid’s Club; visited a nursing home; refinished a deck; and built relationships with the residents of the reservation; all while sleeping on a church basement floor; taking turns making meals for the whole group of 72; worshipping together; having 45 minutes of daily devotion time each morning; and making new friends from all around the country!

In short, it was an amazing experience, and God’s hand was everywhere throughout the week:

  • We saw the face of Jesus in kids like Marguerite, who was 4, had fetal alcohol syndrome, and could barely talk or control her bladder. She had fits of rage and liked to run away…but she craved attention and love. And the reward of her smile, when it came…it was beautiful.
  • We saw the face of Jesus in the grandmother whose house we painted, who had raised 3 kids of her own and now had taken in 3 foster children whose parents were in jail for meth distribution. She makes gorgeous quilts, and lots of clothes for her neighbors, family, and friends…but told us she’s too busy making it all to have time to actually sell any of it. She gives it all away.
  • We saw the face of Jesus in Brian, Y-Vo, Evan, and Kaylene, the college-aged YouthWorks staff who gave their summer to stay in South Dakota and minister to both the people there, and the high schoolers who come in week after week.
  • We saw the face of Jesus in the other groups who served alongside us—people from different cultural, geographical, and denominational backgrounds, but who became close friends through our time together during the week.

And I saw the face of Jesus in the youth of the church I serve. Day after day, these high school youth worked hard, gave of themselves without regard for what they might get out of it, and showed selfless love for a community and a people desperately in need of it. To the people they encountered, there is no doubt in my mind that they were the face of Jesus. They preached the good news of God’s love through every blister, every paint splatter, every kick or punch from a kid, every drop of sweat and sunburn, every act of love that they showed. They lived out, in many unexpected but exciting ways, God’s call to them through their baptisms. I was proud to be there with them.

Why Pine Ridge? Why were we there? Here are some sobering statistics. On the reservation, the unemployment rate is 85%. 97% live below the poverty level. 22% of homes have no telephone. Per capita income is $3,700 per year. The adolescent suicide rate is 4 times the national average. With the kids we saw at Kid’s Club, easily 1 in 4 had some measure of fetal alcohol syndrome or developmental delay due to in utero drug use. The town of Wanblee, where we served, is best described as an urban inner-city experience in the middle of a rural setting. Gang graffiti, boarded-up houses, and vacant lots make up much of the town, and there’s very little in the way of infrastructure. This is a place in desperate need of God’s hope and God’s healing, where those who follow Christ are called to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God,” in the words of Micah 6:8.

Before we left, I had four different people come to me individually to tell me that they thought this might be the beginning of something bigger than just a one week service trip. While we were there, I challenged our youth to look for ways to bring this week of service home. God’s got some ideas brewing in our youth right now…and so I've passed the same invitation and challenge on to the rest of my congregation. Are there ways that we are being called to live out Matthew 25 (“when you did it to the least of these…”) or Micah 6:8 on the Pine Ridge reservation?

I can't wait to see what God's up to!!!


Monday, August 04, 2008

A Franciscan Blessing

Finding the face of Jesus in the kids of Wamblee, SD

I just got back from leading a high school mission and service trip to Wanblee, SD in the heart of the Pine Ridge reservation (more on that another time). While I was there, one of the leaders read the following blessing at the end of a worship service. It really spoke to me, and I thought it would serve as a good introduction to what I anticipate will be a series of blog entries about my time there...we experienced so much in that short week, it will honestly take a bit of processing for me. So much pain and hopelessness--and yet, so much of God's face at the same time.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you forever.