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The value of time. . .

Babssoup writes so well…

Bab's Blog

How long is 6 months?
• 180 Days
• 4,320 Hours
• 259,200 Minutes
If measured by a clock

What is the value of 6 months? You’ll get varying answers depending on whom you ask:
• A Soldier waiting to come home
• A bride-to-be waiting to wear that white dress
• An expectant mother waiting to hold that precious gift in her arms
To each of these. . .6 months seems a lifetime. It is so far into the future, they feel that it will never arrive. But, ask the same question of:
• A long-term employee, losing their job
• A Soldier waiting for deployment
• A parent planning their child’s college move
• A patient receiving the bad news of an expiration date
To them, six months is but a moment in time. It goes by so quickly, you hardly have time to savor it.

As I…

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In between the three

Today, one of Barb’s doctors recommended and gave her authorization to apply for a permanent handicap placard. I went to the DMV to pick it up for her and was a bit taken aback when I received it with the date sticker; it was for June 2017.

 

2017! That’s 3 years from now! Looking back at what has happened to us in the LAST three years seemed to place the fragileness of life and what may happen in the next three years in depressing perspective.

 

In the last three years:

 

1)   Barb and Judy were diagnosed with Breast Cancer

2)   Lizzy moved to Tucson and finished her dog training certification, received her Caregiver certification

3)   Jessie was in Iraq, got out of the Army, got married, moved to St Louis, bought a house, started a civilian career

4)   Eryn changed jobs, added Gizmo and Jeff to her life, got a Masters Degree

5)   Brenna graduated from College, added the Ouellette’s to her life, moved into her first apartment, got her first post college job and car

6)   I have been to Malawi and Haiti.

 

In the next three years:

 

1)   We will be living in a different house

2)   Someone will probably have a new Master’s degree

3)   A different daughter will be working in her field of study

4)   Yet another may have moved

5)   Will we be grandparents?

6)   Who will still be with us

7)   Who will be gone

8)   What new places will be visited

9)   I will have a nephew in college and another in high school

10)   What will be the status of our health?

 

If I dwell on it too long, I could be overwhelmed, scared and depressed. But as I have blogged before, I have a hope. A hope that lets me move through the days and challenges of life, living as an overcomer!

 

Life is a grand adventure. I am so thankful that you have joined me on this marvelous ride, for if you are reading this no doubt you are called friend. Thanks for the last 3 and here’s to the next!

God With Us – Merry Christmas Everyone

I want to start out making a theological disclaimer. I am not discounting the virgin birth, on the contrary it’s significance in the Incarnation is amazing, but it does not hold daily, hourly, fascination for me. It is one of those miracles that I read about and think, cool, the intricacies of God are amazing. But in my daily world, I just don’t give a lot of thought to the virgin birth. I do give thought to Luke 1:37. This verse embedded into the middle of this profound story holds the key for me to many things. It is this pivot point where I get one of the significances of the virgin birth. “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

This Christmas season there is a word in this verse that has jumped out to me. More about that later.

As I said, it is hard for me to be amazed at the virgin birth. It just does not resonant in my daily life. My wife is not pregnant. My children are grown. And while many of my kids friends are getting married and starting families, I am still at least 40 weeks away from being a grandparent. (This in NOT an announcement!!!) The closest I get to thinking about birth is the work I am doing in Malawi, building a couple of birthing centers, but even there, we are in construction mode, not “push ’em out” mode.

The word that jumps out at me in Luke 1:37 is ‘with’. I grew up hearing sermons about being the hand and feet of God, but did not really pay attention. Wisdom is wasted on youth. Anyway, the word ‘with’ has more meaning to me now as an slightly wiser, if still not very mature, adult. As a nation and the world we spend a lot of energy and time on ‘with’. As a rule, we are ‘with’ creatures. Creatures who long for community, acceptance and a place of belonging. In our personal lives we are ‘with’ the Diabetic Online Community, our church both locally and internationally, our circles at work, our Starbucks Barrista’s, our families, we are just one big interconnected circle of ‘with’!

As I view our need for connectedness and the desire to be ‘with’, it occurs to me this is another area that has been perverted from our original design. There are so many of us whose first thought is not of others but of ourselves. The opposite of ‘with’.

We have been privileged to be ‘with’ the dear people of Malawi this year! It has been a wonderful and fulfilling time and we are trusting that it will continue in 2013 and beyond, but I am reminded today, Christmas Eve, that WITH is wherever we are. Who is my neighbor? Yep, the folks in the DOC, the Barrista’s, the servers in the restaurant, the flight attendants I see weekly, the church, our family and literally our neighbors and our friends in Malawi.

This past year we have experienced WITH first hand; through the nurses and doctors, meals and words of encouragement. We have seen people who make less than $20 a month share all they have to show the meaning of WITH to their neighbors.

God is reaching out to each one of us to celebrate the fun times and to comfort us in the hard times. How? WITH! He has chosen to us to literally be His hands and feet. Remember that campaign several years ago that passed out those little red buttons that said “you are loved”? As a teen I thought, “how corny”; as an adult, I begin to get the significance. We connect to God when we listen to His prompting a to Love others. WE are the tangible way God shows His love to others! WE ARE THE WITH!

It humbles me to be chosen to be WITH you. It is an awesome provoking thought to me that God would place anyone on my mind and heart and in doing so reach you in the moments of your need! It is the image of a kindly Father reaching out his arms to give you a hug of comfort and say, “there, there child I am WITH you”.

God reached out to us and sent His Son to be WITH us, so nothing would be impossible WITH Him!

Spend some time this Season WITH others, you’ll be amazed at the impossible that happens!

Merry Christmas!

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Great Adventure #1

Great Adventure Part 1

Tomorrow I leave for Lilongwe, Malawi and then to Salima, Malawi where my traveling partner, the executive director of One5 Foundation, Glenn Alexander and I will begin our fact finding and organizational mission to build a two OR suite for the Malawi Birthing Center. We travel from Kansas City, to Detroit, Amsterdam, Nairobi and then arrive in Malawi.

It is late in the evening and my list of to do items is still growing, rather than shrinking!

This has been such a busy week already. The first part of the week I attended the annual conference of the American Society of Hospital Engineers in San Antonio, completed the last training class for Community Emergency Response Team with the Olathe Fire Department which included a live disaster drill, had a state inspection of a new facility today, participated in DSMA Live this evening and leave for Africa tomorrow!

What a rush! Yes, and we are still doing laundry.

I have real mixed emotions about this trip. I am so excited and privileged to be a part of this great endeavor, but I am also a bit apprehensive, about traveling so far. What if the air conditioning goes out at the house, what if Barb’s car breaks down, what if Eryn or Judy needs something? The truth is I married a women who can handle anything, I just like taking care of her. They will all be fine. This becomes another opportunity to place worry where it deserves to be, out! Worry for me is directly related to the amount of control I think I have. Our disaster scenario last night was chaos! I purposely, did not assume a leadership position. I wanted to, badly. I wanted to exercise control, but I knew I would learn more and be in a better position to lead when faced with a ‘real’ disaster if I stepped back. It is a lesson and discipline that I am trying to practice more often.

So, as I finish my lists, and compile all my data, I am making a choice to relax and listen. To make sure that my agenda is not being pushed to the exclusion of others, unless of course I’m right. LOL

Stay tuned here. I hope to be able to post when I get an Internet connection and plan on posting pictures and stories about this great adventure!

Grace and Peace

Jon

Wiggin’ Out!

It’s not as bad as it sounds, wiggin’ out.

Last Friday was a day of gratitude for me. It was the day of our “Wigging Out Party”. My wife’s idea to celebrate the loss of her hair and have fun as a Cancer Warrior, morphed into a bigger event. We had planned on having several friends over to the house to witness, give support and have a time of laughter to the shaving of Barb’s head and mine. She had requested that everyone come with something on their head they did not grow there themselves, whether a wig, hat or scarf.

Several of her co-workers took the idea and transformed it into a fundraiser for American Diabetes Association, Susan B Komen Foundation and Hope Lodge. These wonderful people arranged for a venue, food and rallied friends, co-workers and family to be there.

I was also thrilled to be able to coordinate a surprise for Barb and flew in our girls who are living out-of-town. After a hectic schedule shuffle, they arrived at the airport and were snuck into the party, perfect timing! We had all four girls home to support and celebrate. I also wanted them to be able to reconcile a disease discussed on the phone, to the reality of seeing hair loss, nausea, headaches, and fatigue that go hand in hand with treatment. Also, to reassure them of the tremendous overwhelming sense of well being we have and to promise face-to-face to be frank with them about how everything is progressing.

We had a blast! It was a touchstone moment for me and this week I have derived much personal satisfaction from memories and the knowledge that we helped do some good for others as well.

So, once again thanks to all of you who were there both physically and in spirit!

Jon

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Pain and Joy

Last night both Barb and I were tweeting and the feed was blowing up. It was flying by faster than I could keep up. People were elated at the news of Bin Laden’s demise, and I was right there with them. The mood was lighthearted and jovial, we were cracking jokes about how long it was taking for the President to make the live announcement. My favorite was a tweet by our friend “K”. She tweeted it was taking so long because VP Biden refused to get out of his Thomas the Tank Engine Pajamas, it was late after all! We were thrilled to see the fans at the Phillies game chanting USA USA and the citizens cheering at the fences of The White House.

It was also a giddy moment for us, because it was the first time my dear Barb was feeling well enough to really engage after her first round of chemotherapy. Barb is an avid tweeter and her “tweeps” had missed hearing from her over the last several days as she fought the side effects of her treatment. It was wonderful to hear her strong laugh.

We were also elated because we feel we have a personal stake in this war. Our oldest spent a year of her life fighting in Iraq and we are extremely proud of her combat tour, the Army in general and the 82nd Airborne specifically!

I am a moderate conservative, although some of my conservative friends would tell me that makes me liberal! I believe firmly in our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy and firmly believe we should protect those freedoms. Thomas Jefferson said “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” and he was right.

But what is the correlation between freedom and justice? Last night the President announced that justice has been done. Today I am wondering if justice has been done?

Did any of Bin Laden’s family mourn for him, either yesterday or years ago when he chose his life’s path? Did they feel justice was done? Was there satisfaction or closure for family and friends who survived the horrific attacks that this terrible man perpetrated? Or were wounds scabbed and scarred ripped open again? Do they feel justice was done for them?

I feel satisfied that this personification of cowardice, this guttersnipe to quote Winston, this madman who could not be reasoned with or who, without thinking twice about it, would kill myself, friends and family is no longer a threat to anyone. But I do feel saddened today by the events of yesterday. And I am glad and thankful that I can feel these mixed emotions because we enjoy freedom, but;

I feel the pain of the 911 victims,
I feel the pain of a parent,
I feel the pain of worry for those in harms way,
I feel the pain that comes from living in a sin-filled world,
I feel the pain of a soul lost.
But,

I feel the joy and pride of a mission accomplished,
I feel the joy of a parent,
I feel the joy of hope,
I feel the joy of relationship,
I feel the joy of being freed from what I deserve, the joy of perfect justice to come.

So this day after, I am full of mixed emotions and contemplations.

Peace, Faith, Love, and Hope

Jon

Concrete

Today was a concrete day at one of my projects. It was not a very big job, only about 95 cubic yards of concrete (9.5 trucks), but I always like to be on site during this critical phase of construction.

There is a lot of prep work that happens prior to the concrete pump truck or even the first load of concrete from the plant. Nearly a month ago we met with all the sub-contractors who would have a part in today’s operation; grading and underground, plumber, electrician, concrete plant, flat workers, pump operator, special inspector, just to name a couple. We discussed the mix, the timing of the trucks, the start time, the finish time, senarios for failure, such as truck breakdowns, how to load finishing machines onto the finished floor, bad batches, etc. The plumber, electrician and the special moisture barrier installers discussed schedule for completing their tasks. These are items vital to the end result as the concrete would cover their work.

Concrete chemistry has facinated me since High School when my brother and I would pour batches to make concrete picnic tables and benches, which we sold to municipalities including a sizable order to New York City. I often thought this side business was a way to keep my brother and I employed at home. And looking back on the experience I am grateful, but putting another batch in the mixer after school and pulling the molds in the morning before school at the time seemed to be a real drag! Thanks for the experience Pop!

Anyway, I wander off the subject.

Weeks of preparation went into mix today, not just cement, stone, sand and water. The mix was specified by the architect and structural engineer to be of a certain strength, water content and slump to achieve the ultimate strength needed to support the contents and structure of this new building.

So after the pumper truck setup and the first concrete truck arrived and precise placement of the concrete began, hours upon hours of groundwork had been completed. I stated earlier that I like to be onsite for this stage of constuction. When asked why, I have a flippant answer, “because it is easier to fix wet concrete than hard”. I say this tongue in cheek because most of the time we have caught the errors or potential errors weeks before in the prep work, but there is also a level of truth to the statement. I have been on jobs where stopping work to fix an error while the concrete was wet saved thousands later, but as I was watching the crew today my mind was also wandering back home where my Barb was having her port placed for her chemotherapy treatments to begin.

I could not help but draw comparisons to what I was watching happen and the status of our own minds and hearts.

Our hearts and minds can become as hard as concrete, but it takes preperation and work to allow that to occur.

It also takes work and preperation for our hearts and minds to remain soft. During this event in our lives both Barb and I have made a diligent effort to make sure that our preparations have been to maintain soft fertile soils for our hearts, minds and souls.

We daily decide to put worry aside.
We daily decide to speak life.
We daily decide to trust God with who we are and the outcome of our lives.
We daily decide to make lemonade.

This is hard work. It is also something that cannot be done by ourselves. We have a Helper.

This week we celebrate the choice our Helper made to suffer and die. Later this week we will celebrate victory over death itself!

Eventually concrete hardens, sometimes we speed it along the way with our choices, our prep work.

I encourage you to join us in preparations that will soften the soil of your heart and mind.

Peace, Love, Hope and Faith

Jon

Leech or Leach?

I realized several weeks ago that I have a problem. This is the evidence.

The first picture is of the cup holder in my vehicle. It has colored green the rubberized cup grabbers. It looks like something that has sat outside in the northwest and has started to grow green moss. The shade is quite pleasing to me.

It is actually the result of this, the second picture.

The repeated placement of the green cardboard sleeve from my Starbucks cup into the cupholder is causing the green to leach from the sleeve to the cupholder. Or perhaps the interaction of the rubber with the sleeve is having a leeching effect on the sleeve?

It made me think of my most common interactions of the day; innocuous and often not even thought about. Those interactions that leave a mark on others, whether cutting them off in traffic or saying thank you and leaving a tip for my barrista. Are my values, emotions, and morals being left on others as I interact with them? Do I leave an evidence of my passing? Is it a positive interaction, like the beautiful green left behind from my Chai Tea Latte, reminding me of one of my favorite things?

Or was I a leech to others sucking the essence out of them?

One letter makes such a difference.

Go leach on someone!

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I’ve commandeered the blog. . . bwah ha ha

Kssoup is in Boston at a conference. . don’t get too excited, he’s attending classes that are probably about easements, rights-of-way, storm water and sewer drainage. But tonight? Tonight he is at Fenway watching the Red Sox and Tampa Bay. . . poor guy. . .

Hurry Home Honey! Before I REALLY write something interesting on your blog. . .tee hee

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Taxes

Taxes are finished and filed.

The girls were finished last month, now ours are done.

I really don’t like the first weekend in April!