Friday, December 30, 2005


When I was home over Christmas, I came across a notepad someone had given me some ten or twelve years ago. In it, I had written all kinds of stuff...books I planned to write, an open letter to the President (that stayed in my closed notebook), a schedule (that had me getting up at 4:30 am to practice guitar), and all kinds of other odds and ends.

Just for fun, I started to peruse some of my other old journals and such as well. The first journal I have I must have started when I was about seven. In it, I had a list of people that I liked, people that I didn't like, and people who were sort of "in the middle." My parents were on the list of people that I did like, which probably means I had made it through that day without getting spanked. I seem to remember telling Allyson about that time that if she wasn't nice to me I would put her on the list of people I didn't like. As I recall, she took that as a very serious threat.

Anyway, one of the things I browsed through was the list of goals I made for 2005. I found that I had accomplished about half of them. That's rather pathetic, except that I've learned after putting goals on paper like that a few times that I usually accomplish about half of them regardless of how many or how few I set. I figure I might as well set a bunch and hope for the best.

One thing that struck me as I went through pages of stuff that I've written was how much and yet so little of my life has gone according to my plans.

I hate jigsaw puzzles, but I'll use the analogy's been neat to see how the Lord has so often taken what looked like a shapeless, meaningless piece of my life and used it to snap together other shapeless, meaningless pieces of my life to do what I never would have thought possible. I still don't have the "box top" and I don't know what it will look like when He's done, but I know that He that has begun the work will be faithful to complete it.

I used my flight back from NH on Tuesday to try to set some new goals. Although some of them are one-year goals, I decided to also make a "five-year plan." It's a delicate process because even with my 50/50 record, I hate setting goals that I don't reach. Sometimes it's hard to maintain the balance between working diligently toward your goals and being flexible.

At the very least, I can look back in five years and chuckle - like I do now at my plan to write a book on getting along with your brother. I no longer keep a running list of people that I like and dislike, but if I did, he'd be on the list of people I like very much. And Allyson would be right at the top. :)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Here are a few highlights from the past few days...
Caleb getting a little antsy during our gift exchange (we did it a little early this year). So far, the biggest hit with him was a glowing bouncy ball that Charity bought for Paul.

This is a snowman we made in the yard this morning. We named him Rick. Pretty cute, huh? He has been slowly shrinking today since the weather was warm. Paul and I had a short snowball fight after this photo was taken. I won.

Friday, December 23, 2005

What Do We Do

Now that my family is spread all over the globe, we really look forward to the times when we can all get together. My parents haven't complained yet about the long drive to West Point to pick up Paul. Charity is willing to change planes a million times to get from Florida to Manchester. Erin deals with the adjusting that comes from crossing a dozen time zones, and I'll even give up singing in an ensemble so that I can be home for Christmas.

If you have ever wondered if we all make our long pilgrimage to New Hampshire so we can sit at the dining room table, staring at each other and saying, "Isn't this fun. We're all together!" I want you to're about right.

In June, when we were all home for a few days, we celebrated everyone's birthday, Father's Day, Mom and Dad's anniversary, and had a baby shower for Allyson. Which basically means that we ate a lot of junk, stayed up late, and created a lot of work for my mom, who loves us anyway. Everyone got to pick something for us all to do, so over the course of the week, we went golfing (sort of), yard sale shopping (for a few minutes, anyway), and did foot scrubs...(okay, just some of us on that one), and did some other random and sundry things including climbing in kid toys at the mall and eating desserts at Applebees.

When I came home in October, I got to spend half a day trying to convince the New Hampshire powers that be to let me register a car even though I was not a New Hampshire resident, the car did not belong to me, and there was a defect in the title. Praise the Lord, I was successful without either crying or getting angry. After that, Dad and I made a 12-hour trip to West Point and back in the pouring rain so that he could sleep on our couch for the weekend. But it was all worth it because I got to hold Violet and watch Caleb play with a tractor toy for a while. Before the weekend was over, I also watched "Follow Me, Boys." Now that's a quality waste of time.

Caleb provides a lot of our entertainment when we're home. This trip we have had a lively competition in seeing who can get Caleb to say their name the most times. Paul has an obvious advantage in this, since his is only one syllable. We did get something that resembled "Danielle" out of him a few times, though (it also resembled nanell, aaayaayay, and hippopotamus).

As for this trip...there's a lot I could say, but here are some pictures that will probably say it all and better.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Say Something Nice

We get all kinds of strange mail at the office, but one particularly noteworthy piece of mail was a little booklet called "Say Something Nice."

The author of this booklet is a PhD and he goes into great detail about the importance of "being a lifter." He not only gives instructions on how to pay compliments (use the person's name, smile, etc.), but he also gives you some suggestions of nice things to say, in case you aren't able to come up with your own - several for each letter of the alphabet. For example: "Your solo was groovy." Or how about "You made a glamourous fairy godmother." One that has come in particularly handy around the office is, "Your intrepid actions brought us the victory!" I haven't yet found an appropriate time to use, "You were really brave to rescue your dog."

Needless to say, we've had a lot of fun with this little book. It is cleverly designed to fit in your breast pocket in case you ever need to whip out the "nice book" and tell someone, "Your emphathetic characterization was gut-wrenching." And you never know, you might land a big case by using "Your ability with crossword puzzles is mind-boggling."

Despite the obvious benefit of the book, we opted not to purchase a copy for all our staff and sponser its distribution in local public schools. Nevertheless, I would agree that there is a lot to be said for "saying something nice" and being a lifter.

I've often noticed in my own life how important praise is...I work so much harder when people are telling me that I make a glamourous fairy godmother. Yet, I'm also learning that I need to do the right thing because it is the right thing, regardless of whether other people notice or comment.

Perhaps one of the reasons I tend to rely so heavily on the affirmation of others is that the people that I'm around are generally encouraging. They don't need the "nice book" to give them ideas for praise. However, in the rare event that I do my best on something and it goes unnoticed, it is good for me to see in what ways I have been focusing on myself instead of striving to bring glory to the Lord. It is the Lord that deserves our praise...not those who sing groovy solos.
In the News

I got my name in the newspaper this week. Front page of the Monday paper as a matter of fact. Unfortunately, I was out of town, so I didn't actually get to see it in print.

Last week, I spoke at a public hearing of the Charleston County Council to support an initiative to establish a Greenbelt Bank in Charleston. I'd tell you more about it, only, I don't know much more about it except that it is a good idea. That is what I told the Council and that is why I was in the newspaper.

It was my first time speaking at a County Council meeting, but not the last. I got up and spoke again at the end of the meeting just to thank the Council and county staff for all their work. That was well received; I don't think politicians get thanked very often.

Anyway, the intiative did pass and my boss did get his share of praise in the newspaper article (from what I heard), but that was only the end of a long road of criticism and opposition from other politicians and the press. And what I said to thank the Councilmembers, I hope they heard it, because that sure wasn't in the newspaper.

The reason I'm writing this is because it struck me funny how I could end up in the newspaper for doing something as simple as showing up at a public hearing and stating my name and that I think some else's idea is a good one; while other people could work so hard and so long on something and get nothing but criticism. I wonder if President Bush thinks that's funny.

I will end this rambling by simply saying that I hope I learn to thank people for the things they do that generally go unnoticed and unappreciated. And, of course, I hope I do many more things in life important enough to be opposed and criticized, and noteworthy enough not to be in the newspaper.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Allyson and Kevin's second baby, Violet, was born October 1. I had the privilege of going to visit her when she was about two weeks old and giving her her first baby doll. She didn't care much for me, but I thought she was absolutely wonderful. Caleb is almost 20 months now. He is bursting with energy. Between the two of them, Allyson has her hands pretty full and she's loving it.