“BLIZZARD” of ’08

December 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Family | 1 Comment

Okay so maybe it wasn’t a real blizzard but it was the worst weather I’ve experienced in 11 years of driving to the Antelope Valley. It was the first time I’ve ever had to put on tire chains (only had to pay 100% markup at the Union 76 station in the pass –  shoulda gone to the Wal Mart the night before.) I would have turned around and gone home but I’d already used a “snow day” on Monday when the road (hwy 138 through Cajon Pass) was closed, so I bought the chains and pressed on. This is what my drive to work  looked like once the sun came up. img_0178

So, 3 1/2 hours later I make into to work, only to find out that Cal Trans has closed the pass behind me, great. As the morning passes the weather moves in and rain turns to sleet, turns to snow. Then at 2:30 the word is passed that due to inclement weather the base is closed and we are all released. Go home?! How? The roads are all closed. Who thinks that putting several thousand people on icy roads without tire chains (remember, it was only raining when they came to work)  all at the same time is a good idea? Did I mention that this is So Cal? In the dessert? They don’t DO snow. It was ugly.

Well I made a valiant effort to return to hearth and home only to be stymied after 3 hrs because Cal Trans closed EVERY road over the mountains. Thank you to Kirk and Rhonda for letting me stay at their house in Lancaster. They were very gracious hosts. BTW I will say this for residents of the AV, every time I stopped to remove or install the chains, it wasn’t long before someone would pull over and ask if I was okay. Kindness is alive in the AV.

What a difference 24 hrs makes! This is what my drive home looked like the next day, it still took me 4 hours to get home due to the snow on the roads but I finally made it back to the I.E.

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30 Bills in One Day!

September 9, 2008 at 7:35 pm | Posted in Family, Memories | 4 Comments

Yesterday I found 30 Bills on my doorstep! WOW! I mean who gets 30 Bills in one day? How special are we? So far this has been an interesting month, but 30 Bills?! I mean really, who would do such a thing? Apparently people who love us.

Thanks Bill and Jennita. And Sue and Keith. And Jessi and Paul.

You see, this month Martina and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and our daughter Jessica has created a campaign to celebrate 30 years of blessings with 30 days of love. So far this month she or one of her henchmen has managed to deliver a gift or note every day. On the first we received a plant from Sue and Keith. Hanging from the plant were 30 days worth of affirmations and declarations of love from our dear friends, one for each day. Thanks Guys.

From Jessi and Paul we have received, 2 cards, one list of 30 “Schraderisms” a “Dirty 30 Party” box, the contents of which shall remained undisclosed, 30 Hershy’s Kisses, and 30 pink carnations.

Then yesterday Martina discovered a card and packet of photos from the Tibbetts on our front doorstep. The card made us feel loved by our friends. When I looked at the photos I became quite perplexed. You see, the top one was a great shot of Bill and Jennita and I figured cool, they dug up some pictures of all of us doing stuff together. So I continue to look through the pictures, the next one is Bill, so is the one after that, and the next, and the next…. you get the idea. Bill is in every photo. Now I’m really confused. I wonder did they grab the wrong package of pictures? I’m self-centered enough to think that if you’re going to give me a bunch of pictures as an expression of love, shouldn’t I be in at least one of them? Today Martina noticed that there were exactly 30 pictures of Bill or 30 Bills. Cool! Still don’t know what it means. Little help here!

Working on the ol’ Homestead

August 12, 2008 at 8:18 pm | Posted in Family | 6 Comments

So it’s been almost a whole year since my last post and I’m sure the only people that will read this are the ones that haven’t deleted me from their RSS feeds or are the hard-core faithful (hello Peggy) that keep checking back to see if just maybe I’m still alive.

It has been a very busy time since my last post, right after Thanksgiving we started what will hopefully be the last remodeling project on our house (yeah right, I don’t believe me either). We redid one bathroom and converted a bathroom and closet into a new laundry room and bathroom. And while we were at it we rearranged one of the bedrooms to a new configuration that works better. BTW when we “rearrange” a room it usually involves moving walls and changing ceiling height/lines.

All of the major construction is over but we are still in the final phases of the finish work on the last bathroom. Projects left to complete are caulk/seal the shower edges, set the toilet, cast a new concrete sink/vanity top, and fabricate a faucet. No big deal.

Oh and while we were doing all this, we hosted Tina’s relatives from Germany for 5 weeks, threw a Wild West Party for her uncle Hans and Jonathan’s birthdays, hosted several barbeque’s for friends and church, and went to Germany for 2 weeks to liquidate my mother-in-laws estate. (more on all that in future posts, I promise)

Back to the construction zone

We opened a door from our pool deck into what used to be the former master toilet and created a WC for the pool. This toilet has no access from the interior of the house so we don’t have to worry about little ones getting into the pool from the house. While I was moving the plumbing around I went ahead and added the pipes for the outdoor shower.

While I was working on this, Matt & Nathan at Gems Construction started the real work for the laundry room and new bathroom. We demo’ed our old 2nd bathroom, moved a wet wall and added a new shower to the back of the house. The ceiling for the shower is a pane of safety glass so that you can shower under the stars. We are going for an industrial vibe. After looking at the photos, I’m beginning to think that when we reflect on this year we will refer to it as our “Corrugated Galvanized Steel” period. Time for a new material.

The laundry room is very compact, but quite functional. The main thing is that Tina no longer has to walk all the way to the garage in all weathers in order to do laundry. She is very happy.

In the new “Map Room” we opened a wall to create an alcove and angled the ceiling in the outer half of the room. The original ceiling was flat and due to being an add-on with a lower roof line was much lower then the rest of the room.

Hanging the map was quite an ordeal and only the second time in 30 years of marriage that I’ve threatened divorce. I was so frustrated with trying to get the lat/longs on the map to line up that I told Tina if she ever bought another mural like this I was out! Of course now that it’s up and everyone thinks it’s great all is forgiven.

The original plan for this room’s decor was inspired by Erika, Tina’s mom. Ever since she retired Erika was on the go. She was a woman that believed in living life with gusto, so Tina wanted to provide her with a room that would remind us of past journeys and inspire new adventures.

Here are some pictures of what we have so far. Enjoy.

Sandals Marriage Getaway

November 26, 2007 at 9:27 pm | Posted in Church, Fun Times | 8 Comments

One of the highlights of our year is the annual marriage retreat that our church puts on. Martina and I are SMG plank owners having been to every one. Tammy and her crew of energetic and very talented ladies knock themselves out every year making the venue look absolutely wonderful. Here’s a big Cap’n Jim shout-out to all you “events people” otherwise know as PWMTLRG.

As I said, this event is one of our favorites and this year was no exception. The opening night diner dance was a smashing success. Here are some folks we spent the evening with.

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The Cap’n & his Wench

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Matt & Lori

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Colin & Mindie

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John & Casey

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Wayne & Gloria

One high point was when George Clooney paid us an unexpected visit…

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After that it was time to dance the night away…

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The next morning we got to hear Matt teach on Inloveness, an idea he got from reading “A Severe Mercy.” One of the points Matt made was how we all define love in different ways and that the way I define love will impact how I view the events in my life. That idea just clicked for me and I sat dumbfounded as this thought rolled around in my head and the more I thought about it, the more this concept began to explain so much about me and my life.

One of the things that I have struggled to deal with in my life is reactions that are out of proportion to the triggers. Have you ever overreacted to something and then just wondered to yourself where the h… did that come from? Me too.

This is what Matt helped me to see. I am an Acts of Service kind of guy. I can transmit in most of the love languages but if you want to love me, you’ll have to “show me.” What I realized is that because I interpret love through acts of service, when a request I’ve made is overlooked, this gets run through my internal “love filter” and suddenly a minor oversight (forgetting to close a door or perform a favor) turns into “you don’t love me.” My reaction is then to the output of my filter and not the actual event. Kinda sad isn’t it? To think that forgetting to close the dishwasher can instantly morph into “I’m unloved.”

The good news is that I am not a prisoner to my misconceptions about what love is. The answer is in learning and living out the truth about what God says about love.

Pardon me, I gotta go read 1 Cor 13 again.

Things I’m thankful for

November 25, 2007 at 5:33 pm | Posted in Church, Commentary, Family | 7 Comments

I’ve started several posts in the last month, but each of them just didn’t pass my “So What” test. Some of them seemed too much like bragging, others were too whiny and still others were poor attempts at humor that just came off like bragging or whining. So let me go with a tried and true topic for this holiday season. In no particular order here are some of the things that I am thankful to God for:

1. My relationship with God. It is better than it has ever been, and it is getting better. This isn’t because of me or my efforts but it is the result of His Holy Spirit working through the people in my life that are making me a better Jim. Which brings me to numbers 2 and 3.

2. My very beautiful wife.

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She has been stuck with me for the last 29 years and still claims to love me more than she did at the beginning. Someone once asked me what Martina saw in me, I thought about it for a bit then replied “I don’t know, and I’m not about to ask her. She might stop and think about it and begin to wonder herself. Then where would I be?” My wife’s love is like the love of God in that I don’t deserve it, it just is. I accept it, am eternally grateful for it, and try very hard to show how much I appreciate it.

3. Sandals Church. I am very blessed to go to a church that “gets it.” I have witnessed more change in my life in the last 5 years than in the previous 30 as a Christian. God has graced me with people in my life that genuinely love and care about me. Do we get it right all the time? Of course not! Thats why we have a fetish about being real. We are passionate about forgetting the games and the fake facades and just being who we are. Then we try to let God deal with the junk. And believe me there is plenty of junk for God to deal with. I’m not sure but I think Sandals provides full time employment for at least one therapist. And that’s just the staff!🙂 (Disclaimer: for the hyper critical out in blog land that was a joke)

4. My kids. Despite their various and sundry problems this year, they are for the most part handling them with grace and maturity. As a parent I still fret, and sometimes I get a little aggravated that their junk is spilling over into my life. But that’s what relationship is all about, being there for each other in good times or bad. And Jeremy’s marital challenges has meant that Martina and I get to spend a whole lot more time with Adelaide.

5. My old house. I have spent the last 3 weekends working on DIY projects. NOT the projects that I want or plan but the ones the house picks. You see when you own an old house sometimes you have no control over when the pipes need repair or the closet HAS to be sealed and painted. Things that you thought could wait for the “round-2-it” suddenly become “Job Number 1” But at least I still have a house to work on. Not everyone can say that this year.

6. My job that is 100 miles from home. I never had a plan to drive 100 miles/2 hours to work. It was never my goal to spend 4 hours a day in my car. It just happened. My job used to be 22 miles/30 min from home. Then one day a VP of the company paid us a visit and told us they were closing the Ontario plant and moving all our jobs to Palmdale. Crud. I then formed THE PLAN. I would go back to school and get a degree in Info Sys Eng. then switch over to the IT sector, get out of aerospace all together. Well, I got the degree. But the fact that I’m still making the drive ought to tell how well my plan worked out. Seems the internet boom was a bubble, the 16 month degree program took 3 years to complete, and my company apparently really wants to keep me (if the raise was any indicator). don’t get me wrong, the only thing wrong with my job is that it’s 100 miles form home out in the middle of the desert. I get to work on the coolest airplane ever built, doing a job that provides capabilities to our war-fighters that means they are more likely to come home. And sometimes I really do work with rocket scientists. I just wish it were closer to home. Unfortunately, people get really really upset when you drop an experimental aircraft on their house. So now that I’m too close to retirement to quit, I wear the golden handcuffs. Which of all the problems in life to have, is a really good one.

7. My grand daughter Adelaide June. What can I say? As an unbiased Opa she is without a doubt the prettiest, smartest, cutest, best behaved, most adorable, little girl God ever made.

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See? I told you!

8.  People who read this blog and let me know they appreciate what I have to say. You guys are the ONLY reason I am still trying.

There many other things that I am thankful for this season, but this is already too long, so I will sign off for now. God bless and try to remember just why it is that we celebrate during this season.

Really Mrs. Brown, the dog ate my Blog!

October 16, 2007 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Church, Family | 10 Comments

Last week I ran into my friends Steve and Peggy Brown at church, they were down from Sacramento visiting kids and grandkids. So, Peggy and I do the meet and greet, then see asks me how I’m doing, so I tell her that basically I want a “do-over” for 2007 but with the suck setting turned way down. So she tells me that she keeps checking my blog regularly hoping for an update but is disappointed there is nothing new. Peggy is a retired 5th grade teacher, and she has that teacher vibe down solid! I’m 52 years old, and all of a sudden I felt like a 12 year old explaining to my teacher why my homework is late. I don’t ever want to hear Peggy Brown tell me she is “disappointed” with me ever again!

Today is a red-letter day! We finally got the Erbschein from Germany. What that means is that the German government has finally recognized Martina as Erika’s only heir. Getting the Erbschein is the critical first step to being able to finally manage Erika’s estate. So far we have been unable to do much of anything with her house, bank accounts, or bills. Thank God most of her regular bills were set-up for auto-debit and that she had a decent balance in her checking account or we would’ve been paying her bills all this time. 5 months to get a single type written page with 3 lines basically saying, Erica died in Spain, Martina is her only heir, she gets everything. After all the hassle and red-tape I was expecting something with at least a gold seal and a little red sealing wax. Nope, this is the most un-impressive very important paper I have ever seen, I’ve gotten fancier certificates for company training classes than this. But, thank God it is here.

Break – Break new topic.

As I have reflected on the events of this year I have come to 2 conclusions: 1) Having relationships in your life is messy. What I have discovered is that the more people I get to know, care about, and love, the opportunities to get hurt go up exponentially. Right now some of you are going “well Duh!” Okay, so I came to the relationship game late and slow. Gimme a break! I’m just now starting to figure this whole “relationship stuff” out. I’m an engineer for crying out loud, I deal with volts, amps, and ohms, not emotions, feelings and oh my God, other people’s viewpoints! What I’m prattling on about is the discovery that when other people hurt, I hurt. For example, right now my oldest son is in the midst of being divorced. I grieve for the death of my son’s marriage, and I pray that God will resurrect it, but I know that it will take three people to do that, Jeremy Christina and God. I know that 2 of the 3 are in favor, but right now Christina has chosen a different path. Please pray for my son, his wife Christina and their daughter Adelaide.
The other thing I have decided is that being “refined” sucks! Not very theological sounding I admit, but I think it conveys what I feel. I believe that this year has been about God convincing me to get serious about being deliberate in my personal sabbath with Him. My personal trial has been to find a way to connect with God regularly and in a way that re-fills me with Him. I am a service kind of guy down to my bones. It is very difficult for me to sit still and relax. Reflection and contemplation do not come naturally to me. So it is very difficult for me to “be still, and know that He is God.” But this is what I think God wants to teach me. So far I think I’m doing ok on the theory, but the lab blows.

Prayer Request!

May 14, 2007 at 12:23 am | Posted in Family | 9 Comments

Dear Friends,
Once again we are forced to recognize that God is in control and we are not. This morning at 1am Martina received the news that her mother passed away unexpectedly. We really don’t have too much more information than that at this time. Erica was vacationing in Spain when she apparently died in her sleep. As you can imagine we are in a state of shock and confusion as we are also on vaction in Florida at this time. One blessing is that we were here with Jonathan when he got the news. However this also means that we aren’t in So Cal with Jeremy and Christina and Adie. Please pray for our family as we have a number of decisions to make in the next day or so, please pray for comfort and peace for Martina and the rest of Erica’s family. She leaves behind a sister in Phonex and two brothers in Germany along with a long list of faithful friends.

Busy, Busy, Busy

April 8, 2007 at 7:10 pm | Posted in Family, Fun Times | 5 Comments

Well, I guess this blog is going to average about one update a month. Life has been very busy lately. Trust me, I AM NOT complaining, just stating facts. I love the fullness and richness of my life.

Two weeks ago we took off for an overnighter to San Diego with Ron and Sue Jackson to see “Menopause, The Musical.” We had a GREAT time, I haven’t laughed so hard in a very long time. If you get a chance, you should go see this play.

Next we hosted a small dinner for twelve at our house, again a great time was had by all. The reason for the dinner was to get my original Relational Development small group together. It was great seeing everybody and having time to sit, relax and enjoy each other’s company. The best part of the whole day happened before any of the guests arrived. Usually when we do something like this the stress levels go off the chart as I try to take care of 6 months of neglect to the yard/house in 4 hours. This time Tina and I managed to just concentrate on the necessary and let the rest slide. We got everything that needed doing done and the meal was truly great.

Last Friday we took some friends out sailing, well sailing was our intention but since the wind didn’t cooperate we mostly bobbed, and rolled, and rocked. So we had a good day of boating, and most of the crew had the best naps ever!

Yesterday was JRockA and Burg’s wedding. The two of the were way cute as only newlyweds can be. The wedding was anything but lame! It was beautiful, charming, uniquely them and Neal even managed to work Batman into the sermon! What a great wedding! The crew that put it all together did an awsome job! Congratulations to Justin and Burgundy.

Finally, today was Easter. Usually this is one of those big busy holidays but today was actually kinda laid back. We have our granddaughter Adelaide for the weekend, so there wasn’t going to be a lot of running around. Instead today was spent in my workshop bonding with my daughter Jessica and her husband Paul. Jessi needed to build some stuff for Pipeline so we got to make sawdust and use power tools together. Kewl!

I’m closing now, I’ve got a granddaughter to play with!

Confessions of a prayer wimp

March 8, 2007 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Church | 5 Comments

Note this post was started on Monday but life has kept me from finishing it until today.

Once again Pastor Matt brought it yesterday during church. We are currently in the midst of an 8 week series called “Remix” whose theme is prayer. The idea is to radically change the way we pray thus becoming more effective Christians.

Yesterday Matt’s thesis was “Reverence.” He reminded us that we serve an awesome God and using one of his favorite illustrations from the “Chronicles of Narnia” warned us that our god is certainly not tame, but He is good. Matt tried to get us past our usual ways of praying and to remember that true prayer connects us to the God that holds the universe in the palm of his hand, and just maybe we ought to treat Him with a little more respect.

As I processed Matt’s sermon, I realized that the most irreverent thing I do is when I come to God in unbelief. Too often, I find myself kin to the people in Acts 12 that were fervently praying for Peter to be released from jail, and when he shows up at the door they refuse to believe that it is him. In other words, I am going through the motions of prayer because of duty, peer pressure, guilt etc. but I really don’t believe God is actually going to answer my prayers. Often, I feel like I’ve done “my duty” by throwing up a prayer, and if God doesn’t answer, oh well not my problem. How pathetic is that?

I think the root of my problem is that basically, I’m a head kinda guy. I think I’ve mentioned before how I struggle to make that 18” connection between my heart and my head. This makes it difficult for me to really put myself in another’s place, to feel their pain and really want to help resolve it. I know I’m supposed to care, I  really want to care, but I’m just not feeling it.

I’m not sure how I am going to get around this issue, but I did confess it to my guys in our RD group Tuesday evening. Since then I have noticed a small renewal as I try to keep my prayers real and honest. I think the confession helped in two ways, 1) Confessing it brought the issue out into the light, robbing the enemy of all power to attack me via guilt. 2) One of my friends let me know that things might not be as bleak as I perceived them to be. He told me that when he knows that I am praying for him, he has felt God’s comforting hand acting in his life. All I can say to that is: God’s grace is SO much bigger than we realize. To realize that He is able to use my feeble attempts at intercessory prayer to accomplish something good is humbling and a great relief. I mean if God needed us to get it right before He could act on our behalf, how hopeless would we be? Praise God that it is not up to us and that He is not limited by our abilities.

Thank You Moi

February 1, 2007 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Church | 10 Comments

Last Tuesday I participated in a relatively intimate worship experience, relative being 50 people as opposed to the 700 or so that join us on Sundays. We were privileged to be led in worship by Moi (not the band – just Moi and his guitar). BTW – thank you Lori Lynn for lending us your husband for the evening, we were all very blessed by your sacrifice. As Moi sang, I felt myself led to the throne of God. I don’t normally get emotionally caught up during worship; I am one of those people whose most difficult journey is the 18 inches from my head to my heart. However, last Tuesday I was there. I can only describe it as comfort food for my soul.

 

During the song “Better Is One Day” it hit me. Every time I have sung that song before, the image that came to my mind is one of a castle courtyard or the
Temple with God’s glory filling it. On Tuesday as we sang “One thing I ask and I would seek, to see Your beauty. To find You in the place Your glory dwells” it hit me like a bolt of lightening, God dwells in my heart! His beauty and glory resides within me! Whoa!

 

Now, maybe I am coming late to the party and this is what the song’s author had in mind all along when he wrote those words, and yes I am quite familiar with the scriptures pertaining to our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit and that Jesus lives within us, etc. but for me this was the first time I had made the connection in such a visceral way. It has caused me to rethink a lot of assumptions that I make about myself. I am a fella whose natural inclination and training is to see faults; it is very easy to catalog all of my vast and varied failings. It is another thing entirely for me to discuss my strengths and talents. And there I was, with God pointing out that my heart is the place He chooses to live. Oh My! I’m pretty sure some changes in viewpoint are in order.

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