Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gawking and Perfect Timing

My family headed off in several different directions this morning. Dave and Wes to mow lawns. Trevor went to work, today for a torch run as a Special Olympics coach. Between my work appointments I stopped by AAA to pick up some maps in Perrysburg.

It's located in a strip mall next to a Churchill's grocery, where from a distance I could see at least eight police and emergency vehicles with their lights flashing amidst a big crowd of people. An ambulance was coming from another direction, sirens screaming.

My mind went everywhere with this. What in the world is going on? Surely, there was some awful emergency situation. My heart began to beat faster. I was suddenly more alert.

I try not to gawk in these instances. It slows down the solving of most problems and it's rather redneck I hear. I want to be helpful and by no means do I want to look, you know, conspicuous.

So as I got closer I tried to be discreet (i.e. keep the redneck on the inside) while noticing that there were also several motorcycles with riders in all black. Hells Angels?

Keep driving. Don't get in the way on the way to AAA, I tell myself. I parked close enough to see but far enough - oh whatever.

Now I see bicyclists, several of them! A run-in between Hells Angels and super fit cyclists? Ooo, this could be interesting. A rumble of sorts? Stop gawking. But I see no gurney. No one down. No one scrambling.

I use my maximum peripheral view as I walk with calculation to AAA. I need maps, honest I do. I'm not a gawker.

Then I notice a group of people with Downs Syndrome in the mix of the crowd and my crazy concocted rumble speculation is no longer calculating in my fantastical mind.

A light shines on my dark speculation.

Special Olympics. Torch run. Trevor?

With these new thoughts, now I'm gawking. Total intentional gawking, and the first person I see in the crowd is Trevor. He's taking pictures of the kids he coaches and families are gathered around in a wonderful warm cloud of encouraging spirit that wasn't visible from the road. The students were so excited to be a part of the event. Their families could easily be picked out in the crowd, beaming as the group posed for photos.

Trevor looked over at me in surprise. He introduced me to work friends I had heard about and grinned at my story of the chance meeting. Really, what are the chances?

To get to take in this scene made my heart want to burst, and I was so proud of him, watching him in this work environment. I watched the torch run procession go through the parking lot. Some Special Olympics participants only walked the parking lot and then headed happily with their families to their vehicles.

I uncharacteristically waited patiently for them to file in front of me into the traffic on Route 25 with an abundance of uniformed guardians, all looking very proud.

My words can't describe the beauty in these moments, I was caught up.

Contrast that to a woman arriving at Churchill's asking if I knew what was going on. Once informed she sneered, "How stupid! I thought there was really an emergency. Men!"

I just laughed not knowing how to interpret the many issues possibly in that statement. But I am glad I chose to see the beauty in it.

What an unexpected case of perfect timing. It felt like a gift. Like God was showing me that He has impeccable timing and He knows when I could stand to see it with my own eyes every now and then.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tornado Tonkas

This week I did something I've never done before, not intentionally anyway. I went to help in a disaster situation.

In about 9 hours it will be one week since an F4 tornado hit Lake Township, about a half an hour north of where I live, killing five people in its path of destruction. On Monday morning of this week my church sent an email out to see if anyone wanted to go help in the clean up. I was honestly afraid of how emotional I might get seeing the devastation, but I knew I should go.

That evening I found myself in a corn field west of Millbury, Ohio where an entire house was scattered over about 50 acres. There was no real instruction given. People just came and started putting whatever they found in piles for the wagon crew driving around picking things up for an elderly couple whose home blew violently apart and over them as they huddled and survived in the stairwell. (I know, that's a run on sentence, but it's a good one).

It was more than sobering to pick up the random personal contents of a home. Christmas decorations. Toys. A section of pages from a W-Z encyclopedia. Clothing. Bedding. A porch? Later, the W-Z encyclopedia cover.

After sobering and sad, came interesting, and sometimes funny.

One of the guys from church said, "I found a can labeled 'nails' so be careful. It was empty."

I had to laugh at that!

I found two Tonka trucks 20 feet from one another and just a little banged up. How is that possible? So interesting.

By the end of the evening I felt WAY more blessed to help than I felt I was a blessing to someone else. But I guess that's how it works. It was a beautifully exhausting experience that I couldn't stop talking about when I got home.

The rest of the week though, it felt like I was finding all those nails. While not to be compared to the loss the Lake Township folks have suffered, life just wouldn't let up for me. At one point it felt like the can of nails came at me like I had a huge magnet in me. Obviously, this is not the fun variety of magnetic power, but I had it nonetheless.

When I recovered from the big hit I took time to count the good things and thank God that I am still standing, like the Tonka truck. A little dented but still rolling strong!

(The above photo is taken from the east side of Lake High School/K-12 which is barely visible on the horizon behind the national power grid line, both were ripped through by the tornado.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bruce Lee Fly Slayer Extraordinaire

It was a fuzzy time of day. You know, when you can hear the world, but sweet sleep beckons you not to hear. But the CRASSSSSHHH at 5 a.m.ish could not be ignored, by one of six people anyway. I walked groggily out to the kitchen to find the cat, Bruce, busy at his most important work, fly slaying.

If the fly is on the ceiling, he finds a way to get closer and wait. If the fly is on a window above golden tea light glasses on the sill, they're comin down. And that's what they did. At 5 a.m.

Since then he has attempted catapulting himself over the kitchen sink to get a fly.

But I guess he is just a naive teenager after all, rushing forward with great hope and zeal, convinced that he can do anything, but not thinking past the anything to the consequences.

Later in the day when this picture was taken he came down from his stance gently, molding himself somehow around the somehow-not-broken-from-earlier glass and not toppling it this time.

I guess he's learning. Slowly growing up, one experience at a time.

As I write this Bruce hears a fly buzz and is attempting to scale a dresser down the hall. He needs more experiences I guess.

God help me to learn as fast as Bruce. One experience at a time, taking note that You still know what You're talking about, so I don't fall off the five foot dresser with super hero figurines cascading down around me as a fly buzzes around laughing.


Five stories I wrote have been published in Heavenly Humor for the Dog Lover's Soul. You can see that Zoey loved it that there are stories about her in there! I am very excited!

It's available at or a bookstore somewhere....or call me, I have copies too.