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Archive for 2011|Yearly archive page

Play – Thoughts from Indonesia

In children, play, soccer on August 1, 2011 at 8:36 pm

By Gunnar Simonsen

Wonderland Park was the site of many epic battles back in the day where neighborhood friends would gather for day long mud bowls of football games. Back in the day, we would go outside and doing something many now have forgotten how to do…

Play.

It seems over time, we have simply replaced the art of playing with the art of hustling as we try to keep up with our friends and counterparts. It’s almost as if we are afraid to play, lest we miss out on something due to us being so wired up to the rest of the world.

In this, I believe we have lost something only now found in the place reserved for memories.

Remember what it felt like to play when no one was looking? For the love of friends and the innocent games we would play?

In the midst of the busyness of the city with its non stop traffic filled with motor bikes and small cars, dwelt a field. A field where the children would gather unbeknown to the world around them to do one thing…

Play.

I don’t know about you, but that looks fun.

Don’t you just want to… Play?

Take a moment today to give yourself permission to play today. If only for a moment, play. It will do your heart good.

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Pondering Transformation

In life, transformation on July 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm

By Gunnar Simonsen

What does transformation look like anyway? I mean, has any one of us ever even seen it when it occurs? You know, that very moment, the very second it happens.

It’s kind of like the old question that if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it?

Several months ago, I began hiking. It was a really nice nature park near my home that offered a brief respite while also being a challenging series of trails certain to bring shortness of breath to anyone in the kind of shape I was in.

That first day was an incredible experience. I had no idea at all of this beauty which existed so close to my home and yet, I had not even known it. That is until I arrived at the foot of this one hill. Of course, what did I know? I had never been there before.

I remember after maybe 10 yards into this hill thinking… how many heart attacks did I just have?

That being said, I kept moving forward all the while wondering if I could make this a habit. The scenery itself had me hooked and already motivated me to return the next day. I also remember wondering if I would ever be able to make it up this hill without the occasional stroke or heart attack.

I was halfway up the hill at this point and let me tell you… I was a mess. Where was the oxygen tank?

I look back at that day now and can sum up my experience since then with a statement my daughter made not too long ago when she joined me on the hike.

“I bet you have this entire park memorized by now.”

I don’t know when it happened, but my motivation continued as I returned to the park each day for my daily hike of 3 miles of up and down hills, snakes, deer, rabbit, eagles, and everything in between.

For me, it became not only a great opportunity to get back in shape, but also an opportunity to unhook myself from technology. This included turning the ringer off of my phone, not checking messages, email, Facebook, or Twitter. It also included no iPod with my favorite mix of music.

It included just me and that trail. I suppose you could call this a tech fast of sorts.

Not too long ago, I recall a moment on the trail where I had scaled that hill I spoke of earlier. As I reached the top this particular time, I was amazed…

“When did this happen?” I asked myself. Read the rest of this entry »

What Do Your Pages Say?

In life, story on July 12, 2011 at 3:09 am

By Collin Peterson

The patient and I found ourselves immersed in a conversation about life, the days that have passed, and the days still ahead.  I learned that the patient was a professor at a well-known regional university.  About 10 minutes into the conversation it dawned on me that this patient is, in reality, in a hospital bed.  One wouldn’t guess that this lively and upbeat man was suffering.

The conversation came to a pause and I shifted my weight to the other foot and said, “Ya know, for being in the hospital, you sure are lively.”

The patient grinned.

“While it is only an observation, it seems to me that the recovery time for patients is far less for those patients who maintain a positive attitude throughout their recovery versus those that don’t feel as upbeat,” I remarked.

The patient replied by saying, “While it is only an adage, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover.’”

“Well said.” I grinned.

“I will tell you one more thing,” the patient announced while shifting to sit upright, “A friend of mine once said that life is like a book.  Every page should be something that you can go back and touch.”

What is written in your proverbial book?  The best laugh you shared with your family, your child’s graduation, the return of a loved one.  What is not written?  Are there any missing or blank pages?  If so, why?  This man had a good point and I believe his proverb goes something like this:

“Books will never be obsolete, neither will your life.  Never include pages that do not have anything on them, they just weigh the book down.  Always be thankful for what you’re writing, as you never know how many times your story will be read.”

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 Timothy 4:16 The Message

She gave him a lollipop by @kelmar4

In giving, life, perspective on July 12, 2011 at 2:58 am

By Karen Mares

She walked down our street on an early summer day in her long coat and her scarf covering her head. Hunched over, she walked up to me while I was putting Boy in his car seat, ready to rush out for an errand that I can’t even remember now.

She approached me, and said, “Here, for him. I a Grandma.” She handed me the lollipop to give to my Boy. She had a thick accent that sounded Russian. Weathered face with a big smile, life had clearly not been easy for her. Yet, she smiled, and carried lollipops in her purse in case she saw a child. Her smile became mine and Boy’s. She made him happy, and me grateful. Grateful for her thoughtfulness, her smile, and the path she had journeyed to bring her to us.

She walked away after we thanked her, hunched over, a slight limp, and I haven’t stopped thinking about her since. I wondered what brought her to my street, brought her to America. I imagined all kinds of reasons why this old woman, who had clearly lived much life in her years, was here, walking down a random suburban street with lollipops in her purse. I wondered how she had survived whatever she had survived and still managed to have a desire to bring joy to strangers by sharing not only her lollipops, but in a way, a part of herself.

When I contrast that with my own self-induced frazzled life, something stirs inside me that I can’t quite put my finger on. We chase and run after the things we think we want. We get myopic. Crossing paths with this beautiful old woman reminded me that sometimes what we think we want isn’t what we need. Perhaps what we need is to make sure that we have a spare lollipop in our purses in case we see an opportunity to bring a little joy to someone else.

The Temporarily Forgotten : The Otherside of Drunk Driving

In drunk driving on July 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm

By @gunnarsimonsen

“I forgot you were there.” slurred the man with alcohol on his breath. The two cars sat next to the road on this cloudy day. Mom and I were almost home after getting a birthday present for the party that was just about to start.

A light blue truck and a red car that used to have a trunk were all that remained. Sitting in the back seat, I don’t remember much, I think I was in shock. I did need an ace bandage for something. Mom was ok, although I think she needed to wear one of those silly looking neckbraces for awhile.

Looking at that car, but not yet knowing God, I’d say I was lucky. Very lucky. What rips my heart out is that sadly… many are not.

I don’t remember much else. However, I do remember his name…Lee Ray …and that he forgot we were there.

What a sad statement…”I forgot you were there.” Fortunately for him, we were still there after he hit us. I can’t imagine telling that to a family who has lost loved ones from a drunk driving incident.

“Try forgetting them now.”

Today, I forgive Lee Ray. I don’t think we ever heard of him again. I pray that he got his life in order. I hope that he did not forget anyone else.

Unfortunately, a situation like this happens each day. Almost every half hour, a person will lose their life in a drunk driving accident in America.

For all those who have lost a loved one to this…we pray for you. For all those who will get behind the wheel drunk in the next half and hour…we pray for you.

May God protect the temporarily forgotten and frustrate the keys of the forgetter. May their keys never make it to the ignition.

In 2004, there was a 2% decline of drunk driving fatalities over 2003. (I wrote this in 2005)

Please join me in praying this very moment… a prayer that would bring even more decline of these numbers.

It’s 5:37…another half an hour just elapsed…23 minutes till the next.

Thanks for your prayers!

Please be careful! May your holiday be safe and happy!

* I wrote this a few years ago in remembrance of the many who sadly… did not survive. I like to believe that someday wisdom, discipline, and responsible choices will win out. But, for that, we all have a role to teach, to hold accountable, to love, and support.

We are Wealthy by @enricsifa

In Africa, Enric Sifa, Rwanda, Wealthy on July 1, 2011 at 8:12 pm

By @enricsifa

On TV, in newspapers, on the radio, even from missionaries: when it comes to Africa, we hear negative things from all sorts of media. We hear about the wars, hate, malnutrition, disasters, and poverty of Africa. But are those really the only things Africa has? I remember, in Africa, when I was growing up, I never even thought about the things mentioned above. I thought Africa was the only place people should live. I loved the animals, the sun, the butterflies, the hills, and the valleys. I remember how beautiful the lakes and the rivers were. I remember how delicious the meat was, I remember the smiles of people, the parties every Friday, all the colors, and the rest of the beautiful things that Africa has. That’s what I remember of Africa.

African people are the happiest people you can ever find. One man may not even have salt in his food, but before he eats it, he says a prayer of praise to God for providing that food. He eats with a smile on his face and after he is done, he sleeps on a matt on the floor- with happiness. If a person gets a stomachache, he goes into the wild and chews a special kind of leaf that makes the stomachache go away. Another person doesn’t have any shoes, but you will still see him dancing on the hard dusty floor. He doesn’t care about shoes because he lives in paradise. He loves his life. You will see him playing soccer for ninety minutes straight with no shoes. He feels no pain. After soccer, he goes to take a bath. When he takes his bath, he may only have a bucket to use, but he is happy. That’s what I remember of Africa.

I loved to play with flowers in the streets. I loved the smell of the tall grasses beside the small roads. I loved the river that was only a mile away from my house. I loved the hills on the other side. I loved the party people who came to my house every friday. Life in Africa is so beautiful. People work hard, but they don’t let work and money determine who they are as people. The community is awesome, and you won’t find a single person who lacks friends. People are friendly and they like to include everyone: strangers, tall, short, fat, white, black…everyone. The music is amazing. Everyone, even a disabled person, has a beat. Everyone shakes the booty, man or a woman. If you can walk, you can dance; and if you can talk, you can sing. That’s what every African thinks, and it works well.

It’s frustrating that people don’t spend time talking about the beauty of Africa. It seems like they only focus on the negative. There is suffering everywhere. It’s good to help, but if we only talk about what Africa doesn’t have, Africa will always feel inferior. They won’t have the courage to achieve bigger dreams. I love Africa. I know the struggle. But I never knew the struggle until I left Africa. The thing is, we try to compare our lives with other people’s lives and then we come to the conclusion that if a person doesn’t have what we have, he must be suffering. Money and wealth do not make us people. We are people because we have life, and life comes freely to everyone. The president lives because of the free gift of life, just as the homeless person lives because of the free gift of life-neither live because of MONEY. Life is beautiful. Therefore, let us recognize the beauty in it and appreciate the ART of God.