May 5, 2010

Someday You'll Think This is Funny...

Due to the recent rains my husband, Keith, has not been in the fields. Last Friday he came home at noon and announced he was going to finally install the laminate flooring we bought for our kitchen/living room a year and a half ago (The intent was to get it in done in time for our first born's graduation.  When that didn't happen, we lost all motivation.)

The project was going along fairly smooth...until Tuesday night.  We were up until 11:30 trying to get a section done and realized that we were not going to have enough underlayment to finish.  Since Keith would be too busy in the fields to work on the floor once the rain stopped, we knew we had to get the floor done in the next couple of days. No problem, we thought, I'll just get some more underlayment tomorrow.  At worst, I'd need to run the 25 miles to Fergus Falls to pick  some up.

No problem, we thought...

So Tuesday after work I started making calls.  After a couple of dead ends, I called one of the local carpet stores and the guy asked if I needed the 'blue stuff'.  I said "Yes" and he told me it was no problem, just come over and he would get me what I needed. I rushed over there giddy with relief and excitement.  They took the roll off the shelf and were just about to start cutting when I yelled at them to stop.  Their 'blue stuff' was not the same as our 'blue stuff'.  Ours was a thicker recycled (gotta be green, you know) felt with a blue moisture barrier on top.  Theirs was a very thin foam type stuff.  I ran out to the van and grabbed a small remnant of our stuff (why I didn't bring this into the store right away, I have no idea) and showed it to them.  They said they did not carry this - and no one else in town did either.

Half hour wasted but I was not discouraged.  I ran home, grabbed the 3rd born son (middle son loves to stay home by himself and read: in peace and quiet!) and headed off to Fergus.  In an hour, I'd be back just in time for Keith to get home from work and we could start back up where we left off.

First stop, Home Depot.  I knew right where I was going and charged back to the flooring department dragging #3 behind me.  After a frantic search, all I could find was plastic sheeting and some weird red and white stuff that looked like it was made from shredded packing peanuts.  I hunted down an employee and showed him my sample.  To my frustration, he confirmed they did not carry anything like that and started to give me directions to several other local flooring stores.  After recognizing what was my deer-in-the-headlights look, he very graciously pulled out the phone book and started calling other local flooring businesses.  My optimism drained with each phone call. No luck - NOBODY carried this kind of underlayment.  He apologized and suggested I try Fleet Farm.

Recognizing what was my deer-in-the-headlights look...

So off to Fleet Farm we went.   Once again, I and #3 (who was at this point really regretting he had agreed to come on this 'quick' trip with me) trucked to the back of the store (why is all the flooring in the BACK of the store?) They did not have our rare blue stuff either but they did have a thicker yellow foam that was very close in thickness and density.  By now I was desperate.  I said good enough and grabbed a roll.  #3 who is very wise for his age, told me we better get 2 "just in case."  I agreed. We headed to the front of the store, stopping off in the camping section to grab a mess kit for son #2's upcoming Boy Scout trip, paid for our stuff and loaded up into the van for the 1/2 hour trip home.

Half way home, favorite son #2 called me on my cell to tell me he had heard a boom/crash sound in the basement and the dog was down there barking at 'it'.  Freaked out, he said there was no way he was going down there to check it out.  I assured him it was fine and I would figure it out when I (finally) got home.

2 hours later I was home with my 2 precious rolls of yellow stuff.  I hauled it in the house, trying to ignore the headache that was creeping up the back of my head.  After a few minutes of listening to me relate every frustrating moment of my trip, precious son #2 reminded me about the creepy situation in the basement.  We flipped on the basement lights and eased our way down the steps.  We slowly checked every nook and cranny until we got to the far back corner.  Nothing...everything seemed to be fine.

I was appreciating the big open, empty spot where our laminate flooring had been stored for the last year and a half when I noticed a roll of carpeting stuck in the back corner.  Curious as to how much might be on the roll, I peeked in the end of it to see how much was there. I was surprised to see what looked to be a plastic bag.  I gave the bag a tug and what did I pull out?  Nothing other than a full roll of our rare and unique blue recycled felt underlayment.

I let out a huge "Ergggghh!" and was about to start throwing a mini temper tantrum when I looked over to see son #2 laughing so hard he was leaning against the dryer to hold himself up.  I told him it was NOT funny. He just laughed harder, his dimples showing up and making the grin on his face too cute to ignore.   This mommy heart gave in and released a little chuckle.

It took a couple more hours for my annoyance to complete dissipate but I eventually got over it...mostly...I still have 2 rolls of yellow foam to return to Fleet Farm.

We never did find out what made the noise down in the basement.  I'm just going to accept that it was God helping us to find that which was lost.  It shouldn't surprise us.  He's kind of in the 'finding that which is lost' business, after all.  And it wasn't a completely wasted trip.  Son #2  got his mess kit which he spent the rest of the night taking apart and reassembling.  At least I won't have to return that...unless I find out I bought the wrong kind.  Oh, brother...

PS: I'll post pictures of the finished floor when it is DONE!

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Warning: Brag Alert!

OK - I warned that on occasion I may use this space for nothing other than to brag about my kids.

Well, this is one of those occasions.

I would proudly like to announce that my favorite first born son is now a Lance Corporal in the United States Marines. He received his promotion on Monday and we are so excited for him.

Ooh-Rah, Semper Fi and Way to Go!  

We love you, Christopher!

Lance Corporal Christopher M Samuels

May 4, 2010

Going the Distance: A Little Inspiration

For a little added inspiration following yesterdays post, read this from the Fargo Forum in Fargo, ND.  Truly inspirational...

Going the distance: Wheelchair team sets goal for Fargo Marathon

Rory Eidsness and Rollie Johnson will tackle the Fargo Marathon as a two-man team with a silent partner.

Eidsness, a former Fargo fire captain who suffered a stroke four years ago and has very limited movement, will ride in a customized racing wheelchair while Johnson pushes.

The two 50-year-olds completed the half marathon two years ago after Johnson came up with the idea as a way to challenge himself physically and give Eidsness a chance to get out.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him in terms of what I can do and what he’s not able to do,” said Johnson, director of contemporary ministries at Fargo’s First Lutheran Church.

This year, they decided to attempt the full 26.2 miles but first enlisted the help of North Dakota State College of Science welding students to design a wheelchair that would fit their needs.

And this isn’t any ordinary wheelchair.

The three-wheeler is designed to look like a dragster car and is customized just for them.  The car is aluminum with carbon fiber wheels and weighs less than 50 pounds. It has hand brakes for going downhill and is insulated to keep Eidsness warm. The hood detaches so Eidsness can be lifted inside, where he fits snugly in foam and padding.

Eidsness primarily communicates by nodding or looking up with his eyes. A mirror will be mounted on the windshield so Johnson can communicate with Eidsness without stopping.

“They really nailed the design,” Johnson said. “It is really a smooth-pushing machine.”

Welding instructor Lee Larson and his students at the lab in the Skills & Training Technology Center didn’t forget the cool factor.

In recognition of Eidsness’ 19 years with the Fargo Fire Department, the wheelchair is painted fire-engine red and will feature his badge No. 344, flame decals and his helmet mounted on the front.

On Thursday, as Eidsness was trying out the car in the NDSCS Fargo welding lab, Johnson asked, “Whoa, doesn’t that look cool?” and Eidsness nodded and looked up with his eyes to signal yes.

Eidsness suffered a stroke while training with Johnson and other members of a church group to climb Devils Tower in Wyoming.

Kari Eidsness said it means a lot to her husband to participate in the marathon.

“He used to be so active, and it allows him to get out and be part of things that he’s not been able to be a part of,” she said.

Eidsness is in physical therapy to work on his core strength with the goal of being able to sit independently. He’s also in aqua therapy.  Johnson said Eidsness has a lot more neck and torso strength than he did two years ago.

“He’s just a walking testimony to courage,” Johnson said.

But Eidsness, who has a special computer that he controls with his eyes, said through an e-mail interview that his partner deserves the credit.

“I have the easy job with the marathon,” Eidsness said. “I just sit there. Rollie does all the work.”

Johnson is training to not only run his first marathon but run it while pushing his 230-pound friend.

He’s always been active, but Johnson wasn’t a runner before deciding to take on the half marathon in 2008.

Johnson has been doing practice runs with the new wheelchair, sometimes with Eidsness and sometimes with his children and some sandbags to add weight.

Johnson said his motivation is faith-based.  “I believe that when God gets involved, we’re able to do so much more than what we’re physically or emotionally capable of,” he said.  In 2008, the cheers and prayers from the crowd helped them finish the half marathon in two hours, 20 minutes.  “The effect of the crowd and the cheering and the stimulation of that, the adrenaline, was beyond anything I could have ever predicted,” Johnson said.

Eidsness said the highlight for him was running into the Fargodome and seeing their pictures on the big screen.

That year, they used a modified wheelchair, but not one that was custom built or had safety features.

They expect the full marathon may take them four to five hours.  Kari Eidsness will bike alongside them in case they need anything during the race.  “I need to get ready, too,” she said.

Johnson said he doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to run the whole 26.2 miles, but if he has to walk after mile 18 or 20, it won’t be the end of the world.

“I’m really confident that this is a vision born spiritually of God, and if he wants it to happen, it’ll happen,” Johnson said.

I can say 'Amen!' to that!! Talk about not letting a disaster getting you down.  Hope you were as inspired and encouraged as I was. - Dawn

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May 3, 2010

Don't Put Down the Pansies

Last November I noticed the most amazing thing. Peeking out from underneath the blanket of snow that had begun to cover up my seemingly lifeless flower bed were little snips of purple and yellow. Looking closer, I found them to be the pansies that I had planted that past spring. I was confused. They were supposed to be brown and shriveled up like everything else in my garden. Didn’t they know it was NOVEMBER! What were they thinking? They were just going to get frost bite and then they would regret not laying down and dying like all the rest of the ‘smart’ flowers, I thought.

Well, soon enough another layer of snow fell and I forgot about those pansies...until about the last week of March. An early spring had melted away the snow in my front flower bed and the sun was shining. I walked out my front door on my way out to run some errands and what did I see? Those perky little pansies!

There they were, arriving ahead of the tulips, daffodils and even the snow crocuses. Now I have no idea if their blooms truly lasted all winter but they did not seem any worse for wear. I bent down and gave them a good inspection. Green leaves, healthy petals and not a trace of frostbite anywhere! “Well, good for them!” I thought.

Then someone whispered, “Don’t put down the pansies.” 

Now what is that supposed mean? Well, for once I stopped and asked “OK, Lord, what are you trying to tell me?” And this is the answer that I got:

Don’t put down those that seem weak or small or too young. I am enough. If I have called them to do something, I will give them what they need to do it. And that includes you – when you think you can’t possibly do something, that it will be too hard, that you are not big enough, strong enough, that you are bound to fail…remember that when you are weak, I am strong!

Wow, thank you, Lord! But He wasn’t done with me yet. The next morning, I read this:

“The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever.
In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.”
(Psalm 37:18-19)

And this…

“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm;
though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

When I saw those pansies back in November, peeking their heads out of the snow I scolded them – thinking they were in for trouble. That the inevitable North Dakota winter we were about to enter into certainly meant ‘disaster’ for those pansies. I mean, maybe if they were a hearty hosta or a mighty oak tree….but they were pitiful little pansies and everyone knows pansies are weak and fragile and just plain wimpy.

But maybe those pitiful little pansies were trusting in something greater than my doomsday weather forecast. I know they didn’t survive due to my extraordinary gardening skills (insert sound bite of family’s howling laughter.) Maybe they made it through because they were trusting in their creator, who promised he would ‘weather’ them through the impending disaster. Maybe, just maybe, they had the faith to know that if their little petals fell or their leaves started turning a little brown…he would be there to pick up their heads and bring them sunshine and rain to refresh and restore them. That even when the situation seemed unending and hopeless, he was there to hold them up and not let them wither away. Pretty powerful…for a pansy, huh?

And that’s what I learned from a pansy. That no matter how small or insignificant I may feel or someone else may appear, our God is BIG. Big enough to provide for us when we are struggling, big enough to hold us up when we don’t think we can stand any longer, big enough to weather us through whatever our next disaster may be - even when others may tell us its hopeless and that we should just give up and run for cover.  If God called you to it – he will bring you through it!

In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye on those pansies. Something tells me God’s not done with them yet and I’m thinking that with faith like that, the weeds better get out of their way (I think there’s a whole other lesson there :)

Stay tuned for a Tale of Two Tulips…

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