Monday, February 7, 2011

Past and Present: Snow Daze

Man, we've been blasted around here with snow lately. That's one of the perks of living in this part of the US; snow. Not to mention the lack of sunshine, temperatures barely going above 30, slush, shoveling, freezing, scraping, school closings, accidents, power outages... need I go on? But before I talk about snow, I have a question that no one seems to be able to answer. This area was very rich in American Indians. Chippewa, Shawnee, Delaware, Ottawa and others called Ohio home. Since we know that winter was a difficult time for Indians, do you think they ever knew that they could walk about a month south and never brave another Ohio winter? Hmmmm...

OK, now to Thoreau Ave. in Akron, circa 1968 or so. All of us kids on the street LIVED for the snow. Our street was somewhat of a hill so if it got real slippery, you could ride your sled down the middle. Granted, it wasn't much of a hill so you really didn't go very fast but you did move some. The best thing though, was the woods that surrounded our neighborhood.

Thoreau Ave. dead-ended right into the woods. You could walk into the woods on level ground for several hundred yards, but then the woods dropped steeply into a valley type of thing with a creek at the bottom. This made for some killer sled riding hills - right in our own backyard.

Back in those days, there were no plastic sleds and everyone had the wooden-slatted sleds with metal runners on them. You could either lay flat or sit upright with your feet on the steering handles. We would go blasting down the hill in the woods and have to be careful we didn't fly into the creek at the end. Now this happened to me once. I couldn't stop and my sled and I went out onto the creek and my foot promptly broke through the ice and my boot filled up with freezing creek water. Well, that was the end of my day of sledding, and I cried all the way home with a frozen foot while the neighborhood kids laughed and laughed.

Another time, my good friend Lori Vannatter and I had an accident on one of the hills in the woods. If I'm not mistaken, she ran over my ankle and somehow my sled cut her ear open - hahaha! I can't even imagine how that happened! I think we both stomped out of the woods mad at each other.

Ahh, those were the days. We would literally stay outside from morning till dark and play in the snow; sledding, shoveling driveways for cash, building snow forts and snowmen and on and on.

For some reason, the snow isn't that fun anymore. How about you? I'd love to hear your comments and snow stories!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Really Big Year

This will be a really big year for me. Well, I don't know if the year will be really big but there is at least ONE day in February that will be really big... that's the day I turn 50. There. I've said it. JOHN'S TURNING 50! So I said to Donna the other day...hummm, I've been on this planet for 50 flippin' years! That is a really long time.

It's funny - I don't feel like I've been on this planet for 50 years. Well, I guess I do kinda feel like that. My knees hurt sometimes when I walk up stairs...I've got to be really careful that I don't blow my back out, my hearing stinks, I have bi-focals, I love to take naps. So maybe I do have the symptoms of being 50 but in my mind I don't feel that old.

I'm reading Donald Miller's book called "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years." In the book he talks about how we only remember little snapshots of our lives; usually the milestones or triumphs or tragedies. Sure, I can remember Mrs. Claytor, my 4th grade teacher at Voris Elementary in Akron. She had to be close to 90 and walked all hunched over with a cane. Everyone was terrified of her. I had a 33.33 chance of having Mrs. Claytor or one of the other two 4th grade teachers, and low and behold, I cracked open my report card envelope at the end of my 3rd grade year in anticipation of who my teacher would be next year...imagine my dismay when I saw her name. The thing is though, I don't remember much else about my 4th grade year. Same with 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th...see what I mean? We only remember (as Donald Miller says) little snapshots of our lives.

His point in the book is to live every day as significant and memorable - to write a story with our lives. Is your life a story worth telling? Are you making a difference? Are you building into someone else's life? Are you making your kids, your spouse or coworkers feel valued? Are you sharing and showing unconditional love to those who don't look or believe the way you do? I need to ask myself these questions as I look at my 50 years on this planet and consider the time I have left.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4

Wow, I wish I could live out the verses above for the remainder of my time here - that could be a life lived with significance.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your responses.