Thursday, January 29, 2009

A winter poem

As I gathered firewood during the winter storm that blew through Ohio yesterday, I was struck by how interesting the branches of our large Japanese Maple looked completely coated with ice. The sight of it inspired me to write a few lines of poetry in my head. When I finally came inside and sat down to complete the poem, it went way different than I intended. You see, when I write poetry I usually have a few lines or a theme to start with, but the bulk of the poem just flows as I put pen to paper. Well the flow yesterday turned quite somber; almost depressing, really. It was the exact opposite of my mood, which made Ell and I laugh hysterically when I shared it with her. I was in a great mood but the poem turned out strange and dark. I still like it, though.

Enough talking, here it is.

The trees are hugged with water
Frozen to their core
They shimmer in the blinding white
Bound to live no more

The winter bit quite hard this year
Its damage plain to see
Besides the trees and grass and land
The people are not free

A sadness hangs on every heart
Seen within their eye
The cold has stole their will to live
The white of snow a lie

I stomp my feet into the ice
I try to break its will
But it with power more than mine
A lasting struggle still

And so again this season wins
Its pain too much to bear
I sink into my couch and cry
I'll move one day I swear

Thursday, January 22, 2009

An eye-opener

The economic times we live in have hit me square in the face this morning.

As I got close to my workplace this morning, I noticed a huge mess of cars, pickups, and vans all over and around the front of our main building. There were so many they had blocked the entrance, spilled onto the street, and had even filled the employee parking lot in the back. There had to be fifty to seventy five vehicles parked into every square inch of a thirty five space parking lot. When I finally squeezed the F-150 into/onto a pile of snow in the back of our lot, I walked into the building and found out the reason for the congestion: The Way Station's monthly food giveaway.

Now..... I've been involved in a lot of ministry/charity/outreach stuff in my life. I've given away blankets to homeless people in New York City. I've organized food drives. I've served food at a soup kitchen/homeless shelter. Ell and I even spent this past Thanksgiving with people from Youngstown who didn't have family or food to spare. I say none of that for praise but to lay a background. Despite all of past experiences, the site of all those people this morning blew me away.

So many people who are choosing between medication and food. So many people who are without a job. So many people driving a car they bought in better times that has now become a catch-22 burden. So many people who just don't have the means to survive without someone, somewhere, giving out free food. Grandma's, Grandpa's, Mom's, Dad's, boys and girls. Oh how my heart ached this morning as I passed the people on the way to my office; barely any of them looking me in the eye.

Maybe the sight of those people is hitting especially hard because last night Ell was let go from the Cafe. (The story and my emotions will have to wait because we haven't sorted them yet.) So here we sit... I took a $15k pay cut to assume the CFO position at the Way Station. I was able to do so because God has provided for us over the last year making it possible. But that was only because Ell was working. Now what? Where do we go now? Should I be grabbing a bag of groceries before I leave work today? I'm sure we now qualify.

Of course I jest at the last part. We've been fine before and we'll be fine through this. I have faith in that. But the reality of our situation is now before me. At least for today, Ell and I are needy. What a thought.

I think I'm going to go help with the food giveaway. It's where I need to be right now to get through my emotions. Ell likes to laugh that I wear my emotions on my sleeve; she'd be roaring today as I'm sure I'll cry as I help people gather the food that they will use to feed their families. I am truly blessed. Despite the news of last night, I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hurry, hurry

Blogger has announced an outage in less than a half hour so I gotta rush this post.

I haven't had too much time to post in the last few weeks because there isn't as much free access to the Internet as the bank provided. But don't mistake that for sadness that I'm not at the bank. The new job is a bit rough and tumble, but it's a hundred times better than where I was. I loved some of the people I worked with, but I don't miss the job. Does that make sense?

Anyway, the new job is going good. I'm finally starting to connect some dots and figure some paths out; the rest is just details. I'm still very certain this is where I'm supposed to be for this chapter in life and so I'm striving to give it my all. Thanks to all thinking about me. I have a good Friday Funny coming up, so stop back.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Heres comes a shock

I'm not backing away from my extreme distaste for this season, but I saw a sight yesterday that made me enjoy it. On a stretch of road between Columbiana and Lisbon, the fallen snow was hanging onto each and every tree branch and limb and had created this beautiful scene. It was so pretty. Don't tar and feather me, but in that moment I was in love with winter.

Also, it seems I left my friend Dave out of my People... post, so I wanted to share a special moment we shared last night. We got to sit across from each other at dinner and it was great. I think there were other people there but all I could do was enjoy that Dave was with me. Ahhhh the memories.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

People news and views...

For those not keeping up with my Mom's blog... my Grandpa is gone. I want to thank all of you who've been praying for our family, and ask that you tarry another day as tomorrow is the funeral. I haven't talked to my Mom in a couple days, so I'm assuming she's already up in New York. If not, the prayers I seek is that she is safe driving in this snowstorm that's moved in.

My new job... I'm a week and a half into it and finally making some headway into the transition. I've tried to demand some of my predecessor's attention, but she's so involved in so many things (many not of her choosing) that I'm still not getting the one-on-one time I'd like. All I can do is keep trying and hope I don't come off as rude. (If I failed already, I deeply apologize to you, Betsy.) I know what I need to succeed and what I need is her time. But I also know most new job opportunities don't come with the personal benefit of working with the person you'll replace, so I recognize the fine line and respect the unique position.

The new employer... It's a medium-sized (large for around here) Non-Profit organization called The Way Station. They have four or five facilities and cover services ranging from a free clothing warehouse and food pantry, to a rehab home for teens wrestling with substance abuse, to an affiliate of YouthBuild USA which is a GED/Career experience organization. I'm their new CFO, and HR rep. It's an intense position with a lot of pressure and responsibility, but I can't say how wonderfully happy I am to be a part of it. I'm certain I've never said that about any job I've ever had. We'll see how I feel in a year (huh, Betsy?!). If you'd like more information about The Way Station, check out their website:

The home... Full of frustration. I don't want to make this post of Adrienne proportions, so I'll just list all the fun we've had in the last month.
-Frozen well
-Electrical shorts
-Blocked pipes
-Full mixed with partial electrical blackouts
-New utility pole replaced from hurricane Ike already falling down
-Uncured firewood
-Broken faucets
-Problems with washing machine
-Flooded basement
-30 degree house after two no-fire days
And I'm sure I'm missing more. Like when flushing the toilet turns off the lights. And then flushing it again turns them back on. Oh yeah, we've had some fun days. Good news for whoever buys this place, everything will be brand new.

Friends... Some are home and some are not; some are moving back and some are moving away. Our good friends Andrew & Lyndsay just moved back from Minneapolis around Christmas. It's been great to catch up with them and reconnect. But as people tend to do as they grow up, Andrew got a great job and so the two of them are moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana in February. To make it a little sadder, our friend Brad (one of Ell's best friends and my constant hiking buddy) is moving with them. Sad, yes, but exciting to see them setting out on the so-called path of adulthood. We also got to see Kyle and Andi more than a couple times over the holiday. The more I hear Andi talk about her life and passions, the more I like her. I still think Kyle is going to make a huge mark on the world and Andi seems like the perfect companion for that adventure.

The season... All know I hate winter. This season is no exception. But there has been a recent development that one could never experience in the summer. A huge snow fort, well, more like an ice castle, has risen up in my backyard. Ell and Brad started it a few days ago and are building it so intensely (with other's help) that I'm certain that thing may survive to see the spring flowers bloom. But I still hate winter.

My wife... She starts school again next week. While I still have mad respect for the hours she puts in running the Cafe and attending school and going through clinicals, I hate how much those schedules beat her down. By semester-end she's a wreck and spends the next week trying to sleep it off. I can't wait for her to be done with school and onto the next phase in her life. Not only for her quality of life, but because she's dreamed of being a nurse for so long. I'm really looking forward to her experiencing that dream.

My blog... a bit sparse as of late. Not something that shall continue. Until then...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The new digs

So today I'll be four days into my new job. And the answer to the question I keep getting, it's going good. There's been a lot of reading, a lot of reviewing, a lot of "throw you into the deep end and see if you can swim" type of events. I must say my brain is getting sufficiently numb. But as I told Ell this morning, there's still an excitement to what this all means for me. I'm working through the first-week-on-the-new-job anxieties (read: questioning my sanity in leaving the familiar albeit bad job to start something I'm not sure I can handle), but even those deep emotional moments have been few and far between. I'm glad to be where I'm at right now.

In sadder news, it seems the time is drawing close for my Grandpa's time on this earth. My Mom is the oldest of five kids, and no matter distance or time, losing a parent does something hard to the oldest child. Of course, all feel the loss of a loved one very deeply, but I saw what my Dad went through and I hear the same pain in my Mom's words. (Go to the bottom of my blogroll and click on "My Mom" to read her heart.) So please keep her in your thoughts and prayers the next few days.

I'll try to update this weekend. Thanks to everyone for everything.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

May 2009 be awesome for you. Best wishes and prayers for all who read these words.