Happy Birthday Caleb!

Yesterday, we celebrated my son, Caleb’s 11th birthday.  Now, birthdays are always a meaningful time for me.  I look with pride at how my kids are developing and take the opportunity to shower them with love.  For my son Caleb, his birthdays take on a very special meaning.  I use it as an opportunity to reflect on what God has done in his life.

My son has a very rare genetic condition called Cardio-Facio-Cutaneous syndrome, or CFC syndrome for short.  The condition affects those three area of the body, cardio (heart), facio (facial features), and cutaneous (skin).  This is a very rare condition.  In fact, there are only 100 known cases of it around the world.

Children with CFC syndrome may have certain features such as relatively large head size, down-slanting eyes, sparse eyebrows, curly hair, areas of thickened or scaly skin, and small stature. Most will also have a heart defect. While there is a wide spectrum of severity in CFC syndrome, most individuals will have some degree of learning difficulty and developmental delay.  Many CFC children have difficulty swallowing food or walking.

My wife, Alice and I have been amazed at what God has done in Caleb’s life.  While Caleb would rather eat softer foods, he is able to swallow his food.  Caleb is able not only able to walk, but also run.  Earlier this summer, he won the gold medal in the 50M run at the Illinois State Special Olympics.  This is quite a miracle when you consider there were doctors who told us Caleb would never walk. 

Even though he faces physical and mental challenges, he always perseveres and he always has a smile on his face.  So Caleb, I don’t know if you will ever read this blog, but if you do, I want you to know that your Dad is very proud of you and he loves you very much.

For more info about CFC Syndrome, go to http://www.cfcsyndrome.org/

Happy Birthday Caleb!

My Weight Loss Progress

For the past four months, I have been working hard on losing weight. I’m happy to report that I am now under the 200 lbs mark. Here’s the background on it.  I’m 5’8″ and the ideal weight charts say that I should be around 157 lbs. That’s crazy. But that’s a topic for another post. Anyway, I was in the 160s when I got married 13 years ago. But since then, as many married people will attest to, I began gaining weight soon after I said, “I do.” By July 2002, I had ballooned up to 225 lbs. I realized that I needed to do something about my weight, so over the next five months, I lost 42 lbs. That was the most successful I had ever been with losing weight.

I wish I could say that I was disciplined enough to keep the weight off, but those double cheeseburgers and ice cream kept calling my name. Over the next four years, I slowly started gaining the weight back. At the beginning of this year, I was 223 lbs. This was not good. So I prayed about it and made a resolution to lose 50 lbs by the end of the year. In March, I made an assessment on my progress and realized I hadn’t made any progress.

So I prayed about it again and asked God to help me be more disciplined with exercising and eating right. So far, I’ve been making the right decisions. I’ve been exercising six days a week and making healthy food choices, except at lunch today. I had a handful of Cheetos…well maybe a little bit more than a handful.

By God’s strength, I’m halfway to my goal. My prayer is to get down to 173 lbs. by the end of 2007. If you have any advice for me, feel free to comment.

My Weight Loss Progress

What God has been teaching me from James 1

A few days ago, I read the following verses from the first chapter of James:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Lately, I have been going through some trials. I have not enjoyed them at all. But in the verses above, God is saying that I should view this situation as pure joy. While going through these hard times has not been easy, God has been telling me that this testing of my faith will produce perseverance and that will need to maturity and completeness.

The difficulties that I am going thorough force me to cling to God. I can’t persevere on my own. But by leaning on God, I will make it. And I know that this experience will grow me and mature me. Right now, I don’t consider it pure joy, but I’m getting there.

What God has been teaching me from James 1

My first flight on Southwest

I finally took my first flight on Southwest Airlines last week. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Southwest. They try to keep things simple, like straight forward fare structures, using the same type of planes (Boeing 737s) throughout the system, and no pre-assigned seats. This approach as worked very well for them. They seem to be the only airline making money lately.

I also heard about how the flight crews make the flight a fun experience for their passengers. I’ve heard stories about how the flight attendants sing and play musical instruments in the aisles or how the pilots crack jokes and make witty comments over the PA system.So after hearing these stories for years, I was really looking forward to the start of my vacation and our flight from Chicago to Orlando. I was hoping to experience something dramatically different from the flights that I have taken on other airlines. I’m sad to report that other than, not having an assigned seat, there was no difference with the experience. No singing, dancing, or joke telling.

Southwest did deliver on the essentials. The flight attendants were pleasant and courteous. The flights were on time or ahead of schedule. Our luggage did not get lost or delayed. And the price of the tickets was fantastic. So, I should be probably satisfied with Southwest and I am. I just was hoping for a little more fun.

My first flight on Southwest

What I think of Ratatouille

This past weekend, my family and I went to the theater and saw Ratatouille. My kids are ages 10, 7, and 4. So these are the types of movies we watch together. But, even if I didn’t have kids, I would go see any movie made by Pixar. They do such an incredible job with their story telling and their animation. I’ve never been disappointed with any of their movies.

Until…

Well…Ratatouille is okay. The animation is awesome. The animators at Pixar continue to improve the way they display things, like water. There is a scene where dozens of rats are floating down a river. It looks so lifelike. The way their human characters move is very fluid and realistic. There’s another amazing scene where the cooks are preparing the food in the kitchen. You forget you’re watching animation. A decade ago, when people moved on the screen, they looked like robots.

The problem was with the story development. In the past, Pixar has done such a good job, not only with the animation, but in telling a great story. The desire to do whatever it takes to be reconciled with the one that you love, like in Finding Nemo or searching for your significance in this world, like The Incredibles; those are great stories. The message of Ratatouille was anybody can cook, even a rat. That really didn’t resonate with me. If there was a deeper message about following your dreams or something like that, the writers could have done more to bring that point home.

Ratatouille isn’t a bad movie, it’s just that Pixar has set the bar so high with their previous movies. I was expecting something better. I hope that they will be able to address this problem in their next movie, Wall-E.

What I think of Ratatouille

What God taught me today

God continues to speak to me as I read through the book of Hebrews. Today, I read chapter 13, verses 5-6. It says,

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can human beings do to me?”

I’m going through a transition with my work and I’m concerned about the future. Will I make enough to support my family? But God is reminding me that I should be content. He’s not going to leave me hanging. I’m concerned about the future. It’s real uncertain now, but God is telling me in these verses that He will help me and I don’t need to be afraid. I’m fearful of what people can do to me, but I really shouldn’t. I have the creator of the universe on my side.

So while I’m a little apprehensive about the coming weeks and months, God continues to show me that He’s going to take care of me.

What God taught me today

What God’s been teaching me lately

At the beginning of 2007, I made the decision to spend time with God everyday, first thing in the morning.  I spend about an hour praying and reading the Bible.  This has been real good for me.

I’ve been reading the book of Hebrews lately.  In chapter 12, the author writes about running the race with perseverance.  It says that we should fix our eyes on Jesus as we are running.  I picture this marathon and Jesus at the finish line waiting to greet me.  That’s what I should be racing towards, but I realized that’s not what I have been doing lately.  Instead, I’ve been running towards the things that are important to me.

God’s been telling me that I need to start running to him again. 

What God’s been teaching me lately