Senior Year Reflection

Some days I wish I had a telepathic thought converter that would take the thoughts that I have and transfer them to a document. It would definitely make writing my blogs so much easier. It seems like I have all these thoughts and experiences that fly through my mind’s eye in a day, and I don’t want to forget any of the details of what I think or remember.

As I move through the seasons of the year, it triggers these memories of the life I have lived and the emotions that flood my being are something too much to communicate or even try to express in any way, so most time they are just held in. Until the right moment presents itself to release them. For me, that is most times when I’m alone, or with my amazing wife, Chrissy.  I think perhaps I do this because it’s a safe environment for me to be me.

One thing I am discovering is that the more I do write, the more I’m letting some of the inner me out. The hard part is that even those who know me are perhaps are seeing a different side to me that most may have never known or seen. This is actually a bit intimidating and at the same time, freeing.

So, what’s with all the self-reflection and such? Over the last few months, Chrissy and I have been through some difficult times…the kind of things that cause everyone who goes through them to question everything, and that is okay. It’s actually has made us think and talk about things that we normally don’t discuss, and that has been good. In the mist of all this, life just keeps going on. It hits me now that we have plans that we have made and committed to rapidly approaching.

For example, a trip we have planned with our entire family is coming up soon. This may not seem to be a big deal, but somehow, we have grown our family to a total of 12 people and I’m sure there will be future additions to that number. Still, that’s a lot of people, especially to go on a trip with! This trip is one of those special trips that Chrissy and I really wanted to have happen. See, this year we have a high school senior in our home. Now, yes, we have had this before- 3 times before to be exact.

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The first child graduating was difficult and thinking about all that goes with your first born moving on to the next phase of their lives with all the unknown things and hopes and dreams you have for them and that they have for themselves. Then they move out, get married and all of a sudden, you’re a grandparent. Whew, looking back that was pretty quick, and before we knew it, we had 2 more graduates, another grandbaby, and another wedding, followed by 2 more grandkids. Talk about a blur. That brings me to the moment of reflection over the final of the four. The baby of the family.

Then it starts to creep in. This will be that last time you will be doing this senior thing. Not only that, but what you have done for the last 27 years is going to change a bit, because all the kids are soon going to be out on their own. Oh, sure they may linger in the nest for a bit longer, and that is all cool. No rush on our part.

What I think is the hardest part is remembering what you have done or not done and not being able to change that at all. If you stay in that place too long, you can start to second guess all you have done and whether or not it was the best for them.

A friend has a jar of marbles on his desk representing the number of weekends he has left before his first-born graduates. This was pretty cool to watch his countdown, but unconsciously I was having my own countdown without the marbles. I lost all mine after kid 2 or 3. (I feel a bit like the Lost Boy “Tootles” from Peter Pan, he lost his marbles too.) I believe that I almost have not wanted to think about this season of life coming, but here it is.

I want to say that I am so very proud of all my kids, what they are doing, and who they are becoming. I’m so impressed with the people they have become and are going to be. People full of God’s love and kindness, people who have courage as well as integrity. One of the best things has been to see how they take care of each other and hold each other accountable to the level of what it really means to be a “Hunter.”

For you Si-guy, my daredevil, the world’s most okay-est barista. I can only start to say how proud I am of you and all that you have accomplished. I am very excited to see where you go and what you do in the coming years. As I have always told you kids, whatever you want to do you can accomplish, just be sure to lay your plans out before the Lord and let Him have the final say on your endeavors. Follow him and walk in His ways. Always keep Him the most important thing in your life.

Stay humble and teachable. Be observant, always seeing what others do and don’t do. This will help you make wise choices. Be bold and passionate about what you believe in, especially when others try to steal your joy and passion about what you believe to be right. Let their words and intentions build you up in a positive way, not letting them destroy or devour you. Those who try to bully or humiliate you are only trying to bring you down to their level because they have a desire be like you in some way, but since they are struggling to make it where to where you are, they try to pull you down to where they are. Be merciful to them, show them love and grace in their ignorance. Still, beware not to fall into the same pit with those you secretly look up to also.

Gather friends to walk with you on this adventure; choose friends that you can trust, ones that will edify you and that are strong in your weak areas, so that they can join you in obtaining your goals. This makes the achievement of the goal you set so much sweeter because you have others surrounding you who genuinely care about you and what you’re working to achieve.

When you outgrow others, don’t be bitter, but be full of compassion and understanding. Stay gentle with an open mind. Keep good boundaries and hold firm to them; good boundaries can protect you from strife and heartache. Breathe deep, experience life and all the beauty that God has place in it for you. Be kind to others and most times they will be kind to you. Always remember where you’re from, and that you are a Hunter, and more importantly, you are a child of the King of Kings.

Always remember:

 

God loves you more than anyone.

Love him more than anything or anyone and love those around you as yourself.

Always be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Do everything that you do for the glory of God.

Your Mom and Dad are proud of you and love you more than anyone ever could!

 

I believe, if you have more than one child, the last is always the one you reflect on the most. You also hope you did all you could to help them be the person God showed you that they could become. Being parent is hard, but it can be the best thing you ever do. Then you become Popz and Abi, and it gets indescribably better!

 

Where’s My Partner?

Have you ever been surprised buy something in a good way so much that you cherish each second that passed as it unfolded before your eyes? I have, and I also know that experiences like this are hard to pull together and execute effectively. I’m really hard to surprise. I have a innocent way of putting pieces together when something is going on. I sometimes can pick up on the little things when I’m not supposed to, and then I end up soiling the surprise for myself.

Then on the other side of things, let someone try to leave intentional clues or hints to something that I should be able to figure out, and I’m usually late to the game. I totally miss my cue and mess things up.

When I do figure things out, I have a tendency to get really mad at myself and disappointed. I have a difficult time hiding my feelings when I feel like I do something dumb. This is then taken by others that I’m not happy with whatever is happening. Which is most times the furthest thing from the truth.

So when these seasons of the year come around when surprises may take place I somehow subliminally ignore things so I don’t mess things up. This is usually when Chrissy tries to communicate something with subtle hints, and I totally miss it. Then I’m in trouble, rightly so.

One last thing before I get into this story, I don’t know why but for some reason, birthdays are hard for me. I get a little moody and depressed. I don’t know if it’s just the fact that I’m getting older, which is stupid, we all get older. Then it also maybe the time that I allow myself to look back on the past too much. I try to live in positivity, but it’s easy to slip into the negative areas of life and start to focus on what you have failed at or disappointments you have had. With all that said, it’s hard to surprise me, especially around my birthday.

Now, this was not the case on this occasion few years back. I had been given a surprise that will forever stay as one of the best birthday surprises I have ever had. Chrissy would be the first to tell you that I like to dance. I may not be the best at, it but hey, as long as you’re having fun, do it, and you’re not hurting anyone, right? (I try not to step on toes).

So, on this particular year, Chrissy told me that we were going somewhere for my birthday and told me I needed to wear clothes I could move in, but look nice, and I had to have shoes with leather soles. I was then told not to question anything. She ended by assuring me that I would have a great time.

As the day of our mysterious date approached, I remember having a hard time finding the right shoes, but everything else was easy. And, eventually, I did find some shoes.

I remember the day as if it was yesterday. It was a Sunday afternoon, and there was a knock on the door; it was one of our babysitters. She said, “Hi, I’m all set to watch the kids!” At this point it seemed like everyone knew what was going to take place, but me.

Chrissy came out to the living room dressed very pretty, but that’s nothing hard for her. She took a deep breath and said, “Ok, you ready to go?

I said, “Where we going?

“No questions! I have directions, you just need to drive.”

So, as we left the house my mind was racing about where we could possibly be going. As we passed certain land marks, I crossed off ideas that I had formed in my head.

She had me go to an area that I had never been before. As I drove, there were all these huge pole barn like buildings. Itlooked like an industrial warehouse area. She gave me directions from her piece of paper, turn up here on the right. If I said the I wasn’t excited, I would be lying. If I said I wasn’t a bit fearful of what was to come, it would be a lie too. You know how your stomach gets tight right before you do something that is exciting and scary all together? Well, that was me.

Chrissy shouted, “Here! Turn here!”

It was a huge building with a big stone parking lot, only a few cars in the lot.

I asked, “Are you sure this is where we are going?

She said, “I think so.”

Then she glanced at the building and looked back at me with a sparkle in her eye and a nervous smile.

She said, “Yep, this is it. We may be a little early, so let’s wait until we see someone else go in.”

This is customary for Chrissy, especially when we are doing something new or she is unsure of where we should be.

We sat in the car and waited for what seem like forever. Finally, cars stared to pour in, and people went in the door on the side of the building. We got out and made our way to the building that’s when Chrissy looked at me and took another deep breath and nervously said, You better know that I love you, and you better like this! Happy birthday!

I asked, “What is it?” as we entered a door that said something about a club. We went through the door and rounded a corner. The entrance opened up into huge hall with a wooden floor and a stage. There were tables and chairs surrounding the polished floor. I looked at her and said, “What is this? And what are we doing?”

“Surprise!”she said with a smile.

All in one breath with her words running together she said, “We’re going to learn how to swing dance. Oh gosh, what was I thinking? This was such a dumb idea!”

Chrissy has never enjoyed dancing; she has always found an excuse not to dance. She will stand and sway to the music, and if I am lucky, I can get her to slow dance with me. On our wedding day, I think if her Nanny wouldn’t have given her something for her nerves, we would have never made it through the reception. So, for her to even attempt to learn how to dance was huge. Just thinking about this gift she gave me chokes me up.

I grew up dancing with my mom and every once in a while, if there was a good song playing on the oldies station Dad would grab mom’s hand, and they would cut the rug together. Of course, I would cut in and try to learn whatever it was that they were doing. The twist, mash potato, jitterbug, the stroll, just to name a few. Our dance floor was most commonly in the kitchen. Like I said dancing was something I loved, but for Chrissy it was not. She would rather do something else, anything else. So, when I say this was a huge thing, it’s really not an exaggeration at all.

I grabbed her hand, pulled her in close, and said, Thank you, but you don’t have to do this.”

The truth was that I was a bit nervous too. Being a person with dyslexia, I find that following instructions about left and right can be a bit of a challenge; one that still haunts me from childhood to this day.

She looked me in the eyes and said, “Oh we’re doing this.”

Just then a call from the floor came. We were told to get into a circle with our partner facing us. So we would have a big circle, then a smaller circle inside the big one.

We were welcomed, and given an outline for the night. We were told this was an introductory class to swing dance. Then followed with some basic instructions. Honestly, I don’t remember most of what was said. What I do remember is Chrissy looking at me saying, “I can’t do this!” And with every new move, she would giggle and the giggles turned into anxious laughs. We were having fun and getting comfortable with what we were learning, when all of a sudden, we heard the words “Switch! Outside move to the left. The panic and anxiety on Chrissys face was like someone told her she had to get naked.

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She looked at me and said, “No way!”Then she was somewhat pushed to another partner. This kept happening, we were slowly making our way around the circle. With each new partner, our eyes would meet, and she would silently mouth the words “HELP ME!”

Chrissy was about 6 people away and the next time the instructor said to switch, she quickly ran over to me, and politely said to the person next in line, “He’s my partner,please just skip us. She kept this up though out the rest of the evening, in spite of the instructor’s side comments and dirty looks. I believe she even said out loud once or twice while looking at me, “I payed to learn to dance with you, not someone else.”

Overall, we had a great time and even agreed to perhaps learn more. This was a very special time for me,, and I don’t ever want to forget the love and sacrifice Chrissy made to make this night awesome for me.

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I did order us some VHS tapes on swing dancing to learn in the privacy of our own home at our own pace, but after receiving the tapes somehow they disappeared. I still wonder to this day what really happened to them. I do recall finding the second tape somewhere unusual, but the first tape never resurfaced.

In our kitchen today, you will see a sign that Chrissy picked up. It says “In this kitchen we dance,” and since that time we do. I believe we have more spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen now that we have grandbabies and daughters-in-love.

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We dance unashamedly as David did before the Lord. We dance in celebration of the blessings the Lord has given us.

Family Force Five Christmas Pageant

One day we’d all sat down for supper, when Tori looked at me and said, “Dad? I need your help.” I said “Okay, with what?” She continued, “Well, Family Force Five is having a contest… and I want to enter.” Ben piped up in the most taunting voice he could muster, “She wants to meet Soul Glow Activator! She’s in love!” Tori quickly snapped back, “No I’m not!”

I interrupted, “Okay, settle down! Tori, what’s this all about? What do you need to do, and how do you need me to help?”

Tori stated to explain, “Well… I need to make a video showing that I’m their biggest fan.” She started to get excited, as she continued, “When they come to our area on their Christmas tour, they will choose two videos from those who live in the area of the concert.” The faster she talked, the louder she got as the pitch of her voice went higher and higher. “You and a friend get to go to the concert for free and go backstage to meet everyone in the band!” She was raising out of her seat. With wide eyes, she proclaimed “Then you get to go on stage to help with a song! I HAVE TO WIN!”

She had everyone at the table laughing about how excited she got.

I said, “Okay, settle down now. What did you have in mind? She unfolded her plan to show that she was a huge FF5 fan. She said, “I was planning to interview people them while they say that I’m their biggest fan!”

I said “Like who?”

“The kids at youth group. I was also thinking that I could have footage of me inviting people on the street to the concert. I was thinking that you could help me make flyers and get some video shots of me posting them in stores. What do you think, will it work, will you help?”

Ben said, “You’re crazy!”

I said, “Let’s think about this, you need to have some sort of flow for your video. After supper, we sat and came up with an idea of all the video shots we would need. In addition to the interviews and the flyers, we thought she could have a FF5 contest of some sort. So, we decided to have a praise guitar contest. This was a Christian music version of guitar hero. I also suggested that we do a music video with one of their songs.

Tori loved all the ideas. We had about a month to get everything done, edited, and submitted. So, we had a lot to do and only a little time to get it done. Tori worked on getting flyers distributed for her contest and lined up interviews with some of her friends. She asked if I would help plan out the music video.

For the storyline, we thought we could have our family receive an anonymous gift on the porch of a FF5 party in a box. We would have instruments, shutter shades, and iconic green FF5 Christmas pageant bowties. Everyone would be dressed conveniently in a red shirt, and we would have a concert on the front lawn of our house after receiving the box.

The funny part was that our family was working as the custodian crew at the church, so we were working very long hours, and we wouldn’t get finished until around 8pm or later. This meant we could only shoot this music video at night. I thought I would borrow a few bright spinning lights from my ministry and a snow machine as well. We decorated the front of the house with lights and presents. I had an inflatable nativity set; we put printouts of the bands faces on some the nativity people to be funny. We also spelled out FF5 on the roof of our ranch style house so it could be seen. I used my halogen shop lights to light the yard while filming, and they did a pretty good job lighting up the whole front of the house. We also played the song so with us lip synching. The craziest part was that we did all this around 9pm.

Everyone was involved Tori, the boys, and even Chrissy! We had so much fun creating this video. We had the lights flashing and rotating lights that sent beams of light all over the place in the yard with loud music playing. We didn’t have real snow yet, but the snow machine gave a great effect of snow falling. Silas tried to make snow angels, but was not too successful with the fake snow. It was a wonder that the neighbors didn’t call the police, but they knew we were always doing something crazy at our house. It was almost normal for the people driving by to see us out in the yard with blow-up guitars dancing around acting like we were putting on a concert.

There was one last fun part we wanted to put in. The boys thought it would be funny if we included a shot of Tori somehow falling off the roof while putting up lights.

Tori and Jonah went up on the roof acting like they were decorating the house for a concert. We planned that I would interrupt them with a decoration that I got for the video. Tori would move to the edge of the roof, pretending that she was getting upset because the decoration wasn’t big enough for her to win the contest. As she flailed around on the edge of the roof, she would fall from the roof, then we would rush to her side. She would then would look up in pain and whimper that Family Force 5 was worth it.

I had made a stuffed dummy for fun things like pranks and stunts for some of our dumb videos. His name is “Ted,” actually “Dead Ted,” because well… he was always meeting an unfortunate demise in our pranks

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For the falling off the roof scene, we dressed Ted in clothes to match Tori’s clothes. Then we would throw Ted off the roof. When we shot the ground scene of Tori talking, we would switch Ted with Tori. With careful editing, it actually worked great

We posted our video to YouTube and waited for a response from the band.

Side note: The video is still up on YouTube. Here is the address to watch it: Tori’s FF5 Christmas Video

A few very nervous, but hopeful weeks went by, and then we received an email stating that Tori was one of the winners!

When I showed her the email, she nearly blew a gasket!

Not only did Tori enter, but so did Ben’s girlfriend at the time, and she was the second winner.

The hard part for Tori was to choose who to take to the concert as her guest. She was allowed to bring one person. Naturally, I helped a great deal with the video, but I wasn’t not able to go because of my work schedule. So, Tori had a hard choice to make, but she did make a great choice. She picked her mom.

The night of the concert came. Tori and Chrissy went, so did Ben and his girlfriend. As the story goes, they got to meet the band backstage and helped onstage with multiple numbers. One song was “The Baby,” and Chrissy loves to tell everyone that she was almost killed on stage by a band member, named Na-daddy, who was spinning around like a tornado, while playing his guitar. He nearly smashed into Chrissy as she was concentrating on holding up a baby doll for the song at the right times.

The sad part was that Tori didn’t get to talk to the guys much, because one of the members of the band, Fatty, had been admitted to the hospital right before the show for kidney failure. , the band was in a hurry to get to the hospital after the show.

Still, this Christmas was another one that went down in the Hunter Clan’s history book as a interesting Christmas–definitely one that will always be remembered as a Fun Family Christmas.

One thing we always tried to hold to and teach the kids was that we work hard AND we play hard. When one of the family tries for something, we all encourage and support to the best of our abilities. Success for one of us is success for all of us.

 

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The Christmas Code

I sat there, half asleep on the couch, as the kids excitedly prepared for the day’s festivities. I found myself, coffee mug in hand, staring at a pile of Christmas gifts, thinking, “What did I do to get us in this situation?” Yes, it was Christmas morning. The tree was decorated, as well as the house. This year, Chrissy had the foresight to wrap almost all the presents in advance, which made things easier, but definitely not great. You see, Chrissy was 30 minutes away, laying in a hospital bed, fighting for her life.

Here I was at home, with our kids and Chrissy’s parents, who had arrived in their big RV the night before. Just thinking how is it that I’m in a place where I may lose my wife, best friend, lover once more?

Let me back up and start from the beginning.

It was in the beginning of December 2004 when it all started. Recently, we had received dental benefits with my compensation package at church, so we were on a dentistry kick. Getting everyone’s teeth looked at and fixed, cleaned, you know the drill. Chrissy was in for a simple cleaning, being new to all this dentistry stuff, we really had no clue of things you should be careful of. One such thing is that if you have a heart murmur, you should be medicated prior to dental work. Most dentists will ask you this, and then make sure you have what you need prior to the dental work. Chrissy has a heart murmur, and well, she should have had an antibiotic before her teeth were cleaned. Hindsight is always 20/20.

Chrissy had her teeth cleaned, and everything seemed to be fine, for several days afterwards. That was until she started running a fever; we thought she had gotten the flu. She got sick and then she would seem to gain her strength, only to relapse. Finally, it got worse. Chrissy had a fever and started getting a rash. So, we went to the local convenient care because we had not yet established a family doctor. We had just moved to Chicagoland the year before.

We went to the immediate care, and the doctor who saw her said it was just the flu, not to worry, and get some rest. So, we went back home. A  few days passed, and she still had not fully recovered. Then she started to complain of a crushing pain in her chest. This really scared me. She also started to break out in hives.

We thought this must be an allergic reaction to something. We went back through everything she ate, and if we changed anything like soap or detergents, anything we could think of and the answer was no, so we headed out to the convenient care again.

This time, different doctor. Chrissy was short of breath and on the verge of a panic attack because of not knowing what was going on. She still had a fever and when they went to take x-rays of her chest, she passed out for a few seconds. After all that she tried to explain everything that she was feeling, but the doctor concluded that it had to be a allergy to something.

Side Note: I was not able to go back with her because I was on kid duty in the waiting room.

The doctor prescribed some meds and sent us on our way. Chrissy felt like they thought she was crazy. We got her on the meds and saw some improvement.

Somehow, we managed to Christmas shop, attend work parties, and go to church. Chrissy and I also decided while wrapping presents that it would be a smashing idea if we used a secret code system on the Christmas tags instead of names.

This year, we had not only gotten better insurance, I had also received a nice pay raise, and we were so excited that we could buy some nice presents that the kids really wanted. This was going to be a very special year.

We did have one huge dilemma; we had a peeker in our family. You know the kid who likes to look at their gifts before Christmas and guess what they were. Oh, Ben is a peeker, and a good one at that. He would shake and squeeze things. He had even been known to unwrap things and rewrap them.  If we would hide the presents, he would find them. He could never keep it a secret either, he had to let his sister and brothers know what he did. He was so proud of himself.

So, this year we came up with a diabolical plan. Looking back, I think Chrissy was having some sort of delusion from the fever or side effect to the medications she was taking because this was just a crazy plan. Actually, it was a genius plan.

We thought we’ll code the presents and hide them in the garage. That is exactly what we did. We would wrap the presents. Chrissy would get out the highly secret code key and label the presents, and I would take them to the hiding place in the locked garage.

This code thing really was genius! Somehow each code was different so there was no telling which present would go to who without Chrissy and the key. This was a brilliant plan for sure! We would have our sneaking peeker foiled this year!

Then Christmas week was here, and Chrissy still had not gotten fully better. I was in charge of all the kid’s ministry Christmas services, all 6 of them. We had 2 on what we call Christmas Eve-Eve, and then 4 on the actual Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve morning, we got up, and Chrissy’s body was absolutely covered with hives. She had a high temperature, the shortness of breath and the crushing chest pain. So, I decided to call a doctor I had recently seen and luckily was able to make an appointment for her that day. We arrive at the doctor’s office, and they got us in quickly. The doctor looked at her and told us that she needed to be admitted to the hospital, and that this was very serious. He gave us orders for blood work and told us to go now and they would be calling the hospital to let them know we were coming.

We got to the hospital and they admitted her and had the blood work done and started her on a course of penicillin. Her fever had spiked to 104. My love was white as fresh fallen snow. They hooked her up to all kinds of monitors. They said that they were doing all they could to make her comfortable. When the Doctor finally came in he told us that she had sepsis of the blood and that the next 24 hours would be the most critical. Not the words you wanted to hear. I remember praying as hard as I could.

I called to let my boss know that I would need to call off. I was then told that no one could fill for me, so I needed to be there. On top of that, Chrissy’s parents were on their way in, and I needed to take care of my four children. This was turning out to be the Christmas celebration from you know where.

I left Chrissy, got our kids around for Church, and headed off to work with them. After the last service, we rushed to the hospital to see Chrissy one last time for the night. She seemed to be doing better, but that was just my opinion– the Doctor had an opposing one. He said she seemed to be reacting well to the meds, but needed rest.

I remember Chrissy pulling me in close and whispering that she loved me and not to forget to get the train table put together for Silas and have the clown bike put together for Jonah. I said I would, and I told her not to worry.

At this time, I had not given any thought to the codes we put on all the presents. I was just trying to figure out how I could get the kids to wait for mommy to come home and see them unwrap the cool presents that we had picked out for them.

Presents are a big deal in our family, and there is a lot that goes into choosing the right gift for that receiver. This goes all the way down to how it’s wrapped and even sometimes how it is presented to the receiver.

Side Note: For some presents that are given to special people it takes months of preparation and orchestration, especially if it’s Chrissy giving the gift. She puts her whole heart into making it a positive memorable experience. I absolutely love this about her.

I got the kids home, did all our Christmas eve traditions, and put the kids to bed, As soon as I started to work in the garage on the last presents, in rolled the big RV with the in-laws. I tried to get them welcomed and settled, so I could finish up my projects. I do remember it being around 2 am when I finally crawled into bed and prayed one last payer for my love.

The next thing I knew was that I had four very excited kids bouncing on my bed wanting me to get up. I thought I could buy some time with having the kids go see Grammy and Pop in the RV. That didn’t take long. I was able to get a cup of coffee and get myself dressed.

Now this is where I started this post. With me sitting on the couch. My mind was overwhelmed with thoughts on what to do. I wanted Chrissy to be here to watch the kids open the gifts, but who knew when she would be home, it could be days or maybe even weeks.

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I told the kids to go ahead and open their stockings. This would give me time to seek wisdom from the in-laws. I then remembered the codes. Oh no, those terrific, horrible codes! I thought I got it! The Grandparents always bring tons of presents… I’ll just have the kids open the presents from them now, and then when Chrissy gets home,they can open ours. Brilliant!

So, I thought. But I was shot down by my mother-in-law, and told the kids needed to open our presents. I tried to convince them otherwise even reasoning that I would make the kids wait until I knew when Chrissy would be coming home. That was when the guilt trip started, and I totally lost all strength to fight.

I set up the video camera, and away we went. It was a disaster.  The biggest mistake I can remember is that everyone was opening each other’s gifts, and Ben opened up Tori’s American Girl Doll. Which seemed so funny to everyone, but me and I’m sure to my wife later when she found out. I believe the dog’s present was even messed up.

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Afterwards, I was told that when Chrissy got out of the hospital, the kids could open the presents that the grands brought.  I was so frustrated!

I told the kids to get ready; we were going to see mommy. We got to the hospital and they got to see Chrissy. She looked tons better, but still was super weak. The doctor told us that she was lucky to be with us. They also said she needed much rest and care.

We left the hospital and stopped by a Churches Chicken– one of the only places open on Christmas to get a take-home meal which was our Christmas dinner.

Side Note: We never ate Churches Chicken because of a horrible shooting that took place in one of the restaurants, so Chrissy would never ever go there. She refused to.

So, the next day we went back to the hospital and the Doctor said Chrissy should be in there a few more days. Chrissy’s mom asked the doctor why, in a challenging way. She argued with him that Chrissy would be much better at home with her family. After much banter, he told Chrissy that she could sign herself out against doctor’s orders and go home if she wanted to.

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Chrissy’s mom convinced her that would be the best thing to do.

So, she signed herself out and we took her home.

By now the news that the kids had opened everything we had gotten them sunk in. This was a hard thing for us both as we watch the kids tear into the presents that were brought from Pennsylvania. We tried to make the best of it, joking about the clothes that were always too small for me or the strange presents that one of the kid would get that only someone who didn’t really know our kids would get them.

The next day the RV pulled out of the drive, and was off to Pennsylvania again. Leaving our family to care for each other and hopefully give Chrissy the rest she needed.

Unknown to us, but this was the start of a new battle for Chrissy. This sickness did much damage that in the years to come, we would slowly uncover really how bad it was. This was the start of anxiety and depression, as well as a few other issues that still to this day are challenges for my wife.

We now look back and cherish this year and will never forget how blessed we are to have Chrissy with us to celebrate yet another Christmas.

Unexpected Night Visitors

I have been thinking about what I wanted share next. I have a few posts lined up, but I’m not ready to put them down yet. So this week, with all the kids and teachers going back to school, and some off to college for the first time, I thought I would share one of the many experiences that we had when we were in college.

First thing you need to know is that when I finally did decide on what I thought God was telling me to do with my life, I was a bit older than the traditional college student. So, I was designated as a non-traditional student.

Chrissy and I had 3 kids when we went back to school full time. That’s right, it wasn’t just me, it was both of us who went back to school. We both had started college a few years earlier, and I did go to school before we were married. I was an advertising art major, and I focused on photography and color and design. Then I came to the conclusion that I really didn’t want to be in school. So, I sought out my photography professor and asked him what I needed to do to start my own studio. He gave me some advice, and I was off.

Now Chrissy, she started in on studying early childhood education a little while after we were married. After some time, she decided that this was not what she wanted to do. Even though she enjoyed it, she felt that it just wasn’t the right time to be in school. So, she put it on hold.

That is until I felt the Lord telling me that He wanted me to be a pastor. When God says go, you need to go. So, we answered the call and went to school. I was about 26, and Chrissy was 22. We started our journey at a college that wasn’t a good fit for us. The next fall we transferred to another school better suited for us.

We were officially students of Lincoln Christian College-East Coast. It was a satellite school located in Bel Air, Maryland. The main campus was located in Lincoln, Illinois, which is now called Lincoln Christian University.

Chrissy and I both enrolled as full-time students. Our campus and student body was very small, but we had great faculty.

Chrissy and I lived in an apartment across the road from the men’s dormitory. The apartment building, we lived in also housed the girl’s dorm and two faculty apartments. The girl’s dorm was basically just another apartment above our apartment. And even though the school was small, it was situated on a really cool campus.

The campus sat on an old southern plantation that had been renovated to house a school. It was called Eastern Christian College back in the day before it became Lincoln-East Coast. It had a gym, 2 classrooms, and offices– it even still had the huge plantation mansion that we called Old Main. The office building was at the opposite end of the campus from our apartment. It had a Christian school meeting in it as well, and a small book store. This building also housed two more apartments at the very end of the building on the upper floor. Those apartments were numbered 1 and 2. Which was ironic, because we lived in apartment 2 also.

Side Note: Our apartment building, way back when it was a plantation, our little living quarters, was once the chicken coop. The  girls’ dorm apartment was #1, and our apartment was #2, then two staff apartments on the other end were numbered 3 and 4.

Back then, we had just started to scratch the surface of something called the Internet. We had a computer in our apartment; this was when we were still using something called dial-up. Our computer would use a modem to dial a number to connect to the Internet through the phone lines in the apartment, then hopefully connect, if there weren’t too many people using that server.

We also had a land line home phone. It was really confusing trying to get the phone and internet installed because the buildings were so old and the wiring was all messed up. One line that they had marked apartment 1 was actually apartment 3. It was crazy! Now, you may be thinking, what does that have to do with anything? You will understand in a bit.

The students on campus love to pull all kinds of fun pranks on each other. We did all kids of funny things. At one time, some of the boys decided to prank one of the girls by splitting apart Oreos and sticking them all over her little white car. It was pretty funny at first, but when they were removed each cookie left a round dot from the oils in the filling on the car. Overnight, the car became speckled.

This is why I was not surprised when Chrissy woke me up in the middle of the night saying, “Someone is outside our window,”

It was a school night when this all happened. Nothing really out of the ordinary. Chrissy and I got the kids to bed; Tori had her own room, Ben and Jonah shared a room. I’m sure we had just worked on some homework, watched some TV, and then went off to bed.

Everything was fine, that is until I abruptly felt a hard smack across my chest that woke me up from a dead sleep. I woke to find my wife grabbing me and frantically whispering in a scared voice. “Butch I think someone is outside our window. The head of our bed was in the middle of two windows against the wall. So, I lay there absolutely still as I intently listened for what she had heard. It was so quiet, I could hear my heart pounding, and Chrissy breathing quickly. Then I heard voices outside too. I sprung out of bed, grabbed some jeans and pulled them on when I heard someone pounding on the door. Then a deep loud voice said “Open up! It’s the police!”

“What the heck?” I asked myself. Could this be some kind of prank?

Chrissy had on a very short and silky nightie that had a lacy V-neck. I moved to the door quickly as Chrissy peeked abound the bedroom door to see what was going on. I flipped the lights on and opened the door. I really expected to see some of the boys from the dorm across the way.

To my surprise, there stood 3 of Harford county’s finest in uniform.

They said, “Sir, we received a 911 call from apartment 2. Is this apartment 2? I said yes. They then continued by saying, “May we come in? The call received was a non-responsive call. We would like to check and make sure everything is okay.” I said, “Ok?” Then the one officer saw Chrissy in the bedroom door way. He said to Chrissy “Ma’am, can you please step out here?” She was totally embarrassed. She stepped out, and they started to question her. Then they asked, “Is there anyone else here?” We told them our kids were sleeping in their rooms, and they insisted on looking in on them. They checked the boys room first. This room looked like a cyclone had torn through it. As they shined their mag light on to the beds they could clearly see the boys fast asleep.

Then they moved to Tori’s room that was just off the kitchen.

Side Note: Tori liked to sneak into the kitchen at night and get leftovers out or other food and take it back into her room. We never knew what we would find in her bed or room. We would smell something funky or weird and instead of checking Jonah’s diaper, we checked Tori’s room for food.  Honestly, most times it was just Jonah’s pants though. LOL!

Also when Tori was little, she loved to wear dresses. She absolutely highly disliked pants or anything that covered her legs tightly. In fact, dresses were all she would wear; it was dresses or nothing literally. If she couldn’t have a dress on she had nothing on.

So, as the officers in their investigation of our apartment moved to her room, Chrissy looked at me and I at her, knowing that we may find a crazy situation in her room. I can only imagine what the expressions on our faces were like. Chrissy told me later that it was at this moment that she had visions of the child protective services coming to our door the next day to take our kids.

The officer opened the door and shined the light around  her room that looked like Punky Brewster’s wardrobe room gone bad. I peered I with the officer, just praying that Tori would have something on. When his light rested on the little body of my daughter she was in her sleeping position that I still kid her about.

Side Note: Tori would sleep on her belly all scrunched up with her knees tucked under her with her butt up in the air. It was the cutest thing.

So the light stopped on her sleeping in her normal position butt up in the air. The only thing she had on was a head band that she had made in Sunday school that looked like a lion’s mane. That was it, nothing else. She was naked as a jaybird. The cop chuckled and turned about and said to the others “We’re all good here.” I was at a point of embarrassment that there are no words to describe. I looked at Chrissy and slowly shook my head, at that she knew tori had done something.

I was just glad he didn’t say to the others, “Dudes, come over here, you have got to see this!” The officers seemed to be satisfied with their investigation. As they walked to the front door, they told us that they were sorry to disturb us and again mentioned that there was a 911 call from apartment 2. Then they asked if there were other apartments on campus? We told them that there were 3 other apartments in this building, but there is another building with more apartments down the hill. So, they thanked us for letting them in, and they left.

After they left, I showed Chrissy what the cop was laughing at in Tori’s room. She was still in the same position with the lion’s mane. We stood there laughing at the situation. After covering our girl and removing her lion headdress, we then turned to each other, and agreed this would be one of those nights that we would not forget.

The next day we found out that in the office building down the hill there was another apartment number 2; the person who lived in that apartment had a phone that malfunctioned and somehow called 911 in the middle of the night. I still don’t understand how it happened. The police got the two apartments mixed up and ended up at our home. So, we were the lucky ones who received a visit in the middle of the night.

My take-away is that sometimes you may be the victim of someone else’s emergency, so the best thing to do is try to be cooperative. Chrissy’s take-away was, make sure you have a housecoat close by for those times when you have visitors in the middle of the night.

 

Shrimpie!

 

They called me a shrimp! That was all I could manage to mutter through the tears and snot running down my face. My mom asked, “Who honey?” With a quivering voice, I said, “All the big kids out there!” I had been playing outside my house on the sidewalk, when I got in the way of some older kids, and they told me to “Move it, Shrimp,” and that just didn’t sit well with this short 5-year old. So, there was a bit of a tussle, and well, I got the brunt of it all.

This is the earliest memory I have of being pushed around or bullied. I was always a bit smaller than the other kids it seemed, but I never let that stop me from trying to join in or be a part of what was going on.

My mom always said that I was special, and no matter what I did, I needed to do my best at it. So, I did. But here’s a bit of something I learned. Even if you are special, and you try your best at things, it doesn’t always mean that you will win, or that you will be the best at things. It also doesn’t guarantee that people will like you.

It was second grade, and my family just moved into the house my dad grew up in. It was older in the sense that it didn’t have the comforts of modern day homes. I was told that my Granddad Hunter built the house with his own hands, but he forgot the water and sewer. Well, he didn’t really forget. they just were not things that he felt to be necessary. There was an outhouse and a well, and that was all they really needed. They had electricity and a telephone. What more did you need?

Along with moving to a new neighborhood came the challenge of a new school. I’m really not sure why I had to change schools, because my old school, Jackson Elementary, was less than 3 miles from our new house. The school I had to switch to was close to 10 miles away, and I had to take a bus. Round Hills Elementary was the new school. Up to this point, I had loved school and all my teachers.

My teacher at this new school was Mrs. Metzer, she was old, it seemed to me. Of course, everyone seemed older then.

I remember the first day like it was yesterday. I found my class and my desk. My desk had a name tag on it with the name “William Hunter” on it. Yuck! No one called me that. I have always, and I mean ALWAYS, been called Butch by everyone. I knew my real name, but I was Butch!

Side Note: How I got the name Butch was that my parents couldn’t agree on what to call me. (I’m just glad it wasn’t Barney, after my mom’s dad.) Until they decided on a name for me, they called me Butch. My dad said, “We can’t call him that; it’s a dog’s name!” But my mom persisted in calling me Butch. Eventually I did become William, but Butch just stuck from that day on.

So, on that first day of second grade, the teacher called everyone’s name out. When she got to me, she called out, “Billy, Billy Hunter,” and I didn’t say anything. I just looked around the room. Who in the world was this Billy Hunter I thought to myself.

Then I wondered if he was related to me? After all, we both had the same last name. She continued calling out everyone’s name. When she was finished, Mrs. Metzger asked, “Did I miss anyone?”I raised my hand. She asked, “What is your name? I said, “Butch Hunter.” She said, “Do you mean Billy Hunter?” I politely said, “No Ma’am, Butch Hunter.” Then she started to get upset. She sternly looked at me and said, “Is your name William Hunter?” I sheepishly said, “Yes, but everybody calls me Butch.” She glared at me as if I cussed at her. She walked around her big wooden desk, and standing in front of the class she said to me, “You will not be called Butch in this class. You need to know and use your real name. You will be called William or Billy!”

She might as well have come over and stripped me down to my skivvies and made me stand in front of everyone. I hung my head and said, “Yes ma’am.” I was totally humiliated and embarrassed. That was the one of the hardest years of my young life. Whether she meant to or not, she made me the target of the class. I was not only the new kid, but now I was the dumb kid too.

I still listened to my mother and did my best and told myself I was special. I tried hard to be accepted, but I just never seemed to break through.

My parents worked hard to provide for me what I needed and wanted. When It came to somethings, I just didn’t have a choice in the matter. Like clothes. I remember looking though the Sears and Roebuck catalog along with the JC Penny’s catalog to pick out my school cloths. They weren’t very stylish, and I had a limited say in the matter. What I got came in the mail, and that was that.

Not all my pants fit quite right, and I had to wear a belt to keep them up. They were husky’s!

One day, I forgot to wear my belt and the top of the waistband of my whitey tities was sticking out. So, one of the popular boys decided to make fun of me. He called me Diaper Man, and he rallied all my classmates to join in calling me Diaper Man. Every time he saw me he would call me this and find something additional to make fun of.

If Diaper Man wasn’t bad enough, I had started having a hard time in class and was falling behind. So, it was suggested to my parents that I should have my eyes checked. Sure enough, I had to have glasses. I hated those things, but even more I despised going to school to hear Mike and Mark call me four-eyes every day.

Like I said, this was a hard year, but after the year passed, I moved into another grade. Unfortunately, so did the bullies. 3rd grade was a bit better. Mrs Lewhaski was my teacher, and she was nice. This was the year that I was given a bit of extra help, because I was slower than the other kids in learning to read and doing multiplication.

My parents thought that it would be good for me to join Cub Scouts as it would give me different ways to interact with other boys. My mom signed up to be a den mother. I was in Den 2. She strived to be the best den mother ever. She even came up with an original Den Yell for us too:

Den 2 Den 2, we stick like glue, we do our best for the gold and blue! We are the best! Den 2 Den 2!

We really did do some of the neatest stuff, from wood working to arts and crafts. Unfortunately, for me when I signed up, so did my nemesis, and we were put in the same den. Ugh!

All the dens met at the leaders’ homes, so our den met at my house. By this time, we had running water and a fully functioning bathroom, but my parents we still fixing the house up as they could.

So, then I became known as the kid who lived in the shack. Not good at all. As the years went by, someone thought it would be a good idea for me to spend more time with my bullies, so I was made to go to their houses and spend time with them. It really didn’t change things at school. If anything, it made things worse. Recess, I would get invited to play football, but always seemed get hit hard or tackled to the ground until I was hurt in some way. When I told teachers, they passed it off that I was not tough.

Finally, something happened and I had to change schools again. I was back at my school– good old Jackson.

This was the year I was tested, and they figured out that I had dyslexia. As a 11-year old, I was told that I would not amount to much. Perhaps, I could become a truck driver, and if I was lucky I might graduate high school. I got held back that year.

From that point on, no matter what, I had a deep drive in me to prove them wrong. I am not a very competitive person by nature, but I will do my best and strive to be the best I can at whatever I do. I never wanted to leave anyone behind or let anyone go through the things I had gone though. So, I avoided the limelight and helped other misfits steer clear of the bullies.

By this time, I was pretty good at spotting them. At an early age, I started to understand a few things about myself.  I learned that I have a big heart and I care deeply for people. I’m a bit shy, until I feel like I can let my guard down. I always give multiple chances to those who hurt me. I forgive and overlook the shortcomings of those around me. I’m very patient and can be a good listener, as well as a good negotiator. I look for the best in people and always try to be positive and encouraging. I never reject anyone–ever! Simply because I had been rejected so much growing up, why would I want to put anyone through that?

The older I get, I wonder more and more why people jump so quickly to judge. I find myself many times bowing out of situations or yielding my agenda while trying to take the high road. Sometimes because I’m quiet, or don’t know what to say to people, I’m told they think that I’m conceited, or I think I’m better than others. This is not the case at all. It’s just that I don’t feel comfortable with you yet.

I actually long to be friends with many people, but because I’m not as outgoing or open, I get pushed to the side. So, yes, it is hard to make friends at times, but if you give me a chance you will have a blast with me.

I have also found that sometimes some people’s lives are just too hard for some to handle. Some people’s baggage weighs too much for others to slow down and walk with them through life. Then you have others who reject you because they can’t handle you, but to make themselves feel better, they buy into a lie that you pushed them away. I have always had a hard time setting up boundaries in relationships, though I have come to understand that if boundaries are not set, everyone can get hurt, and before you know it, no one understands why they were hurt.

This is a small slice of who I was, who I am, and who I’m becoming.

My hope is that every day is new and God’s Grace is sufficient to get me through. Ephesians 2:10 For we are his work, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance · that we should do them.

 

Our Candy Rocks

When the kids were young, we always tried to instill in them values that we felt were important. Like having integrity, honesty, gratitude, generosity, honor, self control, conviction, hope, love, respect, and responsibility. Just to name a few.

We also thought it was important to have creativity, ingenuity, and persistence. Always think outside of the box, use critical thinking. You should constantly be on the look out for opportunities to make our world a better place, give a hand up to those in need, and use the gifts God has given us.

We wanted our kids to have opportunities to flourish and make a difference. Lastly, we showed them how to be entrepreneurs.

One year, Chrissy and I decided we were going to teach the kids how to have a business and run it. As a family we decided that we all wanted to go on a mission trip. We wanted to go to Honduras with World Compassion Network. This was a mission we had come to know about and loved supporting. They do a number of mission venues from local to international.

Our favorite was the Family 2 Family Boxes. This was a small Rubbermaid box that you filled with specific things like rice, dried beans, soap, a hand towel, and a few other things. Then you brought the box to church, and it was shipped to Honduras to be handed out to families in need. The coolest part of this was that you could go on a mission trip to hand out the boxes.

Instead of just handing out the boxes, WCN works hard to find credible local churches and pastors to arrange distributions to families in need. Then, when we go to hand out the boxes the local church, the church or pastor gets the credit for helping the community in need, not the North Americans who helped pass the boxes out. This helps to build the church in that community, rather than fostering dependence on WCN.

Most of the boxes are given to families that don’t attend the church, but are members of that church’s community. I almost forgot– these boxes would feed a family of four for about 2-3 weeks. That is pretty incredible, if you ask me.

We wanted to take our kids and go do this all together. Ben and I had just gone the year before, and it was a life-changing experience for both of us. Now, Chrissy and I wanted our whole family to experience this. The issue that we faced was that it was going to cost over $10,000 for our family of six to go.

Chrissy and I also wanted to take the kids on a vacation in the next year, one that they would remember for years to come. Up until this point the kids thought that vacations were just things that they gave away at the radio station. To do both things, we would need to come up with some serious money.

So, we sat the kids down and shared our hopes with them. We thought this would be a great learning experience for them. We shared what we would like to do, and they were all on board with it. The next part was how to get the money. We have always taught the kids and believed ourselves that if God wants something to happen, the doors will open, and a way will be made. We might need to do some work, and it may take some faith in getting there. We just need to be faithful.

So we asked the kids for some ideas we could do to raise money for the mission trip. Someone suggested writing letters for support. We said, “Ok, what else?” Silas suggested collecting aluminum cans and getting money for recycling. (Which he ended up doing for hours and hours with a family friend and his truck.) What else? Someone said, “Maybe we could start a business.” I said, “What kind of business?” Someone came up with the idea of sandy candy. This was a colorful candy that looked just like sand art, but you could eat it. I said, “Okay, let’s put together a business plan, and see if we can do this.”

That was exactly what we did. We saved up some seed money and then invested it in this business. We decided that we would hit the festival circuit. Every town around where we lived had festivals. So we would rent a space, and the kids would sell their sandy candy. Each of them had a job to do. We had 2 people who would handle helping the customers make their edible art project, then we had two callers who would bring people into the stand. They would introduce people to the products and bring them over to the stand, then the table people would close the deal. Chrissy’s job was to be the money and business manager. When someone needed a break, Chrissy or I would fill in.

Most of the fests were 3-day events– Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I was not always able to help with the stand, with me being a pastor those were days that I worked and had to be available for services.

The kids would take turns at each job so no one got bored with what they were doing. It became evident to us who was gifted in which areas. Ben and Tori were great at helping the customers and closing the deal. Jonah and Silas– they were amazing callers. It did help that they both were really cute. Si was about 9, and Jonah was around 11. So, the cuteness factor did help.

Our first fest nearly wiped us out and closed us for good. The town we had booked was known for having a population of healthy eaters. No one wanted their kids to have sugar. Then during the night a tornado came through nearby the fair grounds, and many of the vendors tents and boots were destroyed–including the Candy Rocks tent (that was us!). Our brand new, heavy-duty pop-up canopy was twisted and mangled and ended up a row or two over.

Fortunately, we always took the product and tables down when we left for the evening. The tent was a huge expense for us, but we needed to have it. So, we went out and bought another tent with the money we just made the day before. If we hadn’t booked other events we probably would have ended the business all together. But that is not how the story goes, because that would be just boring.

So as we peddled our candy to people, we started to make some money. The kids started to get into a rhythm. That’s right, we had successfully become a carney family.

The kids came up with competitions to see who could sell the most in an hour or, who could get the most compliments. Not only was this business profitable, it was also a great learning tool. Our kids then started to figure out the best times of the day that sales would increase, and they noticed the best locations to have our stand located in the festivals.

You would never guess where the best spot was. You might think near kids’ activities or other dessert foods. And you would be wrong on both accounts. The very best place to be was directly across from the Beer Garden exits. (At most of the festivals, this was the only area that people were able to buy alcoholic drinks, hence the name “Beer Garden.”)

When people would come out of the beer area, they would often be looking for something sweet to eat, and guess what stand they would stumble over to? That’s right they would come right over to Candy Rocks. It’s surprising how much people who have been drinking will spend on something sweet. Now, you may be saying that’s not right, you were taking advantage of them. We just thought if they weren’t buying our candy, they would be spending money somewhere else. So, why not spend it at our stand?

Maybe it was a bit unfair, because the kids would give a little sample of the candy crack to them in their hand, and then instruct them to eat it. Silas was the best at this part, as they were licking the candy from their hand, he would look at them and very excitedly say “Now, that’s good stuff, isn’t it?” Almost 100% of the time, they would agree with him, and then, without missing a beat he would say, “Follow me over here, and we’ll get you some more.” And they would follow him to the table and buy pretty much whatever he suggested. Crazy!

We did have our share of experiences that were just weird, but too funny not to tell. Like the time we had borrowed a few costumes from a friend. These we costumes that you would normally have to rent. They were high-end mascot costumes.

The kids thought it would be fun to dress up in costumes, and let people take their picture with them. So one of the costumes we had was “Dora, the Explorer.” We thought this would also give the kids an opportunity to practice their Spanish if the opportunity presented itself.

We took the costume with the intent of the kids taking turns in it. Well as it happened, the costume only really fit Jonah well. So, the other kids took turns escorting Jonah up and down our row, meeting tons of people. Jonah loved to be in the costume, because it gave him the opportunity to be as silly as he wanted to be, without anyone knowing who it really was.

He would take breaks to cool down and get refreshed. Then when he was ready, he would suit back up and go meet more people.

As different 80’s bands hit the stage, Dora/Jonah would bust a move. Sometimes he would be dancing with kids, at other times with senior citizens. Some of the funniest people he danced with were the big biker guys who were a bit toasty. As they played and danced with Dora, they were always very respectful and kind.

The one story that has been told over and over was as one evening the beer garden was closing, and everyone was coming out. Jonah was standing out in front of the stand in the Dora costume. Up walks a lady and says “Hola, Dora! Will you be my friend? “She started to have this long drawn out conversation with Dora, while Dora/Jonah just stood there, nodding and gesturing.

Then the lady started to pat herself down, looking for something. She frantically looked in purse, then looked at Dora and said, “Dora, do you know where my keys are?” Then she asked Dora to help her find them. It really was pretty comical. Especially watching Jonah handle the situation.

I may be mistaken, but I believe we helped the lady get to security, and they helped her from that point on. Before leaving, the lady gave Dora a big hug and thanked her for being her friend. No matter what the situation was, we tried to have fun with it.

The kids learned a lot that year, and they raised enough money to go on the mission trip with the help and support of others.

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The following summer, we did the same thing, and this time the goal was to go on an amazing vacation that we all worked really hard for. We made enough money to take everyone to Disney World.

Overall, it was a great experience for the kids and us. Even today we still have a small side business called Tyes of Hope. We help people create their very own wearable works of art. We let people create their own tye dye t-shirts.

We can do all types of events from parties to customer-appreciation events. Big or small, we can tye dye at them all. We can even have a custom logo printed on the shirt before you create your fashion memory.

We have decided that we want to go back to Honduras in the summer of 2018, so we are looking to open our schedules for more bookings. And yes, we do fundraisers too.

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Looking back, it’s amazing to think of all our family has done and experienced, and it’s really cool to see how God has made a way for us to do the things He has put on our hearts.

 

 

Biker Momma

Okay, so summer is officially here. June 21st is Summer Solstice and also the love of my life’s birthday. Along with summer comes all those wonderful fun things we love to do outside that we can’t do during the winter. One of those things I love to do is ride motorcycle. Now it’s been awhile since I have had my bike out, only because I can’t get it running. I have had it looked over, and some of the things that I was told was wrong with it were fixed, but alas it still needs more work. I was told it needs a new carb and that is very expensive. So it sits, waiting on me.

When I was twelve I first learned to ride. Oh my, what a rush! I was at a camp that was sponsored and run by the Pennsylvania State Police called Camp Cadet. Yes, it really was the cops who gave me my need for speed. Of all the things I was able to do that week, learning to ride a dirt bike was the highlight.

I remember popping the clutch from the start and flying through a course that was set up in an open field. I really don’t know how we didn’t kill ourselves. I flew around the orange cones, shifting as needed. It just seemed to come natural to me.

When I was 17 I bought my first dirt bike, a 125 Yamaha Enduro. It was bright yellow. I tore that thing up! My parent’s one requirement was to keep a helmet on. I took it up and down and all over the mountain we lived on. Then, once in while, I would cross the street and take it to place we called the Gobi Desert.

This was a place where a lot of people brought their bikes and three-wheelers. It was a place made out of orange clay dirt and it had great little humps that you ramp off of. It was like a natural dirt bike racetrack. Tons of fun!

After I pulverized that bike, I decided to get another bike, this time a big boy bike. I got a street bike; it was a 400 Honda Night Hawk. I bought this one from my buddy, Rob Lynn. It was a great bike! I put a lot of miles on this bike. This is the bike that I took Chrissy to her senior prom on. That was a fun night.

Up till then Chrissy and I had rode with her parents. They owned Harleys and let us ride with their group, even though we had a rice burner Years later, I had it stored at my in-laws during a freaky flash flood in January, which destroyed the bike.

All our kids had grown up on bikes, if not mine, it was their Pop’s Harley. Ben and Tori have been on a bike since they were babies. They loved sitting on the bikes when they were tiny. Then when they got bigger and able to reach the foot pegs, they could ride on the back. We went years without a bike, but the itch never went away. Each spring I would have this desire to ride. Finally one spring, I had gotten a big raise in pay, and we thought we could get one again. So Chrissy and I went to look. We would have loved to get a Harley or a Triumph or even an Indian but they just weren’t in our price range. So, we found a Harley Softtail wann-be.

We brought a 1100 Yamaha Virago. Chrissy actually picked it out. I think it’s a bit funny that the word “Virago” means “loud woman.” I’m not saying my wife is loud our anything, it’s actually quite the opposite, until you get to know her.

I love this bike! It’s a two-tone turquoise and cream color decked out with chrome and drag pipes to top it off. You can hear me coming too. I have a sticker on my helmet that says “Loud pipes Save Lives.” If people don’t see me coming, they should hear me.

 

Like anyone who had rode for any amount of time, I have had my share of close calls on this bike, as well as the others. I learned early that I always had to anticipate what others would be doing; the other thing I was once told is that you always need to have a good respect for your machine. Don’t ever become over-confident or make stupid choices. This is what gets people hurt or killed. It just helps if everyone does their part.

The year we got the bike, I was asked to ride in a parade with a group from our church. Another friend that was riding said that his daughter was going to be riding their mini bike. This was a mini bike that looked like a street bike. Our kids overheard this and thought it would be cool if one of them could ride a mini bike in the parade with me.

I told them there was no way we could afford that. And that was the end of that with them. Then we went to Pep Boys for something, and Chrissy saw the small bikes that they had and said, “I think we could get one for the kids.” She said, “I would like them to know how to ride.” I said, “Let’s think about it.”

As we talked I said to her, “I do want them to know how to ride, and not like you!”

Side note: When Chrissy’s brothers got their dirt bike she tried to ride it. She took off and forgot how to shift gear and forgot where the break was so as she sped across the yard on this little dirt bike she struggled to keep her balance. She started to panic, so as she started to pass the swing set she reached out to grab the leg in hopes of stopping. Well, I was told that didn’t go as planned. She grabbed the leg and the bike flew around the leg in a circle. Until she let go of her death grip that she had on the bike with her legs. The bike traveled on, and she stayed, hanging onto the swing set. So, her first solo ride was not the best.

Later that day, after talking about it, we made a trip back to Pep Boys. We picked out a little chopper with metallic blue paint and chrome. I have to admit it was pretty cool, it had a pull start as well as a electric push button start. It really looked like a miniature street bike. We made the kids wait in the van while we went into the store. After going through the checkout, we couldn’t wait for the kids to see it.

We walked out the doors of the store and you could hear an eruption of screaming yelling in the van. As you looked at our van you could see it bouncing and rocking back and forth. Yup! They were a little excited.

We went over the rules and safety instructions on the way home. Like, always wear your brain bucket, and always make sure you have a clear path in front of you. Never take the bike out of the backyard, and never ride it on the street.

Our back yard was about ¾ of an acre of land. This was a big yard for where we lived. This is one of the main reasons we bought the house. We wanted to have plenty of space for the kids to run and play.

So we got home and unloaded our new toy. Just to be sure that I understood how the bike worked and handled I took it for the first ride. I discovered that even though our backyard was big we needed a little more space. So we decided to open the fence gate to the front yard, and then we gave permission for the kids to ride out across the yard, making a big loop by going up the driveway and into the back again.

As I gave the kids a few instructions, the excitement was so thick in the air you could cut it with knife. They hung on my every word as I told them that we would take turns riding, and we would go from oldest to youngest. I said, after one loop around the house, they needed to stop and switch riders. I also told them if I saw that they were doing something that was potentially dangerous, I would stop them, and they would loose their next turn riding.

So all the kids did pretty well. They all made it around the house at a good speed without falling or running into anything. They all had great balance and didn’t lose control at all. They all stayed on the course I asked them to.

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As kids do, they stood waiting for their next turn full of anticipation. They jumped up and down in place as their mouths we jabbering about what they did or what someone else did as they gestured with their hands and arms in huge ways. To say this was an exhilarating day would not begin to cover what the kids were feeling.

After a few trips around the house, Chrissy piped up, butting in line and said, “I want a turn!” She strapped a helmet on, then grabbed the bike, straddling it, she sat down on the seat. I believe she even dramatically flipped out a pair of sunglasses and slowly slid them on. (She doesn’t see the best without them, so she needs them when driving.) I told her to remember this doesn’t have a clutch, just the accelerator and a brake. She was like, “I got this!” waving her hand in my face. “I have ridden before!” I said, “Please, just stay on the course.”

Chrissy has a habit of doing things her own way and sometime you just can’t tell her what to do. To say that she can be a bit of a rebel would be an understatement. So, sometimes it’s best to just let her go and hope for the best. I have to admit most times what she does do is spectacular in a good way (most times).

So she was sitting there on the bike, and if there could be theme music to this, “Born To Be Wild” would be playing in the background. She sat there grinning the biggest, cheesiest grin, as she hunched her shoulders forward and acts like she is over revving the engine. Throws her head back and laughs. Then released the brake and hits the gas.

She moved forward slowly and placed her feet on the pegs, wobbling the entire time eventually she got her balance and around she went. As the kids stood jaw-dropped, mouths wide open in awe of their mom speeding by. I’m sure they thought we have the craziest, coolest mom ever! That would be until she came back to the starting point. She slowed down as if she was getting ready to stop, but when she got to where the kids and I stood, she cranked on the accelerator and waved to us as she flew past saying, “See ya, suckers!”

She threw her head back and laughed the most maniacal laugh you would ever hear. That’s when I lost control of the crew. It was like a Greyhound race when the little bunny flies out past the dogs, and they all start running in pursuit of it. She weaved in and out of the trees and around the trampoline. Laughing the entire time. Then she flew past me and out the driveway into the front yard.

We had a huge pine tree that was in the front yard, which she managed to circle that a few times, as the kids were still close in hot pursuit. Right then, she decided to take the bike down into our drainage ditch. This wasn’t too big but at the end, it had a little bit of a steep incline out on to the street. When she reached that point she cut up, and out into the street she went. I believe this is when she forgot all the rules we had talked to the kids about.

She was fist pumping with one hand as she flew down the block. The kids knew not to chase her any further, so they stood at the edge of the street yelling at her while they flailed their hands around over their heads. You would have thought that she was a thief, and she just stolen their favorite toy. I guess she kind of did.

She turned around at the intersection and came back up the street. I was pretty impressed with how she was handling the bike. That is up to this point. When she got to the end of our yard where she exited on to the street, she must have forgotten about the steep bank into the ditch because she flew over the one side of the ditch and landed in it. I believe she got some air too. I think that if she could have done a cool trick like a superman or a cliffhanger just like the free style motocross riders, she would have.

When she landed, well, that was when she had issues. She lost her balance and started to hit the gas, then the brake making the bike wobble up into the front yard as she went. And then she not so gracefully toppled over with the bike still running. Her evil Kevil escapade had come to an abrupt halt. She laid there with bike still between her legs she looked like a rag doll someone had just flopped down on the ground. Her helmet was over her eyes and all we could hear was a laughing-crying sound. The kids and I ran over to where she fell. I asked, “Are you okay?” She nodded her head yes flopping the helmet back and forth, because she was laughing too hard to speak.

That’s when everyone started to laugh, and the kids with big eyes and with lots of gestures told each other their favorite part of their mom’s little steal away. This would be a day that would go down in the books for the kids who have an awesome mom.

We picked up Chrissy, dusted her off, and made sure she was okay, then we checked the bike out. Of course, Chrissy had to tell the kids not to do what she did. Then turned to me and said it was fun!

This is the Chrissy few people get to know or see, honestly this is just a mild event that just scratches the surface of who my amazing, fun, and adventurous wife is. Even with this wild rebellious free spirit, she has a huge love for people and a heart of gold just don’t let her drive your bike!

The #1 Requested Campfire Story

This past week was one of my most favorite parts of what I get to do as a Pastor; I was at camp! Camp is the one week a year I get to build deep relationships with the kids that I minister to throughout the year. It usually takes a year or more for me to plan a great week of camp. Each day is jam-packed with worship, lessons, and the crazy games that you would anticipate at camp. I have tried hard over the last 20 years to keep the theme and everything else. down to the games we play, fresh and original. I have tried not to reuse or recycle these activities. One thing I do find myself recycling every so many years is our campfire stories. Some of what I have written and will be writing on my blog originated as campfire stories.

When I have repeat campers, I don’t get away with not telling one particular story. This story is usually requested by the repeat kids who have signed up months in advance. It is one of my favorite stories to tell, so most times I tell the kids that I will try to work the story in. This year was no different, so at campfire, I told this story.

Years ago, we lived in Maryland. We were attending Bible college, so we lived on campus in the married student housing. We lived in the bottom apartment of the unit. We had come to find out that at one time this building had been a large chicken coop. That was comforting to know that someone was very creative with their student housing.

When we arrived on campus, we moved our 3 children and all our stuff into the apartment. Over the the years, with 3 kids, we had somehow accumulated a lot of stuff. One benefit that we had was that we were able to store stuff in an outside shed behind the apartments. The shed sat about 50 feet out at the back edge of the yard. Behind the shed, there was a field overgrown with grass and weeds.

So, as we found out the hard way, the shed was not critter proof. Whatever we kept in there had to be able to which stand whatever would come in from the yard or field around the shed.

Every once in while, we would need something from the shed. So, when we did, I would go out and and try to find whatever it was. It really was not a big shed. It may have been about 6 foot wide by 8 foot deep. That did not stop us from filling it from back to front.

One day in the middle of July, Chrissy told me that she needed something from the shed. I remember this day very well. It was a Wednesday around 10am. I was doing something outside in the back yard, the kids were playing inside the house because it was already hot outside. So, Chrissy came out the back door and asked me to get something from a filing cabinet that we had in the shed. I moaned and threw an adult fit about getting it, but eventually I agreed to do it.

I walked over to the shed, grumbling the entire time and opened the door to the jam-packed shed. As I stared at the mountain of junk we had, I then realized that the cabinet was all the way at the back of the shed. I really didn’t want to clean this monster out on this sweltering day let alone any other day. So, I decided to do this the lazy way.

I moved a few things out into the yard, then I started to play Tetris with the boxes and toys. I piled some things up higher, and then I would carefully stand in the small area I just cleared. I did this over and over again, zigzagging my way though the shed.

I really didn’t realize that I was blocking myself into the shed the deeper I moved in. The sweat started running down my face as I finally reached the back of the shed. I dug out a small space to open the cabinet and retrieve what I was asked to get. Closing the cabinet, I started to unpile the stuff, carefully putting everything back right where I had removed it from, and if I could get the stacks tighter or straighter I did it. I had everything that was at the back all neatly back in place with room to spare. Honestly, I was feeling pretty accomplished at this moment.

This is when I felt like I was being watched from behind. I slowly turned and looking out the doors I could see that no one was in the yard. Then I focused closer to me and saw it. It was about 30 inches from me looking right at me, with its little beady eyes. Right at the same level of my face, it laid there watching me.

Side note: Most people who know me know that I have a healthy fear of snakes. I have worked courageously to overcome my fear for years now. So much that one year for our anniversary, Chrissy and I took the kids to a small circus and afterwards had our picture taken with an albino python that was about 20 foot long. Chrissy said we had to do something amazing for our special day. So, I obliged her and sucked up my fear and held a part of the snake for a picture. I have one word for it, yuck!

Yes, it was a snake in the shed with me! It was humongous! It was about 12 feet long and as thick as a fire hose– the big kind! It opened its mouth, revealing short pointy fangs dripping with venom. Right then I knew it was facing an Anaconda! I was so in trouble! I immediately evaluated my situation. I had blocked any possible escape route. So I could either become the Incredible Hulk and bust out the back of the shed or just turn green and grab the thing by the head and rip it to shreds. Seeing that I was not David Banner, that option was out. Then I quickly thought if I could create a diversion, I just may make it past it with out it noticing. Then I came to my senses and resolved that this could be the day that I meet Jesus. Now mind you that this all happened within a few moments of the beast arriving.

So, I did what every other grown man would do that had a huge fear of snakes I screamed like a little girl! I screamed out help! Help me, please! It was all for not! No one was out there to come to my rescue. I kept hoping one of my kids would wander outside to see what amazing things dad was up to, like they usually did, but not on this day. I stood there looking at the monster flicking its red tongue out at me then up and down. It was like a little hand waving at me trying to have me come closer, so it could get a taste of me. But I was not moving. I was scared stiff.

What seemed like hours past… I kept yelling, “Help!” It was just too hot on this day for any good Samaritans to pass by and help me with my plight. It was even too hot for a snake to be out in the sun. Instead, he would rather look for some human to torture with his presence in a shed. He was relentless. The more I yelled, the more he flicked his tongue.

I was dripping with sweat from being in the shed, and I’m sure from fear, as well. I looked around me for something I could grab to whack him with, but then I imagined myself knocking it to the floor and as I passed it latching on to my ankle. Now, it’s one thing to have Kankles, and it’s a totally different thing to have to go through life with snankles. I could see myself at a social get together and people staring at my feet as I drag along this thing stuck to my ankle. “Snankles are a serious issue people!” I would say, “Don’t judge me.” Yeah, whacking the snake, not a good Idea.

Finally, just when I was to give in to the mesmerizing tongue flicking and spinning hypnotic eyes of Kaa, I heard the back door of the house open. At that moment, I had a surge of adrenaline. I hear Chrissy yell from the porch, “Butch? Where are you? I could see her looking in my direction. That is when it happened– I opened my mouth to yell help, and nothing came out. The only sound I made was a weird breathy noise. No words at all. I tried again, and now it was like the snake was a bit bored with me. So, he had to do some thing to get my voice back.. it was more entertaining to have me yelling. So, he slithered back a bit all the while not losing eye contact with me. I freaked! Out came a noise that to this day is still indescribable. Chrissy heard it, and that was all that mattered. I think it made the snake happy too because he slid back into the position he was in before. I was like he was saying, “There ya go, you found your voice. Now dance and sing monkey!”

Chrissy slowly came off the porch, looking around like she was straining to see something in the dark. All the while asking where I was, and what was taking me so long, and if I had found whatever it was she needed, and would it be taking me much longer? When she finally made it to the opening of the shed, she peered in at me hands on her hips with a look of disgust on her face that I had kept her waiting. I looked at her with my eyes and looked down at the beast then again at her. Trying to communicate through eye movement.

Side Note: As parents, you become really good at making looks at each other that communicate things you need to say without using sounds at all. You know what I mean. It’s like the look everyone’s parents give them when they are in trouble. “The Look”

Well, that was not working because she was obviously blinded by the sun and could not see that if she made the slightest movement, she too would be in imminent danger of losing her life along with me. So I stuttered out the word sssnnaakke! She put her hand up to her forehead to see better, and that was when I screamed SNAKE!

Her face dropped like she had just been told there was a fire or something. Her eyes got huge and her mouth gapped open, before I could say anything else she was on the porch. Yelling out to me. What do you want me to do?

I’m sure this was exactly what the snake wanted. It lay there saying, “Oh, this is way better than I imagined– I have two humans going now! This is just way better than I ever expected! Woohoo!”

I yelled back to her I need you to clear a path for me! I’m trapped! She shook her head and said no way! I said you have to help me or I’m going to die! They you will be stuck raising all our kids by yourself. After taking a moment to consider that she said what do I need to do? I knew that would get her.

I told her to come over and slowly and carefully take things out of the shed to clear a path for me. Okay she said. She tiptoed over to the shed, reached into the shed, and pulled something out. She immediately squealed and tossed the item in the air and ran back to the porch and asked, “ Is it gone?” I said “Nope, still here. Come get something else!” She repeated the same action, as well as the question running to the porch each time she grabbed something. Piece by piece she moved things out, each time getting a bit closer to me. Still, the snake didn’t move. Finally she grabbed something, and it must have surprised the beast, or it finally really was bored of the game, because it turned around and slid down towards the floor. I immediately jumped up, grabbing the rafters of the shed, I brought my knees to my chest and swung myself back then forward, extending my legs like I was a karate fighter drop kicking someone. I cleared all the stuff. Gravity took me, but I’m not sure I ever placed foot on solid ground until I beat Chrissy to the porch.

She asked me a bunch of questions about the snake… what was it’s favorite foods, colors, when was it’s birthday etc. She said I was in there long enough that I should have known all that. I told her it was a snake, and I didn’t want to be friends! Then she had the gall to ask if I got what she needed, and I looked at her and said, “No, I’m sorry. I just was almost killed trying to get it.”

Later that day, after I recovered from my traumatic hostage situation, and when it wasn’t as hot, I cleaned out the shed and retrieved whatever it was Chrissy needed. My real motive was to see if I could find the snake and dispatch it. It would have made me feel better. I never did find it. I did learn about lots of things that day. Like fear, and that God is with you even when you don’t think He is. Over the years, I have been able to apply this to many things to describe the character of God and highlight His promises to us, and encourage many campers by doing so. Especially homesick campers.

I don’t know if Steve Erwin would have been proud or disappointed in me, but I tried my best to make the best out of a scary situation. Now, I just give God the glory for that little snake that has helped lots of kids overcome fear and have courage to trust that God loves you more than anyone, and that He wants the best for you.

Me overcoming my fears!Enlight9

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Chicken Flung

Summer is quickly approaching, and with summer comes all the fun activities, trips, and time spent making fun memories with family and friends. As I am sitting here, thinking about all the memories of what our family has done over the years, I can’t help thinking about one of the kids’ highlights of the summer. The week of summer camp! For pretty much the last 20 years, I have directed and planned a week of summer camp each year.

Then my mind quickly flips to the opposite end of the spectrum. The 4 days of Hades. (That’s what 4-H stands for,you know. Oh, I’m just kidding. Actually, it was more like the two weeks prior to the 4-H Fair. Especially having four kids involved. It really wasn’t that bad, but it was stressful. Being homeschoolers, 4-H was a big part of our yearly schooling. We would have tons of projects… each kid would end up with about 5 projects each year, so times that by 4. That’s 20 projects each year to register at fair!

Each year we would ask the kids, “what do you want to do for 4-H this year?” Some would want to do fine arts, another would do photography. The kids would also always want to do the traditional things you think of when you hear 4-H. You know, like farm animals, small pets, etc.

Side note: Silas always wanted to do goats. He had the idea of getting two kinds of goats. He wanted to get fainting goats and screaming goats. He thought it would be funny to have the screaming goats scream, and then the fainting goats would, well…faint. We never did this though. We should have.

Living in the suburbs of Chicago, our choices were limited as to what animals we could allow them to choose from. So cows, pigs, and even goats were kind of off the list. What we could do was dogs, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, and with pushing our luck with local ordinances, chickens.

Okay, I have to pause and lay out a warning here. Working with some animals can be challenging, and the unexpected can happen. So with that said, if you have a weak stomach or can’t handle life and death situations, you may want to stop reading, though the story is somewhat humorous.

Okay, so now that we have that out of the way, we can go on. One year, my kids and Chrissy thought it would be amazing to do chickens. They didn’t want to just get chicks, they wanted the entire experience from hatching them to growing the chickens.

I remembered doing this in second grade, and it was pretty cool. So I said, “Sure, lets do it.” We started to study and read all we could to make sure we did this right. We even sought out advice from other fellow 4-H people who had successfully raised chickens. We did our homework and collected all the necessary supplies we needed for our experiment. Chrissy even printed out charts and graphs that the kids would use to track the process of our eggs.

We cleared a place in the laundry room for a table that we could set our supplies on. We borrowed an egg incubator, got our eggs, and we were set to start hatching! So, every day the kids would take turns logging and charting the process of the eggs. As we turned the eggs each day, the excitement was building for our first sign of the hatching to start.

Finally, the day came… we had a crack in one of the eggs, then what seemed like days afterwards, our first chick emerged from it’s shell. The chick was wet, dark in color and well, pretty ugly. After some time it dried and fluffed up and started to chirp all cute-like. Then one after another they started to hatch.

We thought, we got this. But then the part of doing this that no one talks about happed. We had our first deformed chick hatch. I believe one of the kids saw it first. They came and got us saying, “I think something is wrong with a chick!” Sure enough, this little one had not formed correctly. Everything that was to be on the inside was on the outside. The chick didn’t live, but for a few minutes. Then, we a few more of the same horror show. Out of 12 eggs, we had 8 hatch. Out of the 8 that hatched, we had 3 that were deformed. With the remaining 5 chicks, we had two that were just weak and got sick and had to be euthanized. This was not a very fun thing to do or go through. So, we ended up with 3 chicks. Not a total loss.

So around this time there was a movie that came out called Chicken Run. This was a funny movie about a brood of chickens that want to escape their fate. Here is a description from iTunes:

“This exciting and original story about a group of chickens determined to fly the coop–even if they can’t fly! It’s hardly poultry in motion when Rocky (Mel Gibson) attempts to teach Ginger and her feathered friends to fly…but, with teamwork, determination and a little bit o’ cluck, the fearless flock plots one last attempt in a spectacular bid for freedom.”

Our kids loved this movie, especially Jonah and Silas. Looking back, I believe the boys thought that the methods the chickens used in the movie to learn how to fly were factual.

So back to our chicks, the last 3 were growing nicely and doing great. Chrissy and I had openly discussed taking the chicks out of their pen in the laundry room and moving them to the garage, with the occasional run in the back yard. So we decided to move the chicks to the garage where they stayed in a bigger pen. The kids would take turn going out and tending to them each day.

One warm sunny spring day Tori, Jonah, Silas, and our dog Lily were playing outside as they normally did. We had a long wire dog run trolley system for Lily. The wire spanned about 50 feet from one tree to another, with some slack in it from years of use.

Chrissy was in the house cooking, or cleaning, or something. All was well. An abnormally uneventful and pleasant day so far. At least that is what Chrissy thought, until the back door flew open and Tori ran in uncontrollably sobbing. It was that kind of sobbing that can make any beautiful girl a mess.

Chrissy heard the noise and ran to see what all the commotion was about. As she saw Tori in the standing in the kitchen flailing with emotion, she tried to make out what she was saying, “It’s dead! They’re all dead!”

It was really hard to understand what Tori was saying through her blubbering. Chrissy grabbed Tori ‘s head squeezing her chubby little cheeks and said in that loving yet frantic motherly way “ Who’s dead?” This is about the time the boys came flying through the door wailing. “We didn’t mean to!” By this time, Chrissy is freaking out! She looks at the boys and said “ What did you do?!”

Chrissy thought something happened to Lily. She looked down at at Tori with the mom look. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the look that strikes fear into the hearts of grown men. It’s like moms are equipped with these laser beam eyes that can shoot right out of their eyes and into the depths of your mind.

They scan your deepest, darkest thoughts and memories. Then they look at you like their toying with you, and ask again a question that they already know the answer to. Chrissy spoke slowly and concisely, pronouncing every syllable. She asked “What happened? Still holding Tori’s cheek as moms do when they want an answer. Through the sucking of breath, Tori’s squished little mouth spoke out, “it was the boys!”

Chrissy whipped her head around using that mom super power, scanning their souls. With one fluid motion, she loosened her grip on Tori’s cheeks and stepping towards the boy, she glanced out the kitchen window to see the dog still moving outside. So, she knew nothing had happened to Lily.

She refocused her gaze back on the sobbing boys. Jonah, shaking his head and trembling. He kept muttering “We didn’t know.” Over and over. Chrissy turned her focus to the youngest, Silas. Bending over looking into his face, she said slowly “What happened?’ He looked up at her through his tears and said, “I’m sorry mom, We thought we could teach them to fly.” “Who?” Chrissy said.

Jonah piped up, while sucking back snot, stuttering, “the Ch, the Ch-i-cks.” Chrissy yelled “WHAT? That was our 4-H project! All of you sit down! Now tell me what happened. Jonah spoke, still all sloppy and crying. Without any hesitation he threw his little brother under the bus. “It was Silas’ idea!” he exclaimed pointing at Silas.

When Silas heard that he looked up as his bottom jaw fell open wide and his eyes grew huge. “What?” he said then broke out into tears again. “Calm down.” Chrissy said. Now “What happened?” she asked again. This time Tori spoke up. “The boys “ Now Jonah’s mouth was wide, catching flies in unbelief that he was lumped in with Silas.

She continued “They were playing with the chicks, when one of them said, ‘let’s teach them to fly.’ Then… She started to cry again. “They pulled back Lily’s line, (the dog run line) and put the chicks on it and, and, and….”Silas interrupted, blurting out “We let it go!” he broke out into fresh tears. Now Jonah jumped im. “And now they’re dead!” then he started to bawl.

Chrissy looked at them and told them that what they did was not a good choice and explained that they were not big enough to do something like that. She explained how big of a deal it was to have something like this happen and that these chicks depended on them to be safe. She told all three of them that they would have to have a formal burial for the chicks in the back yard when dad got home.

Then she asked, “Where did you guys ever get the idea that the chicks needed to learn to fly? Let alone using lily’s dog run as a sling shot?”

Silas said “Well, you know that chicken movie we watched?” Chrissy looked at him, all confused. Jonah jumped in, “Yeah the one where the chickens didn’t know how to fly, remember?” Chrissy was still not placing the movie. “Okay so what about the movie?”

Tori said, “ The chickens needed to learn how to fly so they could escape from being killed by the farmer.” “Okay, so what does that have to do with this?” Chrissy asked. Silas said, “We wanted the chicks to learn how to fly, so they could escape if they had too!” Chrissy said, “But why did you sling shot them off the dog line?” Jonah said, “ That was how they did it in the movie!”

Chrissy then started to understand that the last few weeks of hard work, hatching the eggs to raising the chicks for our 4-H project was just lost, all because of a kids’ movie that we watched. I think that’s when Chrissy started to cry.

Side Note: There was still hope– we had one chick left. Unfortunately, it didn’t survive for the fair either.

This is the life of a Hunter. Good, bad or indifferent we look at what happened, and try to learn from whatever it was that happened, and thank God for the lesson. We have a few of these 4-H stories that you will hear soon. I may even tell the heartbreaking story of Tori’s 4-H rabbit, and how we accidentally discovered that a Goo Gone and Shout Stain Remover mixture can be deadly for rabbits locked in a laundry room.