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!

Butch -VS- the Jet Ski

We live on a lake channel, so summer means we get to play on the lake. This week we were able to get our pontoon cleaned up from winter storage and have all the necessary repairs done that were needed. We put the boat in and docked it at our pier. It’s ready to go for all the adventures we want to have out on the lake.

To let you know, we are new to this whole boat ownership thing and navigating on the lake. We have had a small bass boat, but having a 24’ pontoon is a little different- mostly in steering it. So, when we’re on the lake, this thing will not turn on a dime.

The lake we live on is normally very busy with all types of watercraft. We see it all from speedboats pulling tubes, to the sail boats that glide effortlessly across the lake, as well as personal watercraft: jet skis, waverunner’s, and so on. Being on the lake means you need to be aware of all these, which way they are going and anticipating what they will do next.

Out of all the watercraft we encounter, my least favorite is the jet ski. These drivers tend to go wherever they want. When traveling on the water, most people follow a pattern, like lanes on a road. For some reason, the jet skis just seem to make it up as they go, and in my experience, can be very unpredictable.

I think I have a healthy respect for jet skis and how powerful they can be. I also know how fun they can be. You can be riding along jumping wakes, then racing like you’re going through a slalom course. Then all of a sudden, you are under water, off your craft, treading water, and trying to get your bearings.

Once you clear your eyes, you try to look for your jet ski. Hopefully, it isn’t flipped over and taking on water. I’m really not sure if they would sink without some sort of damage, but I have had one flip and take on enough water to make it difficult to flip it back to right side up.

So, in my experience they can be… well, let’s just say you need to be careful with them.

The best days on the lakes are those that have little to no wind and there’s not a whole lot of traffic. The sun is shining, and the water is smooth as ice. It doesn’t matter what your watercraft is. It just seems to glide along.

One of my first encounters with lake life was when our family was invited to go on a weekend getaway in upper Michigan, just outside of Kalamazoo. At that time I guess we were what we have come to label people who visit the lake area and then leave as “Lakers.” We were there just for the weekend, a few short days to have fun and relax.

Up to this point, I had never really driven or rode a jet ski. I had done motorcycles and dirt bikes, snowmobiles and other fun land motorsports, but not water. How hard could it be? Right? Famous last words.

So, our friends gave us a crash course on how to use these jet skis, then they took us out on them and we switched places. Kind of the whole hands-on teaching approach. We learned the do’s and don’ts, where we could go in the lake, and where not to go.

I passed the test. We were able to use the jet skis. Once I had the hang of the basics, my friend showed me how to have some fun by jumping your wake and doing power slides. I actually picked it up quickly. It was a lot like riding a dirt bike. We played for hours on these super cool machines. The lake was mostly empty, so we didn’t have to worry about other boats. We could do what we wanted, where we wanted. Then the day was turning into night, and it was time to come in off the lake for the day.

At dinner I asked if there would be any issue if I took a jet ski out in the morning with Tori? She had not had a chance to be on with me, so I wanted to be sure we were able to ride together. They said, “Sure, no problem.”

When next morning came Tori and I got our breakfast. My friend was up too. He said he would help us get the jet ski ready to go out.

Side Note: Tori was about 10 at this time. I was her hero; in her mind, it seemed that I was capable of all the things that Mr. Incredible could do. Yeah, I was pretty great then she became a young adult, and I’m no longer the incredible guy I once was. But, I know someday I will be pretty super again.

So we donned our life jackets, and I saddled up. I slid to the front and reached back to help Tori on. She wrapped her arms around my waist and squeezed as she had done countless times before on my motorcycle. Tori was my biker babe– if the motorcycle was out of the garage, and mom wasn’t on the back, it was Tori fighting for the seat.

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We slowly accelerated out onto the lake. The sun was shining, and the water was perfect. It was as smooth as glass. There were a few fishing boats out, but nothing that we would bother or would bother us.

I told Tori, this is just like the bike, lean when I lean, and in the same direction that I lean. She said “Okay.” I told her if you fall off, just wave your hands in the air, and I’ll come back to get you. She said, “Got it Dad, now let’s get going!”

I took my time getting reacquainted the machine and having Tori on the back. I did a few things that I had been showed. With each thing, I asked Tori if she was ready to try it. I wanted to be sure this would be a good experience for her and create fun memories of us together.

The lake started to come to life and more boats started to appear. It made me a bit nervous, so I asked Tori if she was up to exploring the lake a little further away and she agreed. So, we went all around the lake exploring the different inlets, and going around to all the islands that were separating the lake into different parts. Finally, we came on to this one little bay-like area that was deserted. It had a few houses and cottages on it, but they were far apart. I said “Let’s have some fun!” and I started going in circles creating big waves. I would then go outside of them and gun it and go over the wave we created. We would fly over the wave in the air and come crashing down to take another run at it. We would laugh harder each time. Then I decided to try and do a powerslide and whip the Jet Ski around to go the opposite direction. I explained what I was going to attempt to Tori, and she was up for it.

We got some speed up, and then I stood up and shifted my weight and turned the handlebars as quickly as I could and gave some gas. We created a huge spray and wave. Tori was giggling. So I said, “Want to go again?” She was like, “Yea, yea, do it again!” So, I repeated the same maneuver. This time as I stood up to shift my weight and turn, Tori must have felt like I was leaning too much, and she shifted her weight opposite of me. This sent us flying through the air and into the water. I remember hitting the water and then opening my eyes under the water. I was in way over my head. I swam towards the surface. Having the life jacket on increased how fast I surfaced. On the way up, I looked for my daughter. Not seeing her, I felt panic set in as if my heart wasn’t racing enough already.

I came up out of the water and gasped for a breath, then yelled, “Tori! Tori! Where are you?” Then I heard her voice as she shouted over on the other side. The jet ski had flipped and was sitting between us. As I swam to her, I asked, “Are you ok?” She said, “Yea!” As I got to her, we looked at each other and laughed. I said, “Wow, that was crazy!” She said, “It sure was!”

Now that I knew she was fine, I turned to try and get the jet ski righted. I said, “Ok, they told me what to do if this happened.” I reached all the way across the machine in the middle and grabbed the other side with all I had I pulled. It took a few times I’m sure I looked like a fishing bobber being tugged by a fish. I would get to rocking it, and almost get it then I would loose my grip. Finally, I did get it right side up.

The next part, well, that was the challenge that seemed to take forever. We needed to get back on. Now, it’s no secret that I have a bit of weight on me, and at this time I was pushing well over 200 lbs. Pulling oneself out of the water with a life vest strapped to you is no easy task, then add in that the Jet Ski was wet and slippery.

I would go from behind grab the handle and try to pull myself up, only to slip right back off. Then I thought, I’ll try it from the side, big mistake. I flipped it again. But this time, I did have it back up much quicker.

I thought maybe if Tori got on, it would stabilize it enough for me to get on. I got Tori on, but ended up knocking her back off again. I looked at my daughter and said, “Maybe we should swim it into shore and get on there. It was a good 1000 yards to shore; she looked at me and said emphatically, “No!”

By now, about 30 minutes had passed since we flipped. We both were getting tired. I saw in her face that she was not doing well and losing faith in me. So, I said a quick prayer, moved behind the jet ski and put my knees on the back and stretched as far as I could grabbing the handles. The back started to go under the water. Just then I heard a chirping noise and felt a boost up onto the jet ski, it was Flipper! Just kidding! There was no boost, but I did manage to get on the thing.

I then gave Tori very specific instructions on what to do. I stood up to provide counter weight and balanced as she pulled herself up and on . It was really like someone gave her a boost on.

We both breathed deep and thanked God, and I hit the start button. It fired right up. I remember looking back at her saying, “Let’s take it slow and head back. Is that ok with you?” She shook her head yes, and we started back. I said, “We may want to keep this to ourselves.” She looked at me, and said, “No, it was too awesome to do that.” And we both laughed.

This was a scary but fun experience. It really prepared us for some of the future adventures we would have together. Like getting lost under Chicago. Yes under Chicago. We were trying to get to a Family Force 5 concert and got ourselves lost down in the underground streets that run under the city of Chicago.

Still, trust is the big lesson here. Without trust, you have little to nothing. On this day we learned to trust each other at a new deeper level. When trust is broken, it takes awhile to be repaired, but it can be repaired, if both parties choose to forgive and move forward. This is what Jesus does all the time with us. If he can do that for me, I should be willing to try and do it for others.

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.

The Epic Hoagie Shadow Battle

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I have waited long enough to tell this story. Have you ever heard of a hoagie? Well, this is what most in the Midwest here call a sub, but growing up in PA, a sub was called a hoagie. Yeah, so we would go to the sub shop to get a hoagie, not a sub. I don’t know why. It was just the way it was.

Most Friday nights in the original Hunter house, we had hoagies from Newberry Sub Shop. They were arguably the best in the west end of town. I remember going into the shop, placing our order, then sitting at a table or on one of the counter stools. If it was a good week, I got fifty cents to play the jukebox that sat towards the front of the shop. I can still smell the aroma of oil, vinegar and spices mixed with fresh bread while Queen’s “Another Brick in the Wall’’ played.

Fridays were not complete without taking our hoagies home, sitting in the living room eating, and watching The Dukes of Hazzard. This was one of the two nights of the week that we would depart from our traditional eating together at the dining table. This was the best, a regular hoagie and watching the General Lee jump ravines, and then there was Daisy Duke. I don’t know which was better at the time, the car or the girl. Those were good days!

Well, my love for hoagies has not diminished one bit, and I have to tell you that I have not found one place where I live now that can replicate the memory I have of what those Hoagies tasted like. I do have to give props to Jersey Mikes, a national chain of sub shops based out of New Jersey; they definitely do come close. I really think it must be an East Coast thing: hoagies and Philly cheese steaks. We won’t even get started on those.

Side Note: if you should ever want a authentic Philly Cheese Steak and live, say in Syracuse, Indiana, there is a place the next town over, Goshen, that has the best Philly Cheese steaks in the area. It’s called the South Side Soda Shop. It was even featured on the Food Network’s “Triple D: Diners Drive-in’s and Dives.”

You may say I have a bit of a love affair with hoagies. Well, the older I got, the more I explored sub shops to see where the best ones were. You had Riverside Sub Shop, which had the best grinders. Yes, like a hoagie, but it’s grilled. Then, you had Cellini’s who had really good cosmos, again like a hoagie, this was a broiled cheese sandwich. In East End, you had Fred’s Market– they put a ton of meat on their hoagies. Then you had the OIP sub (not a hoagie). This was made with Fresh baked bread that was made from pizza dough. Then on the Creek Road, you had Heller’s Gas and Mini Market. They had great ones too.

Now Heller’s was right on our way home from church. So, Chrissy and I would stop after church, grab some hoagies and head home for lunch with Ben and Tori. This would have been around the time when Ben was 4, and Tori almost 2.

Side Note: When Chrissy was pregnant with Tori she craved turkey breast hoagies and french fries. In fact, that is what she wanted me to leave the hospital hours after Tori was born and get for her. Now, Chrissy also has a bit if a love affair with the hoagie, but not just any hoagie, it has to be a turkey breast. She just can’t eat dark meat or most processed meats.

Now that I have all the background laid out, we can get to the infamous story of the hoagie fight. See we had been going and getting hoagies after church for a while, it was becoming kind of like a bad ritual. I would get whatever kind of hoagie I fancied that day, but Chrissy always got the same one, Turkey Breast.

Well, one day we went and got our hoagies and when we got home and to our surprise Heller’s changed their turkey hoagies. This one was made with turkey roll meat. Very different from turkey breast.

My wife was not happy, but because we lived 40 minutes away from Heller’s, she sucked it up and ate it with the caveat of never getting a hoagie there again with turkey roll, because it was just gross.

A few weeks passed and something happened at church that made Chrissy upset, and if I remember I was not too happy either. It may have been that we were just not seeing eye to eye at the time too. Either way, we both were not in good moods.

So, I fell right into my rut and stopped at the sub shop. Before I got out of our Dodge Shadow, which we only had for a short time, Chrissy said, “Don’t forget, turkey breast. Not turkey roll!” I distinctly remember mocking her in a weird voice, as I closed the car door “don’t forget turkey breast,” then mumbling to myself I walked to the store.

Well, I went into the store and saw someone from church, and of course I had to change my demeanor right away. That’s what good church-going Christians do.

Side Note: this story all took place before we went into the ministry. So we were still heathens. I’m just kidding, we have matured since then, but we still have our days.

Anyway, I had a conversation with whoever and ordered our hoagies. By this time, coming out to the car, I could hear that they kids were not happy either. I thought, great… grouchy kids and wife, what a great day. I got in the car and handed over the hoagies to Chrissy, then pulled out of the parking lot and onto the county two-lane road that would get us home.

As I drove, Chrissy asked, “Did you ask for turkey breast?” Honestly, at that moment I hesitated, and I couldn’t remember… did I ask for a turkey hoagie or a turkey breast hoagie. Oh gosh. I couldn’t remember, so I diverted. “You know who I saw from church in there?” It didn’t work. She said, “Butch, did you get me a turkey breast hoagie?” I looked over at her, and I could tell she was hangry. I said sheepishly, “Yeah, that’s what you wanted!”

That is when everything started to unravel. She pulled out the hoagie from the brown paper bag and started to unroll the white paper that hers was rolled in. I think this is where I may have started to pray. Oh Jesus, please let it be a turkey breast hoagie! This is the point most husbands know that they are going to skate though just by the skin of their teeth or need to start to talk her down.

She looked at the meat, and it was like the kids in the back seat gasped, sucking all the oxygen from the car. I said, “Look, it’s turkey breast.” She looked at me, and I knew I was in such trouble. She said, “I told you to order TURKEY BREAST.

I couldn’t help noticing that her hand was clenched around the 12-inch hoagie, progressively squeezing it tighter and tighter with every word she spoke. I argued that it looked like turkey breast. She was not convinced. Then I said, “If it’s not, they clearly made a mistake, and I will turn around to get you another one.”

By this time, we were becoming pretty loud with our discussion, and it was quickly heading to an inevitable eruption. Chrissy picked up the sandwich. (Remember, I’m driving.) She whacked me in the chest with it, half of it fell on my lap. It was raining tomatoes and onions in the car.

I quickly grabbed the half that landed on my lap, as she is repeatedly smacking me with what is left of the hoagie in her hand. I retaliate in defense hurling my half of the hoagie back at her, all while trying to safely drive. It was like an epic sword battle in the car. It was like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, instead of sparks there were shreds of lettuce. Hoagie was flying everywhere, there was bread everywhere, meat stuck to the dash and windshield.

The kids were in the back seat in their car seats giggling. We both were wearing this undesirable sandwich. I remember Chrissy having mayo on her face. When we looked at each other, we heard giggles and saw the throwing of pieces of hoagie from the back seat, we both busted up laughing.

We both apologized to each other as we wiped off our faces from the remains from our battle. Then we joked about what happened the rest of the way home and for years to come. We still joke that if you don’t watch out, I will hoagie-slap you!

It took weeks to get all the hoagie out of our car, but what I never forgot was to always ask for turkey breast. Looking back we’ve had some big disagreements, but somehow we always managed to come back to common ground, support each other and always put each other ahead of the other. We love unconditionally and try to be authentic all the time. I believe this has gotten us through some of the hardest times, and even some of the best ones too.

One of our favorite artists penned these words that capture a glimpse of our love for each other:

“This love is strong, it will last. It will hold you up when you need it. It will not break, and I won’t give up. It costs too much, and I need you.” (Russ Taff)

The Bear In The Little White Trailer

The Bear In The Little White Trailer
Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my! Well, not so much the lions and tigers, but definitely bears. Bears are this week’s blog topic.
As I have mentioned in previous stories, I’m from PA. That stands for Pennsylvania, for all those who are not from the Keystone State. Nobody calls it Pennsylvania; it’s always  “P. A.” I grew up just within the city limits of Williamsport.
Side Note: When we moved in to this house when I was a kid, we had no running water or plumbing. In fact, we had the last standing outhouse within the city limits. The local newspaper the Sun Gazette did a feature story on it before it was taken down. Of course, we had indoor plumbing by then.
Our house was built by my Grandpap Hunter. It sat half-way up a mountainside. Directly behind our house, was an overgrown vineyard that had long since been cared for. It had been overtaken with thick brush and trees, just as the mountain started to incline. We has gorgeous evergreen pine trees that ran all the way up to the top of the mountain.
Side note: I’m saying that we lived on a mountain, which to anyone actually from PA would say “Aw, that’s just a big hill. The mountains are on the south side of the Valley.” And that would be true. But those who live in the Midwest, where I now reside… they would say we did live on a small mountain.  
I had the run of all the area growing up. It was great. I spent summer days exploring and playing, just my dog and me. We encountered many things throughout the years, and I heard a ton of stories about what lived in those woods. Some scary things, and some were just ridiculous.
One such story was about the night my mom was walked home by what she claims to have been a bear. She worked 2nd shift, and got a ride home late one night. The driver dropped her off at the bottom of our long driveway. Halfway up our drive, she was greeted by something big and furry. She thought it was our pet St. Bernard, Brandy.
All the way home she talked and walked with it, giving it encouraging pats on the head as they walked. When she reached our house, whatever it was ran off. She went in the house only to find Brandy asleep on the floor. She swears it was a bear. I don’t know.
That was not the only encounter we had with bears. My mother-in-law hit one with her car once. The car was totaled. She was ok, but the bear didn’t survive.
Another time, which I think is the best story, is when Chrissy and I were living in the real mountains. Our small mobile home sat at the bottom of a mountain close to her grandparent’s home. A small brook ran right behind the property.  In this little community called Proctor, there may have been a population of 150, perhaps a bit more. Our little neighborhood had 4 houses within a stone’s throwing distance from ours. We had two of our kids then, Ben and Tori, and stupid dog named Pepper.
Where we lived, trash pick-up only happened every 2 weeks, perhaps 4, depending on the time of year. So, we had 3 cans sitting out by where we parked our cars. We had been told that sometimes bears would wonder down the mountain and get into things. We had never seen this happen since we had lived in the trailer. The only things we had seen were the occasional deer, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and a flock of turkeys.
One summer night, Chrissy woke me from a dead sleep. This was normal.
She said, “Did you hear that?”
I said, “No, don’t worry, it’s probably a raccoon getting into the garbage.”
She said, “No, it’s not, listen! It’s grunting and snorting whatever it is!
We lay very still in our bed, and I listened. All I could hear was my heart beating and my breathing.
I said, “Nope, nothing.”
Then she said, “There!” as she sat up in bed.
I said,  “Okay, I’ll get up and see.”
So, I got up and got the spotlight. Everyone who lives in PA has a spotlight.
Side note: Spotlighting. It’s a verb. That’s what you did for fun on a warm Saturday night. You drive around shining this huge 100,000,000 candlelight powered spotlight out your car window to see how many deer or other species of wildlife you could see. That, my friends, was a wild night!
I grabbed my spotlight, and I opened the drapes to look out the window. I could see nothing. I shined my light out the window, but all I could see was our cars.  I moved back through the trailer to our bedroom windows. I pulled back the curtains to shine the light out. And there it was as plain as day. The biggest, hairiest, monster I had ever seen with it’s teeth bared looking right back at me through my window. It was a Sasquatch!
No, I’m just kidding. All I could see was the hoods of our cars. Of course, by this time Chrissy is pushing me over grabbing for the light, so naturally I wouldn’t see any thing. Then, all of a sudden, I thought I saw something moving on the far side of the car by our garbage. Then it moved out in to plain sight. It was a big black bear! He was enjoying himself some dinner on us.
I think this is when Chrissy looked at me and said in Scooby Doo fashion “It’s a bear!” I think she may have peed a little too! She jumped from the bed, ran into the kids’ room, and scooped them up. The next thing I knew everyone was in our bed. Chrissy had the covers pulled over her head, asking is it still there?
I said, “Yep, it’s still there.”
This bear was not little– he had to have gone a few hundred pounds. I thought it would be cool if he stood up, but he didn’t. He just kind of meandered around by the garbage cans.
I finally coaxed Chrissy out from under her bear proof covers to watch the bear with me.  We watched him for what seemed like hours, but I’m sure it was nowhere close to that. Then Chrissy said to me, “What if he tries to get in the house?”
Now that thought hadn’t crossed my mind, but she said, “Won’t he smell the food in our house?”
 That’s when I started to be a little concerned, but being the brave man of our small family, I said, “Aw, don’t worry he can’t get in, and besides I have the 12-gauge.
She said, “You should get it.”
So, I grabbed the gun and carefully laid it on the bed.
Side Note: Now, at this time in my life I had only shot this gun maybe once or twice when I went turkey hunting as a teen. Boy, is that a story, but for another time. Honestly, the thing I remembered the most about that gun was that it kicked like a mule. I probably could have better defended our family by beating the bear with the gun.
Then Chrissy said, “You know the front door doesn’t latch very well.”
I knew that front door needed fixed, but I hadn’t had the money or the time to fix it. The more I thought about it, I started to worry. All you really needed to do was push hard on the door, and it would fly open.
As any brave husband would do, I thought fast and said, “We should move all the furniture in front of the door to barricade it. He’s not going to come over here, but, you know, just in case. So we frantically pushed our couch and chair over in front of the door, as well as anything else heavy we could get in front of the door.
When we were done, we scampered back to the bed to see where our furry friend was, and what he was up to.  I shined the spotlight over by the car and nothing. I stared to look around, where did he go? That’s when I heard a snort right in front of the window we were looking out. I quickly pointed the light down to where I heard the snort, and sure enough there he was. He was making his way over to the trailer. We watched as he waddled past us and then over by our front porch. We tiptoed out to the living room, and peeked out the window just in time to see Mr. Cuddles waddling right up our porch steps. Our porch was more of a stoop. It had three steps and then a 4×4 square deck. Not very big at all.
I ran back to the bedroom and grabbed my gun. With trembling fingers I put a slug in and closed the chamber, I was ready. If that bear welcomed himself into our home it was on. As I stood with my heart racing looking out the window. He came up the steps got on the porch. I though this is it, get ready. Then he just turned around and sat down on our porch like he owned the place. I had Chrissy go back to the bedroom with the kids and cover up with her bear protectant sheets as I stood guard.
Again, I watched for what seemed like an eternity. Then all of a sudden he sniffed the breeze and grunted. He flopped forward and jumped off the porch. He waddled across the yard and out of sight to the neighbor’s house.
I thought, I’m leaving the barricade up, just in case he comes back. I walked back to the bedroom with my gun clenched in my hands and pronounced that the bear has left the premises.

The funniest thing was that the kids slept through the entire ordeal. That night we all slept together in our full-size bed with the shotgun within reach. This was a crazy night that will not be forgotten. And that is the story of the bear in the little white trailer.

Honeymoon Paradise

So, twenty-six years ago, Chrissy and I were in full swing with wedding planning. Actually, it was mostly Chrissy’s mom with some input from Chrissy.  Anyway, at some point we thought, we need to plan a honeymoon.
We thought of amazing destinations where we could go. We dreamed of white sandy beaches in a tropical paradise. We would be in an adult only all-inclusive resort. You know the kind that has all the food you can eat and cabanas on the beach. The beach would have big palm trees, and there would definitely be a hammock strung between them. So, we thought Cancun would be great!
Then, we looked at the price, and thought well, that would be a nice dream vacation someday, but my full-time job as walk-off rug cleaner and part-time job as a stocker at Giant grocery store, plus running a professional photo studio on the side just didn’t cut it– even with adding Chrissy’s almost full-time job at Giant, it just wasn’t going to be enough. This was a dream.
So, we dreamed smaller and closer to a what-we-thought-we-might-get-in-wedding- gifts kind of budget. We thought and thought, and then a friend of mine at work, Mike Linn, told me of a place he took his family for vacation. This sounded like it might work. It was on a beach by the ocean. It was an island. We would be going in August, so somewhat tropical. And check this out, it had wild horse roaming the island freely! It was about 6 hours away from home, so we would definitely be getting away.  Perfect, I thought.
Side Note: I am from the mountains of Pennsylvania. I grew up hiking, fishing and camping… you know, your all around outdoors kind of stuff. I didn’t see any issues with doing whatever I had to, to make thing work.
So I took the idea of this tropical paradise to Chrissy. I told her it wasn’t Cancun, but it was like an adventure island paradise. The only thing was that there were no hotels. Thinking quickly, I said “It will be like our own little cabana on the beach, but it will just look more like a small dome tent.”
Side Note: I really don’t think I said that, but I wish I had– that would have been good!
So I told her about us camping on the beach, having a campfire with wild horses all around. I said, “It will be great, we’ll be able to go to sleep listening to the crashing waves of the ocean. I then told her the best part– it was a national park, so it was inexpensive! So cheap that we might be able to spend one night on the way back home in a hotel! I really think the horses got her, because she said yes!
How cool was this going to be! Honeymooning on the beach! I was so excited.
Our big day came,  and our first night being newlyweds we spent locally. Our wedding party went together and got us a room at a local fancy hotel. I think it was the new Sheriton Hotel in downtown Williamsport. Our plans were to open our wedding gifts the next day, and then head out on our adventure. I had the Subaru all packed and ready to go, we were off!
We had the tunes cranked, the sun in our faces, and the wind blowing through our hair, life was good! We pulled in to the park late that afternoon. We hiked our gear over a sand dune and picked a spot where we could see and hear the ocean, and that’s where we pitched our cozy bungalow for two. I remember it being hot! Not just a little warm, but humid, hot. The kind of hot that made you so sticky and nasty that you just didn’t want anyone to touch you. That is great for a honeymoon. Not really.
Sometime after we decided to go here, my parents reminded me that I had been here before when I was little. They also said something about watching out for the state bird, it was a real blood sucker? Yup– mosquitos! So, I being full of ingenuity, thought we just need a screen tent to go over our dome tent. That would keep the bugs at bay.
I also may have forgotten to mention that the park had showers, but no hot water, only cold. Not bad when you’re hot and toasty, but in the cooler morning air, it was a bit of a shock. Another thing that we didn’t anticipate was all the sand. That sounds really stupid, beach, sand… that’s what a beach is, it’s sand. Duh! So, we spent our honeymoon nights in our hot tent with sweaty bodies that were covered with sand that we just couldn’t seem to get off, and we tried to not touch each other. Because of the heat and dryness we couldn’t have a fire either. So much for a romantic paradise on this honeymoon.
As the days went by, we did create great memories together and had fun exploring the island by day and swimming in the ocean. We even went to the Ocean City Boardwalk. This is where Chrissy begged me to get one of those old fashion type pictures done. I had always dreamed of going there and getting t-shirts that said “I’m hers” and “He’s mine”. I know I’m corny that way, but instead of t-shirts, we got this dorky photo of us looking like we got married in the civil war era. If you look close at the photo you can see the sweat rolling down our faces. But we had fun doing it, and that’s all that matters.
Wednesday, we had a visit from a park ranger. He wanted to let us know that there was a chance of a storm that night, and we should be careful. I thought, oh I have camped in bad weather before, no big del. I remember laying in my family’s old canvas tent listening to the thunder and watching the lightning illuminate the top of the tent. Mom and Dad would say, stay away from the sides of the tent, because if you touch them, it will leak. Ah, those were the days. Storms– no problem.
I reassured Chrissy that it would be fine, and we would be perfectly safe. Well, that night the temperature dropped, and it was cold. As we were brushing off as much sand as we could before getting into the tent, the unthinkable happened. I helped Chrissy into the tent and swung my arm back and I felt something leave my hand. That’s right– it was my wedding band. It was like slow motion, I stood there saying, “nooooo!” Then I thought, don’t move. Just get a light, and you will find it. My fingers had shrunk because of the cold weather, and the ring was just loose enough to fly off. Chrissy asked “What’s wrong?” I said, “I lost my ring, it flew off my finger.”
At that moment I remembered thinking about all the times my mom told me not to were rings in the ocean because she had lost a diamond ring in the ocean one time. Then I was brought back to reality by the sound of our little honeymoon bungalow being zipped up. Then I heard my wife say, “You’re not coming in here until you find that ring!”
I frantically looked through the sand for my ring. Nothing. I said, “Look I’m cold, I’ll find it in the morning.” Chrissy said, “No, you will find that ring now!” I think there was some exchange between us about how much our Wes Freedmen wedding rings cost us, and about how we didn’t have that kind of money to get another one. I think my ring was like $60. So, I continued to look, shivering all the while, knowing that even if I found the ring, she was not going to cuddle with me to get me warm. Honestly, I don’t blame her at all. We had sand everywhere, and it just wouldn’t leave.
Finally, I shined the light down, and saw a glimmer of gold. I reached down, and sure enough, it was my ring. I snatched it up, and pumped my arms in the air victoriously while shouting, “I got it, now let me in!”
The storms never came that night, but the next morning we had anther visit from Ranger Rick. He told us that we would have to cut our stay short because the storms that were coming in were now upgraded to a tropical storm. I guess there was a hurricane somewhere out on the ocean, and now it was coming towards our tropical paradise.
So, we packed our tents and gear back into the Subaru and headed back north. We decided to stop in Baltimore for the rest of our time. We visited Inner Harbor and a few other places, but the best part was the Red Roof Inn. We got hot showers and washed all (and I mean ALL) the sand off. We even had a nice bed to sleep in.
It was a good thing that we did pack it in and leave. The island was hit with a strong tropical storm that I’m sure our bungalow would not have survived.

We have always lived the adventure. We don’t look for it, but it always seems to find us. I try to never complain that life is boring. If I did, who knows what stories would come from that.

Happy Meal Christmas

It’s the hard times when I’m feeling alone and discouraged that I find myself going back to the past, when you have no doubt that God brought you through a hard time. This helps me feel safe, secure and it even helps me refocus, it even boosts my faith that God is bigger than anything I will ever face.
One of those memories I cherish is when Chrissy and I started out on this journey of serving God full-time.
Side Note: I know now that we had no clue as to the price we would pay for this calling that we had chosen to answer. This isn’t a bad thing, we just didn’t have any idea what our life was going to be like.
To start this new adventure, we asked God to help us pay off all our bills. With one tax rebate check, He made this happen to the dollar. We proceeded to pack up all of our belongings from our mobile home into a small moving truck.  We loaded our two young children and one Dalmatian puppy into the car. With one last look at our small, safe world, we left our family, friends, and any support systems we had grown up with.
We traveled 9 hours away to the most southern part of West Virginia to one of what they call the Twin Cities, Bluefield, WV. It was nestled in a valley of the Appalachian Mountains. Just across the state line in Virginia was another city called Bluefield, VA. Thus the twin cities nickname.
We moved here to go to Bible collage because, if you wanted to be successful in ministry, this is just what you do. As I had mentioned, we really had no clue what we were doing. I just believed that God was telling me to come follow Him and lead his people. So, since this college was the only one we knew about at the time, we signed up there.
Side Note: At this time, we didn’t have access to the Internet or even a computers, which would have helped us research this better. As it was, we went off of the word of a school recruiter, and trusted that God would provide the rest.
And that is how I became a student enrolled in Bible college. Unbeknownst to us, this college was one of the most conservative, legalistic schools on the east coast for the Church of Christ/Christian Churches. The very contemporary church that we were coming from was a Christian church. So, we figured this should be good. We didn’t know how wrong we could be. We didn’t even understand the difference between contemporary and traditional church styles. We assumed they were all like our great church.
Back in the 90’s, I only wore a button-up shirt and tie with dress pants at three places. One was when I worked as a professional photographer for a large corporation, and it was required. Two was a wedding and thirdly a funeral, where it was expected.  I tell you this because this is what I called “dressing up”. When I had gone to Penn State, I could wear whatever I rolled out of bed in. Not that I did, but I could have. Believe me, no one in the photo dark room cared what I looked like.
Not so with this place. Every day, in every class, I was expected to be wearing dress clothes. That is how conservative this college is. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we didn’t fit well, and many of the promises made to us to help us decide to come by the recruiter were unfulfilled. But that would not stop me I had a call from God, and I was sure of it.
One thing I failed to mention is that Chrissy was pregnant with our Jonah. So, on moving here we needed some support to help us get acclimated and get settled. Unfortunately, none of that happened. I was told that I could work at the school and that there were plenty of youth ministry positions at local churches that embraced the students of the school. Well, I did work for the school but they applied all of that money to my tuition for school. There were no loans or grants not even scholarships, because as we discovered, this school was not accredited. You paid as you went, and they made sure they received their payments.
We did have a few people and our home church who believed in what we were doing and us. The gifts that came in helped us put gas in the car and some food on the table.
After a few months of classes and trying to fit in, with still no real steady income, Christmas was coming and along with it, the time for Chrissy to give birth. Things were pretty discouraging, but I had faith that God would see us through.
Side note: Remember the puppy we took with us? Well, on arriving we were told no dogs. You need to find it a home. This puppy was a birthday gift for Ben, he loved the movie 101 Dalmatians. So we found a temporary home for her with one of the off campus students. We though it was a good home. To make a long story short, within weeks of her going to her new home she was hit by a car and broke her leg. The vet helped us fix her up. He told her that she was fine. A few weeks later, in spite of her vet’s bill of good health, we got a voicemail message from the other student saying, “Your dog is dead and I buried her in the yard.” Click. Wow! Not a good day.
So, at this point, I almost had it but I decide that I would do whatever I could to bring a few bucks in, and hopefully this would help us and make things better.
I also thought that whatever I made a little would go to taking the kids out for some fun. So we went to McDonalds  a few times and bought the kids Happy meals. It was late November, and 101 Dalmatians was the surprise toys in the Happy Meals. So, I had the brilliant idea that we would secretly remove the toys and keep them for Christmas gift for the kids.  
The closer we got to Christmas, our Happy Meal toy stash was growing. We hoped that somehow we would be able to buy a few real gifts for the kids, but it didn’t look good.
The grandparents were going to send some things; we knew that, but it’s just not the same as providing for your family. So, we prayed that God would provide. This is when we received a card in our mail on the same day we also received a discouraging anonymous piece of hate mail in the box too. (That is another story.)
In that card was a note saying, “I wish I could do what you are doing.  Merry Christmas!” with a cash gift enclosed. It wasn’t much but enough for Chrissy and I to get the kids a few gifts. And we still wrapped the happy meal toys and gave them to the kids.
After 20 years our grandkids play with these little toys and the Christmas ones are on display every Christmas as a reminder to us of God’s faithfulness. His Will, will always be done. Even if those around you are coming against you, and things look hopeless, if you place your trust in Jesus and stay faithful to what His Word says and what He has called you to, He will see you through.
It was a skinny Christmas, but it bound our family together and made us stronger. It actually taught our kids and us how to love and put others before ourselves. Look for opportunities to encourage anyone you can and let people know authentically that you appreciate them without expecting anything in return, even if you don’t understand why God has laid them on your heart. If you watch, God will show up and beautiful things will happen.

As I said this was a hard time, but looking back brings joy and hope to me as I hope it stirs up in your soul the same.

Pranks!

Pranks!
Over the years, Chrissy and I have been known to pull a few pranks. Mostly on our best of friends. These little mischievous acts are meticulously planned out with the greatest of attention to details and timing. Here are a few that we have successfully pulled off over the years.
When we were in college, it seemed like we were always involved in some sort of prank, whether it be covering someone’s white Chevette with Oreo cookies to make it look like a Dalmatian, or awarding someone for being the 100,000th visitor to the Historical Duck Decoy Museum that, they recently had visited.
That was when we awarded a dollar store lint brush in the form of a duck as a trophy. Upon delivery, the recipient opened the package to find a very official-sounding letter from the duck decoy historical foundation, along with the major award of the duck. The best part of a prank is watching how it unfolds. For us it was sheer joy to enter this person’s home to see the letter, along with the trophy, displayed in a prominent place in their home.
One of my absolute favorites was the Mickey Premium Ice Cream bar wallpapering.
This was where we took a few wrappers that I had saved from Disney’s most awesome ice cream treat in the world and photocopied them to make 10 x 8 sheets of Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar wallpaper. We covered our friend’s office with our wallpaper while he was gone on vacation to Disney World. He actually loved it. We have a short video of this prank on YouTube. https://youtu.be/psBUDfRDmEA
Then we had another friend who highly disliked snowmen. So we did a prank called “The Game.” We used left over garbage bag snowmen from a series I had done, and we strategically placed them in his office. We staged them as a scene from a mob movie. Again we made a trailer of this one too. It is also on YouTube. https://youtu.be/irdEB77gCbMI’m not sure why we did all the trailers. And I’m not so sure that he appreciated my humor on this one.
There have been so many more, that I just can’t think of all of them. But not all pranks go as planned or as you may expect. We had one such prank that we pulled with friends of ours. I will keep their names anonymous. I don’t want them to feel like I’m ratting them out or anything. Let’s just call them Dana, Bruce, and the twins who owned the gorilla suit.
Well, we were sitting around playing cards one night as we did often with our friends. This night was special because some of our children were gone on a camping excursion. The Hunter Boys were out with their cadet group.
Side note: The Cadets are a church-sponsored organization that is like a Christian Boy Scout group.
This overnight camping trip was serving a purpose. Our church was having an outdoor service the next morning, and the cadets camped out to guard all the equipment at the church in the yard. These brave boys ages 8-12 would fend of any unwanted, ill-willed intruders.
So, as we were playing cards one of us got the itch to be mischievous. That’s all it takes to set things in motion. We sat playing hand after hand, throwing out ideas as to what we could do to some poor, unsuspecting victim. Eventually, someone said we should prank the cadets!
The ideas starting coming, but we knew we didn’t want to go overboard and do something that would scar them for life. So, we finally cooked up the idea of launching water balloons onto and around their campsite. I have a launcher, and to make it even better, we thought let’s make it seem like a gorilla escaped from the zoo and was throwing the balloons at them. Dana made a call to the twins, who just happened to have a gorilla suit. The plan was in motion and could not be stopped. We made plans to meet the twins after we filled the balloons.
We parked in an area that was not conspicuous, and rallied the team for one last briefing on how this would go down. The four of us would launch the balloons and make gorilla noises as one of the twins would dance around acting like he was throwing water balloons in the parking lot under a security light. It was fun and not too scary, or so we thought.
The balloons started to fly and the gorilla danced, but we didn’t get much of a reaction. So we aimed for the tents trying to make direct hits. As we rained down our balloons of fury, a few of the boys woke up, most just kept sleeping. This is where it kind of went too far, remember the comment about not scarring the kids for life?
Well, the gorilla was told to charge, someone said attack, and we had balloons flying everywhere. The gorilla was shaking tents, and before we knew it, that jungle beast was unzipping tents and surprising sleeping campers. There were arms and legs going every which way. Screams of boys echoed left and right.  Then the gorilla came to one little boy who wouldn’t wake up so the gorilla entered his tent, bent down and gave a resounding gorilla growl. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, this was a Hunter Boy. He sat straight up, screamed, and started crying hysterically.
This was a prank gone wrong. Luckily, most of the boys were laughing– all except for Jonah. He had just had the pee scared out of him. The good thing was that his  mom was right there to take care of him and help him out of this awkward predicament. Mom somehow just happened to be there to rescue her baby boy.
We still have a good laugh about this one, well, most of us do. We learned not to mix gorillas, water balloons, and cadets together in the middle of the night, unless you want to have gremlins.  
We do still do a few mischievous acts from time to time, but nothing harmful that may cause anyone years of counseling.

Shorts on the Ground

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Over the past few weeks I have been feeling a bit nostalgic, so like any dad who feels like reliving the past, I went out to my garage. Now, why would I go to the garage you may ask. Great question! I went to the garage because, if you know me for any period of time, you will know that, no matter where I live, I have a magic garage.
Side Note: I have a reputation for keeping things. I’m not a hoarder, but I could be. My garage holds some of the most amazing treasures. I had a friend that used to say “Whatever you need just ask Butch to see if he has it in his garage.” Yes, sometimes I did have things that people needed or we needed for ministry. I didn’t get the title of Kid Ministry MacGyver for nothing. That, my friends is another story itself, for another time.
So, I went to my garage and found a box of old video tapes that held our family history. Looking though these tapes made me realize that we could have had a video on America’s Funniest Videos every week for an entire year. It also jogged my memory of our first video camera and the time we took it on vacation.
Our oldest son, Ben, was just turning two. This would have been our first real family vacation. So, Chrissy and I decided to go back to the place where we spent our honeymoon, Assateague Island, in Maryland, close to Ocean City. Since we enjoyed the area so much, we wanted to go back to the place where we created some very special memories camping on the beach.
Side Note: Honeymooning on the beach sounds super romantic, and we thought so too, when we planned it. Let’s just say, sand plus newlyweds in a small pup tent on a beach teeming with wild horses while a hurricane heads inland creates a situation that could test even the strongest of marriages. I almost forgot about the pesky state bird, otherwise known as the mosquito
Back to the vacation. We made plans to vist Assateague Island for a day while camping on the mainland at a nice wooded campground in Ocean City, that sprayed for mosquitoes.
Packing for our big day at the beach, I kept in mind that this was our two-year-old son’s first time to the ocean. All the things that my mom had warned me about ran through my head. “Watch out for the undertow, when you were a baby you got rolled so bad that you had sand for days coming out of you.” And Chrissy’s Nanny, “Don’t forget to put a lot of sun screen on.” With all these voices in my head, I could hardly hear myself think. The biggest thing in my mind was making sure we had the cameras, the regular one and the video camera too.
On this special day, I thought to myself (louder than all the other voices), “I want my boy to have a great time at the beach. He needs a boogie board! Yeah, he’ll love a boogie board!” I really don’t know why I thought that. Still, we stopped on the way to the beach at a small store to buy the cheapest styrofoam boogie board I could find because things were tight on this vacation. Once I had boogie board loaded in the car, we were set to go. Whoo-hoo off to the beach! On the way into the beach area, we saw the wild horses, this was a plus. They just roam anywhere and everywhere they please; it’s very cool! We even have a picture of one sticking its head in our car window!
Finally, at the beach, we grabbed all our stuff and headed down to the water to pick our spot for the day. It was great, the sun was shining, temperature was perfect with a nice cool breeze blowing. As the wind blew off the waves, it picked up salt that you could taste from the mist of the crashing waves, it was a gorgeous July day. The best part was that the beach was not very crowded.
We did all the things you would imagine parents doing with their child at the seashore for the first time. Ben loved playing in the lapping waves of the ocean. Chrissy took pictures and occasionally, we would use the camcorder to capture some priceless moments for our little family.
After a while, I took the boogie board down to the water for Ben to ride. I placed him on it, sitting down. I don’t know what I expected to happen, but here’s what did happen. A wave came in and knocked him right off. Epic dad fail on this one, I thought. So, I marched my sand-covered, squalling son up to his mother, so she could comfort him. After all, I had just let him get tossed around by the ocean tide.
So then, me being me, I decided to show my son that boogie boards could be fun. I said, “Ben, watch Daddy do it!” I grabbed the boogie board, and ran down to the water. I waded out into deeper water and waited for just the right wave to roll in. I looked out to see if Ben is watching, and I saw Chrissy getting the camcorder ready.
And then it was now or never; the water sucked back and I knew it was going to be a big one. I readied the board and jumped as high as my short legs would take me and landed on the crest of the wave! I remember thinking, “This is awesome! I’m riding a wave! Yes!”
I jumped off the board just before the wave crashed down onto the sandy beach. I ran up to Chrissy and Ben, out of breath, and exclaimed “I did it!  Did you see that! I was great! Yeah baby!”
Chrissy said, “Sorry, I didn’t get it you’ll have to go do it again.” I now believe she secretly knew what would happen next and just wanted to egg me on to make sure it happened. I was, oh, too willing. I was like a dog playing fetch with his favorite ball. You know right before the dog’s master tosses the ball, he’s so excited to get the ball. Yup, that was me.
So Chrissy readied the camera, ben sat playing at her feet. I galloped down to the edge of the ocean with the boogie board over my head like I was some champion surfer ready to rip some gnarly swells. I made my way through the crashing waves out quite a bit further than before. I positioned myself, and waited for the perfect wave.
I could see Chrissy recording as I waited for my dream wave. I waved to her with a thumb up. I was ready for this epic moment. Just then the water powerfully pulled quickly past my legs sucking my feet into the sand. I looked over my shoulder this was a huge wave! It was quickly rolling towards me, building momentum. Higher and higher it went.
I bent at my knees and with all I had jumped into the air at just the right moment to be caught on the top of the wave. Cowabunga dude! I was riding on top of this wave! The rush of water around me was exhilarating, the adrenaline was pumping though my body. It was like the rush you get when riding a smooth roller coaster, but a 100 times better. The wave was accelerating, and with every foot it got closer to its crashing destination.
Then, just before I could jump off the boogie board, the wave took me by surprise curling under me only to drop me, fast and hard head-first onto the shore. I hit the sand with an audible crunch. I was involuntarily rolling through the water, gasping for air. I could feel my heart pounding. I clawed at the shifting sand to get my balance and pull myself up out of the water. I shook off the water from my head and wiped the salt from my eyes. I could feel sand in places you never want to feel sand.
What seemed like an eternity only took seconds. I crawled to my knees. Still being pummeled by aftershock waves. The tide rolled out enough for me to get to my feet and somewhat get my bearings.
I desperately looked for my wife on the beach. I thought to myself well, that was definitely spectacular! Though blurry eyes, I saw Chrissy laughing hysterically all the while frantically tring to get the camera lined up with where I was now standing. I waved to her laughing all the while trying to get some forward motion going.
There are those times in life when things happen, and you know you just came through something that could have had disastrous results, only to realize the worst had not hit yet.
That is when I felt it. The cool breeze and water lapping bare skin in a place, well, a place that should have been covered. I looked down and terror struck me to the core only to realize that my swim trunks were gone. I quickly threw myself down into the shallow water. Fumbling around like a fish out of water. I was flopping around as I tried to grab my shorts that had luckily got hung up on one of my feet.
I quickly maneuvered my other leg into my swim shorts and pulled them up, filling them with even more sand in the process. I embarrassingly looked around to see who else had caught an eye full of me in all my God-given glory. To my surprise, I didn’t see anyone running in horror or pointing and laughing, well, no one  except Chrissy.
Side Note: Thinking back to this experience, all I can think of is the You Tube song, “Pants on the ground, Pants on the ground, look’n like a fool with your pants on the ground!” That was me. I was a naked fool!
My attention then turned to retrieving my white Styrofoam boogie board. After paying good money for it, I wasn’t going to lose this thing. Right at that moment, I felt something smack me in the back of my legs. I turned to see what it was– it was a piece of Styrofoam. I bent over and grabbed it for a closer examination. It looked like a piece of someone’s boogie board, I wondered who broke their boogie board.  As I look down the beach, I saw 2 more white pieces being pushed up on the beach and it sadly occurred to me that it was my boogie board.
I gathered my wits, picked up what was left of my pride, and retrieved the rest of what was left of the board. I than sheepishly slogged up to Chrissy and Ben. Chrissy was reviewing her newly captured footage of my major wipeout. She looked up at me, snickering all the while and said “This is going to get us 10,000 dollars!” Then she disappointedly said, “Oh no! I missed you losing your shorts! I guess I just couldn’t find you in the camera. Darn, that would have been awesome,” she said. We both laughed, and I sat down to nurse my wounds.
Not only did I lose my shorts, demolish a boogie board and hurt some of my pride, I also had bright red welts across my chest and under my chin where the board had hit me when it exploded under the impact of the wave. I was a washed-up man.

Life has always been an adventure with the Hunter Clan– even at the very beginning!