Tag Archives: family

Couch to 5k: Climbing the ladder

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If you’ve read my previous posts on the subject you will remember I’m in the process of ramping up the number of laps I cover on a 400 meter track.  My goal is to walk 13 laps (the approximate distance of a 5k run) hence the post title Climbing the ladder.  With only 3 workouts in the past 10 days it would seem I have not accomplished very much.  But, relationships are as important to your health as physical fitness; an anniversary here, family vacation there and sprinkle in entertaining loved ones.   Each engagement can have a positive impact on one’s mental health.

…Oh yeah, about the exercise thing.  Those three workouts covered 10, 10 and 11 laps.  With each workout I increased the # of 1/2 lap jogs.  The 5k fun run is about a month away so it is time for the final push.

Enjoy what is left of this summer.  Consider spending some quality time with family and friends to work on your mental health.

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Fish, part 2 (revised)

IMG_0392St. Andrews Lake was not huge, but you couldn’t see the far end of it even from our elevated vantage point. The lake was kidney-shaped and its clear water darkened to blue as it deepened…Most importantly, lurking in the water like buried treasure, were largemouth bass, northern pike, pan fish and perch. All of them hidden from view…  

Bill Roushey, from the book Junior’s Hope

The August sun beat down on Dad and me as we waited for the fish to surrender or make another run for it. Impatience bubbled up inside me. Holding on to my fishing pole kept my hands occupied but the rest of my body squirmed, longing to do anything but remain pinned against the sun baked boat seat. The life vest hanging around my neck made me hot and sweaty. The vest’s past history became evident as it wicked up the moisture from my body and produced a rotten smell.  My standoff with the fish showed no sign of ending. The huge northern pike had done something to prevent me from reeling it in. My head hurt and I was ready to give up.

“Dad, the fish isn’t tugging on the line anymore,” I complained.

“That doesn’t mean its not there. Don’t give up,” Dad said trying to encourage me.

My father wasn’t ready to give up. An engineer by profession, part of his job involved coming up with solutions to problems. He took an oar out of the oarlock and pushed it into the water following the fishing line down, hoping to gain some understanding of why I couldn’t bring up the fish. Unfortunately, the depth of the water exceeded the length of the oar. Dad also rowed the boat in a wide arc around the spot where the line plunged into the water. He stopped four or five times during the trek to give me a chance to pull on the line from different angles. Nothing he tried worked.  We both knew there was only one thing left to do.

“Billy, pull steadily on the line so you don’t break the pole,” Dad said, voicing his solidarity.

“Like this,” I replied as I stood up and leaned back against the line.

The tension broke before I had a chance to brace myself.  I was pitched backwards by the sudden release of the line and landed in a heap between the seats.  I didn’t cry as I reeled in the empty line. Instead, I felt more like one of Dad’s fishing buddies and less like a kid who got to sneak off early that morning to fish with his father.

Fish or fishing in my earliest years validated the idea that just because something couldn’t be seen that didn’t mean it didn’t exist.  Fish, though unseen, were real and could be interacted with. To this day one of the most exhilarating things about fishing is the feeling of an unseen object tugging on your line. Being a person of faith, the picture of unseen fish models the existence of God who is present though not seen.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:18

My fish story does not end here, however.

The next decade of my life was one of drastic changes. Our family vacations to Canada continued. Fishing became truly a family affair. As our skill improved, so did the number of fish we caught. For me, fishing with Dad became an important way of relating to him.

Those carefree years came to an abrupt end, however, when I graduated from high school. I no longer had time for family vacations. Holding down a job and going to college were my priorities now. The remaining years of my second decade afforded me little or no time for fishing.

In my second year in college I happened to meet a freshmen who turned out to be a very funny guy. I don’t make it a habit of hanging around comedians but for some reason we hit it off and become good friends. He made me laugh more than anyone I knew.  Our definition of fun, however, sometimes clashed with the college rules.   In an effort to protect his identity, I’ll call him Boris.

Boris and I made plans to room together our senior year. Oops, I just gave away his identity. Anyway, we arrived early on campus in the fall and immediately began decorating our “bachelor pad.”  Because we arrived early, we were able to pillage the best room furnishings out of nearby dorm rooms. Conversations between us went something like this.

“Boris, our room is missing something.” I said

“All my stuff is here,” he countered.

“I’m not missing anything either. The room is missing something!”

“You mean besides the stereo, speakers, sofa and television?” Boris said.

This was 1979, before the widespread use of cell phones, personal computers, flat screen TVs and all of the game consoles we can’t seem to live with out.

“I need something for my desk.”

“How about a lamp?” He said, chuckling as only Boris could.

“I’m being serious.”

“How serious can getting something for your desk be.”

His cackle was contagious and soon he had me laughing.

“Let’s go down and take a look at brother Jim’s room.” Boris said pressing his palms together as if to portray himself as a wise sage.  Boris was studying to be a minister and often got carried away with the whole brother/sister thing.

“What does Jim have that we don’t?” I said, suddenly curious.

“You’ll see.”

We went down the hall to Jim’s room but he was not there. His door, however, was slightly ajar.  I had just recently met Jim but already I had him pegged as a bit of an eccentric.  Living in a dorm, it had been my practice to give eccentrics a wide birth until I understood them better.  Boris knocked hard on the heavy oak door, hard enough to make it open completely.

“Brother Bill, shall we enter?” Boris stated like he was rolling out a welcome mat.

“Can’t we get in trouble for doing this?” I said more afraid of being misunderstood by Jim than anything else.

“I’m an RA.”

I should explain that each floor in our dorm had a resident advisor, or RA, who was the liaison between the students and the dorm’s resident director, or RD. Boris was permitted to enter rooms on our floor as part of his responsibilities.  Tentatively, I entered Jim’s room and Boris followed.

“What do you think?” Boris said, gesturing towards the aquarium in the back corner of the room.

“Yeah, that would do the trick.” I said growing excited about the possibility,  “I wonder why it looks like he’s trying to hide it behind the door.”

“Are you working for the FBI now?” Boris said sarcastically.

“You’re the RA, you should be investigating stuff like this.”

“What kind of fish do you suppose those are?” he inquired, taking a closer look at them.

“Okay Sherlock, lets go get the fish tank.”

IMG_0374I can’t remember exactly how we acquired a fish tank, but I’m sure we did it legally. Putting fish in an aquarium drew me closer to them, close enough where I could fully appreciate their beauty. I felt a part of their world as they swam by me at eye level.  It’s a much different perspective than viewing fish from afar or looking down at them from above.

I would characterize this decade of life as the discovery of genuine relationships. These were more personal and fulfilling than the juvenile ones of my earliest years.  I fully immersed myself in these relationships and learned the joy of putting effort into them rather than just taking what I could out of them and moving on.

Spiritually, I was going through a major transition as well. As a child I believed in God because my parents did. It was their faith I held on to. In my second decade of life I discovered the beauty of a God who didn’t look down on me from above, rather his habitation was with me. He became my God.

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16

As wonderful as this realization was, I was unprepared for what was about to happen.

To be continued…

Annie and Willie’s Prayer

IMG_0561Twas the eve before Christmas. “Good night,” had been said,
And Annie and Willie had crept into bed;
There were tears on their pillows and tears in their eyes,
And each little bosom was heaving with sighs,
For tonight their stern father’s command had been given
That they should retire precisely at seven
Instead of at eight – for they troubled him more
With questions unheard of than ever before:
He had told them he thought this delusion a sin,
No such creature as “Santa Claus” ever had been.
And he hoped after this, he should never more hear
How he scrembled down chimneys with presents each year.
And this was the reason the two little heads
So restlessly tossed on their soft, downy beds.

Eight, nine, and the clock on the steeple tolled ten,
Not a word has been spoken by either till then,
When Willie’s sad face from the blanket did peep,
And whispered, “Dear Annie, is ‘ou fast as’eep?”
“Why, no, brother Willie,” A sweet voice replies,
“I’ve long tried in vain, but I can’t shut my eyes,
For somehow it makes me so sorry because
Dear papa has said there is no ‘Santa Claus.’
Now we know there is, and it can’t be denied,
For he came every year before mamma died;
But, then, I’ve been thinking that she used to pray,
And God would hear everything mamma would say,
And maybe she asked him to send Santa Claus here
With that sackful of presents he brought every year.”
“Well, why tan’t we p’ay dest as mamma did den,
And ask Dod to send him with p’esents aden?”
Four little bare feet bounded out on the floor,
And four little knees the soft carpet pressed,
And two tiny hands were clasped close to each breast.
“Now, Willie, you know we must firmly believe
That the presents we ask for we’re sure to receive;
You must wait very still till I say the “Amen,”
And by that you will know that your turn has come then.”

“Dear Jesus, look down on my brother and me,
And grant us the favor we are asking of thee.
I want a wax dolly, a teaset, and ring,
And an ebony workbox that shuts with a spring.
Bless papa, dear Jesus, and cause him to see
That Santa Claus loves us as much as does he;
Don’t let him get fretful and angry again
At dear brother Willie and Annie. Amen.”
“Please, Desus, ‘et Santa Taus tum down tonight,
And b’ing us some p’esents before it is light;
I want he should div’ me a nice ‘ittle s’ed,
With bright shinin’ ‘unners, and all painted red;
A box full of tandy, a book, and a toy.
Amen, and then, Desus, I’ll be a dood boy.”

Their prayers being ended, they raised up their heads,
With hearts light and cheerful, again sought their beds.
They were lost soon in slumber, both peaceful and deep,
And with fairies in dreamland were roaming in sleep.

Eight, nine, and the little French clock had struck ten,
Ere the father had thought of his children again:
He seems now to hear Annie’s half-suppressed sighs,
And to see the big tears stand in Willie’s blue eyes.
“I was harsh with my darlings,” he mentally said,
“And should not have sent them so early to bed;
But then I was troubled, my feelings found vent,
For bankstock today has gone down ten percent.
But of course they’ve forgotten their troubles ere this,
And that I denied then their thrice-asked-for kiss:
But, just to make sure, I’ll go up to their door,
For I never spoke harsh to my darlings before.”
So saying, he softly ascended the stairs,img_0849
And arrived at the door to hear both of their prayers;
His Annie’s “Bless papa” drew forth the big tears,
And Willie’s grave promise fell sweet on his ears.
“Strange – strange – I’d forgotten,” said he with a sigh,
“How I longed when a child to have Christmas draw nigh.”
“I’ll atone for my harshness,” he inwardly said,

“By answering their prayers ere I sleep in my bed.”
Then he turned to the stairs and softly went down,
Threw off velvet slippers and silk dressing gown,
Donned hat, coat, and boots, and was out in the street,
A millionaire facing the cold, driving sleet!

Nor stopped he until he had bought everything
From the box full of candy to the tiny gold ring;
Indeed, he kept adding so much to his store,
That the various presents outnumbered a score.
Then homeward he turned. With his holiday load,
With Aunt Mary’s help, in the nursery was stowed.
Miss Dolly was seated beneath a pine tree,
By the side of a table spread out for her tea;
A workbox well fitted in the center was laid,
And on it the ring for which Annie had prayed,
A soldier in uniform stood by a sled,
“With bright shining runners, and all painted red.”
There were balls, dogs, and horses, books pleasing to see,
And birds of all colors were perched in the tree!

While Santa Claus, laughing, stood up in the top,
As if getting ready more presents to drop.
And as the fond father the picture surveyed,
He thought for his trouble he had amply been paid,
And he said to himself, as he brushed off a tear,
“I’m happier tonight than I’ve been for a year;
I’ve enjoyed more pure pleasure than every before;
What care I if bank stock falls ten percent more!
Hereafter I’ll make it a rule, I believe,
To have Santa Claus visit us each Christmas Eve.”
So thinking, he gently extinguished the light,
And, tripping down stairs, retired for the night.

As soon as the beams of the bright morning sun
put the darkness to flight, and the stars one by one,
Four little blue eyes out of sleep opened wide,
And at the same moment the presents espied;
Then out of their beds they sprang with a bound,
And the very gifts prayed for were all of them found.
They laughed and they cried, in their innocent glee,
And shouted for papa to come quickly see
What presents old Santa Claus brought in the night
(Just the things that they wanted,) and left before light:
“And now,” added Annie, in a voice soft and low,
“You’ll believe there’s a ‘Santa Claus’, papa, I know”;
While dear little Willie climbed up on his knee,
Determined no secret between them should be,
And told him in soft whispers how Annie had said
That their dear, blessed mamma, so long ago dead,
Used to kneel down by the side of her chair,
img_0851And that God up in heaven had answered her prayer.
“Den we dot up and prayed dust as well as we tould,
And Dod answered our prayers: now wasn’t He dood?”
“I should say that He was, if He sent you all these,
And knew just what presents my children would please.
(Well, well, let him think so, the dear little elf,
‘Twould be cruel to tell him I did it myself.”)

Blind father! Who caused your stern heart to relent,
And the hasty words spoken so soon to repent?
‘Twas the Being who bade you steal softly upstairs,
And made you his agent to answer their prayers.

-Sophia P. Snow (c) 1884

Table Scraps – “thank you” (2015)

IMG_0904With the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at some words or phrases we use in conjunction with family gatherings.  For my first table scrap, I chose the words “thank you.”

It would be interesting to count the number of times the expression was used on a given occasion. Would we be pleased at the number of times the words were used, or surprised by its misuse?  Some table conversation:

“…Can somebody pass me the potatoes?”

“Here you go, Timmy,” aunt Sandy replies.

“What do you say, Timmy?”

“M-o-m,” Timmy whined. “Okay, okay – thank you.”

“…I was at Sears the other day and they had this display of perfume samples on the counter. You know, the ones in that sultry commercial with the race-car driver. Well, I snatched up some of those freebies, thank you very much…”

“…Our neighbor must not be doing well. He never made it outside this year to rake up his leaves. The boys and I went over to get his leaves under control. His _____ leaves keep blowing in our yard. You would think the least he could do is come outside to say thank you.”

Saying, “thank you” implies you are grateful for receiving something. Our thanks are directed towards someone besides ourselves, hence the word “you.” As a child I was reminded at every turn to say, “thank you.” After a while it became a habit and now I do it many times without even thinking. For many of us it has become more of a reflex, like having your knee tapped by a rubber hammer at the doctor’s office.

I am a person who believes in prayer and prays constantly for God’s blessing.  Sometimes thank-youit’s for help, healing, protection, understanding, wisdom, mercy… (the list is long and never-ending). How many times have I forgotten to simply say, “thank you” when even the smallest prayer is answered?

The next time you use the words “thank you” consider the following:

  • Have I considered what it may have cost someone, in time, money or inconvenience to satisfy my need, want, or desire?
  • How appreciative am I really?
  • Why exactly am I thankful?
  • Does my expression of thankfulness compel me to act differently?
  • Has my thankfulness changed me somehow, making me less selfish or cynical?
  • Are there more things in my life that I should be thankful for?
  • Who else should I be thanking?
  • While being thankful, have I ever lingered in a moment of gratitude? If so, has it made me see life as being more precious somehow?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Annie and Willie’s Prayer

IMG_0561Twas the eve before Christmas. “Good night,” had been said,
And Annie and Willie had crept into bed;
There were tears on their pillows and tears in their eyes,
And each little bosom was heaving with sighs,
For tonight their stern father’s command had been given
That they should retire precisely at seven
Instead of at eight – for they troubled him more
With questions unheard of than ever before:
He had told them he thought this delusion a sin,
No such creature as “Santa Claus” ever had been.
And he hoped after this, he should never more hear
How he scrembled down chimneys with presents each year.
And this was the reason the two little heads
So restlessly tossed on their soft, downy beds.

Eight, nine, and the clock on the steeple tolled ten,
Not a word has been spoken by either till then,
When Willie’s sad face from the blanket did peep,
And whispered, “Dear Annie, is ‘ou fast as’eep?”
“Why, no, brother Willie,” A sweet voice replies,
“I’ve long tried in vain, but I can’t shut my eyes,
For somehow it makes me so sorry because
Dear papa has said there is no ‘Santa Claus.’
Now we know there is, and it can’t be denied,
For he came every year before mamma died;
But, then, I’ve been thinking that she used to pray,
And God would hear everything mamma would say,
And maybe she asked him to send Santa Claus here
With that sackful of presents he brought every year.”
“Well, why tan’t we p’ay dest as mamma did den,
And ask Dod to send him with p’esents aden?”
Four little bare feet bounded out on the floor,
And four little knees the soft carpet pressed,
And two tiny hands were clasped close to each breast.
“Now, Willie, you know we must firmly believe
That the presents we ask for we’re sure to receive;
You must wait very still till I say the “Amen,”
And by that you will know that your turn has come then.”

“Dear Jesus, look down on my brother and me,
And grant us the favor we are asking of thee.
I want a wax dolly, a teaset, and ring,
And an ebony workbox that shuts with a spring.
Bless papa, dear Jesus, and cause him to see
That Santa Claus loves us as much as does he;
Don’t let him get fretful and angry again
At dear brother Willie and Annie. Amen.”
“Please, Desus, ‘et Santa Taus tum down tonight,
And b’ing us some p’esents before it is light;
I want he should div’ me a nice ‘ittle s’ed,
With bright shinin’ ‘unners, and all painted red;
A box full of tandy, a book, and a toy.
Amen, and then, Desus, I’ll be a dood boy.”

Their prayers being ended, they raised up their heads,
With hearts light and cheerful, again sought their beds.
They were lost soon in slumber, both peaceful and deep,
And with fairies in dreamland were roaming in sleep.

Eight, nine, and the little French clock had struck ten,
Ere the father had thought of his children again:
He seems now to hear Annie’s half-suppressed sighs,
And to see the big tears stand in Willie’s blue eyes.
“I was harsh with my darlings,” he mentally said,
“And should not have sent them so early to bed;
But then I was troubled, my feelings found vent,
For bankstock today has gone down ten percent.
But of course they’ve forgotten their troubles ere this,
And that I denied then their thrice-asked-for kiss:
But, just to make sure, I’ll go up to their door,
For I never spoke harsh to my darlings before.”
So saying, he softly ascended the stairs,img_0849
And arrived at the door to hear both of their prayers;
His Annie’s “Bless papa” drew forth the big tears,
And Willie’s grave promise fell sweet on his ears.
“Strange – strange – I’d forgotten,” said he with a sigh,
“How I longed when a child to have Christmas draw nigh.”
“I’ll atone for my harshness,” he inwardly said,

“By answering their prayers ere I sleep in my bed.”
Then he turned to the stairs and softly went down,
Threw off velvet slippers and silk dressing gown,
Donned hat, coat, and boots, and was out in the street,
A millionaire facing the cold, driving sleet!

Nor stopped he until he had bought everything
From the box full of candy to the tiny gold ring;
Indeed, he kept adding so much to his store,
That the various presents outnumbered a score.
Then homeward he turned. With his holiday load,
With Aunt Mary’s help, in the nursery was stowed.
Miss Dolly was seated beneath a pine tree,
By the side of a table spread out for her tea;
A workbox well fitted in the center was laid,
And on it the ring for which Annie had prayed,
A soldier in uniform stood by a sled,
“With bright shining runners, and all painted red.”
There were balls, dogs, and horses, books pleasing to see,
And birds of all colors were perched in the tree!

While Santa Claus, laughing, stood up in the top,
As if getting ready more presents to drop.
And as the fond father the picture surveyed,
He thought for his trouble he had amply been paid,
And he said to himself, as he brushed off a tear,
“I’m happier tonight than I’ve been for a year;
I’ve enjoyed more pure pleasure than every before;
What care I if bank stock falls ten percent more!
Hereafter I’ll make it a rule, I believe,
To have Santa Claus visit us each Christmas Eve.”
So thinking, he gently extinguished the light,
And, tripping down stairs, retired for the night.

As soon as the beams of the bright morning sun
put the darkness to flight, and the stars one by one,
Four little blue eyes out of sleep opened wide,
And at the same moment the presents espied;
Then out of their beds they sprang with a bound,
And the very gifts prayed for were all of them found.
They laughed and they cried, in their innocent glee,
And shouted for papa to come quickly see
What presents old Santa Claus brought in the night
(Just the things that they wanted,) and left before light:
“And now,” added Annie, in a voice soft and low,
“You’ll believe there’s a ‘Santa Claus’, papa, I know”;
While dear little Willie climbed up on his knee,
Determined no secret between them should be,
And told him in soft whispers how Annie had said
That their dear, blessed mamma, so long ago dead,
Used to kneel down by the side of her chair,
img_0851And that God up in heaven had answered her prayer.
“Den we dot up and prayed dust as well as we tould,
And Dod answered our prayers: now wasn’t He dood?”
“I should say that He was, if He sent you all these,
And knew just what presents my children would please.
(Well, well, let him think so, the dear little elf,
‘Twould be cruel to tell him I did it myself.”)

Blind father! Who caused your stern heart to relent,
And the hasty words spoken so soon to repent?
‘Twas the Being who bade you steal softly upstairs,
And made you his agent to answer their prayers.

-Sophia P. Snow (c) 1884

Table Scraps – “thank you”

IMG_0904With the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at some words or phrases we use in conjunction with family gatherings.  For my first table scrap, I chose the words “thank you.”

It would be interesting to count the number of times the expression was used on a given occasion. Would we be pleased at the number of times the words were used, or surprised by its misuse?  Some table conversation:

“…Can somebody pass me the potatoes?”

“Here you go, Timmy,” aunt Sandy replies.

“What do you say, Timmy?”

“M-o-m,” Timmy whined. “Okay, okay – thank you.”

“…I was at Sears the other day and they had this display of perfume samples on the counter. You know, the ones in that sultry commercial with the race-car driver. Well, I snatched up some of those freebies, thank you very much…”

“…Our neighbor must not be doing well. He never made it outside this year to rake up his leaves. The boys and I went over to get his leaves under control. His _____ leaves keep blowing in our yard. You would think the least he could do is come outside to say thank you.”

Saying, “thank you” implies you are grateful for receiving something. Our thanks are directed towards someone besides ourselves, hence the word “you.” As a child I was reminded at every turn to say, “thank you.” After a while it became a habit and now I do it many times without even thinking. For many of us it has become more of a reflex, like having your knee tapped by a rubber hammer at the doctor’s office.

I am a person who believes in prayer and prays constantly for God’s blessing.  Sometimes thank-youit’s for help, healing, protection, understanding, wisdom, mercy… (the list is long and never-ending). How many times have I forgotten to simply say, “thank you” when even the smallest prayer is answered?

The next time you use the words “thank you” consider the following:

  • Have I considered what it may have cost someone, in time, money or inconvenience to satisfy my need, want, or desire?
  • How appreciative am I really?
  • Why exactly am I thankful?
  • Does my expression of thankfulness compel me to act differently?
  • Has my thankfulness changed me somehow, making me less selfish or cynical?
  • Are there more things in my life that I should be thankful for?
  • Who else should I be thanking?
  • While being thankful, have I ever lingered in a moment of gratitude? If so, has it made me see life as being more precious somehow?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV