Tuesday, December 2, 2014

McOffice



Last school year began a new adventure for me.  For the first time all five of my kids are in school all day.  Such a strange experience after 12 years of having kids at home with me every day; so strange that I often daydream about homeschooling!  

The other new phenomenon about this past year is I have been working.  I have been blessed with a job I can do from home.  I write for an online curriculum company (articles, press releases, ad copy, blog posts – whatever they need!) and I put my teaching certification to good use in their online school.  This computer-based job allows me the flexibility to drive my kids to/from school and be there enough that the school secretary once said to me, “You must feel like you live here!”  I have a rare and wonderful boss who understands about sick kids and field trips and truly allows me to give my family priority above work.

I say I do this job from home, but I learned early on it’s not easy to work at home!  At home I have another fulltime job that vies for my attention.  Sometimes when I sit down to work the laundry calls my name, the dishes demand attention.  There is the menu to plan and the subsequent groceries to list.  Oh, and that one closet is still not unpacked and organized from our move a year and half ago!  I try to tackle house and home before focusing on work but with only mixed success.

One thing I found helpful was to go someplace where I could focus without distraction.  We have wonderful libraries in our city where there is wifi and a quiet atmosphere and not one bath tub that really needs to be scrubbed!  The other place I go is my McOffice.  It is just around the corner from the school.  With wifi and unlimited coffee or tea for a dollar, I frequent the place about once a week.  I accomplish a lot in just a couple of hours!  Granted, it’s not the studious setting of the library, but the “buzz” becomes a backdrop I can work with quite easily.

So the first time I tried out McOffice, I got there early, right after dropping my kids at school.  I found a little table clear in the back where the restaurant was empty.  I fired up my laptop and got to work.  I soon learned, though, that I was sitting in claimed territory!  Gentlemen of “a certain age” began trickling in and taking up the spots around me.  The daily coffee clutch was called to order!  They asked after one another’s health and about wives (those whose wives were still living).  They talked about fishing and the weather and current events.  They complained about doctors and knew exactly how Obama should handle the crisis at hand.  Most are veterans.  They politely included me in their conversation, asking what I was working on. 

One gentlemen, a Mr. Lee Law, got up and came over to where I was sitting.  We chatted a bit. 

“I sense you’re a believer,” Mr. Law said.                                                                              

“Yes,” confirming my belief in God and connection to him through Jesus.

“I also sense that I should pray for you.  Would you mind?” he ventured.

This wasn’t the clich├ęd “I’ll pray for you” that is so readily tossed about, meaning at some later time if I remember.  He meant at that moment.  Right there. 

“Sure.”  I said, perhaps a little tentatively.

He put his hand on my shoulder and prayed aloud.  And would you believe the things he spoke in that prayer addressed the very needs of my heart?  At its close I was soul-touched and teary-eyed.

That was on my first visit to McOffice.  Going almost weekly, I felt a little like one of the group.  I have always had high regard for that generation (Brokaw got it right when he called it the greatest generation) and besides, now that I’m in my 40s, any setting in which I’m the young pup is a good place to be!  In November I invited anyone that needed a place to come to our house for Thanksgiving.  (I told Todd that day, “Hey – I invited all the guys from the office for Thanksgiving!”)  They all had plans already. 

Then in February Mr. Law, who had prayed for me and always took time to talk with me morning I worked there, told me he had been diagnosed that past week with cancer.  It was in his lungs, brain, and liver.  He knew the outlook was not good.  He said he knew he didn’t have long. 


Being the kind that often wears my heart on my sleeve, he could tell his news saddened me.  He quickly said something along the lines of, “Don’t be sad for me!  I have had a good life.  Now it’s time to finish the race.  Lots of people have lots to say about living well, but few people talk about dying well.”  The next I saw him he asked about me and my family as he always did.  I asked about his health.  He talked about treatment options and how his family was taking the prognosis. 

I only saw him one more time after that.  He didn’t look well that day.  I followed his example and prayed for him then and there.  The next time I was at McOffice, “the guys” told me Mr. Law had passed away.  I looked up his obituary.  He had died March 13,, 2014. 

I had wanted a picture of him for this post.  There was not a picture with the obituary so I found him on facebook.  Here was his last post:


 


A new day in which given to serve the Son most high God. I remember reading as Christ carried His cross down the Via Della Rosa how He become so fatigued and a man was picked to carry it for Him, the Jesus Cross. Not many of us get that opportunity to help carry the cross. To step up or not. I choose to step up for my Lord and God.
Going shopping today and also pay a few bills. Get out into the fresh air.


Stepping up.  Stepping out.  I saw that in action.  His willingness to pray for a complete stranger, the way he reached out with care to anyone around him - Mr. Law was on the lookout for ways to encourage, ways to help.  I only knew him a brief time but that is the legacy impressed upon me.

Keeping to yourself is certainly more comfortable and convenient, but where is the adventure in that?!  Instead reaching out to others can turn even a McOffice into an extraordinary encounter.

Dedicated to the memory of LeRoy Law March 29, 1938 - March 13, 2014 ~ Airman, father, grandfather, rehab counselor, hunter, fisher, and ready to be a friend to anyone.  So glad God saw fit to allow our paths to cross, Mr. Law!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Reminders


Reminders

Last Sunday after church, we ventured into the mountains for our first hike of the summer season.  We listened to The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare on the way toward Red Feather Lakes.  The book about a 13 year boy who lives alone in the woods with the help of an Indian friend put the kids in the perfect frame of mind to tramp about in the Rockies! 



Not sure anything could have prepared Micah for his run-in with a cactus!


Todd helping pick the cactus out of Micah’s clothes!

We even found a log cabin of sorts!  (In the book, Matt and his dad built a log cabin).  Granted it was an outhouse, but log-built nonetheless! 


We scrambled up rocks, looked for wildlife,

marveled at the spring beauty,



and threw sticks in the swift and swollen creek.


Toward the end of our walk, Joel came flying down from the knoll he had been exploring.  “It’s a snake!” He declared at full volume.  Sure enough!  A four foot bull snake in all its yellow-green splendor!



 

The other part of our walk was “the letter picture.”  According to the tradition we started last year, each time we hike we find something that represents the experience, form it into a letter and take a picture.  Last year we chose letters to eventually make the word “Hoffman,” starting with H made from sticks at Rocky Mountain National Park and ending with N made in the forest flowers at Yellowstone National Park.  This year we’ve decided to spell the word “Adventures.”  This being our first time out, we made an A of rocks in a bed of cactus.


The idea is to print the pictures and frame them as a word – a visual reminder of where are adventures have taken us.

I would like to think this idea of visual reminders is original to us.  Alas it is not.  God beat us to the notion!  When he wanted to remind post-flood Noah of his promise, he painted the rainbow.  When he wanted people to remember his faithfulness, he had them build an altar.  When he wanted us to remember Christ’s sacrifice, he went all out and established a multisensory reminder involving not only the eyes, but the hands and mouth.  “Take and eat.  Do this in remembrance of me.”

I need reminders.  I love thinking back nostalgically of past events, the sweet moments.  These help me to remember God’s goodness.  And I need to remember the less-than-sweet moments; the painful times, the hard lessons.  It was those times that taught me most about God’s faithfulness.  I need to remember that.









I need reminders because not only do they help me see where I’ve been, they shape where I’m headed.  When I remember the goodness and faithfulness of God in the past I more likely to look with hope at the challenge before me.  Reminders are the stories that put us in the frame of mind to tackle the next adventure.



I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 
I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds. 
 –Psalm 77:11-12

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Adventure!


This is a statue in the park down the street from my house.

Lincoln Park, Greeley, CO

I love the look of determination and hope on their faces.  They are on an adventure.  Pioneers may not have thought of it in those terms, but striking out for a new land to carve out a new way of life is undoubtedly an adventure. 

I should know.  That is exactly what my family and I did a year and a half ago.  We left what we had known to be home for nearly 20 years and replanted ourselves in an entirely new place.  We said goodbye to the beautiful Catskills of the Hudson Valley in New York and said hello to the stunning Rockies of the Front Range of Colorado. 

Granted we weren’t exactly on par with the pioneers.  Our covered wagon was a Penske truck (we dubbed it Big Yellow Bird) and we didn’t have to get out and push in order to ford any rivers – not even once! 

Big Yellow Bird, my kids, their friends, and everything we own!

We encountered neither hostile peoples nor animals.  So it is nearly untruthful and certainly unfair to draw comparison between our voyage west and that of those brave pioneers who encountered and overcame such remarkable challenges. 

Yet ours was an adventure nonetheless.  At least that’s how I chose to see it.  I think a sense of adventure is a perspective I choose to take.  Adopting a sense of adventure allows me to see what is unknown and scary with eyes of determination and hope.  There is a certain excitement when you are “on an adventure” and certain satisfaction at its conclusion. 

And I see adventure everywhere!  My faith is an adventure, marriage is an adventure, motherhood is an adventure, even laundry is an adventure!  When I got the itch to start a blog, I knew this is what it would be about.  I knew I wanted to explore and share the adventure of everyday life. 





 There is beauty and adventure in the commonplace
for those with eyes to see beyond.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

So here I am, starting another adventure – a put-your-thoughts-out-there-and-see-what-happens adventure.  And, hey! if I can encourage just one person to see the adventures unfolding around them it will be worth the effort.
 
 Adventure (n) an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks;
an exciting or remarkable experience
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adventure

What adventure are you embracing today?