The End Of An Era

at least in My mind….

As high school kids are graduating into the next phase of their lives, many will carry life experiences that have transformed them so far in their young lives. Some are just happy to walk the stage or receive their diploma.

Yet there are others who have tried new things in their younger years and may not realize the impact it will have in their future careers, relationships, and thought processes. I feel excited for many of them as their journey is much different these days.

I share similar emotions as teachers of many of the graduating students. While I may not have been a full-time instructor (I commend those who have the tenacity to teach our next generation), I do reflect upon many of the special children that were in my care from a different type of background.

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Left As A Cruise Ship, Come Back As A…

Another in a series of stories from my recent travels on my first cruise ship adventure (see the previous post to understand this link).

I had no expectations as I boarded the Grand Princess which was docked at Pier 27 in the San Francisco Bay. After the rough start before checking in, all I was looking forward to was a week of fun and relaxation. As a recovering technologist, I was glad to know that once we embarked on the open ocean, we would not have any cellular coverage!

In fact, I vowed that even though we would dock at a few ports where I could obtain cellular coverage, I was determined to simply delete junk email messages and read the rest of the messages when I returned home. For those of you who truly know me, this was a hard thing to commit to but I knew that this had to be the right decision if I was going to sincerely enjoy this family cruise!

Before the cruise, I exercised regularly to achieve my desired weight because I was warned about the voluminous amounts of food that would tempt even the most disciplined of souls.

On the morning of the departure, I weighed myself to establish the baseline weight.

Why?

The answer should be obvious – I wanted to see how much weight I would gain even though I was determined to eat well.

As the maître de stated, “We leave as a cruise ship – we return as a

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Rough Start To Our Vacation

(this is the first of a series of stories from our recent cruise adventure)

Packing our suitcases, checking our list of necessary items for the trip, trying to stay healthy, and arranging for drop-off and pick-up transportation. All this for the start of our first cruise down the Pacific Coastline on the Grand Princess!

Excitement grew as each day drew closer to our embarkation date of April 1. Nothing was going to deter us from our wonderfully planned voyage. I was exceptionally excited as this would be my family’s first cruise ever! Finally, we could see what this cruising-lifestyle is all about.

Saturday morning arrived. We had to wait for my older son and his wife to arrive so that we can carpool together into San Francisco. Last-minute preparations and the loading of suitcases into the car with some extra room for their luggage.

My phone buzzed – it was my son calling probably to let me know they were almost here. Upon answering my phone, I heard the words that would deflate my enthusiasm.

Dad, we have a problem.

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A Special Assignment

Cathy and her twelve year-old daughter, Melissa, arrived at the local mall for an afternoon of memories and fun. Little did she know, this day would leave an impression for the rest of her life.

Melissa marveled at the retail stores enticing would-be customers to spend their money on discounted merchandise. The sunlit atrium was accompanied with the chatter of many conversations. Fast-paced shoppers with colorful logo bags weaved throughout the crowds in search of their next sales conquest.

Cathy stopped in the middle of this busy mall, turned to her daughter and said, “Today, I have a special assignment for you.

Would it be a shopping-spree type of day? It was not her birthday or any other special occasion that she could think of. What could this “special assignment” be? Her big smile and wide eyes eagerly awaited her mother’s next words.

With love, Cathy shared what the special assignment would be.

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Little Mary (part 2)

You might be wondering why this is part-2 of my previous blog entitled “Little Mary”.

To fully understand the impact of the story written in part-1, you have to read the letter written in 2010 from this little girl (who was a three-year seasoned performer by now with Kidz Praise).

The letter was written as a class assignment and the comment at the bottom came from her teacher. The letter is written here in the original format (misspellings and all) …

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Little Mary (part 1)

The August weather challenged my mind as I assembled my team for the Christmas production while coordinating thirty-six children ranging from ages 6-12. It was a small group of volunteers including a piano player to tap the notes for the children.

It would be my first experience organizing and conducting a children’s choir at church. I was up for the challenge in spite of the inattentiveness of the children. The plan was to create a musical production in less than four months. Many did not have stage experience or even participated in a full musical production. Many could not read musical notes or dance. Yes, it would be a first for everyone so let the fun begin!

Excitement filled the air and many older girls were practicing for the coveted part – Mary’s solo. There were other solo parts to be had but this one was the best in the production (according to the children). It was no wonder many girls lined up for their chance to win the lead solo (or at the very least, to be the understudy).

When the line of hopeful singers was exhausted, I asked if there were any more singers ready to try out for this special solo. Everyone looked around but no one raised their hand. Then my attention turned to someone sitting in the back of the room. Continue reading

The Holidays Have Arrived!

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The holidays seem to have arrived faster this year than most! Perhaps it is a sign of aging or maybe it is the retailers who are always trying to push the seasons faster (have you noticed that Christmas items have been on the shelves since September?).

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I cannot wait for that turkey leg and catching up with family members. The many dinners and seasonal foods will definitely force me to stay disciplined with my exercise routines! Of course I could use the excuse that our bodies automatically add a few pounds in the winter for “insulation” (yeah, right).

Then the frenzy of Christmas shopping, the crowds (although I hear online sales are increasing every year now – smart shoppers). Traditions, whether old or new, are created and passed down to the next generation. It is especially fun with the younger kids and their innocence of life.

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Presents are wrapped, stockings are hung, and the aroma of sugar cookies fill the house! We do this every year, right? The chaos and panic of finding the perfect gifts, hiding them early only to hyperventilating as we forget where we hid those gifts! Or how about the late night, hide in the garage, hope to fix it right the first time, bicycle!!! Don’t know what is worse – finding extra screws after the assembly or watching your child learn to ride their first bike while parts are slowly dropping along their path to that “right of passage” first-time crash into the bushes (or parked car).

Yet for others, the holidays mean something totally different. Continue reading