Tuesday, December 9, 2008

christmas message

Last weekend the Facilities Managers group that I'm the president of held our annual Holiday Party. I was asked to say a few words and I'd like to share my presentation here.


This Holiday season I would challenge everyone to do these simple things:

Give Thanks, Care, Share, Give of your time.

We live in a great country at an incredible time in the history of our nation. I believe that we have seen more change in our lifetime than any other period in the history of this country.

We have seen racial barriers come down.
We’ve experienced wars in places we knew little about – Korea, Vietnam, Iraq the first time - Desert storm, then Iraq again.
We’ve see the Baby boomers advance into retirement. As Dennis Hopper said “Your generation is definitely not headed for bingo night!”
The birth of Generation Xers , followed by Generation “Y” or Millennial.
Now we are experiencing the birth of Generation “Z’s” or sometimes referred to the “Internet Generation”.
We have seen technological advances far beyond anything the creators of Star Wars could dream up in the seventies.
We have seen record breaking profits and devastating losses.
Wow that wears me out just listing those things.

Bottom line is “we still live in a country where we are free to go where we want, do as we please, whenever it pleases us. We can choose to work wherever we want to work. Live where we want to live. We can be friends with anyone regardless of race, politics or religion. We can choose to worship how ever we want to.

That is not true in many parts of the world.

So I challenge you to give “Thanks” that we live in a country where we can have very successful businesses, and were we can have great careers in an industry that makes a difference. Give thanks that you have great families, together with them you can experience the Freedoms we have.

Out of the thankfulness comes “Caring”. Look around you and see those who are less fortunate. Don’t turn away, but get involved. Look for places to make a difference. Maybe it’s in your neighborhood with someone who has lost their job. Maybe it’s in your community where you can volunteer in a food pantry or work with less the fortunate. Perhaps it’s reaching out to an old friend who you have not seen for a long time.

Start small and watch the momentum build.

Through the many toys we collected at our Holiday Party, we will be touching the lives of many children. That’s a great start and I thank you for that!

If you take time to “Care” you will make time to “Share”. Share the financial resources you have been blessed with. Share the talents you have developed - teach others. Share the energy and the optimism you create - infect others. Motivate those around you to make a difference and improve the communities you live in.

Finally - Invest time. Invest time in yourself, you can’t help anyone when you are burned out! Invest time in family and friends. Slow down the pace long enough to relax and enjoy each other. Never loose focus on how bless we are. The time and energy you invest in others will bring you greater Joy than anything you can acquire for yourself. When all the dust clears and the chaos has ended - it’s family and friends that remain.

For me personally this season is a time to celebrate a miracle that happened 2000 years ago. But that is a whole other discussion that I’d be happy to have that discussion off line with you.

I don’t know this season means to you or how you will celebrate it. Do slow down and give thanks, care about those around you, share what you can and invest time wisely.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Austin update

This Halloween we had an elephant show up at the house.

He was quite FIERCE AND SKOOKY!!!!!!!!

Actually he was quite sweet and very pleased with himself!

He made a great elephant and did very well at Trick or Treating.

Big Sis came with as the beautiful German Girl with braids and all!
Together they made quite the candy haul.

His new love is the blue antique car that we got him a while back.

He loves to sit in it and dream about driving around the block!
He's not there yet but it won't be long.

It's good to have a big sister who can take it out for a spin once in a while
and keep it loosened up so that it's ready when time comes!!!
She is even nice enough to provide a ride once in a while.

OH NO!!!!!!!
I think it's pulling to the left!!!!!!!!!
BAPO I think this tire is going flat!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Up keep is the critical part of owning a fine Automobile and Austin insists on doing his own work.

The fenders need constant adjusting...seems they bend at high speed!

Of course it is critical to keep the headlights pointed in the correct direction.

Wouldn't want them to fail us on an important trip.

I think I smell antifreeze?!?!?!?

Hum! This radiator cap seems to have come loose...better tighten it.

ZO!!!!!!!! That's how you adjust the windsheild.
After a hard day of driving and working on the car a good bath is in order...


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Austin Effect

Late in February our life changed...this little charactor came into our life.

In a family with lots of girl he was a novelty...his name "Austin".

He is loved by all!!!!!!!!!

Especially his aunts and his big sis!

Bapo loves him too!

Lauren still gets into the action too!

He loves his Grema very much.

He is quite the charactor keeping us all entertained for hours although he can be very demanding when he wants to be. He is very much like his Auntie Em, always happy, not sleeping very much, loud, and always moving!

Mom! What did you do with my clothes????

He really enjoys just laying around and making crazy faces.

Often he seems to be bored.

But lately things are changing, he has discovered mobility.

Notice he's quite proud of himself.

He really gets into playing with his little people house...literally!

But alas all good things must come to an end. That cute little thing that used to just lay around has found out that there is a whole other world out there. To get to it you just have to pull yourself up.

And up.

See I told you that I could do it.

Life has entered the next phase and he is very proud of himself.

I love to watch the expression in his eyes. He is so full of life. Stay tune - it's a safe bet that he will advance to the toddling stage before we realize it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Uncle Hans

In an earlier blog I mentioned that during our trip this summer we had the pleasure of visiting with one of my favorite uncles. His name is Hans Maerz. He was born in Hungary, the fifth son in a family of eight children. My Dad was the youngest son, Uncle Hans was nine years older than my Dad. Later I will share some of the stories they told me about their childhood.
Here he is walking with Debi, Austin and Lauren in his garden, one of his great passions in life.

As a child we loved to visit him, his house was always the source of many wonders. It was decorated with all kinds of treasures he had created out of wood, metal, glass, leather, rocks and many other materials. There were always new items everytime we visited.
Notice all of the items in the background behind Ashley and Austin. Many of these things were here when I was a child.
Though he never had any children of his own, we were all his children. I never knew him to walk past a child without stopping to talk to them. I can remember how Ashley used to love to be around him when she was about as old as Austin is here in this picture. The next generation experienced his love on this trip.
Look at the wonder in Lauren's eyes as he shows her this bear that he sculpted out of Pewter.
He always loves to joke and laugh!

This is a scene that he cut out of wood.
I know this is a Silhouette of Jesus with the children, but I see my uncle here...a living demonstration of this in action. He loves children and they love to be around him.

Here he is sharing his love of rocks. We shut off the lights and he turned on a special light that illuminated the most incredible flourescent colors I've ever seen.

Here are some of his amazing metal cutouts.
Most of these designs were actually drawn by him.

We spent some time in his backyard sharing his garden.
The grape vine growing on the back fence came from Italy. One of his neighbors went back there for a visit and brought back some cutting from a established vineyard. He gave some to my uncle to see if he could grow it in Canada. That was in the 60's, here it is 40 years later and it's full of grapes!

His flowers are incredible, here he shares some with his grand neice. He loves to share the beauty of his world with everyone he touches.

Here is a close up of the flower, it's called a Tiger Lily.

Here is another amazing flower from his garden.

His front yard is filled with roses that he grafted using wild rose stocks, marrying them to bush roses. What amazing results! Being in Canada he does have to bury the tops of these every fall to protect them from the winter frost. In the spring he uncovers them to bloom again.
Our time flew by! Before we left we created some amazing images of our own.
Austin was focused on Uncle Hans.
Debi took this great picture of four generations of my family.

He is now 87 years young! He told us he no longer mows his lawn...but he still does all of the gardening!
He lost his wife, Elizabeth, to Bone cancer in the late 70's after many wonderful years together. They loved to spend their evenings together, him working on something and her reading to him. In the last year of my Dad's life he walked two miles twice a day to make sure my Dad was OK and taking his medicines. He has out lived my Dad by more than 15 years. Because of his love for his savior he always keeps giving.
Everytime I visit him I realize it could be the last time I may be spending time in the presence of this great man of God.
It makes me sad...but I also live with the knowledge that someday we will spend eternity together with our Lord, his wife, my Dad and others who have gone before us.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Grand" children

As I get older and learn to slow down, I have gained an even greater appreciation for the simple pleasures of life. That realization causes me to be amazed at the spirit of my "Grand" Children. They truly are "GRAND" in their approach to life as a constant adventure. Daily they learn about new things and new places, every day is new and fresh. Every new discovery is a great wonder!

Lauren our oldest(6yrs old) is always smiling and always happy. Here she is with her cousin Gabby as they participate in a grand tea party. Life is one big party for her and I hope she will always feel that way!

This summer debi and I had the pleasure of taking Lauren, her brother - Austin (more on him later) and our daughter Ashley (their Mom) to Canada.

It was a great trip, one of the highlights being our visit to Niagara Falls. As she saw the falls for the first time it was amazing to see the wonder in her eyes. She had never see anything of this magnitude...even though we live in Texas and everything is bigger there!

She was amaze and couldn't see enough at first!

Here we both are doing the "Tourist" thing!

Here is one with Mom and Austin.

And here are Austin and Grema at the German Food Restaurant...great food!

Austin (6mo) really was a great traveler too. Being so young I know He didn't make the memories that Lauren made but he was always happy and fun to be with.
We had a great time. Lauren was constantly finding new treasures.
Maple Leaves were one of her favorites.

We spend 10 wonderful days together that I will never forget.

It was great showing her where I grew up.

The house I grew up in.

Introducing her to Uncle Hans...more on him in another issue!

It was the type of trip that impacts you for the rest of your life, life at it's fullest...what we should strive to live everyday!

It was incredible watching her sense of adventure as new things kept happening everyday. Her sense of wonder is inspiring. When we as adults keep our eyes on our children we too can keep life fresh as we see the world through their eyes. To often we let the grind of making a living take the living out of us.

Children never forget to stop and smell the Roses, we need to learn from them.