Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Transitions

My son left yesterday for Philmont. It's a high adventure Boy Scout backpacking experience in New Mexico. It will test everything he has -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Their team has been preparing and training for this for a year. Three weeks before leaving, one of the Scout leaders invited a boy from a different troop to participate. The boys know him from a different context ... and they don't care for him. The boy is not physically prepared, emotionally mature, and hasn't shown a whole lot of spiritual growth in the years we've known him. Son was mad at the kid, mad at the scout leader, and disappointed that the "perfect planning" was now facing a variable they hadn't anticipated.  Hmmm...kind of like our Christian walk, don't you think?

So my son's challenge will be to submit himself to the authority of the leadership, and listen to God instead of his own sin nature.  Feel free to pray for him and the team!

Also, last weekend, we received a letter from our church. Our pastor is resigning.  He'd been battling some spiritual warfare issues over the last couple of years, and is healing, but believes God is calling him out of the ministry to heal completely.  The time frame was uncertain.

This weekend at church, they announced he would be leaving August 11! Gulp!  They are leaving the area and have kids to get into school in their new home. This is a little complicated because our associate pastor is capable and dynamic and thoroughly equipped to lead our church in the interim while we do a pastor search ... except his wife just gave birth to their 4th child ... in 5 years. So his home life is a little bit demanding right now. He has also been the youth pastor. AND August is traditionally when people vacation around here, so there are very few people to help with the transition. Our pastor's wife was in charge of the nursery schedule and had a very sweet way of convincing people to sign up...

On the one hand, I'm concerned. On the other, I'm excited to see what God will do with this little congregation. It has always been small -- around 150 worshiping each Sunday. Some people have been there forever, and others have come and gone -- but it always stays around that number. Why doesn't it grow into a mega-church?

Well, we don't do a lot of entertaining. Our music worship is good, but it's worship, not performance. And the teaching from the pulpit is designed to challenge us to grow in our faith, not make us feel good about having made it to church another Sunday. In other words, teaching TRUTH is not the way to fill the pews. Jesus himself said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' (Matthew 7:22). (Emphasis in original)

And speaking of the last days, Paul told Timothy, "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." (2 Timothy 4:3)


Are we in the last days?  I don't know, but I sure see/hear a lot of people who are picking and choosing from the Scripture what appeals to them. In essence, they redefine God in the image of their own preferences.


I used to clerk for a judge who was Atticus Finch personified. He lived an example that was a witness of morality and justice. In viewing our political situation, he would say "I fear we are in the last days of the Republic."


Sadly, I agree with him. I fear for our country, because I believe Christ-followers choose compromise over truth. Then we ask the almighty to "shed His grace on thee" in reference to our beloved USA.


When I work with the teens from other nations, many of them post-Christian, I hear and see from their words and actions, what the effect of growing up in that environment creates.  They are largely really nice kids, self-directed to enjoy their own life at the expense (largely) of others -- at least others they don't know personally.



So...enough of this. I obviously need to go out and glory in His creation with the amazing weather and the beautiful day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Who Designs these Things?

I went to a presentation last night on the "new urbanization."  The speaker talked about the next 25 years in city planning.  One of the things he believes is that the millenials and aging boomers will both want the same thing -- no yard, no long drives, no schools, and living in community. Thus: the transit oriented developments are born.  So the idea of "walkable" cities is very big in design right now.

That concept is allegedly driving our new Metro station. I wanted to check it out today. So after I rode the 6 miles on the no-kidding-this-really-is-a-mountain-bike-trail (more on that later), I went to see.

The biggest issue cyclists and pedestrians will have is getting INTO the station from the north side. There will be a stop light with a pedestrian signal.

This is what the brand new curb cut looks like:


I don't know if you can tell, but going into the curb cut from the commuter lot (I was standing in it to take the photo), there are sharp curbs on both sides, an immediate 90 degree turn to the left and then another to the right.  Just past my bike, there's a curb cut into the VERY busy street, again with the sharp edges.

Apparently this design is the "new" curb cut, a kind of chute for the wheelchairs and scooters to go through. If you're not lined up JUST RIGHT, you're screwed.  One of my cyclist friends was trying to go into one last fall and the edge caught his back tire. He ended up with a broken arm.  The chute is bad enough, but the twisted jog around the light?  Do people get paid to design this stupid stuff?

So back to the mountain bike story.  No I do not ride a mountain bike nor do I like riding unpaved trails, especially those with lots of mud.  But my womens biking group is coming this direction tomorrow so the leader asked me if I'd check it out ahead of time because she had seen this trail on the county map.

Um...there were BIG tree roots, BIG rocks, a creek without a bridge, and LOTS of mud.  I had a grand (sarcasm) time and walked about half of it, pushing my bike.  At least I'll sleep well tonight, and I've spent the afternoon developing an alternative. Those 60 year old ladies are NOT going to want to follow THAT trail!

Monday, July 22, 2013

AWwwwwww

Look what just ran through the front yard as I sat here at the table!  Sorry it's blurry but they were moving quickly behind mom!

I don't like them when they're grown, but aw....they're cute at this stage! They still have their spots!


Back in the Saddle Again

The weather broke ... a little.  Just enough for me to feel like riding my bike to the next town over (the other direction this time) to have breakfast with a friend would be great.

It was, it was! This friend is amazing. She lives in this great Victorian house with her amazing husband and two awesome, funny, kids and she lives her life as REAL as possible.  Wonderful garden, great dogs, homemade breakfast including homemade cinnamon swirl bread.  Yummm...

I met her because of cycling (well, duh, right?).  She and her children bike commute from her town to mine so her children can attend the school closest to my house. She is an OT and works with kids at the school as well as some others, so it's a great fit for them.

And did I mention that she's a world class athlete?  Well she is -- she has won the Ironman. But you'll never hear that from her. She's about as modest a person as you'll ever meet. You see, she is a great runner, but that's not all she is. She is a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, and friend. I'm very blessed that our lives have crossed paths.

After our visit I went to the post office in her town.  THEY have a bike rack (the one in my town does not). Of course, it's pushed up against a wall so it's mostly useless, but they do have one!

After my mail business I went to do some more errands by bike and then extended my ride to get a really good workout.

Why is it that 88 feels so much easier to ride in than 90?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Stinkin' Hot

I don't know where you are, but this is a good day to stay inside.

I had a meeting in the next town so I rode down there, leaving at 7:15. It wasn't too bad, and even coming home was bearable at 10:15 or so because there's still quite a bit of shade.

No riding tomorrow as we'll meet with the host families for incoming students (I can't believe it's starting again!).  This year we have students from Korea, Japan, Norway, Finland, Germany, Austria, Qatar and Bangladesh. How cool is that?


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Happy Again

My bike is back.  Whew!  My husband dropped me off at the shop and I rode home to make sure it was as good as new. Sweet, sweet, gear changes. Wow. What a difference.

So I signed up for a riding event in 2 weeks. 35 miles on the Tour de Prince William. That's a county southeast of us. It's their inaugural event so should be fun. I love these kinds of tours that are fundraisers for something, but that the registration fee covers. I don't like asking for friends and family for money.

My son's high school football team coach sent an e-mail yesterday reminding some of us (including us) that we have not provided the list of e-mails of people that he can solicit for $$...I absolutely refuse to do this. He says if we choose not to participate, we can donate $200 instead.

Excuse me?  There are boys on that team who never come to summer workouts or "team building service events", whose parents never serve in the concession stand or help out with the team meals, who do nothing to support anyone other than their own son, do not participate in the fundraisers, but show up when it's time for practices to begin and end up being the players who play. They are ostensibly low income, but they have the latest in Under Armour equipment and clothing.

My son shows up for everything and I've supported the concession stand and team meals and fundraisers for the last 2 years ... even though my son rarely plays. That's not why I've participated though. I did it because many hands make light work. It does seem that those of us who work are the ones with the work ethic. So what are the Under Armour kids learning about the way the world works? And we wonder why they don't do well if they get to college? Hmmm.

Now son is trying to decide whether to play at all.  It has a definite negative impact on his grades each fall. If he's just going to watch the games from the sidelines, he can spend that time doing homework and preparing for the next day. If they really DO need him, that's a different story.

Okay, rant is over. Time to get moving for the day. It's almost 6am. Good time for a bike ride...once the sun rises!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Social Ride

Our bike advocacy group did a social ride yesterday.  It was fun, riding with people I didn't know before the ride. Lots of different terrain, including the gravelly mud of the Cross Country Trail.

I didn't ride today since it was horribly humid and I don't get my bike back until tomorrow.  Can't wait!

I hope they give it a good cleaning as part of the tune-up and work I'm having done!

This is a photo of our ride participants behind me. That's Dennis, and a long line (12 more) of us on the streets of Fairfax!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Sulking

Yes, I am.  The bike shop called today and said they can't "true" my wheel because the rim is broken. Of course, truing the wheel would have been included in the cost of the tune-up, but a new rim is not.  Sigh.  It's just like my car.  Go in for one simple thing and there's a list that spews out showing the things that need to be done.  Expensive things.

Worse, now I won't get it back until Monday.  Sigh.  We have a social ride tomorrow and I'll have to take my daughter's bike.

Totally first world problems, right?

On the other hand, we have incredible entertainment around here on rainy days.

video

*No budgies were injured making this video, although her feathers might have become a little ruffled.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Wet Heat

My friend and I headed out to ride early because it's been so beastly hot and humid.

Good plan.  It wasn't too hot, and it was very humid.  In fact, it was so humid it was rain.  We were SOAKED, but had fun.

It's been a busy biking week!

Monday the same friend and I and another lady met with the new principal of our community's Title 1 school. He is amazing and so on fire about kids making healthy choices, including BIKING!  (Happy Dance). We're trying to set up a program in which we establish an after-school club at the middle school where the kids will learn bike mechanics and safety, and they will produce bikes that the kids at the Title 1 school (elementary) can earn them by doing service projects and taking a safety class.  Our local bike club will provide helmets as needed and I think I can get our community board to provide locks.

The middle school program is funded as an anti-gang effort, and we have 7 bicycle officers assigned to our area, so we can probably get them to interact with the kids too.

The only thing we can't do is RIDE BIKES with the after school club.  Seriously, 'bicycle riding' is right up there with paragliding and bungee jumping too dangerous as a "sponsored school activity."  We gotta get that regulation changed.  Sheesh.

Here's a little quiz.
What's wrong with this crosswalk?


Tuesday I went to testify before our Board of Supervisors against expanding the Kiss & Ride at our local elementary school that will be undergoing renovation.  They approved the plan anyway, but it definitely generated a discussion about how we're making it easy for parents to default to that instead of using the FREE bus (safest) or walking or riding (healthiest).  My inner annoyed person says they caved on this because it's the opposite of the school mentioned above. It's our "mostly white" and "mostly academically advanced" school. The only minorities you see there are of Asian or Indian origin.

And today we had our early morning ride and now I'm waiting for daughter to come home from work so we can run to her favorite store for some girl time before the guys come back from their 3 day trip to see airplanes.

Loving life today.

*That wet heat title -- it's because when I lived in Vegas everyone said, "But it's a DRY heat."  No, it was just darned hot!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bad Bike Days

Yesterday I broke the lever of my shifter ... so I was stuck in a high gear. It was okay, but not great.

Today I stopped by the bike shop and they said they can fix it, but not until Friday. Since I had ridden over, I couldn't leave the bike.

I rode home and, in trying to see how close the metro bus was behind me on one stretch, I didn't see a pothole and my back tire hit it. I didn't crash, and my bike was still operable, but by the time I got home, it was REALLY sluggish.

Turns out the wheel was knocked out of true, and between that and the shifter, I decided I HAD to get it fixed.

By the time I got to the bike shop, they had filled up their Friday orders, so I can't have it back until Monday.  Sigh.  I decided while it was there to have them do a full tune-up.

I'll ride daughter's bike the rest of the week.

Did I mention that my car is acting up as well?

At least the metro bus didn't get me -- I ended up better off than this guy!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sticky Miles

It's 92 in the shade today with high humidity.  Ick.

I rode down to my friend's house to help her with something, and it was about 7 miles.  After we finished, I got some lunch nearby and rode home.  It was significantly hotter and sticker on the way back.

Whew!

14 miles round trip.  They count extra for the stickiness factor!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

This morning was overcast and humid, so I jumped on my bike to get a ride in before it became bright sunshine and humid (my least favorite combination).

I decided to find a couple of new geocaches. Some of the old ones in this area have been archived, and it's nice to see new caches springing up.  The "rules" say you can't place them within 2 miles of each other, so sometimes you have to wait to place on in an "ideal" spot until someone else's goes away.

At any rate, the first was at the base of a bridge.  With all the rain over the last 24 hours, I wondered whether it would still be there!  But yep, it was!

Here's the view from that bridge -- upstream and then downstream. It's on a walking/biking trail spanning Lake Thoreau.  Just beyond the upstream view is a golf course. Everyone peacefully co-exists!




Next I rode up to a local shopping center. It's right next to Oracle, so usually there are TONS of people nearby which makes it tough to get the geocache without being seen (we refer to those people as muggles).  No problem this morning.  This is the pond area where I found it:


One of the pretty growths along the pond's edge:


And at first, this patch of lily pads doesn't look so remarkable. 
But the second photo reveals the treasure (not the cache)!



After I found the cache in this location, I rode home and made wonderful banana muffins to share with our "boys in blue" (local firefighters).



Happy Independence Day!

p.s.  Here's the recipe if you want it

1 1/2 cup flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 C melted butter

Streusel:
1/3 C brown sugar
2 T flour
1/8 t cinnamon
1 T butter

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare muffin pan.  Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, mix together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter.  NOTE: Make sure to slowly temper the egg/banana/sugar mixture before pouring all the melted butter into the bowl so the egg does not cook. (I just melted the butter in the microwave and then popped it into the fridge for a few minutes)

Pour banana mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened.  Spoon batter into muffin cups.

In another bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 T flour and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal, sprinkle amply on top of the muffin batter.

Bake muffins 18-20  minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

NOTE:  I backed off the flour and substituted 1/4 wheat germ to make them somewhat healthy.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Here Be Dragons

I erred in my evaluation of bike racks at our local schools the other day.  I didn't recognize the one at Dogwood ES because it was so innovative and creative. So here, it is, the BEAUTIFUL bike rack:


If they move it away from the wall, they can get 50 bikes on this thing!

But one thing I did recognize that day is obvious, and why the blog entry title is such:


No riding yesterday or today.  Yesterday I helped out with the bike race.  It was .. um .. boring. I don't understand the racing crowd, but hey, I was there to show the advocacy flag. That community is the main culprit in cyclists who don't obey traffic laws so it's important to try to reach out to them.  Sigh.

Today it was muggy all day.  I worked on copying the photos from my dad's service onto DVD's for the rest of the family -- don't worry, it's legal. It's the reason the photography is so expensive. You purchase the right to the photos as well.

Here's a nice one to show you. It's the chaplain -- turned out he is Southern Baptist (my mom's denomination -- and a coincidence -- you don't get to choose other than Catholic/Protestant/other) and he preached the Gospel clearly and succinctly.  Praise God.



And another favorite:


He had just played taps.