Friday, February 12, 2016

Hey Bud

Gardening is just not my thing. This goes against all the time my Mom spent sharing her craft and taking tender care of beautiful flower beds growing up. I just never caught interest in the hobby, sorry Mom. I appreciate a beautiful plant or flower bed, but just never liked keeping them myself.

The Gardenia pictured above is a different story. Six years ago, my wife and I met and lost our first child after a mid-term birth. Joseph has left an indelible mark upon our hearts. Over the years, and welcoming our two kids, the pain has been less prevalent, but it never entirely goes away. This time of year is especially hard since Joseph was born on Valentines Day. Years passed before Jenn and I could even go on a date for Valentines day, our first was just last year. 

My coworkers at the time sent this Gardenia plant home to Jenn & I with a card of prayer and condolences. Jenn and I call this our "Joe" plant. I have kept this guy going for 6 years, more than any other plant ever for me. Initially it bloomed flowers "white as snow" many times. Over time the blooms stopped and the plant was just getting by. Sensing the location in our house was not right for a Gardenia, I brought it to my work, where it has a nice perch upon which to stand, and received the right amount of sunlight to thrive again. Since the location change, I have had to prune the plant several times since it gets so big. I was pleasantly surprised last year when, after several years of bloom dormancy, a few buds popped and bloomed. It felt like Joseph was saying hello.

Since that time a bloom pops now and again, and it makes me happy to see that I kept one plant going. What touched my heart this week is the a new bud just popped up in time for Valentines Day. This bud it pictured above, just squeaking out and saying hello. Over the last few years you can see my Valentines posts share the same theme. This has been a time for me to get thoughts out and expressed, and helped me deal with the loss and assess what it means to me today. I have not been writing in my blog as much as I want over the last few months, and Valentines Day really crept up this year. When I saw this bud pop, I stopped what I was doing and smiled and shed a tear. I know somewhere Joseph is looking over us and his brother and sister. 

I miss you buddy, I wish we could have got the chance to know each other. You would love your siblings.  Thanks for blooming this week and we pray for you every day bud. I hope I am honoring your memory by being the best Dad I can be. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Success or Failure

Well the last three months of 2015 were spent being fairly inactive for a couple legitimate reasons and a few lazy ones. My diet followed my effort, low quality, and I put on a few too many pounds. I am on the road back now, but it is amazing how much a few slow months can set you back.

Recently, I was watching a documentary on the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch. This is an amazing part of the Rocky Mountains set aside for Scouts in New Mexico to hike and adventure. During the program this quote came across the screen. A good point for any kind of journey you are on, physical or emotional. A lot of new years resolutions come and go, but folks with strong character will move on. Whether you are currently a success or failure on your journey does not matter, only that you take the next step forward.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Home Alone

This past weekend we watched Home Alone with the kids. I haven't watched this movie in a long, long time, maybe high school. I did not even remember that the movie is a Christmastime flick. Our kids, the 4 year old in particular, had a blast watching. My daughter was literally jumping out of her seat during the home defense scenes. I was overjoyed just watching the kids enjoy this movie. It is really a neat age now that we can start to let them watch some non-Disney animated movies. In all a fun night.

There was a touching scene in the movie I did not remember at all, tucked in between all the comedy. The boy in the movie, Kevin, has an older neighbor that the kids are all afraid of. mostly because the older brother makes up crazy stories about him. In the movie Kevin is running from the crooks, and he hides in the local church. There is a kids choir practicing some carols, and Kevin sees the old man neighbor sitting alone. Kevin is initially afraid as the old man moves to sit next to him. As it turns out the old man is not scary at all, and he shares some personal insight with Kevin. You see the old man is in church watching his granddaughter sing, because that is the only time he can see her. The man has a strained relationship with his son, and has not spoken to his son in years. This is why he can only see his granddaughter when his son is not around. The old man says he is afraid to call his son, because maybe he will not want to talk. With the honesty only a child can have, Kevin tells the old man to just call his son. "At least then you will know if he wants to talk, and you will have nothing to be afraid of anymore." I was choked up during the scene.

There are so many people in the world that are alone. By choice or by circumstances, there is a lot of loneliness and despair in the world. Just watch the news. I want to take time to say hello to someone I do not know. Maybe the old cranky looking guy in my neighborhood, or someone I never say hello to at work. The holiday season brings up so may feelings, and you can take a few spare seconds and brighten up someone's day with a simple "hello." You can do your best to make sure someone near you is not home alone.

Monday, November 30, 2015


It's not Christmas without the love and spirit of my dear Aunt Ann, God rest her soul. I have so many pieces, handmade with shear talent and love for me as a child, hanging on me tree today. Such an artist, story teller, jokester and gem of my family. I miss her, and wish she could share a joke or two with my kids, they would love her. I wish we could share a Christmas cup of tea.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks Giving

This morning, Thanksgiving, was a bit crazy. Jenn and I are both stuffed up, so sleep and breathing is not the best. We woke to two kids full of, let's call it spirit, because calling my kids crazy at 6 am seems a bit rough on a holiday. Oh, never mind, they were absolutely crazy people this morning. Whining, crying, fighting, not listening, you name it. It was not the optimal way to wake up. I love my kids, but we cancelled Christmas three times this morning. Note to self, that does not work. Amid a hectic start to the day, I scrolled though my many feeds, and saw everyone posting notes of thanksgiving. After a shoer, some cold medicine and a couple cups of coffee I am ready.

I have a lot of things in my life for which I can give thanks. First is my lovely wife. She shows more strength than I can muster, and is the person I am lucky to spend the rest of my life with. Jenn is also the person that gave us our beautiful family. It was a long journey to get our house to be a home for our family, and we are blessed with a beautiful family. Our kids are the soul of our family now. Ruby too.

Family I am thankful for, the Miller and McDonough sides. The best part of our family is that they do not feel like three "sides," they are just all family.  The picture above was from our wedding day, one of the best days ever, and a great day to start out life together. This little kids in the picture amaze me with how much they have grown since then. We will pass the torch on to out little kids, who I am sure will look back at photos from Uncle Ian's wedding next year, and marvel at how little they were that day.

I give thanks to my wonderful group of friends. I have old friends and new friends, but no matter how you slice it, I have some of the best friends a person could ask for.

Hopefully you have some loved ones to spend today with, hopefully you have things to be thankful for. I am overwhelmed with the amount of things I need to give thanks for. So I give thanks today for my blessing named here, and those not named.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

You Never Know

You never know when someone is watching you. On Halloween I ran in the Dead Sprint 5K race in with a good friend. It was a race for me to shake off the rust from an injury, and fun to see all the folks who ran in costumes. I accomplished my time goal, and settled in for a post-race breakfast and pint of Guinness for some time to catch up with my buddy. While we were chatting a woman approached me and said "excuse me sir, I just wanted to say thank you." This took me back a bit, I didn't know her from a hole in the wall. She continued, "you kept me going in the race, I wanted to slow down and walk, but I could see your green jacket ahead, I just kept telling myself, 'keep up with this guy', and you helped me run a really good race." At some point I know she passed me, because I remembered her and I were thanking the police officers at all the intersections for helping out. I always try to thank the volunteers and officers during races, and she said she did too. The she added that she had just gotten off a long overnight shift at the hospital, and had no sleep. She went straight to the race, and was just hoping for the best. A little while later she came back over "hey, I placed third in the women's group for my age and got a medal! So, thanks again for the motivation!" While I did joke I would take some credit for her medal, it was so nice of her to let me know I helped without knowing.

This whole experience draws me toward the thought of how you act when no one is watching. Simply acting how you should when you are at work, in class or around friends and family is only a partial measure of who you really are. What you say you believe is just words. All these public events or statements are not the real test. The real test is when no one is looking, when you have the opportunity to compromise your beliefs, values and ideals to cut a corner, save some money, or just avoid a difficult situation. This can be as small an effort as starting the next pot of coffee at work, when you take the last cup, picking up some trash someone else left behind, or leaving an area cleaner than when you arrived. These are small examples of behavior that really set who you are and build your integrity. If you try your best when no one is looking, the times folks are looking will come that much easier, your personal integrity will shine through and be natural. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Get Grounded

Work, kids, wife, house, work, family, kids, cars, money, travel, packed calendar, friends, chapters, work kids, wife, running, eating well, birthdays, work, house issues, kids, kids growing too fast, soccer practice, family, chapters, committees, hours of sleep, friends, keeping updated, no time to relax, kids, work, wife, family, money, hobbies (ha, funny), eating, work, travel, wife, kids, family. 

These are all things I think about probably every hour of the day, if not every minute for some. There are times when you can get caught up in being too busy, too booked with not enough time in the day. These things can build up to be all encompassing f you do not take time to make sure you stay ground in what matters.

Recently, a good friend had some terrible news, the worst kind of news. He has been told by doctors he has a finite amount of time due to a terminal illness. When I heard the news, I was heartbroken, speechless, and did not know what to think. I immediately thought of how he must feel, and though of myself in that situation. I am not certain how I would handle this type of news. One thing is for certain, many of the items listed above became not so important in my mind. It was more like, family, wife, kids and health.

My friend handled the news with dignity and class. He is truly a model of a good man and Ture Gentleman. I know he must have had a lot of hard days and nights since the diagnosis, but outwardly, he is showing strength, class and helping his own family and friends along the way. He is an inspiration.

This moment was a time for me to be glad I have a friend like him. Treat every day as precious. Treat people kindly. Take nothing for granted. The job, the house, the money, the hours of sleep you get, hobbies, social media, feeling like you have no time. These things have a place in day to day life, but do they keep you grounded? I say no. It is your friends, family and faith that can help keep you grounded. Just make sure you take inventory of how far the important things have fallen down your list. Work to keep the important things high above the fray. Hit your knees and give some thanks. Work to stay grounded.