Hidden in plain sight…..

The other evening after arriving at my business hotel I set out to explore a local park I saw and walk its trails. It was close to where I was staying and offered manicured lawns, several duck and geese filled ponds, trees, and meandering footpaths amongst the flowing creek and watershed. Part way through I took advantage of some benches that afforded a beautiful view of the polished scenery. I rested a while and soaked up the mild evening as the sun departed in the west thanking God for a beautiful day and safe travels.

That evening walk became the template for each morning now. At dawn I strike out from my temporary abode and proceed to put in a few miles of walking throughout that beautiful park. It helps that my body is still on east coast time and I have been getting up at the crack of dawn without my alarm. I guess that is sleeping in on the east coast but never-the-less it gets me up and an early start on the west coast.

While walking, I decided to pull out my phone and see if there were any geocaches in the park. If you don’t know what geocaches are, they are a modern day equivalent to mini-treasure hunts. With the advent of the GPS – global positioning system – and accurate coordinates, a concept was created for people to locate and hide small caches of various sizes and mark them using GPS coordinates. These caches are then uploaded to the web site GEOCACHING.COM where anyone can go, write down the coordinates and head out on their own mini-treasure hunt. There are also phone apps that use the triangulation coordinates in the phone to hunt for geocaches as well. The geocaches can range in size from very small micro hides (think camouflaged 35mm containers) that contain nothing but a signature log to large ammo cans that hold little trinkets and things along with the signature log. A person takes the geocaching.com coordinate information or their phone app and zeros in on the location of where the geocache is hidden. Frequently in the app or website there are also hints and you search within the GPS measure of accuracy zone looking for the concealed cache. I have found many and the methods, containers, and locations of hides has been clever and interesting. The caches are not only fun to find (once you find them) but they also get you out of the house and out to a place you normally wouldn’t see in your daily life. For my family, it has become a fun, inexpensive way to have fun, get out and spend time together. Some areas – parks, hiking trails, etc – have several scattered about. There also might be some hidden in the plain sight of day. In fact, you might pass by several every day and not even know it.

Which leads me to my introductory paragraph. That evening I went out walking and sat at that bench to enjoy the view, I was sitting on a geocache. Now, of course I did not know it at the time, but had I pulled my geocaching app out, it would have revealed one right there. Instead I had to wait until the next day when I searched for ones in that park. The geocache had been very cleverly constructed in that it was built to be integrated into the bench. The bench was made of hollow tubing and had caps at the ends. One of the caps had been removed and affixed to a tube with a cover at each end. That tube could then be slid into the bench with only the normal cap showing. I was very impressed and the method caused me many more minutes of searching than I normally spend.

I encourage you to try out this modern day treasure hunt, especially if you have kids. They love the adventure and the challenge of finding “treasure”. It is also fun for adults too. All you need is a GPS, smart phone or navigation device. Check out this guide to get started — http://www.geocaching.com/guide/default.aspx

Have fun and be safe,
…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Poof…..

This morning I woke up and as I focused into consciousness and began my day, I was overwhelmed by a question I had never asked myself — when was the last time I held my kids?

Kind of a weird thing to think about at 5:30am in the morning. Have you ever asked yourself that question? If you have little kids, it might not seem like such a big deal question. But if your kids are grown or growing up and are beyond the holding stage, it might be interesting to think back on it.

A sense of melancholy ebbed into my soul as I realized that my time of holding my kids had past — they are ages 19, 14 and 12 — however, I did not cement into my mind the last time of holding each one of them. Those last holding moments now evaporated, I was a bit sad knowing that all my kid holding opportunities were gone, hopefully either sealed in my memory or captured in precious pictures. But, as with many of you, none of us knew exactly when the last time we held our kids would be. I can only be thankful that the ceasing of kid holding was a result of them growing up into adolescents, teenagers and young adults — not the ripping of a child through death (which is my ONLY fear in this world).

The thought was interesting because it started me down memory lane back to when the kids were holdable — either as babies, infants, toddlers or energetic children. I remember times of immense comfort knowing that someone so innocent of the world relied upon me for everything. The unconditional love an infant or young child gives you can make anything at work, on the news, or troubling your mind instantly disappear. The times I was accosted upon returning home from work after a long day as if I was king — although I don’t think kings get tackled with little arms of love…..and it is their loss. And the precious times of quiet sleep as my flesh and blood rested in my arms peacefully.

As a young dad, there were times when I made the concerted effort to be the last to let go, either when hugging or when holding. The kids didn’t know it but I would deliberately not let go if hugging or not move when holding. Only when THEY were done did I let go or move. That led to blessings of multi-minute hugs and holds measured in quarter, half and full hours instead of mere minutes. And although I did that consciously to ensure I received my share of dad-love, I now look back and wish I had done it more. You always want more of what you can’t have.

So for those of you who have babies, infants, toddlers, or young children, I implore, beg, and plead that you hold and hug your offspring every chance you get. I promise you that it will not be time or effort wasted. I also promise you, as someone farther down the same path you are on, that someday there will come a time where you will have your last child hold…..and POOF, it will be gone.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Postscript — I went up to my son’s room tonight with the special intent of holding him. He is 12 so it isn’t a normal thing. However, he is sick right now so he welcomed my intrusion. But…..it is not the same. While I enjoyed it, the thought of his little body (or either of my daughter’s) in my lap is a comfort I can only enjoy by memory.

A view worth the hike…..

In my previous post, I blogged about the hike with my nieces and the beautiful day and view that rewarded us at the top. The blog post was actually about the funny comment my niece made, but I also wanted to share the view with you readers.

The view is westward and in the distance you can see Victoria, British Columbia and the Canadian mountains. In the foreground is Mitchell Cove and you can see the busyness both inside the cove as well as the shipping lane as evidenced by the huge container ship going to port.

The view, conversation, company, and day were well worth the short hike.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Seconds of beauty…..

This short video is a minute long clip of 1 second images of beauty. We frequently are too busy or jaded to slow down enough and take in these beautiful scenes. And lucky for most of us, some of these appear in our lives for more than 1 second.

Soak them up in your life so you can run your own video in your head.

Seconds Of Beauty – 1st round compilation from The Beauty Of A Second on Vimeo.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Don’t wait…..

This morning I walked into my office and looked out the window facing east to be greeted by an amazing colored sky of pinks, magentas and reds. I poked my head into the office next to me to mention it to a co-worker friend who also looked in amazement at the sky God had painted for us. I completed my arrival routine — docking my laptop, putting my lunch into my mini-fridge and saying a morning arrival prayer — and then grabbed a camera to go out back to take a picture with the intent of sharing it here on my blog.

In the minute or two it took me to do all that and arrive outside, all the colors were gone. All that was in front of me was a cloudy dull grey blue sky. The sun peeking through causing all those red, pink and magenta hues had obviously risen higher above the cloud layer. I was amazed at how quickly that beauty had vanished. On my way in, I bumped into my co-worker friend who was also on his way outside to admire the sunrise beauty. He might have been even more surprised than I was, commenting “You just said something a minute ago”.

I am taking this as a reminder for all of us that life and time continue on, with us or without us. How many sunrises or sunsets do we miss because we are too busy to take the time to pause and enjoy them. Now let’s take this further — how many moments with our children do we miss because we are too busy with work or the house or with chores or errands. Or how many moments with loved ones do we miss because of those same things. Or how many moments do we miss to tell people of the Gospel and that Jesus loves them. So many opportunities that will be gone in an instant if we don’t grab them while they are in front of us.

So my lesson today — for me and you — is grab a hold of those moments when they are right in front of you.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Our Kentucky anniversary…..

Today is our 7 year anniversary in Kentucky. I look back on that time with amazement — that God led us here; that we moved during the Christmas season; that we moved here cold turkey without knowing a soul. And to think that we have lived in our house here in Kentucky longer than we lived in our house in Thousand Oaks, CA. And that K and D have actually lived more of their lives here in Kentucky than in California.

I am so incredibly blessed I don’t know where to begin.

2005 – 1 year

2006 – 2 years

2008 – 4 years

2010 – 6 years

And 7 is a blessed number. I look forward to what our 7th year in Kentucky holds.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Stop and smell them…..

Today was my first day back in the office after being out on business travel all last week. And we know how those first days back are — an email tsunami, loads of voicemails to return, meetings to catch up on, paper to push, people to see — you get the picture. But I survived and was able to make headway today so when I left the office to go home and spend time with the family, I felt pretty good.

So as I was getting in my car, I looked over and happened to notice a beautiful fully bloomed rose bush (I probably missed it in the morning because the blooms hadn’t opened yet). It was quite large and had a hundred or so bright pink blooms on it. I actually stopped to admire the beauty of God’s creation and then opened the door so I could smell them. I then pulled out my pocket knife and cut a few stems with buds on them to bring home to my wife. I also snapped a picture to share with you readers as well as to be a reminder for all of us to, more often than not, stop…..and smell the roses.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Family driveway night…..

I’ve blogged before about the many “family” variations we have had. Family movie night, family star night, family ice cream night…..you get the idea. Well, tonight we added another variation — family driveway night.

It started with me tinkering out in the garage with Sportscenter on after dinner. My son was still at soccer practice with my wife and the girls meandered outside to just hang out around the outside of the garage. One brought her iPod and rode her bike, the other kicked the soccer ball — and soon enough the Mrs. and D were home.

They joined us as the Monday Night Football game started. The grabbed some chairs and we were all just spending time in and out of the garage as a family. With R going away to college in 12 days, we have been trying to just spend time together as a family — sometimes doing stuff and other times doing nothing. So tonight’s “nothing” ended up being in the garage and out on the driveway. Soon enough it was dark and D ran inside to bring out a dozen or so quilts so everyone could lay on their backs and look at the stars — not very comfortable on the asphalt driveway. But you get the picture. And because of the privacy of our property, we were just able to hang out without seeing anyone or have people drive by.

It made for a nice wind-down evening as we all headed to bed to get ready for a new day tomorrow. So there it is — family driveway night.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net