Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Connor & Cosette

I will fight to the death anyone who thinks there are children in the world more adorable/awesome than mine!
(Ok, maybe not to the death....we'll just have to agree to disagree...)

Here is some evidence that backs up my claim:

1. They've watched Toy Story (and Toy Story 2) a lot. No really, A LOT. So much so, that they take their respective Woody & Jessie dolls and re-enact the scenes...verbatim! It's hilarious!
2. Following the Toy Story theme, on Sunday while playing on the bed we started playing like they were toys like from the movie, and had to stop moving/talking whenever I looked at them. That was a load of fun, and I'm not sure if it was my idea or Connor's.

3. Which brings up another common activity. When daddy gets home from work, he is usually tired & hungry. When I unlock the door and enter, the sound of me at the door usually results in the kids quickly (sometimes not-so-quickly) "hiding" so they can jump out and yell surprise! And even though I usually make a bee-line for dinner, half the time I go into the bedroom to change out of work clothes and the kids end up coming in insisting we play on the bed. It's kind of a win-win: I get to lay on the bed and recover from work for a bit, and they get to use me as a jungle-gym. One of their favorites is operating the "Daddy-machine" where I lay face down, and they sit on my butt and operate my legs like levers driving a tractor or spaceship or whatever.

4. Tickle fights. 'Nuff said.

5. Whenever Connor gets upset about something and ends up on his bed crying, I can always come up with something silly/different to distract him and get him laughing/playing again.

6. Cosette's laugh makes me laugh and fills me with indescribable Joy. (tearing up now as I write that sentence)

7. It is hilarious and amazing to see their over-the-top reactions to mundane/normal things I don't think about. (Connor: "WOW! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT, THATS AWESOME!" - his reaction to many things)

8. Knock-knock jokes. The Connor/Cosette version. Usually something like this:
Who's there?
Mr. Pootsy!
HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA (kids erupt in laughter)

9. Cosette is my angel; and my princess. I usually call her one or the other, and when I do, she reminds me of the other. ("Hi, my angel." "And I'm your princess!")

10. And my favorite: the unexpected, un-asked-for, random hugs and "I love yous".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meet the Gang

I've shared a few names and stories from my experiences with ministering to the homeless. One thing I've tried to do, from the very beginning, is to think of them not as "random anonymous people", but as people with a name, story, dignity, etc. So to that end, I've attempted to learn (and remember) their names as much as possible. Since my memory sucks, I started carrying a little notepad with me, to write down their names as I meet them. Ok, but what about matching names to faces? One technique has helped a lot with that, and has other benefits as well: praying for them. It's not been as frequent in the last couple of months, but especially those first few months, I prayed a lot over individual names, and would recall what they looked like, and what their story was (if they had shared it).

So, for those who are interested, I'd like to introduce you to some of the names, and ask you to pray along with me. This list may be a tad lengthy, so maybe just pick a couple of names so it's not overwhelming. (I've put down the dates when I met someone for the first time. The last few months, I've not met many new people, so there are fewer names).

Mike "Twisstidm"
Backpack guy with radio
Matt - wheelchair

"Mouse" (with wife & 2 small kids)

Lee (older guy I had long talk with)

"Comfortably numb"

Ronnie White
Dave (from this post)

Paul (the older guy stabbed several months ago)


Marshall & Kallie (married)

Merlin & Sharlene (engaged)
Roger (w/ dog Koda)

Miss Kitty
(Wahsatch Camp)

Wow! There have been a couple times when I forgot my notepad, or didn't meet anyone new, but still, I hadn't added it up before. That's 45 people, and I know I'm missing some. I know many I will probably never see again, even those who I'd really like to know what's happened to them.

I'm looking forward to warmer weather, when there will be more people at the park again, and I can add to my list of friend! =)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Acacia Park - 2010

Since it was my first visit in the new year, I felt it a good time to catch ya'll up on where I'm at with the Homeless ministry. (Sorry if this ends up long.)

I had hoped to be able to do something over the holidays, but between my parents staying with us and being a bit discouraged by a few Friday Failures (where I took food, but couldn't find anyone to give it to), I ended up not going on Christmas or New Year's days. I think part of me (perhaps slightly pridefully) wanted to say I had a perfect track record since I hadn't missed a day since I started in August, but now that the "streak" is broken, I can let that go.

Anywho...one of the other thoughts that was born out of taking food and not finding anyone, was the logistical quagmire I've been creating for myself of how much food to get, and how many different locations will I drive to in order to find someone to get it too, etc.

Then one day I went to Subway for lunch, and as I drove back to work there was a homeless guy sitting on the corner with a sign (that I couldn't read). That's when it hit me: gift cards! I found myself wishing I had a Subway gift card so I could roll down the window and hand it to him.

So, the next time I was at Subway, I bought several cards, and Wendy got some at the store too. Subway is kind of handy, because there's one right across the street from Acacia Park. But I'm thinking that other food/supply-type places might be good too. I still want to take down actual food, but will probably wait until warmer weather when it's more likely to find folks.

But as for tonight...there were a couple guys that I'm used to seeing, and have been developing relationship with. Anthony and Twisstidm (Ya, for the longest time, I assumed it was spelled "Twisted M", but whatever...)

It was kinda cool just standing there, hanging out and talking. They told me what went on over Christmas. Anthony and his friend moved to a different campsite. Twisstidm is hoping to perform soon at the Black Sheep on Platte. It's starting to feel like they aren't strangers that I'm helping out, but friends.

Funny story interjection: As we're standing there, some guy walks up and looks at Anthony, then Twisstidm, then me, and decides to ask ME: "You got any weed, man?" Without missing a beat, I pulled a Subway gift card out of my pocket. "No, but I can give you a sandwich." "Does it got any weed any it..heh heh..." "Well, you can ask them to put lettuce on it." And so on... I was a little naive at first, but I think I've witnessed a pretty fair number of drug deals go down. I'll never forget a couple months ago, when a guy walked up and asked for a dime. I start feeling in my pockets for change before it hits me...DOH!

Anyways, one of the more significant things I took away from tonight, was that I got Twisstidm's phone number (you might be surprised how many homeless people have cell phones). And no less than three different times, he asked that I "check up on him" this week. It seems important to him, so I want to make sure and follow through on that.

Last thing: When I left the 4-5 guys I was talking with, I had 2 gift cards left. As I started to drive away, I noticed an older homeless guy walking the opposite way. But for those of you who know downtown (especially on a busy Friday night), it isn't the quickest/easiest thing in the world to try and "turn around" with the one ways, etc. I really wanted to give him a Subway card, but I must have spent 15-20 minutes in a figure-eight pattern, expanding my search as I tracked where it looked like he was headed.

At one point, I saw another guy crossing the street and was able to give him a card, but I never could find the first man, and that vexed me a bit.

The spiritual application for me was two-fold:
1. I wanted to help the guy, but it was difficult and I failed. - Thank goodness God always knows where we are, what we need, and is able to give it to us every time!
2. Maybe a sense of the frustration and sadness I felt is similar to how God feels, in that he wants to help us, but WE make it difficult by trying to hide or do it on our own or rebel, etc.

At any rate, I somehow feel encouraged, and look forward to continuing this calling in 2010. I even found a group on Facebook called "Colorado Springs Tent Community Help" that looks like a good resource too.

It's really late and I'm really tired, so that's all.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Insert Pithy/Profound Title Here

Ya, haven't blogged in a while, but it seems like most everyone else is doing the "Sorry I haven't blogged in a while" update, so I'll jump on the bandwagon.

But nothing deep/personal yet, just a movie-centric blog. (So at least Jeri will like it. ;)) I'll get back to life, ministry, etc. stuff later.

Ran across this "Most Anticipated Movies of 2010" entry in my reader feed, and am pretty excited about a number of them, so here are some thoughts...


(I don't know if it's just me, or if there's a load problem with the site, but not all of the movie photos/reviews loaded, so I'm only going to comment on the ones I could actually see/read.)

"Lightning Thief" - Jury's out. Saw a trailer that was mildly interesting, but worried it's gonna be to much geared toward the teeny-bopper/Twilight/Harry Potter crowd. Not me.

"Alice in Wonderland" - Obviously this is going to be visually fantastic and a must-see. Maybe I don't remember enough about the story, but I thought its focus was on Alice? This seems to really be pushing Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter - which certainly looks to be outstanding - I just thought it was a minor role.

"Clash of the Titans" - OMG YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS!!! I'm going a little gaga over this one. The 1981 classic has always been a favorite of mine. The re-make looks friggin' amazing. This is a 100% must-see-in-the-theater for me.

"Kick-Ass" - falls somewhere between "Could be kind of fun" and "Abysmal loser-failure" I'll probably wait for rental.

"Nightmare on Elm Street" - The original creeped me out pretty good as a kid. I'm not much of a horror/gore fan so this is a Pass.

"Iron Man 2" - Duh. Of course. Another must-see. Hope it doesn't hit any tragic sequel cliche speedbumps.

"Robin Hood" - another Yes for me. It looks to be a gritty, darker version of the well-known story. I like what the reviewer said, and I would add that it has potential to have the same effect that "Dark Knight" had on the Batman franchise. (Which is a good thing.)

"Shrek Forever After" - meh. I think they've used up any humor/novel ideas that were available and anything more will feel like a stretch. Maybe a rental if it's not a flop.

"Sex and the ...." never mind. I'm not going finish typing the title. And if you suggest this one, I will find the cutest, most adorable kitten I can find and step on its head in your name.

"Prince of Persia" - sweet game. Hope it can do better as a video game adaptation than most have fared.

"The A-Team" - one of my favorite 80's shows. Don't know if it's possible to succeed as a movie. For me the characters are pretty embedded as I remember them. Different actors will be hard for me to accept, but as a fan I feel obligated to give it a chance.

"The Karate Kid" - *groan* I highly doubt it. This one has the stink of flop on it already. Yes, we like Jackie Chan. But have you seen the trailer for "The Spy Next Door"? Makes me start to question Jackie's movie choices.

"Twilight..blah blah" - see "Sex and the..."

"The Last Airbender" - kind of a lame title. M Night Shyamalan has gotten weaker with each film. Sounds like a cheesy plot, but might be visually entertaining. Possibly a rental.

"Inception" - ???????? Obviously I want to trust the director (Dark Knight, Memento) but hard to get a read on something they won't tell us anything about.

"Salt" - mmmmmmm....Angelina Jolie. AJ + action flick = yes I'll see it. Plot/acting are irrelevant with this combo.

"Toy Story 3" - not quite as bad off as the Shrek franchise (yet), I'm worried they may try to re-hash too much. But this could be a good one to take the kids to see.

"Little Fockers" - high level of indifference.

"Expendables" - W. T. F. Seriously! Who ever thought we would see this cast list: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Danny Trejo, Micky Rourke, Terry Crews. (With Sly at the helm) That pretty much wraps up 80s-90s action films in a nutshell. Now, there is every reason to believe that at least a couple of these are little more than cameos, but still. Any more beefcake and I might think about pinch-hitting for the other team for a couple hours. Like "Salt", plot/acting are irrelevant, though for different reasons.

"Harry Potter #17" - meh. I never really got on the band wagon with this franchise.

"Rapunzel" - Cosette will probably like it.

"Tron: Legacy" - Another OMG - YEEEESSSSS!!! In the same era as "Clash of the Titans" this was another big favorite of mine growing up, and still like re-watching the original. I'm cautiously getting my hopes up. A must for the theater.

"Green Hornet" - meh.

I think I saw maybe 4 movies in 2009 (two of them last week). I'm hoping to see more in the theater this year - especially since at least 4 of the ones above rate a "Must see in the theater" for me.