Jan 23, 2008

Making "50" Design Challenge

I am hosting a "Making 50" challenge! Here is how you can participate...
  1. Find a creative way to display the number "50" (example above).
  2. Take a photo of your creation.
  3. Email it to me with a title or caption to display beneath the photo (an email link can be found in my Profile.)
  4. The Deadline to submit is Monday, January 28th at Midnight PST.
I will display the photos here on my Birthday, January 29th. On January 30th, my blog visitors will be allowed to vote on the ENTRY they believe to be THE MOST CREATIVE. There is so much creativity in the blogosphere, I can't wait to see what YOU come up with!


Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest. —Larry Lorenzoni

Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician. —Author Unknown

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened. —Jennifer Yane

Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself. —Tom Wilson

Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed. —Charles Schulz

Thanks to modern medical advances such as antibiotics, nasal spray, and Diet Coke, it has become routine for people in the civilized world to pass the age of 40, sometimes more than once. —Dave Barry, "Your Disintegrating Body," Dave Barry Turns 40, 1990

Jan 21, 2008

Reflections on the Carollton, Kentucky Bus Crash

Carrollton, Kentucky

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery.
And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present. 
—Babatunde Olatunji

I mentioned that I would be returning from this weekend's Women's Retreat with more Birthday frolic, and indeed that is my plan. However, this weekend created an undeniable alteration in my perspective of things and I feel compelled to share it with you. My Kentucky friends will immediately recognize the above photo and, no doubt, will have their own personal stories to tell.

No, I didn't travel to Kentucky for this retreat. I stayed in a cozy hotel in Costa Mesa, California, just southeast of where I reside. Actually, Kentucky came to me in the form of an energetic 66-year old, pint sized Evangelist by the name of Martha Tennison.

Martha Tennison is careful to address the above 1988 bus crash as a tragedy and not an accident. Since a drunk driver was responsible, she states it like this: "It's not an accident when someone decides to drink and drive."

Martha first became aware of this tragedy when she received a phone call and was told to report immediately to her church — First Assembly in Radcliff, Kentucky — where she and her husband, Don, pastor a lively congregation. She was to discover that the bus transporting 67 of their church members (63 children and 4 adults) from Kings Island Theme Park back to the church, had been in a serious accident. One of the occupants was her only child, a son by the name of Allen Tennison.

The Kentucky Guide wrote:

“The collision and subsequent fire involving a church bus at Carrollton, Kentucky on May 14, 1988 was one of the most disastrous bus accidents in United States history. About 11 PM on a Saturday night, a drunk driver traveling the wrong way on an interstate highway collided head-on with a school bus which was in use as a church bus. The initial crash was exacerbated by the bus catching fire and difficulties encountered by the occupants attempting to evacuate the crowded bus in the smoke and darkness.”

As other parents (unaware of the crash) were arriving at the church to pick up their children, Martha and Don learned that their son was one of 6 people who miraculously escaped this disaster unscathed. At the beginning of the bus trip, Allen had been sitting near the driver. However, he noticed a girl seated at the back of the bus who was new to the youth group. When no one appeared to be talking to her, he traded seats so that he could join her. Because of this move, he was strategically positioned for evacuation when the bus exploded in flames. Unfortunately, the person he traded with perished. The force of the collision and the ensuing fire had rendered the front exit unusable.

There were 27 people killed in this bus crash and 34 injured: some burned beyond recognition. I have provided links at the end of this post so that you may read more about this tragedy; however, I want to take a moment to express what inspired this post.

It was a tearful Retreat weekend as we attempted to fathom the pain of those who suffered incredible losses. Yet, there was a message entwined within the retelling of this tragedy that pierced my heart, especially as I reflect on my almost 50 years of life. This message was: no regrets.

Martha told the story of one mother who is still a prisoner of this accident. The woman lost her 13-year old son and has been unable to forgive herself due to the last frustrated conversation that took place between them. She had berated him for a number of things including that of not cleaning up his room. Afterwards, her son tidied up his room and then went to bed, crying himself to sleep. Due to her work schedule that week, she wasn't able to touch base with him before he boarded the bus on the mournful day of the crash. Later, when she walked into his "clean" room, she found a note taped to his mirror. It read something like this: "Dear Mom: I didn't clean my room because you told me so. I cleaned my room because I love you."

I speedily began to review the patterns and pressures that have frustrated me, heated discussions with my family, and the normal glitches in a day that I have often allowed to distract me from what really matters. I weighed the potential for regret in any one of these scenarios and I recognized the Grace that I have been given by my Heavenly Father.

Martha used the illustration of how we will extend to guests what we won't extend to our families. We can be as sweet as pie to a visitor who walks on our freshly waxed floor. A family member on the other hand might receive an intense scolding.

This weekend wasn't necessarily a revelation, but it did make me stop and take inventory. The bottom line is that we need to live each day as if it's our last: daily affirming those who are dear to us with love and life giving words. We aren't promised tomorrow. When it comes to our "famous last words," what gift will we leave?