Happy Birthday Dad!

Geno, Geezer & Mike

My Dad in the middle, with his high-school buddy Geno on the left, and me on the right!

Happy Birthday Dad!

My Dad is truly a one of a kind guy.  He sacrificed a lot when Robin and I were kids so that we could do things that we ordinarily wouldn’t be able to do.  Whenever we would go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, Mom and Dad would take us, then Dad would usually drive back home later on would drive back and pick us up, or if needed, we would fly home.  The point here is that most of the time the only vacation my dad ever got was one away from his punky kids! :)

My dad worked most of his life as a self-employed cabinetmaker.  He was very reputable, and word spread for him only by way of word of mouth.  My dad did many incredible projects, all out of our single car garage at my parents home in Northern Virginia, and my sister and I would help him out sometimes when he needed help.

As I said, Dad was a reputable man, based on his upbringing, so he would only take 1/2 of the pay first in order to get the supplies he needed, and then take the rest of the money at delivery.  He also had lower overhead then a lot of big cabinet firms did, so as a result he would charge less — less then he probably should have charged, because he did excellent work, and he didn’t charge enough for the pieces he created.

I know that this will probably sound weird to my dad, because in all honesty, I had no great desire to follow in my Dad’s footsteps and become a cabinetmaker, but some of the best moments we had as father and son were in those times when I was helping him deliver and install the cabinets and other works that his clients asked of him.

I’ll never forget the many times that we rode out to Mr. & Mrs. Boyd’s house near Georgetown.  Mr. Boyd had worked for the DC Police Department before retirement, and he and his wife had a very eclectic house, that was high up on a vista, and had a backyard that sloped pretty steeply right down to the water of the Potomac River.  I loved visiting their house with Dad, and helping him out, because inevitably Dad would let me take a break and walk around outside for a few minutes, examining all of the incredible nooks and crannies of the Boyd homestead.

My Dad did a lot of work that he took pride in, some of it big, and some of it small, and some of it, even that ended up being used around the country and even ended up being featured in publications!  My dad was commissioned once to make a gavel for a lawyer publication, if memory serves me correctly, and the gavel he mad was used on the cover photo of the magazine.

Dad also did some work for United Airlines, who my Grandpa worked for before he retired from the company.  Dad created some special kiosk type cabinets that we transported to the Newark Airport in Newark, NJ, and were used in the main terminal for many years of reliable operation.

After I moved to North Carolina, my dad and I did a few trips together while I was in my single days.  One trip we took to visit my Aunt Ginny in Missouri, stopping along the way and visiting with my Great Aunt in Dayton, Ohio, and having lunch with one of my Dad’s cousins (I know, my cousin too) in Illinois before reaching the St. Louis area.  That was a memorable trip, and one that I haven’t forgotten, all these many years later.

Another trip that I took with Dad was when we went camping down the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway.  Dad was so excited, he read all up on it about how to tie up your food to keep it from bears, where we should stop, and so forth.  We spent three nights camping.  The first night, after we entered the Skyline Drive, we checked in so they knew we were camping, and the first words out of Dad’s mouth were “How far down is Bear Den Mountain?”  He wanted to camp there in case we might meet up with a bear!  Needless to say, we never saw a bear at all…

However, when we got there, we took our gear out of the car and started hiking along the trail to find a spot to camp, and not paying attention, we probably hiked a mile downhill until we stopped to setup camp.  Of course, the next day, we had to hike a mile uphill with all of our gear!  That was not so much fun for us!

The second day we stopped at a spot near the end of the day, and hiked uphill to a spot — but no where near the mile we hiked the first day.  We setup camp on a slightly uneven spot, which ended up being a problem for me because it rained that night — and the rain just happened to drip on my head!  Lucky for me I had my old man there to nag until he fixed it…

On the third night, I think we were both getting sick of camping, so we found a spot that had campsites right next to where you park your car!  That worked for me, so that’s what we did!  Do you spot a trend here?

During our travels, though, we experienced some incredible moments — such as the time we had to stop right in the middle of the road because there were literally dozens of wild turkeys just standing in the middle of the road.  I would guess that there were easily 30 or 40 turkeys!

We also ate a great meal in Linville Falls, NC, at a local restaurant there that had the distinction of having signs up in the restaurant telling you when you were entering a different county, because 3 counties intersect in Linville Falls!

Now that I’m married, my travels with my dad are fewer and more spaced out, but we are still able to enjoy some time together.  One time when my parents came down, Dad and I spent some time and went on a photo shoot together.  Dad has recaptured his love of photography, and takes some wonderful photos that have even been awarded ribbons at contests before!  I have an affinity for trains, so I’ll close with this picture Dad took of this wonderful train.  Enjoy!

734 Coming out of Ridgely

Thank you all for reading my long post — I’m sorry that it was so long, but I’ve only got one Dad, and I wanted him to know how much wisdom he has imparted on me over the years. It’s not always easy to write about your loved ones, but Dad, I love you, and I hope you enjoyed your post — and your photo in the post as well!  Happy Birthday Dad!

 

Friendship Friday – My Brother-in-Christ, Hardin!

Hardin and his family

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s Friendship Friday post!  This special series of posts takes a little break from the typical Disney posts that we talk about, and instead focuses on the special people in my life that have helped to shape me into the person that I am today.  Today I would like to talk about my great friend, Hardin!

Hardin is the leader of the small group at my Bible Study.  I mentioned last week that the Bible Study I attend is known as The Men’s Study, and the way it is broken up, each week we meet in what’s known as our small group for discussion, and then after we go over the lesson plan, we meet all together for a lesson by the leader of the group, Russ Andrews.  Hardin is my small group leader, but more importantly, he is a friend, mentor, witness, a person who holds me accountable, and like Monica last week, I feel I can say that Hardin knows God, and God knows him as well.

I first met Hardin about two years ago when I was finding out who my leader would be for my second year of taking the Men’s Study Bible Study course.  The first year I had my friend Clint as my leader, and to be honest, I was a little bummed that I didn’t get Clint for my second year as well because I felt I learned a great deal that first year.  As a rule, I’m not someone that likes change a whole lot! :)

However, I wasn’t about to tell Hardin that I wanted to change leaders, that’s not my style, so I resolved to make the most of it, see what would happen, and let God work His will on me both inside and outside of class.

Well, suffice it to say that Hardin, James, and the whole gang of students had a terrific year, and we all learned together more about our Savior, Jesus.  Along the way I learned that Hardin owns his own business, that Monica (from last week) used to work for him, and that, like me, Hardin is the sole man in his household!  In his case, he has two daughters to go along with his wonderful wife, while we just have one, but Hardin and I are definitely in the minority in our homes!

The primary focus of the Men’s Study, of course is about learning more about Jesus, and walking a path with Him more often, rather then taking your own path.  However, in the midst of all of that great group discussion and fellowship, as I said, I found not only a leader for my Bible Study, but I’ve also discovered how much of a friend Hardin — and all the guys — are.

When I talk about the blessings that God has bestowed upon me in my life, one of the biggest blessings has been my fellowship with the men of the Men’s Study.  I am much better off now then before I started this Bible Study, and it is in many ways because of men like Hardin.

Thank you for stopping by and reading about my Friendship Friday friend, Hardin!  If you live in the Raleigh, NC area and would like to join our Bible Study, please reach out to me and shoot me an email or leave me a comment below!  Now, read about the friend that my good friend Heidi is talking about today on her post!  Just click on the button below, and thanks!

Friendship Friday – My good friend Monica

My good friend Monica, posing with Sophie at the Animal Kingdom Villa

My good friend Monica, posing with Sophie at the Animal Kingdom Villas

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Friendship Friday!  Today I am turning my attention to one of my best friends — our dear friend Monica!  Monica, her husband Doug, and her daughter ML go to the same church we do, and the highest compliment that I can give Monica is that she walks with the Lord, and is a strong Witness to His word!

We first met Monica several years ago at our church, Edenton Street UMC, but we only knew her as “the lady that does the children’s sermon.”  Later on, though, we re-met her when her daughter Madelyne-Lois started taking dance in the same class that Sophie did, and it was then that we remembered where we knew her from.  From that moment on, ML and Sophie became almost sisters, and Cindy and I were blessed to have Monica and her husband Doug in our lives.

Over the years, we’ve laughed together, cried together, prayed together, and counseled together.  Doug and I attend the same Bible Study — it’s called The Mens Study, and it is comprised of about 250 men, learning more about God, Jesus, what it means to be a Christian, what it takes to be a Christian, and reaping the wonderful benefits of being in fellowship with your fellow believers.  I will tell you right now, I don’t think there is anything more powerful that I’ve experienced with regards to my faith then hearing 250 men singing hymns at the top of their lungs in church.  It brings chills down my spine just to think of it!

As I’ve said before, one of the main reasons we bought our DVC membership was so that we could invite our dear family and friends to enjoy all that Walt Disney World has to offer with us, and not have to worry about the hotel costs associated with such a trip.  This past June, Cindy, Sophie and I were able to take our dear friends Kerry and Neal and their kids, my niece Stephanie, her (at the time) boyfriend Shane, his brother Kyle, and Monica and ML with us — and it was a wonderful time.

When I think of the blessings that I’ve received in this life of mine, first and foremost, of course (other then Jesus, of course), is Cindy and Sophie, and all that they mean to me.  Our family is certainly second, and of our friends, Monica is at the top of the list.

As I wrap up this week’s Friendship Friday post, I think the three things that best sum up Monica is this:

  1. She walks with the Lord, she talks with the Lord, and the Holy Spirit is plainly evident at one glance.
  2. Not a day goes by when she isn’t doing something for someone other then herself, whether it be family, friends, co-workers, or a stranger she meets on the street.
  3. Just knowing Monica is a blessing, because she has the kind of spirit that stays around long after she leaves the room.

My whole family is blessed to know Monica, her husband Doug, and their wonderful daughter Madelyne-Lois.  God knew what He was doing when he put that family back into our lives, and we are the better for it.

Thank you so much for joining me this week on my Friendship Friday post!  As you all know, this great idea was the brainchild of my dear friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head!  Click on the button below to see who she is featuring this week, and thanks for stopping by!

Friendship Friday – Dad

Geno, Geezer & Mike

My Dad in the middle, with his high-school buddy Geno on the left, and me on the right!

Welcome to this week’s Friendship Friday post!  Today’s post is dedicated to my dad, Joe, who celebrates his birthday this Sunday!  Happy Birthday Dad!

My Dad is truly a one of a kind guy.  He sacrificed a lot when Robin and I were kids so that we could do things that we ordinarily wouldn’t be able to do.  Whenever we would go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, Mom and Dad would take us, then Dad would usually drive back home later on would drive back and pick us up, or if needed, we would fly home.  The point here is that most of the time the only vacation my dad ever got was one away from his punky kids! :)

My dad worked most of his life as a self-employed cabinetmaker.  He was very reputable, and word spread for him only by way of word of mouth.  My dad did many incredible projects, all out of our single car garage at my parents home in Northern Virginia, and my sister and I would help him out sometimes when he needed help.

As I said, Dad was a reputable man, based on his upbringing, so he would only take 1/2 of the pay first in order to get the supplies he needed, and then take the rest of the money at delivery.  He also had lower overhead then a lot of big cabinet firms did, so as a result he would charge less — less then he probably should have charged, because he did excellent work, and he didn’t charge enough for the pieces he created.

I know that this will probably sound weird to my dad, because in all honesty, I had no great desire to follow in my Dad’s footsteps and become a cabinetmaker, but some of the best moments we had as father and son were in those times when I was helping him deliver and install the cabinets and other works that his clients asked of him.

I’ll never forget the many times that we rode out to Mr. & Mrs. Boyd’s house near Georgetown.  Mr. Boyd had worked for the DC Police Department before retirement, and he and his wife had a very eclectic house, that was high up on a vista, and had a backyard that sloped pretty steeply right down to the water of the Potomac River.  I loved visiting their house with Dad, and helping him out, because inevitably Dad would let me take a break and walk around outside for a few minutes, examining all of the incredible nooks and crannies of the Boyd homestead.

My Dad did a lot of work that he took pride in, some of it big, and some of it small, and some of it, even that ended up being used around the country and even ended up being featured in publications!  My dad was commissioned once to make a gavel for a lawyer publication, if memory serves me correctly, and the gavel he mad was used on the cover photo of the magazine.

Dad also did some work for United Airlines, who my Grandpa worked for before he retired from the company.  Dad created some special kiosk type cabinets that we transported to the Newark Airport in Newark, NJ, and were used in the main terminal for many years of reliable operation.

After I moved to North Carolina, my dad and I did a few trips together while I was in my single days.  One trip we took to visit my Aunt Ginny in Missouri, stopping along the way and visiting with my Great Aunt in Dayton, Ohio, and having lunch with one of my Dad’s cousins (I know, my cousin too) in Illinois before reaching the St. Louis area.  That was a memorable trip, and one that I haven’t forgotten, all these many years later.

Another trip that I took with Dad was when we went camping down the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway.  Dad was so excited, he read all up on it about how to tie up your food to keep it from bears, where we should stop, and so forth.  We spent three nights camping.  The first night, after we entered the Skyline Drive, we checked in so they knew we were camping, and the first words out of Dad’s mouth were “How far down is Bear Den Mountain?”  He wanted to camp there in case we might meet up with a bear!  Needless to say, we never saw a bear at all…

However, when we got there, we took our gear out of the car and started hiking along the trail to find a spot to camp, and not paying attention, we probably hiked a mile downhill until we stopped to setup camp.  Of course, the next day, we had to hike a mile uphill with all of our gear!  That was not so much fun for us!

The second day we stopped at a spot near the end of the day, and hiked uphill to a spot — but no where near the mile we hiked the first day.  We setup camp on a slightly uneven spot, which ended up being a problem for me because it rained that night — and the rain just happened to drip on my head!  Lucky for me I had my old man there to nag until he fixed it…

On the third night, I think we were both getting sick of camping, so we found a spot that had campsites right next to where you park your car!  That worked for me, so that’s what we did!  Do you spot a trend here?

During our travels, though, we experienced some incredible moments — such as the time we had to stop right in the middle of the road because there were literally dozens of wild turkeys just standing in the middle of the road.  I would guess that there were easily 30 or 40 turkeys!

We also ate a great meal in Linville Falls, NC, at a local restaurant there that had the distinction of having signs up in the restaurant telling you when you were entering a different county, because 3 counties intersect in Linville Falls!

Now that I’m married, my travels with my dad are fewer and more spaced out, but we are still able to enjoy some time together.  The last time that my parents came down, Dad and I spent some time and went on a photo shoot together.  Dad has recaptured his love of photography, and takes some wonderful photos that have even been awarded ribbons at contests before!  I have an affinity for trains, so I’ll close with this picture Dad took of this wonderful train.  Enjoy!

734 Coming out of Ridgely

Thank you all for reading my long post — I’m sorry that it was so long, but I’ve only got one Dad, and I wanted him to know how much wisdom he has imparted on me over the years. It’s not always easy to write about your loved ones, but Dad, I love you, and I hope you enjoyed your post — and your photo in the post as well!  Happy Birthday, Dad!

As you all know, the inspiration for Friendship Friday came from my friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head.  Stop by her post by clicking on the button below and see what great friend she is focusing on today!

Friendship Friday: My sister, Robin

Robin's Family

The Cunningham Clan, from left -> Right: Brett, Stephanie, Leslie, Jim, and Robin.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the simple things in life.  Family, friends, I have have learned that some of the best moments in life happen when we are willing to let God take over, and just “be” in the moment.  Today’s Friendship Friday tribute is in honor of my sister Robin, both the little girl that annoyed the crap out of me, and now the woman that has a very dear place in my heart.

Robin is my only sister, and she is the oldest.  Born a couple of years before me, I don’t remember much about my sister until we all moved to Sterling when my parents bought their first house.  I have a lot of memories of my childhood, and almost all of them are good memories.

Robin was a tom-boy as a girl, always out and about getting into things outside.  Unfortunately for Robin, this came back to bite her on more then one occasion.  For example, Robin lost both of her two front top teeth in separate accidents.  She lost the first one by having a board come loose as she propped up the neighbors sandbox so I and other kids could look for salamanders.  Thinking back on that, it’s kind of amazing that she didn’t have a concussion too as the board slipped out of her hands and hit her square on the chin.  Ouch.

Like all little girls I expect, Robin was a Daddy’s Girl.  She loved it when Dad would come home from work.  If memory serves me correctly, Robin lost the second tooth by running down the hallway to welcome home Dad, and slipping on the tile floor.

Add to those two accidents the time she had to have a tetanus shot because she stepped on a rusty nail in the woods, the teeth she had to have pulled for her braces (I think), and the time she egged me on enough that I put my fist through our storm door glass insert (I’ve still got the scar from that on my thumb!) — and it truly shows that God had a plan for her simply because she made it through childhood in almost one piece!

Robin and Jim were married on May 25, 1985, with Robin being just 19 years old — two months to the day before she would turn 20.  Their first child, Brett, was born in June, 1986, just a month before Robin would celebrate her 21st birthday!  So Robin grew up in a hurry.

Really, it wasn’t until Robin moved out of the house that I began to appreciate her good qualities (yes, I’m a slow learner.)  Robin isn’t afraid to try anything once.  Proof positive is the fact that she has gone back to school, and is *thisclose* to finishing her work to becoming a full-fledged teacher!

The biggest compliment that I can give anyone is the one that I have for Robin.  She knows Jesus, and Jesus knows her.  Robin and Jim have had three children in their almost 28 years of marriage, Brett, Leslie, and Stephanie, and the surest evidence of the success of Jim and Robin lies in their kids.  Brett, Leslie, and Stephanie have been raised into adulthood by two loving parents, and are making their own mark on the world in which they live.  Their success is a direct result of the role that Robin and Jim have played on nurturing, mentoring, and leading them on the path they are meant for.

I hope that I have conveyed in my post what my sister Robin means to me.  It isn’t always easy writing about a loved one, and I wanted to capture as best I could the love I have for my sister.  In the end, I think the last thing I have to say is this:

I love you, Robin.