Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Time–A time of Gratitude and Reflection

Christmas was always the most fun time of the year for us growing up. Whether it was hoping for a white Christmas or just not being in school, it was great!

Our family always had the same rituals. We would go to church the night before. We would try and do an earlier service and then get something to eat. Sometimes we would head down to Union Station to eat at a restaurant downtown. If we were lucky, the fudge factory would be going singing and making fudge.

We would get home and would be able to open one present the night before. My brother and I would actually be patient to see which would be the right present to open. Of course, we had scouted it out for the past 24 hours.

The next morning, my brother and I were ready to go!3 We were extremely patient and be quietly waiting in our rooms to hear the trigger to come downstairs. We were silent and in reflection of all that we had been blessed with. Okay, maybe that was in some crazy alternative universe. We were usually at the top of the stairs and when we heard the Christmas music play, we would race downstairs. Being almost 8 years older than my brother, I would usually lead the charge, see picture to the left. (I apologize to all regarding the Oklahoma Sooners t-shirt. I have nothing to say for that.)

Our favorite family movie was A Christmas Story. We watched it as much as possible and I still laugh to this day over those stupid dogs that chase the old man around. One year, my father did what Ralphie’s father did with the Red Rider BB Gun. Accept with me, it was a baseball bat I had been wanting. When all the presents were open, he had this smile on his face. He pointed to a closet in the hallway and I went over there and saw an oddly shaped present in the closet. To this day, it makes me smile.

The years have gone by since those days. I have moved to Phoenix and back. We have celebrated Christmas in Phoenix to keep the traditions going. The first time my wife ever came to St. Louis, we flew in Christmas night just to see my family on Christmas. The year I got married was the first year we were not around each other on Christmas. I had just gotten married and had been home a few weeks beforehand. It was an unusual feeling. The wife and I went to DSC03553San Diego to celebrate the holiday and had our first Christmas dinner as a married couple: Carl’s Jr. or Hardees to the Midwesterners. Sadly, this is a tradition we have kept. The Christmas’s since then, we have had Hardees at some point. Sounds crazy and NOT healthy, but it reminds us of our first Christmas together.

This year will be unusual, especially for my parents. This is their first Christmas with my brother not able to join us. He has moved Andrew's Graduation 031this year to Ft. Meyers, FL. We talk nearly on a daily basis and hope and pray he can enjoy the holiday. I am sure we will be sending him pictures and video of his 21 month year old nephew tearing into some presents!

It gets me to think though. They call it the most wonderful time of the year. For some people though it is very tough. Whether there may be a family member who has died or families are not together by choice or by other circumstances. It can be the most CHALLENGING time of the year for some. All I can say for encouragement is to remember those who are not with you. Celebrate that they have made a footprint in your life that you miss them this time of year. I think we would all would loved to be remembered like that one day.

My mom gave me a CD one year for Christmas. One song is pretty tough to hear without getting emotional. It reminds us of a group of people that cannot be home for Christmas; however, I think it works for all of us that cannot celebrate Christmas with all our loved ones. It is Josh Groban’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

Salute to our Troops

May God Bless you all and have a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ode to My Wife

Well, today marks my wife’s 30++ Birthday. We have just found out that our second child on the way will be another boy. She has become a part of the Young family tradition. My father has two 1565637258_mbrothers. His oldest brother has two boys and his two boys have a combined three boys and one girl (the only girl). My dad had two boys and we are now working on our second boy. My dad’s youngest brother has three boys. If you are trying to count that is a total of 15 boys against one girl.

Anyway, I am quite thankful for my bride. She has become an outstanding mother to Cameron and no doubt that baby number two will receive the same blessings as Cameron. It has been an adventure time with Cameron, since his birth; however, she has been the leader on what to do when it comes to handling him. Sometimes when she asks for me to do something for Cameron, I may think in my head to hesitate; however, I know there is a reason for it. Even if that reason is to let her breath for a minute, then I need to make it happen. I learn something new everyday from her on how to handle parenthood.

We started dating on September 20, 2006. That’s right, I remember the date! She has dealt with several of my vices. One would be sports. She has turned into a big time St. Louis Cardinals fan, mainly because of me. A month after we started dating, the PA140133_0266_266Cardinals were making their run at the 2006 World Series. She was trying to figure out why I was wearing the same sweatshirt and why I watched the games by myself. Welcome to the world of a superstitious sports fan. This year as the Cardinals won the World Series again, she was an old pro at things. She got to enjoy this World Series with me as we were at Game Seven of the World Series.

Another vice of mine: Work. A lot of times I will take work home with me or spend a few extra hours a week at work. It does come with the territory of being a hotel General Manager. You get called it at odd hours of the night. It can be a frustrating issue, but a necessary issue. She has accepted it with a TON of grace. As long as work does not replace family as the priority in our lives, she is okay with the job requirements.

Each day we are together, I see more and more we were meant to be. Whether it being her acceptance of my vices or the fact we get emotional over the same things. I realized that one night back in 2008. We had been engaged for a few months and were watching the DOVE awards, the Christian music world Grammy’s. As we were watching a song came on that dealt with the struggles she was going DSCN0788through (no the struggles were not getting married to me). After she left and went home, I know that was a sign from God that she was meant for me. I get emotional over some songs I hear as well. I always thought that when I got married, I would have to explain to the woman I married why I cry over random songs. Now I don’t. She knows. That is just who she is. She understands and loves me for who I am, just like our Father above.

To end this, of course, a song. This was played at our wedding by the recording artist himself. It was a fun wedding present for my wife to have this song played at our wedding. I love you Stephanie.

She–Radial Angel

Picture one taken by Erik Van Duyn, 2006.

Picture taken at our rehearsal dinner, 2008. No idea who took it.

Picture three taken by Kristi Yehling at Cameron’s First baseball game, May 2011.

Video taken at our wedding by Erik Van Duyn, November 15, 2008.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you?

I know everyone is thinking back where they were ten years ago today. I am one of those people who was watching everything unfolding and left in shock.

I was on my way to campus at the University of Missouri – Columbia with my roommate. We were heading to campus as he had class early. We were listening to the radio just after 8am our time and heard two planes had crashed in the World Trade Center. I went to the library to see what was going on and was watching everything unfold on television. I remember trying to get online to access the news websites (MSNBC, CNN, etc.) and they were overloaded and not coming up. I remember watching the towers come down on a 13 inch television in the library with about 100 other students. Then we started to wander around campus. Classes were being cancelled. I called home and was talking with my parents. We had a friend who had just graduated from Mizzou who had gone to New York City and we could not get ahold of him. Later we found out he was about 20 blocks away from the devastation there.

All sporting events were cancelled for that week. Airports were shut down. Our country was in lockdown. No one was going anywhere.

Eventually things started to get back to normal; however, we are now referred to as living in a post-9/11 society. We seem to be in a place where America was after Pearl Harbor 1941.

Two videos got to me after this event. One was made almost a day or two afterwards. U2 had recently released an album and MTV put together a montage of the events to the song “Walk On.”

U2–Walk On

The second one I heard a few years later. We wonder where God is when we go through troubles and yet when life is good, He is all around us. We ask why could He ever let this happen if he was such a loving God. Guess what? He was there. He was there with everyone who died that day and those who survived. He was with everyone, like He is everyday. Some just choose not to see. It is quite emotional to listen to and see the photo montage.

Meet me in the Stairwell

Lastly, being from St. Louis, I had to add this. We watched this live in Columbia, MO and I lost it listening to this. Jack Buck is a Hall of Fame announcer who made one of his last appearances at the first game since 9/11. He got into poetry near the end of his life and he wrote this poem. He read it to the sold out crown at Busch Stadium II.

Jack Buck–Poem

This year is the ten year anniversary of it; however, make sure we remember this daily. Remember those who risked their lives for others that day. Remember those who are serving right now halfway around the world so we can continue to be free. I am thankful for all of them and I will make sure my children will understand this in the future as well.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

60 Years!

Today is a special day in our family. Our dad turns 60 today. It is mind-numbing to think that he is 60 years old. He has been a father 1for well more than half his life now. He has been a grandfather now for almost the past 18 months. He is someone extremely special and a huge blessing for all of us that can associate him with our family.

He brought me to countless baseball games growing up. Mind you, he was not a huge fan of baseball. His son was and that is why he would go to games. He took me to many of my own baseball games growing up. Many of those times he would have to race home from work, drop me off, go back home and eat and then come back to my games to support me. Now that I have a son, I get how much that can drain you. Some days after work, you want to come home and relax and your son wants something. Instead of Travis 086saying you are too tired or find another way to the game, he would drive me without hesitation. After a 9+ hour day at work, his relaxation was watching his son play baseball.

I think one of the coolest memories that my dad may have of his two sons working together was when I helped out coaching his soccer team when Andrew was in 4th and 5th grade. He got to watch one son coach and another son play. I think it was one of my favorite memories two of Andrew and myself working together and I hope it made our dad proud.

He has been there in the good and been there in the bad times. I remember on a warm summer night, he took me to the ER after I cut my chin pretty bad on the sidewalk. We were there until after 1 in the morning and he had to work the next day. He could have cared less, his son wasCameron's Birthday 024 hurting. When I was much older, he came out to Phoenix when I had surgery for the first time. He acted the way a father should when the hospital could not find me after a surgery that was supposed to take two hours take four hours. He wanted to know where his son was and he was going to check every room if no one was going to help him. The most recent memory of going through something with him there is what happened to me almost 18 months ago now when I had to have brain surgery. He stayed with me in the ER beforehand while they did the CAT scan. He was with me the next day when I remember waking up. He was there with me when the doctor told me I needed brain surgery. He prayed with me with the pastor at our church. He walked behind me as I got wheeled to surgery and had to stop by my wife’s room to potentially say good-bye. He was there afterwards as well. That symbolized it all. He is there when life is great and when life has been bad.

The thing that I think has pushed him along with this are two people. The first and most important, is the love of our Heavenly Father. He has worked so hard at being an amazing husband, dad and now grandfather. He gets that from the love that God showed us by sending his only son to die for us. My dad has shows this same love to us and it is an amazing blessing to have him as a dad.

The second person has been his wife and my mother. She has always IMG_0679been by his side through thick and thin. She encouraged him with work, with his sons and now with his grandson. I mentioned how he was there with me when I got the news about brain surgery. Guess who was right next to him? She has always been by his side to support him in all times. She lives out those marriage vows to a tee. It is so encouraging to see that after so many years, the support she always has for him. She may not agree with him in everything; however, she loves him and her family and will support him at all costs.

Well dad, I hope you enjoy your birthday today. This is your day. I know you are the most humble man I have ever met, but celebrate today as being your day. 60 years. Quite a day. Thank you for your leadership, your support, your kindness, but most importantly, your love!

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Places to go visit–Seattle, WA

I have been thinking a lot lately of the places I have been to over the years. My first blog was on New Orleans. It does hold a special place in my heart as the town is where my dad grew up and have been there many times in my life. The following town does not have any sentimental reason on why I like it. It was just a lot of fun.

I have been to Seattle, WA twice in my life, six years apart. The first time I met a buddy who was doing a trip along the coastline and we met up there. We stayed close to downtown and did three days of all touristy things. We hit up the Space Needle. We went to Pike Place Fish Market and watched them throw fish right past our heads. We ate a lot of good seafood while we were there. We attended a Seattle Mariners game and had AWESOME seats thanks to a family friend.

The second time I went to Seattle was to visit some friends who I had not seen in years. They lived just outside of Seattle in a town called Bothell. During my time there, we did not even come close to downtown Seattle and loved it! It shows the variety of things to do in the city. The only real similar thing from the previous Seattle trip was the awesome seafood that we had. We drove all around and saw some great scenery. We “toured” Red Hook Brewery and by toured, we sat in a room with 50 other people and sampled some fresh adult beverages. I got to see watch salmon attempt to swim upstream. What this trip was teaching me was that there was so much more to this town than downtown.

I went to Seattle in May the first trip and August the second time. Both times, the weather cooperated for me (which I was told was a tad unusual). The first trip, I would not recommend the hotel; however, the second trip, I stayed at the SpringHill Suites in Bothell. Great hotel. If you do go to Seattle with someone who has never been, look for a hotel in downtown. That way, you are within walking distance of so many places. Weather you want to take a ferry trip or check out the night life downtown, it is very accessible. Downtown was very clean when we were down there. People care about their town up in Seattle.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why Baseball Means So Much to me

I woke up yesterday like it was any other morning during the work week. I was checking on work from the night before when I overheard something on the television that a fan had died after he fell at a ballpark. Automatically, I get cynical and think, oh he was drunk and hit his head. A few minutes later, I was in tears.

Shannon Stone was a 39 year-old husband and father to a 6 year old son. He loved to play catch with his son and loved going to Texas Rangers games with him. On that fateful Thursday evening, he took his son to a make-up game. That is correct, the game was not supposed to have even been played; however, due to rain, the game was pushed back from its’ earlier date. Anyway, on the way to the game, he stopped and bought a brand new glove for his son hoping to catch a ball. The look on his son’s face must have been electric. I know the feeling of a brand new glove, holding it down to try and break it in as soon as possible. Wrapping it in 800 rubber bands while sitting on it so that it works right for you sooner.

While at the game, there was a foul ball that ricocheted back onto the field near Josh Hamilton, the reigning American League MVP. As he has done MANY times in the past, Josh saw a fan he wanted to give the ball too and tossed it his way. Mr. Stone lunged for the ball and caught it. However, as he lunged he began to lose his balance and he fell 14 feet directly on his head. That electric look that his son had a few hours earlier turned to horror.

As paramedics rushed to him, he told the paramedics to make sure they got his son to go to the hospital with him and that he was alone. In his last few breaths, he was not worried about himself, but his son. Mr. Stone, as he was rushed to the hospital with his son in the front seat, went into cardiac arrest and died.

I am not sure how many games I went to with my dad growing He has taken me to many games and dealt with a crazy baseball fan. He is not a baseball nut like me, thankfully. But you know what? He is a dad who loves his son, just like Mr. Stone was. He would do anything to bring joy to his son’s face.

I pray for Mr. Stone’s widow and 6 year old son. I pray for Josh Hamilton, who has suffered through many demons in the past and keeps fighting them through his strong faith. As my son, who has attended his first game with me grows up, I hope that I can provide the same smile to his face the Mr. Stone’s son felt when he got the brand new glove. Whether it is a new glove or just by having a catch with him. That is why Field of Dreams is my favorite baseball movie. The line at the end where Ray asks his dad for a catch and he responds with “I’d like that.”

Remember to enjoy as many catches with your sons and daughters today. Enjoy those moments and treasure them. Remember there is a son broken heart in Texas that cannot enjoy those moments again and keep him and his family in your prayers.

To read a great perspective on this, click here.

Picture taken by Kristi Yehling in September 2007.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Towns to Visit–New Orleans

So I wanted to write a few blogs of towns I have visited and enjoyed or places I would like to go visit.

This first one is kind of biased, due to the fact my father is from New Orleans; however, I have now been there twice without going with my parents and loved the town. The culture and history just has led to an overall great impression of New Orleans.

Yes, they have hurricanes down there. And no, not just the drink. I understand that the city is in a bowl and when it floods, well, we saw what happened in 2005. Here in St. Louis, we always refer to a serious flood as 1993. To the people of New Orleans, their 1993 was 2005 and then some. What they experienced in that town, I will never know. It is heartbreaking to relive that time every year near the end of August. I remember it like it was yesterday as I waited to hear from my dad about his family down there. It breaks my heart even more that four and a half years later, my wife, a buddy of mine and myself travel the lower ninth ward and STILL SEE DESTRUCTION. We did not take one picture of the destruction because it is not something you want to remember.

However, the town is coming back. Most of us have heard about New Orleans wining the Super Bowl back in February of 2010. Yes, I cheered them on as well as all of America did, minus Indianapolis. Companies are beginning to go back there and do their annual conferences there. I was apart of a company that we had our annual General Manager meeting down there. There is some sort of structure in the rebuilding process.

Things to do in New Orleans include the French Quarter (Bourbon Street), WWII Museum, plantation homes outside of New Orleans, Jackson Square, and food, food, and more food.

I was going through our pictures of our trips to New Orleans. WeLouisiana 005 went to the WWII Museum, mainly to see the bricks of my grandfathers who served. I found several pictures of food in our selection. Now my wife and I do love good food; however, when you take pictures of the food, now that is something special. When we flew into New Orleans, we got our rental car and before driving to my grandmother’s house, we went to Comeback Inn to get an Oyster Po’ Boy. I grew up on these when we went to New Orleans. After spending some time before my conference with family, we moved down to the Ritz Carlton in the French Quarter. Then the wife heard about the restaurant place near Jackson Square. She wandered that direction while I had opening meetings and tried their specialty, a beignet.  She had to take a picture of that too. Good thing she did, they did not last that long. Louisiana 018Normally, you enjoy the beignets with coffee. Now that the wife drinks coffee, we will make sure she enjoys these properly next time we are there. Beignets are similar to a doughnut, just not as heavy as one. They are coated with powdered sugar once they come out of the fryer. Of course, we did find some of the mix in a box down in New Orleans and have tried it several times at home. Still not the same as going down there and enjoying one down there.

Other food recommendations when you go down there: any étoufée combination (shrimp, crawfish, etc), Gumbo, and of course, oysters. If I must recommend a restaurant for Oysters is called the Acme Oyster House. There is a line to get into the restaurant when it opens daily and is worth the wait. The wife did not want to get raw oysters, but you can get the chargrilled oysters, which were awesome!!

I know a lot of things you can do at home or find at a local restaurant, at least you think you can. You have to visit the city to get the full effect of everything. Take a trip on the trolley on Canal Street. Go take a stroll through the French Quarter and see all the old shops and many, many daiquiri huts. Jackson Square is another great spot, highlighted by Jackson Square. Then, after stopping by Café Du Monde, go down to the French Market and see all the great deals you can get on souvenirs of the great town.

This is a great town with a lot of history behind it. Go experience New Orleans and you will see why it holds a special place to so many people from that town, or those who still reside to bring it back!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nick Charles–A Different Fighter

I only heard of Nick Charles a few months ago while watching television. He was CNN’s first sports-only broadcaster, if not the industry’s first. He was going up against a little know network at the time of ESPN.

He loved all the sports he covered; however, he had an infinite passion for boxing. He loved the artistry of it and he could describe a fight with such passion.

A few years ago, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Bladder Cancer. He was told that it was incurable. His focus from that point on was to live life to the fullest. He wanted to spend more time with his family as they were planning their dream home near Sante Fe, NM.

He started making videos for his daughter when she reaches certain birthdays and proms and her wedding day. His wife would hold the camera when he made the video diaries for his daughter.

He became a Christian in 1992 as his wife led him to Christ. When he got the word of this disease, he thought God was calling him home so he could get heaven ready for when his wife and daughter come home too. His focus was that this was God’s plan and he accepted that this was not his home on earth.

What an awesome example of how we should all live. A great example of Christ doing all we can while we are here for our friends and family before it is our time to go. Most of us do not know when that time is coming. Nick knew his time was short, especially these past few months.

Nick died yesterday morning, June 25th, 2011 overlooking his landscape at his dream home in New Mexico. It was overlooked that day by most as it was the second anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. But I think that is how he would rather have gone. Do not focus on him and be sad for him. He is home. It is where he preparing his Heavenly dream home for his wife and daughter.

Thank you Nick Charles for being such and inspiration through this incredible fight. The fight is now over and you are home.

To read more on the Nick Charles story on CNN, click here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father’s Day

I have been really trying to figure out what I am going to write for this Father’s Day blog for a few weeks now. I usually let God take over as I type these things and let the honesty type its’ way out. But then, God hit me while driving in my car a week ago.

I am heading into work and a song comes on the radio. I nearly had to pull over because it was a perfect example of my dad. The song is by a band named Sanctus Real. I had heard their song, “Lead Me” before; however, they were explaining what the song was about and who it was written. You hear what he is crying out for, probably what every father is crying out for, to be a better husband and father. And we cannot do this alone. So we have to turn to the Lord and ask for guidance and strength. This is the part that made me want to pull over: My dad does exactly that.

What an incredible leader of our family growing up and what a great example for me to strive to be one day. He fought, tooth and nail for our family. He not just walked the walk by telling us he loved us, he showed us he loved us. Whether it was picking me up from a 8:30pm baseball game on a Tuesday night during the summer or calling me a few months ago to check on me to see how I was.

If I had to choose a part of the song that hits me is when they talk about not being left hungry for love and being left out. My dad never did that. He was showed his love for us. He let God lead him so that my brother and I could be led by him.

Sanctus Real–Lead Me

The lyrics are as follows:

I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames, I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling, but on the inside
Oh, I can hear her saying
Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?
Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone
I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They're just children from the outside
I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine
They're independent, but on the inside
Oh, I can hear them saying
Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?
Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone
So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?
To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love
Chasing things that I could give up
I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me 'cause I can't do this alone
Father, lead me 'cause I can't do this alone

I have always said I want to strive to be like my father. He is an incredible husband, loving father and unbelievable grandfather. I thank him for his leadership of our family and for leading us the way a father should lead his family. I have a lot to live up to with my 15 month year old. But I think with using my father’s leadership and guidance of looking towards God for help, I think I will do just fine.

Thanks Dad for being the leader in our family that we needed. Thank you for being the example of how to be a terrific father. Thanks.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Liked Player on the Miami Heat???

I had to head into work for a little over an hour last Saturday morning and was listening to sports talk radio. They were doing a segment on the station about a player for the Miami Heat that has been having to deal with a large family issue over the past few weeks.

Actually, the story starts about four years ago when Miami Heat player Mike Miller and his wife donated one million dollars to a hospital in his home state of South Dakota. They donated the money specifically to a NICU unit for babies who have struggles when they are born. They had a child of their own already who had a very healthy entrance into the world and wanted to give something back to those who did have struggles. Very cool so far right??

Fast forward four years and now Mike Miller is now on the most hated team in the NBA. They had acquired now the most hated player in the league (LeBron James) and was now headed to the playoffs. More importantly, he was about ready to have his third child, a baby girl. She was due near the end of the playoffs and he was not sure how he was going to handle that along with the playoffs if they got that far.

Well, they did and she was born right around the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat were playing the Bulls and he was flying back and forth between Chicago and Miami to be with his wife. Unfortunately, the baby girl was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. She was losing oxygen fast. The family that donated the million dollars for towards the hospital four years ago now needed the same need the donated too. A little crazy how God works.

Jaelyn Miller has been released from the hospital now. She may have more surgery in the future due to a potential hole in her heart. They are not out of the woods yet; however, seeing what this family has gone through, I am praying that the see the little at the end of the tunnel.

For a more complete story on this topic, click here.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

What exactly is GMC??

So the other morning, while getting ready for work, I saw a commercial for Channel 338 on DirecTV. The title of the channel is GMC or Gospel Music Channel. It was introduced a few years ago on DirecTV. It had a lot of selection for Christian music and had programs that were uplifting as opposed to a lot of the stuff out there now.

So as I am watching this promo for the channel, not once did they mention God, let a lone the official title of their channel. It kept referring to having to look up… on your channel guide. The music that plays in the background is that of either Creed or Switchfoot. Now, Creed has long since been referred to as a possible Christian Rock band, but played on many secular stations. Switchfoot is a Christian band that has received a lot of airtime on secular stations. I will give them credit for using Switchfoot. However, why are we scared to reference God or even the word Gospel on the GOSPEL Music Channel? Then it really made me think.

How many times, do us as Christians, hide behind something that “excuses” our faith? When someone asks what church we go to, we answer with the church name and that is that. Are we ashamed to use the name of God? Are we like Peter when someone asks if we know Jesus and we say we have nothing to do with Him? I know comparing the Peter incident in the Bible is a different than the issue with GMC; however, does it come with the same result? Matthew 10:33 “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven” (New International Version).

I need to watch what I do in all situations so I do not sit back and analyze a conversation. The last thing I want to do after a conversation or commercial is reference Matthew 10:33.

Just a thought.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

20:28–More than just a day of serving.

Yesterday was a day for our church to serve the community of St. Louis by doing various acts of volunteering. Some people were out there fixing bicycles at a church, some people were assisting local schools in cleaning up their properties. Our group had the great opportunity to go and clean up the yard of a woman mid-town St. Louis.

The church gets the name from Matthew 20:28 which talks about how were not brought to this Earth to be served, but to serve. It does not matter who you are helping when you are serving because in the end, you are serving the Lord. I have done this the past two years and loved every minute of it. It shows how working together you can really do something amazing for someone.

We were out in the yard as soon as we got to this woman’s house. I met some amazing people who were also giving up their Saturday to help this woman. She was unable to care for her yard herself as she is elderly and in hospice care. We had people raking leaves that had been there for quite sometime. Several were pulling roots out of dead plants and re-mulching. A lot of people were doing some clipping of branches, including myself. Then I got a little ambitious.

I decided to knock down a tree that was growing into another yard. The only problem is I did it all with sheers, which I do not recommend! After I got it down, a neighbor looked over and kept thanking me. She told me that she was sure the woman we were helping appreciates all we were doing. I hope so, but if not, that was okay. Her and her husband kept coming out thanking us over and over. It was so crazy to witness that.

We finished up after several hours there and prayed. We all left and went our separate ways. I drove to pick the family up lunch. The wife had been serving by watching the kids of the volunteers all morning. She took control of the group to make sure they were all taken care of while the volunteers were out serving.

So I get to pick up some lunch and while waiting, I am reading a friend’s social media network page. Man was that a punch in the gut and a well deserved one. See I had given him a few jabs for what he was doing with his project. It was not meant to hurt him and we joked around about it. At the time, I thought, no big deal, right? WRONG! He really challenged me in my thinking, which was needed. He learned that a child he was serving complimentary BBQ too had just a cup of noodles yesterday for lunch. What he was doing was giving that child food that their family could not afford. At that moment, I realized it does not matter what you do when serving. What matters is that you are serving and learning and experiencing how we all can help each other. Whether it is cleaning a yard or holding a door for someone or feeding a child who has not had a solid meal in at least a day, it all glorifies Christ.

I thanked him for sharing that because I needed to see that to remind me that every single one of us worked our tails off yesterday for Him. 20:28 is something awesome to experience once a year. The experiences from it need to grow roots and continue throughout the rest of the year.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Mother

Well today is my Mother’s XX Birthday. If I mentioned how old on the blog, I think I may have to buy my way back into their will.

I have mentioned her in several blogs I have done regarding mother’s day and what she means to us all. She worked right until the time I was born and then stayed at home. She raised me to: 1. Love God, 2. Love your family, and 3. To think of others before you. If it sounds familiar, you can check out the Bible and the Ten Commandments!

She never relented on those with myself or my brother who was born nearly eight years after me. I remember how she ran this Star program with me that for every chore I did, I got a Star. Every time I did something bad or forgot to do something, I had a Star taken away from my chart. Usually in the end, I would say I would 30break even. I could cash my Stars in for a trip to Dairy Queen or to a local candy store, Brownies. I would have to be extremely good for a week to even have a chance at one of those. Not that the program was hard, I was always making her mad and losing stars all over the place.

We struggled with our relationship growing up. We do differ in our personality; however, she never adapted to me. She knew what her views were correct and she made sure that was drilled into me. Very rarely now will you not hear me say “No” or “Yes” and not have it followed by a “Sir” or “Mam.”

She made sure me and my brother always were given the best chance to grow into a Christian man. She would support us no matter what. I have mentioned this in a previous blog a year ago; however, this is how I will always remember my mom. I was twenty years old and a good friend had recently passed away. His funeral was out of state and she made sure I was going to get there on a road trip. We left the day of her birthday. She could care less if I was there for her birthday or if I got her anything. What she cared about was her son getting to where he needed to be. It showed me the sacrifice of a mother.

DSC05132She has been to many places around the country and in Europe. In fact, this weekend she is in one of her favorite cities with my dad in Chicago. However, she is always thinking of her family no matter where she is. Even today, when we called her to wish her happy birthday, she is asking about her grandson and how he is doing. Wanting to ask about my work and how my wife has been doing. We have a present and a card waiting for her when she gets back, but she does not care about that. She got to hear from those she loves. That is what matters.

I am thankful I married to a woman who I see a lot of the same characteristics of my mother. Nonetheless, my mother is one of a kind and I am truly blessed to call her my mother and my son’s nana!

Mom, happy birthday today! We love you!

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day–Do We Remember?

Memorial Day always used to signal the start of summer for me. To be honest, it usually meant a jammed packed weekend of baseball games. We would play about five games in three days and just run ourselves into the ground. But throughout the years, there is so much more to this holiday then getting a day off or playing sports.

Both of my grandfathers served in the military, which I described in my Memorial Day Blog last year. Not too many other family members served in my family; however, I am learning more and more with each year, how important of a holiday Memorial Day represents.

When I was 11 years old, my mother’s father passed away. He was a veteran from WWII and Korea. I will always remember a certain moment from my papa’s funeral. We were in the car behind the hearse and driving through Shreveport, LA. And there, on the side of the rode, I saw a man saluting my papa. He did not know him; however, he saw the flag covering his coffin and knew how to respond. He remembered the importance of what he did for his country.

As I type this, I have the movie Taking Chance (2009) starring Kevin Bacon in the background. It is based on the true story of Lt. Col. Mike Strobel be the military escort of PFC Chance Phelps, who died while fighting in Iraq. All along the way, he sees some people who do not care who or why he is there, while others show the respect that someone who died for our country deserves.

There is a scene in the movie that after all the flying, they have to drive to his hometown in Wyoming. While driving, an eighteen wheel truck begins to pass the hearse when he turns on his headlights and takes off his hat. This begins the process of car after car showing the respect PFC Phelps deserved. It makes me think of my papa and that man on the side of the road.

The wife wonders why I watch this movie so much. Besides the fact I like the movie, it reminds me of all those who have paid the ultimate price so that we can remain free. So many young men and women will not make it back home to see all the lives that they touch.

Remember those who gave their lives so we can enjoy the freedom we do enjoy each day. I want to say a special thank you to the family of Christopher Katzenberger, medic in C Company who lost his life on August 9, 2005. You can read more about him and his service by clicking on his name. He is a fellow alumni from the class of 1998 from DeSmet Jesuit High School. I knew him only through school and did not cross paths after graduation. None the less, because of his service to our country, I am proud to say I went to high school with him. Thank you Chris for all you did for our country.

In honor of Memorial Day, watch this clip from a spectator who taped the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery I saw this in person once and it is quite powerful!

Changing of the Guard

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day–32nd and 2nd

So Mother’s Day has always been about making sure that we got mom a card and some sort of gift. I always had a random price in my head on how much I required myself to spend on her. Once my brother got to a certain age, there was the male ego always going off in my head and made me want to get the “better” present. I do not think my mother saw that at all. I think she saw two sons who were trying to go out of their way to make sure that she was appreciated.

33Both my brother and I (sorry Andrew but you have to admit this) think we could have been more appreciative sons to our mother. My mom always had a house full of boys. One husband, two sons, and throughout the years a dog and two cats. ALL BOYS! She put up with a lot from us.

As I look back now on my mother’s 32nd Mother’s Day, I want to say that I have the best mom a son could have, no questions asked. Mom, you sacrificed so many things for us throughout the years so that we could have a better life. This is a woman that lets the light of Christ shine through her to her family. Thank you for always being there as we go through struggles in our life as well. When a friend of mine passed away just two years ago, the first call I made was to my mother. Why is that? I was almost 29 years old and had just gotten married and my first call was to my mother. She had been there for me through those trials before and I knew that she would be there for me again.

Thanks mom. I love you!

wDSC_0056Now Mother’s Day to me is about experiences. I do not have to purchase that perfect present for someone. Yesterday, after coming home from work, we went to Old Town St. Charles. This is a special place for the wife and me. When we were dating and we came to St. Louis to visit, we went over to Old Town so she could do some shopping and we could meet up with old friends of mine for dinner. Well, as we are walking around through December temperatures here in Missouri, I suddenly realized something. I do not want to spend any of these moments with anyone other than this woman for the rest of my life. It was God smacking me in the head saying, “Hey, you are going to marry this woman. Who else would you go shopping with in these temperatures???”

So yesterday, after a nice late lunch, we went to one of her shops that she always has to visit when down there. She got her tea and spices to try out. She loves that type of stuff and I love trying out the samples they have in the shop. I asked her if that was all she wanted to do in St. Charles and she smiled and said yes. You could tell she did not care about the bigger item shops to purchase something nicer or more expensive. She just wanted to spend some time with her boys at a place that means so much to her. That is what she cares about, the moments that make us thankful.

I am thankful to have a wife that treasures those moments. She still got a gift from her boys, but it will not compare to that of an experience.

I love you Stephanie! Happy 2nd Mother’s Day.

First picture taken by my father after my high school graduation May 1998.

Second picture taken by Jeff Koziatek, of TallHippo Art & Photography. Check out more of his work at

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday–Greatest Friday Ever

So today is Good Friday, one of the most sacred days on the Christian calendar. It is a day in which sin thought it had conquered. A day that was dark among the believers at the time. Darkness hovered over the Earth. It was a day of sadness, at that time.

I look back on it now and I give thanks for that day. I am thankful that my Lord and Savior came down and died for ALL and for all our sins, for those who accept Him.

To be honest, growing up, I looked at this day as a day off of school (parochial and Jesuit high school). It was a day to relax and be thankful for the day off. Now I am thankful to praise Him for His death on this day.

There are two songs regarding this most self-less act I love to listen to all the time to remind me of what He did for us. The first one is from one of my all-time favorite bands, Jars of Clay. Two years ago, as we still lived in Phoenix, I went to my first ever Good Friday service (did not attend churches that had these services before). As we were finishing the emotional service at Fellowship of Grace, the worship band played this song. I have always loved this song since it came out on the SECOND album, but it hit me like a ton of bricks that night. This version is from their 11th Hour DVD, which of course I do own.

Jars of Clay–Worlds Apart

The second song I is an adaptation of an old hymn. It was written in 1707 by Issac Watts (Davie, "Baroque in the Hymn-Book,” 1992). It has been changed by several people since then; however, the only change to this song is the chorus, which was added a few years back by Chris Tomlin. This video gets to me because you see such a focus on what today is and that is the cross. It is a two-part video.

Part 1
Part 2

About 30-40 seconds into the second part, you see people RUNNING to the cross. That is what we are called to do, run to Him. No matter what we have done in our past, what He did 2,000 years ago saves us from eternal damnation. How can we not be thankful for today? For this is how we truly live!

John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (New International Version)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Early morning lesson today

Cameron has been having some inconsistent mornings lately. Let's us sleep until about 6:30am on the weekends, 4:00am during the weeks sometimes. Either way, I get up, feed him and 9 times out of 10, he goes right back to sleep. That has allowed me some time to get in the Bible and do some reading.

Throughout my 31+ years on this Earth, I have hit every book of the Bible one time or another. I want to read it from cover to cover, in succession. I started this past week and remembered a sermon by a pastor that referred to Genesis 12. A specific verse is what he was talking about and when I re-read it at 5:15am this morning, it challenged me and shocked me even more this time around. I am referring to Genesis 12:11-13. It reads,

11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” (Gen. 12:11-13 New International Version)

Abram, later called Abraham, is considered one of the greatest men in Christian History. His “big sin” is usually referenced to his wife, Sarai, giving him permission to have intercourse with their servant instead of trusting God to providing them a child. However, I look at this passage and it blows my mind. How could you deny knowing your wife?

His reasoning behind it does not help him either. He wanted her to say this could he could save his own tail. A crazy level of selfishness just reading this! I could never do this. My wife means way to much for me and I love her too much, right?

Looking back on my childhood, I would consider myself selfish. I wanted many things and felt like I deserved them. But things have changed. Once I got older, I began to realize we deserve ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in this life and we are only saved from eternal damnation from the blood of Christ.

I have thought about this long and hard and come to this conclusion: Through the love of Christ and we are taught to walk in the same path as Him, if asked, I would in a heartbeat give my life so that my wife may live. Christ did it for us. Why can’t I?

Is it that simple. Well, yeah. I am no way saying I am equal to Christ; however, we are taught to follow Him and be like Him and if that means I have to give my life for my wife, then it is a done deal. I will go home and wait for my gorgeous bride when her time comes. God has a great plan for all of our lives and my great plan has that and more. I have a gorgeous bride and an awesome 1 year old son. I have family and friends that care about me for who God made me.

I thank God that he has got me to this point. He has led me away from selfish behavior. Abraham was a great man and who loved his God and later offered up a son for God’s satisfaction. God did not allow this to happen; however, this showed God that Abraham had grown from this event from Sarai. So I thank Abraham from this lesson and lesson learned.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

March 11, One Year Later

Well, March 11th started very early for me. I was awoken at about 1:15am and told that they were taking me downstairs as my wife was due to give birth within the hour to our baby boy. I went from dead asleep to wide awake real quick!

I got wheeled into the room and many shocking things were goingDSC_0033 on. First of all, I was being wheeled into the room on a stretcher, well because I could not do anything else after the surgery. Secondly, I see my mother and mother-in-law in the room assisting the wife through the contractions. Thirdly, I see one of my closest friends, whom I have known since I was six, in the room taking video of the birth. Emotions were running high!

My wife was simply amazing through the process. With all the stress that she was under, she had such a great strength from God and man did she have to show it.

A doctor finally arrived as we waited on our doctor to drive to the hospital. The doctor and a nurse were going back and forth over why he was not called sooner and on and on. I think all of wanted to yell at him to shut up and do your job!

Well he did his job. At 2:15am on March 11, 2011, Cameron Andrew Young was born into the world. And I quote the doctor, “Here is your toddler.” I was just DSC_0041excited he was here. Then came the fun news. We were waiting to see how big he was. The nurses looked at each other and then directly at me. I knew he was a big boy but how big?? Especially if the nurses are “glaring” at me?????

10 pounds, 3 ounces.

That’s right. The wife did this naturally and with all the stress of my surgery. WHAT A WOMAN!

I was able to cut the umbilical cord. Our doctor arrived about 5 minutes after the delivery. She kept apologizing but everyone did their job and we are so grateful to this day for that hospital. The worked around us and our situation. We are thankful that God put that hospital into our lives. He knew what we were going through and for us, that was the only place to be cared for properly.

I thank God each day for my wife, my son, my family, my friends, St. Clare Hospital, and most of all, to God. All we can say is, “How Great is our God.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 10th, One Year Later

So as we are in the hospital waiting to be induced, I said "I do not feel very we..." That was the last thing I remembered for the next twelve hours.

I woke up just around 11am in a hospital bed and I remember asking if we had the baby yet. The told me no and what had happened. I tried to act as if I knew what happened but there was a reason I never got into acting. The doctor came in and talked to me regarding the issue and that a spot of blood was on my brain from when I passed out. Apparently, I hit my head directly on the hospital floor and that is what caused the issue. Apparently I was awake for a certain amount of time afterwards and even when they did the first CT Scan on me. To this day, I do not remember any of this.

The doctor told me they wanted to see how the brain looked now to see if the bleeding had stopped. So at about 1pm on March 10th, I went in for my second CT Scan. It took just a few minutes but I knew something was wrong. I was so incredibly nauseous that when I cam out of the scan, I told the nurses they had ten seconds to find a waste can.

As they brought me back to my room, I remember asking my father a question and I will never forget his response. I asked if I was going to have to have brain surgery. He told me, "Travis, you are not going to need brain surgery. Just sounds like a concussion. You will be fine." The way he said it, I knew he was not sure about his answer. My dad may be finding this out for the first time as he reads this; however, his response shook me to the core. When he believes something, he is certain. But, you could tell he was scared. Heck, we were all scared.

The picture above is the second CT scan. If you look at it, the clear part just to the right of the middle, is supposed to be in the middle. Also, the large lighter shade to the left (was on my right side) is the blood clot. Before, it was just a small dot of blood and had expanded to that in about 12 hours time. I of course questioned the surgery if it was necessary; however, I am glad everyone else said to do it. Whew!

Around 2pm, the doctor came in and said, "It does not look good. The bleeding has gotten much worse and we need to get in there to stop the bleeding." My mom left the room to go tell my wife and my dad lost it. However, in that moment of ultimate fear, God sent someone into our lives that calmed us down. A pastor from our church walked in and prayed with my dad and me. He read from Psalm 34. To summarize what it said, David is praising God while going through a trial. It was so incredibly relaxing to remind us to praise Him through trials and to praise Him through glory.

I had to sign a document that stated I could pass away and I would not sue the hospital. WOW! So about 3:30pm I get wheeled to where my wife is and is preparing for an arrival into the world. We prayed, we cried but we trusted that God would get us through this trial.

I went under around 4:15pm or so. Next thing I know, the doctor is feeling my feet and asking me to wiggle my toes and then my legs and then my fingers. I was trying to figure out why he would and there was no issue. Then I remembered where I was. They were making sure they did not do anything during the surgery that did damage to other nerves. I called my wife and told her I was in recovery and she seemed happy, as was I. I went back to my room that was filled with family and friends. It is overwhelming to this day to have remember that, seeing everyone who came out to support us.

I was feeling so much better. I talked to friends and family for a few hours before I had to get some sleep. I talked with Stephanie a few more times before I dozed off. Baby would be coming soon, just not sure when yet. Last thing I remember from March 10th is waking up when my brother came in from school. He slept in the same room with me, on a lovely bench in the room. It was padded but not comfortable. He did not want to miss the birth of his first nephew; however, he was there to support me as well.

Next Blog - March 11th - Wake up, we need to wheel you downstairs!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 9th, One Year Later

Well, so here we are, March 9th, 2011. For 29 years, it was like any other day for me. Then came March 9, 2010.

I had just turned 30 and we were planning on heading in to begin the process of welcoming our first born into the world. It was going to be about five days early than our due date; however, Cameron was going to be ready to come out according to the doctors.

So I worked at the hotel that day where I had been GM for just over a month now. I was trying to get everything taken care of before I was going to take a week off with the new baby. Everyone wished me luck and off I was.

I went home and picked the wife up, who to say the least, was excited. We were going to the airport to pick her mom up from Arkansas. Once we did that, we met my parents at a Deli for dinner. We all sat there, prayed and enjoyed our time together.

We arrived at the hospital at about 10pm to get all situated. We got to our room and her mom and my parents went home for the night. The plan was to get Stephanie started on the induction process. The drugs were going to working throughout the night and a baby would be arriving later the next day. Well, plans were to be a changing.

So, I was in and out of sleep as we waited for the nurse to come in March 9th, 2010and get the drugs going. I took the following picture at a little before 11pm while waiting before the drugs started and sleep would come over the both of us. The wife is not a huge fan of it, but it is all over Facebook so not like it has not been seen before. I love you wife!!

So, the nurse comes in and starts to get the process going. I got up and walked around to the other side of the bed. The wife is terrified of needles and wishes them all harm. They were having an issue getting the previously mentioned needle into her arm. She began to cry from the pain. I stood there and held her hand and tried to calm her down. A feeling started to come over me like I needed a soda or something with sugar. The last thing I remember is saying “I don’t feel very we…..”

Next Blog – March 10th – I just came for a baby.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010–What a year

Well, 2010 is now officially in the books and what a year it was. The Young family had a lot of positive and challenging times. No matter what though, we saw God in all of it. Here it is by month.

January – Started off 2010 fairly uneventful Stephanie was only two months away from her due date. I was working in downtown St. Louis. My brother was finishing his last semester in college, to which my parents were counting the days. The last day of the month was where it got interesting. I received a call from my boss about a possible position just vacated at another property. I would be interviewing in early February for that job.

February – The interview goes very well and I am offered the job. I do accept and begin on February 6, 2010. Back to being a General Manager of a hotel. The wife is only one month away at this point from giving birth to our first son and stops working at this point, the same time we make the final car payment! I finish February on a challenging note by turning 30. This is where Cameron goes from a normal size baby to a larger baby (at least, according to our family and you will have to ask Stephanie about that one).

March – I work until March 9th. We go to the hospital to begin the Scan2_0002induction process and well, all heck breaks loose. Fall, brain surgery, big baby and one crazy story. If you would like to relive these days, please read my blog: What a Week, But How Great is Our God?????? I will summarize it by saying, well, How Great is Our God?? I went back to work near the end of March and we had one healthy BIG baby!

April – I was cleared to resume all normal activity after the brain surgery. I went to Hilton School in Memphis, TN. Cameron was growing day by day, which was so incredible to see. Very uneventful compared to the previous month.

May – My brother graduated from college. I could not have been more proud of him and he accepted a full time job in Kansas. Andrew's Graduation 031Stephanie celebrated her first Mother’s Day. It was cool to not only celebrate my mother on mother’s day, but to celebrate Stephanie on the same day now. My mother also turned 50 something this month too, or as my dad said, the day she is as old as him.

June – We do a family trip and we go to Memphis, New Orleans, Shreveport and Little Rock to see all of our families to show off the Vacation 2010 103baby. We were going through ups and downs at work and several challenging times. I celebrate my first Father’s Day and celebrate it with my father. Just wild to think I celebrate that day too.

July – Well the month starts with a crazy July 4th Weekend due to high pressure toilets thanks to the City of Chesterfield. A LOT of cleanup!! We get more and more involved with our Bible Study, which was a HUGE blessing for us this year.

August – Fairly uneventful month. Cameron was getting bigger. Stephanie was working more in the evenings and weekend so I would take care of my buddy while she was gone. A lot of work this month. DSC05129My parents celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary.

September – My dad turned 50++ years old, or as my mom says, the day my dad is a year older than her. My brother experiences not going to school for the first time since he can last remember. We have a bi-annual audit at work, three days after a nasty storm sweeps into Chesterfield and knocks out all power. The end of an era begins to take shape. Codyandcameron

October – Fairly emotional month. Our family dog of over 14 years is near the end. My brother comes to town one week before he passes to say goodbye. Originally, it was more my father’s and brother’s dog. It turned into more my mother’s dog throughout the years and he was another son for her to be aggravated. I went over on his last night and gave him Beggin’ Strips and a hot dog. I cried a lot and remembered a lot of fun times with him. You can read more by reading the blog: Cody – One Great Dog. It did finish on a positive note as a good friend and Cameron’s DSC05276godfather came to visit at the very end of the month. We also got to have a Rascals’ reunion while he was in town!

November – Well, it was our first Thanksgiving without Cody, so Cameron did his best to try and eat leftovers. He tries mashed potatoes and turkey and reminds us of feeding the dog extras. Ha! Stephanie does a wonderful job hosting Thanksgiving.

December – The wife celebrates her 30+ birthday, or as I say, the day she is older than me. Cameron’s godmother came to visit over Stephanie’s birthday weekend too. We had a great time while she was here and she got to see a nice snowfall as well! CameronDec 2010 022 celebrates his first Christmas and yep, got spoiled. He enjoys beef tenderloin and mashed potatoes at Christmas dinner; however, he seems to dig Cool Whip topping a little more. Many Christmas parties associated with work and had fun at all of them. We saw new friends of ours move away to Jefferson City and wish them nothing but the best!

We have a lot to be thankful for this year and God brought us out of each valley as well. I am excited for the things to happen this year: My first time to San Francisco, friends having their first baby and others having their second or more, Cameron’s first birthday, etc. Exciting 2011 to come!

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