What Separates the Humans…

IMG_20170429_071642_459This is a question that has been asked for centuries. Typically, it is ended with “by the rest of the animals”, but I have a different ending to that age-old question. I would ask, What separates the humans from other humans? 

As it turns out, it can be something as little as a nylon strap.

While flying American’s friendly skies recently, I witnessed what has become a common occurrence. If you’ve traveled via means of the airlines at all, you know what I’m talking about.

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26 years and counting…

Moving to Wilmore, Kentucky in 1987 brought about some change for the new Austin Family.  Anita was a Registered Nurse for the first time, I started Seminary and we met Lynn and Wendy Lewis.  This was in the days before children and we were younger and life was more simple.

26 years have passed since that first meeting.  Over that time we have enjoyed seeing one another during an occasional summer vacation or family trip.  Facebook has offered a renewed connection, but it’s been more than thirteen years since we’ve been face-to-face and enjoyed one another and comfort that comes from like-minded friends.

The Lewis Family are wonderful people and I’m happy to call them friends.  Lynn is a brilliant man who dreams big dreams and trusts that God will make them reality in their perfect time.  Wendy is a passionate defender of the downhearted and her beautiful children.

Imagine my joy when I learned that they live less than 20 minutes from our hotel room here in Houston.  The opportunity to spend time with the dear ones was too much to pass up.  Saturday supper, Easter morning church and a wonderful Sunday Lunch were welcome opportunities to celebrate our nearly three-decades of friendship, catch up on life’s journey and reminisce about old times.

Despite the fact that they are from the deep south and we are cold northerners, we still love deeply.  Although Wendy is a died-in-the-wool conservative and I’m a Obama-lovin’ Democrat, we can tolerate time together at the same table.  When we are together, these things no longer matter.  All that matters is our love for one another.

Our long-standing friendship has stood against the test of time and when we see one another we exchange tight hugs, laugh easily and often, and occasionally shed tears of sorrow or joy.

The trip to Houston has been worth every mile traveled, if for no other reason than the opportunity to share moments with friends like these.

Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me

Because I'm Small Now

Gina London’s first book, Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me, will certainly not be her last…At least, if precocious Lulu has anything to say about it. Thankfully, after reading these charming pages, there is no doubt about that.

We have all experienced the blunt honesty and innocent perspective of a child.  Experiencing the world from a height of two feet, a child has unique point of view and they are eager to share their thoughts with anyone who will listen.  Because they have yet to develop the filters that we expect as they grow, children verbalize their simple insights, emotions, needs and opinions in ways that often shock us but more often make us laugh despite ourselves.

I’m Small Now succeeds in capturing these precious and yet awkward moments and reminds us of the fleeting innocence of youth.  While we cringe at Lulu’s honest appraisals, demanding statements, and quizzical phrases, we also laugh out loud at her direct questions and desire to make sense of her world.  Whether finding her place in the family, “Every day I’m your daughter, right?“, understanding time and space, “Are you far away or close away?” or expressing her untarnished altruism, “It’s nice to be good to them. ‘Cause their all gonna die.“, Lulu’s appraisals, and Ms. London’s brilliance in capturing the moments, provide a magical gift to the reader.

This wonderful book offers a beautiful and gentle hand-in-hand walk through childhood with a little girl who is discovering the world for the first time.  And along the way if we are honest, we learn a little bit about ourselves.

Oh The Places You Go

Ben and Anita enjoy the trip.

Summer vacation is not just about where you go or what you see but who you share the time with.  But that isn’t what today’s blog is about.  Today, we only care about the places we went and the things we saw.

Here’s the list of where we went and what we saw.

1. The Dunes.

2. Chicago.

3. The Bean.

4. Big Legs.

5. Soldier Field.

6. Shedd Aquarium.

7. A Light House.

8. A Junk Shop.

9. The Nina and The Pinta.

10. The Light House.

11. Millennium Park.

It really was a great time.

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Walking Chicago

Waiting for the South Shore Line to Chicago.

When traveling to Chicago, you can get from one place to another in relative ease using any means of public transportation:  Metra, South Shore Line, Taxi or Bus.  But we like to walk.

Of course, we took advantage of all the available transportation options but hitting the streets on our feet gave us the best view.

The rain added to the beauty of the busy city streets.

We entered Chicago utilizing the South Shore Line from Chesterton, Dunes Park.  It was an amazing ride that delivered us to Millennium Park and everything we wished to see.  For $7.25 per person, one way, it was cheaper than finding parking for the day and much less headache.

Always follow traffic signs.

A taxi dropped us off at a location but the RED Line took us back to the Aquarium and our feet took us nearly everywhere else.

With a fantastic thunder storm brewing, we were able to enjoy the wet, steamy streets of Chicago…up close and personal.

At the end of the day, we boarded the South Shore Line back to our starting point, just a few miles from the hotel.

Riding home.

It was a great day.

Traveling Tip: Beating Security in a Paris Airport

The window view is breathtaking.

You can’t. Don’t even try.

Well, you can try…In fact, I would like to see it.

The next time you are strolling through Charles de Gaulle, try wearing a belt buckle.  In fact, pick up a World Wrestling Championship Buckle and strap it on.  If you are more into subtle fashion, hang some extra-dangly earrings from your lobes.

Want to be more subtle?  Keep on your shoes. Leave a dime in your right pants pocket. Eat Iron-Fortified Cereal.  Then expect to be “felt up” just after walking though the metal detector. I can guarantee that unless you are Amish, you have something in or on your person that will set off the warning lights.

Of course, if you like being groped by a 300 lb French woman named Jean Pierre, then by all means, leave your watch on your arm, turn your head and cough.

Enjoy your flight.