Friends and Snowblowers

I’m not a big fan of snow.  I loved it as a kid, but as an adult when I gaze out on an expanse of snowy whiteness I don’t often appreciate the beauty – instead I groan at the thought of clearing our long driveway.  Luckily we have a great snowblower.

Our family has a bizarre habit of naming everything.  My car is Alfredo, our toaster is Kalashnikov, and our snowblower is Ferguson.  We’ve had Ferguson for about four years now and he is pretty amazing.  No matter how cold and miserable it is outside he revs right up and seems to be excited to get the job done.  While I gripe and moan about the icy wind he just happily tosses the snow as far as he can.

The other day I started him up and began clearing the driveway I was not in the best mood.  It was just one more task to take care of in an already overbooked day.  The wind was howling and blowing snow in my face and I wanted nothing more than to go back inside and hide under an electric blanket.  But Ferguson happily chugged along, clearing the driveway like a pro.  He even has heated handles so that my fingers don’t freeze.

As I finished the job and tucked him away in the garage I thought about how much Ferguson is like a good friend.  We work together and even though he does the lion’s share of the work while I do the lion’s share of the complaining he sticks with me.  He even warms my hands with the flick of a switch.  He doesn’t ask for much, just a tank of gas and a replacement shear pin when I’m not careful and hit a rocky patch.

I’ve had some fabulous friends in my life.  Friends who listen to me murmur and help me see the bright side of life.  Friends who show up and help when I have an overwhelming task rather than just liking my Facebook post.  Friends who take the time to warm my hands and heart even as they lift my burdens.  Friends who forgive when I’m careless and steer us into a rocky patch.

So for all you wonderful friends out there – thank you.  You’ll never fully know how much I appreciate you.  I hope I give you at least a fraction of the love and support you constantly show me.

And Ferguson – thank you as well – although I hope I don’t need your help much more this winter…

Petrified Lightning

When lightning strikes sand the extreme temperatures cause the sand to fuse into glass.  The hollow tubes, known as fulgurites, are formed in less than a second, but given that they are made of glass they can last forever.  They are rare and (in my opinion) quite amazing, but I’m lucky enough to have a couple of very small ones.

A few years back when we moved to New England we were in the Chicago O’Hare airport.  My wife was carrying our two week old son and hurting from her recent C-section and I was trying to hurry with our two young daughters while dragging around a whole slew of backpacks, carry-ons, and car seats.  We were trying to catch our connecting flight and were running across the airport as quickly as we could.

It was an incredibly stressful time for all of us.  I remember standing in line waiting for the train to take us to the correct terminal and seeing all the business men and women glaring at us and our tired and not-so-quiet kids.  Not a single one of them offered to help us.

As we climbed off the train and rushed to catch our flight one of our girls started to cry because she was too tired to run anymore.  As I stopped to try to help her a teenage boy came up and offered to help.  I looked at him in surprise and he smiled as I loaded him up with a couple of car seats.  I grabbed my daughter and we ran.  We barely made it.  The stewardess was literally closing the door as we came running up.

I quickly thanked the young man, but it wasn’t until after I got on the plane that I realized that I never learned his name.  Like a lightning bolt he was there and then gone, but the imprint he made on our lives was permanent.  I doubt he even remembers his brief act of service, but I’ll never forget it.  My wife and I still pray for that young man because even if we don’t know his name, I’m positive our Heavenly Father does.